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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30 June, 2014

History according to Salon

Heather Digby Parton is not too bright. Give me Dolly, anytime. Her attack on the Tea Party below appeared in "Salon", surprise, surprise

To fail to see the religious roots of the Tea Party mantra – or the ways in which it reverberates as a divine imperative – is to blind oneself to a fundamental feature of American conservatism.

If you would like to see how this is being expressed in our current election cycle, look no further than this fine fellow, the Tea Party-endorsed talk radio host Jody Hice, who is running for Congress in Georgia’s 10th District. Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal Constitution tells us:

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Hice wrote in his 2012 book. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection."

These guys seem to agree with Mr Hice, not Ms Parton

And as Ed Kilgore points out, he’s not the only one down there in Georgia running on a Christian right platform. In the 11th District, Barry Loudermilk is in a runoff with former impeachment manager Bob Barr (who also happens to be an actual, real live libertarian) and he’s a true believer too:

"Loudermilk is an eager member of the Glenn Beck wing of the GOP. He is also an apostle of faux historian David Barton, who preaches that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to create a conservative Christian government. Like Hice, they reject the notion of a separation between Christianity and state, and argue that the First Amendment was intended only to keep government from favoring one particular Christian denomination."

Has she READ the constitution? It forbids an established church only. The separation of church and state is just an interpretation loaded onto it later. Loudermilk is just quoting. Ms Parton is not



Regulators put the squeeze on ride-sharing companies

Free enterprise is a victim of taxi cronyism

The commonwealth of Virginia has stepped up its attack on ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. It’s just the latest example of crony capitalism and government favoritism toward the wealthy and powerful.

“Earlier this year, Virginia officials slapped the app-based services with more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating without proper permits.” The Washington Post noted recently, and on June 5, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Richard D. Holcomb sent a cease-and-desist letter to each company.

The opposition from Mr. Holcomb and regulators in other states and municipalities makes about as much sense as trying to crush automobiles in favor of horses would have made in 1900. Uber, Lyft and similar services have developed a new business model based on smartphone technology. It enables nearly anyone with a car to give rides to others, and taxi operators and their regulators are coming together to crush the upstart competitors.

“Regulatory capture” is the term economists use to describe regulators who see their job as, first and foremost, protecting the businesses they regulate. The regulated capture the regulators. To a large extent, that’s what we have here. In addition to Virginia, regulators in cities and states including California, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania are threatening the ride-sharing services with fines or regulations that would make it almost impossible for them to stay in business.

The opposition is international. Taxi drivers in many European cities recently used their vehicles to snarl traffic to protest Uber and Lyft.

Here’s what they’re so afraid of: The services link people who own vehicles and want to give rides to people who need rides. Uber and Lyft do not own the vehicles or supervise the conduct of the drivers. Users of the services like them. They often receive quicker responses than from traditional taxi services, and the vehicles are usually cleaner and often have amenities such as bottled water or chocolates or mints for passengers.

Because users can immediately rate the quality of the service they receive, the ride-sharing apps give drivers a strong incentive to be prompt, courteous and clean. When people call for a ride, they can see the ratings other people have given the driver who is coming to pick them up and cancel the ride if they dislike what they see. Too many poor ratings, and drivers are dropped from the services.

And in another good twist, drivers can rate their passengers. Rude, unruly, drunk or otherwise boorish passengers may not get picked up again.

There are no set fees. Lyft drivers accept donations, and Uber drivers receive a percentage of a fee that floats with demand for rides.

Compare this to the taxi services in most major cities, where the prices are fixed regardless of demand, the taxis are sometimes smelly or dirty, and the costs and bureaucratic hurdles to go into business against the established taxi companies are monumental.

Last November New York City held its first taxi medallion auction in five years. No taxi is allowed to operate without a city-issued medallion. The New York Times reported the auction results: “On Thursday, at the city’s first medallion auction in over five years, the largest bid for a ‘mini-fleet’ of two medallions exceeded $2.5 million, by far the highest ever recorded. At the last auction, in 2008, the high bid on a similar package was a little over $1.3 million.”

Imagine having to spend more than $2.5 million just to win permission to run two taxis in New York. This shows what a protection racket for the established companies taxi regulations have become. Costs are outrageously high in other cities as well, which explains why taxi rides cost so much. The profits pour in to the owners and managers of the taxi companies, while the drivers receive a relative pittance.

The taxi companies fear losing customers to Uber, Lyft and similar services; the regulators fear losing control over the taxi industry; and the politicians fear losing the political clout that pulls in campaign donations and electoral support from the taxi companies.

Many taxi drivers no doubt resent the difference between their paltry paychecks and the fat profits their companies make. Uber and Lyft give these drivers the chance to use their personal cars to become their own bosses.

In doing this, they’d strike a blow against their taxi company bosses and the political bosses who have been strangling competition and free enterprise.



Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Obama for 12th and 13th Time Since 2012

Did you know the Obama administration’s position has been defeated in at least 13 – thirteen — cases before the Supreme Court since January 2012 that were unanimous decisions? It continued its abysmal record before the Supreme Court today with the announcement of two unanimous opinions against arguments the administration had supported.

First, the Court rejected the administration’s power grab on recess appointments by making clear it could not decide when the Senate was in recess. Then it unanimously tossed out a law establishing abortion-clinic “buffer zones” against pro-life protests that the Obama administration argued on behalf of before the Court (though the case was led by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley).

The tenure of both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder has been marked by a dangerous push to legitimize a vast expansion of the power of the federal government that endangers the liberty and freedom of Americans. They have taken such extreme position on key issues that the Court has uncharacteristically slapped them down time and time again. Historically, the Justice Department has won about 70 percent of its cases before the high court. But in each of the last three terms, the Court has ruled against the administration a majority of the time.

So even the liberal justices on the Court, including the two justices appointed by President Barack Obama — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — have disagreed with the DOJ’s positions. As George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin told the Washington Times last year, “When the administration loses significant cases in unanimous decisions and cannot even hold the votes of its own appointees . . . it is an indication that they adopted such an extreme position on the scope of federal power that even generally sympathetic judges could not even support it.”

Those decisions are very revealing about the views of President Obama and Eric Holder: Their vision is one of unchecked federal power on immigration and environmental issues, on presidential prerogatives, and the taking of private property by the government; hostility to First Amendment freedoms that don’t meet the politically correct norms; and disregard of Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless government intrusion. These are positions that should alarm all Americans regardless of their political views, political-party affiliations, or background.

While yesterday’s Supreme Court decision unanimously rejecting the administration’s argument that a search warrant wasn’t required for the government to look at cell-phone records and data got a lot of attention, it’s not the first time the Obama administration has taken an anti–civil liberties stance. In last year’s case of U.S. v. Jones, the Justice Department essentially tried to convince the Supreme Court that the Fourth Amendment’s protections against search and seizure should not prevent the government from tracking any American at any time without any reason.

Justice argued that the police should be able to attach a GPS device to your car without a search warrant or even any reason to believe you committed a crime. Fortunately for those who fear the ever-growing power of the federal government, particularly its abuse of new technology, all nine justices agreed that the Fourth Amendment prevents the government from attaching a GPS to your car without getting a warrant.

Even Justice Sotomayor, President Obama’s own nominee to the Court, agreed that the government had invaded “privacy interests long afforded, and undoubtedly entitled to, Fourth Amendment protection.” But Eric Holder wanted to ignore the Bill of Rights and believed that his agents should be able to track all of your movements in public by attaching a GPS device to your car without permission from a judge. This is a frightening view of government power enhanced by new surveillance technology that would have directly threatened our liberty. When will liberals wake up to the fact that this administration takes positions on executive power that would make Richard Nixon and John Mitchell, his attorney general, blush?



Research & Commentary: Right to Work in Kentucky

Implemented in 1947, the Taft-Harley Act (THA), Section 14(b), allows states to adopt right-to-work laws. Right-to-work laws give employees the freedom to choose whether to join a labor union and pay union dues as a condition for employment in a unionized company. Since the Taft-Hartley Act was adopted, 24 states have enacted right-to-work laws, including Indiana in 2012 and Michigan in 2013. Kentucky remains one of the 26 states without a right-to-work law protecting workers’ freedom.

Opponents of right-to-work laws contend they lead to lower wages, hurt unions, and lower people’s standard of living. But states that have enacted right-to-work policies have experienced positive economic progress across the board. A study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found, “According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states showed a 42.6 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011, while non-right-to-work states showed gains of only 18.8 percent.” The study also found inflation-adjusted gross personal income in right-to-work states increased 86.5 percent between 1990 and 2013, versus 51.3 percent for forced-unionization states.

Kentucky borders two states, Indiana and Tennessee, that have experienced economic prosperity as right-to-work states. According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, 45 companies have communicated to the Indiana Economic Corporation that Indiana’s enactment of right-to-work will factor into decisions they make about where to locate new and current projects. All new auto plants built in the United States during the past several decades were built in right-to-work states, including one by Hyundai, which declined Kentucky’s offer of land and tax incentives and instead located in Montgomery, Alabama—a right-to-work state.

Using years of economic data and empirical evidence from each state, the 2014 American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual economic competitiveness study, Rich States, Poor States, ranked Kentucky 28th in economic performance and 39th in economic outlook. The study found right-to-work states outperformed their forced-unionization counterparts, providing their citizens with critical economic opportunities and a path to greater prosperity.

Kentucky lawmakers should consider implementing right-to-work and remove other barriers to economic growth, such as high taxes (particularly on capital and income) and burdensome regulations. As the experience of other states shows, right-to-work has positive effects on states’ economies, workers, and population growth.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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29 June, 2014

BOOK REVIEW of The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America

By F.H. Buckley (a Foundation Professor at George Mason University School of Law, where he has taught since 1989. Before then he was a visiting Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School)

This book sounds a lot like I have been arguing lately. I may have to buy it. The author also has an essay here about how Obama has acquired most of the powers of an old-style king

This remarkable new book shatters just about every myth surrounding American government, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers, and offers the clearest warning about the alarming rise of one-man rule in the age of Obama.

Most Americans believe that this country uniquely protects liberty, that it does so because of its Constitution, and that for this our thanks must go to the Founders, at their Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

F. H. Buckley’s book debunks all these myths. America isn’t the freest country around, according to the think tanks that study these things. And it’s not the Constitution that made it free, since parliamentary regimes are generally freer than presidential ones. Finally, what we think of as the Constitution, with its separation of powers, was not what the Founders had in mind. What they expected was a country in which Congress would dominate the government, and in which the president would play a much smaller role.

Sadly, that’s not the government we have today. What we have instead is what Buckley calls Crown government: the rule of an all-powerful president. The country began in a revolt against one king, and today we see the dawn of a new kind of monarchy. What we have is what Founder George Mason called an “elective monarchy,” which he thought would be worse than the real thing.

Much of this is irreversible. Constitutional amendments to redress the balance of power are extremely unlikely, and most Americans seem to have accepted, and even welcomed, Crown government. The way back lies through Congress, and Buckley suggests feasible reforms that it might adopt, to regain the authority and respect it has squandered.



Obama Regime Seeks unlimited power to prosecute

In late 2011 an intra-sect feud within an Amish community in eastern Ohio became violent as followers of Samuel Mullet Sr. assaulted several of their co-religionists because they were “Amish hypocrites.” The assailants forcibly cut the beards and hair of their victims to punish them for their alleged transgressions. The attacks were violent and served their purpose of humiliating the victims, but were they a federal crime? The Department of Justice thinks so, and a federal district court agreed. On Thursday the federal government’s arguments will be tested as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear oral arguments in the defendants appeal in Miller v. United States.

According to the Justice Department, the defendants crimes are subject to federal prosecution under the hate crimes statute because the shears and scissors used in the assaults had previously crossed state lines because they were manufactured in another state and because the defendants rode in cars to the scenes of the attacks.

Got that? What next?

Arguing that a defendant is subject to federal jurisdiction because he or she wore clothing that at some point was in the stream of interstate commerce?

The original understanding of the Commerce Clause was that it was intended to keep one state from imposing trade restrictions or tariffs on goods from other states -- something that did exist during the Confederation era. It was not intended to be a catch-all clause for giving the federal government jurisdiction where it did not otherwise exist -- such an interpretation is contrary to the clear intention of the framers to limit federal power.



Hillary and Obama: This sounds believable

Hillary Clinton berated President Barack Obama as ‘incompetent and feckless' and said he had become 'a joke' after having one too many glasses of wine at a reunion dinner last year with friends from college, a new tell-all book reveals.

'When her friends asked Hillary to tell them what she thought — really thought — about the president she had served for four draining years, she lit into Obama with a passion that surprised them all,' former Newsweek editor Edward Klein writes in his book Blood Feud.

'"The thing with Obama is that he can’t be bothered and there is no hand on the tiller half the time,"' Clinton is said to have barked in her boozy rant. ‘That’s the story of the Obama presidency. No hand on the f***ing tiller.’

Klein describes Clinton's Obama-bashing session as having taken place last May - two months after she vacated her position on Obama's cabinet - at French restaurant Le Jardin du Roi, near the Clinton's home in Chappaqua, New York. '"Obama has turned into a joke," she said sharply,' according to Klein.

'When her friends asked Hillary to tell them what she thought - really thought - about the president she had served for four draining years, she lit into Obama with a passion that surprised them all'

'"The IRS targeting the Tea Party, the Justice Department’s seizure of AP phone records and James Rosen’s emails — all these scandals. Obama’s allowed his hatred for his enemies to screw him the way Nixon did,"' Clinton reportedly told her pals.

'She went on to explain that Bill was a natural leader and great executive, unlike Obama, who was in her words "incompetent and feckless,"' Klein writes.

At another point in the conversation Hillary is quoted as having said of Obama, 'You can’t trust the motherf***er'.

"'Obama has treated Bill and me incredibly shabbily. And we’re angry,'" Clinton continued.

Clinton allegedly told her friends that she and Bill promised Obama they would help him him get reelected in 2012 if he helped Hillary get elected in 2016. '"He agreed to the arrangement but then he reneged on the deal. His word isn’t worth sh*t,"' Hillary said.

The deal between the president and the Clintons was struck during a game of golf in September of 2011, according to another passage in Klein's book.

Bill didn't want to become bedfellows with Obama but he knew his wife would need the sitting president on her team if she ran for president in 2016.

'"I’ve had two successors since I left the White House — Bush and Obama — and I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama. I have no relationship with the president — none whatsoever,"' Bill allegedly told Hillary.

'I really can’t stand the way Obama ­always seems to be hectoring when he talks to me.

'Sometimes we just stare at each other. It’s pretty damn awkward. Now we both have favors to ask each other, and it’s going to be very unpleasant. But I’ve got to get this guy to owe me and to be on our side.'

During the golf game Bill reportedly pitched Hillary's candidacy to Obama, calling his wife 'the most qualified, most experienced candidate, perhaps in history.'

'But Barack didn’t bite. He changed the subject several times,' Klein writes. 'Then suddenly, Barack said something that took Bill by complete surprise. He said, "You know, Michelle would make a great presidential candidate, too."’

'Bill was speechless. Was Barack comparing Michelle’s qualifications to Hillary’s?

'Bill said that if he hadn’t been on a mission to strike a deal with Barack, he might have stormed off the golf course then and there.'

Klein is also the author of the the 2005 book The Truth about Hillary and the scandalous 2013 book that critically profiled Obama as inexperienced and arrogant, The Amateur.

In that book Klein portrays Obama as kowtowing to first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett over the advice of his other, more qualified aides.

Michelle and Jarrett are prominently featured in Blood Feud, as well, and are cited as an additional source of conflict between the president and the Clintons.

At night Jarret and Michelle would make fun of Hillary over a bottle of Chardonnay, Klein says, and they nicknamed Hillary 'Hildebeest' after the ugly gnu that is often seen wandering the Serengeti region in Tanzania.

Klein writes that two women felt that the Clintons were, 'like most white people, racists.'

"'I don't think Michelle and Valerie think the Clintons are racists any more than other white people,' a black friend of Jarrett's told Klein. ' "But they think Bill an Hillary both lack racial sensitivity."'

Valerie and Michelle worked against the Clintons, keeping them out of the White House and the president's ear.

Neither woman wanted Barack to offer Hillary a position on his cabinet in 2008 or cut a deal with Bill in 2012.

The Clintons were only invited to one dinner at the White House during the four years Hillary served Obama as secretary of state, Klein told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an interview on Monday, and that was on March 1, 2013 after the Clintons helped get Obama reelected to a second term.

Based on the author's account of the dinner conversation in the book, it's not hard to see why Bill and Hillary weren't invited back.

Bill reportedly badgered Barack about the way he was handling the economy, and Hillary impolitely asked Michelle if she planned to copy her husband and run for the Senate in Illinois after her husband's presidency had ended.

At one point in the conversation Bill brought up the 2016 presidential election, telling the president, '"You have to use your organization to aid the candidate in 2016."'

'"Really?"' Obama replied sarcastically. Then, 'Obama took out his Blackberry,' Klein told Hannity, 'and started playing with it under the table while Bill was talking . . . to send a message, I don't care what you say.'

Conflict between the Clintons and the Obamas dates back to the 2008 presidential election when Hillary and Barack competed against each other in the Democratic Primary.

Tension between the two presidential candidates and their families peaked after Obama's campaign disingeniously labeled Bill as a racist Southerner.

'"I hate that man Obama more than any man I've ever met, more than any man who ever lived,"' Klein says Bill Clinton told a friend after the incident.

In her recently released book Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton says she and Obama met to 'clear the air' at California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's house before the 2008 Democratic National Convention. At that meeting, Hillary says Obama apologized for the way his campaign treated Bill, and she and the president buried the hatchet.

In a joint 60 minutes interview days before Hillary's departure from the State Department last year, Obama said he was an 'admirer' of Hillary's and called her a 'strong friend.' 'I wanted to publicly say thank you ... I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve had,' Obama said.

Behind the smiles and kind words, the two politicians were secretly seething at each other, still, if Klein's account is accurate.

A source close to Jarrett told Klein that one time 'Hillary jabbed Obama's chest with her finger to make a point' during a confrontation.

After Hillary resigned, the Clintons came to the conclusion that Barack had no intention of helping Hillary ascend to the presidency.

'"He’s convinced himself he’s been a brilliant president, and wants to clone himself — to find his Mini-Me,"' Bill Clinton is said to have told he and Hillary's daughter Chelsea.

'"He’s hunting for someone to succeed him, and he believes the American people don’t want to vote for someone who’s been around for a long time. He thinks that your mother and I are what he calls 'so 20th century'. He’s looking for ­another Barack Obama."'



Red Cross crookedness: Calls Sandy Spending 'Trade Secret' -- WON'T SAY HOW IT SPENT THE $300M IT RAISED

The Red Cross raised more than $300 million for Superstorm Sandy disaster relief, but it is refusing to say how it raised or spent the cash. After ProPublica filed a public records request for the information, the Red Cross hired a law firm to block the release of some documents. The lawyers argued that the information is a "trade secret" and if it was disclosed, "the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross's business model for an increased competitive advantage."

The Red Cross is a public charity with a federal charter to provide disaster relief, so it's not clear who its "competitors" are, ProPublica notes. The Red Cross says it wants "proprietary information important to maintaining our ability to raise funds and fulfill our mission" to remain confidential, but the use of the "trade secret" exemption is not "something you would expect from an organization that purports to be 'transparent and accountable,'" says a spokesman for the Disaster Accountability Project watchdog group. "Donors have a right to know" what is being done with the money, writes Laura Northrup at Consumerist, "but the Red Cross refuses to even separate out how much money budgeted for certain expenses was spent during the disaster, and how much allocated for future efforts." (As of last spring, the Red Cross was still sitting on more than a third of Sandy donations.)



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

WWI: Parallels today

By Anatole Kaletsky

Why does the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand — the event that lit the fuse of World War One 100 years ago Saturday — still resonate so powerfully? Virtually nobody believes World War Three will be triggered by recent the military conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq or the China seas, yet many factors today mirror those that led to the catastrophe in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

The pace of globalization was almost as dramatic and confusing in 1914 as it is today. Fear of random terrorism was also widespread — the black-hatted anarchist clutching a fizzing bomb was a cartoon cliché then just as the Islamic jihadist is today. Yet the crucial parallel may be the complacent certainty that economic interdependence and prosperity had made war inconceivable — at least in Europe.

A 1910 best-selling book, The Great Illusion, used economic arguments to demonstrate that territorial conquest had become unprofitable, and therefore global capitalism had removed the risk of major wars. This view, broadly analogous to the modern factoid that there has never been a war between two countries with a MacDonald’s outlet, became so well established that, less than a year before the Great War broke out, the Economist reassured its readers with an editorial titled “War Becomes Impossible in Civilized World.”

“The powerful bonds of commercial interest between ourselves and Germany,” the Economist insisted, “have been immensely strengthened in recent years … removing Germany from the list of our possible foes.”

The real “Great Illusion,” of course, turned out to be the idea that economic self-interest made wars obsolete. Yet a variant of this naïve materialism has returned. It underlies, for example, the Western foreign policy that presents economic sanctions on Russia or Iran as a substitute for political compromise or military intervention.

The truth, as the world discovered in 1914 and is re-discovering today in Ukraine, the Middle East and the China seas, is that economic interests are swept aside once the genie of nationalist or religious militarism is released. As I pointed out in this column, Russia has in past conflicts withstood economic losses unimaginable to politicians and diplomats in the Western world — and the same is true of Iran and China. Thus the U.S. strategy of “escalating economic costs” cannot be expected to achieve major geopolitical objectives, such as preserving Ukraine’s borders or Japan’s uninhabited islands. Either territory must be open to renegotiation or the West must be prepared to fight to protect the “sanctity” of borders, which shows the really unsettling parallels with the world of 1914.

Though historians continue to debate World War One’s proximate causes, two key destabilizing features of early 20th-century geopolitics created the necessary conditions for the sudden spiral into all-consuming conflict: the rise and fall of great powers, and the over-zealous observance of mutual-defense treaties. These features are now returning to destabilize geopolitics a century later.

The great power rotation of 1914 saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in decline with Germany ascendant. Meanwhile, Britain, with France and Russia as junior partners, sought to maintain dominance in Europe. But their money, military resources and political perseverance were running out.

Today, Russia is a declining power and China is rising, while the United States is trying to maintain the 20th-century balance of power, with Europe and Japan as junior partners. Under these conditions, both rising and declining powers often conflict with nations currently in control.

The rising powers want to extend their territory or correct perceived historic wrongs. They challenge the status quo — as China is doing in its neighboring seas. The declining powers, meanwhile, want to prevent territorial erosion and avoid diplomatic humiliations. Countries like Russia today or Austria-Hungary in 1914 clash with the dominant powers presiding over what seems to them a natural and inevitable decline. The United States and Europe see no reason why Russia should object to the enlargement of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But to Russia this looks like territorial aggression and encirclement by hostile forces.

Rising and declining powers naturally tend to unite against the status quo leaders. In 1914, for example, Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire did this against France, Britain and Russia; today it is logical for China and Russia to collaborate against the United States, the European Union and Japan.

This logic has been reinforced recently by the Obama administration’s odd decision to re-emphasize its support for Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in their territorial disputes with China, at the same time as it confronts Russia in Ukraine.

Which brings me to the clearest lesson from 1914: the pernicious nexus of treaties and alliances that commit great powers to fight on behalf of other countries. This turned localized conflicts into regional or global wars — and did so with terrifying speed and unpredictability.

The obvious examples today are NATO and the U.S.-Japanese mutual defense treaty, which in theory commit the United States to launch wars against Russia or China if they encroached on disputed territories in Eastern Europe or the East China Sea. Could such treaties act as a hair-trigger for global war, as in 1914?

Consider this statement by General Sir Richard Shirreff, formerly NATO’s second most senior military officer at a debate about Russia: “Everyone surely agrees that we would be ready to go to war to defend Britain’s borders. Well, as a NATO member, Britain’s borders are now in Latvia.”

It may seem almost impossible that Washington would go to war against Beijing to defend some uninhabited Japanese islands. Or against Moscow over some decrepit mining towns in Donbas, if Ukraine ever joined NATO. In early 1914, though, it seemed almost impossible that Britain and France would go to war with Germany to defend Russia against Austria-Hungary over a dispute with Serbia.

Yet by June 28, war moved straight from impossible to inevitable — without ever passing through improbable. Four years later, 10 million people had died.



A very sad centenary

The immediate trigger for WWI was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. That was exactly 100 years ago.

So what caused that dreadful war? The conventional answer -- some remnant of wartime propaganda -- is GERMANY. Yet the actual first declaration of war was by Austria

The murderous Princip was a Serbian terrorist who shot both the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife as they travelled in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia. As a result, Austria declared war on Serbia.

When the German Kaiser heard of the shootings he expressed the opinion that there was no need for Austria to go to war. But Austria declared war before he could make his views known. So it was not the German Kaiser who was a "warmonger".

The Austro/Serbian war would have remained a local Yugoslav conflict except for the NEXT thing that happened. The Russian Tsar had fatherly feelings towards Serbia so HE declared war on Austria. So it was Russia that started the ball rolling. Once Russia had declared war, the German Kaiser had to declare war pursuant to his treaty with Austria. Then the French declared war with Germany pursuant to their treaty with Russia and it was all on.

So it seems to me that the Russian Tsar was the guilty party in starting that war.

As regards the nature of that war, however, it was the Japanese who were to blame. At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan was already a respected military power and their destruction of the Russian navy in 2005 cemented that reputation throughout Europe.

And the Japanese strategy in land warfare was to soften up the enemy positions with artillery fire and then send troops charging against the enemy positions in "suicidal" attacks. But the Japanese were generally up against inferior and less motivated troops so their charges generally succeeded. This was perceived by Westerners as an example of what bravery, martial spirit and heroism could achieve. They admired it greatly. So they adopted the same strategy for themselves in WWI. But in WWI they were up against tougher opposition so the "heroic" tactics were just slaughter that achieved very little other than exhausting both sides.

It was only when fresh troops arrived from America that the end of the war came.

We can only mourn that terrible conflict and the stupidity that made it so terrible

I always think of Gavrilo Princip's deed as a prime example of why one should not do evil deeds in a good cause. Leftists routinely excuse evil or oppressive deeds on the grounds that they are in a good cause. "You've got to break eggs to make omelettes", they say. Stalin thought that killing all the rich peasants would fix all Russia's problems. In fact it just produced big food shortages. Gavrilo Princip thought that shooting the Archduke would get a better deal for Serbs. In fact it brought on the death of the 10 million or so people who died in WWI. -- JR

UPDATE: I have had some expressions of skepticism about the role I ascribed to Japan. More on that here.

27 June, 2014

Evading censorship

Evading Leftist censorship can be a real problem. Conservative internet sites will often be blocked in businesses, libraries, colleges and government departments. And this site is one that sometimes falls victim to that. Most readers of this bloig have long ago found ways around such blocks -- mostly by logging on only at home -- but there can be problems with some ISPs even there. And some conservatives are poor -- particularly among the sick and elderly -- so depend on public facilities such as libraries for their internet access. So they are sometimes blocked.

And then there is the bamboo curtain. Chinese censorship is erratic but it does often block this blog to readers in China. I have, however, only a few readers there so it is no big deal and I think they have all found routes around the bamboo curtain anyway.

So what all that has been leading up to is a reminder of the ways I endeavour to provide routes around censorship of my blogs. My contribution is to put up "mirrors" of my blogs on sites that are not known to be subject to blocking. A mirror of this blog is, for instance, to be found here or here
. I update it about once a week. I update it more often if I am having trouble with blogspot.

Mirrors for Greenie Watch are here or here.

Mirrors for Tongue Tied are here or here.

Mirrors for Political Correctness Watch are here or here.

For various reasons, however, the hosting services for my blog mirrors change from time to time so as a "One stop shop" for finding out where all the mirrors are at any given time see here or here.

Some links above may be a bit slow-loading.


America's border inundated with almost 50,000 child migrants

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters - some as young as three - have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents. And the American authorities are struggling to cope

The shocking images captured young faces pressed blankly up against thick glass panes and hundreds of children huddled under aluminium-foil blankets on concrete floors behind chain fences and barbed wire.

The pictures were filmed not in Third World refugee camps but in US border patrol stations where authorities have been overwhelmed by an unparalleled wave of unaccompanied children pouring across the frontier.

These were the scenes from tours of crowded holding centres in South Texas and Arizona after the media was given access for the first time to the facilities since the surge reached what President Barack Obama described as an "urgent humanitarian situation".

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters, some as young as three, have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents, up 92 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Nearly 10,000 were caught last month alone and the number is on track to hit 130,000 by the end of the year.

Three quarters are from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, and most entered through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, a state which has run out of facilities to hold them.

Thousands are now being flown by US authorities to military bases in Oklahoma and California, and a barren warehouse in Nogales, Arizona.

The US government has blamed an epidemic of gang violence in the Central American countries for the influx.

Some Republicans have countered that Mr Obama's decision in 2012 to defer deportation of adults who arrived in the US illegally as children has contributed to the crisis by bolstering hopes of an amnesty for undocumented minors.

But arguably the greatest impact has been erroneous rumours spreading in Central America that minors arriving alone would be granted "permits" to stay in the US – when in reality they are issued with "permisios" (notices) to appear in deportation hearings.

As the crisis deepened, Mr Obama spoke on Thursday with Enrique Pena Nieto, his Mexican counterpart, about a strategy to tackle the flood.

Barbara Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, included up to $2.28 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to feed and shelter the estimated 130,000 minors expected to arrive in the coming year.

And Joe Biden, the vice president, added a stop in Guatemala on Friday to a scheduled Latin America trip to meet Central American leaders for talks on the dilemma.

"We're approaching this issue with a shared recognition that the current situation is not sustainable," Mr Biden told Guatemalan President Otto Perez at a joint press appearance.

"It is unacceptable. And we have a shared responsibility to take significant steps to address this issue."

Democrats sought to re-frame the deepening crisis as one of refugees rather than immigration. "Let's be clear: This is not an immigration crisis," said Sen Bob Menendez during a press conference to unveil a package of new proposals for addressing the crisis. "This is a humanitarian and refugee crisis. "It's being caused in large measure by thousands in Central America who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying, than stay and die for sure."

As politicians argued, Father Heyman Vazquez, who runs a migrant shelter in Mexico, described the harsh realities on the ground. "I remember a little boy of nine-years-old and I asked if he was going to go meet someone (in the US), and he told me 'No, I'm just going hand myself over because I hear they help kids'," he said.

John McCain, a Republican senator for Arizona, has called for the deployment of 1,500 extra border agents to deter illegal immigrants and said the influx "deserves the attention of all of us".

He added: "There has to be some kind of organised effort that is bringing them here. The average five or-six-year-old doesn't just randomly decide to leave home one day."

With no sign that the surge is easing, federal officials have been putting the children on military bases until they can be united with family members in the US or put through the straining deportation process.

But even as the causes of the influx are debated, the human faces of the crisis had been largely hidden from public sight.

After visiting a makeshift shelter in Nogales, Arizona, Tony Benegas, the Honduran honorary consul, said "it breaks my heart" to see "hundreds of kids laying in these cages, and they're wired, and sleeping on plastic containers".

Arturo Garino, the mayor of Nogales, who was eventually allowed access to the site, told The Telegraph that he had seen 1,000 children – about a quarter of them aged under 12 and some as young as three.

"I talked to some of the kids and everybody's trying to get to the promised land, which is the United States of America.

"Some of them are very young, three-or-four-years-old. There are no grown-ups there, it's unbelievable.

"These are just children. I can't understand how they traveled 1,500 miles from Central America to the Mexican border. I know there is poverty and persecution but a lot of people die on this trip, it's very, very dangerous.

"Our government needs to ask questions of the countries in Central America to find out what's happening over there."

Mr Garino said conditions inside the warehouse had improved, that doctors and vaccinations were available, and separate catering areas have been set up for boys and girls. Some of the children were playing with frisbees when he visited.

He said children were being kept there for between three and five days before being sent on to one of the military bases being readied to take them in Oklahoma and California.

After arriving, the children enter a legal process in which they are either deported to their home countries, or released to the care of relatives already in the US.

Mr Benegas said he believed the vast majority had relatives with some form of legal status in the US.

Campaign groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a complaint with the US government alleging that a total of 116 of the migrant children, aged from five to 17, had suffered abuse at the hands of Customs and Border Protection agents, including sexual assault and beatings, denial of medical care, and not being given enough food and water.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman refuted the allegations. "In the face of overwhelming numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the border in South Texas, US Border Patrol agents have taken extraordinary measures to care for these children while in custody and to maintain security in overcrowded facilities," he said.

The controversy about the influx has in recent days stretched far beyond the border – as far afield, indeed, as a small town in southern Virginia.

Desperate for extra accommodation to cope with the surge, the federal government had signed a lease to house 500 children in an empty college in Lawrenceville. But the authorities were forced to put the plan on hold after a backlash by locals in the town of 1,400

"I was just shocked," said Brian Roberts, the local sheriff. "The way this process has been handled puts more fear in our eyes, because it's been shoved down our throat.

"Five hundred kids unaccounted for – illegal alien children in my little sleepy town – I just don't think it's the right fit for this community."



That Cuyahoga River fire thing

Tim Worstall

It's amazing how often the received wisdom about past events turns out to be completely and entirely wrong. For example, in the US, the story of the Cuyahoga river catching fire in 1969 is seen as hving been the spark (sorry) that led to the Clean Water Act and thus the cleaning up of america's rivers. You know the sort of thing, brave Federal bureaucrats saving us all from filthy capitalism.

But the truly interesting thig is that this river fire wasn't by any means the first one in the US: actually, it was the last. And that photograph of it isn't even of that 1969 fire: it's of one on the same river 15 years earlier.

Fires were costly and dangerous, so action was taken long before the federal government got involved. In Cleveland, efforts had been made to reduce the fire threat on and off in the first part of the 20th century, but by the time of the 1952 fire — a major conflagration — local civic and business leaders had had enough, and they stepped up their efforts. This not only reduced the fire threat, but also sparked other efforts to improve the river’s health in the 1960s. In 1968, Cleveland voters approved a $100 million bond issue to finance river cleanup efforts, including sewer system improvements, debris removal, and stormwater overflow controls.

By comparison, in 1968 the federal government only spent $180 million nationwide on water quality and pollution control efforts and was still mostly concerned with ensuring navigability of waterways, even at the expense of maintaining water quality.

Against the backdrop of slow but deliberate local action, the 1969 fire was a reminder of how things had been, and reinforced the need for continued progress.

This rather reminds me of our own dear Clean Air Act in the UK. There most certainly was a 1956 act. But air quality has been improving in London since 1500 according to Bjorn Lomborg. And there's no real difference in the rate of improvement before or after the 1956 act.



Federal judge: US no-fly list violates Constitution

The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.

"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling.

"Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown said.

The decision hands a major victory to the 13 plaintiffs - four of them veterans of the U.S. military - who deny they have links to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they arrived at an airport and were blocked from boarding a flight.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought suit against the policy in 2010, argues that secrecy surrounding the list and lack of any reasonable opportunity for plaintiffs to fight their placement on it violates their clients' constitutional rights to due process.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

What Liberals Want

In the superb, Tony-winning Best Play All the Way - now at Broadway's Neil Simon Theater - Tony-winning Best Actor Bryan Cranston brilliantly portrays President Lyndon Baines Johnson. In this comedy-drama tour de force, LBJ works furiously to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, later, launches the War on Poverty.

While a nearly three-hour play necessarily misses a few things, All the Way seems to epitomize Great Society liberalism: Fight discrimination, fund social programs, shower, repeat. As for the general public, if you want to eat lunch, heat your home, or watch baseball, knock yourself out; Washington has fatter fish to fry.

LBJ likely would be appalled, however, with the scope of modern liberalism. Far beyond even his expansive definition of Big Government, Obama and his ilk try to choreograph every step of American life. There seems to be no detail too minute nor any activity too obscure to avoid what today's liberals crave more than anything else: control.

"Control over the economy. Control over our health care. Control over the government. Control over our lives," Terrence Scanlon, president of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C., recently wrote. "That's what drives their every move in politics and in public policy. They'll settle for nothing less than total control over virtually everything in this country."

Modern liberalism has little to do with sticking up for the little guy or comforting the poor. It's all about telling people what to do - around the clock. Amplifying the efforts of the often busybody Bush administration, Obama has replaced Uncle Sam with a giant millipede whose spindly limbs reach everywhere. Each aspect of American life, regardless of size, and each spot on the map, regardless of distance, has become fair game for Washington's intrusion - usually in the most costly and high-handed fashion possible.

The recently released Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions is to red tape what trailers are to motion pictures. Every six months, via this document, 55 different federal departments, agencies, and boards preview their coming attractions. The Energy Department, for instance, is producing 80 new rules, such as: "Energy Conservation Standards for Wine Chillers," "Energy Efficiency Standards for Automatic Commercial Ice Makers," and "Test Procedures for Ceiling Fans."

The 182 regulations in the Commerce Department's pipeline include "Fishing Vessel Capital Construction Fund Procedures," "Pacific Coast Whiting Fishery for 2014," and "Red Snapper Allocation."

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing 132 new regulations, including "Rulemaking on the Definition of Solid Waste."

"The distinctive look of San Francisco street signs goes back farther than just about any of us," Victoria Nguyen wrote in SF Bay. That beautiful city has plenty to offer, including its big, tough, manly street names. They appear on signs with bold, strong, black capital letters on a white background. POWELL. MASON. SUTTER. TAYLOR. JONES. UNION. HYDE. These signs are sui generis, which makes them worth visiting San Francisco to savor.

But hurry, because Obama and his Washington know-it-alls are stamping them out, along with others across America, all the way to New York City.

These locally designed and revered signs are being replaced with thin, wimpy, effeminate ones in caps and lower case; the confident SACRAMENTO is becoming the timid Sacramento. As one website reader lamented: "Looks like Anywhere, USA. Another SF tradition gone with the wind."

Even worse, despite federal claims to the contrary, these new signs are harder to read at a distance, largely because the new letters are so small. So, what, really is the point of this exercise?

The U.S. Department of Transportation's 816-page, 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires cities to spend their own taxpayers' dollars not on teachers, cops, and firefighters but on Washington's deadly dull signs, all produced in a boring and generic font called Clearview.

"Our street signs have worked perfectly well for 100 years or more," Milwaukee alderman Bob Donovan told USA Today. "I think it's just the federal government run amok. If they don't have far more important things to deal with, they're not doing their job."

The EPA dislikes the wood-burning stoves that heat some 12 million U.S. homes. So it is requiring that new stoves be 80 percent cleaner, a truly fanciful objective. If you live in a rural area - far from the natural-gas grid - good luck warming your house, especially since propane nearly has doubled in price, thanks to the brutal winter.

A group of parents in Plymouth, Mich., raised some $15,000 in private money and built a new set of bleachers for the local high school's boys' baseball field. The new, stadium-style seats offered comfort and improved sightlines.

"Foul!" yelled the umpires at the U.S. Department of Education. This new, privately financed structure violated Title IX, they complained, since the girls' softball field had no such renovations. So did Washington's bleachercrats demand similar benches for the girls' diamond? Incredibly, the feds ordered the school to yank out the new seats overlooking the boys' field.

"The world is divided into two groups," Fox News host Tucker Carlson remarked on Fox & Friends. "One group looks at the situation and says, ‘Let's improve the girls' field. Let's make it as nice as the boys' field.' The other group says, ‘Let's destroy the boys' field.' This is a metaphor for how this administration operates. They want to bring equality to the country. Rather than making the poor richer, they make the rich poorer." Carlson added: "It's like, ‘You've got a broken leg, then I'm going to break my leg. Now we're equal.'"

Brewers and ranchers have had a lovely arrangement for decades. The fermented grains that make beer happen settle in barrels once the good stuff gets poured off. Rather than dump this residue, they sell it to cattle farmers. The cows love this brewing byproduct. It fills their multiple bellies and likely gets them buzzed, to boot.

This symbiosis is just too much for the Food and Drug Administration, which is mulling new ways to force brewers to clean their spent grain before delivering it as livestock feed. The unproven risk that something might go wrong is just way more than what the feds can tolerate. So new regulations threaten to hike costs and frustrate those who bring us suds and steaks.

Likewise, the FDA has decided that, after centuries of doing so safely, artisanal cheese makers no longer can be trusted to use wood planks to age cheese. The Dairy and Egg Branch of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition fears that the wood planks might let bacteria multiply. Of course, there are good bacteria, without which digestion would be impossible. Some cheeses produce such benign bacteria, which make them delicious. Try explaining that to the FDA's germophobomaniacs. Maybe they should fret instead about hospital infections, which kill some 103,000 Americans annually. Wood-aged cheese cannot claim such a death toll.

First lady Michelle Obama's effort to police government-school cafeterias is backfiring badly. Local-school administrators are pinned down by federal rules that govern caloric intake, whole-grain content, and whether "vegetable subgroups" are "dark green, red/orange," or just "starchy." Consequently, unimpressed kids dump unappetizing food by the ton.

The Chicago Tribune quoted a suburban parent exasperated by Washington's micromismanagement of what kids eat in Wheeling, Ill. - 727 miles away from the White House. Said George Marquez: "The government can't control everything."

Alas, Obama & Co. are working feverishly to prove George Marquez wrong.

Rather than focus on a few, core, constitutionally authorized functions (e.g., national security, a justice system, easing interstate commerce, and protecting individual liberty), Team Obama and too many in Washington, D.C., are beyond hyperactive in living our lives for us. It's a wonder that the feds let anyone visit the bathroom unsupervised. (Not so fast! Washington controls even the water capacity of toilets.) Paradoxically, the more that Big Government attempts, the less it actually accomplishes.

Americans must tell the federal government to back off - big time.

Open defiance of such federal idiocy likely will grow more widespread, as well it should. So, if the immeasurably wise in Washington mandate the removal of perfectly fine school bleachers or wood cheese-aging planks, then federal agents can show up and personally pry them out of commission. The victims of such federal abuse, in turn, should invite the news media to chronicle this boneheadedness and educate the American people on how their tax dollars are being put to such idiotic misuse.

Perhaps if the feds actually had to perform this tomfoolery publicly, rather than merely order it, they might stop from sheer exhaustion.



The Left’s Assault on Food Freedom

Meet the food police.

The prohibitionists are at it again. With Michael Bloomberg no longer around to impose his values on hapless New Yorkers, I suppose it was inevitable that someone would take up his mantle as Nutritionist-in-Chief. Granted, Michelle Obama has tried her darnedest, waging a relentless war on fat people ever since her husband took office. But when it comes right down to it, First Ladies aren’t allowed to make laws. That power is vested in Congress, so it will ultimately take a congressman—or woman—to ruin fun and flavor for the nation at large.

Enter Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut congresswoman who thinks what we eat and drink is her business. This enterprising Democrat has taken it upon herself to draft legislation levying an additional excise tax on sodas and other sugary drinks, which she describes as doing “serious damage” to our health.

Where to begin?

First of all, the government—federal or otherwise—has absolutely no business interfering in the consumption choices of individual citizens. No one is laboring under the idea that massive amount of sticky sugar water is great for you, but there are plenty of people who consume soft drinks in moderation without damaging their health in the slightest. By now, everyone understands the tradeoffs they are making when they drink soda instead of water, and they should be free to make those tradeoffs without the meddling hand of government interfering, just as they should be free to consume alcohol, or tobacco, or any other legal substance.

But health is the new religion of the left, the one thing for which it is worth sacrificing all freedoms. The progressive mindset holds that no one should be allowed to damage their own health, and if it takes taxes, fines, penalties, or even jail to keep them in line, so be it. It’s the same pattern of medieval inquisitions, where ensuring salvation for heretics was considered so important that a little torture was a small price to pay. Thankfully, the church has since embraced free will and individual choice, but progressives have been more than happy to fill the paternalistic vacuum by substituting bodily health for God.

Legislation like this is one of the many reasons so many of us feared and resisted a state takeover of health insurance markets a la ObamaCare. When everyone is responsible for everyone else’s health care, collective health becomes everyone’s business. If I have to foot the bill for your obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, I have an incentive to become bossy with respect to your eating habits. That’s why a market in which everyone pays his own way is essential if we want a free society that preserves individual choice.

The irony here is that the policies pushed by Rep. DeLauro and her Democratic colleagues are partially responsible for the problems she claims to want to solve.

“When a two-liter cola is 99 cents and blueberries are over three dollars,” said DeLauro, “something has gone very wrong.”

Why does such a price differential exist, I wonder? Part of it is because government subsidizes corn, from which the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup is made. Soda used to be made with good old fashioned, nutritious, delicious cane sugar, before lawmakers decided to artificially lower the price of corn disproportionately as a favor to agriculture lobbies.

Then there’s the violently elitist, anti-science push to regulate GMOs (repeatedly shown to be absolutely harmless, while resulting in more food at a lower cost) and advocate for organic produce, which is much costlier than conventional agriculture.

Embracing modern agriculture techniques could bring the price of those blueberries down and make for a healthier America, but Democrats would rather punish consumers instead for not adhering to their personal opinions of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

The tax code, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, exists for one purpose, and one purpose only: to raise revenue to finance the essential functions of government. It should never be used to try to manipulate citizens into behaving as politicians think they ought to behave. It is not the place of lawmakers to impose their personal values on the rest of us, nor to strip away our choice of what to consume in a free, legal market.



Omission Control

John Stossel

Reporter Sharyl Attkisson's story sounds familiar to me: A major network got tired of her reports criticizing government. She no longer works there.

The CBS correspondent reported on Fast and Furious, the shifting explanation for the Benghazi, Libya, attacks and the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website.

"But as time went on, it was harder to get stories on," she says.

"There are people who simply would rather just avoid the headache of going after powers that be because of the pushback that comes with it, which has become very organized and well-financed," she says on my TV show this week.

I left ABC for similar reasons. When I began consumer reporting, I assumed advertisers would censor me, since sponsors who paid my bosses wouldn't want criticism. But never in 30 years was a story killed because of advertiser pressure. Not once.

I hear that's changed since, and big advertisers, such as car dealers, do persuade news directors to kill stories.

"I do a lot of reporting on corporate interests and so on, so there's pressure from that end," says Attkisson, but "there's a competing pressure on the ideological end." Right. Ideology affects more stories than "corporate interests." My ABC bosses leaned left. They liked stories about weird external threats from which government can swoop in to rescue you.

They are much less fond of complex stories in which problems are solved subtly by the dynamism of the free market. The invisible hand, after all, is invisible. It works its magic in a million places and makes adjustments every minute. That's hard for reporters to see -- especially when they're not looking for it.

Often, when it comes to news that happens slowly, the media get it utterly wrong. I suspect we get it wrong now about things like global warming, genetically modified foods, almost any story related to science or statistics, or, heck, basic math. Math threatens many reporters.

Combine all that with the news proverb "If it bleeds, it leads," and you get some very misleading, scary reporting.

That's why it's good that there's a new media organization called Retro Report that reveals media hype of the past.

It archives stories like the purported "crack babies" epidemic, Tawana Brawley's being "attacked by six white men," the rise of "super-predator" teenagers, and other disasters that didn't happen -- but did have big effects on public policy, as politicians rushed to fight the imaginary menaces.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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


25 June, 2014

Leftist America -- another view

Whether or not it was always so, America today is undoubtedly dominated by the Left. As I tediously point out at times, the Pilgrim Fathers were such fanatical communists that only the imminent threat of their group being wiped out by starvation budged them from it. And their "progressive" descendants are not much better. They are certainly just as solidly convinced of their own righteousness and the correctness of their own ideas. They have ditched God but their personalities endure

So anything the Left disapprove of today, from race-awareness to dislike of homosexuality to Christianity gets heavily condemned and censored at least -- and may even get the "offender" kicked out of his or her job. And conservative politicians certainly get an infinitely harder time in the media than liberal politicians do. Any criticism of Obama is "racism" but you can call George Bush a Nazi all you like.

The Left are people with no real morality or ethics at all so you can expect no mercy from them. If you bother them in any way, they will knock you down in any way they can -- even if you are one of a "minority" whom they claim to help. They lack the power to do what Stalin did -- wipe out 20 million "class enemies" -- but they do whatever damage they can

But readers have been divided over my claim that America has always been Left-dominated. That is partly because the Left changes its tune whenever convenience suits so the Leftism of the past is not as visible from today's perspective. One has to be clear on what basic Leftism is for the Leftism of the past to become obvious. In one short sentence, Leftism is an anger-driven hunger for sweeping change.

Another misunderstanding is that I was claiming that America was more Leftist than some other places. I was not. I am quite happy to acknowledge that Leftism is far more dominant in various other countries. That does not diminish its overriding influence in America, however.

I should also add that I have no quarrel with the splendid ideals enunciated at the time of independence and which are still held dear by many Americans today. I just don't think they have ever had much influence on actual policy. They have mainly received lip service only.

I put up yesterday one of the emails that opposed my claims so I think it is only fair to put up another email that was broadly in agreement with me. Thomas Anger, who blogs here writes as follows:

"I don't agree that America has always been leftist because I don't buy into abstractions like "America." There are and have been individual Americans of many political persuasions, most of them confused and contradictory.

That said, as an enlightened libertarian (i.e., Burkean conservative) I do agree with your characterization of the motives of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For example, a latter-day romantic, Timothy Sandefur (author of The Conscience of the Constitution), asserted that "The American founders held that people are inherently free—that is, no person has a basic entitlement to dictate how other people may lead their lives." I responded:

"Did they, really? All of them, including the slave owners? Or did they simply want to relocate the seat of power from London to the various State capitals, where local preferences (including anti-libertarian ones) could prevail? Wasn't that what the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were all about? The Constitution simply moved some of the power toward the national capital, mainly for the conduct of foreign policy and trade. Despite that, the Constitution was a "States' rights" document, and remained that way until the ratification of Amendment XIV, from which much anti-libertarian mischief has emanated."

Later, I wrote:

"Why can't you [Sandefur] just admit that the Declaration of Independence was a p.r. piece, penned (in the main) by a slave-owner and subscribed to by various and sundry elites who (understandably) resented their treatment at the hands of a far-away sovereign and Parliament? You're trying to make more of the Declaration -- laudable as its sentiments are -- than should be made of it."

In sum, the War of Independence isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And there's no doubt that liberty suffered in the long run as a result of the North's victory in the Civil War. But, in my view, those historical missteps have little to do with "left" (or "right") and much to do with human venality and power-lust, which are found in persons of all political persuasions.

The genius of the Constitution was that it provided mechanisms for curbing the anti-libertarian effects of venality and power-lust. The tragedy of the Constitution is that those mechanisms have been destroyed. If you were to say that Americans have gradually lost their liberty through successive and cumulative violations of the Constitution, I would agree with you.

And if you were to say that Americans are the captives of a leftist state, and are likely to remain so, I would agree with you.

In any event, I have been and will remain a faithful reader of Dissecting Leftism, which provides a valuable service in exposing the left's anti-libertarian motives and actions."


Hell is Other Americans

It is some time since I recycled a post from Gagdad Bob so I am delighted to find him still in full spate. I reproduce his latest below. He is a whimsical writer but he has got the Left pretty much down to a "T". A small caution: His usage of the word "pneumatic" gives no allegiance to Mr Dunlop's splendid invention. Bob must know some Greek. The Greek "pneuma" can be translated as "spirit" and Bob uses "pneumatic" to mean something like "spiritual"

To be conservative is, among other things, to follow the evidence where it leads. It should be the very opposite of ideological pneumapathologies, which superimpose secondary realities on the first and expect reality to fall into line. But reality always has the last word, which is why leftism is bound to fail.

To be American is to love freedom (including free markets), limited constitutional government, and rule of law; and to respect the individual, private property, and natural law more generally.

How about the purpose of education, especially in the context of the principles outlined above? In order to be capable of self-rule, one must be capable of ruling oneself. In other words, before you presume to dominate others, might you not want to be capable of dominating yourself? Just a thought.

Only such a minimally mature person is in a position to influence "the public toward responsible freedom and limited government by the state" (Moore). Conversely, people who are incapable of self rule are precisely those who will support an ever-expanding (and anti-American) state to control and dominate them.

This is seen in its extreme form in the African American demographic, which is responsible for such a disproportionate percentage of crime, while at the same time, provide such disproportional support for the criminal enterprise known as government (in its un- and anti-American forms).

Why does this happen? One obvious reason is the absence of fathers. The father is a necessary source of order in the male soul, so we shouldn't be surprised by the cultural disorder that results from their widespread absence. One cannot simply wish away the father principle just because the father is physically absent, any more than one can wish away God, aggression, or sexuality. Rather, they simply return in disguised and transformed ways.

Thus, the void created by the absence of black fathers is filled by the prison system. The welfare state is overall a form of feminine fascism, but the prison system is its masculine consort. One hand swaddles, indulges, and forgives, while the other hand persecutes and punishes.

The IRS is not a proper masculine entity, since it is so sneaky, unprincipled, and arbitrary. Rather, it is more like the female enforcer. It is either Big Mama Lois Lerner or this creepy pervert. Whatever it is, it has no honor, no courage, no virtue. Imagine putting citizens through such hell, but scurrying for the nearest rathole at the first hint of accountability.

I don't really like the term "self-domination." True, success in life is predicated on an element of will directed toward the self, especially in the early phases of growth (which is true of any endeavor, from sport to music to writing). However, this should be preparatory to integration, otherwise one is at permanent war with oneself.

Which one is, or at least one must always have a strong military presence so as to pacify mind parasites and other internal saboteurs and pneumatic troublemakers. Weakness is provocative, whether in geopolitics, national governance, or intra-personal harmony.

Obama is a curious combination of weakness before enemies and hostility toward decent Americans, with predictable consequences. On the political plane he is repeating the pattern of a weak or absent father and a domineering, flaky, arbitrary, and crazy-making mother, with no appeal to reason or law or consistency. I suppose he wants to inflict his hellish childhood on the rest of us -- a hell that was papered over by the indulgence of racial preference and low expectations in general.

Back to integration. One thing we want to integrate is the mother and father principle, but that is difficult to do if you never experienced them. We also want to integrate adult and child, knowledge and wisdom, body and soul, and other complementarities. Moore writes of the "integrated person, in whom the head, heart, and spirit, the rational, affective and spiritual, are educated and developed."

Which is precisely what public schools do not do, because integrated citizens would be fatal to the leftist project.

Rather, statism simultaneously relies upon and creates the atomized, shriveled, and disordered souls who are its primary constituents and clients. There is no defensible or articulate "idea" at the heart of leftism, which is why it cannot be defeated on the cognitive plane. Reagan knew this about communism. Why argue with a communist? Rather, just kick him in the nuts.

Can you imagine tying to have a rational conversation with Harry Reid? The problem there is that you can't kick a eunuch in the nuts. Nor can you shame a leftist, since they are always shielded by their intrinsic moral superiority.

As we have suggested before, leftism is a conspiracy between the overeducated and the uneducable, the policies of the former driving the latter into such hopeless dysfunction that then becomes the pretext for ever-expanding and intrusive rule by the overeducated.

Who are these overeducated? Probably 75% of the people who have attended college, since colleges have had to so drastically reduce their standards so as to accommodate those hordes of uneducable. As a result, getting a PhD in the liberal arts is easier than it used to be to graduate high school. But since these people are credentialed beyond their intellectual station and have no real-world skills, they really have only two career options to exercise their uselessness: education or government. Or maybe journalism, which combines the worst of each.

Which is how we end up being ruled by ungovernable savages and educated by indoctrinated mediocrities.

"The problem in our Progressive (not Libertarian) Age is this: those at the center of the Pew scatterplots are not a class of temperate philosophers. Rather, they’re the politically disengaged and ideologically inconsistent. This is perhaps the part of the American citizenry least suited for popular government—one that acts politically, if and when it acts politically, primarily from impulse and passion. Ideational ignorance and material need are its calling cards, often mixed with a bit of sanctimony for being above the political fray. This combination makes it the group most susceptible to the demagogue and the one least willing to do the hard work (thinking) necessary to cast a responsible vote."



The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

It is a line I have used to open speeches on the lecture circuit for years and it never fails to get a laugh: "I'm happy to be here tonight from Washington, D.C., where the only politicians with convictions are in prison."

That's only partially true. Democrats have convictions. They know what to do with power when they get it and how to isolate, even punish, any member of their party who dares to take a different position on an issue. Republicans seem to constantly react to the policies of Democrats or slam each other instead of making a case for the superiority of their ideas. It doesn't help Republicans that they lack the Democrats' uniformity.

President Obama's approval ratings continue to plummet while polls showing that voters think the country is on the "wrong track" seem to be on the rise. Republicans should focus less on scandals and policy failures and begin promoting a positive, inspirational and motivational message that reminds Americans of who we are, where we came from and what we can be again. Rather than settle for a Democratic nanny state, Republicans should feature in their speeches, political ads and conversations the virtues of liberty and the benefits and personal satisfaction that come from the power within each of us to make decisions that can improve any life far better than government.

Telling America's story might inspire a younger generation to reach back and consider the values that sustained this nation in the face of numerous challenges. Good history is worth repeating.

Cynics might say it is too late, that government has grown too big and there are far too many dependent on it to turn the country around and embrace liberty and personal responsibility. What the country needs is the political equivalent of a Rev. Billy Graham to rally the nation. A spiritual revival would be even better, but that's for a Higher Authority to direct.

Americans should never have to "settle," even in the midst of a failed presidency, as this one is by any objective standard. Americans have always believed we can do things better than other nations and we have proved it in the past.

inspiration-motivation-perspiration, rather than the envy-entitlement-greed culture in which we are now immersed. "We can do better," said John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign. Indeed we can. Indeed we must.

As I write in my book "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America," we didn't just crawl out of a cave; we don't have to discover fire or invent the wheel. We have a history of problems that were solved, challenges met and innovation encouraged and rewarded. Why do we continue to conduct political discourse that sounds like stale sitcom dialog and lob the same rehearsed and focus-grouped sound bites at each other to no effect? Why not try something old that worked?

Given their party's deplorable state of disunion and the country's fixation on self, a Republican "revivalist" will have to sell his or her platform based on self-interest, featuring men and women who have overcome by making right choices, if we can still define "right" in a country that increasingly considers all choices equal.

Republicans should promise that if voters allow them to regain control of all three branches of government, an outside auditor will be named to go through the federal government, recommending to Congress which agencies can be reduced in size or even eliminated. Congress would require itself to accept the auditor's findings, as with the Defense Base Realignment and Closing Commission, which has been charged with increasing the Defense Department's efficiency by the realignment and closure of unnecessary U.S. military installations.

This will be a challenge for Republicans. We'll soon know if they can meet it and, more importantly, whether voters will respond to such a message. The time may be right for someone with real convictions and the courage to state them, regardless of what polls say.

Meanwhile, God save us from popular opinion and from politicians whose only convictions come in a courtroom.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Has America always been Leftist?

As I anticipated, my claim that America has always been Leftist provoked some of my patriotic readers. Some even insulted me by telling me that I am a pacifist. I was in fact in my youth (in the Vietnam era!) a Sergeant in the Australian Army, so I am no pacifist. That dull document above is my discharge certificate.

What I oppose is not war but wars fought primarily to empower elites and I think both of America's civil wars fall into that category. They were not necessary wars in any sense.

But I did learn something very important from my critics. It was vividly brought home to me how impressive fine words are to most people. When even patriotic American conservatives can be taken in by them, it shows why Leftists have so much influence. Leftists are nothing but fine words. To me fine words are only provisionally important. They have to be backed up by deeds and it is the deeds that matter.

An excellent example of how fine words impress even conservatives is the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. It is full of fine words and noble sentiments. Most political documents are. Stalin's Soviet constitution also was a high-minded document proclaiming all sorts of rights for Soviet citizens -- rights which were denied in fact.

So once you look past the grand generalizations of the Declaration's introduction and get to the nitty gritty of what the Yankee grandees really wanted fixed, you see that it is very mundane, if not ignoble. What was really bothering them was restrictions on their powers to legislate. They wanted more laws, not less! Very Leftist.

And from THAT starting point you can see why the war was fought and for whose benefit. The grandees concerned had a lot of influence and were good at fine talk so they could muster an army -- and they did. And who benefited from the war? Was it the poor farmers and tradesmen who died as foot-soldiers in it? No way! It was the grandees who started the war. They emerged with exactly what they wanted: More power.

I am sorry if that account sounds offensive to people who still believe the original propaganda, but if you ignore the fancy talk and just look at the facts, that is what happened.

I reproduce the most articulate of the objections I have received, I will add some further comments at the foot of it. As you see, it is a reasoned letter, not the mere foaming and abusive anger we get from Leftists:

I'm not here to express any kind of anger over your posting, but I will confess a great deal of surprise. You appear to be using the same intellectually dishonest method liberals commonly employ in that you present a great deal of material that is technically factual, but so bereft of context that it presents a completely distorted picture. For example:

"As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists. They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally. If that's not communism, nothing is."

They forbad private ownership because the most modern economic theory of the time they knew theorized that this would improve output and standard of living. They tested the theory. The leader recorded the results, saw the problems, and instituted free market reforms. These are not the actions of "fanatical communists." As we have seen in other countries, "fanatical communists" don't care about how many are starving. They stick to the theory despite the facts or cost.

"That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired. Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside."

I assume that you mean independence and abolition of slavery. Quite true. It is far less obvious how well Australia may have fared on independence had they been of equal value to the empire financially and had America not set the precedent that the British could be thrown out.

As for slavery, I am delighted that Australia came to the same conclusions about slavery as other Western type countries without the need for violence on a national level, though I still hold that slavery was only part of the issue.

Anyway, I hope you are justifiably thankful to Christianity, since it was the only religion/movement that united peoples in the nations to abolish slavery. The atheists, Muslims, and other groups were quite content with the status quo as far as slavery was concerned, at least to the extent that none of them were going to put up serious opposition to it.

"So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists?"

A more accurate question might be "So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of Europeans?" I think the answer is a society that eventually comes to reflect the type of society that these Europeans set up, which is where we are heading. I note in some of your blog entries that Australia, though better in some instances, has hardly been immune. My theory, unprovable of course, is that most of the types that really tended towards socialism stayed in Europe for a long time. It was the hearty and adventurous that risked life and limb to have opportunity in a new land. Later, as it became safer and more affluent, the parasitic class began to immigrate in mass. So it goes.

"Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke. It was pro-liberty for the elite only."

From the Declaration: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

In religious circles, I would say that you were "straining out a gnat" to "swallow a camel." Don't misunderstand me: I am making no excuse or justification for how imperfectly the priniciples played out or were implemented. But the goal, the ideal, was there, and it was liberty.

Your takes on the causes behind the US entry into the world wars is interesting. It is also dripping with pacifist venom. I'll not bother to address such simplistic assertions here. If you would like to discuss the matter separately sometime, feel free to contact me. I will only say that history is full of examples of what becomes of nations that avoid war at all cost. The French were a great example in the run-up to WWII.

"So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields? Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives? It's simple. America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years."

A gross over-simplification as an attempt explanation. I would ignore it entirely, but for one phrase: "America is a huge beneficiary of the fact"

The "fact" is couched in language to make it seem that America won some kind of international lottery, or randomly drew a good card from some deck in a politics game. America had what the men who met and debated and formed the Constitution chose. While not perfect, it was far from random.

"And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom. Australia is third. Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes."

That is the present. The past tells a much different story. Contrary to your assertion that "Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous" what began its existence as a group of colonies, damaged by internal war and strife, rose in a remarkably short period of time to become the economic world leader. In short order, much older European countries were sending their economists to see how we were "doing it" so that they could share in the prosperity.

Is America in decline? Undoubtedly. Quite sad for me, because I am a patriot, and I see no end to that decline in sight. It's not just a matter of policies and politics, you see, but a matter of faith. While we embraced a Christian identity in our nation, we rose. It was a flawed, imperfect rise, probably because it was a flaw, imperfect Christianity, made of nothing but flawed, imperfect people. Yet while we held to our faith on a national scale, we improved. It may or may not have occurred to you that most of the countries with the best record on civil rights have strong Christian heritages. Those values are in decline now. As a result, so is liberty and prosperity. I accept that, with sadness.

But to try to make the case that the United States was founded or organized in a lingering way on what we consider modern leftist principles doesn't pass the smell check. In a time when monarchy and class systems held iron grip, it led the way real equality, or at least the best that was available.

I've studied my history enough to know that the best of the founding fathers and patriots were flawed. I don't have a problem with that. As a Christian, I understand that all people are flawed. I do my best to honor the good, and accept the bad, the same as I do with people today.

I find it interesting and ironic that at the end of your essay, you speak of honoring the people of America but not national myths. It's ironic because you spend most of your time trying to dispel the myths by pointing out just how horrible the people are. That's a course that seems pretty self defeating to me. To my way of thinking, the only part of American history truly deserving full honor is the documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They state their purpose with wisdom and clarity. Their is no dishonesty in them. The documents, in themselves, never fail. It is only we, as men, who fail to live up to them. And that is why we need them: So that we will constantly have something better than we can ever be to live up to.

You'll not lose me as reader, JR, at least not over this. But I don't think it's your best work. I don't really think it's that good at all. And we'll both survive that opinion.

I hope your weekend is going well. Take care.

If only all disagreements could be stated so civilly! But you can see that he has been taken in by the fine words. He believes in them. I doubt that many of America's leaders ever have, however. Maybe Ronnie Reagan out of them all.

I will add comments in something of reverse order:

He asks why America did so well economically in the 19th century. He seems unaware that Europe -- even Russia to some extent -- also had massive economic gains in the second half of the 19th century. America ended up with a much bigger economy than anyone but that simply reflects the fact that the 19th century was when America began to seriously exploit its huge natural resources. America not only had huge quantities of gold, iron, coal and other minerals but it also had the biggest resource of all -- seemingly unlimited tracts of fertile land that could be used for farming or raising edible animals. And that vast food production was the key to the big population increase at that time. America could simply feed more people. The starving of Eastern Europe and Ireland flocked to it.

And that explanation in terms of natural resources is backed up by the two nations who entered the 20th century with living standards as high as or higher than America. They were Australia and Argentina. Both of those also benefited from huge, freshly exploited natural resources. And I can't help myself from remarking about why one of those fell off the perch and one didn't. Australia is still a great place to live; Not so much Argentina. Why?

I know why but to say why breaches America's biggest and fiercest taboo. But I will breach it carefully anyway. Argentina is 50/50 Spanish and Italian whereas Australians and Americans are predominantly of British and Northern European ancestry. And that difference matters. OK: I have said enough of that.

My critic also thought that I was too glib about WWI. I was certainly brief. But I was dismissive of America's role in that war not because I am a pacifist or a Leftist but because I think American meddling in that war did incredible harm. Wilson dressed up his intervention in the usual high flown talk but let us look at the results.

Before Wilson sent his troops over, the combatants had virtually fought one-another to a standstill. General Ludendorff had been advancing almost up until that point but the men he lost in doing so had exhausted Germany. There is no doubt that some sort of draw would have been declared at some stage and both sides would have gone home devastated but intact and with honour bright. That was how the previous Franco/German conflict ended up in 1872.

But thanks to Wilson that did not happen. Germany was defeated, torn apart, degraded, impoverished, and humiliated. And who benefited from that? Who fed on that until it gave him enormous influence in Germany? It was Adolf Hitler. There would have been no Hitler in power had the old German empire endured. I could go into more detail on that but I see Wilson's do-gooder meddling as the prize example of allegedly noble intentions having disastrous consequences. There would have been no WWII except for Democrat President Woodrow Wilson.

I have probably said enough for today -- JR


The Establishment’s Conspiracy to Silence Conservatives Could Destroy Our Country

The establishment – defined less by party than by power – is using every weapon it has to shut you up, to marginalize you, and to beat you into submission. In the short term it may work. In the long term it promises disaster.

The key to any democratic republic is legitimacy. If the system allows a full and fair airing of different views before a decision is made, groups that lose the debate will accept the decision. You are disappointed if the other side won fair and square. But you are furious if the other side cheated.

And all the other side does today is cheat. Worse, it does so with a mindless cynicism, having discovered that if other elements of the establishment play along – like a mainstream media that refuses to perform its accountability function – then there are no immediate consequences. Over time, this risks of alienating nearly half of our citizens.

Sometimes the establishment cheats subtly. It can take the form of mockery, like when the President tried to belittle into silence the millions of Americans who doubt the climate change scam for believing that if the globe was really warming then the globe would actually be getting warmer.

Don’t think it’s only the leftist establishmentarians doing it. John Boehner felt secure enough to mock the majority of his own party for daring to have doubts about the wisdom of importing 30 million new Democrat voters. Shut up and stop being crybabies, chided the famously tan crybaby.

They love to deploy baseless slanders to figuratively ball-gag you and drive you out of the debate. Hate the idea of fascist college campus kangaroo courts run by academic Red Guards who, when examining the fallout of some beer-fueled hook-up, always presume the guilt of the drunken sophomore who has the penis and the victimhood of the drunken sophomore who doesn’t? Well, you must support rape!

Sometimes the establishment cheats blatantly. The administration simply ordered a couple dozen changes to Obamacare in direct violation of the statute. It doesn’t even pretend to follow our immigration laws.

And there’s no accountability. Facilitating the transfer of guns to Mexican drug gangs? No biggie. Four dead Americans in Benghazi? Fake scandal. Using the IRS to harass political opponents? Hell, the establishment thinks that’s a good thing. The Democrats supposed to be overseeing the IRS actually apologized to the IRS.

Now, is it a really great idea to tell about half the population that they are simply not entitled to seek redress of their grievances through the law? Any ideas from, say, American history about what can happen when you abandon the rule of law?

Thuggery can work for a little while, but eventually people get fed up. Conservatives are actively marginalized, socially and politically, but is it realistic to think we will simply throw in the towel and obey? Destroying our political norms won’t silence the establishment’s foes; it will radicalize them.

Is that what you establishment types want? What goes around comes around – hard. Europe’s elite’s similar disenfranchisement strategy is giving rise to nontraditional parties, both sensible ones like UKIP and scary ones like Greece’s Golden Dawn. When you make a conscious decision to deprive people of their voices, you may not like who they choose to speak for them.


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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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.

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 June, 2014

America has always been Leftist

Up until fairly recently, I had always accepted fairly uncritically the orthodox view of American history. But as an amateur historian I do have the pesky habit of going back to the original documents behind history. So a couple of months ago, I actually read through the Declaration of Independence. What I read there shocked me. It was an entirely different document from the orthodox account of it.

It has taken me a while to integrate that finding into a broader view but I think I can now present a view of American history that makes much more sense of both America's past and her present.

I was greatly helped in forming a new view by the abhorence I have always felt towards America's two civil wars (Independence and North/South). As a former member of Australia's armed forces, I am no pacifist but I do feel that wars should be a last resort -- and that applied to neither of America's civil wars. That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired. Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside.

But to begin at the beginning: As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists. They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally. If that's not communism, nothing is. They were such fanatics that a third of them had to starve to death before they decided that communism wasn't such a good idea and went back to the way things had always been done in stodgy old England.

So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists? What we should expect is exactly what we actually got, I submit.

But before I get to that, let me ensure complete clarity about what the core of Leftism is. The content of Leftism changes from time to time. Before WWII, Leftists world wide were energetic champions of eugenics, for instance. Leftists now abhor it. So what is constant in Leftism? Anger. Leftists in all eras are so dissatisfied with the society in which they live that they want sweeping changes to it. And they thirst for power to achieve that. That is Leftism.

So we come back to the Declaration of Independence. There are a variety of things in it but the centerpiece of it is the complaint that, in good communist style, the New Englanders wanted to pass lots of laws to control their fellow man but the king kept obstructing or disallowing such laws. Whether by intent or neglect, the king was the libertarian obstructing the control freaks. And it was over that that the Yankees went to war. Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke. It was pro-liberty for the elite only. Joe Stalin call your office.

And, in case anyone is not aware of it, the resultant war was at heart a war of the Yankees versus the rest. New York was firmly on the side of the king, for instance. It was a civil war which Yankee determination won, at the cost of 25,000 Yankee deaths. But deaths in war never worry Leftists. Change is the thing. So the Yankee hatred of the British-dominated status quo burnt all other considerations.

And Andrew Jackson, founder of the modern Democratic party, certainly wrought big changes in the territory under his control in the 1830s -- clearing out American Indians and driving them to the then-far-West: Ethnic cleansing.

And then we come to the real horror: The North/South war. "Only" half a million men died there. And for what? EVERY other country on earth abolished slavery without the need for a war. Does that not tell us something? It should. In his famous letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln himself admitted that slavery was not the main issue. The issue was the dominance of central government. V.I. Lenin call your office. Lincoln didn't call it "dominance of central government", of course. He called it "the union" but the result is the same.

And just about everythinng Lincoln did was without a shred of constitional justification and in fact breached the constitution. Hitler at least had the grace to get an "enabling act" passed by the German parliament. Lincoln just marched on regardless. He destroyed the liberty of the press (there goes your first amendment) and locked up thousands of war opponents (there goes your 4th amendment). But most centrally, Lincoln's whole enterprise was a defiance of the basic American constitutional dispensation that the states are sovereign, not the federal government. Lincoln turned that on its head. The feds now became the main source of power and authority. There is no doubt that Lincoln talked a good talk. He even used to persuade me once. But his deeds reek of Fascism.

A good example of the large gap between his deeds and words is that masterpiece of propaganda, the Gettysburg address. Goebbels admired it for good reason. In case anybody hasn't noticed, Lincoln claimed that his war was to ensure "government of the people, by the people, for the people" -- which was exactly what he had just denied to the South! Only Yankees are people, apparently. Hitler thought certain groups weren't people too.

And then we have two world wars. WWI had nothing to do with America but power-mad Democrat President Wilson got America into it any way. He had such fun influencing the eventual re-arrangement of Europe.

And FDR was worse if anything. He subjected Japan to crippling sanctions until an attack on America seemed the only way forward to them. Anything else would have been an intolerable loss of "face". So FDR got his war. For political purposes he once declared "I hate war" but some at least of his biographers believe that he pined for the publicity and power that a war would give him.

But what about the era of US/Soviet rivalry? Was America Leftist then? It was. Top-rate taxes were enormous, for instance. But the USSR was even more Leftist. The Russian peasants who fought for its creation were even angrier -- for good reason -- than the Yankee grandees of George III's time, so the changes in Russia were very sweeping indeed. And Leftists are very hostile people -- even to followers of other brands of Leftism. Note the icepick in the head that Leon Trotsky got from Joe Stalin.

I could go on but does the dominance of political correctness in America today now seem surprising? It is not. It is just another of the many forms of Leftism that America has produced and will continue to produce. And, unfortunately, the rest of the world has followed America, as it often does. As goes California so goes the whole world eventually.

So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields? Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives?

It's simple. America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years. So if you get a bungling legislature in power you soon get the opportunity to boot them out. Britain, by contrast, has to wait five years to get rid of an incompetent or destructive government.

And Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous. So many Americans have their knees under government desks that the productive element of the population is much reduced -- with the result that quite a few countries have per head incomes higher than America. According to the CIA, there are 13 countries with higher PPP incomes per head than America. Be that as it may, however, America is by any measure only one of a peleton of high income countries, not the leader.

And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom. Australia is third. Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes.

It is true that America is not exceptionally Leftist by world standards -- though Mr Obama is working on that -- but that just shows that there have always been angry people, and some groups -- e.g. Russian peasants and British miners -- have been even more angry than New Englanders.

I guess that this post will lose me quite a few readers among American patriots but is being patriotic to a historical hoax really wise? America has many fine people. Be loyal to them, not national myths -- JR


Presbyterian Church USA: Some of Our Best Friends Are Jews

I would normally put up the post below on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH but I like it so much that I am putting it up here. Given my own Presbyterian background, hostility to Israel among Presbyterians always galls me greatly


Completing another lap in its race to irrelevance, the Presbyterian Church USA (one of dozens of Presbyterian denominations in the U.S.) has voted to divest itself from three corporations it perceives as helpful to the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands.

Mind you, this vote merely broadcasts the church’s yearning for peace. The measure, approved by a narrow margin (310-303), also called for interfaith dialogue, a two-state solution and positive investment alternatives for the $21 million which the church had invested in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.

The divestment resolution, fabricated by a 65-member committee, also reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist — which is simply going too far, in the eyes of the Palestinians with whom the church empathizes.

Jesus, whom these Presbyterians profess to follow, invested much of his preaching against hypocrites in the organized religion of His day. This action by His purported disciples would have the Master declaiming, “You brood of vipers. You whitewashed tombs” — and perhaps, “You’ve got HOW MUCH MONEY invested in just three companies!?”

Heath Rada, the church’s moderator, who was leading the proceedings, said immediately after the electronic vote count was posted, “In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers.”

No, I suppose their lack of love for the Jews is expressed in other, more substantive, ways than this symbolic portfolio shuffling. The only thing missing from Mr. Rada’s statement is the obligatory “Some of our best friends are Jews.”

Mr. Rada, the church’s moderator, said at a news conference after the vote, “I don’t believe you could talk to a single commissioner and have any of them say they were doing this as an anti-Jewish issue.

Certainly not. No commissioner would say that…even if she felt it, she wouldn’t say it.

The leader of the Presbyterian Church USA then moves from insincerity and hypocrisy to moral equivalency.

“I think there is a lot of emotion about the unjust treatment on the part of the Israeli government toward the Palestinians, but there is equal upset,” he said, about “terrorist activity that has been undertaken by the Palestinians.”

“Equal upset”?

Mr. Rada, would you prefer that I move into your neighborhood and build houses — all the while employing your family members at wages three times what your own people would pay? Or would you prefer that I send my teenage son strapped with a bomb to do the chicken dance at your daughter’s wedding reception?

There is “a lot of emotion” but not a lot of wisdom among your convention delegates — or rather, among the slightly more than half who voted for this pathetic, posturing, pandering resolution.



Behind the "Redskins" controversy

This week the American people were taught a valuable lesson – never underestimate the willingness of white progressives to be offended on behalf of people who aren’t and to impose their will on those who didn’t ask for it. (What tribe do you suspect these protesters are from?) The U.S. Trade and Patent Office canceled trademarks held by the Washington Redskins because they determined the trademark, issued by the same government that just voided them, was for an offensive term. This decision will be appealed, and Redskins owner Dan Snyder probably will win.

But this case was never about the trademark, it was about publicity for the progressives’ word police to apply pressure on Snyder to change a name they don’t want to exist. They don’t really give a damn, mind you – Snyder is just a convenient high-profile target in their attempt to control our language. If you control the language – what words can be used (Redskins) or their definitions (marriage) – it makes it that much easier to control the people.

This latest charge is being led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who took to the floor of the Senate to attack the name and lie about the ramifications of the ruling. Reid said anyone could now start printing their own Redskins merchandise and profit from it, which is a flat-out lie. The common law trademark remains in place no matter what the government does. Harry Reid, a lawmaker and lawyer, was openly advising people they could freely break the law.

But Reid is no fool. He’s quite deliberate in his deception. Whenever he slanders private citizens, such as the Koch brothers, or advises people to break the law he does so on the Senate floor, where he, thanks to the speech and debate clause of the Constitution, enjoys full immunity from any ramifications resulting from anything he says. Any basement silkscreener arrested for making counterfeit Redskins merchandise on the advice of the senate majority leader won’t be able to touch him.

Reid knows this, but he’s counting on most people not to, so as to harm Snyder’s bottom line.

It’s ironic Democrats, who call investigations into the IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the VA and any other Obama administration scandal you can think of a distraction and waste of valuable time, but they have plenty of time to write letters, give speeches and lead the charge against a sports team’s mascot.

But even more ironic is that Democrats can, with a straight face, claim to be leading this charge in the name of cultural sensitivity to Native Americans. Democrats in every state of the union have an annual fundraising dinner called the Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinner. The Jefferson is Thomas Jefferson, and if progressive college professors taught us anything it’s that Jefferson was a slave owner. But, in the pantheon of progressive sensitivities, he’s a saint compared to Andrew Jackson.

Jackson, a lifelong military man and Democrat, was responsible for untold thousands of Native American deaths. Jackson oversaw the Trail of Tears, where lands were forcibly taken from tribes and they were marched west, many to their deaths. When the Supreme Court ruled the removal of the Cherokee Nation unlawful, Jackson simply ignored them, saying of Chief Justice John Marshall’s ruling, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

The Supreme Court has no army, the president does. Jackson simply ignored the ruling and removed the Cherokee anyway.

What’s more offensive: a sports team nickname people have to have explained to them why it’s offensive, or celebrating a genocidal, power-mad narcissist who ignored the Constitution and imposed his will on people? Every year, the Democrats celebrate and fundraise off the genocidal, power-mad narcissist.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

A conservative vision for social justice

Below is the blurb for a series of talks given by the AEI. I think it is thoroughly misconceived. If social justice were justice it would not need the word "social" before it. And conceptions of justice differ greatly anyway. Sharia law anyone?

I think all talk of justice in connection with social reform is pernicious. Such talk fosters feelings of entitlement in those whom the "Social justice" is supposed to benefit. The poor (for instance) are told that they are getting a handout not out of generosity but because it is their right, because it is somehow "just" that they should. But from what system of justice does such a right arise? There is none. Help for the needy is simply asserted as being just, without any context for it in any judicial philosophy. It is mere propaganda designed to foster grievance, which is meat and drink to destructive Leftists.

Let conservatives talk about HELPING the needy or the oppressed by all means. There is no need for the slimy Leftist doctrine of "social justice".

And from a libertarian perspective, the whole idea of social justice is laughable. Forcibly taking away one person's justly earned fruit of his labor and giving it to someone who has done nothing to earn it is INjustice. It is theft, regardless of any adjective you put in front of it

This is the first event in AEI's exclusive Vision Talks series. Over the course of the coming year, AEI will convene a group of America's leading scholars, thinkers, and practitioners to offer fresh visions in key areas of policy and public debate. These talks will be filmed and disseminated as standalone videos similar to Arthur Brooks's “Secret to Happiness” talk.

What questions must today’s social justice agenda address? What are the tenets of such an agenda?

Conservatives played a central role in the emancipation and civil rights movements in America, and free enterprise has lifted millions out of poverty worldwide. But conservatives have failed to provide a vital vision for how their principles can foster a more just society today. Current government efforts to expand opportunity and reduce poverty show mixed results at best. Is there a fresh vision that engages the social justice questions of today and the future more effectively?

Please join us for three concise talks on why America needs a new social justice agenda, what that agenda must address, and how that agenda plays out in the most important policy debates of our time.


21 June, 2014

How Does America Rid Itself of Its First Black President?


America was very proud of itself in November of 2008 when it elected its first black (or at least half-black) president, Barack Obama. Liberal media outlets (excuse the redundancy) framed this event as one of our greatest national cathartic exercises of democracy. They worked directly with Obama and his media manipulators to elevate his presidency to Messianic proportions while they displayed an endless parade of people entranced in ecstasy over this supposedly magnanimous accomplishment.

Magnanimous it was. Here was a man who, with virtually no experience relevant to the world’s most important job, walked right in with global support. Here was a man with an endless sequence of non-specific promises read from a teleprompter able to sell himself to a public interested primarily in getting rid of what it had been led to believe was evil and responsible for all the ills of life: President Bush. Here was a man whose background (at least as much as he would permit to be disclosed, discovered, or discussed) gave every indication that he would deeply uproot much of what most Americans hold dear – freedom, responsibility, capitalism, accountability, transparency, limited control over individual lives, and so forth.

And here is a man who, as President, is being considered by rapidly growing numbers of Americans to be a dangerous disaster. And his failures present a troubling dilemma for much of the public: We worked so hard to get on this train and congratulated ourselves so profusely for climbing aboard. How do we get off?

The reasons people voted for Obama are as varied as the ways he is now failing. Nonetheless, for many whites, the relief of “white guilt” was a significant contributing factor. As former black militant Shelby Steele has brilliantly articulated in various books and articles, white guilt is the behavior of whites that attempts to regain a sense of moral authority presumed forfeited in an age of “white supremacy.” It is the behavior (not the emotion) whites utilize to attempt to relieve themselves of the stigma of racism.

Blacks, he maintains, have generally learned two ways to negotiate power from whites using white guilt. Some (“bargainers”) offer a deal in which they promise not to rub the country’s racial past in the face of whites in exchange for power. Others (“challengers”) tend to throw white racial history in the face of whites to extract their share of power. In A Bound Man, Steele claimed that Obama, as a classic bargainer, stood no chance of winning the presidency because the bargainer is required to mask his true nature in order to seal the deal. Steele guessed that the ordeal of the election process would not allow Obama to maintain his mask. Obviously, Steele seems to have guessed wrong.

Obama has described how he learned to navigate in a world of whites. Essentially, he discovered that by acting unthreatening and non-angry, his aura of intelligence would bring whites to him. Perhaps his history was one where he learned early that as long as he played the part he could essentially allow white guilt to propel whites to aggrandize him and comply with his wishes. This is the experience of one to whom few have ever said “no.” And that same expectation of white cooperation has led and followed him both to and within the White House

Yet, not so fast. While Steele may have underestimated Obama’s supreme skill in masking himself during the election, Obama now seems to have met his match in executing the actual office. Much of what Steele predicted in terms of not being able to fool enough of the people is starting to prove correct. For many (not the hardcore devotees – yet), the reckless spending, lack of international leadership, absence of transparency, disregard for climbing national debt, freezing out of cabinet members and others in favor of handpicked yet unelected and unaccountable “czars,” seizure of control of various businesses, appearance of having either no plans or the most naïve of plans on crucial foreign policy issues, improper manipulation of public understanding of the financial crisis, destroying healthcare under the guise of saving it, incoherent energy policy, global warming measures the rest of the world will not undertake, never-ending taxes and taking direct control of the Census are just a few of the clues that the Obama they thought they were electing was not the Obama they put into office. For many, his history, including his relationships with Reverend Wright, William Ayers, Rashid Khalidi and others, his training in Saul Alinsky’s radical community organizing, his record as the most liberal Senator, his curious and difficult to independently verify past were merely insignificant nuances - not the red alert signs they would constitute with virtually any other candidate. The bargainer mask is quickly dissolving.

After six years of Obama as President, many have become palpably concerned, if not terrified, by the nation’s choice of president. And that terror gives rise to a fascinating dilemma: how does America, if free to so choose, extricate itself from what it has done – as magnificent an accomplishment as we like to think it was?

Some argue that the polls indicate that while many may be beginning to disagree with some of Obama’s policies, they still regard him personally in high esteem. Liberal pundits use this to suggest that there is no buyer’s remorse, only a temporary process of working out the kinks in some courageous policies during some difficult and unchartered times.

Yet something deeper, perhaps, is developing. For those who invested great emotional energy in the “hope” of Obama, waking up to the “reality” of Obama is a painful task. As cognitive dissonance theory would inquire: how does one hold the image of the great savior in the face of the great disaster? How does one explain the exuberance experienced in saying goodbye to everything Bush and Cheney and otherwise “evil” while simultaneously realizing the country is now truly in far more dangerous hands? The fears the left wing media pushed into the minds of the public during the Bush years – that our allies dislike us, that Bush is controlling our lives, that Bush is to blame for Muslim anti-Americanism and jihadism, that the economy was headed in the wrong direction and so forth - look meager when compared to the real dangers that the left wing media now desperately struggles to hide from the public.

Cognitive dissonance would suggest that those disappointed Obama voters will struggle for quite some time to find some explanation as to why they like him and why he is still worthy of the presidency. Distinguishing Obama, as these polls do, from his policies is an understandable first step along these lines.

But what next? The problem with guilt, white or otherwise, is it affords no guidance itself on when enough is enough. Guilt is a tactic in a game made to last. One version has kept the Israelis and Palestinians perpetually locked in dance around the “peace process;” an elaborately disguised vehicle of continual extortion. Anywhere else, the trading of “peace” (or the cessation of violence) for an asset is called extortion and is punishable. Here, under the guise of a morally favorable movement towards the unobjectionable goal of “peace,” it is labeled the “peace process.” Holding together the entire structure of Palestinian “victimization” is the endless force of “guilt.” And as soon as some truly final resolution appears possible, the guilt game dictates a retreat to square one. As long as guilt is the glue, true resolution defeats the purpose. The game must go on.

Guilt is the result of the accusation “you made me this way.” The game of guilt requires the never-ending charge “you made me suffer.” The game supports not just careers, such as those of challengers such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and “scholars” that pervade university campuses in minority and Middle East studies departments. The game is also the foundation of many political movements and parties. Without a villain responsible for all ills and, from whom to extract recompense, many movements would be forced to fold.

White guilt continues to flourish and to propel much of our politics. Democrats stamped out President Bush’s attempts to appoint an Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court, Miguel Estrada, in a fashion that could never be utilized against Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor. Identity politics and reverse discrimination are simply by-products and tools of the guilt game. Some of Obama’s campaign rhetoric referenced the notion of securing “reparations” for racial injustices of the past while his “tax the rich” and class warfare are further extensions of the guilt game. The fact that Sotomayor can finagle acceptance of her actions in the Ricci case is testimony to just how deeply installed is white guilt in the public’s consciousness. Senator Barbara Boxer’s recent racist episode in demeaning Black Chamber of Commerce leader Harry Alford demonstrated the ridiculous extremes to which some will allow white guilt to take them. Obama, himself, easily includes reference to black responsibility in his speeches. His policies, however, are steeped in manipulating white guilt.

The structure of the use of white guilt, as Steele describes, is to force whites to constantly prove the proposition “I am not a racist.” And this is why the game is programmed never to end as one can never prove a negative, much less for all time. This is precisely what pushed Boxer into the foolish statements she made to Alford as she feebly attempted to demonstrate that she was not a racist. This is what Henry Louis Gates Jr. attempted to provoke from the Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley – to flip the story from a suspected burglary to the “racist” officer. And white guilt was attempting to elicit from Crowley an apology (hoping he would beg that he not be stigmatized as a racist) which he quite boldly resisted. And it is such a deep familiarity with white guilt that led Obama during a nationally televised press conference to declare that the police department acted “stupidly” without knowing any of the facts. While he initially tried to suggest and amplify this as an issue of racial profiling against blacks, in fact, by speaking without facts, it was Obama himself who engaged in a bitterly offensive racial profiling of and against white policemen. And it was Obama who, unable to rid himself of the narrative of white guilt, was also unable to deliver a full and direct apology for his words; opting instead (as did his partner in white guilt manipulation, Sonia Sotomayor) to cowardly obfuscate the issue with “regret” about the “impression” he gave. And it was Obama who continues to reinforce old familiar white guilt adages by infusing “race is still a troubling aspect of our society” into a situation which, for the police, had absolutely nothing to do with race. Far from change, Obama, unmasked, made it quite clear that his years around Wright, Alinsky, and others predictably made him exactly who he continues to be.

And insulating Obama from serious reflection on these matters is another consequence of the guilt game. While President Bush was castigated for a $350 billion stimulus package (recall that he turned over the second $350 billion to Obama), white guilt has kept the country virtually spellbound as Obama more than quadruples the damage. Bush was destroyed for getting us into Iraq and not having a plan to get us out all at the cost of American lives and treasure. Obama is on a similar path in Afghanistan and the liberal media does little more than an occasional CYA story to protect itself for the future. No credible president of the past could have ever sold the notion of partially measuring the economy on the basis of the immeasurable phantasm of “jobs saved.” Such an insult to the intelligence of the American people is simply washed over by the media. Simply put, white guilt continues to be a major factor in protecting Obama.

While we, as a nation, have become comfortable in celebrating the great successes of black men, we have not yet learned how to fully integrate the failures of great black men. It was easy to relish the accomplishments of O.J. Simpson in his heyday; his fall brought tremendous racial strife to the nation. When a black congressman, William Jefferson, was found to have almost one hundred thousand dollars of cash in his freezer, he was given every benefit of the doubt as to his culpability. Congressman Charlie Rangel has an almost unfathomable number of ethics investigations endlessly languishing under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many a white man in public service has been thrown out at the barest hint of criminal behavior. Obviously, political party makes a difference as does consistency between one’s acts and political promises. Nonetheless, in a nation which continues to be uneasy with the failure of blacks and unclear as to how to address their fall, Obama is still afforded significant insulation geared to protect him from all that would normally beset a man in his position.

The simple but immensely difficult and painful question America needs to answer is: When has white guilt run its course such that we can truly act in a “post-racial” world and address this presidency appropriately? Put otherwise, we can not be “post-racial” until we are ready to be “post-guilt.”

As Steele points out, discrimination as a legal matter was eliminated decades ago. That does not mean that discrimination does not rear its ugly head any more than the fact that criminal theft or burglary statutes have not fully protected private property. Nonetheless, just as we do (at least for the time being) live in a country built on private property, we also live in one intended to be based upon equality. A “post-racial” world is not one in which no one recognizes the fact that others are of differing backgrounds. Nor can it ever become the utopia where no private judgments of others based on skin color occur (any more than people constantly judge others based on a wide set of often trivial criteria). Rather, a “post-racial” world is one where any such judgments are rendered virtually meaningless and of minimal consequence. It is one in which individuals affirmatively choose not to inject race into the ordinary difficulties of life. It is one in which the solution is not to invite more “conversation” but to refuse in the first place to charge “racism” and to demand whites prove they are not racist where race is irrelevant to the situation. It is one in which the game of white guilt has finally ended.

We are certainly not there yet. White guilt is all around. “Scholars” and professors like Gates and other challengers still banter on about the world of white supremacy while bargainers continue to promise whites protection from the memories of America’s racist past; each of which takes focus off of the present. It is alive within Congress as well. Instead of addressing residual byproducts of past inequality of opportunity, white guilt and Obama pressure Congress to overhaul (some say destroy) our entire healthcare system- likely penalizing hundreds of millions to appear to assist perhaps tens of millions. And ACORN, Obama’s community organizing troops set to be funded with billions of stimulus funds, has mastered the manipulation of white guilt in all of its activities. Obama has plenty of “teachable moments” left of which to take advantage. Perhaps he should teach by example; rewarding those who forego white guilt while coming down hard on those who manipulate it. Unfortunately, Obama’s essence is so intimately entwined with white guilt maneuverings that our best lessons will likely arrive only upon his departure from office.

Needless to say, over the past decades, the country has made major advances in diminishing the severe racism that used to plague it. More can and will be done. Nonetheless, if Obama were white, there is little doubt that the public discourse would have already included terms such as impeachment, incompetence, criminal recklessness, fraud, liar, con-man, anti-American and so forth. And if anyone named Bush performed a small fraction of the acts Obama has to date, he would no longer be in office.

America must struggle to figure out how it can rid itself of its first black president who is destroying the foundations upon which the country was built. When it can do so without guilt and without challenge, it will have truly earned the glory it thought it achieved in electing Obama. Perhaps one of the many great things about America’s electing Obama is that, finally, America, to rid itself of Obama, will be forced to stand up and rid itself once and for all of white guilt and rid its politics of the game of guilt itself.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

My hand is healing well from surgery and it is my Sabbath tomorrow so I thought I had better put up a few things today -- JR

The political divide


How the worm turns!

Don Surber comments: "I never bought this Fat Is Evil bullshit either. Carbon dioxide is good for you too"


Barry The Red

by L. Neil Smith

Barack Obama grew up surrounded by old-time, CPA card-carrying communists. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who filled most of the father-shaped space in his life, was a well-known communist activist, and Soviet operative, and so was his grandmother, Madelyn. Mommy, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a commie. Frank Marshall Davis, another genuine communist whom the radio host believes was his real father, was certainly Obama's intellectual, philosophical, and ideological father. Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers is Obama's spiritual uncle.

Barry is what's called a "Red-diaper baby".

Knowing that, and understanding that nothing in what we know of his educational background counteracts his Marxist proclivities, what else do we need to know about the convictions and objectives of a man who has deliberately and systematically (with a little help from the Republicans) obliterated the relative peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity of what was once the greatest nation-state the world ever knew?

Acting out of a deep, poisonous class and race hatred, Obama has destroyed the most powerful and benevolent politico-economic system in history, and somehow made off with something like seventeen trillion dollars. People speculate a lot over what Vladimir Putin must think of Obama, a product of what is almost certainly an old, abandoned Soviet deep-espionage program. My guess is that what he feels, mostly, is astonished envy—and perhaps more than a little worry about future competition.

In the 1940s, due to the idiotic blundering and malign stupidity of at least three generations of leaders, perhaps half a million young Americans were sacrificed in an armed conflict with collectivism, German-style. (This may come as news to those of my readers educated in the public school system: Hitler was a socialist, a man of the left; in German, "NAZI" was short for "National Socialist German Workers' Party".

In the 1950s, tens of thousands more were killed in an undeclared (and therefore illegal) war against Korean, Chinese, and Russian communists. (How I know about the Russians is a story for another time.)

In the 1960s, 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam, fighting communism.

And now, the very sort of evil that our fathers and grandfathers fought and bled and died to stop is fully in control of the United States Government. Its minions mean to disarm, impoverish, and imprison every one of us—and kill any who resist—and the few politicians opposing them are too cowardly to say or do anything about it.

I hate it when predictions come unbidden to my mind, but I am a science fiction writer, and it's reflexive. The next decade is going to be truly ugly, perhaps the ugliest in human history. Americans will not be put down as easily as our domestic enemies presently expect.



Some sense from Britain

David Cameron [PM] should abolish corporation tax for small firms so they are better able to compete with large companies, Lord Saatchi has said.

The former Tory chairman said the party should pledge to no longer charge the levy on firms with fewer than 50 employees.

Lord Saatchi, who is chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), has also called on the Conservatives to stop imposing capital gains tax on investors in small companies.

The recommendations come in a report celebrating the 40th anniversary of the think tank co-founded by Baroness Thatcher.

Lord Saatchi said getting rid of the £8billion annual corporation tax bill for small business would be a ‘call to arms’ for the Conservatives, which would bring a culture shift on the scale of Right to Buy in the 1980s.

He said the policy would show ‘how the awesome power of taxation can be used to the benefit of everyone’ and allow small firms to ‘challenge cartel capitalism’.

Under the policy, millions of people would ‘enjoy the opportunity to say, “I am the captain of my ship”,’ he added.

The report to be published tomorrow will add: ‘By allowing profitable small companies to retain more of their earnings it will become easier for them to self-finance their own expansion.’

Lord Saatchi boasted that the removal of corporation tax for smaller firms would quicken the economic recovery.

He told the Telegraph: ‘It’s worth remembering that the average UK company has five employees. The Policy, as I call it, would therefore abolish corporation tax for 90 per cent of UK companies, reduce the deficit faster than predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility, expand employment faster than it predicts, increase competition, challenge cartel capitalism and let millions of people grow tall.’

In an article for the newspaper, he said that Mrs Thatcher knew that big companies posed as big a ‘threat to freedom’ as big government and that competition made capitalism work.

The CPS report, entitled The Road FROM Serfdom, reports polls for the think tank that show people have a distrust of big government, which Lord Saatch argues is a ‘sorry outcome for all believers in free-market capitalism’. Lord Saatchi said that socialism became unpopular and now capitalism has also become unpopular.

He said that the tax system has been reduced from being a tool for ‘social engineering’ to being for ‘revenue generation’.

He added: ‘It is on a par, at least, with the NHS or the criminal justice system in its impact on human lives, and its relationship between the government and the people.’

Corporation tax is currently set at 20 per cent of profits for businesses with less than £300,000 profit.

Maurice Saatchi co-founded the advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi with his brother Charles.

The firm was closely associated with Margaret Thatcher’s three successive election victories and famously came up with the ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster during the 1979 election campaign.

He was co-chairman of the Conservative Party from 2003 until 2005. He stepped down from the role after the party lost the 2005, for which he was responsible for running its election campaign.

Lord Saatchi was created a life peer in the House of Lords by the party in 1996 and under Iain Duncan Smith served as shadow Treasury spokesman in the upper house.



The coup-free zone

In Tuesday’s post I left readers with a question: Which countries belong to the “coup-free zone”? By this I mean, which countries have passed the last 50 years as independent nations without a single coup d’état, coup attempt or armed revolution?

I define “coup” broadly, to mean any forceful seizure of central government power. A coup is a disorderly, unpredictable transfer of power, accomplished through physical force or intimidation. The term encompasses military coups, violent palace intrigue and street revolutions. The effort to seize power need not succeed; serious but failed attempts still count. Finally, the term “coup” embraces an “executive coup,” whereby a constitutional leader radically and forcefully extends his scope of power or term of service, as in Chancellor Hitler’s 1933 hijacking of Germany with Nazi thugs.

This is how it looked by the end of 2010.


The full list:

1. United States of America
2. Canada
3. Mexico
4. Costa Rica
5. Iceland
7. Norway
8. Sweden
9. Denmark
10. Finland
11. Ireland
12 United Kingdom
13. Netherlands
14. Belgium
15. Luxembourg
16. Germany
17. Austria
18. Switzerland
19. Israel
20. Japan
21. Australia
22. New Zealand
23. South Africa

Very "incorrect" for me to notice it but nearly every one is (predominantly) ethnically Northern European. And the Ashkenazi (Western) influence is dominant in Israel too, and was until recently in South Africa. India does not appear on the list because of the "Emergency"


The Economy May Be Improving. Worker Pay Isn’t.

The latest economic data out Tuesday morning was generally good. Home building activity remained above the one million a year rate. Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in May, such that inflation over the last year is now 2.1 percent, about in line with what the Federal Reserve aims for.

But that inflation news carried with it a depressing side note. Now that the Consumer Price Index for May has been published, it is possible to determine inflation-adjusted hourly earnings for the month. And the number is not good.

Average hourly earnings for private sector American workers rose about 49 cents an hour over the last year, to $24.38 in May. But that wasn’t enough to cover inflation over the year, so in real or inflation-adjusted terms, hourly worker pay fell 0.1 percent over the last 12 months. Weekly pay shows the same story, also falling 0.1 percent in the year ended in May.

Pause for just a second to consider that. Five years after the economic recovery began, American workers have gone the last 12 months without any real increase in what they are paid.

There had been some hints here and there that worker pay was starting to rise in the last few months, including anecdotal reports of employers having to offer raises to recruit or retain workers and a few pieces of data hinting that the trend was taking effect broadly.

By the same measure cited above — average hourly earnings for private sector workers — the year that ended in February showed a strong 2.1 percent gain in pay versus only 1.1 percent inflation, which works out to a 1 percent annual gain in real hourly pay. That was the strongest in five years, and if it had been sustained would have been great news for American workers.

But it was not sustained. The numbers since then suggest two things: The strong gain in hourly pay reported for the 12 months ended in February looks to have been an anomaly. And while inflation has picked up since then, reducing the value of workers’ paychecks, worker pay has only barely kept up with the higher prices.

The latest numbers should give pause to any Federal Reserve officials who see wage pressures as evidence that the economy is overheating. It might have been arguably true earlier in the year. It might prove true later in the year, if workers start successfully demanding wage increases in excess of inflation.

But for right now, the evidence points to more of what we’ve seen for most of the last six years: Employees have little negotiating power to demand higher pay.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014


No posts today. I have just had surgery on my right hand to remove a small cancer. So I am supposed to give my hand a rest for a couple of days. But you can't keep a good blogger down for long so I should be back soon.

18 June, 2014

Leftist projection never stops

They have been blaming the socialist Hitler on "The Right" for decades so it is no surprise that the Left have a kneejerk tendency to blame aggrieved mass shooters similarly, even though such shooters usually turn out to be from the Left. The latest notorious shooters are no different. The Las Vegas Cop Killers, Jerad and Amanda Miller were referred to by "Salon" as "Right-wing anger turned deadly". They were in fact members of the Far Left "Occupy" Movement. Conservatives tend to be contented people. It is the Left who are full of anger

We have been bombarded with the Millers' connection to the Bundy Ranch, Alex Jones and the liberty movement in general. The liberty movement is massive and it does not emcompass only the right-wing. But we were led to believe that the Millers were Tea Party-loving right-wing extremists. That is what the media wants America to believe.

. it will come as no surprise to our readers that the Millers were involved in the "Occupy Movement." Again, the liberty movement is massive but the Occupy Protests tend to be attributed to the left. Bundy Ranch tends to be associated with the right. They are both cases of civil disobedience but obviously the media wants to paint a picture of the Millers as being people who voted for Romney rather than Obama. This is how the media constantly pushes the agenda of the left. Nearly every news publication in America printed something about the associations of the Millers, but very few printed this:

According to CBS Chicago:

While living in Lafayette, Jerad and his wife Amanda took part in last November's "Million Mask March" - a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists.

Nick Wertz, one of the organizers of the Lafayette march, said it attracted many people upset over a lot of issues. "Everyone there just seem kind of like normal people. At least they were going to stick up with what they thought was right," he said.

Wertz said he didn't really know the Millers, but weeks after the march, Amanda Miller contacted him. "She was moving to Vegas for whatever reason and they had a dog they couldn't take with - and I was like, `If I can help,'" Wertz said. But that was the end of it, he said.

The Millers were not alone. Several #Occupy members were arrested for assault, robbery, vandalism, rape and murder.



Does democracy work in Muslim lands?

Even in Muslim countries where there is some democracy -- Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan -- democracy alternates with military rule. And Obama is making the situation worse. Comment from Australia below

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, President George Bush chased him and his "million strong" army out of there. Despite the urgings of the hawks he had the intelligence to stop at the border, refusing to go on and take Baghdad.

When Al Queda attacked New York, President George W Bush felt enough was enough... he had to attack something. But he attacked the wrong something.

Afghanistan and its links with Pakistan was the real threat, Iraq was never a threat to the West. But it is now that America has poked the hornet's nest.

They hung strong man Saddam Hussein high, high enough to decapitate him, yet Saddam was the only person who was holding the dysfunctional State together.

Now he's gone and so is Iraq's stability, along with most of its oil fields, taken over by a bunch of Islamic extremists in utes who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

These are the worst of the world's worst of Islamic extremists, they are the people who decapitate children, inflict the most heinous and sexually fatal injuries on women and eat male opponents' organs.

These are the people hundreds of Australian Islamic youths have gone to fight alongside.

They have spilled over from their unwinnable Syrian crisis and are now marching south to Baghdad.

Good luck with getting as far as Baghdad!

Iran is now aligning with its bitter enemy, Iraq, to repel the ISIS while America is preparing to launch drones from its aircraft carriers in the Gulf.

The ISIS rebels are heartened by their ability to take over most of the unguarded oilfields in the north of Iraq, they are selling gas and electricity to Syria to finance their atrocities, while Obama's CIA provides them with weapons and Putin provides Syria's Assad with bigger weapons.

Syria won't fall to the ISIS and it knows it, despite Obama's assistance. It has now turned its sights on a weakened Iraq.

At least Putin has his priorities in order. Incredibly, Obama is about to bomb the very same people he has armed.

North Africa's strong man Gaddafi was holding Libya together before the Americans killed him. America doesn't like strong men, they don't fit plans for its ridiculous aim of democratising the Middle East.

And now Islamic extremists slaughter American diplomats and fire-bomb installations like in Benghazi.

The cause of the current Middle East powder keg is Obama. He created it! He prematurely withdrew his forces for electoral reasons and now he needs to drone-bomb the very people he has armed. They also intend to kill Syria's Assad.

Good luck with that too!

The ISIS realises just how vulnerable Iraq is now that the Americans have "restructured" its government and armed forces. It is so weak that, when confronted by the ISIS, they showed their innate Islamic cowardice, dropped their guns and ran, leaving their American tanks and materiel for the enemy... despite the fact that they outnumber the ISIS invaders forty to one.

Will President Obama's makeshift Afghanistan government be any different after he withdraws forces there too? Of course not, the Taliban will take over and enforce its Barbaric Sharia law with even greater fervour.

Obama is either as thick as pig shit or he is knowingly encouraging Islamic extremism in the Middle East. That extremism will eventually reach the West in the form of increasingly sophisticated terrorism?

Just look at what this Obama bloke has done!

1. He has defied Congress and the Constitution and sent arms to the Al Queda backed Syrian rebels via the CIA, hoping to kill another strong man, Al-Assad. Those same Al Queda offshoot extremists are supported by hundreds of Islamic Australians who have travelled there to fight in a dirty internal war. It's the perennial Sunni against Shia, and Iraq's Kurds in the north look on for a piece of the pie.

2. Obama has created a humanitarian crisis of over a million refugees who are pouring on to Europe's doorstep, Turkey. Just imagine the horrific result if Damascus fell and Assad with it. At least Putin has imagined it and is trying to stabilise the situation despite Obama's determination to further destabilise it.

3. Obama is releasing Gitmo terrorists and feting army deserters.

4. Obama bent his knee and bowed his head to the Saudi King and his rotten family of crooks who are arming the ISIS right now.

5. Obama has alienated the only democratic country the West has as an ally, that pinprick of donated territory called Israel.

6. Obama encouraged Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow its strong man Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the only autocratic symbol of stability in the Middle East. To Obama's delight Egypt's very first election saw the Brotherhood's Morsi installed as its first elected President. To assist the original founders of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama Administration ensured them another $1.3 billion shipment of state-of-the-art weaponry. The Brotherhood lasted only months before it was overthrown, marginalising even moderate Islamists. Christian Churches now continue to be burnt down while the new President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, looks on.

7. Obama refuses to use the terms "terrorism" and "Islam" in the same sentence.

8. Obama promoted the building of a mosque adjacent to the destroyed World Trade Centre.

9. Obama's State Department found that, "Islam and terrorism are not linked."

10. Obama if not an Islamist, is an apologist for Islam. Islamic terrorism has mushroomed under his watch. On his left hand he has worn a gold ring since he was a teenager. Michelle took it and slipped it on his ring finger when they were married. On it is an Arabic hieroglyphic that says, "There is no god except Allah."

Post Obama, the one lesson America should take from the mess it has created in the Middle East is that it should ignore the grandstanding rhetoric of Middle East strong men, they are speaking to a domestic market, as is North Korea's Kim Jong-un. As was Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, as was Iran's mad midget, Ahmadinejad and as is Bashar al-Assad.

Leave them be. While they are busy killing each other they aren't killing us. Isolate them, ignore them the moment we no longer need their filthy oil.

They have been killing each other for 2,000 years. They will quickly change sides when it suits, as we are seeing now, and when they get tired of that they will start killing each other again.

They are driven by a Barbaric Islamic culture we should not even try to understand... but we should join Europe in rejecting further Islamic immigration. The UK is proposing to disallow Middle East immigrants receiving social benefits for the first six months after arrival.

Only fools would allow the Middle East's despicable culture of Islam to gain new footholds in the West.

Unfortunately Obama ain't the only fool in the West



VA Whistleblowers Faced Retaliation For Speaking Out

Last week, we reported on the Veterans Affairs Department's internal audit that determined that more than 100,000 US veterans are either presently languishing on medical wait lists, or never received an appointment at all over the last decade. The probe comes in the wake of revelations that VA bureaucrats across the country engaged in "systemic" manipulation of official wait-time statistics in order to conceal the true extent of the problem, and to protect their own performance-based bonuses. Whistleblowers have emerged from coast to coast, shining the spotlight on the fraudulent practices, malpractice, outrageous care, and "crime syndicate" culture. Given the breadth of dysfunction and corruption at the agency, some may wonder why these sources didn't step forward sooner. The answer is twofold: First, some did sound the alarm. Red flags were raised, investigated, and ignored for years. Second, the VA bureaucracy clamped down hard on people who spoke out of school. The New York Times reports:

"Staff members at dozens of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country have objected for years to falsified patient appointment schedules and other improper practices, only to be rebuffed, disciplined or even fired after speaking up, according to interviews with current and former staff members and internal documents...In interviews with The New York Times, a half-dozen current and former staff members - four doctors, a nurse and an office manager in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Alaska - said they faced retaliation for reporting systemic problems. Their accounts, some corroborated by internal documents, portray a culture of silence and intimidation within the department and echo experiences detailed by other V.A. personnel in court filings, government investigations and congressional testimony, much of it largely unnoticed until now."

The culture of cover-up and muzzling is pervasive and dates back many years:

"The federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistle-blower complaints, is examining 37 claims of retaliation by V.A. employees in 19 states, and recently persuaded the V.A. to drop the disciplining of three staff members who had spoken out. Together with reports to other watchdog agencies and the Times interviews, the accounts by V.A. whistle-blowers cover several dozen hospitals, with complaints dating back seven years or longer...The number of claims of retaliation by V.A. whistle-blowers is among the highest of any federal agency, said Carolyn Lerner, who runs the Office of Special Counsel, and have been documented by Congress going back at least two decades. In 1992, a congressional report concluded that the V.A. discouraged employees from reporting problems by "harassing whistle-blowers or firing them." In 1999, a House subcommittee hearing on "Whistleblowing and Retaliation in the Department of Veterans Affairs" found little had changed. Today V.A. employees and whistle-blower lawyers say the problem has only gotten worse."

Click through to read individual cases of VA doctors, nurses and other officials being reprimanded, put on administrative leave, and even escorted out of the building by security for raising objections to fraudulent practices. When one doctor refused to cease and desist writing up formal complaints, he was deemed "disruptive" by the apparatchiks and fired. A pyschologist's performance reviews suddenly grew hostile and negative after she spoke out against certain policies. And then there's this:

"In Pittsburgh, two V.A. doctors specializing in Legionnaires' disease, Dr. Janet Stout and Dr. Victor Yu, said they were forced out after complaining about budget and salary matters in 2006. The V.A. then closed their lab and destroyed their specimens - decisions the doctors contend contributed to a 2011 outbreak of Legionnaires' at the Pittsburgh hospital that killed six people. "The V.A. isn't a place where you speak out," Dr. Stout said in an interview."

Each and every story detailed in the article is outrageous. Incredibly, the VA has frequently used supposed violations of doctor-patient confidentiality as a pretext for sacking problematic employees, arguing that reporting misconduct is tantamount to breaching protocols. This is what unaccountable, government-run, bureaucrat-administered healthcare looks like.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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17 June, 2014

Lois Lerner, the IRS and the "lost" emails about targeted tea party groups

I put up yesterday one of the many criticisms of the preposterous claim that a whole swag of Obama administration emails had been lost. Even if they have, is that the end of the matter? The Snowden revelations lead us too believe that the NSA has copies of just about every email ever sent. Why can we not recover the emails from them?


Exaggerated claims of racism

Last Friday I discussed the crow-calls of "racism" that are always emanating from the Left and pointed out that such calls are mostly projection. The practising racists (as in "affirmative action", antisemitism etc) are in fact on the Left. The article below was written for an Australian audience and it too points out how minor are the things that Leftists pick on to distract attention from their own obsessive racism

So who’s a racist? Not you, of course. Certainly not me. Hey, maybe none of us.

No, that’s not what people were saying this week as the sports commentator Warren Ryan quit his job over an on-air quote from Gone with the Wind that included the word "darky".

Here was another controversy, depressingly fresh on the heels of last year's furore over indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes being called an ape by a young spectator.

It may pay to look at the bigger picture. After all, aren’t we living in a era when evil is an outmoded concept, when there are no bad people, only bad acts? On that basis it seems counter-intuitive and frankly crazy to label people racist on the basis on one or two remarks.

Yes, of course, "the standard I walk past is the standard I accept", to quote another example of vogue reasoning. Sorry but I have walked past it plenty.

I walked past it when a man in Spain told me he was "working like a black", when an old girlfriend asked whether I still "smoke like a Turk" and when a fella in country NSW offered me his ultimate accolade: "Thanks mate, you’re a white man."

Hey, I also walked past it when people assert that Australia is a uniquely wicked racist country. Get real.

Yes, Australian country towns once banned Aborigines from swimming pools. From this came the Freedom Rides led by Charlie Perkins. And the treatment of indigenous Australians by white settlers and government authorities remains unfinished business.

But how many people alive today are honest to god racist? You know, willing to stand at the school gates like a southern US governor in the 1950s and ’60s and say non-white children will not pass? Refuse to shake the hand of a non-white person? Oddly, when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani failed to offer his hand to European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, there was not a glimmer of protest. (Rouhani saw fit to shake hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin).

Are white South African migrants to Australia racist? Are black Zimbabwean leaders racist for pushing whites off farms? Considering the hierarchy of oppression that is so fashionable now, are any non-white people racist at all?

Certainly it is much easier then to turn on some middle-aged white bloke for saying something, well, stupid.

For seemingly endless days in May, CNN’s television coverage was obsessed with the Donald Sterling controversy. The billionaire owner of the US basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers was rightly denounced in all quarters for moronic comments about black people. He now has to sell the franchise and will end his days as a pariah. Isn’t that enough? Not for CNN, though that network was not alone. Its anchors weighed every nuance, parsing comments by his wife that Sterling had dementia, interviewing each other endlessly.

For what? Only because there are dollars at stake did Sterling even matter. Otherwise that old man’s thoughts are irrelevant to everyone but him and the nurse with the bedpan. I’d rather ask how healthy it is for any sporting team to be owned by a single plutocrat.

My contention is that people can say racist things because they are afflicted, temporarily or permanently, with stupidity, but that doesn’t make them a racist. Why? Because I don’t believe there are that many true racists. These would be people obsessed with the supremacy of their race to the exclusion of any other topic. Sure they are out there. But their numbers are negligible. And if the best frontman they can present is still Jim Saleam, as John Safran found in Good Weekend last Saturday, they ain’t growing the brand. Pauline Hanson? Sorry. Seriously, no.

I’d wager that the overwhelming majority of us, no matter the colour, are roughly as "racist" as each other. In other words, not really racist at all. It’s just that we sometimes say the stupidest things.



One of the world's major subnational units has just had an election

Ontario has renewed its trust in a corrupt, big spending Lesbian liberal. Below Ezra Levant gives his evaluation of the event in his normal reserved and nuanced way

Put aside the scandals and corruption and police investigations into the Ontario Liberal Party. That’s just morality and ethics stuff, and Ontarians are apparently fine with that.

But what about the economy created by the Liberals, happily accepted by voters last Thursday?

For seven years running, Ontario has had a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Ontario is a have-not province, now subsidized by others, including Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, two new have provinces.

Stop and let that sink in.

Ontario’s taxes are high, and about to grow higher: Premier Kathleen Wynne’s campaign centrepiece was a new payroll tax for a provincial pension plan, deducted from every employee’s paycheque. In other words, a job tax.

There will be other taxes too, including on Pearson Airport, the airport already saddled with the highest user fees in the world.

And Ontario’s disastrous experiment with wind turbines and solar panels will continue for decades — that’s the length of time Ontario will force residents and companies to buy power at inflated rates to subsidize their green schemes.

Even as power prices fall in other provinces and competitor states in the U.S. It’s surely a coincidence that the former president of the Liberal Party is a wind turbine executive.

That’s what’s so dispiriting.

Not that Ontarians are fine with a corrupt political class.

But that Ontarians are fine with economic decline and that more and more economic “success stories” aren’t entrepreneurs, but rather crony capitalists with ties to the government.

Ontarians, for more than a century the economic engine of Canada, are fine now being an economic brake. The decline first brought on by Dalton McGuinty is no longer a blip. It’s a trend.

It seems unthinkable that Ontario could ever be anything other than the biggest and strongest province. But it surely felt that way in Montreal, too, for the longest time.

But take the story of the Bank of Montreal to see how things don’t last forever.

The Bank of Montreal is Canada’s oldest bank, founded in 1817. And for 160 years, it was headquartered in — obviously — Montreal. But in 1970, politics brought risk and cost to Quebec in a way not seen before.

The FLQ crisis brought terrorism and martial law. In 1976, the Parti Quebecois won the election. So in 1977, the Bank of Montreal moved its head office operations to Toronto.

For two lifetimes it was unthinkable that the Bank of Montreal would leave Montreal. But in the course of 20 years it happened.

Politics matters.

Ontarians just renewed their bonds with a party that deliberately campaigned to the left of the NDP; a party that has overtly joined the cause of government workers unions, against the interests of taxpayers.

Ontario’s so-called Sunshine List — the annual publication of government workers earning more than $100,000 — used to be a source of embarrassment. Now it’s the government’s base of support.

Ontario has chosen the takers against the makers. Thirtynine percent of Ontarians were fine with that and voted Liberal. And most of the 24% who voted for the NDP were fine with it too.

The day after the election was instructive. Mere hours after the election, Joe Fontana, the Liberal mayor of London, was convicted of fraud. But Wynne happily met with Fontana earlier this year, while he was before the courts — and merely by associating with him, gave him her political stamp of approval.

At exactly the same time, banks from around the world issued credit warnings about Ontario’s debt, and the province’s cost to borrow jumped the most it had in six months.

An official credit downgrade is imminent, though some banks say they’re waiting for the provincial budget, to make it official.

Corruption and debt. Can they really bring down Canada’s economic colossus?

Ask Detroit — for decades, the highest-paid, most industrialized city in America. After two generations of Democratic rule, it’s an impoverished ghost town.

Oh, this is just the beginning. Let’s see what new taxes and rules Toronto’s next mayor, socialist Olivia Chow, will bring with her.

Anyone want to bet on when the Bank of Montreal moves to Calgary?



Flag day

Back when Democrats were patriotic, Woody Wilson said this:

"I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance."

The official Twitter account of the Democrat party, @TheDemocrats, sent out this tweet yesterday to mark their celebration of Flag Day:

"Happy flag day"

In accord with their modern priorities, the child was the "correct" color but that is not a correct picture of an American flag. At best it's bunting. While the flag has changed considerably throughout the years, there has never been a version that included a blue stripe as opposed to a blue field. The American flag looks like this:



In the media's America, “Mainstream” Means Left

Just when Tea Party obituaries were being sounded around the country, Washington fixture of 42 years, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, loses to upstart Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel.

And one week later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in the blockbuster of this year’s political season, is booted out of office in the Virginia Republican primary by an economics professor from Randolph-Macon College, total undergraduate enrollment - 1,312 students.

Turns out that reports of the death of the Tea Party are greatly exaggerated.

According to the New York Times editorial page, writing about Cantor’s defeat, the Tea Party is “producing candidates who are light-years from the mainstream.”

But if mainstream means not clearly on one side of the political spectrum or the other, a new report from Pew Research shows that what is supposedly mainstream today is not mainstream at all. The report, “Political Polarization in the American Republic,” shows that it is now the minority of Americans who are not clearly on the left or the right.

Only 39 percent of Americans define themselves in the middle, as a mixed bag of liberal and conservative values. The majority of Americans, the other 61 percent, see themselves as on the liberal left or the conservative right. Thirty four percent say they are mostly or consistently liberal and 27 percent say they are mostly or consistently conservative.

Just ten years ago 49 percent – ten percentage points more – defined themselves in the mixed middle.

The New York Times would like us to believe that there is a “mainstream” in America today because what “mainstream” means is status quo – don’t rock the boat. Because of the massive growth of government over recent years, today’s status quo means acceptance of a great lurch leftward, which has already occurred.

It sounds so measured and sober to call a candidate “mainstream.” But “mainstream” is not measured and sober.

It means shrugging your shoulders at $17 trillion in federal debt, $4 trillion in federal spending, and a tax code of over 73,000 pages.

In polling reported by Gallup, for 45 years from 1952 to 1997, over 80 percent of Americans said there is “plenty of opportunity” in the country. By last year this was down to 52 percent.

The Tea Party is not an ideological movement. It is a movement of decent, hard-working Americans from quiet communities who are no longer willing to accept freedom and opportunity disappearing as result of the massive growth of government and a power-satiated political class in Washington.

America has no center today. You either accept a left-wing status quo or you are fighting against it.


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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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.

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 June, 2014

I, playwright

In my own personal view of myself I have always thought of myself as primarily a literary type. In my early years I read huge amounts of classical fiction and have always enjoyed poetry. Out of a class of 1,000 students I got the highest mark awarded for the poetry paper in my first-year English course at the University of Qld many years ago and to this day it does not take much to provoke me into reciting large slabs of Chaucer in the original Middle English.

But it always seemed clear to me that literature was no way to make a living so I concentrated my studies on the social sciences instead.

My son seems to be much the same. He wrote his first story when he was 9 but obviously concluded he had to study more practical things at university. So he took a B.Sc. degree with first class honours in Mathematics. He then started on a study program for a Ph.D. in mathematics. But he has just abandoned that program and has started to write fiction instead. He has decided to follow his natural bent no matter how impractical it may be.

I think he is wiser than I was. So at age 70 I have decided to write a few plays. They are just trifles for home performance but in case anybody is interested, you can access them here


Are Conservatives Dumber Than Liberals?

It depends on how you define "conservative." The research shows that libertarian conservatives are smartest of all

Ronald Bailey

Conservatives exhibit less cognitive ability than liberals do. Or that's what it says in the social science literature, anyway. A 2010 study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, for example, found that the IQs of young adults who described themselves as "very liberal" averaged 106.42, whereas the mean of those who identified as "very conservative" was 94.82. Similarly, when a 2009 study correlated cognitive capacity with political beliefs among 1,254 community college students and 1,600 foreign students seeking entry to U.S. universities, it found that conservatism is "related to low performance on cognitive ability tests." In 2012, a paper reported that people endorse more conservative views when drunk or under cognitive pressure; it concluded that "political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought."

So have social scientists really proved that conservatives are dumber than liberals? It depends crucially on how you define "conservative."

For an inkling of what some social scientists think conservatives believe, parse a 2008 study by the University of Nevada at Reno sociologist Markus Kemmelmeier. To probe the political and social beliefs of nearly 7,000 undergraduates at an elite university, Kemmelmeier devised a set of six questions asking whether abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex should be legal, whether handguns and racist/sexist speech on campus should be banned, and whether higher taxes should be imposed on the wealthy. The first three were supposed to measure the students' views of "conservative gender roles," and the second set was supposed to gauge their "anti-regulation" beliefs. Kemmelmeier clearly thought that "liberals" would tend to be OK with legal abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex, and would opt to ban handguns and offensive speech and to tax the rich. Conservatives would supposedly hold the opposite views.

Savvy readers may recognize a problem with using these questions to sort people into just two ideological categories. And sure enough, Kemmelmeier got some results that puzzled him. He found that students who held more traditional views on gender and sex roles averaged lower on their verbal SAT and Achievement Test scores. "Surprisingly," he continued, this was not true of students with anti-regulation attitudes. With them, "all else being equal, more conservative respondents scored higher than more liberal respondents." Kemmelmeier ruefully notes that "this result was not anticipated" and "diametrically contradicts" the hypothesis that conservatism is linked to lower cognitive ability. Kemmelmeier is so evidently lost in the intellectual fog of contemporary progressivism that he does not realize that his questionnaire is impeccably designed to identify classical liberals, a.k.a. libertarians, who endorse liberty in both the social and economic realms.

So how smart are libertarians compared to liberals and conservatives? In a May 2014 study in the journal Intelligence, the Oxford sociologist Noah Carl attempts to answer to that question. Because research has "consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs," Carl suggests that in the American political context, social scientists would expect Republicans to be less intelligent than Democrats. Instead, Republicans have slightly higher verbal intelligence scores (2–5 IQ points) than Democrats. How could that be?

Carl begins by pointing out that there is data suggesting that a segment of the American population holding classical liberal beliefs tends to vote Republican. Classical liberals, Carl notes, believe that an individual should be free to make his own lifestyle choices and to enjoy the profits derived from voluntary transactions with others. He proposes that intelligence actually correlates with classically liberal beliefs.

To test this hypothesis, Carl uses data on political attitudes and intelligence derived from the General Social Survey, which has been administered to representative samples of American adults every couple of years since 1972. Using GSS data, respondents are classified on a continuum ranging from strong Republican through independent to strong Democrat. Carl then creates a measure of socially liberal beliefs based on respondents' attitudes toward homosexuality, marijuana consumption, abortion, and free speech for communists, racists, and advocates for military dictatorship. He similarly probes liberal economic views, with an assessment of attitudes toward government provision of jobs, industry subsidies, income redistribution, price controls, labor unions, and military spending. Verbal Intelligence is evaluated using the GSS WORDSUM test results.

Comparing strong Republicans with strong Democrats, Carl finds that Republicans have a 5.48 IQ point advantage over Democrats. Broadening party affiliation to include moderate to merely leaning respondents still results in a Republican advantage of 3.47 IQ points and 2.47 IQ points respectively. Carl reconciles his findings with the social science literature that reports that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives by proposing that Americans with classically liberal beliefs are even smarter. Carl further reports that those who endorse both social conservatism and economic statism also have lower verbal IQ scores.

"Overall, my findings suggest that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans," concludes Carl. If the dumb, I mean socially conservative, Republicans keep disrespecting us classical liberals, we'll take our IQ points and go home.

As gratifying as Carl's research findings are, it is still a deep puzzle to me why it apparently takes high intelligence to understand that the government should stay out of both the bedroom and the boardroom.


Bailey covers the issues pretty well above but could have emphasized even more strongly that it all depends on how you define conservative. Most of the relevant research has been done by Leftists and thanks to their general lack of contact with reality, most of them have not got a blind clue about what conservatism is. All they know is what they have picked up from their fellow Leftists. So they define conservatism very narrowly and miss out that the central issue for conservatives is individual liberty.

One result of that is that their lists of questions that are supposed to index conservatism usually show no correlation with vote! Many of the people who are critical of homosexuality, for instance, are Democrat voters, not Republicans. Blacks, for instance, are often religious and are also conservative on many social issues so a low average score on IQ for religious conservatives could simply reflect the low average IQ score of blacks while telling us nothing about whites

Just to give you the feel of black attitudes, a common Caribbean word for a homosexual is "Poopman"


IRS “Loses” Lois Lerner Emails!

The IRS has fought tooth and nail to stall and hold out on surrendering Lois Lerner's emails to Congressional committees.

First, the IRS told Congress that it would take years to access and, if necessary, redact Lois Lerner's emails. Then, the administration tried to tell Congress what emails it could and couldn't have.

Throughout the administration's stonewalling, real Conservatives in Congress (yes, they really exist) stood strong and demanded that the IRS obey the lawful Congressional subpoena for ALL of Lois Lerner's emails.

Well, after exhausting all options of stopping the investigation into the IRS scandal, the Obama administration has decided to try a new tactic: they are claiming that a "computer crash" has destroyed Lois Lerner's emails!

The so-called "crash" didn't destroy all of Ms. Lerner's emails. Any in-department emails between Lerner and other IRS employees are still accessible. However, all of the emails between Ms. Lerner and the White House, FEC, DOJ, and Congressional Democrats have now been destroyed!

They think you are an idiot! They think that they can destroy evidence connecting Lois Lerner and the White House and that you won't figure out what is going on!

At least Richard Nixon admitted to withholding the Watergate tapes and ordering them to be destroyed. The Obama administration thinks they can stop the investigation into the IRS scandal by claiming that almost all of Lois Lerner's emails were "accidentally" destroyed!

It is almost comical how the administration expects us to believe that all emails connecting Lois Lerner with the Obama White House have been tragically and accidentally lost.

We are supposed to just sit back and accept the fact that all the evidence was destroyed that connected Lois Lerner's targeting program with the White House, DOJ, FEC, and House Democrats…

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner communicated with Democrats in Congress, such as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). That is undeniable! We know that these Democrat lawmakers reached out to the IRS and asked them to target their political opponents. Now, the administration has apparently destroyed all evidence of these communications.

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner reached out to Eric Holder's Justice Department about prosecuting conservative non-profit groups. That is undeniable! Now, the administration has apparently "lost" all evidence of these communications as well.

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner was regularly communicating with Federal Election Commission bureaucrats in her pursuit to undermine the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. Again, we are being told that those emails have conveniently been destroyed.

Do they understand how the Internet works? Even if there was a crash or if a catastrophic virus did infect Lois Lerner's computer — conveniently during a criminal investigation — are we really supposed to believe that this same crash/virus has affected all of the recipients of these emails as well?!

Anyone who has used the Internet knows that when an email is sent, there isn't just one record of it. The sender and recipient both have copies of the communication.

But, we are being told that basic Internet logic doesn't apply here and that all records of Lois Lerner's crimes have been destroyed. How convenient for the President and his administration…

What did the White House find in these emails that was so damning that they had to be destroyed? Who else was Lois Lerner conspiring with to silence conservative groups and to stop them from participating in the 2012 election?

Every time that Congress gets close to uncovering the truth about the IRS scandal, the administration does something to try to stop the investigation in its tracks.

Now, the administration has begun destroying documents… I mean, the administration had a convenient "computer crash."

Enough is enough! Lois Lerner is a criminal who must be thrown in jail, and whoever in the Obama administration conspired to destroy this evidence must also be thrown behind bars!

Congress has the power to do all of this, but they will only use this authority to jail these criminals if YOU tell them to!



It doesn’t seem to be true that inequality damages the economy

We're all aware of the mobs of screaming harpies telling us that inequality is damaging to the economy, nay to the very life of the nation. We even had a whole book about it, The Spirit Level, which manipulated (and badly) every statistic it could to try and convince us of this point. The problem for the thesis is that if this were true, if inequality were bad for the economy, then we would see the economies of places which are more unequal doing worse than the economies of places which were more equal. And, to be frank about it, this isn't what we see:

When we talk about competitiveness, we don’t talk much about fairness. Fairness is more a moral issue. If you look at the top countries on our list, they are not the equal countries, with the exception of Sweden. The U.S., Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore are countries where income inequality tends to be high. If you look at our data, there is a U-shaped relationship when it comes to income inequality. Countries that are very competitive or not competitive at all tend to be very unequal. The two extremes are the U.S. and Venezuela. Both countries are quite unequal. The countries where economic inequality is quite low, rank high but they are certainly not on the top. There is a price to pay in order to promote or guarantee a certain level of equality and that comes at the expense of competitiveness.

As we've noted around here before, Venezuela's problems do not stem from the inequality in that country, rather from the silly, even pig ignorant, methods they've tried to use to reduce that inequality. Similarly Sweden is both more equal and competitive because they do two things right. Firstly, underneath the tax burden, they run an intensely classically liberal economy and secondly, they raise that monstrous amount of tax revenues by taxing consumption, not capital or corporations.

Which leads us to two observations: the first being that we don't actually have any evidence that inequality harms the growth prospects of the economy. The second is that even if it does whether reducing that inequality will reduce the performance of the economy depends upon precisely how we reduce the inequality. We might try price controls, rationing, import substitution, nationalisation, the Venezuelan route, or we might try a properly free market economy with a high VAT to give us the money to redistribute, the Swedish way. That latter works, in that the country is more equal (if that's something you want to worry about and we don't) and also remains competitive. The former doesn't work in either sense: but sadly if we look around UK politics we see those concerned with inequality arguing for those Venezuelan policies rather than those Swedish ones.

Which end of the political spectrum is said to be the evidence based one again?



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Jihadistan Rising

In December 2011 at Fort Bragg, Barack Obama boasted of his grand achievement in ending the war in Iraq as the last U.S. troops were removed. “We knew this day would come,” he said. “We’ve known it for some time. But still there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long. It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Everything that American troops have done in Iraq – all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has landed to this moment of success. … We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement.”

Today, the news coming out of Iraq is yet another sad reminder of the utter failure of Barack Obama’s leadership on the world stage. The jihadist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit this week in lightning fast strikes that sent unprepared Iraqi security forces scrambling. ISIS has made steady progress in its campaign against government forces in recent months, having seized much of Anbar Province earlier in the spring. Its forces are now poised less than a hundred miles from Baghdad. By the way, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the new leader of ISIS, was released from U.S. custody in 2009. Anyone still think those five Taliban leaders “are not a threat to the United States”?

America’s national security team assures us that Baghdad will not fall because of the high concentration of military forces there. But U.S. embassy officials are laying out contingency plans for evacuation. Last one to the helicopter on the roof can turn out the lights.

It’s a stunning turn of events, particularly for those gullible enough to believe Obama’s claims about his “extraordinary achievement.” For instance, let’s recall his boast upon pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq: “Al-Qaida is decimated.” Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared in July 2011 that the U.S. was close to “strategically defeating” al-Qaida. It turns out that al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the major jihadi force that U.S. troops were fighting before Obama’s ignominious retreat, was not actually defeated. It just morphed into something else that is even more of a threat.

As recently as Wednesday, responding to the news of ISIS’s military gains, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president maintained, “The world is less violent than it has ever been.” Perhaps true when compared to, say, World War II, but his statement is willfully ignorant of realty. Iraq is unraveling, Ukraine is fighting for its very existence against a resurgent Russia, and Boko Haram continues to terrorize Nigeria, just to pull three examples from the headlines.

The Middle East is a raging battlefield once again, with al-Qaida at the center of the conflagration. Call the brand of al-Qaida whatever you like, the blame for this rapidly unfolding disaster lays squarely at the feet of this president. Obama was so eager to end George W. Bush’s “dumb war” that he ignored the advice of senior Pentagon officials to leave a sizable American force in Iraq. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that leaving a battlefield is not synonymous with victory on the battlefield.

The growth and success of ISIS is a direct result of Obama’s complete foreign policy malfeasance. The Islamic militant group is made up of Sunni fighters from Syria and Iraq motivated to create a Pan-Islamic caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Iranian border. The civil war in Syria, which Obama refused to dirty his hands with, inevitably spilled over the porous border with Iraq, and militants traveled back and forth in that region for the last two years or more, causing death and destruction and growing stronger by the day.

It’s a mistake to assume that ISIS is just another al-Qaida affiliate that can be neutralized with drone strikes. This is not some ragtag band of fighters roaming the desert in rusty pickups. They are trained soldiers, equipped with more than military hardware left behind by fleeing Iraqi National Security forces and abandoned U.S. military outposts. They are motivated, which is more than can be said for the White House.

Just as Bill Clinton’s willful ignorance of al-Qaida in the 1990s left us unprepared for 9/11, so too Obama’s self-centered hubris has allowed Iraq to come to the brink of anarchy. Headlines say the White House was “caught off guard” by the advance of al-Qaida. Perhaps Obama only found out about ISIS’s military gains from news reports.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has begged the administration to consider air strikes against ISIS staging areas since May. Going back as far as March, American advisers who visited Baghdad had been told by senior Iraqi leaders that air power was sorely needed to turn the tide against the insurgents. Yet the requests fell on deaf ears.

Now, Obama says all options are on the table to help the Iraqis. “I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.” Not getting a permanent foothold? His oblivion knows no bounds. Maybe he can try a few Twitter hashtags on his way to Laguna Beach for golf and a fundraiser.

Things have gotten so bad that Iran is now getting into the fight on behalf of the embattled Iraqi government, sending Revolutionary Guard units to combat its Sunni foes. So, while Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism, props up Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and continues its quest for nuclear weapons, it’s defending U.S. interests in Iraq better than Obama is. Even Assad is offering to help. To put it conservatively, Iraq is a total mess.

Obama has made it plain he has no intention of correcting his egregious mistakes in Iraq – he’s given away everything we fought for and he’s proud of it. We will likely have to watch chaos spread across the region for another two years until, hopefully, a new president does what’s needed to stabilize the region and protect U.S. national security interests. Thursday’s anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall reminds us that America can be a beacon of freedom and security in the world. Unfortunately, we’ve gone a long way in the wrong direction.



The VA Morass Deepens

With each passing day and new revelation, the Veterans Affairs secret wait-list scandal shows a rotten and decaying system where corruption was rampant and accountability nonexistent. Inspection visits to under-performing facilities were “paused” for two years, bonuses were tossed out like candy at a parade, to the tune of over $100 million in a three-year period, and whistleblowers were threatened with firing – or worse.

All this has led to the opening of an FBI investigation, meaning it’s quite possible that some hospital administrators could fall on the sword for their role in poor patient care and secret “death panel” waiting lists. The Phoenix FBI office is taking the lead, as the story originated from that facility, but this is a nationwide problem – the VA’s own inspector general is looking at a total of 69 facilities, and that number is likely to grow.

Congress is also moving with unusual speed – particularly in light of an oncoming election – to address some aspects of the problem. Bills are on the fast track in both the Senate and House, and they are considered to be similar enough that no more than a perfunctory conference session would be needed. Items likely to make the cut are a prohibition on bonuses to VA executives through 2016, allowing the VA to shift $500 million in its budget to hire more medical staff, and allowing certain veterans who live far from VA facilities to seek out private providers on the VA’s tab. The VA would also be encouraged to contract with private medical facilities as needed to reduce wait times.

Still, if the VA system is the epitome of government-run health care – and it is – the clamor to eliminate ObamaCare should be deafening. The VA’s public relations and patient confidence holes are getting deeper and wider with each revelation, and the millions of veterans and their families who depend on the VA for their health don’t just deserve better care – they deserve answers as to what went wrong and why.



Mother Jones shoots and misses at Dave Brat on Fannie, Freddie

Formerly unknown congressional candidate Dave Brat has been in the headlines ever since he ousted soon-to-be former House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican nomination.

Now, Brat faces an even greater challenge in the general election. First up is taking on the left-wing political intelligentsia, which is attempting to eviscerate his election chances.

For example, writing for Mother Jones, Molly Redden and David Corn try to discredit Brat’s critique of government policies that led to the financial crisis.

“An economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in central Virginia, Brat frequently has repeated the conservative canard that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae brought down the housing market by handling the vast majority of subprime mortgages,” write Redden and Corn, adding, “That is, he absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession.”

Redden and Corn are referring to Brat’s frequent refrain on the campaign trail that “Fannie and Freddie made two-thirds of all subprime mortgages.”

At this point, it is probably best to defer to American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Edward Pinto, former Fannie Mae executive vice president and chief credit officer, on this count. After all, he literally wrote the book on how Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE), congressional, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies were among the primary causes in the build-up of hundreds of billions of dollars non-traditional mortgages that nearly crashed the global economy.

Now, even if one takes a broad view of “subprime” as “residential mortgages issued to high-risk borrowers, such as those with a history of late payments or bankruptcy,” as the Financial Times does, or simply, mortgages that are not prime, a better term would be Pinto’s non-traditional mortgages.

Also, it would be more accurate to say more than two-thirds of the crappy loans were Fannie, Freddie, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Federal Home Loan Bank, and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) required loans.

Per Pinto’s forensic study: “As of June 30, 2008 over 70 percent of the 26.7 million NTMs with weak or high risk characteristics — 19.25 million loans – were owned or guaranteed by (a) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (11.9 million), (b) the Federal Housing Administration and other federal agencies (4.8 million); (c) Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) investments in Alt-A and Subprime Private MBS (0.3 million) or (d) banks and other lenders originating loans pursuant to CRA requirements and HUD‘s Best Practices program (2.2 million, net of CRA loans already accounted for in (a) and (b). These numbers suggest that government policies and requirements were the source of the loans with weak or high risk characteristics, and thus the cause of the financial crisis.”

Those quibbles aside, Brat is pretty much right. The federal government was responsible for more than two-thirds of the risky mortgages that were made in the bubble.

Adding to the trouble, the GSEs were undercapitalized as a matter of policy, and enabling them to lead the market in low-income borrowing, according to Pinto: “The GSEs only needed $900 in capital behind a $200,000 mortgage they guaranteed — many of which by 2004-2007 had no borrower downpayment. In order for the private sector to compete with Fannie and Freddie, it needed to find ways to increase leverage.”

When Americans for Limited Government reached out to Pinto in 2010 about a draft version of his forensic study, he told us that the GSEs were driving the market for non-traditional mortgages and that the “market response was: if it’s okay with Fannie and Freddie (the de facto standards setters) it must be okay for us.”

The build up by Fannie and Freddie was deadly, would have never been possible without HUD mismanagement, and had unquestionably negative feedback throughout mortgage markets, Pinto notes: “HUD’s policy of continually and disproportionately increasing the GSEs’ goals for low- and very-low income borrowers led to further loosening of lending standards causing most industry participants to reach further down the demand curve and originate even more NTMs. As prices rose at a faster pace, an affordability gap developed, leading to further increases in leverage and home prices. Once the price boom slowed, loan defaults on NTMs quickly increased leading to a freeze-up of the private MBS market. A broad collapse of home prices followed.”

Together with the HUD and the FHA, Fannie and Freddie helped to cause the crisis by weakening underwriting standards, lowering down payments, and generally degrading the quality of credit in both government and private backed loans. Also, because of the implicit backing of taxpayers, the GSE-issued securities were automatically granted AAA bond ratings, and the Fannie and Freddie were even able to misrepresent the quality of mortgages that underlined those securities.

As if that was not bad enough, Fannie and Freddie crafted a marketing plan that promised a higher rate of return than treasuries, but with the same risk associated with a taxpayer guarantee.

It was that implicit guarantee that enabled the GSEs to sell some $4.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, $1.5 trillion of which were sold overseas to investors, as reported by the New York Times. As more securities were sold, Fannie and Freddie bought more mortgages and bundled them into securities. As a direct result, Fannie and Freddie were able to acquire about half of all mortgages as of July 2008.

By 2008, Fannie and Freddie held $1.835 trillion in higher-risk mortgages and mortgage-backed securities: $1.646 trillion, were GSE-issued mortgage-backed securities, and $189 billion of subprime and Alt-A private mortgage-backed securities.

Brat is correct to lay the crisis largely at the feet of Fannie and Freddie. They, along with HUD, FHA, and Congress were the ones that loosened the underwriting standards. Private sector leverage was largely a response to what Fannie and Freddie were doing in the market.

To see which institutions had the larger role to play, just look at the size of the bailouts. To date, the Federal Reserve has bought back more than $1.6 trillion of mortgage backed securities (MBS) that were issued by the GSEs, including Fannie, Freddie, and also Ginnie Mae (which guarantees FHA and VA loans), according to the 2010 Federal Reserve audit of the MBS purchase program. In addition, the GSEs received $187 billion directly from taxpayers.

Therefore, the GSEs were responsible for approximately $1.8 trillion of the crisis. Comparatively, AIG needed an infusion of $182 billion of loans from the Federal Reserve and TARP for its role in insuring subprime and other risky loans against default. The Bear Stearns deal was $25 billion. Another $289 billion in TARP loans were made to affected institutions, too. So, on a bailout scale, $1.8 trillion was spent on GSEs in direct bailouts and about $500 billion was lent to the private sector. More than 3 to 1.

The difference is the private sector paid back their emergency loans. The $1.8 trillion spent on Fannie and Freddie was a direct subsidy from the Fed and from Congress. How it will be recouped, for example, if the Fed will simply hold the mortgages to maturity, transmitting interest earned to the Treasury, or the securities are sold to private sector actors, remains to be seen.

But on Brat’s primary contention, yes, government policies, including the GSEs, were responsible for 72 percent of the risky lending. Private institutions on their own accounted for 28 percent.

Brat was not absolving anyone, but he could be more specific — perhaps just include Ginnie in the statement “Fannie and Freddie made two-thirds of all subprime mortgages” — but the general idea that the government was responsible for the vast majority of the risky lending is spot on accurate.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

The habitual dishonesty of the Left is a huge political problem

When they hear something confidently asserted, most people tend to accept that as true until they have evidence to the contrary. The Left are kept afloat by that tendency. The facts are against almost every conceivable Leftist proposition. So loudly deceiving people about the facts is essential to the Left.

A very common deceptive tactic is a very old and very effective one: Accusing your opponents of what are in fact your own faults -- what Freud called "projection".

Nowhere is this a more persuasive strategy than in the constant accusations that conservatives are "racist". That is such a big lie and is asserted so often that many people undoubtedly believe it.

A knowledge of the relevant history immediately demolishes that assertion but Leftist control of the educational system ensures that almost no-one gets to know that history. That Hitler was a socialist, that one of Britain's most notable Prime Ministers was both a Jew and the head of the British CONSERVATIVE party are both obvious and large signs that the Leftist accusations are false. British Conservatives made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime minister. 40 years later, German socialists immolated 6 million Jews. So who is the antisemite? Who is the racist?

Here is another interesting piece of history. In 1905 the sitting British government lost power in a general election to the opposition. The main cause of its loss was that it was too sympathetic to (legal) Chinese immigration. Ask any Leftist which party it was that lost the election and they would undoubtedly nominate a Left-leaning party. It was in fact the Conservative government of Arthur Balfour.

It is true that it was Chinese immigration to South Africa that was the issue but Britain had just fought a long and costly war to assert that South Africa was British territory and public opinion did see the issue as concerning British territory.

And anyone who has read the correspondence between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (I have) will be aware of the many racial aspersions cast by both those Leftist icons

For a time modern-day conservatives defended themselves from false Leftist attacks by saying that talking about different races and racial characteristics was not at all the same as advocating genocide and did not imply support for genocide. But in recent years, conservatives seem to have become cowed. They avoid all mention of race in fear of Leftist attack.

The truth will never come out that way. And it needs to come out. For example, the lie that all races are equal in all things is very damaging. Leftists are absolutely firm that the black/white "gap" in educational achievement is NOT due to any inherent differences between the two groups. They are sure that it is transient and changeable and rack their brains for ways to change it. But it never does change, no matter what the best brains in Leftism have been able to come up with.

So the inevitable outcome of that is that black under-achievement must not be intrinsic to them but must be due to "whitey": Whitey oppresses and discriminates against blacks, allegedly. And a more poisonous claim than that would be hard to imagine. Blacks tend to believe it and it makes them very hostile towards whites. So we have all the black-on-white attacks and killings that the press does its best to hush up. Many innocent whites are injured and killed because of that great Leftist lie.

Anybody who was familiar with the last 100 years of research into IQ would see that the black-white educational gap is exactly what you would expect from the black-white IQ gap and that nothing will eradicate it -- but Leftists assert that "all men are equal" so cannot accept that.

It may be that all men are equal in the sight of God but divine optometrical defects are not scientifically testable. IQ is.

But I despair of the truth ever becoming widely known now that conservatives have given up defending it. America will continue to stagger on under destructive public policies supported only by Leftist lies.


Beware a Beneficent Government

The president is an ardent progressive. This dastardly philosophy of government was brought into the American mainstream 100 years ago by a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, and a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. Its guiding principle is the belief that government -- not individuals -- is the chief engine of human progress. If that means government tearing down rich persons to help poor persons, if that means the massive redistribution of wealth, if it means federal regulation of every conceivable occupation or productive endeavor, if it means fighting an unjust war, progressives are for it.

Before the progressives, the dominant political thinkers in America were Madisonians. James Madison, who kept the notes at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 -- notes that eventually formed much of the language of the Constitution -- made clear what the purposes of the Constitution were: to prescribe discrete areas of human endeavor in which the new federal government could legislate; to set forth open-ended areas of human behavior in which no government could legislate; and to leave the remaining areas of governmental endeavor in the hands of the states. The areas delegated to the federal government are only 17 in number and generally are referred to as federal powers. The areas in which no government may regulate are infinite and generally are referred to as natural rights.

The progressives have turned this philosophy on its head. TR and Wilson believed that the federal government could regulate any behavior, right any wrong, tax any event and curtail any freedom, subject only to the express prohibitions in the Constitution itself. This view of American government not only contradicts Madison, but it also contradicts the language of the Constitution itself, particularly the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which state in writing what Madison said many times throughout his life.

President Obama, most congressional Democrats and many congressional Republicans are ardent progressives. They view Congress as a general legislature with no limits to its powers -- and they mean no limits. For example, in an area clearly beyond congressional reach, such as in-state highway speed limits, the progressives found a way to extend their reach. They offered money to the states to repave their highways, with the condition that the states adhere to federally prescribed speed limits (only South Dakota declined). Once the courts gave their imprimatur to this assault on the Constitution, the feds realized that by spending taxpayer dollars -- by bribing the states -- they could extend their regulatory tentacles to any extra-constitutional area they chose.

Progressivism's adherents finance the government by borrowing or by heavily taxing only the rich, both of which are sold as being painless to most voters. Yet, the former merely delays the due date of bills until tomorrow for goodies consumed today; the latter takes cash out of the free market today, where it could contribute to growth and jobs tomorrow, and puts it into the hands of the mindset that runs the Post Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Progressives hate the states because they can be laboratories of less government. They love central government and all of its creations, such as the cash-printing Federal Reserve, the wealth-stealing progressive income tax, and the concept of a federal safety net for all persons. None of this, except the income tax (which Wilson promised would not exceed 3 percent of adjusted gross income), is authorized by the Constitution.

Yet today, we are witnessing a government that is beyond ideologically progressive. Does Obama understand that progressive ideas have consequences and that governmental behavior often has unintended consequences? It would appear not, as his long train of incompetence and indifference, grounded in progressive thought, keeps picking up speed. It is crushing human freedom, destroying human wealth and even taking human lives.

Under his presidency, the government saddled us all with a three-sizes-fits-all version of compulsory health care (which caused more than five million persons to lose their coverage and their doctors); it has been spying on all Americans all the time (and we sleepily permit it to do so); it allowed our ambassador in Libya to be murdered (after it destroyed the lawful government there); it told illegal aliens they need not worry about deportation (and thus encouraged the immigration of hundreds of thousands more -- even unaccompanied children -- to our shores); it neglected veterans to the point of death in government hospitals (demonstrating conclusively that the feds cannot deliver health care); it released assets material to terrorist organizations into the theater of war in the Middle East (ostensibly in a prisoner swap to save a weird military bird who once embraced his captors); it has claimed the power to kill Americans it views as a threat to others and yet too troublesome to arrest and bring to trial (all the while claiming it has a secret reading of the Constitution and American law that somehow justifies this); and it has added $6 trillion to government debt (with no plans to repay it).

What's going on? The modern presidency is blinded by a conceit that says it can do no wrong. This is partially the result of the passage of power from the states to the feds and from Congress to the president and partially the fault of a president who relishes telling us all how to live. In Obama's hands, all this power produces the vast unhappiness and government recklessness we now see every day.

The same Madison whom Obama rejects warned 200 years ago against the Obama mindset: "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."



The Top 8 Consequences of Cantor's Defeat

On Tuesday night, one of the most stunning upsets in Congressional primary history took place, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) losing his primary to economics professor Dave Brat. Brat campaigned on the platform that Cantor was a backer of amnesty legislation; heavy conservative media coverage of the thousands of illegal immigrant youths pouring across our inundated southern border contributed to a sense of urgency.

So Cantor is out.

And the landscape has radically shifted, both for the Republican Party, and for the 2014 election. Here are the biggest ramifications of Cantor’s defeat.

Boehner Is Likely Done. The writing has been on the wall for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ever since a failed House insurgency in the aftermath of a coup attempt against his speakership in January 2013. Boehner had been under fire ever since his sequestration deal with President Obama in 2011; his “fiscal cliff” deal with President Obama at the end of 2012 only drove further pressure. Boehner’s repeated attempts to covertly push amnesty legislation have lost him his base. And the departure of many of his top allies in Congress leaves him vulnerable this year. Cantor’s ties to Boehner may signal that a successful insurgency is on the way. Aides are telling the National Journal, “We’re absolutely stunned. Honestly, we really can’t believe it.”

The “Young Guns” Are Firing Blanks. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Cantor were considered the so-called “young guns” in the House, preparing to take over leadership from Boehner and company whenever he stepped down. Ryan and Cantor have been vocal about their desire for immigration reform legislation this year. Cantor is now gone. And Ryan’s position as a leader is in serious jeopardy.

The Death of the Tea Party Was Greatly Exaggerated. After the 2012 election cycle, pundits and the chattering class deemed the Tea Party dead. After the last round of primaries, in which Tea Party groups backed incumbents in many races and lost against incumbents in others – ignoring the victory of Ben Sasse in Nebraska, which the media did – the Tea Party had been relegated to the dustbin of media history. Not so much.

The Conservative Media Has Firepower. Without the power of Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Breitbart News, and others in the new media, the consistent and steady push for amnesty in the House would have gone largely unremarked upon. Instead, it has become a national issue, firing up the base. Ousting a powerful figure like Cantor is not easy. It takes a major movement to do so. That major movement came as a result of scrutiny from conservatives in the media.

The Corporatists -- Including the US Chamber of Commerce -- Took a Major Hit. The major business interests within the Republican Party, including the Chamber of Commerce, have been heavy backers of amnesty in Congress. They just got outclassed by an on-the-ground grassroots force. The split between those two groups paves the way for an all-out brawl between the corporatist Republican establishment and the Tea Party capitalists come 2016.

Establishment Candidates Are In For a Rough 2016 Ride. In 2012, Texas Governor Rick Perry saw his candidacy end on the question of immigration. In 2016, Perry will be in the mix again, as will Jeb Bush. Both are perceived as soft on immigration by the base. The establishment Republican Party is significantly warmer to such candidates than the grassroots are. It’ll be cash vs. activism in 2016. In Cantor’s district, activism just won a stunning victory.

Democrats Will Shift the 2014 Narrative to Immigration. With the conservative base fired up about immigration, President Obama and the Democrats will seize on Cantor’s defeat to once again swerve to the “Tea Party as anti-immigrant extremist” narrative. The goal: to avoid talking about Obamacare and split the Republican Party. It won’t work. The Cantor defeat is the death knell for the immigration reform caucus in the GOP, at least for this cycle, and that means that the party will be more, not less unified.

Barack Obama Will Use This As An Excuse for Executive Action -- After The Election. Obama has been threatening executive action for years on immigration. And he has the power to blanket amnesty millions, as I’ve written before in this space. But now Obama believes he may have a ray of hope in campaigning on immigration. That will delay any executive action beyond the election. He’d rather campaign on the basis that he needs a compliant Congress on immigration than act unilaterally prior to the election and have to answer questions about abuse of power.

This is a stunning night for the GOP. And just as in 2010, the establishment and its donors have no idea just what to do about it. The answer should be: unify.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

The statin craze is slowly unwinding

Statins (atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor)) are supposed to lower blood lipids and thus prevent heart attacks. For currently healthy people however their benefits are dubious and the side-effects can be severe. The side-effects can mimic Alzheimers so the recent upsurge in Alzheimers could be entirely due to the fashion of handing out statins like peanuts

Millions of healthy Britons are about to be given statins needlessly and exposed to debilitating side effects which include muscle pain and diabetes, leading doctors warn.

They say NHS proposals to radically increase the uptake of the drugs are a ‘public health disaster’ that will cause harm to many patients.

The group – which includes cardiologists, and senior GPs – is urging the government and the NHS drugs watchdog NICE to halt the plans. They also claim that eight of the 12-strong panel of experts who are drawing up the guidelines have financial links to drugs firms making statins – which stand to make a profit.

About seven million patients in Britain take statins to lower the cholesterol in their blood to prevent heart attacks and strokes. They are predominantly given to over-65s who have been diagnosed with heart disease or have a high risk of developing it based on their family history or lifestyle.

But in February, NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – published draft guidance advising GPs to prescribe statins to anyone with a 10 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next decade. It claims this could save many lives at a minimum cost to the NHS as the drugs cost as little as 10p each.

Experts say this would lead to the drugs being given to between five and ten million additional patients.

NICE will publish its final guidelines next month.

But the group of doctors say there is no evidence that giving statins to healthy people increases their life expectancy.

On the contrary, they point to evidence showing they increased the risk of diabetes in middle-aged women by 48 per cent and cause fatigue and muscle pain.

The group also accuse NICE of looking only at evidence about benefits and possible side effects of statins that have been provided by drugs firms, which could be biased.

The leading doctors also argue that rather than prescribing statins, the NHS should be encouraging patients to lose weight and take more exercise.

In a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NICE, they wrote: ‘The consequences of not withdrawing this guidance are worrying: harm to many patients over many years, and the loss of public and professional faith in NICE as an independent assessor.

‘Public interests need always to be put before other interests, particularly pharma [the drugs industry].’

Professor Simon Capewell, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, one of the doctors against the move, said: ‘The statin recommendations are deeply worrying, condemning all middle-aged adults to lifelong medications of questionable value.’

Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a GP and member of the BMA General Practitioners sub-committee, who is also a member of the group said: ‘Who knew that millions of people in the UK now suffer from statin deficiency syndrome? Mass statination is a triumph of statistics over common sense.

‘Treating millions at a cost of billions based on data we are not allowed to see is an example of the corporatisation of medicine and will result in a public health disaster.’

And Dr David Newman, director of clinical research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said: ‘For most people at low risk of cardiovascular disease, a statin will give them diabetes as often as it will prevent a non-fatal heart attack.’

In response, Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: ‘Cardiovascular disease maims and kills people through coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke. Together, these kill one in three of us. Our proposals are intended to prevent many lives being destroyed.’



Libertarians Versus Conservatives

John Stossel

Both libertarians and conservatives want to keep America safe. We differ on how best to do that. Most libertarians believe our attempts to create or support democracy around the world have made us new enemies, and done harm as well as good. We want less military spending.

Some conservatives respond to that by calling us isolationists, but we're not. I want to participate in the world; I just don't want to run it. I'm glad Americans trade with other countries -- trade both goods and people. It's great we sell foreigners our music, movies, ideas, etc. And through dealing with them, we also learn from what they do best.

On my TV show this week, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will tell me why my libertarian skepticism about the importance of a "strong military presence" is "completely irrelevant to foreign policy decision-making."

Bolton thinks it's dangerous and provocative for America to appear militarily weak. He supported the Iraq War and says that if Iran were close to getting nuclear weapons, the U.S should attack. "I will go to my grave trying to prevent every new country we can find from getting nuclear weapons," because if they do, "it's going to be a very dangerous world."

He criticizes Presidents Barack Obama's and George W. Bush's failed attempts at negotiation with Iran, "negotiation based on the delusion from the get-go that Iran was ever serious about potentially giving up its nuclear weapon program."

That kind of talk makes Bolton sound like a hard-headed realist. Who wants to be naive like Bush or Obama? But hawks like Bolton ignore parts of reality, too.

They are quick and correct to point out the danger of Iran going nuclear. They are not as quick to talk about the fact that Iran has a population three times the size of Iraq's -- and the Iraq War wasn't as smooth or short as then-Vice President Dick Cheney and others assured us it would be.

If it's realistic to acknowledge that America has dangerous enemies, it's also realistic to acknowledge that going to war is not always worth the loss of money and lives, and that it makes new enemies. War, like most government plans, tends not to work out as well as planners hoped.

I asked Bolton if he thought the Vietnam War was a good intervention. "Obviously, the way it played out, it was not," he said, but, "it's always easy after the fact to second-guess."

Bolton also acknowledges that the Iraq War did not go well, but then adds, "Where mistakes were made was after the military campaign." The U.S. was unprepared for the civil war that broke out. The U.S. also failed to turn utilities and other state-run companies in Iraq over to the private sector, maintaining poorly run monopolies on energy production and other essential services, often squandering billions of dollars.

It might be seen as a harsh lesson in the importance of planning for the aftermath of toppling a bad regime. But we libertarians wonder: Why assume government will do better next time?

Occasionally government acknowledges mistakes in domestic policy -- but that doesn't mean it then becomes more efficient. It usually just spends more to try, and fail, to fix the problem. It's the nature of government. Politicians don't face the competitive incentives that force other people to make hard decisions.

Candidate Obama garnered support by criticizing Bush for costing money and lives through a protracted stay in Iraq. But that didn't stop Obama from putting more money and troops into Afghanistan.

In his first term alone, Obama spent about three times as much in Afghanistan as Bush did in two terms. Did we win hearts and minds? I don't think so. The Taliban may still retake the country.

Our military should be used for defense, not to police the world.



A new tea party victory in VA -- for economist Dave Brat

Eric Cantor Loses Primary to Unheralded, Under-funded Tea Party Challenger

Wasserman calls it the "biggest House upset" he's ever seen. Elections expert Sean Trende pronounces himself speechless. Team Cantor is likely as stunned as anyone else:

One recent poll showed a potential tightening of the race, but with Cantor still ahead by double digits. And yet...the sitting House Majority Leader got blown out in a race everyone expected him to win comfortably.

Here's why:

"Brat has exposed discontent with Cantor in the solidly Republican, suburban Richmond 7th Congressional District by attacking the lawmaker on his votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, as well as his support for some immigration reforms. At a May meeting of Republican activists in the district, Cantor was booed, and an ally he campaigned for was ousted as the local party chairman in favor of a tea party favorite"


Dave says:

Fellow Virginians,

I want to thank you for taking the time to learn more about our campaign to provide the Seventh Congressional District with the true conservative representation it deserves.

We face real challenges in our nation, and we will never overcome them by maintaining the status quo. Together, it is time to fight for real, conservative, free market change. Our Republican Creed needs to become our Republican Plan. (Learn more about Dave’s commitment to the Republican Creed)

As a life long Republican and economist, I know how to get our economy back on track, get our citizens back to work, restore our credit rating, and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren. I am committed to being a servant-leader as our Founders intended, and I look forward to the opportunity to fight for you in Washington.

I hope that you take this opportunity to learn as much about me, where I stand, and what kind of congressman I will be, and I encourage you to contact our campaign with any questions or to get involved in working to make our country a better place.

Together, we can accomplish great things, and I have faith that the conservative grassroots will overcome the money that big business and Establishment Republicans will devote to distorting our true free market, conservative principles.



Military Bases: Obama's New Illegal Alien Dumping Grounds

Michelle Malkin

A source tipped me off last week to a curious occurrence: It seems that two planeloads of illegal aliens were recently shipped to Massachusetts. The first reportedly landed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford. According to my tipster, approximately 160 illegal immigrants arrived on that flight and stayed nearly a week before being transferred to a Department of Homeland Security site and then released.

The second flight reportedly was diverted from Hanscom to Boston's Logan Airport this past weekend. I am told that both Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials were on hand. I reached out to Hanscom AFB for confirmation, but did not receive a call back by my deadline.

Question: How many other military bases are stealthily being used to redistribute, house, process and release illegal border crossers?

What we do know for sure is that the Obama administration already has converted several other military bases across the country into outposts for tens of thousands of illegal aliens from Central and South America.

San Antonio's Lackland Air Force Base opened its doors as an illegal immigrant camp last month. Port Hueneme Naval Base in Ventura County, Calif., will shelter nearly 600 illegal border-crossing children and teens. The Fort Sill Army post in Lawton, Okla., was ordered on Friday to take in 1,200 illegal aliens despite the objections of GOP Gov. Mary Fallin, who blasted the White House, saying, "The Obama administration continues to fail in its duty to protect our borders and continues to promote policies that encourage, rather than discourage, illegal immigration."

A makeshift detention center in Nogales, Ariz., is being used as the central clearing station for the latest illegal alien surge. The deluge is a threat to national security, public safety and public health -- not to mention a slap in the face to the law-abiding men and women in uniform on those bases and a kick in the teeth to law-abiding people around the world patiently waiting for approval of their visas.

Meanwhile, a law enforcement source in Texas tells me this week that countless illegal aliens are being released into the general public despite testing positive for tuberculosis. "The feds are putting them on public transportation to God knows where," he said.

Another source, working in the border patrol in south Texas, tells me: "Our station, along with every other station, is flooded with women and small children. One lady yesterday had a baby as young as 8 months. And they're coming over with pink eye and scabies. So getting them medically cleared becomes a priority. They'll be here for almost a week, so we provide them with formula and diapers. We have a catering service contracted to feed them because it's too many for us to feed on our own. And of course, they end up being released because every family housing facility is full. They're supposed to show up for immigration court at a later date, but they don't."

As I've said for two decades, illegal alien amnesties guarantee two things: more illegal immigration and more Democratic voters. Now we have a White House forcing U.S. military bases to provide interminable benefits and services to illegal aliens for political gain, while said White House evades responsibility for allowing military veterans to die waiting for the most basic of medical services.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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)


11 June, 2014

The Prisoner Swap Deal

Obama's actions are a guide to his intentions

Thomas Sowell

People are arguing about what the United States got out of the deal that swapped five top level terrorist leaders for one American soldier who was, at best, absent from his post in a war zone. Soldiers who served in the same unit with him call him a deserter. The key to this deal, however, is less likely to be what the United States got out of the deal than it is about what Barack Obama got out of the deal. If nothing else, it instantly got the veterans' hospitals scandals off the front pages of newspapers and pushed these scandals aside on television news programs.

It was a clear winner for Barack Obama. And that may be all that matters to Barack Obama.

People who are questioning the president's competence seem not to want to believe that any President of the United States would knowingly damage this country's interests.

One of the problems of many fundamentally decent people is that they find it hard to understand people who are not fundamentally decent, or whose moral compass points in a different direction from theirs.

Many people who are painfully disappointed with President Obama have no real reason to be. The man's whole previous history, from childhood on, was shaped by a whole series of people, beginning with his mother, whose vision of America was very much like that of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church Barack Obama belonged to for 20 long years.

Obama is not a stupid man. There is no way that he could have sat in that church all that time without knowing how Jeremiah Wright hated America, and how his vision of the world was one in which "white folks' greed runs a world in need."

Even if the Reverend Wright had been the only such person in Barack Obama's life -- and he was not -- it should have been enough to keep him out of the White House.

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a good rule in a court of law, which has the power to deprive a defendant of liberty or life. But it is mindless and dangerous nonsense to apply that standard outside that context -- especially when choosing a President of the United States, who holds in his hands the liberty and lives of millions of Americans.

People who are disappointed with Barack Obama have no right to be. It is they whom others have a right to be disappointed with. Instead of taking their role as citizens seriously, they chose to vote on the basis of racial symbolism, glib rhetoric and wishful thinking.

Moreover, many are already talking about choosing the next President of the United States on the basis of demographic symbolism -- to have "the first woman president." And if she is elected on that basis, will any criticism of what she does in the White House be denounced as based on anti-woman bias, as criticisms of President Obama have been repeatedly denounced as racism?

And what if we have the first Hispanic president or the first Jewish president? Will any criticism of their actions in the White House be silenced by accusations of prejudice?

We may yet become the first nation to die from a terminal case of frivolity. Other great nations in history have been threatened by barbarians at the gates. We may be the first to be threatened by self-indulgent silliness inside the gates.

As for Barack Obama, you cannot judge any President's competence by the results of his policies, without first knowing what he was trying to achieve.

Many wise and decent people assume automatically that President Obama was trying to serve the interests of America. From that standpoint, he has failed abysmally, both at home and abroad. And that should legitimately call his competence into question.

But what if his vision of the world is one in which the wealth and power of those at the top, whether at home or internationally, are deeply resented, and have been throughout his life, under the tutelage of a whole series of resenters? And what if his goal is to redress that imbalance?

Who can say that he has failed, when the fundamental institutions of this country have been successfully and perhaps irretrievably undermined, and when the positions of America and its allies on the world stage have been similarly, and even more dangerously, undermined around the world?



Obama has Frenchified America

Government attempts to jumpstart the economy, changes to the way the country creates energy, high unemployment, massive tax increases on the “wealthy” – the headlines in France sound eerily similar to ours. Maybe we should learn the lesson they’re providing across the Pond.

When it comes to exporting goods, both France and the United States are power players in the world. America leads the pack, and France comes in 10th place, according to the CIA World Factbook. Yet both leaders in the world economy play the same heavy-handed economic game inside their borders. For example, the CIA Factbook says France “maintain[s] social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that mitigate economic inequality.”

Overall, the results of France’s policies were predictable:

Taxes – Last year, France went after the “rich” with a vengeance that would make Robespierre proud. Implementing the 75% “millionaire tax” slammed France’s entrepreneurs supposedly as a way to help shrink the growing budget deficit and boost the economy. The reverse happened. The tax raised about half its expected revenue, and the economy stalled. Even French Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted, “Too much tax kills tax.” In the U.S., Obama’s massive tax hike on the wealthy is doing the same thing.

Unemployment – While the U.S. headline unemployment stubbornly stays above 6%, France finds itself dealing with 10% unemployment. For some reason, this is good news in the country. But the government there isn’t done yet. Paris wants to spend 500 million Euros, about $681.95 million, to subsidize youth who are “lacking professional qualifications,” a.k.a. unqualified. What happens when the subsidies run out? More subsidies, probably. Meanwhile, high unemployment has brought other problems, like:

Flight into Germany – Some Frenchmen with the language skills commute into Germany, where the unemployment rate is about 4%, because it’s easier to get a job there. Bloomberg reports Germany pulls in French workers because of its labor rules. About 10 years ago, Germany limited unemployment benefits, discouraged people from retiring early and improved the job-search process. In response, Germans filled the workplace.

France, on the other hand, has a 3,200-page labor rulebook that regulates the workplace, chilling the nation’s competitiveness.

Draconian energy agendas – In the U.S. new EPA regulations designed to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to cripple the economy. But it’s for the greater good, leftists argue, because it will save the earth from a hot and watery end. In France, they already have an energy source free of greenhouse gases – nuclear power. However, the French government in all its authoritarian wisdom decided the atom was bad and decreed the nation needs to cut back on all that nuclear production, something that will … drumroll, please … cripple the economy.

With the socialist nation and the birthplace of freedom both running parallel tracks economically, it comes as no surprise that both economies have stalled. In the first quarter, America’s economy shrank 1% (blamed on the bad weather of all things) while France’s economy flatlined at 0%.

Both countries should look for a lesson in free market economics from a place the U.S. bought from France: Louisiana.

Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, wrote an opinion piece in The Daily Signal that showed a different way of running the economy. “But in Louisiana,” Jindal wrote, “we’ve tried to show that there is a better way – one that leads to quality jobs and robust economic growth. While Obama raised federal taxes by more than $1 trillion, we passed the largest income tax cut in state history. As a Democratic Congress rammed through trillions in new spending for ObamaCare, we cut the state budget by 26 percent. And even as the EPA proposes new regulations that could decimate critical portions of our energy sector, we’ve worked to create a more predictable legal environment for energy companies in the state.”

And the results are clear. According to Jindal, Louisiana has the lowest unemployment south of the Mason-Dixon line and an economy growing 50% faster than the national average.

While it may take a new administration for our nation to turn once again to laissez-faire economics, state and local governments can still fight for economic Liberty in their jurisdictions.



Mother Russia isolated?

Not while Vladimir Vladimirovich is massively popular there

Russians refer to "Mr. Putin" only if they are being very formal. The respectful form of address is Vladimir Vladimirovich

Last month in addressing West Point graduates, Barack Obama declared that his policies have succeeded in isolating Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away,” Obama claimed. “Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions.”

That condemnation may have pulled the proposed G-8 summit out of Russia, creating a hastily rescheduled G-7 summit in Brussels. But French President Francois Hollande welcomed Putin to a D-Day commemoration, leading to an awkward exchange there between Obama and Putin where our commander in chief pleaded with the Russian president to “work immediately with the government in Kiev to reduce tensions,” or face deeper isolation. One step in that direction would be for Russia to recognize last month’s election of incoming Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Yet it’s not clear that our allies are on board with isolating Russia over Ukraine. France is considering selling Mistral cruisers to Russia, while British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel slated private meetings with Putin around the G-7 summit.

Meanwhile, on the Ukraine front, two outposts were overrun by Russian separatist irregulars, with Ukrainian soldiers trying to hold on to one of those outposts forced to withdraw when they ran out of ammunition after a 10-hour struggle.

In response, the White House finally agreed to send Ukraine long-delayed military supplies such as body armor, communications equipment and night-vision goggles – but no ammunition. It’s the latest in an increasing flow of “non-lethal” aid to the Ukrainians, which was delayed to avoid “upsetting relations with Moscow” and “de-escalate the crisis.” Profiles in courage right there.

Not only is Putin playing the West like a fiddle as he gauges its lack of serious action on Ukraine as a sign of weakness, he also taunted likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

Looks like we need a little more than a “reset” button.



Income Gap Wider in Left-leaning States

Raise taxes on the rich, increase the minimum wage, expand government benefits – this is the liberal recipe for success when it comes to shrinking the income inequality gap. According to recent studies, however, we see the divide between the rich and poor is generally wider in states that vote predominately for the Democratic Party.

Stephen Moore, chief economist at The Heritage Foundation, and Richard Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Blue-State Path to Inequality: States That Emphasize Redistribution Above Growth Have A Wider Gap Between Lower And Higher Incomes.” Moore and Vedder look at a statistical dispersion called the Gini coefficient to show the income distribution of each state. The higher the Gini ratio, the more inequality is present.

The results reveal that red states tend to have a more thriving middle class when compared with blue states:

According to 2012 Census Bureau data (the latest available figures), the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest measure of income inequality of all the states; Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, Hawaii and New Hampshire have the lowest Gini coefficients. The three places that are most unequal—Washington, D.C., New York and Connecticut—are dominated by liberal policies and politicians. Four of the five states with the lowest Gini coefficients—Wyoming, Alaska, Utah and New Hampshire—are generally red states.

In regard to income tax, the same rings true. For example, California has the highest income tax rate in the country at 13.3% while Texas is one of the few states with no income tax at all. California has a Gini coefficient of .482 and a poverty rate at 25.8%. Texas has a lower Gini coefficient of .477 and a much lower poverty rate at 20.5%.

What about minimum wage? We have recently seen places like Seattle push through laws to raise the minimum wage to as much as $15/hour, more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25. Again, the data shows that the 19 states with higher-than-federal minimum wages have higher income inequality overall.

The same goes for government benefits. The Cato Institute’s most recent analysis of the total level of welfare benefits by state in “Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off: 2013” shows that altogether, the higher the welfare benefits are, the higher the Gini coefficient is.

As Moore and Vedder contend, "When politicians get fixated on closing income gaps rather than creating an overall climate conducive to prosperity, middle- and lower-income groups suffer most and income inequality rises." Perhaps keeping taxes low and encouraging business would promote more fairness than these progressive ideologies.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Nationalism is Leftist

These days nobody much talks about nationalism any more. Old Adolf is thought to have given it a bad name. But it is essential to understand what nationalism is if we are to understand 20th century history. So how do we define it? And how do we define Leftism?

The essential feature of all Leftism is the desire to stop other people from doing various things they want to do and make them do various things that they do not want to do (via taxation, regulation, mass murder etc.) When (on October 30, 2008) Obama spoke of his intention to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography. He was talking about transforming what American people can and must do. So that is the first and perhaps the most important thing about Leftism: It is intrinsically authoritarian. Ideally, it would militarize society (which was Hegel's ideal). It subjugates the individual to the wishes of a Leftist elite.

Nationalism is not so easy. How do we separate it from patriotism? Both involve strong feelings of support for ones own country -- even a willingness to die for one's own country. I submit that the essential difference is that the patriot wishes only to defend his own country while the nationalist wants to see his country dominate other countries.

On that definition, the Nazis and the Italian Fascists of WWII were nationalists but Britain was not. Britain already had an empire so had no wish for another one.

But what about WWI? Feelings that their nation could conquer all comers were rife among all the main combatants of WWI. And historians generally agree in seeing nationalism as the major psychological motive behind WWI.

So WWI could be seen as proof that nationalism is not Leftist. The workers of the various countries generally fell in line behind their national leaders, even though many had Leftist convictions. Leftism was completely out of the picture in WWI. WWI was not motivated by a desire for social change.

But from another viewpoint, Nationalism is as Leftist as they come. Nationalism regards the group as hugely more important than the individual and the nationalist is happy about the huge degree of regimentation that war imposes. Nationalism is a Leftist dream. So nationalism is about international change as distinct from social change in one country. So the yen for change is still there. Nationalism is just a different brand of Leftism. It is Leftism on a broader canvas.

I should add here a small refinement of my definitions so far: Nationalism can mean two quite different things: 1). A desire of a people for independent existence as a nation -- as in 19th century German nationalism or 20th Scottish nationalism; 2). When the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. It is meaning 2 that I am concerned with here. And all the examples of that which I can think of, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism.

And even patriotism often gets a bad name these days. The Left pretend to see nationalism in it. So they equate patriots with Nazis. So again it is important to be clear about the difference between the two. If you do not advocate world conquest by your country, you are not a nationalist or a Nazi.

It's interesting that Leftists have gone from being fervent nationalists (with JFK being the last squeak of it in the USA) to people who decry it -- but that is typical of the turnaround that the Left did after WWII. Because Hitler was such a monumental failure they have had to dissociate themselves from all of his doctrines. They are back to seeking change in one country

And I don't think I should leave the subject before noting that the first successful nationalist of the 20th century was American. TR was not only behind America's temporary acquisition of an empire (in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico etc) and a great glorifier of war but was also the founder of America's "Progressive" party. -- JR.


Why People Don’t Trust That Speech Restrictions Will Be Applied Fairly to Both Sides

The largest hearing room the Senate has in the Hart Building was standing-room only on Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee held its hearing on the resolution proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would amend the First Amendment and give Congress unlimited, plenary power to restrict political speech and political activity.

In a historic and unprecedented event, both majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared as the first two witnesses. They had starkly different presentations, with Reid complaining about so-called “dark money” and corporations and special interests “meddling” in congressional races. He clearly doesn’t like the fact that Americans have the ability to criticize him and his policies.

McConnell went back to first principles, talking about the First Amendment and the fundamental importance of protecting political speech, as did Floyd Abrams, the well-known First Amendment lawyer who won the historic New York Times Co. v. Sullivan case.....

What was most interesting was something that happened before the hearing started that shows just how dangerous it would be to give Congress the power Udall, Reid and 39 other Democratic senators are seeking (there are 41 cosponsors of this resolution) and how they don’t believe the rules should apply to them. I was standing in line outside the hearing room waiting to get in and get a seat. There was a sign prominently taped to the wall where we were all standing that warned attendees of all of the things not allowed in the hearing room, like standing, shouting, applauding, and most importantly, “no signs.”

I was at the head of the line when a large cart loaded with boxes came down the hallway, accompanied by six or seven individuals, many holding protest signs like “Restore the First Amendment – Get Oil Money out of Elections” and “Big $$ out of Politics.” The boxes had prominently pasted on their side the names of liberal advocacy groups and PACs including People for the American Way, the Daily Kos, Public Citizen, Wolf PAC, Moveon.org, the Coffee Party, and Common Cause. The boxes were apparently full of petitions supporting Udall’s censorship amendment. As the cart headed into the hearing room with the protest signs held high, I reminded the Democratic committee staffer supervising entry that these individuals were violating the posted rules about no signs and no protests. She just ignored me and looked away.

About thirty photographers and reporters facing the entry started snapping pictures of the advocacy group representatives the moment they came in as the cart was trundled up to the front of the hearing room. Several of the advocacy representatives went to sit down, but not before standing up with their signs held high and posing for more photos from the media.

I have no doubt that if I had attempted to walk into the hearing room with signs protesting this amendment, as opposed to supporting it, I would have been stopped by the committee staffer, and if I had persisted, she would have called over the Capitol policeman who was also standing at the entrance studiously not seeing the liberal protestors violating the posted rules.

It is true that Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned the attendees after the hearing started about no sign waiving or protests and one individual was eventually ejected; however, Leahy only did that after the cameras were turned on for anyone watching the hearing on the committee website. It was his committee staff who, after all, allowed their supporters to come in early with their protest signs and helped to stage-manage protests prior to the start of the hearing for the benefit of the photographers in the hearing room. You can see one of those photos here – notice there are no staffers or Capitol Police hurrying over to eject the CodePink demonstrators from the hearing room.

So it seems that some Democratic senators want to amend the Constitution so that the American people give them the power to set the rules for raising and spending money on political campaigns and independent expenditures that speak in support of, or opposition to, candidates. However, at the very hearing at which this amendment was introduced, some of these senators were prepared to apply the Senate’s own rules to only one side of the debate. Not something that inspires confidence that any such rules on political activity and political speech would ever be enforced in a nonpartisan, unbiased, and objective manner.



Liberal corruption in Massachusetts

GREGORY SULLIVAN is appalled. The former Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been studying House Bill 4111, the legislation authorizing a $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The bill, which sailed through the House of Representatives last week on a 130-19 vote, would empower the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority not only to enlarge its already enormous convention facility in South Boston by 60 percent, but to select a hotel company to build and operate a 1,000- to 1,200-room hotel on land owned by Massport across the street.

With 37 years of Beacon Hill experience under his belt — 17 as a state representative and 20 in the inspector general's office — there isn't much about legislative sausage-making and fishy public dealing that is likely to get past Sullivan. He was the IG who uncovered the irregularities that eventually led to the conviction of House Speaker Sal DiMasi. Now he plies his skills as research director for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank that has long kept an eye on the state's convention-center politics and policymaking.

As Sullivan drilled down into the legislation, he says, "I just cringed." He sees the makings of a "classic sweetheart deal," one that will effectively allow the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority "to basically pick whomever they want" to put up the hotel and reap public subsidies that could be worth upward of $100 million. Yet nowhere in the bill or in the detailed Request for Qualifications already issued by the authority is there any stipulation that the hotel contract be awarded to the qualified developer who comes in with the lowest subsidy bid. Nor is there any indication of how the authority intends to assess the proposals it receives.

The gold standard in government procurement is upfront transparency, Sullivan says. "You announce in advance exactly how applications will be scored — for example, 30 percent of a bid's ranking might be based on experience, 30 percent on management acumen, and 40 percent on the proposed project financing." As inspector general, he was always impressed by the professionalism of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance — the government agency primarily responsible for the construction and management of major state buildings. But the bill approved by the House requires the convention center authority merely to "consult" with the agency, which "shall otherwise have no jurisdiction over the BCEC expansion project."

That isn't the only way in which the legislation goes out of its way to minimize outside scrutiny of the project. The bill would establish a sweeping new exemption from the state's Public Records Law and open-meeting rules for any "commercial or financial information regarding the operation of any business" that signs a contract with the convention center authority. This is an alarming level of secrecy, and Sullivan considers the Convention Center Authority's rationalization — that it's necessary to shelter companies' private trade secrets — specious.

Existing freedom-of-information rules already allow for exclusion of proprietary secrets. If other state agencies can contract with private vendors without needing a Cone of Silence to shield the process from public oversight, the MCCA should be able to as well. Its unwillingness to do so doesn't pass Sullivan's smell test. "Here's what this means," he says. "If anybody wants to see the critical financial information underlying these very large contracts, forget it: You're never going to get that chance."

As originally written, the bill would even have gone even farther, exempting MCCA officials from state conflict-of-interest laws in connection with the convention center expansion. Sullivan applauds Representative Brian Dempsey, the Haverhill Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, for stripping that item from the bill.

There are other red flags. The legislation would add security guards to the state's "prevailing wage" law, a fresh taxpayer ripoff. It opens the door to diverting all hotel room-tax revenues collected statewide — most of which now go to the state's general fund — to securing the $1.1 billion in convention-center bonds, if doing so would "increase the [bonds'] marketability."

Look around the country, says the former inspector general, and you can see "a trail of wreckage" behind similar subsidized-hotel and -expansion deals. In city after city, "the downside risk is dumped on the taxpayers." Now Beacon Hill is poised to follow suit. And Sullivan, long accustomed to keeping watch over the public purse, is once again crying foul.



How Obama survives: Ideology trumps objectivity in the media

Many Americans wonder why Barack Obama so consistently executes policies that are so damaging and so antithetical to American interests and, given his record of foreign policy defeats and humiliations and failures at home, how he can still survive in office.

I have previously explained why, but it bears repeating.

The Obama Administration is a collection of inexperienced, emotionally immature far-left ideologues, whose "the ends justify the means" mentality permits them to tell any lie, violate any law and even indifferently risk lives as long as it serves their political objectives.

Obama survives because American journalism has, as it did for Joseph Stalin, sacrificed its professional integrity to protect a sentimental investment in an ideology.

In her book "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character," Diana West vividly dissects the role of journalists as protectors and facilitators of the Soviet Union and communism.

According to former true-believer turned anti-Communist Eugene Lyons, author of "Assignment in Utopia" (1937) and "The Red Decade" (1941, self-censorship and media bias are like a set of adolescent anxieties: the need to belong and the fear of being rejected in the social circles of Moscow and Washington, DC.

Like a committed fellow traveler of communism, an Obama acolyte becomes a dedicated apologist, where an ideology, once internalized, acts on conscience and reason, and also initiates a survival instinct.

Today's cries of "racist," are similar to the terms "McCarthyism" and "Red-baiting" used in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, all designed to denote a taboo, requiring an immediate cessation of debate to prevent exposure of the truth. Thus the job of the journalist becomes little more than finding and transmitting the "desirable" information and denouncing anyone who challenges that orthodoxy as purveyors of political profanity.

West describes the extent to which Orwell's "Newspeak" had its birth in the pages of the free press as much as in the totalitarian censor's office.

The seminal event in Soviet crime and Western turpitude was the very first successful implementation of the "Big Lie," the concerted assault on truth to deny the Soviet-engineered Famine in the Ukraine from which millions died.

Not only did Western journalists capitulate to a totalitarian machine, but they conspired to undermine the veracity of one man, one lone truth teller, twenty-seven-year-old Gareth Jones, a brilliant, Russian-speaking, Welsh journalist who, after extensively debriefing his journalistic colleagues in Moscow and completing a secret trek through the starving areas of the USSR, brought the famine into the light.

Leading the charge to discredit Jones, an eyewitness to the famine, was none other than Stalin apologist-in-chief, Walter Duranty, who, in his March 31, 1933 New York Times article "Russians Hungry, but Not Starving,", wrote:

"There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition."

As Jones noted in his response:

"censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement. Hence they give ‘famine' the polite name of ‘food shortage,' and ‘starving to death' is softened down to read as ‘widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.'"

Just as journalists then could not bring themselves to accept the truth about Stalin, so too journalists today prevaricate about Obama.


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


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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.

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 June, 2014

Why being FAT can be good for you: A controversial book by a top doctor claims being overweight can help you fight disease - and even live longer

The "war on obesity" is a major political theme. What if its very basis -- the unhealthiness of obesity -- is wrong?

Consider the various bits of advice doled out by so-called medical experts in the past 100 years or so and you’ll realise how often there has been a complete about-turn when it comes to the validity of a certain fact, claim, or practice.

At one time or another, scientists deemed it acceptable to use X-rays to measure shoe size, recommended baby formula over breast milk, and even endorsed cigarette smoking.

Looking back, it seems incredible that we were ever misled in this way and yet I believe that we are currently subject to one of the greatest misconceptions of all — the belief that obesity is necessarily bad for us.

Our modern culture has duped us into thinking excess body fat should be burned away at all costs.

But, as a cardiologist who has been in practice for nearly three decades and written more than 800 medical publications, including two text books, I am here to tell you that fatness has been sorely misunderstood.

Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that, just as a glass of wine a day has been proven to impart health benefits, so body fat in the right amount can be exactly what we need to live long and healthy lives.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that people of ‘normal’ weight start embracing cream buns and piling on the pounds.

But if you are already carrying extra fat, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you maintain a certain level of fitness (and I don’t mean being able to run a six-minute mile or committing to an exercise regimen on a par with an Olympic athlete’s).

For the millions of people categorised as overweight or mildly obese by the most commonly used standard today — the body mass index, or BMI — the good news is that achieving optimal health may mean staying exactly where you are in terms of weight.

That’s right: you don’t have to set your sights on getting your BMI down to ‘normal’, defined by the World Health Organisation as between 18.5 and 25.

You may, in fact, be much better off sustaining a BMI of between 25 and 30 — ‘overweight’ in WHO terms — or even slightly above, venturing into the realm of the mildly ‘obese’ (BMI above 30).

This advice holds true for people who want to prevent chronic illness and those already living with it, but it was those in the latter category who first inspired my research into this subject more than a decade ago.

Day in, day out I care for heart patients in Louisiana, the most obese state in the U.S.. And, like other colleagues in the cardiology profession, I began noticing that patients who are on the chubby side often live longer after diagnosis with heart disease than do their thinner counterparts.

We call this idea that fat can protect you from an early death the ‘obesity paradox’ and to say that it has ruffled a few feathers in my field is an understatement.

As I began to publish research papers on this phenomenon, I faced a tidal wave of ingrained ideology. Even veteran scientists and respected journal reviewers were reluctant to entertain new thinking about fat, but the science has since spoken for itself.

Over the past few years, a multitude of studies around the globe have not only confirmed the existence of the obesity paradox but demonstrated that it also applies to a host of chronic ailments in addition to those related to the heart, including diabetes, cancer and kidney disease.

We often attribute excess weight to an increased likelihood that these conditions will be worsened or aggravated as a result, but the evidence proves otherwise: people who have been diagnosed with any of these ailments fare better in the long run if they are overweight or even mildly obese than if they are normal weight.

One explanation is that when the body is bearing the weight of a chronic disease, it requires more energy than usual so it makes sense that extra fuel in the form of body fat is helpful.

But it’s also well documented that fat tissue and fatty molecules circulating in the blood help reduce some of the harmful effects in serious illnesses — so the more body fat you have, the more ammunition you have in your arsenal.

As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge to conventional medical wisdom, other research has suggested that being fatter can be of benefit not just to those who are chronically ill, but to the population as a whole.

In 2005, the scientific community poured particular scorn on a paper published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by epidemiologist Katherine Flegal.

This involved an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a long-term study into the health and diet of 33,000 Americans. Ranging from two-month-old babies to people aged 75, the subjects are chosen to give a representative snapshot of health and diet across the USA.

For years, we thought that an optimal BMI for the general population was around 23, but Flegal’s research turned all that on its head. As you would expect, she found that the biggest risks of death lay at the extreme edges of the BMI spectrum — being either underweight (below 18.5) or severely obese (above 35).

But remarkably, those classified as mildly obese were at no greater risk of dying prematurely than their normal-weight counterparts.

And, more extraordinary still, those who were overweight were actually at a slightly reduced risk of dying compared to those in the normal weight range.

Flash forward a few years and Dr Flegal decided to confirm the NHANES results further by reviewing 97 similar studies from across the world, encompassing a staggering 2.9 million people.

Time and again they arrived at the same conclusion, the combined statistics revealing that those who are overweight have a six per cent lower risk of dying than people of normal weight.

Of course, none of this is to deny the well-documented relationship between obesity and myriad illnesses. To be clear about this, being obese or overweight poses a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

In fact, it’s estimated that every third person born in 2000 will have type 2 diabetes as an adult. And according to the American Heart Association, 70 per cent of diagnosed heart disease cases are linked directly to obesity.

Many argue that, should we fail to stop the obesity epidemic, we will soon lose serious ground on extending our life expectancy.

But there is a difference between being a little fat and being morbidly obese. And faced with evidence that the ideal BMI is somewhere between 25 and 30, the scientific community has been forced to rethink its definitions and try to explain why being ‘plus size’ can be to our benefit in certain circumstances.

One answer is that fat cells are not all created equal and their different characteristics mean that, while some types of fat feed illness and dysfunction, others are harmless and can even prevent disease.

For example, belly fat releases fatty acids and inflammatory compounds into the body, leading to higher bad cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.

But it’s a very different story for fat that’s stored in the lower-body areas. Researchers at Oxford University found that this traps the potentially harmful fatty acids that can travel through the bloodstream (and to the heart).

So, while we might despise our ‘thunder thighs’ and ‘saddlebags’, they could actually be good for us in helping reduce the risk of diabetes and coronary disease.

Such thinking challenges the ideas that prevailed when I started at medical school in the late 1970s.

We believed then that fat cells were primarily biological storage bins for excess calories.

But today we know they are much more than that. Almost every week the scientific literature unveils another function for the humble fat cell. Did you know, for example, that two-thirds of the brain is composed of fat (and, incidentally, one-fifth of it by weight is composed of cholesterol)?

As well as helping us think, fat cells bolster immunity. In the early stages of their development, they devour invading germs and bacteria, which is why people who diet to extremes tend to become sick more often.

Fat cells also generate many important hormones, including those which, if under-produced, can leave us vulnerable to an array of diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, major depression and inflammatory bowel disease.

Another important molecule produced by fat cells is nitric oxide, which governs both the growth of our hair and, believe it or not, blood flow to the male organs during arousal.

I could go on about the various molecules pumped out of fat cells but you get the picture: fat tissue is very active in our body and part of our essential tool kit for health and longevity.

This helps to explain why BMI is a terribly unsophisticated and unreliable measure for evaluating the health of individuals.

Based on a simple formula which involves dividing the square of your weight by the square of your height, it does not distinguish between muscle and bone, let alone between different kinds of fat. Nor can it take account of individuals with what’s known as ‘metabolically healthy obesity’. That expression may seem a contradiction in terms.

It may be common knowledge that a high BMI is associated with a greater risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but more than half of ‘overweight’ and more than a third of ‘obese’ people are perfectly healthy from a metabolic standpoint.

In other words, they don’t have raised blood pressure, high cholesterol, or show any of the typical red flags we attribute to the carrying of extra weight. Yet those same metabolic abnormalities are found in almost a quarter of ‘normal’ weight people.

The obvious explanation is that weight isn’t the issue when it comes to determining whether we have such abnormalities. Far more important are factors like nutrition and fitness.

The importance of what we eat was most recently highlighted by one clinical trial which revealed how adopting a Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular risk — regardless of how much weight subjects had lost.

As for fitness, there is substantial evidence that this is so protective that it essentially cancels out the adverse impact of traditional risk factors, including being overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

This is borne out by studies which have tracked many physically fit ‘obese’ individuals (those, for example, who’d have no difficulty climbing up several flights of stairs or walking a mile or two at a decent pace) and discovered that they have lower incidence of heart disease and death from any cause than do sedentary people of ‘normal’ weight.

Clearly, the fitter you are, the less your weight matters and I believe the term ‘obesity’ needs to be redefined.

A fit person with a BMI of 28 (‘overweight’) could easily outlive a thinner person who has a BMI of 22 (‘normal weight’) but is unfit. And yet it’s these ‘full figured’ people — who are not necessarily in danger of dying early — who are relentlessly censured by society and penalised by insurers, not to mention being targeted by the multi-billion-pound diet industry.

In a perfect world, BMI would reflect other variables, including fitness levels, genetics and biomarkers of metabolic health such as blood glucose. Until then, I worry about doctors who push weight loss on their patients, based purely on the BMI scale.

They have good intentions but the message people may hear is they should lose weight at whatever cost, via extreme diets and controlling weight through eating habits alone.

This can be downright damaging, leading to people becoming what some experts call TOFI — thin outside, fat inside. While they might look good, their abdominal organs can be coated in visceral fat which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Rather than tirelessly encourage weight loss and focus on the numbers on the weighing scales or BMI index, we should promote cardio metabolic fitness and urge people of all sizes to think about their health in terms of how well they eat and exercise.



Gamers are more educated, more social: study

Admittedly, citing data may not help fight the perception that gamers are nerds. But the results of a new study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by noted social researcher Neil Howe (aka the man credited with coining the term "millennial") offer an entirely new picture of the gaming community. The study suggests that gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than the non-gaming population.

The study, released on Thursday by Mr Howe's LifeCourse Associates consulting firm, surveyed more than 1000 people via the internet about their gaming habits and then pulled some basic demographic information. For purposes of this study, a "gamer" was defined as anyone who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days. Approximately 63 per cent of those surveyed fit that definition.

According to the study, gamers are more likely to be living with other people such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the statement, "My friends are the most important thing in my life." About 57 per cent of gamers said they agree with that statement, as compared to 35 per cent.

The study also found that gamers are split more evenly by gender than they have been in the past, with 52 per cent of video game players surveyed identifying as male and 48 per cent as female. A 2004 survey from the Entertainment Software Association estimated that 40 per cent of gamers were female.

Gamers are also slightly more likely to be employed full-time – 42 per cent for gamers, versus 39 per cent for non-gamers – which undoubtedly comes in handy when trying to figure out how to financially support a gaming hobby.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Conservatives are From Mars, Leftists are From Venus

Below is one version of a plausible theory that pops up every now and again. Both Left and Right have their versions of it. The risible Lakoff has the best known Leftist version of it.

Plausible though it is however, it is demonstrably wrong. If Leftists were feminine in their approach and appeal, then they should surely get a big vote from women. But they do not. At most national elections, the female vote splits roughly equally between Left and Right. Single women tend to vote for a husband substitute (on the Left) while married women resent taxes taking away money that they would rather spend on their families. Overall the two groups of women cancel one-another out.

So WHY is the theory wrong? Simple. It takes Leftist claims about themselves at face value. Leftists claim to be motivated by caring and compassion so the theory takes that as given. But Leftists are chronic liars and twisters of the truth so to accept their own evaluation of themselves is close to moronic. The true nature of Leftists is revealed whenever they get untrammelled power -- as triumphant Communist movements do. When that happens they reveal themselves to be hate-filled totalitarians and mass murderers. Judge them by what they do, not by what they say. Do you really think that Harry Reid would be kind and motherly if he became leader of the Soviet Socialist States of the USA? The Koch brothers would certainly be dead 5 minutes later.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Leftists cannot hide totally their hateful intentions. Everything they enact tends to be destructive to the larger society -- from Obama's attempt to hike electricity prices via the EPA to the hike in medical costs engendered by Obamacare. So some people -- including women -- do ignore the fine words and reject the Left because of their destructive deeds

How angels arrange their affairs is unknown. We humans have only two approaches to the puzzles and battles of life: The first is from Mars and the second is from Venus.

It is Martian to confront a problem with blunt speech and unsparing honesty, and yet to welcome unsparing bluntness in return. It is Martian to attack the enemy at the strongest point of the line, and yet to treat a fallen foe with courtesy. It is Martian to command without backtalk, and to obey without complaint. The Mars approach is most useful when confronting problems that require courage, force, majesty, dispassionate intellect. Results matter; intentions don’t.

It is Venusian to negotiate around problems so as not to provoke a clash of wills. Venus seeks compromise, makes sacrifices and expects sympathy in return. Speech is indirect, diplomatic, because feelings are delicate, easily bruised. Venus avoids ultimatums, and uses speech to seek out secret motives. A Venusian does not call adversaries enemies, but patients, meant to be healed of their ignorance and fear.

The Venusian approach is never used between equals. The seductress beguiles and cajoles a man like breaking a horse, because he is too strong for her, and so she is indirect. Contrariwise, the mother does not want to bark commands at the child. She wants him to learn to volunteer without being asked. The mother molds his character as he will one day be child no more. Her thought is long-term. She wants to teach the child to fish, not feed him a fish. Failure is insignificant if the child’s motives were pure. (Because, after all, children do not lose wars when they fail, or cause economic depressions or the downfall of nations.)

Martians rule by formal law, law carved in stone, law enforced by policemen and hangmen. Mars likes Robert’s Rules of Order.

Venusians rule by social cues and peer pressure to establish pecking orders, bestow honors, snub pariahs, sooth social friction, set roles and expectations.

But peer pressure only works in artificial, civilized, non-productive situations, not a factory where someone counts the profits and losses, not a ball game where someone keeps score, not a war where someone pins ribbons on chests and someone else plants red poppies on graves.

The Martian approach is to do your job as agreed and to go home after, and what you do on your own time is no man’s damn business but yours. The Venusian is concerned with hearts and minds not with tasks and results, so Venus follows you home. She embraces the world.

When left to themselves in their own sphere — not interfering with results-oriented work — not only is the Venusians’ approach healthy, it is useful because it is a peacekeeping function.

Now, everyone reading these words knows exactly which sex is the direct one, suited by nature for war and confrontation; everyone knows which sex is the indirect one, suited by nature for domestic matters and diplomacy. It is a sign of our times that this obvious truth known to all is considered something obviously never to be admitted in public. This generation is as delicate of feeling and as prone to hysteria as matrons of the Victorian Age. In both cases, the hysterics faint at the merest mention of sex.

The two sexes I am discussing here are not male and female, but conservative and leftist.

Specifically, a conservative is one who deals with politics as if it were within the sphere of Mars. A leftist is one who deals with all of life, political as well as personal, as if it were within the sphere of Venus.

Consider each point mentioned above. Political Correctness attempts to soften hard truths and spare delicate feelings. Reason is too masculine and confrontational. Instead of overcoming a rational argument, the leftist merely ascribes a vile motive to the person speaking, and making him an unperson, a pariah, someone we pretend not to be able to hear. Leftists don’t expect to be punched in the face when they lie. Their weapon is gossip and slander, rumor and hysteria, smothering your viewpoint rather than refuting it

Likewise, there are no equals in the leftwing universe. The Nanny-state is condescending. Our worries about national debts or Jihadist threats are dismissed with a maternal tongue-cluck, tut-tut, and we are placated with welfare benefits like chocolate cookies.

When the leftist encounters rebuke, the emotional reaction is not one of a defeated knight shaking hands with his honorable vanquisher, but one of a woman scorned or a woman in mourning, of whose like hell hath no fury. It is the hate of a weak and effete inferior, a scalding hatred. Read Marx. He is from Venus. Adam Smith is from Mars.

Because the Venusian approach works through custom, leftists are lawless. They think everything should be an exception.

Because Venusians regard all rivalry as curable cases of ignorance and fear, they don’t argue rival viewpoints (that is too confrontational) they just declare the science to be settled and the debate to be over, and you to be a fearful dunce.

Because motherhood overlooks no detail of a slow-witted child’s upbringing, the leftist regulates the water volume in your toilet. They follow you home. The right pesters your life from sun to sun, but the pestering left is never done.

All these Venusian qualities are admirable (nay, they are adorable!) when kept in their proper orbit. Imagine a wall called civilization, which consists of coolheaded and hardhearted men willing to work terrible evil on evildoers lurking like wolves without the walls. Within is a domestic garden called convention, where the women raising children may be as softhearted and hotheaded as they wish so long as they do not erode the wall.

Both fail at the other’s task. A Martian will fail if he tries to command the garden of convention by force. The garden of convention must be ruled indirectly, voluntarily, because it is a matter of opinion, learning and character. Force destroys opinion, smothers learning and prevents character growth.

Likewise, Venusians will fail most horribly when they try to man the wall of politics, and take up the sword of law or the pike of war in their soft and feminine hands. The battlefield or factory floor is not a place for feelings, but results. Enemies are not spoiled children to be chided or placated, but slain. Compromise and simpering sacrifice are counterproductive here, because business rivals and bloodthirsty foes will merely exploit any sign of weakness and call you a fool.

Both fail at the other’s task, but both do not quit. Martians are results oriented. When they see their results in the garden are counterproductive, they stop their meddling and return to their duties on the wall.

But when Venusians fail, they redouble their efforts. They do not see their results are counterproductive because they act on faith and do not care about results. When their counterproductive efforts create a bigger problem in the realm of Mars, ruining factories, trampling rights or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, the Venusians conclude the bigger problem needs more Venus.

To put it charitably, the Venusians are not very analytical. But they are like a sobbing wife of a convict, the wife who never stops believing in him.

So the Venusian continues to negotiate and surrender with deaf and stubborn reality as if with a deaf and stubborn husband, thinking that if she makes just one sacrifice more, reality will relent. Alas, reality is from Mars.

When the world is healthy, Mars rules Venus because reality establishes the bounds and laws of the wall of civilization, within which the garden of convention is free to play.

But when Venus rules Mars, the world is demented.



Once again what Obama says is opposed by what he does

Following Tony Blair, he has learned to hijack conservative language while doing liberal deeds

Speaking at a commencement ceremony at West Point military academy last week, President Barack Obama delivered a rousing defence of US ‘exceptionalism.’

Responding to critics who accuse his administration of dithering over the Syrian Civil War and conceding the upper hand in Ukraine to President Vladimir Putin, Obama was unequivocal: ‘America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.’

Although other administration officials have echoed the president’s clarion call for ongoing US global leadership, the West Point address highlighted the disconnect between Obama’s foreign policy fantasies and the hard facts of Russian and Chinese Realpolitik.

Obama insists that ‘American leadership’ can guarantee peace and security, and yet it has proven largely impotent in the face of Russia’s support for the brutal Assad regime, annexation of Crimea, and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

Similarly, in the context of a possible reduction in the size of the US army to pre-World War II levels and more than 10% per annum growth in the Chinese military budget, Obama’s celebration of unrivalled ‘American strength’ rings hollow.

Rhetorically, Washington might remain ready to uphold the liberal world order of international law, democratic norms, and human rights.

However, in Syria, Ukraine, East Asia and elsewhere, America appears unwilling to shoulder the costs of enforcing the rules-based international system.

Instead, the United States is poised to become what Robert Kagan, one of the US secretary of state’s advisors, calls ‘a more normal kind of nation, more attuned to its own needs and less to those of the wider world.’

Of course, a US ‘return to normalcy’ might be a positive development. As Cato Institute Senior Fellow Ted Galen Carpenter has argued, there are potential advantages--fewer foreign entanglements and a reduced fiscal burden--if the United States redefines its national interests in narrower terms.

But if Obama accepts the rationale for more modest statecraft and therefore refuses to expend blood and treasure to protect the liberal world order, then he must also reconcile the American people and Washington’s allies and partners to a less grandiose vision of the US role in global affairs.

At West Point, the president did just the opposite.



Poverty Up 30.5% for Americans 18 to 64 Since LBJ Declared War on Poverty

The percentage of 18- to 64-year olds who live below the poverty level has increased 30.5% since 1966, two years after Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We have declared unconditional war on poverty. Our objective is total victory. I believe that 30 years from now Americans will look back upon these 1960s as the time of the great American Breakthrough toward the victory of prosperity over poverty,” said then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

According to a House Budget Committee Report, the federal government spent $799 billion on 92 programs to combat poverty: $100 billion on food aid; $200 billion spent on cash aid; $90 billion on education and job training; $300 billion on health care; and $50 billion on housing, in fiscal year 2012 alone. (See War on Poverty Report.pdf)

According to the Census, there were 26,497,000, or 13.7% of 18- to 64-year olds, living below the poverty level in 2012. In 1966, the same age group reported 10.5% -- 11,007,000 people out of 105,241,000 -- living below the poverty level.

This means that since 1966 the percentage of 18- to 64-year olds living in poverty has increased 30.5% -- from 10.5% to 13.7%. The Census did not report data for this age group in years 1965 and 1964.

When looking at all ages, the House Budget Committee Report shows that, since 1965, the poverty rate decreased from 17.3% to 15%. (See War on Poverty Report.pdf)

“The incidence of poverty rates varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. Under the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2012 if its pre-tax cash income for the year was below $23,492,” according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled, Poverty in the United States: 2012.

“The Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds form the basis for statistical estimates of poverty in the United States,” says the CRS report. “The thresholds reflect crude estimates of the amount of money individuals or families, of various size and composition, need per year to purchase a basket of goods and services deemed as “minimally adequate,” according to the living standards of the early 1960s.”

“Persons are considered poor, for statistical purposes, if their family’s countable money income is below its corresponding poverty threshold,” CRS states.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Supreme Court Smacks Down Obama’s Globalist Agenda!

While the Supreme Court tends to lean Conservative, many of its most recent rulings have been split down party/ideological lines. Most contentious cases end up with a 5-4 split, with Justice Kennedy usually providing the swing vote. It isn’t very often that the Court has a unanimous ruling and it is even less likely for a Court to rule unanimously against a sitting-President’s administration.

Then again, the Department of Justice is run by Eric Holder, so I guess anything is possible.

Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled against Holder and Obama 9-0 in the case Bond v. United States. I have covered this case in the past, early on when it was still in the trial phase. The U.S. government charged Carol Anne Bond with violating the 1998 U.N. Chemical Weapons Treaty after she launched an amateurish plan to poison her husband’s mistress. Mrs. Bond covered door knobs with chemicals hoping to kill the woman, but when all was said and done, the attempt did nothing but create a mild burning and itching sensation on her target’s hands.

The Obama administration defended the lower court’s decision to have Mrs. Bond convicted under International Law. Holder and the DOJ argued that using chemicals against an individual violates the Convention on Chemical Weapons. Since Mrs. Bond was convicted in a lower court, this marked the first time that U.N. law was applied to U.S. civilian crimes.

This is exactly what the Obama administration wants. The President wants us to live under international law. Even just yesterday, when Obama faced a firestorm over his most recent illegal prisoner transfer, he justified the transfer using the Geneva Convention, not the Constitution!

For the Supreme Court to rule 9-0 against the Obama’s globalist agenda is excellent, but Congress must ensure that no U.S. citizen is EVER subject to international prosecution for petty domestic crimes!

This case is soap-opera worthy, so let me flesh it out for you… Carol Anne Bond is a Pennsylvania microbiologist who, unfortunately, is sterile and cannot have children. In 2006, Carol learned that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, was pregnant by her husband, Clifford.

So, Bond did what any brooding microbiologist would do: she ordered a bunch of chemicals online and tried to kill her husband’s mistress by leaving the chemicals on door knobs, mailboxes, anything she believed that the other woman would touch.

Myrlinda Haynes suffered nothing but a burn and some redness on her fingers. Local prosecutors refused to touch the case. They couldn’t find a charge that would stick. But the Feds charged Carol Ann Bond with violating the 1998 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Mrs. Bond pleaded guilty while simultaneously retaining her right to appeal. Now, all these years later, the Supreme Court has finally ruled in her favor, slapping down the ridiculous arguments made by the Obama administration!

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that if the Obama administration’s arguments were allowed to stand, their definition of “Chemical Weapons” would “sweep in everything from the detergent under the kitchen sink to the stain remover in the laundry room.” These aren’t chemical weapons… they are cleaning supplies!

If the Obama administration had succeeded, owning household cleaning supplies would have put you in the same class as war criminals like Saddam Hussein and Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad! Not only is Obama trying to lump legal gun owners in with mass shooters, but now the DOJ was LITERALLY arguing that owning cleaning supplies was equivalent to stockpiling mustard gas…

But the Supreme Court, luckily, did not side with the administration. Unfortunately, it took so long for Carol Anne Bond’s case to reach the highest court that she has since served her sentence and has been reunited with her husband. While this ruling has broad implications moving forward, it does nothing to give back the years of her life lost because aggressive Federal prosecutors decided that U.N. laws should trump our own!

While the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s use of a Chemical Weapons Treaty to prosecute a jealous wife was completely ridiculous, it left open the question of whether international law can, philosophically and legally, trump the Constitution. While the Court agreed unanimously that Bond’s crimes didn’t warrant prosecution under the 1998 Chemical Weapons Treaty, six of the nine justices refused to comment on the Constitutionality of international law trumping the Constitution and being used to prosecute domestic crimes.

Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas wanted the Court to go further. They wanted the court to decide the constitutionality of Federal prosecutors charging individuals with international crimes. In their opinion, this is clearly ludicrous. But Chief Justice Roberts, known for skirting larger constitutional issues, refused to comment on that aspect of the case.

And with that, a common sense Supreme Court ruling has actually left the door open for U.S. citizens to still be charged with violating international law!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… This loophole in the Court’s decision poses the most dangerous threat to our Republic that we have seen in years. The idea that a zealous prosecutor could charge a U.S. citizen with violating an international treaty is beyond ridiculous.

This isn’t a hypothetical… Eric Holder’s Justice Department actually argued before the Supreme Court that international law can trump the Constitution! Now you’re starting to get an idea why Obama signed the U.N. Arms Treaty, even though he knew it wouldn’t pass through Congress…

We have enough laws to adequately prosecute criminals. There is absolutely no need to bring international law into the equation. Mass shooters don’t need to be charged with genocide, gun owners shouldn’t be charged with violating the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and jealous wives definitely shouldn’t be charged with Chemical Weapons Treaty violations!

This is such common sense, that it shouldn’t even be up for debate. But it is!

We live in a country that is bound by the Constitution, not some international treaty. For a President to have his administration defend such an action is unconscionable. But that just goes to show that as far as Obama is concerned, international law trumps the Constitution!



Obama Sprinting to Finish Line to 'Transform' America

It obviously doesn't bother President Obama a whit to usurp congressional power to impose more draconian environmental regulations — and probably not much more to do so in an election year, even when his action will hurt Democrats.

What's he going to do now, you ask?

Well, his Environmental Protection Agency, in deference to and collusion with Obama's war on domestic energy producers, has unveiled a proposed rule to mandate power plants to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 from levels 25 years earlier.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the rule would affect hundreds of fossil-fuel power plants and hit America's 600 coal-fired power plants the hardest. The rule, says the Journal, "is a major element of (Obama's) attempt to secure a second-term legacy."

Someone please deliver Obama the memo: He has already secured his second-term, first-term and entire-term legacy by doing more harm to this nation across the board than not only any former president but any other human being in our history. Why can't he just be satisfied with the damage he's already caused?

One of the most insidious techniques Obama has employed to wreak havoc on America and its institutions has been the imposition of laws and rules with delayed effective dates so that the public will not immediately realize the enormity of the hardships and destruction being caused.

Look at the delays he built in to Obamacare, including the thousands of preferential exemptions from the law he extended to buy off opposition and ward off political challenges during the various election years. Look at the trillions of dollars he is spending now to create the illusion that the economy is stronger than it is, with willful disregard for its bankrupting effect on future generations of Americans.

The same is true with his refusal to reform entitlement programs, whose $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities is a ticking time bomb for America's financial stability. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill was sold as a measure to prevent further consolidation of banking power, and we are already seeing that it is doing just the opposite. But why should Obama care? He got his law passed, and it's having his desired — as opposed to promised — effect.

The same is true of this new EPA emissions rule. The rule would give states and companies as much as 15 years to comply and thus presumably reduce both their opposition and the public's.

Not surprisingly, the White House is deceitfully promising — as it did with Obamacare when no one could prove otherwise in advance — that this rule would lower costs and create jobs. Are you kidding me? No intellectually honest person could believe that. Obama doesn't even want the rule to lower costs and create jobs. This is all part of his pre-announced plan to bankrupt conventional energy producers.

Obama will doubtlessly line up the usual corporate suspects to announce their support for his bill — those he will have bought off through crony capitalism by ensuring the rule somehow would benefit them. Just as he lined up the white-coated physicians and insurance executives to stand with him in passing Obamacare, he'll hail this support as proof that it's in the best interests of American businesses and America itself.

But The Washington Examiner's Timothy Carney notes that corporate lobbyists are divided on Obama's current climate measure because it would benefit some companies and hurt others. He will garner the vocal support of those businesses that would profit from the regulations, a technique used by politicians to advance previous environmental regulations.

It is disturbing to contemplate the sheer power of this federal government, especially its unchecked and constitutionally unauthorized administrative branch, to whimsically issue such far-reaching decrees that negatively impact so many businesses and industries and so many lives — all in the name of helping them. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculates that the federal regulatory leviathan currently costs the U.S. economy some $1.86 trillion annually, which amounts to a hidden tax of nearly $15,000 per household.

Obama is proceeding apace to consummate his wholesale destruction, er, fundamental transformation of America, and adding insult to injury, he's doing it outside the scope of his constitutional authority. He will not be denied. But he's making sure America will be.



Surprise! Leftist minimum wage policy backfires in Seattle suburb

The Emerald City may witness the economic dangers of hiking the minimum wage to $15/hour sooner rather than later. SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, hiked the minimum wage for certain service industry employees to $15 at the beginning of the year, and there are already signs that the sudden increase is having a negative impact.

Earlier this month, Seattle voted to raise its minimum wage gradually to $15 by the year 2020. Unlike the SeaTac wage hike, Seattle’s hike will apply to all businesses.

But 15 minutes south near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, employees are already seeing the negative effects of such a hike. A February report from the Seattle Times revealed:

At the Clarion Hotel off International Boulevard, a sit-down restaurant has been shuttered, though it might soon be replaced by a less-labor-intensive cafe…

Other businesses have adjusted in ways that run the gamut from putting more work in the hands of managers, to instituting a small “living-wage surcharge” for a daily parking space near the airport.

That’s not all. According to Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, some employees are feeling the pinch as employers cut benefits. She recalls a conversation she had with two hotel employees who have been affected by the wage hike:

“Are you happy with the $15 wage?” I asked the full-time cleaning lady.

“It sounds good, but it’s not good,” the woman said.

“Why?” I asked.

“I lost my 401k, health insurance, paid holiday, and vacation,” she responded. “No more free food,” she added.

The hotel used to feed her. Now, she has to bring her own food. Also, no overtime, she said. She used to work extra hours and received overtime pay.

What else? I asked.

“I have to pay for parking,” she said.

I then asked the part-time waitress, who was part of the catering staff.

“Yes, I’ve got $15 an hour, but all my tips are now much less,” she said. Before the new wage law was implemented, her hourly wage was $7. But her tips added to more than $15 an hour. Yes, she used to receive free food and parking. Now, she has to bring her own food and pay for parking.

The Washington Policy Center, a free market think tank, said the passed-but-not-yet-implemented wage hike is already affecting small businesses in Seattle:

After decades in Seattle, Northwest Caster and Equipment recently made the difficult decision to move the business to unincorporated Lynnwood, according to a report by KOMO news. The owner of the family business blames Seattle’s increasingly difficult business climate for the move: “It just seems like increasingly the city’s become a more difficult place to do business.”

The city’s proposed $15 minimum wage was tops on the list of complaints. “If I’m going to bring someone in on an entry level, I’d prefer to start them out where I’d like to start them out, rather than having that dictated to me.”

A commercial property landlord echoes those concerns about the $15 minimum wage, noting several tenants have signaled they may not renew their leases if it becomes law: “It’s just too expensive to operate in the city.”

And in a story today, KUOW reports that small businesses throughout the city are panicking over the super high minimum wage. Multiple small business owners told KUOW they are holding off on opening new business or expanding their current business in Seattle, while others said they are delaying plans to hire new workers.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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 June, 2014

Why income inequality is really very good for us indeed

Written by Tim Worstall

It's much the thing to be talking about these days. How income inequality is rising, wealth inequality is going ballistic and it's all a jolly bad thing. However, let us ponder this point of wisdom from Don Boudreaux:

Would you prefer to live in a society in which people compete for high status by earning lots of money through the creation, production, and sale of better mousetraps, or in a society in which people compete for high status by being indifferent to money but focused intently on conquering foreign territories or accumulating terrifying amounts of political power?

Assume, as we must, that human beings are status seeking animals. Most certainly for the male of the species this has always been true: higher status males have more children which is the point and aim of the entire game. And in various different societies status has been gained in many different ways.

As best we know, from the study of the remnant hunter gatherer groups, for most of our existence status has been gained by being a good hunter: both of prey and of other adult males. Yes, as far as we can tell, in socieities like that of the Yamomani murderers have more children than non-murderers. And in some such societies we've recorded murder as cause of death for as much as 40% of the male population.

We've also assigned status to people in other ways over the millenia of recorded history. Who was your Mum (and presumably there being a connection between that and who was your father) has often been popular. We've never quite done it but plenty of other places (the Fascists and communists come to mind) assigned status according to ideological purity: the Soviets even to the second or third generations.

We in Britain have seen religious fanaticism used as a mark of status: difficult to understand the Commonwealth without that. The feudal period nominally ran on bloodlines but in reality on the male skill at crushing the skulls of the enemy.

And class and status have never, in Britian, been entirely about money. Even today they're not. But given the alternative sets of status markers that have been used over the centuries, aristocracy, theocracy, race (useful in discussing the Saxons, Danes and Celts) wouldn't we all start to prefer that they were?

That one can gain status by having proven that you are producing something that a lot of others would like to have? For that's what this capitalism lark is at root about. You can only accumulate if you're performing a community service. Which sounds like a pretty good method of assigning social status to us.

Of course, we might always hope that humans will stop seeking status. But then at that point we'd not be describing the actions of the same species that we're currently studying, would we?



Do Patients Have a “Right to Try” New Medicines Before the FDA Approves Them?

Earlier this month, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper signed the nation’s first “right to try” law. The law allows a patient suffering from a disease, for which no medicine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to try an experimental new medicine before the agency approves it. The law allows, but does not force, drug-makers to provide their experimental drugs to patients. Other states, such as Louisiana and Missouri, are set to follow.

These patients are in dire straits. They suffer from diseases for which there is no other known treatment, and they have short life expectancies. Most of us cannot imagine being in their position: In their search for a cure, they are willing to take far greater risks than most would accept.

Although the FDA has an exemption for “compassionate use,” that exemption requires jumping through too many bureaucratic hoops to be useful. So, scholars at the Goldwater Institute developed the idea of state “right to try” laws that would enable residents to use experimental new drugs without agency approval.

My first reaction when learning about the Goldwater Institute’s successes in moving this legislation through state legislatures was that the FDA would surely assert pre-emption based on the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. The Goldwater Institute is the home of impressive legal thinking and activism, so they have surely developed a legal strategy, if they need one.

However, maybe the federal government will not react. After all, Colorado allows not only the medicinal use of marijuana, but also the purchase and possession of small amounts of marijuana for so-called “recreational” use. The Obama Justice Department does not litigate against state laws liberalizing marijuana use.

It would reflect a very perverse sense of justice for the U.S. government to act against a state law allowing desperately ill patients to try promising, experimental new medicines, while allowing Colorado’s marijuana market to thrive unmolested.



Thomas Piketty wants to keep billions of people poor to stop a few from becoming rich

French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an almost 700-page book written by an academic economist, filled with historical statistics and theoretical discussions of “Cobb-Douglas production functions.”

And yet, it somehow was the #1 bestselling book on Amazon. What the heck is going on here?

The answer is the conclusion Piketty draws: He wants the governments of the world to coordinate their efforts, sharing financial information among themselves so that no human being on Earth can hide from confiscatory taxes on both wealth and income. It is because today’s self-described “progressives” share Piketty’s hatred for economic inequality that they celebrate his book. Indeed, even his fans admit that Piketty’s analysis suffers from fundamental problems—I’ll document just a few in this review.

But none of that matters, because the memo has gone out: The progressive interventionists are going to focus hard on “inequality,” and Piketty’s book serves as a useful rallying banner for their agenda.

Destructive Envy

The most obvious problem with Piketty’s book is that he wants to make workers poorer, just so long as it will hurt rich capitalists even more. No economist denies that as the stockpile of “capital”—which Piketty broadly defines to include real estate and all forms of non-human wealth—expands, that the absolute wages of the workers will rise. After all, if workers have more tools, machines, and equipment augmenting their labor, they are going to be more physically productive per hour, and hence will be paid more.

Yet the continual increase in the workers’ standard of living is not enough to placate Piketty and his fans. Indeed, Nobel laureate Robert Solow admits that capital accumulation will make the workers better off in absolute terms, but worries that they might be worse off relative to the capitalists.

If Piketty and Solow saw a vision of the future that looked like The Jetsons, they wouldn’t marvel at the unbelievable convenience and luxury that the family enjoys, all provided by George’s two hours of labor per week. No, instead of thanking capitalism for providing flying cars to the average family, instead Piketty and Solow would be complaining about how unfair it was that a short bald guy got to own Spacely Sprockets all by himself.

Blunders, Both Serious and Petty

According to Paul Krugman, those who oppose Piketty’s call for confiscating the wealth of the super-rich can only resort to name-calling. Yet Krugman is as reliable on this topic as he is on VA health care. Piketty’s book is riddled with so many errors that it was difficult for me to choose which ones to highlight in this review.

For starters, a bombshell report just came out in the FT, where Chris Giles alleged that Piketty’s historical data series on wealth concentration are filled with inaccuracies that upset his whole case. We’ll have to wait for the dust to settle on this particular charge. Yet there are a host of other problems.

This is a book about the rate of return capital generates for its owners—the famous “r” that Piketty claims will persistently exceed “g,” the growth in total output. You would think, then, that Piketty would understand the basics of how modern economic theory explains the determination of interest rates and the earnings of capitalists, and that in his 3-page description of a famous professional debate on the issue, that Piketty would manage to tell his readers the debate’s central issue.

Alas, Piketty’s book is bereft of even the simplest understanding of these issues, as both his ideological foes and friends agree.

Because Piketty doesn’t know what drives interest rates, and because he switches from viewing “capital” as a collection of physical things versus a sum of money (even Piketty’s fan Brad DeLong admits both points), Piketty and his readers will end up drawing the wrong conclusions from history.

For example, Mother Jones loved this chart showing income inequality soaring in the late 1920s and in the mid-2000s: Look everyone, if we let the 1% earn too much, it sets the world up for a giant financial crash! But actually what happened is that loose monetary policy drove down interest rates, thereby fueling asset price booms, which showed up as huge income (in the form of capital gains) accruing disproportionately in the hands of the wealthy. It’s not surprising that these Fed-fueled asset bubbles eventually collapsed, leading to the Great Depression and Great Recession. To prevent a repeat, the government doesn’t need to confiscate property from the super-rich; instead the Fed needs to stop inflating asset bubbles.

Another devastating flaw is that Piketty has misread the empirical literature. Piketty needs a certain parameter—“the elasticity of substitution” between capital and labor—to be greater than one, in order to predict that the capitalists will earn a larger and larger proportion of annual income. Yet as Piketty’s fan Larry Summers points out, Piketty ignored depreciation. Once you correct for this simple mistake, Piketty’s whole case goes out the window: Piketty’s framework predicts that workers will see their incomes rise both in absolute terms and relative to the income of the capitalists.

Putting aside these theoretical issues, Piketty is praised chiefly for his historical work. Beyond the bombshell FT allegations mentioned above, we have more mundane (and boneheaded) mistakes: Piketty can’t even correctly tell his readers the presidential administrations during which tax rates were raised or the minimum wage was hiked.

Further, these two mistakes very coincidentally serve Piketty’s political narrative.


After all of the above, you might be tempted to excuse Piketty’s numerous, fatal errors because after all, his goal is to help poor people. Yet as I document elsewhere, the book is filled with shocking quotations making it perfectly clear that Piketty’s proposed taxes are not designed to raise revenue, but instead are designed to prevent people from creating large wealth and incomes in the first place.

I must admit, I learned a lot from reading Piketty’s book. Specifically, I learned how many self-styled progressives today are willing to sacrifice the standard of living of billions of poor people, in order to prevent a few people from becoming really rich.



Guilty of giving

The 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Act, which dictates what and when one may speak about candidates for office, ought to have been struck down by the Supreme Court the moment the first suit about its constitutionality was filed. Instead, the Court has simply crippled it with the Citizens United v. FEC case.

Dinesh D'Souza, a prominent conservative writer and filmmaker, and unabashed critic of Obama and his policies, was charged with violating the Federal Election Commission's rules on donor limits.

Paul Bond, in his Hollywood Reporter article of May 20th, "Dinesh D'Souza Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Campaign Contribution," wrote:

In exchange for D'Souza's plea, prosecutors are expected to drop the more serious charge of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

D'Souza was indicted in January for asking some friends to donate money to the campaign of Wendy Long, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in New York in 2012, and allegedly promising to reimburse them for their donations.

Bond noted:

From the beginning, attorney Benjamin Brafman characterized his client's alleged transgression as "an act of misguided friendship," and he and others have said federal authorities were engaging in payback for D'Souza's movie 2016: Obama's America, a hit documentary that portrayed President Barack Obama in a negative light. "

It's a remarkably selective prosecution, considering Obama raised millions of dollars under similar circumstances and donors merely faced civil fines while D'Souza is charged with felony violation of federal law," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told The Hollywood Reporter in February.

If D'Souza had not pleaded guilty, a trial would have been necessary, and on the "illegal" contribution charge alone, if found guilty, he could have been sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL 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.

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


4 June, 2014

The Free Market Ignores the Poor?

It ignores the rich too

Once an activity has been socialized for a spell, nearly everyone will concede that that’s the way it should be.

Without socialized education, how would the poor get their schooling? Without the socialized post office, how would farmers receive their mail except at great expense? Without Social Security, the aged would end their years in poverty! If power and light were not socialized, consider the plight of the poor families in the Tennessee Valley!

Agreement with the idea of state absolutism follows socialization, appallingly. Why? One does not have to dig very deep for the answer.

Once an activity has been socialized, it is impossible to point out, by concrete example, how men in a free market could better conduct it. How, for instance, can one compare a socialized post office with private postal delivery when the latter has been outlawed? It’s something like trying to explain to a people accustomed only to darkness how things would appear were there light. One can only resort to imaginative construction.

To illustrate the dilemma: During recent years, men and women in free and willing exchange (the free market) have discovered how to deliver the human voice around the earth in one twenty-seventh of a second; how to deliver an event, like a ball game, into everyone’s living room, in color and in motion, at the time it is going on; how to deliver 115 people from Los Angeles to Baltimore in three hours and 19 minutes; how to deliver gas from a hole in Texas to a range in New York at low cost and without subsidy; how to deliver 64 ounces of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—more than half-way around the earth—for less money than government will deliver a one-ounce letter across the street in one’s home town. Yet, such commonplace free market phenomena as these, in the field of delivery, fail to convince most people that “the post” could be left to free market delivery without causing people to suffer.

Now, then, resort to imagination: Imagine that our federal government, at its very inception, had issued an edict to the effect that all boys and girls, from birth to adulthood, were to receive shoes and socks from the federal government “for free.” Next, imagine that this practice of “free shoes and socks” had been going on for lo, these 173 years! Lastly, imagine one of our contemporaries—one with a faith in the wonders of what can be wrought when people are free—saying, “I do not believe that shoes and socks for kids should be a government responsibility. Properly, that is a responsibility of the family. This activity should never have been socialized. It is appropriately a free market activity.”

What, under these circumstances, would be the response to such a stated belief? Based on what we hear on every hand, once an activity has been socialized for even a short time, the common chant would go like this, “Ah, but you would let the poor children go unshod!”

However, in this instance, where the activity has not yet been socialized, we are able to point out that the poor children are better shod in countries where shoes and socks are a family responsibility than in countries where they are a government responsibility. We’re able to demonstrate that the poor children are better shod in countries that are more free than in countries that are less free.

True, the free market ignores the poor precisely as it does not recognize the wealthy—it is “no respecter of persons.” It is an organizational way of doing things featuring openness, which enables millions of people to cooperate and compete without demanding a preliminary clearance of pedigree, nationality, color, race, religion, or wealth. It demands only that each person abide by voluntary principles, that is, by fair play. The free market means willing exchange; it is impersonal justice in the economic sphere and excludes coercion, plunder, theft, protectionism, subsidies, special favors from those wielding power, and other anti-free market methods by which goods and services change hands. It opens the way for mortals to act morally because they are free to act morally.

Admittedly, human nature is defective, and its imperfections will be reflected in the market (though arguably, no more so than in government). But the free market opens the way for men to operate at their moral best, and all observation confirms that the poor fare better under these circumstances than when the way is closed, as it is under socialism.



An obsolete Indian car as a model for the U.S. Post Office

Thomas Sowell

At one time, people in India had to get on a waiting list to buy Hindustan Motors' Ambassador automobile, even though it was an obvious copy of Britain's Morris Oxford of some decades earlier. The reason was simple: the Indian government would not allow cars to be imported to compete with it.

The fact that the Ambassador was a copy is hardly an automatic reason for condemnation. The first Nikon camera was an obvious copy of a German camera called the Contax, and the first Canon was an obvious copy of the Leica. The difference is that, over the years, Nikons and Canons rose to become state of the art, during both the era of film and in the new digital age.

Not so the Ambassador car. It was notorious for poor finish and poor handling. But, since it was the only game in town -- and "town" was all of India, people were on waiting lists for it for months, and sometimes even years.

By contrast, Nikon and Canons were good cameras from day one and they just got better as the companies that produced them gained more experience. With a highly competitive international market for cameras, they had no choice if they wanted to survive.

But the Hindustan Ambassador had no such problem. Only those who bought them had problems.

Toward the end of the 20th century, India began to loosen up some of its jungle of rules and regulations that were strangling India's businesses. Though India is still a long way from a free market, just the relaxing of some of its economic restrictions was enough to promote a higher rate of growth and a substantial reduction in poverty.

They even allowed a Japanese car maker to build cars in India. This resulted in a car called the Maruti, which quickly shot to the top as the most popular car in India. Even more remarkable, it led to some improvements in the Ambassador. A British newspaper said that the Ambassador now had "perceptible acceleration."

Now that there was competition, the distinguished British magazine "The Economist" announced, "Marutis too are improving, in anticipation of the next invaders."

Perhaps the last chapter in the story of the Ambassador has now been written. Hindustan Motors recently announced that it was closing -- indefinitely -- the factory where the Ambassador was built.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "The company cited low productivity, 'a critical shortage of funds' and a lack of demand for its core product, the Ambassador."

Doesn't that sound a little like our post office?

Our post office, like the Hindustan Ambassador, has had a long run as a government protected monopoly. But just a partial erosion of that monopoly, with the appearance of United Parcel Service and Federal Express, has threatened the viability of the post office.

As for "a critical shortage of funds," that has truly gotten critical as the post office has seen its $15 billion line of credit at the U.S. Treasury shrink to the vanishing point. For years that line of credit allowed the post office's defenders to tell the big lie that it got no subsidy and was costing the taxpayers nothing.

I don't know who they thought put that money in the Treasury that the post office has been "borrowing" all these years, with no one foolish enough to think that they would ever be either willing or able to pay it back.

We could all use a line of credit from which we could get a few billion dollars, here and there, to cover our losses from time to time. But we are not all the post office.

Ironically, India has partially privatized its post office by letting private companies deliver mail. The government post office's deliveries of mail dropped from 16 billion to less than 8 billion in just six years, even though the population of India was growing.

You can always keep anything old, clunky and inefficient still in business, if you are willing to pour unlimited amounts of the taxpayers' money down a bottomless pit.

Hindustan Motors had to shut their doors when they ran out of money. How long will we continue to keep our own version of the Hindustan Ambassador on life support at the expense of the taxpayers, and of captive customers who are not even allowed by law to decide who can put mail in the boxes that the customers bought?



Liberal Austin homeowners surprised to find they have to pay all the taxes they voted for

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”

I’m really just bringing this to your attention for this quote alone. Voting and paying are different endeavors entirely. Often, when one has to pay for the things one has voted to fund, that decision becomes less flippant. This is a comment, less on the specifics of Texas’ or Austin’s tax system than the blaring disconnect between liberals in Austin who are voting for higher taxes and the actual paying of the taxes. Which, as it turns out, is painful, discouraging, and can be a detriment to the fabric of the city.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation offers this on the complexity and salience of Texas property taxes:

In Texas, there are more than 3,900 localities that impose property taxes, including school districts, counties, and special districts. Texas’ property tax burden has grown from approximately 1 percent of value in the early 1980s to nearly 3 percent today.

The rising burden from property tax is worse for the housing-rich but income-poor elderly homeowners. For example, elderly homeowners tend to move more often to reduce their property tax burden, which is an additional cost of owning a home for those who can least afford to move.

Interestingly, another reason voters hate property taxes is because they are more “salient.” A salient tax means that the burden is transparent, easy to understand, and hard to avoid. If paid directly, property taxes are found to be more salient compared with sales taxes applied at checkout or income taxes withheld from a paycheck.

In 2012, the free-market think tank suggested swapping the local property tax for a sales tax:

New research suggests that if Texas eliminates its local property tax system, ranked as the 14th most oppressive in the nation, and instead replaces those lost revenues with an adjusted sales tax, then the ensuing flood of capital investment and business activity could ignite the Texas economy for years to come.

That’s right, just by changing how Texas governments collect public dollars—but not how much they spend—the Legislature can give the economy and people’s wallets a major boost.

By how much, you ask? Our estimates suggest quite a bit.
Either way, I don’t think Gretchen Gardner is ever going to make the connection between her voting pattern and her bill.



The Slow Erosion of the Fourth Amendment

WarrantThe Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful and unreasonable search and seizure. Yet that protection is being slowly eroded away. Thanks to the “War of Drugs” and the “War on Terror” government, at the state and federal level, has worked alongside the courts to gradually diminish the range and force of the protections that were meant to be inviolable rights of all citizens.

This year has seen two serious blows to the constitutionally-protected freedoms of the Fourth Amendment. The first was a ruling by the US Supreme Court in February that makes it easier for police to enter and search private homes without warrants. Previous interpretations by the court had held that in cases of disagreement between residents on whether to admit police to search a residence without a warrant, one resident’s permission was sufficient to prevent the search. Under the new ruling, one resident is sufficient to admit police, even over the protest of another resident.

This ruling inherently dilutes the right of individuals to their own private domicile and to be protected from police searching their property without their permission. This outrageous decision will no doubt further damage the guarantees and protections promised by the Constitution.

The second assault on protections against search and seizure happened in Pennsylvania this month. Pennsylvania has for many years been more resistant than other states to the destruction of Fourth Amendment rights. The constitution of the commonwealth has traditionally been interpreted as going even further than the Fourth Amendment, extending protections to property such as motor vehicles. In fact, police officers had to call a judge in order to obtain permission to search a car.

That protection has now been overturned by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Now police can search cars on their own initiative, as they can in most states. The commonwealth was one of the last hold-outs on this issue. Without it, the norm of searching citizens’ vehicles at police discretion is unchallenged in statutes of the state and federal governments.

These attacks at the federal and state levels on a core constitutional right have angered people across the political spectrum. Even the usually left-leaning Huffington Post has reported angrily on the rulings.

The US Supreme Court ruling in particular is demonstrative of the problems that can arise when the political leadership of both parties holds a convergent view of policy that does not align with the desires of the broader polity. In a duopolistic political system, the political agenda can be almost impossible to challenge when such convergences occur. If the major political agents agree to act in a way that is contrary to that of the people, the system often denies any redress.

The only way to challenge the system, as it stands now, would be to mount primary challenges. The Republican Party is being convulsed by such a process now, but the Democrats remain largely unperturbed. Citizens who value their rights cannot permit the political actors who represent them to ossify policies directly antithetical to their express will. It remains to be seen whether Americans can successfully band together to protect their rights from government encroachment. On this issue, with sufficient anger from both left and right, there is reason to hope.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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.

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3 June, 2014

Don’t Argue With Liberals – It Only Encourages Them

Non-lawyers often ask me, “What is the best way to argue with a liberal?” This is silly, because there is no best way to argue with a liberal. They're beyond argument. You might as well argue with your terrier. Take it from someone who argues with his hideous terrier all the time.

But if you do choose to argue with a liberal, understand that your purpose should never be to change the liberal’s mind. You're not going to change the liberal’s mind. Instead, if you choose to argue with a liberal, you should do it for one of two reasons – to either win over people who have not yet made up their minds, or to support people who already have begun to understand the truth.

The truth is that conservatism is an ideology that is in accord with natural law and basic human decency, while liberalism is merely the summit of a slippery slope leading down to the hellish depths of collectivist misery.

Liberals aren’t going to like to hear this manifest and demonstrable truth. So you’re going to get called “racist,” “sexist” and “homophobic,” even if you’re a conservative black lesbian.

What you are not going to get is an argument. An argument is a collected series of statements designed to establish a definite proposition. Arguments involve the presentation of facts and evidence from which one draws a conclusion. Implied within the concept of an argument is the potential that one might change his conclusion. But liberals start with the conclusion.

They don’t change their conclusions based on the facts and evidence; they change the facts and evidence based on the conclusion they want. This is why a 105 degree day is irrefutable proof of global warming, while a 60 degree day is irrefutable proof of global warming. As is a -20 degree day.

Liberals are only concerned with argument, or what superficially appears to be argument, as a rhetorical bludgeon designed to beat you into submission. They aren’t trying to change your mind. They don’t expect you to agree with them. They don’t even care whether or not you grow to love Big Brother.

They just want you to shut up and let them run rampant. If you understand that, you'll be fine.

There are two basic tactics to choose from when responding to a liberal pseudo-argument, defense and counterattack. Without getting too detailed and infantry-nerdy on you, think of defense as simply preventing a loss. You're holding your ground. The counterattack, however, lashes out to seize the initiative and defeat your enemy.

Both have their uses. When you defend, you are generally responding to the pseudo-argument the liberal is making. A liberal will start advocating some nonsense and you reply to what he says. You may choose to use examples of liberalism's many failures to illustrate how collectivism is a prescription for disaster. For example, some pinko starts crowing about how eight million suckers signed up for Obamacare. A good defense might involve raising the question of how many of those eight million have actually paid for it.

But the problem with defense is that it treats a liberal "argument” with a respect it doesn't deserve. You dignify liberal silliness with a response when all it deserves is mockery and contempt.

This is why I prefer to counterattack. When you counterattack, you ignore the proposition offered by the liberal and refuse to respond on the liberal’s preferred terms. In fact, you don’t even need to address the same subject the liberal is talking about. Your goal is not to undercut the liberal’s assertion. You're going to counterattack to undercut the liberal himself.

There are many good reasons to choose the approach of treating the liberal like he is a terrible person with terrible ideas who seeks to impose a quasi-fascist police state upon America, including the fact that it's all true.

Let’s try a counterattack battle drill. Some doofus with a “Capitalism Is a Patriarchal, Cisnormative Hate Crime” t-shirt starts babbling about “privilege.” The undecideds start listening, their jaws drooping slightly. Some of the more conservative ones are silent, not wanting to be labeled racist by some geek whose grandfather came from Oslo. You need to act. So you causally inject the question, “Hey, why are you an eager and active member of a political party that made a KKK kleagle a beloved Senate Majority Leader?”

Then you mention that you’re a member of the party that fought slavery and didn’t turn hoses on civil rights marchers. Then you finish by announcing, “Well, I’m going to stand with Dr. King and judge people by the content of their character.” It’s optional whether you then get up, scream that the liberal should have issued you a trigger warning about his racism, and leave.

But be careful – the liberal may totally spit in the next latte he sells you.

Some people might question whether this kind of Alinsky-esque tactic means we are stooping to the liberals’ level. Except the liberals’ level is six feet underground, where the victims of collectivism lie buried. Anyone not willing to take the fight to them simply empowers their liberal fascist fantasies.

If you're trying to win an Oxford Union debate with a liberal, you’ve missed the point. This isn't about the Marquess of Queensberry’s fussy little rules. This isn't about some sort of extended-pinky exchange of ideas over a fine glass of port. This is about fighting for our way of life and our fundamental rights against the intellectual heirs of Stalin, Mao and Hitler.

Attack. This is about winning. First prize is freedom. Second prize is tyranny.



Forget About the Fed – Let’s End the Reign of Liberalism Instead

Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve has been pumping trillions of dollars into the economy with their Quantitative Easing program, our nation has seen anemic economic growth. In real dollars, the Fed (mostly under the leadership of Ben “easy money” Bernanke) has injected about $2 trillion into financial markets. This money (according to people who read Keynes as if he penned the economic gospel) was supposed to increase liquidity in the system and multiply, thereby creating jobs and prosperity. According to the theory of that guy who once said “we’re all dead in the long run”, the free Fed cash was supposed to result in massive job creation, and intense credit growth…

Of course, this hasn’t happened. In fact, despite the $2 trillion of “free” Fed monies, our ailing economy only managed to grow about $1.1 trillion in that same time span… So, to be clear: The Fed printed up $2 trillion worth of cash, and handed it to Wall Street. Stocks climbed steadily, and the economy only grew by half as much as the Fed had printed… This is apparently what happens when Liberals run the government.

Which brings us to the main point (I know, I know… “Finally”, right?):

Sure… End the Fed. But before we tackle that challenge, maybe we should end the reign of Obamanomics? After all, it seems that the Federal Reserve has pretty much exhausted every trick in the book to inflate the economy, and the economy still isn’t growing. Go ahead and give Wall Street more Fed dollars, but it’s a pretty big chore to get the economy going when policies from DC are killing jobs, and Eric Holder is making a killing out of suing banks.

Our biggest problems, today, aren’t monetary. They’re fiscal. The real problem with today’s “recovery” isn’t a lack of money or consumer demand… The real problem seems to be the guy living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and most of the 535 “leaders” who help craft fiscal policy at the US Capitol.

All the free Fed money in the world won’t change the fact that Eric Holder is suing banks left and right, while his Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is making mortgages a nightmare for the average lender. Barack Obama’s FDA isn’t exactly making energy any more affordable, and Obamacare is basically giving businesses a very legitimate reason not to hire people. Besides, if we truly live in a consumer-driven economy, it seems like the biggest thing we’re missing in this “recovery” is job creation.

So while the Federal Reserve has pumped trillions of dollars into the markets, the US economy has limped along. The fact that trillions in “free money” has been so ineffective at priming economic growth should tell us something: Lack of capital is not the issue.

Unreasonably loose monetary policy is no substitute for a congressional budget, or an informed fiscal policy. America is ready for an explosion of economic prosperity; but as long as the government continues to tax, regulate (oh good… more carbon regulations are being announced today), and infringe on the sovereignty of business, things are unlikely to get much better.

Whatever possible benefit the Federal Reserve could have had on the economy has been largely offset by the disastrous Obama policies of regulation and micromanagement. The truth is, the economy can only handle so much progressivism before it collapses under the weight of bureaucrats. So while I’m completely in favor of “ending the Fed”, the long run can wait. The real solution to today’s economic woes can be found at the ballot box this November.



Scandal Exhaustion

By Alan Caruba

Listening to President Obama respond on May 21 to the latest scandal regarding something about which he knew and did nothing—the mess at the Veterans Administration—was such a familiar event that I have reached a point of exhaustion trying to keep up with everything that has been so wrong about his six years in office. As he always does, he said was really angry about it.

Writing in the May 20 Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin said, “Forget ideology for a moment. Whether you are liberal or conservative, the Obama presidency’s parade of miscues is jaw-dropping.”

Stacked against the list of Obama scandals and failures, Rubin could only cite the Bush administration’s 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina, the seventh most intense ever, and, as anyone familiar with that event will tell you, the failure of FEMA’s response was matched by the failures of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had declared a national emergency two days before it hit the Gulf coast.

Rubin concluded that the Obama administration scandals “reflect the most widespread failure of executive leadership since the Harding administration”, adding “The presidency is an executive job. We hire neophytes at our peril. When there is an atmosphere in which accountability is not stressed you get more scandals and fiascos.”

Obama spent his entire first term blaming all such things on his predecessor, George W. Bush, until it became a joke.

One has to wonder about the effect of the endless succession of scandals and fiascos have had on Americans as individuals and the nation as a whole.

While it is easier to lay all the blame on Obama, the fact is that much of the blame is the result of a federal government that is so big no President could possibly know about the countless programs being undertaken within its departments and agencies, and all the Presidents dating back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive initiatives have played a role in growing the government.

It is, however, the President who selects the cabinet members responsible to manage the departments as well as those appointed to manage the various agencies. Kathleen Sebelius, the recently resigned former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the implementation of Obamacare, comes to mind. She had solicited donations—against the law—from the companies HHS regulates to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and signed off on the millions spent on HealthCare.gov and other expenses leading up to its start.

There are lists of the Obama scandals you can Google. One that continues to fester is the attack on September 11, 2012—the anniversary of 9/11—that killed an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya. It has been and continues to be investigated, mostly because of the lies told by Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “What difference at this point does it make?” fame. Clinton was asked what she had accomplished in her four years as Secretary and was unable to name anything.

Eric Holder, our Attorney General, continues in office despite having been held in contempt of Congress, professing that he knew nothing about “Fast and Furious”, the earliest scandal involving a gun-running scheme to Mexican drug cartels by the ATF presumably to track them, but they lost track and many were used in crimes including the killing of a Border Patrol agent.

Holder also told Congress that he was not associated with the “potential prosecution” of a journalist even though he had signed the affidavit that named Fox News reporter, James Rosen. as a potential criminal. Holder was also in charge when the Justice Department culled the phone records of Associated Press reporters to find out who they deemed was leaking information.

Keeping track of the solar power and other “renewable” and “Green” energy companies like Solyndra that received millions in grants and then rather swiftly went bankrupt became a fulltime effort and, of course, there was the “stimulus” that wasted billions without generating any “shovel ready jobs” qualifies as a fiasco.

In the midst of the recession that was triggered by the 2008 financial crisis various elements of the Obama administration continued to spend money in ways that suggested their indifference. In 2010 the General Services Administration held a $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas, complete with a clown and mind readers.

An Agriculture Department program to compensate black farmers who allegedly had been discriminated against by the agency turned into a gravy train that delivered several billion dollars to thousands of recipients, some of whom probably had not encountered discrimination.

The Veterans Affairs agency made news when it spent more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando, Florida, and is back in the news for revelations about alleged falsified records concerning the waiting times veterans faced amidst assertions that many died while waiting for treatment surfaced. This was a problem of which the then-Senator Obama was already aware, but six years into his presidency it still existed despite his early promises to fix it.

Obama has been the biggest of Big Government Presidents since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, and Obamacare put the federal government in control of one sixth of the nation’s economy while putting the government in charge of the care Americans expect to receive. Obamacare will dwarf the problems associated with the Veterans agency.

Meanwhile, we have been living with a President who is so indifferent to working with Congress that he has gained fame for his use of executive orders such as the decision to not deport illegal immigrants. His aides have promised more executive orders.

All this over the course of the last six years has left Americans exhausted by the incompetence and wastefulness of an administration that now presides over the highest national debt in the history of the nation and the first ever downgrade of our credit rating.

It has also left them angry if they were conservatives and disillusioned if they were Obama supporters. The Veterans Administration scandal is likely a tipping point for the independent voters and even for longtime Democrats who will want a change.

It is increasingly likely that the November midterm elections give the Republican Party control over the Senate as well as the House and then to hope that it will begin to rein in the spending and save the nation from a financial collapse that will rival the one in 2008.


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


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

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


2 June, 2014

Obama's Conservative Foreign Policy

I pointed out yesterday that Americans are basically isolationists -- believing that the rest of the world should be left to sort out its own problems. Obama's very hands-off foreign policy accords with that -- JR

Conservatives generally agree on a few propositions. The federal government should avoid spending money unnecessarily. It shouldn't exceed its basic constitutional duties. It should encourage self-reliance rather than dependency. It should accept that some problems are beyond its ability to solve.

Barack Obama, they may be surprised to learn, agrees with much of this formula. He just applies it in a realm where conservatives often don't: foreign relations and national security. The Obama doctrine, as outlined in his policies and his speech at West Point Wednesday, is one of comparatively limited government.

Limited government, however, is not something many conservatives champion when it comes to matters military. They may question whether Washington should spend billions to bring prosperity and order to Detroit or New Orleans. But they had no objection to spending billions to bring prosperity and order to Baghdad and Kabul.

In the domestic realm, they believe the federal government's powers are few and mostly modest. Beyond the water's edge, it's a different story. When George W. Bush embarked on an extravagant project to "help the Iraqi people build a lasting democracy in the heart of the Middle East," Republicans granted him all the leeway he could want.

The Constitution says the government should "provide for the common defense." But Bush translated "defense" to mean going to war far from our shores against a country that had not attacked us.

His idea of self-restraint was saying, "The United States will not use force in all cases to preempt emerging threats" (emphasis added). But he insisted that "the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather." Any potential danger, anywhere, anytime was grounds for an American attack.

A more sensible view is that the U.S. can indeed remain idle while alleged dangers gather, because most of them won't materialize. The immortal philosopher Calvin Coolidge said, "If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." Many conservatives believe in hurrying out to meet all 10 just in case.

Obama noted that in recent decades, "some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences." Substitute "government programs" for "military adventures," and he could be quoting Paul Ryan.

"I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed," he told the cadets. The attitude he cautions against is one that he and his fellow Democrats do not routinely apply to domestic matters. But it's a sound one.

Critics charge that Obama's foreign policy shows an unwillingness to lead, or weakness, or uncertain purposes. The same complaint, of course, could be made about conservative policies on poverty, health care, urban blight, access to housing and more. "Don't you care?" indignant liberals ask.

But sometimes ambitious government undertakings are too expensive to justify, sometimes they fail to solve problems, and sometimes they make things worse. In those instances, declining to act -- and explaining why -- is the most authentic form of leadership. That's just as true in the international realm as it is in the domestic one.

If Obama has yet to come up with a bumper-sticker slogan for his approach, the elements are fairly clear: Don't use military force until other means are exhausted -- and maybe not then. Don't use ground troops when you can use bombers or drones. Don't act alone when you can enlist allies. Don't take the lead role when someone else will do so.

Don't do for other countries what they could do for themselves. Don't confuse desirable outcomes with vital interests. Keep in mind that very few things are more costly and harmful to American interests than an unnecessary, unsuccessful war.

The president has followed these guidelines with reasonable consistency, which is one reason he could tell the cadets, "You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan" -- and not because they'll be deploying to fight somewhere else.

There will always be people who demand that the U.S. government do more and spend whatever it takes to solve an array of problems without any assurance of accomplishing its goals. Abroad, at least, Obama is not one of them



The VA Health System Is a Tragic Warning Against Government-Run Health Care

Liberals love the now-scandalized veterans health program, but even at its best, it's not worth copying

A damning report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General will likely leave Democrats and their liberal allies clamoring for reforms to the government run health system for those who have served in the military. The report found that workers in the Phoenix VA network systematically manipulated wait time data, leaving thousands of military veterans waiting for medical appointments, and some 1,700 stuck in limbo after being left off the waiting list entirely. According to the report, the average initial wait time for a primary care appointment in the Phoenix VA system was 115 days—a far cry from both the system's 14-day goal and the 24 days Phoenix officials had reported.

Until recently, Democrats have not been particularly shy about expressing their feelings about the VA health care system. For years they have been telling us that it’s great—a model system from which the rest of the nation’s health care systems could learn a thing or two.

In 2011, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the program a "huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform." A few years earlier, he lauded it as a "real live case of impressive cost control." Writing in Slate in 2005, journalist Timothy Noah dubbed the program a "triumph of socialized medicine."

It’s not just liberal advocates. Democratic politicians have made their fondness for the program known as well. In the lead-up to the passage of Obamacare, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) praised the Veterans Administration, and all government health care, as a "godsend"—and then mocked a Republican Senator for imagining a future "government [health] plan where care is denied, delayed, and rationed." That future, Durbin said, was "fictitious."

Around the same time, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), gave a statement describing the "government health care" provided by the VA as "among the very best health care in the world." In another speech, Sen. Durbin piled on, insisting that veterans reliance on the "quality care" offered by the VA proved critics of government health care wrong. The White House got into the game too, posting a "health insurance reform reality check" declaring veterans’ health care to be "safe and sound."*

The ongoing VA scandal over falsified records, and the deadly long wait times for care that appear to have been the result, seems to suggest otherwise: Veterans are not safe and sound within the fully government-run system, its quality control leaves much to be desired, and its lengthy wait times are not a fictitious prediction but an all-too-grim reality.

In other words, it’s hardly a triumphant, model system. But even if there were no scandal at all, the VA wouldn’t be a system worth emulating.

West Point - The U.S. Military Academy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)West Point - The U.S. Military Academy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When Obamacare passed, we dodged getting a provision that was supposed to emulate the VA. The outbreak of Democratic praise over the program noted above revolved mostly around the possibility of a "public option" in the president’s health care overhaul—a government-run health insurance plan intended to compete with private sector alternatives. The idea was scrapped, and Obamacare became law without it.

So what happens when the federal government actually makes an attempt to take an idea long used by the VA and apply it to the rest of the system? For that, we can look at recent efforts to spur adoption of electronic health records.

In health policy wonk circles, the VA has an electronic records system that is legendarily good. Yes, it’s comparatively expensive, judged against other types of health records systems, but studies have found that the expense pays off with even greater savings. And it helped coordinate better health care too. "The VA’s investment in the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture is associated with significant value through reductions in unnecessary and redundant care, process efficiencies, and improvements in care quality," wrote a team of health IT researchers in a 2010 study for Health Affairs.

When the federal government earmarked about $20 billion (to start with) to help encourage health providers to install health IT systems in 2009, as part of the stimulus, it was hoping for a similar payoff. Just a few years earlier, researchers at RAND had published a report estimating that widespread adoption of electronic health records could eventually save $80 billion annually. The stimulus boost was a down payment on the potential for massive future savings.

The stimulus money was sent out to hospitals all over the country, and, with federal funding and a slew of incentives to act, new electronic records systems were rapidly installed. But the hoped-for savings never arrived. In fact, the health IT push may have helped drive federal health spending upwards, by making it easier and more efficient for hospitals to send bigger bills to Medicare.

The system-wide efficiency improvements never appeared either, because too many of the new health records systems couldn’t communicate with each other. The federal government’s health IT investment was supposed to make health care better and cheaper. Instead, it made it more expensive and worse.

The operating theory of most health policy wonks often seems to be that if something works somewhere, it will work everywhere. But the history of health care administration is littered with failed attempts to replicate small successes on a larger scale. All we really know is that if something works somewhere, it will work somewhere.

The point is that even when and where the VA works well it’s not necessarily a system to emulate. That goes for the VA’s vaunted cost control methods too. Paul Krugman is right when he says that the system offers a real-life example of cost control; it really is cheaper than many competitors. But that’s only part of the story. It’s also necessary to account for how the system achieves its savings.

And one of the chief methods the VA uses to control spending is to organize its beneficiaries into eight "priority groups" that determine who gets the most care. The sickest and the poorest are at the top of the list, but everyone else gets shuffled into lower priority groups. And not all types of care are covered, which means veterans in most of the priority groups get the majority of their care outside the system. In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office reported that none of the eight priority groups received more than 50 percent of its care from the program. In 2010, the VA reported that just two of the priority groups—the two groups that have the highest cost per enrollee—had barely crept above 50 percent usage.

It’s not a full-featured system designed to handle the complete health care needs of the population it covers. But it is an example of how government controls costs in health care: through strictly defined prioritization systems and limitations on treatments.

And that's how the system is supposed to work. Add the systematic lies and manipulations that the recent scandal has brought to light, and you have an accurate enough picture of how government health care works in practice.

That’s the government system that Democrats and liberal advocates say they like, and that we should learn from. The scandal shows how bad a government-run system can get, but even the best-case scenario mostly provides lessons in what not to do.



Big Labor's VA Choke Hold

How Democrats put their union allies before the well-being of veterans.

We know with certainty that there is at least one person the Department of Veterans Affairs is serving well. That would be the president of local lodge 1798 of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority, the agency that mediates federal labor disputes, earlier this month ruled in favor of this union president, in a dispute over whether she need bother to show up at her workplace—the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va. According to FLRA documents, this particular VA employee is 100% "official time"—D.C. parlance for federal employees who work every hour of every work day for their union, at the taxpayer's expense.

In April 2012, this, ahem, VA "employee" broke her ankle and declared that she now wanted to do her nonwork for the VA entirely from the comfort of her home. Veterans Affairs attempted a compromise: Perhaps she could, pretty please, come in two days a week? She refused, and complained to the FLRA that the VA was interfering with her right to act as a union official. The VA failed to respond to the complaint in the required time (perhaps too busy caring for actual veterans) and so the union boss summarily won her case.

The VA battle is only just starting, but any real reform inevitably ends with a fight over organized labor. Think of it as the federal version of Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and other states where elected officials have attempted to rein in the public-sector unions that have hijacked government agencies for their own purpose. Fixing the VA requires first breaking labor's grip, and the unions are already girding for that fight.

Federal labor unions are generally weak by comparison to state public-sector unions, though the VA might be an exception. The VA boasts one of the largest federal workforces and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki bragged in 2010 that two-thirds of it is unionized. That's a whopping 200,000 union members, represented by the likes of the American Federation of Government Employees and the Service Employees International Union. And this is government-run health care—something unions know a lot about from organizing health workers in the private sector. Compared with most D.C. unions (which organize for better parking spots) the VA houses a serious union shop.

The Bush administration worked to keep federal union excesses in check; Obama administration officials have viewed contract "negotiations" as a way to reward union allies. Federal unions can't bargain for wages or benefits, but the White House has made it up to them.

Manhattan Institute scholar Diana Furchtgott-Roth recently detailed Office of Personnel Management numbers obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R., Ga.). On May 25, Ms. Furchtgott-Roth reported on MarketWatch that the VA in 2012 paid 258 employees to be 100% "full-time," receiving full pay and benefits to do only union work. Seventeen had six-figure salaries, up to $132,000. According to the Office of Personnel Management, the VA paid for 988,000 hours of "official" time in fiscal 2011, a 23% increase from 2010.

Moreover, as Sens. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) noted in a 2013 letter to Mr. Shinseki, the vast majority of these "official" timers were nurses, instrument technicians pharmacists, dental assistants and therapists, who were being paid to do union work even as the VA tried to fill hundreds of jobs and paid overtime to other staff.

As for patient-case backlogs, the unions have helped in their creation. Contract-negotiated work rules over job classifications and duties and seniorities are central to the "bureaucracy" that fails veterans. More damaging has been the union hostility to any VA attempt to give veterans access to alternative sources of care—which the unions consider a direct job threat. The American Federation of Government Employees puts out regular press releases blasting any "outsourcing" of VA work to non-VA-union members.

The VA scandal is now putting an excruciating spotlight on the most politically sensitive agency in D.C., and the unions are worried about where this is headed. They watched in alarm as an overwhelming 390 House members—including 160 Democrats—voted on May 21 to give the VA more power to fire senior executives, a shot over the rank-and-file's bow. They watched in greater alarm as Mr. Shinseki said the VA would be letting more veterans seek care at private facilities in areas where the department's capacity is limited.

This is a first step toward a reform being drafted by Sens. Coburn, John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Richard Burr (R., N.C.), which would give veterans a card allowing them health services at facilities of their choosing. The union fear is that Democrats, in a tough election year, will be pressured toward reforms that break labor's VA stronghold.

Not surprisingly, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, has promised his own "reform." Odds are it will echo the unions' call to simply throw more money at the problem. Any such bill should be viewed as Democrats once again putting the interests of their union allies ahead of veterans.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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.

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1 June, 2014

Do democracies start wars?

It is often said that democracies do not wage war on one-another. The idea is that populations as a whole are justly wary of war -- because it is they who die in them -- so a democratic government can only get popular consent to a war if the country is attacked by an external enemy -- presumably a despot of some kind.

Students of ancient history will immediately recall the Athenian attack on Syracuse as a counter-example but Athens was not much like democracies as we know them today (only a minority of Athenians had a vote, for instance) so that does not take us very far.

I have recently come across what could be seen as a confirmation of the usual claim: The Austro-Hungarian democracy at the onset of WWI. The Austro-Hungarian empire (Germany's great Southern ally) WAS a democracy but it was a greatly decayed democracy. The Austrian Reichsrat (parliament) had degenerated to complete unworkability. Filibusters were common and disruptions by deliberate noise were routine. Parties that were not getting their way would shout, blow whistles, blow toy trumpets, bang drums and generally deploy so much noise that speeches could not be heard and very little work could be done.

It was such a spectacle that ordinary Viennese -- including Hitler -- would go to the vistor's gallery overlooking parliament just for the entertainment. Hitler started out with a considerable respect for democracy, particularly British democracy, but his observations of the Reichsrat considerably eroded that.

So Austria entered the war solely in the power of the bureaucracy, the military and the Emperor. It is conceivable that a mature democracy might have produced a leader who told the emperor firmly that a dead Archduke was insufficient to justify hostilities with Serbia. So WWI could perhaps have been avoided if Austria had been a functioning democracy.

As it happens, even the German Kaiser thought that war with Serbia was unnecessary -- but Austria had declared war before the Kaiser had got to make his views known. But once war had been declared, treaty obligations ruled subsequent events.

But the big hole in the conventional case is Imperial Germany. The German empire was thoroughly democratic and the formal powers of the Kaiser were little different from the powers of the British monarch. The Kaiser was certainly influential for a time and often expressed views that were widely held in Germany but nothing much could be done without parliamentary consent.

Wikipedia has a reasonable short summary of the German parliament of the time: "The Reichstag had no formal right to appoint or dismiss governments, but by contemporary standards it was considered a highly modern and progressive parliament. All German men over 25 years of age were eligible to vote, and members of the Reichstag were elected by general, universal and secret suffrage. Members were elected in single-member constituencies by majority vote."

And Germany's predecessor State, Prussia, is an interesting example of the role of the German parliament: The King could not get the Prussian parliament to vote him the funds he wanted for his army so he commissioned Chancellor Bismarck to bypass parliament and rule solely in the King's name. Bismarck carried it off with the aid of an obedient Prussian bureaucracy and parliament was ignored for four years. But parliament did not flinch and, after four years, Bismarck had to apologize to the parliament and reinstate it authority. So even in Prussia, parliament was the ultimate authority.

And in Germany of the Edwardian era, it was parliament's power of the purse that regulated and limited what the Kaiser and his ministers could do. So it is no good blaming the Kaiser for WWI. He was largely a figurehead for the will of the German people as expressed in their Reichstag. It was essentially the whole of the German democracy that went into WWI.

And the U.S. democracy has its own history of initiating war. Robert Kagan of the Brookings institution has an extensive historical survey which shows both that the America people are isolationist and that American leaders repeatedly talk them out of that. On some occasions, where America has been attacked, as with the 9/11 atrocity, retaliation is completely reasonable but on others the pretext used to initiate war was very thin. For starters, the alleged attack in 1898 on the battleship "Maine" in Havana harbour was a very thin reason for the invasion of Cuba by TR and his cohorts. To this day there is no clarity on what sank the "Maine".

But even the "Maine" episode shows that American declarations of war have to be dressed up as defensive or retaliatory. But finding such garb has not been difficult for at least the Democrat side of American politics. Isolationism was from the earliest days the stance of American conservatives but with their insatiable lust for meddling in other people's affairs, liberals have been very keen to involve America in wars abroad. It may be noted that TR was the founder of the "Progressive" party (popularly known as the "Bull Moose" party) when the Republicans became too wishy washy for him.

So when WWI broke out it was a great frustration for Democrat President Wilson that he was not part of the councils of war. So peace-minded were the American people that it actually took him years to find a pretext for declaring war -- the main pretext being the "Lusitania" sinking. The loss of the liner and her people was an undoubted tragedy but Germany had posted warning advertisements in NY newspapers prior to the sailing which warned people not to sail on the "Lusitania". It was thought to be carrying munitions to Britain -- which it was -- making it a prime target. So accusations of German perfidy or barbarity were simply wrong.

And FDR in WWII was just as bad. His sanctions against Japan had pushed Japan into economic crisis and desperate Japanese attempts to open negotiations were repeatedly rebuffed. So, against much of their own expert advice, the Pearl Harbor attack was planned by the Japanese leadership to break through American opposition. That was essentially what FDR wanted and he made no attempt to stop it. Both Britain and the U.S. had cracked the Japanese naval code so Japanese ship movements were known. But not a whisper of any of the intelligence concerned was transmitted to Pearl Harbor. FDR did however make sure that his carriers were not in port when the Japanese attacked.

And so FDR got his "date that will live in infamy". "A date that will live in hypocrisy" would be more apt. Robert Kagan is also of the view that FDR was itching for war.

And as for Bill Clinton's attack on the Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslims....

So democracies do start wars -- but they usually have to be a bit sneaky about it -- JR

UPDATE -- A point of clarification about WWI:

It could be argued that I have undermined my own argument by pointing to Austria as undemocratic. It could be argued that the war was started by Austria's attack on Serbia and since Austria was a failed democracy, the events there show that democracies do not start wars.

My main point was however the role of Germany. If Germany had not mobilized there would have been no WWI. The Austrians were not much concerned by the prospect of a Russian invasion and they were probably right about that. Given the backward and chaotic Russian military and the large modern forces available to Austria, only a minor punch-up would probably have resulted from the Tsar's actions. Austria might even have gained some territory.

So it was Germany's move that started the big war. And Germany was democratic. So why did Germany get involved? Because they wanted to. And there were several reasons why. See here

UPDATE 2 -- about the Lusitania

A reader has pointed out that my graphic above is a collage. The Lusitania sailing details and the embassy warning did not originally occur side-by-side. So why did I say that passengers on the Lusitania specifically were warned? Because the Lusitania was the ONLY liner left on that route. Other liners had been grabbed by the British government for war use.

I can't resist mentioning WHY the government did not use the Lusitania: Because as a large fast ship it would use heaps of coal -- and the admiralty wanted to conserve its stocks! -- JR


Economic Growth, Texas Style

With a record 92 million Americans out of the work force and the labor force participation rate under 63% – matching a 36-year low – at least one state is actually seeing a jobs boom. The Lone Star State, which has always marched to its own drumbeat, is now bucking the trend in the downward growth spiral. And the reason is a lesson the rest of the Union could learn.

But first, the facts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas' preliminary unemployment rate for April 2014 was 5.2%, notably below the national 6.3% headline unemployment rate. Of course, these numbers can easily hide the true story. More important – and more impressive – is that Texas' labor force participation rate for April was 65.1%, significantly above the national average.

Additionally, comparing red-state Texas with blue-dyed California, economist Stephen Moore notes that over the last 20 years, Texas has had four times the job growth of California, has an unemployment rate far lower than California’s, has income growth greater than California’s, and regularly ranks in the top five states for business climate while California consistently lands in the bottom 10.

Is it any wonder that people are fleeing states like California and moving to Texas? For example, Toyota recently announced relocation of its U.S. headquarters, along with some 3,000 jobs, from Torrance, California, to Plano, Texas.

But what’s behind the good news? Several things – none of which you’ll find in California.

First, the oil and gas boom. While Washington regulators are spouting energy independence with one breath and trying to regulate the growth out of the oil and gas industry with the other, Texas is, well, drilling away. The Heritage Foundation notes that already in 2014, year-over-year drilling has doubled, with 10,000 new wells being drilled this year alone. (North Dakota, the other ‘oil boom’ state, is also seeing tremendous job and population growth – coincidence?). And when it comes to dishing out dough, Texas doesn’t do much to subsidize solar and wind energy, which are invariably more expensive and less reliable than oil and gas. California, meanwhile, has a Hollywood love affair with subsidy sprees.

Additionally, Texas actually welcomes business growth, charging no state income tax and avoiding many excessive regulations.

Of course, this isn’t to say Texas is the new Promised Land. As the Texas Public Policy Foundation noted in a recent report, the state’s economic development programs allow local governments to use taxpayer money to support “private interests,” meaning private business. That practice of cronyism has rightly drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Yet, looking at the larger economic and regulatory landscape, it’s impossible not to notice the land of the Alamo is making a stand for Liberty, while the Left coast of solar utopia simply isn’t.



The vaunted 'competence' of Barack Obama

by Jeff Jacoby

AS A candidate for president in 1988, Michael Dukakis famously proclaimed: "This election is not about ideology; it's about competence."

It wasn't a winning argument. Dukakis had run as the architect of the so-called "Massachusetts Miracle," the state's mid-1980s economic boom. But the miracle was turning into a fiscal meltdown, and as it did Dukakis's once-commanding lead went down the drain. On Election Day, he lost to George H. W. Bush in a 40-state landslide.

Dukakis played down ideology because he didn't want to be tagged as a liberal, and he played up competence because that's what all candidates do. Twenty years later, Barack Obama did the same thing, but with far greater success. Running to succeed the deeply polarizing George W. Bush, Obama held himself out not just as a leader who would never "pit red America against blue America," but as a natural-born manager whose hallmark was smarts and competence.

Voters — encouraged by newspaper endorsements that saw in Obama's campaign "a marvel of sound management" (The Boston Globe) and backed him because he "offered more competence than drama" (Los Angeles Times) — ate it up. An astonishing 76 percent of respondents in a CNN/ORC poll shortly after the 2008 election agreed that Obama could "manage the government effectively."

Five years of Obama's presidency have certainly shattered that delusion.

The scandal now boiling over at the Veterans Administration, where at least 40 patients have died while numerous VA hospitals reportedly falsified data to hide unconscionable delays in medical care, is only the latest in a long series of government shambles under a president whose managerial prowess turned out to be a mirage.

Abuses at the VA have been a problem for years. As a candidate back in 2007, Obama claimed that 400,000 veterans were "stuck on a waiting list," and he promised "a new sense of urgency" to "make sure that our disabled vets receive the benefits they deserve." But that urgency never materialized. In a letter to Obama a year ago, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee detailed some of the "serious and significant patient care issues" in the VA system, imploring him to address the worsening problems before even more veterans died. Yet nothing happened. The president showed no interest in the matter, and seemed to have no grasp of the scandal's lethal magnitude, until he learned about it on the news.

Obama came to the White House with a carefully cultivated image for almost preternatural competence — an image no one esteemed more highly than he did. "I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters," he had told campaign staff. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that . . . I'm a better political director than my political director."

He may still believe it, but most Americans no longer do. When respondents in a CNN/ORC poll this spring were asked once again about the president's ability to "manage the government effectively," a solid majority — 57 percent — said that description does not apply to Obama. Other surveys get similar results. In four Quinnipiac University polls taken since November 2013, respondents have been asked: "Do you think that in general the Obama administration has been competent in running the government?" Each time, a majority has said no. Asked whether the president is "paying attention to what his administration is doing," only 45 percent say he is. None of those polls reflects recent coverage of the VA; presumably the numbers would be even harsher if they did.

Every presidency has its scandals and messes. George W. Bush's included the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, the calamitous post-Saddam administration of Iraq, and the misbegotten policies that stoked the subprime mortgage crisis. But Obama went out of his way to contrast himself with the supposedly bumbling and hapless Bush. He put effectiveness and smart governance at the very core of what Americans could expect if they elected him.

It hasn't worked out that way, or even come close. The Obama administration hasn't been distinguished by cool, cerebral, sure-footed professionalism, but by something closer to amateur hour. From the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act to the bloody aftermath of the intervention in Libya, from enabling political witch-hunts at the IRS to being repeatedly outmaneuvered by Russia's Vladimir Putin, from swelling the debt he was going to reduce to embittering the politics he promised to detoxify, Obama's performance has been a lurching series of screw-ups and disappointments.

The 44th president — who once said that his accomplishments could compare favorably with those of any of his predecessors with the "possible exceptions" of Lyndon Johnson, FDR, and Abraham Lincoln — has always had a huge opinion of his executive gifts. The American people no longer share it. As a political creature, Obama's talents are undeniable. When it comes to competent governance, they turned out to be anything but.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, 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.

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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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.)

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.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.


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

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 “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

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 hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: