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, 2015

The New Testament canon

I think it is axiomatic that Christians accept the Bible as the word of God. If you don't accept the Bible as the word of God but still claim to be a Christian, you are some sort of hyphenated Christian. I would call Episcopalians and Anglicans generally, post-Christians. Their adoration of homosexuals flies in the face of explicit Bible teachings in both the Old and New Testaments so they clearly do not accept the Bible as the word of God.

But what is meant by "word of God"? Did God use the Bible writers as some sort of stenographers -- dictating precisely every word they wrote? People who believe that are said to be "verbal inspiration" believers. The verbal inspiration doctrine has great difficulties, however. Take the account of what happened at Christ's tomb when his followers found his body no longer there. The four gospels give rather different accounts of what happened.

In Matthew 28 for instance, we read that when the two Marys approached the tomb, a glorious angel came down and rolled away the stone.

In Mark 16 however we find that the stone had already been rolled away before they got there. So they went into the tomb and met a young man sitting in it who told them Christ was risen.

And in Luke 24 we find that the women went into the tomb and were puzzled to find it empty. But then two men in shining garments suddenly appeared beside them. And it was only after they had bowed to the men did the men tell them that Christ is risen.

And John 20 is different again. This time it was just Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb and found it empty. This time nobody appeared to her so she ran away to tell some of the disciples. So the disciples came to the tomb and examined its contents. Then the disciples just went home. But Mary stayed on. And then two angels in white appeared and told her that Christ was risen

So we have four different accounts. Was there one angel or two, for instance? The accounts are not necessarily wrong. They are about as consistent as what you get in court when different eye-witnesses to a crime are being examined. So is God as scatterbrained as four human witnesses? Surely not. If he had dictated every word he would just have given the actual events, not what looks like a set of wobbly recollections.

So few Christians now believe in verbal inspiration. They believe that the Bible writers wrote their own thoughts in their own way but God was behind those thoughts, gently guiding them in the right direction.

But then another problem arises. How do we know who had God behind their thoughts? There were many documents around in the early days which contained accounts of Christ's history and teachings. Why did they all not make it into the New Testament?

The Roman Catholic church has an answer to that. They say that the church made the pick. They say that the church knew which document was divine and knocked back the others: It was the church that assembled the NT.

That is not much of an answer however. For a start, the church at that time was almost entirely located in the Greek-speaking cities of the Eastern Mediterranean lands. Rome was a distant offshoot. So the discussion about which documents were divine occurred in the Greek churches, not in Rome. And the Greek Orthodox church does to this day with some justice regard itself as the lineal descendant of the original Christian church and say that authority about the canon belongs to them

Even if we accept the Roman claim, however, it just pushes the question back one step. How did the church know which books were divine? The only reasonable answer to that is that God influenced the minds of the men of the church to make the right decisions.

But if God was working through the minds of men, why did it have to be just one group of men? Surely it could have been men anywhere in the Christian world and not merely a few big shots in Rome! So, broadly, the answer to the question of what formed the canon is a simple one from a Christian viewpoint: If God inspired the writing of the various books, he could surely also see to it that the right ones were selected as holy!

Anne, the lady in my life is, like me, an ex-Christian and our Christian past is still influential with us both. She doesn't like the apostle Paul's view of the place of women, however -- as in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11, for instance. Being a born tease, however, I enjoy pointing out that according to the NT, women should be submissive to their men. Anne is no feminist but she is a pretty independent lady so she doesn't like Paul at all and why is he in in the Bible anyhow?

I replied that if God inspired the Bible writings, surely he could also make sure that the right documents were included in it. On hearing that she burst into peals of laughter. I am not totally sure why but I think she saw the logic in it and realized that you could not arbitrarily exclude Paul from being a divine messenger.

So how do I think the books of the Bible were chosen? I do actually lean to an explanation that would fit in with God's guidance. The history of the matter is that there was a considerable debate in the early days about which books were new revelation -- and various collections were made which embodied particular people's view of what was divine. But after a while a consensus did emerge. And it was an inclusive consensus: Enough books were included to keep most people happy.

So was God behind that consensus? Since I am an atheist I think not but a Christian could reasonably think so. What I think happened is that those books which made most sense and sounded good at the time gradually, amid debate, came to be generally accepted as holy.

With his background in Greek learning, Paul was quite a good theologian, he wrote very energetically, wrote very extensively and he explicitly claimed divine guidance -- so it would appear that the whole available corpus of his writing was included.

And in the nature of these things, a tradition developed which saw that early consensus as authoritative.


The Age of Communism Lives

The bodies demand accounting, apology, and repentance. We live in an era of appalling bad faith

It was twenty-five years ago, but it feels like yesterday. When seeing the images of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I cried with joy, took out my best bottle of French wine, left the television on, and listened to Beethoven’s Ninth over and over and over. If you didn’t live through it, know that there was nothing like it. What we need to be reminded of, however, are the stakes and what didn’t happen in the wake of the fall.

In addition to the tyranny, the torture, and the assault upon the human spirit, the slaughtered victims of communism were not the thousands of the Inquisition, not the thousands of Americans lynched, not even the six million dead from Nazi extermination. The best scholarship yields numbers that the soul must try to comprehend: scores and scores and scores of millions of individual human bodies, which is what makes the work of Lee Edwards in keeping alive in our minds the victims of communism so morally essential, so morally vital.

Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachev’s right hand man, who examined the archives for the last Soviet leader and who came away a deeply changed and heroic man, let us know that 60 million were slain in the Soviet Union alone. The Chinese author Jung Chang, who had access to scores of Mao Zedong’s collaborators and to the detailed Russian and local archives, reached the figure of 70 million Chinese lives snuffed out by Mao’s deliberate choices. If we count those dead of starvation from the communist ability and desire to experiment with human interaction in agriculture—20 million to 40 million in three years—we may add scores of millions more.

The communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, who was educated in France and taught his politics by French communist intellectuals, butchered one-fifth to one-fourth of the entire Cambodian population. That would be as if an American regime had murdered some 50 to 70 million of its people. In each and every communist regime, countless people were shot and died by deliberate exposure, starved and murdered in work camps and prisons meant to extract every last fiber of labor before they die. No cause ever in the history of all mankind has produced more slaughtered innocents and more orphans than communism. It was a system of production that surpassed all others in turning out the dead.

What should one have expected after the fall of the Berlin wall? What didn’t occur? Where were the celebrations and the accountings? Where was the recognition of the ineffable value of a truly limited government? Our schools, universities and media do not teach our children any differently now about the human consequences of liberty, of voluntary economic societies, and of limited government in the real world. Our children do not know in any domain what happened under communism. Those who depend on our media and our films do not know. We live without self-belief and without any moral understanding of the extraordinary place of America, of its values, of its liberty, and of those leaders who won the Cold War for the dignity and the benefit of humankind.

What might a sane and moral individual have expected? An anti-communist epiphany, a festival of celebration, a flowering of comparative scholarship, a full accounting of the communist reality—political, economic, moral, ecological, social and cultural—a revision of curriculum, a recognition of the ineffable value of those ideals for which we paid the fullest price? Where did any of this occur? Imagine if World War II had ended in a stalemate with a European Nazi empire from the Urals to the English Channel soon to be armed with nuclear weapons and in mortal contest with the United States in a peace kept only by deterrence. Would progressive children have sung, “All we are saying is give peace a chance” beneath symbols of unilateral disarmament? Would our intellectuals have mocked the phrase “evil empire”? What were the differences? Deaths? Camps? The desolation of the flesh and of the spirit? Solzhenitsyn had it exactly right about the Soviets, “No other regime on earth could compare with it either in the number of those it had done to death, in heartiness, in the range of its ambitions, in its thoroughgoing and unmitigated totalitarianism—no, not even the regime of its pupil, Hitler” (from the Gulag Archipelago). What would the celebration have been like if after two generations the swastika at last had fallen in place of the hammer and the sickle?

After all that we know, do our historians today teach their students any differently about the human consequences of free markets and the rule of law in a world of comparative phenomena? How breathtaking that we do not have an intellectual, moral and, above all, historical accounting of who was right and who was wrong, and why, in their analyses of communism. We live in an era of appalling bad faith. “You put private property ahead of people” remains a powerful anathema, as if in the light of all those lessons, private property were not absolutely essential to the well-being, dignity, liberty and lives of human beings in society, and as if profits were not the measure of the satisfaction of other people’s wants and desires. Indeed, it is precisely to avoid the revitalization of the principles of a voluntary society, limited government, and individual responsibility and liberty that our teachers, professors, information media, and filmmakers ignore the comparative inquiry that our time so urgently demands.

The communist holocaust, like the Nazi, should have brought forth a flowering of Western art, witness, sympathy, and an ocean of tears, and then a celebration at its downfall. Instead, it has called forth a glacier of indifference. Kids who in the 1960s hung portraits of Lenin, Mao, and Che on their college walls—the moral equivalent of having hung portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, or Horst Wessel in one’s dorm—came to teach our children about the moral superiority of their generation. Every historical textbook lingers on the crimes of Nazism—rightly so—seeks their root causes, draws a lesson from them, and everybody knows the number six million. By contrast, the same textbooks remain silent about the catastrophe of communism, everywhere it held or holds power. Ask any college freshman—try it if you don’t believe me— how many died under Stalin’s regime and they will answer even now, “Thousands? Tens of thousands?” It is the equivalent of believing that Hitler killed hundreds of Jews.

The scandal of such ignorance derives from an intellectual culture’s willful blindness to the catastrophe of its relative sympathies. Most of Europe has outlawed the neo-Nazis, but the French Communist Party from 1999 to 2002 was part of a ruling government. One may not fly the swastika, but one may hoist the hammer and sickle at official events. The denial of Hitler’s dead or the minimization of the Jewish Holocaust is literally a crime in most of Europe. The denial or minimization of communist crimes is an intellectual and political art form, and the fast track to a successful academic career. “Anti-fascist” is a term of honor; “anti-communist” is a term of ridicule and abuse.

The communist holocaust … has called forth a glacier of indifference.
As we meet, the Social Democratic Party and the anti-Euro party in Germany are negotiating to enter into a government in Thuringia that will be ruled by Die Linke, the heirs of the East German Communist Party, because no one remembers and, above all, no one teaches the lessons. For at least a generation, intellectual contempt for liberal society has been at the core of the humanities and the soft social sciences. This has accelerated, not changed, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as for the mea culpas, we await them in vain.

When Eisenhower heard that the German residents of a nearby town didn’t know about a death camp whose stench would have reached their nostrils, he marched them, well-dressed—it’s dramatic footage—through the rotting corpses and made them look at and help dispose of the dead. The mayor of Saxe-Gotha and his wife hanged themselves on their return.

We lack Eisenhower’s authority. Milan Kundera stated the moral reality with clarity: “What about those with good intentions?” he asked. “When Oedipus realized that he himself was the cause of their suffering,” he answered, “he put out his eyes and wandered blind away from Thebes—unable to stand the sight of the misfortunes he had wrought by not knowing.” Let the apologists for communism acknowledge the dead, bury the dead, and atone for the dead; otherwise, let them be forgiven only when they have put out their eyes and wandered blind away from Thebes. And let Western intellectuals learn the words of the poem Requiem, written during the Stalinist terror by Anna Akhmatova, the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century, “I will remember them always and everywhere. I will never forget them no matter what comes.”

The bodies demand accounting, apology, and repentance. Without such things, the age of communism lives. Without such things, there remains a Berlin Wall, of the mind and spirit, that has not fallen.



The Marine Hitchhikers

Early in 2012, Barack Obama promised that a U.S. military with a smaller budget would be an asset. “Our military will be leaner,” he said, “but the world must know — the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

How’s that working out? Not so good. The U.S. Navy has shrunk so much that the Marines are looking at the possibility of using foreign vessels to deploy to Europe or Africa. Specifically, the Marines are communicating with Britain, Spain and Italy about the idea because so many of the ships the Navy does have are in the Pacific. According to former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, “Our Navy has gone from 568 ships when I was secretary of the Navy — and much more than that, actually, when I was commissioned — down to about in the 280s now.”

It’s little wonder that military support for this commander in chief is so low. Obama has the military busy with leftist social engineering and Don Quixote-type missions against the weather while its equipment is no longer up to the real tasks at hand.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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29 June, 2015

Circumventing SCOTUS

From "Dredd Scott" onwards, SCOTUS has almost always blown with the wind. Its rulings reflect elite opinion of the time, not the actual text of the constitution. So the huge fuss the Left and their media henchmen have been making about homosexual marriage had a predictable result. The Left-leaning justices would have been shunned by all their friends had they decided otherwise.

The shred of justification that they used for the decisdion is from the first section of the 14th Amendment: "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

But there is no protection that homosexual marriage confers. There are some privilerges connected with marriage but privileges are not protections. And in any case, civil unions offered in many jurisdictions do provide the same privileges as marriage. So the judicial reasoning was aimed to produce a result, not to offer an honest interpretation. Nothing new there.

If anything, though, the reasoning was less slippery than the reasoning behind the legalization of abortion in "Roe vs Wade". The homosexual marriage ruling was just routine dishonesty.

So there is no reason why the SCOTUS ruling should be respected. If they can slip and slide around the matter so can others. And there is an easy way for conservative State governments to do so. What I have in mind would be perfectly legal and proper -- though it would provoke a banshee scream of rage from the Left. How do I know that? Because something similar was proposed in an Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) a few year ago -- and was greeted with horror by homosexuals.

Here is what you do: Both homosexuals and heterosexuals get the same marriage certificate -- with just one difference: The certificate received by heterosexuals is simply headed "Marriage Certificate" but the certificate received by homoxsexuals would be headed "Homosexual Marriage Certificate". There is nothing in the SCOTUS judgment to prevent that as far as I can see.

The legal wording to be enacted by the State governments would be something along the following lines: "To avoid confusion, all official documentation issued in connection with same-sex marriages shall clearly refer to the marriage as a "homosexial marriage".

No reasonable person could object to that but the Left are not reasonable so the uproar would be great. The real and perverse goal behind the homosexual marriage issue -- which is to deny an obvious difference -- would be defeated. The resultant uproar would undoubtedly send the matter back to SCOTUS eventually but even SCOTUS might be hard put to find something wrong with that wording. They might cry "discrimination" but nothing has been witheld, denied or refused.

As a libertarian, of course, I don't care either way. I think marriage should be a matter either of private contract or a religious sacrament. I see no need for it to be licensed or in any way regulated by any government. For most of human history it has been purely a religious matter, with only churches or other religious bodies keeping a record of it

And because of harsh divorce laws, many couples do not marry now anyway. Your de facto wife is simply referred to as your "fiancee" and nobody thinks anything of it. That is particularly so in Britain. When women complain that men "won't commit", they can thank the feminists who have made the divorce laws so intimidating to men. Stories of women winning big out of divorce appear in the papers almost daily so few men can be unaware of the dangers in marrying. It will be amusing to see the same laws hitting homosexual marriages.

And with the daily horrors being perpetrated by Muslim fanatics in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, surely there are more important matters for us to attend to. Repeated vicious slaughter surely matters much more than what homosexuals do with their penises. Homosexuality is certainly a matter of indifference to me.


Obamacare Critics React to SCOTUS Ruling: ‘Repeal and Replace’ the Law

Once again, the actual text of the law did not matter to SCOTUS. Laws mean only what the elite say they do. Americans are ruled not by laws but by an oligarchy

Republicans in Congress and a wide range of conservative advocacy groups reacted strongly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling on Thursday that said people may receieve federal subsidies to buy health insurance even though they did not enroll for coverage through a health exchange "established by the state," as the law stipulated.

Republicans and many conservatives expressed opposition to the court's ruling and said the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, should be repealed and replaced.

“Fortunately, Republicans have a plan to reverse this course by repealing and replacing Obamacare with reforms that put patients – not Washington – first,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to seek input on our legislative proposal – the Patient Care Act – and use every opportunity available to give both states and patients more freedom and flexibility.

“Today’s ruling failed to hold the Obama Administration responsible for its reckless execution of its own poorly-crafted law,” Hatch said. “The plain text of Obamacare authorizes subsidies only through state exchanges, not the federal exchange.

"While I'm disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling, it does not change the fact that Obamacare has been a dismal failure for millions of Americans who have lost the good health care that they liked, and are paying more for the plans that they have,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement.

“I will continue to stand with the American people who want this failed law repealed and replaced with patient-centered reforms that lower costs and get Washington bureaucrats out of our health care decisions," Scalise added.

“The law is fundamentally flawed, and the court’s decision does not change our resolve to repeal it and replace it with patient-centered solutions that will increase access to affordable healthcare for all Americans,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said in a statement.

“Now is the time to act - now is the time to keep our word to the American people,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said in a statement. “After 58 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole, I call on our Republican leadership to use Reconciliation to put a full repeal of Obamacare on the President's desk.”

Conservative groups also quickly weighed in on the ruling.

“So long as Obamacare’s mandates and relentless regulations are left in place, there is no good outcome,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement. “The American people believe both subsidies and mandates are wrong, so it’s now up to Congress to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare, and Congress should continue to do so until there is a president who is willing to sign that repeal.”

“The Supreme Court ruling does not fix Obamacare,” Nina Owcharenko, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, said in a statement, adding that Obamacare is “unworkable, unaffordable and unpopular.

“The only fix to Obamacare is its repeal,” Owcharenko said.

"It is now incumbent upon Congress to put a stop to this poorly crafted law by repealing Obamacare in its entirety,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “Between ObamaCare delays, rising health costs, rationing, and broken promises, the American people are seeing first-hand the indelible flaws with this law.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addressed the high court’s decision on the Senate floor on Thursday, vowing to repeal Obamacare.



After More Money and 'Fixes,' VA Gets Worse

For veterans seeking care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, let’s just say that this year isn’t going to be any better than the last. Despite all of the promises from Barack Obama, Congress and unelected bureaucrats that the government would “fix” the problems with the VA, little to nothing has been done. Unless you count making things worse.

About a year ago, news broke that veterans were dying while on secret VA waiting lists. Obama promised that his administration would fix the problems. We were told by incoming VA Secretary Robert McDonald that “he would fire over 1,000 VA employees over the wait time scandal.” Yet the fixes and firings didn’t happen. Nope, we were lied to again.

Perhaps the VA simply needed more money to operate more efficiently. In keeping with the status quo for every government agency that is failing, Congress pumped $16.3 billion into the VA to give it some help — that after its budget nearly tripled between 2000 and 2012. How’d that all work out? Fast forward to today, and the results are pathetic. In fact it’s worse now than it was a year ago.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a new crisis. The number of veterans waiting one month or more for care is actually 50% higher than it was during last year’s problems, and the VA is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall.

To address this continuing crisis the VA is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and “significant moves” to close the budget shortfall. It’s also considering rationing Hepatitis C treatments, specifically for those who are in more advanced stages of illness or advanced dementia. How’s that for veteran care?

On a positive note, doctors and nurses within the VA have handled 2.7 million more appointments than in any previous year and sent an additional 900,000 patients to see physicians in the private sector. With these numbers, what’s the problem?

The VA has seen a massive increase in veterans seeking care, primarily aging Vietnam vets and those who have returned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With this increase in demand for care comes a need for more doctors and nurses to provide the treatment that our veterans deserve. But according to many experts there is a shortage of doctors and nurses. In addition there has also been an increase in the cost of drugs and medication, and the largest driver of costs has been from patients seeking medical attention from physicians in the private sector. Thanks, ObamaCare.

“Something has to give,” conceded VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “We can’t leave this as the status quo. We are not meeting the needs of veterans, and veterans are signaling that to us by coming in for additional care, and we can’t deliver as timely as we want to.”

Why not? The VA has more money and more people, yet we’re supposed to believe that still more money is the answer? No doubt most Americans would rather see their tax dollars go to fund the VA’s operations than to most any other federal project. But the problem isn’t the lack of money, it’s the ineptitude of bureaucrats who don’t know how to properly manage the money or personnel that they have.

As Mark Alexander suggested last year, perhaps Congress should consider another piece of legislation to improve services at the VA: Make the commander in chief and all of his cabinet level appointees get in line for VA medical services instead of the VIP medical treatment they now receive. Let’s add Congress to that list as well. Can anyone imagine our elected officials and their staff having to wait like veterans do for treatment? We doubt that this will happen anytime soon, but if it could, we bet there would likely be some significant, real changes to the VA.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare was passed to give all Americans access to medical care and is funded by taxpayers. Yet it is unaffordable, unsustainable and un-American. It’s certain that within a few years, as ObamaCare grows and takes deeper root, all Americans will be on waiting lists to receive care. There will be calls for reform, to pump more money and people into it. But these “reforms” won’t fix the problem, either — because the problem is federal bureaucrats who insist on spending more of our dollars to increase their power and take away freedom from individuals. Need proof? Just look at the VA.



Rev. Cruz: Obama Administration Runs on ‘Deception' – ‘They Have to Lie’

The Obama administration practices “deception” in “every area,” deceiving people into becoming dependent on big government, which turns people into “serfs” and “destroys the American dream,” said Rev. Rafael Cruz, who added that these leftist policies “do not work” and so liberals “have to lie” to advance their agenda.

“I think that deception is the way that this administration operates in every area,” said Rev. Cruz, the director of Purifying Fire Ministries, during a June 22 radio interview on the Joyce Kaufman Show.

“Look how people have been deceived into becoming dependent upon the government and having the government telling them that they’re going to take care of them from the cradle to the grave,” he said.

“It has destroyed the American dream, destroyed these people’s lives, they no longer strive to better themselves and to provide for their family,” said the evangelical Christian pastor.

“So it is just, you have to realize the following: For Democrats to win, they have to lie because their policies do not work,” said Rev. Cruz. “Their policies have been a failure throughout history.”

“So if their policies of bigger government, more control, less freedom, more taxation, more regulations don’t work, they have to lie to the American people,” he said. “And, unfortunately, we have many, many people in America have drank the Kool-Aid.”

Commenting further on the danger of dependence on the federal government, Rev. Cruz said, “I keep going back to how that destroys the American dream, that destroys the incentive for somebody to better themselves, and they become serfs of the government.”

“And that just makes them locked into a slavery relationship with the government,” he said.

The Joyce Kaufman Show is broadcast on 850WFTL, a major radio station in South Florida.

Rafael Cruz fought against the Communists in Cuba, was arrested there and tortured. He fled the island in 1957 at age 18. He eventually settled in Texas and his Dallas-based church also operates Christian ministries in Mexico and Central America. His son, Ted Cruz, is the junior senator from Texas, a Republican, and the first Cuban-American to hold that office.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


28 June, 2015

Judicial Activism From Supreme Court on Marriage

Today is a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong: It should not have mandated all 50 states to redefine marriage.

This is judicial activism: nothing in the Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage, and the court imposed its judgment about a policy matter that should be decided by the American people and their elected representatives. The court got marriage and the Constitution wrong today just like they got abortion and the Constitution wrong 42 years ago with Roe v. Wade. Five unelected judges do not have the power to change the truth about marriage or the truth about the Constitution.

The court summarized its ruling in this way—which highlights that they have redefined marriage, substituting their own opinion for that of the citizens:

The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central mean­ing of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest

Manifest to five unelected judges that is. Not to the majority of American citizens who voted to define marriage correctly. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out in dissent:

If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

That’s exactly right. When it comes to the majority opinion, the Constitution “had nothing to do with it.”

We must work to restore the constitutional authority of citizens and their elected officials to make marriage policy that reflects the truth about marriage. We the people must explain what marriage is, why marriage matters, and why redefining marriage is bad for society.

For marriage policy to serve the common good it must reflect the truth that marriage unites a man and a woman as husband and wife so that children will have both a mother and a father. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father.

The government is not in the marriage business because it’s a sucker for adult romance. No, marriage isn’t just a private affair; marriage is a matter of public policy because marriage is society’s best way to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage acts as a powerful social norm that encourages men and women to commit to each other so they will take responsibility for any children that follow.

Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches the lie that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.



Business and professions will suffer as same-sex marriage arrives

The homosexual marriage movement has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism

I was a law student when I first learned of the consequences of not being politically correct concerning homosexuality. A former Miss America’s contract as the citrus growers’ brand-ambassador was allowed to lapse because she had successfully campaigned for the repeal of a pro-homosexual ordinance in Miami-Dade County. She was quoted as saying, “What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable, alternate way of life.” She was publicly humiliated -- "pied" [frozen out] on national television -- and her name -- Anita Bryant -- became synonymous with something called "homophobia" and "hate speech."

As a new Air Force judge advocate officer, my first court assignment was to represent the United States in an administrative discharge proceeding concerning a female service member. She was being kicked out of the service for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts. Even as an inexperienced young lawyer, I managed to prove that she had committed the requisite two homosexual acts. She was given a “general” discharge and sent back to the United States.

I don’t remember when thereafter I first noticed that there are only two instances in which “sex” occurs in the “ethics” rules for lawyers. Both are in the same, “anti-discrimination” provision: “A lawyer shall not willfully, in connection with an adjudicatory proceeding … manifest, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation towards any person involved in that proceeding in any capacity.”

There it was -- right there with the prohibition racial discrimination; a lawyer could not “manifest” any “bias or prejudice” based on “sexual orientation.” Hadn’t I done precisely that just a few years earlier? Hadn’t I done that on behalf of the United States government? And yet in that case, I hadn’t set out to prove that the female service-member was a homosexual. My task was limited to proving that she had engaged in homosexual conduct.

Then, suddenly, the issue of homosexual rights -- that is, not the right to be a homosexual -- but the right to openly engage in homosexual practices and be insulated from any push back from the rest of society -- was everywhere. Suddenly it had become a daily staple of bar journals and legal news sources.

I don’t remember when I first noticed that. Was it when California’s voters approved a referendum that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”? It must have been before then. It must have been as early as 1993 when I first noticed the enormous consequences of this new so-called right. That was the year Travis County, Texas legalized “domestic partnerships,” in order to attract business investment to Austin, the state capitol.

Not until the spring of 2015, however, did the consequences of this new “right” really begin to sink in for me. That’s when I knew that people who for years had thought that the emerging collection of special protections for homosexual behavior was, “no big deal,” were flat wrong. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence had signed a “religious freedom” bill. The backlash, in the name of homosexual rights, was ferocious with the now infamous threats and boycott of a small-town pizza joint whose owners had the temerity to volunteer that they would decline to cater a homosexual marriage celebration.

So, now we know that Anita Bryant was right -- at least partly so -- when she embarked on her doomed campaign nearly 40 years ago. Ms. Bryant primarily worried about children being confronted with a dangerous alternative way of life. Today, all opponents of special homosexual rights have cause to be worried about their very survival -- legal and economic. Anyone who opposes the new Manifesto of homosexuality and gender neutrality/gender identity is at risk.

Using statutes originally and primarily (if not exclusively) designed to protect blacks from discrimination, activist homosexuals have targeted bakers, photographers, and florists, seeking to force all of them to promote a “marriage” that they believe to be immoral. One day, such laws probably will be deployed against writers of articles like this one.

In Washington State, a judge ruled that a florist violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws when she referred a longtime customer to another florist for the wedding flowers for his homosexual marriage. In New York, a husband and wife shut the doors to their business hosting weddings on their family farm, after a court fined them $13,000 for refusing to host gay marriages in their home. In Colorado, a baker faced jail time and stopped baking wedding cakes entirely, after a court ruled that he discriminated against a gay couple when he refused to bake them a cake for their wedding. In Oregon, a court found similarly against another baker, and he may be forced to pay a homosexual couple up to $150,000 as penalty. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that a photographer violated the state’s anti-discrimination statutes by refusing to photograph a gay wedding. Newspapers likely will be forced to publish homosexual wedding announcements, in violation of their existing editorial control over what they publish.

Even pro-same sex marriage, libertarian John Stossel has said that the gay marriage movement “has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism.”

To homosexual activists and their political supporters, it matters not one whit that homosexuality is not consistent with Biblical sexual morality.

In this brave, new, homosexual-friendly world, every licensed professional would be required to embrace the new orthodoxy -- to bow down to the idol of “non-discrimination,” or be cast out of his profession. I was co-counsel on an amicus brief against same-sex marriage in the Obergefell case; the Texas Attorney General also filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Texas against same-sex marriage. Does that put us in violation of the ethics rule previously quoted?

Now the US Supreme Court has spoken, unless the states resist such a ruling, the legal system will be employed to squash resistance to the new order. Lawyers who oppose this not-so-brave new world will begin to lose their right to practice law for violation of the new so-called “ethics” of the profession. An Obama Department of Health and Human Services will push for all physicians who stand up for Christian morality to be stripped of their hospital privileges and medical licenses.

According to the advocates of homosexual marriage in the US Supreme Court, the right to a homosexual way of life is enshrined in the penumbras and emanations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection -- or is it Due Process -- or both. (Apparently, this even explains why the Civil War itself was fought.) In fact, this new right is said by these advocates to be so deeply embedded in the Constitution that it trumps the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it empowers government to run aspects of our lives that it has no business controlling.

The same people who first claimed only to only want tolerance of their behavior will allow no toleration for other views. Will a physician be forced to perform an artificial insemination for a lesbian couple? Will a lawyer be forced to take a case defending gay marriage? Lawyers are already losing their “traditional prerogative to exercise absolute discretion in the selection of clients....” Provisions designed to advance the homosexual agenda have been incorporated into many state legal ethics codes. In California, for example, it is unethical to “discriminat[e] on the basis of ... sexual orientation [in] employment ... or [client] representation....” [State Bar of California, Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 2-400B]. If you doubt this view of the future, read R. Beg, “License to Discriminate Revoked: How a Dentist Put Teeth In New York’s Anti-Discrimination Disciplinary Rule,” [64 Albany L. Rev. 154 (2000)].

I fear that the legal system has lost its way, and the case now decided by the US Supreme Court could well lay the groundwork for government to assume the sort of totalitarian powers required to force everyone to yield to what most of us hopefully still believe to be immoral.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, right-thinking people can and should not be afraid to assert their God-given rights. They should not -- must not – fail in their duty to teach Biblical sexual morality to their children despite state-sponsored interference. They should accept the challenge and obey their conscience -- even if that means refusing totalitarian orders to bow down at the altar of homosexuality. We did not seek this war, but if it comes, we must not shirk from it.



Unbelievable: Obama admin giving up detaining illegal aliens

This President has completely abandoned enforcing our immigration laws. What we are witnessing today in America is a complete disregard for the rule of law. The Courts have ordered the Obama administration to cease all of its amnesty provisions. They can’t hand out amnesty… they can’t hand out work permits to illegal aliens... You think that's a victory, right? Wrong.

They were building a whole bureaucracy to process these amnesty applications. But now, all of that is on hold. So what is the Obama administration doing? Completely disregarding the rest of the laws.

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would no longer detain illegal aliens in its detention facilities. The Obama administration caught them and now the government is just going to release them. Seriously…

Why is the government freeing these illegal border crossers? Apparently, the conditions in these detention facilities have simply become "too squalid."

Illegal aliens have gotten a flat-screen television in every bedroom, classrooms where they attend tax-payer funded school, 24-hour access to food and water, and even baseball/soccer fields at their disposal. This isn’t a prison… this is a resort!

These people broke our laws. They crossed our border illegally and were placed into these detention facilities awaiting trial. They weren’t thrown in jail, like they probably should have been, but rather sent to facilities where their every needs were met.

But that’s not good enough for the Left. No, these illegal aliens are now set to be released back into society as long as they “promise” that they will return for their court hearing. Utter madness. The law means nothing anymore.

We’ve seen this policy carried out when the Obama administration released thousands of illegal alien convicted criminals last year. Now, it appears the policy is being applied to all illegal aliens.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has come out and said that “long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”

I agree. Instead of paying to hold these illegals in a detention center, how about we send them back to whatever country they came from?

But no, that is also impossible. The administration recently deported a woman and her child back to Guatemala and a Federal Appeals Judge actually intervened and ordered immigration officials to bring her back.

Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Even though the woman and child were on a plane back to Guatemala, the Judge ordered immigration agents to track her down and bring her back. If the administration couldn't stop the plane, the court ordered them to search Guatemala until they was found.

This is absolutely crazy! Once they’re released, they’re gone.

Congress has enabled this for far too long. Earlier this year, when presented with the opportunity to stop Obama’s amnesty programs and force the administration to enforce the law, Congress did nothing. Instead, they chose to let the courts hash it out.

After seeing the rulings these past few days, do you honestly believe that the Supreme Court will uphold our immigration law? These judges are bending over backwards and performing linguistic gymnastics to reinterpret the law and constitution to meet their political agenda.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


26 June, 2015

Importing a Potential Epidemic

The dark truth about disease and Obama’s border lawlessness.

By now most Americans are familiar with the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to force-feed amnesty for illegals to a largely recalcitrant American public. The most egregious part of this effort occurred during last year’s border “surge” when the administration not only embraced the admittance of tens of thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) into our nation, but the purposeful and secret dispersal of them into all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. What Americans don’t know is that the Obama administration ignored Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that apply to legal immigrants and prevent the unvaccinated, or those with a “communicable disease of public health significance,” from entering the country. As a result, it is quite possible the outbreak of unknown diseases or those mostly eradicated in the U.S. for quite some time is no coincidence. The administration’s stance on the issue? A combination of silence, denial, or blame-shifting to the anti-vaxxer crowd.

We begin with last year’s outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a disease that paralyzed and killed American children. That in and of itself should have elicited a media firestorm, along with demands for establishing the origins of the outbreak beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet coverage was scant. Reporter Sharryl Attkisson revealed the disease was first identified in California in 1962, but that outbreaks had been relatively rare. She further noted the CDC “hasn’t suggested reasons for the current uptick or its origin.” Sundance at theconservativetreehouse.com attempted to correlate the outbreaks of the disease with the location of UAC shelters. And while part of his investigation was stymied by the reality that the administration kept many of those shelter locations secret, “there are significant numbers of them in both cities in which the current outbreak was first identified,” he explained.

Ultimately, it was the Daily Caller that reported the disease “was likely propelled through America by President Barack Obama’s decision to allow tens of thousands of Central Americans across the Texas border, according to a growing body of genetic and statistical evidence,” further noting “the epidemic included multiple strains of the virus, and that it appeared simultaneously in multiple independent locations.”

Nonetheless the CDC simply denied the link, despite the reality that the EV-D68 outbreak in 2014 infected at least 538 people in 47 states, even as a study published on the CDC’s own website reveals the disease “is one of the most rarely reported serotypes, with only 26 reports throughout the 36-year study period (1970 through 2006).”

Last July, the El Paso Times revealed that 89 illegals detained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM tested positive for tuberculosis. Officials were initially reluctant to tell the media because of the concern that it might spread fear. Last September at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, TX, five infants tested positive for the tuberculosis infection, with an additional 700 infants and 40 hospital workers potentially infected. All of them were exposed to the disease by an unnamed hospital employee. Again, most Americans are unaware the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines for school attendance by UACs, stating that such children cannot be excluded even if they fail to provide “requisite health or immunization information required of other students,” the memo stated. Last May, 28 people tested positive for TB at Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas.

All coincidental, or unrelated to illegal aliens? In Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three nations where most of last year’s border surge originated, the tuberculosis infection rate is nearly 10 times that of the United States.

In July of 2014, Former Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) wrote a letter to the CDC expressing concern about the “grave public health threats” posed by the influx of illegals, insisting that reports of illegal migrants “carrying deadly diseases … are particularly concerning.” The 30-year physician urged the agency to take immediate action to assess the risk and notify the public.

Unfortunately, the CDC is an agency with a credibility problem. Last year it bungled the handling of Ebola “index patient” Thomas Eric Duncan, resulting in two healthcare workers contracting the deadly disease. One of them was allowed to board an airliner despite calling the CDC several times to report early symptoms. This year a report compiled by 11 experts in biosafety, laboratory science and research, stated the CDC’s “laboratory safety training is inadequate” and the agency is “on the way to losing credibility.” Two incidents were highlighted. In May, avian bird flu samples were unintentionally mixed with the deadly H5N1 influenza strain and shipped to a USDA lab, and in June, dozens of employees risked exposure to anthrax because the agency did not follow proper sterilization protocols.

Thus when the CDC largely dismisses any connection between illegals and the surge of measles in 2014, (along with a 2015 pace on track to top it), one must remain skeptical, especially when the agency itself makes unprovable assumptions. “Although we aren’t sure exactly how this year’s outbreak began, we assume that someone got infected overseas, visited the Disneyland parks and spread the disease to others,” said Anne Schuchat, an assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. That statement is hardly reassuring from the same agency that declared measles had been “eliminated” in America — defined as the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area — by 2000.

Media defenders are quick to point out that Mexico and Central American countries largely responsible for the illegal influx have higher vaccination rates than the U.S.

But as Border Patrol veteran Chris Cabrera pointed out last August, many potentially diseased illegals are “slipping through the cracks” because he and his fellow agents have been overwhelmed by the onslaught. “This problem isn’t contained in the border areas. [They] are coming in here, they’re going north, and it’s going to affect the entire country,” he warned.

A Fox News report last July brings another element to the mix. At Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, doctors and nurses working there were threatened with arrest if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at that illegal refugee camp. Members of BCFS, a security force hired by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), likened themselves to Brown Shirts, and workers themselves were stripped of cellphones and other communication devices during their shifts. Anyone found with a phone was immediately terminated. Nonetheless, workers revealed camp children had measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat. “They’re going to crush the system,” warned a nurse who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “We can’t sustain this. They are overwhelming the system and I think it’s a travesty.”

Thus the obvious question arises: how many other facilities involved with illegals and dangerous diseases are operating under the same veil of secrecy and threats? Sadly in an Obama administration dedicated to an amnesty onslaught by any means necessary Americans may never learn the answer to that question. And the administration will be aided and abetted by a leftist media more than willing to label any attempt to establish causation between illegals and disease as fear mongering and/or xenophobic.

Regardless, reality intrudes. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is another disease being attributed to illegals. “The big picture here is that we are getting all these diseases brought into the United States by the ‘imported disease people’ from Latin America,” insists Dr. Lee Hieb, past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. “We don’t generally test for dengue fever, because until recently we have not had hordes of people coming into the United States from areas of the world like Latin America where dengue fever is endemic,” she added.

Dengue fever, as well as the equally grim affliction known as the chikungunya virus, are spread by mosquitos. It is believed both diseases are fueled by people who became ill while traveling abroad, as well as illegals who brought them into the country on clothing, baggage, liquids, and food. In September, 120,000 cases and 60 deaths attributed to dengue fever were declared in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the CDC warns it is only a matter of time before native mosquitos are impacted. Their “solution” for both afflictions since there are no vaccines for either? “Avoid mosquito bites,” their website advises.

In their piece on EV-D68, the Daily Caller pressed a number of government researchers, health experts and academics to provide data exonerating Obama administration officials with regard to the possible linkage between the disease and the influx of UACs. The DC noted that all of them “refused to comment, or else urged self-censorship,” because “it could spike existing public opposition” to the efforts of a pro-amnesty president and his party, as well as Republicans beholden to their Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Vally masters, who want cheap labor as much as Democrats want guaranteed votes. The website further noted Democrats could make life exceedingly difficult “for grant-dependent American scientists who discover politically damaging information.”

And once again, if such dynamics apply to EV-D68, it stands to reason they apply to the rest of the “politically inconvenient” diseases that could derail so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

As for the media, their behavior is nothing short of reprehensible. Putting aside the politicization of the issue reduced to the banal idea of right-wing nativism versus left-wing compassion, the notion that establishing the causation of any disease threatening the health and well-being of the American public would be scrupulously avoided because it might not accrue to pro-amnesty sensibilities reeks of ideological bankruptcy bordering on totalitarianism. Since when have the deaths and paralysis of children been met with a collective media shrug? Why has the CDC, the agency that should be leading the charge in this arena, been given a pass for a series of denials, best exemplified by Steve Oberste, chief of the CDC’s polio and picornavirus laboratory branch who insisted the agency was “unaware” of any UAC testing positive for EV-D68? How does “unaware” establish no link at all?

And why has there been no media pressure put on the Obama administration? It isn’t hard to figure out that the deliberate dispersal of illegals throughout the nation — a dispersal that included the policy of handing children to family members who might also be illegals — would make virtually impossible to establish causation or lack thereof, even as that dispersal has the potential for exponentially affecting more and more Americans exposed to dangerous diseases. “As the unaccompanied children continue to be transported to shelters around the country on commercial airlines and other forms of transportation, I have serious concerns that the diseases carried by these children may begin to spread too rapidly to control,” Gingrey stated in his letter to the CDC.

For the pro-amnesty proponents a potential epidemic — courtesy of diseases previously eradicated in the United States — is seemingly a reasonable price to pay in order to maintain an illegal immigration policy that puts the Border Patrol on pace to catch “an additional 39,000 unaccompanied children and about 53,000 members of families on the southern border this fiscal year,” the LA Times reports. And while that surge is smaller than the one last year, it is still “large enough to overwhelm shelters and courts.” And so it begins — all over again. When is enough enough?



Obama Gets Fast Track Authority For Trans-Pacific Partnership

Well, the fight is over. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or fast track authority, has passed the Senate by a 60-38 vote. Yesterday, it passed a critical cloture vote 60-37. As promised by Republicans, a vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program aimed at helping displaced workers from increased, trade looks like it will pass both chambers. House Democrats voted against this provision, trying to use it as leverage to stop Obama from getting fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); a free trade agreement ten years in the making involving 11 other nations and 40 percent of the world’s GDP (via AP):

In a triumph of divided government, the Republican-controlled Congress passed major trade legislation Wednesday that was long-sought by President Barack Obama but vehemently opposed by most lawmakers in his party.

The measure to strengthen Obama's hand in global trade talks cleared the Senate on a vote of 60-38, and will go to the White House for his signature — less than two weeks after it was temporarily derailed in the House in an uprising of Democratic lawmakers.

A second bill, to renew an expiring program of federal aid for workers disadvantaged by imports, was on track to pass the Senate in short order. It would then go to the House, where a final vote was expected on Thursday.

"We have Republican majorities in Congress working closely with Democratic minorities in Congress to build bipartisan support for legislation that then arrives on the desk of a Democratic president," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. That's how policy should be made "in an era of divided government," he told reporters.

Despite what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last week regarding how there were not enough votes for TAA, with TPA deal sealed, House Democrats have waved the white flag of surrender. They really don't have a reason to oppose it this time (via the Hill):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her caucus are lining up behind a worker aid proposal expected to hit the floor of the lower chamber Thursday, securing a key piece of President Obama's trade agenda and setting the stage for a legacy-building trade accord with Pacific Rim nations.

TAA was being used as a bargaining chip for TPA, and that's why we very much resisted," Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and a staunch fast-track critic, said Wednesday leaving a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the Capitol.

"But now TPA is going to become law, and so therefore we should really focus on what has always been the central issue, and that is what is in TPP."

Levin predicted "a vast majority" of House Democrats will back the TAA when it hits the floor, likely Thursday.

When TPA first came to the Senate floor, Senate Democrats blocked it. Senate Republicans then put forward a bill, lumping TAA and TPA together, and a customs enforcement bill aimed at dealing with currency manipulation. They would be voted on separately. When the Senate bill came to the House, Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the TAA provision, which prevented the bill–due to parliamentary differences–from being sent to Obama’s desk for his signature. Obama has said he will not sign off on TPA unless TAA is also guaranteed. Hence why House Democrats saw this as a bargaining chip.

After the first round, which ended in defeat, Republicans said TPA and TAA provisions would be voted on separately. Republicans promised a prompt vote on TAA once TPA is settled. The House barely passed the TPA provision 218-208, with 28 pro-trade Democrats joining 190 Republicans in the backing the measure. It then went onto the Senate, where it was finally passed today.

Now, the legislative fight (probably one of the most intense since Obamacare) over the mechanisms to bring TPP to Congress is over. Up next, the vote on the actual trade agreement.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


25 June, 2015

Losing Faith in American institutions

Last week a Gallup poll revealed that Americans have expressed a loss of confidence in virtually every major institution in the nation, including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks, big business, labor, the police and organized religion. "From a broad perspective, Americans' confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993,“ said a spokesman for the polling company.

Is anyone really surprised? Let’s begin with Congress. Right now it is run by the GOP, the party that was handed a massive victory in the 2014 election by an electorate disgusted with the status quo. So what did these stalwarts do? They embraced that status quo. They passed another debt-laden budget with full funding for the DHS, knowing full well Americans were outraged by that agency’s effort to continue phasing in amnesty for illegals, even in defiance of a court order by federal judge Andrew Hanen. They approved the nomination of Eric Holder clone Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General, knowing full well she would support that effort and maintain the Justice Department’s track record of fostering racial polarization. And right now they are in the midst of force-feeding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to an American public just beginning to grasp the idea that, while international trade might be beneficial to the nation, ceding our national sovereignty as part of the equation stinks on ice.

The presidency? It would take several columns to detail the failings of the petulant narcissist masquerading as the leader of the free world, but a recent quote by FBI Director James Comey should send a chill up every sentient American’s spine. "We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” Comey told a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in reference to ISIS. “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see.” In short our president has decided that taking the fight to ISIS on American soil is preferable his hollow promise to “degrade and destroy” these terrorist savages where they operate with impunity.

And let’s not forget Iran. While people were distracted by other news, Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear the administration has made a mockery of anything resembling American interests. Despite previous promises to the contrary, the bicycle crasher now insists the U.S. is “not fixated” on Iran accounting for its past efforts at nuclear weaponization. Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), put that unconscionable concession in perspective. “A comprehensive deal — that would include uranium enrichment — can only be reached if uncertainties over Iran’s military capability are credibly addressed,” he said. “That should be an unambiguous condition to achieving a final accord that is meaningful in safeguard terms.” In other words, you can’t know where the apocalyptic-minded Iranian mullahs are going if you don’t know where they’ve been. This concession is surrender-ism on steroids.

Let’s not forget the economy either. It’s going swell — give or take a negative first quarter GDP, the 47 million Americans who now receive EBT/food stamps, the nearly 110 million Americans receiving government assistance of some kind, the 92,898,000 Americans out of the labor force, or the staggering reality that, for the past six years, more businesses are dying than being created.

The Supreme Court? Americans are still reaping the “benefits” of Chief Justice John Robert's decision to call the individual mandate a tax in order to legalize ObamaCare. And in the coming days, decisions in 11 cases remaining on the docket will be made. The most seismic cases include whether or not states can still write their own laws regarding marriage, or whether gay marriage will be made a one-size-fit- all mandate, much like Roe v. Wade; and whether ObamaCare subsidies will be maintained in states without their own exchanges, despite wording the in law that subsides can only be paid out on exchanges “established by the state.”

Those two decisions and others will go a long way towards restoring Americans' faith in the Court — or exacerbating their discontent with it.

Banks? While they remain beholden to a series of lousy government policies, especially with regard to mortgages, they also remain obnoxiously insouciant with regard to their retail customer concerns. “Banks are chasing the fast buck — and ‘gouging’ their retail customers with hefty new charges, overdraft fees and service cuts to pump up revenue losses due to less loan making, according to investigators,” the New York Post reports, even as many of those banks are “reporting record profits — despite a hostile regulatory environment and near-zero interest rates that crimp some traditional forms of banking.” The Post is refereeing to the Federal Reserve’s Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP), which is nothing less than a de facto tax on middle class American savers. Couple it with the infuriating reality that banks were saved by the very same American taxpayers they screwed — without anyone being prosecuted or forced to resign — and it’s little wonder why they continue to be held in contempt by millions of citizens.

Big business? What could be a better example of contempt for the American worker than Disney firing 250 employees — but only after forcing them to train their foreign replacements coming in on the H1-B visas championed by the Chamber of Commerce, the doyens of Silicon Valley and members of both political parities? Foreign workers who will work for less pay. And those are high-skill workers. Congress and the president are also determined to accommodate businesses employing millions of low-skill illegals, even as the administration has made it clear any effort to continue targeting firms that hire them must be coupled with “comprehensive immigration reform.” Comprehensive immigration reform that will depress wages for blue-collar Americans, unless one is willing to believe the current assertions that adding millions of these low-skill workers to an already under-employed American workforce will enhance those wages.

Since when has more of anything made an individual unit of that thing more valuable? If you answered never, you get an “A” in Econ 101.

Labor? This writer has no beef with organized labor — in the private sector. That’s because there’s an ultimate modifier of union demands known as bankruptcy. On the other hand, government unions are a scourge, from the legions of unaccountable educators who’ve destroyed what was once the best education system in the world, to the callous incompetents who allowed veterans to die and millions of Americans' personal info to be hacked with impunity. And in fairly short order, many Americans are going to learn firsthand what happens when union pension and health benefit obligations overwhelm states' abilities to pay for them. Detroit was nothing more than the tip of the iceberg. The states of Illinois, New Jersey, California and New York are fiscal time bombs waiting to explode. Since one can’t get blood from the proverbial stone, already-high taxes will skyrocket, services will be decimated, or some hideous combination of both will occur. As the saying goes, politicians lie, but mathematics is irrefutable.

Police? In an age of rampant cynicism, Americans' declining confidence in the nation’s police forces ranks right at the top of collective ungratefulness. Yes there are bad cops, but the concerted effort by Obama, his administration and its media allies to paint a distorted picture of “racist” and “abusive” police forces is unconscionable, one “hands up don’t shoot” discredited narrative after another.

Many Americans themselves embrace a damned if they do, damned if they don’t attitude towards the thin blue line, criticizing cops for both vigorous law enforcement, or the lack thereof. The latter has led to crime spikes in cities across the nation in an era where cops are forced to second guess every move they make — or don’t make. It’s easy to bash cops in leisure for decisions they make in split seconds. If truth be told, Americans owe a great deal of thanks to those willing to stand between them and anarchy, every hour of every day. Too bad so many Americans can sweep that reality under the rug.

Americans' discontent with organized religion is utterly unsurprising, yet it is important to separate the category into two distinct parts: religious institutions and people of faith. Religious institutions — exemplified by the series of stances championed by Pope Francis — have embraced a cornucopia of leftist beliefs including amnesty for illegals, man-made global warming, ever-expanding government and even ObamaCare. Meanwhile, people of faith have been subjected to a relentless campaign orchestrated by the same American Left determined to make their traditional beliefs synonymous with bigotry, homophobia and nativism.

Moreover, it doesn’t take genius to figure out the leftist dog whistles that have dominated secular culture for more than 50 years, including “if it feels good, do it,” "there is no black and white, only shades of gray" and “God is dead” are far easier to embrace than religious dogma that teaches concepts such as delayed gratification, sexual restraint, frugality, shame, morality — and the “problematic” idea that there is a power greater than the self. In an age where it has never been easier to succumb to human nature’s reflexive urge to follow the path of least resistance, the “path less traveled” becomes a harder sell than at any other time in modern history.

Can confidence in the various institutions be restored? As I have said on many occasions, I believe Winston Churchill's quote remains apropos: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” I remain hopeful that we’re running out of alternatives to the right thing, and that some time soon, a majority of Americans will realize the leftist effort to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into their version of a socialist utopia is as historically “been there, done that” as it gets. There is a spark of divinity in each of us that transcends the insufferable puerility of the modern age. Its re-discovery cannot happen soon enough.



Hillary and History

There are no sure things in politics, but Hillary Clinton is the closest thing to a sure thing to become the Democrats' candidate for president in 2016.

This is one of the painful but inescapable signs of our time. There is nothing in her history that would qualify her for the presidency, and much that should disqualify her. What is even more painful is that none of that matters politically. Many people simply want “a woman” to be president, and Hillary is the best-known woman in politics, though by no means the best qualified.

What is Hillary’s history? In the most important job she has ever held — Secretary of State — American foreign policy has had one setback after another, punctuated by disasters.

U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

Fortunately, the Egyptian military has gotten rid of that country’s extremist government that was persecuting Christians, threatening Israel and aligning itself with our enemies. But that was in spite of American foreign policy.

In Europe, as in the Middle East, our foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was to undermine our friends and cater to our enemies.

The famous “reset” in our foreign policy with Russia began with the Obama administration reneging on a pre-existing American commitment to supply defensive technology to shield Poland and the Czech Republic from missile attacks. This left both countries vulnerable to pressures and threats from Russia – and left other countries elsewhere wondering how much they could rely on American promises.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Obama administration refused to let the Ukrainians have weapons with which to defend themselves. President Obama, like other presidents, has made his own foreign policy. But Hillary Clinton, like other Secretaries of State, had the option of resigning if she did not agree with it. In reality, she shared the same flawed vision of the world as Obama’s when they were both in the Senate.

Both of them opposed the military “surge” in Iraq, under General David Petraeus, that defeated the terrorists there. Even after the surge succeeded, Hillary Clinton was among those who fiercely denied initially that it had succeeded, and sought to discredit General Petraeus, though eventually the evidence of the surge’s success became undeniable, even among those who had opposed it.

The truly historic catastrophe of American foreign policy — not only failing to stop Iran from going nuclear, but making it more difficult for Israel to stop them — was also something that happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State.

What the administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended negotiations with Iran accomplished was to allow Iran time to multiply, bury and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel still had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

There are no offsetting foreign policy triumphs under Secretary of State Clinton. Syria, China and North Korea are other scenes of similar setbacks.

The fact that many people are still prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States, in times made incredibly dangerous by the foreign policy disasters on her watch as Secretary of State, raises painful questions about this country.

A President of the United States — any president — has the lives of more than 300 million Americans in his or her hands, and the future of Western civilization. If the debacles and disasters of the Obama administration have still not demonstrated the irresponsibility of choosing a president on the basis of demographic characteristics, it is hard to imagine what could.

With our enemies around the world arming while we are disarming, such self-indulgent choices for president can leave our children and grandchildren a future that will be grim, if not catastrophic.



SCOTUS and the Raisin Hope for Property Rights

Marvin Horne of Fresno, California, has been vindicated. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that if the Raisin Administrative Committee was going to take Horne’s raisins it needed to compensate the farmer. In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, Horne refused to give up his raisins to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the agency was fining him at the tune of $695,000. The committee is a New Deal-era program designed to control the supply of raisins so the prices remain artificially high. It would take a portion of farmers' grapes and either donate them to school lunch programs or sell them overseas. Farmers used to be compensated, but then the payout dwindled to nothing.

The Ninth Circuit Court originally ruled in favor of the administrative committee, saying the Constitution’s Taking Clause only covered real estate, but Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, ruled, “Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.”

This ruling comes 10 years after the bungled SCOTUS ruling in Kelo v. New London, which said the city of New London could take the home of Susette Kelo and give her property to a private developer. Currently, Kelo’s pink home is demolished and the lot stands empty. While the raisin ruling is a step in the right direction, it will take years before the government fully moves past Kelo and respects the property of the citizens.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


24 June, 2015

Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest

The research report below is unusual in favoring conservatives but we should not get too excited about it as the findings are based on students and highly educated respondents. It may tell us nothing about the population at large.

The findings about "freewill" are however in accord with the greater belief in personal responsibility among conservatives. Leftists rage and apportion blame while conservatives just get on with it. Conservatives are simply calmer

Findings from three separate studies link a person's political ideology and their self-control performance, with conservatives demonstrating greater self-control than liberals. The research led by Joshua John Clarkson, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of marketing, is published in this week's early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Two studies in the report involved tasks that were conducted among undergraduates at two Midwestern universities over the past year. The third study involved 135 people across the U.S. taking part in a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk service. In each study, Clarkson says participants who identified as politically conservative consistently showed greater attention regulation and task persistence -- hallmark indicators of self-control -- and that these effects were independent of participants' gender, race, age, education or income.

Study 1

At one Midwestern university, 147 undergraduates completed a modified Stroop task. Sitting in front of a computer screen, they were presented with a word that represented a color (red, blue, green, yellow), with the words presented on an incongruent background. For example, the word 'yellow' would appear on a blue background. The researchers examined how quickly participants would respond with the word, controlling for correctness. 'We found that those who identified as conservative were as correct as liberals, but they were performing the tasks faster. This finding suggests that conservatives might be better able to fixate their attention on a task,' says Clarkson.

Study 2

At a separate Midwestern university, 176 undergraduates performed the same Stroop task. Again, researchers found that as political conservatism increased, there was a faster response time as well as an increase in the belief of freewill. 'Both conservatives and liberals reported that they wanted to perform well, but again, conservatives were responding faster, and this faster response stemmed from their stronger belief in freewill. That is, conservatives' belief in their responsibility for their outcome contributed to their faster responding,' says Clarkson.

Study 3

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, 135 Americans participated in several seven-letter anagram self-control tasks. For each anagram, they were asked -- under a set of rules (e.g., words had to have at least three letters) -- to create as many English words as they could with the letters. Importantly, participants were told they could decide when they wanted to end the task. The researchers found that the conservatives spent more time on the task than the liberals.

However, the findings showed that conservatives outperformed liberals only when participants believed freewill has a beneficial impact on self-control. When participants believed freewill could undermine self-control, liberals outperformed conservatives.

'This finding is especially interesting because research to this point has focused only on the positive outcomes of believing in freewill,' says Clarkson. 'However, one could imagine a host of situations where knowing you are responsible for your actions could lead to frustration, anxiety and other negative emotions that could impair self-control. In these contexts, these findings would suggest liberals will demonstrate greater self-control.'

Clarkson explains how the research offers clear insight into the psyche of consumers. 'When marketers consider self-control, we tend to think of sticking to a diet or exercise regimen, not wandering off your grocery list or avoiding impulsive purchases. All of these behaviors exhibit elements of attention regulation and persistence. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to believing whether or not you can control your own behavior, and what we're finding is that conservatives are more likely to believe they can control their own behavior.'

SOURCE. Journal article


Understanding Putin's Russia

I don't entirely agree with the analysis below. But it's part of the story

The Western media have done a poor job reporting on Russia. Cable news stations and print journalists have covered Putin’s wicked annexation of Crimea and military adventurism in eastern Ukraine, but rarely has their coverage tried to convey why Moscow has taken such aggressive steps in violation of international law.

To do so isn’t to justify Russia’s actions, but rather to establish a basis for predicting Russia’s behavior, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland. It might also help us to better assess Western responses, such as the G-7 leaders’ recent decision to continue their economic sanctions against the Putin regime.

Russia’s policies can be seen as attempts to create a security buffer against perceived Western build-up to its borders. Moscow has intimated, for example, that the CIA assisted in the ouster of Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine—a storyline that is consistent with the expansion of NATO in former Warsaw Pact countries after the end of the Cold War, despite President George H. W. Bush’s formal agreement to keep the Western military alliance out of what had been East Germany.

Another data point: George W. Bush promised to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO—regions that Russia considers to be within its geopolitical sphere of influence. Eland offers other examples, as well.

“Russia feels surrounded and vulnerable and thus succumbs easily to nationalist demagogues like Putin,” Eland writes. “However, in the future, perhaps the United States will be more understanding of the relatively weak Russia’s need for a geostrategic buffer zone in Eastern Europe as the more powerful China rises in East Asia and the Americans need an ally to balance it there.”



Bullet Train Is Slow-Speed Boondoggle

We have been keeping track, so to speak, of California’s vaunted “Bullet Train,” officially the state’s High-Speed Rail project. But as it turns out, “high speed” is something of a misnomer, as William Bigelow notes on Breitbart.

The first actual construction on the project is a viaduct over the Fresno River, nowhere near the Bay Area to Los Angeles route politicians used to sell the $69 billion project. This construction “will start three years after the date initially estimated by the rail authority.” The project faces financial obstacles, including “$2.2 billion in federal stimulus money that can only be used by the rail authority if it is spent before Sept. 30, 2017 on construction in the San Joaquin Valley. Any funds left unspent must be returned to the Federal Railroad Administration.” As taxpayers know, government agencies never leave funds unspent, and they will have to spend more.

As in Blazing Saddles, one thing stands in the way of the land they need: the rightful owners. As Bigelow observes, the state rail authority recently acknowledged legal possession “of only 257 of 1,079 properties that it requires for the first two construction sections.” The process has been so slow that actual construction has been delayed. And California High-Speed Rail Authority boss Jeff Morales admitted that this problem could bring about, yes, a “cost increase.” Morales is also on record that a high-speed rail line from the Bay Area to Los Angeles could have been built privately. That is something of a giveaway.

The bullet train is more about spending than transportation. California congressmen see it as a way to shore up their fortunes by spending money in their districts. That’s why the first stretch of the boondoggle is slated for the boondocks. The bullet train also gives politicians a way to expand government. So no surprise that the California High Speed Rail Authority serves as a soft landing spot for washed-up politicians such as board member Lynn Schenk, a former congresswoman and chief of staff for governor Gray Davis. California governor Jerry Brown, who appointed Schenk, sees the train as a legacy project, like the $25 billion tunnels he wants to build under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The bullet train, meanwhile, is supposed to be fully operational by 2028. California’s embattled taxpayers might ponder what high-tech advancements in transportation might occur before that time.



Western liberals: protecting ‘vulnerable’ murderers

Proponents of free, unbridled expression fight censorship on multiple fronts. Charlie Hebdo and others fight the hard censorship of the ‘murderer’s veto’. Others fight the softer censorship of radicalised political correctness and other attempts to ‘protect’ people from differing opinions. The two fronts of the battle may seem unconnected. But they are not. Soft censorship facilitates its violent brother.

A Pakistani student at the University of California, Berkeley, recently wrote an article for her school’s newspaper, entitled ‘On Leaving Islam’, explaining that she felt compelled to leave her faith because, despite trying, she could not reconcile her liberal beliefs with Islam’s often sexist and homophobic tenets. Although she is critical of Islam, she argues that writers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali are overly harsh, and that many of them promote unfair and negative stereotypes about Islam. Despite the moderate tone of the article, the author faced threats of violence, forcing the paper to remove the article for her protection.

One can’t help but wonder whether the New York Times contemplated praising this act of censorship and denouncing the article as ‘hate speech’.

Those who, under the guise of sensitivity and multiculturalism, blame the victims of Islamists because they ‘provoke’ their own slaughter, equate drawing pictures with mass murder and take issue, not with certain people’s ideas, but with their very right to air them in the first place, make those who wish death on those who offend them feel justified.

What is a jihadist to make of the pitiful authors who recently pulled out of a PEN gala in New York after PEN awarded Charlie Hebdo its Freedom of Expression Courage Award? Or of those who made excuses for the two men who shot up a provocative exhibition of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they hear ‘liberals’ apologising for their violence and criticising their victims, jihadists feel they’re in the right. If my opponents were wrong to say those things, I suppose it’s okay for me to silence them.

Challenging and ultimately changing one’s beliefs often requires moral courage. Those who denounced the Berkeley student’s act of courage only highlighted their own moral cowardice. And herein lies the great irony: the true victims of violent censorship are precisely those people who Western liberals often seek to protect.

Across the world, liberal Muslims, secularists, humanists, women and gays are the most common victims of Islamic radicalism. The inability of many Westerners to criticise militant Islam, so as to avoid being called ‘Islamophobic’, endangers the very existence of the persecuted minorities they often purport to protect.

Until Western liberals can summon the courage to denounce murderers, rather than sympathise with them; until they are unafraid to call out oppression wherever it exists – even if the oppressor is ‘underprivileged’; until they distance themselves from what one might call multicultural extremism; indeed, until they abandon such overzealous moral relativism and return to universal rights and values, Western liberals will never truly support the most vulnerable in our society.



‘People can’t lead full lives if they’re dependent on the state’

Over the past few years, the tired, old political duopoly of red vs blue has become increasingly coloured by yellow. No, I’m not talking about the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats and their shortlived foray into British government. Rather, I am talking about the revival and growth of libertarianism in US politics, often symbolised by a bright yellow ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag, which is increasingly visible on lawn flagpoles and bumper stickers across the US.

This rise of libertarianism, with some polls suggesting that as many as 15 to 20 per cent of Americans hold libertarian views, has prompted David Boaz, executive vice-president of the Cato Institute (a Washington DC-based think-tank), to revise and update his 1997 book Libertarianism: A Primer. The result, published this year under the title The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom, provides a comprehensive overview and introduction to libertarian thought.

Big government and the presidential race

‘It just makes your skin crawl to be a libertarian in this city’, Boaz tells me in his office in Washington DC, in reference to the fact that even a short walk in this town takes you past a myriad of government-department buildings and lobbyists’ offices. ‘They are all there to get a piece of the taxpayer’s money’, Boaz adds. These comments express an underlying theme for Boaz – Americans have allowed the government to get too big, from the county to the federal level. Now is the time, he says, for libertarians to push back.

Such is the extent of government regulation that, according to Boaz, the Code of Federal Regulations is over 175,000 pages long and comprises 238 volumes. Federal regulatory agencies now employ over 275,000 people (twice as many as in 1980) and regulation costs the US economy $1.75 trillion dollars annually in lost output.

Given how entrenched big government is, I wonder if dismantling these regulations will prove an impossible task. ‘It does seem like an overwhelming prospect’, says Boaz, ‘but in history, of course, we have dealt with such overwhelming prospects as ending slavery, and we managed to do that’. Boaz isn’t being flippant here. Rather, he is a keen believer in our ability to better our own lives and those of others. ‘We have in the space of a couple of centuries taken humanity from a state of back-breaking labour carried out from dawn to dusk, and short life expectancies, to incredible wealth, even for poor people in the West.’

This is true, and in this era of manifest misanthropy, Boaz is to be commended for focusing on the positive aspects of human development. He worries, however, that government regulation and pressure are stymieing our future potential: ‘Ideally, I would rather government was confined to protecting our rights.’

Little wonder, then, that throughout The Libertarian Mind Boaz argues that government should play a very restricted role in the management of society. As he is keen to stress: ‘In my book, I describe and advocate a libertarianism that is pretty radical, that the purpose of government is only to protect life, liberty and property and everything beyond that is unwarranted in a free society.’ But with government still growing (don’t mention Obamacare to Boaz), and the 2016 US presidential election just around the corner, I wonder what hope he sees for libertarianism in the upcoming political cycle, with it looking likely that either grandma-in-chief Hillary Clinton or a third Bush (Jeb) will take the helm. ‘A Bush-Clinton race ought to be the best opportunity the Libertarian Party ever had, not to win, but maybe to break through’, he says.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


23 June, 2015

Another mass attack by car; Ban all cars!

UK: A mother and her four children are fighting for their lives after being mowed down by a car 'doing 100mph' as they strolled to the park.

Five ambulances and an air ambulance rushed to Grove Lane in Handsworth, Birmingham, following the horrific collision at 12.05pm today.

Paramedics found a woman in her 30s, a four-year-old boy, a seven-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy had been hit by a grey Seat Leon.

Witnesses said the two youngest children were sent flying '20 to 30 metres down the road' due to the force of the impact as the family crossed the road.

Police have arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of dangerous driving.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said the youngsters were taken to Birmingham Childrens' Hospital, where their conditions are described as life-threatening.

He said: 'Crews arrived to find a car that had been in collision with a group of pedestrians.

'Five pedestrians were injured in the collision; a girl believed to be seven years old suffered serious head injuries and went into cardiac arrest at the scene. Advanced life support was carried out by medics.

'A boy, believed to be four years old, suffered serious head injuries and was resuscitated by medics at the scene after he stopped breathing for a short time.'

He added: 'A woman in her 30's suffered serious head and pelvic injuries in the crash. She received emergency treatment at the scene from medics and was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Major Trauma Unit for further emergency treatment.

'A girl, believed to be 12 years old, suffered serious head injuries and also back injuries. She also received emergency treatment at the scene by medics to stabilise her condition.



California: Destroyed by Green/Left idiocy

by Victor Davis Hanson

I offer another chronicle, a 14-hour tour of the skeleton I once knew as California.

8:00 AM

I finally got around to retrieving the car seat that someone threw out in front of the vineyard near my mailbox. (Don’t try waiting dumpers out — as if it is not your responsibility to clean up California roadsides.)

An acquaintance had also emailed and reminded me that not far away there was a mound of used drip hose on the roadside. That mess proved to be quite large, maybe 1,000 feet of corroded and ripped up plastic hose. I suppose no scavenger thinks it can be recycled. I promise to haul it away this week. One must be prompt: even a small pile attracts dumpers like honey to bees. They are an ingenious and industrious lot (sort of like the cunning and work ethic of those who planted IEDs during the Iraq War). My cousin’s pile across the road has grown to Mt. Rushmore proportions. Do freelance dumpers make good money promising to take away their neighborhood’s mattresses and trash without paying the $20 or so county dumping fee? And does their success depend on fools like me, who are expected to keep roadsides tidy by cleaning up past trash to make room for future refuse?

9:00 AM

My relative has sold her 20 acres to a successful almond grower; that was the last parcel other than my own left of my great great grandmother’s farm. All that remains is the original house I live in and 40 acres. Almost all the small farming neighbors I grew up with — of Armenian, Punjabi, German, or Japanese descent — are long gone. Goodbye, diversity. And their children either sold the parcels and moved away (the poorer seem to head to the foothills, the middle class go out of state, the better off flee to the coast) or rent them out. Most of the surrounding countryside, piece-by-piece, is being reconstituted into vast almond groves. I plan to rent out mine next year for such conversion.

Almonds can net far more per acre than raisins and do not require much more water and require almost no labor. Tree fruit, given its expenses and risks, can lose your farm. The last vestiges of small, agrarian farming in these parts died sometime in the 1990s. Oddly, or perhaps predictably, the land to the naked eye looks better in the sense that the power of corporate capital and savvy scientific expertise has resulted in picture-perfect orchards. The old agrarian idea that 40 acres also grows a unique family, not just food, is — how do we say it? No longer operative?

10:00 AM

I drive on the 99 freeway past Kingsburg on the way to Visalia. It is a road-warrior maze of construction and detours. The construction hazards are of the sort that would earn any private contractor a lawsuit. (How do you sue Caltrans — and why is it that four or five men always seem to be standing around one who is working?) Only recently has the state decided to upgrade the fossilized two-lane 99 into an interstate freeway of three lanes. But the construction is slow and seemingly endless. Could we not have a simple state rule: “no high-speed rail corridors until the 101, 99, and I-5 are three-lane freeways, and the neglected Amtrak line achieves profitable ridership?” It is almost as if California answers back: “I am too bewildered by your premodern challenges, so I will take psychological refuge in my postmodern fantasies.”

12:00 Noon

I try to drive by the Reedley DMV on the way home to switch a car registration. Appointments take a long waiting period, but the line of the show-ups is still far out the door and well into the parking lot. I pass. The state announced that it was surprised that “unexpectedly” (the catch adverb of the Obama era) nearly 500,000 illegal aliens have already been processed with new driver’s licenses. The lines at the office suggest that many DMVs simply have transmogrified into illegal alien license-processing centers.

The last time I had visited the office, I noticed the customers were also dealing with fines, tickets, or fix-it citations as part of the process. I thought, how will they pay for all that, given that “living in the shadows” and ignoring summonses and threats is far easier than paying what the state wants? And then, presto, the governor just announced a wish that the poor should be given “ticket amnesty.” So much for Sacramento’s idea of fining California drivers into becoming a reliable revenue source for a broke state, given that it has affected far more drivers than the shrinking and hated middle class that could supposedly afford the new sky-high tickets.

It reminds me of Obamacare: after my accident last May, I had lots of procedures and hours in waiting rooms. I discovered something listening to the desk people deal with Obamacare signups: a vast number apparently have not regularly paid the monthly or quarterly premiums. An even larger group has no idea what a deductible is, or that it actually applies to themselves. And some had no notion of a copayment. The reality of all three sends many into a near frenzy, reminiscent of the idea that a driver’s license means keeping up with registration, smog rules, and paying outstanding warrants — until the state provides the expected amnesties.

2:00 PM

I’m at the local supermarket two miles away. Three observations: many of the shoppers seem to be here for the air conditioning (the forecast is for 105 degrees by 5 PM). No one in the Bay Area, whose green agenda has led to the highest power rates in the country, seems to have thought that all of California does not enjoy 65-75 degree coastal corridor weather. My latest PG&E bill reminds me to apply for income-adjusted reduced rates — if I qualify. I don’t, so keep the air conditioner off all day.

Obesity among the shoppers seems epidemic and no one is talking about it. It is striking how young the overweight are! Almost all our small towns now have new state/federal dialysis clinics. Is this not a state emergency? Cannot the state at least offer public health warnings to the immigrant community that while diabetes is alarming among the population at large, it is becoming epidemic among new arrivals from Latin America and Mexico?

Stories that 25 percent of all state hospital admittances suffer from high blood sugar levels circulate. I argue in a friendly way with a customer in line about the new “green” Coke. He claims it is diet, but tastes like regular Coke. I remind him that it is so only because the artificial sweetener has been energized by some cane sugar and it is not so diet after all. (He is buying eight six-packs in fear of shortages.)

I don’t understand the EBT system. How is it that customers ahead of me pull out not one, but often go through three or four cards before they cobble together enough plastic credit for the full tab? Where does one acquire multiple cards?

4:00 PM

I am talking ag pumps at home with some farmers. The water table here has gone from 40 feet in 2011 to 82 feet now — the result of four years of constant pumping combined with below-average rain and snow runoff, and the complete cut-off of contracted surface water from the Kings River watershed (don’t ask why). I lowered one 15-hp submersible to 100 feet (the well is only 160, which used to be called “deep” when the water table was 40 feet). “Lowering” means less water pumped, more energy costs, a waiting list for the pump people, and sky-high service charges. The renter promises to lower the other one, whose pump is pumping air, now well above the sinking water table. My house well is only 140 feet deep. I just lowered the pump to a 110-foot draw, and decided to get on the “waiting list” for a new domestic well. (Prices for drilling by the foot have increased fivefold, and are said to go up monthly).

If the drought continues, one will see two unimaginable things by next spring: thousands of abandoned older homes out in the countryside from Merced to Bakersfield, and tens of thousands of acres on the West Side (water table ca. 1,000 feet and dropping) will go fallow if they are row-crops. And if orchards and vineyards, a mass die-off will follow of trees and vines. (Note that Silicon Valley’s Crystal Springs reservoir on freeway 280 is “full.” No Bay Area green activist is arguing either that the deliveries through massive conduits should be stopped at the San Joaquin River to be diverted for fish restoration, or that the entire project is unnatural and a scar on Yosemite Park, warranting shutting down the huge transfer system in favor of recycling waste water for showers and gardens.)

5:00 PM

I’m on a PG&E off-peak rate schedule, so I’m waiting until evening to turn on the air conditioner. It is 104 degrees outside and 96 degrees inside the house. As a youth, we used a tiny window, inefficient air conditioner far more in the 1960s and 1970s than I ever do now with central air. Given power rates, the idea of a cool home in the valley is so 1970s.

6:00 PM

I take another walk around the farm. Good — no one has yet shot the majestic pair of red tail hawks yet, who greet me on their accustomed pole. But I do notice someone has forced open the cyclone fence around the neighbor’s vacant house. It was put up to stop the serial vandalizing. (What do you do after stealing copper wire? Go for the sheet rock? Pipes? Windows? Shingles?)

7:00 PM

A friend calls and mentions that local JCs had a spate of car vandalizations. This time targets are catalytic converters (for precious metal salvage?). I get the impression that today’s Gothic looter and Vandal is more ingenious than the state’s work force. Note the new California: the citizen is responsible for picking up trash or keeping a car running clean with a converter. The idea that a bankrupt state would create a task force to go after such thievery is absurd. I appreciate California logic: don’t dare suggest that massive new commitments to ensure social parity for millions of new arrivals through increased state legal, medical, criminal justice, and educational programs ever come at the expense of investments in roads, bridges, reservoirs, airports, or public facilities — or even the accustomed state services that one took for granted in 1970. To do so is nativist, racist, and xenophobic. What an illiberal state we’ve become.

8:00 PM

I’m on the upstairs balcony looking out over miles of lush countryside. It’s quite scenic, something in between verdant Tuscany and the aridness of Sicily. I can hear the ag pumps of the surrounding farms everywhere churning 24/7. In a normal year they would never be turned on, as river water irrigated the fields and recharged the water table.

Then come two sirens. Will the power go off? Quite often, someone after too much to drink goes airborne and hits a power pole on these rural roads. I got back inside in case things go dark to review the mail. The local irrigation district has not delivered water in four years (what do ditch tenders do when canals and ditches are empty?) and now wants a tax hike to keep up with increased expenses. In fact, half the mail seems to be drought information from various agencies. What was so awful about building just two or three one million acre-foot reservoirs, or raising Shasta Dam? We could begin today. When the taps at Facebook or the Google toilets go dry, will the state again invest in water storage?

10:00 PM

I turn on the local news and channel surf for 10 minutes. How well we take refuge in the absurd. This litany blares out: Bruce Jenner’s new sexual identity, the latest racial controversy, this time over the crashing of a private pool party and the police reaction, the Obama’s new stretch Air Force One jumbo jet, Marco Rubio’s one ticket every four years, Miley Cyrus’s bisexuality. I suppose if one cannot grasp, much less deal with, $19 trillion in debt, a foreign policy in shambles, the largest state in the union on the cusp of a disastrous drought, a Potemkin health care system, zero interest on passbook savings, and the end of all federal immigration law, then the trivial must become existential.

Goodnight, once great state…


Ripping off the kids: here's the difference between a Republican and a Democrat


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


22 June, 2015

Confiscate all cars. More car control! Toughen up car licensing! More car-free zones!

Mad Muslim uses a car to kill 3 and injure 34 in Austria. Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a car.”

A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.

Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.

The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.

The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city's main square.

The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from 'psychosis' related to 'family problems'.

Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month.

The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism.

The busy square was hosting an event relating to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix which is being held 80km away, in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, in Steiermark.

The city council released a statement which read: 'At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.'

Provincial Governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said at least one of his injured victims is in a critical condition.

He added: 'We are shocked and dismayed... there is no explanation and no excuse for this attack.

'We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people.'

German-language website Krone reported that the man arrested by police is of Bosnian origin.


Apologies for the sarcasm in my heading and sub-heading above but the point is an important one. I am of course deeply grieved at the senseless loss of life involved. As a great fan of Austro/Hungarian operetta, Austria is close to my heart


The REAL reason for gun massacres?

Another mass killing is followed by the usual thoughtless political and media responses. The last time I looked, the southern states of the USA contained plenty of people with white supremacist views, most of them armed.

Indeed, this has been so for more than a century. At the same time, the past few years have seen gun massacres in Britain (Hungerford and Dunblane), Finland, Norway, Germany and Switzerland, and knife massacres in China, a police state where guns are genuinely difficult to obtain.

So it would seem that blaming these events on widespread gun ownership and white racialism doesn’t quite work. If all these events were properly investigated (and few are, because conventional wisdom closes the minds of investigators), my guess is that almost all of the killers would be found to have been taking legal or illegal mind-altering drugs.

Often, as in the case of James Holmes, the Colorado cinema shooter, the facts don’t emerge for many months. Or the authorities refuse to release the killer’s medical history, as they have done in the Sandy Hook case.

Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston murderer, was recently arrested for possession of Suboxone, a drug given to opioid abusers, and suspected of causing personality changes and violent outbursts. A student at his high school described him as a ‘pill-popper’.

It is the use of legal and illegal mind-altering drugs that has hugely increased in recent years. Gun ownership and racial bigotry haven’t. Please think about this.


Making drugs illegal promotes foolish use of them


Donald Trump Brings Levity to Presidential Race

Donald Trump would be a mere sideshow curiosity in the 2016 elections if it were not for his name recognition and entertainment factor. According to Real Clear Politics, Trump is polling higher than Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal.

But even if he’s fired in the end — and we hope he is — he will provide some much-needed humor. After Tuesday’s announcement, Politico pulled Trump’s 10 best lines. Notably, however, Politico missed the best one: “When did we beat Japan at anything?”

Well, there was that whole WWII thing in the Pacific…

But to put things in perspective, as absurd as the Trump vanity campaign is, he is far more qualified than Barack Obama was in 2009 — or today! For example, Obama put Joe Biden on his ticket. When Trump was asked who he wanted as a running mate, he replied, “I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah.”

Frankly, presidential elections could use a little levity. It’s been a long time since the last billionaire vanity campaign kept us amused, compliments of Ross Perot!


I don't entirely agree with the above. I think it is defensive. Trump seems to be more consistently conservative than anyone I can think of in the GOP


President Obama: Stay out of Entrepreneurship

As Ronald Reagan famously said, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.’” While champions of limited government are in favor of entrepreneurship, do we really want the federal government to decide on which companies to invest in? After President Obama’s announcement that the White House plans to invest in entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad, what should we expect? The Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition plans to raise $1 billion in private funding for entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad by 2017. At face value, this may seem like a fine idea – but this is actually very bad news.

Our government should not be in the position of picking winners and losers. Politicization inevitably plagues everything touched by government and political elites. The White House press release on the initiative states, “The United States is making empowering women and youth a central objective of its global entrepreneurship programs,” and at the White House event in which these initiatives were announced, President Obama stated, “At a time that we’re facing challenges that no country can meet by itself — lifting people out of poverty, combating climate change, preventing the spread of disease — helping social entrepreneurs mobilize and organize brings more people together to find solutions.” By these two statements alone, we can glimpse the political agendas this $1 billion in investments will be funding. Companies that promise to combat climate change will receive priority despite being the least promising in the marketplace (think: Solyndra), and preferential treatment will be given to women entrepreneurs even if their ideas and execution are significantly less valuable than those of their male competitors.

This kind of government interference in venture capital distorts the efficiency of the marketplace. Money that could be invested to fund another entrepreneurial project will now go where the government wants it – something we’ve seen wreak havoc in the past, like during the housing bubble or the current student loan crisis. Venture capital should go towards funding things that there is, or could be, a market demand for, not towards what politicians think will further their agenda. The government taking money that could otherwise be used as individuals and firms see fit and giving it to those who they decide deserve it is the kind of central planning that leads to economic bubbles and crashes, not innovation and progress.

The White House’s interest in entrepreneurship is troubling on a greater ideological and cultural level as well. The President’s impulse to become involved in entrepreneurship is evidence of a pervasive “you didn’t build that” mentality. Entrepreneurs have long been the most individualist of the American population, taking risks on their own visions in order to change the landscape of American life, and the government wants to stake a claim on those successes. The current administration would like to look at entrepreneurs, brave enough to forge their own path, and say, “where would they be without us?”

This attitude was recently exemplified by White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who said that more entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley need to work for the federal government, which, translated into reality, means she wants to turn innovators into bureaucrats. What Smith doesn’t understand is that entrepreneurs in private markets create positive change in the world – but put them in government, or involve the government in their work, and the best they can do is change nothing. The government becoming involved in entrepreneurship will not help bring about more entrepreneurship, but rather, manipulate entrepreneurs into doing what the government wants them to do.



Life without libraries would be unimaginably poorer

I understand the paen by Jeff Jacoby below. My early life experience was similar. But I think he is pissing into the wind. Unforgiveable though it is, even university libraries these days are in fact throwing out books to make more room for computer terminals

I WAS A four-year-old in kindergarten the first time I remember reading in a library. The book was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, and I'm not sure which I found more captivating — the adventure of the hatchling that sets off to find its mother, or my own adventure of picking out a book from what seemed an endless array of enticing titles.

I was hooked early, on books and libraries both. To this day I can visualize precisely the shelves in the fiction section of my school's library, where I first discovered many of my favorite children's novels: The Twenty-One Balloons, Harriet the Spy, A Wrinkle in Time.

But the small library in my Cleveland-area day school was merely a gateway drug to the local public library a mile from my home. I spent innumerable hours there as a boy, addicted as much to the serendipitous pleasures of searching for a good book as to the satisfying relish of losing myself in its pages once I found one. My parents, raising five kids on a meager income, had little money to spare for buying books. But my library card was free, and I made heavy use of it.

The University Heights Library was my home away from home. Nothing was off-limits to a curious reader. From the Edward Eager magic books that fascinated me when I was little to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, which held a different fascination as I grew older, it was all available. All I had to do was choose.

I can't imagine life without libraries. And by "libraries" I mean actual books — ink on paper — to be borrowed and shared and read. I don't mean bookless digital-content centers like San Antonio's $2.3 million BiblioTech, an all-electronic reading venue that looks, in Time magazine's description "like an orange-hued Apple store" outfitted with 500 e-readers, 48 computers, and 20 iPads and laptops. I would never discourage reading in any format, but rows of iMacs do not a library make. The ability to browse goes to the essence of the library experience, along with the egalitarian access that puts books in plain sight of all comers.

Happily, that experience is alive and well. As British journalist Alex Johnson documents in a wonderful new volume, Improbable Libraries, even in the digital age readers yearn for printed books, and librarians go to amazing and creative lengths to supply them.

Johnson highlights libraries that have opened in airports, train stations, and hotels, the better to serve readers on the move in this hypermobile era. In Santiago, Chile, there are lending libraries in the subways: The Bibliometro system lends 440,000 books a year from 20 underground stations, and has effectively become the largest public library in the country. A global "tiny library" movement has blossomed in the form of honor-system book nooks on street corners, at bus stops, and even in front yards of private homes. In Great Britain, hundreds of iconic red telephone boxes, no longer needed, have been repurposed into mini-lending libraries.

Smartphones and tablets have grown ubiquitous, but reading on screens is not the same — and for many people, not nearly as satisfying — as reading in print. Clicking links on an electronic device is efficient, but it can't replace the tactile engagement of wandering the stacks, pulling a book from the shelf, reading the dust jacket, flipping through its pages.

"A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life," wrote Henry Ward Beecher. The hunger for books knows no boundary. In Laos, the Big Brother Mouse project uses elephants to carry books to remote villages for children to borrow and exchange. The Mongolian Children's Mobile Library, using camels, does the same thing in the Gobi desert. So does Luis Soriano's Biblioburro library in rural Colombia —with donkeys.

Life without books and libraries in which to discover them would be unimaginably poorer. Improbable Libraries makes that point beautifully. Then again, if you're anything like me, you've known it since you were four.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


21 June, 2015

A white kills blacks! BIG News!

Blacks killing whites is mostly only local news, if that. No national attention to this event for instance

The attack is of course deplorable. The kid seems to have attacked some pretty decent people. But his words reveal that the kid was disturbed by the difficulties blacks pose for white society. Apparently he somehow escaped the brainwashing which says that blacks must be treated like children who cannot be blamed for what they do -- "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -- as George Bush called it. In a country that claims equality before the law it is in fact amazing that so many accept one law for whites and another for blacks (e.g. so-called "affirmative action"). One wonders how long the brainwashing will retain its power. If it loses its power we will see many like Dylann Roof. Some basic details below

Dylann Roof, the man arrested after a shooting dead nine people in an historically black South Carolina church on Wednesday, wanted to start a civil war and bring back segregation, friends claim.

The 21-year-old is pictured on his Facebook profile wearing a jacket bearing flags from apartheid-era South Africa and what was once white-rule Rhodesia.

He also has a criminal record and in April received a gun for his 21st birthday.

'He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff,' his friend Christon Scriven told the New York Daily News. But, he said, 'He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.'

His roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News: 'He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.'

According to classmates, Roof is a frequent abuser of prescription drugs.

Court records from Lexington, North Carolina - where he has been living in a trailer park - reveal he was arrested twice this year on charges of trespassing and drug possession.

Roof attended ninth grade at White Knoll High during the 2008-09 school year and went there for the first half of the following academic year, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. The school system gave no reason for Roof's departure and said it had no record of him attending any other schools in the district.

According to CBS News, school records show that between fourth and ninth grade, Roof attended six different schools, and repeated the ninth grade.

A witness to Wednesday's massacre said Roof said before the shooting: 'I have to do it...You rape our women and you're taking over the country.'


He's precisely right about rape. In the latest available U.S. government figures (for 2008) there were over 16,000 rapes of white women by blacks and zero rapes of black women by whites. See Table 42 here. Is he the only one to see a problem there?


Like clockwork, Democrats push for more gun control

What happened in Charleston, South Carolina is a tragedy in every sense of the word. The loss of life is always tragic.

But what is also tragic is how predictable Democrats have become. We’re barely even 48-hours removed and Democrats are already making a new push for gun control. It's just shameful.

Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Oh yes, blame the gun. Well, let’s look at the facts, shall we?

We’re hearing today that the shooter may have actually purchased the gun himself at a gun store, which means that he passed a background check. The Left’s argument keeps unraveling. No amount of background checks would have stopped this.

This man didn’t use an assault weapon. He used a .45 caliber pistol. Not even close to one of Obama’s dreaded “assault weapons.”

The man didn’t use high capacity magazines. He killed 9 people by reloading five times. The Left’s narrative is that magazine bans save lives because they force a shooter to reload. A typical .45 pistol has a 7-8 round magazine.

He wasn’t allowed to bring the gun into the church. The church was, legally, a “gun-free zone.” Merely bringing the gun into the building was a crime.

All of these laws were broken. Yet today, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and all their cronies were out in force pushing for more gun control.

So what exactly is the President advocating when he says the shooter had “no trouble” getting a gun? If every gun control law on the books wasn’t enough to stop this, what does Obama think we should do?

Well, for one, the Democrats are moving forward with the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act of 2015.

This bill would force every single American to first get permission from local law enforcement before being allowed to purchase a handgun. Just a friendly reminder: the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that handgun ownership was an individual right protected by the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.

They have a system like this in New Jersey and a woman was just murdered on her own driveway after waiting 43 days for the state to give her permission to buy a gun.

Not ONE of Obama’s proposed gun control policies would have prevented this tragedy. But that hasn’t stopped the President from calling on Congress to ‘do something.’ And that something is to punish the rest of us.



Why the Liberals Can’t Get It

I am a big fan of John Hinderaker over at Powerline, and you can see why if you read one of his latest, this one about the Democrats' lack of any sort of coherent national security policy. Here is the essence of it:

"Democrats are incapable of devising a coherent strategy for dealing with (our problems), and seemingly don't even try to do so. The charitable explanation is that they are incompetent. But perhaps it is because they aren't sure what their desired ends are. Do they want the U.S. to win? Do they want us to be powerful, prosperous, influential and successful? That is not a hard question for most Americans, but it is for leading Democrats like Obama and Clinton. If you don't know the answer to that question, then coming up with a strategy is tough. That, I suspect, is what we have seen for the last six or seven years".

It's the basic question about the Obama administration (Hinderaker however is focused on Hillary Clinton and her failed Libyan actions): Is the long list of foreign policy failures due to stupidity and incompetence, or to some sort of purposeful malevolence?

I think this question is invariably framed too narrowly. I think that we are dealing with the result of the collapse of an entire world view, and that collapse has left the Democrats without any guiding principles. Their old templates, from class struggle to capitalist imperialism, no longer apply to the real world. The most potent forces in play are those the left has never understood. Religion above all.

They used to favor the poor countries, ergo they advocated foreign aid galore and all power to the UN. Neither is working out. They will never forgive us for winning the Cold War, thereby ending their utopian dream that the Soviet Union would truly become the successful incarnation of "real socialism." And instead of class interest, most people pursue narrower goals, motivated by passions, like religion, which leftists believe archaic. You know, redneck stuff like guns and bourbon. Except that now, religion is the most dynamic force in the world, for good and for ill. This frustrates and angers them, since, unable to make sense of the world, they can't craft policies that make sense.

The collapse of the old world view is not surprising. Any decent cultural historian will tell you that world views collapse with striking frequency. But our current leftists don't know this, because they are products of an educational system that doesn't teach history. Obama is a great example of the ignorance that abounds, even in our "best" schools. From his amazing claim that "Islam" brought printing to the Western world (it was the Chinese, who sold it to the Europeans, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East) to claims of Muslim "toleration," his ignorance of history has been demonstrated over and over again.

Instead of acquiring some real knowledge, he and his cohorts have been taught to blame us-the West, the capitalists, the Jews, above all, the United States-for the palpably alarming state of affairs in the world. And blaming us, they embrace a seemingly simple solution to the world's problems: rein us in, deprive us of the capacity to reshape the world, turn us into an unexceptional country, and work with nasty foreign leaders who, the leftists believe, have been wrongly branded as evil. Hence Cuba. Hence Iran.

If you can't tell your friends from your enemies, you end by adopting your enemies' view of the world.

Which brings me back to Hinderaker. I think they have answers to his questions. Do they want us to win? Certainly not. Those who want us to win and to flourish are, in the oft-repeated words of the president and his acolytes, "on the wrong side of history." As Ali Khamenei and Fidel Castro might put it.



The Lie Obama Keeps Repeating About the Poor in America

President Obama recently acknowledged what every sane person knows to be true: The best anti-poverty program is a job. Obama said this at a recent conference on poverty.

But he continues to repeat a falsehood over and over. This is the claim that the poor work just as hard as the rich do. Well, yes, many people in poor households heroically work very hard at low wages to take care of their families. No doubt about that. Yet the average poor family doesn’t work nearly as much as the rich families do. And that’s a key reason why these households are poor.

The most recent Census Bureau data on household incomes document the importance of work. Census sorts the households by income quintile, and we will label those in the highest quintile as “rich,” and those in the lowest quintile as “poor.” The average household in the top 20 percent of income have an average of almost exactly two full-time workers. The average poor family (bottom 20 percent) has just 0.4 workers. This means on average, roughly for every hour worked by those in a poor household, those in a rich household work five hours. The idea that the rich are idle bondholders who play golf or go to the spa every day while the poor toil isn’t accurate.

The finding that six out of 10 poor households have no one working at all is disturbing. Since they have no income from work, is it a surprise they are poor?

As for rich households, 75 percent have two or more workers. For the poor households, that percent is less than 5 percent.

Of course, hours worked doesn’t account for all or even most of the gap between rich and poor. But it does account for some of it. One of the more pernicious concepts is the notion of “dead-end jobs.” No, the surefire economic dead end is no job at all. There’s no climbing the economic ladder if you’re not even on the first rung.

Marriage is also a very good anti-poverty program. Married couples are almost five times more likely to be in the highest income quintile (33 percent) than in the lowest quintile (7 percent).

Without a father in the home, there is usually at most one full-time worker. Married couples are more economically successful for many reasons, not least of which is that they can and often do have two people working and bringing in a paycheck. So divorce and out-of-wedlock births have a lot to do with the income inequality. Budget expert Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute found that if marriage rates were as high today as they were in 1970, about 20 percent of child poverty would be gone. What is worrisome is that a record 47 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 have never married.

What is to be learned from all of this income data? First, one of the best ways to reduce poverty is to get people in low-income households working—and hopefully 40 hours a week. By the way, one reason raising the minimum wage won’t help lower poverty much is that it will help far fewer than half of the poor who have no job at all. And if it destroys jobs at the bottom of the skills ladder, it may lead to fewer people working and exacerbate poverty.

This data also reinforces the case for strict work requirements for all welfare benefit programs. When welfare takes the place of work it actually contributes to long-term poverty. It isn’t cold-hearted to be in favor of work programs. It is providing a GPS system to help the poor find a way out of poverty.

Finally, getting married before having kids is a great way to avoid falling into the poverty trap.

Yes, there are way too many working poor in America, and that problem needs to be addressed by programs like the earned income tax credit that supplement low-income wages. But there are way too many non-working poor in America. That’s a problem liberals seem to want to do nothing about.



Texas to Take Back $1 Billion in Gold From the Fed

Texas no longer trusts our nation’s central bank to safely store its gold in New York City. For years, the Lone Star State has kept its $1 billion in gold in the hands of the Federal Reserve Bank, which has safeguarded the bullion of the U.S. government, foreign governments and other major organizations. But now, the state is setting up its own bullion depository and will soon withdraw its gold from Fed control.

“Today I signed HB 483 to provide a secure facility for the State of Texas, state agencies and Texas citizens to store gold bullion and other precious metals,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement June 12. “With the passage of this bill, the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.”

The move could be as simple as Texas stepping up and taking responsibility for its own assets, as well as providing a place for Texas citizens to store gold. Or, as CBS notes, it could be a step toward establishing a currency if Texas were to secede from the union. Regardless, it’s a Texas two-step toward greater autonomy.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


19 June, 2015

Culture and Social Pathology

By Walter E. Williams

A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions, rules of etiquette and moral values. These behavioral norms — mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings — represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots, such as thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not cheat. They also include all those courtesies that have traditionally been associated with ladylike and gentlemanly conduct.

The failure to fully transmit these values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of what journalist Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation." People in this so-called great generation, who lived during the trauma of the Great Depression and fought World War II, not only failed to transmit the moral values of their parents but also are responsible for government programs that will deliver economic chaos.

Behavior accepted as the norm today would have been seen as despicable yesteryear. There are television debt relief commercials that promise to help debtors pay back only half of what they owe. Foul language is spoken by children in front of and sometimes to teachers and other adults. When I was a youngster, it was unthinkable to use foul language to any adult. It would have meant risking a smack across the face. But years ago, parents and teachers didn't have "experts" on child rearing to tell them that corporal punishment was wrong and ineffective and "timeouts" would be a superior form of discipline. One result of our tolerance for aberrant behavior was that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2011-12 academic year, 209,000 primary- and secondary-school teachers were physically assaulted and 353,000 were threatened with injury. As a result of this and other forms of school violence, many school districts employ hundreds of police officers.

Nowadays baby showers are often held for unwed mothers. Yesteryear such an acceptance of illegitimacy would have been unthinkable. Today there is little or no social sanction or shame for illegitimate births. There are no "shotgun" weddings to make the man live up to his responsibilities. But not to worry.

Taxpayers bear the financial burden of illegitimacy. Any economist worth his salt will tell you that if something is taxed, expect less of it. If something is subsidized, expect more of it. Taxpayers have been forced to subsidize slovenly behavior. The statistical evidence proves it. According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children and 3 percent of white children were born to unwed mothers. Today 72 percent of black children and 30 percent of white children are born to unwed mothers.

For nearly three-quarters of a century, the nation's liberals have waged war on traditional values, customs and morality. Our youths have been counseled that there are no moral absolutes. Instead, what's moral or immoral is a matter of personal opinion. During the 1960s, the education establishment began to challenge and undermine lessons children learned from their parents and Sunday school with fads such as "values clarification." So-called sex education classes are simply indoctrination that undermines family and church strictures against premarital sex. Lessons of abstinence were considered passe and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills and abortions. Further undermining of parental authority came with legal and extralegal measures to assist teenage abortions with neither parental knowledge nor parental consent.

You say, "OK, Williams, the Greatest Generation is responsible for our moral decline, but what about our economic decline?" Ask yourself: What are the massive government spending programs that threaten to bankrupt our nation in the future? The answer would have to be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Over 50 percent of today's federal budget is spent on these programs. Around the time when many in the so-called Greatest Generation were born (1920), there were no such programs, and federal spending was $53 billion. In 2014, federal spending was $3.5 trillion.

If it were only the economic decline threatening our future, there might be hope. It's the moral decline that spells our doom.



No, Conservatives Don’t Suddenly Hate Free Trade

The debate over the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill backed by President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has turned into a debate over just about anything except free trade.

The easy interpretation is that if you’re pro-TPA you are pro-trade, and if you’re anti-TPA you are anti-trade. The truth is more complicated.

It’s true that negotiating objectives included in the TPA bill passed by Congress include plenty for free-traders to like, including “the reduction or elimination of barriers and distortions that are directly related to trade and investment.”

But the bill also has components that should concern free trade advocates. It directs trade negotiators to preserve destructive U.S. antidumping laws instead of working to reduce other countries’ antidumping laws, and calls for countries to adhere to international environmental and labor agreements of dubious value. It expresses concern about currency manipulation, a protectionist standby.

The best summary of the relationship between TPA and free trade is “it’s complicated.”

There are also non-trade-related parts of the bill that should alarm conservatives. It urges respect for “internationally recognized human rights,” which for the United Nations and most countries includes international covenants like the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, neither of which has been ratified by the United States.

Even more concerning, passage of TPA has been linked to a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program that promotes the myth that trade destroys jobs. As Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., put it “TAA has always been an absolute admission to me that there is going to be lots of lost jobs.”

Contrary to some critics, support for TPA does not have anything to do with support for Obama’s position on amnesty or Obamacare.

Although TPA allows Congress to spell out negotiating objectives, the amount of leeway it gives the president means that who the president is matters. And a president who has pledged to negotiate “the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen” is clearly interested in ensuring that new deals advance major parts of his progressive agenda, including new multinational labor and environmental regulations and the injection of minimum wage guidelines into trade agreements for the first time in U.S. history.

Some of TPA’s most outspoken opponents, particularly from the left, rely on protectionist rhetoric, but it is possible to question the TPA process without questioning the benefits of trade.

Free trade is unquestionably important—and something conservatives should support. As Ronald Reagan once said:

"The winds and waters of commerce carry opportunities that help nations grow and bring citizens of the world closer together. Put simply, increased trade spells more jobs, higher earnings, better products, less inflation, and cooperation over confrontation. The freer the flow of world trade, the stronger the tides for economic progress and peace among nations."

Whether or not they support TPA, that’s an agenda on which all conservatives could agree.



Feds accused of pushing ‘utopias’ in wealthy neighborhoods with diversity regs

Congressional Republicans are trying to thwart a new federal housing rule they claim would allow Washington to play a heavy-handed role in trying to remake upscale neighborhoods as racially and economically diverse "utopias."

The forthcoming regulations, expected to be formally proposed later this month, would leverage grant money to try and bring more affordable options into these neighborhoods. It would require local jurisdictions to report on their progress; they'd risk federal housing money if they don't.

But while the Department of Housing and Urban Development program essentially aims for more integration and equality, critics see a meddling federal government.

"[The rule] tells us how we can live, where we go to school, how we will vote, what this utopian type of neighborhood should look like," charged Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who sponsored an amendment to the House HUD spending bill Wednesday, blocking any future funding for the new rule. The spending bill was passed in the House with the amendment.

"These rules want to manipulate the way American neighborhoods look," he told FoxNews.com in an interview.

HUD officials and proponents of the new rule say it would do nothing but clarify -- even simplify -- current obligations under The Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Right now, local and state housing authorities must have plans showing they are "affirmatively furthering fair housing." In other words, making sure their communities offer affordable housing opportunities in all neighborhoods, not just the poor ones, and do not discriminate based on color, religion, sex, or national origin. Affordable housing is generally defined as housing that costs no more than a third of a family's monthly income.

The new rule would require jurisdictions to file a full assessment every five years that not only addresses the affordable housing landscape, but patterns in poverty and minority concentrations, as well as "community access" to transportation, good schools and jobs.

In addition to the assessments, the new requirements include an action plan obligating the jurisdiction to "identify the primary determinants influencing fair housing conditions, prioritize addressing these conditions, and set one or more goals for mitigating or addressing their determinants." For its part, HUD would be sharing demographic data that local officials need to pull this together, while offering guidance and technical assistance.

But here's the rub. If cities and counties don't comply, it could put millions of dollars in annual federal block grants at risk, which critics say is how Washington can bully governments to do their bidding.

"This is nothing new," countered Debby Goldberg, vice president at the National Fair Housing Alliance, who supports the rule. "It's a planning tool. They leave it up to the jurisdictions to make their own decisions. HUD is not dictating what the answers must be, that's up to the locality."

HUD Secretary Julian Castro argued this in a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee June 11, when Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, asked him directly if HUD would be actively telling localities how to remake their maps. "I know as a [former] mayor you wouldn't want the federal government to come in and tell you what to do with your zoning and your rules," she charged.

Castro said: "This is not about changing zoning laws, planning laws or anything like that." He called the new requirements a "tool" for local communities to do what they already are obligated to do better.

"I wish I had this tool when I was mayor," said Castro, who was mayor of San Antonio, Texas before he was appointed secretary of HUD in 2014. "We want to ensure that local communities have the tools to assess the landscape of housing in their area, where the investments are, where the affordable housing opportunities are," he said.

But Gosar is concerned that the feds would force local officials to plot out significant changes to their communities, as a requirement for grant money.

In order to get the money, he said, "you have to give them the plan and ask for a sign-off. These rules are put into place to manipulate the way America looks."

Critics point to the case of Westchester County, N.Y., which has been locked in a battle with HUD since it settled in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Anti-Discrimination Center over the county's lack of affordable housing units. The 2009 settlement, which HUD helped broker with the Justice Department, mandated the affluent county spend $50 million of its own money to build units, most of which would be in predominantly white neighborhoods. The county and HUD have been arguing ever since over compliance, with Westchester claiming HUD has been changing the rules along the way. As a result, HUD has repeatedly withheld annual funding from the county.

But Goldberg said this is the way it works -- jurisdictions aren't forced to comply with the law, but they won't get federal grants if they don't. "The law says if you are getting funds you have to show that you are affirmatively furthering fair housing," she said, noting it was designed that way to better the quality of life for all Americans, not just the ones who can afford to live in affluent neighborhoods. Segregation by race and poverty traps families in dead-end, often unhealthy circumstances, Goldberg added.

"We know that the more inclusive the neighborhoods are, the more robust your economy, the better the schools are, the jobs."

This should be directed at the local level, not from Washington, Gosar said. He has introduced a stand-alone bill that would block the rule from reaching fruition. For now, it is up to the Senate if it wants to carve it out of their own HUD spending bill.

"Once again," he said, "it's an overreach on our liberties to live and work and move to wherever we want."



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


18 June, 2015

The Greek situation

Greece has huge debts that it cannot repay and is essentially "broke". And its creditors are barking at it. They want their money. Its only way forward would seem to be to retire from the Eurozone (a common-currency area) and reintroduce its own currency, the Drachma. It can then print as much money as it likes and pay Greeks everything that they think they deserve. The result of that will be hyperinflation, yet more economic collapse and sky-high prices for anything that Greece imports from overseas. Greek living standards could end up at less than half of what they once were. And it would leave the Greek government unable to borrow from overseas for a long time.

To understand the Greek situation, people need to know something that is just about unmentionable these days -- because it could be seen as "racist": Greeks are undoubtedly the most work-shy people in Europe. Where a lot of Northern Europeans like to keep themselves busy by building and making things or otherwise doing something constructive, the ideal life for the average Greek male is to sit around with his friends drinking coffee and arguing about politics. Finding a way of getting money without working for it is his Holy Grail. Which is in part why one in two Greek households rely on social security payments to make ends meet.

And the Greek government too wants a free ride. It has had such a ride courtesy of Europe's banks but now that it cannot pay the interest due on its borrowings, it still wants to cruise along propped up by the rest of Europe. Faced with colossal bad debts, the rest of Europe is inclined to continue that propping up -- but not at any price. They want the Greek government to curb its wasteful ways and get on top of its debt.

But the present government is a far-Left one so will not. They say that Greece has already cut all its fat. But it has not. A major demand of Germany and other creditors is that Greece reform its pension (social security) system. But government payments to the elderly are already low so that cannot be done, says the Greek government. They are actually right in saying that the payments are low but that is not what the rest of Europe has its beady eyes on. What they are looking at is ELIGIBILTY for pensions in Greece. An article from five years ago tells us rather vividly what it is all about:

In Greece, trombone players and pastry chefs get to retire as early as 50 on grounds their work causes them late career breathing problems. Hairdressers enjoy the same perk thanks to the dyes and other chemicals they rub into people's scalps.

Then there are masseurs at steam baths: they get an early out because prolonged exposure to all that heat and steam is deemed unhealthy.

Until the Greek debt crisis, northern Europeans looked at Greek early retirement with an amused roll of the eyes. But more and more such loopholes are angering them: they bristle at being asked to pay for their laggard southern neighbours' early retirement.

When Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild asked readers in that fiscally prudent nation how they felt about coughing up hard-earned money for this kind of luxury, the daily's website lit up with comment.

In a bloc with a shared currency but no power to enforce budgetary restraint and keep members from spending themselves into messes like Greece's, the retirement quirk illustrates another fault line that crept to the surface with the debt crisis that began in Athens and is threatening to spread across the euro zone.

Germany, making available as much as 22.4 billion euros for the joint EU and IMF bailout of Greece, and which not long ago raised its retirement age from 65 to 67 to offset a shrinking, aging population, is being made "the laughing stock of Europe," one reader wrote to Bild.

Like many EU countries, the general retirement age in Greece is 65, although the actual average is about 61. However, the deeply fragmented system also provides for early retirement - as early as 55 for men and 50 for women - in many professions classified as "arduous and unhealthy."

The vast majority seem reasonable, like coal mining, but others, like the bakers and wind-instrument musicians, might strike some as a tad silly.

Greek pensions are low but the system is widely abused, and as part of a drive to reduce Greece's huge debt the government is trying to simplify the labyrinth of rules governing pensions and abolish early retirement rights for some categories of workers. In the end, Greeks will have to work more years, pay a bit more into the system and receive smaller pensions.

In Stockholm, 22-year-old security guard Jenny Lindstrom, called the Greek system unfair to other Europeans and said the bloc should have a single set of rules. "I also would like to retire earlier. I don't want to work for a long time to pay for others' to retire early in other countries."

Greece has to reform its system. It is just not sustainable to allow women to retire at, say, 58, and pay them a pension well into their 80s. Along with early retirement, Greece has one of Europe's highest longevity rates - with an average life expectancy of 77.1 years for men and 81.9 for women.

As far away as Finland, where the government has tried to push up the retirement age to make up for a lack of skilled workers, there is resentment over paying for early retirement in the EU's sun-baked south. "No way. It would be really unfair on a Finnish taxpayer who is still at work at the same age as someone in the same profession in another country retires," said 60-year-old Pirkko Toivonen.


Some changes to the above situation have apparently been made since then but not many and not by very much. See here

So at a time when many countries are phasing in 70 as the normal retirement age, Greece could cut its pensions bill by a huge amount simply by falling in line with that retirement age. But a far-Leftist government just will not do it of course. They will send the whole country into a downward spiral rather than earn the ire of one of their major support groups.

And the rest of Europe also has its beady eyes on the Greek tax system. Greeks are so crooked that the tax system collects only about half of what it should. Tax evasion is a way of life in Greece. Again, a little has been done to tighten that up but not much. Much more could be done. And it's not the Leftist government that's principally at fault in that matter. The situation is the fault of Greeks generally. They almost all think that someone else owes them a living and that they have already paid plenty. That attitude has already significantly impoverished them and they are now on the brink of even greater impoverishment

There is one potential solution to Greece's problems that would rid Greece of its debts in an entirely honourable way -- but nobody much is talking about it so far -- so I will mention it only in passing: Greece has a LOT of islands, many of which are in very attractive locations and thinly populated. Greece could sell off entire islands to foreign governments, which would use them to build for their citizens retirement homes in the sun. That could prove quite attractive to some Northern European countries.

There's a current report of the negotiations between Greece and the rest of Europe here -- JR


Obama, the mass murderer

We all know that President Obama has been releasing illegal alien convicted criminals from prison at a record pace. These are people in the country illegally who were convicted and sentenced for committing violent crimes and Barack Obama just released them from prison anyway.

But there’s another side to this story. There are the illegal aliens who are caught committing lesser crimes and released from prison only to commit even worse crimes later.

Right now, there are 121 illegal aliens in this exact scenario. They were caught committing crimes yet, instead of being deported, the Obama administration released them back into society. And do you know what all 121 of them did after that?

They all murdered someone. That’s right, Obama gave amnesty to 121 illegal aliens who then went on to commit murder.

Legislation has already been introduced to stop this once and for all. It is called S.291, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act. It was introduced in January by Senators James Inhofe, Chuck Grassley, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Sessions.

The bill is simple: if an illegal alien is convicted of a crime, the Obama administration cannot simply release him or her from prison.

When this legislation was introduced, we knew that the President was releasing illegal alien criminals but we had no idea how dangerous the program was.

121 people are dead now because the President thinks illegal aliens should be allowed to stay in the country, regardless of how dangerous they are.

This is the cost of Obama’s amnesty. This is the human cost of having a President who completely disregards the Constitution and this country’s immigration laws.

It has to stop. It simply can’t go on like this. This latest statistic is just the murders. This doesn’t even include the cases of manslaughter, rape, child molestation, or any number of other violent crimes.

Like always, the GOP is talking a good talk. Republican Senators have come out demanding “answers.” We already know all we need to know. These illegal aliens should have been deported but instead, the Obama administration allowed them to murder 121 innocent people.



Hannity: Objective Truth Takes a ‘Backseat’ to Liberal Narrative on Race

Nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity said that Rachel Dolezal’s “transracialism” shows how objective truth is being forced to take a "backseat" to liberal racial identity politics.

Dolezal is a white woman who resigned from her position as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Monday after being criticized for portraying herself as black.

Dolezal exposed “an utterly twisted, confused and dishonest world that represents the left today, caught red-handed,” Hannity said on his Friday show, “It’s a lie that bothers her not one bit because she’s committed to a cause. And everything including the truth needs to take the backseat to the narrative in the cause.”
Here is a transcript of what Hannity said:

"This is so bizarre. It’s utterly bizarre. You know, in one weird way, a perfect one, and I say that because it tells you about modern-day liberalism. Think about this: You see in this story the obsession with identity politics to the point that a professor and leader of the NAACP local chapter would flat out lie about her race -- deny her parents -- in order to make her something into something she’s not.

"Then there’s the post-modernism aspect to this story, and that’s the belief that real-world facts just don’t matter. Only narrative matters. Objective truth doesn’t exist in this liberal, post-modernism world. You know, facts don’t exist independently, they’re merely pawns to be used on a racial and ethnic chessboard, if you will.

"So after being caught in a lie, she doesn’t feel any responsibility, she doesn’t feel any remorse, no shame, apparently. Her response is that she doesn’t feel any obligation to explain her deception to a community that quite frankly doesn’t understand the definition of race and ethnicity.

"In other words, if you’re white like she is, you’re part of a community that just doesn’t really understand the definition of race and ethnicity. I mean, this is just liberal gobbledygook. When translated into English, it means that she feels that she can lie about her racial identity because it’s serving a larger racial purpose.

"See where I’m going here? Whether or not she’s white -- what you say, it doesn’t matter. Because the truth doesn’t matter. Because identity politics matters. Because the narrative matters. And I’m guessing the hate mail she has received, if and when it’s revealed to be a hoax, isn’t gonna matter either because she’ll argue a more important cause was served. That’s why liberals -- the ends justify the means for them.

"She’s pushing a narrative, that America’s a racist country by making up, you know, racist mailings. It’s an utterly twisted, confused and dishonest world that represents the left today, caught red-handed. It’s a lie that bothers her not one bit because she’s committed to a cause. And everything including the truth needs to take the backseat to the narrative in the cause."



‘Law Enforcement Is Under Attack All Across Our County,’ Former DEA Official Says

Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said on Thursday that police in the United States are “disengaging” because of the media’s focus on isolated cases of alleged overuse of force at a time when local and state law enforcement are the first responders to domestic terror threats and attacks.

“Law enforcement is under attack all across our country,” Braun said during a discussion at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., about the connection between police and counterterrorism efforts in the homeland.

“Law enforcement is disengaging these days, and it’s not the right time to be doing that,” he said, citing as an example local police officers were the first to confront domestic terrorists in Texas in May when a local cop killed two heavily armed men who attacked a gathering at a cultural center.

When CNSNews.com asked him to expound on his comments about law enforcement being under attack, Braun said watching a few episodes of the television program “Cops” gives a realistic view of the challenges law enforcement personnel face.

“That’s what law enforcement deals with at the local and state level day in and day out, and they’ve got a very tough job,” Braun said.

He cited another incident in Texas where a cop resigned after arresting a teenage girl at a pool party where the crowd became unruly. The cop, who resigned and issued a public apology, had responded to a suicide and a suicide attempt before he got the call for the party.

“I’m simply not seeing the media paint the most accurate picture … of law enforcement that should be painted,” Braun said. “They’re focused on some isolated events.”

Statistics prove that is the case, Braun said.

“When you stop to think that we’ve got 17,000 law enforcement jurisdictions in the United States and on any given day of the week I believe we’ve got 500, 555,000 law enforcement officers, and every day of the year those cops are making about 35,000 arrests, and we isolate one bad event, and we dwell on it for not days or a day but often times days and weeks, what kind of an impact does that have on the American psyche?” Braun said. “That’s what worries me.”



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


17 June, 2015

Government Charges Hastert with “Crime” of Withdrawing His Own Money

More misuse of the law to target conservatives. The next Republican administration should return the compliment

Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been charged with lying to the FBI about the reason he was withdrawing money from bank accounts. Should what Hastert did be illegal, or any of the government’s business? Let’s look at the facts.

From the charges, it appears that Hastert (1) withdrew $3.5 million of his own money from banks to (2) pay an individual “to cover up past misconduct” and (3) lied to the FBI about the reason he was making the withdrawals. It appears that the past misconduct was (4) molesting a student when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Let’s look at each of these four things to see whether the charges are warranted.

I’m going to wait to discuss (4), but will state the obvious up front. It’s not acceptable for teachers to molest their students, and it is also against the law. I’ll discuss this at the end of the post, because Hastert is not being charged for this.

1. The $3.5 million was Hastert’s money, which should give him the right to spend it as he sees fit. Withdrawing a person’s own money from a bank should never be a crime, although it can constitute the crime of structuring, if it appears that the withdrawals might be to finance some illegal activity. But note that under structuring laws, there need be no evidence of any actual illegal activity; just a suspicious pattern of withdrawals. If someone is doing something illegal, charge them with that. While someone’s suspicious behavior might lead law enforcement officials to follow up and detect illegal activity, suspicious behavior by itself should never be illegal. Doing so puts every law-abiding citizen at risk, and the abuses of civil asset forfeiture show this. Hastert did nothing wrong when he withdrew his own money from his own bank accounts.

2. Paying money to a former student also should not be illegal. Note that Hastert is not being charged with this. I just bring it up because it is part of what Hastert did. If Hastert wanted to give money to someone, that’s between the giver and the recipient, and it is none of the government’s business. It is not, and should not be, illegal to give money to people. (I will note that it is likely that the recipient in this case should have paid income taxes on the money, but I have no indication that the IRS has shown any interest in pursuing this.)

3. Apparently, when questioned by the FBI about the withdrawals, Hastert claimed he felt the money would be safer if it was not in the bank, which the FBI says was a lie. I could twist this around to make it true: Hastert might have thought the money would be safer in the hands of the person he paid rather than languishing in the bank. But, I would argue that it is none of the government’s business anyway, because it is Hastert’s money to use as he sees fit.

My conclusion is that regardless of the actual law, none of (1), (2), or (3) should be illegal, even though (1) and (3) actually are illegal, and Hastert is being charged with violating (1) and (3). Those laws are examples of government overreach that threaten every American, innocent or not, that violate our privacy, and allow people to be penalized based on activities that look suspicious to some government employee even when no wrongdoing has occurred.

Now let’s look at (4), which should be a crime, because if the accusation is true, Hastert was violating the rights of his students. If that is the crime we believe has occurred, he should be accused and tried for that crime, not for withdrawing his money from a bank or lying to the FBI.

Assuming the accusation is true, what would be the appropriate punishment? Jail time, coupled with being labeled as a sexual predator once released? Such a punishment would be typical for the crime.

However, libertarian scholars such as my colleague Bruce Benson argue that such punishments do nothing to compensate the victims of crime, and that a libertarian legal system would require those who violate the rights of others to pay restitution to the injured parties. Then justice would be served. A prison sentence for the rights violator falls short because it does nothing to compensate the person whose rights were violated.

In this particular case, Hastert did just that. He paid the victim $3.5 million, which the victim apparently thought was fair compensation because we have heard nothing from the victim. I’m not arguing that because of those payments, justice has already been served, and it appears there may be other victims who were not compensated. I’m just saying that libertarians often argue that restitution is the appropriate way to justly settle rights violations, and Hastert paid what, apparently, his victim viewed as fair compensation.

My big issue with this case is that while almost everyone would agree that a teacher molesting a student is a repulsive criminal act, Hastert is not being charged for that crime. He’s being charged with withdrawing his own money from his own bank accounts. Our legal system allows people suspected of one crime to be charged with something else that only amounts to suspicious behavior. Everyone should be against that perversion of the law.



Public Pension Crisis Robs Future Generations

Politicians across the nation have promised public employees larger pensions while low-balling the contributions needed to fulfill those promises. Consequently, city and state governments have wracked up piles of debt that may take three decades to pay off, rather than the 15 to 20 years recommended by the Society of Actuaries. Young people will bear a huge share of the burden, even though they have had no say in the matter.

“The injustice and immorality of using Millennials as piggy banks should be apparent to all but the willfully blind,” Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan writes in an op-ed at Forbes. “Public pension funds should not be balanced on the backs of students or younger Americans.”

How should the crisis be handled? According to McQuillan, it could be solved by adopting just a few reforms: (1) Public pension plans should be made financially transparent and should be required to achieve full annual funding without issuing “pension obligation bonds”; (2) plans should be required to pay off unfunded liabilities in 15 to 20 years; (3) state and local governments should be given the flexibility to switch to a 401(k)-type defined contribution plan; and (4) voter approval should be required for any changes that would result in greater pension obligations. Together these reforms would, McQuillan writes, “save future generations from paying for promises they did not make.”



Jeb Bush and Medicaid Reform

Despite his reputation as a “moderate,” 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush pushed for bold reform in education and healthcare during his years as governor of Florida. Bush’s Medicaid reform pilot project merits particular attention as lawmakers consider a new round of healthcare reform. According to Independent Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, several indicators suggest that Bush’s program, which was expanded from two counties to five under Governor Rick Scott, was a success.

Goodman bases his conclusions on a study by two University of Arizona researchers, Michael Bond and Emily Patch, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Business and Economics. Bond and Patch found that the pilot program, which gave private health plans flexibility in setting the benefits available to low-income patients enrolled the program, was associated with lower cost growth, improved access to care, and better health outcomes. From 2006 to 2009, for example, Medicaid costs per capita rose much less in the counties that participated in the pilot program than in the Florida counties with regular Medicaid. In addition, patients enjoyed greater access to dermatological care, neurological care, and orthopedic care.

Most important of all, however, was that patient outcomes were better for those in the pilot program compared to those in regular Medicaid. A lesson to draw from all of this, according to Goodman, is that Medicaid plans administered by private companies have significant and underappreciated potential to offer low-income and disabled people better care, and with less burden to taxpayers. It’s a lesson that more politicians should take to heart.



Carly Fiorina: No Citizenship 'If You Have Come Here Illegally and Stayed Here Illegally'M

When it comes to immigration, "Everyone talks about comprehensive solutions, but nobody starts with the basics," Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

"My own view is, if you have come here illegally and stayed here illegally, that you don't get a pass to citizenship."

Fiorina's view differs from that of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, all of whom advocate a more "comprehensive" approach, including eventual, earned legal status for illegal immigrants.

Fiorina did not rule out eventual legal status, but said it would be a long time coming:

"Well, I think legal status is a possibility for sure. I think their children maybe can become citizens. But my own view is, it isn't fair to say to people who have played by the rules -- and it takes a long time to play by the rules -- that, you know, it just doesn't matter."

She said the legal immigration system has been broken for 25 years and also needs fixing.



HUD's 'Housing Equality' Thud

Barack Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is set to release a rule aimed at fostering “diversity” in wealthy neighborhoods around the country. “HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” an agency spokeswoman said. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

This diversity scheme has shades of the last time Democrats attempted to reconfigure banking to favor unqualified people. Promoters of the policy are suggesting it’s fair because, if states and communities don’t want to abide by Obama’s decree, they can forgo the federal money they receive. That’s a fair argument only if the people in those states can also choose to forgo paying taxes to the federal government.

Of course, most of Obama’s supporters pay no taxes. Political analyst Marc Thiessen said it best: “We as conservatives believe and diversifying communities too. The way you do that is through economic opportunity. It’s not by building more affordable housing in affluent communities, it’s by creating economic opportunities so that more Americans can afford housing in affluent communities.

Right now the problem is that people at the bottom of the Obama economy can’t get ahead.” HUD’s rule is nothing more than an Obama charade to ramp up class warfare and appease constituents who are enslaved on poverty plantations — the direct result of generations of failed Democrat economic policies.



A war that America fought to win would be different

Burt Prelutsky

"Because Obama is so adamant about having what only he regards as a major foreign policy achievement on his resume, he is leaving Israel and the Gulf nations to swing in the breeze while he offers Iran the entire Middle East in exchange for a signature on a nuclear deal.

If he had a single ounce of red blood in his veins, Obama would have sent our military over there months ago to wipe out ISIS before they burned, beheaded or crucified any more people. Instead, Obama and his stooges defend his inaction by insisting that Americans are war-weary. I beg to differ.

What we’re sick of is engaging in wars we have no desire to win unconditionally. If an American president ever pledged himself to wipe out those in the Middle East and North Africa who target Christians for extermination, who kidnap young girls and turn them into sex slaves and who exhort their pea-brained followers in the U.S. and Britain to execute soldiers, cops and civilians, I feel reasonably confident that his approval rate would hover well above 80%."



California dreaming

As we have repeatedly noted, the stylish new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was 10 years in the making, a whopping $5 billion over budget, and yet riddled with safety issues. We have done our best to keep up with the problems, but they keep on coming.

As Jaxon Van Derbeken notes in the San Francisco Chronicle, about one-fourth of the steel rods that anchor the bridge’s town are in sleeves “flooded with corrosive salty water,” one of them up to five feet, and this was a critical threat” that compromises the very integrity of the new span. The 120 sleeves that encase the rods are designed to prevent damage from a major earthquake, which the Bay Area has had before and will doubtless experience again. As Van Derbeken observes, “salt is known to accelerate corrosion, which attacks metal over time and has been linked to numerous disasters,” such as the ruptured oil pipeline in Santa Barbara.

CalTrans boss Malcolm Dougherty told reporters the bridge’s foundation could never be fully watertight. But the bridge’s foundation structure has “sensitivity to water getting to some components,” therefore a solution was needed. This is the same Caltrans boss who in a 2014 Sacramento hearing said “the bridge is safe” so many times that then state senator Mark DeSaulnier asked him to stop. In the two hearings he chaired, DeSaulnier heard now Caltrans bosses, pushing to complete the project, compromised public safety by ignoring problems with welds, bolts, and rods. And they gagged and banished engineers, scientists and experts who had a problem with it. One whistleblower called for a criminal investigation, but that never took place. In effect, it was the bridge to no accountability, and that should come as no surprise.

During the hearings DeSaulnier let slip that his main problem with the safety issues was that they made people adverse to taxes, which in his view were needed for new infrastructure projects. DeSaulnier is now a member of Congress and he is sure to fit right in with the tax-and-spend squad.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


16 June, 2015

Scotland the brave

I have written a lot that is very critical of Scotland recently (e.g. here). The frantic hate of their supposed "oppressors" -- the English -- that is coming from some of the Scots nationalists is grotesque -- if only because Scots get more spent on them per capita by the British government than the English do. But gratitude is a rare flower I guess.

I have in fact always been a Scots nationalist in my sympathies. It is obvious to me that the Scots and the English are two very different people and having them yoked to the same cart is bound to produce tensions. So let each go their own way. After having spent some time in both countries -- and marrying a Scottish wife -- some differences at least seem very clear to me. The English on the whole are an emotionally restrained people, for instance, while the Scots are great sentimentalists. An amusing proof of that is that on a traditionally emotional occasion -- parting -- the English have to sing a Scottish song, in an almost incomprehensible language to them: "Auld lang syne".

And the political differences between the Scots and the English are legendary. The Scots in Scotland are frantic socialists. When Margaret Thatcher first gained the Prime Ministership with a huge swing towards her in England, Scotland actually swung away from the Tories. So that alone is surely an argument for independence. Why should either nation have the political preferences of the other imposed upon it?

So the best I can do to understand the hatreds flowing from some of the Scots Nats is that it is a welling up of many lifetimes of frustration at being locked into an unsuitable marriage. It remains deplorable, however. Hate is intrinsically destructive.

But there is no doubt that the Scots have been traditionally warlike. I gather that about a third of the British army to this day is Scottish. And a tradition of war should select for manly men -- strong, confident and robust men. And Scotland does seem to produce a goodly number of such men. Watch the video below to see what I mean. Bill McCue is the sort of men that Scots think of as Scottish and there is some truth in that. I hope the Scots speech is not too hard to understand.

How can a country be bad that produces big, confident and yet sentimental men like that? What woman would not like to have a man in her life like that (pace the feminists)? Scotland is a wonderful country with massive traditions of its own and it should be free to pursue its own destiny in its own way

I have written quite a bit about Scotland in the academic journals. See here -- JR.


Liberals and the Left, an unimportant distinction

William Voegeli below looks at Jonathan Chait's claim that he is a liberal, not a Leftist

Chait describes liberalism’s stalwart moderation in a way liberals have long employed, finding it both persuasive and congenial. Liberalism understands itself to be an Aristotelian mean between conservatism, complacently or viciously opposed to reforms needed to rectify social wrongs, and leftist radicalism, which aspires to good ends, but too often resorts to bad, undemocratic means. Liberalism’s excellence consists in pursuing the right goals in the right way; it’s the quality that made the center vital, both indispensable and animated.

Liberalism’s betweenness can be viewed less flatteringly, however, as a double game. Liberals tell radicals that they agree with their goals, but working within the system—letting liberals negotiate the deal—is the only way to get even a portion of what liberals and leftists seek together. At the same time, liberals tell people afraid of the radicals—an audience including conservatives, but also people with limited interest in politics but a clear aversion to aggressive fanatics—that dealing with liberals is the only way to ward off the crazies.

This is a kind of triangulation, but not one where liberalism is equidistant from conservatism and radicalism. Liberals have made clear for a century that they regard conservatives as their enemy and radicals as their coalition partners—though often embarrassing, unreliable, counterproductive ones. However uneasily and fractiously, liberals and radicals share a basic understanding about what they loathe and about what the world will look like when they succeed in removing its injustices. The result is a division of labor and mutual dependence. “Without pragmatic liberals,” historian Michael Kazin writes, “radicals spin into fantasies or eat one another alive from inside their desiccated ideological cocoons. But without radical dreamers, liberals absorb themselves with strategies that lead mostly to defeat.”

No comparable shared purpose or understanding binds liberals to conservatives as a political force. As Chait describes it, liberals and radicals are brought together by a fundamental substantive agreement about the need for greater social and economic equality. What liberals and conservatives share is a procedural commitment to conduct politics according to Enlightenment principles of free expression and individual rights. In this account, liberals are playing on the same team as radicals, but agree with conservatives about which rulebook to use.

Understanding this fact solely in abstract terms would lead us to expect that liberals will be far more likely to side with leftists against conservatives, for the sake of achieving shared objectives, than with conservatives against leftists for the sake of upholding shared norms. The historical record bears out this prediction. The Atlantic’s David Frum argued that the point of Chait’s essay was that political correctness makes liberals look “hesitant and weak.” If liberals can’t stand up to “transgender activists at a graduate school,” they can’t stand up to anyone, for anything.

But the idea that liberals suffer from a reputation for being spineless, soft, and irresponsible—hand-wringing wimps who won’t take their own side in an argument—is not categorically true. Liberals have never been bashful about taking their own side when arguing against conservatives. Chait’s most famous New Republic article, for example, began, “I hate President George W. Bush,” a hatred that went beyond policy differences to encompass the way the 43rd president walked and talked. Liberals demonized Robert Bork, when he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, with equal stridency. “Robert Bork’s America,” Senator Edward Kennedy said at the time, “is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”

Their determination to fight the real enemy regularly allows liberals to overcome their misgivings, if any, about making common cause with leftists. Democratic senators Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer, and Tom Daschle attended the Washington premiere of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 in 2004, along with Terry McAuliffe, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee and now governor of Virginia. Harkin and McAuliffe, speaking to reporters, praised the strident anti-Bush film. Similarly, Al Sharpton has his own show on MSNBC and walk-in privileges at the Obama White House.

Liberalism’s Logic

This partiality is not just operational, but theoretical. Chait portrays liberalism as the quest for egalitarian policies while upholding Enlightenment traditions, but a dominant motif in liberalism’s history is the dilution or abandonment of Enlightenment norms for the sake of effecting reform. In one of liberalism’s founding texts, The Promise of American Life (1909), Herbert Croly complained that “the traditional American confidence in individual freedom has resulted in a morally and socially undesirable distribution of wealth.” The solution? “In becoming responsible for the subordination of the individual to the demand of a dominant and constructive national purpose, the American state will in effect be making itself responsible for a morally and socially desirable distribution of wealth.”

By the same token, to believe that men are endowed by nature with certain inalienable rights is to believe that rights are what they are. The New Deal, by contrast, insisted that rights are what we say they are. Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address proclaimed a second Bill of Rights—to receive a long list of social welfare guarantees—because the rights the founders held to be self-evident had, by the 20th century, “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” And as America moves forward in the “pursuit of happiness and well-being,” FDR said, it can look forward to the elaboration of “similar rights” as circumstances dictate.

This was non-foundationalism avant la lettre. “We have to give up on the idea that there are unconditional, transcultural moral obligations, obligations rooted in an unchanging, ahistorical human nature,” Rorty contended half a century after FDR’s Second Bill of Rights speech. We “so-called ‘relativists’ claim that many of the things which common sense thinks are found or discovered are really made or invented.” Since all rights are made or invented, there’s no reason for New Deal liberals not to avail themselves of the right to make and invent a new right whenever it might be useful. By the same token, we have every reason to discard or curtail rights that have become inconvenient, which is Tanya Cohen’s position on the right to free speech, or the Department of Education’s on the right to a fair trial.

Having anticipated Rorty, FDR closed his speech to Congress by offering a sneak preview of Michael Moore. If “rightist reaction” thwarts the Second Bill of Rights, he said, then “even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.” If, as Chait contends, political correctness consists of radical leftists attempting to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as illegitimate, then your typical hashtag campaign fanatic is a bashful centrist compared to Dr. New Deal.

Jonathan Chait castigates political correctness as “a system of left-wing ideological repression” that is “antithetical to liberalism.” This very welcome rebuke, however, rests on a very shaky premise. The problem—for Chait, and liberalism, and America—is that political correctness is better understood as a continuation of the liberal tradition than as a betrayal of it.

One must applaud and encourage those liberals, like Chait, Shulevitz, and the Harvard law professors, who criticize political correctness. But it’s difficult to be optimistic about whether they’ll ultimately succeed, or even fight all that hard. A liberalism divided against itself, half politically correct and half politically incorrect, cannot stand. When it ceases to be divided and becomes all one thing or all the other, that one thing is going to be P.C. unless liberals repudiate, not just radical leftists, but fundamental elements of their own logic and legacy.



Arty people tend to be a bit mad

The original heading on this report was: "Creativity and psychosis share a genetic source". But that wrongly inflates artistic endeavour. There are many types of creativity and the most important type of creativity is scientific and technological creativity -- which can transform not only individual lives but also nations and civilizations. Artistic creativity is primarily for entertainment.

And there are many quite unrelated types of creativity even within the artistic field. I know of no great composers, for instance, who are also great graphic artists. So the report below is of interest but great caution should be exercised in drawing generalizations from it.

And, as ever, we should heed the classic caution that correlation is not causation. The sort of creativity that was studied tends to be associated with Leftist loyalties so it is possible that it was the Leftism rather than the creativity which produced the correlation with unfortunate mental states. Lack of reality contact is the defining feature of psychosis and that lack seems to be almost routine among Leftists. Perhaps the only difference between Leftism and madness is one of degree. One certainly gets that feeling when reading anything "postmodern"

Artistic creativity may share genetic roots with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a study published on Monday. The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, delves into a well-known genetic database—the deCODE library of DNA codes derived from samples provided by the population of Iceland.

The authors first compared genetic and medical data from 86,000 Icelanders, establishing a DNA signature that pointed to a doubled risk for schizophrenia and an increase of a third for bipolar disorder. The next step was to look at the genomes of people engaged in artistic work.

Those samples came from more than 1,000 volunteers who were members of Iceland's national societies of visual arts, theatre, dance, writing and music.

Members of these organisations were 17 percent likelier than non-members to have the same genetic signature, the study found. The finding was supported by four studies in the Netherlands and Sweden covering around 35,000 people, comparing individuals in the general public and those in artistic occupations. Those investigations used somewhat different parameters but found the probability was even higher, at 23 percent.

"We are here using the tools of modern genetics to take a systematic look at a fundamental aspect of how the brain works," said Kari Stefansson, head of deCODE Genetics, who led the study. "The results of this study should not have come as a surprise because to be creative, you have to think differently from the crowd, and we had previously shown that carriers of genetic factors that predispose to schizophrenia do so," he said in a news release.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


15 June, 2015

Race relations: Are we more "enlightened" these days?

The Left are culturally triumphant in America today. They worked tirelessly for their dominance and they have won it. Anger is a great motivator, it seems. Conservative values have few champions outside the more evangelical churches. The media, bureaucracy, schools and colleges are a Leftist monoculture. And the Left are convinced that their ideas have made America much more enlightened than it was. If it weren't for those goddam conservatives, America would be a wonderland of right-thinking with no dissent allowed.

Is there any truth in that? I can't see it. With the vast anti-white hostility whipped up among blacks by the Left, it seems to me that race war is restrained only by the impossibility of it succeeding.

So how does that compare with the past? In the Jim Crow era, blacks walked very gingerly through life. Not only being aggressive but even being "uppity" could earn a black the rope on some occasions. So an enforced racial peace prevailed, with levels of black crime much lower than today -- particularly black-on-white crime.

But nobody these days would advocate a return to Jim Crow. So is there a better model of modern-day multiculturalism than what prevails today? Is there a better model in the past? There is. I was there. I grew up in an exceptionally multicultural society that was also as peaceful as any. It was an unwitting and unintended natural experiment that does, I think, tell us a lot. It's something that took place in Australia but the similarities between Australia and the USA are great -- great enough to permit generally safe generalizations from one to the other.

I grew up in the '40s and '50s in Innisfail (which is actually a romantic term for Ireland -- and a lot of us did have some Irish blood. I do). And for reasons that need not detain us, the small population there (c. 7000) had quite amazing racial diversity. About 50% of the population were Anglo-Celtic and another 30% were Italian but the rest almost covered the racial spectrum: Indians, Chinese, Maltese, Spaniards, Greeks, Russians, Danes, Aborigines etc. But there were no Muslims or Africans.

So what were race-relations like? Generally civil. We Anglos were shocked to see Italian men wearing pointy shoes but I doubt that anyone ever mentioned it to them. And we got gelato long before anybody else in Australia did. There was grumbling among the Anglos about "wops" and "dagoes" and in her youth my mother was threatened by her father that he would disown her if she married an Italian.

But within-group grumbles were just about it. There was no real aggression from either side. The Italians and Spanish grew rich farming sugarcane and the Greeks opened the only cafe in town (the "Bluebird"). And very popular it was. And a Dane sold us milk straight from the cow (quite illegally). It was not paradise. Drunken deeds happened there. My own father was something of a king-hitter if someone disrespected him when he had been drinking. But people mainly mixed socially in their own ethnic groups. The men floored by my father were Anglo-Celtic men much like him.

So it was a normal Australian country town much like any other despite it phenomenal ethnic mix. There was real behavioural tolerance there even if the language among friends left something to be desired. A man who decried "dagoes" in private would be just as polite in any dealings he had with Italians as he would be with anyone else. The speech did not matter. The current Leftist hysteria about "incorrect" speech was unknown and unimagined.

So it is perfectly possible for a heavily multicultural society to be perfectly civil and free of inter-group aggression. No society will ever be perfectly peaceful or just but stress-free multiculturalism is possible.

So the Left have wrought a great evil by their constant preaching that black failure is due to white prejudice. Who can blame blacks for taking that as read and becoming angered by it? The whole Leftist agenda of "affirmative action" screams that blacks are being unfairly treated and that government has to step in to right a wrong. But affirmative action is just racism hiding behind an anodyne name and its fruit -- hate -- is the typical fruit of racism.

The only message coming from government about race should be that blacks are better than whites at some things and whites are better than blacks at some other things. Any other message destroys social peace.

So from my perspective the present is not enlightened at all. It is endarkened, if I may coin a word.


Uncritical praise of a recently deceased British Liberal party leader

Being a liberal is an asset even when you are dead. This is reminiscent of the praise poured out when the disgusting Ted Kennedy died

Occasionally, something happens in public life that leaves you stroking your head. How can you be the only one not to share in the general emotion? The death of Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, has had that reaction on me. I wonder, if I died, would people crawl out of the woodwork to praise me, people who did not have a good word for me in my lifetime? Is it wrong to “defame” the dead? Or is it wrong to engage in this horrible mawkish pretence that anyone who dies was an asset to the country?

Parliament–clearly a body that has spare time on its hands–has paused to hold tributes to Kennedy. One Lib Dem MP besmirched the dignity of Parliament by declaiming in the House that Kennedy’s 10-year-old son, Donald, should be “really proud of [his] Daddy”. But this man was no stateman. He was neither Churchill nor Thatcher. If he had worthwhile achievements to his name, I am not aware of them.

Having becoming leader of the Lib Dems, he was forced to resign in 2006 as a drunkard. His marriage failed as a result of the drink, and so the son, who seems to have been reinvented as a political prop, did not have a functional family, being brought up by his mother in the family home while Kennedy lived elsewhere. Should young Donald be proud of such a father?

As a Liberal Democrat, Charles Kennedy supported rule by an international bureaucracy based in Belgium. He backed detailed regulation of the economy by Westminster bureaucrats. He supported mass immigration, and controls on free speech, freedom of association and so on that flow from the creation of a multicultural society. He backed high taxation and high state spending.

In short, Kennedy was a not a liberal in the 19th-century meaning of the term, and was yet another tired supporter of state power and the long arm of the unaccountable civil service. For this, he was about to be “ennobled” and thus appointed to the House of Lords–quite an inappropriate reaction to a failed politician’s defeat at the polls.

Kennedy was not all bad–nobody is–and did oppose the Iraq War in a rare display of good political judgement. However, he was not a man who deserved Parliamentary plaudits and not a husband, son or father of whom anyone could be proud. Do we have to take part in the pretence that he was one of our greatest politicians ever?



Even Hitler and Mussolini did not try to control what you eat and drink

San Francisco supervisors have approved three proposals that take aim at sodas and other sugary drinks.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor Tuesday of three measures dealing with soda consumption - just seven months after voters rejected a proposed tax on sweetened beverages.

According to KRON-TV, the “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Warning Ordinance” would require health warnings on advertising within city limits — on billboards, walls and the sides of buses.

The label would read: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

Another proposal prohibits soda ads on city-owned property, much like San Francisco does with tobacco and alcohol.

The third measure approved prohibits city funds from being used to buy soda or other sugar-sweetened drinks.

“This is a very important step forward in terms of setting strong public policy around the need to reduce consumption of sugary drinks; they are making people sick, they’re helping fuel the explosion of Type 2 diabetes and other health problems in adults and in children,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, according to KRON.

Roger Salazar, a spokesman for CalBev, the state’s beverage association, said, “It’s unfortunate the Board of Supervisors is choosing the politically expedient route of scapegoating instead of finding a genuine and comprehensive solution to the complex issues of obesity and diabetes.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee hasn’t taken a public position on the proposals. They are set to come up for another vote before becoming law



Freeman by name; ignorant, illiberal prick by nature

A British libertarian scarifies some conventional wisdom

George Freeman MP—who is, apparently, some kind of minister for the life sciences in this exciting new Tory government—has been spouting some ignorant bullshit at the Hay Festival.

Mr Freeman told an audience at the Hay Festival that it was clear that sugary drinks and snacks were behind the worsening obesity epidemic in Britain. “I don’t think heavy-handed legislation is the way to go,” he said.

Well, that’s very kind of you, Mr Freeman. It’s a great pity that the “obesity epidemic” is, by and large, a load of old bollocks—with researchers predicting some kind of lard-arse armageddon that has, consistently, failed to materialise (a bit like climate change, really).

But George thinks that it is a crisis and—perhaps whilst he was obtaining his degree in Geography—it looks like he once heard someone explain Pigou taxes.

“But I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society, as in sugar, and where we can clearly show that the use of that leads to huge pressures on social costs, then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation.

“Companies should know that if you insist on selling those products, we will tax them.”

George’s trouble is, of course, that we can NOT “clearly show that the use of [sugar] leads to huge pressures on social costs”.

What we can show, in fact, is that calorie consumption has fallen rapidly throughout the century—to the point that the average adult’s intake is now below the recommended intake during war-time rationing.

The human body, as an energy machine is pretty simple: if you burn more calories through activity than you consume, then you will lose weight—and vice versa. And given what we know about these two factors (neatly summarised in this excellent IEA monograph by Chris Snowdon), there really can only be one conclusion:

* All the evidence indicates that per capita consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been falling in Britain for decades. Per capita sugar consumption has fallen by 16 per cent since 1992 and per capita calorie consumption has fallen by 21 per cent since 1974.

* Since 2002, the average body weight of English adults has increased by two kilograms. This has coincided with a decline in calorie consumption of 4.1 per cent and a decline in sugar consumption of 7.4 per cent.

The rise in obesity has been primarily caused by a decline in physical activity at home and in the workplace, not an increase in sugar, fat or calorie consumption.

So, once more we are forced to wheel out the Polly conundrum: is George Freeman MP ignorant or lying?



When was the Best Time to be Alive?

Richard Blake

As an historical novelist, I am often asked when was the best time to be alive. My readers expect me to say 7th century Byzantium or 17th century London, or some other time I write about. My answer, though, without a moment’s hesitation, is now. The present has its ugly side, no doubt. But no one in his right mind, who is not already dying, should ever want to live two weeks before now, let alone two centuries.

Let us take the ancient world. I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about it. I would like to see it. But would I want to live there? Certainly not. My readers who fantasise about living there always imagine they will be in the higher classes. Well, the higher classes were never more than half of one per cent of ancient populations. Those living in the cities were never more than five per cent. The other 95 per cent lived and worked on the land. They were usually slaves or serfs, or otherwise unfree. They hardly ever cooked or bathed. Their work was backbreaking. Even without banditry and famines and plagues to carry them off, their life expectancy at birth was about thirty.

Look now at the cities. Perhaps one in twenty of those living there were in easy circumstances. The rest were effectively beggars. Their life expectancy was lower than in the country. Or look at the higher classes. They had baths and slaves and pretty clothes. But they had no tea or coffee or proper dentistry, nor any effective pain relief. They had no spectacles. When the black rats turned up with their fleas carrying the Pasteurella pestis bacillus, the rich died just as horribly as the poor.

Let me now look at my own experience. I have reached the age of 55 in apparently good health and with most of my teeth. But I had a bicycle accident when I was 18. This was nothing serious at the time, and the bruising soon cleared up. In my middle twenties, though, I noticed I had increasing difficulty with passing water. I ignored this, until the difficulty became alarming. I then went to my doctor, who referred me to the local hospital. There, I was anaesthetised and carried into a clean operating theatre. Ten minutes with a surgical pipe cleaner, and I was carried back to my bed. I was in hospital for three days. I came out with the problem sorted, and it has never re-turned.

Carry me back to a time as recent as the 19th century. What then? Well, the constriction was unlikely to have killed me outright. But it would have led to repeated bladder infections. One of these would have reached my kidneys, and I would probably have died in my early thirties. I would have died in pain, and been put into my coffin already a shrivelled skeleton.

Or I look at my own family. My wife would have died in childbirth, my daughter with her. If she had survived all her other problems, my mother would certainly have died last February. As it is, she is back home and moving about. My mother-in-law would have died five years ago of a blocked intestine. Or my best friend would have died in 1983 of a bad appendix.

Rather than tell ourselves how much better things were in the past, let us recognise how lucky we are to live in the present. The only better time to be alive than the present is surely the future – and many of us have an excellent chance of seeing that.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


14 June, 2015

Have Obama and other Western leaders been bought?

By Harry Richardson, a long-time student of Islam. I don't think his theory is the whole story but there's no doubt that money speaks loudly in politics and that the Arabs have a lot of it -- JR

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If he was right, then Government policies for combating Islamic violence are nothing short of insane.

Over and over they continue with the same old claptrap theory. “If we just give enough money and recognition to 'moderate' Muslims, these people will fix our problems for us”.

This assumption is so flawed on so many levels that it is difficult to know where to begin. I will however try to outline a few of the more glaringly obvious insanities underpinning this fantasy.

Anyone who knows the story of Mohammed will understand that his life is the example for Muslims to follow. During the 23 years that he declared himself a prophet, Mohammed’s behaviour went through a number of stages.

During the early days in Mecca, he was without power and surrounded by a potentially hostile peer group. At that time, he was cautious, measured and “moderate”. As he gained more followers and more power however, his tone became steadily more confrontational. He ridiculed the religion of his contemporaries and demanded that they convert to his religion or rot in Hell.

Eventually, he would flee to Medina where his power grew exponentially. Within short measure, he began sending war parties to attack, rob, enslave and kill those who would not submit to him and his religion.

This violent, “extremist” phase was far more successful than his “moderate” phase. During this period he went from being leader of around 150 souls, to being the King of all Arabia.

Mohammed’s stated goal was the conquest of the whole world by Islam. His tactics and strategies are believed by devout Muslims to be God given models for success. Mohammed’s early “moderate” stance is seen by Islamic strategists as a necessary stage of Islamic conquest in times and places where Islam is weak. It is not seen as a goal in itself.

The strategy of trying to boost moderates within the Islamic community is therefore doomed to failure on two fronts. Firstly, politicians seem utterly clueless with regard to what a moderate Muslim looks like (not currently carrying a rocket launcher seems to be the main criteria).

The second problem is that “moderation” is something that is imposed on Muslims through lack of power and opportunity. The more money, power and resources we shower on them, the more likely they are to jettison their moderation and move up to the next level.

A classic example of this, is President Obama’s promotion of the Boston Islamic Centre as a haven of moderation. I’m sure that the official recognition of their importance in combating “extremism” comes with all sorts of generous grants and funding. The full extent of this largesse will be revealed in time, but as Barry Obama’s favourite Mosque, I’m guessing that the figures will be substantial.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the support they have received from the American taxpayer, their record of moderation is less than impressive. In fact, no fewer than 12 of their members have turned out to be hard core terrorists.

If it had been just one or two casual attendees who turned out to harbour extreme views, we could put this down to coincidence. More than three is starting to look suspicious, but twelve?

One of these twelve, is Abdurahman Alamoudi, the founder and first President of the mosque, who was sentenced in 2004 to 23 years in jail for plotting terrorism and raising money for Al-Qaeda. Surely that should raise some eyebrows in this day and age. Other notable worshippers include:

MIT scientist-turned-al Qaeda agent Aafia Siddiqui. Known as “Lady al Qaeda”. In 2010 she received 86 years in prison for planning a New York chemical attack. She is a relative of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and ISIS wanted to trade her release for journalists they were holding.

Tarek Mehanna, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2012 for a plot to murder shoppers in a suburban Boston mall using automatic weapons.

Mosque trustee and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He was banned from the US after issuing a fatwa calling for the murder of US soldiers.

Former trustee, Jamal Badawi who was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a plan to funnel more than $12 million to Palestinian suicide bombers.

The burning question of course is, how come the President of the USA can’t figure out that this Mosque is not a "haven of moderation”? He has access to sources of information that make Google look like a pocket dictionary. The NSA, the FBI and the CIA have multi-billion dollar budgets. They can intercept every phone call or email anywhere in the world. If a mouse breaks wind in South Waziristan, they will know about it.

The answer lies in the way governments operate. They are huge unwieldy bureaucracies which react to incentives and influence. Influence comes in two main forms, money and votes. Of course Western Governments need votes, but with enough money they can afford slick marketing campaigns to bring these in.

The interests of the money backers generally conflict with the interests of the voters. The trick therefore is to offer just enough to the voters to get you over the line without compromising the interests of your financial sugar daddies. This system is deeply flawed but as Churchill pointed out, the only systems which are worse are all those we tried before.

There are many different groups exerting influence on governments. Some of the most influential include the farm lobby, the union movement, the tobacco and alcohol lobbies, big pharma and, in the US, the gun lobby.

One group which is widely assumed to have enormous power is the Jewish lobby. Some people seem convinced that every decision that every Western government makes is directed by shadowy Zionist Jews who undoubtedly punch well above their weight in such matters. They also seem to be overrepresented in our deeply flawed monetary and banking system.

That said, I believe that today, there is a far more influential group whose ultimate aim is far scarier than anything the pro-Israel lobby is likely to dump on us.

In his 2004 film, Fahrenheit 911, committed socialist Michael Moore attempts to film outside the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington. Within minutes he is surrounded by a group of men in black suits and sunglasses, who are almost caricatures of FBI special agents. They demanded to know what he was doing and whisked him out of the area before you could say “Radical Jihad”.

According to Moore, in the aftermath of 9/11 when America’s staunchest ally, John Howard was grounded due to suspicions he might be a terrorist, the FBI was flying around the country picking up members of Bin Laden’s family and the Saudi Royals before flying them out of the country.

He points out that the Saudis have a trillion dollars invested in the US stock market and another trillion invested in the US banking system. He further shows that when Dubya was drilling for oil in Texas, losses were picked up by the Saudis to the tune of more than a billion dollars.

Kudos to Michael Moore for pointing out the outrageous links of the Republicans and their oil mates to a foreign power whose basic ideology is disturbingly similar to the Taliban. Fair play to him for pointing out that the media was given a free pass by refusing to investigate links between the Republicans and Islamic extremists.

What he has failed to note however, is that the Press have also refused to investigate the links between the Democrats and Islamic extremists since Obama took over the Whitehouse. In fact, one of Obama’s first overseas trips as President was to Saudi Arabia, where he bowed low to the Saudi King. His list of advisers reads like a “Who’s who” of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Had he investigated this “free pass” further, it might have occurred to him that the Press couldn’t be on the side of the Republicans AND the Democrats. If they aren’t, then the only logical conclusion would be that the free pass is in fact being extended to the high ranking Saudis and Islamic extremists.

It is inevitable and expected that elected governments pander to their financial backers, generally to the detriment of their citizens. However when politicians promote the interests of a foreign power which seeks the overthrow of the Government itself, they leave themselves open to the charge of treason.

Tony Blair rather astutely sidestepped this risk by abolishing the crime of treason in the UK. The Queen then obligingly signed this Bill into law. The intention may have been to avoid prosecution for signing away the power of the British Parliament to a foreign power in Brussels. Conveniently however, it also gives them cover for the promotion of the Islamic political and legal systems, including the setting up of Sharia courts across the British Isles.

In Australia, PM Tony Abbott has been a major disappointment to his core constituents who still believe in such quaint ideas as freedom of speech. In a recent development he has caved in to pressure from voters to establish an inquiry into the Halal certification racket.

In a brazen display of just how keen Abbott is to not fix this issue however, the Government has appointed Sam Dastyari to head the committee of inquiry. Sam Dastyari is an Iranian born Labor senator who was parachuted in a casual vacancy. The ALP website proudly tells us that his parents were student activists in the Iranian Revolution.

I assume that was the same Iranian revolution where student activists invaded the US Embassy, took all the Embassy staff hostage and threatened to kill them if their demands weren’t met.

These student activists reportedly played Russian roulette with the unfortunate handcuffed Americans, repeatedly threatened them with execution and even carried out a mock execution on the blindfolded and handcuffed prisoners in the middle of the night.

Aside from this, they were regularly seen on TV chanting death to America and its allies, burning American flags and screaming their allegiance to the goals of the Islamic revolution. Tony Abbott’s decision to put someone from such a background in charge of the Halal investigation screams a message to those who are listening.
It tells us that Tony Abbott is putting the interests of Islamic money men above the interests of “’We the people”.



Right to Try Passes California Senate

The California Senate unanimously passed The Right to Try Act, which effectively nullifies certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules preventing terminally ill patients from accessing experimental treatments.

State Sens. Jeff Stone (R-Palm Desert) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) introduced Senate Bill 149 in January. The bill gives terminally ill patients access to medicines that have not been given final approval for use by FDA.

California’s Right to Try (RTT) bill follows the lead of 18 other states that have already enacted similar legislation. Twenty-one other states are also now considering such laws.

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, general access to experimental drugs is prohibited, but under the expanded access provision of the act, patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases may access experimental drugs once they receive express FDA approval.

California’s Right to Try Act bypasses FDA’s expanded access program, allowing patients to obtain experimental drugs from manufacturers without first obtaining FDA approval.

Stone, who is also a pharmacist, says he was motivated to introduce his bill because he had seen firsthand the frustration of people and families who are battling not only horrible, life-threatening illnesses but also the government bureaucracy that prevents needed treatments.

“At this point in the illness, the patient has exhausted any other treatment options and simply does not have the time to wait for the FDA’s approval for the drugs and treatments, which can prolong for months or years,” Stone said.

FDA does have a process, known as “compassionate use,” allowing individuals to request permission to use unapproved drugs, but it takes countless hours and paperwork to be of use for the patient in the short amount of time they have left, Stone says.

Providing Legal Protection

Right to try laws protect doctors and drug makers who administer the experimental drugs from lawsuits filed when the treatment harms the individual. Under right to try, patients agreeing to experimental treatments sign a legal form of consent, acknowledging the risks involved and his or her understanding the treatment has no guarantee of success.

The Goldwater Institute, a pro-liberty think tank, has been a major advocate of right to try legislation in states across the country. Kurt Altman, a national policy advisor for Goldwater, says his organization developed the model legislation for RTT after conducting significant research into the FDA drug approval process.

“Once the data was collected, Goldwater identified ... the lack of access terminal patients had to investigational new drugs [as a significant problem that, if resolved,] could potentially help them,” Altman said.

“We believe right to try will enable more terminally ill patients to access investigational medications that could potentially benefit them,” Altman said.

Concerns, But Also Hope

Those skeptical of right to try say it could produce false hope for patients or even worsen their condition. Altman acknowledges those concerns but remains hopeful.

“We have no illusions that this will save millions or even thousands, but we are certain it will help many,” Altman said.

“Right to try gives control over medical decisions back to the patient and doctor, where it rightly belongs,” Altman said. “So far, the bill in California has received bipartisan support. This commonsense bill has gained positive momentum, and we believe that momentum will continue.”

FDA has not commented on the right to try issue. Altman and other proponents hope the movement behind this legislation will prompt the FDA to change some of its requirements right to try supporters believe to be outdated.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


12 June, 2015

Why medical reasons should be the only exemptions from vaccinations

I don't always agree with the AMA but I do on this one -- even though it grinds my gears as a libertarian. The plain fact is that you do harm others by not using important vaccinations. "Herd immunity" is the only protection newborns have in many instances and for me there is no higher priority than protection of the newborn. To think otherwise is very near to being less than human, as far as I can tell. We were all newborns once and survived thanks to others so we need to pass that on

As the debate around vaccinations continues to rage in the public, outbreaks of dangerous preventable diseases have continued to increase. For public health experts, the question has become, “Should individuals be given exemptions from required immunizations for non-medical reasons?” Physicians provided some answers with policy passed at the 2015 AMA Annual Meeting.

Immunization programs in the Unites States are credited with having controlled or eliminated the spread of epidemic diseases, including smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and polio. Immunization requirements vary from state to state, but only two states bar non-medical exemptions based on personal beliefs.

“When people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others," AMA Board of Trustees Member Patrice A. Harris, MD, said in a news release. “As evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in today’s mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience.”

Policies adopted at the meeting call for immunization of the population—absent a medical reason for not being vaccinated—because disease exposure, importation, infections and outbreaks can occur without warning in communities, particularly those that do not have high rates of immunization. That begins with health care professionals involved in direct patient care, who have an obligation to accept vaccinations to prevent the spread of infectious disease and ensure the availability of the medical workforce.

Other policies include:

* Supporting the development and evaluation of educational efforts, based on scientific evidence and in collaboration with health care providers, that support parents who want to help educate and encourage their peers who are reluctant to vaccinate their children

* Disseminating materials about the effectiveness of vaccines to states

* Encouraging states to eliminate philosophical and religious exemptions from state immunization requirements

* Recommending that states have an established decision mechanism that involves qualified public health physicians to determine which vaccines will be mandatory for admission to school and other identified public venues

These policies aim to minimize the risk of outbreaks and protect vulnerable individuals from acquiring preventable but serious diseases.



The Left’s Central Delusion

by Thomas Sowell

Its devotion to central planning has endured from the French Revolution to Obamacare

The fundamental problem of the political Left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.

A never-ending source of grievances for the Left is the fact that some groups are “over-represented” in desirable occupations, institutions, and income brackets, while other groups are “under-represented.” From all the indignation and outrage about this expressed on the left, you might think that it was impossible that different groups are simply better at different things.

Yet runners from Kenya continue to win a disproportionate share of marathons in the United States, and children whose parents or grandparents came from India have won most of the American spelling bees in the past 15 years.

And has anyone failed to notice that the leading professional basketball players have for years been black, in a country where most of the population is white? Most of the leading photographic lenses in the world have — for generations — been designed by people who were either Japanese or German.

Most of the leading diamond-cutters in the world have been either India’s Jains or Jews from Israel or elsewhere.

Not only people but things have been grossly unequal. More than two-thirds of all the tornadoes in the entire world occur in the middle of the United States. Asia has more than 70 mountain peaks that are higher than 20,000 feet and Africa has none. Is it news that a disproportionate share of all the oil in the world is in the Middle East?

Whole books could be filled with the unequal behavior or performances of people, or the unequal geographic settings in which whole races, nations, and civilizations have developed. Yet the preconceptions of the political Left march on undaunted, loudly proclaiming sinister reasons why outcomes are not equal within nations or between nations.

All this moral melodrama has served as a background for the political agenda of the Left, which has claimed to be able to lift the poor out of poverty, and in general make the world a better place. This claim has been made for centuries and in countries around the world. And it has failed for centuries in countries around the world.

Some of the most sweeping and spectacular rhetoric of the Left occurred in 18th-century France, where the very concept of the Left originated in the fact that people with certain views sat on the left side of the National Assembly.

The French Revolution was their chance to show what they could do when they got the power they sought. In contrast to what they promised — “liberty, equality, fraternity” — what they actually produced were food shortages, mob violence, and dictatorial powers that included arbitrary executions, extending even to their own leaders, such as Robespierre, who died under the guillotine.

In the 20th century, the most sweeping vision of the Left — Communism — spread over vast regions of the world and encompassed well over a billion human beings. Of these, millions died of starvation in the Soviet Union under Stalin and tens of millions in China under Mao.

Milder versions of socialism, with central planning of national economies, took root in India and in various European democracies. If the preconceptions of the Left were correct, central planning by educated elites who had vast amounts of statistical data at their fingertips and expertise readily available, and were backed by the power of government, should have been more successful than market economies where millions of individuals pursued their own individual interests willy-nilly.

But, by the end of the 20th century, even socialist and communist governments began abandoning central planning and allowing more market competition.

Yet this quiet capitulation to inescapable realities did not end the noisy claims of the Left. In the United States, those claims and policies have reached new heights, epitomized by government takeovers of whole sectors of the economy and unprecedented intrusions into the lives of Americans, of which Obamacare has been only the most obvious example.



The Myth of the Idle Rich

President Obama recently acknowledged what every sane person knows to be true: The best anti-poverty program is a job. Mr. Obama said this at a recent conference on poverty.

But he continues to repeat a falsehood over and over. This is the claim that the poor work just as hard as the rich do. Well, yes, many people in poor households heroically work very hard at low wages to take care of their families. No doubt about that. Yet the average poor family doesn’t work nearly as much as the rich families do. And that’s a key reason why these households are poor.

The most recent Census Bureau data on household incomes document the importance of work. Census sorts the households by income quintile, and we will label those in the highest quintile as “rich,” and those in the lowest quintile as “poor.” The average household in the top 20 percent of income have an average of almost exactly two full-time workers. The average poor family (bottom 20 percent) has just 0.4 workers (see chart). This means on average, roughly for every hour worked by those in a poor household, those in a rich household work five hours. The idea that the rich are idle bondholders who play golf or go to the spa every day while the poor toil isn’t accurate.

The finding that six out 10 poor households have no one working at all is disturbing. Since they have no income from work, is it a surprise they are poor?

As for rich households, 75 percent have two or more workers. For the poor households, that percent is less than 5 percent.

Of course, hours worked doesn’t account for all or even most of the gap between rich and poor. But it does account for some of it. One of the more pernicious concepts is the notion of “dead-end jobs.” No, the surefire economic dead end is no job at all. There’s no climbing the economic ladder if you’re not even on the first rung.

Marriage is also a very good anti-poverty program. Married couples are almost five times more likely to be in the highest income quintile (33 percent) than in the lowest quintile (7 percent).

Without a father in the home, there is usually at most one full-time worker. Married couples are more economically successful for many reasons, not least of which is that they can and often do have two people working and bringing in a paycheck. So divorce and out-of-wedlock births have a lot to do with the income inequality. Budget expert Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute found that if marriage rates were as high today as they were in 1970, about 20 percent of child poverty would be gone. What is worrisome is that a record 47 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 have never married.

What is to be learned from all of this income data? First, one of the best ways to reduce poverty is to get people in low-income households working — and hopefully 40 hours a week. By the way, one reason raising the minimum wage won’t help lower poverty much is that it will help far fewer than half of the poor who have no job at all. And if it destroys jobs at the bottom of the skills ladder, it may lead to fewer people working and exacerbate poverty.

This data also reinforce the case for strict work requirements for all welfare benefit programs. When welfare takes the place of work it actually contributes to long-term poverty. It isn’t cold-hearted to be in favor of work programs. It is providing a GPS system to help the poor find a way out of poverty.

Finally, getting married before having kids is a great way to avoid falling into the poverty trap.

Yes, there are way too many working poor in America, and that problem needs to be addressed by programs like the earned income tax credit that supplement low-income wages. But there are way too many non-working poor in America. That’s a problem liberals seem to want to do nothing about.



Main Street Overlooked by Elites

We still are a country of everymen (and women), but disruptive economic change and bipolar politics have shifted us away from doers and toward intellectuals at an alarming clip in the past two decades. That shift escalated to a frenzy in the past eight years.

The "us and them" gap has escalated general mistrust; it has isolated our society's doers and makers from those who hold wealth and power.

This isn't just about politics anymore; it is about values. Our nation is at odds with the intellectual elite in wealthy, urban and academic enclaves, who now control the engines of industry. To the rest of us, those engines are not robust machines; they're like little red tricycles.

The evidence could not have been clearer than when the Labor Department reported Friday that our unemployment rate went up and our hourly wages rose only 0.3 percent in the private sector.

It was a blunt reminder to Wall Street and the White House that their message of brisk national economic momentum rings hollow to the rest of us.

We've all known for a long time that this economy - built on apps (which might employ three people), "green" jobs (they don't exist, people), social sustainability (still don't know what that does), and trying to build a middle class by forcing companies to pay $15 an hour - is a house of cards.

We used to make stuff in this country, too. But that has been driven overseas by union and corporate greed or by the environmental elites.

There's a reason that, last week, much of America was transfixed by a 60-year-old woman, glammed up to look like a 35-year-old woman, who once was a man and the world's greatest athlete. It's the same reason we are obsessed with loving or hating the entire Kardashian family: We want a distraction from how bad things are - the economic uncertainty in our lives and communities, the terrifying instability seen not only in the Middle East but in many of our own black communities.

Not one person currently running for president is addressing the majority of Americans who want to know just who is going to lead all of us forward, the haves as well as the have-nots.

We don't want another president who divides us even further. We want someone who will take us - together - to a better place in order to tap into our country's greatest resource, which has always been our people.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


11 June, 2015

Connectedness and drugs

I have written on several occasions (here, here and here) about the importance of connectedness to human health and thriving. We need other people both psychologically and practically. Man is a social animal and all that.

It is stronger in some people than others -- with Anglo-Saxons probably the most independent -- if French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd is to be believed. At the other end of the scale, an Australian Aborigine will do his best to kill himself of you put him into solitary confinement, his distress at being even temporarily disconnected from others of his kind is so great. The macho cultures of the Mediterranean are somewhere in between.

And I have also previously argued that conservatives have a great advantage in developing feelings of connectedness with others -- while Leftist hatred of the world about them militates against such feelings in them. No doubt they have some connectedness with friends and family but their anger and hostility must make it difficult for them in general.

"The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood"

The above quotation from George Orwell is a fairly classic Leftist comment. "All men are brothers" is a cry from Leftists that goes back at least to the 19th century. And we must not forget that "fraternite" was one of the 3 aims of the French revolution.

And it all fits in very well with the emotional importance of "connectedness" in human beings. Because of their disgruntlement with the world about them, Leftists tend to feel disconnected from their own society but do nonetheless miss that sense of connectedness badly. So they make up a fantasy (and impossible) world in which they have a superabundant amount of connectedness: A world in which all men are brothers.

It is therefore interesting that Johann Hari has argued that lack of connectedness lies behind drug addiction.

Hari's dishonesty is well-known so I would normally ignore him but, once you get past the smarminess, the facts he recounts are correct and moderately well-known among psychologists. And his summary of the findings concerned as hinging on connectedness covers the facts well. And I of course agree with him that feelings of connectedness are hugely important to mental wellbeing and, indeed, mental health.

So is drug addiction more common among Leftists? I have a subjective impression that it is but only a carefully sampled study would give a real answer. I cannot in fact imagine a conservative doing drugs but maybe that just shows how little I know.

A major caveat is that the examples Hari relies on concern heroin and that heroin is a social addiction rather than a physical one has long been known. What is true for heroin may not be true of other drugs -- methamphetamine, for instance. There is also a view that there is to some extent an addictive personality, probably mediated neurologically. So different personalities might give different results.

So there is room for a study there. What are the politics of drug users? Do heroin users and (say) marijuana users have similar politics? And how does race and income affect it? If most users are black and poor, that alone would produce a correlation with Leftist politics. But a careful study using (say) partial correlation, should be able to disentangle all that. The very first computer program I ever wrote was to do partial correlation but I don't have the energy to do original survey research any more -- JR.


John Wayne Schooled Liberal Author on American Freedom and Giving Thanks to God

The people who founded and built America did not rely on big government for a hand-out or demand “insurance for their old age,” but were rugged individualists, self-reliant, real “men” who looked up at the sky and said, “thanks God, we’ll take it from here,” said the actor John Wayne in the movie Without Reservations.

Wayne, himself a conservative, portrayed U.S. Marine Capt. “Rusty” Thomas in the highly successful 1946 film. In the movie, while traveling by train to California, liberal author “Kitty Kloch,” played by Claudette Colbert, expresses her optimism about a “new world” where the “advantages of citizenship” are shared by all and the “laissez-faire attitude” is cast aside.

John Wayne, “Rusty,” sets her straight. As the dialogue rolls out,

Kitty Kloch (Claudette Colbert): “It never fails to surprise me that there are still vast lands in the United States literally uncultivated.

Rusty Thomas (John Wayne): “Well, it won’t be this way long. Come the private airplane, people will start spreading around.”

Kitty Kloch: “Won’t it be wonderful to be part of the new world?”

Rusty Thomas: “Well, I don’t think it will change as much as some people think.”

Kitty Kloch: “Oh, but it must!”

Rusty Thomas: “Why?”

Kitty Kloch: “For too long we’ve had that laissez-faire attitude towards executive operations. We must educate ourselves to share the responsibilities as well as the advantages of citizenship.”

Rusty Thomas: “Oh, I read that book too. It certainly made an impression on you what that writer had to say. But it’s a lot of hooey. Fixing everybody up when they let out their first squawk. Giving them pointers on good government between bottle feedings, and teaching them in school to be good little ladies and gentlemen and not smack each other around.”

Kitty Kloch: “Oh, it’s very easy to make fun of everything.”

Rusty Thomas: “Listen, Miss Kloch, have you ever heard of some fellows that first came over to this country? You know what they found? They found a howling wilderness, with summers too hot and winters freezing.”

Rusty Thomas: “Did they have insurance for their old age, for their crops, for their homes? They did not. They looked at the land, and the forests and the rivers, they looked at their wives, their kids and their houses, and then they looked up at the sky and they said, ‘Thanks God, we’ll take it from here.’”

Marine Lt. “Dink” Watson (Don DeFore): “They were rugged fellas!”

Rusty Thomas: “They were men.”

Without Reservations, by RKO Radio Pictures, was made in 1946 with a reported budget of $1,683,000, and it grossed $3,000,000 at the box office.

John Wayne (1907-1979), one of America’s beloved actors, was nominated for three Academy Awards in his career and he won the “Best Actor in a Leading Role” in 1969 for the film True Grit.



The "feelgood" factor is what matters to the Left

By Dennis Prager

A fundamental difference between the left and right concerns how each assesses public policies. The right asks, “Does it do good?” The left asks a different question. One example is the minimum wage. In 1987, The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage. The title of the editorial said it all — “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00.”

“There’s a virtual consensus among economists,” wrote the Times editorial, “that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market . … More important, it would increase unemployment. … The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable — and fundamentally flawed.”

Why did The New York Times editorialize against the minimum wage? Because it asked the conservative question: “Does it do good?”

But 27 years later, The New York Times editorial page wrote the very opposite of what it had written in 1987, and called for a major increase in the minimum wage. In that time, the page had moved further left and was now preoccupied not with what does good — but with income inequality, which feels bad. It lamented the fact that a low hourly minimum wage had not “softened the hearts of its opponents” — Republicans and their supporters.

As second example is affirmative action. Study after study — and, even more important, common sense and facts — have shown the deleterious effects that race-based affirmative action have had on black students. Lowering college admissions standards for black applicants has ensured at least two awful results.

One is that more black students fail to graduate college — because they have too often been admitted to a college that demands more academic rigor than they were prepared for. Rather than attend a school that matches their skills, a school where they might thrive, they fail at a school where they are over-matched.

The other result is that many, if not most, black students feel a dark cloud hanging over them. They suspect that other students wonder whether they, the black students, were admitted into the college on merit or because standards were lowered.

It would seem that the last question supporters of race-based affirmative action ask is, “Does it do good?”

A third example is pacifism and other forms of “peace activism.”

The left has a soft spot for pacifism — the belief that killing another human being is always immoral. Not all leftists are pacifists, but pacifism emanates from the Left, and just about all leftists support “peace activism,” “peace studies” and whatever else contains the word “peace.”

The right, on the other hand, while just as desirous of peace as the left — what conservative parent wants their child to die in battle? — knows that pacifism and most “peace activists” increase the chances of war, not peace.

Nothing guarantees the triumph of evil like refusing to fight it. Great evil is therefore never defeated by peace activists, but by superior military might. The Allied victory in World War II is an obvious example. American military might likewise contained and ultimately ended Soviet Communism.

Supporters of pacifism, peace studies, American nuclear disarmament, American military withdrawal from countries in which it has fought — Iraq is the most recent example — do not ask, “Does it do good?”

Did the withdrawal of America from Iraq do good? Of course not. It only led to the rise of Islamic State with its mass murder and torture.

So, then, if in assessing what public policies to pursue, conservatives ask “Does it do good?” what question do liberals ask?

The answer is, “Does it make people — including myself — feel good?”

Why do liberals support a higher minimum wage if doesn’t do good? Because it makes the recipients of the higher wage feel good (even if other workers lose their jobs when restaurants and other businesses that cannot afford the higher wage close down) and it makes liberals feel good about themselves: We liberals, unlike conservatives, have soft hearts.

Why do liberals support race-based affirmative action? For the same reasons. It makes the recipients feel good when they are admitted to more prestigious colleges. And it makes liberals feel good about themselves for appearing to right the wrongs of historical racism.

The same holds true for left-wing peace activism: Supporting “peace” rather than the military makes liberals feel good about themselves.

Perhaps the best example is the self-esteem movement. It has had an almost wholly negative effect on a generation of Americans raised to have high self-esteem without having earned it. They then suffer from narcissism and an incapacity to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. But self-esteem feels good.

And feelings — not reason — is what liberalism is largely about. Reason asks: “Does it do good?” Liberalism asks, “Does it feel good?”



Regardless of Court's Decision, ObamaCare Is Falling Apart

In 2013, Jeb Bush made a comment critical of Republican efforts to defund ObamaCare, saying that we should instead let the law fall apart on its own. It was kind of an insensitive approach, given the number of lives that depend on a health care system that actually works, and I believe he was tactically misguided, but he was right about one thing: ObamaCare is falling apart, slowly but surely.

We are only a couple of weeks out from the King v. Burwell decision that many are saying could deal a staggering blow to ObamaCare, by putting an end to illegal subsidies currently propping the law up. Supporters of the law are, therefore, hoping for a ruling to preserve the subsidies, with the administration actively not planning for any other outcome.

But even if the Court rules in favor of the defendants, it will merely be delaying the inevitable, The fact of the matter is that ObamaCare is so badly broken that no amount of subsidies will be able to keep it afloat forever.

My colleagues have repeatedly pointed out how the state insurance exchanges are collapsing under their own weight, and rising premiums and deductibles are keeping these supposedly “affordable” insurance plans out of reach for many Americans. Now, we’re seeing new enrollment numbers that confirm what we’ve always known: the system doesn’t work, and it’s getting worse every year.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that there would be 21 million enrollees by 2016. Over the last five years, the administration has continually fallen short of its estimates. This month, the Department of Health and Human Services posted current enrollments at just 10.2 million - only half of the target for next year. There’s no way they’re going to reach this target, considering that the people most eager to enroll - the low-hanging fruit - have already done so. This is bad news for pretty much everyone.

It’s bad news for President Obama, because it means that his signature - and practically only significant - accomplishment in two terms in the White House is a failure. It’s bad news for insurance companies, because they are not taking in enough revenue to cover all the people they are being forced to cover by law. And it’s especially bad news for American citizens, because it means that prices will have to skyrocket for insurers to make up the difference. As prices get higher, fewer people will be able to pay them, meaning they will have to drop off the plans, meaning that prices will have to go still higher - a repeating cycle known as the insurance premium death spiral.

King v. Burwell is going to be a significant crossroads for the Affordable Care Act, make no mistake, but in this case, all roads ultimately lead to the same place: collapse. It’s just a matter of how we get there and how many people are hurt along the way be irresponsible policies.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


10 June, 2015

Spinning like a top over statins

The amazing statin religion sails on. A recent study found that there are indeed severe loss of memory problems for people who take statins to prevent heart attacks. So how was the study reported in the popular press? The headline was "Cholesterol-lowing statins DON'T cause memory loss". WTF is going on? Don't blame the journalists. As usual, it was the doctors who did the study who were spinning like tops.

The academic journal article is Statin Therapy and Risk of Acute Memory Impairment. The study was a generally good one that used two controls, people not taking drugs, people taking statins and people taking another class of lipid lowering drugs. High levels of lipids (blood fats) are thought to be behind heart attacks. So what did they find? I quote:

"Both statin and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with acute memory loss in the first 30 days following exposure in users compared with nonusers but not when compared with each other"

So in normal circumstances we might conclude that the problem is bigger than thought. Not only statins but another class of lipid lowering drug is a big problem. We might conclude that we need our lipids. Our bodies put them into our blood for a reason and anything that reduces them is bad for our brains.

But the researchers were not happy with that straightforward conclusion. They theorized that their study was faulty and the patients detected what was going on and gave the result expected! They were willing to disrespect their own research in order to hang on to their theory that statins are harmless. No wonder I and some others refer to statin use as a religion! These guys are definite true believers. But look at the facts, not at the theory. Statins ARE bad for you! They mess up your brain.


GOP-controlled Michigan House passes a comprehensive civil asset forfeiture reform package

On Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bipartisan package of eight bills that would overhaul the state's civil asset forfeiture laws to offer more protections for innocent property owners. The Wolverine State is just the latest to advance reforms that curtail this pernicious brand of government overreach.

Passage of the reform bills comes a week after the Michigan House Judiciary Committee heard jaw-dropping testimony from Annette Shattuck, a mother of four children, who recounted her family's story of armed raid on her home last year by law enforcement. Shattuck's mother was watching her children while she was out. "After they breached my door, at gunpoint, with masks, they proceeded to take every belonging in my house," she told the committee. "And when I say every belonging, I mean every belonging."

The list of confiscated property provided by the Washington Post includes televisions, a leaf trimmer, a bicycle, a weed whacker, a chainsaw, and a snowblower. "How do you explain to your kids when they come home and everything is gone?" Shattack asked lawmakers.

Shattack was targeted because she is a registered medical marijuana patient, as well as a caregiver. Though strictly regulated, medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. Users and caregivers are allowed to grow a limited number of plants for themselves and patients. Despite medical marijuana’s legal status, law enforcement continues to go after patients and registered practitioners through civil asset forfeiture.

Ginnifer Hency, another registered medical marijuana patient and caregiver, told a similar story. Her home was raided by local law enforcement and her family's property seized. "They have had my stuff for 10 months," Hency said last week. "My ladders, my iPads, my children's iPads, my children's phones, my medicine for my patients." Law enforcement allegedly seized items of a rather personal and intimate nature.

Neither Shattack or Hency were ever convicted of a crime, but Michigan's civil asset forfeiture laws encourage abuse because of the low standard of evidence the government is required to meet, and the perverse profit motive that exists. Law enforcement in the state are allowed to keep 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeitures. This is not a small sum. The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan law enforcement seized $24.3 million in cash and property in 2013.

Michigan House Republicans, who control the lower chamber, made civil asset forfeiture reform one of their top priorities for the 2015 legislative session. The package includes HB 4505, which raises the evidentiary standard to "clear and convincing evidence," and HB 4508, which offers protections for registered medical marijuana users. Other bills would heighten transparency and improve uniformity in state law.

The eight civil asset forfeiture reform bills passed the Michigan House, according to the Associated Press, with solid bipartisan majorities. Perhaps the most important bill, HB 4505, passed by a vote of 103 to 6, while HB 4508 was approved with a thinner, though still strong, majority, by a vote of 81 to 28.

There is still room for stronger reforms, such as eliminating the profit incentive that often motivates seizures of property without a criminal conviction, but the package passed by the Michigan House on Thursday is certainly a step in the right direction. The bills now head over to the Republican-controlled Senate, where the fate of the reforms in the upper chamber is uncertain.



4 Liberal Myths About Ronald Reagan Debunked

Presidential historian H. W. Brands’ new biography of Ronald Reagan and his conclusion that modern American politics is best seen as “The Age of Reagan” has aroused liberals to circulate once again the hoariest myths about the man and his presidency, including the malicious charge that Reagan was deliberately indifferent to the lot of African-Americans and other minorities.

Liberal Myth No. 1: Reagan’s dangerously belligerent foreign policy had little to do with the disintegration of Soviet Communism. Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader most responsible for bringing the Cold War to a non-nuclear conclusion.

Reality: In the 1970s, as presidential scholar Kiron Skinner has written, Reagan formulated four key ideas about U.S.–Soviet relations and the Cold War. One, discussion of Soviet expansionism around the world had to precede any talk about arms control, not the reverse. Two, America was an “exceptional” nation obligated to match deeds with words in the promotion of freedom around the world. Three, because the Soviet Union was an “abnormal” nation with no popular base of support, it was prepared to foment global crises to maintain its control. Four, the Soviet Union’s inefficient economy and inferior technology “could not survive competition” with America. Once elected president, Reagan began carrying out a multifaceted victory strategy based on these ideas.

Reagan ordered an across-the-board buildup of the defense establishment, including land-based weapons, new ships, and new medium-range missiles. He launched a psychological offensive, declaring that the Soviets’ “evil empire” was headed for “the ash heap of history.” He made SDI (the Strategic Defensive Initiative) the cornerstone of the Reagan Doctrine and would not surrender it, even at the Reykjavik summit. He strongly supported anti-Communist forces in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Angola, and Cambodia.

He carried his crusade for freedom into the disintegrating Soviet empire. Standing before Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate in 1987, he directly challenged the Kremlin, saying, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” A little more than two years later, the wall came down and Communism in Eastern and Central Europe collapsed. Lech Walesa, Nobel laureate and founder of the Polish trade union Solidarity that confronted the Communist regime, said of President Reagan, “We in Poland … owe him our liberty.”

Democracy triumphed in the Cold War, Reagan wrote in his autobiography, because it was a battle of ideas—“between one system that gave preeminence to the state and another that gave preeminence to the individual and freedom.” The Cold War ended in triumph for the idea of freedom because of Ronald Reagan, not Mikhail Gorbachev, who as late as 1988 quoted the Communist Manifesto when asked his position on private property.

Liberal Myth No. 2: The ’80s were a decade of greed that benefited only the wealthy and overlooked the middle class.

Reality: Reagan inherited a dangerously weakened economy. High tax rates had severely limited jobs and investment and brought in less than expected government revenue. President Reagan reversed the process by cutting personal tax rates and government regulations, stabilizing the economy and encouraging entrepreneurs.

Following the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, unemployment in the succeeding years fell an estimated 45 percent. During the ’80s, the consumer price index rose only 17 percent, private domestic investment grew 77 percent, and economic growth averaged 4.6 percent annually. The real income of every stratum of Americans increased, and total tax collections rose from $500 billion in 1980 to $1 trillion in 1990 (in constant dollars).

At the same time, Reagan deregulated oil prices, making energy cheaper, and launched U.S.-Canadian free trade, setting the stage for NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement). Perhaps most important of all, he created IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and 401(k) programs, giving birth to what has been called “the investor class.” New industries arose in computing, software, communications, and the Internet that streamlined and transformed the American economy.

Liberal Myth No. 3: The federal government continued to grow and expand under Reagan, who callously tripled the national debt.

Reality: During the Reagan years, overall domestic spending did increase, as the president battled with a Democratic House of Representatives led by a fiercely partisan Speaker Tip O’Neill. Spending on education, social services, medicine, and food almost doubled. However, federal outlays on regional development, commerce, and housing credit decreased by about 22 percent. And the size of the federal civilian workforce declined by about 5 percent, because of conservative managers such as Donald Devine, described by The Washington Post as “Reagan’s terrible swift sword of the civil service.” The annual federal deficit as a share of GDP fell significantly from 6.3 percent in 1983 to 2.9 percent in 1989. As Reagan left office, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) projected that “deficits were on a path to fall to about 1 percent of GDP” by 1993.

The near tripling of the national debt was mostly due to Reagan’s defense spending. In President Carter’s last budget, America spent just under $160 billion on national defense. In 1988, the Reagan administration spent $304 billion, including more than twice as much on military hardware. During his years in office, Reagan expended a total of $1.72 trillion on national defense, an unprecedented amount that he stoutly defended.

Challenged in a cabinet meeting that he “couldn’t spend all of this money on the military” and that it would look bad to boost spending on guns while cutting the butter, Reagan replied: “Look, I am the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief. My primary responsibility is the security of the United States. … If we don’t have security, we’ll have no need for social programs.”

The essential question was, “What price peace?” Was it worth $1.72 trillion to build up America’s defenses so that Reagan could end the Cold War at the bargaining table and not on the battlefield? Most Americans would not hesitate to emphatically answer, “Yes!”

If we examine the economic report cards of postwar presidents from Truman through Reagan, according to Harvard economist Robert Barro, Reagan easily finishes first. Using the change each year in inflation, unemployment, interest rates, and growth in gross national product, Reagan ranks first. He engineered the largest reduction in the misery index (inflation plus unemployment) in history—50 percent. The 1980s, says economist Richard B. McKenzie, were, up to then, “the most prosperous decade in American history.”

Liberal Myth No. 4: Reagan was a cynical, calculating politician who used “states’ rights” to win the 1980 election and paid little attention to African-Americans as president.

Reality: The African-American columnist Joseph Perkins has calculated that black unemployment fell from 19.5 percent in 1983 to 11.4 percent in 1989. The income of black-owned businesses rose almost one-third between 1982 and 1987. The black middle class grew from 3.6 million to 4.8 million during the Reagan years, while the cash income of black households (adjusted for inflation) rose by 12 percent. By contrast, the median income of black households fell by 2.2 percent during the Obama years from 2010 to 2013.

Throughout the ’70s, Reagan exhorted fellow Republicans to address the party’s failure to attract black voters. At the 1977 Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, “We [Republicans] believe in treating all Americans as individuals and not as stereotypes or voting blocs.” Speaking to the Urban League in August 1980, after having won the GOP’s presidential nomination, Reagan said, “I am committed to the protection and enforcement of the civil rights of black Americans . . . into every phase of the programs I will propose.”

While marking Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday in 1983, President Reagan drew an arresting parallel between the first Republican president and the man Americans were honoring that day. “Abraham Lincoln freed the black man,” he noted. “In many ways, Dr. King freed the white man. … Where others—white and black—preached hatred, he taught the principles of love and nonviolence.”

Who better than Ronald Reagan to have the last word about which is the myth and which is the reality about his commitment to civil rights?



Real civilization still exists: Bulletin from a quiet small-town life in New Zealand

Report from a happy young mother there -- about her daughter

H's school life is set to begin in just 6 months’ time! I organised a school visit for Playcentre so the kids could get another taste of school and start a comfortable transition from the free play of Playcentre to the idea and structure of school.

The school at L is a real country school, the whole school knew of our visit when we arrived. The teacher allocated buddies to each of the kids and the principal of the school walked in to greet us too. The teacher Mrs H read a story about sea animals and the kids then joined their buddies at a table and made an Octopus with colouring in, cutting and sticking on 8 legs.

When the school bell rang it was time for morning tea and play. It was raining outside so the games came out and it was great to see some older kids come in to say hello from other classes.

The school has a large influx of students starting school in the next 6 months and are having to build a new classroom to cope, I am pleased to hear there will be plenty of kids for H to start school with. H was all upset when we had to leave and wanted to know why those kids got to stay and she had to leave. She was happy with the sandpit that they played in as we left and decided she would be happy at this school.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


9 June, 2015

Keep Hillary-Slayer Carly in this Thing

Roger Simon

I had been hearing for weeks that Carly Fiorina was the hottest speaker on the nascent Republican campaign circuit - except perhaps for Marco Rubio, but the senator’s formidable communications skills have been known for years . Even the New York Times was trumpeting Fiorina’s appeal in a column describing the long lines to hear the former Hewlett-Packard CEO speak under the typically equivocal NYT headline “Carly Talks, Iowa Swoons and the Polls Shrug,” just to make sure nobody gets ahead of themselves.

Well, maybe they won’t shrug at some point, but whatever the case, it was with some interest that I accepted an invitation to attend a luncheon at which Fiorina was speaking. And I’m here to affirm what others have been saying. This lady can communicate. In fact, she’s exceptionally good at it. Even more, she actually has something to say. And can answer questions. Intelligently and without evading the subject even once.

But before I go further, I have to acknowledge what many of you may already suspect. When Fiorina speaks there is another woman in the room. A ghost. And her name is Hillary Rodham Clinton. You can’t get the former secretary of state out of your mind as Carly is talking, because two versions of a modern woman are automatically being presented to you — one genuinely progressive in the true English-language sense of that simple word and one a metaphorical “progressive” in the Orwellian Democratic Party usage with which we are continually assaulted. One answers questions about practically everything while the other avoids answering anything and on those rare occasions when she does, lies.

Now I am aware the rap against Carly is that she lost to Barbara Boxer in the California Senate race. (She jokes about this, referring to how her husband of 30 years always says to her “I can’t believe you lost to Barbara Boxer!”) And I’m also aware she was fired from her job as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Having been a CEO of a tiny company (this one) for seven years, I’m not altogether sure what we learn from that and I might point out the most famous CEO of our era, Steve Jobs, was also fired from his post at that obscure company he started. Whatever.

But I will say this, being a CEO of a company the size of HP is a damn sight harder and more complex job than being the governor of a state or a senator — and I say that with all due respect to governors and senators. There’s a reason CEOs make the skadillion dollars they do — sometimes anyway. They’re responsible to their stock holders and the board on a daily basis, not just every four or six years at election time when voters may or may not remember who they are or what they did.

Listening to Fiorina, I suspect she did a lot, since her overall knowledge of global situations was high. She had quite a balanced view of China, not regarding them as an enemy, but an “adversary” to be watched. She had personally been toe-to-toe with Putin, but offered him no reset button. Instead, she would like to arm the Ukrainians. When it comes to the Middle East, I would call her a measured hawk. He first phone call, she said, after inauguration would be to Benjamin Netanyahu, reaffirming (or I should say reconstructing) our alliance with Israel. All of our supposed allies would be listening in on that one, she noted, because how you deal with one of your closest allies would be replicated with all. I think , by now, we all know how right she is about that.

On the domestic front, she had numerous practical proposals for drawing down the debt, including one not to hire new government employees for the positions of retiring baby boomers. Just let them expire. She’d also like to have weekly televised sessions with the public to try to bypass the media and put pressure on legislators by having Americans vote for things on their cellphones, the way they do for The Voice. For example, she said, is it okay to pay government employees for watching porn on their computers all day while others actually do their work? Press one if… well, you get the idea.

But most important, I think, is that Carly stay in this thing, not be cut out by some arbitrary debate limit. She is the anti-Hillary and by far the best positioned to put paid to the Witch of Chappaqua. And not just because she is a woman, but because she is, as she says, “fearless.”

ONE MORE THING: Speaking of Rubio, how about a Rubio-Fiorina ticket — or the other way around? An Hispanic and a woman. That would shake up the preconceptions of the liberal bourgeoisie. And in my fantasy, if they won, they could make a joint inaugural address explaining to America that this was the end of ”identity politics.” It’s reactionary, anti-democratic and against everything this country should stand for. We’re all just Americans. No more hyphens.



Junk Journalism

What the MSM calls “reporting” is often just activism, careerism, and narcissism to advance the Democrat agenda

by Victor Davis Hanson

Once upon a time, Dan Rather — the fallen CBS celebrity anchorman from the evening news and at 60 Minutes – was the master of “gotcha” journalism. Rather would play up his populist credentials, do ambush interviews with supposedly self-important grandees, and then pull out an unknown memo, an embarrassing quote from one’s past, or some sort of previously unexamined hypocrisy. And, presto, down went the high and mighty, as Rather grinned that he had taken down another enemy of his middle-class viewers without power and influence.

Rather became a multimillionaire celebrity himself, and forgot the very rules of ethical journalism that he so often preached to his victims. Nemesis finally — she is often a slowcoach goddess — caught up with him at 73, in the heat of the 2004 campaign and furor at the Texan-twanged, evangelical, Iraq War promoter George W. Bush. Rather’s producers got hold of faked memos purportedly proving that the commander-in-chief had once gone AWOL while serving as a twenty-something pilot with the Texas National Guard.

Rather’s story of Bush, the privileged hypocrite, made a big splash, especially in the age of Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore. When the truth came out that the memos were not only not true but could not be true, given their computerized format from the pre-Microsoft age, a red-faced CBS hierarchy fired a few of its marquee producers and eventually eased Rather out.

Rather sued. He denied. He blustered. He pleaded. He cajoled. He would not go away. When he was all through, he had become the sort of hapless prey caught in a web of contradictions that he once had enjoyed teasing before stinging on air. Rather’s defense was finally reduced to “the means justify the ends” argument that the memos could have been fake but his charges were still accurate.

NBC anchor Brian Williams was a less abrasive persona, but no less smug and privileged a celebrity tele-journalist. He too imploded when his Rather-like ego convinced him that Rule One of journalism — to demand the truth from others, first one must always tell the truth — no longer applied, given Williams’ omnipresence, big money, and colossal sense of self.

So Williams began making stuff up live in front of millions of listeners, as if he were the story and as if the audience were the amazed bystanders. Given his progressive faith, his celebrity status, and his nice-guy image, Williams apparently mythologized for quite some time without audit. His yarns were pathetic, in the sense that they characteristically placed Williams, as a self-inflated version of Forrest Gump, in a danger zone perhaps at risk of his life, but always cool, forever professional in conveying inside drama to Americans on their couches. A sort of journalist version of Hillary Clinton flying into the Balkans braving gunfire.

Like Rather, Brian Williams is now gone, at least for a while. He may be back, given that he made his network far more money than did Rather in his waning years. But who could ever believe his personal-voice psychodramas again?

George Stephanopoulos was a Clinton-era flack who effectively bullied would-be investigative reporters, did negative research, and massaged liberal journalists to convince America that Bill Clinton was not a philanderer and slave to his appetites who habitually lied to escape the serial messes he got himself — and his family and friends — into. And Stephanopoulos was good at spin apparently, in that Clinton won his election and the country ignored the various females whom he had bullied, groped, cajoled, and sometimes smeared.

Stephanopoulos wrote a memoir that served as a kind of mea culpa, as he transitioned into the limelight of New York-D.C. corridor journalism. Yet Stephanopoulos never severed his valuable Clinton connections, even as he went from partisan political analyst to supposedly disinterested anchor. Like Rather and Williams, his hubris got the best of him and he too ended up calling down Nemesis.

Stephanopoulos could not just question Peter Schweizer, author of an exposé on the Clinton Foundation. He had to go for the jugular, in ironic tu quoque fashion, suggesting that Schweitzer was a partisan hack and his book political mudslinging because the author had worked as a speechwriter for George W. Bush for four months.

That paradox was a bridge too far — given that Stephanopoulos had been no mere speechwriter or a four-month employee, but a recent donor to his old employer’s pay-for-play family foundation. The closer that Hillary Clinton got to announcing her bid for the presidency, the more, it seems, Stephanopoulos started giving money to the Clintons’ foundation and participating in their “charity.” He said he wanted to promote AIDS relief and save the trees, but there were plenty of foundations that did both without raking off 90% of their income for administration and travel or paying Chelsea over a half-million dollars to hang around.

The Clintons and Stephanopoulos were birds of a liberal feather. Hillary and Bill raked in $30 million in speaking fees in just the last 16 months (about $62,500 per day). Their left-wing politics supposedly gave them immunity from the obvious conclusion that they were con artists who had created a huge family racket (Chelsea gets $600,000 a year to help run it; Sidney Blumenthal got $10,000 a month in consulting fees) to shake down corporate grandees and foreign governments.

The motive seems unapologetic greed: the savvy dealmakers could donate to a former president’s and likely future president’s shell organization that hired their former, out-of-work flacks, provided the Clintons with free jet travel, and still funneled 10% of the cash to charities as progressive cover — as they looked for insider concessions like cell phone contracts or uranium acquisitions. To the extent one added to the pot through half-million-dollar fees directly to Bill for a few minutes of lecturing, there might be even more grants of most favorable-person status.

Stephanopoulos donated with time and money to all that, again only when it seemed wise to reinvest in Hillary as she hit the 2016 campaign circuit — when blue-chip access makes or breaks celebrity journalists. Like the Clintons, Stephanopoulos is a man of the left who likes to be paid in supposed right-wing fashion for his journalistic caring: $105 million for seven years at ABC, or $41,000 a day — for the next 2,555 days.

Unlike Williams and Rather, Stephanopoulos still works. But how could he ever interview a presidential contender given the doubts about his motives, whether corrupt or reformed? When he interviews Hillary, what will he ask: “Did my $75,000 get through OK?”

Add up all junk journalism — the Rolling Stone’s serial lies about false rape stories from Sabrina Erdely, the Jayson Blair myths, the New Republic stable of fabricators, the Fareed Zakaria plagiarism — and one can see why the public distrusts the news in general and those who provide in particular.

The problem with current reporting is not the bogeymen of the free-for-all internet, where there are no laws in the arena, but the blue-chip grandees who suffer the additional wage of hypocrisy.

Titles and associations, not character or talent, created a sense of entitlement that so often leads to overreach. Not all, but most of our junk journalists are progressives, given the creed that sometimes a memo, a story, an angle might have to be stretched a bit too far for the noble aim of helping the people, or for assuaging one’s own guilt of becoming well-off and celebrity-conscious from muckraking journalism.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

On a minor endnote, not long ago journalist Kate Linthicum from the L.A. Times called me for “comment” on the California drought and “immigration.”

I avoid the L.A. Times. In 2006 their former San Joaquin Valley reporter, Mark Arax, called me to “comment” on a “civil war” in the San Joaquin Valley between an alliance of Jewish neocons and Christian zealots who were supposedly pushing the Iraq War down the throats of the proverbial people, who did the dying.

His Jewish angle was borderline anti-Semitism. I told him there were few Jews in the Valley to begin with, and most Christians were apolitical, albeit the Valley was a far more conservative place than elsewhere in California and anti-war protests were rare. From that, Arax wrote that I had told him “great nations needed to wage war to remain great,” and that I wanted “a call for war against Islam.”

He offered no citations for those quotes, and never returned my calls. I offered the correction to his fabrications here.

Linthicum had seen a column in which I mentioned a number of causes of the drought dilemma: (1) lack of rain and snow; (2) failure to finish the envisioned California Water Project; (3) unwise release of reservoir water to the ocean for various green causes; (4) much greater California population today than during the last major drought, in part due to immigration (one in four current Californian residents was born in a foreign country). After five minutes of conversation, it was clear that she was interested only in point four, or rather a likely suggestion that I was scapegoating immigrants for water shortages.

I went through the four causes again. I added that I was not scapegoating immigrants, but noted the irony of policies that encouraged open borders yet no commensurate investments in infrastructure needed for population growth. For example, the paradoxes of welcoming immigrants to California while not improving highways, building more reservoirs, canals, and dams, or promoting more job-creating manufacturing, agricultural, oil, and mineral industries to handle them.

I reminded her that I knew what her preconceived narrative was, and I wanted no part of it. I referred her to quotes from the National Review article she was drawing from. (“A record one in four current Californians was not born in the United States, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Whatever one’s view on immigration, it is ironic to encourage millions of newcomers to settle in the state without first making commensurately liberal investments for them in water supplies and infrastructure. Sharp rises in population still would not have mattered much had state authorities just followed their forbearers’ advice to continually increase water storage.”)

She denied an agenda, and to ensure her fides, promised to email the quotes she would use to run it by me for approval.

When she hung up, I concluded four things: 1) She knew nothing about California climate, weather, water policy, the California Water Project, agriculture, immigration, or even demographic statistics; 2) she saw a muddled story line in a sort of nativist scapegoating of poor immigrants; 3) she was not telling the truth when she promised to email me her use or non-use of quotes before publication.

The story came out with the quote:

In an article in the National Review, Stanford academic Victor Davis Hanson argued that while California’s current dry spell is not novel, “What is new is that the state has never had 40 million residents during a drought — well over 10 million more than during the last dry spell in the early 1990s.”

That bit supposedly summed up my long essay and Linthicum’s over 30 minutes of interviewing.

Turn on Brian Williams, read the L.A. Times’ lead stories, catch NPR on the radio, and it is often just liberal activism, careerism, and narcissism on the part of an elite who believes that their own activism exempts them from the contradictions of their own lives, as if privilege is not privilege if you crusade 9 to 5 on behalf of the unprivileged.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


8 June, 2015

A new denial that Hitler was a socialist

Tim Stanley is an historian so his denial that Hitler was a socialist is not the sheer ignorance that one usually encounters. The clue to his skepticism lies however early in his article. He says of Hitler: "He may well have been anticapitalist, but that does not necessarily mean that his concept of socialism sits within the Marxist tradition".

That sentence is very curious indeed. How could Hitler be anticapitalist and NOT be socialist? "Anticapitalist" and "socialist" are pretty near synonyms. (Yes. I know about Bismarck. That's another story and a fascinating one but I have written on that elsewhere -- e.g. here). But by the time we get to the end of the sentence we see what is going on. Stanley's Leftist background is showing. Like many academic Leftists, socialism is to Stanley synonymous with Marxism.

So Leftist leaders like Tony Blair are not socialists? Blair is certainly no Marxist but he was one of the most electorally successful leaders the British Labour party has had. So Stanley is saying only that Hitler is not a Marxist. But who would disagree with that? Hitler hated Bolshevism.

But some of the great hates in life stem from sibling rivalry and anybody who has spent much time talking to Leftists will know how much sibling rivalry there is among them. It is very common on the Left -- witness the icepick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin. Very few of the old Bolsheviks lived for long after the revolution, in fact.

And Lenin was just as bad as Stalin. In a 1920 pamphlet you find a contempt for some of his fellow Leftists that is probably greater than anything he ever wrote about the Tsar. It is in describing his fellow revolutionaries (Kautsky and others) that Lenin spoke swingeingly of "the full depth of their stupidity, pedantry, baseness and betrayal of working-class interests". But Leftism is founded on hate so such hate for fellow Leftists is no surprise.

So Stanley starts out on a very false footing.

Stanley's other objections to the view of Hitler as a socialist boil down to saying that Hitler was hypocritical. He said one thing to intimates and different things in public. But surely that just makes him a politician? He was one. He fought many elections. To judge any political figure by what they do in private is rather hilarious in fact. Fidel Castro surely has earned his stripes as a socialist but he lives the privileged and luxurious of the Hispanic grandee that he is. Tito was similar. Remember him?

I myself make no judgment about what Hitler really believed. As far as one can tell, it was a bit of a hodge-podge, though his antisemitism was probably heartfelt. Even his antisemitism was Leftist in his days, however. The founder of Germany's mainstream Leftist party, August Bebel, famously noted that "Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus des blöden Mannes" -- generally translated as "Antisemitism is the socialism of fools". Antisemitism was in other words very common among pre-war socialists. And Lenin himself alluded to the same phenomenon in saying that "it is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people" but "the capitalists of all countries." He wanted class-war and saw antisemitism among his fellow Leftists as a distraction from that.

So what is of interest is surely not what Hitler believed in his heart of hearts but rather what he preached to the German public. What was his appeal? How did he campaign? What did he promise in his rise to power?

And there is no doubt about that. Perhaps the most amazing parallel between Hitler and the postwar Left is that for much of the 30s Hitler was actually something of a peacenik. I am putting up below a picture of a Nazi propaganda poster of the 1930s that you won't believe unless you are aware of how readily all Leftists preach one thing and do another. It reads "Mit Hitler gegen den Ruestungswahnsinn der Welt".

And what does that mean? It means "With Hitler against the armaments madness of the world". "Ruestung" could more precisely be translated as "military preparations" but "armaments" is a bit more idiomatic in English.

And how about the poster below? It would be from the March 5, 1933 election when Hitler had become Chancellor but Marshall Hindenburg was still President:

Translated, the poster reads: "The Marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights"

Can you get a more Leftist slogan than that? "Peace and equal rights"? Modern-day Leftists sometimes try to dismiss Hitler's socialism as something from his early days that he later outgrew. But when this poster was promulgated he was already Reichskanzler (Prime Minister) so it was far from early days.

We can all have our own views about what Hitler actually believed but he campaigned and gained power as a democratic Leftist. The March 5, 1933 election was the last really democratic election prewar Germany had and, in it, Hitler's appeal was Leftist.

There are more such election posters here

Stanley also makes the undoubtedly correct point that Hitler was a nationalist. Since "Nazi" is a German abbreviation of "National Socialist" that is no news. But can you be both a nationalist and a socialist? Hitler showed that you can be. But he was not original in that. Napoleon was too. And who was it who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country"? It was Pericles actually, but Democrat hero JFK recycled it -- JR


Little Yazidi children murdered by ISIS

Note that the Yazidis are not Arabs. They are an ancient Indo-European race, akin to modern-day Europeans



Retired US Lieutenant General David Deptula said recently, “The ultimate guidance (regarding air strikes in Iraq) rests with the black guy with his feet on the desk. Over three quarters of pilots leaving Gulf carriers are returning without dropping anything due to delays in decision-making up the chain of command in Obama's War council.”

Sources involved in the air war against ISIS said that, “Strike missions take on average just under an hour from a pilot requesting permission to strike an ISIS target to a weapon leaving the wing so by that time the insurgents have either vanished or we are out of fuel”.

After Obama had changed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Afghanistan in 2011, immediately US combat troop deaths tripled.

Marines complained that they needed to watch through their night-vision goggles as shadowy green figures dug holes in the roadway. “On several occasions we opened fire but at some point, the order came down to ‘Stop shooting at night unless you can positively identify an insurgent’. We knew what they were doing ... burying IEDs for sure, but command instructed us that, ‘You can't be positive. They might be farmers.' It’s ridiculous”, they said.

Also under orders from the Obama Administration, a new military handbook was published for all U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East which contained a list of “taboo conversation topics”. It included:

* “Making derogatory comments about the Taliban.”
* “Advocating women’s rights.”
* “Any criticism of paedophilia.”
* “Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct,” or
* “Anything related to Islam itself.”

Furthermore, Obama had noted in his handbook that, “The tripling in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against US forces was due to Western ignorance of Afghan culture”. Hmmm.

Obama’s revised ROE in Iraq has meant airstrike missions have dropped from a planned 800 per day to 14, through pilots’ inability to engage targets.

The pilot must first determine that no more than 10 per cent of any target would involve civilians and in no case no more than 30 civilians must be at risk at any time. If in any doubt, permission must be sought from higher up the line of command.

Only women can search women, even when a male is suspected of wearing a burkah. No night or surprise searches are allowed. Households have to be warned prior to searches. U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.

U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.
If Iraqi soldiers are present US troops can fire at an insurgent if they see him planting an IED during the day, but not at night and not if insurgents are merely, “walking away from the area where the explosives have been laid”.

The recent fall of Ramadi was anticipated 12 months ago when US intelligence first detected a slow build-up of ISIS forces on the western perimeter, yet targeting of those forces using air strikes was not given clearance by US command.

The ISIS can peruse the revised Obama ROEs on the internet at any time, courtesy of Wikileaks, yet no changes appear to have been made to the rules. So mosques have become weapons caches, male suicide bombers dress in burkahs, ISIS militia will not open fire on US troops unless surrounded by civilians and, as long as they are not shooting at things, convoys of ISIS artillery can move freely on open roadways without fear of being shot at.

Can America sustain 18 more months of the Obama/Kerry twins, with the corrupt Clintons in the wings?



The Founders’ Model of Welfare Actually Reduced Poverty

Which approach to welfare policy is better for the poor: that of the Founders or that of today’s welfare state?

The more we spend on the poor, the harder it seems for them to attain decent, productive lives in loving families. The federal government has spent $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs since the beginning of the War on Poverty in 1965, but the poverty rate is nearly the same today as in 1969, fluctuating between roughly 11 and 15 percent over that time period.

As I argue in a new essay on “Poverty and Welfare in the American Founding,” these results are bound to continue unless we rethink welfare policy from the perspective of our Founders. Neither the contemporary left nor right in America properly understands their approach.

The left often claims the Founders were indifferent to the poor—suggesting that New Deal America ended callousness and indifference. Indeed, high school and college textbooks frequently espouse this narrative. Many on the right think the Founders advocated only for charitable donations as the means of poverty relief.

Neither is correct. America always has had laws providing for the poor. The real difference between the Founders’ welfare policies and today’s is over how, not whether, government should help those in need.

The Founders

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin believed government has an obligation to help the poor. Both thought welfare policies should support children, the disabled, widows and others who could not work. But any aid policy, they insisted, would include work-requirements for the able-bodied.

Rather than making welfare a generational inheritance, Franklin thought it should assist the poor in overcoming poverty as expediently as possible: “I am for doing good to the poor.…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”

Moreover, local, rather than federal, officials administered this welfare, since they were more likely to know the particular needs of recipients and could distinguish between the deserving poor (the disabled and involuntarily unemployed) and the undeserving poor (those capable of work but preferring not to).

The Founders sought to provide aid in a way that would help the deserving poor but minimize incentives for recipients to act irresponsibly. They wanted to protect the rights of taxpayers by preventing corruption and abuses in welfare aid.

Above all, the Founders saw the family and life-long marriage as the primary means of support for everyone, rich and poor alike.

Modern Welfare

By the mid-20th century, intellectual opinion began to peel away the stigma attached to the behavioral aspects of poverty, and progressive politicians increased the benefits and number of welfare recipients.

During the New Deal, despite major expansions of welfare programs, the Founders’ approach remained intact at least to this extent: These programs still distinguished between the deserving and undeserving poor—a distinction based on moral conduct.

Until the mid-1960s, free markets, secure property rights, strong family policy and minimal taxation and regulation supported a culture of work and entrepreneurship. But through the rise of modern liberalism’s redefinition of rights and justice, welfare was officially reconceived as a right that could be demanded by anyone in need, regardless of conduct or circumstances.

Among the most destructive features of the post-1965 welfare regime has been its unintentional dismantling of the family. By making welfare wages higher than working wages, the government essentially replaced fathers with a government check. The state became many families’ primary provider.

Even more perverse, for many single mothers, marrying a working man may actually be a financial burden rather than a support because the marriage can diminish government benefits.

Though modern welfare programs grant more benefits to a greater number of individuals than the Founders ever fathomed, the Founders’ approach to welfare policy was effective in providing for the minimal needs of the poor and dramatically reducing poverty over time. Based on today’s living standards, the poverty rate fell from something like 90 percent in the Founding era to 12 percent by 1969.

If the goal of welfare is to provide for those in need while respecting the rights of all, Americans would do well to ponder the Founders’ outlook on welfare as a limited system, concerned with helping the poor who truly are in need and encouraging those who are able to work to leave their poverty behind as soon as possible.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


7 June, 2015

Hiding Something? Mosby Blocks Gray Autopsy

“Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby plans to seek a protective order that would block the release of Freddie Gray’s autopsy report and other ‘sensitive’ documents as she prosecutes the six police officers involved in his arrest,” reports The Baltimore Sun. The rationale Mosby gave the paper is understandable enough: That prosecutors “have a duty to ensure a fair and impartial process for all parties involved” and “will not be baited into litigating this case through the media.”

Except that Mosby herself litigated the case in repeated press conferences as events were unfolding, leading to riots in the city. The truth about hiding the autopsy is probably better explained by what an attorney for one of the police officers said: “[T]here is something in that autopsy report that they are trying to hide.”

Given how the autopsy of Michael Brown largely if not completely vindicated Officer Darren Wilson, it wouldn’t be surprising if Mosby was trying to retain some justification for pursuing the six Baltimore officers so harshly — one has been charged with second-degree murder. It wouldn’t be fun for her to lose her case in the media.



Freedom for Iran's hostages should trump any nuclear deal

by Jeff Jacoby

IN HIS remarks to the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, President Obama pledged that his administration would work tirelessly for the freedom of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who has been held hostage by Iran since last summer on spurious espionage charges.

"Jason has been in prison for nothing more than writing about the hopes and fears of the Iranian people," Obama said. "We will not rest until we bring him home to his family, safe and sound."

Yet just four days later, the president warned Congress that he would veto any bill making approval of a nuclear deal with Iran contingent on the release of Americans in Iranian captivity. Obama may want the mullahs to set their US hostages free. But he wants that nuclear deal more.

On Monday, Obama boasted to a gathering of young Southeast Asian leaders that as a result of his policies, "today, once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth." Could anyone swallow such a risible claim without, as Hillary Clinton might put it, the willing suspension of disbelief? It's hard to think of any nation on the planet that holds America in higher esteem because of the Obama presidency. Iran surely doesn't. Time and again, the White House has bent over backward to "engage" the Islamist regime in Tehran. At every step its overtures have been greeted with scorn.

The seizure of innocent Americans like Rezaian — whose trial, in a closed courtroom, began last week — fits a pattern of hostility that seven years of outreach and indulgence by the Obama administration has failed to soften. "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist," entreated the president in his first inaugural address. But Iran's theocratic leaders have not unclenched their fists, not even when it would appear to be in their interest to do so.

The nuclear accord being pushed so fervently by Obama and John Kerry would be a dream come true for the Islamic Republic's rulers — generating tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, legitimizing their eventual path to the bomb, and entrenching Iran's malignant regional hegemony. Yet hungry as they are for this deal, they know that Obama is hungrier still. No provocation, no act of aggression, no insult by Iran has been enough to make the White House walk away from the negotiations.

Rezaian isn't the only US hostage in Iranian hands. Saeed Abedini, 35, is a Christian pastor from Idaho who was arrested in 2012 while on a humanitarian trip to Iran to help establish an orphanage. He was convicted in 2013 "undermining the national security of Iran" and sentenced to eight years in prison. Amir Hekmati, a decorated US Marine, was born in Arizona and raised in Michigan. He was seized in 2011 while visiting his grandmother in Iran, accused of spying, and sentenced to death (a sentence later commuted pending a retrial). Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, vanished during a trip to Iran in 2007. Iran's state-run media reported at the time that he was in the hands of the security services, making him one of the longest-held US hostages ever.

The brazen detention of American citizens is an outrage. The refusal of the White House to call a halt to negotiations until the men are released is a humiliation. Iran has an odious history of abducting guiltless Americans, then using them as bargaining chips to trade for some concession from Washington. You'd think Washington would have learned by now that ransoming hostages only reinforces the incentive to seize more hostages in the future.

It is mind-boggling that the president would threaten to veto a measure making the freedom of the four US citizens the price of any more nuclear talks. Can Obama truly believe that this is the way to make America "the most respected country on earth"?



The Obama Administration’s Transparency Crisis

By Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch

The federal government is bigger than ever, and also the most secretive in recent memory. President Obama famously promised his would be the most transparent administration in history, but federal agencies under his leadership are often black holes in terms of disclosure. I’ll be testifying to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee today, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on the Obama transparency crisis.

The secrecy at the federal level is pervasive. Judicial Watch has filed nearly 3,000 FOIA requests with the Obama administration and nearly 225 FOIA lawsuits in federal court. Most of these lawsuits are filed just to get a “yes or no” answer from the administration. Agencies have built administrative hurdles and stonewalled even the most basic FOIA requests. The Obama administration’s casual law-breaking when it comes to FOIA is a national disgrace and shows contempt for the American people’s right to know what their government is doing.

Transparency is about self-government. If we don’t know what the government is doing, how can we govern ourselves?

There is a way out. Judicial Watch shows that one citizen group, using the Freedom of Information Act and independent oversight, can help the American people bring their government under control, having obtained numerous, shocking documents that had been denied to Congress.

It was Judicial Watch that uncovered a declassified email showing it was the Obama White House that put out the lie that the Benghazi attack was “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy,” leading Speaker Boehner to appoint the Select Committee on Benghazi. Judicial Watch has since obtained numerous other Benghazi records which highlight the administration’s extensive cover-up.

It was Judicial Watch which forced out key info about lost and then “unlost” Lois Lerner emails and how President Obama was lying when he suggested his IRS scandal was the result of boneheaded decisions by low level bureaucrats in Ohio. The documents show the IRS hit on the Tea Party was run out of D.C. and included the Justice Department and FBI.

Of course, these revelations have been surpassed in the media by the Clinton email and financial scandals. Judicial Watch has at least 18 lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, and about 160 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, that could be affected by Mrs. Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business.

Most recently, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State John Kerry to compel him, as an executive agency head, to fulfill his obligation under the Federal Records Act to obtain and provide Clinton’s emails to the American people.

FOIA is a straightforward tool that gives Judicial Watch, the media, and citizens access to the federal courts in order to ensure compliance with lawful records requests. This is why we get documents that Congress can’t. Liberals running the media won’t do the hard work that our lawyers and investigators do — not because they don’t know how or don’t have the resources – but because independent investigative reporting has been subsumed by the politics of protecting Obama and his “progressivism.”

Truth fears no inquiry. Crafty, corrupt politicians realize that transparency and accountability go hand-in-hand. If the Obama administration truly had nothing to hide, it would not go to such extraordinary lengths to keep vital information from the public.

Renewed congressional interest in reforming FOIA is a positive sign. Reforms must be significant and provide more access to information to the American people. Additionally, Congress should apply the freedom of information concept to itself and the courts, which are both exempt from executive transparency laws.

Our Founders were keenly aware of the need for accountability and transparency in our government. James Madison wrote, “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.”

We can only hope that members of Congress today take Madison’s warning to heart. Today’s hearing is a start.



Obamacare’s Muse: The UK’s NHS

As I previously discussed in Townhall Finance, real and sustainable private investment is being held back in large part due to the regime uncertainty caused by such regulations as Dodd-Frank, Obamacare and climate change. In fact, I first pointed this out publicly as one of the guest speakers at a large Tea Party rally on Tax Day 2010 in Appleton WI.

Given the large and rising costs of healthcare in the US (eg 17.9% of GDP in 2014, up 5% from 1999), it is understandable that many Americans voted for reform. But Obamacare will only make the already government-centric American system even worse in terms of costs, prices, quality, innovation and care (including more bureaucratic rationing).

If Obamacare is not repealed and replaced by a more free market style system, then it will over time become more and more like its inspiration or muse of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) … where each regulatory failure calls forthmore regulation ad infinitum. As a late great economist once pointed out in the context of Hillarycare:

“On the free market, the consumer is ‘king or queen’ and the providers are always trying to make profits and gain customers by serving them well. But when government operates a service, the consumer is transmuted into a ‘pain-in-the-neck’, a ‘wasteful’ user-up of scarce social resources.” – Murray N. Rothbard

It thus seems appropriate to revisit the NHS. In doing this, I not only can offer my perspective as an economist but also as a patient of the NHS in the late 2000s. I have also been a patient of the US health care system in the 2010s, and of the Australian system for many years from the late 1980s. Although all three systems are far from perfect, the UK’s is a distant third place in my experience, including (no doubt surprisingly to most American liberals) the pervasiveness of ‘cold and uncaring’ NHS staff that I encountered from almost day one in the UK.

The NHS has for many years been referred to glowingly by the US liberal elite. One of these admirers of the NHS is former Obama ‘technocrat’ at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr Donald Berwick.

Dr Berwick has described the NHS as: “universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care – a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just.” And he added: “I am romantic about the NHS; I love it.” Perhaps this ‘love affair’ with the NHS is driven by his belief that: “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition, redistributional.”

The NHS has its origins in the rise of western Progressivism (such as UK Fabian Socialism) and Imperial Germany’s mandated health insurance from the 1880s onwards. Again we can see the ‘Bootleggers and Baptists” phenomenon in action, with the ‘Progressives’ and ‘Fabians’ playing the role of the ‘Baptists’ and with the ‘Iron Chancellor of Germany’ and his cronies as the ‘Bootleggers’.

The NHS came into being in the late 1940s, with the express goal of providing the best and most up-to-date health care services available to anyone who wanted it free-of-charge. It was to do this by essentially nationalizing the entire health care sector in the UK. The NHS has since then grown to be the largest employer in Europe, employing more than one million people.

As demand is not constrained by market prices, the NHS has mainly resorted to rationing of services in the face of excess demand, which has resulted in the NHS’ infamous queuing. As Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute has previously highlighted, as many as 750,000 Britons were awaiting admission to NHS hospitals in 2007. Cancer patients, for example, can wait as long as 8 months for treatment resulting in nearly 20% of colon cancer patients, considered treatable when first diagnosed, being incurable by the time treatment is finally offered. The waiting times for many other less urgent procedures have usually been measured in months, with one in eight patients still waiting more than a year.

Less obvious than the quantity of services provided, is the non-stop rising costs to the British taxpayer. Dr Helen Evans of the UK’s Nurses for Reform pointed out that, even in between the 1944 ‘White Paper’ and the 1948 start of the NHS, the budget was already being revised upwards by nearly 75%. In its first year of operation, the NHS actually costed over 230% more than originally estimated. The main driver behind these cost overruns was the assumption that demand would remain roughly constant despite services being delivered ‘free’ at the point-of-use. Nominal charges have been introduced over the years, with negligible impact.

Capital investment in new, expanded and renovated hospitals was minimal until the great ‘Hospital Plan’ of the early 1960s. In fact, a significant proportion of the inherited NHS hospitals predated the First World War and, despite this, not a single new hospital was built during the first decade of the NHS. The ‘Plan’ aimed, over the course of a decade or more, to build 90 new hospitals, drastically remodel 134 more and provide 356 further improvement schemes. Even by the 1990s the ‘Plan’ remained unfulfilled, with only a third of the projects completed and a third not yet started.

Of course, the news headlines are more dominated by quality of service issues. As of 2008 in many NHS hospitals, more than 10% of patients were picking up infections and illnesses they did not have prior to being admitted. And up to 60% of NHS hospital patients could be undernourished during inpatient stays.

All of these worrying themes have continued unabated through to the present. Despite all of this, the NHS is still a ‘sacred cow’ in the UK, and the prospects for even minor free market friendly reforms in the foreseeable future are still very slim indeed.

Given the benchmark of the NHS, the future of Obamacare is perhaps best encapsulated by two former HHS ‘apparatchiks’ who purportedly said:

“National Health Insurance means combining the efficiency of the Postal Service with the compassion of the IRS … and the cost accounting of the Pentagon.” – Dr Louis Sullivan & Constance Horner



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


5 June, 2015

The Media's Worst Liberal Brain Cramps

Journalists are supposed to be the most informed members of society. Nothing is supposed to get past the iron traps in their brains. So which one of these concepts sounds more like a brain cramp?

1. Why would Hillary Clinton avoid taking questions from the press now that she's running for president? She's fantastic at defending herself when the scandals mount.

2. President Obama has run an administration amazingly free of scandal. Not just the president, but also everyone he has chosen to serve has been a pillar of integrity.

These are actual concepts forwarded on television in the last few days.

The first concept came from New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters on June 2 on MSNBC — a channel that warmly welcomes Democratic delusions. "She's really good at answering questions. Like, Hillary is no slouch when it comes to putting her on the defensive. ... I don't understand why the campaign isn't allowing her to showcase her strengths."

USA Today reporter Susan Page espoused the same nonsense, also on MSNBC, on May 19. "She can handle any question you throw at her. It's a mystery to me why she doesn't want to take a couple questions every day so that this is isn't a story, and so she has a chance to respond to negative stories that are out there and to make her case, because she does it very well."

Former Republican press aide Nicolle Wallace quickly underlined for Peters that Hillary's answers weren't always brilliant, like when she told Diane Sawyer that she and Bill were "dead broke" after leaving the White House. "You don't have to explain to anybody how troubling it is for Hillary Clinton — who hasn't driven herself in her own vehicle in 20 years — to call herself flat broke."

There are Hillary's politically inept answers ... and then there are Hillary's smear answers, like a "vast right-wing conspiracy" somehow made Monica Lewinsky tempt her husband into adultery, and then have him lie under oath.

What Peters and Page might be implying in code is: "Why wouldn't you talk to us? We love you. We voted for you. We'll explain away any criticism of your answers."

Hillary has every reason to avoid questions. She might be forced to provide real answers. Bill and Hillary's complete evisceration of weak State Department rules of disclosure about their foundation donors? The bumbling of Benghazi? Both issues are political TNT.

The second concept has been around a long time, and it only gets more delusional as the Obama presidency elapses. David Brooks, the so-called conservative or Republican "leaner" on the "PBS NewsHour," responded to the indictment of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert by claiming "President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him. He's chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free."

So forget Operation Fast and Furious and Solyndra, the IRS targeting conservatives and the Veteran Administration's lies and treatment delays. Forget about all the false Obamacare promises, Benghazi and the Bowe Bergdahl-terrorist swap. Delusional journalists still pretend on national television that Obama & Co. have succeeded in the boast that they're the most ethical and transparent administration in our history.

Perhaps the most embarrassing scandal avoidance for journalists is avoiding the scandal of the Obama administration's treatment of reporters — utter contempt, along with more leak investigations than any other in history. For a journalist to call the man "scandal-free" is to surrender his own professional self-respect. But this is nothing new for most journalists. They've done it for years.



Socialist 'Justice'

Protestors demand “social justice.” I hate their chant. If I oppose their cause, then I’m for social “injustice”? Nonsense.

The protesters usually want to punish capitalism. “Spread those resources,” says Hillary Clinton.

Even capitalists often make the mistake of talking about “social justice” as if it’s the opposite of free markets or a reason to rein in markets with more regulations or redistribution of wealth. But there’s nothing “just” about the leftist protesters' claimed solution: more big government.

Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Harry Belafonte praised Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez for his socialist revolution. Chavez then proceeded to destroy much of his country.

Even after his death, his portrait remains on walls everywhere and his policies live on. They haven’t produced social justice, unless your idea of “justice” is privileges for government officials and shortages of basics like food and toilet paper for ordinary people.

Only socialism could take an oil-rich nation and turn it into one where people wait in line for hours for survival rations.

The left-wing Guardian newspaper quotes a Venezuelan farmer saying that Chavez’s policies left Venezuela with “no one to explain why a rich country has no food.”

Not many people in Venezuela give such explanations — the government censors its critics — but free-market economists can explain.

Goods don’t get matched to consumer needs by anyone’s burning desire for justice. The amazing coordination of the marketplace happens because sellers and buyers are free. Sellers can sell whatever they choose at prices they choose. Buyers decide whether to pay. That flexibility — and chance to make a profit — is what persuades people to create what customers want and risk their own money and safety to stock it in a store.

Without the free market setting prices and allocating resources, all the cries of “justice” in the world don’t help anyone. You can’t eat justice. You can’t use it as toilet paper.

Intellectuals, activists and government alike love it when politicians take “tough,” decisive action — usually meaning sudden interference in the marketplace. A year and a half ago, Venezuelan government used the military to seize control of Daka, one of the country’s largest retailers, in order to force the chain to charge “fair” prices. Punish those rich, greedy store-owners!

Surprise! That didn’t work. The chain is now collapsing as looters take what they want.

Socialists say capitalists just want to make a quick buck, but it’s government that can’t plan for the long haul.

Instead of thinking in terms of returns on investment and sustainable business models, socialists think only of today: They see people who need stuff and stores full of stuff. Take the stuff and give it to people, and then tomorrow — well, those capitalists will always bring in more stuff, I guess.

Calling it “social justice” doesn’t make it work.

Sometimes activists admit they aren’t very interested in economics. What they really want is a more “tolerant” world with less sexism and racism. They act as if capitalism is an obstacle to that.

But it isn’t. Capitalist societies are less racist and less sexist than non-capitalist ones.

In America, white people often take for granted the advantages that being white sometimes provides. But compare America to China, where one ethnic group, the Han, dominates politics and openly looks down on minorities — and where even scientists have tried to show that the Han are a distinctive race that does not trace its ancestry to Africa like the rest of us.

The autocratic nation of Saudi Arabia doesn’t let women drive cars or open their own bank accounts.

Markets, in which individuals, not just rulers, have property rights, give people options. Businesses have an incentive to serve as many people as possible, regardless of gender or ethnic group. They also have an incentive to be nice — customers are more likely to trade with people who treat them fairly. Everyone gets to choose his own path. That’s what I call justice.

Injustice is telling people that they must wait to see what their rulers decide is fair.



The Intellectual Dishonesty of Barack H. Obama

By Walter E. Williams

President Barack Obama's stance, expressed in his 2014 State of the Union address, is that the debate is settled and climate change is a fact. Obama is by no means unique in that view. Former Vice President Al Gore declared that "the science is settled." This "settled science" vision about climate is held by many, including those in academia.

To call any science settled is sheer idiocy. Had mankind acted as though any science could possibly be settled, we'd be living in caves, as opposed to having the standard of living we enjoy today. That higher standard of living stems from challenges to what might have been seen as "scientific fact."

According to mathematician Samuel Arbesman's book, "The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date," many ideas taken as facts today will be shown to be wrong as early as five years from now. Arbesman argues that a study published in a physics journal will lose half its value in 10 years.

Many academics know that to call any science settled is nonsense. But their leftist political sentiments and lack of academic integrity prevent them from criticizing public officials and the media for misleading a gullible public about global warming.

The concept of white privilege, along with diversity and multiculturalism, is part of today's campus craze. Millions of dollars are spent on conferences and other forums teaching students about the horrors of white privilege. A Vanderbilt University sociology professor said white privilege is to blame for the Baltimore riots and looting.

I wonder how one goes about determining whether a person is privileged. White privilege can't be based on median income. Why? It turns out that Asian-American households had the highest median income ($68,636) in 2012. Median income for white households was $57,000. Maybe our academic elite should condemn Asian privilege instead of white privilege. But there's another problem. My income puts me in America's top 5 percent.

If those who condemn white privilege could not see my dark brown skin color, they would also condemn me for white privilege. The bottom line to this campus nonsense is that "privilege" has become the new word for "personal achievement."

President Obama has often said the wealthiest Americans must make sacrifices to better the lives of poor people. At Georgetown University's May 12 poverty summit, Obama said, "If we can't ask from society's lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show." Let's look at this "lottery winner" nonsense.

A lottery is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "a process or thing whose success or outcome is governed by chance." The question before us is whether wealth is something that is obtained by chance. Did Bill Gates acquire his wealth by luck or chance? Or did he produce something that benefited his fellow man, causing people to voluntarily reach in their pockets to pay?

Gayle Cook and her late husband, William Cook, founded a medical device company using a spare bedroom in their apartment as a factory. Their company specializes in stents and antibiotic catheters. Now Gayle Cook has a net worth in the billions of dollars. Was she a winner in the lottery of life, or did she have to do something like serve her fellow man?

Are those who work hard, take risks, make life better for others and become wealthy in the process the people who should be held up to ridicule and scorn? And should we make mascots out of social parasites?

Obama talked about asking "from society's lottery winners to just make that modest investment." Congress doesn't ask people for money. Through intimidation, threats and coercion, it takes people's earnings. If people don't comply, the agents of Congress will imprison them.

Most instructive for us is that Obama's remarks were made at a university. Not a single professor has said anything about his suggestion that people accumulate great wealth by winning life's lottery. That is just more evidence about the level of corruption among today's academics.



An important Difference Between Left and Right

The Left believes that the way to a better world is almost always through doing battle with society’s moral defects (real and/or as perceived by the Left). Thus, in America, the Left defines the good person as the one who fights the sexism, racism, intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and other evils that the Left believes permeate American society.

Conservatives not only have no interest in fundamentally transforming the United States, but they are passionately opposed to doing so. Fundamentally transforming any but the worst society — not to mention transforming what is probably the most decent society in history — can only make the society worse. Of course, conservatives believe that America can be improved, but not transformed, let alone fundamentally transformed.

The Founders all understood that the transformation that every generation must work on is the moral transformation of each citizen. Thus, character development was at the core of both childrearing and of young people’s education at school.

As John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And in the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Why is that? Because freedom requires self-control. Otherwise, external controls — which means an ever more powerful government — would have to be imposed.

At the same time, as a professor of philosophy wrote in The New York Times, fewer and fewer young Americans believe there are any moral truths.

Meanwhile, at home, fathers and religion, historically the two primary conveyors of moral truths and moral self-discipline, are often nonexistent.

As a result of all this, we are producing — indeed, we have produced since World War II — vast numbers of Americans who are passionate about carbon emissions and fighting sexism and “white privilege” who are also cheating on tests at unprecedentedly high levels.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


4 June, 2015

Gross hypocrisy and Leftist bias in Wikipedia: Altemeyer

I put up some information on the Wikipedia page for Bob Altemeyer. Altemeyer is a particularly witless Leftist psychologist who made large and derogatory claims about conservatives that he later had to retract. But there was nothing on his Wikipedia page about that retraction. So I put up a brief account of that. What I put up was wholly scholarly and fully referenced -- just what Wikipedia says it wants. But criticism of Leftists is not allowed of course, so my contribution was deleted after only a few days.

I imagine that they will find some quibble to justify their deletion of my entry but I am pretty sure that the outcome would have been different had I praised brainless Bob. Anyway, after a couple of run-ins with them, I have no confidence in being able to navigate my way onto Wikipedia again -- so I am putting up below what I originally submitted to Wikipedia. Altemeyer is an unusual name so a Google search on that name should still find my comments, whether the Wikipedians like it or not:

A major problem with Altemeyer's work is revealed when we find that his RWA measuring instrument identifies the Communists of the old Soviet Union as right-wing. But if they are right-wing who is left wing? His confusion arises from his apparent definition of conservatism as "opposed to change". That definition is however politically naive. Conservatives from Burke onward have never been opposed to change as such but rather opposed to changes desired and enacted by Leftists. The current Left/Right polarity is between conservatives who want less government control and Leftists who want more of that. Altemeyer seems to be unaware of that so his work has no current political relevance.

In detail: The decline and fall of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe enabled use of his RWA scale there. Studies in the East such as those by Altemeyer & Kamenshikov (1991), McFarland, Ageyev and Abalakina-Paap (1992) and Hamilton, Sanders & McKearney (1995) showed that high RWA scores were associated with support for Communism!! So an alleged "Rightist" scale went from being non-political to being a measure of Leftism! If you took it at face-value, it showed Communists were Rightists!

After that, Altemeyer more or less gave up his original claim and engaged in a bit of historical revisionism. He said (Altemeyer, 1996, p. 218) that when he "began talking about right-wing authoritarianism, I was (brazenly) inventing a new sense, a social psychological sense that denotes submission to the perceived established authorities in one's life". It is true that he did originally define what he was measuring in something like that way (in detail, he defined it as a combination of three elements: submissiveness to established authority, adherence to social conventions and general aggressiveness) but what was new, unusual or "brazen" about such a conceptualization defies imagination. The concept of submission to established authority was, for instance, part of the old Adorno et al (1950) work. What WAS brazen was Altemeyer's claim that what he was measuring was characteristic of the political Right. But it is precisely the "Right-wing" claim that he now seems to have dropped and the RWA scale is now said to measure simply submission to authority. See:

Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.

Altemeyer, R. (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Altemeyer, R. & Kamenshikov, A. (1991) Impressions of American and Soviet behaviour: RWA changes in a mirror. South African J. Psychology 21, 255-260.

Hamilton, V. L., Sanders, J., & McKearney, S. J. (1995). Orientations toward authority in an authoritarian state: Moscow in 1990. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 356-365

McFarland, S. G., Ageyev, V. S., & Abalakina-Paap, M. A. (1992). Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 1004-1010


An Obama Crime Wave Spreads Across America

Fueled by this president's anti-police policies and race-baiting rhetoric, thugs are attacking cops and terrorizing major cities. Horrible violence is breaking out all over. We are witnessing a national crime wave.

Law enforcement expects to see an escalation in criminal activity over the summer. Already we've seen a disturbing trend in May, including:

* The deadliest month Baltimore has seen in more than 15 years, with almost 30 shootings and nine deaths just over the holiday weekend. That makes well over 100 murders this year, compared with 71 at this time last year, the fastest the city has reached 100 homicides since 2007.

* Any time Baltimore officers respond to calls on the city's west side, scene of the Freddie Gray riots, as many as 50 people threaten them, Police Chief Anthony Batts says. "We have to send out multiple units just to do basic police work," he said. "It makes it very difficult to follow up on violence that takes place there."

* In Melbourne, Fla., likewise, police have reported mobs surrounding and striking cops trying to handcuff suspects in two separate cases in the past two weeks.

* A similar spike in violence was reported in Chicago, where 12 people were killed and at least 44 — including a 4-year-old girl — wounded in mostly gang-related shootings over the Memorial Day weekend.

* In Manhattan, 16 people have been murdered this year, a 45% jump over the same period last year, while the number of shooting victims nearly doubled, from 33 to 61. That doesn't include a rash of Central Park muggings, subway assaults and vandalism.

* In the nation's capital, the so-called "D.C. Mansion Murders" have gripped the city, which is suffering a similar surge in homicides.

V In Omaha, Neb., a white female police officer was shot and killed by a black gang member as she tried to serve him a felony arrest warrant.

* A New Orleans housing authority cop, also white, was gunned down as he sat in his patrol car — the first on-duty death in the department's history.

* In Rio Rancho, N.M., another white police officer was gunned down after pulling over a gang member during a traffic stop — the first officer shot and killed in the line of duty in the department's 34-year history.

Victims can blame the crime surge on politicians who give criminals "space" to break the law. Who order cops to stop "stop and frisks." Who tie their hands while giving thugs license to loot and kill.



It's socialism, not deodorant, that starves the poor

by Jeff Jacoby

WHAT THIS country needs, says Bernie Sanders, is less deodorant.

The 73-year-old senator from Vermont, now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, told CNBC's John Harwood in an interview on Tuesday that because American consumers can choose from so many brands of personal-care products, kids are going to bed with empty bellies.

Will this deodorant aisle be history when Bernie Sanders is president?

"You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country," Sanders lamented. He didn't explain exactly how the profusion of toiletries and athletic footwear leads to childhood hunger, but for the only self-described socialist in Congress, it is no doubt a matter of faith that the abundance of capitalism must generate poverty and undernourishment.

In the real world, the opposite is true: Hunger and deprivation are rarest where markets and trade are freest. Food in America couldn't possibly be more plentiful; no one starves because too many economic resources are being channeled into marketing Old Spice instead of oatmeal. But in the socialist delusion, centralized control is always preferable to voluntary enterprise. Better that government czars should decide what is produced, and impose their plan from above. After all, when buyers and sellers are left free to choose for themselves, grocery and department store aisles fill up with "too many" goods that consumers desire to buy. And that's not the worst of it: In the process of fulfilling those desires, some capitalists may be getting wealthy.

Sanders's suggestion that more kids would eat if only deodorant came in fewer varieties was roundly mocked. Wherever his collectivist ideology has been enforced, however, the consequences — shortages, rationing, bare shelves, long lines, grinding austerity — are anything but funny.

Unlike John F. Kennedy, who argued that a rising tide lifts all boats, socialist true believers care far less about growing the economy than about decreasing the gap between rich and poor. "If the changes that you envision ... were to result in a more equitable distribution of income but less economic growth," Sanders was asked in the CNBC interview, "is that trade-off worth making?" Yes, he said at once. "The whole size of the economy and the GDP doesn't matter if people continue to work longer hours for low wages.... You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems."

How easy it is to pooh-pooh "growth for the sake of growth" when you're an American politician who makes a good salary and never has to worry about where his next meal will come from. But for the world's destitute — for those who struggle daily just to hold body and soul together — economic growth spells salvation. Sanders has spent decades railing against the rich and bewailing the plight of the poor. Yet for lifting hungry and needy people out of poverty, no force on earth comes close to the growth fueled by free markets and trade.

On Wednesday, one day after Sanders kicked off his White House campaign, the United Nations reported that hunger still afflicts about 795 million people around the globe, or about one out of every nine human beings. As great a challenge as that is, it represents an amazing decrease in the number of undernourished people over the past 25 years. Even though the world's population has grown by 1.9 billion since 1990, there are 216 million fewer men, women, and children threatened by hunger today than there were then. For the first time, we can realistically envision the end of starvation as a global scourge.

Thanks to advances in agricultural science — especially the famous "Green Revolution" for which the American biologist Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — it is possible to grow enough food to feed a world with 7 billion people. But it takes the dynamism and productivity of markets, and the prosperity ignited by trade, to make that food available and affordable to the great majority of the human family.

Perhaps Sanders doesn't grasp that, but the UN agency most concerned with feeding the hungry does.

"Economic growth is necessary for alleviating poverty and reducing hunger and malnutrition," emphasizes the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the new hunger report. "Countries that become richer are less susceptible to food insecurity."

Blasting greedy billionaires and sneering at the multiplicity of deodorant brands "when children are hungry" appeals to a slice of the electorate. But populist rhetoric from a "humorless aging hippie peacenik Socialist" (as Sanders was once described in a New York Times Magazine profile) doesn't fill empty food bowls. Market economies do.

"Markets that function well are important for promoting food security and nutrition," the UN report says. "Markets ... ensure food availability."

From China to Tanzania, from North Korea to the Soviet Union, socialism over the past century condemned countless children — and their parents — to hunger, malnutrition, and famine. Deodorant never hurt a soul.



Federal land management bureaucrats warned

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told two federal land officials, “I come bearing good news. I think if your employees keep up the arrogance, keep denying access to the land then very soon we’ll be able to dramatically cut your employees back and start turning those powers over to the states.”

Gohmert’s comments came during a Joint Legislative Hearing "To protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes” in late May.

Deputy Director of Operations for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Steve Ellis and Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Leslie Weldon testified at the hearing and heard complaints about denial of access onto National Forest Service and BLM land from sportsmen and law enforcement.

“Today, I wanted to take advantage of your presence here by letting you know things I’ve been hearing,” Gohmert said. “About the arrogance of people on U.S. Forest Service land and (Dept. of) Interior land – national forests - even from law enforcement, they say it’s just gotten tougher and tougher to deal with arrogant people on the national forests. Not getting access when they need it, not working with local law enforcement. And that’s been really helpful to me.”

“Some of us have been pushing for a while- let’s just dramatically cut back the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, the Department of Interior and let each state manage the federal land within it’s boundaries.”

Gohmert later added, “I guess maybe from your standpoint it might be seen as a warning, from my standpoint it’s really good news that the arrogance of both of your employees are ultimately going to allow us to get the next president, Republican or Democrat, to end up eventually signing legislation that lets our states - they’ll do a much better job at managing your land then your departments have been doing.”



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


3 June, 2015

More on a liking for order

I have said something about this quite recently. An abiding theme in social psychology is that conservatives suffer from personality defects. But proving that claim has been kinda difficult. The fact that conservatives are regularly found to be happier than Leftists is a bitch. Think of all the fault you could find with conservatives if they were more miserable! You could definitely say they were "maladjusted" then.

So Leftist psychologists have to scratch around a fair bit to find what is wrong with conservatives. The best they can do is to say that conservatives are said to be less "open" and more "intolerant of ambiguity", for instance. An easy conservative retort would be that conservatives are less scatterbrained and like order more. You just give the same behaviour a different label.

But that retort doesn't disturb Leftists much. They are quite happy to find fault with a desire for order. It is "rigid" etc. to them. So I was rather amused to read an interview given by the daughter of Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, the Nazi commander of Auschwitz concentration camp, where over a million of humanity's best and brightest were killed. The daughter is now an old lady but had fond memories of her father and, along the way, described something about his personality. See below:

"Her father had an obsession with order, something she inherited, and she also talked of a strict upbringing.

'If I see a picture hung wrong on the wall, I have to get up and straighten it. I get high blood pressure,' she said, adding that she also has a need to force her obsession with order on to others.

'Dad was strict when it came to etiquette,' says Ingebrigitt.

'At the dining table, the children were allowed to speak only if they were asked. But he was never angry."


But as a prominent Nazi, Höss was a Leftist. If you doubt the Leftist nature of Nazism, just start reading this assembly of historical facts. You won't read for long before you accept that reality. So once again we see that good ol' Leftist projection at work -- ascribing to others what is really true of themselves. It is Leftists who are rigid and intolerant of ambiguity -- as we see in their intolerance of debate and reliance on authority whenever global warming comes up for discussion.

So the Nazis too were socialists who definitely liked order. You actually had only to watch Triumph des Willens by Leni Riefenstahl to see that, even if you don't understand German. Just think of all those cool Nazi uniforms! (If I may be a little sarcastic).

There is of course nothing wrong with a desire for order. Life would be impossible without it. It is when it becomes an obsession that it is dubious. It clearly was something of an obsession for Höss.


They Never Stop, They Never Sleep, They Never Quit

Via "health care," the totalitarian Left is on the march once more

The hallmark of all Fascist systems is their relentlessness. Like the Terminator, they cannot be satisfied, they cannot be negotiated with, they cannot be persuaded of the evil of their cause (in fact, that’s a feature, not a bug). They just keep coming until either they are destroyed — or they destroy you. Case in point:

"A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to workers and middle-class voters ahead of next year’s elections. It’s not the uninsured, but rather the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered. Democrats call it “underinsurance.”

After paying premiums, many low- and middle-income patients still face high costs when trying to use their coverage. There’s growing concern that the value of a health insurance card is being eaten away by rising deductibles, the amount of actual medical costs that patients pay each year before coverage kicks in. ”I think it’s going to be the next big problem,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a congressional leader on health care.

“We’ve got some 17 million more people covered … but they can’t access the care they seem to be entitled to,” McDermott said. “It costs too much to use the care. That’s the deceptive part about it.” Since virtually all U.S. residents are now required to have health insurance by President Barack Obama’s health care law, McDermott said Democrats have a responsibility to make sure coverage translates to meaningful benefits."

In other words, having achieved their thug victory with Obamacare, they’re now ready to move on to the “next big problem,” because for these people there is always a next big problem — another expansion of government, another bite at your freedom. Now they’ve come up with the word “underinsurance” as they discover that their magic bullet of Obamacare is — wait for it — flawed and, with a brutish hack like McDermott in the lead, needs to be “fixed.”

But this is always the way things are on the Left: there is nothing wrong with “reform” that more “reform” won’t cure, until the thing or institution being “reformed” bears absolutely no resemblance to what it once was. None of this has anything to do with “health care,” of course; rather it is simply another way to expand government and subordinate the people using the bogus Leftist “virtue” of “compassion” — an expansion of the federal governments powers far beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. It is therefore unconstitutional and, worse, un-American.

And right behind them is the amen choir of Leftist stooges, media flunkies, bought-and-paid-for think tanks and all the other structurally Marxist people and organizations who have plighted their troth to the Democrats:

"Several liberal-leaning organizations have recently focused on the issue.

—A Commonwealth Fund study found that 31 million adults were underinsured last year. Half of them had problems with medical bills or medical debt. Seven million were underinsured due to high deductibles alone. “The steady growth in the proliferation and size of deductibles threatens to increase underinsurance in the years ahead,” the study concluded.

—A study by the advocacy group Families USA found that one-quarter of the people with individual health insurance policies went without care in 2014 because they could not afford the out-of-pocket costs. The study singled out high deductibles.

—The Center for American Progress, a think tank often aligned with the White House, found that employers have been shifting a disproportionate burden of health care costs onto workers. As a result, the report said, employees and their families have not shared in the benefits of a prolonged lull in medical inflation. The group recommended several policy changes, including rebates for workers under certain conditions."

Given the complete lack of coherent opposition to the Democrats in Congress, look for the “underinsurance” chant to be picked up by the junior wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party as well — a group of feeble-minded weaklings who are already scrambling to propose “fixes” to Obamacare should the Supreme Court find that the IRS-determined “subsidies” to consumers who bought their Obamacare plans via the federal exchanges are unconstitutional.

And once the “problem” of “underinsurance” is “solved,” another problem will quickly arise, as the Left continues its war on truth, justice and the American Way.

This never would be happening if the Republican Party were still alive.



How Dishonest Is Barack Obama?

A week ago Friday was an unusual day for the editorial page of The New York Times. An unsigned editorial in the paper lashed out at the president for his public statements about reengaging in Iraq. A Paul Krugman column attacked the administration’s defense of the new trade agreement. Both pieces said the administration was being … (how shall we say it?) … dishonest.

Granted, this was nothing like the language Krugman and the Times typically use to describe Republicans. A few days earlier, Krugman accused Jeb Bush of “cowardice and vileness” with respect to his statements about Iraq. In a column on Jeb’s brother and the original invasion of Iraq, Krugman wrote “We were lied into war.” “It was worse than a mistake,” he added, “it was a crime.”

Still, Krugman and the Times are normally the most visible and reliable apologists for the Obama administration. On “The Escalation of Unauthorized Wars,” the Times doesn’t accuse President Obama of “lying” or committing “crimes,” but it comes close:

On the president’s promise that “I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq,” the Times writes “Those words were suspect then. They seem preposterous now.”

On the administration’s claim that its authority to drop bombs in Iraq and Syria stems from a decade-old congressional resolution, the Times writes, “That claim was flimsy then. It, too, seems preposterous now.”

In his claim that the administration is being dishonest in defense of its trade policies, Krugman tries to sugar coat his attack with this kind of rhetoric:

“One of the Obama administration’s underrated virtues is its intellectual honesty…. In the policy areas I follow, the White House has been remarkably clear and straight forward about what it is doing and why.”

Wow. How quickly memories fade. Everyone knows that Krugman follows health care, for example. Does he really not remember, “If you like the health plan you have, you can keep it”? Or, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”? We now know from insider reports that the White House knew these statements were false at the time the president was making them.

The federal budget is another matter Krugman follows and right now Congress and the president are wrangling over the sequester (across-the-board spending cuts) they agreed to a few years back. How many times has the president and his spokespeople tried to blame the sequester on the congressional Republicans? Yet it is incontrovertible that the idea first came from the White House.

Sometimes when it isn’t clear whether the word “dishonest” applies, the context is suggestive. The other day, the President told a group of Coast Guard graduates that global warming is a threat to our national security. It was a controversial claim made at a controversial time and place. So a lot of thought must have gone into the speech. Yet only a few days earlier the President approved Shell Oil’s request to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

Certainly these actions are inconsistent. Lots of people are inconsistent. Or, is more involved? Did the president really believe that carbon fuel is a threat to our security when he was speaking to the graduates? Did he have that same belief when he approved off shore drilling?

One of the president’s finest moments was his appointment of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to lead a bi-partisan commission to recommend ways to curtail runaway entitlement spending. This reflected a position he took as far back as the 2008 Democratic primary and he promised both gentlemen that they had his full backing — regardless of their recommendations. Yet when the Simpson/Bowles report was released the president acted as though he had never heard of either one of them.

Okay. That’s a broken promise. Or, is it more than that? Did the president really believe the promise when he made it?

In 2008, candidate Obama promised to heal wounds, end partisan rancor and pull the nation together. “Yes, We Can” was a promise to unite the American people and members of both parties behind common goals.

Yet President Obama has turned out to be the most partisan and the most polarizing president in our life time. And, yes, it really is his fault. Granted, Republicans have given tit for tat. But the president promised to lead.

In his first State of the Union address he gratuitously insulted the members of the Supreme Court, who were sitting in the front row honoring him. He invited Paul Ryan to a gathering and proceeded to humiliate him on national TV. For the most part, the president doesn’t socialize with Republicans or even talk to them. But he doesn’t talk to Democrats either. He hasn’t done anything to bring about togetherness on either side of the aisle.

Think back to the 2008 campaign. Did the president really mean what he said about bringing people together?



Patriot Act Expires After Last-Minute Senate Fight

The Senate allowed the Patriot Act to expire Sunday after opposition, led by Rand Paul, derailed the efforts of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to renew the act and endorse the NSA’s mass metadata collection efforts. The chamber did, however, vote 77-17 to take up the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which would revise the Patriot Act to specifically prohibit the NSA’s domestic spying program — a program ruled illegal by a federal court.

Unfortunately, congressional efficiency being what it is, leadership waited too late to bring either bill up for debate, almost ensuring unnecessary drama. That means the good of the Patriot Act was thrown out with the bad. Yet as Reuters reports, “Intelligence experts say a lapse of only a few days would have little immediate effect. The government is allowed to continue collecting information related to any foreign intelligence investigation that began before the deadline.”

Fighting terrorists is critical, but collecting data from every American to create the proverbial haystack doesn’t strike us as an efficient or trustworthy way to go about doing that. And it’s time Congress took its national security responsibly more seriously than leaving important work to the last minute.



Some probable thoughts


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


2 June, 2015


Napoleon is something of a puzzle. Almost every family in France lost a son in his wars -- and for what? What did France gain for all that blood? Nothing. He was as bad for France as Hitler was for Germany.

And yet Napoleon is still a hero in France while Hitler is decried in Germany. Why? They both lost so it can't be that. And there was a lot about Napoleon that one might normally dislike. He ran a police state, for instance. Dissent from his rule was swiftly dealt with. It was Napoleon who invented Fascism, not Mussolini. Mussolini just supplied the word for it. And like later fascists (including Hitler), Napoleon built up a personality cult around himself. Like later Communist dictators, he also circulated heroic images of himself.

But unlike Hitler, Napoleon was not much of a patriot. Hitler undoubtedly was a fervent German patriot and lover of his people but Napoleon was not. Largely because he was Corsican and not French, he spoke quite ill of France and the French -- at least in his early days. He shut up about that later on however.

Arthur Silber has put up some excerpts from the biography of Napoleon by Paul Johnson that show how very Fascist Napoleon indeed was:

"The [French] Revolution was a lesson in the power of evil to replace idealism, and Bonaparte was its ideal pupil. Moreover, the Revolution left behind itself a huge engine: administrative and legal machinery to repress the individual such as the monarchs of the ancien regime never dreamed of; a centralized power to organize national resources that no previous state had ever possessed; an absolute concentration of authority, first in a parliament, then in a committee, finally in a single tyrant, that had never been known before; and a universal teaching that such concentration expressed the general will of a united people, as laid down in due constitutional form, approved by referendum.

In effect, then, the Revolution created the modern totalitarian state, in all essentials, if on an experimental basis, more than a century before it came to its full and horrible fruition in the twentieth century."

And another of Bonaparte's policies shows him as a forerunner even in the racist aspects of Fascism:
"In Le Crime de Napoleon the historian Claude Ribbe recalls that the emperor brought back slavery in the French empire in 1802, a decade after it had been abolished by the Revolution. The decision led to brutal fighting in France's Caribbean colonies in which thousands died. Less well known, according to the book, is his imposition of racial laws in metropolitan France, which led to the internment of blacks and the forced break-up of inter-racial marriages".

And Napoleon was as brutal and unscrupulous as any other Far-Leftist (whether Fascist or Communist). We read:
In 1799 Napoleon was in the Middle east. He took 2,000 prisoners in Gaza. At Jaffa 3,000 defenders surrendered to the French on condition that their lives would be spared. Once in possession of Jaffa, Napoleon ordered the execution of all the prisoners from Jaffa and most of those from Gaza. To save bullets and gunpowder, Napoleon ordered his men to bayonet or drown the prisoners. There were reports of soldiers wading out to sea to finish off terrified women and children.

And more from Ribbe:
A French historian has caused uproar by claiming Napoleon provided the model for Hitler's Final Solution with the slaughter of more than 100,000 Caribbean slaves.

In The Crime of Napoleon, Claude Ribbe accuses the emperor of genocide, gassing rebellious blacks more than a century before the Nazis' extermination of the Jews.

His accusations refer to the extreme methods used to put down a ferocious uprising in Haiti at the start of the 19th century. Then known as San Domingo, the colony was considered a jewel of the French empire and to save it troops launched a campaign to kill all blacks aged over 12.

"In simple terms, Napoleon ordered the killing of as many blacks as possible in Haiti and Guadeloupe to be replaced by new, docile slaves from Africa," Ribbe said yesterday.

He said he had found accounts from officers who refused to take part in the massacres, especially the use of sulphur dioxide to kill slaves held in ships' holds.

Since Napoleon is still a French national hero, it is no wonder that the Nazis found it relatively easy to get the French to "collaborate" in World War II.

So what is it, then, that the French still like about Napoleon? There can be only one answer: He gave a string of victories to a nation much more accustomed to defeats. At Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt the English gave France a hard time in the late medieval era and, much later, even the Sun King could not prevail against the first Duke of Marlborough. And we won't mention the humiliation at Sedan or Von Manstein's Blitzkrieg. The idolization of Napoleon is then rather pathetic: Clinging to the memory of a very bad man simply because French military victories are so rare.

And was he a military genius? Not really. The French revolution had produced a Volksturm (the whole nation at war) long before Hitler thought of it and the enthusiasm of such troops for a while swept all old-fashioned armies before it. And his disastrous invasion of Russia was plainly hubris, not genius. Even his acclaimed victory at Austerlitz was enabled by a very old stratagem. He secretly brought up fresh troops overnight so surprised his adversaries next morning. Using secrecy to surprise your enemy is of course as old as Hannibal at Trasimene and even Hannibal was not the first to think of it.

And his half-day hesitation at Waterloo gave the Prussians time to come up and turn the tide against him. The military genius in that affair was Gneisenau, the Prussian strategist.

So Napoleon is very much an idol with feet of clay. The continued high regard for him in France bespeaks a very flawed national morality. Americans go into spasms of indignation over just a word -- "nigger" -- but to the French a genocidal tyrant is a cool guy. And they think of themselves as a civilized people! They have considerable claims of cultural excellence. It's a pity that they can't be satisfied with that

UPDATE: Some amusing info about Napoleon's personal life here. And for the French view of Napoleon, see here


Why Doctors Quit

By Charles Krauthammer

About a decade ago, a doctor friend was lamenting the increasingly frustrating conditions of clinical practice. “How did you know to get out of medicine in 1978?” he asked with a smile.

“I didn’t,” I replied. “I had no idea what was coming. I just felt I’d chosen the wrong vocation.”

I was reminded of this exchange upon receiving my med-school class’s 40th-reunion report and reading some of the entries. In general, my classmates felt fulfilled by family, friends and the considerable achievements of their professional lives. But there was an undercurrent of deep disappointment, almost demoralization, with what medical practice had become.

The complaint was not financial but vocational — an incessant interference with their work, a deep erosion of their autonomy and authority, a transformation from physician to “provider.”

As one of them wrote, “My colleagues who have already left practice all say they still love patient care, being a doctor. They just couldn’t stand everything else.” By which he meant “a never-ending attack on the profession from government, insurance companies, and lawyers … progressively intrusive and usually unproductive rules and regulations,” topped by an electronic health records (EHR) mandate that produces nothing more than “billing and legal documents” — and degraded medicine.

I hear this everywhere. Virtually every doctor and doctors' group I speak to cites the same litany, with particular bitterness about the EHR mandate. As another classmate wrote, “The introduction of the electronic medical record into our office has created so much more need for documentation that I can only see about three-quarters of the patients I could before, and has prompted me to seriously consider leaving for the first time.”

You may have zero sympathy for doctors, but think about the extraordinary loss to society — and maybe to you, one day — of driving away 40 years of irreplaceable clinical experience.

And for what? The newly elected Barack Obama told the nation in 2009 that “it just won’t save billions of dollars” — $77 billion a year, promised the administration — “and thousands of jobs, it will save lives.” He then threw a cool $27 billion at going paperless by 2015.

It’s 2015 and what have we achieved? The $27 billion is gone, of course. The $77 billion in savings became a joke. Indeed, reported the Health and Human Services inspector general in 2014, “EHR technology can make it easier to commit fraud,” as in Medicare fraud, the copy-and-paste function allowing the instant filling of vast data fields, facilitating billing inflation.

That’s just the beginning of the losses. Consider the myriad small practices that, facing ruinous transition costs in equipment, software, training and time, have closed shop, gone bankrupt or been swallowed by some larger entity.

This hardly stays the long arm of the health care police, however. As of Jan. 1, 2015, if you haven’t gone electronic, your Medicare payments will be cut, by 1 percent this year, rising to 3 percent (potentially 5 percent) in subsequent years.

Then there is the toll on doctors' time and patient care. One study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that emergency-room doctors spend 43 percent of their time entering electronic records information, 28 percent with patients. Another study found that family-practice physicians spend on average 48 minutes a day just entering clinical data.

Forget the numbers. Think just of your own doctor’s visits, of how much less listening, examining, even eye contact goes on, given the need for scrolling, clicking and box checking.

The geniuses who rammed this through undoubtedly thought they were rationalizing health care. After all, banking went electronic. Why not medicine?

Because banks deal with nothing but data. They don’t listen to your heart or examine your groin. Clicking boxes on an endless electronic form turns the patient into a data machine and cancels out the subtlety of a doctor’s unique feel and judgment.

Why did all this happen? Because liberals in a hurry refuse to trust the self-interested wisdom of individual practictioners, who were already adopting EHR on their own, but gradually, organically, as the technology became ripe and the costs tolerable. Instead, Washington picked a date out of a hat and decreed: Digital by 2015.

The results are not pretty. EHR is health care’s Solyndra. Many, no doubt, feasted nicely on the $27 billion, but the rest is waste: money squandered, patient care degraded, good physicians demoralized.

Like my old classmates who signed up for patient care — which they still love — and now do data entry.



Chartmanship and the jug man

Leftist economist Krugman is well know for being able to find somewhere support for most Leftist causes. Below we see he uses a well known chartmanship technique: carefully choosing the beginning and endpoints of a series. You can "prove" almost anything that way. It's a technique much loved by Warmists

Someone sent me an email this evening with some details on the Paul Krugman response to James Montier which I discussed here. I had previously stated that the Krugman response was lacking meat. But it’s actually worse than that. It’s actually highly misleading and appears intentionally so.

In the post Dr. Krugman tries to show how much interest rates matter by comparing the Fed Funds Rate with Housing Starts. He shows a chart and declares that there appears to be a strong correlation. Except, as this emailer notes, he appears to have shifted the chart to make it appear as though there’s a correlation where there isn’t one. Here’s the Krugman chart:

And here’s the version that would have originally shown up when the data is pulled from FRED:

See what was done there? The period in the early 1960’s was removed and so was the period from 2000 on. In other words, out of a 55 year time period Dr. Krugman decided to remove 20 years worth of data because it fit his argument better. For those keeping track that’s removing almost 40% of an entire data set just because the data didn’t fit the narrative. And when you add those years back in you get a result that shows a very weak correlation

I can understand why he might remove the period from 2008 on. But why remove the 1960’s data and the early 2000’s? After all, the 2000’s were the period of Alan Greenspan’s famous “conundrum” where interest rates appeared to have no correlation with the housing market. That’s not just an important part of this discussion, it’s a critical part given that it includes the housing bubble and is outside of the mythical Liquidity Trap era….

This is why people often complain about economics. When economists take a data set and just blatantly alter it to fit their argument it doesn’t do much to help build credibility for their work. Especially when you do it within a post that basically declares economists are smarter than everyone else who says they might not have the whole world figured out.

SOURCE. ("Krug" is German/Yiddish for "jug")

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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


1 June, 2015

More Wikipedia arrogance -- and Anja Katharina Wigger

As if their political imbalance were not enough, they also seem to have some stuffed-shirt editors. But let me begin at the beginning:

Frequent readers of this blog will have gathered along the way that I have a lifelong devotion to classical music. And two thirds of the classical repertoire emanates from the German lands, mostly Austria. So the fact that I have some command of German comes in handy. Translations are never as good as the original -- and I have done many translations -- so where dialogue is featured I do have a useful advantage,

In recent times I have been taking a particular interest in Austro-Hungarian operetta. It was very popular in English-speaking lands around a century ago and still has a substantial following in the German lands. And when I am looking for more information about the singers, I have found Wikipedia to be a generally useful resource.

One singer I particularly like, however, is Anja Katharina Wigger, a most feminine person. So I was a little peeved that Wikipedia had no entry for her -- despite the fact that she has had a substantial career as a soprano in Germany.

So I resolved to put that right. I found a site with substantial information about her in German and did an English summary of it. I put the summary up as Wikipedia article. But some Wikipedia "editor" named "Jimfbleak", who seems to spend most of his day deleting Wikipedia contributions, deleted my entry. So there is no Wikipedia entry about Wigger now and no reference-style information about her available to the many people who speak only English. Quite stupid, I think. The information I provided would have been helpful to fans of the lady who wished to locate recordings of further performances by her.

I am in a position to make a number of useful contributions to Wikipedia but I will not waste my time doing so whiie the pompopus and hypercritical "Jimfbleak" is around.

Anyway, in the days of the internet nobody has a monopoly on information so I am putting my "Wikipedia" entry up below. Let anybody interested judge whether it is a good basic reference entry for a singer or not:

Anja-Katharina Wigger - Soprano

Born in Hamburg, Wigger first came to widespread attention for her role as Ottilie in the 2008 Moerbisch performance of "Im Weißen Rössl", with notable performances of "Die ganze Welt ist himmelblau" and "Mein Liebeslied muss ein Walzer sein". She portrayed there an ultra-feminine lady.

She did her initial singing studies in Hamburg but later moved to Munich to study under KS Ingeborg Hallstein.

Some other roles she has played include Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Königin der Nacht in "Die Zauberflöte", Micaela in "Carmen", Baronin Freimann inDer Wildschütz", Rosalinde in "Die Fledermaus", Sylva Varescu in "Die Csárdásfürstin", Hanna Glawariin "Die lustige Witwe", Laura in"Der Bettelstudent", Evelyne Valera in "Maske in Blau", Julia in "Vetter aus Dingsda", Regine in "Hochzeitsnacht im Paradies" und die Kurfürstin Marie in "Der Vogelhändler".

She has had other stage appearances at: Mainfranken Theater Würzburg, Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern, Theater Görlitz, Stadttheater Passau, Operetten-Theater Hannover, Kornmarkttheater Bregenz, Schlossgartenfestspiele Neustrelitz and Freilichtspiele Tecklenburg and Prager Staatsoper.

She is also an active concert singer.

Acknowledgement: http://www.agentur-wiemer.de/wigger.html

A video excerpt of her here. Watch and I suspect that you will agree that she is gorgeous.


Where is the left on corporate bailouts?

Conservatives have been leading the charge to end an outdated corporate welfare program. The question everyone should be asking is: where have all the anti-corporation liberals gone?

We’re always told that Republicans are the Party of Big Business, forever eager to sell out ordinary middle-class families to the interests of megacorporations run by billionaire tycoons. And most people still believe it. But when it comes to ending actual corporate welfare, a lot of Democrats are mysteriously silent. Exhibit A: the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank is an 80-year-old, $2-billion boondoggle created as part of FDR’s New Deal program. It supposedly exists to support U.S. exports, but in reality it is “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” That quote, by the way, comes from then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. He was right then, but big corporate lobbies have now convinced him that the bank is, in fact, a pretty good idea. And he’s not alone.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), well-known for standing against Wall Street bailouts and corporate cronyism when these issues were firing up the Occupy movement, has apparently taken leave of her populist principles in order to support special interests.

“Democrats don’t like Wall Street bailouts,” she said in a speech last year. Don’t they, though? When Bloomberg Business asked her about the Ex-Im Bank, a spokesperson for Warren responded:

“Senator Warren believes that the Export-Import Bank helps create American jobs and spur economic growth.” Since then, she has hardly uttered a word about the bank, apparently hoping we would all forget about it.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also both expressed support for the Ex-Im Bank. What’s going on here? The Ex-Im Bank offers loans primarily to Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar and other huge corporations that certainly don’t need the help. In fact, in 2010, General Electric posted domestic profits of more than $5 billion, yet claimed $3.2 billion in tax benefits, which Sen. Warren herself decried as unfair.

The Ex-Im Bank also funds foreign companies that have no business receiving American tax dollars. It funds corruption and favoritism and special interests. Aren’t Democrats supposed to be against those things?

Conservatives have chosen to tackle this issue because corporate cronyism flies in the face of our belief in free markets, free trade, and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. But opposition to corporate welfare fits just as nicely into the liberal tenets of fairness, rooting for the underdog, and curbing corporate power.

The word “progressive” means moving forward, making progress, embracing change. Why, then, are progressive Democrats clinging to an 80-year-old failure that stands against everything they supposedly believe?

The Ex-Im Bank Termination Act, to end the bank’s charter once and for all, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) — a Republican. To date, no Democrats have deigned to cosponsor the bill. Last year, the same bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) —another Republican. But Elizabeth Warren was nowhere to be seen on the issue.

So, to Warren and all her progressive colleagues, I issue the following invitation: Come join us! We actually hate bailouts of big companies as much as you claim to. Let’s work together to stop the abuse of taxpayer money to prop up corporate behemoths.

I know it’s hard to say no to those lobbyists and their fancy money, but I promise, it feels better to stay true to your principles and do the right thing. Think of what a progressive warrior you could be if you actually ended a crony bank that does all of the things you ought to oppose.

The Ex-Im Bank’s charter expires at the end of June. If Congress does nothing, it goes away. With everything else on their plate, you would think that asking Congress to sit on their hands would not be that heavy of a lift.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of powerful people with skin in the game trying to keep their juicy government subsidies. This gives us — both those of us on the right who believe in free markets, and those on the left who oppose corporatism — an opportunity to work together against a common enemy, and actually accomplish something real. Sen. Warren, where are you? We could really use your help.



Ann Coulter on illegal immigration

I finally found a Mexican willing to do a job no American will do! I have an explosive book on the No. 1 issue in the country coming out next week, I’ve already written 10 New York Times best-sellers — I’d be on a postage stamp if I were a liberal — but can’t get an interview on ABC, NBC or CBS.

Only Mexican-born Jorge Ramos would interview me on his Fusion network. Yay, Jorge!

After a spellbinding interview, Ramos ended by asking this excellent question — which I had suggested myself for all authors, most of whom write very boring books, harming the marketability of my own books: “Is there anything in your book that isn’t already generally known?”

My soon-to-be-released book, “Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole,” is jam-packed with facts you didn’t already know. Don’t even think of using it as a coaster, like those other books.

These are just a few:

— Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act was expressly designed to change the demographics of our country to be poorer and more inclined to vote Democratic.

— It worked! Post-1970 immigrants vote 8-2 for the Democrats.

— Citing this dramatic shift in the Democratic Party’s fortunes, Democratic consultant Patrick Reddy called the 1965 Immigration Act “the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party.”

— Immigrants admitted before 1970 made more money, bought more houses and were more educated than Americans. The post-Kennedy immigrants are astronomically less-educated, poorer and more likely to be on welfare than the native population.

— With no welfare state to support them, about a third of pre-1965 Act immigrants returned to the places they came from. British and Jewish immigrants were the least likely to go home — less than 10 percent did.

— Although America is admitting more immigrants, they are coming from fewer countries than they did before 1970. On liberals’ own terms, the country is becoming less “diverse,” but a lot poorer and a lot more Latin.

— America has already taken in one-fourth of Mexico’s entire population.

— In 1970, there were almost no Nigerian immigrants in the United States. Our country is now home to more Nigerians than any country in the world except Nigeria.

— America takes more immigrants from Nigeria than from England.

— The government refuses to tell us how many prisoners in the United States are immigrants. That information is not available anywhere. But the ancillary facts suggest that the number is astronomical.

— There are more foreign inmates in New York state prisons from Mexico than from the entire continent of Europe.

— Hispanics are less likely to be in the military than either whites or blacks, and a majority of Hispanic troops are women. On the other hand, Hispanics are overrepresented in U.S. Prisons.

— In Denmark, actual Danes come in tenth in criminals’ nationality, after Moroccans, Lebanese, Yugoslavians, Somalis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Turks, Iraqis and Vietnamese.

— At least 15 percent of all births in Peru and Argentina are to girls between the ages of 10 and 15. In the U.S., only 2 percent of births are to girls that young, and those are mostly Hispanics, who are seven times more likely to give birth at that age than white girls are.

— Sex with girls as young as 12 years old is legal in 31 of the 32 states of Mexico.

— In all of Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel combined, there have been eight reported births to girls aged 10 or younger. Seven of the eight were impregnated by immigrants.

— In some areas of America, law enforcement authorities have given up on prosecuting statutory rape cases against Mexican men in their 30s who impregnate 12- and 13-year-old girls, after repeatedly encountering parents who view their little girls’ pregnancies as a “blessing.”

— The same North Carolina newspapers that gave flood-the-zone coverage to a rape that never happened at a Duke lacrosse party completely ignore real rapes happening right under their noses, being committed against children by immigrants providing cheap labor to the state’s farming and meat-packing industries.

— Since 2004, Mexicans have beheaded at least a half-dozen people in the United States.

— Mexican drug cartels — not ISIS — pioneered the practice of posting videotaped beheadings online.

— An alleged “ISIS” beheading video making the rounds in 2014 was actually a Mexican beheading video from 2010.

— Post-1970 immigrants have re-introduced slavery to America. Indian immigrant Lakireddy Bali Reddy, for example, used the H1-B visa program, allegedly for “high-tech workers,” to bring in 12-year-old girls he had bought from their parents for sex.

— The above story was missed by the San Francisco Chronicle. It was broken by a high school journalism class.

— The ACLU took Reddy’s side.

— We’re still letting in Hmong immigrants as a reward for their help with the ill-fated Vietnam War, which ended 40 years ago.

— Between 2000 and 2005, nearly 100 Hmong men were charged with rape or forced prostitution of girls in Minneapolis-St Paul, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The vast majority of the victims were 15 years old or younger. A quarter of the victims were not Hmong.

— Proponents of the 1965 immigration bill swore up and down that it would not alter this country’s demographic mix. In fact, Kennedy’s immigration policy has brought about the greatest demographic shift of any nation in world history.

— In 1980, Reagan won the biggest electoral landslide in history against an incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. Without the last 40 years of immigration, in 2012, Mitt Romney would have won a bigger landslide than Reagan did. He got more of the “Reagan coalition” than Reagan did.

— If Romney had won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, he still would have lost. If he’d gotten just 4 percent more of the white vote, he would have won.

Adios, America! In bookstores next Monday, June 1.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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



Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

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

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

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" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: