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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May 31, 2013

A great story

A Jewish man who gambles on the neddies!  From my ingrained Presbyterian perspective I would have thought Jews had more sense than that.  On the other hand I suppose there are ways in which life is a gamble for Jews.

Anyway, this is no ordinary Jew.  He is Stephen Pollard, Editor of the [British] Jewish Chronicle and a conservative. He spotted some good odds on a horse race and made an "investment", thus earning himself many hours of pleasant anticipation.

BUT: The bookie (gambling firm) he deals with tried to shaft him, reducing his odds from the previously agreed figure, which their small print allows them to do.

Pollard did not cave in.  He sent several polite emails and letters to the bookies concerned (William Hill) -- but got nowhere.  So he took to Twitter and the rest is history.  I found it a very entertaining read.  Find it here.  I think that anybody who has been pushed around by large uncaring organizations (All of us?) will be grateful to Pollard for teaching one of them a condign lesson.


People with high IQs really DO see the world differently: Researchers find they process sensory information differently

People with high IQ scores aren't just more intelligent - they also process sensory information differently, according to new study.

Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are automatically more selective when it comes to perceiving moving objects, meaning that they are more likely to suppress larger and less relevant background motion.

‘It is not that people with high IQ are simply better at visual perception,’ said Duje Tadin of the University of Rochester. ‘Instead, their visual perception is more discriminating.'
Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are automatically more selective when it comes to perceiving objects in motion meaning that they are specifically more likely to suppress larger and less relevant background motion.

Scientists discovered that the brains of people with high IQ are more selective when perceiving objects in motion, meaning that they are more likely to ignore larger and less relevant background motion

'They excel at seeing small, moving objects but struggle in perceiving large, background-like motions.’

The discovery was made by asking people to watch videos showing moving bars on a computer screen.

Their task was to state whether the bars were moving to the left or to the right.

The researchers measured how long the video had to run before the individual could correctly perceive the motion.

The results show that individuals with high IQ can pick up on the movement of small objects faster than low-IQ individuals can.

'That wasn't unexpected, Tadin says.  The surprise came when tests with larger objects showed just the opposite: individuals with high IQ were slower to see what was right there in front of them.

‘There is something about the brains of high-IQ individuals that prevents them from quickly seeing large, background-like motions,’ Tadin added.

In other words, it isn't a conscious strategy but rather something automatic and fundamentally different about the way these people's brains work.

The ability to block out distraction is very useful in a world filled with more information than we can possibly take in. It helps to explain what makes some brains more efficient than others. An efficient brain 'has to be picky' Tadin said.

The findings were reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.



More light on Letters of Intimidation to Tea Party Groups from  IRS -- pressure continued into 2012

By Jay Sekulow of ACLJ

We now know that Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service - who refused to testify before a House committee by invoking the Fifth Amendment - has a paper trail that reveals her direct involvement in sending intrusive and harassing questionnaires to Tea Party groups in 2012.

As you know, we represented 27 Tea Party organizations in 17 states. Of those, 15 received their tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 10 are still pending, and two clients withdrew their applications because of frustration with the IRS process.

Consider the timeline. We now know through her own testimony and from the Inspector General's report that Lerner was briefed about this unlawful targeting scheme in June 2011. But nine months later, beginning in March 2012, she sent cover letters to many of our clients - demanding additional information and forwarding intrusive questionnaires. In fact, in March and April of 2012, Lerner sent 15 letters to 15 different clients (including those who were approved after lengthy delays and those who are still pending).

This letter dated March 16, 2012 sent to the Ohio Liberty Council is representative of the other letters that Lerner sent to our clients. This letter, posted here, was sent on letterhead out of the IRS office in Cincinnati. The cover letter bears Lerner's signature, who runs the Exempt Organizations division out of the Washington, DC office. It includes more invasive and improper questions about membership of the group and demands information about all public events conducted or planned for the future. And it specifically requested information about the organization's website, Facebook page, and other social media outlets.

In testimony before a House committee yesterday, before invoking the Fifth Amendment, Lerner proclaimed her innocence. “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”

After making that proclamation, she then refused to answer questions. No questions. Not one. Members of Congress and the American people want to know about her involvement and why this was permitted to continue. Now comes reports that Lerner has been placed on administrative leave and that Representative Issa plans to call her back before the House oversight committee.

It's extremely troubling that it has taken this long for Lerner to be removed from the top exempt position at the IRS. Instead of being placed on administrative leave, she should have been fired.

We're encouraged by Representative Issa's decision to recall her before his committee. There are many questions that Lerner needs to answer - not the least of which is this one: Why did you send letters under your name to Tea Party organizations demanding additional intrusive information in March 2012 - nine months after you were told about this improper scheme and promised to correct it?

The timing of her letters coincide with the appearance of former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman before Congress in March 2012 who testified that no such targeting scheme existed.

It appears Lerner did nothing to stop the abusive conduct. And our evidence suggests she was actively participating in the improper targeting in March 2012. In fact, she appears to have been quite active with her inquisition.

We are now finalizing our lawsuit against the IRS which will be filed next week in federal court in Washington, DC. We continue to add plaintiffs to this complaint. We truly believe that suing the IRS is the only way this unlawful abuse will stop and the only way we will find out the role of Lois Lerner and others in this widening scandal.



Liberals: Killing with Kindness and Never Having to Say You're Sorry


The other day, thanks to PBS, I had an epiphany about today's liberalism. I had long sensed liberalism's pathologies and the brief PBS segment instantly connected dozens of heretofore unconnected dots for an instant Eureka!!

The news story depicted a free food program in down market East Palo Alto, California. Viewers saw people eating free maple syrup-drenched waffles, scrambled eggs and other goodies while the narrator bemoaned that while this free food program had attracted some participants, others remained unaware.

What immediately struck me was, as far as I could tell, every beneficiaries was over-weight, several 350 pounds plus. The voice-over narrative should have continued with how these gourmands would be a tax-burden given the likelihood that these free food recipients would be unable to pay their own medical bills.

Now for the epiphany-this PBS filmed feeding fest is the template for dozens of other liberal "help the poor" schemes. In a nutshell, (1) do something to please recipients; (2) ensure that the generosity makes the donor feel good; and (3) but ignore any harm to the recipient while leaving untouched the donor's sense of righteousness. Everybody now feels good and matters will, guaranteed, deteriorate.

Another example is the liberal quest to granting everybody a high school diploma, if not a college degree. Again, while recipients will love the "gift," achieving it requires lower academic standards, easy courses, occasional teacher cheating, ignoring troublesome behavior (e.g., skipping classes) and otherwise diluting the significance of being "a graduate."

The upshot, of course, is that the recipient only secures a worthless piece of paper. Again, happiness is momentary but the harm is long-term.

Or consider "helping" the poor by forcing potential employers to hire them regardless of criminal background, spotty work history or slovenly appearances (among multiple other deficiencies). Yes, to them  this may seem like a boost up the economic ladder, but employers are more likely to react by moving away from these iffy job applicants, mechanizing the tasks or send the work overseas. After all, you cannot compel businesses to commit suicide in the name of helping the hopelessly unemployable.

Other examples abound but the common element is inflicting harm under the guise of helpfulness.



Homosexual assaults already rife in the military

More military men than women are sexually abused in the ranks each year, a Pentagon survey shows, highlighting the underreporting of male-on-male assaults.

When the Defense Department released the results of its anonymous sexual abuse survey this month and concluded that 26,000 service members were victims in fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30, an automatic assumption was that most were women. But roughly 14,000 of the victims were male and 12,000 female, according to a scientific survey sample produced by the Pentagon.

The statistics show that, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel begins a campaign to stamp out “unwanted sexual contact,” there are two sets of victims that must be addressed.

“It appears that the DOD has serious problems with male-on-male sexual assaults that men are not reporting and the Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about,” Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. She noted that only 2 percent of assailants are women.

The assault office “recognizes the challenges male survivors face and has reached out to organizations supporting male survivors for assistance and information to help inform our way ahead,” Ms. Smith said. “A focus of our prevention efforts over the next several months is specifically geared toward male survivors and will include why male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors, and determining the unique support and assistance male survivors need.”

She said the department has included information on male victims on the “DOD Safe Helpline,” which connects them to trained professionals.

“Together, everyone in this department at every level of command will continue to work together every day to establish an environment of dignity and respect, where sexual assault is not tolerated, condoned or ignored, where there is clear accountability placed on all leaders at every level,” Ms. Smith said.

The Pentagon’s 1,400-page annual report came with two basic sets of data: official reports of sex crimes and a scientific survey sample of the 1.4 million active force from which the department extrapolated the number of abuses, regardless of whether they were officially reported.

Data showed 2,949 reports of abuse against a service member last year compared with 1,275 in 2004. The vast majority of victims (88 percent) were female — a statistic that tells the Pentagon that male victims (12 percent) do not come forward at the same rate.

Subjects of investigations are almost always men (90 percent), compared with women (2 percent) — a statistic indicating that male victims are assaulted by other men.

The survey determined that 26,000 service members were victims of sexual assault last year, based on the 6.1 percent of female and 1.2 percent of male respondents who claimed to have suffered such abuse. With an active-duty force of 200,000 women and 1.2 million men, that amounts to roughly 12,000 female victims and 14,000 male victims.

“The [Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office] continues to focus its attention on women who experience abuse but don’t report it, overlooking the far greater numbers of men who, according to the survey, are experiencing abuse but not reporting it,” said Mrs. Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness.

“If the Pentagon considers the survey results a credible reflection of hidden reality, they must also concede that there are more men than women who are being sexually assaulted,” she said.

Mrs. Donnelly fought President Obama’s decision to lift the ban on open gays in the ranks, which took effect in September 2011. She also opposes plans to open direct ground combat jobs to women, saying it will import the sexual abuse problem into the combat ranks.



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

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


May 30, 2013

Extremism versus stability

We are accustomed in political discussions to describe both ends of the political spectrum as "extremists". But what are the extremes? In the case of the Left it is easy: Communism. But what is an extreme conservative? The Left are sure that it is someone like Adolf Hitler but the logic of conservative commitment to individual liberty and suspicion of government makes libertarianism a much likelier extreme form of conservatism.

So which is right? And why the diametrically opposite interpretations of what extreme conservatism is? Conservatives presumably know what they believe so why do Leftists persist in attributing to conservatives something that conservatives completely disagree with?

It is of course propaganda and the usual Leftist specialty of abuse but even propaganda has to have some element of truth behind it or it will mostly not persuade. I will look at that grain of truth shortly.

At this point I am going to skip forward a little, however, and say where I think people go wrong. I don't think there IS any such thing as extreme conservatism. Libertarians believe in a lot of stuff that conservatives reject. But I do believe that there is such a thing as extreme Leftism. How come?

I think that the whole polarity of politics is misconceived. The contest is not between Left and Right but rather between stability and irritability/anger. Conservatives are the sheet anchor of society. They ensure that there is some continuity and predictability in our lives. They are the anchor that prevents us all from being blown onto the shoals of arrogant stupidity in the manner of Pol Pot and many others.

For various reasons most people in society have gripes about it. Even conservatives can usually give you a long list of things that they would wish otherwise in the world about them.

But some of the discontented are REALLY discontented -- discontented to the point of anger -- and among them there is a really dangerous group: Those who "know" how to fix everything.

So the political contest ranges across a spectrum from valuing stability to various degrees of revolutionary motivation.

But can there be an extreme of valuing stability? In theory yes but I have yet to hear of ANY conservative-dominated government that lacked an active legislative agenda. BOTH sides of politics have changes they want to legislate for. Conservatives don't want stability at any price any more than they want change that threatens stability. So as far as I can see, ALL conservatives want change PLUS stability. And mostly they get that.

Fighting that anchor that keeps society going on a fairly even keel, however, there is the Left -- who want every conceivable sort of change. Some just want more social welfare legislation and some want the whole society turned upside down by violent revolution. And the latter are indeed extremists.

So there is no sharp Left/Right dividing line -- just a continuum from strong support for stability amid change to a complete disrespect and disregard for stability among extreme advocates of change.

It is possible that there is somebody somewhere in the world who values stability so much that he/she want NO change in the world about them at all. If so, I have never met such a person. Everybody has gripes and change is a constant. The only question is whether we can manage change without great disruptions to our everyday lives. Conservatives think we can and should. Leftists basically don't care about that. For them change is the goal with stability hardly considered.

Now let me skip back to a question I raised earlier. I think we are now in a better position to answer that question. The question is why do conservatives and Leftists disagree over what extreme conservatism or extreme Rightism is? And the answer is now obvious. If it does not exist, no wonder people disagree over what it is. The theoretical inference would be that an extreme conservative wants ZERO change: he/she wants stability alone. But, as I have noted, such people appear not to exist and if they do exist they are surely too few to matter.

But what about the Leftist conviction that society is riddled by people like Hitler: "Racists" and "Nazis". Leftists never cease describing those they disagree with that way. Even a moderate and compromising Christian gentleman such as GWB was constantly accused of being a Nazi.

Again our conception of stability versus extremism helps answer that -- particularly if you add in a dash of history. Take the "racist" allegation:

Before WWII, everybody was racist in the sense that they believed that racial differences are real and that some of those differences are more desirable than others. Both conservatives and Leftists agreed on that. And if they are safe to say it, many conservatives still think that. I do.

But, exactly as I have pointed out above, Leftists went a lot further than that. They carried their views to an extreme. They did not care how many applecarts they upset. They wanted either to breed out the inferior races (American progressives) or to exterminate them (Hitler). Where conservatives just accepted a complex reality of long standing, Leftists KNEW what had to be done about it and so hurt a lot of people and did a lot of damage in the process.

When their old friend Hitler lost the war, however, Leftists had a desperate need to disavow all he stood for and so threw their whole rhetoric into reverse gear. They were still obsessed in their minds by race and racial differences but denied their previous destructive intentions towards other races. And to accentuate that, they went into paroxysms of rage whenever they discovered that conservatives still had THEIR prewar attitudes. Leftist attitudes had flipped but since they had opposed Hitler and Leftism generally, conservatives long saw no need to denounce their prewar views.

So in a sense Leftists are right to see that Hitler and conservatives have something in common -- a willingness to admit racial differences -- but are very wrong in their implicit claim that conservatives would carry such views to any kind of extreme. Extremes are for the Left -- not just theoretically but as a matter of historical fact. So they are now as extremely anti-racist as they were once pro-racist. Conservatives by contrast just jog along trying to keep a firm hold on reality

So Leftists take some generally accepted idea and carry it to extremes, hoping to be seen as great champions by doing so. Their extremism is a "look at me" phenomenon, a claim on especially great virtue. Antisemitism is a good example of that. Before WWII antisemitism was virtually universal. Nobody liked the Jews and some degree of discrimination against them was normal and accepted. Not allowing Jews in your club was the commonest form of that.

So Leftists took antisemitism to extremes and became the leading critics of Jewry, culminating in the holocaust, which was the work of the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Leftists transformed minor discrimination into mass murder.

When Hitler lost the war, however, antisemitism suddenly had bad associations so Leftists abandoned it forthwith and became, for a while, great champions of Israel. Democrat President Truman recognized the state of Israel within minutes of its being proclaimed and the Soviet Union was only three days behind him. Popular sentiment had changed so Leftists became energetic champions of the new sentiment

The document above signed by Truman gives a vivid contrast to what his Democrat predecessor BEFORE the war did. FDR is of course well known for sending a shipload of German Jewish refugees back to Hitler, rather than allowing them to disembark when they arrived at Miami -- JR.


The race to avoid "Idiocracy"

By Martin Hutchinson

Mike Judge's 2006 movie masterpiece "Idiocracy" painted a future in which differential fertility between the middle classes and the underclass in 500 years produced a U.S. population of knuckle-dragging intelligence, allied to a popular culture whose debasement had reached its ultimate destination. Meanwhile, with the first successful cloning of a human embryo by the Oregon Health and Science University we may have entered the period of philosophical discussion and legal results thereof which determines whether "Idiocracy" is just a playful fantasy or an accurate portrayal of our future.

The effect of differential fertility is arithmetical and has nothing to do with the virtue of the people concerned. If the top half of the population, with an average IQ (or whatever other measure you choose to measure ability) of 115 has half the number of children of the other half, with an average IQ of 85, and reversion to the mean is 50%, then the next generation will have an average IQ of 97.5 rather than 100. That's the "Idiocracy" effect and in modern western societies it's quite strong, as it is between the West and poor countries with high birth rates and, these days, access to modern medicine.

Countering this is the Flynn Effect, whereby IQ test scores in Western countries have been increasing since testing began around 1930, by about 3 points per decade at the upper end of estimates. This makes perfect sense; while the aristocracy had a stimulating environment in the 19th century, poor people had poor nutrition, little stimulation and a high exposure to infectious diseases. In the past half century, on the other hand, adequate nutrition has become universal, many diseases have been conquered and films, radio, TV and the Internet, whatever their vices, have given poor youngsters a wealth of stimulatory experiences unimaginable to their ancestors. You'd expect the majority's IQs to improve.

However if the Flynn Effect continued today as strong as it was, and extended to the middle classes as well as the poor, at 3 points per decade I should have been unable to cope with my son's college calculus course examples (he is 42 years younger than me) whereas in fact I found them perfectly straightforward. There is indeed considerable evidence that the Flynn effect is now dying out, with IQ scores beginning to decline in Britain since 1980 – suggesting that the temporary Flynn effect is being overwhelmed by the longer-term Idiocracy Effect.

You'd expect this. The propaganda about the Millennial Generation, skulking unemployed in their mothers' basements, being able to console themselves that they are the best educated generation in history, is unfortunately rubbish – they are merely the generation with the most paper qualifications. Both my parents, educated in state schools, studied Milton's "Paradise Lost" in high school; there was none of that in my private school 30 years later, while my son, within the last decade, never progressed in literature beyond the wooly maunderings of randomly-chosen South American communists. The education system has been dumbed down, and the unfortunate Millennials are now finding themselves unemployable in consequence.

There are a number of possible reasons why the human race may not see the year 3,000, but perhaps the most depressing possibility is that they may see it but not be able to count that far. 2.5 or even 1.5 IQ points lost per generation takes you pretty close to zero in a thousand years, and while our descendants, swinging from the few remaining trees, may at last lose the Idiocracy differential, re-establishing civilization will be very difficult for them with natural resources depleted and non-functional electronic clutter all over the place.

Genetic engineering, if entered into carefully, is potentially a solution to this problem. Not that more than a tiny percentage of people will ever be cloned, but those cloned will tend to be the very intelligent, the intelligent and successful, or those with special abilities in other directions. Needless to say, this will improve the human gene pool, especially at the top end where the major scientific, cultural and economic advances can be expected to arise. Adding the potential to tweak the genes before cloning them would merely increase the leavening effect.

There are of course many difficulties both scientific and philosophical in getting from here to there. In particular, two philosophical objections arise when cloning is discussed in the West: that it is itself immoral and that it cannot be undertaken without experimentation, which would inevitably produce imperfectly cloned individuals in the early stages.

Taking the second objection first, this is indeed a serious problem for an individual researcher or laboratory. While many defects of the process may be ironed out at the embryo stage, some will unavoidably slip through and there will thus be produced maybe a few dozen cloned individuals with defects, whether unexpected diseases or mental abnormalities or wretchedly shortened lifespans. For an individual or a private laboratory, this may seem an insuperable obstacle to the necessary work.

It is not however an insuperable obstacle to a government. Governments send people to their deaths all the time in the cause of the "greater good," whether military personnel being sent into battle or firemen, policemen or other "first responders" being sent to deal with perilous situations of all kinds. Governments have also in the past conducted dangerous experiments with inadequate safeguards – the entire Manhattan Project, for example exposed its workers to levels of radiation that would now be considered intolerable. Once the necessary scientific knowledge is available (and we are probably a few years off that stage yet) a government could therefore in good conscience mandate a private laboratory to carry out the work that would bring reproductive cloning into reality.

Given the current state of public opinion and the political forces involved, it's unlikely that a U.S. or European government would sponsor cloning research; indeed they are more likely to attempt to make it illegal. However the overall objection to cloning derives largely from the Judaeo-Christian attitude to human life (which may be shared by Islam.) It does not extend to Asian religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. Just as Japanese companies have made greater use of fuzzy logic systems than Westerners, because of Western homage to "crisp" philosophers such as Aristotle and Descartes, so the philosophical barriers to cloning, which produce fierce opposition in the West, should produce much less opposition in countries with different philosophical traditions.

China, Japan, South Korea and India all have sufficient technological capability to attempt cloning within a few years of it becoming feasible in the West, and the governments of those countries are well able to lead a program through the initial troublesome research. It thus seems inevitable that by 2050 and quite possibly by 2030 the genie will be out of the bottle; cloning technology will exist and the initial difficulties and unpleasantnesses surrounding it will have been overcome.

Opponents of cloning will produce a litany of phobias from old science fiction movies, stretching from Frankenstein to The Boys from Brazil, in which Dr. Mengele produced 94 clones of Hitler. As with most technologies, there is always the possibility of a James Bond villain misusing them. But in the real world, creating (say) an army of clones would be impossibly expensive, precisely as expensive, time-consuming and pointless as creating a hidden army from ordinary babies. We can easily imagine in theory evil governments misusing cloning; in practice there seems little advantage to them doing so. Most such nightmares can be avoided altogether by opening the technology fully to the private sector.

Once the initial technical problems of cloning have been solved, the private market will take over if legally permitted to do so. Self-cloning will be extremely attractive for those successful men and women who discover late in life that they have omitted to have children. It won't just be the ultra-rich that undertake it. Just as genetic sequencing can now be purchased for less than $1,000, so genetic reproduction will be available at a cost far below that of a 4-year college degree. For the successful person, it will be a better deal; instead of paying to put a child through college whose intelligence may have regressed to the mean, he or she will be able to create a reproduction that will have their own intelligence, and their own ability to make it into the Ivy League on a full scholarship. If legal restrictions make the technique unavailable in the United States, the world is a small place even for the middle class, and the business opportunity will be too attractive for Asian entrepreneurs to pass up.

The next technique, of tweaking the gene before cloning it to produce even more attractive cloned beings, will cause yet further ethical hand-wringing, but is probably for the next generation to worry about. There are undoubtedly questions here, notably "What is humanity?" that will need to be answered (they don't need to be answered for ordinary cloning which is merely the generation of an identical twin.)

We can now see more clearly than could our ancestors that industrialization, as well as its immense benefits, has had costs, the most important of which has been the explosion in population since 1800, and the consequent proletarianization of global culture. We now have the ability to mitigate some of these costs, through a further scientific advance. We almost certainly cannot avoid this advance altogether, so it's important that we recognize its own costs and benefits, and prevent crass politics from placing too many obstacles to its thoughtful development.



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

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


May 29, 2013

A pansy President?


Obama’s Seven Premises About Islamist Terrorism and Revolution

Barry Rubin sets out some strange and destructive Leftist delusions

So you want to understand Obama foreign policy? Ok, here is an explanation in clear, simple, and accurate form based on Obama’s recent speech at Fort McNair about terrorism:

* Obama Premise Number One:

If one wanted to come up with a slogan for the Obama Administration regarding the “war on terrorism” it would be this:

To win the war on terrorism one must lose the war on revolutionary Islamism.

because only by showing that America is the Islamists’ friend will it take away the incentive of Muslims, including radical Muslims, to join al-Qaida and attack the United States.

This is NOT the same thing precisely as showing that the United States is the Muslims’ friend. For, after all, the United States is taking sides for some Muslims and against others. And the side it is taking is that of the Islamist Muslims against the moderate, traditionalist, and nationalist ones.

In other words, the administration is largely assuming in practice that the Islamists are the proper representative and leadership of the Muslims. (That is also true, by the way, of domestic preferences.)

Thus, if the Muslim Brotherhood governs Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, and Syria, they would have what they wanted and there would be no need for them to attack America and would have every interest in suppressing al-Qaida.

Ironically, though, the Benghazi attack disproved this thesis, which was one of the reasons why the information about it had to be suppressed. The United States “proved” that it was the friend of Islamist rebels, helping them win the war and get rid of the oppressive dictatorship, but they still were ungrateful and attacked Americans. The same thing happened in Iraq where the Sunni Islamists objected to U.S. policy.

It is true that in Syria, Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist radical Islamists are not the same as al-Qaida and might oppose it. But they are not necessarily hostile to its ideas. When the United States tried to isolate the Syrian branch of al-Qaida (Jabhat al-Nusra) in December 2012 by designating it as a terrorist group, even the Free Syrian Army, supposedly the moderates, denounced the move as did more than 30 Syrian Salafist rebel groups. How would these groups choose sides between the al-Qaida affiliate and the United States? What would the policy of an Islamist Syria be toward the United States and its interests? While there is no reason to believe the Muslim Brothers or Salafists would attack the World Trade Center, they can be expected to attack U.S. diplomats, facilities, and citizens in Syria and to help Salafists stage revolutions elsewhere that would do the same thing.

At the recent meeting of the Syrian opposition, the State Department spokesman explained:

“We have recognized the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and we will work with Prime Minister Hitto. Our assistance will be channeled in large part through him and his team into these towns in liberated parts of Syria.”

Translation: One among several opposition groups–the one controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood–is recognized by the United States as the legitimate representative (even though many groups are boycotting it); the Muslim Brotherhood’s guy is the “prime minister;” and the U.S. government intends to disburse a total of $1 billion raised internationally through the Muslim Brotherhood. How much patronage will that buy for the Brotherhood?

Kerry also announced that $250 million in U.S. taxpayer money is going to go directly to a group directed by the Muslim Brotherhood to spend as it wishes, presumably to go mainly to local Brotherhood groups and militias.

Actually, there was a much better way for the Obama Administration to have explained the Benghazi attack. It could have said that of course the attack was from al-Qaida but that was because the United States was doing a good thing– helping put into power a non- Islamist, democratic, moderate government. That is how other presidents–as with George W. Bush in Iraq–would have managed this issue. Listen to Obama’s words in his Fort McNair speech:

“What’s clear is that we quickly drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq. This carried grave consequences for our fight against al-Qaida, our standing in the world, and–to this day–our interests in a vital region.”

Suppose one substituted the words “Libya” or “Syria” for the word Iraq? After all, Bush’s surge defeated al-Qaida, though of course not completely, but in Syria al-Qaida is stronger than ever at this point, and in Libya it also murdered Americans.

And such a stance by Obama would also have required admitting that from the Libyan (and potentially Syrian) Islamist viewpoint the help given them wasn’t enough, that it resulted in Libya in an American “puppet” regime.

And that approach would have forced the Obama Administration to open itself up to the same criticism it keeps making against Bush in Iraq: that U.S. intervention strengthened terrorists.

* Obama Premise Number Two:

Think about the Benghazi attack in this context.

Real cause of attack: The Americans helped Islamists gain power so they could operate freely in Banghazi, a city where al-Qaida patrols the city and controls territory today. Thus, the mistake was that the U.S. government was too pro-Islamist.

Phony cause of attack: The Americans weren’t pro-Islam enough, i.e., they had this nasty video that offended Muslims.

In other words, the attack’s cause was reversed, it was made to seem as if it was the exact opposite of the truth.

Real lesson: Don’t arm radical Islamists. Fight them alongside Muslims who are also anti-Islamist.!

Phony lesson: Fight against Islamophobia.

Much more HERE


Tony Blair to be in charge of £3billion plan to revitalise Palestine's economy, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry reveals

More delusions -- but great news for Arab corruptocrats

Secretary of State John Kerry has declared he believes a potential £3billion plan is emerging that could boost the Palestinian economy by up to 50 per cent in the next three years.

It could also cut unemployment by almost two-thirds, and average wages could jump 40 per cent, he said. But Kerry said it all depends on parallel progress on peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry has been working with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and global business leaders to devise economic plans to revitalise the Palestinian economy.

He offered few specific details and acknowledged that his vision might easily be taken as fantasy in a part of the world that has suffered through decades of conflict, and where peace prospects remain dim.

'We know it can be done,' he insisted. 'This is a plan for the Palestinian economy that is bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything proposed' in the last two decades.

Kerry, outlining his hopes at a business conference on the Dead Sea in Jordan, was unsparing in his bold economic predictions:

- Palestinian agriculture production could double or triple

- Tourism could triple

- 100,000 new homes, many of them energy efficient, could be built in the next three years.

The former Massachusetts senator, who has been trying as well to restart direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, was to meet later Sunday in Amman with Blair, American hedge fund investor Tim Collins and the foreign ministers of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

He said he has been coordinating with leading business experts around the world and that the plan would explore new opportunities in tourism, construction, light manufacturing, agriculture, energy and communications.

'Is this a fantasy?' Kerry asked the crowd. 'I don't think so, because there are already great examples of investment and entrepreneurship that are working in the West Bank.

'We know it can be done, but we've never experienced the kind of concentrated effort that this group is talking about bringing to the table.'

He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas support the plan, but he added that it won't truly take hold unless both sides make headway on restarting peace talks.

Abbas also attended the conference in Jordan, as did Israeli President Shimon Peres, though they offered two starkly different messages on the peace impasse.

The Palestinian leader spent much of the time criticizing Israeli intransigence, while the Israeli Nobel Peace Prize laureate pressed his government's view that negotiations should begin immediately without preconditions.

Kerry allowed that barriers to commerce would have to be removed to spur economic growth. The Palestinians have long complained about limitations on movement and investment that have hampered its economic potential.

Kerry has made four trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories over the last two months in an effort to rejuvenate the peace process. He hasn't made any tangible success so far but insists he is engaged in productive talks with both sides.



America as we know it is ending and conservatives feel fine

Libertarians should welcome government failure

Now that Obama has won a second term, some conservatives seem ready to admit that the country really has changed. In "Obama's Four Horseman," Human Events editor David Harsanyi writes, "Let's not fool ourselves. There's been a fundamental shift, especially among young people, in how Americans view government's role in society... A Pew Research study conducted after the election found that nearly six in 10 of the voters under 30 supported a more expansive role for government in solving problems."

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Harsanyi then spends most of the book detailing how Obama's agenda (debt, dependence, weakness and devaluing human life) will forever end "this particular iteration" of the United States.

"If you happen to believe, as I do, that government should be strong, but limited... -- guess what? We're screwed. And how." It's safe to say Harsanyi is a bit depressed.

But 2008 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root isn't. His book, "The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide," is every bit as critical of Obama's agenda as Harsanyi.

"Our assets are melting away. Our incomes are in decline. Our job prospects are disappearing. Our bills are rising. Our options are shrinking. Our rights are being violated. The middle class is being squeezed out of existence... We are living a never-ending nightmare."

But unlike Harsanyi, Root sees opportunity amidst the destruction. "Did you know that more self-made millionaires were created during the Great Depression than any other epoch in our history," Root writes.

"For most Americans it was a terrible time. But for the smart and savvy few, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's all about to happen again."

The rest of Root's book is a list of ways you can profit from "the Obama disaster," including investing in oil and gas, shorting profligate state bonds like Illinois and California, and moving to low-tax states like Texas.

"'The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide' is about "empowering and motivating you to higher levels of success than you've ever imagined possible."

National Review's Kevin Williamson takes Root's optimism, and raises it. Like Harsanyi and Root, Williamson's book, "The End is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome," also details how and why America's relationship with government is about to change forever. But for Williamson, this is an opportunity for everyone, not just a smart select few.

Williamson's main insight is that, just as the human body is a product of biological evolution, the institutions that make up human society are a product of evolution as well. The problem is, however, that government is simply incapable of evolving as fast as the rest of human society.

"Politics," Williamson writes, "almost alone among our contemporary institutions, lacks a strong and reliable feedback mechanism to help it learn."

"The model of organizing community life that has prevailed since the late eighteenth century is in the process of disintegrating. That fact is good news," Williamson continues.

"The historic challenge of our time is to anticipate as best we can the coming changes and to begin developing alternative institutions and social practices to ensure the continuation of a society that is humane, secure, free, and prosperous."

Williamson has no master plan as to how we can meet this challenge, but he does look at a number of issue areas (like Social Security, health care and education) and sketches out some possible non-governmental solutions.

It would be wrong to say that all conservatives are happy Obama won a second term, but it appears that some have accepted that Obama has changed the country, and they are eager to make the best of it.



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

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May 28, 2013

Islamic murder in London due to British government "funding cuts"

That's the latest bit of Leftist "wisdom". See below. Surah 9 (etc.) in the Koran has nothing to do with it of course

The coalition's strategy to counter Islamist extremism is failing, according to an outspoken intervention by the former cabinet minister who ran the programme under the last government.

Speaking following the Woolwich attack, Hazel Blears MP, who as communities secretary led the Prevent strategy under Labour, told the Observer that people vulnerable to the messages of extremist preachers were being spotted too late. She said it had been a serious mistake to dismantle Labour's policy of funding local authorities that have a population more than 5% Muslim, to help them curb radicalism by engaging and funding community groups, Islamic societies and mosques.

Blears, who is a member of the cross-party committee of MPs that monitors the intelligence services, said she was very worried that Prevent was now "basically dealing with people who are already crossing that line" into radicalism, rather than making an early identification of those who were vulnerable to extremist Islamic preaching. Her comments come in another eventful day following the attack.

The former minister's comments will inevitably lead to a debate about whether the coalition rolled back the Prevent policy too dramatically. The Labour government's policy of encouraging local authorities to fund sympathetic Islamic groups was attacked in its latter years by critics who claimed that the government was establishing a network of spies to monitor Muslim communities. It was also claimed that extremist groups had received funding, and the strategy was redrawn in 2011. Funding was removed from organisations that were said not to support "British values" and Prevent funds were to no longer to be used for "community interventions".

Blears said the coalition had been mistaken in disengaging from local authorities and focusing Prevent solely on stopping extremists being drawn towards terrorism. She said that the case against Labour's Prevent strategy had proved largely false, with the Home Office reporting in 2011 that there was no evidence of spying nor anything to "indicate widespread, systematic or deliberate funding of extremist groups", although some with extremist ideology had received funding as part of the engagement strategy.


That lovely government "funding". Leftists just love it!


This week's utterly disturbing Leftists

Much of the reaction on British Left has been to search for apologies to make and excuses to give. It's a devastating and destructive philosophy

There is one phrase that has stood out for me over the last few days. One jarring, horrible sentence that betrays the warped mindset of many on the Left when it comes to Islamic extremism: “What happened on Wednesday was terrible, but...”

We have heard it, and its variations, from almost all of the usual suspects since the Woolwich terror attack. Ken Livingstone gave a long condemnation of the terrorists on Friday, only to try to blame Tony Blair and the Iraq War for what happened.

Glenn Greenwald, very careful to thrust the words “horrific act of violence” into the first line of his utterly disturbing piece for the Guardian, compares the killing of a British soldier in London by terrorists to the killing of terrorists in the Middle East by western forces as like for like.

I had lunch with another Guardian journalist who believed this was just another murder on the mean streets of our capital; that the murder of a Muslim by racist white Britons is equally newsworthy.

Owen Jones, meanwhile, seems determined to draw attention away from Woolwich, away from Islamists, and towards the English Defence League (EDL). He would have us believe they were the real, dangerous evil here.

I find it incredibly sad that these four leading voices of the left - no doubt all intelligent men - would discard all semblance of rationality, particularly at such a sensitive time.

Livingstone ignores the fact that Al-Muhajiroun, the extremist group linked to Michael Adebolajo, and its offshoots have been peddling its evil long before Iraq and many other Western interventions in the Muslim world and has recently been shown to be connected to 18 per cent of convicted Islamic terrorists between 1998 and 2010. To attribute blame to Western foreign policy is as intellectually vacuous as it is offensive.

Greenwald’s equating of British soldiers to Islamist terrorists is even more repugnant. Of course the Left - and the Right for that matter - have legitimate criticisms over foreign policy, but to become so blinded by self-loathing that he blurs the distinction between good and evil, for me, makes Greenwald an apologist for terror.

My Guardian journalist lunch partner inspired gasps around the table with his own comparison of the attack to “any other murder”. How he fails to grasp that the unprecedented killing of a British soldier by an Islamist terrorist in London is of greater news value than a “normal” murder perhaps explains why he works for the newspaper he does.

As for Owen Jones, there is something utterly odd in obsessing with the EDL in the way he has. English nationalism is a weak ideology with few supporters that is powerless on the world stage, and pretty impotent even at home. Islamic extremism is arguably the greatest evil faced by the free world. The EDL is nothing; why even give them the time of day?

There is a sickness in the hard Left. Their unerring, almost sociopathic desire to direct the blame for terrible events onto our own country, our own ideology, our own people, is beneath contempt. Sometimes it is enough to just say “this was awful, this was evil, we will not waver”.

By attacking our own, the Left is doing exactly what the terrorists wanted all along. As a result, they have become the useless idiots who encourage the status quo.



Department of (Social) Justice

When the Department of Justice is finished violating journalists’ First Amendment rights, perhaps it should look into this: Liberty Counsel, an international Christian litigation organization, has obtained a brochure entitled, “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers, distributed to DOJ managers by DOJ Pride, the department’s in-house LGBT association, in advance of “LGBT Pride Month” (a.k.a. “June”).

Under each of the seven habits is a list of DOs and DON’Ts – but they are not just the usual diversity shtick. Argues Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, “[The document is] “riddled with directives that grossly violate – prima facie – employees’ First Amendment liberties.” Among the helpful hints:

* DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document)” . . .

* DO talk in staff meetings about why diversity is important to you as a manager, and make it clear you define diversity to include both sexual orientation and gender identity. . . .

* DO provide explicit, verbal reassurance that advancement and development opportunities are based strictly on merit.

The fifth habit of highly effective managers? “Come out” as a “straight ally.”

One particular bit of advice, offered under the heading, “Know How to Respond If an Employee Comes Out to You,” seems to summarize the thrust of the whole brochure: “DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”

For DOJ Pride, there is no longer a place even for private, unexpressed disapproval of homosexuality in the workplace. Regardless of personal beliefs, every manager ought to be a vocal advocate for the LGBT cause. If you are not an outspoken supporter, you must be an enemy.

That is justice at the DOJ these days.



Congressional Black Caucus Member Shocked to Discover Farrakhan Speech He Was Nodding to was Anti-Semitic and Racist

You can sympathize with John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who came to hear some inspirational words of wisdom from notoriously inspiring figure Louis Farrakhan, only to discover, a week later, to his shock and surprise, that the speech he was approvingly nodding to was really racist.

Conyers, who attended Farrakhan’s speech Friday night at Fellowship Chapel, issued a strong statement that distanced himself from the Nation of Islam leader’s remarks, which were blasted earlier this week by a Jewish civil rights group and others.

“Farrakhan made unacceptable racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic statements, which I condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Conyers said. “It was my expectation that Minister Farrakhan’s speech would focus on the many challenges facing the city of Detroit. In previous days, he had discussed efforts to revitalize our city by purchasing property and investing in blighted neighborhoods. Regrettably, he used this opportunity to promote views that have no place in civilized discourse.”

Shocking. Who would have thought that Farrakhan would spew hateful bigotry when given a big shiny podium, instead of dealing with the challenges facing Detroit. Like the challenge of the Racist White Jew bloodsuckers created by a Black Mad Scientist named Yakub who will return in his UFO to banish the white beast-men from the earth… as Nation of Islam doctrine states.

According to the Detroit Free Press,“Conyers and Watson nodded in agreement during some of Farrakhan’s remarks”; however, the paper did not specify during which parts of the speech they nodded.

Was John Conyers nodding during the part where

1. Farrakhan defended former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who may have been involved in the murder of a stripper

2. Farrakhan criticized Obama for surrounding himself with “Satan…members of the Jewish community.”

3. Told black people that they need to buy up Detroit before the Mexicans and the Arabs get it all

But it’s only natural that Congressman John Conyers would be utterly shocked that Louis Farrakhan would say horrible bigoted things in an appearance that was preceded by him saying on the radio of white people, “Genetically, you are inferior. … We can wipe you off the Earth just cohabiting with you and that’s why your population is going down.”

Rev. David Bul­lock of Greater St. Matthew Bap­tist Church stated that Farrakhan’s mes­sage was “impact­ful,” “timely,” and left him “inspired.”

Imam Mubarak Al-Mubarak of Warithud­din Mohammed Mosque said “Many are afraid of truth, and the Min­is­ter is more dynamic, more impor­tant, and rel­e­vant than we could ever imagine.”

You know, I hear the Tea Party is really racist.



A quiz



10) Only in America ...could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 a plate campaign fund-raising event.

9) Only in America ...could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black while only 12% of the population is black.

8) Only in America ...could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

7) Only in America ...can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.

6) Only in America ...would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens.

5) Only in America ...could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."

4) Only in America ...could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.

3) Only in America ...could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company ( Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).

2) Only in America ...could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a Trillion dollars more than it has per year - for total spending of $7-Million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.

1 ) Only in America ...could the rich people - who pay 86% of all income taxes be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

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


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

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


May 27, 2013

Mark Steyn: Bystanders in their own fate

On Wednesday, Drummer Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a man who had served Queen and country honorably in the hell of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, emerged from his barracks on Wellington Street, named after the Duke thereof, in southeast London. Minutes later, he was hacked to death in broad daylight and in full view of onlookers by two men with machetes who crowed "Allahu Akbar!" as they dumped his carcass in the middle of the street like so much roadkill.

As grotesque as this act of savagery was, the aftermath was even more unsettling. The perpetrators did not, as the Tsarnaev brothers did in Boston, attempt to escape. Instead, they held court in the street, gloating over their trophy, and flagged down a London bus to demand the passengers record their triumph on film. As the crowd of bystanders swelled, the remarkably urbane savages posed for photographs with the remains of their victim while discoursing on the iniquities of Britain toward the Muslim world. Having killed Drummer Rigby, they were killing time: it took 20 minutes for the somnolent British constabulary to show up.

And so television viewers were treated to the spectacle of a young man, speaking in the vowels of south London, chatting calmly with his "fellow Britons" about his geopolitical grievances and apologizing to the ladies present for any discomfort his beheading of Drummer Rigby might have caused them, all while drenched in blood and still wielding his cleaver.

This image taken from video made available by The Sun newspaper shows what appears to be one of the attackers speaking to the camera, holding a knife and a cleaver in his bloodied hands, after a brutal attack in broad daylight Wednesday, May 22, 2013 near a military barracks in London. The attack just a few blocks from the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolrich neighborhood of London left one man dead and two suspects hospitalized after a shootout with police.

If you're thinking of getting steamed over all that, don't. Simon Jenkins, the former editor of The Times of London, cautioned against "mass hysteria" over "mundane acts of violence."
That's easy for him to say. Woolwich is an unfashionable part of town, and Sir Simon is unlikely to find himself there on an afternoon stroll. Drummer Rigby had less choice in the matter.

Being jumped by barbarians with machetes is certainly "mundane" in Somalia and Sudan, but it's the sort of thing that would once have been considered somewhat unusual on a sunny afternoon in south London – at least as unusual as, say, blowing up 8-year-old boys at the Boston Marathon. It was "mundane" only in the sense that, as at weddings and kindergarten concerts, the reflexive reaction of everybody present was to get out their cellphones and start filming.

Once, long ago, I was in an altercation where someone pulled a switchblade, and ever since have been mindful of Jimmy Hoffa's observation that he'd rather jump a gun than a knife.

Nevertheless, there is a disturbing passivity to this scene: a street full of able-bodied citizens being lectured to by blood-soaked murderers who have no fear that anyone will be minded to interrupt their diatribes. In fairness to the people of Boston, they were ordered to "shelter in place" by the Governor of Massachusetts. In Woolwich, a large crowd of Londoners apparently volunteered to "shelter in place," instinctively. Consider how that will play when these guys' jihadist snuff video is being hawked around the bazaars of the Muslim world. Behold the infidels, content to be bystanders in their own fate.

This passivity set the tone for what followed. In London as in Boston, the politico-media class immediately lapsed into the pneumatic multiculti Tourette's that seems to be a chronic side-effect of excess diversity-celebrating: No Islam to see here, nothing to do with Islam, all these body parts in the street are a deplorable misinterpretation of Islam.

The BBC's Nick Robinson accidentally described the men as being "of Muslim appearance," but quickly walked it back lest impressionable types get the idea that there's anything "of Muslim appearance" about a guy waving a machete and saying "Allahu Akbar." A man is on TV, dripping blood in front of a dead British soldier and swearing "by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," yet it's the BBC reporter who's apologizing for "causing offence."

To David Cameron, Drummer Rigby's horrific end was "not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam. ... There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act."

How does he know? He doesn't seem the most-likely Koranic scholar. Appearing on David Letterman's show a while back, Cameron was unable to translate into English the words "Magna Carta," which has quite a bit to do with that "British way of life" he's so keen on. But apparently it's because he's been up to his neck in suras and hadiths every night, sweating for Shariah 101.

So has Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Brian Paddick, who reassured us after the London Tube bombings that "Islam and terrorism don't go together," and the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller, telling NPR listeners after 19 Muslims were arrested for plotting to behead the Canadian Prime Minister: "You know, in Islam, if you kill one person you kill everybody," he said in a somewhat loose paraphrase of Koran 5:32 that manages to leave out some important loopholes. "It's a very peaceful religion."

That's why it fits so harmoniously into famously peaceful societies like, say, Sweden. For the past week, Stockholm has been ablaze every night with hundreds of burning cars set alight by "youths." Any particular kind of "youth"? The Swedish Prime Minister declined to identify them any more precisely than as "hooligans." But don't worry: The "hooligans" and "youths" and men of no Muslim appearance whatsoever can never win because, as David Cameron ringingly declared, "they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, Western values."

Actually, they've already gone quite a way toward eroding free speech, as both Prime Ministers demonstrate. The short version of what happened in Woolwich is that two Muslims butchered a British soldier in the name of Islam and helpfully explained, "The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day." But what do they know? They're only Muslims, not Diversity Outreach Coordinators. So the BBC, in its so-called "Key Points," declined to mention the "Allahu Akbar" bit or the "I-word" at all: Allah who?

Not a lot of Muslims want to go to the trouble of chopping your head off, but when so many Western leaders have so little rattling around up there, they don't have to. And, as we know from the sob-sister Tsarnaev profiles, most of these excitable lads are perfectly affable, or at least no more than mildly alienated, until the day they set a hundred cars alight, or blow up a schoolboy, or decapitate some guy.

And, if you're lucky, it's not you they behead, or your kid they kill, or even your Honda Civic they light up. And so life goes on, and it's all so "mundane," in Simon Jenkins' word, that you barely notice when the Jewish school shuts up, and the gay bar, and the uncovered women no longer take a stroll too late in the day, and the publishing house that gets sent the manuscript for the next "Satanic Verses" decides it's not worth the trouble. But don't worry, they'll never defeat our "free speech" and our "way of life."

One in 10 Britons under 25 now is Muslim. That number will increase, through immigration, disparate birth rates, and conversions like those of the Woolwich killers, British born and bred. Metternich liked to say the Balkans began in the Landstrasse, in south-east Vienna. Today, the dar al-Islam begins in Wellington Street, in southeast London. That's a "betrayal" all right, but not of Islam.



The rise of the fourth branch of government

There were times this past week when it seemed like the 19th-century Know-Nothing Party had returned to Washington. President Obama insisted he knew nothing about major decisions in the State Department, or the Justice Department, or the Internal Revenue Service. The heads of those agencies, in turn, insisted they knew nothing about major decisions by their subordinates. It was as if the government functioned by some hidden hand.

Clearly, there was a degree of willful blindness in these claims. However, the suggestion that someone, even the president, is in control of today’s government may be an illusion.

The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.

For much of our nation’s history, the federal government was quite small. In 1790, it had just 1,000 nonmilitary workers. In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers in 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies.

This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.

The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. Of course, agencies owe their creation and underlying legal authority to Congress, and Congress holds the purse strings. But Capitol Hill’s relatively small staff is incapable of exerting oversight on more than a small percentage of agency actions. And the threat of cutting funds is a blunt instrument to control a massive administrative state — like running a locomotive with an on/off switch.

The autonomy was magnified when the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that agencies are entitled to heavy deference in their interpretations of laws. The court went even further this past week, ruling that agencies should get the same heavy deference in determining their own jurisdictions — a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress. In his dissent in Arlington v. FCC, Chief Justice John Roberts warned: “It would be a bit much to describe the result as ‘the very definition of tyranny,’ but the danger posed by the growing power of the administrative state cannot be dismissed.”

The judiciary, too, has seen its authority diminished by the rise of the fourth branch. Under Article III of the Constitution, citizens facing charges and fines are entitled to due process in our court system. As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies. The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.

These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency. And agencies increasingly seem to chafe at being denied their judicial authority. Just ask John E. Brennan. Brennan, a 50-year-old technology consultant, was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure when he stripped at Portland International Airport last year in protest of invasive security measures by the Transportation Security Administration. He was cleared by a federal judge, who ruled that his stripping was a form of free speech. The TSA was undeterred. After the ruling, it pulled Brennan into its own agency courts under administrative charges.

The rise of the fourth branch has occurred alongside an unprecedented increase in presidential powers — from the power to determine when to go to war to the power to decide when it’s reasonable to vaporize a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. In this new order, information is jealously guarded and transparency has declined sharply. That trend, in turn, has given the fourth branch even greater insularity and independence. When Congress tries to respond to cases of agency abuse, it often finds officials walled off by claims of expanding executive privilege.

Of course, federal agencies officially report to the White House under the umbrella of the executive branch. But in practice, the agencies have evolved into largely independent entities over which the president has very limited control. Only 1 percent of federal positions are filled by political appointees, as opposed to career officials, and on average appointees serve only two years. At an individual level, career officials are insulated from political pressure by civil service rules. There are also entire agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — that are protected from White House interference.

Some agencies have gone so far as to refuse to comply with presidential orders. For example, in 1992 President George H.W. Bush ordered the U.S. Postal Service to withdraw a lawsuit against the Postal Rate Commission, and he threatened to sack members of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors who denied him. The courts ruled in favor of the independence of the agency.

It’s a small percentage of agency matters that rise to the level of presidential notice. The rest remain the sole concern of agency discretion.

As the power of the fourth branch has grown, conflicts between the other branches have become more acute. There is no better example than the fights over presidential appointments.

Wielding its power to confirm, block or deny nominees is one of the few remaining ways Congress can influence agency policy and get a window into agency activity. Nominations now commonly trigger congressional demands for explanations of agencies’ decisions and disclosures of their documents. And that commonly leads to standoffs with the White House.

Take the fight over Richard Cordray, nominated to serve as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray is highly qualified, but Republican senators oppose the independence of the new bureau and have questions about its jurisdiction and funding. After those senators repeatedly blocked the nomination, Obama used a congressional break in January to make a recess appointment. Since then, two federal appeals courts have ruled that Obama’s recess appointments violated the Constitution and usurped congressional authority. While the fight continues in the Senate, the Obama administration has appealed to the Supreme Court.

It would be a mistake to dismiss such conflicts as products of our dysfunctional, partisan times. Today’s political divisions are mild compared with those in the early republic, as when President Thomas Jefferson described his predecessor’s tenure as “the reign of the witches.” Rather, today’s confrontations reflect the serious imbalance in the system.

The marginalization Congress feels is magnified for citizens, who are routinely pulled into the vortex of an administrative state that allows little challenge or appeal. The IRS scandal is the rare case in which internal agency priorities are forced into the public eye. Most of the time, such internal policies are hidden from public view and congressional oversight. While public participation in the promulgation of new regulations is allowed, and often required, the process is generally perfunctory and dismissive.

In the new regulatory age, presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion. The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding.

We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.



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

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


May 26, 2013

Liberalism: An ideology of rage and hate

One thing has become crystal clear in the last few days; Liberalism is an ideology of hate.

After the Tucson shootings that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life, liberals twisted themselves into pretzels trying to convince Americans that “rhetoric” from conservatives was the culprit.

Almost immediately after the shootings, liberals blamed Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and cross-hairs.

At a memorial that looked more like a campaign rally, President Obama said Americans should “…listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together…”

Nevertheless, hardcore leftists continued their hate speech against conservatives.

Since the beginning of the Wisconsin Insurrection, Americans have seen the insane rage of the left, and it has not been pretty. Consider the following examples:

A Massachusetts Democrat – an elected official, no less – encouraged union activists to “get bloody when necessary.”

Another elected Democrat compared Governor Scott Walker to a dictator.

Left wing bloggers and media personalities got into the act as well. Liberal hate-talker Mike Papantonio complained elderly Tea Party activists weren’t dying fast enough.

A blogger writing for the radical left wing site Daily Kos compared the Governor to a southern slave holder.

Signs carried by union activists showed crosshairs superimposed on Gov. Walker’s face. Remember the furor over crosshairs used by Sarah Palin’s political action committee? We were supposed to believe the very presence of the graphic was enough to send people into uncontrolled fits of rage – perhaps enough to make them grab a gun and kill people. But nothing was said about the use of the crosshair on Governor Scott Walker.

The result of all this hate? Some took to the social networking site Twitter to call for the assassination of Governor Scott Walker.

Tabitha Hale, a young 5 foot 1 inch female employee of FreedomWorks, was assaulted by a union thug in Washington, D.C. Another union thug threatened a Rhode Island cameraman with homosexual rape in very graphic terms.

A Tea Party activist was attacked by an unhinged union thug at a protest in Sacramento.

Breitbart.tv has video of a union activist claiming New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a terrorist who would shoot workers. But yet, the Tea Party is called violent and racist.

Politico reports that the attacks and threats against Walker did not go unnoticed by fellow Republican Mitch Daniels: “This whole thing with bulls-eyes, people talking about assassinations — the hate speech here is really being directed at [Walker],” Daniels said.

In a recent column, Michelle Malkin documents what she calls the “vulgar, racist, sexist, homophobic rage of the Left.” Malkin explains:

"Yes, the tea party movement is responsible — for sending these liberal goons into an insane rage, that is. After enduring two years of false smears as sexist, racist, homophobic barbarians, it is grassroots conservatives and taxpayer advocates who have been ceaselessly subjected to rhetorical projectile vomit. It is Obama’s rank-and-file “community organizers” on the streets fomenting the hate against their political enemies. Not the other way around.

Those of us who follow current political events from a conservative point of view are not really surprised by the level of vitriol from the left – we have seen it for years. But lately, it seems the more radical left has gone completely berserk, openly calling for violence and revolution.

While interviewing liberal cartoonist Ted Rall shortly after the November election, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan said: "Are things in our country so bad that it might actually be time for a revolution?" Ratigan asked. "The answer obviously is yes," he added, and "the only question is how to do it."

Liberals like to say they want “dialogue” and “civil rhetoric” but they show time and again they are incapable of civil dialogue. For them, bipartisanship means you must agree with them. If you don’t, you’re labeled a racist, homophobic bigot, or worse.

It is only a matter of time before one of these unhinged lunatics pulls a gun and commits a crime similar to the Tucson massacre.

Until liberals practice what they preach, they have absolutely no credibility on the issue of rhetoric.



America hatred

Success in others makes Leftists BOIL

by Jeff Jacoby

BROADCASTING FROM BOSTON the day after the Marathon bombing, a correspondent for the French-Canadian TV channel LCN explained why Americans shouldn't be surprised when such atrocities occurred. It's the price they have to pay for being a superpower, Richard Latendresse told his viewers. It may be "un peu tragique," he conceded. But hey, that's what happens when a nation takes so much pride in its military power – and has inflicted similar suffering on others.

Writing in The Guardian the same day, Glenn Greenwald noted that so far there was "virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why." Yet one paragraph later, he was railing against "attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers" and calling the bombings "exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over."

Then there was Richard Falk, a UN human rights investigator and professor emeritus at Princeton, who attributed the bloody mayhem in Copley Square to "our geopolitical fantasy of global domination." The marathon bombings, Falk suggested in an article for Foreign Policy Journal, were a fitting "retribution" for US actions abroad. He pointedly quoted poet W. H. Auden's "haunting" line: "Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return."

Truly, there is something grotesque about people whose first instinct after something as awful as the Patriots Day terror attack is to parade their moral superiority by indicting America's culture, society, or foreign policy. Yet there never seems to be a shortage of such paraders, particularly in academia, the media, and the arts. Back in 2001, The New Republic ran a feature in the weeks following 9/11 called "Idiocy Watch," in which it catalogued the barrage of bitter and fatuous comments being made about the attacks by well-known intellectuals for whom ideology apparently trumped everything, decency included.

"We in America are convinced that it was blind, mad fanatics who didn't know what they were doing," said Norman Mailer, to cite just one of many examples. "But what if those perpetrators were right and we were not?"

To reread those words 11 years later is to be disgusted all over again that one of the nation's leading literary figures could have proposed that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda hijackers were "right" to plan and carry out their ghastly slaughter. On the one-month anniversary of the Marathon bombings, the suggestion that four people died and scores were maimed because of America's global iniquity is no less revolting.

Norman Mailer thought the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for 9/11 deserved the benefit of the doubt: "What if those perpetrators were right and we were not?"

Yet that didn't inhibit London's former mayor Ken Livingstone, who went on Iran's English-language TV channel to explain that the terrorists detonated those pressure-cooker bombs because "people get incredibly angry about injustices" such as "the torture at Guantanamo Bay" and "lash out." It didn't stop Mark LeVine, a University of California history professor, from advising Americans "to admit that as a society they produce an incredible amount of violence," which in turn "helps produce people like the Columbine, Newtown or Boston murderers." It didn't deter former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, who wrote a blog post headlined "US leaders' fingerprints are on the detonators," since it is "blatantly obvious" that what motivated the terrorists was American policy in the Middle East.

There have always been Westerners quick to see the United States as culpable or contemptible in every crisis – the urge to "blame America first" was well known long before Jeane Kirkpatrick excoriated it in a famous speech in 1984. In the abstract, of course, there is nothing wrong with thoughtful self-criticism. For both individuals and societies, it is a mark of health to be able to look inward and acknowledge fault; no society can progress if it cannot be honest about its shortcomings.

But it is no part of constructive self-criticism to make excuses for those who commit acts of terrorism, or to explain why their victims, as citizens of the United States, had it coming. You don't demonstrate sensitivity to other cultures by treating willful savagery against ours as something less than savagery. Terrorism is never justified. Perpetrators are not victims.

In the wake of a bloody atrocity like the one in Boston last month, the first duty of civilized people – regardless of politics or ideology -- is not to start asking why the evildoers hate us, or how they became so angry.

It is to call their actions evil, and denounce them without equivocation.



How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler

Interesting that the press never mentioned this when Kennedy was running for President

A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis.

President Kennedy's travelogues and letters chronicling his wanderings through Germany before WWII, when Adolf Hitler was in power, have been unearthed and show him generally in favour of the movement that was to plunge the world into the greatest war in history

'Fascism?' wrote the youthful president-to-be in one. 'The right thing for Germany.' In another; 'What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?'

And on August 21, 1937 - two years before the war that would claim 50 million lives broke out - he wrote: 'The Germans really are too good - therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.'

And in a line which seems directly plugged into the racial superiority line plugged by the Third Reich he wrote after travelling through the Rhineland: 'The Nordic races certainly seem to be superior to the Romans.'

Other musings concern how great the autobahns were - 'the best roads in the world' - and how, having visited Hitler's Bavarian holiday home in Berchtesgaden and the tea house built on top of the mountain for him.

He declared; 'Who has visited these two places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important personalities that ever lived.'

Kennedy's admiration for Nazi Germany is revealed in a book entitled 'John F. Kennedy - Among the Germans. Travel diaries and letters 1937-1945.'

But his praise was not entirely without caveats. 'It is evident that the Germans were scary for him,' said Spiegel magazine in Berlin.

In the diaries of the three trips he made to prewar Germany he also recognised; 'Hitler seems to be as popular here as Mussolini in Germany, although propaganda is probably his most powerful weapon.'

Observers say his writings ranged between aversion and attraction for Germany.

The book also contains his impressions when walking through a shattered Berlin after the war: 'An overwhelming stench of bodies - sweet and nauseating'.

And of the recently deceased Fuehrer he said; 'His boundless ambition for his country made him a threat to peace in the world, but he had something mysterious about him. He was the stuff of legends.'

The book editor's believe that he was 'eerily fascinated' by fascism.



After you read this kid's story, you'll think twice about what you post on Facebook. (And that's the problem.)

Meet Cameron D'Ambrosio. He's 18 and lives in a small town outside Boston. He wants to be a rapper and calls himself "Cammy Dee" in his YouTube videos.

Oh, and he's been locked up without bail for weeks -- facing terrorism charges and 20 years in prison -- all for something he posted on Facebook.

On May 1st, Cam was skipping school and messing around online. He posted some lyrics that included a vague reference to the Boston Marathon Bombing and called the Whitehouse a "federal house of horror." Shortly after that he was arrested and charged with Communicating a Terrorist Threat, a felony that carries 20 years in prison.

The post contained no specific threat of violence against any person or group of people, and in the context of the rest of the lyrics and Cams' rap persona, it was clearly nothing more than a metaphor. A search of Cam's house found NO evidence that he was planning any violence, but a judge still ordered him held without bail for the next 3 months, pending trial.



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

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


May 24, 2013


I may here be mentioning something as fraught as IQ. It seems that I have a boffin-like disregard for what car I should drive. It has always seemed inexplicable to me that people pay large sums of money for a car when another car at half the price would do all the same things.

I cheerfully confess that I am a Toyota man. I own a small 15 year old Toyota and a small 8 year old Toyota. Neither has ever broken down. I drive the more recent one most of the time and lend the other one out wherever that would help someone that I know.

I have just been reading Kate Fox's book on the English, "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour", which is, I think, the funniest book I have ever read. And she does explain cars.

She shoots down most of the reasons that people give for buying expensive cars ("better engineering" etc.). She says that in England cars are an index of social class. The makes of cars she mentions apply to England at the time she wrote (2004) so it would not mean much for me to quote specifics (though a Mercedes is not as prestigious as you might think) but what she says does fit with things I have noticed. And in England it would seem that each position on the class hierarchy does tend to have a type of car that goes with it.

I am rather relieved at that explanation as I had seen the purchase of expensive cars as pure insanity. My Toyotas are comfortable, reliable, easy to park and get me through city traffic at least as soon as any other car. So why spend money on a German car at twice the price?

So, as indexed by cars, I am at the bottom of the social class heap in most people's eyes, I gather.

I may however be redeemed by the fact that I also have a really old car for Sunday driving -- a 50 year old Humber Super Snipe, a big British luxury car of yesteryear. The Humber sure gets a lot of admiring comments wherever I take it. Which is ironic. I gather that a lot of people buy a particular car in the hope that it will be admired. But I can't think of any modern car that gets anything like the admiration that my ancient Humber gets. It seems to give people joy just to see it.


Calling all conservative educators (you know who you are)

I put up 9 blogs 6 days a week so it should be obvious that I can't give each one the attention that I think it deserves. Despite that they all get a good audience as blogs go.

I have long felt, however, that some of them would benefit from having a co-blogger. And that has recently been shown to be right. I turned over the day-to-day running of GUN WATCH to Dean Weingarten about 6 months ago. He has put a lot of effort into it and now gets TREBLE the readership that I used to get.

So I live in hopes that something similar could be achieved with EDUCATION WATCH. It gets about 300 pageviews every day, which may not seem much but which puts it in the top 1% of blogs. A newly started blog would be lucky to average 10 pageviews each day.

So if you are a teacher at some level or are otherwise particularly interested in education, this may be a good chance for you to make your voice heard on a regular basis. Email me here


Iceland says "No" again

The leader of the center-right Progressive Party was chosen as Iceland's new prime minister Wednesday and promptly announced a halt to talks with the European Union about joining the 27-nation bloc.

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson spoke about the policy shift at a press conference after being selected premier.

'The government intends to halt negotiations between Iceland and the European Union,' he said. 'We will not hold further negotiations with the European Union without prior referendum.'

Iceland has engaged in on-and-off talks with the EU for several years. Gunnlaugsson's party has been opposed, in part because members fear that joining would mean giving up control of Iceland's vital fishing stocks.

The new government will also include Bjarni Benediktsson, head of the conservative Independent Party, who will serve as minister of finance.

Icelanders voted April 27, returning to power the parties who had governed for decades before the 2008 economic collapse, the Independents and the Progressive Party.

The two parties had ruled together from 1995 until the 2008 fiasco. After the collapse of the Icelandic banking sector that year, Icelanders voted in a liberal government led by the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens.

The small North Atlantic nation with a population of 320,000 went from economic powerhouse to financial disaster almost overnight when its main commercial banks collapsed within a week in 2008.

The value of the country's currency plummeted, while inflation and unemployment figures soared. Iceland was forced to seek a bailout from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.



Truth Floats Despite Tyranny on the Potomac

Progressivism thrives best when truth is suppressed, but suppressed truth is still truth. You can try to sink it, shred it, cover it and destroy it, but truth eventually rises to the surface. Truth floats. Always.

Currently, the various scandals within the Obama administration have put Progressives in defensive mode to protect an ideology built on lies. Each day brings with it a new scandal or a new angle to a previous scandal. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, and the DOJ's seizure of phone records have one thing in common: suppression of truth.

Americans are discovering Progressivism isn't all it is cracked up to be. Even the coolest of Progressive presidents can't deliver the goodies they promise if what they really intended to deliver was hidden inside a bag of lies.

By now, most everyone understands Progressive-speak for "hope and change" translates into high unemployment, an abysmal economy, a disastrous healthcare bill, excessive poverty, starving children, ridiculous food prices, losing wars, and terrorist attacks on our homeland. Four bucks gets you a gallon of gas, a college degree gets you nowhere, and with each new scandal, the White House deflects the blame on someone else and runs off to play another round of golf. That, my friends, is Progressivism in a nutshell.

In a most enlightening article, "Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression," author David Martin nails it when he states "strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government" and "the success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, compliant press and a mere token opposition party." Without a doubt, we have the makings of a perfect storm.

If you've never understood the connection between Progressivism and lies, all you need to do is take an objective look at the current administration's scandals. While all investigations are still active, a common thread weaves through each in that either the truth was suppressed to cover an action or an action was taken to suppress the truth.

In Benghazi it appears the administration suppressed the truth about an act (an al-Qaida-linked terrorist attack) to fit its pre-election "al-Qaida-free" story line. The same rings true regarding the seizure of reporters' phone and email records by the Department of Justice. Attorney General Holder claims records were seized for national security reasons, but that doesn't gel with what the Associated Press describes as an "unprecedented" seizure of records. In a recent statement, AP president Gary Pruitt said his organization held the in-question article describing a terrorist plot by an al-Qaida-linked group in Yemen "until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed." With that in mind, might a more reasonable reason be that administration officials spent an awful lot of time traveling around the country pre-election reporting al-Qaida was no longer a threat?

Each day carries with it new discoveries about the heinous IRS scandal wherein acts of suppression served to squash the voice and rights of those who, unlike Progressives, have the intelligence to differentiate between the U.S. Constitution and a roll of toilet paper and embrace the freedoms and protections therein.

If you don't like what you see, it's time to get loud (not violent) Americans. Silence is acceptance. And so far, your silence is deafening... and dangerous...because silence becomes the well-insulated womb to which tyranny is given safe harbor to grow.



The IRS Fiasco Shows the Incompetence of Liberalism

Scandals are nothing new in Washington. Just about every president has faced an accusation of misconduct, whether moral or criminal. It should be no surprise that the Obama Administration would find itself in the midst of one, well actually 3 at present.

Many Republicans have been quick to declare this the end of Obama, even calling for impeachment. However, these scandals are not the personal failings of the President himself, rather they are the failings of the liberal philosophy which he and his entire administration espouse.

In case you were out camping without a cell phone for the past week, here is a brief recap in order of appearance:

Benghazi: the White House has been accused of failure to act and misleading the public about the events surrounding the 9/11/12 attack on the US consulate resulting in the death of Ambassador Stevens.

IRS: Conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were targeted for extra scrutiny, beginning shortly after Scott Brown special election victory in 2010 through the 2012 presidential campaign. Also, confidential tax documents of prominent conservatives were leaked to the media.

Associated Press (AP) wiretapping: the Department of Justice tapped the phones of AP reporters and offices for two months in an effort to locate an administration leak.

APgate is troubling, but the problem for Republicans is that it’s legal and part of the Patriot Act. Any attempts to role this particular part of the legislation back has been convincingly voted down by both parties. Suddenly, the Republicans realize that an overreaching Patriot Act may not have been a good thing, but it feels politically rather than ideologically driven.

The IRS scandal is the most relatable and represents the most immediate problem for our country. Only a fool would believe that 2-4 field workers took it upon themselves to single-handedly institute a policy of red taping conservative groups. It rises higher, but I seriously doubt the President directed such actions.

Finally, we have Benghazi. It was a tragedy; of that there is no doubt. Was there negligence involved? Yes. Was there a poor attempt at PR misdirection? Most definitely. Were different department figure pointing at each other? AS sure as the sun shines. Is anything that happened impeachable? No. More than anything Benghazi is another example of an administration getting caught flat footed and stumbling to fudge the facts for fear that the American people could not handle the truth, especially so close to the elections.

And that, my dear readers, gets to the heart of what the week was really about: the competence of a government ruled by a party that believe the solution to every problem is more government.

This is not about Obama the man, or even about Obama the president. This is not even about Republicans and Democrats. This is about the fundamental failure of progressive liberal ideology.

Logistics alone make it impossible for a government to solve every citizen’s problem. Yet, a bigger government is expected to do just that.

Big government is inflexible; it cannot respond to priorities because, over time, there are too many competing priorities. The greater the bureaucracy grows the more it becomes impersonal, wasteful, over-stretched, and difficult to reign in.

Furthermore, big government does not trust you to know how best to run your life, yet other imperfect beings are somehow capable of properly directing your life as soon as they are employed by the government. People are fallible, and so is the state.

If liberals are right about the role of government, then how did these scandals happen? Do we truly need more government to stop these things from happening?

In Benghazi, should even more officials debated whether to send troops to save our people? Should there have been more security?

Perhaps there should not have been a consulate in a hot zone in the first place, especially one so ill protected. How effective can an isolated diplomatic post on lock down really be? It seems more prudent to have a smaller footprint in the middle extreme conflict areas (esp. when our military is not in the field), which would save more lives and treasure.

Regarding the IRS, do auditors need more laws and supervisors to prevent such abuse? What happened is already illegal.

Then again, maybe a simpler tax code would solve the issue. If the law is so simple even a caveman can do it, then less IRS agents are needed, or conversely, it would free up existing agents to more quickly process paperwork.

And finally, regarding the DOJ wiretapping the AP--do we need more Patriot Act provisions to protect the US by suspecting every citizen and stopping potential whistle blowers? Does the government need more power to track everyone’s movements and communications now that modern technology gives them the ability to do so? I think we need to take a serious look at the Patriot Act and begin rolling it back.

Sometimes, no matter how sound an idea is, both rationally and emotionally, no amount of debate will convince an opponent of the inherent fallacy of his position. In such cases, it is sometimes better to let our adversaries have their way so they can inadvertently hang themselves with their own errant ideas. This week is a perfect example of that. More government would never have solved these issues, nor many others faced by administrations past and present.



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

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


May 23, 2013

More interesting challenges

A follow up to yesterday's discussion with an old friend. In this episode he mentions his eldest son, Paul, who is very conservative

From a Google search it appears that very few people understand the terms leftist and rightist which sort of suggests that they shouldn’t be used. I Googled ‘right wing dictators’ and got a whole list from many sources so perhaps you should concentrate on correcting this apparent misconception.

Yes. I think the term "rightist" has been so abused and distorted by the Left that it should no longer be used. The Left use it for anything they currently disapprove of. They have only the most childish analysis of what it means. I use "conservative" only and analyse at length what that means here and here.

In England the Tories were known for their “Laissez Faire” politics and I was always a supporter of that attitude and still am. My apparent leftist views seem to have come from a humanitarian attitude to those less fortunate and an unfortunate tendency to play devil’s advocate with people who express strong opinions about anything whether I agree with them or not. Essentially I am afraid of people who think they know what’s what.

That is a very conservative attitude

I do find it confusing when people take an attitude that is more the opinion of an ‘ism’ than one that springs from their own thought process or empirical experience.

Laissez faire in UK was often interpreted as ‘leave it alone’ which I guess is a literal translation but I preferred to see it as ‘don’t interfere when not strictly necessary’

In that light I really don’t get both sides of politics’ attitude to same sex marriage. I don’t see that it’s any of their business nor how it has any effect on people not immediately concerned yet Paul is dead set against it on the grounds that it is ‘leftist’?

Yes. I am a libertarian there. I don't think any marriage is any government's business. Governments should keep out of bedrooms. Marriage was originally a religious matter and I would be happy for it to remain just that. And there are always civil contracts for those who are not religious.

But the subtext is important. Homosexuals want homosexual marriage as a sign of acceptance. But many people will never accept them so advocates of homosexual marriage are pissing into the wind. A distaste for homosexuality is normal, which is why it was long penalized. And no Bible-respecting Christian could accept homosexuality as right and normal

It is really no surprise that Paul is a conservative as he was brought up to defend for himself and was only ever given things that encouraged him to save or be entrepreneurial. He did, after all, run our company from a tender age against his mother’s wishes. Jenny wanted him to get a ‘trade’ or ‘a career’. I had no objections to that but it wasn’t what Paul wanted.

He has learned from life largely

I do, however, think that Paul lacks compassion and an understanding of less fortunate people and other peoples likes and dislikes, it is possibly because he has never had to struggle and experience deprivation himself (unlike myself) and I think this is a lack in his personality. As much as I don’t understand people who like team sports, tattoos, religion, horse racing, guns, violence, I can still find things to defend people who do, and I certainly don’t take the position of considering them idiots because I know that not to be the case.

Paul is extraordinarily kind and compassionate towards his family. That may leave less room for others. He has played a largely fatherly role towards his siblings, giving them all sorts of support. Deeds, not words, again

I think your suggestion that schools could be segregated into ethnic groups in order to accommodate different levels of learning is totally unworkable in practice and would lead to massive social upheaval. They can’t even yet adjust the learning methods to accommodate the different learning patterns of girls and boys, so I’m sure that the other option would be impossible to implement. You would actually have to integrate people of equal IQ regardless of race but don’t you think that having a variety of IQ’s together is more stimulating and creates greater competitiveness? When some kids see others running faster they try harder and so it goes with academic achievement; if you isolate the lower achievers they will not have exposure to anything better and will therefore have little incentive to try harder in the belief that everyone is the same. Any form of difference between high and low creates ‘potential’ in science as in life. People need to see what can be achieved with application combined with talent in order to stimulate their natural competitiveness, don’t you think?

The dropout rate of American blacks from High School is phenomenal so almost anything would be better. And those who do graduate High School are often barely literate. But there were some all-black schools in the past that did produce well educated graduates. And single sex schools to this day seem to get good results. And standards were undoubtedly higher in the past. So we have proof from the past that streamed schooling does produce better results

I am all for an homogenous society where we can all learn to appreciate each other’s ideas, foibles, idiosyncrasies, foods, music etc and indeed influence each other.

I suspect that you mean heterogeneous. I grew up in a very multicultural town so handle that readily as long as I am free to choose my degree of participation in what happens there. Most people get on best with those most like themselves and organize their contacts accordingly. There is a Sudanese Mosque near where I live. Have you considered attending it? If not, why not? I am sure it is very heterogenous


Trade as a means of Social Cooperation

Last week we explored the implications of man’s nature as a rational, and volitionally rational being. We’ve identified two major implications of this nature. The first of these is rights, which are the conceptual barriers to our self-owning actions and the negative obligation upon all others to honor such barriers. The second is trade. Trade is the process by which rational beings exchange or cooperate for mutual, but individually- and subjectively-calculated, benefit.

As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” This platitude is often lobbed at liberty advocates of all varieties, containing the unspoken assumptions that,

* coerced association is the only kind possible, and

* those who question its validity are advocating zero cooperation.

We can easily reject this classic argument just by examining these presumptions. The saying, however, is valid and illustrative of an undeniable truth about humanity. Humans have found interaction and interdependence to be both psychologically and economically advantageous to a degree that we can and should reject the idea of total isolation as an ideal. We need not reject this reality.

If we do accept that humans are better off connected socially, and cooperating, then the question is: on what basis should this cooperation be motivated? How do we obtain the cooperation from others we want or need, when each of these others is an individual self-owner who is entitled to her own determinations and free range of self-owning action? Trade is the answer to that question.

Trade is more than just a label for our economic activity. It is a concept that pervades all of our interaction with others. As an ethic for seeking and obtaining cooperation of other self-owners, trade requires that we honor their rationality and right of self-determination by finding a way to appeal to their desires as determined by themselves. This ethic can, and should, be applied to all of our social interactions.

* In a situation where we might be inclined to compel our child’s cooperation by a threat of punishment, guilt, etc., we might instead honor the logical capacity that they do have at a very early age by spending the extra time and effort to help them realize the way they individually benefit from the desired action.

* When we might expect assistance from a friend or family member in an endeavor to assist us out of obligation or as a response to a display of our need, we can instead find a way to appeal to their self-interest by offering an exchange, whether monetary or otherwise.

* We can see our marriages, instead of as a formality that entitles us to the obligatory endurance of our partner, as an exchange that we are required to continue to make desirable to the other in order to appeal to their self-interest.

One inescapable presumption contained in every act of voluntary trade is the validity of the self-interest of each participant. By making a voluntary exchange, whether I am exchanging a physical good, money, or my time and effort, I am presuming the validity of my self-interest and the self-interest of the other party to the exchange. Many of the “duties” imposed by our culture, whether governmental, traditional, or religious, seem to stem from an effort to circumvent this trade ethic and thus deny the principle of individual self-determination and self-interest.

As we can see, the notion of trade rests upon some very essential philosophical presumptions, and has some very undeniable implications. In future columns we’ll examine these in detail. Next week we’ll look specifically at the way trade requires diversity, and how voluntary trade (unlike its parasitic, coercive counterfeits) has formed the foundation and engine of everything we now recognize as civilization.



Life in The Sunstein State

Whether imposed by psychological nudges or outright commands, the regulatory state is deeply opposed to America's heritage of liberty


To protect the red-cockaded woodpecker in the 1980s, the federal government prohibited the logging of old pine trees where the bird nests. Timber owners responded with more intensive logging, harvesting trees before they grew old enough to become suitable habitats for the woodpeckers. Even the best-intended regulations can spark unanticipated and counterproductive reactions.

Cass Sunstein understands the limits of the regulatory state. He was head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs—"the cockpit of the regulatory state," as he calls it—in 2009-12. But the Harvard Law School professor still believes passionately in the promise of good government—government that not only intends to do good but is really good at doing good. In "Simpler: The Future of Government," he offers a breezy tract on how to render regulation more user-friendly and effective.

Mr. Sunstein is a long-standing champion of the cost-benefit analysis of regulation, and his criticisms are often spot-on. The idea is simple and sensible: If the costs of a regulation are greater than its benefits, the regulation is shelved, regardless of how splendid its benefits are in the abstract. It is encouraging to read that Mr. Sunstein and his colleagues "focused on economic growth and job creation, and . . . sought to ensure that regulation did not compromise either of those goals."

And given Mr. Sunstein's previous work, 2009's "Nudge," with the economist Richard Thaler, it isn't surprising to find that "Simpler" is deeply informed by the insights of behavioral economics—a field of research that reveals several psychological quirks that affect human decision-making. Mr. Sunstein deploys behavioral-economics notions such as "framing effects" (our interpretation of facts is affected by how they are presented to us) and "status-quo bias" (we prefer the status quo, simply because it is the status quo, over potential alternatives) to promote what he calls "libertarian paternalism."

Government, he thinks, should change behavior using "nudges" instead of commands. Regulations can tap into people's psychological quirks and prompt them to choose "better" behaviors—while still leaving them free in many circumstances to act differently. Cigarette packages with grisly images of cancer-ridden lungs are an effort to nudge—rather than command—people not to smoke. (A federal appeals court last August blocked a proposed Food and Drug Administration rule requiring such packages.)

All good, and the reader of "Simpler" might wonder if this is the same Cass Sunstein who clerked for the progressive Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was denounced by Glenn Beck as "the most dangerous man in America" upon his appointment to the Obama administration. "Simpler" makes it clear that Mr. Sunstein is no despot in professor's clothing. But he is emphatically not a limited-government kind of guy. He is an enthusiast for active, expansive, "progressive" government.

But his faith in government combines with a scanty appreciation of the creative and disciplining powers of markets to render his case for active regulation, whether imposed through nudges or commands, less than persuasive. The pages of "Simpler" bubble over with examples of adults' weak capacity to choose wisely, which, in Mr. Sunstein's view, calls for more expansive government.

In his new book, “Simpler: The Future of Government,” Cass Sunstein says that the act of choosing is a muscle that gets fatigued. The more choices people have to make, the more likely they are to make bad ones.
The author boasts, for example, that "to save consumers money, we required refrigerators, small motors, and clothes washers to be more energy-efficient." Apparently producers are too benighted to compete for customers by offering such money-saving products. And consumers are too distracted by their own weaknesses to choose such offerings. Similarly, Mr. Sunstein believes that huge numbers of people really want to be organ donors but are prevented from agreeing to donate their organs simply by inertia.

In this worldview, people's weak wills and eccentricities make them prey both to shameless hucksters and to their own strange psychological traits. Ironically, however, Mr. Sunstein fails to explain why the irrational and impulsively childlike people who are apparently the nation's citizens will elect a government that is itself not irrational and impulsive—or why government officials won't exploit, for their own corrupt ends, the people's cognitive weaknesses. True, individuals often make poor decisions, and hucksters are never in short supply. Surely, though, the environment most favorable to poor decision-making and hucksterism isn't competitive markets but, rather, politics. Milton Friedman didn't need behavioral economics to know that each of us typically spends our own money on ourselves more wisely than a stranger spends other people's money on us.

The author assumes, without much reflection, that government's role in protecting us from ourselves has few limits, either ethical or legal. Seldom in the book does Mr. Sunstein pause to ask if this well-meaning nudge or that benevolent order, such as those that govern our diets or our pensions, is permissible under the Constitution. Nor does he worry that government regulation might, in the long run, make people even more behaviorally quirky. If government succeeds as Mr. Sunstein believes it can at protecting us from our thoughtless dietary choices and poor investment decisions, might we not become even more infantilized?

There is a deeper threat posed by a paternalist state, however "libertarian" we might wish it to be, and it isn't easily accounted for by cost-benefit analysis. Friedrich Hayek highlighted it in "The Road to Serfdom" (1944): "The political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much the effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means . . . that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that the new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit."

The regulatory institutions championed by Mr. Sunstein are certainly not the worst that various secular saviors have proposed over the years. If I must be regulated by a progressive, I choose Cass Sunstein. But the regulatory state as envisioned by Mr. Sunstein is nevertheless deeply opposed to America's traditions of liberty and individual responsibility. Such regulation will chew away like a cancer at those traditions. If Mr. Sunstein's blueprint for regulation is indeed the future of government, we might, as a result, be well-regulated—but we won't be free.


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


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

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May 22, 2013

Some useful enquiries

Below is an email from an old friend which reminds me how much there is to explain in the matters I broach. I propose to answer it in italics

While understanding that the understanding of authoritarianism may have some application in real life I don’t quite understand how proving that one race is less intelligent than another can have any application at all.

Back to authoritarianism for a moment; you blame all authoritarianism on ‘leftists’ despite ‘nationalism’ normally being seen as a right wing trait. Are there no ‘right wing’ regimes? Are not the Mugabe or the Idi Amins (and many other African states) right wing dictators? If not, then I would like to know the definition of right wing as I clearly don’t understand it. (Serious question)

Not all tyrants are ideologically motivated. In history most tyrants have been just tyrants. But as far as it goes Mugabe is a redistributionist, which makes him Leftist. Amin was just a brute.

There is a distinction between patriotism (love of counrty) and nationalism (the desire to have your country control others). The first is conservative, the second Leftist. Democrats declared almost all America's foreign wars. GWB went to war only when America was attacked (9/11). Friedrich Engels (co-author of Karl Marx) was a furious German nationalist; TR was a furious American nationalist and FDR so hankered for a war that he forced the unfortunate Japanese into one by cutting off their oil supplies

Actually I just looked up the definition in Wikipedia (interesting that your article prompted me to research something I normally wouldn’t have bothered with)

“In left-right politics, right-wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social hierarchy or social inequality.[1][2][3][4] Social hierarchy and social inequality is viewed by those affiliated with the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable,[2] whether it arises through traditional social differences[5] or from competition in market economies.[6][7] It typically accepts or justifies this position on the basis of natural law or tradition”

Would you agree with this definition?

No. It is a Leftist definition. "Rightist" is mainly a Leftist term these days. It is often used for Hitler, who was actually a socialist. "Conservative" is clearer for the non-Leftist side of politics.

The great triumph of Leftist disinformation that has identified Hitler as a Rightist has upset the whole Left/Right terminology. In his antisemitism, nationalism and eugenics Hitler was typical of prewar Leftists. The Conservative Churchill was his great opponent, not an ally

If so, it would seem to me that most dictatorships would fall within this definition?

By choosing a wrong definition you can prove many wacky things

Ha ha, I just reread your authoritarianism piece again and realised that you are going to accuse me of attempting to ‘...prove that conservatives are the authoritarians...’ .That wasn’t my intention I was seriously trying to discover just exactly what you think ‘right wing’ means as opposed to what I thought it meant. Of course Shakespeare pre-empted Freud with regards to self-justification “...I believe he doth protest too much...”

Would it be fun to list specifically how a ‘right wing’ person would respond to all of today’s controversies?

Use "conservative" and we can have an empirical definition. Briefly: "Devoted to individual liberty". Not much room for dictatorship there

Anyway, it wasn’t authoritarianism that prompted me to write, but intelligence across races.

Understand that I am not seeking to debate or argue with you but simply to align your thinking with mine in order to isolate where our thoughts might diverge.

In seeking to prove that one race is intellectually inferior to another how would you like to proceed with that knowledge to change the way the world works?

It could be used to give American blacks schools especially suited to their limited abilities -- They learn very little in today's schools

A few things occurred to me while reading:

Assuming that the average IQ is 100, what cross section of society is used to determine that number, ie is it the population of America or Africa or the Middle East, or is it the world or a specific race? I’m sure there is some complicated maths behind all of this.

The population mean (average) for the white population of Britain, the USA and most of Europe is 100 so that has become the norm

If it is America, then it must contain subsets of many races which (if your assertion is correct) must skew the average downwards making it irrelevant to any specific race and making a race of even a slightly higher IQ seem artificially higher. If IQ is determined on a racial basis (ie a different mean is set for each race) then I would have thought that cross-race testing would be very revealing given cultural specialities. I would be interested in these results if they are available.

Yes. The mean for the USA as a whole would be meaningless. You have to separate out the ethnic groups

Again, what actually is the point in proving your assertion? Are you suggesting that one race should be treated differently because they have a lower IQ? Should we assume that if we are talking to or listening to a Muslim we shouldn’t take any notice of what he thinks? Or are you suggesting that intelligent people are in some way better members of society than others? Or maybe better able to rule? There are many clever intellectuals who get many things wrong.

The policies adopted depend on many factors but treating all groups as the same will inevitably lead to policy failures -- outcomes not envisaged

I believe it to be true that many serial killers and sociopaths in general, have high IQ’s and are very charming people. My experience is that less intelligent people are much more likely to obey rules than those who think things through for themselves and therefore believe that ‘rules are made for the lowest common denominator and therefore don’t apply to me’. I have often found that the more ‘ordinary’ a person is the nicer human beings they are (if less interesting to communicate with)

There are exceptions but most incarcerated criminals are low IQ and poorly educated.

I personally get on best with working class people as I find them more down to earth

I applaud your desire to simply state the truth that research reveals and I totally understand that ideal but in order to do that effectively I suggest that the use of emotive words and phrases like ‘pretended’ ‘ ...who should know better’ ‘...it is clearly...’ ‘...unlike...(fill in the assumption)...’ ‘...are obviously...’ ‘...it is surely that...’ would best be avoided.

Yes. I avoid that in my academic writings but for maximum reach I have to make things vivid a bit

I know it is difficult to avoid these common phrases but they are read as put downs by people who may have an opposing view or who even see grey where you might see black and white, and leads them to think that if they disagree with the subject of the sentence they are somehow wrong or misinformed or even worse, stupid. I think that your points could be just as impactful (if less reaffirming to the converted) without the emotive content.

I don't actually hope to convert Leftists. That rarely happens except through aging. I aim to buck up my side

Perhaps it is the association of IQ with superiority that needs to be addressed. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that people should be upset by being called inferior?

High IQ is broadly advantageous but is not much use for singing or running and various other things so it is not everything. I accept, for instance, that I am physically clumsy. We all have our limitations and for a contented life you have to accept them

Maybe there is even a psychological inference to be drawn from those who seek to prove their superiority by these means? Lol. Didn’t someone once try to prove that the capacity of the skull was proof of superiority simply because he had a big head?

That was phrenology. But more sophisticated measurements do show a correlation of about .3 between brain size and IQ

I would be interested to know where you would classify me in the scale of left to right. I seem to adopt ideas from both ‘isms’ with little or no conflict. I come to conclusions on issues (wherever I actually do hold an opinion) by largely empirical and logical means but don’t claim to have any answers to the bigger questions of life. An example of where I do conflict is when I quite happily tuck into a meat meal but am quite incapable of killing the animal that supplied it. I acknowledge my hypocrisy but am powerless to rationalise it.

I think you are a recovering Leftist -- about right for your age. How you had such a conservative son is the mystery

You claim that ‘leftists’ know all of the answers, in which case I know no ‘leftists’ at all (although I think you would disagree). In fact the person I know who does seem to have most of the answers is you, John? Ha ha

Leftist policy prescriptions show very little awareness of possible problems so they do create the impression that they think they know it all.

If I knew it all I would just write it down once and then stop. That I keep writing indicates that I am always learning

I can’t help feeling that by spending your energies on segregating races you are simply employing the emperor Alexander’s solution to the Gordian knot problem, instead of trying to unravel the complex knot you would take a sword to it and simply cut the rope. Lol.

It's not at all complex. The only complexity is that many people dislike the evidence.

Race is a major problem in the USA but it is not I who have created it. I just try to point out that most of the problem is due to wrong assumptions of equality and that the problem will remain until reality is recognized

Like you I find these topics fascinating but I can’t agree with your assertion that ALL leftists deny that race exists. I have never heard that, neither have I heard them insisting that everyone is equal, I have only ever interpreted it as all men should have ‘equal opportunity’ which is what I loosely believe. This allows talent to rise to the surface from whichever substrate they come, and accepts by definition that some will naturally end up as less equal than others. In fact the very acceptance of this tenet is the acceptance that men are not all equal.

You need to note the shrill outrage when Americans even mention IQ or race. Belief in equal opportunity only is conservative these days

Anyway, the more I read over your articles the more it makes me think and I thank you for that stimulation.


Moral bias at the New York Times

by Tibor R. Machan

The headline said it all: “Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at I.R.S. Office in Ohio.” No mention of mendacity, of evil, of meanness, of vice, Nada.

For liberals their own pals are never morally amiss. They may make mistakes, be confused and have troubles. But guilty of malpractice never! Only Republicans and others who do not share their own attitudes can possibly be morally, ethically defective. When a Republican votes for reducing increases in welfare budgets or subsidies or other support for what liberals consider right and proper, the problem lies with their moral fiber, their lack of decency and good will. Not so with anything that liberals mismanage–that can only be due to some kind of technical malfeasance–”confusion and staff troubles.”

How do these folks manage, intellectually, to dodge the moral and ethical ire they are so eager to dish out at their opponents?

In liberal circles what is prominent when matters go awry is to give some kind of explanation–poverty, illness, ignorance, the bad influence of culture or the movies or whatever. Liberals must–yes, must–always be basically good, Their intentions are unfailingly impeccable. They always mean well. Accordingly, since it is the thought that counts, they are always innocent. Hope, audacious hope, is what makes one a good person, never mind how botched up one’s actions and even beliefs turn out to be, never mind what actually is accomplished with one’s preferred policies!

There is a prominent moral philosophical doctrine that this line of thinking follows. Immanuel Kant, the very famous and influential 18th century German philosopher, believed that human beings can only be morally good, praiseworthy, based on their intentions. It is their thought that makes them decent or indecent, not their actions or conduct. What they actually do is irrelevant to whether they are good or bad folks because, and here is the essence of the doctrine, there is ultimately no choice there; we must do what we do.

Free will for Kant has nothing to do with choosing our actions, only with choosing our thoughts. The mind is free, in this minimal way, but it has no practical impact on human action. The world moves in accordance with deterministic laws, of physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc., etc. We cannot change anything apart from what we think. So we can only be credited for good thoughts, good intentions, of which liberals, of course, have plenty.

The story is rather complex but this is the gist of it. This, mainly, is why The New York Times cannot even fathom liberals being morally guilty of anything. They always intend the best, never mind that they pay very little attention to the likely outcome. In the end, outcomes just happen and we have nothing to do with them.

The IRS folks, for example, just did their jobs and the fact that those jobs contained the seeds of malpractice–given that selectivity is always involved in giving citizens exemptions and breaks and such–is irrelevant.

In contrast, Republicans and their ilk never think right. They are worried about costs and whether a policy works and such, all mundane matters that people of genuine good will never bother about. It is petty thinking, not the noble kind that liberals produce!



A dream

The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners. It's an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person.

Israel sees this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It will also eliminate the costs of long and expensive trials.

You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter, an announcement: "Attention to all standby passengers, El Al is proud to announce a seat available on flight 670 to London. Shalom!"


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

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


May 21, 2013

Israel: Triumph of Resilience

By Daniel Mandel

Israel, having attained its 65th anniversary, resists easy definition. Sixty-five years ago, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, declared independence, to which American and Soviet recognition was forthcoming the next day, following the expiration of British rule.

Any reckoning on Israel, its successes and failures, is also inescapably interwoven with the verdict one gives on the animating philosophy of the state, Zionism, which itself will celebrate later this year its 116th anniversary.

Zionism foresaw a collectivity of Jewish labor redeeming a patrimony lost in antiquity. It envisioned a national solution to that age-old disease, anti-Semitism, conscious of the fact that time was running out for Jews in Europe. Theodor Herzl, political Zionism's founder, even thought it might prove the antidote to anti-Semitism, though he doubted the possibility of reviving ancient Hebrew as a spoken language. He once asked rhetorically, "Who amongst us knows enough to purchase a railway ticket in that language?"

Herzl was wrong on both counts. The national language was revived, a feat that still eludes other peoples seeking to emulate Israel's success, but anti-Semitism, far from having been extinguished, is very much alive. Even when put to bed, it is a light sleeper.

The widespread revilement of the Jews in pre-state times was replicated when the U.N. General Assembly resolved in November 1975 that Zionism, uniquely among national movements around the globe, was a form of racism. So Israel became the focus of renewed anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Zionism, a distinction without a difference insofar as the target remains Jews, with discrimination now applied to sovereign identity rather than individual rights.

Israel solved anti-Semitism in the sense that it permitted Jews to cease being timorous petitioners to foreign governments and permitted those in need or desire of joining the national enterprise to do so. In fact, nothing better evokes today, if only fleetingly, the lost pioneering ethos of Israel than latter-day efforts to rescue Jews in distress. This is but a continuation of the process that began in Europe in the nineteenth century and embraced the Arab Middle East in the 1940s and 1950s, when Arab nationalism and Muslim supremacism combined to depopulate virtually each and every established Jewish community in Arab lands. Unlike their European counterparts in the 1930s, however, these Jews did have somewhere to go. In the span of Jewish history since the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth nearly two millennia ago, that is likely to remain Israel's biggest achievement and calling-card.

Jewish labor and nation-building have had a much more checkered history. The utopian idealism of the kibbutzim is a thing of the past, although the kibbutz is still the only voluntary socialist system to have been devised and implemented. The incorporation in 1967 of the West Bank and Gaza into Israeli control during the Arab-inspired Six-Day War saw the emergence of cheap "Arab labor" which would have been deplored by Israel's founding fathers, although the ongoing hostilities into this century have somewhat reversed that trend.

The Oslo peace process, conceived as a project of political normalization, long ago foundered in bloodshed. That failure was inherent in Israel's attempt to produce a neighboring Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat and his successors, who remain dedicated to a supplanting Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority (PA) that emerged from Oslo remains a moral and political Enron. Palestinian society is radicalized and morally defunct, split between the Hamas fiefdom of Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah redoubt in the West Bank.

Israel has provided Jews a home and turned that home into a innovative powerhouse, but it has a more modest record of success in the millenarian vision of an "in-gathering of the exiles." The in-gathering was always going to be a combination of voluntary and involuntary immigration, but it is only the heroic age of Zionism that can boast a solid core of idealists. In each succeeding epoch, the persecuted, the endangered, and the expelled have predominated. Few nations are primarily composed of people (or descendants of people) who either involuntarily left their native homes or who would have gone elsewhere given the chance. Yet there is no mystery about this. It is a special breed of person who deliberately courts danger, disease, climatic extremes, economic uncertainty, material scarcity, and neighboring hostility in preference to a settled life in a relatively tranquil society. Zionism has been only a peripheral magnet for free and enfranchised Western Jews in countries like the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, or Australia who, if they move at all, are as likely to move between each other as to Israel.

One remarkable success, however, is the realization of an early Zionist idea: to produce a new, sovereign Jew at home in his own country. Diaspora Jews often notice that Israelis do not in the main share what Jean-Paul Sartre would have called the "over-determined" character of the Jews, a result of centuries of Jewish dependence on Gentile goodwill. The Israeli is refreshingly free of untoward concern for the opinion of others or the belief that in whatever he may do, he is somehow representative of all Jews and is being judged accordingly. He has been normalized to the extent that he feels he belongs somewhere without qualification and that in this way he is like most other members of the human family. If he meets someone who dislikes him, it is not his problem, as it still remains for even the freest and most established Western Jew. He needs no communal security apparatus, anti-defamation league, hate monitors, or communal advocates. He has all of these in the forms of the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, and an elected, sovereign government. He can leave the job, if not always confidently, to the professionals.

For all this, Jewish sovereignty has not come cheaply; the loss of 23,085 soldiers -- about the equivalent to America losing 900,000 servicemen -- was commemorated at this year's Remembrance Day in Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict has subjected generations of Israelis to years of military service and reserve duty, and the civilian front has often been far from tranquil. Indeed, with the advent of Oslo, Palestinian terrorists made killing and maiming ordinary Jewish civilians in the largest possible numbers a special priority. For most of the Muslim world, a theological calamity occurred with Jewish statehood. Muslim supremacists work overtime to ensure that the Jew, largely a figure of contemptuous docility in Arab collective memory, can be again relegated to Islamic subject status on "liberated" Islamic land.

Perhaps, with so much conflict, internal and external, Israel's great achievement is the resilience of its democratic life. By temperament, Israelis are the most democratic of peoples. They have a low threshold of tolerance for any pretense of social superiority. Informality is the norm. Some people think this goes a little far. As any visitor knows, graceful manners are in short supply. The army is the most respected national institution for obvious reasons, yet it has almost no chivalric tradition. There is an economy of military and civilian honors, which makes military ceremony on national occasions all the more haunting for its accessibility and austerity.

Vigorous debate and parliamentary procedures are alive and well, but proportional representation in the Knesset has balkanized politics, sometimes defying the requirements of stability and holding majorities hostage to capricious minorities. As a result, Knesset members hold office courtesy of party lists, not electors' votes, and are beholden to party whips, not to constituencies. This has engendered at once careerism, lack of accountability, and public cynicism. Worsening matters is Israeli bureaucracy, which, in its untroubled inefficiency, is typically Mediterranean. Press freedom somewhat mitigates the picture, since Israeli journalists are not inclined to self-censorship. Foreign correspondents congregate in the country, free to report without fear or favor, and often show little but disfavor. Corruption scandals are far from rare, though the country's president, Shimon Peres, once offered a consoling thought: "Better a democracy with scandals than an authoritarian system without scandals."

The Israeli Arabs -- today a minority of approximately 24% -- spent Israel's first years under military rule before participating normally in Israel life. Trade union membership followed in 1960. Political representation has always been a feature of Israeli Arab life, with Arab judges presiding over courts and Arab Knesset members sitting in governing coalitions; one, Raleb Majadele, was recently a minister in the government of Ehud Olmert (though he refuses to sing the national anthem, Hatikvah). Arabs represent Israel abroad in the diplomatic service; the staunchly loyal Druze population has enjoyed a harmonious relationship to the state, its youth even serving in elite units of the armed forces. Knowing the limits of the human condition, Israel has not imposed army service on its Arabs (though volunteers are taken), just as the U.S. did not deploy Japanese-Americans in the Pacific theater of operations during the Second World War. One result of this, however, has been that, in a country in which national service is often a prerequisite for good employment and economic opportunities, Arabs have lagged behind.



Calling all true liberals

The last couple weeks’ revelations of fresh and compelling examples of the kind of duplicity and petty tyranny we conservatives have been screaming about for five years have presented us with what military folks call a “seam.” A “seam” is the border where two different units meet, and it is generally the kind of weak point you want to drive your forces into in order to split your opponent’s front and rout him. These latest scandals have revealed a seam between two elements of the liberal coalition, the liberals who actually believe some of what they say and the cynical leftists who merely crave power.

Let’s split that seam.

But to do so, conservatives must ignore the voices of the fussy and the fainthearted and ruthlessly exploit it. We can and should – and must – politicize the hell out of these shameful imbroglios.

There’s nothing wrong with politicizing politics. In fact, it’s kind of difficult to imagine why politics shouldn’t be politicized – politics is, after all, by definition political. In fact, it’s only this week, after it became inconvenient, that the liberal establishment changed its collective mind and determined that politicization was once again a bad thing. It was a good thing when liberals were slobbering at the chance to use the massacre of innocents by a lunatic to deprive law-abiding citizens of their sacred fundamental right to keep and bear effective arms. Back then, politicizing misfortune was not only A-OK but a moral imperative. This week, not so much.

Of course, no discussion of liberal hypocrisy could begin without a reference to Teddy Kennedy, who did his part in the War on Women by personally running up the casualty rate. Bill Clinton was another friend of women, at least until they complained about him and were insulated by his liberal guardians.

Liberal champions of minorities didn’t hesitate to make an icon of Robert Byrd, who was either a Grand Imperial Cyclops or an Exalted Kleagle in the Democrat-founded KKK. And the liberal champions of the innocent and the helpless won’t help you if you are too innocent or helpless – if you are, say, a fetus you are out of luck.

The current administration’s love of civil rights and liberties came to an end about the time the President removed his hand from the Bible in January 2009. Free speech was an awesome concept when liberals were using it against their opponents. But once liberals took power, free speech became an appalling obstacle to true progress. Freedom of religion stopped being important when some religious people abused that right by opposing liberal initiatives on religious grounds. And as for the Second Amendment, well, don’t let the text fool you into thinking it gives you any rights.

If it was to the Administration’s short term political advantage to quarter soldiers in private houses without the consent of the owner they would be showing the Third Amendment the door.

We now have an Administration that lied about what happened in Benghazi, and is now lying about its lies. We have a cabinet secretary shaking down healthcare companies for “donations” to a propaganda fund for Obamacare. We have the government grabbing up reporters’ cellphone records, and we have the IRS randomly selecting for persecution people and entities who just happen to oppose the regime’s goals.

For some liberals, this is just too much to swallow, and we should focus on splitting them out of the liberal coalition. This is the seam.

We spend so much time seeing and reading the ravings of the zombie liberals of the media and the blogs that we forget there is another group of liberals who are liberal because – for whatever misguided reason – they think liberalism is the right way to be. In other words, there are liberals who actually believe what liberalism used to purport to support – including civil rights, civil liberties and the rights of traditionally disadvantaged people.

It is interesting that from those ranks come some of the most dedicated and effective conservative activists – people who became conservative not because they changed their views but because they didn’t. Liberalism left them. They believe in individual rights and in equality before the law. They hate prejudice and bigotry in all their ugly forms. They embrace every individual’s value, and want to see every individual have a chance to live and to succeed.

They are people like Andrew Breitbart. Andrew was not born a conservative. He wasn’t raised a right-winger. He started out a liberal, but he actually took seriously what liberals said. His great sin – and why he was and is so hated by liberals – is that he refused to stop believing in those values when those values stopped being useful. His outrage was not that liberals were liberal; it was that establishment liberals were liars, that they struck poses as defenders of what was true and good and then abandoned them without a second thought if another pose better served their purpose.

This is the seam, the liberals who have a sense of right and wrong, who truly believe in the values the liberal establishment merely pays lip service too. You can see them tentatively raising their heads in response to the avalanche of scandals, noting that maybe the Administration could be a bit more forthcoming on Benghazi, that perhaps siccing government enforcers on political opponents is a bad thing to do.

They sense the truth, and they need time to get their head around it. Liberalism has left them too.

This is why it is no time to go all wobbly. This is why it is no time to ease up on the accelerator. The unvarnished truth, presented clearly, forthrightly and undeniably, will be a wedge that drives them out of the liberal coalition.

Now that the mainstream media has itself felt the clammy grasp of government oppression, for the first time since the inauguration the White House has reason to fear the headlines in the morning papers. The press senses blood in the water, and some elements of it seem to be stirring out of their lethargy and spinning up into a well-deserved feeding frenzy.



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

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


May 20, 2013

Altemeyer is still fundamentally confused

At least since 1950, Leftist psychologists have been fascinated by the concept of authoritarianism. They have good reason to be. The most authoritarian regimes in recent history have been socialist: From the Communist Lenin, Stalin and Mao, through the national socialist Hitler to the ghastly Pol Pot. So authoritarianism is in the bones of Leftists. We also see that orientation in their virtually universal refusal to condemn the gran lider of Cuba ("Great Leader", Fidel Castro) and their unrelenting attempts to fasten the bonds of regulation around most aspects of life in the USA. And they are always eager to spend your money for you whether you want them to or not.

But authoritarianism is repugnant to most people gripped by it so the Left have a need to deny the authoritarianism which is innate to them. They need to pretend to be something else. And they are rather good at that. They pretend to be do-gooders even though most of what they do turns out badly.

Another very useful way of deflecting criticism is simply denial. If you say often enough that you are not authoritarian, people might believe you. And a very effective way of reinforcing such denials is of accusing your opponents of what is really true of yourself. Freud called that "projection". So Leftist psychologists have made great efforts to prove that conservatives are the authoritarian ones, not themselves.

That merry little scheme started with the work of Marxist theoretician Adorno in 1950 but foundered eventually on the poor evidence for the various Adorno assertions. I cover that here.

The Adorno work was however refurbished from 1981 on by Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba in Canada and I have pointed out from early on how sloppy Altemeyer's work is (e.g. here and here and here) .

Altemeyer has however continued to write books on authoritarianism and has gained a certain degree of notice outside academe, particularly through the blog of Jonathan Turley. Not much about Altemeyer's story has changed over the years but maybe there is by now a case for me to update a little my comments on his work.

Altemeyer has compiled a set of statements (the RWA scale) which in his view reflect "Right Wing Authoritarianism". But he is very shifty about what he means by "right-wing". Sometimes he refers to it as meaning conservative and at other times he admits that it is uncorrelated with vote for conservative political parties.

In other words his research is about conservatives who are as likely to vote Democrat as Republican! A truly odd bunch! The truth, I suspect, is that Altemeyer would not know a conservative if he fell over one. I have no doubt that the Psychology Dept. at the University of Manitoba is the standard Leftist bubble that one expects of such Depts so strange beliefs about conservatives and much else could flourish in that environment.

So what the RWA scale really measures is anybody's guess. I see it as measuring an old fashioned form of extreme conservatism that no longer has political relevance or, indeed, any relevance at all. So the political relevance of Altemeyer's various research findings exists only in Altemeyer's imagination and need detain nobody for any time at all.

But if Altemeyer is vague about "right wing", he is quite clearly wrong about authoritarianism. He makes it clear that it is not dictators he is talking about but rather their followers. He claims that he is measuring a tendency for people to submit to authority. But there is no such thing. Nobody just respects authority per se. Different people respect different authorities. Altemeyer is convinced that conservatives in the USA are characterized by a respect for conventional authority. Yet most American conservatives these days almost spit when they talk about the President, Congress and the Supreme Court. Not much respect for the conventional authorities of America there!

And even the old mainline churches get short shrift among conservatives. Conservatives tend to respect "rebel" evangelical churches, churches with a strong streak of independence.

Altemeyer has some awareness of the political irreverence of American conservatives so to save his theory he nominates Rush Limbaugh and his ilk as authorities that conservatives respect. But Limbaugh is no authority at all. He is just a radio commentator! People listen to him because they agree with him, not for any other reason. In Altemeyer's world, agreeing with anybody is dangerous!

And it is not only in conservative politics that one finds an absence of a general tendency to respect authority. I set out here some evidence from psychological research which shows that respect for authority in one field does not generalize to respect for authority in other fields. That being so, Altemeyer is studying a unicorn (or perhaps more specifically, a chimera).

So wherever you look at Altemeyer's theories you find that he is not studying what he thinks he is studying. He is studying something that exists only in his own imagination.

But a relatively recent work of his really puts the cap on his intellectual confusion. He has written an extensive history and analysis of the Tea Party movement. And he does get one thing right. He notes that a lot of the Tea Partiers are evangelical Christians.

Even Altemeyer cannot avoid noticing however that Libertarians are prominent in the Tea Party movement too. So are Libertarians authoritarian? Good old Altemeyer sticks to his guns and says they are. He calls libertarians "The Other Authoritarian Personality". That people who comprehensively reject authoritative control over our lives are also submissive to authority must be one of the most crosseyed assertions in contemporary politics. Black might as well be white. Again Altemeyer is living in a little world of his own imagination.

Altemeyer also likes the "Social Dominance Orientation" theory of Pratto and Sidanius but I have pointed out the large holes in that some time ago.

Finally, the whole idea that you need to be a particular personality type to support an authoritarian regime is contrary to the evidence. Milgram showed vividly that perfectly ordinary people can be conned into supporting extremely authoritarian actions and prewar writers such as Roberts and Heiden agree that by the late 30's Hitler was quite simply the most popular man in Germany. They LIKED his claim that they were a Herrenvolk (Master race)! His support ranged from the intelligentsia to the workers and, contrary to the usual Marxist piffle, the hard-core Nazis (the SA) were predominantly working class -- usually the more rebellious element of society.


May 19, 2013

Mentioning the unmentionable again

In my academic career as a psychometrician, I paid some attention to the sociology of knowledge, and, indeed to the psychology of knowledge.

The field is actually a respectable one among Leftists -- dating particularly from Karl Marx's claim that your class position influences how you think.

Unlike Marx and the Leftists, however, I do not extrapolate small facts into vast generalizations. Because one can descry influences on how people think, I don't jump to the conclusion that there is no such thing as truth. I think the truth is still knowable even to those who wish that it were not so.

But the thing that fascinates me is the use of censorship, formal and informal. Why do people wish to censor certain ideas? Censored ideas are obviously seen as dangerous but WHY are they seen as dangerous? It cannot be because they are silly. There are many silly ideas that are not censored. Nobody tries to censor the widespread claim that George Bush blew up the Twin Towers, for instance. Silly ideas are allowed to run their course. They are not censored.

So it is clearly threatening ideas that are censored. But why are they threatening? The answer surely is that the censored thought is reality-based. So religious people who wish to censor expressions of sexual license, reveal by their censorship attempts that there is a real tendency towards sexual licence out there in the population -- a tendency which they do not wish to overwhelm their own families. And homosexuals who brand all criticism of homosexuality as "homophobia" reveal that there is a strong tendency out there in the population to find homosexuality at least distasteful if not perverted and immoral.

So ever since I wrote an academic article on the subject in 1972, it has always seemed to me that the idea of IQ is very threatening to those who fulminate against it. And it is clear why it is threatening: Because it refers to a fact that has great potential to upset people who are less intellectually able.

But that it the point. If it were a fantasy as silly as the claim about George Bush and the Twin Towers, nobody would be disturbed by it. The fact that the idea of IQ is founded in over a century of careful academic research is the problem. It is arguably the most solid finding ever to come out of psychological research that problem solving ability is highly general across different classes of problem. And we call that general problem solving ability 'g' or IQ.

But the fact that there really is such a thing as IQ out there in the general population only intensifies the problem. The findings about IQ are entirely disruptive to the Leftist wish to declare all men equal. The fury and sweeping denunciations aimed at people like Jason Richwine are so powerful precisely because the concept of IQ is so accurate. Although many have tried, the concept of IQ cannot be dismissed academically. So all that is left is denunciation and persecution of those who proclaim the facts of the matter.

The fact that talk about IQ is so heavily penalized and forbidden is surely one of the most powerful demonstrations there are of how reality-based IQ findings are. Putting it more generally, the more "forbidden" a statement is, the more likely it is to be true.

So it is mildly amusing how silly the attacks on IQ are -- and the demonstration that blacks on average have markedly lower IQs does of course arouse great steaming eruptions of silliness. The quite standard response of Leftists is a variation of their ultimate fallback when forced into a corner by the facts. They resort to some variation on the quite incoherent assertion that "there is no such thing as right and wrong". In the case of IQ they deny that either IQ or race exists.

I have been reading a fair bit of the Leftist commentaries on the Richwine affair -- from black writers like Ta Nehisi Coates to the cautious David Weigel. And they regularly refer to the concept of IQ as "discredited". Who discredited it and how they do not say. They don't want to go there. I think they know that they would be in very deep if they tried. The various academic assaults on the concept have been easily rebutted -- e.g. here.

Ta Nehisi Coates is however more empirical than most. He takes a rather ad hominem approach. Like the black conservative Tom Sowell, he shows how ideas of racial intelligence have been wrong in the past and arrives at the non sequitur that current ideas of that ilk are also therefore wrong. It's rather like saying that Hitler liked dogs so love of dogs these days is Fascist. Ultimately you have to judge the truth of a proposition on the facts, not on who believes it now or who believed something similar in the past.

And absolutely ALL Leftists deny that such a thing as race exists. As far as I can tell, ALL Americans can see that it does but when did reality hold up Leftists? The argument for race non-existence is an old philosophical fallacy that can be applied to almost everything. I can equally argue, for instance, that dogs do not exist because some are large, some are small, some have short coats some have long coats, some are white some are black etc.

So some people regarded as American blacks look a lot like whites and some do not. So the Leftist argument (e.g. by Coates) is that there is therefore no such thing as blacks. Such an asinine argument hardly deserves a reply but Razib Khan (a brown man) has answered it at length anyway -- pointing out that all taxonomy in the natural world concerns central tendency rather than rigid or simple demarcation lines. My comment from some years back on the matter is here.

Even many conservatives find the idea of low average IQ among blacks distasteful but, as the old Scots proverb has it: "Facts are chiels that winna ding" (Facts are guys that you can't knock down).

FOOTNOTE: It is often pretended that what IQ tests measure is either a mystery or trivial. So we sometimes hear even from people who should know better the statement: "IQ is only what IQ tests measure". It is of course trivially true that IQ tests measure IQ but what IQ tests measure is neither obscure nor trivial. They measure general problem-solving ability, which is why psychometricians refer to IQ as 'g'. And that there is such a thing as general problem-solving ability is a momentous discovery with many implications -- which is why high IQ goes with so many desiderata: from educational success to higher income to better health and longer life.

And pointing out that there are exceptions to that rule is merely sophomoric. In the life sciences all rules that I can think of have exceptions. As any gambler can tell you, however, even small departures from randomness can be invaluable. A correlation does not have to be perfect to be useful.


The umbrella difference

George Bush can hold his own umbrella

President Obama humiliated the marine who he asked to hold his umbrella by making him ‘look like a butler’, a respected military general claimed today. Thomas McInerney, a former United States Air Force Lieutenant General, said that the President showed a ‘lack of respect’ by making the soldier shelter him from a shower.

He also said that the President has plenty of aides so did not understand why one of them could not have held the umbrella.

The President caused a stir when he summoned over two marines to keep him dry at a press conference in the Rose Garden. The marines held an umbrella over the President and the Turkish Prime Minister individually as Obama made jokes about the weather.

However, for some the move was not a laughing matter particularly as it is a breach of protocol for marines to hold umbrellas while in uniform.



Healthcare and the Poor: Why Money Works Better than Waiting

By John C. Goodman

What I call health policy orthodoxy is committed to two propositions: (1) The really important health issue for poor people is access to care, and (2) to ensure access, waiting for care is always better than paying for care. In other words, if you have to ration scarce medical resources somehow, rationing by waiting is always better than rationing by price.

(Let me say parenthetically that the orthodox view is at least plausible. After all, poor people have the same amount of time you and I have, but a lot less money. Also, because their wages are lower than other people’s, the opportunity cost of their time is lower. So if we all have to pay for care with time and not with money, the advantage should go to the poor. This view would be plausible, that is, so long as you ignore tons of data showing that whenever the poor and the non-poor compete for resources in almost any non-price rationing system, the poor always lose out.)

The orthodox view underlies Medicaid’s policy of allowing patients to wait for hours for care in hospital emergency rooms and in community health centers, while denying them the opportunity to obtain less costly care at a walk-in clinic with very little wait at all. The easiest, cheapest way to expand access to care for millions of low-income families is to allow them to do something they cannot now do: add money out of pocket to Medicaid’s fees and pay market prices for care at walk-in clinics, doc-in-the-boxes, surgical centers, and other commercial outlets. Yet, in conventional health policy circles, this idea is considered heresy.

The orthodox view lies behind the obsession with making everyone pay higher premiums so that contraceptive services and a whole long list of screenings and preventive care can be made available with no co-payment or deductible. Yet, this practice will surely encourage overuse and waste and, in the process, likely raise the time prices of these same services.

The orthodox view lies at the core of the hostility toward Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), and any other kind of account that allows money to be exchanged for medical services. Yet, it is precisely these kinds of accounts that empower low-income families in the medical marketplace, just as food stamps empower them in any grocery store they choose to patronize.

The orthodox view is the reason so many backers of Obamacare think it will expand access to care for millions of people, even though there will be no increase in the supply of doctors. Because they completely ignore the almost certain increase in the time price of care, these enthusiasts have completely missed the possibility that the act may actually decrease access to care for the most vulnerable populations.[1]

The orthodox view is the reason there is so little academic interest in measuring the time price of care and why so much animosity is directed at those who do measure such things. It explains why MIT professor Jonathan Gruber can write a paper on Massachusetts health reform and never once mention that the wait to see a new doctor in Boston is more than two months.[2]

This neglect would matter little if not for one thing: the evidence, as I explain in my book Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, suggests that the orthodox view is totally wrong.



Men who are physically strong are more likely to have right wing political views

And I thought that Schwarzenegger was a RINO but, Ah Well

Men who are strong are more likely to take a right-wing stance, while weaker men support the welfare state, researchers claim.

Their study discovered a link between a man’s upper-body strength and their political views.

Scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark collected data on bicep size, socio-economic status and support for economic redistribution from hundreds in America, Argentina and Denmark.

The figures revealed that men with higher upper-body strength were less likely to support left-wing policies on the redistribution of wealth.

But men with low upper-body strength were more likely to put their own self-interest aside and support a welfare state.

The researchers found no link between upper-body strength and redistribution opinions among women.

Professor Michael Petersen said: ‘In all three countries, physically strong males consistently pursued the self-interested position on redistribution.

‘However physically weak males were more reluctant to assert their self-interest – just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation between individuals.

‘While many people think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has, in a sense, always been with our species. ‘Political views are designed by natural selection to function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history.’

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

Professor Petersen added: ‘Many previous studies have shown that people's political views cannot be predicted by standard economic models.

‘This is among the first studies to show that political views may be rational in another sense, in that they're designed by natural selection to function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history.’

SOURCE. The journal article is below:

The Ancestral Logic of Politics: Upper-Body Strength Regulates Men’s Assertion of Self-Interest Over Economic Redistribution


Over human evolutionary history, upper-body strength has been a major component of fighting ability. Evolutionary models of animal conflict predict that actors with greater fighting ability will more actively attempt to acquire or defend resources than less formidable contestants will. Here, we applied these models to political decision making about redistribution of income and wealth among modern humans. In studies conducted in Argentina, Denmark, and the United States, men with greater upper-body strength more strongly endorsed the self-beneficial position: Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution. Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.


So we see that the findings are not as simple as they were initially presented. Strong guys still favoured redistribution if they were lower class. The opponents of redistribution were both strong and upper class


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

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


May 17, 2013

Truth is no defense: The case of Jason Richwine

Richwine's resignation is emblematic of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse, says Charles Murray

On Monday, May 6, Robert Rector and Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation published a study of the fiscal effects of immigration amnesty, arguing that the costs would amount to $6.3 trillion. Controversy greeted the report, but of the normal kind, with critics making specific allegations that the costs were calculated using unrealistic assumptions.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed that Richwine’s 2009 Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard’s Kennedy School had said that, on average, Latinos have lower IQs than do non-Latino white Americans and the nation should consider incorporating IQ into immigration decisions. The blogosphere and some elements of the mainstream media erupted in denunciations.

On Friday, the Heritage Foundation announced that Richwine had resigned.

I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.

In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.

In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort. To borrow George Orwell’s word, they will have proved themselves to be guilty of crimethink.

Everybody who does research in the social sciences or biology is aware how treacherous the environment has become, and so scholars take defensive measures. They bury important findings in obscurely worded technical articles lest they be discovered by reporters and lead to disastrous publicity. A few years ago, a brilliant young evolutionary geneticist publicly announced he would not pursue his work on the evolution of brain size after his preliminary results were attacked as crimethink. Others have deliberately refrained from discussing race or gender differences in works that ordinarily would have called for treating those topics. When I chided the author of a successful book for avoiding some obvious issues involving race, he quite rightly replied that if he had included anything about race, everything else in the book would have been ignored.

These examples are only the visible tip of a much broader problem of self-censorship in the questions that scholars are willing to ask. I am not referring just to scholars who might otherwise engage the taboo topics directly. We can have no idea of the full extent to which important avenues of inquiry in economics, sociology, genetics, and neuroscience that indirectly touch on the taboo topics are also self-censored by scholars who fear becoming pariahs.

But let’s not pretend that the problem is confined to academia or intellectuals. It infects the culture more broadly.

Freedom of expression used to be a big deal in the United States. When the Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech was first on the list. Americans didn’t originate “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (maybe Voltaire said it, maybe not), but it became part of the American credo. The celebration of freedom of expression was still in full flower in the 1950s, when a play based on the Scopes trial, Inherit the Wind, was a Broadway hit. The American Civil Liberties Union of that era was passionately absolutist about freedom of expression, defending the right of free expression for even odious groups such as neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. The lonely individual saying what he believed in the face of pressure to keep silent was a staple of American films and television drama.

Few remnants of those American themes survive. We too seldom engage our adversaries’ arguments in good faith. Often, we don’t even bother to find out what they are, attacking instead what we want them to be. When we don’t like what someone else thinks, we troll the Internet relentlessly until we find something with which to destroy that person professionally or personally — one is as good as the other. Hollywood still does films about lonely voices standing up against evil corporations or racist sheriffs, but never about lonely voices standing up against intellectual orthodoxy.

I’m sick of it. I also have no idea how to fix it. But we can light candles. Here is what I undertake to do, and I invite you to join me: Look for opportunities to praise people with whom you disagree but who have made an argument that deserves to be taken seriously. Look for opportunities to criticize allies who have used crimethink tactics against your adversaries. Identify yourself not just with those who agree with you, but with all those who stand for something and play fair.



See below


The IRS Wants You

The scandal over politicized tax enforcement is growing

President Obama famously joked in a college commencement address in 2009 that he could use the IRS to target political enemies but of course he never would. It appears that people at the Internal Revenue Service didn't think he was joking.

That's become clear since IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner admitted on Friday that the agency targeted conservatives for special tax-exempt scrutiny during the 2012 election season. The story has already blossomed into the latest abuse of government power, as documents show the IRS targeted tea party types and groups that specifically opposed the Obama Administration.

According to an appendix to a forthcoming Treasury Inspector General report obtained by the Journal, in June 2011 the IRS expanded its special attention to groups that met the following criteria:

* 'Tea Party,' 'Patriots,' or '9/12 Project' is referenced in the case file.

* Issues include Government spending, Government debt, or taxes.

* Education of the public via advocacy/lobbying to 'make America a better place to live.'

* Statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run."

We've also learned that IRS officials knew about this earlier than they have let on. News reports suggest that Ms. Lerner knew about the targeting of conservatives in June 2011, and perhaps as early as 2010. That's a long time before IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman flatly denied any political targeting when he testified at a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing in March 2012.

IRS officials are still claiming that the questions weren't meant to intimidate these groups. But the evidence that the inquiries were political is already voluminous.

The IRS sent questionnaires to conservative groups that included requests for everything from the resumes of directors past and present to whether an employee or employee family member had plans to run for public office. Cincinnati Tea Party founder Justin Binik-Thomas wrote in the Washington Examiner recently that one nonprofit received a questionnaire that demanded that it "Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas."

According to the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents some of the IRS targets, the IRS letters did not come only from the Cincinnati office (as Ms. Lerner implied on Friday), but also from IRS offices in Laguna Niguel and El Monte in California as well as from Washington D.C. In addition to intrusive questionnaires, the groups were subjected to unusual delays in obtaining tax-exempt status. Of the law center's 27 clients, 15 were approved, two withdrew out of frustration and 10 are still pending.

Some Democrats took to the airwaves on the weekend to suggest that while the IRS shouldn't have been targeting conservatives, no one was harmed.

The harm is in fact real, if hard to measure precisely, because any missive from the IRS is enough to chill political spending and speech. Answering the IRS questionnaires can take hundreds of hours. The Jefferson Area Tea Party dropped its plan to register as a 501(c)(4) to avoid the atmosphere of intimidation.

Asked about the IRS news on Monday, Mr. Obama said that "if in fact IRS personnel" targeted conservatives, that would be "outrageous" and those responsible would be held "accountable." That's nice to hear, but he was making conditional what the IRS has already admitted, which is not as bad as what we are learning it really did.

Our Kimberley Strassel reported last year that Idaho businessman and Mitt Romney donor Frank VanderSloot was first maligned publicly by an Obama campaign website as disreputable, and then was mysteriously targeted by the IRS and the Labor Department for audits. The press corps ignored that ugly coincidence and no one to our knowledge was punished.

In other words, there is a pattern here. Oppose the Obama Administration or liberal priorities, and you too can become an IRS target.



Obama unmasked

Friday’s bombshell admission that the IRS has been targeting political opponents since 2010 may have been trumped on Monday as it was revealed that the Obama Justice Department used its immense information gathering power against Associated Press reporters.

What a disaster for the Obama administration.

Now more than ever, Obama needs his media partners to rally the wagons against those who are trying to learn whether their failure to act caused the deaths of four Americans in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet, at this very time of need, Holder's Justice Department may have turned Obama’s media allies against him.

It is one thing when that weird Tea Party kid you don’t like gets bullied. The media can rationalize that he deserved it for having radical pro-constitutional government views. But it is quite another when your buddies get a heavy dose of Obama’s Big Brother government. At that point, something has to be done.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt sent a warning to the media that this can happen to you when he called the Obama administration’s actions a, “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

Pruitt went on to explain the devastating impact of the Justice Department's actions, writing,

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

A little truth to the formerly complicit Fourth Estate: The actions of the Justice Department are a direct attack on your ability to protect sources, develop stories and have those you speak with have any expectation that their anonymity will be preserved.

If Richard Nixon had Eric Holder doing his bidding at Justice, Deep Throat’s identity would not have remained a secret for more than 30 years, and it is likely few would have ever heard of Woodward and Bernstein.

Every reporter instinctively knows this, and their willingness to turn a blind eye toward Obama’s Chicago way of governing has hopefully been irrevocably shattered.

The first test will not be the IRS story that everyone in D.C. is scrambling to uncover. Instead, it is Benghazi.

Yesterday, the media were subjected to a standard Obama Jedi mind trick when he declared, “There’s no there, there,” referencing the Benghazi hearing in the House last week.

Now the only question is will the media go back to their mesmerized state of awestruck obedience, or will they wake up and do their jobs?

How aggressively they pursue Benghazi will provide the answer. The ball is in the media's court.



Socialist French President faces fresh pressure as France plunges back into recession

France plunged back into recession last night exactly a year after Francois Hollande took office, piling more misery on the beleaguered socialist president. Figures showed the single currency’s second largest economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the first three months of the year. As it shrank by the same amount in the final three months of 2012, it means France has experienced a double-dip recession – after the economy contracted in 2009 when the banking crisis sparked the deepest global slump since the Second World War.

Mr Hollande is the most unpopular president in French history, according to opinion polls. He has often been criticised for his handling of the economy, ridiculed for attempting and failing to introduce a 75 per cent tax on the wealthiest, and lampooned for his personal life and his relationship with partner Valerie Trierweiler.

Under the tenure of the tax-and-spend Left-winger, the country has seen unemployment soar and business confidence drop. Unemployment in France has reached 3.22 million, or 10.6 per cent, the worst since 1997. Youth unemployment is 25.4 per cent.



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

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


May 16, 2013

Progressive Group Admits IRS Gave Them Conservative Groups' Confidential Documents

This goes from bad to worse

Now that the public is fully aware of the IRS’s corrupt practices back in 2012 election cycle, more information is coming to light by the minute. We have now become aware that not only did the IRS scrutinize tea party groups more than others, but they also leaked some of that info to liberal groups. “The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending.”

Although this is a surprising admission, it is a commendable one from one of our liberal counterparts. The group said:

"The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year... In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)"

The group also says that they did not receive any information on pending applications for liberal groups during the cycle. ProPublica is a well-known liberal group, with many donors following the Democratic Party lines.

The House Ways and Means Committee is set to have a formal hearing on the IRS conservative targeting scandal next week. Top officials from that organization will be making an appearance to testify.



The Heretic at Heritage

Pat Buchanan

Jason Richwine, the young conservative scholar who co-authored the Heritage Foundation report on the long-term costs of the amnesty bill backed by the "Gang of Eight," is gone from Heritage.

He was purged after The Washington Post unearthed his doctoral dissertation at the JFK School of Government.

Richwine's thesis:

IQ tests fairly measure mental ability. The average IQ of immigrants is well below that of white Americans. This difference in IQ is likely to persist through several generations.

And the potential consequences of this?

"A lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market."

Richwine defended his 166-page thesis before Harvard's George Borjas, Richard Zeckhauser and Christopher Jencks, who once edited The New Republic. But while his thesis was acceptable at Harvard -- it earned Richwine a Ph.D. -- it has scandalized the Potomac priesthood.

Our elites appear unanimous: Richwine's view that intelligence is not equally distributed among ethnic and racial groups, and is partly inherited, is rankest heresy. Yet no one seems to want to prove him wrong.

Consider Richwine's contention that differences in mental ability exist and seem to persist among racial and ethnic groups.

In The Wall Street Journal last month, Warren Kozak noted that 28,000 students in America's citadel of diversity, New York City, took the eighth-grade exam to enter Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, the city's most elite high schools. Students are admitted solely on their entrance test scores.

Of the 830 students who will be entering Stuyvesant as freshmen this fall, 1 percent are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are white -- and 75 percent are Asian.

Now, blacks and Hispanics far outnumber Asians in New York. But at Stuyvesant, Asians will outnumber blacks and Hispanics together 19-to-1.

Is this the result of racially biased tests at Stuyvesant?

At Berkeley, crown jewel of the California university system, Hispanics, 40 percent of California's population and an even larger share of California's young, are 12 percent of the freshman class. Asians, outnumbered almost 3-to-1 by Hispanics in California, have almost four times as many slots as Hispanics in the freshman class. Another example of racial bias?

The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which measures the academic ability of 15-year-olds worldwide, found the U.S.A. falling to 17th in reading, 23rd in science, 31st in math.

Yet, Spain aside, not one Hispanic nation, from which a plurality of our immigrants come, was among the top 40 in reading, science or math.

But these folks are going to come here and make us No. 1 again?

Is there greater "underclass behavior" among Hispanics?

The crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans, while the Asian crime rate is about a third that of whites.

Among white folks, the recent illegitimacy rate was 28 percent; among Hispanics, 53 percent. According to one study a few years back, Hispanics were 19 times as likely as whites to join gangs.

What about Richwine's point regarding "social trust"?

Six years ago, in "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century," Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," wrote that after 30,000 interviews he found that ethnic and racial diversity can be devastating to communities and destructive of community values.

In racially mixed communities, Putnam wrote, not only do people not trust strangers, they do not even trust their own kind.

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down,' that is, to pull in like a turtle ... (to) withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

With the immigration bill granting amnesty to 12 million illegals, an open door to their dependents and a million new immigrants each year, almost all from the Third World, America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today. Yet, it was in L.A. that Putnam found social capital at its most depleted and exhausted.

If Richwine is right, America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor.

The issues Richwine raises go to the question of whether we shall survive as one nation and one people.

If our huge bloc of Hispanics, already America's largest minority at 53 million, is fed by constant new immigration, but fails for a couple of generations to reach the middle-class status that Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians and Poles attained after two generations, what becomes of our "indivisible" nation?

Rather than face this question, better to purge and silence the Harvard extremist who dared to raise it.



The licensing effect

Green/Left "hypocrisy" explained

Good intentions rarely make good laws. Those who do evil almost always think they are doing good for goodness’ sake. Nobody sees himself as evil. As Will Smith, the American actor, once quipped, “Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good.’” Friedrich Hayek took this idea a step further, writing: “It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.”1

There is little to prevent do–gooders and their actions from unexpectedly metamorphosing into holocaustic bloodbaths, especially when considering the “licensing effect.” Under this effect, people can rationalize bad conduct, if they first do something good. Whether in dieting, consumer choice, or politicking, the licensing effect permits people to be wicked after they have performed something deemed good.

According to Dale Miller, a psychology professor at Stanford Business School, “With licensing, the first act doesn’t commit you, it liberates you.” This liberating euphoria permits the human psyche to do what it supposedly is against. Miller’s experiments uncovered business managers who publicly declared their lack of bias in hiring minorities, for instance, but in practice showed a strong prejudice against minorities. Since these managers had declared their support for minorities, they were now free to be extremely biased.2

A major study by a sociologist at the University of Arizona exposed the twisted dilemmas and unintended consequences of the licensing effect. The 2007 study provided clear analytical evidence of the ineffectiveness of involuntary diversity training in the workplace. It would be reasonable to presume that by the late 20th Century, encouraging diversity within the workplace had become an easy sell. But after reviewing 31 years of data from 830 mid–sized and large corporations, sociologist Alexandra Kalev concluded that involuntary diversity training was “ineffective and counterproductive.”

How counterproductive? The figures are shocking. A comprehensive review of data revealed that those businesses’ mandated diversity training exercises for their managerial staff were followed by a “7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management.” For black female managers, the decrease was 10 percent, with a 12 percent drop for black men. “The effect was similar for Latinos and Asians.”3 So what is going on?

This study shows that mandatory enforcements routinely backfire, because they are set up with unrealistic and artificial expectations. Real change comes when people voluntarily modify their opinions. Any other way makes people feel that they have been imposed upon. Professor Kalev confirmed this reality by noting: “When attendance is voluntary, diversity training is followed by an increase in managerial diversity.”4

When companies with government contracts are put under the gun to teach diversity, managers get the impression that, having taken a course, they’ve performed their good–citizen duty. They’ve been trained by experts to be a lean, mean antidiscrimination machine. And yet, the sacrifice they made in taking the compulsory training shouts out for compensation. They have been put upon to do something good. They have spent long, boring hours in the classroom. They can now subconsciously overlook or avoid the hiring of minorities. In Kalev’s words, “Forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity.”5

Many corporations also bring diversity training into the workplace for legal protection. In this case, the training becomes an exercise in public and legal relations, instead of reaching toward true, long–term change. After all, companies understand that their diversity training bestows some legal protection, if later they are hit by a discrimination lawsuit. In short, preventing lawsuits is more important than efficacious training. Bill Vaughn, cofounder of Diversity Training University International, confirms what the study foreshadowed. “If they are doing it for legal protection, they don’t care whether their training is successful.

The licensing effect affords us an explanation for a time–honored way to justify violating principles. For instance, if someone is always condemning greed, he is now entitled to a binge of overt self–indulgence. Having cleared his conscience of any avarice, he can waltz into a Mercedes–Benz showroom and splurge like a rapacious man of wealth. Further, he can brand others as greedy SOBs while taking comfort in the fact that the saintly blood of altruism flows through his own noble veins. For the virtuous, to act self–centered is impossible, as such behavior is unthinkable to the enlightened mind; therefore, narcissistic greed can run wild. Habitually, the greediest are blissfully unaware of their own selfish motives.

In an interesting article in Psychological Science, two researchers argued that people who feel morally virtuous have a tendency to engage in the “licensing (of) selfish and morally questionable behavior,” also known as “moral balancing” or “compensatory ethics.” The researchers, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen–Bo Zhong, revealed that when people try to save the planet or do noble deeds, they become less kind to others and more likely to cheat and steal. They wrote: “Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behavior.”

The licensing effect is also found among public employee unions who act as if they still represent government employees receiving little compensation for their work. For over 150 years, that was true of American civil servants, but no longer. According to economist Chris Edwards, “As of 2008, the average federal salary was $119,982, compared with $59,909 for the average private sector employee. In other words, the average federal bureaucrat makes twice as much as the average working taxpayer.”8 Despite this disparity in pay between the public and private sectors, the political and bureaucratic classes routinely accuse opponents of greed. They condemn tax–averse corporations and taxpayers as selfish pigs obsessed with money. And yet, as columnist Steven Greenhut observed: “there are few things as greedy as running up debt and lobbying for more taxes from the peons so that an elite class can keep retiring earlier with ever–greater pension and other benefits.”

But this greedy disposition is just the tip of a bloating iceberg. Many government and union–operated retirement programs have no qualms about taking big risks in the stock market. Why? Because the political class always holds the winning hand. Applying a Las Vegas metaphor, Greenhut asked: How would you bet if you could keep all your gains at the casino, but dump your losses on someone else? But this is exactly how many of these public retirement systems operate. If a Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) fails to make a profit, the taxpaying public is often responsible for making up the deficiencies. So, who are the real greedy profiteers here?

In the electoral politics realm, the licensing effect grants politicos the prerogative to flip–flop their principles. When President Richard Nixon, fervently anticommunist, visited Red China in the 1970s, political pundits came up with a proverbial apothegm: “Only Nixon could go to China.” Fluent in altruistic doublespeak, those in control of command–based systems rely on the fulcrum of well–respected virtues. Since they are public servants—supposedly hired to serve up healthy scoops of community goodwill—they find themselves confronted with a license to act contrary to stated purposes. This situation supplies a politico the license to sabotage principles of good governance by becoming a player in society, instead of a referee.



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

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


May 15, 2013

Misuse of the IRS by the Obama administration

IRS also targeted the Freedom Center‏ run by the outspoken David Horowitz. David comments:

And now, on top of everything else—the appeasement of Islamic terror, Obamacare and other aspects of the "radical transformation" of our domestic society—this White House has turned the IRS loose on Americans it regards as enemies.

While it was too cowardly to confront the terrorists who killed our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, the Obama administration has had no trouble, we now learn, going after conservative non profits with "patriot" and "tea party" in their official names. And just for good measure, the administration has also set the IRS on some Jewish organizations it thinks might be hostile to its anti Israel agenda and on groups that are trying to fight against the spread of big government.

We know how these conservative groups targeted by the White House feel. Our name doesn't include "tea party" or "patriot," but it does have the word "freedom" and maybe that's considered just as dangerous by the White House because we too were recently audited by the IRS.

The Center sailed through, not a mark to our record and we are proud of that. But, as those of you who have been subject to an IRS audit know, it was a time consuming and financially draining process. The IRS bureaucrats demanded reams of paperwork and records; they tried to intimidate us with a generalized interrogation that called to mind the famous comment of Laventri Beria, head of Stalin's secret police: "Bring me the man, and I'll find the crime." But they were never able to tell us exactly why we were being subjected to this treatment.

Perhaps a reason why the IRS was on the Freedom Center's case was that we publish FrontPageMagazine, which has called the President out for appeasing terror, and DiscoverTheNetworks, which has created an encyclopedia of the left showing how the progressive conspiracy that elected the President operates. Perhaps the IRS had taken note of the series of pamphlets we have published critical of the character and agenda of the current administration, most recently David Horowitz's How Obama Betrayed America, a shocking look at our foreign policy has itself become anti American.

That we and other conservative groups were targeted by the goons at the IRS for creating the robust debate about ideas that keeps our nation free should make us all shudder. We thought the days of government "enemies lists" were over. But we were not intimidated and we hope that other conservative organizations weren't either.

The IRS scandal is just beginning, but it has already proved one thing: that this administration is trying to silence exactly those groups who are telling the American people the truth about its sinister policies. If we submit to this coercion, we weaken our country's immune system to despotism.

Via email


A bit of fun


The Victorians were smarter than us, study suggests

Reaction times are far from the best measure of IQ but they are important so a decline in them is certainly cause for concern -- JR

The Victorians achieved so much because they were cleverer than us, a new study suggests.

Reaction times – a reliable marker of general intelligence – have declined steadily since the Victorian era from about 183 milliseconds to 250ms in men, and from 187ms to 277ms in women.

The slowing of our reflexes points to a decrease in general intelligence equivalent to 1.23 IQ points per decade since the 1880s or about 14 IQ points overall, researchers said.

Actual IQ scores from different decades cannot be directly compared because people today enjoy better teaching, health and nutrition which would help improve their results, the scientists explained.

But the reaction times signify that the genetic component of general intelligence – which leads to the type of creativity and invention typical of the Victorian era – has been dwindling over the past century.

Dr Michael Woodley, who led the study published in the Intelligence journal this month, identified the trend by comparing reaction times from trials conducted by Victorian scientists against those carried out in recent decades.

Our declining intelligence is most likely down to a "reverse" in the process of natural selection, he explained. The most intelligent people now have fewer children on average than in previous decades, while there are higher survival rates among people with less favourable genes.

"The pressures of modern life, a nine-to-five modern lifestyle, have created all these pressures against very smart people having break-even numbers of children," he said.



Why health insurance makes no difference to many Americans

John C. Goodman points out that the poor already get healthcare and that government insurance mostly makes it harder to see a doctor

Within the White House, within the Democratic chambers in Congress and among the (overwhelmingly liberal) health policy community there was considerable anguish last week. The reason: a new study finds that (as far as physical health is concerned) there is no difference between being in Medicaid and being uninsured.

It’s hard to exaggerate what a blow this is to the people who gave us the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Everything about ObamaCare—from the money we are spending to the damage being done to the labor market to the hassles the whole nation is going through—depends on one central idea: that enrolling people in Medicaid will give them access to better health. (Tens of thousands of lives will be saved every year, the president told us.)

It gets worse. Beginning next year, ObamaCare is expected to newly insure about 34 million people. About half of these will enroll in Medicaid. The other half are supposed to get their insurance in health insurance exchanges, where most will qualify for generous premium subsidies paid for by federal taxpayers. If the Massachusetts health reform is precedent, however, these people will be in health plans that pay doctors only about 10 percent morethan what Medicaid pays. Think of these plans as Medicaid Plus.

Yet, if Medicaid doesn’t make people any healthier than they were when they were uninsured, that implies that the entire ObamaCare program could be one huge waste of money.

(Actually, the results weren’t a complete disappointment. There was less depression among the Medicaid enrollees; they reported that they were a tiny bit happier; and among those who had out-of-pocket expenses, they spent about $215 less out of pocket each year. But, remember, we could have reimbursed out-of-pocket spending and spent far less than was actually spent on this program.)

Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt argue that the study may have been “underpowered”—failing to show significant effects because there were too few people in each disease category. However, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page pointed out, if this were a drug, it would fail to get FDA approval.

The study released last week is not the first to find that enrollees in Medicaid do no better than the uninsured. In fact there are studies that show that Medicaid enrollees find it more difficult to get a doctor’s appointment and have worse outcomes than the uninsured. Each of these studies has been subjected to a lot of nitpicking on various grounds, however, and a fair-minded person would probably have to say that how much difference Medicaid makes is an open question.

Until now. Thanks to a budget crunch in Oregon, scholars had the ability to do a double-blind study (the gold standard for researchers) and it came out very, very badly for the supporters of the new health reform law.

The study doesn’t speculate on the reasons for its findings, but I will.

The uninsured in this country have access to a patch work system of free care when they are unable to pay for it out of their own pockets. In Dallas, Texas, where I live, for example, the entire county is part of a health district which makes indigent health care available to needy families. It covers people up to 250% of the poverty level, with sliding scale co-payments, based on family income. Parkland Memorial Hospital and its satellite clinics is the primary provider.

You could argue that uninsured, low-income families in Dallas are actually “insured” in this way, although they face the problems of rationing by waiting and other non-price barriers to care. Officially, they are counted as “uninsured,” however. When these very same individuals enroll in Medicaid, they enter another system of patchwork care and are classified as “insured.” However, a third of the doctors aren’t taking any new Medicaid patients. There is rationing by waiting in Medicaid along with its non-price barriers to care. Often, the uninsured and Medicaid enrollees are getting the same care from the same doctors at the same facilities—even though one group is labeled “insured” and the other “uninsured.”

Here is what I wrote in the Handbook on State Health Reform:

"Consider the case of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Both uninsured and Medicaid patients enter the same emergency room door and see the same doctors. The hospital rooms are the same, the beds are the same and the care is the same.

As a result, patients have no reason to fill out the lengthy forms and answer the intrusive questions that Medicaid enrollment so often requires. Furthermore, the doctors and nurses who treat these patients are paid the same, regardless of patients’ enrollment in an insurance plan. Therefore, they tend to be indifferent about who is insured by whom, or if they’re even insured at all. In fact, the only people concerned about who is or is not enrolled in what plan are hospital administrators, who worry about who will pay the bills.

At Children’s Medical Center, next door to Parkland, a similar exercise takes place. Medicaid, S-CHIP and uninsured children all enter the same emergency room door; they all see the same doctors and receive the same care.

Interestingly, at both institutions, paid staffers make a heroic effort to enroll people in public programs — even as patients wait in the emergency room for medical care. Yet they apparently fail to enroll eligible patients more than half the time! After patients are admitted, staffers valiantly go from room to room to continue this bureaucratic exercise. But even among those in hospital beds, the failure-to-enroll rate is significant — apparently because it has no impact on the care they receive [or the financial burden they incur]."

If what happens in Dallas is similar to other cities, “insuring the uninsured” is not going to make a great deal of difference anywhere.

For the country as a whole, one third of all people who are eligible for Medicaid have not bothered to enroll, indicating that millions of potential beneficiaries do not view the program as very valuable. In Oregon, the situation is even more dramatic. As Avik Roy explains:

"Of the 35,169 Oregonians who “won” the lottery to gain enrollment in Medicaid, only about 30 percent actually enrolled. Indeed, only 60 percent of those who were selected bothered to fill out the forms necessary to sign up for the benefits — which tells you a bit about how uninsured Oregonians perceive the Medicaid program.

Consider Massachusetts. RomneyCare cut the official “uninsurance” rate in half. But it created no new doctors or nurses or clinics. As far as I can tell, the same people are going to the same places and getting pretty much the same care that they got before. Hospital emergency room traffic is higher than ever. The traffic to the community health centers has changed very little.

But since they have expanded health insurance in Massachusetts, the demand for care has grown, even as the supply has remained unchanged. As a result, the time price of care has increased. The wait to see a new doctor in Boston is two months ― the longest waiting time in the entire country. People are getting the same care they got before, but they are paying a higher “price” for it.

I expect to see the Massachusetts results replicated nationwide.

In the developed world, the health policy community is excessively focused on health insurance, even to the point of ignoring health care. In fact, studies of waiting times and inability to get care are often derided as right wing attempts to undermine the concept of social insurance. The less developed world has the opposite vision. Almost all the countries south of our border generally offer free care to the general population. But they don’t go around handing everyone an insurance card.

I believe this difference in vision is partly explained by the difference in income and wealth. Middle- and upper-middle income families need insurance to protect their assets. Poor families don’t have assets. They don’t need insurance. They may need health care, however.

ObamaCare was designed by middle- and upper-middle income people. They chose for poor people the same thing they would want for themselves. They didn’t think about access to care because they have never had a personal problem with it.

C’est la vie.



Memo to Christian Troops: ‘We’ve Got Your Back’

President Obama’s Pentagon recently released a statement threatening military personnel: “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense … Court Martials and nonjudicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis.”

Although the Pentagon has walked back its new anti-Christian “proselytizing” policy within the realm of public relations (a policy drafted in concert with foul-mouthed atheist and anti-Christian bigot Mikey Weinstein) the DoD has yet to offer evidence that it intends to walk it back within the realm of application.

And so, to any member of the armed services who is harassed, demeaned, reprimanded or charged by this Obama Pentagon with obeying Jesus – with endeavoring to “recruit or convert” others to His exclusive saving grace – we at Liberty Counsel are delighted to say, “We’ve Got your back!” Free of charge. Pro bono legal defense.

How are we able to do this? Through the generous financial and prayer support of more than 1.2 million Liberty Counsel donors and supporters.



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

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


May 14, 2013

The doctor is in, America: Get with the Estonian program

Don’t let the optimism surrounding last month’s job numbers fool you. The unemployment rate’s decline from 7.6 percent in March to 7.5 percent in April is more statistical artifact than progress. Like that of our Western European neighbors—and the U.K. in particular—the U.S. economy is stuck in a rut. Why? The answer is simple. Government profligacy overburdens the economy while propping up private inefficiencies, as I explain in Investors Business Daily.

Since 2008, Washington policymakers have been pacing around the doctor’s office too afraid to take the bitter but effective pill America needs: slash federal spending and end the U.S. Fed’s life support for zombie banks.

Economically stagnant Britain shows us where this continued procrastination leads. Instead of dashing after our tea-drinking transatlantic neighbors, American policymakers should look to Estonia, which took its austerity meds and quickly returned to prosperity.

Although media relentlessly talks of supposed “austerity” in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, cuts to spending and taxation are starkly absent in budget data. That is, of course, until looking to Estonia.

In the four quarters following the British government’s announcement of austerity in June 2010, general government spending increased by 4.3%, a rate of growth that has increased since then. Some “austerity.”

Whitehall also has been squeezing more taxes out of British citizens, with revenues increasing by 7.8% the first year and the rate of growth shooting up into double digits the next two.

And the Bank of England’s balance sheet has grown 334% since September 2008, as it’s tried to prop up bad assets held at London banks.

For a better way forward, let’s look at Estonia, which took its medicine as soon as the global financial crisis broke. It cut government spending relative to its pre-crisis level drastically — 2.8% in 2009 and 9.5% in 2010 — and is now one of Europe’s fastest growing economies.

Tax revenues fell, too. Moreover, Estonia’s central bank refused to prop up banks that shipwrecked on the rocks of a real estate bubble.

Unsurprisingly, Estonia has had greater net economic gains since 2008 and is set to outpace the U.K. into the future.

Austerity works, but as the case of Estonia shows, it must be real austerity. In order to facilitate the natural market process of resources moving to their most efficient use, the public sector must shrink as the private endures recession. Government must not continue to gorge itself on a smarting private economy while simultaneously propping up its inefficiencies.



The Mecca Metric -- keeping track of what is being preached to Muslims is important

How to protect Americans from jihadist violence

All around America, people are waking up to the fact that Islam can inspire Muslims to kill civilians. Examples:

* Bill Maher: “I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the Prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. [...] Now, obviously, most Muslim people are not terrorists. But ask most Muslim people in the world — if you insult the Prophet, do you have what’s coming to you? It’s more than just a fringe element.”

* Andrew Sullivan: “[Boston bomber] Tamerlan’s brain was damaged by religious fanaticism and fundamentalism.”


The question is often asked, “What percentage of Muslims wish to carry out, or condone violence against civilians in the name of Islam?” A frequent assumption behind the question is that because an unknown percentage of Muslims does not do so, it would of course be wrong to deport all Muslims, and therefore — and this is the key point — nothing can be done to protect the U.S. from Islamic jihadists.

We Americans are used to thinking in terms of a single new law or a single new policy to take action for the public good. But to protect Americans from Islamic jihadists will take a different approach. It will not be a single new law or a single new policy that achieves this goal. It will be a marathon, over a number of years, of new laws and new policies, new awareness and new attitudes, that will do so.

New awareness and attitudes often come before legislation. Before we even begin to consider specific new laws, it may be helpful to begin with awareness, attitudes, and policies that do not require the force of law.

One possible place to begin is with public naming and shaming of mosques that encourage Muslims to support, condone, and pursue violent jihad. Investor’s Business Daily provides an example with the article “Bombers’ Mosque In Boston A Factory For Terrorists.” USA Today provides another example with the article “Mosque that Boston suspects attended has radical ties.” Fox News has an article stating, “The mosque where at least one of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers prayed has a controversial history, with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, terror funding and frequent fiery sermons, according to a group that has long monitored the house of worship.”

Another possible place to begin would be to rigorously quantify and analyze relevant information. One example would be to examine what might be called the Mecca Metric. This is a measurement of what imams at mosques preach to congregations of Muslims gathered there for religious guidance:

* What percentage of these imams preach that Islam is a peaceful religion?

* What percentage of these imams preach that the September 11 hijackers violated Islam and did not go to Islamic paradise?

* What percentage of these imams preach that Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, violated Islam?

* What percentage of these imams preach that the Boston Marathon bombers violated Islam?

* How many imams will accept a challenge to include such a message every single time they preach?

* How many imams will assist by releasing video of their weekly preaching? If imams will not do so at this time, when 30 of the FBI’s 31 most wanted terrorists are Muslim, why not?

The Mecca Metric is relevant because an Internet search for what imams say at mosques currently reveals imams preaching hatred, killing, jihad, and death to congregations of Muslims who gather at mosques for religious guidance. Conversely, an Internet search currently reveals few if any instances of imams preaching peace. I have yet to discover any imams preaching at mosques that the September 11 hijackers, or Major Nidal Hasan, or the Boston bombers violated Islam.

Note that the Mecca Metric does not include statements made to the press, at interfaith events, or otherwise to the non-Islamic public by imams or by organizations such as CAIR or MPAC. Such statements are made explicitly for PR purposes. Islam apologists often take refuge behind such statements. But these PR statements mean nothing if they aren’t repeated day after day, week after week, month after month by imams at mosques to congregations of Muslims.

Establishing the Mecca Metric can help evaluate the degree to which Islam in America is in fact peaceful. A higher percentage of imams preaching peace would indicate a higher degree of peacefulness.

Those are just two suggestions for ways to begin. There are doubtless many more. Protecting Americans from jihadist violence will be a marathon, not a sprint.



Grave robbers: Anti-competitive regulations for the dead

The monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, Louisiana leave this world in the same simple way as they live in it.

And when public interest in their basic, handmade wooden caskets grew, the monks proved to have a shrewd business sense too. They opened a woodworking shop in 2005 to produce caskets that they sell for about $2,000 each, far below the average price for a casket in the state.

But where the monks saw an opportunity, a state cartel of funeral home owners and funeral directors saw unwanted competition.

In 2007, the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors—eight of the nine members of which are licensed funeral directors—voted to ban the abbey from selling their caskets, because under state law only licensed funeral directors are allowed to sell caskets, and they are only allowed to do so from state-licensed funeral homes.

Those two simple requirements buried the monks in a tangle of red tape.

To get a license, St. Joseph Abbey would have to build a funeral parlor with room for 30 people, a display room for at least six caskets, an arrangement room and an embalming room. They also would have had to hire a funeral director and pay him a full-time salary.

The monks launched a petition to the state legislature to change the regulations. When that failed, they took the board to court.

In March, a panel of federal judges upheld a lower court ruling in the monks’ favor. In a scathing rebuke to the state board, the judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that “funeral homes, not independent sellers, have been the problem for consumers with their bundling of product and markups of caskets.”

The casket-selling laws in Louisiana are unique, but there are regulations on the books in almost every state designed to protect funeral homes from competition and lower prices.

Joshua Slocum is the executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a Vermont-based organization that favors a more open market for funeral providers and customers. He says the funeral industry is unlike most other businesses in two key ways.

“For one, there are no repeat customers,” Slocum says glibly. “I have but one life to give to my funeral director.”

No repeat customers mean little in way of competition for the best services. And since literally everyone has one life to give, there is no shortage of customers.

There is also little market pressure on the establishments because it is rare for anyone to “shop around” for a funeral home in the way they might seek the best deal for a cruise or any other once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

This is partially psychological—we have a natural aversion to thinking or talking about the inevitable end of our lives, and cost is rarely in the front of mourning family members’ minds.

But does a dead body’s final moments above ground or a family’s last good-byes to loved ones require a three-story Victorian home, a $30,000 embalming room, a Mercedes hearse and a $4,000 casket? In most places, you’d have a hard time finding an alternative.

That is slowly starting to change, thanks to entrepreneurs like Verlin Stoll, who believe there is an untapped market for affordable, no-frills funerals that would appeal to those with modest means.

Stoll opened Crescent Tides funeral home in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006. He offers low-cost funerals in a nondescript building in an office park that does not have a viewing chapel or other amenities. The basic package at Crescent Tides starts at $250, about 10 percent of the average Twin Cities funeral.



Can how well we read and count at seven REALLY predict how successful we will be in later life?

Another proof that all men are not equal and that kids who are born smart get most of the prizes in life

How well we count and read aged seven can influence how successful we will be, researchers have claimed.

Edinburgh researchers analysed data from over 17,000 people in England, Scotland, and Wales over a span of about 50 years.

They found the abilities at seven predict socioeconomic status in adulthood over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood.

Stuart Ritchie and Timothy Bates of the University of Edinburgh said they wanted to investigate whether early math and reading skills might have effects that go beyond the classroom.

'We wanted to test whether being better at math or reading in childhood would be linked with a rise through the social ranks: a better job, better housing, and higher income as an adult,' they said.

The researchers explored these relationships using data from the National Child Development Study, a large, nationally representative study that followed over 17,000 people in England, Scotland, and Wales over a span of about 50 years, from when they were born in 1958 to present day.

The data revealed that childhood reading and math skills really do matter. Ritchie and Bates found that participants' reading and math ability at age 7 were linked to their social class a full 35 years later.

Participants who had higher reading and math skills as children ended up having higher incomes, better housing, and better jobs in adulthood.

The data suggest, for example, that going up one reading level at age 7 was associated with a £5,000, or roughly $7,750, increase in income at age 42.

The long-term associations held even after the researchers took other common factors into account.

'These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life,' say Ritchie and Bates.

The researchers believe that genes may play a role. 'Genes underlie many of the differences among children on all the variables we've looked at here,' they said.

'The genetically-controlled study using twins that we're conducting now should allow us to separate out genetic and environmental effects.'

The researchers hope that the twin study will illuminate the extent to which environmental interventions might strengthen the links they've identified in their current research.


The academic journal article is "Enduring Links From Childhood Mathematics and Reading Achievement to Adult Socioeconomic Status"


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

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May 13, 2013

No description of the New Orleans shooters?

Police were accompanying the parade and saw the three offenders run off and yet the reports give no whiff of a description of the perps. I have read through every report of the shooting that Google news threw up.

I surmised that the reason for the silence might be that any reasonable attempt at description would include the word "black". And I was right. CBS, of all people, have breached the wall of silence. They couldn't bear to mention the B-word but they went close. We read from them: "Police are looking for three suspects, one of which was described the suspect as a dark skin male, 18-22 years old with short hair, a white shirt and blue jeans." Poor grammar but real information.

I am guessing that reporting of this crime will rapidly fade away.

Bad Faith and Benghazi

Jonah Goldberg

"Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference -- at this point, what difference does it make?"

That was how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously brushed off the question of when she knew that the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were, in fact, a terrorist assault and not a "protest" of an anti-Islam video that got out of hand.

Clinton's fans, in and out of the press, loved her defiant response, and they should be ashamed of themselves for it.

What Clinton was really doing there was deflecting attention away from the fact that she lied. We now know, thanks to Wednesday's congressional hearings and reporting by The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, that administration officials knew from the outset the video had nothing to do with it. Intelligence sources on the ground in Libya and officials in Washington knew that it was a terrorist attack from the beginning. The video was a "non-event in Libya" according to Gregory Hicks, the man who inherited Stevens' duties after the ambassador was killed by al-Qaeda-linked militants. The false video story was simply imposed from above by Clinton, President Obama and their subalterns.

Let's return to that lie in a moment.

The hearings exposed another lie. Obama and Clinton have insisted that they did everything they could to help the Americans besieged in Libya; they just couldn't get help to them in time.

That's simply untrue. But even if that were true, it would still be a self-serving falsehood.

If you see a child struggling in the ocean, you have no idea how long she will flail and paddle before she goes under for the last time. The moral response is to swim for her in the hope that you get there in time. If you fail and she dies, you can console yourself that you did your best to rescue her.

But if you just stand on the beach and do nothing as the child struggles for life, saying, "Well, there's just no way I can get to her in time," it doesn't really matter whether you guessed right or not. You didn't try.

The White House and State Department insist they guessed right, as if that somehow absolves them of responsibility. They would have sent help if they could have, they claim, but they simply weren't ready to deploy forces on Sept. 11, the one day of the year you'd expect our military and intelligence agencies to be ready for trouble in the Middle East, particularly given that before his murder, Stevens warned of security problems in Benghazi.

But we know the administration ordered others who were willing, able and obliged to come to the consulate's rescue to "stand down." They in effect told the lifeguards, "Don't get out of your chairs."

Though an unmanned drone was there to capture the whole thing on video, which must have been reassuring as the mortar rounds rained down.

Leon Panetta, who was the secretary of defense during the attack, mocked critics who wanted to know why the Pentagon didn't scramble any jets from Italy to the scene. "You can't willy-nilly send F-16s there and blow the hell out of place. ... You have to have good intelligence."

Never mind that real-time video of the attack is pretty good intelligence. An F-16 doesn't need to blow anyone to hell to have an impact. As military expert and former assistant defense secretary Bing West notes, "99 percent of air sorties over Afghanistan never drop a single bomb." Just showing up is often intimidating enough.

What motivated the White House and the State Department to deceive the public about what they did is unknown. Maybe it was incompetence or politics or simply understandable bureaucratic confusion.

But we do know they deceived the public. Which brings us back to the lies over the video. In the wake of Benghazi, the country endured an intense debate over how much free speech we could afford because of the savage intolerance of rioters half a world away. Obama and Clinton fueled this debate by incessantly blaming the video -- as if the First Amendment was the problem.

Clinton and Obama both swore oaths to support and defend the Constitution. But after failing to support and defend Americans left to die, they blamed the Constitution for their failure. That's what difference it makes.



Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper, is a Registered Democrat

Had he been a Republican, it would have been front page, coast to coast. As it is: crickets

According to voter registration records, Ariel Castro, the Cleveland kidnapper, is a registered Democrat. He was also the alleged leader among the three Castro brothers, who were arrested this week, and the owner of the house at 2207 Seymour Ave., where the three abducted local women had been kept in captivity for over a decade.

Why is this important? Whenever a crime or a scandal captures national attention, the pattern in the mainstream media is to either identify the culprit as a Republican or hold silence -- in which case we can rest assured that the culprit is a Democrat.

When the identity or the party affiliation is yet unknown, the pattern is to speculate publicly about the possibility of the criminal being a privileged white conservative Christian, Republican, and a Tea Party member -- and never that he could be an immigrant Hispanic Democrat voter playing bass in a meringue band.

In today's divisive climate, the identity of a perpetrator is always a political issue, especially when a crime is committed by men against women. According to the Daily News, "What the neighbors saw was terrifying and dehumanizing: Naked women on dog leashes, crawling in the dirt. A lady clutching an infant and pounding on a window for help."

If any of the brothers were a Republican, this news would have been trumpeted by the mainstream media as tangible proof of the Republican War on Women -- a narrative invented by Democrat strategists and maintained by the media in a successful effort to defeat Republican candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

However, when a real act of war on women is perpetrated by a Democrat voter in the manner that even the most zealous Democrat strategist couldn't have dreamed up in their worst nightmares -- involving abduction, imprisonment, rape, torture, malnutrition, beatings while pregnant, and killing babies -- the media doesn't think the party affiliation is relevant.

I'm not saying that in this case it is. What's relevant is the relentless media bias, taunting, and bullying of conservatives and Republicans.



Court Reinstates Christian College's Obamacare Lawsuit

A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Wednesday reinstated Geneva College's lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's contraception mandate.

The Christian college, which "prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society," objects to the administration's requirement that it include coverage for abortion-producing products and contraceptives as well as sterilization procedures.

Geneva's original lawsuit, filed in February, was dismissed a few weeks later "for lack of ripeness," based partly on the Obama administration's announcement that it was offering accommodation to religious entities such as Geneva that do not fit Obamacare's definition of a “religious employer.”

But in its motion to reconsider, Geneva College called the "accommodation" a "smoke and mirrors" approach that would still require the college to provide and pay for a plan that allows employees access to the objectionable services.

Geneva told the court its objection to the contraceptive mandate remains unchanged despite the Obama administration's proposed accommodation; and it further argued that it has already begun negotiating the terms of its student health insurance plan for the 2013-2014 plan year (which begins on August 1, 2013), and must now choose between making available insurance with objectionable provisions -- or eliminating its student health insurance plan altogether.

“All Americans, including job creators and providers, should be free to live according to their faith rather than be forced into violating their own consciences," said Gregory S. Baylor, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Geneva. "The court has done the right thing in allowing Geneva College to remain in this lawsuit...to ensure that the government doesn’t punish people of faith for making decisions consistent with that faith.”

On its website, Geneva College explains that the administration's proposed accommodation is no accommodation at all:

We would have welcomed a real modification to the rule being promulgated by HHS; had there been a real accommodation we would likely not have filed suit. Unfortunately, on February 10, the same day President Obama announced there would be a compromise, HHS filed the final rule in the Federal Register with no change. HHS’s announcement also failed to make or even propose any substantive change.

"Had the President announced that the administration was not going to finalize the rule until it worked out the terms of a compromise, we would have had greater confidence that a real accommodation might be made. As it stands, no compromise exists either in law or regulation. The President’s non-binding suggestion that our insurance company would provide objectionable items “for free” is not plausible, and misses the moral point that HHS will still be forcing us to provide a plan that directly enables the coverage of items that attack human life in violation of our beliefs."



Nationalism is historically Leftist; patriotism is conservative

Nationalism is a most touchy subject. People prefer the term “Patriotism” and slide over the nationalistic characteristics of their beliefs and what the advocacy of those beliefs would actually signify. In fact, it is difficult to discuss or write about nationalism in a negative vein. People are naturally hostile to an attack on what they feel is a positive attribute that all sensible people should share.

Nevertheless, evidence abounds that nationalism is an insidious, enveloping excuse for increasing the power of the State over the individual. This is something that many supporters of nationalistic policies claim they do not desire. But make no mistake, nationalism is anti-individual. Once the supremacy of the “Nation State” is accepted, the template is applied.

To be fair, let us use the most intellectual nationalistic example for illustration. That would be the Fascist State of Italy under [Marxist] Mussolini. It would qualify as more intellectual, or some might say, pseudo-intellectual, than some other examples. The document I am referencing is a carefully developed statement of philosophy. Its purpose and its focus was on the particular criteria necessary to achieve more directly and singularly the nationalistic objectives it desired. Historically it is well known as the co-written essay by Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile.

One might ask why it is important to read and understand this rather obscure Document. Primarily because it is an outline of the desirability of nationalism and the ideas within it have not been rejected. Though Mussolini himself fell out of favor, the ideas behind fascism are very much still in favor. Certainly pre-World War I these ideas were in the ascension. Mussolini won the approval, favor and glorification of many well known and influential people. Besides the many famous politicians (Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill) and others such as Bernard Baruch, many held him and his fascist state in high esteem. Their praise and promotion left a legacy for a strong Nationalistic State that has endured through every President since that time. Though his excesses and cruelty were noted, the essence of a corporate state and a nationalistic regime are not just excused but emulated and encouraged.

Although this might seem rather involved, it is actually an outline to understanding nationalism, its objectives and most critically, the impact of these ideas on our own thinking. Please read this document and analyze for yourself just what the ramifications are for your personal political and economic philosophy.

I was piecing information together when my friend and mentor, Charles Burris sent me this much more comprehensive link, already translated into English. Charles is a history teacher, but most important an ongoing dedicated student of history. Our appreciation and thanks to Charles Burris for such a complete document. For those readers who are merely curious about fascism this is a unique document. For others who are searchers for truth, even when unpleasant, this is indeed the truth of nationalism in the raw.

SOURCE. The document referred to is Mussolini's 1932 statement of Fascist principles.


Live Free or Move

John Stossel

It's good that we can move! Moving provides one of the few limits on the megalomania of state bureaucrats.

The National ArchivesThe National ArchivesAmericans have moved away from high-taxed, heavily regulated states to lower-taxed, less-regulated states. Most don't think of it as a political decision. They just go where opportunities are, and that usually means where there's less government.

They're leaving my state, New York, in droves. California, despite its great weather, also lost people, and wealth. Other biggest losers were Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio.

Travis Brown, author of "Money Walks," tracked the movements using IRS data. On my TV show, he revealed that Florida was the state that gained the most: "You're seeing a massive amount of people and their income coming in: $86 billion."

Arizona and Texas also gained, which made me wonder if Americans just move to states where it's warm. "No," said Darcy Olsen, president of Arizona's Goldwater Institute. "Weather explains just 5 percent of the migration ... the Census Bureau asks, and they say, 'to find a job.'"

People move where jobs are, and the states gaining the most -- which also include North Carolina and Nevada -- follow what she calls "the magic formula. Lower taxes and good labor policy, which means, to a business, being free to hire and fire the people you want. (In) the most successful states you see both -- no income tax or low taxes coupled with right-to-work laws."


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


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

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


May 12, 2013

The Crucifixion of Jason Richwine

Michelle Malkin presents the facts below but may not make it completely clear that there are two pieces of writing involved: The Heritage report on the costs of immigration and Richwine's Ph.D. dissertation. Richwine was only a junior contributor to the Heritage report.

When the open-borders clique found that the Heritage report was too difficult to rebut, they went off on a tangent and started to shriek about Richwine's Ph.D. dissertation and the bad things he said in it. In good Leftist "ad hominem" style, they attempted to discredit the Heritage report by saying that one of its authors was a bad man.

What they found in Richwine's dissertation did surprise me. Richwine touched the third rail of American politics: IQ. IQ studies are not terribly controversial among professors of psychology who work in the field but they are dynamite in American politics. IQ studies are COMPLETELY inconsistent with the great Leftist myth that "All men are equal". God may value all men equally (a rather unscriptural assertion) but they are not equal in any other sense. All men are different. And IQ studies show that clearly.

Even worse, however, is that some RACES are different too. That is not intrinsically surprising but it clashes with the widespread American wish that the whole topic of race will go away and that any effect of slavery or Jim Crow will simply wash out eventually. It won't. IQ tests have been showing time after time for around the last 100 years that blacks have a severe intellectual disadvantage compared to whites. Every effort under the sun has been made to find fault with that finding but nothing works. After all criticisms are allowed for, the large black/white gap remains.

So why a young researcher like Richwine stepped into that quagmire, I do not know. He showed that Hispanics too have low average IQs, though not as low as for blacks. He was taking a huge risk of being attacked just by mentioning the topic -- let alone by doing a comprehensive survey of the evidence on it.

I am myself a psychometrician who has made a couple of minor contributions to the academic literature on IQ but I can assure you that I said nothing on the topic until I had tenure.

So it is sad that an honest man has had his name dragged through the mud for no good reason but he really should have left the topic to those who are in a better position to resist the slings and arrows of a deeply corrupt but powerful Left.

The people I condemn most are the powers that be at Heritage. They have fired Richwine in a cowardly attempt to take the heat off themselves. I am a regular donor to American and Israeli conservative organizations but Heritage will get not one cent from me from now on. Any existing donors reading this should also write to them and tell them "no more"

How low will supporters of the Gang of Eight immigration bill go to get their way? This low: They've shamelessly branded an accomplished Ivy League-trained quantitative analyst a "racist" and will stop at nothing to destroy his career as they pave their legislative path to another massive illegal alien benefits bonanza.

Jason Richwine works for the conservative Heritage Foundation. He's a Harvard University Ph.D. who co-authored a study that pegs the cost of the Ted Kennedy Memorial Open Borders Act 2.0 legislation at $6.3 trillion. Lead author Robert Rector is a senior research fellow at Heritage, a former United States Office of Personnel Management analyst and the intellectual godfather of welfare reform. He holds a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University.

Both Democrats and Republicans leaped to discredit the 102-page report without bothering to read it. The Washington Post falsely claimed that the study did not take into account increased revenues from amnestied illegal alien workers. It did. Haley Barbour immediately proclaimed that the Heritage assessment of government costs incurred by amnestied illegal aliens was "not serious."

They want to talk gravitas? Let's talk gravitas. Blowhard Barbour is a career politician and paid lobbyist for the government of Mexico who has carried water for open borders since the Bush years.

Richwine received his doctorate in public policy in 2009 from Harvard University's prestigious Kennedy School of Government. He holds bachelor's degrees in mathematics and political science from American University. Before joining Heritage in 2010, he worked at the American Enterprise Institute on a dissertation fellowship.

Richwine's 166-page dissertation, "IQ and Immigration Policy," is now being used to smear him -- and, by extension, all of Heritage's scholarship -- as "racist." While the punditocracy and political establishment sanctimoniously call for "honest discussions" on race, they rush to crush bona fide, dispassionate academic inquiries into the controversial subjects of intelligence, racial and ethnic differences, and domestic policy.

Richwine's entire thesis is now online here.

Part One reviews the science of IQ. Part Two delves into empirical research comparing IQs of the native-born American population with that of immigrant groups, with the Hispanic population broken out. Richwine explores the causes of an immigrant IQ deficit that appears to persist among Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. through several generations.

The thesis analyzes social policy consequences of these findings and uses a model of the labor market "to show how immigrant IQ affects the economic surplus accruing to natives and the wage impact on low-skill natives."

The smug dismissal of Richwine's credentials and scholarship is to be expected by liberal hacks and clown operatives. But a reckless and cowardly pileup of knee-jerk dilettantes on the right -- including former McCain campaign co-chair Ana Navarro and conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin -- have joined the character assassins of the Soros-sphere, MSNBC and Mother Jones in deeming Richwine a "racist." The drooling attack dogs of the far-left blog Daily Kos have now launched a pressure campaign against the JFK School demanding to know "why the school awarded Richwine a Ph.D. and what they plan to do in the future to prevent it from happening again.”

No researcher or academic institution is safe if this smear campaign succeeds. Richwine's dissertation committee at Harvard included George Borjas, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy. The Cuban-born scholar received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia. He is an award-winning labor economist, a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and the author of countless books, including a widely used labor economics textbook now in its sixth edition.

Richard J. Zeckhauser, the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy at JFK, also signed off on Richwine's dissertation. Zeckhauser earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He belongs to the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences).

The final member of Richwine's "racist" thesis committee is Christopher Jencks, the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at Harvard's JFK School. He is a renowned left-wing academic who has taught at Harvard, Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He edited the liberal New Republic magazine in the 1960s and has written several scholarly books tackling poverty, economic inequality, affirmative action, welfare reform and, yes, racial differences ("The Black-White Test Score Gap").

The willingness of Republican Gang of 8'ers to allow a young conservative researcher and married father of two to be strung up by the p.c. lynch mob for the crime of unflinching social science research is chilling, sickening and suicidal.

These are serious people doing serious work. The crucifiers of Jason Richwine pretend to defend sound science. But if it is now inherently racist to study racial and ethnic differences among demographic groups, then it's time to shut down every social sciences department in the country.



The Left Hates Us

Emmett Tyrrell

Though it pains me to say it, I have made my final judgment about the left. They do not like conservatives very much. In fact, they come to an immediate boil when we enter their admittedly quite limited range of perception. It all began back in the 1960s when radical thought gained a footing with American liberals. Back in those days liberals relished America, the mixed economy (as they called capitalism), our system of government, and they were free of the bees in their bonnets that eventually drove them to collective suicide: feminism, socialism, identity politics, and all the little stuff: consumerism, the sky is falling, something about organic foods. Taken one thing with another, it finally consumed liberalism, moving me last year to administer the last rites to the whole gaudy set of bugaboos and to pronounce liberalism dead in a sad little book, The Death of Liberalism.

Now liberalism's heirs compose the left. From the radicalism of the 1960s, the left emerged, grew powerful in the Democratic Party, and replaced the corpses of liberalism to become the reigning orthodoxy of the Democratic Party. As recently as 2006, Machiavels like Rahm Emanuel tried to reinvigorate the party by running moderates and traditional liberals as candidates in congressional races. But his achievement was completely undone by the Republican sweep of 2010, and by 2012, the left, led by their leader, the improbable president, Barack Obama, finally completely took over the Democratic Party. These people are not like the liberals, who, while condescending to conservatives, did not hate us. These left-wingers really do hate us. That is why in the Congress not much in the way of compromise can be achieved. Sometime back, I dined on Capitol Hill with a senator who had been around some three decades. He said it with telling precision, "Up here the two sides almost never meet." The left hates us.

I personally discovered this back in the Clinton days. A friend probably of the moderate left came banging into my gym to announce, "Well, if Clinton had sex with a young intern you were right. He should be impeached." My friend held to this view for about a month whereupon he came again into the gym and announced, "But we can't possibly side with Ken Starr." In the months ahead the Clintons diabolized Starr so successfully that the Democrats and their allies in the media came to disrelish anyone favoring the Boy President's impeachment. Clinton survived. Even Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a moderate liberal if there ever was one, voted against impeaching good old lovable Bill, after having said on national television that to lie under oath was cause for impeachment.

By manipulating moderate liberals' passions, the left has come to this happy pass; they dominate the Democratic Party and they hate us. I know we are very likable people. We do many good works. We are kind to children and to household pets, but the left hates us. That is the way it is today. The left rarely has any dealings with conservatives whatsoever.

On a growing list of issues, from guns to affirmative action to whatever militant gays want, the very mention of our side of the issue brings the left to a boil. Talk radio brings the left to a boil. Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin can sally forth into comedic genius. I laugh. You laugh. Even a moderate laughs. Yet the left-wingers see no humor at all and they have even tried to limit talk radio's First Amendment rights. Such extreme measures would have been unthinkable when Hubert Humphrey was in his prime, say in 1968.

Yet in 1968, Hubert would never have had to confront talk radio. He would never have had to confront the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News or many of the other organs of conservatism. The conservative movement back then was but a small percentage of the population. It was easily dubbed the "extreme wing" of the Republican Party. Back then we said jokingly that we conservatives could all meet in a telephone booth. Today there are few telephone booths, but you get the idea. Conservatism accounts for some 42 percent of the vote. No wonder the Left is angry.

Yet I have watched the left for years. I watched them spread through the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s they finally took over the Democratic Party. They were always irritable. In fact, I wonder what came first, the irritable disposition or the crazy ideological desiderata. At any rate here we are in 2013, and boy do they hate us.



Black rescuer Charles Ramsey -- Media Delete His 'Pretty White Girl' Comment

Three young Cleveland girls missing and presumed dead turned up alive and in good health. A hero of the story is a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, a black man who helped free the girls from the home in which they were apparently imprisoned for some 10 years.

Among other things, Ramsey said: "I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she homeless or she got problems. That's the only reason she run to a black man." Presumably the black man the "pretty white girl" ran up to was Ramsey himself.

But a check of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that while the papers quoted Ramsey, none saw fit to include his observation that "a pretty white girl" running up to a black man means "something is wrong here." Looking uncomfortable, the television reporter, from local Channel 5, an ABC affiliate, promptly broke off the interview.

News sometimes makes reporters feel uncomfortable. So what? Ramsey's comments reflect how the Good Samaritan felt -- which makes it news. If Ramsey's other comments get reported, why not that one? Besides, Homeland Security tells us, "See something, say something," But when this particular citizen does, many in our establishment media do not want to tell us what he said?!

Question: Assume Ramsey were white and said: "I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into my black neighbor's arms. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway." Does the comment get removed, excised or cleaned up? Not likely, for a favorite media narrative is that racism remains a major problem in America. Put Ramsey's comment in a white man's mouth, and voila! In the soul of this otherwise Good Samaritan, we have "stereotyping," if not "bigotry" or "racism."

Years ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story about black tradesmen who work in predominately wealthy white areas like Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. All experienced instances of racism. One said a woman refused to open her door when he, a suspicious looking black man, came to answer her service call. Another talked about the time someone sicced dogs on him.

I discussed this article with a non-reporter friend who works for the Times. I told him a white roofer recently did work for me and told me that someone shot at him as he tried to repair the roof on a building in Compton, a predominately working-class black and Hispanic neighborhood in the Los Angeles area. The roofer told me that he experienced other instances of mistreatment that could only be attributed to anti-white racism.

"Where are the stories of white tradespeople working in predominately black and brown areas? What about their stories?" I asked my newspaper friend. "You won't get that story," he admitted. "Too many people would be upset. But a story about how badly whites treat blacks offends no one."

Whites, he said, remain deeply guilty about white racism -- and feel comfortable about being called on it. Stories about black or brown racism against whites can spark angry calls and letters from the "civil rights establishment," ever vigilant for examples to show the "persistence" of white racism.



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

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


May 10, 2013

Black lady dons shiny dress and white-girl hairdo to meet the world's most eligible bachelor

Prince Harry is not only a Royal Prince but also a genuine military hero who has taken part in dangerous actions in Afghanistan. And rebel-red hair to boot! So the adulation from American women is understandable.

In the circumstances we can perhaps understand the absurd hairdo adopted by Mrs Obama for the occasion. The head under the hair was no doubt in a spin

Michelle Obama has beaten hundreds of adoring women to get closest to Prince Harry after Britain's most eligible bachelor joined her at the White House at the start of his week-long U.S. tour.

The First Lady welcomed the 28-year-old prince to her home on Thursday afternoon for a reception in honor of military mothers and their children after he caused a stir in Washington D.C.

As well as meeting Sen. John McCain at Capitol Hill, he was welcomed by a bevvy of grinning female staffers - who were promptly ushered back inside by police, according to their colleagues' tweets.

'If all the women on Capitol Hill were dust bunnies, #princeharry would be a Dyson Vacuum. Every woman is gone. Every. Single. One,' Chris Mickey tweeted before the royal's arrival.

When the women were asked to leave, sparking 'grumpy faces' according to further tweets, they swiftly found other balconies over which to peer at the prince.


Hiding the Unemployed: Disability and the Politics of Stats

Is the real rate 30%?

Some statistics cannot be understood without setting them within a political framework because they reflect politics as much as or more than they do reality.

The unemployment rate is an example and a cautionary tale.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the official unemployment rate for last February fell to a four-year national low of 7.7 percent. While the White House cautiously congratulated itself, Republicans quickly pointed to what is often called the real unemployment rate; it stood at 14.3 percent.

The BLS looks at six categories of different data, from U-1 to U-6, to analyze employment every month. U-3 includes people who have been unemployed but who have actively looked for work during the past month; this is the official unemployment rate used by the media. U-6 contains data excluded from U-3, including part-time workers and the unemployed who have unsuccessfully looked for a job in the last year; this is the real unemployment rate.

Those politicians who want to take credit for lower unemployment thrust U-3 figures forward. Those who wish to deny them credit prefer U-6.

But matters may even be worse. Now there is fresh reason to believe that even the 14.3 percent rate may be a considerable understatement.

The Disabled and the Unemployment Rate

National Public Radio (NPR) recently published the results of a six-month investigation by reporter Chana Joffe-Walt: "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise in Disability in America." Joffe-Walt uncovered what she called a "disability-industrial complex," which spends more on disability payouts than on welfare and food stamps combined.

About a year ago, the New York Post reported that "more than 10.5 million individuals" received disability each month, and the reserves would be exhausted in 2018. Now Joffe-Walt claims the federal government sends out approximately 14 million payments; Social Security's disability fund is expected to run out of reserves by 2016.

On March 22, during an interview with "This American Life," we learn that "since the economy began its slow, slow recovery in late 2009, we've been averaging about 150,000 jobs created per month. In that same period every month, almost 250,000 people have been applying for disability."

Why do disability figures skew the unemployment rate? In the NPR article, Joffe-Walt explains that "the vast majority of people on federal disability do not work. Yet because they are not technically part of the labor force, they are not counted among the unemployed." They become the invisible unemployed.

What Explains the Rise in Disability Payouts?

The precipitous rise in disability claims comes from the unintended consequences of political maneuvering.

"The End of Welfare As We Know It" was announced in 1996 when President Clinton signed a reform act intended to move people off welfare rolls and into jobs. Clinton "encouraged" the individual states to push for the transition by making them fund a much larger share of their welfare programs. To encourage the individual recipients, the reforms also capped the length of time a person was eligible for welfare.

The incentive worked on the states, but not in the manner intended.

Each person on welfare became a continuing cost for a state, but each person who moved onto disability saved the states money, because Social Security Disability Insurance is fully funded by the federal government.

In her NPR report, Joffe-Walt indicates how aggressively the states shifted welfare recipients onto disability. She writes, "PCG [Public Consulting Group] is a private company that states pay to comb their welfare rolls and move as many people as possible onto disability. The company has an office in eastern Washington State that's basically a call center, full of headsetted women in cubicles who make calls all day long to potentially disabled Americans, trying to help them discover and document their disabilities." A recent contract between PCG and the state of Missouri offered PCG $2,300 per person it shifts from welfare to disability.

The incentive for individuals to leave welfare also worked, but, again, not in the manner intended.

Disability is easier to qualify for than welfare, and it has no time limit. Moreover, those on disability qualify for Medicare and other benefits, as well as receive payments roughly equal to a minimum wage job. According to Joffe-Walt, only 1 percent of those who go onto disability leave to rejoin the workforce.

Conclusion: What Is the Actual Unemployment Rate?

If neither the official (U-3) nor the real (U-6) unemployment rates can be trusted, then how can we ascertain a more reliable rate?

A huge step would be to acknowledge the invisible unemployed who are not part of the current BLS calculations. They include not merely the so-called "disabled," but also those who have left the workforce for other reasons.

CNS News noted of the February 7.6 percent unemployment rate, "the number of Americans designated as 'not in the labor force' in February was 89,304,000, a record high . . . according to the Department of Labor." The economic trend-monitoring site Investment Watchblog concluded that the actual American unemployment rate -- one that includes all unemployed -- is around 30 percent. The site reasoned, "89 million not in the labor force = 29%, give or take, assuming the US population is 310,000,000 + official unemployment 7.7%."

It is not possible to render an entirely accurate unemployment picture. For example, the population figure of 310,000,000 used by Investment Watchblog almost certainly includes people under 16 who cannot legally work. Thus the unemployment rate may be higher. On the other hand, many "not in the labor force" could be retired or otherwise voluntarily unemployed. Not enough data are available.

It is possible, however, to reject the official unemployment rate. And it is necessary to cultivate a healthy skepticism of statistics produced by politics, as so many are.



The mass exodus of Christians from the Muslim world

A mass exodus of Christians is currently underway. Millions of Christians are being displaced from one end of the Islamic world to the other.

We are reliving the true history of how the Islamic world, much of which prior to the Islamic conquests was almost entirely Christian, came into being.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently said: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.”

Ongoing reports from the Islamic world certainly support this conclusion: Iraq was the earliest indicator of the fate awaiting Christians once Islamic forces are liberated from the grip of dictators.

In 2003, Iraq’s Christian population was at least one million. Today fewer than 400,000 remain—the result of an anti-Christian campaign that began with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, when countless Christian churches were bombed and countless Christians killed, including by crucifixion and beheading.

The 2010 Baghdad church attack, which saw nearly 60 Christian worshippers slaughtered, is the tip of a decade-long iceberg.

Now, as the U.S. supports the jihad on Syria’s secular president Assad, the same pattern has come to Syria: entire regions and towns where Christians lived for centuries before Islam came into being have now been emptied, as the opposition targets Christians for kidnapping, plundering, and beheadings, all in compliance with mosque calls telling the populace that it’s a “sacred duty” to drive Christians away.

In October 2012 the last Christian in the city of Homs—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. One teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” In September 2012, the Sinai’s small Christian community was attacked and evicted by Al Qaeda linked Muslims, Reuters reported. But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat.

Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

Iraq, Syria, and Egypt are part of the Arab world. But even in “black” African and “white” European nations with Muslim majorities, Christians are fleeing.

In Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, churches and other Christian property have been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

Even in European Bosnia, Christians are leaving en mass “amid mounting discrimination and Islamization.” Only 440,000 Catholics remain in the Balkan nation, half the prewar figure.

Problems cited are typical: “while dozens of mosques were built in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, no building permissions [permits] were given for Christian churches.” “Time is running out as there is a worrisome rise in radicalism,” said one authority, who further added that the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina were “persecuted for centuries” after European powers “failed to support them in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire.”

And so history repeats itself. One can go on and on:

* In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”

* In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have literally been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.

* In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian religious orders, serving the sick and needy in the country since 1921, to flee.

To anyone following the plight of Christians under Islamic persecution, none of this is surprising. As I document in my new book, “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians,” all around the Islamic world—in nations that do not share the same race, language, culture, or economics, in nations that share only Islam—Christians are being persecuted into extinction. Such is the true face of extremist Islamic resurgence.



Creating the Stasi American

The Palm Beach, Florida police program is the first of its kind in America. The Community Partners Against Terrorism (CPAT) initiative sprang out of the half-billion dollars dropped into Urban Area Security grants by the Department of Homeland Security. CPAT's founder Sheriff Ric Bradshaw explains the purpose of the new police hot line that solicits anonymous tips: “We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor, and he’s gonna shoot him. What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’” Bradshaw wants to know who mutters against “the system” and who hangs a “Don't Tread on Me” banner on a bedroom wall. A video on his website urges local citizens to report on suspicious activity such as the photographing of a bridge.

Local authorities can often perform functions that are legally forbidden to the federal DHS. In 2002, President George W. Bush introduced a domestic-spying program called Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System) by which average citizens reported suspicious activity. It especially appealed for information from workers who had access to private dwellings such as plumbers or television repairmen. TIPS was eventually abandoned due to a backlash that persistently compared the program to the domestic spy structure of the Stasi in communist East Germany.

Many critics of CPAT have zeroed in on discrediting Ric Bradshaw, the man. For example, whistleblower Mark Dougan is an ex-deputy from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office; he runs a website devoted to documenting Bradshaw's extensive corruption. Bradshaw's response? A massive criminal investigation that resulted in five felony charges being lodged against another officer for leaking information to Dougan's site. Dougan commented, “They couldn’t charge me criminally so in February 2013, so the Sheriff’s campaign manager attempted to purchase my web site in the amount of $75,000 using taxpayer’s money. I refused...”

Bradshaw is less interesting than the dynamics of the hot line itself. Utterly ruthless and depraved civil servants are a dime a dozen. The more compelling question is how their policies affect average citizens who are suddenly able to wield the power of government against their neighbors. Bradshaw has assured the public that the police “know how to sift through frivolous complaints.” But the respected law enforcement expert Jim Donahue has argued that the Sheriff's office “is led by the kind of people my dad fought in WWII to defeat. They are threatening the very fabric of our republic.”

The impact of being able to turn in your neighbor for their opinions or other peaceful behavior is well documented. It is a power that encourages the worst within human nature and rewards those people who lie and betray all trust. A network of citizen-informers not only creates the Stasi or Nazi state but also the Stasi or Nazi human being.



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

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


May 09, 2013

Debunking the IQ myth (?)

This Hampshire guff (below) was debunked months ago -- and the underlying controversy goes back about 100 years. We have always known that IQ can be split up in various ways so the only interesting issue is how well those components correlate. From the report below you could be forgiven for thinking that they do not correlate at all. But they do. The correlations were somewhat lower in the Hampshire study because of his use of a restricted (high IQ) sample, but that effect is elementary statistics and does not provide an estimate for the population as a whole. There is NOTHING new in this study from a psychometrics viewpoint: Just another tired old attempt to deny the facts that don't align with the "all men are equal" myth

You may be more than a single number, according to a team of Western-led researchers. Considered a standard gauge of intelligence, an intelligence quotient (IQ) score doesn't actually provide an accurate measure of one's intellect, according to a landmark study – the largest of its kind – led by Adrian Owen of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western.

The study included more than 100,000 participants from around the globe, asking them to complete 12 cognitive tests looking at their memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. It found a simple IQ score is misleading when assessing one's intellectual capacity. These findings were published in an article:

"Fractioning Human Intelligence," in the journal Neuron, last month. "While there are different types of intelligence, they are all influenced by one, overarching, general intelligence. And that's what we essentially measured using something like an IQ test," said Adam Hampshire of the Brain and Mind Institute, who co-authored the paper.

Hampshire noted this kind of testing is insufficient in measuring one's intellect as it doesn't take into account multiple factors and abilities – different kinds of intelligence. "In the past, when people tried to examine how intelligence is related to the brain, they generally approached it with an assumption that there is one dominant form of intelligence which is sub-served by a specific system in the brain. What we found is that the brain regions associated with whatever the 'G Factor' is – what general intelligence is – actually housed more specialized systems, not just one," he explained.

"What we did in our study, that's been different than what's been done before, is to try and understand what the structure of intelligence is by considering the way in which the brain is organized into specialized functional systems – that is, when you look at the brain and you see there are different areas that form networks and support different types of functions," he explained.

As part of the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques with one group of participants to show that differences in cognitive abilities correspond to individual circuits in the brain.

"There are these multiple forms of intelligence and each form is in a different brain system," Hampshire said. Results from the study found that given a broader range of cognitive tasks, the differences in ability relate to at least three components of intelligence – short-term memory, reasoning and verbal aptitude.

These three components combined create an intelligence, or "cognitive profile." In other words, there is no single measure of intelligence.

Given the range of participants in the study, results also gave researchers new insight into how factors such as age, gender and the tendency to play computer games can influence brain function. While age had a profound negative effect on memory and reasoning abilities, playing computer games helped certain individuals perform better on tests assessing reasoning and short-term memory.

"My hope is that this (study) pens the debate back up on how we should conceive of and measure human intelligence. We very often hear these comparisons (of intelligence) and it's a terrible oversimplification. People should be skeptical when they hear these reports of population differences in IQ; it shouldn't be a unitary measure. Examining the social demographic correlations in more detail will help to understand them better. The patterns need to be examined with a more detailed model," Hampshire noted.

"We've identified different forms of intelligence now which relate to different systems in the brain. And we've also researched some into correlations with types of intelligence and different social demographics variables. What's next is refining that model of intelligence."



A apt analogy

I would have said: "If America WERE a tree...". But I guess that awareness of the subjunctive mood is fast fading.


Neither Medicaid nor Head Start Work

I have some comments on the Medicare study mentioned below on FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC -- JR

Big government social engineers must be shaking their heads in disbelief. The honest amongst them have to be asking how they could have been so wrong.

The effectiveness of both Medicaid and Head Start, two bulwarks of the left’s belief that massive government spending could make a difference in the lives of the poor have been exposed as ineffective.

A much anticipated study out of the state of Oregon on the health impacts of having Medicaid versus not having it has released second year data, and the results are devastating to those who believe in the power of government medicine.

The study compared health care outcomes for more than 6,000 people who were just entering the Medicare system after having no health insurance to those outcomes for just under 6,000 people who continued to not have health insurance.

Finally, Medicaid advocates would be able to prove what they instinctively knew to be true – Medicaid saves lives, and helps the health of those who receive it.

The Oregon study now throws not just a pail, but a full bucket of cold water on their expectations that Medicaid makes a difference reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine,

“We found no significant effect of Medicaid coverage on the prevalence or diagnosis of hypertension or high cholesterol levels or on the use of medication for these conditions. Medicaid coverage significantly increased the probability of a diagnosis of diabetes and the use of diabetes medication, but we observed no significant ef- fect on average glycated hemoglobin levels or on the percentage of participants with levels of 6.5% or higher. Medicaid coverage decreased the probability of a positive screening for depression (−9.15 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, −16.70 to −1.60; P=0.02), increased the use of many preventive services, and nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.”

In laymen’s terms, Medicaid had no significant effect on actual measurable medical conditions, but it did “nearly eliminate catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.”

In this year alone, the Obama Administration plans to spend $267 billion on Medicaid alone rising to $529 billion by 2023.

Think about that, this year alone more than a quarter of a trillion dollars is being spent on a program that doesn’t significantly improve measurable health outcomes for its recipients, but facts be damned, when it comes to other people’s money, it is more about feeling good about our actions rather than whether they achieve the desired impact.

The news on Head Start is no better for those who believe that government can solve all ills.

A program started in 1965, Head Start has been incrementally expanded over the years and now it has become a year-round preschool and day care service for children between the ages of 3 to 5.

The problem with Head Start is that in spite of all its noble intentions of giving underprivileged children a better chance to succeed in school, it doesn’t work.

Currently costing taxpayers $8 billion a year, in 1998 Congress that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conduct a study of the efficacy of Head Start program. The little reported study by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within HHS’ Administration of Children and Families entitled ‘Third Grade Follow-Up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report’ was released in October 2012.

It is no wonder it has largely been ignored with that enervating title. But the reports results should not be ignored. In fact the study revealed that Head Start:

“…had few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade” versus those who had not been enrolled. Why? “[E]arly effects rapidly dissipated in elementary school, with only a single impact remaining at the end of 3rd grade for children in each age cohort.”

That’s right, the early effects of Head Start went away as the children matriculated through elementary school, with virtually all impact gone by the third grade.

Just another $8 billion a year spent on a social science experiment that has proven to be a complete bust, except in developing a large constituency of government workers dependent upon the programs.

At a time when our nation faces a real budget crisis, these two studies cry out for Members of Congress to conduct real evaluations of which of these feel good social programs are accomplishing their missions and which are just being sustained due to a loud group of advocates who have become dependent upon the government dollars regardless of whether they are accomplishing anything.

The Medicaid question becomes all the more important as states continue to grapple with whether to significantly increase the numbers of people who are eligible for the program.

Given the objective results available, those states which chose not to participate in the program have been proven right – saving taxpayers millions of dollars by just saying no to the program.

Now Congress has the responsibility to re-evaluate every assumption about the federal government’s involvement in both health care and education. A fresh start about what the appropriate role of the federal government is in both areas underpinned by a knowledge that trillions of dollars have been wasted pursuing a failed liberal ideal.

As a first step, they should rip the failed programs out by the roots and take a giant step toward saving our nation from certain financial ruin.

Who knows, maybe Head Start and Medicaid will become the symbols of do-gooder government gone awry, and be held up for generations as the counterpoint to the next feel good government expansion schemes?

One can only hope so.



Huge puzzle: Gun crime has plunged, but nobody knows why

The answer to the puzzle is right before their blind Leftist eyes. They even mention "surging incarceration rates" but cannot see that if more of the bad guys are in jail, crime rates MUST drop. But Leftists heart bad guys so we can't blame much on them. It's "poverty", don't you know?

Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show.

Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center.

In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium.

The number of gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in a separate report released Tuesday. Gun crimes that weren’t fatal fell by 69%. However, guns still remain the most common murder weapon in the United States, the report noted. Between 1993 and 2011, more than two out of three murders in the U.S. were carried out with guns, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.

The bureau also looked into non-fatal violent crimes. Few victims of such crimes -- less than 1% -- reported using a firearm to defend themselves.

Despite the remarkable drop in gun crime, only 12% of Americans surveyed said gun crime had declined compared with two decades ago, according to Pew, which surveyed more than 900 adults this spring. Twenty-six percent said it had stayed the same, and 56% thought it had increased.

It’s unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found. Crime has also been a growing focus for national newscasts and morning network shows in the past five years but has become less common on local television news.

“It’s hard to know what’s going on there,” said D’Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center. Women, people of color and the elderly were more likely to believe that gun crime was up than men, younger adults or white people. The center plans to examine crime issues more closely later this year.

Though violence has dropped, the United States still has a higher murder rate than most other developed countries, though not the highest in the world, the Pew study noted. A Swiss research group, the Small Arms Survey, says that the U.S. has more guns per capita than any other country.

Experts debate why overall crime has fallen, attributing the drop to all manner of causes, such as the withering of the crack cocaine market and surging incarceration rates.

The victims of gun killings are overwhelmingly male and disproportionately black.



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

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


May 08, 2013

Economist: Say Goodbye To Your Life Savings

A record breaking stock market is distorting a frightening reality: The U.S. is being eaten alive by a horrific cancer that will ultimately destroy the economy and impoverish the vast majority of its citizens.

That's according to Peter Schiff, the best-selling author and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, who delivered his harsh warning to investors in a recent interview on Fox Business.

"I think we are heading for a worse economic crisis than we had in 2007," Schiff said. "You're going to have a collapse in the dollar...a huge spike in interest rates... and our whole economy, which is built on the foundation of cheap money, is going to topple when you pull the rug out from under it."

Schiff says that, despite "phony" signs of an economic recovery, the cancer destroying America stems from a lethal concoction of our $16 trillion federal debt and the Fed's never ending money printing.

Currently, Bernanke and company is buying $1 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds a year. That's about $85 billion per month against a budget deficit that is about the same level.

According to Schiff, these numbers are unsustainable. And the Fed has no credible "exit strategy."

Eventually interest rates will rise... and when they do, Schiff says, stocks will tank and bonds dip to nothing. Massive new tax hikes will be imposed and programs and entitlements will be cut to the bone.

"The crisis is imminent," Schiff said. "I don't think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems."

"We're broke, Schiff added. "We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit; look at the debt to GDP ratio, the unfunded liabilities. If we were in the Eurozone, they would kick us out."

Schiff points out that the market gains experienced recently, with the Dow first topping 14,000 on its way to setting record highs, are giving investors a false sense of security.

"It's not that the stock market is gaining value... it's that our money is losing value. And so if you have a debased currency... a devalued currency, the price of everything goes up. Stocks are no exception," he said.

"The Fed knows that the U.S. economy is not recovering," he noted. "It simply is being kept from collapse by artificially low interest rates and quantitative easing. As that support goes, the economy will implode."

A noted economist, Schiff has been a fierce critic of the Fed and its policies for years. And his warnings have proven to be prophetic.

In August 2006, when the Dow was hitting new highs nearly every day, Schiff said in an interview: "The United States is like the Titanic, and I'm here with the lifeboat trying to get people to leave the ship... I see a real financial crisis coming for the United States."

Just over a year later, the meltdown that became the Great Recession began, just as Schiff predicted.

He also predicted the subprime mortgage bubble burst, nearly a year before the real estate market fully crashed.

Schiff estimates this "cancer" could consume a trillion dollars from consumers this year.

"Today we're the world's greatest debtor nation. Companies, homeowners and banks are so highly leveraged, rising interest rates will be devastating."

According to polls, the average American is indeed sensing danger. A recent survey found that 61% of Americans believe a catastrophe is looming - yet only 15% feel prepared for such a deeply troubling event.



“Austerity” in Britain

"What austerity?" asks the super-sound UK economic commentator Liam Halligan in the Telegraph. GDP is down to be sure (6.2% below its pre-crisis peak), and we members of the public are indeed tightening our belts. Not so government. It's belt-tightening amounts to just 2.7% "cuts" over six years. That's after previous Chancellor/PM Gordon Brown expanded government spending by half, from 35% to 50% of GDP. Some "austerity" from our politicians!

The present government aimed to reduce its annual deficit to zero by 2015. In the wake of disappointing growth figures, that has now been expanded to 2018. Will it even be achieved? Most of the "cuts" were end-loaded, so the real complaints haven't even started yet.

Meanwhile, annual borrowing continues to add to the national debt. Even if that 2018 balanced-budget target is achieved, says Halligan, it still means that the national debt in 2017/18, at around £1.7 trillion, will be three times that in 2008. And the interest payments on that expanded debt all have to be met. It is money we could have used on something more useful, had we not been so profligate in the boom years.

Only virtual money-printing on a record scale has saved the government. How nice it is to have the monopoly on money, so you can just mint it to pay off your debts. But then your money loses its value, and lenders stop bailing you out again because they know they will be conned.

Investment, meanwhile, the one thing that might pull the UK out of its doldrums, has dried up. Private sector investment was just 1.2% of GDP in 2012, down from 5.8% in 2007. Businesses are sitting on cash, or paying off their debts, rather than risking money on an uncertain future.

As for the government, its "cuts" have fallen mostly on capital expenditure, nearly halved from £47bn in 2008/09 to just £27bn in 2014/15. That is the easy way to reduce your overspending – you don't have to fire anyone, or raise taxes too much, you just let the potholes get a bit bigger. But it does not tackle government's bloated spending appetite, nor lay down capital for tomorrow.

And now the IMF are joining the pleas to go steady on "austerity". As I said: "What austerity?"



Democrats go home!

Allergen producing plants aren’t the only things that can cause you grief and make your life a choking misery. There’s something else out there that can make your life miserable, cause you to feel bloated, tired, out of sorts. This allergen can destroy initiative and make you lazy and unmotivated. It robs you of the joy of achievement and the rewards of hard work. There are but a few places in this country where this weed hasn’t taken hold, and those places are threated. The noxious weed I’m talking about is Democrat big government liberalism.

So ... here’s what I’m driving at here. I live in Naples, Florida. Naples is a very successful smaller city ... or town, if you will. A year or so ago Naples scored the highest life expectancy for women, and was number two for men. The recession hit Naples, of course, but not nearly as hard as other areas of the country. There’s no state income tax in Florida, and in Collier County and Naples having to deal with a county or city employee, for a new license plate, for instance, is rarely unpleasant. Crime? Well some woman did attack a man at the beach with a swim noodle last year. Unemployment in the Naples area remained lower than the nation, home prices are recovering and the economy is vibrant.

So for the last 50 years people have been moving to Naples to escape the mess they caused by putting liberal Democrats in charge of their old hometowns. They’ve fled high taxes, poor schools, unionized work forces, crime, corruption and the economic malaise that comes packaged with most Democrat governments. No problem! That’s great! It’s called “voting with your feet.” Our country was founded by people fleeing an oppressive government for more liberty! It’s much the same thing as moving away from all those allergy-causing trees and shrubs to a new area where the air is cleaner and your teeth don’t itch.

Now my question: If you moved to Naples, or to Texas, or to a number of other low-tax regions not run by Democrats to improve your enjoyment of life, then can you please tell me just why in the hell you want to then turn around and put the very same species of politicians – liberal Democrats that chased you away from your old home – into office in your new home? Why would you plant those allergy-causing plants you moved to get away from in your new back yard? You move to an area where Republicans are and have been in control of the government for decades because you like what they’ve created, and you start voting for Democrats? Are you NUTS? Are old self-destructive habits that hard to break?

There was a little Naples rally in support of Hillary Clinton over the past weekend. Twenty people showed up. That’s 20 too many. What is your problem? Do you think it is people like Hillary Clinton that made our town the great place to live it is today?

Look at Colorado! That place used to actually make sense! Then people fleeing high-tax, highly-regulated California came there to take advantage of a lifestyle created by small-government Western conservatives, and now look what you have? Hickenlooper? Sounds like a disease, doesn’t it. Irrationalitis Democratus. Are you kidding me?

Our request is simple. If you love big government creating a dependent class of parasites and choking the life out of business, stay the hell where you are. You DID build that … so stay there and enjoy it! Self-reliant, liberty-loving Americans built something entirely different in Naples, in Texas and in other havens of rationality. If you want to move here, fine. But can you leave your noxious weeds behind please?



The Left's Sick Fetish for Cop-Killing Radicals

By Michelle Malkin

There's a stomach-turning segment of the American population that sees surviving Boston bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a romantic maverick. The New York Times mused about the accused jihadist's "Holden Caulfield-like adolescent alienation." Pop singer Amanda Palmer wrote a fan girl "Poem for Dzhokhar." An adoring "Free Jahar" movement thrives on social media.

Fringe, you say? Think again. The fetish for cop-killing fugitives and cop-hating radicals is a mainstay of Hollywood, academia, the liberal media and Democratic Party circles. It has persisted for decades. It reared its head on May Day with rock-hurling anarchists in Seattle and D.C. shouting "F**k the pigs" and kicking cops. And consider the exaltation of the woman just named to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list, Joanne Chesimard.

On Thursday, the feds announced that they are doubling their reward for the capture of Chesimard (a.k.a. "Assata Shakur"). The former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army agitator has been a fugitive from justice for nearly 40 years and openly thumbs her nose at her victim's family while living in Cuba as a political asylee. Congressional Black Caucus members have stubbornly protested extradition efforts, invoking the poisonous race card and deifying Chesimard as a "political prisoner." Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill glorifies her as a "freedom fighter."

Just last week, rapper Common added an Assata Shakur tribute verse to Jay Z's recent "Open Letter" rap defending his wedding anniversary trip to Chesimard's sanctuary of Cuba. "The same way they say she was a shooter, Assata Shakur, they tried to execute her. We should free her like we should (convicted cop-killer) Mumia (Abu Jamal)," Common proclaims.

Chesimard/Shakur is the godmother of the late Tupac Shakur, a gangsta rapper whose genre spawned NWA's "F**k tha Police," Ice-T's "Cop Killer" and The Game's "911 is a Joke" ("I ought to shoot 51 officers for the 51 times that boy was shot in New York").

Mic check this: In 1973, Chesimard shot and killed New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster execution-style during a traffic stop. The gunfight also left her brother-in-law, Black Liberation Army leader Zayd Malik Shakur, dead. At the time, the BLA had been tied to the murders of more than 10 police officers across the country. Chesimard, Zayd Shakur and another member were wanted for questioning in the murder of two of those cops when they were stopped.

Chesimard was convicted and sentenced to life in 1977, but escaped from prison two years later with help from violent left-wing accomplices. One of those thugs, Black Liberation Army killer Tyrone Rison, admitted to participating in a series of armored-car robberies, including a $250,000 heist in the Bronx on June 2, 1981, that left a Brink's guard dead. Rison also confessed to taking part in the planning of the Rockland County, N.Y., $1.6 million Brink's robbery by left-wing domestic terrorists on October 20, 1981. Police officers Waverly Brown and Edward O'Grady and Brink's guard Peter Paige were murdered during the siege.

Chesimard's brother, Jeral Wayne Williams (a.k.a. Mutulu Shakur), was the convicted ringleader of the group responsible for murdering those law enforcement officers; he also masterminded Chesimard's escape. His release is set for February 2016.

Celebrated left-wing heroine Kathy Boudin and her then-husband David Gilbert were convicted for their role in the bloody Rockland County robbery. Boudin and Company, as I reported in March, are the inspirations for Robert Redford's new movie love letter to the Weather Underground. Boudin now holds an adjunct professorship at Columbia University's School of Social Work, along with a scholar-in-residence post at New York University, as the New York Post reported in April. The adoptive parents of her son, Rhodes scholar and Yale legal fellow Chesa Boudin, are Weather Underground militants-turned-academics Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Susan Rosenberg, a violent "progressive" domestic terrorist who participated in bombings of the United States Capitol Building, three military installations and other sites during the 1980s, was a principal getaway coordinator for Chesimard, Shakur, Boudin, et al. After receiving a pardon from Bill Clinton, Rosenberg taught literature at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was offered a teaching position at Hamilton College.

Blogger Bill Ardolino, whose father was a N.J. state trooper and classmate of murdered N.J. trooper Werner Foerster, recounted Chesimard's chilling lack of remorse: "After their capture, my father was part of the team assigned to guard the severely wounded Chesimard in the hospital. As the troopers stood outside of her room, she incessantly chanted, 'If I had some poison gas, I'd throw it on your white ass.' ... Today she walks free as a professor, counter-cultural heroine and published author reviewed by The New York Times: "A deftly written book ... a spellbinding tale."

From Free Assata to Free Mumia to Free Jahar, the left's police-bashing bloodlust is not just a sick joke. Their romanticizing of cold-blooded terrorism is a pathology. Twisted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev summed it up in three letters for his friends while still on the lam for committing a deadly terrorist attack, murdering a police officer and wounding another:




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

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


7 May, 2013

A Spanish Leftist Speaks Out about the Leftist love affair with Fascism

A speech by Pilar Rahola from a couple of years back. Sadly, it is still completely topical. Pilar comes from an anti-Fascist family, which means something in Spain

Why don't we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris, Barcelona? Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam?

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan?

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?

Why don't they defend Israel's right to exist?

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?

An finally, the million dollar question: Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn't care.

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the people!"

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never preoccupied when Hamas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they propagandize.

When reporting about Israel the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel." [How can they be oppressed by imperialism? They are completely independent states. They are oppressed by their own Fascists -- JR]

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they kill us with cell phone hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. And yet the Spanish left is the most anti Israel in the world.

And then it says it is anti Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.

In conclusion, I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not against Israel like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews; it is the duty of the non-Jews.

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say that as a non-Jew, journalist and leftist I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too.

The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn't want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.



Israel is Doing Remarkably Well, Economically and Strategically

By Barry Rubin

Israel's economic and strategic situation is surprisingly bright right now. That’s partly due to the government’s own economic restraint and strategic balancing act, partly due to a shift in Obama Administration policy, and partly due to the conflicts among Israel’s adversaries.

Let’s start with the economy. During 2012, Israel’s economy grew by 3.1 percent. While some years ago this would not be all that impressive it is amazing given the international economic recession. The debt burden actually fell from 79.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 73.8 percent. As the debt of the United States and other countries zooms upwards, that’s impressive, too.

Israel’s credit rating also rose at a time when America’s was declining. Standard and Poor lifted the rating from A to A+. Two other rating systems, Moody’s and Fitch, also increased Israel’s rating.

Now not only is gas from Israel's offshore fields starting to flow but a new estimate is that the fields are bigger than expected previously.

And that’s not all. Unemployment fell from 8.5 percent in 2009 to either 6.8 to 6.9 percent (according to Israel’s bureau of statistics) or 6.3 percent (according to the CIA).

In terms of U.S.-Israel relations, the visit of President Barack Obama and Israel’s cooperation on Iran and on an attempted conciliation with Turkey brought quick rewards. For the first time, Israel will be allowed to purchase KC-135 aerial refueling planes, a type of equipment that could be most useful for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities among other things.

The same deal—which includes sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to make U.S. allies feel more secure vis-à-vis Iran—includes V-22 Osprey planes that can switch between helicopter and plane mode. Israel is the first foreign country to be allowed to purchase this system. It could be used for border patrols—a bigger problem given the decline in the stability along the Egyptian and Syrian borders—and troop transport.

Finally, there would be more advanced radars for Israeli planes and a new type of missile useful for knocking out enemy anti-aircraft sites, potentially useful against Iran among other targets. In addition, an Israeli company is now going to be making the wings for the advanced U.S. F-35 fighter planes.

The completion of the border fence with Egypt increases security in places where Palestinian and Egyptian Islamist groups are trying to attack. It also has reduced illegal civilian crossings to zero. Ironically, Israel has gotten control of its border while the U.S. government proclaims that task to be impossible for itself.

And of course there is the usual and widely varied progress on medical, agricultural, and hi-tech innovations.

That doesn't mean problems don't exist, including a budget deficit caused by some boosts in social spending (responding to protests in 2012) and unexpected defense spending to protect the border with Egypt or to handle the Iranian threat. But that deficit will be addressed, unlike in other countries.

The picture is even bright regarding U.S.-Israel relations, certainly compared to the previous four years. This point is highlighted by Wikileaks publication of a U.S. embassy dispatch of January 4, 2010, describing my article that day in the Jerusalem Post:

“[As far as Israel is concerned] what is important is that Obama and his entourage has learned two things. One of them is that bashing Israel is politically costly. American public opinion is very strongly pro-Israel. Congress is as friendly to Israel as ever. For an administration that is more conscious of its future reelection campaign than any previous one, holding onto Jewish voters and ensuring Jewish donations is very important….

“The other point is that the administration has seen that bashing Israel doesn't get it anywhere. For one thing, the current Israeli government won't give in easily and is very adept at protecting its country's interests. This administration has a great deal of trouble being tough with anyone. If in fact the Palestinians and Arabs were eager to make a deal and energetic about supporting other U.S. policies, the administration might well be tempted to press for an arrangement that largely ignored Israeli interests.

“But this is not the case. It is the Palestinians who refuse even to come to the negotiating table -- and that is unlikely to change quickly or easily. Arab states won't lift a finger to help the U.S. on Iran, Iraq, or Arab-Israeli issues. So why bother?”

I think this analysis really fits the events that came to fruition in March 2013 with Obama’s coming to Israel, signaling a change in U.S. policy.

Face it. The obsession with the “peace process” is misplaced and misleading. The big issue in the region is the struggle for power in the Arabic-speaking world, Turkey, and Iran between Islamists and non-Islamists. And, no, the Arab-Israeli conflict has very little to do with these issues. Those who don’t understand those points cannot possible comprehend the region. Secretary of State John Kerry may run around the region and talk about big plans for summit conferences. But nobody really expects anything to happen.

This is not, of course, to say that there aren’t problems. Yet what often seems to be the world’s most slandered and reviled country is doing quite well. Perhaps if Western states studied its policies rather than endlessly criticizing them they might gain from the experience.



Warren Buffett sees 'brutal' damage for savers from central bank money printing

If you don't believe me, believe Mr. Buffett -- JR

Veteran investor Warren Buffett has warned that savers and bondholders are suffering a "brutal" erosion of their money as the US Federal Reserve and other central banks force yields to historic lows.

"I feel sorry for people that have clung to fixed-dollar investments," he told investors at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in Nebraska, an event akin to a rock concert.

Mr Buffett defended the emergency stimulus of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, saying the "consequences would have been terrible" if the authorities had failed to act, but those nearing pension age have paid the price. Many are trapped in such assets through pension funds.

"Bernanke had tough choices to make, but he decided to step on the gas pedal, in terms of monetary policy, and he brought down rates to virtually unheard of levels, and kept them there. And he's still got his foot on the pedal and that really does hurt savers. It has made it extremely difficult for all kinds of people who live on fixed-income investments," he told CNBC.

Mr Buffett said those who parked their money in cash equivalents or short-term US Treasuries had missed the party over the last nine months as Wall Street rocketed to all-time highs. "It is brutal. I don't know what I would do if I were in that position," he said.



Rear admiral won't back down from ‘Constitutional right’ to share faith

In the wake of last week’s shocking news that the Pentagon is threatening to punish those who share their religious beliefs with others, the courageous comments of a high ranking official in the U.S. Navy have largely gone unreported in the media.

At a National Day of Prayer event Thursday on Capitol Hill, as first reported by World Magazine, Rear Admiral William Lee, who described himself as “a man of deep abiding faith who happens to wear a uniform,” spoke out against the growing religious hostility in the military.

Lee recounted his decision to violate military rules preventing him from giving a Bible to a soldier who had attempted suicide, and pledged not to back down from “my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope.”

In speaking of the record number of military suicides, Lee shared the story of the 24-year-old soldier who had survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He told the gathering that his heart said to give the soldier a Bible, even though he knew the rules said he should send the man to a chaplain.

“The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I’m crossing the line,” Lee said. “I’m so glad I’ve crossed that line so many times.”

His comments were in response to the appointment of anti-Christian Mikey Weinstein as a Pentagon consultant to develop new policies on religious tolerance. Weinstein recently wrote of Christians in The Huffington Post:

"Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces."



There once was some balance in Hollywood

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


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

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


6 May, 2013

Far Right?

The article below describes the Hungarian Jobbik party as "Far Right" and Jobbik themselves call themselves conservatives. But they reject globalised capitalism and feature a radical critique of existing political institutions. They are Greenies and want Hungary to be ruled by "considerations of cooperation, equality, and solidarity, rather than a rule of acquisition". How conservative is that? They clearly have a lot in common with the socialist Hitler but not much with real conservatives. They speak for themselves here

As the World Jewish Congress opens in Budapest amid a rise in anti-Semitism in Hungary, Colin Freeman visits the town of Tiszavasvári, twinned with Iran and the stronghold of the far-Right Jobbik party.

As the self-declared "capital" of the ultra-nationalist Jobbik Party, the town of Tiszavasvári prides itself on being a showcase for how the whole of Hungary might one day look.

Since winning control of Tiszavasvári's local council three years ago on a pledge to fight "Gipsy crime", the party has been on a vigorous clean-up campaign, banning prostitution, tidying the streets, and keeping a watchful eye on the shabby Roma districts at the edge of town. It even swore in its own Jobbik "security force" to work alongside the police, only for the uniformed militia, which drew comparisons with Hitler's brown-shirts, to be banned by Hungary's national government.

Yet Gipsies are not the only bogeyman that Jobbik has in its sights, as a sign on the well-trimmed green opposite the Communist-era mayoralty building suggests. Written in both Hungarian and Persian, it proudly announces that Tiszavasvári is twinned with Ardabil, a town in the rugged mountains of north-west Iran.

On the face of it, there is no obvious reason why a drab rustbelt town in Hungary's former mining area should seek links to a city in a hardline Islamic Republic 2,000 miles away. But this is no ordinary cultural exchange programme, and friendship has very little to do with it. Instead, the real purpose of Jobbik's links to Iran is to show their mutual loathing of the Jewish state of Israel, which the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, notoriously declared should be "wiped from the pages of history".

"The Persian people and their leaders are considered pariahs in the eyes of the West, which serves Israeli interests," said Marton Gyongyosi, a Jobbik MP and its leading foreign policy voice. "This is why we have solidarity with the peaceful nation of Iran and turn to her with an open heart."

In many other countries in Europe, such a scheme might be dismissed as just petty town hall posturing, a Far right version of the "Loony Left" gesture politics practised in British town halls in the 1980s. But it is particularly sensitive in Hungarian towns like Tiszavasvári, where anti-semitism has seen Jews wiped from the pages of history once before.



Some perspective

More here


You can't rely on the other guy being careful

The motorbike was traveling at approximately 85 mph. The car driver was talking on a cell phone when she pulled out from a side street, apparently not seeing the motorcycle. The car had two passengers and the bike rider was found INSIDE the car with them. All three died instantly.


The Elite Media Hates You

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the far left, far right or somewhere in the middle, there is absolutely no denying the rise of the tea party has altered America’s political landscape. And the elite media is making clear, in no uncertain terms, they despise this type of change.

Last week, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) voted against the Schumer-Toomey gun bill because her constituents were opposed to the bill. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former lawmaker Joe Scarborough and his sidekick Mika Brzezinski lit into her:

MIKA: She is defending her vote saying her office was flooded with calls from constituents who opposed background checks by a 7-1 ratio.

JOE: You can’t handle that?

The implication is that Heitkamp, who is not conservative, is supposed to ignore the citizens of her state because the elite media in New York City say the “overwhelming majority of people want to go the other way.”

In fact, a Pew Research-Washington Post poll found 47 percent of those closely following the gun debate were “happy” or “relieved” the bill failed. It would be logical to conclude folks in North Dakota, the state with the 8th highest gun ownership in the country, were even more relieved.

The cascade of righteous indignation continued, though:

JOE: Heidi Heitkamp wants to be a United States Senator but she is not tough enough to handle 4% of her constituents calling into her office a lot. She’s not even taking the phone calls!

MIKA: That’s what they do.

JOE: … This is one of the saddest most pathetic votes I think I’ve ever seen in Washington, DC. What Heidi Heitkamp has done. Cowarding [sic] in the corner because 4% maybe 5% of the people in her state were making phone calls that her staff had to answer.

MIKA: What about her own opinion? Does she have one?

The coastal elites regularly dismiss people in fly over country. The difference with this tantrum is that the elites are dismissing a fundamental constitutional right. The 1st Amendment guarantees citizens the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If it seems as though they’re advocating for a callous disregard of their constituents, you’re right:

JOE: They are really vocal. Oh, my gosh. When she has to walk past her staff and saying a lot people are calling. I’ve done that. They are calling! I said, “that’s great. I’ll be back.”

When you consider this for standard operating procedure for the political and media elites, it should come as no surprise the vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with Washington and the media.

It goes beyond just demeaning commentary, though.

The Washington Post reported this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner “will raise about $150,000 for journalism scholarships, according to the WHCA, a nonprofit group.” The piece then went on to report “some media organizations will drop as much as $200,000 each to entertain an elite list of guests” at after parties.

Ultimately, the money raised for scholarships is “small change.” The Post concludes “The real targets are a few hundred elite and influential guests. The parties help news organizations court would-be advertisers and reward existing ones by putting them in proximity to power and the Hollywood figures who will be transported and pampered at the media’s expense this weekend.”

Of all people, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw has the self-awareness to realize this type of display is just “another separation between what [journalists are] supposed to be doing and what the people expect us to be doing.”

Whether talking heads are dismissing the beliefs and opinions of one segment of the country or engaging in a schmooze-a-palooza with another, there is no doubt a massive disconnect exists between the elites and the rest of America. And politicians, elected by a ridiculed constituency, should remember who they represent.



America’s Most Feared Economist

Ann Coulter

You can tell the conservatives liberals fear most because they start being automatically referred to as "discredited." Ask Sen. Ted Cruz. But no one is called "discredited" by liberals more often than the inestimable economist John Lott, author of the groundbreaking book More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws .

Lott's economic analysis of the effect of concealed-carry laws on violent crime is the most thoroughly vetted study in the history of economics, perhaps in the history of the world.

Some nut Dutch professor produces dozens of gag studies purportedly finding that thinking about red meat makes people selfish and that litter leads to racism -- and no one bothers to see if he even administered questionnaires before drawing these grand conclusions about humanity.

But Lott's decades-long studies of concealed-carry laws have been probed, poked and re-examined dozens of times. (Most of all by Lott himself, who has continuously re-run the numbers controlling for thousands of factors.)

Tellingly, Lott immediately makes all his underlying data and computer analyses available to critics -- unlike, say, the critics. He has sent his data and work to 120 researchers around the world. By now, there have been 29 peer-reviewed studies of Lott's work on the effect of concealed-carry laws.

Eighteen confirm Lott's results, showing a statistically significant reduction in crime after concealed-carry laws are enacted. Ten show no harm, but no significant reduction in crime. Only one peer-reviewed study even purported to show any negative effect: a temporary increase in aggravated assaults. Then it turned out this was based on a flawed analysis by a liberal activist professor: John Donohue, whose name keeps popping up in all fake studies purporting to debunk Lott.

In 1997, a computer crash led to the loss of Lott's underlying data. Fortunately, he had previously sent this data to his critics -- professors Dan Black, Dan Nagin and Jens Ludwig. When Lott asked if they would mind returning it to him to restore his files, they refused. (One former critic, Carlisle Moody, conducted his own analysis of Lott's data and became a believer. He has since co-authored papers with Lott.)

Unable to produce a single peer-reviewed study to discredit Lott's conclusions, while dozens of studies keep confirming them, liberals have turned to their preferred method of simply sneering at Lott and neurotically attaching "discredited" to his name. No actual discrediting ever takes place. But liberals think as long as they smirk enough, their work is done.

Average readers hear that Lott has been "discredited" and assume that there must have been some debate they didn't see. To the contrary, the leading source for the claim that Lott's research doesn't hold up, left-wing zealot Donohue, has been scheduled to debate Lott, one-on-one, at the University of Chicago twice back in 2005. Both times, Donohue canceled at the last minute.

Donohue accuses Lott of libel for pointing this out. Suggestion for Mr. Donohue: Instead of writing columns insisting you've been libeled, wouldn't it be better just to agree to a debate? It's been eight years!

Scratch any claim that Lott's research has been "debunked" and you will find Donohue, his co-author and plagiarist Ian Ayres, or one of the three "scholars" mentioned above -- the ones so committed to a search for the truth that they refused to return Lott's data to him. (Imagine the consequences if Lott had been forced to admit to plagiarism, as Ayres has.)

Donohue's previous oeuvre includes the racist claim that the crime rate declined in the 1990s as a result of abortion being legalized in the '70s. (Nearly 40 percent of the abortions since the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade were of black children.)

This study was discredited (not "discredited") by many economists, including two at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who pointed out that Donohue's study made critical mistakes, such as failing to control for variables such as the crack cocaine epidemic. When the Reserve economists reran Donohue's study without his glaring mistakes, they found that there was "no evidence in (Donohue's) own data" for an abortion-crime link.

Curiously, the failure to account for the crack epidemic is one of Donohue's complaints with Lott's study. It worked so well against his own research he thought he'd try it against Lott. The difference is: Lott has, in fact, accounted for the crack epidemic, over and over again, in multiple regressions, all set forth in his book.

Donohue and plagiarist Ayres took a nasty swipe at Lott in the Stanford Law Review so insane that the editors of the Review -- Donohue's own students -- felt compelled to issue a subsequent "clarification" saying: "Ayres and Donohue's Reply piece is incorrect, unfortunate, and unwarranted."

When you have to be corrected on your basic anti-gun facts by an ABC correspondent -- as Donohue was by "Nightline" correspondent John Donvan in a 2008 televised panel discussion -- you might be a few shakes away from a disinterested scholar.

But the easily-fooled New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has repeatedly called Lott "discredited," based on a 2003 a non-peer-reviewed law review article by charlatans Donohue and Ayres. In a 2011 column, for example, Kristof dismissed Lott's book, "More Guns, Less Crime," with the bald assertion that "many studies have now debunked that finding."

The details of the chicanery of Donohue, plagiarist Ayres, as well as all of Lott's other critics, are dealt with point by point in the third edition of Lott's More Guns, Less Crime There, and in a number of published articles by Lott and others , you can see how his critics cherry-picked the data, made basic statistical errors, tried every regression analysis imaginable to get the results they want and lied about Lott's work (such as Donohue's claim that he neglected to account for the crack epidemic).

Suffice it to say that of the 177 separate analyses run by all these critics, only seven show a statistically significant increase in crime after the passage of concealed-carry laws, while 90 of their own results show a statistically significant drop in crime -- and 80 show no difference.

"Discredited" in liberal lingo means, "Ignore this study; it didn't come out well for us."



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

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


5 May, 2013

Reality Perpetually At Odds With Liberal Agenda


If any American still doubts that liberal ideology is built entirely upon a foundation of lies and fraud, the news of the past week should put the notion completely to rest. Major events, and in more specifically the disjointed and prejudicial manner in which those events have been covered, stand as proof that in the eyes of the liberal politicians and their media parakeets, "reporting" is not a matter of informing the people, but is instead an opportunity to indoctrinate them with a decidedly leftist worldview. Unfortunately for the left, when the facts become known, their empty fabrication quickly implodes.

Foremost in the minds of Americans was the April 15 terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon. People hoping to enjoy a pleasurable outdoor spring event instead experienced unimaginable carnage and death. The nation is rightfully angered by the attacks, but it should also be outraged by the manner in which members of the press, ostensibly acting as guardians of an open and informed society, were busily and shamelessly striving to exploit the horrific event to the benefit of the liberal/Democrat agenda.

Among the most deplorable examples of this behavior was the column by David Sirota at Salon.com, entitled "Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White American." From the first moments after news of the bombing broke, liberals have been struggling to warp and twist the disaster into an occurrence that somehow validates their version of what America and the world should be. However, none was so brazen and loathsome in their attempts to recast the actual occurrence according to the leftist belief system as Sirota. Yet in a perverse sense, by displaying his unvarnished arrogance and detachment from reality, he ultimately did Real America an enormous favor.

Sirota lamented that unless the perpetrator turned out to be one of those villains from the ranks of grassroots conservatives, the resultant bad publicity would undermine all of the great and wonderful changes the left has planned for America. In essence, he feared that the facts would once again prove to be at odds with the utopian fantasy to which he and other leftists vainly cling. And of course when the identities and motivation of the perpetrators became known, his fears proved to be absolutely well founded.

As was fully predictable among thinking Americans, the villains of the Boston Marathon bombing turned out to be a couple of stridently anti-American Muslims. Now, those in the "mainstream" (read: liberal) media and their counterparts on Capitol Hill are backtracking and tap-dancing away from the event and its real connotations, since once again the underlying circumstances that led to murder and mayhem in Boston flatly refute the liberal belief system while reinforcing the principles and concerns of the American Heartland.

The reality of events in Massachusetts likewise came crashing down on MSNBC host Chris Matthews who, in a mindless rant that was typically devoid of facts, attempted to associate the mayhem in Boston with thinking of those on "the far right." In retrospect, it is much more accurate to assert that by such comments from Matthews (and with the assent of his like-minded cronies) it is the American left which proves to be the biggest enabler of the terrorists.

Absurd speculations offered by media liberals, frantically seeking to establish some oblique connection between the bombings and anything conservative, indeed proved to be flatly wrong. More importantly, this has invariably been the case each time an assault of this nature takes place. Nevertheless, with each ensuing episode, leftist ideologues obsessively cling to the hope that perhaps this time, the cards will fall in their favor and the venom they regularly spew against traditional America will finally be justified. Of course this is never the case, but it is hardly a coincidence or matter of mere bad luck for well intentioned liberals. Instead, it is part of a growing body of proof that the entire liberal philosophy is rotten to the core and simply cannot be advanced on its own merits. Thus, it must be shrouded in deception and pretense.

So, rather than conceding the perils of a burgeoning Islamist movement based in the Middle East and dangerously encroaching on all of Western Civilization, prominent liberals continue to focus on the ostensible faults of our country as the real culprit in any ongoing hostility among cultures. Unwilling to "profile" radical Muslims and the precepts of Islam that motivate and drive them, America's own liberal political and media establishment is entirely willing to essentially "profile" all of the good people of this country and lay the blame at their feet for their incompatibility with the Islamists.

In the wake of the September 11, 2012 Al Qaeda attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi Libya, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and four other Americans were brutally tortured and murdered, the entire response of the Obama Administration was fabricated around the premise that an obscure anti-Muslim video on YouTube had fomented the anger of the attackers. Eventually, when pressed by members of a Senate Committee investigating the incident, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disparaged legitimate concerns of Senators with her infamous "What difference does it make?" evasion. During the interim, Barack Obama pandered and groveled in a speech at the United Nations, reaffirming the Administration's phony excuse of the YouTube video as the catalyst for the murderous attacks by asserting that "the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

Unfortunately for liberal dreamers, the determining factors behind the deaths in Benghazi strongly align with the real circumstances underlying the deaths in Boston, as well as those of eleven years ago in New York City, Washington D.C. and western Pennsylvania. Barack Obama's strategy of "peace through weakness" has been no more successful or founded on truth than the entire "green energy" debacle, the economic "stimulus," or the bogusly named "Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act.

Conversely, fanatical and malicious liberal attempts to discredit grassroots conservatives and the "Tea Party" as dangerous domestic subversives have proven to be without merit. Their contempt is no more likely to undermine that organization than could all of the liberal adulation give credence to the debased and malignant "Occupy" movement.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, liberals find themselves at a precarious crossroads. The nation might be on the verge of awakening from its "politically correct" stupor and starting to recognize the threats facing it, along with those who willingly seek to keep it ignorant and therefore vulnerable to those threats. The prospect of an America that can discern who is with it and who is against it would constitute the worst imaginable nightmare to liberals. It is no wonder they are so obsessive in their effort to prevent this from happening.



Liberal Suffering and Confusion

Walter E. Williams

The liberal world vision and reality are often at variance, for example, with equal pay for equal work. I've often watched "Lockup," a show that features California supermax prisons, including Pelican Bay and Corcoran. Often, a recalcitrant prisoner must be extracted from his cell through brute force. I've never seen female guards remove a prisoner. If they are part of the process at all, it's to videotape the extraction for legal purposes. It's my bet that female guards receive the same salaries as male guards while not having to risk injury.

Along the same lines, women on aircraft carriers earn as much as their male counterparts, but I have yet to see women hefting a hernia bar to attach a 500- or 1,000-pound bomb to a fighter jet wing. All of this suggests that liberals are for equal pay for unequal work. Or could it be sex discrimination whereby equally qualified women are denied the opportunity to extract beastly inmates from their cells and load heavy bombs on fighter planes?

Here's another bit of liberal confusion. Liberals deny that raising labor cost through minimum wages reduces incentives to hire. But if you asked a liberal for advice on how to stop rich people from shirking their tax obligations, they'd say raise the penalty. Ask low-information Harvard University doctors what should be done to stem gun violence and they answer that government should institute "a new, substantial national tax on all firearms and ammunition." Ask Illinois' Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle how to reduce purchases of bullets and guns. She'd say levy a nickel tax on each bullet and a $25 tax on each gun.

Liberals demonstrate they understand the law of demand -- that raising the cost of something lessens the amount taken -- but they deny that it applies to labor. That's as ludicrous as suggesting that the law of gravity applies to everything in the universe except cute creatures, such as pandas and puppies.

Liberals love political correctness that conceals information. For example, how does one know whether the "chair" of a board of directors or the chair of a city council is a man or woman? This issue arose during my (1995-2001) chairmanship of George Mason University's distinguished economics department. At a chairman's meeting or gathering, I was referred to as department chair. I told the speaker that I am a chairman and that I have empirical evidence as proof. Needless to say, it didn't go over well, but academics don't like the terms chairwoman or chairperson, either, but puzzlingly, God forbid that people refer to their idol as Chair Mao instead of Chairman Mao.

How liberals identify black people must be confusing to whites. Having been around for 77 years, I have been through a number of names. Among the more polite ones are colored, Negro, Afro-American, black and, more recently, African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent.

Let's look at it. To identify their races, suppose I told you that I had a European-American friend, a South America-American friend and a North America-American friend. You'd probably say, "Williams, that's stupid. Europe, South America and North America are continents and home to different races, ethnicities and nationalities." You might suggest that my friend is a German-American instead of European-American. My friend from Brazil is a Brazilian-American rather than a South America-American, and my friend from Canada is a Canadian-American instead of a North America-American. So wouldn't the same apply to people whose heritage lies on the African continent?

For example, instead of claiming that President Barack Obama is the first African-American president, he's the first partially Kenyan-American president. Obama is lucky; he knows his national heritage. The closest thing to a national identity for most black Americans is some country along Africa's Gold Coast. Adding to the confusion, what would you call a white American of Afrikaner or Egyptian descent? Is he an African-American?

Liberals suffer confusion and cognitive dissonance because the rest of us don't help explain things to them.



President Emptyhead

It has happened again! Our gaffe-prone president has filed another blunder on his presidential record. At the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library he invoked history with his usual mastery of detail. He placed President John F. Kennedy in Air Force One, "On the flight back from Russia, after negotiating with Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War."

Actually the flight was returning from Vienna, not "Russia," and not much "negotiating" had been done. Truth be known, it was one of the lowest points in JFK's presidency. As Kennedy himself recalled, "He [Khrushchev] treated me like a little boy." And more: "Worst thing in my life. He savaged me," said our 35th president. Well, at least President Obama did not claim anyone at the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit spoke "Austrian." That was the language our learned president attributed to the citizens of Vienna back on April 6, 2009. No philologist has ever heard of it.

As I have noted before, President Barack Obama will be remembered as America's gaffable president. He nicely complements Joe Biden, America's gaffable vice president. Remember back at inauguration time when Joe addressed the Iowa State Society Inauguration Ball with "I'm proud to be president of the United States." By now there have been scores of happy blunders committed by both of these public servants.

I am relatively certain that I am the first to say this in a public forum: Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the most gaffe-prone leaders of a presidential administration in modern times. I cannot think of any conceivable groups of presidents and vice presidents in recent history who could surpass these two in cloddishness -- not Warren G. Harding and Jimmy Carter, not Dan Quayle and Al Gore, not Laurel and Hardy. No, strike that last pair. They never ran for high office. Yet, were they today upright and with all their vital organs functioning, they might have presented a formidable duo, particularly if one, say, Laurel could have presented himself as suffering a trendy modern affliction, say gender ambiguity, and the other, that would be the portly Hardy, could have claimed an eating disorder.

That seems to be how Obama and Biden got reelected. They had a miserable record, most notably in economics, but they segmented the population. They captured the vote of the unmarried women, who are not very happy. They won the vote of the young people, who will be paying for my entitlements for years to come and the entitlements of the poor and the not so poor. Most minorities voted for them. These voters, along with the Democratic majority -- often referred to in this column as the moron vote -- beat a Republican ticket with the demonstrated skill to right the economy and to guide the country through tricky foreign policy challenges, challenges that Obama-Biden have yet to meet.

So our gaffable president and vice president will flounder along for the rest of their terms, and Americans will hope and pray for the best.



Congresscritters exempting themselves from Obamacare

“Congressional leaders in both parties,” reports Politico, “are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.”

The article provides a lot of back and forth commentary from insiders who are clearly worried about political fallout from exempting Congress and staffers from Obamacare.

But wait: Not so, says Klein in his posted titled No, Congress isn’t trying to exempt itself from Obamacare.

Klein then goes on to explain that “they-meant-to-do-it-even-though-they-didn’t-mean-to-do-it”, in extempting themseleves from Obamacare and the reporters from Politico are either: 1) too dumb to know it, or 2) too dishonest to care.

“If this sounds unbelievable,” Klein writes, saying the Politico reporters are either lying or stupid, “it’s because it is. There’s no effort to ‘exempt’ Congress from Obamacare. No matter how this shakes out, Congress will have to follow the law, just like everyone else does.”

That’s how it always works for Congress, right? No matter what Congress does, they just follow the law… nothing to see here folks. You see, when you get to write the laws, exempting yourself from a law is the same thing as following the law, isn’t it, Ezra?

I find it absolutely hilarious that Congress, Ezra Klein and the White House are busy- just like the rest of us are right now- trying to figure out what the hell the Obamacare law means for real people, who have real jobs, who have to pay real premiums and have real health issues.



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

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


3 May, 2013

How I discovered the hidden side of history

1981: I was looking through some old books that somehow ended up at my parents’ house. Among them, I found a set of history books from the 1930s. With an innate interest in the topic, I began reading them, and was absolutely shocked by what I found.

The last book of the series covered what were then modern times, and to my horror, I found lavish praise for – of all people – Benito Mussolini.

These were American books, by the way, beautifully produced by a respected publisher. And there, in authoritative tones, was the story of the great Mussolini, the savior of Italy. Given that I was taught precisely the opposite, a mere 30-odd years later, you can imagine my surprise.

Just to establish my point, here are a few quotes from that time about Mussolini:

* What a man! I have lost my heart! - Winston Churchill

* The greatest genius of the modern age. - Thomas Edison

* I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy. - Franklin Roosevelt

Obviously, these quotes are no longer mentioned in ‘respectable’ circles. And that’s my point: What is inconvenient to the current ruling establishment is dropped from the books.

When I was young, the USSR was famous for horribly twisting history to make themselves look like the great and mighty ones. They even made jokes about it on the original Star Trek. But here was clear evidence that history – in America – had been altered. In this case, parts had not been added, but they most certainly had been taken away. That rather shook my view of history, as it had been taught to me at school.

A few years later I came across an even more troubling instance of history being pulled out of the books:

I had been writing a few books for a major publisher, and one of my editors asked me to meet him for dinner, which, of course, I did. We discussed projects that we might pursue and generally had a pleasant evening. At some point we left off discussing our projects and talked about history. Somehow, we ended up at the Armenian genocide. He was surprised that I knew about it (many still don’t), but I had known quite a few Armenian kids growing up, and I had heard their stories.

Then, my editor took a deep breath and said, “then I want to tell you something.” He explained that a few years before, he had been working for one of the big three textbook publishers, and happened to be editing a high school history book. One day, he got a phone call from the US State Department. He was shocked, and asked them why they would be calling him. “It’s about the history book you’re editing,” the man said.

My friend had been raised in about the same way I had, so the idea of censoring a textbook was astonishing to him. “We need you to cut back the section on the Armenian genocide,” the man from the State Department said. My friend was horrified, and complained that it was the true history. “Yes,” said the man, “but we need to keep the Turks happy.” My friend’s 2-3 pages on the Armenian genocide was reduced to 2-3 paragraphs, and it was a victory that he got that much space.

According to all I learned in school, such things did not happen in America. According to all that is self-promoted about academia, they are the sworn enemies of such things. But they do happen – a lot.

I’ve encountered the same thing on museum walls: descriptions that are clearly misleading, but which glorify the rulership of our time.

There is much more to this, but I’ll let the point stand as I’ve made it thus far: History is manipulated. You can find the truth if you dig through old books and artifact records, or from some specialists, but not from schoolbooks. The books aren’t filled with lies, they just remove the facts that don’t make their bosses look good.

And this is not a trivial thing; it affects a lot more than school children. As Adolf Hitler was starting his aggression against the Poles, the London Times quoted him as saying: "Go, kill without mercy. After all, who remembers the Armenians?"

What is deleted from history can teach us nothing, and those who have this power use it to glorify themselves. This is a very dangerous thing, and it rules the schoolbooks of America and the Western world in general.

I’ll close with a line from Paul Simon’s song, Kodachrome: "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all."

What you learned in school was a partial, cartoon version of history. You learned what made the big bosses look good, and no more.



Froggy President sees the light

Democrats prefer France to the USA so is this a signal for them? Guess not

President Francois Hollande announced on Monday a series of measures to encourage the French entrepreneurial spirit, including drastic cuts in capital gains taxes — up to 65 percent — for the sale of small companies and a plan to make France start-up friendly.

Hollande, looking to stimulate flagging growth and cut into the nation's 10.6 percent jobless rate, also ordered the Interior Ministry to introduce visas for foreign entrepreneurs, and to speed up the process to make the country more attractive to foreign professionals.

"Half of the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley are immigrants," Hollande said in a speech before some 300 entrepreneurs at the Elysee Palace. "We must waste no talent."

The Socialist president has been viewed by some as an anti-business leader, and infuriated entrepreneurs last year by proposing increased taxes on investments. In response, entrepreneurs, calling themselves "pigeons" — French slang for someone who has been duped — launched an online opposition campaign that quickly got tens of thousands of "likes" on Facebook, and trended on Twitter.

Hollande, trying to return to the good graces of entrepreneurs, said he was undoing that plan, and simplifying the system.

"There are no less than 40 formulas for dealing with capital gains ... 40 different ones. And now there will be but one," Hollande said.

He enumerated a graded scale for tax breaks on capital gains for entrepreneurs who bought start-ups: 65 percent if the company has been held at least eight years and 50 percent after two years. The tax advantage rises to 85 percent when companies are less than 10 years old, are being passed on to family members or the owner is retiring.

Experts say Hollande's initial plan would have meant an effective tax rate of 60 percent, compared with 15 percent on U.S. capital gains.

Hollande called the new system "balanced," ''just" and "durable."

"It is enterprises that create wealth and, therefore, jobs," the president said.

France has been raising taxes to fill a 30-billion-euro hole in the budget and meet a deficit target of 3 percent — set by the eurozone — of its 1.8 trillion-euro gross domestic product.

But small and medium-sized companies are the biggest creators of jobs and drivers of economic growth, and make up 99 percent of businesses in France and the European Union as a whole.

Other measures aimed at boosting the entrepreneurial spirit in France include wiping out the Bank of France notes on companies that fail "so that one can have a second or a third chance"



There's nothing fair about the Marketplace Fairness Act

by Jeff Jacoby

IF TRUTH-IN-LABELING rules applied to Congress, the proposed law giving states the power to collect sales tax from out-of-state online retailers would be named the Marketplace Unfairness Act.

Sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and fast-tracked to the Senate floor this week, the legislation would strip away protections that have been in place for decades, unleashing tax-hungry states on merchants they aren't answerable to and tilting the playing field against small Internet retailers.

Under existing law, any state can require businesses within its borders to collect sales taxes from their customers. That applies to shops on Main Street as well as to vendors doing business by mail and over the Internet. If you're a seller physically operating within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, part of your job is to collect the requisite Massachusetts tax each time you ring up a sale in the state. At the same time, you can't be conscripted into serving as a tax collector for states to which you have no physical connection. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that merchants must have a "substantial nexus" with a state – such as offices, a warehouse, or a sales force – before they can be compelled to collect taxes on that state's behalf.

In practice this means that a brick-and-mortar retailer only has to calculate the sales tax charged by its own state. A bookstore at the Cape Cod Mall collects the Massachusetts sales tax of 6.25 percent; it makes no difference whether the customer at the cash register lives across the street or across the country. Online and mail-order retailers play by the same rules: If they have a physical presence in Massachusetts, they're responsible for any sales tax payable to Massachusetts. Neither traditional retailers nor Internet retailers are obliged to collect taxes for states they don't operate in. Fair's fair.

But if Enzi's bill becomes law, fairness goes up in smoke. Online merchants would become revenue collectors for every sales-tax jurisdiction in America – an estimated 9,600 of them, each with its quirks and quiddities. No longer would Internet retailers based in Massachusetts be liable only for sales taxes owed to Massachusetts. They would have to calculate and remit taxes owed to Tennessee and California and Wyoming and New Jersey, charging different levies for different customers, and somehow keeping up with the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of sales-tax rates, definitions, exemptions, and deadlines.

Yet the owner of the brick-and-mortar shop around the corner would go on as before, charging only a single tax rate and remitting taxes to only a single state.

Supporters of the legislation promise that this will all be less onerous than it sounds. The bill includes simplification mandates such as free tax software, and it encourages multistate cooperation in streamlining tax rates and centralizing revenue collection. MarketplaceFairness.org, a website created to promote the Enzi plan, offers the assurance that with modern technology, Internet retailers have nothing to fear. "Keeping track of a few thousand local tax rates," it says soothingly, "is no longer an insurmountable technical, administrative, or financial burden."

For mammoth retailers like Amazon or Walmart, the prospect of juggling "a few thousand local tax rates" may not be an intolerable burden. For countless smaller online businesses, however, it could be the kiss of death. And what happens when the technology turns out not to be quite as cheap and easy as advertised? Writing in the Wall Street Journal last summer, Overstock.com's chairman/CEO, Patrick Byrne, and president, Jonathan Johnson, warned against complacency:

"It took our team of 20-30 experienced IT professionals 9,412 hours over five months to install, test and integrate the software that let us properly calculate use tax in one additional state. The annual software license fees for the first year, the internal and external development and installation costs, and the cost of collateral hardware and software came to $1.3 million. And that's just for one state."

Whatever inequities exist in the current system, the proposed legislation would be much worse. There's a crucial reason why merchants can only be required to collect taxes for states in which they are physically present: Anything else would be taxation without representation. States must not be allowed to reach beyond their borders, imposing tax obligations on retailers who had no vote or voice in creating those obligations, no political recourse, no opportunity to be heard. Against such unfairness, Americans once fought a revolution. A craving for revenue is no reason to forget that.



How Our Healthcare System Has Us Trapped

By John C. Goodman

The premise of my latest book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, is that most of our problems arise because we are trapped. We are caught up in a dysfunctional system in which perverse economic incentives cause all of us to do things that raise the cost of care, lower its quality, and make access to care more difficult. Perverse incentives are faced by everyone: patients, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, employees, employers, and so on. As we interact with the system, most of us spot ways to solve problems. We see things we could individually do to avoid waste and make care less expensive, for example. But the system generally penalizes us for doing the right things and rewards us for doing the wrong things. Anything we do as individuals to eliminate waste generally benefits someone other than ourselves.

So what's the answer? Let people out of the trap. Liberate them from the dysfunctionality that is causing us so much trouble.

This message is precisely the opposite of what you are likely to hear from other health policy experts-on the right and the left. The conventional view is that we have too much freedom, not too little. Doctors are said to have too much freedom to provide treatments that are not "best practice" or that are not "evidenced-based." Patients are said to have too much freedom to patronize doctors and facilities with inferior performance records.

Hence, the conventional solution: put even more restrictions on what doctors can do and where patients can go for their care. Ultimately, the conventional answer to the country's health policy problems is to have government tell doctors how to practice medicine and to tell patients what care they can have and where they can get it.

The biggest problem with this approach is that it would leave us even more trapped than we currently are. Incentives would be even more perverse. We would have a plan designed by folks in Washington. But 300 million potential patients, 800,000 doctors, almost 2.5 million registered nurses, and thousands of others working in the system would find it in their self-interest to undermine the plan. My answer is just the opposite. I want all those patients and all those doctors to discover it is in their self-interest to solve problems, not create them.

Under the conventional approach, every doctor, every nurse, every hospital administrator will get up every morning and ask, "How can I squeeze more money out of the payment formulas today?"

My answer is just the opposite. Under the approach detailed in my book, all these people will be encouraged to start each day by asking, "How can I make my service better, less costly, and more accessible to patients today?"



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

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


2 May, 2013

For the day when the Greenback goes "Pop"!

In an interview below, Doug Casey has some hints for when all those greenbacks Obama has printed begin to make their presence felt -- with a drastic loss in buying power for all greenbacks, including your savings.

L: Doug, we talked previously about getting assets out of your home country, especially the US, where to take them, and what to do with them. In so doing, you touched on the inevitability of currency controls just ahead, especially for Americans. Can you tell us more about that?

Doug: Yes. I'm quite serious about what I said about "the grim reality of impending currency controls." As the global economy continues to deteriorate, governments will have to appear to be "doing something." It's going to become very fashionable to institute some sort of foreign exchange control.

Why might that be? Because obviously, people who are taking their money out of the country are unpatriotic…

L: Those bastards.

Doug: That's right. Jingoistic Americans naturally, but stupidly, see taking money out of the country as being unpatriotic. They don't understand that it's mainly those prudent people who will be able to supply the capital to rebuild a devastated economy later. Besides, getting money abroad is obviously something that only rich people would do… and of course, it's time to eat the rich, as well. For those two reasons, there won't be much resistance to controls. And the state gets to appear to be "doing something."

And when they do, more people – at least those with any sense – will get scared and really try to get their money out, which will exacerbate the run to the exits. The bottom line is that if you want to get your money out, the time to do it is now. Beat the last-minute rush.

I don't know what form the exchange controls are going to take, but there are two general possibilities: regulation and taxation.

The regulations might take the form of a rule prohibiting you from taking more than X thousands of dollars abroad per year without special permission. No expensive vacations, no foreign asset purchases without state approval.

As for the taxation, if you want to, say, buy foreign stocks or real estate, you might have to pay an "Interest Equalization Tax" or some such. So you could do it, but it'd cost you a lot of money to do it.

Something like either of these, or both, is definitely in the cards.

L: But aren't FX controls something from the past? I mean, where do they exist today?

Doug: Well, FX controls have been used since the days of the Roman Empire. A country debases its currency, raises taxes beyond a certain level, and makes regulations too onerous – and productive people naturally react by getting their capital, and then themselves, out of Dodge. But the government can't have that, so it puts on FX controls. They're almost inevitable at this point.

Almost every country – except for the US, Canada, Switzerland, and a few others – had them until at least the '70s. I remember leaving Britain once in the '60s, and a border guy searched me to see if I had more than 50 pounds on me. In those days, currency violations in the Soviet bloc countries could get you the death penalty. Things liberalized around the world with Reagan and Thatcher, and then the collapse of the USSR. But you have to remember that that was in the context of the Long Boom. Now, during the Greater Depression, things will become much stricter again.

Right now, the US just has reporting requirements. But some places, like South Africa, make it very expensive and inconvenient to get money out. South Africa, perversely, may serve as a model for the US.

L: Okay, so we talked previously about Americans at least setting up a Canadian bank account and safe deposit box, and better yet going in person to Panama, Uruguay, Malaysia, or a similar place to do the same. And once there, you advised getting with a lawyer, either referred by someone you trust or found through an interview process, to set up a corporation that can handle your assets and investments for you. This all needs to be reported, but it's wise to do it in advance of the higher costs or other limitations to come.

Doug: Yes. While US persons must report foreign bank and brokerage accounts, safe deposit boxes are not – at least not yet – reportable. This leads me to the biggest and best "loophole" when it comes to potential foreign exchange controls, and that's foreign real estate.

I'm of the opinion that, broadly speaking, real estate as an asset class is going to be a poor performer for a long time to come – but that won't be equally true across all countries. Real estate in countries that rely on mortgage debt to buy and sell will continue to be the worst hit.

People don't understand that buying property with a mortgage is just the same as buying stocks on margin. It's caused speculative bubbles and malinvestment. Until the malinvestment in those countries is entirely liquidated, you don't want to invest in real estate in them. But a lot of countries, especially in the Third World, have no mortgage debt whatsoever. Zero mortgage debt. You want a piece of property, you pay for it in cash. That keeps prices down and the market much more stable. And it makes for more interesting speculations, because if a mortgage market develops in the future, it could light a fire under prices.

But, from the viewpoint of FX controls, the nice thing about real estate is that there is no way they can make you repatriate it. Other than owning a business abroad, real estate is the only sure way to legally keep your capital offshore.

L: I suppose it would be difficult for even Uncle Sam to seize your estancia in Argentina… not without starting a war.

Doug: Yes. Although I don't doubt he'll be starting more wars as well… [Laughs]

L: So, part of your thinking here isn't just speculative. You're talking about strategies for wealth preservation, not just in the face of foreign exchange controls, but more aggressive, predatory taxation and confiscation by the state – they can seize your assets, even real estate, in the US, but not abroad.

Doug: Exactly. Argentina is excellent from that point of view; rights to real property are, if anything, better than those in the US. In many ways, Argentina is culturally and demographically more like Europe than Europe. Uruguay is also excellent, although culturally it's like a backward province of Argentina. Paraguay is quite secure – but a bit weird as a place to live.



“Food for Peace” Hurts Foreign Farmers

The United States government is the world’s largest food donor but its aid consistently wreaks havoc abroad. The Obama administration is pushing reforms that could slightly reduce the number of Third World farmers bushwhacked by American food dumped into their marketplaces. But there is scant enthusiasm in Washington for any fix of a program that is beloved by many special interests.

The U.S. launched the Food for Peace program in 1954 during the Eisenhower administration, largely to dispose of embarrassing crop surpluses that had been encouraged by federal farm programs. To carry out Food for Peace, the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys crops grown by American farmers, has the food processed or bagged by U.S. companies, and then pays to send them overseas in U.S.-flagged ships. The annual cost to taxpayers? Last year, it was roughly $1.5 billion.

At least 25% of all U.S. food aid must be shipped from Great Lakes ports, per congressional mandate. This provides a steady stream of (taxpayer) revenue for American port towns and merchant seamen. Once the goods arrive at their destination, the U.S. Agency for International Development often takes charge or bestows the food on private relief organizations.

Because Food for Peace is structured to focus primarily on U.S. interests, it has long been notorious for putting some of the world’s poorest farmers out of business. Sen. Harry Bellmon (R., Okla.) crafted a legislative amendment in 1977 that required USAID and the Department of Agriculture to certify that food aid would not devastate farmers or destabilize markets in recipient countries. But whom does Uncle Sam entrust to assure that donations won’t pummel local farmers? In most cases, a foreign government or private-relief organization hoping to gain a tremendous free-food windfall from Washington.

To USAID’s credit, in 2008 it began tapping an independent consulting firm, Fintrac Inc., to recommend prudent donation levels. Nevertheless, in 2010 USAID approved sending almost three times as much rice to Liberia as Fintrac recommended. That same year the agency approved massive wheat shipments for Burundi and Sierra Leone, even though Fintrac recommended against it.

The Department of Agriculture is even more reckless. In 2008, it approved sending 30 times more soybean meal to Armenia than the agency’s own staff experts recommended.

Since 1985, USAID has permitted recipients to “monetize” U.S. food aid—selling all or part of it in local markets and using the proceeds to bankroll their preferred projects. U.S.-donated food is routinely sold in local markets for much less than prevailing prices. In 2002-03, a deluge of food aid in Malawi caused local corn prices to plunge by 60%. Mozambique wheat prices nose-dived in 2002 after USAID and the Department of Agriculture simultaneously “flooded the market,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Haitian farmers were similarly whipsawed after the U.S. and other nations bombarded the island with free food after the 2010 earthquake there.

In a speech this month at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rajiv Shah, head of USAID since Dec. 31, 2009, called the monetization of food aid “inefficient and sometimes counterproductive,” saying that in some cases “evidence has indicated that this practice actually hurts the communities we seek to help.” Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization cautions that monetization often results in “destroying local farm prices” and CARE, one of the world’s largest relief organizations, boycotts all monetization projects.

The Obama administration is proposing to end monetization and instead give more cash to foreign governments and private-relief organizations to buy and distribute food locally and finance preferred projects. The administration also advocates trimming the percentage of the Food for Peace program’s budget spent purchasing and transporting U.S. food to 55% from the current 75%.

Not surprisingly, the administration’s proposals are facing staunch opposition from the farm lobby, relief organizations addicted to manna from USAID, and the merchant-marine lobby.

Yet Mr. Shah says USAID estimates that the proposed reforms would allow U.S. aid to feed up to four million more people per year. The agency is also touting a new program to distribute debit cards to allow refugees and others to shop for meals at local stores—similar to how the food-stamp program operates domestically.

The resistance that the Obama administration’s modest reforms are facing epitomizes how Congress and special interests don’t care how much harm food aid does abroad. Unfortunately, gross negligence has long been Food for Peace’s trademark.



America's two economies

by L. Neil Smith

There are two Americas. People who live in other countries and don't know this, need to understand it. People who live in this country are even less likely to be aware of the difference, although, if there is to be a tolerable future—or any future at all—they're going to have to deal with it. And soon.

One of the two Americas everybody has to live with today is a politico-corporate structure, and a kind of wildly metastasizing societal cancer, the United States government and the mercantilist—not capitalist—companies whose operators have come to believe, quite mistakenly, that they own everything and everybody within their gaze.

If you are reading these words, likely you're part of a different America. If you aren't, there are things here you need desperately to know.

This other America we live with has fed, housed, and clothed more human beings, achieved greater progress, generated more prosperity, than any similar entity in history. It, not the government nor any of its parasitic corporate attendants, is that bright, shining beacon in the West that has inspired people to come here, or to remake their own countries, for two centuries. In many ways, the poorest person today lives a healthier, longer life than the Pharaohs in their day, because of this second America, consisting of the individuals of this nation and the civilization they built, one painful, expensive brick at a time.

We call the driving energy of this America capitalism.

There is a difference—a big difference—between mercantilism and capitalism. Under the latter, individuals put away some portion of their income instead of spending it immediately, invest whatever they may have accumulated that way in some private undertaking, and strive to improve their fortunes—and compete with others—by offering customers the best possible goods and services at the lowest possible prices.

Invariably, as a part of this constant striving between private enterprises, prices steadily fall, while the quality of goods and services—many of them entirely new inventions—constantly rises. This is the process by which America grew to be the most prosperous and progressive nation in human history and on the face of the planet. The fact that peace and freedom didn't always follow is not due to capitalism.

Mercantilism, rather than being born of individual effort and aspirations, is the bastard offspring of business and the State. It is the system against which Adam Smith railed in his 1776 bestseller Wealth of Nations, when commercial lash-ups like the British East India Company were granted a monopoly in some foreign territory by the King, and had their own armies and navies to enforce it. Our Founding Fathers were fighting mercantilism as much as they were the British crown. The tea that they dumped in Boston Harbor may have been taxed by the King, but it was imposed on the colonists by some royally approved monopolist.

Today, it may be as simple as a company bribing a congressman in order to obtain a government contract. It may even be less direct than that, with the company promising to build the new factory that the contract will necessitate within the congressman's district, creating jobs the congressman can then brag about the next time he runs for re-election.

As the company and the congressman become mutually dependent on each other—symbiotic—they grow wealthier and more powerful, joining what Ayn Rand called "the Aristocracy of Pull". Note that this relationship has nothing to do with satisfying purchasers, the price or quality of whatever goods are involved, nor does it matter whether the product is actually wanted. Money—stolen at implicit gunpoint from unwilling "customers"—and raw political power are all that count.

In fact, should anybody happen to come along, offering a better or cheaper product, instead of rising to the occasion and competing with the innovator—a process by which technical and social progress are achieved—the entrenched mercantilist company will "encourage" its symbiotic congressman to pass a new law or promulgate some regulation that will cripple its competition, preserving the status quo. Progress and potential are lost in the process, but nobody cares.



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

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


1 May, 2013

Dangerous Leftist hatemongers

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a problem. They are now directly tied to a terrorist act committed by a nut who attacked the Family Research Council because the SPLC listed that group as a “hate group” due to their traditional views on marriage and family.

The SPLC makes a living as one of the left’s favorite hate finger pointers, and now due to their over the top rhetoric, they are certified in federal court as being directly responsible for an act of domestic terrorism.

Floyd Lee Corkins, II pled guilty to charges of domestic terrorism explaining that he came to target the Family Research Council saying, “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups.”

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that Corkins admitted in court that he hoped to “kill as many as possible and smear Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces and kill the guard.”

Now that Southern Poverty Law Center has been fingered by an admitted and convicted domestic terrorist as being the source for his targeted rage, it is time for the federal government to disassociate from this group that incites hate. Incredibly, in spite of the direct tie to this terrorist act, the SPLC has not removed either Family Research Council or another of Corkin’s targets, the Traditional Values Coalition, from their “Hate Map.”

Now that the federal court has tied SPLC to a direct domestic terrorist act, it is fair to ask just what is the Southern Poverty Law Center?

This innocuous group Montgomery Alabama based group’s website describes itself as, “a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.”

Over the years, the SPLC has managed to insinuate itself into various federal and state law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department (read emails obtained by Judicial Watch between SPLC head Morris Dees and DOJ.)

The relationship with Obama’s DHS is so deep that in 2009, the Department set up “Fusion Centers” in each state that include the Southern Poverty Law Center ostensibly to coordinate federal, state and local responses to Katrina-like disasters. The reality is that the fusion centers have on at least two occasions issued reports and statements that specifically attack conservative oriented groups, either tying them to acts of domestic terrorism or identifying them as terrorist threats.

And the SPLC’s influence continues to expand. In a case of one of the most poorly timed letters in U.S. history, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice on March 13, 2013, urging them to shift priorities toward “the growing threat of non-Islamic domestic terrorism.”

Tragically, just a little more than a month later, foreign born Islamic jihadists bombed the Boston Marathon, showing that the SPLC couldn’t have been more wrong.

The SPLC has proven itself to be nothing more or less than an organization that finds domestic conservative terrorists around every corner, and according to liberal critics are little more than direct mail fundraising scam artists.

And now, that they have been directly implicated as the responsible party for motivating a proven act of domestic terrorism, their influence on government policy needs to be ripped out by the roots.

Congress should treat SPLC like they did ACORN when they were proved to be running an operation designed to undermine the U.S. election process by engaging in massive voter fraud. All ties with law enforcement should be discontinued immediately, and the SPLC should be eliminated from every working group trying to set anti-terrorist policy. To leave them in the room is akin to looking the fox in the henhouse in the eye, winking and closing the door.

If Congress fails to act, a group that has been proven to incite terrorism will continue to have access to the highest levels of the Obama Administration with all the respect that those associations convey.

Never again, should a group found responsible in a court of law for driving a terrorist act be seated at the highest levels of power defining what should be considered a terrorist act. Fortunately, in the case of the Family Research Council, multiple deaths were avoided due to the courage of an unarmed guard.

And yet through it all, the Southern Poverty Law Center continues to spew hate, all in the name of toleration.



Banking secrecy is a key civil liberty

By Martin Hutchinson

The wolves are closing in on the world's bank secrecy laws. Former bank employees in Switzerland and Liechtenstein have handed lists of depositors to the U.S. and EU authorities. Following the Cyprus debacle, the EU is seeking to end bank secrecy in the well-run banking systems of its members Luxembourg and Austria. Luxembourg appears to have "compromised" but Austria, bless it, is still holding out (as a former.Abteilungsdirektor of the Austrian bank Creditanstalt-Bankverein I declare an interest here.) Nevertheless I hope a number of strong-minded but respectable states with few avenues for blackmail keep bank secrecy, for one very good reason: in a modern social-democratic world, it is a key civil liberty.

The first bank secrecy law was written by Switzerland in 1934 and played a vital role in enabling at least some German Jewish people to preserve both their lives and their assets during the horrors of World War II. The "key civil liberty" aspect of bank secrecy laws thus cannot be dismissed. While we will hopefully never again have a regime as evil as the Nazis, there are plenty of regimes around the world that oppress their subjects, and those subjects need an asset bolt-hole where they can preserve their wealth while they emigrate or simply decide to wait for better times.

Switzerland had a tradition of neutrality and a solid banking system which, unlike Austria's and Germany's had not been affected by World War I; hence it naturally became a haven for flight capital. Given the political situation in Germany, Italy (another dictatorship) Spain (Socialist government followed by civil war) and France (Communist-Socialist Popular Front government from 1936) it's also not surprising that a Swiss banking secrecy law was thought necessary, to prevent bank employees selling customer information to brutal governments.

After World War II, even Britain had exchange controls until 1979, while its governments, Conservative and Labour, pursued highly repressive policies, with top rates of tax above 90% for almost the entire period, interest rates around or below the rate of inflation, and inflation itself eroding the real value of savings. It's thus not surprising that even in that law-abiding society, many people found ways to get their money out of Britain's closed economy and into the safe hands of a Swiss or Channel Islands bank (this is neither a confession nor a claim of virtue – the Hutchinsons were simply not rich enough to benefit much from doing this.)

The remainder of Western Europe similarly suffered from very high marginal rates of tax after World War II, as did the United States (albeit only at very high levels of income.) It's thus not surprising that many perfectly respectable wealthy citizens saw Switzerland, Luxembourg, or in the U.S. case the tax havens of the Caribbean as sensible places to park their money. The Eurobond market, in which investments took the form of untraceable bearer bonds denominated in hard currencies, grew up from 1963, with Luxembourg a favorite place to deposit the bonds concerned.

Government responses were fairly slow in arriving; the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act was passed only in 1970, and even in the 1970s morning trains from Brussels to Luxembourg were full of comfortable burghers (proverbially "Belgian dentists") with bearer bonds tightly wrapped around their upper bodies, going to clip coupons. Then some governments reacted the opposite way; Austria passed bank secrecy legislation only in 1978, in an attempt to get some of Switzerland's business. It was said to be tighter than Swiss legislation, because you never needed to give your real name, merely show the nationality of your passport. If you said your name was Mickey Mouse the bank staff would accept this, and when you visited the bank cheerfully greet you with "Gruss Gott, Doktor Maus!"

Of course, this system has been abused. Ethically, in tax systems that are not oppressive, people should pay the taxes they owe. However when governments levy taxes at rates of 70, 80 or 90%, the ethics become arguable, and you can certainly see the benefits of bank secrecy to people whose home is in a dictatorship, or even a nominal democracy whose economic policy is appallingly bad (most comfortably off Argentines, for example, have foreign bank accounts.) But at the other extreme bank secrecy is only too useful to terrorist and organized crime groups.

In the middle are the dictators themselves, who may be evil billionaires like the Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko, embezzling all the wealth of their country, but may also be largely honest and economically benign authoritarians, like Chile's Agosto Pinochet or Croatia's Franjo Tudjman, who know they can't rule forever and want to keep their modest and mostly legitimate wealth out of the hands of their leftist successors. Also somewhere in the middle are the Russian mafia, who can't reasonably claim a need to escape President Putin's tax regime, a flat tax of only 13%, but can reasonably wish to keep some wealth out of the hands of Vladimir Vladimirovich's unpleasant cronies. Of course, it was foolish of them to choose Cyprus as their haven, rather than somewhere economically solider and politically less bullyable.

Governments and the media will tell you that tax havens and bank secrecy regimes should be closed down, but economically and ethically it isn't as simple as that. Even democracies can run into crises, or elect leftists like France's Francois Hollande, whose tax regime of a 70% income tax plus a 1.6% wealth tax meets any reasonable definition of confiscation. Even in the United States, that supposed haven of wealth and capitalism, polls consistently show at least 60% support for further tax rises on the wealthy, even after the December 2012 deal eliminated the 2001 tax cuts for incomes above $450,000. You can perhaps argue that a little more U.S. tax on the wealthy would not be harmful, even when you add together the three layers of Federal, state and local taxes, but when President Obama, within two months of obtaining a substantial tax increase on the rich, demands another one, and public opinion generally favors that demand, we can see that in some political circumstances even Americans are not safe from expropriation.



Dumped! by Google

One recent Thursday morning, I logged into my email and made an alarming discovery. Instead of opening my inbox, Google directed me to a notice:

"Account has been disabled . . . . In most cases, accounts are disabled if we believe you have violated either the Google Terms of Service, product-specific Terms of Service . . . . or product-specific policies . . . . it might be possible to regain access to your account."

It was like I’d gotten dumped, via text message, by someone en route to Cabo. The vagaries left me reeling. I read the terms and policies, but they offered few clues. There were no numbers to call, no tickets to request help. I had a real problem with how things ended, so I filled out a form and sent it into the ether. What exactly had I done wrong? Had I missed the warning signs? Did Google want me or not?

At last count, Google manages a whopping 343 million active Google+ accounts (though the number of actual people using its services is probably fewer) and operates in 130 languages. Google strategically avoids the crush of users by offering little in the way of direct customer service. My calls to Mountain View HQ landed me in a labyrinth of recorded messages that inevitably led to one of a man, sounding only slightly less exasperated than I felt, shutting me down with a “Thankyougoodbye.”

A few minutes into my Google-less existence, I realized how dependent I had become. I couldn’t finish my work or my taxes, because my notes and expenses were stored in Google Drive, and I didn’t know what else I should work on because my Google calendar had disappeared. I couldn’t publicly gripe about what I was going through, because my Blogger no longer existed. My Picasa albums were gone. I’d lost my contacts and calling plan through Google Voice; otherwise I would have called friends to cry.

I turned to Facebook to ask friends who work at Google for help. Living in the Bay Area, I have a fair number of Googler-friends, but the Googleplex has apparently grown so vast that none of them had any idea where to start. One guessed the policy department, another accounts. All assured me that this sort of thing rarely happened.

I had assumed it never happened at all. Sure, it had occurred to me when I had moved my work and memories into the “cloud” that I was relying on other people to keep them safe on their servers. But I figured a company with $50 billion in revenues and the modest aim to “organize the world’s information” had to run a tight ship. Anyway, it seemed implicit that in allowing Google to use my data, I could rely on Google to hold on to it—and to give it back.

In reality, I discovered, Google assumes no responsibility over user data nor is it required by law to do so. In the same notice informing me that it had disabled my account, Google told me for the first time that it reserves the right to “terminate your account at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.” In its Terms of Service, Google limits its total liability for stolen data, lost data, anything, “TO THE AMOUNT YOU PAID US TO USE THE SERVICES” (yes, in all caps), which could mean as much as the $2.49 per month you shelled out for 25GB more storage or in my case, nothing.

Google not only reserves the right to take away or vaporize our data for any reason, but it also reserves the right to discontinue services, the means to access it, whenever it wants. It does this more often than you probably realize and most recently with Google Reader, which disappears on July 1.

In case you’re wondering, in the end, I was fortunate. By Monday, a Googler filed the right internal escalation paperwork on my behalf and on Tuesday morning, six days after I lost access to my account, relayed that it had been restored.

My data was intact save for the last thing I’d worked on–a spreadsheet containing a client’s account numbers and passwords. It seems that Google’s engineers determined this single document violated policy and locked down my entire account. My request to get that document back is still pending.

I returned to the Google fold with eyes wide open to my responsibilities as a user. In relationship terms, I am no longer monogamous. I store my data on other servers maintained by providers like Evernote, Dropbox, and WordPress, and the cloud is my standby, not my steady. I’ve swapped convenience for control: I back up my email and what I care about most on physical hard drives.



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

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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.


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

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: