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

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

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31 May, 2015

New York Times Still Deceiving About Obamacare

The New York Times is at it again. In a front page story in Tuesday's print edition, the Times is dishonestly pushing an argument that they hope will result in a favorable Supreme Court decision for President Obama's so called Affordable Care Act. The mantra repeated over and over again is this: those four words in the Obamacare law-"established by the state"-were actually an accident, a drafting error. And those words, according to the Times and all of the sources they chose to comment on it for the article, are being misinterpreted by some who want to, shall we say, "degrade and defeat" the law.

The plain language of the law is that subsidies were only meant for those who purchase their plans through exchanges set up by the individual states. But that's not what the Times and their sources want you to believe. Even if the Times were to admit that is the plain meaning based on the language in the law, their argument is that it still wasn't the intent of the lawmakers and staffers who composed and approved of the legislation.

So now comes the Times, a month before the Supreme Court is planning to announce its decision, with a front-page article that is dishonest on many levels. If you are doing a news story, as opposed to a not-so-carefully disguised editorial, you would seek opposing points of view. In reading this article, you find that there is not one person among those interviewed who even knew that there was an issue regarding subsidies as they related to state exchanges versus the federal exchange.

First, the Times posed the questions: "Who wrote [those four words], and why? Were they really intended, as the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell claim, to make the tax subsidies in the law available only in states that established their own health insurance marketplaces, and not in the three dozen states with federal exchanges?"

Then it states: "The answer, from interviews with more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law, is that the words were a product of shifting politics and a sloppy merging of different versions. Some described the words as ‘inadvertent,' ‘inartful' or ‘a drafting error.' But none supported the contention of the plaintiffs, who are from Virginia."

If this were a real news story, and not a front-page editorial disguised as a news article, these reporters would have sought out the opinion of people who disagree with those "more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans involved in writing the law."

I cited the evidence in a column last March when the King v. Burwell case was being argued, and the same narrative was being pushed at that time by the Times and other liberal news organizations. I linked to a National Public Radio (NPR) article that had actually practiced journalism by talking to one of the plaintiff's lawyers in this case; he pointed out that regarding this supposed drafting error, "those words are in the bill 11 times."

I also cited an article published in Politico, two months before the bill passed in 2010, that cited then-Senator Ben Nelson's opposition to a federal exchange: "Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Monday that he would oppose any health care reform bill with a national insurance exchange, which he described as a dealbreaker." If that isn't clear enough, Politico added this: "Nelson could have deprived House Democrats from securing what they have increasingly viewed as a must-have-a national exchange rather than a series of state exchanges."

My column cited an American Spectator piece that details Nelson's position on this issue. And then there's Jonathan Gruber. As I wrote at the time: "And don't forget Jonathan Gruber. He was one of the architects of Obamacare, and a close adviser to President Obama. He received millions of taxpayer dollars, from various states and the federal government. Gruber is the person who said that passing Obamacare depended ‘on the stupidity of the American voter,' and that it was ‘written in a tortured way' in order to deceive the voters about all the taxes they would have to pay.

Regarding the subsidies being paid only to state exchanges, Gruber said that was ‘to squeeze the states to do it [to set up exchanges].'"

So there you have it. After reading what Gruber said, what Politico wrote months before the bill became law, how NPR reported it, and what Sen. Nelson told Greta Van Susteren, it becomes clear that the Times is editorializing, and not reporting, in a front-page story intended to influence a Supreme Court decision.



Planned Rate Hikes Presage a Health Insurance ‘Death Spiral’

The Wall Street Journal has reviewed health plans’ rate filings for 2016 in Obamacare exchanges:

In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.

All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. (Louise Radnofsky, “Health Insurers Seek Healthy Rate Boosts,” May 21, 2015)

The article also notes that Insurance Commissioners in some states have the power to roll back rates hiked too high (and the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services also asserts a similar power, although there is no legal basis for it). It is unlikely that Insurance Commissioners can protect people from these rate hikes: Excessive rollbacks will merely cause health plans to exit the market, which would be catastrophic for Obamacare’s political future.

Readers of this blog knew that this death spiral was coming. What is remarkable is that it is happening now. Things must be worse than insurers are disclosing to make them jack rates so high, so soon.

Think about it: Obamacare is the best possible scenario for health insurers. Obamacare is still very much at risk from the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell and Republican politicians who remain united in pledging to repeal and replace it with patient-centered health reform.

If anything, health plans should want to move public opinion in favor of Obamacare by keeping rate hikes low. Indeed, they should (collectively) be prepared to lose money in exchanges until Obamacare is secure. (The exchanges are still a small part of their book of business. They can subsidize losses in exchanges for a while without risking their solvency.)

A lot of the cost of the rate hikes will be borne by taxpayers instead of enrollees, because Obamacare’s tax credits to insurers operating in exchanges are based on the benchmark (second cheapest silver plan) and limited by beneficiaries’ household income. Nevertheless, that is also hardly good news for Obamacare’s political future, either.

Announcing these rate hikes in the summer of 2015 (and, likely, the summer of 2016) indicates that health plans’ experience in Obamacare exchanges is painfully expensive.



Ann Coulter's War on illegal immigration

This week, iconoclastic master Ann Coulter released her new book, "Adios, America!" The book has already been labeled racist by the mainstream left, which fears her argument, and will undoubtedly be marginalized by the mainstream right, which doesn't want to hear it. Coulter's thesis is simple: Since Senator Teddy Kennedy, D-Mass., rammed through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, America's immigration system has transformed from a device for enriching the nation for both native-born and immigrants into a scheme for importing anti-American voters.

What made America America, Coulter argues, was a particular blend of Protestant religion and European civilization that led to the rise of the greatest nation in human history. What will unmake America, she continues, is a deliberate attempt to poison that blend with a flood of immigrants with wildly different values.

Coulter points out that the real number of immigrants currently residing in America illegally far surpasses the 11 million consistently put forth by politicians and media. That 11 million springs from census data, which is notoriously unreliable, given that immigrants here illegally typically don't spend time answering government surveys. The real number, she argues, is far closer to 30 million. And those 30 million immigrants in America illegally drive down wages, shred social safety nets, drive up the crime rate and congeal the American melting pot into a melange of inferior cultural values competing for local dominance.

"The foreign poor are prime Democratic constituents because they're easily demagogued into tribal voting," Coulter points out. "Race loyalty trumps the melting pot. ... The American electorate isn't moving left — it's shrinking. Democrats figured out they'd never win with Americans, so they implemented an evil, genius plan to change this country by restocking it with voters more favorably disposed to left-wing policies than Americans ever would be."

And the Democrats have achieved their goals. America is more polarized than at any point since the civil rights era, and not by chance. Americans have been told that they have a responsibility to anyone who wants to enter the country, even as they are lectured that it would be gauche for them to ask just who wants to come in. "At what point will Americans remind their government that it has a responsibility to us, not to every sad person in the world?" Coulter laments.

The answer, if the left has its way: never. Bearing nostrums like "diversity is our strength" and "through no fault of their own," Democrats will browbeat Americans into accepting the demise of American values. The shock isn't that millions of foreigners want to get into the United States — that's always been true. The shock isn't even that Democrats want to open the floodgates to unchecked, unscreened immigration — that's been true for decades, given that the modern American left despises founding philosophy and the capitalist system more generally. The shock is that so many conservatives have capitulated, granted the left's premise in the hopes that America's new immigrants will resemble her old immigrants, even though the America that welcomes them has changed dramatically.

Coulter's argument — that the media and our politicians conspire to keep information from us about the effects of mass immigration from non-Western countries, and that such immigration will destroy the fabric of the country — is virtually unassailable. The only question left: Who will stand up to the tidal wave of political correctness to pursue a reasonable and sane immigration policy, rather than the insane combination of ignorance and bullying that currently dictates who gets to live in and help redefine the greatest country in the history of mankind?



Look at What Happened When Maine Forced Welfare Recipients To Work For Their Benefits

Maine finally took a bold step forward in welfare reform and it’s paying huge dividends.

Last year Maine passed a measure that would require recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP, to complete a certain number of work, volunteer, or job-training hours before being eligible for assistance.

Main Governor Paul LaPage passed the measure last year and the resulting drop in food-stamp enrollees has been dramatic.

At the close of 2014 approximately 12,000 individuals were enrolled in the state assistance program. Keep in mind that these individuals are adults who aren’t disabled and who don’t have children at home and who are claiming the food-stamp benefits because of a lack of financial resources.

After forcing these individuals to either work part-time for twenty hours each week, enroll in a vocational program, or volunteer for a minimum of twenty-four hours per month, the numbers showed a significant drop from 12,000 enrollees to just over 2,500.

Republicans in the state are calling it a major victory, while Democrats are infuriated and are calling for special measures to roll back some of the strict requirements.

However, even if the requirements lose some of their strictness, once an individual is removed from the Maine food-stamp program they cannot receive benefits from the program for three years.

This is a true victory for welfare reform, and, while opponents are continuing to push back, we can hope that other states will notice the effectiveness of Maine’s program.

Meanwhile, for all the naysayers who say that this program is unfairly targeting those in rural or extremely poor areas, let’s remind ourselves who this program is really affecting.

These individuals who were benefiting from the food-stamp law and who now can’t are able-bodied, capable adults. These aren’t people with physical or mental disabilities or raising growing children. These are regular Joes who don’t seem to want to get a job.

And while I will say that getting a job can be harder than it sounds, Maine’s program solves that difficulty beautifully. If individuals can’t get and hold a part-time job of twenty hours per week, they can qualify by enrolling in training program. If that doesn’t get them a job, they can still qualify by volunteering.

Do you see what Maine did there? They’re making people exhaust their possibilities for employment before giving them a handout. Finally a state government has hit upon a great way to reward people for trying to get jobs and to punish those who sit around feeding off the taxes of the rest of the country.

Now the struggle remains for the rest of the country to work to adopt similarly effective laws.



Los Angeles Labor Leaders Want Minimum Wage Exemption

Oh the irony. Fourteen Los Angeles council members recently voted to incrementally raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Considering a whopping 50% of the city’s workforce makes minimum wage, the new law is bound to have significant ramifications — which may explain this oddity from the Los Angeles Times: “Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.”

Rusty Hocks with the Federation of Labor defended the proposed exemption by opining, “With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them.” Yet, as the Times notes, “For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.”

In other words, labor leaders want the flexibility to negotiate a mutually fair hourly wage — one that may very well fall below $15 — while forcing non-unionized businesses to comply with an admittedly harmful law. The Left, it seems, doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage so much as coerce businesses into joining a union, which would then translate into political capital.



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

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


29 May, 2015

Wake up! Mr Obama. 81% Of Al Jazeera Arabic Poll Respondents Support Islamic State

Where is the black jellyfish's claim that ISIS is not Islamic now?

In a recent survey conducted by AlJazeera.net, the website for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel, respondents overwhelmingly support the Islamic State terrorist group, with 81% voting “YES” on whether they approved of ISIS’s conquests in the region.

The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, with only 19% of respondents voting “NO” to supporting ISIS.



Good News: 5th Circuit Denies Obama’s Amnesty Appeal!

Finally, good news… A panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 against the Obama administration’s appeal of Judge Andrew Hanen’s amnesty injunction.

The court decided that the injunction will stand and that the Obama administration will not be able to move forward with its amnesty plans.

This is truly excellent news and the judges couldn’t have been clearer in smacking down the President’s appeal.

“The public interest favors maintenance of the injunction,” the judges wrote in the majority opinion. “Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay.”

That is the key sentence. That tells you that an appellate court agrees that states like Texas have standing to sue.

But the Obama administration isn’t giving up and is promising to take this all the way to the Supreme Court.

Congress said earlier this year that they wouldn’t act until the courts weighed in. Well, not one but TWO courts have weighed in and believe the case has merit.

You MUST demand that Congress intervene and put a stop to this amnesty nonsense once and for all!

As much as I want to celebrate this ruling, I know that a court order will never stop Barack Hussein Obama from carrying out his agenda to radically transform this country.

And here’s the problem: now that Obama has been stopped at the appellate level, Republicans are taking this as an opportunity to push for “immigration reform.”

Instead of dismantling Obama’s amnesty, the GOP actually wants to legitimize it. Right now, as we stand on the brink of victory, Congressional leaders are waiting for their opportunity to strike and institutionalize Obama’s amnesty.

This isn’t the first time this has come up. The GOP wanted to do the same thing this past February and write Obama’s amnesty program into the law. We put a stop to it. We sent hundreds of thousands of faxes to Congress demanding that they put a stop to this. When the dust settled, the GOP said they were going to wait to see how the court battle plays out.

Well, that time has come. It’s time for the GOP to live up to its promise and put a stop to this once and for all. The courts won’t be able to stop this. When Judge Hanen issued his original injunction against the amnesty program, the Obama administration ignored it and processed amnesty applications anyway.

Don’t get me wrong… this is excellent news coming out of the 5th Circuit. But here is what the White House said in response to the ruling: “Today, two judges of the Fifth Circuit chose to misinterpret the facts and the law in denying the government’s request for a stay.”

They “chose to misinterpret the facts.” That is how arrogant the White House is. If they disagree with a court ruling, it’s not because of the merits. It is because the judges are insolent.



7 Stages of the Progressive Agenda

STAGE 1: Identify the issue.

Any Progressive can make an issue out of anything. That's the Power of the People! Just name it and blame Republicans. Many issues never go beyond Stage 1 because they are so readily and widely embraced by the masses. Examples include free cell phones, free gas, and free Obama money from his stash. Whatever the issue, throw it at the wall and don't worry if it doesn't stick—there are at least six more ways to make sure it does!

STAGE 2: Promote the issue.

Exhort media minions to give saturation coverage to the latest issue, to build consensus, create buzz and subsequently demand. People who never thought this was something they should have, and have happily lived without it for years, will start thinking this is something they should have and absolutely cannot live without—especially if they're persuaded that not having it is why they've never been as happy as they previously and mistakenly believed. Blame Republicans. If it still shows signs of sliding down the wall, then proceed to the next stage.

STAGE 3: Say it's a MORAL issue.

Remember back in the 80's, when evangelical Christofascism was infecting the country at fever pitch, and Progressives tried to combat it by saying you can't legislate morality? When that didn't work, we simply expropriated the word and changed the definition like we do with everything else. Now, morality refers to support of the Progressive agenda, and you'd better believe we're going to legislate it to the hilt! Whatever it is Progressives want to do, it is the MORAL thing to do. Ergo, to oppose it is simply...immoral.

And who among us wants to be immoral? Don't we all want to do the right thing? The correct thing? All we want to do is help people so they can live better lives—what's wrong with that? It's moral, isn't it? Somewhere down the line, there are supposed to be grand and glorious rewards for being moral, for without them, who would bother?

To say it's a moral issue is like giving the masses a mild laxative—sometimes all people need is just a gentle little push, something to soften them and ease the passage. At this point, we usually get government funding, and maybe a czar to oversee it. The media continues to do its part to promote it, while celebrities begin sporting the appropriately colored awareness ribbons.

Yet there will still be those who are either too confused or ignorant to see the light. That, or they're simply...immoral. Or amoral. Either way, they're so not moral that they're perfectly happy to see that issue slide down the wall till it plops on the ground. Blame Republicans. But that's when we must implement the next stage.

STAGE 4: Declare the issue a CRISIS!

Sometimes Progressives will skip over the first three stages to Stage 4, in which case, this is where it really starts. You don't get anything through Congress or the courts simply by saying it's "nice to have." No. It is a CRISIS! Lives are in danger! Planet is in peril! Time is running out! We must start taking steps to begin taking action NOW!

A crisis receives even more funding, and the establishment of a government agency to impose regulations that will eventually bring it under control—but only as long as funding continues and keeps pace with inflation.

The media will continue beating their drums. In addition to the awareness ribbons, celebrities make speeches about it at awards shows, and start incorporating it into the plot lines of their movies and "Very Special Episodes" of TV shows, etc. The masses must be made aware of the CRISIS!

But there will still be scoffers. Skeptics. Deniers. Those who say there is no crisis. Those who say that no matter what the crisis, it's always been here and hasn't hurt anyone or anything. Those who say it's just another wealth redistribution scheme. Those, especially at the corporate level in the private sector, who spend millions, billions, and gazillions to convince the masses that there is no crisis, all to protect the ill-gotten profits they stole from those same masses! Why, they'll say that it isn't even an issue, let alone a crisis! Blame Republicans. People dependent on being told what to think will be tricked into believing these lies instead of the current truth.

That's what we Progressives call "a messaging problem." Therefore, we must double down and move to the next stage.

STAGE 5: Call it a HEALTH issue!

All we want to do is help people. All we want to do is help them make better decisions, the right choices, so they can live healthy, happy, productive lives without fear of death, disease, or destruction. How can anyone with an ounce of compassion be against that?

But sometimes it's not enough to say lives are in danger, or the planet is in peril. Sometimes we have to be more specific, because some people, dagnabbit, just aren't satisfied with vague generalities. This is why "individualism" is such a bad idea—it encourages people to dwell on the nitpicky details of how an issue, even when it's been elevated to the level of crisis, will personally affect them and their selfish little private world.

So let's make it personal! Bring on the testimonies! Call on those who will share their heartbreaking stories of how their health, and by extension their lives, have been ruined because of the crisis! Blame Republicans. Poverty, income inequality, climate change...all of these things have an adverse impact on a person's health and well being.

Show pictures of suffering children. Crumbling glaciers. Rising floodwaters. Drowning polar bears. Smokestacks belching out billows of black smoke. Oil-soaked baby animals with huge, sad brown eyes. Tearful Native Americans standing at the side of the road with heaps of garbage at their feet. Don't just tug on those heartstrings—yank 'em taut and play 'em like a Strad!

Then show the masses what it all leads to: Starvation! Disease! Non-breathable air! Undrinkable water! Carcasses! Stink! Gross! Death! Destruction! Doom!

Only one thing will solve these problems and reverse the inevitable before it's too late—more government funding! Yet there will still be those who don't care. Who just want others to die quickly. Who don't want to spend the mere few pennies a day per person it would cost to eliminate these horrors forever and ever and ever.

That's when we roll out the next stage.

STAGE 6: Enshrine it as a CIVIL RIGHTS issue!

Nothing shuts down dissent like calling it a civil rights issue, because anyone who opposes anything to do with civil rights can be labeled a bigot, a hater, or any kind of phobe. Civil rights always trump all other rights, and this allows us to shame the haters and bigots and make them feel like the outcasts they are, on the extreme fringe, the wrong side of history!

Once an issue is consecrated as a matter of civil rights, the masses will hold marches and rallies across the country to demand it. There may be riots and vandalism, and many innocents will be hurt or jailed, or even killed. Blame Republicans.

The issue will finally go before the people for a vote—and if it doesn't pass, no problem! The courts will overturn it because it is a civil right! And the people will keep marching and rallying and blaming Republicans until that happens!

Nothing is more sacred than a civil right...except, perhaps, the government that keeps it sanctified through continued funding and special protections and privileges for anyone the civil right touches.

In the meantime, there will still be bigots and haters who are just too shameless to be shamed. Haters gotta hate. There will still be those who insist that religious rights and so-called inalienable rights endowed by some mythical being should matter. And there will still be enough of them to block the march of progress, and with it the necessary funding, without which all will be lost if we don't make the decision to do something to take the needed steps to start action now, before it's too late!

Which brings us to the next stage...

STAGE 7: Dammit! Can't you people see the crisis is not just a moral issue or a health issue or a question of civil rights? It's a matter of NATIONAL SECURITY!

To not treat it as a matter of National Security is, as President Obama recently told graduates of the Coast Guard Academy, a "dereliction of duty." Members of the military can be court-martialed for it. Under conditions of war, they may be executed for it.

When something is declared a matter of National Security, anyone who does not treat it as such is willfully endangering millions of lives and the future of the entire planet. They are seditious. They are enemies of the State. They are guilty of treason and crimes against humanity. Therefore, they must forfeit all. We kept warning them millions would die, didn't we?

Throw them against the wall. Don't worry if they don't stick. This time, we want them to drop to the ground.

And don't forget to blame Republicans.



Texas Senate Passes Anti-Sharia Bill

The Texas Senate last night passed and sent to Governor Greg Abbott a measure that would prevent any ‘international/sharia law’ from being used in Texas civil courts, a bill that Muslim detractors and some of their far left allies say is ‘Islamophobic.’

WOAI State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) doesn’t mention Islamic Koranic law, or ‘Sharia Law’ in her bill. She simply says it guarantees that no laws from ‘foreign courts’ will be adopted by Texas civil court judges.

“It’s just to provide some belt and suspenders to make sure that, with judicial discretion, we don’t trump Texas law, American law, with a foreign law regarding family law,” Campbell said.

Muslim groups say the bill is a ‘solution looking for problem, and claim that the bill has its genesis in an anti Muslim demonstration on the steps of the Texas Capitol in January in which the proposal was cheered.

State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) grilled Campbell on examples she has seen of foreign law being used in Texas courts. “What foreign law are you attempting to prevent being used, and can you give examples of where it has created a problem in the state?” Watson asked.

“No foreign law,” Campbell replied. “This just provides a context for judicial discretion.”



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

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


28 May, 2015

Differences Between Left and Right

What Dennis Prager says below is right but he fails to look more deeply. He fails to ask WHY Leftists claim man is basically good. And the answer is plain enough. Leftists don't like the world they live in so want to change it. And a claim about human goodness is very helpful in that cause. It undermines conservative caution. And it is conservative caution that stands in the way of them getting their perverse way.

If Leftists really believed in human goodness, would they slaughter the vast numbers of people that they do when they achieve untrammelled power (e.g. in the French revolution, the Soviet horror, Mao's China etc). Clearly, they have utter contempt for other people

Equally clearly, therefore, it is pointless to argue with Leftists about human nature. Their claim is a convenient pose, nothing more. It makes them look good and undermines caution about the likely outcomes of their crazy schemes. They are not going to abandon that in a hurry. Their arguments do need to be refuted for the sake of the uncommitted middle but nothing will persuade them

Most Americans hold either liberal or conservative positions on most matters. In many instances, however, they would be hard pressed to explain their position or the position they oppose.

But if you can't explain both sides, how do you know you're right?

At the very least, you need to understand both the liberal and conservative positions in order to effectively understand your own.

I grew up in a liberal world -- New York, Jewish and Ivy League graduate school. I was an 8-year-old when President Dwight Eisenhower ran for re-election against the Democratic nominee, Adlai Stevenson. I knew nothing about politics and had little interest in the subject. But I well recall knowing -- knowing, not merely believing -- that Democrats were "for the little guy" and Republicans were "for the rich guys."

I voted Democrat through Jimmy Carter's election in 1976. He was the last Democrat for whom I voted.

Obviously, I underwent an intellectual change. And it wasn't easy. Becoming a Republican was emotionally and psychologically like converting to another religion.

In fact, when I first voted Republican I felt as if I had abandoned the Jewish people. To be a Jew meant being a Democrat. It was that simple. It was -- and remains -- that fundamental to many American Jews' identity.

Therefore, it took a lot of thought to undergo this conversion. I had to understand both liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I have spent a lifetime in a quest to do so.

The fruit of that quest will appear in a series of columns explaining the differences between left and right.

I hope it will benefit conservatives in better understanding why they are conservative, and enable liberals to understand why someone who deeply cares about the "little guy" holds conservative -- or what today are labeled as conservative -- views.

Difference No. 1: Is Man Basically Good?

Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed -- not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. Yes, we are born innocent -- babies don't commit crimes, after all -- but we are not born good. Whether it is the Christian belief in Original Sin or the Jewish belief that we are all born with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ra (bad inclination) that are in constant conflict, the root value systems of the West never held that we are naturally good.

To those who argue that we all have goodness within us, two responses:

First, no religion or ideology denies that we have goodness within us; the problem is with denying that we have badness within us. Second, it is often very challenging to express that goodness. Human goodness is like gold. It needs to be mined -- and like gold mining, mining for our goodness can be very difficult.

This so important to understanding the left-right divide because so many fundamental left-right differences emanate from this divide.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that conservatives blame those who engage in violent criminal activity for their behavior more than liberals do. Liberals argue that poverty, despair, and hopelessness cause poor people, especially poor blacks -- in which case racism is added to the list -- to riot and commit violent crimes.

Here is President Barack Obama on May 18, 2015:

"In some communities, that sense of unfairness and powerlessness has contributed to dysfunction in those communities. ... Where people don't feel a sense of hope and opportunity, then a lot of times that can fuel crime and that can fuel unrest. We've seen it in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York. And it has many causes -- from a basic lack of opportunity to some groups feeling unfairly targeted by their police forces."

So, poor blacks who riot and commit other acts of violence do so largely because they feel neglected and suffer from deprivations.

Since people are basically good, their acts of evil must be explained by factors beyond their control. Their behavior is not really their fault; and when conservatives blame blacks for rioting and other criminal behavior, liberals accuse them of "blaming the victim."

In the conservative view, people who do evil are to be blamed because they made bad choices -- and they did so because they either have little self-control or a dysfunctional conscience. In either case, they are to blame. That's why the vast majority of equally poor people -- black or white -- do not riot or commit violent crimes.

Likewise, many liberals believe that most of the Muslims who engage in terror do so because of the poverty and especially because of the high unemployment rate for young men in the Arab world. Yet, it turns out that most terrorists come from middle class homes. All the 9/11 terrorists came from middle- and upper-class homes. And of course Osama bin Laden was a billionaire.

Material poverty doesn't cause murder, rape or terror. Moral poverty does. That's one of the great divides between left and right. And it largely emanates from their differing views about whether human nature is innately good.



Progressivism: Rhetoric versus Reality

Contemporary supporters of an expanded role for government are increasingly moving away from calling themselves liberals and toward referring to themselves Progressives, so it is worth considering what the ideology of Progressivism entails.

Progressivism began in the late 1800s as a political movement that advocated expanding the role of government. Before the Progressive era, Americans viewed the role of government as protecting individual rights. The Progressive ideology argued that the proper role of government should go beyond protecting individual rights to include looking out for people’s economic well-being.

Progressivism is explicitly designed to use the force of government to take from some to give to others. In its early days, Progressives envisioned the state reining in the economic power of people like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt to prevent them from exploiting those with less economic power. Even this vision makes clear that the goal of Progressivism is to impose costs on some for the benefit of others.

The Progressive ideology is now firmly ingrained in the political system, and everybody recognizes that the government routinely takes from some to give to others. Because this is how our government now works, Progressivism encourages people to engage in politics to increase their chances that they can be on the receiving end of those transfers.

Meanwhile, the idea that some might be using their economic power to exploit others has fallen by the wayside. It’s not that Progressives don’t think this can happen; it’s that the Progressive transfer state recognizes claims made by anybody, regardless of whether they were harmed or exploited by others.

Welfare programs transfer wealth from taxpayers to recipients without any thought that the recipients deserve the transfers because they are being exploited by taxpayer. Instead, coercive wealth transfers are the “compassionate” thing to do. But the rich as well as the poor see Progressive government as a source of economic support. Giant corporations receive subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory protection even though when Progressivism was born, its core idea was to transfer from them rather than toward them. Progressivism leads to cronyism.

While the idea of Progressivism was to expand the role of government to both protecting people’s rights and looking out for their economic well-being, the actual result of Progressivism has been that because it provides economic benefits to some by imposing costs on others, it violates people’s rights rather than protecting them. Progressive regulations limit people’s freedom of choice, and Progressive tax and transfer policies take the property of some for the benefit of others.

Despite its compassionate-sounding agenda of looking out for people’s economic well-being, the political philosophy of Progressivism justifies a government that violates the rights of some to provide economic benefits to others.



Liberals Respect Me

By Walter E. Williams

During the early years of the Reagan administration, a Washington news conference was held for me for my first book, "The State Against Blacks." Before making summary statements about the book, I offered the reporters assembled that they could treat me like a white person. They could ask me hard, pressing questions. They could demand proof of the arguments that I was making.

People such as former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and former Chairman Julian Bond and the Rev. Al Sharpton can make ludicrous statements. An intimidated news media just swallow the nonsense. They are probably afraid to challenge, lest they suffer guilt feelings of racism or be seen as racists for demanding that a black person back up his comments with facts.

You say, "Give us some examples of ludicrous statements." Sharpton, commenting on black history, said, "White folks was in caves while we was building empires." Mfume said of George W. Bush, "We have a president that's prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance." Bond said, "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side." When those statements were made — and after other utterances of nonsense — I did not hear of any reporters demanding evidence. Racial etiquette or politeness requires that no pressing questions be asked of liberal blacks.

A number of people have made angry responses to statements made in my column a fortnight ago, titled "Some Odds and Ends." I pointed out that liberal Democrats claim that conservative Republicans have launched a war on women as a part of their overall mean-spirited agenda. Assault, rape and murder are the worst things that can be done to a woman. I said: "I would be willing to bet a lot of money that most of the assaults, rapes and murders of women are done by people who identify as liberals or Democrats, particularly in the cases of murderers.

Most crime, except perhaps white-collar crime, is committed by people who vote Democratic." People have demanded to know what my evidence is. There are bits and pieces of evidence that show that most murderers are people who politically identify as liberals or Democrats. Whether these people also vote their preferences is not so evident.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice report "Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008," blacks accounted for 52.5 percent of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008 (http://tinyurl.com/mb29bfa). It appears to be a fact that most murders are committed by blacks. The next fact appears obvious: Most blacks identify politically as liberals or Democrats. In fact, the 2008 and 2012 elections showed that at least 95 percent of blacks were Democrats. If one adds whites and Hispanics who also identify politically as liberals or Democrats, I think there is no question that liberals and Democratic Party sympathizers commit most of the murders in the U.S. None of this is to say that whites are crime-free. Whites are a greater percentage of our population and commit most of every type of crime except homicide and burglary (http://tinyurl.com/bzyzpk6).

I'm pleased that readers have demanded proof from me about my comments. Similar proof is not demanded from liberals who accuse Republicans of warring against women. I would ask several questions. Do Republicans include in this attack their mothers, wives and female children? What are the weapons Republicans use? Are failing to believe in late-term abortion and wanting to require parental knowledge and permission prior to a minor's receiving birth control medication or an abortion tantamount to warring against women? Finally, are Republican women involved in the war against women?

Far more important for me in all of this is that liberals unintentionally treat me like a white person. Unlike their response to other blacks, they demand that I back up my statements. For that, I thank them.



Drudge: Fast Track Authority for Obama is Republican Suicide

On Friday, the Senate voted 67-32 to give President Obama "fast track" negotiation authority for long anticipated deals with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Fast Track Authority is a powerful means of getting trade deals done quickly. When a deal is negotiated Congress will have the ability to ratify or reject, but no ability to change any trade deals the President negotiates and presents for Congressional approval.

Internet-media mogul Matt Drudge blasted this development in a series of Tweets, calling this the "night of Republican Suicide" and quoting:

"Twisted DC: Electing Republicans is guarantee of MORE powers for Obama... Of course none of them read 'secret' bill!"

Drudge then attacked Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who supported this bill, characterizing this as "you have to pass the bill before you can know what's in it."

We tend to agree with Drudge, its a very bad idea to give Obama these powers. The President has demonstrated many times he has a socialist philosophy and doesn't understand economics, trade nor capitalism, and his negotiating skills have proven wanting. To put him in a position to make long term trade agreements is foolhardy. But while Drudge laments the extra political power, we are anticipating long term disadvantage in international trade with our most dynamic trade partners.



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

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


27 May, 2015


What is described below is reprehensible but it is not mysterious. It is understandable if you realize that the only things important to Leftists are their hates. Hitler's prime hate (the Jews) is not their hate. Stalin's prime hate (rich people) is their hate. So Stalin is to them a good guy, even if they are cautious about saying so

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine if World War II had ended in a stalemate with a European Nazi empire from the Urals to the English Channel soon to be armed with nuclear weapons and in mortal contest with the United States in a peace kept only by deterrence. Would progressive children have sung, “All we are saying is give peace a chance” beneath symbols of unilateral disarmament? Would our intellectuals have mocked the phrase “evil empire”? What were the differences? Deaths? Camps? The desolation of the flesh and of the spirit? Solzhenitsyn had it exactly right about the Soviets, “No other regime on earth could compare with it either in the number of those it had done to death, in heartiness, in the range of its ambitions, in its thoroughgoing and unmitigated totalitarianism—no, not even the regime of its pupil, Hitler” (from the Gulag Archipelago). What would the celebration have been like if after two generations the swastika at last had fallen in place of the hammer and the sickle?

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

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



Another medical backflip: Cholesterol scare dying at last

The truth has been known for decades but it takes a lot to get through to officialdom and attention-seeking researchers

For decades they have been blacklisted as foods to avoid, the cause of deadly thickening of the arteries, heart disease and strokes. But the science which warned us off eating eggs – along with other high-cholesterol foods such as butter, shellfish, bacon and liver – could have been flawed, a key report in the US has found.

A growing number of experts have been arguing there is no link between high cholesterol in food and dangerous levels of the fatty substance in the blood.

Now, in a move signalling a dramatic change of stance on the issue, the US government is to accept advice to drop cholesterol from its list of 'nutrients of concern'.

The US Department of Agriculture panel, which has been given the task of overhauling the guidelines every five years, has indicated it will bow to new research undermining the role dietary cholesterol plays in people's heart health.

Its Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee plans to no longer warn people to avoid eggs, shellfish and other cholesterol-laden foods.

The U-turn, based on a report by the committee, will undo almost 40 years of public health warnings about eating food laden with cholesterol. US cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic, said: 'It's the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They've been wrong for decades.'



China is catching up. Will it also forge ahead?

Will China stop getting richer once it has pulled level with the USA? U.S. economic performance has become so poor that China may not have to do much to do better

U.S. productivity growth declined from 2.8% per annum in the period 1948-73 to 1.8% per annum in 1974-2010 to 0.6% per annum in 2011-15 – almost entirely owing to regulation rather than to public sector bloat, which has increased only moderately since 1970. However the EPA and other big regulatory agencies date to the 1970s, and coincide eerily with the end of the post-war U.S. productivity bonanza. Monetary policy, by distorting the free market's asset allocation process, undoubtedly bears part of the responsibility for the further post-2011 slump in productivity, but there's no question the Obama administration's thirst for regulation has made matters worse. Only in retrospect will we be able to allocate blame accurately between the two factors.

As well as a bloated public sector and excessive regulation, there are other ways in which rich countries increasingly diverge from the free-market ideal. Infrastructure projects' costs are outrageous in modern Western economies, a large multiple in real terms of their costs 50 or 100 years ago. That's not because we have got less efficient at laying concrete or building bridges. It's because of the tangled mass of regulations on safety, environmentalism, workforce and other matters, none of which are costed properly, each of which adds substantially to the expense and delay in building infrastructure, and the combination of which is devastating.

Another pernicious addition to modern Western economies is the charitable sector. This has expanded to about 7% of GDP in the United States, driven by innumerable unjustifiable tax exemptions that allow the very rich to pay a fraction of the taxes paid by middle class people. These charities mostly bring benefits of only a tiny fraction of their costs – the Clinton Foundation, devoting only 3% of their tax-deductible donations to genuine charitable purposes, is all too typical. However charities' activities in diverting resources to themselves and providing political support for the worst political boondoggles makes their cost to the economy far greater than even their direct absorption of resources. Western economists complain about the inefficiency of fuel subsidies in poor countries such as India and Venezuela; in reality charity tax subsidies in the West are just as economically damaging.

Modern intellectual property rules, with innumerable competing patents and copyright lives stretching towards a century, reduce the level of true innovation and turn the tech and creative sectors into pure rent seekers. In these sectors, profitability is maximized not through innovation but by forcing competitors out of the market through copyright and patent manipulation, thereby prolonging the super-profitable lives of old innovations and creative works.

Finally the ultra-low interest rates of the last 7 years have sapped Western savings (a tendency exacerbated by generous welfare systems). With savings inadequate, the capital endowments of Western economies have shrunk and have also been diverted into unproductive speculation and asset investment. Anyone who thinks the current [high] level of London house prices does anything at all for the true wealth and productivity of the British economy is living in economic dreamland.



Entrepreneurs are not 'lottery winners'

America's inventors deserve credit for their work, but Obama dismisses them as lucky

There he goes again. Barack Obama, who insists he is "president of all America," lashed out last week at well-off citizens. Peddling higher taxes to further fund the failed 50-year-old, $22 trillion War on Poverty, he singled out the "top 25 hedge fund managers" for scorn at Georgetown University, President Obama's class-envy diatribe applies to everyone who has earned too much for his taste. "You pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use," Obama scoffed — as if capitalists stash their capital like toilet paper in the utility closet.

Our president then casually derided America's top achievers as "society's lottery winners" who need to stop being selfish and start being their "brother's keepers."

For radical progressives, life is a Powerball drawing. Success is random. Economic achievement is something to be rectified and redistributed to assuage guilt. Only those who take money, not those who make it by offering goods and services people want and need, act in the public interest. Those who seek financial enrichment for the fruits of their labor are cast as rapacious hoarders in Obama World — and so are the private investors who support them.

Wealth-shaming is a recurrent leitmotif in the Obama administration's gospel of government dependency.

In 2010, the president proclaimed, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." In the summer of 2012, he openly denigrated American's makers and builders because someone else "invested in roads and bridges." Team Obama argued that his "you didn't build that" remarks were taken out of context. But let's remember what he said immediately preceding that infamous sound bite:

Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, 'Well, it must be because I was just so smart.' There are a lot of smart people out there. 'It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.' Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

The context then and now makes Obama's incurable contempt for private entrepreneurial accomplishments even clearer. Pushing to raise taxes even higher on wealthy Americans, Obama stoked you-think-you're-so-smart resentment of business owners. His intent was to humiliate those who reject collectivism. The president's message: Innovators are nothing special. Their brains and work ethics are no different from anyone else's. They owe their success to taxpayers, public school teachers, public infrastructure — and unfair dumb luck.

The progressives' government-built-that ethos is anathema to our Founding Fathers' first principles. They understood that the ability of brilliant, ambitious individuals to reap private rewards for inventions and improvements benefited the public good. This revolutionary idea is a hallmark of American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the doctrine of enlightened "self-interest rightly understood" was a part of America's DNA from its founding. "You may trace it at the bottom of all their actions, you will remark it in all they say. It is as often asserted by the poor man as by the rich," de Tocqueville wrote.

Francis Grund, a contemporary of de Tocqueville's, also noted firsthand America's insatiable willingness to work. "Active occupation is not only the principal source of their happiness, and the foundation of their natural greatness, but they are absolutely wretched without it. …Business is the very soul of an American," he wrote.

Here is the marvel Obama and his command-and-control cronies fail to comprehend: From the Industrial Age to the Internet Age, the concentric circles of American innovation in the free marketplace are infinite. This miracle repeats itself millions of times a day through the voluntary interactions, exchanges and business partnerships of creative Americans and their clients, consumers and investors. No federal Department of Innovation or Ten-Point White House Action Plan for Progress can lay claim to the boundless synergies of these profit-earning capitalists.

Of course, they benefit from the "help" of others. But America's best and brightest wealth creators deserve the ultimate credit for the fruits of their individual minds and the untold byproducts of their labor. And no, President Obama, they didn't just get a better roll of the dice. They were smarter, faster, more daring and more hardworking than everyone else, including you and me.

We owe them, not the other way around.



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

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


26 May, 2015

Dogs and humans as symbionts -- and the inestimable Razib Khan

I will say something about dogs in a moment but I want to start out saying something about the excellent Razib. I have been reading his writings off and on for around a decade. He seems to know all that there is to know about genetics in general and evolutionary genetics in particular. And if you are as interested in onomastics as I am, you may have been able to infer from his name that Razib is a brown man, a non-Muslim Bangladeshi -- though he comes from a Muslim family.

And that is important. There are lots of minefields and "no-go" areas in genetics which most researchers sedulously avoid for the sake of a quiet life. And those roadblocks are entirely the work of Leftists. Leftists are much more concerned with the political implications of a statement than they are with its truth They have to be. Their theories are so shallow and silly that they can all be blown away in short order by the truth.

But Leftists are racists. They think any non-white race is better than "dead white men" and their living successors. So non-whites are indulged and allowed to say things which would be forbidden to a white. The most glaring example of that is the way blacks can use the word "nigger" with impunity but it is a firing offence if a white uses it. Could there be anything more racist than that?

So Razib is a very valuable person both because of his knowledge and because of his skin color. Being a "minority" means that he can, with some safety, venture into "sensitive" areas of discussion. And all that lies behind why I find his writings so interesting. I think I am getting an account of Razib's field from a largely uncensored source, though I do note that Razib is a bit cautious when writing about IQ. So you see that I have to be a racist in order to counter racism. I have to look at race in order to get behind racist censorship. So that is why I trust Razib's judgement in areas where he knows a lot more than I do.

Mind you, "minorities" can sometimes get into trouble if they challenge Leftism too frontally. The work of Bruce Lahn is a prize example. Lahn is not actually a minority at all. He is Chinese. He is really therefore a member of the world's biggest majority. But he does come from a different culture so would normally be granted some leeway.

But what he discovered was ideologically thermonuclear. He discovered that there was a brain mutation in central Eurasia about 5,000 years ago which seems to have increased brain efficiency. It most probably led to an upwards spurt in average IQ. Evidence in support of that interpretation is that civilization also first arose at around that time and that the genetic feature concerned is very rare in a notoriously low intelligence population: Sub-Saharan Africans, possibly being found in most of Africa at all only as a result of incidental contacts between Eurasia and Africa.

So the bomb went off. The evidence for the strikingly low average IQ of Africans has been abundant for decades so Lahn's confirmation of that was really no news at all. But it was UNSPEAKABLE to Leftists. You can mention it in academic circles among colleagues -- and indeed the American Psychological Association has done just that -- confirming the big gap between black/white averages.

But such facts must not LEAK OUT to the general public! Leftist myths must be maintained. And, sadly for Lahn, his work DID attract a lot of interest from a wider public. So Lahn got such a hard time over it all that he has now abandoned that area of research. Appalling -- but that is what happens in a Left-dominated culture

But on to the topic of dogs: I will first re-run something I wrote in 2009:

I am rather bemused about how accounts of human evolution leave out dogs. We hear lots about cranial size etc. but such discussions normally leave out our symbionts: dogs.

The relationship between dogs and humans is both ancient and amazingly powerful. How many human households to this day do not include a dog? Not many.

And yet there is a perfectly clear evolutionary reason why that is so. Dogs and humans complement one another. Dogs have the big and sensitive nose, big and sensitive ears and weaponized jaws that we lack. And we have the big brain that can give dogs good direction in the hunting life that comprises most of our evolutionary past. Without dogs we would probably still be tree-dwelling vegetarians. I wonder if modern-day vegetarians are averse to dogs? I wouldn't be surprised. There's a research paper in that.

These days we are long past the stage where we need dogs -- but we still love them. They are our "other half". They made us possible. I believe stories I have heard about a man being upset when his wife left him but being REALLY upset when his dog died. I have shed tears over a dog myself.

So what is wrong with that theory? Razib told me that it had to be wrong because the fossil record showed the domestication of dogs to be relatively recent. But when people tell me I am wrong, I don't burst into an infantile rage the way Leftists do. I regard the disagreement as interesting and a warrant for further study. But in this case, my unspoken answer to Razib was that the fossil record is notoriously incomplete so was probably not to be much relied on in this instance. So I simply decided to wait and see what further developments there might be.

And it seems that I was at least partly right. Six years later we find Razib giving an account of the most recent find of a fossilized canid. And he includes the sentence: "the true story is one of co-evolution between dogs and humans".

So am I crowing? Not at all. I suspect that my theory is still more sweeping than Razib would allow. What I think IS confirmed is that the fossil record is a weak reed to lean on. We have to look at other evidence as well. And that is what I think my theory does -- JR.


V.D. Hanson

Many readers here will know the ruthlessly honest and incisive political commentaries by historian Victor Davis Hanson. He has undergone the trials of Job in the last 12 months but his faith sustains him. Read it here


Too Many Laws Means Too Many Criminals

three missing fish can land someone in jail on felony charges, reform is needed. ‘There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker told the Wall Street Journal in July 2011. “That is not an exaggeration.”

That may sound unbelievable, but this is a lesson some Americans have, sadly, learned the hard way, through no real fault of their own. John Yates, for example, built his career as a commercial fisherman. In August 2007, Yates and his crew were fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast when a state conservation officer, who was also a deputized federal agent, boarded his vessel to inspect their catch of red grouper.

After inspecting some 3,000 fish, the official identified 72 red grouper that did not meet the minimum 20-inch conservation standard and issued a citation from the state. He ordered Yates to bring the undersized catch when he returned to port. When Yates returned to port the next day, armed federal agents stood by while inspectors reexamined his catch, finding only 69 fish under the minimum standard.

Federal officials accused Yates of destroying evidence — the missing three red grouper — related to a federal investigation.

“Nearly three years later, the federal government charged me with the destruction of evidence — yes, fish – to impede a federal investigation. I was subsequently arrested at my home. I have been blacklisted by boat owners, who fear federal investigations similar to mine,” Yates wrote last year. “I am now unable to make a living doing what I love to do.”

In August 2011, Yates was convicted and sentenced to a 30-day jail term and three years of supervised release under a provision in the 2002 Sarbanes–Oxley law, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal.

The law’s “anti-shredding” provision, meant to apply to the destruction of documents or files related to a federal financial-fraud investigation, has nothing to do with fish.

Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. In February, it threw out the conviction. And although she strangely voted to uphold the conviction, Justice Elena Kagan surmised that Yates’s unusual case “is unfortunately, not an outlier, but an emblem of a deeper pathology in the federal criminal code.”

That “deeper pathology” is overcriminalization. In Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, Doctor Floyd Ferris, one of the book’s main antagonists, told Hank Reardon, a proud producer who had earned the ire of crony special interests and government officials, that “there’s no way to rule innocent men.” “The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.

Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them,” said Ferris. “One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

Fiction has become reality. The United States now has some 300,000 federal regulations, and this long spool of burdensome and complex red tape grows every year. What’s more, there are about 4,500 federal criminal statutes on the books carrying fines or prison terms for offenders. There are so many regulations and criminal statutes on the books that a civil-liberties expert and lawyer, Harvey Silverglate, thinks that the average American commits three felonies a day, and they often are not even aware they are breaking the law. That is, not until a federal agency begins an investigation and they are indicted.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) is taking a hard look at federal overcriminalization. At a recent criminal-justice event supported by the Coalition for Public Safety, Representative Goodlatte, in a video message, told attendees, “There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that our criminal-justice system is in need of reform.” “The issue of overcriminalization is an issue of liberty,” Goodlatte said. “We must work together to improve our criminal-justice system so that it works fairly and efficiently and reduces crime across the United States.”

Goodlatte, in the previous Congress, put together a bipartisan overcriminalization task force, led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D., Va.), to examine federal criminal laws and make recommendations for reform. The task force held ten hearings.

Although similar efforts have failed in the past, this is a cause around which both parties should come together. Our prisons are overcrowded, with far too many nonviolent offenders who have little or no criminal history taking up space that should be reserved for more serious and violent criminals.

Tackling overcriminalization could help reduce skyrocketing prison costs, restrain the out-of-control regulatory state, and end families’ being needlessly ripped apart by unnecessary, out-of-date, or excessive federal statutes.

Most importantly, Goodlatte is right: This is an issue of liberty. Not only would rolling back this brand of big government send a positive message to the country; addressing overcriminalization in a meaningful and substantive way is simply the right thing to do.



Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Effectively Nullify All Sides on Marriage

This is what libertarians have long been advocating

This week, the Alabama state Senate passed a bill that would end the practice of licensing marriages in the state, effectively nullifying both major sides of the contentious national debate over government-sanctioned marriage.

Introduced by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette), Senate Bill 377 (SB377) would end state issued marriage licenses, while providing marriage contracts as an alternative. It passed through the Alabama state Senate by a 22-3 margin on May 19.

“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties,” Sen. Albritton said about his bill in April. “Go back long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”

The bill would replace all references to marriages “licenses” in state law with “contracts.” The legislation would not invalidate any marriage licenses issued prior to the bill being passed.

The contract shall be filed in the office of the judge of probate in each county and shall constitute a legal record of the marriage. A copy of the contract shall be transmitted to the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Public Health and made a part of its record…

Effective July 1, 2015, any requirement to obtain a marriage license issued by the judge of probate is abolished and repealed.


SB377 would accomplish two things.

First, it would render void the edicts of federal judges that have overturned state laws defining marriage. The founding generation never envisioned unelected judges issuing ex cathedra pronouncements regarding the definition of social institutions like marriage and the Constitution delegates the federal judiciary no authority to meddle in the issue. Marriage is a realm clearly left to the state and the people..

Second, the bill would get the state government out of defining marriage entirely as well, ending the squabble between factions that seek to harness the power of the state, thereby taking the burden off government officials who may be torn between what is legally required of them and their religious convictions.

The intent or motives behind this bill are a moot point. By removing the state from the equation, no one can force another to accept their marriage, nor can they force another to reject that person’s own beliefs regarding an institution older than government.

“Licenses are used as a way to stop people from doing things,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “My personal relationship should not be subject to government permission.”

As a 2007 New York Times op/ed points out, for centuries marriage was a private affair.

“For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity. For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.



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

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


25 May, 2015

"Openness" and Facebook as a personality diagnostic

An academic report has just come out about who posts what on Facebook. The sample is, regrettably, a Mechanical Turk one, so the findings are of unknown generalizability to any population. They may however represent brighter people fairly well.

The finding that caught my eye was "Openness is positively associated with updating about intellectual topics". We also read that "people who are high in openness tend to be creative, intellectual, and curious".

I should mention at this point that there is a large psychological literature dating back to at least 1950 in which Leftists congratulate themselves for having just such traits. And, conversely, they claim, but never clearly prove, that conservatives are the opposite of that. According to conventional wisdom in political psychology, we conservatives are closed-minded and rigid. From their behavior, I would have thought that that cap fitted Leftists a lot better but I will leave that aside for the moment. They are certainly not open to evidence and argument on things like global warming.

I have written a great deal on why the conventional psychological characterization is false, with my most recent shot in that direction here.

The basic fault in the Leftist research on the topic is that there is a great deal of "spin" in how they refer to things. To take the simplest example, you would think that a desire for order would be a generally good thing. What scientists do, after all, is search for order in the phenomena of nature. So what do you do when you find that conservatives are high on a desire for order? You relabel it as "intolerance of ambiguity". I kid you not. Something good instantly becomes something bad. It's typical Leftist "proof" -- proof that proves nothing. Anyway, my various academic papers shooting down the nonsense are accessible here

So what pleased me was purely something personal. What I put up on Facebook is precisely what "open" people put up -- posts on scientific and political matters. I come out as the opposite of what Leftists think a conservative is.

Whether conservatives generally post mostly that way is of course unknown but could be of interest to study. When personality scores (based on how people describe themselves) correlate with actual behaviour (as in what you use Facebook for) that does add some confidence that one is studying something real.

Journal abstract below but the whole article is publicly accessible at the same link

The Big Five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates

Tara C. Marshall et al.


Status updates are one of the most popular features of Facebook, but few studies have examined the traits and motives that influence the topics that people choose to update about. In this study, 555 Facebook users completed measures of the Big Five, self-esteem, narcissism, motives for using Facebook, and frequency of updating about a range of topics.

Results revealed that extraverts more frequently updated about their social activities and everyday life, which was motivated by their use of Facebook to communicate and connect with others.

People high in openness were more likely to update about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information.

Participants who were low in self-esteem were more likely to update about romantic partners, whereas those who were high in conscientiousness were more likely to update about their children.

Narcissists’ use of Facebook for attention-seeking and validation explained their greater likelihood of updating about their accomplishments and their diet and exercise routine. Furthermore, narcissists’ tendency to update about their accomplishments explained the greater number of likes and comments that they reported receiving to their updates.

Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 85, October 2015, Pages 35–40


The Utter Stupidity of Hillary's Actions: Verified

Hillary's utter stupidity proven by her own stupid email
A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled "The Utter Stupidity of Hillary's Actions" about how Hillary's unsecure email system likely caused major damage to national security. Now we have the first proof.

According to a New York Times article Hillary's private email provided details of the movements of Americans in Benghazi as the situation deteriorated. According to the Times:

"Mrs. Clinton's emails show that she had a special type of government information known as "sensitive but unclassified," or "SBU," in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated..."

The vulnerabilities of Hillary's unsecure email system have been acknowledge by information security experts. I am perhaps the only one to assert openly the compromised email system in use by the Secretary of State was absolutely being read by multiple intelligence services, including the Russians, Chinese and others.

If the information above made it into the hands of the local terrorists (through Russian allies, or some other route), then Hillary is doubly culpable in the death's of the Americans in Benghazi. Not only did she abandon her team when it counted most (for details, see this article) her incompetence in keeping information secure may have contributed to the terrorists' success in planning this attack.

The New York Times currently only has a portion of the emails Ms. Clinton has provided. It will be interesting to see what other damage her foolish actions have caused.



Victory! Senate Votes Against Patriot Act Renewal!

Particularly from a libertarian viewpoint, the so-called Patriot act is a horrible piece of legislsation

This is a major victory. Late last night, the Senate held two votes. The first was on the USA Freedom Act, a piece of legislation to "reform" the NSA's data collection methods. In reality, the NSA would have been just as powerful and able to spy on Americans which is why Senators like Rand Paul rejected it.

The vote was 57-42, which fell three votes short of the 60-vote threshold to pass. The USA Freedom Act was rejected.

Then, not to be outdone, Mitch McConnell staged a vote for a clean renewal of the Patriot Act. Even though the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA's data collection methods were illegal, Mitch McConnell wants to renew them.

The vote on the clean renewal was 45-54, missing the threshold by 15-votes. Another rejected attempt to renew the Patriot Act.

We did it! Instead of keeping the Senate in session like he threatened to, Mitch McConnell conceded. Now, in all likelihood, the most atrocious parts of the Patriot Act will end!

But not so fast... Senator McConnell has scheduled an emergency session for May 31, the day before these Patriot Act provisions expire. This is when he and the RINOs will stage their last stand.

Right now, it is important to thank all those who voted against infringing on Americans' 4th Amendment rights. But with that said, we need to take this opportunity to remind Congress that when Leadership calls for another vote in the coming days, we expect for them to vote against this horrible legislation once again.



The Odd Millions: Clintons Disclose More Clandestine Cash

It seems like Hillary Clinton's campaign is trying to get all the bad news out early (though there isn't much good news). That way, the toxic waste might reach half-life before the primary election.

The Clinton Foundation released more details into how the Clintons went from "dead broke" to One Percenters, and it shows the family's overpriced speaking fees raked in $12 to $26.4 million more than previously disclosed. The money came from colleges, Wall Street companies like Goldman Sachs and foreign governments like Qatar.

The Clintons didn't disclose these payments because they counted them as revenue for a service, not donations. But in effect, this allowed groups to hand the Clintons a pile of undisclosed cash.

Members of Congress sent a letter to the IRS asking it to reconsider the Clinton Foundation's tax-exempt status. While asking the government to investigate the Clintons is valid, the letter may galvanize Democrats to rally around Clinton.

Instead, Republicans should let Clinton twist in the wind. Either progressives realize Clinton doesn't represent their idealism and challenge her majesty's claim to the Oval Office, or they wear her like an albatross.



Sid Blumenthal Changed His Benghazi Story

On Wednesday, we noted that longtime Clinton friend and adviser Sidney Blumenthal told Hillary on Sept. 12, 2012, that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was sparked by a YouTube video.

But after beginning to comb over some of Clinton's released emails, The New York Times reports this gem: "The next day [September 13], Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a more thorough account of what had occurred. Citing 'sensitive sources' in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said.

'We should get this around asap' Mrs. Clinton said in an email to [her then-deputy chief of staff] Mr. Sullivan. 'Will do,' he responded. That information contradicted the Obama administration's narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism."

So Hillary knew with certainty two days after the attack that it wasn't the spontaneous protest against an obscure Internet video that Barack Obama, Susan Rice and others in his administration would continue to claim for weeks afterward. And she knew this truth before she looked the father of slain former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods in the eye and promised, "We're going to have the person responsible for that video arrested."

It may turn out Hillary wishes she had released these emails before they became such a big story.



The Power of Lies — and Abraham Lincoln

I think Paul Craig Roberts in his comments below goes a bit over the top in calling the USA of Lincoln's day an empire. But Abraham Lincoln himself made clear (e.g. in his famous letter to Horace Greeley) that the pre-eminent purpose of his war was to save "the union". In practice that meant government of the people by the Northern elite for the Northern elite

It is one of history’s ironies that the Lincoln Memorial is a sacred space for the Civil Rights Movement and the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Lincoln did not think blacks were the equals of whites. Lincoln’s plan was to send the blacks in America back to Africa, and if he had not been assassinated, returning blacks to Africa would likely have been his post-war policy.

As Thomas DiLorenzo and a number of non-court historians have conclusively established, Lincoln did not invade the Confederacy in order to free the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation did not occur until 1863 when opposition in the North to the war was rising despite Lincoln’s police state measures to silence opponents and newspapers. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure issued under Lincoln’s war powers. The proclamation provided for the emancipated slaves to be enrolled in the Union army replenishing its losses. It was also hoped that the proclamation would spread slave revolts in the South while southern white men were away at war and draw soldiers away from the fronts in order to protect their women and children. The intent was to hasten the defeat of the South before political opposition to Lincoln in the North grew stronger.

The Lincoln Memorial was built not because Lincoln “freed the slaves,” but because Lincoln saved the empire. As the Savior of the Empire, had Lincoln not been assassinated, he could have become emperor for life.

As Professor Thomas DiLorenzo writes: “Lincoln spent his entire political career attempting to use the powers of the state for the benefit of the moneyed corporate elite (the ‘one-percenters’ of his day), first in Illinois, and then in the North in general, through protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare for road, canal, and railroad corporations, and a national bank controlled by politicians like himself to fund it all.”

Lincoln was a man of empire. As soon as the South was conquered, ravaged, and looted, his collection of war criminal generals, such as Sherman and Sheridan, set about exterminating the Plains Indians in one of the worst acts of genocide in human history. Even today Israeli Zionists point to Washington’s extermination of the Plains Indians as the model for Israel’s theft of Palestine.

The War of Northern Aggression was about tariffs and northern economic imperialism. The North was protectionist. The South was free trade. The North wanted to finance its economic development by forcing the South to pay higher prices for manufactured goods. The North passed the Morrill Tariff which more than doubled the tariff rate to 32.6% and provided for a further hike to 47%. The tariff diverted the South’s profits on its agricultural exports to the coffers of Northern industrialists and manufacturers. The tariff was designed to redirect the South’s expenditures on manufactured goods from England to the higher cost goods produced in the North.

This is why the South left the union, a right of self-determination under the Constitution.

The purpose of Lincoln’s war was to save the empire, not to abolish slavery.


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


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

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


24 May, 2015

Fine to be a Muslim in Britain but not a Jehovah's Witness?

Jehovah's Witnessses are strict Bible Christians much like the Puritans of old. They are however so strict about what the Bible says that they are one of the few Christian religions to acknowledge that the cross is an old pagan sex symbol. It symbolizes a penis entering spread legs.

The words in the original Greek of the Bible which are translated as cross are stauros and xylon, which mean "stake" and "wood" respectively. No word meaning "cross" is used. Jesus was executed with his hands nailed together over his head. So the cross story is just another pagan accretion like Christmas, Easter and observing the sabbath on a Sunday.

The little boy in the story below was therefore simply reflecting what the Bible says. It's a sad and strange day in a country formed by strict Bible Christians when the Koran is more acceptable than the Bible. No criticism of Islam is of course acceptable in Britain

A Jehovah's Witness' seven-year-old son has been taken into care because she damaged him with her 'religious beliefs and practices', a family court judge has ruled.

Judge Clifford Bellamy concluded that the boy had suffered 'emotional harm' from his mother and decided he would be better off with foster parents.

The young boy had been disruptive in school during lessons touching on Christianity, destroying projects and calling bible stories lies, a court heard.

Social services also believed the unnamed little boy was also at the centre of a rift between his parents so will no longer be living with either of them.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling by the judge following a family court hearing in Leicester but Judge Bellamy said no-one involved could be identified.

A member of staff at the youngster's school had told how the boy had said he 'could not be with people who didn't believe in Jehovah', said the judge.

The little boy had cut up materials his class was using in an exercise about the 'Crucifixion story' and had said, 'nobody's telling the true stories about Jehovah', the judge heard.

He had also 'presented as contemptuous, grimacing somewhat theatrically' when speaking about the 'non-Jehovah's Witness Bible'.

'I am satisfied that the fact that (he) has been immersed by his mother in her religious beliefs and practices has been a significant factor in causing that emotional harm.'

The judge said there were also concerns about the boy's relationship with his father. He said the youngster had spoken of his father being 'really mean to me' and had said: 'I don't love daddy at all.'

Social services staff had also thought the boy was being harmed by 'conflict' between his parents.

Judge Bellamy said he was satisfied that 'change' was required and that the youngster should be placed with experienced foster carers. He indicated that he would review the case later in the summer.

The boy's mother had not accepted that he had been harmed by 'immersion' in her religion and had denied introducing him to her religion in a bid to alienate him from his father



Social Justice as a Sacrament

If it was justice, it would not need the adjective in front of it

“Social Justice” is a religion. It has saints, dogma, and sacraments. It also has backsliders and apostates. As any religion knows, apostates must be dealt with lest they lead the rest of the flock astray. So any expression that shows them to be in any way rejecting the creeds of Social Justice must be met with a inquisitorial zeal. They must be made to recant…not just for the safety of the flock but for the good of their own souls. If they, like the proverbial village in Vietnam, have to be destroyed in order to be saved…well…so be it.

The interesting thing is that positions that were blessed by the SJWs in the past become rapidly outmoded and outdated and thus…incorrect. Evolve too slowly and one is a throwback reactionary who does not believe in progress, despite the fact that one’s views may be utterly in harmony with the doctrine of the church of Social Justice from only a few years ago.

SJWs cannot evolve too quickly either. That risks alienating the mass of SJWs who are not yet ready for more advanced views. But they do have a vanguard group who agitates for the more extreme positions, knowing that a slighly less extreme compromise will lead the faithful by the nose to the positions staked out by the vanguard over time.

Four decades ago it was decriminalizing homosexuality and legalizing abortion. Suggesting homosexuals should have the ability to marry and adopt would have been unacceptable except among a small group. And pushing for things like partial birth abortion would not even have been mentioned because it would have been too barbarous to be considered. Today, subscribing to these views is a requirement, a holy crusade for equality. Denying these “rights” today is sin. And the SJW church will require one to immediately confess their sin and be forced to undergo a struggle session to get their mind right.

But the interesting thing to watch is the avant-garde views that are slowly assimilated by the mass and made mainstream. What are the avant-garde views today? Where, in other words, are the SJWs headed?

This seems to me one of the reasons that aging liberals often wake up and begin adopting more moderate and in some cases even conservative views…because they were comfortable with progress up to a point but the movement has gone beyond their arbitrarily chosen boundries and they too suddenly find themselves athwart history yelling stop.

It is also one of the reasons why the “former liberal conversos” are extremely dubious, in my opinion. They often fail to acknowledge that it was their own efforts to promote “progress” in the first place that has landed all of us where we are now.

There is no compromise with progressivism and trying to stop it at some line drawn in the sand is a fool’s errand. Trying to hold them at bay cedes momentum to the progressives. Only a concerted campaign to destroy progressives root and branch by forcing the march of history in the other direction will ever have an effect.

Don’t want to be forced to support and defend homosexual marriage? Then arguing for a live and let live approach is stupid. Homosexuals certainly aren’t content with that.

Only forcing the issue the other direction offers hope.

Don’t want to be forced to have your tax money pay for contraception and abortions on demand? Then stop tolerating the existence of abortion which makes that the likeliest outcome over time.

In short, the only solution is to crush the SJWs. Remember…nits make lice. Extirpate them early and often.



Israel’s New Deputy FM: ‘This Land is Ours. All of It’

Israel – all of it – belongs to the Jewish people, the country’s new deputy foreign minister declared Thursday, citing a religious text and saying it was time Israeli diplomats stop using smart arguments in explaining Israel’s case to the international community, and “tell the world that we’re right.”

In remarks certain to infuriate the Palestinians and their supporters, Tzipi Hotovely told foreign ministry employees, speaking in Hebrew, “It’s important to say this land is ours. All of it is ours. We didn’t come here to apologize for that.”

The 36 year-old Hotovely, a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, is a vocal supporter of the right of Jews to live in what observant Jews like her describe as Israel’s biblical heartland, Judea and Samaria – or what the world calls the West Bank, demanded by the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) for an independent state.

“We must return to the basic truth about our right to the land,” Israeli media quoted her as saying. “Of course the world understands Israel’s security needs, but arguments of ethics and justice will trump security arguments.”

Against the backdrop of today’s debates over rights to the land, Hotovely cited a Torah commentary by a medieval rabbi, Rashi (Shlomo Yitzhaki), who said that should Jews be challenged about having stolen the land from the Canaanites, they should reply that God, who created everything, was entitled to take land away from one people and give it to the Jews if he so desired.

During an English portion of her comments, Hotovely said the government expects the international community to back up Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as the Jewish national state.

“And moreover, we expect as a matter of principle the international community recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland – everywhere,” she added, in a clear reference to communities in disputed territory widely regarded as “illegal settlements.”

Netanyahu’s new cabinet does not yet include a foreign minister – the prime minister has acting responsibility for the portfolio – which means Hotovely is effectively Israel’s top diplomat.

In Thursday’s speech she also accused the P.A. of focusing more on pressurizing Israel in the international community than on returning to negotiations leading to a resolution to the conflict.

“Unilateral steps by the Palestinians in the international arena will only impair a resolution and will not advance them in any way,” Hotovely said.

“This is maybe the biggest challenge of Israel, the fact that at the moment the legal arena is as important as the diplomatic arena, and the fact that the Palestinians are trying to convict Israel more than they would like to get to the negotiation table,” she added, in a likely reference to the International Criminal Court.

Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper headlined Hotovely’s citing of a rabbi, and said diplomats present during the speech said “her remarks raised eyebrows among many in the audience.”

The paper quoted one unnamed diplomat as saying her listeners were “in shock,” never having been advised before to use a Torah commentary in their diplomatic efforts around the world.

Oval Office credibility

On the eve of his re-election in March, Netanyahu unsettled the Obama administration by appearing to rule out Palestinian statehood on his watch, saying that establishing a Palestinian state today would amount to yielding territory to the rising forces of radical Islam, which would use that territory as a launchpad for attacks against Israel.

In a lengthy interview with week with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, President Obama explained why his administration had responded to Netanyahu’s comment as it had.

“When something like that happens, that has foreign-policy consequences, and precisely because we’re so close to Israel, for us to simply stand there and say nothing would have meant that this office, the Oval Office, lost credibility when it came to speaking out on these issues,” he said.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu told visiting European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini that he does support the “two-state solution,” but reiterated his long-stated conditions that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized, and must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The P.A. has repeatedly rejected both.

The French newspaper Le Figaro reported Wednesday that France is drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that will set an 18-month timetable for a final status agreement between Israel and the P.A. resulting in Palestinian statehood.

A similar bid in 2014 drew U.S. opposition, although the administration did not in the end have to use its veto to defeat it, as the resolution did not receive the minimum support – nine of the council’s 15 members – for it to advance.



Boy Scouts of America President Endangers Youth with PC Policy Supporting Gay Scout Leaders

In a statement, Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said that not allowing gay adults in the Scouts is an “unsustainable” policy.

Mr. Gates’ recommendation is an illustration of the extent to which commitment to political correctness can cloud the judgment even of someone who usually is able to apply sound judgment to issues. Not in this case.

It’s puzzling that someone would want to argue that it’s a good idea to have a homosexual—who, by self-definition, is attracted to individuals of the same sex—become Boy Scout leaders of groups of boys, where they will be placed in potentially compromising situations on camping trips and other outings.

For example, who in their right mind would suggest that heterosexual men should be Girl Scout masters and lead groups of minor girls in troop activities? This would be cause for outcry. Why? Because heterosexual men are attracted to females. For the same reasons you wouldn’t want heterosexual men being Girl Scouts, you shouldn’t have homosexual men become Boy Scout leaders.

It’s simply good judgment not to put underage adolescents in a situation where an adult supervisor is in potentially compromising situations with someone to whom they may be attracted sexually. As the parent of one son and two daughters, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted this for my children. This is a case of the Boy Scouts’ president being taken captive by political correctness. Morality aside, this is an issue of sound judgment and society’s obligation to protect its underage citizens.



That pesky reality again


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

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


22 May, 2015

The wide-ranging influence of genetics

The Left long denied the influence of genetics but now simply ignore it. The study below is therefore powerful evidence of just how wrong they are. Hans Eysenck, a considerable student of genetics, once said to me, "It's ALL genetic". He was of course making a conversational statement to a colleague rather than a precise scientific one but the present study does confirm one sense of what he said: ALL traits have a substantial genetic component. And the writer below makes the correct and important point that the 50/50 split observed is only an average and that the genetic contribution varies from trait to trait. So the findings do not overturn the usual finding that IQ is about two thirds genetic

It's a question that dogged scientists for close to a century and Queensland researchers say they have the answer. When it comes to health, in the age-old battle of nature versus nurture… It's a draw.

University of Queensland research fellow Dr Beben Benyamin worked with scholars at the VU University of Amsterdam to review almost every twin study completed globally in the past 50 years.

After analysing studies of more than 14.5 million twin pairs across 17,804 traits from 2748 publications, they found variation for human traits and diseases was 49 per cent genetic (nature), and 51 per cent due to environmental factors (nurture).

The Queensland Brain Institute researcher said the draw was expected but he was pleased to be able to put a number on the variation and surprised by how similar an influence each aspect had.

"Most of the reviews have been for specific traits, like people are interested in studying one particular disease and review all the twin studies for one disease," he said. "But this is I think is the first one to review everything about all disease and all twin studies that are available at the moment."

The influence of nature and nurture is actually a complex interplay rather than a simple either/or and is far from equal across all traits and diseases.

The risk for bipolar disorder was about 70 per cent due to genetics and 30 per cent due to environmental factors, Dr Benyamin found.



Denying Reality Itself: Progressivism's Last Gasp

Two seemingly unrelated stories need to be linked together in order to more fully explain the dogged determination of an American Left hell bent on fundamentally transforming the United States by any means necessary.

Let’s begin with the latest and completely unsurprising revelation regarding illegal immigration. According to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, the backlog in federal immigration courts has reached an all-time high of 445,706 cases, representing a 30 percent increase since Oct 1, 2013. The principal driver of that backlog? Last summer’s border “surge” that included “68,500 unaccompanied children and about as many family units crossing the southern border, most from Central America,” the LA Times reports.

As a result there is a four-year backlog with a number of cases scheduled to be heard in 2019.

And in a testament to the corruption that attends this reality, Obama administration officials are expecting another surge this summer. Actually it’s already begun, but not to worry: It’s just the second-biggest surge of all time with “only” 15,647 unaccompanied children jumping the border in the first six months of the fiscal year, compared to 28,579 that came across at this point in 2014. Ditto for “family units,” of which the 13,911 currently apprehended represents a 30 percent decrease compared to last year. “These statistics show that the surge of illegal arrivals from Central America was never really over,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, who added that Congress and the Obama administration have done nothing to end the “pull factors” that drive this rampant lawlessness.

It gets worse. “The Congressional Research Service told Congress in late March that 62 percent of the children failed to show up for their cases before immigration judges from July through February,” The Washington Times reports. “All of them were ordered deported, but the workload of officials made deportation unlikely in most cases.” In other words, we have a completely overloaded system, about to be further overloaded, resulting in thousands of additional illegals entering the nation and staying for as long as they please — because they will doubtlessly be deliberately dispersed throughout the entire country by the Obama administration, just as they were last year, making it virtually impossible to keep track of them.

In short, everything is going exactly as it was intended to go.

The rule of law? In February, Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered the administration to cease its amnesty efforts, insisting the president had overstepped his constitutional boundaries. At the time Justice Department lawyers assured Hanen that Obama's order would not be implemented until the outcome of Hanen’s stay was adjudicated.

Oops Number One was revealed in March, when the Obama administration admitted 108,000 immigrants had been granted three-year renewals of their previously deferred status instead of two years. “You said it’s not happening,” Hanen snapped at the time. “And like an idiot I believed that.”

Oops Number Two occurred just over two weeks ago when government lawyers admitted they had defied Hanen’s order and approved an additional 2,000 applications for three-year work permits. "The government sincerely regrets these circumstances and is taking immediate steps to remedy these erroneous three-year terms,“ administration lawyers said. What steps? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) is asking those who received "erroneously issued" employment authorization documents (EAD) to return them. No doubt that will work just as well as the aforementioned demand that illegals show up for immigration hearings.

Hanen was considering whether to issue sanctions against the Obama administration — after the first revelation. Anyone else think a contempt of court finding and jail terms would be a better outcome following this latest outrage?

Yet as outrageous as this effort to deconstruct American culture is, it pales by comparison to the one being contemplated by Fairfax County Public Schools. They are planning to introduce a concept known as "gender fluidity” into their family life curriculum for grades 7 through 12. “Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”

The document continues: “Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime. Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”

This latest insanity follows another agenda, approved by a vote of 10 to 1 with one abstention, to add “gender identity” to the curriculum’s non-discrimination policy. It allows boys who insist they are girls trapped in a boy’s body to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. Board member Ryan McElveen characterized the changes as the “the civil rights issue of our day,” even as he insisted the changes would initially be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

School Board spokesman John Torre insisted the latest changes have nothing to do with the previous vote and he insisted parents will be able to opt out of classes "including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.“

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council accurately describes the indoctrination that will be taking place. "The larger picture is this is really an attack on nature itself — the created order,” he insisted. “Human beings are created male and female. But the current transgender ideology goes way beyond that. They’re telling us you can be both genders, you can be no gender, you can be a gender that you make up for yourself. And we’re supposed to affirm all of it.”

Fox News' Todd Starnes gets to the real agenda. He asked the district to provide him with “the textbooks and scientific data they will be using to instruct the children that there are dozens and dozens of possible genders.” Torre’s response? "Lessons have not been developed for the proposed lesson objectives,“ he stated. "Because of the need to develop lessons, the proposed objectives would not be implemented until fall 2016.”

“In other words — they don’t have a clue,” Starnes rightly asserts.

Why should they? This isn’t about science, it’s about pure unadulterated indoctrination being imposed by radical leftist bullies who will invariably label anyone who disagrees with their agenda as a “bigot,” much like those who refuse to countenance the free-for-all at our southern border are labeled “xenophobes” or “nativists.”

Why are these stories related? Because they are both calculated efforts aimed at destroying long-held beliefs in concepts such as the rule of law, national sovereignty, traditional customs culture and religion, sexual identity, biological imperatives and, inevitably, reality itself. This is no accident. Every one of those concepts provides stability and clarity to a society. Their deconstruction elicits doubt, instability and confusion in that same society.

A society unceasingly marinated in the latter qualities is one being primed for tyranny. It is a tyranny where the only “evil” that will be universally recognized by these leftist jackboots is dissent, a reality already playing itself out on college campuses replete with “free speech zones,” “safe rooms,” and “micro-aggresson” warning labels that accompany any deviation from leftist ideology. A reality played out over and over again in popular culture where anyone who defies this ongoing assault is portrayed as unhip and out of touch at best, or a “bitter clinging” racist, homophobe, misogynist, etc. who must die off before true “enlightenment” can occur.

Yet it is exactly the Left’s intolerance of dissent that reveals its desperation. Most Americans intuitively understand there is no enlightenment that attends a nation of balkanized, ethnic subgroups purposefully played off against one another. They know a question as simple as “where do babies come from?” is utterly anathema to the Left’s efforts to deny biology reality that, with the rarest of exceptions, accrues to the vast majority of human beings. They know that every place leftist policies have been unchallenged for decades has yielded unprecedented levels of misery and despair, as the pathologies that beset cities like Detroit, Baltimore and a soon-to-be bankrupt Chicago indicate.

Denying reality itself is the last gasp. Because if there is no reality, then all things are possible.

Last week in Nigeria a restaurant was shut down for cooking human flesh and serving it to customers. A bag containing bloody, severed heads was found in the kitchen. Most people consider a story like this shocking. That is only possible in a world where good and evil still exist, and reality itself cannot be denied — all the leftist-imposed “fluidity” in the world notwithstanding.



US military intelligence documents predicted rise of Islamic State

SECRET documents obtained via freedom of information requests reveal the US military predicted the rise of IS well before the group began making headlines around the world.

Over a 100 pages of classified reports from the Department of Defence and the State Department obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch paint a starkly different picture to what the Obama administration had previously portrayed to the public.

Among the documents is an August 2012 report containing military intel which predicted the rise of the Islamic State in the wake of regime change in Syria.

The document outlined the “dire consequences on the Iraqi situation,” and potential opportunity for the terrorist group, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Many of the “dire consequences” were redacted but the report highlights the known intent to establish a caliphate in the country.

“This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi,” the document states.

“ISI (Islamic State of Iraq) could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

The intelligence is largely at odds with comments made by President Obama in a 60 Minutes interview in September last year in which he said the US intelligence underestimated IS.

“I think they (US intelligence operatives) had underestimated what had been going on in Syria,” he said while also suggesting his administration over-estimated the strength of Iraqi government forces.

His comments were slammed by Republican Senator John McCain at the time. “We predicted this and watched it,” said the man Obama defeated in the 2008 Presidential elections.

“It was like watching a train wreck and warning every step of the way that this was happening.”

The document is dated August 5, 2012. Seventeen months later, President Obama dismissed the terrorist group as a “JV team” — a high school sporting term used to imply something is second rate.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV (junior varsity) team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said in January 2014.

His comments came months before the 2012 Presidential election and were uncharacteristically dismissive for an administration which has been careful not to understate global security threats.

The release of the documents could also prove troubling for Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.

Contained in the reports is the information that the US had identified al-Qaeda as the culprit of the 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi which killed two American diplomats.

Secretary of State at the time, Clinton had told the public the attack was a spontaneous one which grew out of a protest and was not an organised terror plot.

However a report obtained by Judicial Watch was sent to the office of Clinton on the morning after the attack and made no mention of any demonstrations taking place.

The handling and disinformation in the wake of the attack became a huge scandal in the US which culminated in Clinton’s fiery testimony to Congress over the issue.

An October 2012 report also reveals the Obama administration was aware of a shipment of weapons from the Port of Benghazi to rebel troops in Syria.

“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles,” the document states.



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

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


21 May, 2015

Buchanan strikes back

I like a lot of what Pat Buchanan says -- his knowledge of history is exceptional -- but I disagree with his views below. He clearly has no background in economics. His major point below is that largely bipartisan measures fostering free trade have led to a large loss of American factory jobs -- with most consumer products now being made in China. What he refuses to look at is the great enrichment of Americans that freeish trade has brought about. You now get far more for your dollar by buying Chinese. It's much the same in Australia. I have seen the price of some electrical goods plummet from around $100 to $10. That's phenomenal.

Buchanan notes that America is now much less self-sufficient than it was but America is not at war with the rest of the world and the huge trade relationship with China is surely a strong force for peace. America would not want to cut itself off from its major supplier and China would not want to cut itself off from its major customer.

And the situation in fact gives America a lot of leverage. If China became particularly annoying, America could without great bother embargo the import of all Chinese products. Suppliers in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere could readily take up the slack and replace China as suppliers. China, on the other hand, could not at all replace America as a customer. So China has now to a substantial extent put itself in America's power. Not that the black jellyfish in the White House at present would ever exercise such power.

And moving Americans out of assembly line jobs surely has a lot to be said for it also

As Middle America rises in rage against "fast track" and the mammoth Obamatrade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, The Wall Street Journal has located the source of the malady.

Last Monday's lead editorial began:

"Here we go again. In the 1990s Pat Buchanan launched a civil war within the Republican Party on a platform targeting immigration and trade. Some claimed Pitchfork Pat was the future of the GOP, though in the end he mainly contributed to its presidential defeats."

But, woe is us, "the GOP's Buchanan wing is making a comeback."

Now it is true that, while Nixon and Reagan won 49-state landslides and gave the GOP five victories in six presidential contests, the party has fallen upon hard times. Only once since 1988 has a Republican presidential nominee won the popular vote.

But was this caused by following this writer's counsel? Or by the GOP listening to the deceptions of its Davos-Doha-Journal wing?

In the 1990s, this writer and allies in both parties fought NAFTA, GATT and MFN for China. The Journal and GOP establishment ran with Bill and Hillary and globalization. And the fruits of their victory?

Between 2000 and 2010, 55,000 U.S. factories closed and 5 million to 6 million manufacturing jobs disappeared. Columnist Terry Jeffrey writes that, since 1979, the year of maximum U.S. manufacturing employment, "The number of jobs in manufacturing has declined by 7,231,000 — or 37 percent."

Does the Journal regard this gutting of the greatest industrial base the world had ever seen, which gave America an independence no republic had ever known, an acceptable price of its New World Order?

Beginning in 1991, traveling the country and visiting plant after plant that was shutting down or moving to Asia or Mexico, some of us warned that this economic treason against America's workers would bring about political retribution. And so it came to pass.

Since 1988, a free-trade Republican Party has not once won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois or Wisconsin in a presidential election. Ohio, the other great Midwest industrial state, is tipping. The Reagan Democrats are gone. Who cast them aside? You or us?

Since the early 1990s, we have run $3 billion to $4 billion in trade deficits with China. Last year's was $325 billion, or twice China's defense budget. Are not all those factories, jobs, investment capital and consumer dollars pouring into China a reason why Beijing has been able to build mighty air and naval fleets, claim sovereignty over the South and East China seas, fortify reefs 1,000 miles south of Hainan Island, and tell the U.S. Navy to back off?

The Journal accuses us of being anti-growth. But as trade surpluses add to a nation's GDP, trade deficits subtract from it. Does the Journal think our $11 trillion in trade deficits since 1992 represents a pro-growth policy?

On immigration, this writer did campaign on securing the border in 1991-92, when there were 3 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

But the Bush Republicans refused to seal the border.

Now there are 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants and the issue is tearing the party apart. Now everybody is for "secure borders."

We did urge a "moratorium" on legal immigration, such as America had from 1924 to 1965, to assimilate and Americanize the millions who had come. The Journal Republicans called that xenophobia.

Since then, tens of millions of immigrants, here legally and illegally, mostly from the Third World, have arrived. Economically, they consume more in tax dollars than they contribute.

Politically, most belong to ethnic groups that vote between 70 and 90 percent Democratic. Their children will bury the GOP.

Consider California, which voted for Nixon all five times he was on a national ticket and for Reagan in landslides all four times he ran.

Since 1988, California has not gone Republican in a single presidential election. No Republican holds statewide office. Both U.S. Senators are Democrats. Democrats have 39 of 53 U.S. House seats. Republican state legislators are outnumbered 2-to-1.

Americans of European descent, who provide the GOP with 90 percent of its presidential vote, are down to 63 percent of the nation and falling. By 2042, they will be a minority. And there goes the GOP.



Jindal on Hillary Clinton's Vision: 'It Sounds Like Reeducation Camps'

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R.-La.) told Fox News on Sunday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded like she was pushing for “re-education camps” when she said "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed" on abortion.

"The reality is first of all you listen to her language: ‘our religious beliefs need to be changed.’ It sounds like reeducation camps. She didn't say specifically how she wants us to change our beliefs. My religious beliefs aren't between me and Hillary Clinton. They're between me and God," Jindal said.

Jindal was asked what he thought about Clinton saying religious beliefs will have to be changed in terms of abortion.

Speaking at the "Women in the World" Summit last month, Clinton said women won't have full access to "reproductive health care" until "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases" are changed.

"Yes we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half but far too many women are denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we've passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will, and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed," Clinton said.

Jindal also criticized Clinton and the left for how they construe freedom of religion.

"That's the dangerous view of the left. You hear Hillary Clinton, President Obama, when they say you've got freedom of religious expression. For them what that really means is you're allowed to go to church and say whatever you want for an hour or two a week. That doesn't mean you've got the real religious liberty rights our Founding Fathers intended. They intended we should be able to live our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to our beliefs," Jindal said.

"Our Founding Fathers would never recognize what the left is trying to do. They're trying to take God out of the public square. They're trying to make America a much more secular country. They're trying to make faith something that is private, circumscribed, something you've got to put into a corner. That's not the America our Founding Fathers would've recognized, not an America our parents would've recognized. It's not an America I hope our children recognize,” he said.



Sharpton's Daughter Learns the Shakedown

Dominique Sharpton believes NYC owes her $5 mil because that's where she was when she tripped and sprained her ankle.

Al Sharpton's oldest daughter, 29 year old Dominique, has filed a lawsuit against New York City because she tripped while crossing the street and sprained her ankle. The alleged fall happened in October of last year, and she was pictured wearing a walking boot several times in the following few weeks. Shortly afterwards, she began wearing very high heels again, demonstrating that her ankle had healed. By December, she was participating in her father's Justice for All March through DC.

In the lawsuit she claims that her fall left her "severely injured, bruised, and wounded." Although she stated on her social media pages that she "sprained [her] ankle real bad lol," the lawsuit alleges that her unspecified injuries were much more severe. She and her lawyer claim she has, "internal and external injuries to the whole body, lower and upper limbs, the full extent of which are unknown, permanent pain and mental anguish."

These claims of full-body injury and "permanent pain," may be difficult to prove, given that she recently climbed a mountain while vacationing in Bali. She posted a selfie taken from the top of the mountain on her social media pages. It's unlikely that she would have been able to perform that feat were she still in pain. It's even more unlikely that a simple sprain or bruising from a typical trip would cause "permanent pain." If she were truly "still suffering," as the lawsuit alleges climbing a mountain should have been nearly impossible.

Dominique is seeking $5 million from the city to compensate for her "loss of quality of life, future pain and suffering, future medical bills, and future diminution of income."

No explanation has been offered as to how a sprained ankle last October will affect her income in the future. She works for her father's organization and none of the work she does should be anywhere near as physical as climbing a mountain.



Obama's slimy language again

Thomas Sowell

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.” Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about “investing in the industries of the future”? After Solyndra and other companies in which he “invested” the taxpayers' money went bankrupt, we haven’t heard those soaring words so much.

Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama’s rhetoric, these producers are called “society’s lottery winners.”

Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?

Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don’t want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want “the rich” to pay their undefined “fair share” of taxes. This “fair share” must remain undefined because all it really means is “more.”

Once you have defined it — whether at 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent — you wouldn’t be able to come back for more.

Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. “You didn’t build that!” he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world’s wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.

And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

When all else fails, redistributionists can say, as Obama did at Georgetown University, that “coldhearted, free-market capitalist types” are people who “pretty much have more than you’ll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use,” so they should let the government take that extra money to help the poor.

Slippery use of the word “use” seems to confine it to personal consumption. The real question is whether the investment of wealth is likely to be done better by those who created that wealth in the first place or by politicians. The track record of politicians hardly suggests that turning ever more of a nation’s wealth over to them is likely to turn out well.

It certainly has not turned out well in the American economy under Barack Obama.



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

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


20 May, 2015

Black Brain, White Brain?

There came out recently a book called Black Brain, White Brain -- by Gavin Evans. It seems to have got some acclaim so I thought I might say a bit about it. That task seems to be facilitated by an article by Evans under the same heading which appeared just over a month ago. The article seems to summarize the main points of the book and thus spares me the time of reading the book. But if there are things in the book which undermine any of the things I day below, I would be delighted to hear of it.

The main point of the book seems to be an accusation that it is racist to discuss the black/white IQ gap. And like all other efforts in that direction that I know of it does a lot of huffing and puffing and declaring things obvious rather than providing proof of them. The abusive and intemperate writing by Evans may be judged by his reference to "racist science that has been spewing out of the computers". Do computers spew? His use of abusive language like that is certainly a strong indication that he has a weak case that he is trying to cover up. "fester" and "dangerous" are other emotive words he uses. Abuse in lieu of facts is a very familiar Leftist modus operandi. And a few of Evans's assertions do seem to be simply wrong.

And in the best Leftist style, his writing is almost entirely an appeal to authority. Quite illogically, he thinks that because other people have declared something wrong then it must be wrong. That many people have declared genetically-oriented treatments of the black/white IQ gap to be wrong and mistaken proves nothing at all. It simply shows that most academics are Leftist. For Evans to have written in any sort of scholarly way, he would have to list the main points where the genetic writers were found to be in error. He does not do that.

He seems to think that he has made a great point by saying that no one gene for IQ has been discovered. So what? IQ researchers have for decades accepted with perfect calm that IQ is polygenetic. Whether one gene or many is behind a difference may make research more or less difficult but it does not take away from the fact that the difference is genetic. And the genes that do contribute to IQ differences are being discovered all the time. I must make a list of the studies concerned some time. I have noted quite a few on this blog.

He then goes on to claim that intelligence has not evolved for 100,000 years. That completely ignores the work of Bruce Lahn, who showed a major evolutionary change in brain size about 5,000 years ago, a change which coincided with the birth of civilization and which is almost unknown in Africa. Pesky!

Another claim by Evans: "Other studies have also shown that the IQs of children adopted into middle class homes rise significantly and that these increases can persist into adulthood". He is right about the first part but wrong about the second part. Manipulations of the environment can improve IQ scores in childhood and even into the teens but by about age 30, all those improvements are lost. By age 30 most environmental influences have washed out and the genetic endowment comes to the fore.

And then Evans gets on to the good ol' Flynn effect. So much has been written about that that I hesitate to write any more but in summary, the Flynn effect seems to be an artifact of increasing years of schooling and the test sophistication that engenders. On important IQ subtests -- such as vocabulary -- where being test-wise does not help -- there has been very little movement in scores. And in some advanced countries -- such as Nederland -- the rise has petered out, as one would expect if it was just a one-time artifact that had approached an asymptote (maximum value).

Finally, I am amazed by his assertion that "black American IQs are rising at a faster rate than those of white Americans". I know of no evidence for that. In fact, on some indices, the black/white gap is increasing. So I guess I will have to "fester" away in my conclusion that there are real and inborn differences between the average IQs of blacks and whites.

And let's not have the old nonsense that IQ tests measure something limited and mysterious. They measure general problem-solving ability, which is why researchers tend to use the term 'g' instead of 'IQ'.

And I may note that my view of IQ is no longer academically marginalized stuff at all. I don't quite know whether to be pleased or disappointed but it seems that mainstream psychology is catching up with what psychometricians such as myself have been saying for years: That IQ is highly general, highly central, highly hereditary and of overwhelming importance in determining people's life-chances. Not so long ago any claim to that effect would be very marginal within psychology and would expose anyone making it to all sorts of nasty accusations.

But you can now read it all not in some obscure academic journal or some Rightist source but in a 2004 issue (vol. 86 no. 1) of the American Psychological Association's most widely-circulated journal -- the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Article after article there sets out the importance of IQ. And for social psychologists to be taking an interest in such evidence is really amazing. Psychometricians have known all that stuff for years. It is the social psychologists who have been most resistant to such ideas. I guess that even an organization as Leftist as the American Psychological Association has to come to terms with the evidence eventually.

And note that the APA conceded some time ago that "African American IQ scores have long averaged about 15 points below those of Whites". 15 points is one standard deviation, which is a huge difference -- accounting for 34% of the distribution. So it looks like I've got a lot of company in my "festering", as Evans calls it. Evans is fighting a lost battle.


Jihadis: An historical perspective

Muslims are not so different. Not only Hitler preached a similar message of sacrifice but the whole Western world did in WWI. It took huge defeats and disasters to wipe out that mentality among Westerners. Islam too will have to be given very heavy blows if they are to come down to earth. Appeasing them is the opposite of what is needed. Judicious use of nuclear weapons may be needed to bring about the massive deaths required. They will go on killing otherwise. Harry Truman, where are you?

Quotes from Hitler on "Sacrifice"

1) The preservation of the existence of a species presuppose a spirit of sacrifice.

2) The state-forming forces are the ability and will of the individual to sacrifice himself for the totality.

3) The young regiments had not gone to their death crying "Long live universal suffrage and the secret ballot," but crying "Deutschland uber Alles in der Welt."

4) The most precious blood sacrificed itself joyfully, in the faith that it was preserving the freedom of the fatherland.

5) In the sacred ground the best comrades slumbered, still almost children, who had run to their death with gleaming eyes for the one true fatherland.

6) When in the long war years Death snatched so many a dear comrade and friend from our ranks, it would have seemed to me almost a sin to complain-after all, were, they not dying for Germany?

7) The Aryan willingly subordinates his own ego to the life of the community and, if the hour demands, even sacrifices it.

8) In giving one's life for the existence of the community lies the crown of all sacrifice.

9) Any man who loves his people proves it solely by the sacrifices which he is prepared to make for it.

10) What made men die was not concern for their daily bread, but love of the fatherland.

11) The idea of military service dawned on my lads in terms of the duty to sacrifice the life of the individual, always and forever, at all times and places.

12) Thousands of young Germans stepped forward to sacrifice their young lives freely and joyfully on the altar of the beloved fatherland.

13) To be "social" means that every individual is so convinced of the goodness of this community as to be ready to die for it.

14) To be “national" means to act with a boundless and all-embracing love for the people and, if necessary, even to die for it.

15) The National Socialist Party looked to those idealists who are ready to sacrifice their own existence to the eternal life of people and of Reich.

16) Life for you German boys and girls must mean sacrifice.

17) Nobody can do more than sacrifice himself for his people, and to that sacrifice we must ever pledge ourselves.

Please examine these statements carefully. One quickly realizes there is nothing unconventional here. Hitler’s rhetoric and ideology were entirely in the tradition of nationalism.

Hitler declared: “Our love towards our people will never falter, and our faith in this German of ours is imperishable.” Nazism begins with love of country, faith in Germany—and willingness to die and kill.

John F. Kennedy (on January 20, 1961) said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Subsequently—particularly after the Vietnam War—the sacrificial imperative in the United States began to fade.

During the period 1990-2000, American military thinking revolved around the idea of “casualty aversion.” The American public too seemed to embrace John Lennon’s proposition that there was nothing worth killing and dying for.

The suicide attacks of September 11, 2001 revived the idea of dying for a cause. Post-modernists had declared the “Death of grand narratives,” but apparently Islamic jihadists had not been persuaded by their texts.

Sacrificial death made a comeback. Bin Laden asserted, “We love death the way you Americans love life.” Not to be outdone, George Bush affirmed that we too possess sacred values: “As you die and kill for Allah, so we die and kill for freedom and democracy.”

Having refocused on sacrificial death, we return to conceptualize the history of the 20th Century. World War I may be understood as a monumental episode undertaken by “devoted actors” who died and killed for sacred values.

Nazism also was a case study in “sacrificial devotion” (Michael Roberts). Hitler declared, “We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany we have achieved the greatest deed in the world.” As radical Islamists seek to rescue the ideal of Allah by killing infidels, so did Hitler seek to destroy “non-believers” who did not acknowledge the omnipotence of Germany.



Hysterical Democrats Take the Exploitation Train

In the case of hysterical leftists, their response to every crisis, real or manufactured, is to find the political angle that supports a statist or collectivist policy and begin the echo chamber of victimization and mass protest. The horrific Amtrak derailment is no exception.

First, the facts. Forensic examination of video footage from cameras mounted on the Amtrak passenger train shows that it inexplicably accelerated from 70 mph to 106 mph in the 65 seconds before the crash, all while heading into a turn with an authorized speed limit of 50 mph. This feat, according to Amtrak and the National Transportation Safety Board, should have been impossible due to the train’s design, which allows it to accelerate only via manual control.

Amtrak train No. 188 crashed due to the defiance of the laws of nature and, quite possibly, human error.

Oh, but ne'er a crisis should be lost as an opportunity to level political blame at those who demand accountability, transparency and results in government spending and programs.

After the Philadelphia Amtrak train met with calamity, the eight lives lost and the two hundred plus injured passengers were converted from tragic victims of a horrific accident to props in political theater.

A harsh statement? Well, let’s roll tape.

At a House Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday, only one day after the train wreck, Oregon Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio was shown blasting Republicans who should be “cognizant of the real world out there, of what happened last night, of what the capital needs of Amtrak are, and will not engage in short-sighted budget cutting.”

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) decried that a decision to block a $1 billion spending increase was directly responsible for the deadly incident and its victims: “Last night we failed them. We failed to invest in their safety.” This Democrat’s statement was made so early in the first responders' rescue and recovery phase that not all the victims had yet been cleared from the wreckage.

And Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) declared, “We don’t know the connection between funding and this incident, but regardless, Amtrak needs more funding.”

Presstitutes lined up to do their part, parroting the DNC-approved narrative that “mean Republicans wouldn’t increase spending by $1 billion as requested, so people died!” (Imagine that spoken in the most dramatic, angst-filled oratory to get the full intended effect.)

News accounts attempted to tie the House Appropriations vote to the absence of a high-tech safety system — the Positive Train Control (PTC) — that theoretically would govern the Philadelphia train and override any human error or mechanical failure that could cause such a dramatic and inappropriate increase in speed.

The NTSB showed its own reckless behavior in making erroneous and accusatory remarks. The PTC safety system is in place on the very Amtrak line where this crash occurred. Why was this advanced safety system not operational? Government regulation, of course.

The PTC operates through wireless networks requiring Federal Communications Commission approval. FCC negotiations have been ongoing since 2011 to award Amtrak use to implement this system.

In addition to the lie that funding kept the safety system from being installed, the new narrative around the train’s unsafe acceleration will be that Republicans are attacking the engineer for his homosexual and pro-union activism. Funny, the only folks reporting this man’s personal life are the same ones who keep blaming funding for a system already in place but choked in Obamaland bureaucracy.

The Left rewrites the truth one social media hashtag at a time and cranking up the decibel of protest.

Mark Twain seems to capture the value Democrats place on veracity and our fellow American citizens: “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”



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

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


19 May, 2015

George Stephanopoulos is a left wing operative and not a real journalist: I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

By Rich Kozlovich

To quote a man who – if he had really lived – would have to be considered one of the world's unique moralists, Captain Renault, played by Claude Rains in Casablanca as he’s ordered to close Rick’s American Café for political reasons:

Renault: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Employee of Rick's: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.
Renault: Oh, thank you, very much. Everybody out at once!

On May 16, 2015 Onan Coca posted an article titled, “MediaRealizes that Stephanopoulos May Actually be a Liberal Activist and Not a Journalist!” She starts out saying:

“The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple says what everyone else is thinking when it comes to George Stephanopoulos’ recent interview of Clinton Cash author Peter Schweitzer. Instead of simply being a good interview about an important book at the start of a Presidential election campaign… perhaps the interview was actually an attempt by a liberal activist and Clinton ally to put out a fire before it began raging. We’re all talking about this media stuff. But, yes, I think that when George Stephanopoulos goes on with a major figure and talks about, you know, the “Clinton Cash” book or whatever, I could sense that he was going after Peter Schweitzer. At the time, it looked like legitimate journalism. In retrospect, it looks like activism”.

Steve BreenAnd everyone's shocked? Over the weekend a number of Fox News shows had their talking heads (for clarity sake, I actually like some of the talking heads) do some commentary on this issue. I might point out since it wasn’t corruption by a conservative the MSM pretty much ignored the issue. But there’s no liberal bias….or it’s very limited....Right? After all….there’s no such thing as a conspiracy. Right? Of course there are those small minded individuals who will wonder if it’s possible there’s a bigger reason why there’s so little coverage by the left wing media. Is it possible this is a deeper story than just good old George? Is it possible they’re all guilty of this kind of stuff? Nah, that can’t be true! They’re full of liberal purity, like the Clintons, and the Kennedy’s.

There were two things that I found amazing.

First off, it amazes me just how many people actually watch this guy. Oh, I know the numbers on the MSM are dwindling, but he’s still has quite a following. I never watched him for more than a few minutes total since his very first show. Why? Because he made his bones as a Clintonista left wing operative and a spin master. It’s part and parcel of who he is. Why would anyone think he would change? He just gets paid a whole lot more from ABC for spinning the truth than he did when he was paid by the Clinton administration for spinning the truth.

Secondly, it never ceases to amaze me how many in the media, including Karl Rove, who attempted to claim Stephanopoulos had made the transition in everyone’s mind from a Democratic activist to a journalist. It reminds me of a time when conservative commentators– perhaps I should say seeming conservative commentators - were crying crocodile tears a few years ago because of the New York Times financial problems, fearing the Old Gray Hag would go out of business. All that hand wringing irrespective of the well known historical facts showing the NYT has been a left wing treasonous canker sore on the butt of journalism since the Roosevelt administration. One reader pointed out his operative status was only a “secret from other media types, which explains why you can't trust any of them, because at best they're only a 5 watt bulb, when a 100 watt bulb is what is needed for that type of job”.

Greg Gutfeld – one of Fox’s talking heads I like – is quoted in the article as she says:

“there is even more reason for concern for ABC. Because on the heels of the Stephanopoulos – Schweitzer interview, the Clintons used the piece to try to discredit the book and its author. They sourced each other, that’s the great thing. It’s like the Clinton campaign fact checks Schweizer’s book, and then Stephanopoulos uses that in the interview and then Clinton goes back to the Stephanopoulos interview and says,“see.” So it’s this little circle of sourcing each other. It’s like two criminals providing each other an alibi.”

But as for the rest of them - I guess they’re just “shocked, shocked” to find there’s corruption going on here, even as they attempt to find reasons to allow these people to continue in their corruption. Apparently they also need to go along to get along in order to play the game.

Here’s another interesting quote from Casablanca I find applicable.

Renault: Rick, there are many exit visas sold in this café, but we know that you've never sold one. That is the reason we permit you to remain open.
Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you win at roulette.
Renault: That is another reason.

Nothing is ever as it seems, except to remember that corruption is always part of the human equation. However, since leftism has no moral foundation we should expect higher levels of corruption in everything they do. In their case it’s not a conspiracy. It’s intrinsic to leftist character! Here's one more quote that could help define most of the media, conservative and liberal:

Renault: I have no conviction, if that's what you mean. I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.

The difference between Captain Renault and the media? He was honest about his corruption! Now we have clarity!



Obama's Casual Slander of American Christians

Earlier this week, Harvard professor Robert Putnam did a Q&A with Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein, headlined "Have faith groups been too absent in the fight on poverty?" Here is Putnam's answer to that question:

The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for. This is the most obvious point in the world. It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.

That the venerable author of Bowling Alone would say this, let alone declare it "the most obvious point in the world," is a good reminder of that even the most brilliant social scientists are, more often than not, demonstrably full of it. There's a damning retort to this by Rob Schwarzwalder and Pat Fagan at Religion News Service. Just to give you an idea, a single Christian Charity, World Vision, spends about $2.8 billion on anti-poverty efforts. "That would rank World Vision about 12th within the G20 nations in terms of overseas development assistance," World Vision President Richard Stearns noted in Christianity Today a few years back.

Fagan and Schwarzwelder do a lot more number crunching, but the upshot is that Christians spend billions and billions fighting poverty. Even the most generous estimates of the resources devoted to pro-life causes and organizations defending traditional marriage are just a few hundred million dollars. By contrast, the budget of Planned Parenthood alone is just over a billion dollars. I don't know what the Human Rights Campaign's budget is, but if I've walked by their impressive building in Washington many times and I suspect they could marshall the resources of a small nation.

Now, this is bad enough. But Putnam also recently appeared on a panel at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University discussing this very topic with columnist E.J. Dionne, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, and, yes, Barack Obama. The president himself joined in the mendacious chorus:

“Despite great caring and concern,” [Obama] said, “when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what's the defining issue, when you're talking in your congregations, what's the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this”—fighting poverty—“is often times viewed as a 'nice to have' relative to an issue like abortion.”

Nice to have? What would be nice to have is a president who's not so divorced from the reality of American Christians that he thinks he has the moral authority to more or less slander millions of well-intentioned Christians. Their lives and the things they care about could not be more different than how it is casually being characterized by a president who has apparently turned the White House into an Ivory Tower.

What about the inner city pastor who wakes up in the middle of the night everytime there's a knock on the door and rummages through his own fridge to feed the homeless guy on his step? What about the ladies of the church Golden Group who spent the last week turning old colorful pillowcases and bits of ribbon into dresses to send to young girls in Haiti who literally have nothing to wear? What about the six-year-old who comes to school with a spare toothbrush and their birthday money because the teacher at her Lutheran School told her that the Orphan Grain Train is helping people in Nepal who lost everything in an earthquake? What about the accomplished professional who drives across town once a week to tutor poor kids, even though he's got more lucrative things on his schedule, just because it's what he believes Jesus Christ wants him to do?

I didn't make up these examples. I know these people. This is my reality as a weekly churchgoer in America, and there are millions and millions of us.

But because presumably some of these same Christians believe that every child is a gift from God, and that abortion is a grave evil up unto the point that they cheerfully and gladly volunteer to take care of as many needy kids as they can, the president himself disingenuously suggests their concern about poverty is relative and inadequate. This is the same president, mind you, that went out of his way to force a legal battle with Little Sisters of the Poor over subsidizing contraception and abortifacients. Based on the name of the organization, I'm guessing these nuns had better things to do than defend their conscience rights from a president who stood by and shrugged at the last Democratic convention where delegates booed God and stripped the "safe, legal and rare" language out of the party platform. And now Obama has the temerity to say that it's Christians who are making abortion too much of a priority.

Speaking of "safe, legal, and rare", I noted that the moderator of this discussion on Christians and poverty was E.J. Dionne, who who worked tirelessly to sell his fellow Christians on Obama. Let's revist this 2008 column of his:

Of course, President-elect Barack Obama's most urgent task is to repair an ailing economy. But one of his important promises was to end the cultural and religious wars that have disfigured American politics for four decades.

Obama, who has shown he can draw lessons from Bill Clinton's presidency, can find one on this issue. Picking up on the pro-choice movement's most popular slogan, Clinton declared during his 1992 campaign that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare."

Abortions did become rarer during Clinton's time in office, dropping by 11 percent. But since Clinton made no major public moves on abortion reduction, many pro-lifers who had been inclined his way felt he ignored the third word in his motto. There's no reason for Obama to make the same mistake -- and no reason for advocates of abortion rights to get in the way of his trying to build a new consensus. He should not lose his chance to make cultural warfare a quaint relic of the past.

Well, after six years of Obama, it seems he didn't exactly live up to his promise to make cultural and religious warfare is a thing of the past. Instead, he deliberately exacerbated the conflict again and again. We're at the point where the man well-intentioned liberal Christians like Dionne said could end the culture wars makes a flatly wrong and objectionable assertion that fighting poverty is an afterthought for Christians too often obsessed with abortion, and nobody bats an eye. Of course, it's been just over two weeks since Obama's solicitor general warned the Supreme Court that if the White House gets its way on gay marriage, churches could be stripped of their tax exempt status. This would have devastating ramifications for the efforts of churches combatting poverty, but when the White House is so engaged in projection that they think that all churches care about is abortion, it starts to explain how they could do something so obviously damaging to the poor and still live with themselves.

It seems obvious that Obama, Putnam, and the liberal elites they speak for want to believe that American Christians are narrow-minded and obsessed to the point of being uncaring. This is an utterly delusional way of discounting the tremendous, literally and figuratively livesaving work of American Christians. But to think about them any other way would be to actually wrestle with the fact that, while we're all imperfect, any political disagreements Christians have be over hot button cultural issues like abortion and gay marriage might actually be motivated by genuine concern and compassion. Those are, not coincidentally, the same reasons that have made fighting poverty one the church's most vital and important missions for millennia.



Patriot Act's most controversial section fades to black

by Jeff Jacoby

SECTION 215 of the Patriot Act will not survive another month. The most controversial piece of the post-9/11 law that broadly expanded the federal government's surveillance powers is set to expire on June 1, and the House of Representatives on Wednesday gave its overwhelming approval to a far less sweeping replacement. On a 338-to-88 vote, Republicans and Democrats registered broad support for the USA Freedom Act, which will end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of "metadata" from millions of Americans' phone records.

The legislation faces some opposition in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to extend the Patriot Act with no changes. That won't happen. Other Republican senators, including at least two who are running for president, want Section 215 scrapped or curtailed, and the political tides are with them.

Some ardent civil libertarians opposed the Patriot Act from the outset, insisting, somewhat wildly, that it would leave the Bill of Rights in tatters and turn the president into a dictator. Most Americans knew better. In the wake of the terrorist attacks, it seemed only prudent to expand the government's counterintelligence capabilities, and to change the rules that had prevented investigators from "connecting the dots" that could have alerted them to the jihadists' plans. The hysterical alarums about dissenters being rounded up and America turning into a fascist police state gained little traction. For all the controversy they fueled, the law's key provisions — including Section 215 — were extended in 2005, 2010, and 2011.

But as September 11 recedes, the pendulum has shifted from the single-minded focus on counterterrorism and toward a heightened concern with civil liberties.


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


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

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


18 May, 2015

Leftist ego

The recent British election and its aftermath have really put Leftist self-love and arrogance on display. Below are two excerpts from recent British reports. I am putting the full reports up on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH.

The incredible sulk: All week, the Left have been frothing with fury that their fellow Britons could be so wicked and stupid as to vote in the Tories

Nothing better shows their contempt for ordinary people

Just over a week has passed since perhaps the most extraordinary General Election result of modern times, and at last the dust is beginning to settle.

In Westminster, David Cameron’s new all-Conservative government has settled down to business, while a succession of ambitious contenders have set out their stall for the Labour leadership, most of them insisting, not entirely plausibly, that they never agreed with a word Ed Miliband said anyway.

Yet in one strange corner of Britain, the campaign is far from over. This is a world in which we are forever poised on the brink of Socialist conversion, the only obstacles are the Right-wing press and the brainwashed masses, and Ed Miliband was the greatest prime minister we never had.

This is the world of old-fashioned union leaders, liberal Twitterati and Left-wing academics, who have spent the past week in a laughably self-pitying sulk.

For while most commentators, whatever their political allegiances, saw the election as proof that Britain remains at heart a deeply pragmatic, even conservative country, the self-righteous moralists of the bien-pensant Left have drawn a very different conclusion.

Like Mr Miliband, they can’t accept they lost the argument and burn with pious indignation at the supposed stupidity of the ordinary voters who let them down.

Take, for example, the Anglican canon Giles Fraser, darling of the metropolitan chattering classes. Four years ago, he resigned as chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in protest at plans to remove forcibly the anti-capitalist protesters who had set up a ‘shanty town’ camp outside, saying he could not support the possibility of ‘violence in the name of the Church’.

‘Right now I feel ashamed to be English,’ began his column for The Guardian last weekend. ‘Ashamed to belong to a country that has clearly identified itself as insular, self-absorbed and apparently caring so little for the most vulnerable people among us.’

From this you might think that Mr Cameron and his colleagues were committed to abolishing the NHS, scrapping foreign aid and slashing welfare to the bone. In fact, the Tories are committed to spending £11 billion a year on foreign aid, £111 billion a year on welfare and an extra £8 billion on the NHS.

You might disagree with some of the Government’s choices. Fair enough. But given the facts, Rev Fraser’s analysis had all the rigour and proportion of a toddler’s tantrum.



Leftist delusions of grandeur

The comic saga of the elusive ‘Edstone’ took another turn last night after it emerged Ed Miliband considered an even more bizarre plan during his doomed Election campaign – carving his party’s pledges on a cliff face.

Party sources have told The Mail on Sunday that only after the ‘Mount Rushmore’ plan had been abandoned it was decided six key promises would be chiselled into the widely mocked stone slab instead.

The revelation came amid claims yesterday that the stone had finally been found abandoned in a south London warehouse.

According to the source, Labour chiefs initially looked at carving the promises at a site such as Cheddar Gorge: ‘The idea was to find somewhere in the country where we could carve the pledges, like a big gorge or cliff where people could see it. But they couldn’t find anybody to do it.’



Forget Taxes, Obama's Regulations Are Strangling the Nation

The wild creation of regulations by the Obama administration has stalled economic growth and made the nation’s rulemaking the responsibility of unelected bureaucrats. Two reports released this week show the staggering extent of how debilitating these regulations are. Every year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute releases its report on the nation’s “Ten Thousand Commandments.” This year, Clyde Wayne Crews, the vice president for policy for CEI, reports that the regulatory burden averages out to $14,976 per American household. If America’s regulations were a country, it would have the 10th largest economy, beating out India.

Barack Obama has tied the country in red tape because, while 224 laws were passed in 2014, the government plastered up 3,554 regulations. Furthermore, “A problem with cost-benefit analysis is that it relies primarily on agency self-reporting. Having agencies audit their own rules is like asking students to grade their own exams. Regulators are disinclined to emphasize when a rule’s benefits do not justify its costs,” CEI’s study says.

These regulations make the federal deficit unmanageable, and The Wall Street Journal pins the problem of America’s stalled economy on too much regulation in the system. Meanwhile, a Heritage Foundation study finds that Obama’s major regulations cost Americans $80 billion a year — and there’s more regs in the works, such as another redesign of the light bulb. To fix the problem, Congress needs to insist that it is the lawmaking body of the country, not nameless bureaucrats in the executive branch.



It Takes a Good Guy with a Gun to Defend Freedom of Speech

When two terrorists in body armor and carrying assault rifles came for a roomful of cartoonists and fans of freedom of speech in Texas, the media took the side of the terrorists.

CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group with ties to terrorists, spun the attack by claiming that the contest had been intended to "bait" the terrorists. The media quickly picked up the "bait" meme.

The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dallas Morning News, CNN and even FOX News all accused the cartoonists of "baiting" the poor Muslim terrorists into attacking them. The actual attempt at mass slaughter was dismissed as the terrorists "taking the bait" from the cartoonists who had been fiendishly plotting to be mass slaughtered by them for the publicity.

The Washington Post not only stated that the contest was "bait", but its headline huffed, "Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas." And why won't the 9/11 dead apologize?

Journalists often tell us that a free press is the best defense for a free society. Every major newspaper and news network once again proved them wrong. The best defense for freedom of speech came not from the journalists or the civil rights groups, from the speechmakers or the activists. It came from an off-duty traffic cop working security outside the event targeted by Muslim terrorists. His partner, an older guard, didn't even have a gun, and took a bullet to the leg.

He could have pulled back and let the terrorists have a clear path. No doubt he had a family and plenty of reasons to live. Like so much of the media, he could have disguised this cowardice by blaming the cartoonists for bringing the attack on themselves. Instead he held the line. The traffic cop with a pistol took on two terrorists in body armor, armed with assault rifles and extra ammo. And when it was over, two Muslim terrorists were dead and freedom of speech was alive.

"He had two people shooting at him, plus he's trying to take out two targets. And if he had to make headshots," Mark Sligar, a firearms instructor, said, "That's awesome shooting. And look at the people's lives he saved, just because he was able to take care of that."

Like Kevin Vickers, the retired 58-year-old Sergeant-at-Arms, who armed with a 9mm handgun stopped Muslim terrorist Zehaf-Bibeau from carrying out a massacre of Canadian parliamentarians, the unnamed older police officer did more to protect freedom than all the self-styled defenders of freedom ever have.

And he did it with the tool that many of those defenders of freedom want to outlaw; a gun.

The left promises us collective security through civil rights while taking away our freedom. Their idea of collective security is disarming the citizenry, then disarming the police and then appeasing the killers. There will be more murders than ever, but at least those carrying them out will be representatives of oppressed groups, such as inner city drug dealers and ISIS terrorists, ‘punching up' at the privileged.

We've already seen how worthless collective security is. In Baltimore, the Democratic mayor turned over the city to rioters and looters. Every Democrat who was at all involved in fighting crime, from Bill Clinton on down, is frantically apologizing to the social justice mobs for daring to protect Americans. The media is busy explaining why the looters were right and the lootees were in the wrong.

After the Texas shootings, the media popped up to blame the attacks, not on the attackers, but on those who came under attack. CAIR's "bait" meme, adopted by the media, reverses responsibility. It contends that anyone shot at by a Muslim terrorist has to prove that he didn't intend to provoke the terrorists.

Despite the impeccable left-wing credentials of Charlie Hebdo, the PEN gala came under fire from authors denouncing the French cartoonists for provoking their disenfranchised and oppressed minority ISIS killers. And when the ISIS killers came for the Hebdo cartoonists, unarmed police officers ran for it.

A wounded French cop raised his hands and begged for his life, before the terrorist finished him off with a shot to the head. It's not the first time that a disarmed West has been helpless in the face of Muslim terrorism.

During the Munich Olympics, German police provided security by handing out candy and flowers. An informant had passed along word that an attack was being planned, but nothing was done. The resulting massacre of Israeli athletes by Muslim terrorists was partially covered up by the German government which released three of the captured terrorists a month later and whose foreign minister met with the planners of the massacre to "rebuild trust".

Just like Argentina and Iran, after the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, a dirty deal was struck behind the scenes and the terrorists got what they wanted.

When Israel independently targeted the terrorists, the German ambassador to Lebanon blasted Israel for killing the most "rational and responsible" members of the PLO. The Israelis had killed the terrorists, he accused, because they did not want peace.

But a bunch of good guys with guns had settled the issue of whether Israeli athletes should be able to compete in the Olympics even though the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning the Israeli "act of aggression" and the "loss of human life"; particularly that of terrorist boss Abu Jihad.

The Israelis, not the Muslim terrorists or the collaborationist German government, were the villains for forcing the terrorists to do what they did. If only Israel had surrendered to the PLO, the attacks would not have happened. Once Israel did surrender in the 90s and the attacks escalated, then it was Israel's fault for not surrendering enough. It's never the fault of the terrorists or their collaborators.

The accusations are all familiar. Bosch Fawstin, Charb, Pamela Geller, Theo van Gogh, Mark Basseley Youssef, Salman Rushdie, Molly Norris and a hundred others are at fault for provoking the terrorists.

There are lectures on "responsible speech". The targets are accused of "hiding" behind freedom of speech and of deliberately planning to be killed for the publicity.

During WW2, Gandhi urged the Jews and the British to surrender to the Nazis. "This manslaughter must be stopped. You are losing; if you persist, it will only result in greater bloodshed. Hitler is not a bad man. If you call it off today, he will follow suit," he whined to the Brits.

"I want you to fight Nazis without arms or... with non-violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity," he suggested in another missive.

He also had some advice for the Jews. "If only the Jews of Germany had the good sense to offer their throats willingly to the Nazi butchers' knives," he mused.

That is where the insane mantra of non-violence and appeasement, the exploration of root causes and winning hearts finally leads, to mass graves and victorious mass murderers.

And everyone who refuses to take their suicidal advice is blamed for provoking the killers.

We can either live in a paranoid politically correct world frantically trying not to offend the Hitlers and Mohammeds, and blaming their victims when they kill, or we can be free men and women who have chosen to take the power to defend our rights into our own hands. While a thousand organizations use the Holocaust as a platform for speeches about tolerance, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors is conducting firearms training. While Big Media attacks a free press in the name of the free press, a small group gathered in Garland and an off-duty cop helped keep it free.

The unnamed traffic cop who stood up to two offended killers did not follow Gandhi's advice; he refused to lay down his arms or try to fight them with non-violent arms. His heroism reminds us that freedom is not defended with empty idealism easily perverted into appeasement of evil, but with the force of arms.

Gandhi and his Western disciples were wrong. The soldiers who fought Hitler did far more to save humanity than Gandhi ever did. A single traffic cop with a gun has had more of a positive impact on freedom of speech in this country than all the journalists of the free press fighting against freedom.

It takes a good guy with a gun to defend freedom of speech.



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

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


17 May, 2015

Shy Tories key to UK poll

Lessons for the USA as well

The most uninspiring UK election campaign of recent times culminated last week in the most extraordinary result. Eleven opinion polls conducted the day before reported Labour and Conservatives neck and neck, yet the Conservatives beat Labour 37% to 30% and won an overall majority of 12 [seats].

How could every poll have got it so wrong? The answer being touted by the pollsters is 'shy Tories.'

Socialists are often proud of their allegiance. They believe they occupy the moral high ground, so they have no problem telling pollsters how they intend to vote. They think voting Labour shows they are decent people who care about others, so they put posters in their windows and banners in their gardens. It's what James Bartholomew calls 'virtue signalling.'

Many Conservatives, however, seem ashamed. After telling pollsters they didn't know how they would vote, they crept into the polling stations, marked their crosses, and slunk out again like dirty old men buying pornographic magazines.

It's not the first time this has happened: in 1992, when all the polls predicted a Labour victory, the Conservatives [under John Major] won more votes than any party in British history.

Why are socialists proud of their beliefs while Conservatives seek to hide them? Because there is a widespread belief that state socialism equates with virtue. People understand that capitalism delivers material growth and prosperity, but they feel bad voting for it. They worry that lower taxes mean not caring about the poor, and that free markets reward selfishness.

Yet the core case for capitalism is an ethical one: accepting responsibility for creating wealth rather than demanding that others give you theirs. This is a moral argument that has to be spelled out clearly and repeatedly if people are to feel good about voting for parties advocating free markets and a limited state. This is why think tanks are so crucial in the battle for hearts as well as minds.



Israel tells its African migrants: ‘Take £2,000 and a one-way ticket out of here or face indefinite stay in jail

Israel is telling African refugees to accept a £2,000 cash offer and a one-way ticket out of the country or face an indefinite stay in a desert prison.

The Eritrean and Sudanese migrants have been sent letters giving them 30 days to accept the offer of the cash and a ticket home or to another African country.

Last month, a statement from the interior ministry's population and immigration authority said Israel would identify qualifying migrants who cannot return home, inform them of their proposed 'safe third-party' destination and pay for their plane ticket and hotel there.

It said the measure would apply to migrants currently at the southern Holot detention centre 'who infiltrated Israel and cannot be expelled to their country of origin'.

Although the third-party countries were not named, media and some charities said they are Rwanda and Uganda.

The Washington Post has reported that the first of 45,000 refugees have received an offer of the cash as well as the one-way ticket. The location of the alternative - a stay in prison - has been revealed as Saharonim prison.

The letter reads: 'Money will be given to you at the airport in a secure manner. When you arrive at the third country, people will receive you at the airport and give you information about life in the country and other important information.'

The Washington Post said Israeli officials do not tell the refugees where they will be going until they are given their plane ticket on the day.

Last month's statement from interior ministry read: 'An infiltrator who agrees to this procedure will begin the preparations for leaving, an infiltrator who refuses will face a hearing following which it will be decided whether they will be imprisoned.'

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said the measure would 'encourage infiltrators to leave Israel in a safe and dignified way, and will be an effective tool to upholding our commitment to return life to normal in Israel'.

However, international rights groups protested against the plans, claiming Rwanda and Uganda are not safe and that migrants who arrive there are stripped of their cash and documents.

Israel - a state built by refugees - has previously offered cash stipends to African migrants in return for them leaving the Jewish state.

Last year, Israel began sending of African migrants to Uganda - giving them a one-way ticket and a stipend.

The interior ministry said that since last year, 1,500 migrants 'wilfully left to a third country, in addition to 7,000 who left for their country of origin'.

While Israel is trying to rid itself of African refugees, Jewish emigration is still being encouraged.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: 'To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.'



Obama’s Home State To Shut Down State-Based Obamacare Exchange Over Lack of Funds

President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii is shutting down its state-based health care exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector (HHC), due to incurring debts and the unwillingness of state legislators to put more taxpayer money into the struggling operation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday.

Established in 2011, the non-profit organization is Hawaii’s state-based health exchange for the President’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. There are currently about 37,000 Hawaiians enrolled in health care plans through the exchange, far short of the roughly 70,000 needed to raise enough money to sustain it, the article reports.

Officials with the exchange released a report to its board of directors on Friday declaring that the state-based marketplace simply does not have the money to continue operations, the article stated.

"Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector's operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay," the report read, according to the article.

The HHC will halt all new enrollments on Friday, May 15, the article reported. The organization will also discontinue outreach services on May 31 and officially transfer to a temporary state-run system by Sept. 30. The organization’s 32 current employees, 29 temporary staff, and 12 full-time contractors will all lose their jobs by Feb. 28 of next year.

To date, the Hawaii Health Connector has received $204.3 million in federal grants to build and sustain the exchange, of which it has spent all but $70 million, according to reports.

The HHC also only received $2 million of the $5.4 million it had requested from the state legislature last Tuesday, the Star-Advertiser explained in an article published on May 8. The state government’s decision not to fulfill the HHC’s total request followed previous unsuccessful proposals for the state to back about $28 million in loans or bonds, the article added.

According to reports, the federal government told the HHC in March that the exchange was out of compliance with Obamacare because it was not financially self-sustainable. According to the new federal law, all state-based health care exchanges were required to secure sufficient funding to be self-sustainable by 2015.

The federal government then declared its intentions to take over the state-based marketplace if it could not secure the funds it needed to operate from the state government, the Star-Advertiser reported back in April. At that time, HHC Executive Director Jeff Kissel was asking for between $9 million and $10 million in state funding to keep the exchange up and running, the article stated.

In addition to the cost of transferring policyholders over to the federal health care system – estimated to be around $30 million, according to the Star-Advertiser – some state legislators are also reportedly worried that a federal takeover of the state’s health insurance system could weaken Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act.

Enacted in 1974, the law requires employers in Hawaii to offer health insurance coverage to employees who work at least 20 hours per week, whereas Obamacare sets a 30-hour-per-week threshold. If the federal law preempts the 40-year-old state requirements, employees working less than 30 hours per week could lose their coverage, some Hawaii lawmakers say.

"I can't quite figure out what the deal is because the federal exchange doesn't really have an excellent track record. And if we were to migrate even pieces of our exchange to the feds, we put our Prepaid Health Care Act at risk. I’m not willing to do that," said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D-Maui), the Star-Advertiser reported.

According to the most recent data by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hawaii already had an uninsured rate of 6.7 in 2013, lower than any state besides Massachusetts.

Under a potential “contingency plan” currently in the works by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Hawaiians enrolled in the current HHC exchange would be transferred to a federal grant-backed, state-run system for the remainder of the year to avoid losing coverage. They would then need to enroll in healthcare.gov next year during open enrollment.



The elite got it wrong

Unexpected victories for conservatives in both Israel and Britain

The media elite have a preeminent place in our politics, allegedly with the knowledge to declare what is politically feasible and what is not, including which candidates have a chance at winning and which do not. Before we head into a presidential primary season, it's time to insist that these "experts" don't know any better than the rest of us.

And sometimes their biases so heavily shade their predictions as to keep themselves in the dark about reality.

Take the elections in Israel in March. The manufactured conventional wisdom and polling predicted a tight race and rough sledding for conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When instead the conservative won easily, our media exploded in the usual sore-loser outbursts about how Mideast peace was dead. An Obama campaign stalwart (2012 field organizer Jeremy Bird) enriched himself but ended up on the losing side. This wasn't depicted as a bad sign for President Obama or his political team.

Now take the British elections on May 7. On "Meet the Press" on May 3, host Chuck Todd proclaimed the race between Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Party leftist Ed Miliband "too close to call." Naturally, Todd declared, "There's been commentary that if Cameron loses, the Republican Party ought to learn something from that."

On Thursday, as the Brits voted, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell brought on "senior political analyst" David Axelrod to make a fool of himself. "I think that the polls are accurate. This is a very, very close race, highly likely that this drama extends beyond tonight."

Incorrect on both counts. Cameron defied the "experts" and won a clear majority in Parliament.

Axelrod added: "One thing seems clear is that there's going to be a progressive majority in Britain after this election. Unless there's a huge surprise today, it's really hard to see how David Cameron puts together a majority." Axelrod was paid nearly a half-million dollars to advise Labour. Yet again, no one on television seemed saw this as a bad sign for Obama or the Democrats.

In fact, ABC never noticed the election results. They didn't involve royal babies. NBC gave it 42 words.

The print media also flunked at predictions. The Washington Post's top political correspondent Dan Balz warned on May 3 that Cameron was "buffeted by many of the same problems and pressures that afflict and divide the GOP in the United States." He quoted Peter Kellner from the polling firm YouGov, said of the Conservatives: "They have not shifted their brand from an out-of-touch party of the rich. The Tories have to persuade people they are determined to make the lives of ordinary people better ... not unlike the Republicans."

Just as the tea party "ruins" the GOP, Balz suggested the U.K. Independence Party and their "anti-immigration, anti-Europe message" moved Cameron's party to the right, alienating moderate and independent voters.

Balz concluded: "Almost any outcome would remind Conservatives, the most dominant political party in Britain over the last century, of how far short they have fallen over the past 18 years. Even if they win on Thursday, this would mark the fifth consecutive election in which they have failed to capture a majority of seats."

Balz is eating his crow well-done. Who exactly is the out-of-touch party?

These elections should be a clear warning to Republicans, and the American people as a whole headed into 2016: Don't let journalists tell you who can win and who doesn't stand a chance. Their feeling that conservatives should lose every race gets in the way.



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

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


15 May, 2015

Understanding Russia

The ghastly Soviet episode is all that most Westerners know about Russia. But Russia is much more than that. And a broader understanding of Russia is surely important now that the appalling Cold War with Russia has resumed.

To understand Russia, you need to understand Russians. You need to understand a people hardy enough to endure the terrible winters that grip most of the country -- and who flourish in that environment. Such people are never going to be soft. And, more than that, you need to know something about Russian history and geography.

It is very presumptuous of me to address such a large topic in a short blog post, but at some risk of oversimplification, I am going to try to say something useful about all that.

Something that most people are probably aware of in at least a dim way is the sheer size of the Russian Federation. We all know the strict boundaries that enclose most countries but in Russia we have one country that spans the entire Eurasian continent -- from the Baltic to the Pacific. And Russians are not dimly aware of it. They are acutely aware of it. That one country could be so utterly exceptional is a matter of great and justified pride for them. No other country is both a great European country and a great Asian country.

And Russia did not get there overnight. It all began with Muscovy. After the curse of the Mongol domination had been thrown off, Muscovy steadily expanded. It expanded through conquest and annexation from just 20,000 square kilometers in 1300 to 430,000 in 1462, 2.8 million in 1533, and 5.4 million by 1584. And it didn't stop there. Successive Muscovite leaders, not least being Ivan the Terrible, expanded and expanded again their realms. Ivan the Terrible left his domain comprising a BILLION acres.

And they did that largely through good leadership. As Wikipedia says of Ivan: "He was an able diplomat, a patron of arts and trade, founder of Russia's first Print Yard, a leader highly popular among the common people of Russia, but he is also remembered for his paranoia and arguably harsh treatment of the nobility"

And Russian expansion never really stopped until the end of the Soviet era. Given Russia's incredible history of expansion, the shrinking that took place after the Soviet collapse HAS to be seen by Russians as a great humiliation. It feels like the end of their long and glorious history.

And let me not gloss over the details of that expansion. It was often savage. Ivan, for instance, really was terrible. He even had his own son and heir apparent executed in one of his rages.

And Ivan was not alone. Even into relatively recent times Russian mercy was often in short supply. The conquest of the Muslim Circassians in the 19th century has led some to speak of the Circassian genocide. The Circassians had a rather nice tract of land on the North shore of the Black Sea and Russia wanted it. They saw all of the Black sea region (including Crimea!) as rightly theirs. So they just drove the Circassians out -- mostly to what we now know as Turkey, on the South shore of the Black sea.

Leftists tend to portray pre-revolution Russia as backward and primitive. But that is just the sort of reality-defying propaganda that you expect from Leftists. It is true that Russia was mostly an agricultural country and it is true that the Duma (parliament) was relatively weak versus the Tsar.

But it is also true that Russia WAS a democracy, or, more precisely, a constitutional monarchy. The Tsar had approved a fairly modern constitution in 1906. And it was not primitive and backward overall. The lives of the farm-workers undoubtedly were poor and oppressed but Russia was rapidly industrializing and railroads were snaking out across the land. And, despite the difficult climate and mostly indifferent soils, the farms were very productive. Russia was a major exporter of grain until the Bolsheviks ruined everything, the farming sector in particular. Something as basic as feeding their people has always been a problem for Communists.

This image, taken in 1911, shows some of the power generators in the Hindu Kush Hydro Power Plant, in Turkmenistan, the largest hyro-electric plant built during the Russian Empire

So is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin just reviving traditional Russian expansionism? Not really. He is just trying to get back the ethnically Russian lands that were carelessly lopped off from Russia in the chaos of the immediate post-Soviet period. He is trying to tidy up that re-organization. The implosion of the Soviets and the prosperity of his Western neighbors has made it clear to him that there are large limits on Russian power.

How do I know that? Because he has made all his moves in the East and has limited them to areas where Russians are in the majority. There are substantial Russian minorities both to the West and the East of the Russian Federation but he has shown no interest in them. And his moves have grown more cautious, if anything. He sent his tanks into the Russian bits of Georgia only under severe provocation from the Georgians and, even then, he was happy for those regions to remain autonomous rather than absorbing them into Russia.

And in Ukraine he has kept his tanks at home, content to encourage and arm the ethnic Russian Ukrainian rebels. He has boasted, undoubtedly accurately, that he could have his tanks in Kiev in a couple of weeks -- but he has not done so. He has shown admirable restraint. He knows that the West could do nothing to stop him but has chosen great caution nonetheless.

So what should the West do at this juncture? One thing: Recognize the great and justified pride Russians have in their country and their people. "We shall overcome" was the song of a self-praising 1960s American clique but it would with much greater justification be seen as the song of the Russians.

They have endured terrible oppression, a terrible climate and two terrible wars with Germany -- and yet have still come out of it with a generally modern and powerful country that STILL stretches from one end of Eurasia to the other. Britons for long had great pride in their now-lost worldwide empire. How much more pride should Russians have in their still intact vast empire?

Russians have many reasons for pride -- not only in terms of their phenomenal territorial reach but also in the great contributions that Russians have made to science and technology and their equally great contributions to classical music, literature and art. In all those respects Russia is among the top few of contributing nations. Who invented the helicopter as we know it today? Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky. Who invented TV as we know it today? The world's first 625-line television standard was designed in the Soviet Union in 1944, and became a national standard in 1946. And I hardly need to mention Russian achievements in space and the great range of acclaimed Russian composers and performers. Does the name Tchaikovsy ring a bell?

So Russians tend to feel rather aggrieved that Russia is rarely accorded the respect that they feel it deserves. The Soviet image still looms large in people's thinking about Russia. What Russia wants is by and large simply the respect that Russians feel is their due. If Western leaders weere to start praising Russia and Russian achievements instead of condemning Russia, it would be a great leap forward for world peace. Any Western leader who publicly praised "the great Russian people" would almost immediately have the friendship of Russia. And the friendship of Russia is very much worth having.

So Vladimir Vladimirovich is reasserting Russian power to great acclaim in Russia. He is doing what any Russian ruler would do. We must be glad that he is doing it with great caution and restraint. No Western population would agree to a war with Russia so it is only his innate caution that keeps Europe largely undisturbed.

After two ghastly world wars erupting from their lands, Europeans generally are frantic to avoid any repetition of that. And pendula are very common in human affairs. So from the furious nationalism of 1914, Europe has swung to the artificial and absurd internationalism of the EU. And it seems clear that Vladimir Vladimirovich has also learned from that gory lesson, but without resorting to a corrupt internationalism. No Russian would want a re-run of WWII.

Footnote: Why do I refer to Mr Putin as Vladimir Vladimirovich? It's just manners. Remember them? It's terribly old-fashioned of me even to mention them, I suppose. The polite and friendly way to address or refer to any Russian is by way of his Christan name and patronymic (father's name). And Russia still does have Christian names. Russia is a Christian country. They are a branch of our people. The gospel was never lost in Russia even in the Soviet era -- unlike most of the Western Europe of today.


Obama Disapproves: 'Kids Start Going to Private Schools...Private Clubs'

Obama is right that self-segregation by those whites who can afford it is rampant -- but he ignores the cause of it. Whites feel a desperaste need to insulate their families from black crime. Gun deaths inflicted by whites in America approximate the European norm. It is blacks who jack the rate sky-high. Anybody in his right mind would want to get away from that. So Obama sees a problem (probably rightly) but ignores the cause -- in a typically Leftist way. Leftists are shallow thinkers about anything political. There are ways black crime could be heavily reduced (e.g. Permanently exiling all convicted black criminals to Africa) but they are all outside the Overton Window at the moment

President Barack Obama told a gathering at Georgetown University on Tuesday that the problem isn't racial segregation, it's wealth segregation, manifested by "elites" who "are able to live together, away from folks who are not as wealthy."

"Kids start going to private schools," he said. (Just as he did and his own kids do.)

Once upon a time, the president noted, a banker lived in "reasonable proximity" to the school janitor; the janitor's daughter may have dated the banker's son; they may have attended the same church, rotary club, and public parks -- "all the things that stitch them together...contributing to social mobility and to a sense of possiblity and opportunity for all kids in that community."

But now "concentrations of wealth" have left some people less committed to investing in programs that benefit the poor:

"And what's happened in our economy is that those who are doing better and better -- more skilled, more educated, luckier, having greater advantages -- are withdrawing from sort of the commons -- kids start going to private schools; kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks. An anti-government ideology then disinvests from those common goods and those things that draw us together. And that, in part, contributes to the fact that there's less opportunity for our kids, all of our kids."

President Obama's two daughters attend an elite private school in Washington where tuition runs $37,750 ("includes hot lunch," the school's website notes). His wife and children ski at Aspen, an elite resort in Colorado. President Obama frequently golfs at exclusive private clubs. And the entire family takes summer vacations in a borrowed mansion in ritzy Martha's Vineyard or Hawaii.

But the president wasn't talking about himself or his family at Tuesday's Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty.

He was talking about hedge fund managers and corporate CEOS who now earn "thousands" of times more than the people who work for them. "Now, that's not because they're bad people," Obama said. "It's just that they have been freed from a certain set of social constraints."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, asked on Wednesday morning about Obama's remark, said the president wasn't criticizing people for sending their children to private schools. "He's suggesting that all Americans need to keep in mind that it's in our collective best interests as a country and as individual citizens for us to invest in the common good -- for us to invest and make sure that we have good, quality public schools that are available for everybody."

'Who are you mad at?'

According to the president, "What used to be racial segregation now mirrors itself in class segregation and this great sorting that's taking place. Now, that creates its own politics. Right? I mean, there's some communities where...not only do I not know poor people, I don't even know people who have trouble paying the bills at the end of the month. I just don't know those people. And so there's a less sense of investment in those children. So that's part of what's happened.

"But part of it has also been -- there's always been a strain in American politics where you've got the middle class, and the question has been, who are you mad at, if you're struggling -- if you're working, but you don't seem to be getting ahead.

"And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there's been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top (Obama himself has done this), or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don't want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction.

"And, look, it's still being propagated," Obama continued. "I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu -- they will find folks who make me mad. I don't know where they find them. (Laughter.) They're like, 'I don't want to work, I just want a free Obama phone' (laughter) -- or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative -- right? -- that gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress -- which is much more typical -- who's raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can't pay the bills."

"And so if we're going to change how (Republicans) John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we're going to have to change how our body politic thinks, which means we're going to have to change how the media reports on these issues and how people's impressions of what it's like to struggle in this economy looks like, and how budgets connect to that. And that's a hard process because that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news."

Even before he was elected president, Obama campaigned on the promise of wealth redistribution. Throughout his presidency Obama has been a champion of the middle class and an adversary of the wealthy. When he called for tax hikes on the wealthy in September 2011, he insisted it was "not class warfare," but "fairness."

In an August 2013 speech, he railed against "entrenched interests, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, (who) resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal."

And since 2013, he's talked repeatedly about income inequality, calling it an "issue that we have to tackle head on" by raising the minimum wage.



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

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


14 May, 2015

Obamacare: A game of chicken coming up?

By Larry Levitt, writing for the AMA

The game of chicken, which was popularized in the 1950s movie Rebel Without a Cause, has many variants, but the basic design goes like this: players involved in a conflict of some sort try not to yield in the hope that the other player will yield first. But the worst and potentially catastrophic outcome is when no one yields.

After hearing oral arguments on March 4, the US Supreme Court (aka SCOTUS) is deliberating in King v Burwell, a case that has the potential to unleash a massive game of chicken around the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The case centers (http://bit.ly/1FEWZu4) on circumstances related to premium subsidies under the ACA, which are now available to people with low and moderate incomes in all states. King v Burwell challenges the legality of subsidies in states where the federal government set up an exchange because the state declined to set up its own health insurance marketplace.

The consequences (http://bit.ly/1ERCica)of a decision in favor of the challengers would be swift and severe:

Subsidies would end—likely within a month of a decision, which is expected in late June—for about 7.5 million people who now qualify for them in the 34 states not running their own marketplaces (in the 17 state-based marketplaces, nothing would change and subsidies would continue).

The premiums these 7.5 million people pay for insurance, would rise from an average of $105 (after taking the subsidies into account) to $374 per month, an increase of 256%.

People who are sick and know they need insurance would likely work hard to find a way to keep it, but those who are healthy would likely drop it. The ACA’s individual mandate—which is the stick to get healthy people to enroll, working hand-in-hand with the carrot of the subsidies—would be largely ineffective. That’s because 83% of uninsured individuals who are currently eligible for subsidies would be exempt from the requirement to have coverage because it would be unaffordable without the subsidies.

The result in affected states would be a classic “death spiral.” Premiums would rise, more healthy people would drop their coverage, and that in turn would cause premiums to rise even more. This would destabilize the whole individual market in these states because insurers are required to set premiums within a state based on their entire individual market business, not just people buying through the marketplace.

No one will want to yield in this scenario. But the consequences of no one yielding are indeed dire.

The important thing to understand about the King v Burwell case is that it does not (at least as it’s been argued before the Court) involve the constitutionality of the ACA. Rather, it’s a matter of statutory interpretation: did the Internal Revenue Service have the authority under the law to provide subsidies in all states?

That means with just a few strokes on the keyboard, Congress could clarify that subsidies should be provided to people in state-based and federal marketplaces alike. Such a swerve would avoid a catastrophe quickly and easily. But with many Republicans in Congress adamantly opposed to Obamacare, no one expects such a yield.

Enter the 34 governors and state legislatures that have not set up their own marketplaces under the ACA. If they were to yield and create state-based marketplaces, they would render moot a possible Supreme Court ruling against subsidies in states without their own exchange. To be sure, there would be strong pressure on states to take this route. Many of their residents would lose insurance if they don’t, and they would be turning their backs on about $2 billion in federal aid (http://bit.ly/1BzrP11) each month. And they would avert a destabilization of their individual insurance market.

Some states have indicated they are considering this route (http://wapo.st/1E0fGrr) However, others have said they will not participate (http://reut.rs/1vB3FSs) in the implementation of Obamacare, which remains a controversial law.

There are also substantial logistical challenges involved in creating a marketplace quickly, even for those states that want to do so. The current state-based marketplaces took years to set up, and they benefited from federal start-up grants that no longer exist. The federal government would likely make it as easy as possible within legal constraints for states to qualify, including making healthcare.gov available as an enrollment and eligibility system, much as they have done for Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico (http://bit.ly/1935uCu). But state-based marketplaces still couldn’t spring up in time, unless the Court issued a stay—which legal experts consider unlikely (http://bit.ly/19AKxzM)—or Congress temporarily extended the subsidies (http://on.wsj.com/1FC9Opo).

A temporary extension of the subsidies would also give Congress time to consider tweaks to the ACA that it might enact in exchange for continuing subsidies permanently, or more far-reaching replacement plans (as have been floated recently by Republican leaders in the Senate (http://wapo.st/1GEv7Fq) and House [http://on.wsj.com/1EIJIAp]).

If Congress musters the votes for one of these alternative strategies, it will be up to President Obama to decide whether to allow potentially significant changes to his signature domestic achievement or keep driving straight ahead in the hopes that Congress or the states yield.

The justices will be deliberating over the next several months, with a decision expected the end of June. In the meantime, outside the courthouse, all the interested parties undoubtedly will be working to frame what a court ruling would mean and who is to blame for the consequences, trying to get someone else to swerve away first. Given the unpredictability of how this might play out, we probably won’t know who (if anyone) is going to yield until they do it.



Are State ACA Exchanges Breaking the Law Just to Keep Afloat?

The 16 states with ObamaCare exchanges have each had access to hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money from the federal government to help establish a successful marketplace. And yet, many are finding themselves struggling with high deficits and low enrollment.

This has led the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a warning that states may be using the federal grant money illegally. Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act not only requires state exchanges to be financially self-sustaining this year, but it also prohibits states from covering any operational expenses with the federal grant money. But since states are facing such dismal financial conditions, the Inspector General suspects that some states have no other alternatives to keep their exchanges afloat.

California, for example, received a whopping $1 billion in “Exchange Establishment Grants,” but still faces a huge deficit and low enrollment. In total, states with an exchange received $3.9 billion in these grants for the sole purpose of achieving self-sufficiency, but at least half of them are facing severe financial conditions.

In other words, it’s clear that some states will violate the law by failing to become self-sufficient this year. It’s also likely that many of them are currently violating the law by using federal grant money in order to keep their operations funded.

Given these facts, none of the 34 states currently using a federal marketplace should even consider setting up their own. After all, the law prohibits federal grants from being made available to states after January 1, 2015. So, whereas the other states had access to $3.9 billion in federal establishment grants just to get their flimsy marketplaces off the ground, these new states would have to do so with virtually nothing from Washington DC.

And yet, there are already people urging states to set up an exchange if King v. Burwell strikes down federal subsidies to enrollees in federal exchanges. They argue that these subsidies are essential for individuals and that the only way to keep them is for states to have their own exchange.

These arguments totally overlook the fact that state exchanges are likely resorting to illegal methods (knowingly or not) just to fund their exchange’s everyday operations. In other words, setting up an exchange hasn’t exactly been the stroll in the park that these proponents like to convey. For instance, Oregon's exchange was so terrible that they passed legislation to get rid of it, and several other states appear to be on the same exact path.

The best way to fix ObamaCare is to repeal it outright. If King v. Burwell results in more states establishing an exchange, then outright repeal will become virtually impossible.



Liberal Gun Control Ruins Another Life

I want to introduce you to Steffon Lamont Josey. He is a 24-year old New Jersey resident who aspires to become a police officer. He has excellent test scores that would easily qualify him to become a police officer and he is man of excellent character.

But on one fateful day two years ago, his future completely changed.

Steffon is owns a legal handgun. On September 30, 2013, he was checking his handgun in the garage when his younger sister surprised him. He instinctively put the pistol in his glove compartment so she wouldn’t see it. He always tried to keep the gun out of sight and locked away from his younger sister.

Later that day, he was driving to meet his fiancée and was pulled over by a police officer. When Josey reached to get his insurance and registration cards, he remembered: The handgun was still in the glove compartment.

In most states in the country, this wouldn’t be a huge problem. Yes, it is overall a bad idea to have a gun in the glove compartment and some states do have laws forbidding it. The last thing you want is for a police officer to see you reaching for a gun.

But in most states, it is completely legal for trained and qualified people to carry a loaded gun in the car.

At first, the police officer simply confiscated the weapon and issued Josey a summons. But when the young man went to the police station to pick up his gun, he had handcuffs slapped on his wrists. He was able to plead the charges down but Steffon Lamont Josey is still a felon and still barred from becoming a police officer. His life is ruined unless Chris Christie pardons him.

The Second Amendment is a crime in New Jersey, just like it is a crime in other liberal states.

This young man had a bright future ahead of him and because of one mistake, he is going to be a felon for the rest of his life. It’s time to put a stop to this madness. The Founders wrote that the right to “keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and yet we continue to allow these liberal state legislatures to infringe on this fundamental right!

It may have taken 223 years, but in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment applies to local and state governments just as much as the Federal government.

Yet today, more than 26.15% of all Americans live under a state regime that prohibits them from bearing arms for self-defense.

Imagine if we were talking about another Constitutional right. What do you think the reaction would be if 26% of Americans weren’t allowed to freely worship or were denied a trial by jury?

We would be up in arms. Yet when it comes to the Second Amendment, we have sat by and allowed liberal state legislators to pick away at it little by little until there’s nothing left.

New Jersey’s gun control laws resemble Nazi Germany more than they resemble Free America.



A predatory Federal bureaucracy in YOUR America

Federal agents stole $16,000 from a kid on his way to Los Angeles to make a music video

Joseph Rivers is a 22-year-old who has a dream of making a music video. With help from his supportive family, he persevered and saved, raising $16,000 in cash to leave his hometown in Michigan for Los Angeles to see his dream become reality.

Rivers' dream came crashing down on April 15 when federal agents seized the $16,000 based on the mere suspicion that it was connected to drug activity. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) boarded the Amtrak train in Albuquerque, New Mexico and began quizzing passengers about their travel. Believing he had nothing to hide, Rivers, an African-American, answered their questions and consented to a search. Agents found the cash and seized it. Rivers tried to tell the agents his story, but his words fell on deaf ears.

"I even allowed him to call my mother, a military veteran and [hospital] coordinator, to corroborate my story," Rivers told the Albuquerque Journal. "Even with all of this, the officers decided to take my money because he stated that he believed that the money was involved in some type of narcotic activity."

Not only was his dream of making a music video destroyed by these overzealous DEA agents, the seizure of the cash left Rivers without any money to survive once he reached Los Angeles. "I told [the DEA agents] I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money," said Rivers. "They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that."

Rivers was not arrested, he was never even charged with a crime. But in the eyes of the DEA agents, his money was connected to illicit activity. Although New Mexico recently banned civil asset forfeiture, requiring a criminal conviction before property can be subject to forfeiture proceedings, the law applies only to state and local law enforcement. The DEA is a federal agency, and it operates under federal civil asset forfeiture laws, a form of government overreach that often deprives innocent people of their property or cash.

The "presumption of innocence" is a bedrock principle of the American legal system. The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty of a crime before meting out a punishment. This principle is reversed in civil asset forfeiture proceedings, property and cash accused of connection to a crime are presumed guilty. federal government need only meet a low standard of evidence, preponderance of the evidence. The property owner, however, must prove that the seized items are innocent to get them back. This involves a lengthy and costly legal fight from which most walk away, often allowing the government to keep a large portion of the cash as long as they can get a portion back.

Although he was defending seizures without a criminal conviction, an Albuquerque-based DEA official confirmed this perversion of the justice system. "We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty," he told the Albuquerque Journal in defense of the seizure. "It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty."

The Fifth Amendment guarantees that "[n]o person...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law," but civil asset forfeiture violates this basic constitutional principle.

Rivers' lawyer, Michael Pancer, believes the actions of these overzealous law enforcement agents are predatory. "They have made a practice of doing searches without probable cause, convincing innocent people to give them consent [to search their bags],” Pancer told the ABQ Free Press. "If there is a fair amount of cash they seize it and wait to see what the person who lost it does. Some individuals they’ve taken money from are not acquainted with the legal system and they don’t know that they can try to get the money back."

Rivers' situation may not be an isolated incident for the DEA in Albuquerque. The ABQ Free Press reports that the DEA has seized nearly $1 million from Amtrak passengers over two years.



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

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


13 May, 2015

Leftism and the causal arrow

A group of psychologists have recently done some new research on an old topic -- status striving. They see the desire to be thought well of by others as a basic and important human motive. I don't argue with that as I have long argued that such a motive is what drives a lot of Leftism. I have argued that such a need is so strong among Leftists that it borders on clinical narcissism.

So I was disappointed to see that they had correlated that need with all sorts of things EXCEPT politics. I can't help wondering if that was deliberate -- but asking people their politics can be tricky so maybe not.

Their research rediscovered along the way something that pops up in the medical literature almost every time it is examined: Being of lower socio-economic status goes with poorer health. I will follow the journal abstract below with some comments about that:
Is the desire for status a fundamental human motive? A review of the empirical literature.

By Anderson, Cameron et al.


The current review evaluates the status hypothesis, which states that that the desire for status is a fundamental motive. Status is defined as the respect, admiration, and voluntary deference individuals are afforded by others. It is distinct from related constructs such as power, financial success, and social belongingness. A review of diverse literatures lent support to the status hypothesis: People’s subjective well-being, self-esteem, and mental and physical health appear to depend on the level of status they are accorded by others.

People engage in a wide range of goal-directed activities to manage their status, aided by myriad cognitive, behavioral, and affective processes; for example, they vigilantly monitor the status dynamics in their social environment, strive to appear socially valuable, prefer and select social environments that offer them higher status, and react strongly when their status is threatened.

The desire for status also does not appear to be a mere derivative of the need to belong, as some theorists have speculated.

Finally, the importance of status was observed across individuals who differed in culture, gender, age, and personality, supporting the universality of the status motive. Therefore, taken as a whole, the relevant evidence suggests that the desire for status is indeed fundamental.

Psychological Bulletin. 2015 Volume 141, Issue 3 (May). Pages 574-601

Something I have difficulty with are the following statements from the body of their article:
Perhaps the strongest test of the status hypothesis is whether the possession of low status impacts health. If so, this would suggest that failing to satisfy the desire for status produces consequences that extend beyond decreased levels of happiness and dampened feelings of self-worth. It would suggest that status motive is powerful enough that when it is thwarted, individuals begin to suffer from psychological and physical pathology......

Evidence from multiple research literatures suggests that low status contributes to poor health. People with low status in their community exhibit higher rates of psychological disturbances, such as depression and anxiety, and experience physical health problems, such as higher blood pressure and a greater susceptibility to infectious disease. Proxies of low status, such as lower organizational rank and the tendency to behave in deferential ways, were also linked to mental and physical illness. Taken together, the reviewed evidence suggests that being accorded low status by others not only damages subjective well-being and self-esteem, it also promotes psychological and physical pathology.

I think they have got it ass-backwards. I think the causal arrow is pointing the other way. They propose that low status --> poor health, while I would argue that poor health --> low status (where the arrow is read as "causes"). I think it is poor health that holds you back in life and thus leads to a realistic perception in others that you are not a person of high status. And being perceived as a person of low status will usually lead to the person concerned recognizing that he is perceived in that way.

There is no doubt that poor health DOES hold you back in various ways so Occams Razor would tell us that that is a sufficient explanation for the observed correlations. The onus is on the researchers to show that there is some effect in the other direction. I cannot see where they have shown that. And since they see the correlation with health as the key test of their theory we are entitled to give the old Scottish verdict of "not proven" to their overall claims. They are probably right but have not shown it well. They should be more careful about jumping to conclusions. Assuming the direction of the causal arrow is however a besetting sin in the research literature. They are far from alone in seeing only what they expect to see.

So in any future research into status striving, it would be unwise to use state of health as an index of it.

Their conclusion about health is of course classic Leftist crocodile tears: It is a variation on "Poverty hurts the poor", or, "being poor is bad for you". Their variation is "being of low status is bad for you". I think I have shown that such a conclusion is not warranted by their findings


Another stupid Leftist assumption about the causal arrow

The crocodile tears never stop. Once again we are being told that being poor is bad for you. I will follow the article below with some comments

Stress can leave damaging and lasting imprints on the genes of the urban poor. This is according to a new study that claims poor people's DNA is declining in quality as a result of difficult upbringings.

The results are based on the finding that people in disadvantaged environments have shorter telomeres — DNA sequences that generally shrink with age — than their advantaged peers.

Previous research has found telomere length can reliably predict life expectancy in humans.

The study found that low-income residents of Detroit, no matter their race, have shorter telomeres than the national average.

'There are effects of living in high-poverty, racially segregated neighbourhoods,' Dr Arline Geronimus, a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Within this group, how race-ethnicity and income were associated with telomere length varied dramatically.


There are reasons for being poor -- being dumb, being lazy, having poor social skills, being in bad health etc. So assuming that being poor makes you dumb or unhealthy (etc.) gets it ass-backwards. The researchers above mistake the direction of the causal arrow. They claim poverty --> poor health, while I would argue that poor health --> poverty.

The researchers simply failed to ask WHY people are poor. They failed to look at the circumstances antecedent to their research -- a politically incorrect enquiry, I guess. Had they done that they would have seen that their conclusion is the unlikely one.

Their data show only that in poor people there is a lot of ill health -- which is in fact probably the most reliable finding in medical research. Whatever ailment medical researchers look at, it is generally found to be most frequent among people of low socio-economic status. But correlation is not causation so that repeated finding permits NO causal conclusions whatever. Only looking at the big picture behind the findings can suggest causal explanations. And that poor health is in general a considerable barrier to getting rich can hardly be disputed -- JR


Being tall has many advantages

It has been known for over 50 years that high IQ people are taller and have better health. So I have long argued that this is evidence of a general syndrome of greater evolutionary fitness -- of which IQ is just one marker. The findings below are rather strong evidence in support of that. All men are NOT equal. Nature is in fact rather unfair. Wise people live with that

Being tall may come with practical problems, such as the lack of legroom on aeroplanes, but there are some perks, too. Last month, researchers at Ohio State University reported that tall people are, on average, cleverer and have better social skills.

They said this could explain why studies in the past have found that tall people tend to earn more — as much as an extra £100,000 over a 30-year career.

That study followed research showing tall people are less likely to develop heart disease than short people. In fact height is now attracting a great deal of attention as a predictor of future health, affecting your risk of a range of diseases, from dementia to stroke.

A number of studies suggest that height is linked to the risk of developing dementia. Perhaps the strongest evidence for this came from a study published last November in the British Journal of Psychiatry, which analysed data from 18 studies.

The team found that men under 5ft 6in (167cm) had a 36 per cent higher risk of dementia than men over 5ft 10in (177cm).

That doesn’t mean being short causes dementia. Shorter height can be associated with certain pressures in early life, such as stress, illness or poor nutrition, which may predispose someone to dementia, says lead author Dr Tom Russ, lecturer in old age psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh.

He says early life stresses may affect a person’s cognitive reserve — the brain’s resistance to age-related damage. ‘People think of dementia as a disease of old age, but this suggests you are accumulating risk factors throughout the course of your life.’

When it comes to heart health, the news for shorter people may not be great, either. It seems they may also be more prone to heart disease, according to research published last month by the University of Leicester.

The researchers found a 5ft (153cm) tall person had a 32 per cent higher risk of heart disease than someone who is 5ft 6in (167cm).

This association isn’t new. Analysis of data from more than a million people, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2012, found clear links between shortness and higher risk of dying from heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

The latest research suggests the link is down to genes, rather than environmental factors such as diet. The team looked at 180 genetic variants that are known to control height, and found that those variants linked with shorter stature also had an effect on cholesterol, fat levels and overall heart disease risk.



Virginia: African refugee from Togo in US for nine days before attempted rape

Tchalim Koboya Lidawo, your friendly refugee next door? He gets only ten years for attempted rape? If a passerby hadn’t come along it wouldn’t have only been “attempted.”

By the way, I wondered if he was a legitimate ‘refugee.’ or here through some other legal program. So, I checked the State Department stats and was surprised to find that we do take refugees from Togo. Why?

So much for that security screening the US State Department and its contractors are always bragging about!
Leesburg, Va. – A West African man who attempted to rape a woman just nine days after arriving in the United States has been sentenced to ten years in prison. Tchalim Koboya Lidawo pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted rape and one count of abduction with force in connection to an incident that occurred on December 4th, 2014, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said.

The incident occurred at an Ashburn apartment complex, according to officials. The victim told law enforcement that she was taking out her trash when Lidawo approached her near the dumpster. He grabbed the victim and dragged her into some nearby woods, officials said. A struggle ensued, the victim fell down, and Lidawo climbed on top of her, according to the attorney’s office said.

A passerby heard the victim’s screams and approached, causing Lidawo to get up and run into the woods. The victim provided police with a description of Lidawo, leading to his arrest.

Lidawo was sentenced to ten years with additional five years of suspended time according to officials. He must also pay a $5,000 fine.

As a native of Togo, Lidawo may be removed from the United States when he is released. [He won’t be!] So now we get to pay for his prison stay!

I think there should be a requirement that the US State Department and its contractors pay for the legal costs of criminal trials and imprisonment for every refugee who commits a crime. Of course, that would still come out of our pockets (the taxpayers), but it would send a very important message to the public.



Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Ancel Keys' mistaken claims (from the 1950s!) about the wonders of the Mediterranean diet seem to have everlasting life so it always provokes me when they pop up anew. But I can't justify reproducing or saying much about this study. They found that elderly Spaniards -- who had presumably been on a Mediterranean diet anyhow -- were slightly less likely to go demented if they were given extra olive oil and nuts. So it is not at all clear that it is a study of the Mediterranean diet. It seems to be a study of oil and nuts.

They used a large range of tests to assess mental function but the effect of the intervention on test scores was in all cases only marginally significant statistically, despite the large sample size. Composites of the tests got much better statistical significance but the effects remained very small. Suffice it to say that it would be incautious to draw any general conclusions from this rather idiosyncratic study.

It's all HERE

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


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

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


12 May, 2015

The natural state of affairs

The political Left is widely and reasonably identified as people opposed to the status quo. They sure are. There is virtually nothing at present existing in the world that they would not like to overturn if they could. Such a big overturn can only be attained via a revolution but, ever since the French revolution, Leftists have managed quite a few of those. And the French revolutionaries even wanted to change the calendar.

But the awkward fact is that conservatives don't like the status quo either. In fact nobody does. I have yet to meet anyone who is completely happy with the world about him. I suspect such a person would have to be a hebephrenic or some other sort of mental case.

So how come Leftists are so identified with opposition to the status quo? The easy answer is that they are more passionate about it and more involved over it. They are driven by anger about things that others feel they can live with. The emotional importance of change differentiates and drives them. They are hell-bent (sometimes literally) on change.

While that is all undoubtedly true it doesn't provide a really sharp differentiation of the Left from others. And I think we can improve on it. And to do that I think we have to refer to the natural state of affairs. "The natural state of affairs"? What is that? It is a concept sometimes used in both law and economics but I want to broaden its applicability. I think it is actually quite easy to define in a generally applicable way. It means whatever people would do in the absence of external constraints.

And Leftists are big on external constraints. They are continually trying to make laws and regulations that will move people away from doing what they otherwise would do. There is general agreement that some basic laws are needed -- prohibition against assault, murder, theft etc. but Leftists go far beyond that. In a celebrated case one of them even wanted to forbid you from buying fizzy drinks in a container that was bigger than a certain size. Leftist would regulate EVERYTHING if they could. And in the Soviet Union they went close to achieving it. Leftists are the ultimate authoritarians. They want to STOP people doing what they would do in a natural state of affairs.

So I think we can now make a pretty sharp distinction between the changes Leftists want and the changes that conservatives want. Leftists want change AWAY from the natural state of affairs while conservatives want changes TOWARDS the natural state of affairs -- or at least changes that respect the natural state of affairs.

For instance, in a natural state of affairs people would tend to discriminate in various ways. They would and do tend to give various sorts of preference to people like themselves. And conservatives generally understand that. But to Leftists discrimination is an offence deserving of severe punishment. They want to stop people doing what they are normally and naturally inclined to do. Their need for change and the dreams of utopia that drive them make them the enemy of the natural state of affairs.


Baltimore: The Intersection of the Grievance Culture and the Welfare State

After the mysterious death of suspect Freddie Gray, the Maryland state’s attorney for Baltimore charged all six Baltimore police officers involved with his arrest and transport. The crimes ranging from “second-degree depraved-heart murder” to involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. Locals cheered her decision to charge all six. The charges followed three days of riots triggered by Gray’s funeral and came almost immediately after the medical examiner filed his report calling Gray’s death a “homicide.”

Now for the hard part.

Not only will the charges be difficult to prove but three of those charged are black. The claim of illegal “racial profiling” argues that white racist officers possess an unwarranted fear of young black men. But what happens to that analysis when the accused officers are black? If black cops are just as likely to engage in race-based misconduct, why did Ferguson demonstrators demand a “diverse” police force?

If the Ferguson outrage and riots were about “lack of representation” or “lack of voice,” this cannot be said about Baltimore. The city council is majority black, the police department is approximately 40 percent black, the top two officials running the department are black men, the city has a black mayor, the state’s attorney for Baltimore City — who charged the six officers — is black, the new U.S. attorney general is a black female, and of course the President of the United States is black.

The left has created a culture of anger and entitlement based upon government dependency and the false assertion that racism remains a major problem. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., for example, said that the recent police killings mean “open season on black men in America.” The Baltimore mayor’s shameful embrace of the Rev. Al Sharpton, the race-hustling incendiary who demanded an arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, did not help matters. Some actually believe this tripe about “institutional racism.” Of those, how many rioted over Freddie Gray’s “murder,” no matter the race of the mayor?

Police shootings over the last several decades are down. Cop shootings of blacks are down more than 75 percent over the last 45 years, while the death-by-cop rate for whites has increased slightly. According to the CDC — which tracks all causes of death, including shootings by law enforcement — over twice as many whites are killed by police as are blacks.

Police “profile” because out of a relatively small percentage of the population come more than 50 percent of homicides and 40 percent of the people behind bars. Blacks are 13 percent of the population, but young blacks — the category that disproportionately commits crime — are 3 percent of the population.

Speaking of “root causes,” Baltimore has not had a Republican mayor since 1967. So why haven’t the Democrats addressed the “root causes”? In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton blamed the “Rodney King riots” in Los Angeles on “12 years of denial and neglect” under the Reagan/Bush presidencies. Can we similarly attribute Baltimore’s riots to six years of Obama’s “progressive” policies?

Baltimore, Democrats say, needs a “new Marshall plan.” But, according to The Heritage Foundation, we have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. On education in Baltimore, in 2012 (the latest year available), they spent $15,287 per student. Yet almost half of urban Baltimoreans fail to graduate high school, and of those who do, many cannot read write and compute at grade level. Spend more?

In 1965, 25 percent of black kids were born out of wedlock. Today that number is up to 72 percent. Obama said that a kid without a father is 20 times more likely to go to jail. Blame the welfare state that incentivizes women into marrying the government.

Last year 189 blacks were killed in Baltimore. Where were CNN and President Barack Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder and Sharpton? Chicago averages 35 to 40 murders per month, the majority by and against blacks — and most remain unsolved. Where are CNN/Obama/Holder/Sharpton?

Obama has now misfired in at least four “racial” matters: the Cambridge police/Harvard professor incident; Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman; Michael Brown/Darren Wilson; and now Baltimore.

Obama’s claimed the “Cambridge police acted stupidly” in arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who falsely and belligerently accused a white officer of racial profiling.

In the case of Trayvon Martin, Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” But the jury found Zimmerman not only not guilty, but jurors later said that during their deliberations race never came up.

In the case of Ferguson, the Department of Justice found that Michael Brown very likely did not have his hands up and that the cop acted appropriately when he killed Brown, a charging suspect who posed a risk of death or serious injury.

Who would’ve thought that after the election and reelection of the nation’s first black president, we’d see race riots in our nation’s cities? Baltimore is what happens at the intersection of the grievance culture and the welfare state.



Americans need their lost 4th Amendment protections

The GOP Senate Majority Leader is pushing to reauthorize the Patriot Act without any changes or alterations.

It’s absolute madness. He says he is a defender of the Constitution however he has introduced legislation that absolutely guts the Fourth Amendment.

The Patriot Act is the law that allows law enforcement to spy on you and tap your phones without a warrant. This is the law that allows the police to hold you in prison indefinitely as long as they claim you’re connected with terrorism. This is the law that gave the NSA the power to record everything that Americans do on the internet.

The law expires in only a couple of weeks. Yet, instead of allowing this horrible law to die, Mitch McConnell is pushing to have it reauthorized!

A lot of you will probably ask what the big fuss is. You might even say there’s nothing to worry about if I have nothing to hide.

These aren’t the British Colonies anymore. Our forefathers fought a war of independence so that Americans wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of government intrusion. For goodness sake, they fleshed it out in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution!

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

This is supposed to protect us against warrantless wiretaps, NSA surveillance, and other illegal searches. But under the Patriot Act, it’s all fair game as long as some bureaucrat or agent claims you’re a terrorist.

There’s a reason that both the right and the left are united in opposition against this horrible law. It doesn’t happen often, but this is one of those instances.

The most horrendous parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1st of this year. These are three of those provisions:

* Section 215: This part of the law is what grants the NSA the power to spy on Americans and collect cell phone and internet records. If this provision expires, the NSA loses the authority to spy on innocent Americans. This is the best chance we have of reining in the NSA!

* Lone Wolf Provision: This is what allows law enforcement to bend the rules and violate the Constitution. Claiming that an individual is a “lone wolf terrorist” gives law enforcement unprecedented powers to surveil and apprehend individuals.

* Roving Wiretap Provision: This part of the law is what is known as Section 206. Imagine if the FBI had the authority to, with a single search warrant, raid every house or business you have been to or associated with in the past year. Well, stop imagining because this is exactly what Section 206 does. It’s completely unconstitutional.

Anyone who supports renewing the Patriot Act is against the Constitution. Period. And they need to be reminded that their actions speak louder than words.

For months, we have heard politicians on both side of the aisle give their stump speeches claiming that the NSA and other intelligence agencies need to be reined in. This is our chance.

Tell your Congressman and Senators to honor their oaths and STOP Democrat and Republican leadership from renewing the Patriot Act!



How occupational licensure hurts small business

On this year’s Small Business Week, it behooves us all to examine some of the policies that keep entrepreneurs from achieving their potential. While support of small business is a favorite talking point of both political parties, there in fact remain many government-created barriers designed to protect big businesses from smaller competitors. One such barrier is occupational license requirements.

Nearly 30 percent of workers in the United States now require a license to perform their job. If you ask a politician why this is so, they will likely justify licensing with appeals to safety and consumer protection. When it comes to practicing medicine or operating heavy machinery, this explanation makes some amount of intuitive sense, but there are plenty of other occupations for which the rationale is less clear.

Here is a partial list of occupations that require licenses in at least one state: florist, hair braider, interior decorator, hypnotist, personal trainer, landscape architect, auctioneer, dietitian, barber, librarian, makeup artist, funeral attendant, travel agent, shampooer, home entertainment installer, and so on, and so on. Some of these appear to make sense, but it’s pretty hard to see how consumers place themselves in danger by patronizing an unlicensed florist.

But what’s the big deal, right? Why shouldn’t these people prove their competence before being allowed to serve the public? The answer is that these policies are not really about protecting consumers, but about protecting existing businesses from competition. License requirements vary heavily across the country, but compliance costs are often very high both in terms of time and money– high enough to deter would-be entrepreneurs from entering the business unless they have a lot of startup capital.

For example, a license to cut hair in Washington, DC requires 1500 hours of training costing tens of thousands of dollars. That’s in addition to all the regular startup costs, such as rent, utilities, and equipment. This is a pretty considerable hurdle for a talented and self-trained barber to overcome to enter the business.

Some real life examples illustrate how license requirements hurt real people, customers and businessmen alike. In New York, there has been a continuing effort to shut down African hair braiders for operating without a license. Hair braiding is not dangerous to consumers, and most of practitioners are female African immigrants who lack other skills or even a strong command of the English language. For them, jumping through the hoops of obtaining a license is simply not an option, especially since most cosmetology schools don’t even teach the kind of hair braiding they do. But instead of encouraging their talent, the legal prohibition preventing them from earning a living drives them onto public assistance. Licensed hairdressers simply don’t want to put up with the competition.

In 2011, a man diagnosed with diabetes started a free blog to share what he had learned about his condition with others and offer dietary advice. The State Board shut him down because he was not a licensed dietitian, even though he was not charging for his services. The local nutritionist lobby didn’t want to compete with free tips. In this case, it was the consumers who lost out, being denied free advice that they would now be forced to pay a premium for.

Part of the problem is that state-level legislators who enact these requirements know virtually nothing about the affected industries. When they are confronted with a group of lobbyists from, say, the auctioneers’ union, they have to listen to a lot of long-winded speeches about how licenses are necessary to protect the public. Being at a knowledge disadvantage, few politicians have the instincts to second guess these sophisticated and well-crafted arguments. The unemployed, would-be entrepreneurs have no such powerful lobbying shop to stand up for their interests.

Occupational licenses began as a well-intentioned consumer protection measure, but in recent years they have transformed into a tool for incumbents to hinder their competition, imposing costly regulations they can afford, but their competition cannot. If states are serious about helping small business, they should start from scratch and reevaluate all occupational licenses to determine which are truly necessary, and which are merely tools of protectionism.



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

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


11 May, 2015

More embarrassing facts for the shallow thinkers of the Left! One sometimes wonders if they think at all

We read:

"A study of survival rates in trauma patients following health insurance reform in Massachusetts found a passing increase in adjusted mortality rates, an unexpected finding suggesting that simply providing insurance incentives and subsidies may not improve survival for trauma patients, according to a report published online by JAMA Surgery.

Massachusetts introduced health care reform in 2006 to expand health insurance coverage and improve outcomes. Some previous research has suggested improved survival rates following injury in patients with insurance. But the relationship of insurance to survival after injury may not be well understood. Some might expect that survival after traumatic injury may be unrelated to a person's insurance status because all injured persons have access to emergency care, according to the study background.

Turner Osler, M.D., M.Sc., of the University of Vermont, Colchester, and coauthors conducted a study of more than 1.5 million patients hospitalized following traumatic injury in Massachusetts or New York, a neighboring state that did not institute health care reform like Massachusetts. The study examined the 10 years (2002-2011) surrounding reform in Massachusetts.

The rates of uninsured trauma patients in Massachusetts decreased steadily from 14.9 percent in 2002 to 5 percent in 2011. The authors also found health care reform was associated with a passing increase in the adjusted mortality rate that accounted for as many as 604 excess deaths during four years.

"Fortunately, the increase in mortality among trauma patients following Massachusetts HCR [health care reform] resolved within a few years. It may not be possible to retrospectively reconstruct the causal pathway responsible for the increased excess deaths following HCR and its subsequent resolution. ... There are compelling arguments for providing health insurance to all citizens of the United States but our analysis suggests that simply providing health insurance incentives and subsidies does not improve survival for trauma patients. ... Ours is thus a cautionary tale for health care reformers: successful HCR for trauma patients will likely require more complex interventions than simply promoting health insurance coverage legislatively."

Comment: Taxachusetts was way ahead of Obamacare in giving people that wonderful publicly subsidized health insurance. So people there don't die for want of insurance any more -- Right? As we read above, some pesky medical researchers have just reported the evidence on that. And??? More people DIED under the Massachusetts system. The outcome was the exact opposite of what Leftists were so sure they could deliver. Their meddling was harmful, not helpful. Where have we seen that before? And will we see it from Obamacare?

The researchers describe the change they observed as "transient", meaning that the effect was seen only in the first few years of the new system. But have the Obamacare architects learned from that? Not that I can see. They seem in fact to have made the same mistakes. So this report probably means that Obamacare will kill tens of thousands of Americans.

Their report that earlier studies had shown better outcomes for insured people is naive. People who took out private health insurance in the past would in general have been smarter and richer. And both smart and rich people are known to have better health generally than others. It's one of the most consistent findings in medical research. And healthier people are more survivable after misadventure.

And I don't have to be as coy as the researchers above in addressing the cause behind the findings: The increase in the number of insured patients led to an increase in demand for medical services. It was meant to. What would be the point of the legislation otherwise? But that increase was not matched by a similar increase in available medical personnel. So the healthcare system became overstretched, meaning that EVERYONE got worse care, including, sadly, emergency cases. And Obamacare was similarly implemented. It has, if anything, REDUCED the availability of medical personnel. If that is not turned around somehow (How?), the avoidable deaths will continue too.

So in their typically short-sighted Leftist way, the Massachusetts and Obamacare legislators did not consider the probable downstream effects of their new healthcare legislation. But they did get what they wanted out of it -- the warm inner glow of being SEEN to be helping the poor. That they actually harmed everyone was of no concern to them.

Or, as T.S. Eliot rather generously put it over 50 years ago: "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

I do still occasionally report my amazement at the follies I see as a result of my frequent readings in the medical journals and this finding certainly justifies that odd hobby of mine. And it is particularly enjoyable to have a "big dig" at Taxachusetts. Puncturing hubris is always amusing. Journal abstract below

Survival Rates in Trauma Patients Following Health Care Reform in Massachusetts

By Turner Osler et al.


IMPORTANCE: Massachusetts introduced health care reform (HCR) in 2006, expecting to expand health insurance coverage and improve outcomes. Because traumatic injury is a common acute condition with important health, disability, and economic consequences, examination of the effect of HCR on patients hospitalized following injury may help inform the national HCR debate.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of Massachusetts HCR on survival rates of injured patients.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective cohort study of 1,520,599 patients hospitalized following traumatic injury in Massachusetts or New York during the 10 years (2002-2011) surrounding Massachusetts HCR using data from the State Inpatient Databases.

We assessed the effect of HCR on mortality rates using a difference-in-differences approach to control for temporal trends in mortality.

INTERVENTION Health care reform in Massachusetts in 2006.

MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURE Survival until hospital discharge.

RESULTS During the 10-year study period, the rates of uninsured trauma patients in Massachusetts decreased steadily from 14.9%in 2002 to 5.0.%in 2011. In New York, the rates of uninsured trauma patients fell from 14.9%in 2002 to 10.5%in 2011.

The risk-adjusted difference-in-difference assessment revealed a transient increase of 604 excess deaths (95% CI, 419-790) in Massachusetts in the 3 years following implementation of HCR.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Health care reform did not affect health insurance coverage for patients hospitalized following injury but was associated with a transient increase in adjusted mortality rates. Reducing mortality rates for acutely injured patientsmay require more comprehensive interventions than simply promoting health insurance coverage through legislation.

JAMA Surg. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.2464 Published onlineMay 6, 2015


U.S. Emergency-Room Visits Keep Climbing

People on Medicaid turn to hospital care when doctor access is limited, new survey suggests

Emergency-room visits continued to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law’s supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health-care providers.

A survey of 2,098 emergency-room doctors conducted in March showed about three-quarters said visits had risen since January 2014. That was a significant uptick from a year earlier, when less than half of doctors surveyed reported an increase. The survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians is scheduled to be published Monday.

Medicaid recipients newly insured under the health law are struggling to get appointments or find doctors who will accept their coverage, and consequently wind up in the ER, ACEP said. Volume might also be increasing due to hospital and emergency-department closures—a long-standing trend.

Emergency-room visits are climbing, despite predictions that the Affordable Care Act would lead to less traffic. WSJ’s Stephanie Armour joins the News Hub. Photo: Getty
“There was a grand theory the law would reduce ER visits,” said Dr. Howard Mell, a spokesman for ACEP. “Well, guess what, it hasn’t happened. Visits are going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of it.”

The health law’s impact on emergency departments has been closely watched because it has significant implications for the public. ER crowding has been linked to longer wait times and higher mortality rates.

“As people gain access to affordable, high-quality coverage, they are more likely to get the right care when they need it,” said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “For people who have utilized emergency rooms for nonemergency care in the past, we are continuing to work to reach out and provide information on how to best use their new coverage.”

The Affordable Care Act is also making critical investments to train more doctors and nurses, especially in communities that have lacked access to quality, affordable care in the past, he said.

More than half of providers listed in Medicaid managed-care plans couldn’t schedule appointments for enrollees, according to a December report by the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. Among providers who could offer appointments, the median wait time was two weeks, but more than a quarter of doctors had wait times of more than a month for an appointment.

Many doctors don’t accept Medicaid patients because the state-federal coverage provides lower reimbursement rates than many private health-insurance plans. The waits for primary and specialty care by participating doctors appear to be leaving some Medicaid patients with the ER as the only option, according to ACEP.

“We’re seeing a huge backlog in the ER because the volume has increased,” said Ryan Stanton, an emergency-room doctor at Baptist Health Lexington in Kentucky. “This year we already have had to board people in the ER because of the sheer volumes,” he said, referring to a practice of keeping patients in the ER until a hospital room becomes available.

Dr. Stanton said ER volume rose about 10% in 2014 from 2013, and was up almost 20% in the first few months of this year.

The ACEP survey also found that ERs are seeing sicker patients: About 90% of the doctors polled said the severity of illness has stayed the same or gotten worse. That might be explained in part by an aging population, newly insured people with multiple maladies, and people delaying care because they have high-deductible insurance plans.

Nicholas Vasquez, a medical director for an emergency department in Mesa, Ariz., said volume rose 5% in a year, representing about 10 more patients a day. The stress from bigger caseloads prompted some nurses to resign, he said. “Physicians are working more shifts—that pushes them a lot,” Dr. Vasquez said. “If they work too much, they get burnt out. For patients, it means longer waits.”

Some states have been trying to curb ER use by Medicaid recipients by requiring higher copayments for visits deemed nonurgent. Critics have denounced that practice as punitive, and warn that it will dissuade low-income patients from seeking care that may be necessary.

A 2013 study by Truven Health Analytics that examined insurance claims for more than 6.5 million ER visits by commercially insured people under age 65 found just 29% of patients required immediate attention. Twenty-four percent didn’t require immediate attention, 41% received care that could have been provided in a primary-care setting, and 6% got care that would have been preventable or avoidable with proper primary care.

More than 40% of emergency physicians said they expect emergency-room visits to increase if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies provided to people who obtain insurance on the federal exchange are invalid. The court is expected to rule by late June.



Sharpton’s Progressivism is Authoritarian Nationalism

In his call for the nationalization of police forces, Al Sharpton perfectly encapsulates the mainstream left — frequently dead on target in the diagnosis, yet prescribing a remedy that would only exacerbate the infection. The problems Sharpton identifies, persistent police abuse, unaccountability, and distance between the police and the policed, are the results of a forced monopoly system, one in which arbitrary power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of law enforcement and court officials.

Nationalization would compound these problems by even further centralizing power, increasing the distance (both literally and figuratively) between policing decision-makers and policed communities, and eliminating the checks and balances generated by allowing people to “vote with their feet.” Instead of municipal monopolies providing defense services, which have proven themselves dangerous enough, Sharpton would subject Americans to a single federal police force, echoing Barack Obama’s ominous call for a “civilian national security” force back in 2008.

Sharpton’s proposed remedy shows the mainstream left’s true colors, rooted in the nationalistic, essentially fascist politics of the Progressive Era. The invocation of “fascism,” in this context, should not be taken as mere name-calling. Rather, the ideas of the Progressive Era were self-consciously, even proudly fascist, a deliberate reaction against classical liberalism, calling for increased state management of the economy through bureaucratic expert oversight and collusion between political and economic power that blurred the supposedly hard-and-fast lines between the public and private sectors.

Professional police were very much a central feature of Progressive politics. Experts in government believed that professionalizing police, creating a science of policing and separating officers from particular communities, would position officers above the vagaries of politics and place, thereby leading to safer, more effective policing. But reliance on ostensibly impartial expertise, allowing committees in remote seats of government to dictate rules to everyone, is just how we get the culture of impunity we see in police departments today. Held above competition and empowered by the militarization and over-criminalization of the war on drugs, municipal police departments have free rein to abuse the communities that they are meant to serve and protect.

Confronted with systemic problems created by the state’s coercive interferences with and obstructions of human beings’ natural patterns of life, Progressives like Al Sharpton call for more and stronger government. If Sharpton would look just a bit more closely, question establishment reasoning just a bit more critically, he would see that the American government has been the single greatest enemy of the poor and oppressed, especially black Americans.

The problem is not too little government power and centralized control — it’s too much. The authoritarian reflex and its quick fixes are powerful, but they’re neither genuinely progressive nor liberal.



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

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


10 May, 2015

The innate good sense and moderation of the vast majority of the English people

A comment on the recent outright victory of the Conservatives in the British general election below. The Conservatives won despite the deck being stacked against them -- including a gerrymandered electoral system, the BBC and most of the entertainment industry

The outcome of the General Election was a Victory for England. Chesterton’s ‘secret people’ have spoken.

As I predicted on Tuesday, voters simply couldn’t countenance the terrifying prospect of an extreme Left-wing Labour government propped up by a gang of marauding Scottish Stalinists.

The result was an emphatic reminder of the innate good sense and moderation of the vast majority of the English people.

And with all due respect to our fellow citizens in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who also rejected the Life On Mars retro-socialism of Labour and the SNP, this was an English victory.

Call Me Dave is a lucky bunny. This result owed nothing to the lacklustre Tory campaign and everything to the small-c conservatism of the English electorate.

Tony Blair understood that, which is why he won three elections. Ed Miliband didn’t, which is the reason he suffered such a humiliating and thoroughly deserved drubbing.

Cameron is also fortunate still to have a fearless free Press, willing and able to alert their readers to the impending calamity. That’s why Labour and its self-serving celebrity supporters were so keen to bring Fleet Street under State control.

As I predicted on Tuesday, voters simply couldn’t countenance the terrifying prospect of an extreme Left-wing Labour government propped up by a gang of marauding Scottish Stalinists.

The Left already dominate the airwaves, especially the BBC. Without an unshackled, vibrant newspaper industry, voters would be subjected to an unchallenged, constant bombardment of anti-Tory propaganda.

Cameron’s victory hasn’t gone down at all well in New Broadcasting House. As the Conservative majority mounted yesterday morning, the BBC’s Huw Edwards adopted the demeanour of a man who had just learned that his dog has been run over.

We were told that this was the first election which would be fought and decided on social media. But governments aren’t chosen by the shrill self-publicists who shout at each other on Twitter.

They are chosen by well-informed voters putting a cross on a ballot paper with a stubby pencil in the privacy of a polling booth. The spectre of a Miliband-Sturgeon tyranny concentrated minds and ushered the undecided into the Conservative column.

That’s why I was pretty confident that despite the opinion polls, sanity would prevail and the Tories would be returned as the largest party.

Even so, no one anticipated that the victory would produce a working majority. As a result, Cameron no longer has to deal with the duplicitous Lib Dems [Liberals], who found themselves on the receiving end of a richly warranted wrecking ball.

They have nobody to blame but themselves. They could have been rewarded for their contribution to five years of fairly stable Coalition which delivered Britain’s remarkable economic recovery.

But instead they reverted to type, bickering and back-biting and boasting about how they prevented the evil Tories from ruining the country, slashing public spending and selling off the NHS.

There were so few of them left standing yesterday that when Cameron was making his way to the Palace, ITV was reduced to interviewing the disgraced former Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten, whose political career spectacularly hit the fan when he was discovered consorting with rent boys and indulging in ‘an act too disgusting to be described in a family newspaper’.

Nick Clegg [Liberal leader] seemed to think he was entitled to remain in government whoever won the election. Others, such as Vince Cable, were openly flirting with Labour.

Oh, what joy it was to watch Saint Vinny suffer his Portillo moment. His eviction by the people of Twickenham was right up there with the defenestration of the appalling Ed Balls.

Gordon Brown’s former bagman [Ed Balls) was bounced by the voters of Morley and Outwood, in Yorkshire. It means we will be spared his infuriating bombast and juvenile hand gestures, not to mention the nightmare of him being handed the keys to Number 11 Downing Street [the treasury].

If the result of the General Election had gone the other way, Balls would have become Chancellor of the Exchequer, spending and taxing like there was no tomorrow.

Labour thought that peddling the politics of resentment and division would be enough to get them over the line. Fortunately, that theory seems to have been tested to destruction.

Much now depends on how Cameron uses his slim majority and whether his backbenchers behave themselves.

The last thing we need is a re-run of the early Nineties, which was marred by running battles over Europe between John Major and some of his own MPs.

And while we’re on the subject of Europe, spare a thought for Nigel Farage, who deserved but failed to get elected in Thanet.

His 15-year crusade to secure a vote on Europe has been heroic, in the face of concerted and often violent intimidation.

The good news is that with no Lib Dems to stop them, the Tories can take a chainsaw to our unsustainable levels of public spending. And soon. Fortunately, the SNP isn’t in any position to prevent the Government balancing the books.

For all her noisy posturing about building a ‘progressive’ alliance with Labour and the other fringe headbangers, a Conservative Government in Westminster suits Nicola Sturgeon down to the ground.

So what’s in all this for the English voters who have given Cameron his majority?

Not only will we get the EU vote the other parties would have denied us; the Human Rights Act will be scrapped; the low-paid will be taken out of tax altogether, millions of hard-pressed middle-income earners will be taken out of the 40p band and the top rate won’t rise to an enterprise-sapping 50 per cent.

We’ve also been spared the mansion tax and the bullying bureaucracy and attack on civil liberties and free speech which would have come with a recovery-wrecking Labour/SNP set-up.

For that we can thank the sensible voters of Middle England, however reluctant many of us may have felt when voting Tory.



The history and sociology behind the recent British Conservative victory

Tony Blair, of all people, saw it coming. As long ago as January, he told The Economist magazine that the 2015 election campaign would be one ‘in which a traditional Left-wing party competes with a traditional Right-wing party, with the traditional result’.

‘A Tory win?’ asked his interviewer. ‘Yes,’ Mr Blair replied. ‘That is what happens.’

Whatever you might think of Mr Blair, he proved a much better soothsayer than the vast majority of pollsters and pundits.

For Thursday’s election was not merely a disappointment for Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. It was a disaster, a catastrophe, an utter debacle to rank with the very worst defeats of the Eighties.

The seeds of Labour’s defeat were, I think, sown at the very moment when, on September 25, 2010, Ed Miliband was announced as the party’s new leader. As I wrote at the time, the problem was not so much his goofy manner and geeky personality, but the fact he had so comprehensively refused to learn from those previous defeats.

Mr Miliband’s appeal to Labour activists, and especially to his patrons and paymasters in the giant trades unions, can be put very simply.

He stood for the leadership on the basis that he was not Tony Blair, that New Labour was dead and that he would rekindle the Left-wing spirit of the Seventies and Eighties.

Moments after Mr Miliband’s shock victory over his more moderate brother David, the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who led his party to crushing defeats in 1987 and 1992, was heard to exult: ‘We’ve got our party back.’

Well, Mr Kinnock certainly got his party back on Thursday night — an unashamedly Left-wing party, suspicious of business, hostile to the free market economy and dedicated to the principle of state intervention in business and the biggest utility companies.

And the reaction from the British people was exactly the same as it was in the Eighties: crushing rejection.

To an outside observer, it simply beggars belief that Mr Miliband failed to learn the lessons of history. Indeed, right from the moment he became Labour leader and proclaimed his fealty to the old-time Left-wing faith, Blairities were queueing up to warn that he was leading his party back to the dark ages of defeat.

‘Economic competence counts, leadership matters and you cannot win from the Left,’ Tony Blair’s old speechwriter Philip Collins remarked yesterday. ‘These things are rules in politics, carved in stone.’

Almost incredibly, however, Mr Miliband believed that he could rip up the rulebook. For reasons that seem to me utterly unfathomable, he believed — and still believes — that Britain is crying out for old-fashioned Left-wing policies, and that fate had chosen him to lead us into a socialist, redistributive future.

Yet even a cursory glance at the history books would have told him that no Labour government has won a majority on an overtly Left-wing platform for decades. Indeed, the last Labour leader to do so was Harold Wilson in October 1974 — and his majority was just three seats.

In fact, even that Wilson victory was a pretty poor model for Mr Miliband to follow. It is true that Labour at the time espoused some hair-raisingly socialist policies, from 83 per cent income tax to the nationalisation of land.

In reality, Wilson did not believe in his party’s Left-wing wheezes and many were quietly abandoned over the next five years. Indeed, by the time Labour faced the electorate in 1979, his admirably pragmatic successor, the more conservative Jim Callaghan, had started dragging the party back to the centre ground.

Yet such was public exhaustion with the endless strikes, inflation and economic chaos that the British people turned instead to Margaret Thatcher’s gospel of individual aspiration, hard work and self-improvement.

It is a mystery to me why, for so long, so many Labour politicians stubbornly refused to learn appropriate lessons. Instead, in Opposition after 1979, the party lurched crazily to the Left.

By 1983, when Ed Miliband was a politics-obsessed teenager, the Labour Party had lost its mind. Led by the veteran Left-wing activist Michael Foot — a highly intelligent, principled and decent man, but a preposterous candidate to be prime minister — it had become a national laughing stock.

Mocked by one of Foot’s own frontbenchers as ‘the longest suicide note in history’, the Labour manifesto promised to scrap nuclear weapons, pull out of the European Union, re-nationalise British Telecom and British Aerospace, reverse council house sales and even create hundreds of Labour peers — ironically enough, to vote through the abolition of the House of Lords.

The result was a total disaster. Across England in particular, voters recoiled from the prospect of full-blown state Socialism. Even with unemployment running at more than three million, Mrs Thatcher coasted to re-election while Labour slumped to a pitiful 209 seats — only 23 fewer than Mr Miliband’s dismal total on Thursday.

Then as now, ordinary people were not interested in Miliband-style classroom tirades about inequality and injustice. They just wanted a decent job, a steady wage and reliable public services.

Inside the Labour Party, a few bright young MPs, elected despite the Tory landslide, started to draw the obvious conclusions. Two young men in particular, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, began to see that what ordinary voters wanted was not socialist rhetoric and state ownership, but a government that understood their everyday anxieties and shared their aspirations.

It took an awfully long time, though, for the rest of the Labour Party to catch up. When Foot stepped down, his replacement, Neil Kinnock, was another Left-winger, an outspoken Welsh firebrand who never managed to appeal to Middle England.

Even so, Mr Kinnock was, in my view, a far more effective Labour leader than Ed Miliband. Starting from a very low base, he managed to improve Labour’s tally to 229 seats in 1987, then dragged them to 271 in 1992, a far better showing than Mr Miliband managed this week.

And though he made no secret of his socialist principles, Mr Kinnock nevertheless recognised that his party had to change. Not only did he ditch some of his more extravagant commitments, such as the abolition of nuclear weapons, but he refused to back Arthur Scargill’s miners’ strike in 1984-85, to the horror of some of his union allies.

Indeed, it is telling that some of Mr Kinnock’s most notable rhetorical triumphs came when he was lecturing his own party on the need to face the modern world — such as when, in 1985, he issued a blazing denunciation of the Militant Tendency councillors whose crazy Marxist policies had reduced the proud city of Liverpool to the level of a banana republic.

It is true, of course, that Mr Kinnock never evolved enough to win over many middle-class voters, and history records that he lost two elections in a row. Even so, he had at least begun to coax his party away from Left-wing lunacies and back towards the centre ground.

That task was, of course, completed by Tony Blair, who won over business, seduced the City and loudly proclaimed his enthusiasm for the free market economy — and was promptly rewarded with three victories in a row from 1997 to 2005.

What Mr Blair recognised is that people are simply not interested in academic lectures about moral and political philosophy. They are naturally offended when high-minded intellectuals descend from Planet Hampstead to harangue them about how empty and miserable their lives are.

Far from being obsessed with inequality, most people respect hard work and often admire those who have done well for themselves. And far from being attracted by demagogic weirdos such as Mr Miliband’s court jester Russell Brand, most people regard them with total contempt.

Mr Miliband, encouraged by his paymasters in the trades unions, never grasped this basic lesson.

Instead, he committed himself to a platform made up in equal parts of old-fashioned state intervention, naked populist bribery and seminar room jargon, for which he has rightly paid the ultimate political price.

Indeed, I was struck that even in his resignation speech, the Labour leader fell back on the old empty waffle about the inevitability of ‘progress and social justice’ and ‘the issue of our unequal country’.

This is the sort of stuff Labour leaders came out with in the Eighties. It is the sort of stuff their Left-wing activists love to hear — and, of course, the sort of stuff the British electorate contemptuously rejected on Thursday.

The fact that Mr Miliband does not appear to have understood why he lost so heavily is enormously telling.

He remains today what he has always been — the dutiful son of a Marxist intellectual, hostile to the market, indifferent to wealth creation and utterly out of touch with the basic instincts of most British people.

If Labour are serious about challenging in 2020, they will need to find a very different kind of leader, who understands the anxieties and aspirations of ordinary voters. But if they turn to yet another union-backed intellectual preaching the hackneyed gospel of student union socialism, then the nightmares of 1983 and 2015 will simply be repeated.

You might think it shouldn’t be so difficult to learn the lessons of history. But as Ed Miliband has proved, when it comes to politics, even supposedly clever people can be astonishingly stupid.



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

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


8 May, 2015

Black Lives Matter

But to liberals black lives matter only when the lives are taken by white police

By Walter E. Williams

Before we examine the issue of police shootings of blacks, I would like to start the conversation with another question. Here it is: If a person chooses to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train, who is responsible for his being run over? And if many people meet their maker this way, what would you recommend as the best way to reduce such deaths? Would you focus most of your efforts on train engineers, or would you counsel people not to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train?

In principle, the answer to these questions might help with the issue of police shootings in general and particularly those of blacks. First, the Ferguson, Missouri, case: Having robbed a liquor store, the person is walking in the middle of the street and blocking traffic. A police officer tells the person to get out of the street. What would you suggest the person do? Would you suggest that he ignore the police officer's instructions, push the officer as he attempts to get out of his vehicle and afterward attempt to take the officer's pistol?

In the case of the New York City death of Eric Garner, what would you recommend? A person is illegally selling cigarettes. The police try to effect an arrest. What would you recommend that the person do? As the police try to take the person into custody, would you advise the person to swat away the arms of the arresting officer, to tell the officer "Don't touch me!" and to continue resisting arrest?

What about the shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer? If an officer makes a traffic stop, would you advise that the driver flee so as to avoid arrest?

Let me be clear: I am justifying neither the behavior of police officers nor the deadly outcomes of their confrontations with these three black men. Similarly, I would not justify the behavior of a train engineer or the outcome a person experiences standing on the train tracks in the face of an oncoming train. I would counsel a person not to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train.

Similarly, the advice that I would give to anyone of any race in dealing with police is: Follow the officer's instructions. Do not resist arrest or attempt to flee. Do not assault the police officer or try to disarm him. Had this advice been taken, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott would be alive today.

Criminal activity is a major problem in many black communities. That means many black citizens will have some kind of contact with police officers, either as victims of crime or as criminals. One of the true tragedies is that black politicians, preachers and civil rights advocates give massive support to criminals such as Brown, Garner and Scott. How much support do we see for the overwhelmingly law-abiding members of the black community preyed upon by criminals?

The average American has no idea of the day-to-day threats and fears encountered by the law-abiding majority in black neighborhoods on account of thugs. In addition to giving threats and instilling fears, criminals have turned many black communities into economic wastelands where there is a lack of services that most Americans take for granted, such as supermarkets, other shops and even home delivery. Black residents must bear the expense of having to go out of their neighborhoods to shop or shop at high-cost mom and pop stores.

The protest chant that black lives matter appears to mean that black lives matter only if they are taken at the hands of white police officers.



Race, Politics and Lies

By Thomas Sowell

Among the many painful ironies in the current racial turmoil is that communities scattered across the country were disrupted by riots and looting because of the demonstrable lie that Michael Brown was shot in the back by a white policeman in Missouri

Totally ignored was the fact that a black policeman in Alabama fatally shot an unarmed white teenager, and was cleared of any charges, at about the same time that a white policeman was cleared of charges in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

In a world where the truth means so little, and headstrong preconceptions seem to be all that matter, what hope is there for rational words or rational behavior, much less mutual understanding across racial lines?

When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as the most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of “us against them” that was more popular.

That vision is nowhere more clearly expressed than in attempts to automatically depict whatever social problems exist in ghetto communities as being caused by the sins or negligence of whites, whether racism in general or a “legacy of slavery” in particular. Like most emotionally powerful visions, it is seldom, if ever, subjected to the test of evidence.

The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.

Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s.

You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.

We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact — for those who still have some respect for facts — black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Murder rates among black males were going down — repeat, DOWN — during the much lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.

Such trends are not unique to blacks, nor even to the United States. The welfare state has led to remarkably similar trends among the white underclass in England over the same period. Just read “Life at the Bottom,” by Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician who worked in a hospital in a white slum neighborhood.

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state — and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves.

One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter, more than the prevailing social visions or political empires built on those visions.



Hillary Clinton goes all in on immigration; pledges to outdo Obama

Hillary Clinton held a Cinco de Mayo event with illegal immigrants in Nevada Tuesday — "an especially appropriate day for us to be having this conversation" — in which she promised to go farther than President Obama in using executive authority to confer legal status on illegal immigrants, and to ultimately to award them U.S. citizenship. No matter what Republicans might offer to illegal immigrants in terms of legal status, Clinton said, she will offer more.

Changing the immigration system will be a top priority should she become president, Clinton said. "We can't wait any longer. We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship."

Clinton made clear she would go beyond any Republican, be it Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or any other, in conferring benefits on currently illegal immigrants. "This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side," she said. "Make no mistakes — today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status."

As for Obama's unilateral executive action, Clinton said she will defend what has already been done and then add action of her own. "I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country," she said.

"I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put Dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people, like many parents of Dreamers, and others, with deep ties and contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay, and I will fight for them."

"I want to do everything we can to defend the president's executive orders," Clinton said at another point. "Because I think they were certainly within his authority, constitutionally, legally, they were based on precedent that I certainly believe is adequate. And then still try to go further and deal with some of these other issues, like the re-unification of families that were here and that have been split up."

A number of words were missing from Clinton's discussion of immigration. She did not say "border," for example, or "visa" or "E-Verify" or "workplace." The notion of enforcing the nation's immigration laws as they currently exist was not on the table.

Clinton has not always been quite so expansive on the subject of immigration. For much of 2014, as the nation debated Obama's threatened unilateral executive action, Clinton stayed out of the conversation, not committing one way or the other. In the summer of 2014, when there was a flood of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants across the southeastern border, Clinton advocated sending most of them back to their home countries.

"They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults in their families are…" Clinton said at the time. "But I think all of them who can be, should be reunited with their families."

During her 2008 run for president, Clinton famously opposed issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

That's all in the past. Now, Clinton is again running for president, and with Hispanic votes to be won, she is vowing she will not be outbid when it comes to the subject of immigration.



The IRS Goes to Court

The agency suggests it can discriminate for 270 days. Judges gasp

It isn’t every day that judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declare themselves “shocked.” But that happened on Monday when an animated three-judge panel eviscerated the IRS and Justice Department during oral argument in a case alleging the agency delayed the tax-exempt application of a pro-Israel group due to its policy views.

In December 2009, Pennsylvania-based Z Street applied for 501(c)(3) status to pursue its pro-Israel educational mission. In July 2010, when the group called to check on what was taking so long, an IRS agent said that auditors had been instructed to give special attention to groups connected with Israel, and that they had sent some of those applications to a special IRS unit for additional review.

Z Street sued the IRS for viewpoint discrimination (Z Street v. Koskinen), and in May 2014 a federal district judge rejected the IRS’s motion to dismiss. The IRS appealed, a maneuver that halted discovery that could prove to be highly embarrassing. Justice says Z Street’s case should be dismissed because the Anti-Injunction Act bars litigation about “the assessment or collection of tax.” Problem is, Z Street isn’t suing for its tax-exempt status. It’s suing on grounds that the IRS can’t discriminate based on point of view.

The three judges—Chief Judge Merrick Garland,David Tatel and David Sentelle—were incredulous. You say they want a tax exemption, but that’s not the complaint, Judge Sentelle admonished government lawyer Teresa McLaughlin: “They are not in court seeking to restrain the assessment or collection of a tax, they are in court seeking a constitutionally fair process.”

The suit should also be foreclosed, the government argued, because under Section 7428(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code groups may sue to obtain their tax-exempt status if no action has been taken for 270 days, and that should be an alternative to Z Street’s approach.

“You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” Judge Garland said. “Imagine the IRS announces today a policy that says as follows: No application by a Jewish group or an African-American group will be considered until one day short of the period under the statute . . . Is it your view that that cannot be challenged?”

The judges also asked why the government had buried the key precedent in a footnote in its brief. In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, the Supreme Court decided that the language of the Anti-Injunction Act did not preclude cases like Z Street’s. In a previous case before the D.C. Circuit, Judge Garland noted, the court also “rejected” the exact arguments the government was making, “so in a way we have already decided every issue before us today, against you.”

Poor Ms. McLaughlin was sent to argue the indefensible so the IRS can delay discovery until the waning days of the Obama Administration. “If I were you, I would go back and ask your superiors whether they want us to represent that the government’s position in this case is that the government is free to unconstitutionally discriminate against its citizens for 270 days,” said Judge Garland.

Ms. McLaughlin replied, “Well, I will take that back.” The Beltway media may be bored, but the IRS scandal is a long way from over.



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

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


7 May, 2015

Some fun

Today is fun day for poking holes in popular health myths. My pervasive skepticism is getting a lot of support at the moment. All the research reports below are from "JAMA Internal Medicine", a most prestigious medical journal

Wow! How the statin worm has turned!

The cholesterol fanatics were until very recently so evangelical about statins that they were urging for them to be put into the water supply. Just the title of the article below would have been unthinkable two years ago. There are a few of us who have been saying for years what a deadly hoax the statin craze was but we were like climate skeptics against global warming: The whole establishment was against us. The conclusion below? Even very ill people were on balance better off WITHOUT statins.

The whole point of the article is something that is still sometimes denied: The often severe side effects of statins and the severe impact of those side effects on the patient's quality of life (QOL). A lot of apparent Alzheimer's cases have been in reality sufferers from statin side-effects

Safety and Benefit of Discontinuing Statin Therapy in the Setting of Advanced, Life-Limiting Illness: A Randomized Clinical Trial

By Jean S. Kutner et al.


Importance: For patients with limited prognosis, some medication risks may outweigh the benefits, particularly when benefits take years to accrue; statins are one example. Data are lacking regarding the risks and benefits of discontinuing statin therapy for patients with limited life expectancy.

Objective: To evaluate the safety, clinical, and cost impact of discontinuing statin medications for patients in the palliative care setting.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a multicenter, parallel-group, unblinded, pragmatic clinical trial. Eligibility included adults with an estimated life expectancy of between 1 month and 1 year, statin therapy for 3 months or more for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, recent deterioration in functional status, and no recent active cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomized to either discontinue or continue statin therapy and were monitored monthly for up to 1 year. The study was conducted from June 3, 2011, to May 2, 2013. All analyses were performed using an intent-to-treat approach.

Interventions: Statin therapy was withdrawn from eligible patients who were randomized to the discontinuation group. Patients in the continuation group continued to receive statins.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes included death within 60 days (primary outcome), survival, cardiovascular events, performance status, quality of life (QOL), symptoms, number of nonstatin medications, and cost savings.

Results: A total of 381 patients were enrolled; 189 of these were randomized to discontinue statins, and 192 were randomized to continue therapy. Mean (SD) age was 74.1 (11.6) years, 22.0% of the participants were cognitively impaired, and 48.8% had cancer. The proportion of participants in the discontinuation vs continuation groups who died within 60 days was not significantly different (23.8% vs 20.3%; 90% CI, ?3.5% to 10.5%; P?=?.36) and did not meet the noninferiority end point. Total QOL was better for the group discontinuing statin therapy (mean McGill QOL score, 7.11 vs 6.85; P?=?.04). Few participants experienced cardiovascular events (13 in the discontinuation group vs 11 in the continuation group). Mean cost savings were $3.37 per day and $716 per patient.

Conclusions and Relevance: This pragmatic trial suggests that stopping statin medication therapy is safe and may be associated with benefits including improved QOL, use of fewer nonstatin medications, and a corresponding reduction in medication costs. Thoughtful patient-provider discussions regarding the uncertain benefit and potential decrement in QOL associated with statin continuation in this setting are warranted.



Hurrah for peanuts! (Goober nuts; ground nuts)

"Prospective Evaluation of the Association of Nut/Peanut Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality" by Luu, Blot et al. (Yes. They are real names) reports that you live longer if you eat more peanuts. The study was methodologically strong but the efects were trifling -- rather like saying that if you eat a lot of peanuts you will live longer by one week. With the large sample sizes, the effects were statistically significant but they were not significant in any other way. Eat as few or as many peanuts as you like. I guess that's good news for people with peanut allergies.

A jarring note about this study is that the journal editor (Mitchell H. Katz) put up a note that showed no awareness at all of how small the effect size was. He claimed it as a great health recommendation for peanuts. Amazing. I guess medical researchers have got used to reporting trifling effects.


Vegetarians have healthier bottoms

We read: "Vegetarian diets are associated with an overall lower incidence of colorectal cancers. Pescovegetarians in particular have a much lower risk compared with nonvegetarians. If such associations are causal, they may be important for primary prevention of colorectal cancers."

How splendid to see in the medical literature for once that proper caution: "If such associations are causal". The study is worth noting for that alone. The effects noted were however very small so it's not worth going vegetarian in order to dodge bowel cancer.


An apple a day does NOT keep the doctor away

Sad news for apple growers, I guess. "Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits" reports: "Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications". The data were derived from a large and well-samped subject pool so the findings are pretty conclusive, at least for the USA.


I have kept the best 'til last

"Responses of Specialist Societies to Evidence for Reversal of Practice" is worthwhile just for the title. Medical backflips are so common that they can now be studied as a subject of interest by themselves. The authors found that specialists were quick to adopt poorly founded practices and slow to let them go.

It's a good lesson in always questioning authority. Authorities are often wrong. The questioning has to be reasonable, however. An insistence on seeing the evidence is what is needed. If you don't know much about statistics but want to read articles in medical journal, just remember the official rule of thumb: Hazard ratios of less than 2.00 are not sound evidence. The hazard ratios in the studies mentioned above were all MUCH weaker than that. None of them even rose as high as 1.00.


Baltimore: Local grocers Under Fire for Supporting National Guard

When the National Guard was trying to tame the situation in Baltimore earlier this week, Whole Foods and Five Guys decided to show appreciation for their efforts by providing free food. Good deed, right?

Not according to leftists. Salon’s Joanna Rothkopf reported, “All Baltimore City public schools were closed on Tuesday in response to violent protests breaking out across the city in response to Freddie Gray’s death. About 84 percent of students in city’s public schools receive free or reduced-price lunches, according to the school district’s website. The closings mean that these students were unable to access these lunches, and churches and community centers have been scrambling to fill the gap. That’s why it was so shocking to hear that Whole Foods and Five Guys had taken the initiative to provide free food for National Guard soldiers instead of for thousands of high-need children.”

The reaction forced Whole Foods to remove a social media posting thanking the Guard for their work along with a photograph of the food. The local grocery told ABC News, “We removed the post because it did not accurately reflect all our local stores are doing to feed people across this city, especially children. Again, we love our community, and will continue to support our city in the days to come, as we always do, and extend our heartfelt sympathy to those affected.”

Is there anything the Leftmedia won’t do if it involves slandering our troops?



Parade of Tax Cheats Just Happens to Be Led by Democrats

The average taxpayer finally logged enough work hours and made enough money just a few days ago to completely pay the burden of taxes on Tax Freedom Day, calculated by the non-partisan Tax Foundation to be April 24 this year. For 114 days, the average working American had their wealth confiscated to fund the various forms of government. That average taxpayer label, however, doesn’t seem to apply to a growing number of Democrats who are tax cheats or delinquent in paying their “fair share.”

The parade of hypocritical miscreants includes the mouthy and condescending race-baiter “Reverend” Al Sharpton. He is among those trumpeting advice on “race relations,” and he’s quite effective in extorting major corporations. He also happens to owe more than $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens.

“Shakedown” Sharpton fits much better than a title usually reserved for men of God, as this racial reverend gets paid to withhold his two minutes of hate against corporate giants like Sony, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, General Motors, Honda, McDonald’s, Walmart, Pepsi and the list goes on.

But race bait isn’t his only specialty; class warfare is a familiar tune, as well. “Makers versus takers! [Republicans] give tax cuts and loopholes to the rich and act like it’s acceptable,” he declared in one disgusting spew. Of course, he wants more money taken from workers to fund abled-bodied welfare rots in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

Joining Shakedown Sharpton is fellow MSNBC talkinghead Melissa Harris-Perry, perhaps remembered best as the Tampon-earring-wearing angry female who showed her support of the urine-and-feces-throwing pro-abortion crowd protesting in the Texas Capitol in summer 2013. We can now add the moniker “tax cheat” to her résumé. In April of this year, the IRS filed a $70,000 tax lien against Harris-Perry and her husband.

“Paying into the collective pot is part of our duty as citizens,” Harris-Perry once declared from her soapbox. “I don’t get to opt out of paying taxes.” That doesn’t mean she didn’t try.

Two more MSNBC talkinghead tax delinquents are Touré Neblett and Joy Reid. Touré owes the U.S. government $59,000 and Reid owes $5,000.

“Regressive taxation & tax-avoidance … has fueled inequality more than hard work,” Touré tweeted in just one among many tirades blasting the GOP for not taxing the wealthy more.

And leading the parade of tax cheats is none other than George Soros, global billionaire and primary source of wealth for hard-Left causes.

It seems Soros has been taking “legal” advantage, according to his tax attorney James Sitrick, of a deferral. Defending his employer and propagator of fascism, Sitrick declared that if Soros “couldn’t legally do it, he wouldn’t do it!”

So how much does Soros, friend of Obama and every other wealth-redistributing leftist, owe in taxes?

After Congress closed a hedge fund loophole in 2008, the 84-year-old billionaire is expected to pay an estimated $6.7 billion on deferred income amassed through his hedge fund, Soros Management Fund, by 2017.

Yep, one of the largest donors to those whose philosophy is that of Karl Marx — “from each according to his ability to his need” — kept from the taxman almost $7 billion of his “fair share.” Legal? Probably. Hypocritical? Definitely. Soros, Democrats and leftist TV talkingheads screech for more government spending with law-abiding, average workers footing the bill.

Words can’t adequately capture the level of hypocrisy consistently on display from Big Government statists who want to grow dependents rather than individuals who stand on their own. Just during the tenure of Barack Obama and his Hope ‘n’ Change™ cult, the levels of recipients of welfare, food stamps, unemployment and disability insurance have all risen to historical highs.

Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist famed for psychoanalysis, nailed the progressives who run the Democrat Party in this observation: “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.”

Leftists have no belief beyond those that increase their hordes of mindless followers. Their actions prove the policies put into place are to create a class of dependents who are to be controlled while exempting themselves from oppression.



Liberal spin


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

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


6 May, 2015

"Free Trade" agreement is just another Leftist con: It increases restrictions, not freedom

The U.S. Congress is being asked to give President Barack Obama full "fast track" negotiating authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership, supposedly a free trade agreement with 11 other mostly wealthy Pacific nations. Yet when you examine the Wiki-leaked version of TPP which is all we have, it is far more notable for the draconian intellectual property provisions than for any truly significant easing of trade barriers. I would argue that such tight intellectual property rights are an historic aberration, incompatible with a truly free market, so that TPP would overall raise barriers against free market exchange rather than lowering them. If it is to be economically beneficial, TPP needs a truly free-market negotiator at the U.S. end – which means it should wait until 2017.

Like all regional trade treaties, TPP is in principle an unsatisfactory substitute for the real thing, which is a truly global free trade agreement along the lines of the moribund Doha round, hanging fire since 2001. Regional treaties allow countries to raise non-tariff barriers against non-members and erect innumerable incompatible international product standards which form barriers to truly free world trade. In TPP's case there are some genuine advances, such as opening up Japanese agriculture (if that indeed happens). However trade among the TPP partners is mostly free with low tariff barriers already, since several of the TPP members already have free trade agreements with the United States.

Even for proponents of the TPP such as the U.S. Congressional Research Service, its projected benefits for the United States are concentrated entirely in services, and relate largely to intellectual property. While the CRS in a March 2015 study expected net benefits for the U.S. of $36 billion annually, it expected manufacturing industries to lose $44 billion annually and agriculture/mining merely to break even in spite of projected Japanese market opening. The entire benefit, $79 billion annually, was expected to come in the service sector. Interestingly, TPP was expected to have a net negative effect of 0.6% on U.S. median wages by 2025.

While the U.S. financial services sector expects considerable benefits from further trade opening to TPP countries, those benefits are not strictly within TPP, being negotiated separately. Thus the great benefit of TPP, the entire point to its existence as far as U.S. interests are concerned, comes in the intellectual property area. Here the treaty takes the provisions of the United States' 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and imposes them (or in some cases, more draconian versions of them) on other TPP members. This extends copyrights to life plus 70 years for individual owners and either 95 or 120 years for corporate owners. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, TPP would also place additional liabilities on Internet intermediaries, escalate protections for digital locks, enact a "three-step test" language putting restrictions on fair use and adopt criminal sanctions even for non-commercial copyright infringement.

Some of those provisions may be modified in the final TPP agreement, and the technical arguments for others are complex. Nevertheless it is clear that TPP represents a tightening of copyright law and extension of patent law even beyond the expansive current U.S. practice. As such, it's worth reminding ourselves of how copyright and patent law can be abused to restrict free markets and build crony capitalist monopolies.



Baltimore and The blindness of the Ivory Tower

In the May 1 edition of the Washington Post, an opinion article by overly-credentialed professor of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton Danielle Allen, “Why the dispossessed riot,” calls for “sloughing off” the current understanding of what freedom means and embracing a new, more enlightened “democratic one.” Stripped of all the academic jargon and tortured philosophic constructions, Allen comes down solidly in favor of a secular, government-centric, authoritarian understanding of “freedom” that would make Huxley and Orwell knowingly wince.

Allen attempts to explain and justify the riots in Baltimore as the outward expression of an alienation from the political system, a normal reaction to what she refers to as domination — quoting extensively from Princeton University professor Philip Pettit — not just by the police but by a system in which the disenfranchised have no ability to impact any decisions affecting their lives.

“To have freedom from domination requires more than just protection of the basic liberty to choose your religion, political party, associations and employment,” Allen writes, adding “it also requires an equal share of control over the institutions — the laws, policies, procedures…”

This same theory has been echoed by an army of apologists for the looters and rioters, be they in Baltimore or Ferguson or the next city to flare up. Yet Allen never stops to consider how it is the rioters came to be so dispossessed in the first place.

There are two points to consider, however, before swallowing the Allen explanation. First, our nation was not founded and does not rest on “government.” From the beginning, the radical nature of the American Revolution was that each individual was free and “endowed by their Creator” to live their lives as they felt best. Each person possessed in themselves the absolute right and power to govern themselves. Allen disagrees totally. In her book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, she stated, “human equality requires that each of us have access to the single most important tool available for securing our happiness: government.”

Government, for Allen, is the omnipotent presence from which all bounty flows. Her understanding of the relationship of the individual to government is 100 percent opposite to what the Founders meant and what most Americans believe. In her view, each person is subservient to government; government is not the servant of the people. She further rejects the warning of the tyranny of the majority. Under her model, equality in determining the rules, government, gives everyone a “stake” and that is enough to justify the imposition of the will of the majority on everyone.

Second, Allen contends that respect for the rule of law can only really be embraced if her “democratic” view of civic engagement is allowed to take root and flourish. But having now entered into an era where the constitutional rule of law is treated with open disdain by the White House and the bureaucracy — with a president who proclaims, “Where Congress won’t act, I will” — we already see the dangerous and destructive impact. How such a view can lead to the very domination warned against from the government.

Allen and her allies and friends should consider another small piece of history in thinking how to proceed. In the first years of the Jamestown settlement, a quasi-communist system was established. Everyone was guaranteed a share of the food that was produced, and there was a general agreement of equal sharing of all goods. In those early years, the settlement came close to starving to death. The entire colony came very near extinction. The following years, the elders took a different approach. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. Each person was responsible for themselves and their family. No communal anything. The result, of course, was soon a settlement that grew and prospered.

Happiness, spiritual or material, does not come from government. Government takes; it does not create. Civil society — what we call social capital — as embodied in volunteer organizations, churches and places of worship, community involvement and self-help associations, these are the building blocks of a successful community. That is the true civic virtue. Government has nothing to do with it and cannot stop it if the people commit.

So the issue of riots and depressed communities will not be addressed by looking for a scapegoat, or blaming one group of people whom you secretly envy, or desperately looking for someone to constantly pet your ego through self-esteem exercises. The solutions will be found in each individual finding that inner strength to live free and take the responsibility for their actions, both the good and the bad, and contributing voluntarily to the betterment of the community.

This does not require a redefinition of our understanding of freedom to some collectivist theory from the Ivory Tower. It merely asks each of us to do the difficult thing of living as free, adult men and women, without looking for excuses, or handouts, or dodges. By eliminating dependency.

A possibility even Allen’s quoted Philip Pettit reluctantly acknowledged in his 1999 book, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, when he wrote, “Suppose it is established that state welfare encourages dependency among welfare recipients… and that such dependency undermines the capacity of recipients to achieve non-domination. That would have important implications for the way in which welfare… ought to be made available… and would push [government] towards minimalist policies.”

To not see that 50 years of social experimentation has left the intended beneficiaries far worse off than they were — now dependent, dispossessed, and powerless — is intentional blindness, a blindness so severe only Ivy League deep-thinkers could accomplish it.



Baltimore Riots Result in Tremendous Economic Loss

Rioters poured into the streets of Baltimore early this week in “protest,” injuring around a hundred officers, destroying businesses and looting. Sadly, many of these victims won’t see justice. Business shutdowns and property damage have resulted in tremendous economic loss. Wednesday’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards was the first one played in Major League Baseball history where all the fans were locked out. The Left assails conservatives for ostensibly not caring about the plight of impoverished minorities, yet this week’s rioters were on a mission to inflict exceptional economic damage — and they did.

The 1992 Los Angeles riots are estimated to have cost $3.8 billion over a decade, and some believe the Baltimore riots will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. A #JusticeForFreddieGray protest is planned for this afternoon. If participants truly want to make a difference, they will call for an end to the thuggish behavior victimizing an untold number of innocent people. If Gray truly is innocent, engaging in criminal behavior — what they’re supposedly protesting against — is no way to honor his life.



The Lying Game

Will the next presidential election be won by a lie?

Truth has long since been replaced by “narratives” on the American Left. Rather than discuss genuine issues and objective facts, progressives prefer to make up a politically effective story. It doesn’t matter whether the story is false, as long as it sways the public’s emotions and wins the day. The ends justify the means.

This “lying game” strategy often shows up in politically sensitive scientific debates. In honor of Earth Week, let’s look at one of the patron saints of environmentalism, Rachel Carson. Carson wanted to eliminate DDT, the most effective pesticide for fighting one of the greatest plagues faced by humanity, malaria, because it was weakening the shells of bird’s eggs. So Carson falsified data to convince the public that DDT was carcinogenic. Carson brought about a global ban on DDT, probably saving a few birds, but at the cost of allowing malaria to blind or kill millions of people in the Third World. Carson may not have set out to kill people, but only Mao, Stalin and Hitler are responsible for more deaths during the twentieth century. Yet instead of condemning her, we name schools after her.

Another false environmentalist narrative is the global warming hoax. A few decades back, environmentalist “scientists” started devising computer models that predicted manmade calamity — Manhattan submerged by rising Atlantic waters — within, oh, 10 or 15 years ago. Turns out the models were rigged, the data were falsified, and in fact there has been no measurable warming for nearly 20 years. Most troubling of all, the lying scientists colluded to ruin the careers of honest scientists who tried to tell the truth.

Many other examples could be cited, ranging from the war on fracking to the fetus being just a “clump of cells” to denying the abortion/breast cancer link to the sexual revolution itself, which was triggered by the fraudulent research of Alfred Kinsey. In fact, it’s difficult to come up with a progressive scientific cause that isn’t founded on lies.

It’s in politics, however, that the lying game reaches its fullest bloom. The Michael Brown narrative, hyped by the media and exploited by race hustlers to infuriate black voters, turned out to be a lie. Likewise the supposed campus rape epidemic, in which gang rapes by fraternity boys and lacrosse players turned out to be figments of feminists' imagination. Over the past few years, there has been a series of highly publicized incidents in which instances of victimization turned out to have been committed by the victims themselves.

The American Left has come to condone and accept untruth as an appropriate way to conduct their affairs. They are abetted by a media that actively covers up their scandals, while exaggerating the faults of their opposition.

Often, the liberal media use euphemisms to put their spin on events. A case in point is CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill of the Huffington Post urging viewers on Monday night to view the mass violence in Baltimore as “not a riot” but “uprisings” of African-Americans who have been “dying in the streets for months, years, decades, centuries” because of “police terrorism.” Later, he added incongruently, “I think we should be strategic in how we riot.”

Political campaigns have always been infested by lies, but in recent years entire campaigns have been founded on artfully crafted lies. We’ve witnessed candidate after candidate campaign on, and often win on, deliberate lies about their backgrounds, their values, and what they plan to do in office. In the minds of these candidates, the ends — political power — justify the means.

A preacher recently observed in a sermon about lying that “accepting the notion that the ends justify the means leads to a climate where lying becomes the norm.” According to sociologist Robert Nisbet, “What sociologists are prone to call social disintegration is really nothing more than the spectacle of a rising number of individuals playing fast and loose with other individuals in relationships of trust and responsibility.” Our culture’s embrace of lying indicates moral breakdown on a profound level, in which people have begun to satisfy their selfish impulses without regard for the consequences inflicted on others.

Can any society hang together in such an amoral climate?

In the next election, America needs to choose a leader of integrity who can be trusted to stand against our nation’s moral decline and social disintegration.

The Bible warns us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2) In 2016, will Americans choose a righteous leader, or will we be seduced by a liar spinning a false narrative? If we allow ourselves to be seduced again, we can expect our groaning to continue for at least four more years.



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

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


5 May, 2015

The history behind Mr. Putin gives a dire warning of what might come

As readers of my blogs will mostly be aware, I am an inveterate skeptic. I don't believe in God, Karl Marx, global warming or the evils of dietary fat, sugar and salt -- and much else besides. So it should be no surprise that I also look skeptically at the current Western evaluation of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I think the demonization of him is about as well founded as the demonization of carbon dioxide or dietary salt. The demonization is politically convenient for Western leaders -- it is cheap heroics -- but is based on little more than a kneejerk reaction to Russia. Russia has been villainous in the past so treating it as villainous now is plausible.

I see Vladimir Vladimirovich as simply a traditional Russian leader doing what any Russian leader would do and I aim to prove that right now. Proving anything from history is a shaky enterprise but I think this one is pretty clear.

Russian leaders have always had the sort of protective attitude towards all Russians that British and American leaders also once had towards their citizens. There was a time when an American or a Briton abroad who got into trouble could rely on his government going in to bat for him. National diplomatic power would be exercised on behalf of just one individual. If there is a big enough public outcry it can still happen today but it is rare. Western leaders these days don't seem to have much feeling for their own people once those people are outside their national boundaries.

But Vladimir Vladimirovich does. And Vladimir Vladimirovich is very popular in Russia because of that -- because Russians generally feel that way. Russians see themselves as a unique people without any of the Western hangups about "racism". They feel that Russians everywhere are part of a whole that they are proud to belong to. A feeling of connectedness with others is very important to human beings generally and Russians tend to feel that connectedness with all Russians.

That is all pretty well known but let me now prove it from history. How did WWI start?

As I think most people know, it started from Austria's reaction to the assassination of its archduke. In shako and whiskers below:

Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by a Slavic nationalist -- so Austria invaded Serbia to teach those pesky Slavs a lesson. But what was that about Slavic nationalism? The southern Slavs at the time were split up into a number of nationalities but a lot of Slavs were unhappy about that. They wanted what they got many years later -- a unified nation of the southern Slavs -- Yugoslavia.

But where were the Northern Slavs while all this was going on? They were mostly in Russia. Russians are Slavs too. And Russians shared those pan-Slavic feelings. They saw themselves as the big brother to the oppressed little Southern Slavs. So when Austria invaded Serbia, Russian diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Slavs ramped up. Russia used all its diplomatic power on behalf of the Serbs. But it did no good. Austrian democracy at the time was a shambles, the Austrian Kaiser was very old and Austria was effectively ruled by the generals of the Austrian armed forces.

And the Austrian army was large, modern and well-equipped*. Austria generally at the time was large, modern and well-equipped. The Austrian army even had provision for Jewish soldiers to get kosher food and any other religious articles they required.

So the Austrian generals had no fear of Russia. As it has almost always been, the Russian army was primitive, ill-equipped and badly led. Russia has always had the same sort of difficulty in finding good generals that the British have. The last really capable British general was the first Duke of Marlborough, a guy by the name of John Churchill, ancestor of another Churchill we know about. Austrians, by contrast are Germans, and Germany sprouts good generals like other armies sprout defeats.

And the Austrians knew all that. Everybody knew what a shambles the Russian army was. The Russian navy had been wiped out by the Japanese just a few years before so respect for Russian military prowess was at a low ebb. So how did the Austrians respond to the Russian diplomatic pleas on behalf of the Serbs? They ignored Russia. But Russians HATE being ignored** and the Tsar felt that the honor of all Russia had been insulted -- so he declared war on Austria. And the dominoes leading to a truly awful war began to fall ....

That MUST be a warning for modern times. Vladimir Vladimirovich is doing what the Tsar would have done. Wherever Russians outside Russia are getting a hard time, Vladimir Vladimirovich steps in to help then. That was true of the Russian enclaves in Georgia, it was true of Crimea and, in a quiet way it is true of Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Vladimirovich has shown prudent restraint so far in not marching his troops into Eastern Ukraine because the Ukrainian Russians are pretty feisty lot and are doing a pretty good job on their own behalf.

But what about the Baltic States? There are significant Russian populations there too. If the West puts too much pressure on Vladimir Vladimirovich, he could well decide to invade there. He might well feel that he has nothing to lose. There would be NO public support in the West for a war with Russia so all Western leaders could do in response would be to rattle their lips.

Sanctions combined with low oil prices have put Russia under considerable economic pressure so Vladimir Vladimirovich might well feel that a nice little war in the Baltic would distract his people's attention from that. The West might try to deploy air power to oppose Vladimir Vladimirovich but nine tenths of the planes in the Luftwaffe are not fit to fly and America's F35 is not yet battle-ready -- so Russia would deal with that very easily. It would be a welcome and triumphant exercise.

Western leaders should be engaging Vladimir Vladimirovich, not antagonizing him. Sanctions against Russia are perilously like shooting an Austrian archduke. Those who believe in prayer should be praying that Vladimir Vladimirovich's restraint continues. Once war starts, you never know where it will lead. The Austrians didn't.


* Footnotes: The regiments of the Austrian army were of uneven quality but that was true of most armies at the time. The Austrian generals would have been aware of the poor performance of British troops in the Boer war around 10 years previously. To defeat a few Dutch farmers on that occasion, the British had to resort to terror attacks on the civilian population. It was from that war that we have the term "concentration camp". The British concentration camps killed off Dutch women and children by the thousands. Hitler admired British propaganda. You can see why.

** Russians STILL hate being ignored. That is why Vladimir Vladimirovich sends his majestic old TU-95 nuclear bombers on flights that skirt Western airspace. He knows the panic that induces and enjoys it. It keeps Russia in the forefront of Western minds.


It’s Not About Hillary’s Scandals: It’s Her Ideas

Republicans haven’t laid a glove on Hillary Clinton yet, because, to paraphrase James Carville, Mrs. Clinton’s longtime chief apologist, "It’s not about Hillary’s scandals: It’s her ideas stupid!"

To defeat Hillary Clinton Republicans should be challenging and campaigning against her policies – yet they remain fixated on attacking her at what may be her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.

Yes, the mindboggling revelations about the venality, conflicts of interest and prima facie illegal conduct by Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State set forth in Peter Schweizer’s new book “Clinton Cash” would have driven any Republican from the presidential race and straight into an interview room at their local U.S. Attorney’s office.

There would have been a stampede of donors disavowing such a Republican candidate and a legion of elected officials and others withdrawing their endorsements, while the conservative pundit class would have demanded the candidate’s head on a platter.

But Democrats do not think like Republicans.

As far as we can tell the revelations in “Clinton Cash” have cost Hillary only the support of a few obscure Democratic-leaning donors, while 28 of 44 sitting Democratic Senators, including the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have now endorsed her.

Likewise, 60 out of 188 Democratic House members have announced they back Mrs. Clinton and none have withdrawn their endorsements in the wake of the revelations in Schweizer’s book.

Establishment Republicans can’t grasp that while the Clintons and their team are terrible at crisis avoidance, they wrote the book on how to weather a scandal – it’s what they do every day, and they do it better than anyone.

Bill Clinton was on the verge of an expected victory in New Hampshire, when his campaign faced the biggest media feeding frenzy of the 1992 presidential campaign cycle. As The Washington Post put it ever so delicately, “allegations arose of an extramarital affair with Arkansas state employee and cabaret singer Gennifer Flowers.”

Clinton faced down the press with a series of boldfaced lies and went on to defeat incumbent establishment Republican President George H.W. Bush whose acknowledged heroism in World War II and veneer of old fashioned New England Protestant rectitude gained him not a single vote he didn’t already have.

The reason Bush lost was not a shortage of Clinton scandal – it was a failure to draw a clear conservative contrast with what the election of Bill Clinton might mean; “giving” Americans health care, more taxes, more spending – in short the policies that promptly handed control of Congress over to Republicans in the very next election.

The Republican establishment, who remain fixated on Hillary Clinton’s scandals, seem immune to history.

They just can’t grasp that scandalmongering isn’t going to defeat Hillary Clinton. Scandals are a part of the Clinton package that has already been accepted by Hillary’s base in the Democratic Party and they will be old news to general election voters when they come around to making a decision in November 2016.

Does that means Republicans should ignore the scandals – no, of course not.

But it does mean that Republicans must stop treating them like a silver bullet and start telling voters what the election of Hillary Clinton would mean, and drawing a sharp and clear contrast between conservative policies and those far-Left policies upon which Hillary Clinton is already campaigning.

First, and most importantly, Republicans ought to be asking if voters really want the third term of the disastrous Obama presidency.

Mrs. Clinton supports Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Those who have expressed fear for the future of constitutional government under Obama ought to be in abject terror at the thought of Hillary Clinton with unfetter executive power. Yet the Republican establishment has not made the use of executive power an issue, no doubt because they secretly support the amnesty for illegal aliens that Obama’s use of executive power has achieved.

Mrs. Clinton is also a firm believer in manmade global warming or “climate change” saying, “The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say; sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc.”

This would appear to lead her to support any number of policies that would wreak further havoc on the U.S. economy, particularly in coal country and the coal-dependent Midwest. But the Republican establishment hasn’t said a word against Clinton in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio – key presidential election states where her policies would send thousands, if not millions, to the unemployment lines and drive up electricity prices for those who did still have jobs.

Finally, Hillary Clinton has firmly embraced the far-Left social agenda on same-sex marriage, abortion and the purging of religious belief from the public square. The delegates to the 2012 Democratic Convention who booed mention of God and purged religious references from the Democratic Party Platform are the core of Mrs. Clinton’s base.

These far-Left secular liberals are so far out of sync with majority opinion in America it’s as if they were on another planet.

Yet the Republican establishment has failed to stand for religious liberty and against liberal bigotry against believers every time it has been put to the test. In Indiana and Arkansas, establishment Republican Governors, including Indiana’s Mike Pence who some conservatives saw as a potential presidential candidate, quickly caved when challenged by the secular-Left on state religious freedom legislation.

These are just three of many areas where Republicans have given Hillary Clinton a pass on her truly radical ideas and policies – and instead played to her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.

Republicans never win the big national elections unless they draw a clear contrast between the conservative worldview and the liberal Democratic worldview. And when they run content-free campaigns or worse yet, campaign as Democrats-lite, they almost always lose.

Unfortunately, as things stand right now the Republican establishment is stuck on talking about Mrs. Clinton’s scandals, rather than drawing a clear conservative contrast between her far-Left progressive worldview and the conservative worldview. Perhaps this is because on all too many issues they, and their preferred candidate Jeb Bush, have embraced policies that are strikingly similar to Mrs. Clinton’s.

Republicans hungry for victory in 2016 should take history as their guide and recognize that scandalmongering while running a Hillary-lite candidate is sure to put the real thing in the White House.



4th Amendment protections are needed as never before

Today, with the unprecedented level of attacks on religious liberty, free speech, and free markets, Americans need the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded.

Government bureaucrats are today’s massive and politically unaccountable police state. Local police officers are required to obtain warrants from judges for searches and seizures unless there are emergency circumstances or “plain-view” violations of the law. New Deal legislation and FDR’s Constitution-bending court, however, ignored the Fourth Amendment, and gave federal agencies the power to bypass judges and the requirement of “probable cause” by unilaterally issuing their own “administrative subpoenas.”

These “judge-less” warrants are institutionalized violations of the Fourth Amendment, and give government bureaucrats immense power to threaten, bully, and intimidate American citizens and businesses. This results in bureaucrats making law by coerced “consent decrees,” bypassing our guarantee of “republican” government.

Judge-less administrative warrants let unaccountable government bureaucrats violate nearly everything in which we conservatives believe: property rights, religious liberty, the constitutional separation of powers, the rule of law over government.


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


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

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


4 May, 2015

Are Leftists neophiliacs?

Neophilia -- love of the new -- has popped up as a concept on a number of occasions but it mostly seems to occur in a marketing context. Buyers of Apple products (iPhones, iPads etc.) are often branded as neophiliacs, for instance. Apple has made big money out of it, as new Apple products seem to come out all the time and the neophiliac has to have the latest at all times so lines up for every new release.

Since my cellphone is an old push-button one that I bought for $50 some years ago and which has no touch facilities at all, I would appear not to be a neophiliac. I have certainly not contributed to the vast profits of the Apple corporation.

Marketing is, however, only one context in which neophilia has been seen. Wikipedia gives a useful definition based on the "cult" writings of the quite eccentric Robert Anton Wilson, who popularized the term. It is as follows:

"Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change

A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine

A tendency to become bored quickly with old things

A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty

A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.

A neophile is distinct from a revolutionary in that anyone might become a revolutionary if pushed far enough by the reigning authorities or social norms, whereas neophiles are revolutionaries by nature. Their intellectual abhorrence of tradition and repetition usually bemoans a deeper emotional need for constant novelty and change."

Wilson was not however the first to use the term. Christopher Booker attempted to summarize the '60s in a 1969 book called "The neophiliacs". One summary of the book:

"Around the mid-1950s, on a wave of technological advances, Western civilisation moved into a period of prosperity dwarfing anything that had ever gone before. How golden was this age of affluence? How did it come to spawn a legend? The Fifties and Sixties are said to have witnessed sexual, artistic and scientific revolutions, the explosion of youth culture, the creation of a classless society. The New Aristocrats were pop singers, clothes designers, actors and actresses, film-makers, photographers, artists, writers, models and restaurateurs. Christopher Booker disentangles fantasy and reality, the ephemeral from the enduring. He charts the rise and fall of a collective dream."

And concepts related to neophilia have appeared rather a lot in personality psychology: Sensation-seeking, experience-seeking, openness, tolerance of ambiguity etc.

The most explicit focus on the concept in psychology would appear to be in the work of Robert Cloninger. Of his work we read:

"It's within this context that the personality dimension of novelty-seeking first emerged. In a recent New York Times interview (link is external), Cloninger argues that the quality of novelty-seeking can be one of the brightest spots on our personality horizon. A number of years ago, he identified novelty-seeking as one of four basic "temperaments," meaning that it is an automatic emotional response that primes us to seek out new experiences. The other three temperaments are harm avoidance (aversion to risk), reward dependence (being sensitive to social situations and reinforcement), and persistence (ability to persist in pursuit of a goal). Cloninger believes that these temperaments are largely inherited, meaning that they are built into our biological makeup. Some of us are programmed to embrace the new; others to run as far away from it as possible."

And the work of Jerome Kagan deserves a mention. Of that we read:

"Largely thanks to technological advances, biologically informed research on temperament is providing the best insights into neophilia. In his classic research on boldness and shyness, Jerome Kagan, a psychologist at Harvard University, exposed infants and small children to mildly stressful forms of novelty -- noise, sour tastes, unfamiliar objects or people -- while he monitored their behavioral and physiological responses. He found that certain fearless tots, most of them boys, clearly warranted the label of “bold.” Their physiological markers are a very low heart rate and a more active left brain. Their active, spontaneous behavior and zestful, bring-it-on attitude toward new things bespeaks the instinctive energy and drive that Freud called “libido.”"

Amid all that interest in the concept it seems to me quite strange that its political relevance rarely seems to be explored. Why? Leftists presumably find the concept gets uncomfortably close to the bone and most psychologists are Leftist. Being an inveterate breaker of Leftist taboos, however, I HAVE researched the subject. And I found that, among the general population, Leftists tend to be both sensation seekers generally and even experience seekers -- i.e. lovers of new consumer products. If they ever hear of the latter finding (They'll try not to) they will surely be rather embarrassed, given their frequent condemnation of "consumerism" etc.

But I don't think my research was really needed. Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself. The reason I have put up various excerpts above is to make plain what I think stands out like dog's balls (with apologies for the army expression). Descriptions of neophiliacs could very well be descriptions of Leftists.

So, Yes. Many Leftists are neophiliacs. They want change for change's sake. Mr Obama's 2008 campaign had a very obvious appeal in that regard. He made "change" his theme and offered the absurd but obviously exciting promises that he would make the oceans recede and the planet "heal"

So while the defining characteristic of a Leftist is great dissatisfaction with the status quo, the reason for the dissatisfaction is not always the same. Most Leftists seem to be angry about some aspect of the status quo but the neophiliac is simply bored by it. Whatever the motive, however, sweeping change is advocated. And Obama certainly delivered that, with Obamacare being merely the most obvious example of big and sudden change.

Interestingly, the Italian Fascism of Mussolini was to a considerable degree similarly motivated. He drew heavily on and largely incorporated the "Futurist" movement of the early 20th century. Futurists were very clearly neophiliacs. Of the Italian Futurists we read:

'We shall sing the love of danger, energy and boldness!" the Futurist Manifesto shouted from the rooftops in 1909. "We declare that the world's splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. There is no more beauty except in strife, no masterpiece without aggressiveness, a violent onslaught upon the unknown forces, to force them to bow to the will of man ... "We wish to glorify war -- the only hygiene of the world -- militarism, patriotism, the destructive arm of the anarchist, the beautiful ideas that kill!"

Much more at the link. Clearly, excitement is what the Futurists craved. Many Leftists of today seem to crave the same. Since modern-day Leftism is a form of Fascism, that is not exactly surprising.

And for young people at least, Nazism seems to have been largely motivated by a hunger for change and excitement and consequent hatred of the status quo. This is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:

"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. Modern day Leftists sure are in good company.


An Important Lesson from the Baltimore Riots

If you’ve been watching the Baltimore riots over the past few days, one thing should be perfectly clear: when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

You watched as countless businesses and homes were burned while the police line stayed put a few hundred yards back. Rumor has it that the mayor ordered the police to stand down.

Which begs the question: who can you trust to protect yourself in an emergency?

The answer is you and you alone. We all saw the news reports of Baltimore residents protecting their property with machetes and shotguns. Those were the buildings that were passed over by the mobs.

But in liberal states like Maryland, citizens are being disarmed and prevented from arming at record pace. One of our readers tried to by defensive ammunition at a Walmart and he was greeted by a sign reading,

“Due to the ongoing State of Emergency, ammo will not be available for sale.”

Can you imagine trying to buy a gun/ammunition to protect yourself only to be turned away? Meanwhile, the police are being told to stand down and your neighborhood is literally being destroyed right before your eyes.

This isn’t unique to Baltimore… it can happen anywhere in this country. Yet the most populous liberal states in this country won’t allow citizens to defend themselves!

The Second Amendment was written so that citizens could protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. If the Founders were alive today, they would have expected law-abiding Baltimore residents to be armed to defend their communities.

But many weren’t and as a result, their homes and businesses burned.

Yet, Maryland isn’t alone. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia all make it next to impossible for civilians to defend themselves at home and in public. More than 20% of the American people live within these gun control states.

But even in Conservative states like Louisiana, police are trained to seize civilians’ weapons when emergencies strike. Just look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina… Instead of protecting the people, the police and National Guard went door-to-door confiscating firearms and leaving residents to fend for themselves.

Today, six in ten Americans agree that owning a firearm makes you safer. Yet all across this country, there are laws on the books that prevent citizens from being able to protect themselves.

These laws are unconstitutional. The only problem is that Barack Obama has packed the courts with liberal activist judges that uphold these abhorrent laws.

Liberal states won't let citizens defend themselves and when push comes to shove, they won't let the police protect the citizens either.



Revealed: Obama’s Plan to Transform the Country

This blows the lid off of the entire amnesty movement within the Obama administration.

For years, we’ve known that the President’s amnesty agenda was nothing but an attempt to pad voter rolls with Democrat voters. Until now, we never had the proof.

The Department of Homeland Security is calling it the “Task Force on New Americans.” The goal? Get 9 million resident aliens their American citizenship in time to vote by the 2016 election.

This is nothing but a liberal attempt to desperately hold onto power for as long as possible.

We all knew that amnesty was just the beginning. The Left sees every foreigner who enters this country as a potential Democrat voter. And now, they are trying to get as many of these alien residents naturalized as possible naturalized before the 2016 election!

Here’s what’s even worse: of the 20 states with the highest populations of green card holders, 14 of them are holding Senate elections in 2016. Seven of them are incumbent Republican Senators. These include battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Add in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and it is clear why DHS is pushing so hard to get as many “New Americans” as possible naturalized before 2016. A couple hundred thousand new Democrats in Ohio and Florida means it's game over for the Republicans.

Let’s be clear. That is exactly what is happening. Whistleblowers have called attention to the fact that DHS funds are being redirected to make this liberal pipe dream a reality.

Congress didn’t appropriate money for this. The Department of Homeland Security is just making it up as they go along.

If we don’t put a stop to this now, then it is over. It’s one thing for people to naturally go through the process of getting their citizenship. It is an entirely different situation to have the Federal government pushing the issue with an election year deadline.

If you don’t fight back against this one, then be prepared to lose on every other issue you care about. Abortion, gun control… you name it. It’s all on the chopping block if the Obama administration is allowed to naturalize 9 million new voters.

We’re a nation of immigrants, there’s no debating that at all. But never before has the Federal government played politics to this scale with naturalization to achieve a political objective.

As I said, this is it. Nine million new voters in these swing states in such a short time frame would irreversibly swing the tides.

This fight is the gateway to all other policy fights. We need to win this one first before we can secure any others.



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

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


3 May, 2015

Allah Akhbar

A suicide bomber was shot dead by Israeli forces; Muslims took up his body and started protesting. These Dumbos did not know that that suicide belt was still tied to the bomber body they were carrying..


A Site for Soros Lies

If you think the media uses credible and honest sources to report the news, think again. You’d be surprised at how many “mainstream” outlets rely on a left-wing advocacy organization funded in part by liberal billionaire George Soros. The organization is called RightWingWatch and tracks the statements of conservative politicians and leaders for the sole purpose of feeding distorted — and sometimes even fabricated — versions to their allies in the media.

Now, it’s no surprise that press who are outright hostile to conservative views like Huffington Post rely on RightWingWatch’s propaganda, but it is shocking that that this kind of truth-optional reporting is utilized (and therefore legitimized) by mainstream networks like CBS, Politico, and others.

The most obvious example came last Sunday, when I joined “Face the Nation” to talk about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the redefinition of marriage. Before the show, RightWingWatch invented another headline — this time about a recent radio interview with Jan Mickelson. In it, they claim I called for the impeachment of any justices who rule for same-sex “marriage.”

As usual, the site intentionally took the statement out of context and twisted the meaning to further its agenda. And while conservatives like me are used to these tactics, nothing prepared me for hearing those same distortions repeated back to me by CBS’s Bob Schieffer. “Did you really say that justices who come down on the side of gays on this should be impeached?” he asked. “No, I didn’t,” I replied. “Because there are reports to that effect,” Bob explained. What he didn’t explain on air was that the “reports” were from the Soros-funded RightWingWatch.

Obviously, the mainstream media has long been the megaphone of the Left, but they have still managed, for the most part, to stay away from blatant equivocation. If you actually listen to my clip on Mickelson’s show, it’s obvious that what the extremists at RightWingWatch are claiming is patently false. Jan starts out by comparing the marriage case with Roe v. Wade, which conservative politicians insist they’ll overturn through court appointments. In 40 years, that hasn’t happened. Suggesting the way for Congress to put action to their words, Jan moves into “court-stripping” saying, “Congress could say, that was a ridiculous decision we’re nullifying it and if you try it again we are impeaching your sorry kiesters.”

I responded to his assertion that politicians have done little to address abortion by saying, “I don’t disagree with you. I think you are absolutely right, I think the life issue has been used as a political gambit…” My agreement with him (you can listen to the audio here) is not even about the court — but rather on how the GOP has used the life issue for electoral gain. That’s significantly different from RightWingWatch’s claim that I’m calling for the impeachment of justices who support redefining marriage. The site clearly and intentionally misrepresented what I said — as they’ve done countless times to me and other conservatives — to further their own narrative.

And this isn’t the first time Soros’s crew has outright lied about the impeachment issue. Recently, they led with this headline: “Ben Carson: Congress should oust judges who rule for marriage equality,” when in reality Carson stated that Congress had the right to “reprimand and remove” judges — not that they should do so. This is a significant shift in journalism — one that has the potential not only to severely discredit the media industry, but also further marginalize and silence conservatives. It’s time to stand up and say, “enough!”

District Distract: House Cracks Down on D.C. Extremism

The House and Senate don’t just live in D.C., they oversee it. For members of the local city council, that’s been difficult to swallow, especially when the District is intent on passing outrageous anti-freedom laws. Rarely does Congress flex the muscle that the Constitution gives them over D.C., but in the case of the city’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, the GOP majority didn’t have a choice.

As we’ve explained before, the RHNDA is the brainchild of far-Left extremists, who believe that pro-life groups like FRC should have to hire abortion activists in the name of “fairness.” Under this bill, FRC and our allies in D.C. would be punished for refusing to employ individuals with opposing viewpoints. Our good friends Congressmen Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Bill Flores (R-Texas) saw this for the attack on religious liberty that it is and introduced a resolution of disapproval, H.J. Res. 43. As our own Travis Weber explained, “We can’t exist if our purpose is to advocate for a pro-life position, and we’re living under a regime which is telling us you can’t structure yourself as an organization and hire people to advocate for those issues. It’s very controlling and it brings to mind an oppressive government monitoring of groups' purposes.”

After pressure from the Republican Study Committee and the House Freedom Caucus, the bill passed out of the Rules Committee [Wednesday] and is headed for a floor vote [by Friday]. Rep. Flores understands the stakes. “This is not about one city, but rather about preserving the First Amendment right to religious liberty for all Americans.” Thanks to his leadership, Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and others, the city of D.C. will finally hear from the House that this overreach won’t be tolerated.



No, Riots Are Not a 'Legitimate Political Strategy'

Reading the liberal media, you’d think the Baltimore rioters are the reincarnation of Lexington and Concord’s minutemen, bravely facing tyrants to defend their freedom. Well, Paul Revere might disagree. Somehow, ruining businesses and running off with condoms doesn’t quite equate to Patrick Henry’s speech “Give me Liberty or give me death.”

But the Left wants America to think it does.

A particularly absurd Salon headline this week reads, “Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.” The author’s argument is that non-violence is “a tactic, not a philosophy” and that black communities are struggling against “premeditated economic exploitation.” Riots are simply “reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.”

According to Fordham University sociology professor Heather Gautney, “Riots like the ones we are seeing in Baltimore … should be viewed as rational responses to injustice. Riots highlight the injustice and violence that’s prevalent in impoverished neighborhoods in this country.”

And BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer writes, “Violence — as harmful and self-destructive as it is — sometimes works.” Serwer claims that, for 80 years, the “recipe for urban riots” has been largely the same: “(a)n impoverished and politically disempowered black population refused full American citizenship, a heavy-handed and overwhelmingly white police force, a generous amount of neglect, and frequently, the loss of black life at the hands of the police.”

But is portraying lawless violence as a justified and effective quest for justice accurate?

A closer look at the facts says, “No.”

For starters, as Acton Institute Senior Editor Joe Carter points out, far from empowering black communities, urban riots leave lingering damage. In 2004, The National Bureau of Economic Research published research on riots that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and Carter notes the research found not only a decline in the median black family income in riot-impacted cities but also declines in male employment rates and in the median value of black-owned property.

And as for “premeditated economic exploitation” and political disempowerment justifying violence, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson notes that even during the era of Jim Crow laws, when institutionalized racism was both legal and praised, black crime was “relatively low” — no riots as a “legitimate political strategy ” then. And since Johnson’s infamous War on Poverty was launched, Peterson adds, there has been a “massive wealth transfer to black Americans in the form of welfare and other handouts.” Certainly, a case can be made for economic exploitation, but the indictment would be against those intent on keeping black voters dependent on the government for handouts.

Is violence, then, justified, or is it simply being used as an escape from tackling problems with resolution — not simply retribution — in mind? Just as profanity is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop a compelling vocabulary, so violence is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop compelling arguments.

And there is inarguably a need for compelling arguments. While America has made exceptional strides toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal of judging others based not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, racism has sadly not yet breathed its last in America.

Yet, even amid racism, King himself held firmly his belief “that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.” He continued, “I’ve been searching for a long time for an alternative to riots on one hand and timid supplication for justice on the other and I think that alternative is found in militant massive non-violence.”

When the colonists took up arms and declared independence from Great Britain, they had for 10 years prior sought reconciliation with the Crown and resorted to arms only when their repeated attempts at peace were disregarded. And in the Declaration of Independence, they set forth clearly their justifications for rejecting injustice.

In presenting a dignified argument against racism, Dr. King did the same. And in so doing, he made incredible strides forward for black Americans.

Tragically, the violence of lawless rioters is doing nothing to continue Dr. King’s work and much to undercut it.

Far from elevating violence to a level of rational discourse, endorsing riots as legitimate political strategy diminishes the quality of discourse and demeans the ability of Americans — black and white — to confront injustice not with stones and arson but with truth, which alone has the power to bring justice.



Why does the USA still belong to this insane organization?

The U.N. Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) executive board has adopted two resolutions condemning Israel for activities at locations whose religious significance for Jews goes back thousands of years.

A UNESCO spokesman confirmed that the board did so “by consensus” after a subsidiary commission dealing with external relations voted last week to recommend their passage. The only countries to vote against the two resolutions were the United States, Germany and the Czech Republic in the one case, and the U.S. alone in the other.

UNESCO in 2011 became the first U.N. agency to admit “Palestine,” a step that resulted in a loss of U.S. funding. Until then, American taxpayers accounted for 22 percent of the Paris-based agency’s operating budget.

In a series of recommendations to executive board, the external relations commission sided with Palestinian claims to a site in Hebron and a site in Bethlehem.

It also deplored a decision by the Israeli government not to comply with an earlier UNESCO directive to remove the two sites from an Israel national heritage list.

The Hebron site is the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial place of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The site in Bethlehem in the traditional burial site of Rachel, Jacob’s wife. Hebron was also the capital of the kingdom of Israel for seven years before King David moved his seat to Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago, as recorded in 2 Samuel 5.

Hebron and Bethlehem both fall within the area claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. A resolution adopted by the UNESCO board reaffirmed an earlier stance that the sites “are an integral part of Palestine.”

When Israel first included the two sites on a register of 150 national heritage sites in 2010 – a move which it insisted did nothing to change the status quo on the ground – the State Department called the move “provocative” and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned it could spark a “religious war.”

The Cave of the Patriarchs is divided into Jewish and Muslim sections, with a mosque at the site named for Abraham (Ibrahim). Muslims also revere biblical figures, in line with the Islamic precept that major figures, from Adam to Jesus, were Muslim prophets.

Among other things the UNESCO resolution condemned Israel for building private roads for the use of Jewish residents of nearby settlements, and for a visit last January by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to what it called “the illegal settlement in the historic center” of the town. It called on “Israel, the Occupying Power, to prevent such visits.”

Other provisions in the two resolutions criticized “continuous Israeli violations, abuses, works and excavations” in and around Jerusalem’s Old City – location of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, and the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third most revered location in Islam.

The Temple Mount has been under overall Israeli control since 1967, although an Islamic trust administers the site. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the area.

One of the UNESCO resolutions accused Israeli authorities of “the targeting of civilians including religious figures, sheikhs, and priests” and for allowing intrusions into the mosque area by armed forces as well as “religious extremists groups.”

The text was silent on sporadic Arab rioting that occurs on and around the Temple Mount, but it did deplore “the large number of arrests and injuries” in the area at the hands of Israeli forces.

The two Israel-focused resolutions made up a prominent part of the commission’s report to the executive board. The only other resolutions relating to specific country situations dealt with threats to cultural heritage in Crimea and Iraq.

UNESCO’s admission of “Palestine” in late 2011 triggered a U.S. funding cutoff mandated by a 1990 law barring financial support for “the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.”

The move cost UNESCO more than one-fifth of its operating budget, sparking a financial crisis for the agency.



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

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


1 May, 2015

Giuliani: Decades of Liberal Democrat Rule Haven't Helped Baltimore (To put it mildly)

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said three decades of liberal Democrats running Baltimore have done little to help the plight of minorities.

Appearing Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity," Giuliani said he was able to bring communities such as Washington Heights back to prosperity after a riot in 1992 and a blackout in 1999.

"That community went from being very high crime community to being a good community," Giuliani said. "I would ask all those politicians you saw there talking about the terrible conditions, economic conditions, they have been in charge of Baltimore for the last 30 years. This is a Democratic city."

Democrat Martin O'Malley was the governor for eight years and mayor of Baltimore eight years before than, Giuliani noted.

"If those people are suffering from economic depravation, then what the heck have they done?," he asked. "What has (Rep.) Elijah Cummings done for his city? … What kind of economic development have they done?"

Democrats and left-leaning pundits have pointed to systemic racism and poverty for causing the boiling over of tensions in Baltimore and other cities as black men have died in police custody. The most recent was 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore, sparking protests and rioting.

Giuliani blamed the problems on "very left wing policies of dependency" and leaders who "don't do anything about the schools, let the teachers union push you around so you can't have vouchers, don't support charter schools, don't move people off welfare."



The old Nazi recipe still works

The Scottish National Party is a Nazi party. They are not going to gas or invade anyone but that is largely because Scotland is a pipsqueak of a country compared to Germany. But they do have an enemy to demonize: England. And they have already done a fair bit of persecution of their largest minority: the English.

"Nazi" is a German abbreviation of "National Socialist" and those two things -- nationalism and socialism -- were what Hitler offered Germans. It was a heady mix. To the appeal of socialism ("we will look after you") Hitler added "We are the greatest". Scotland does not claim to be the greatest but it does claim to be a lot better than England in various ways. And it feeds on long-held Scottish beliefs that the English (Jews?) have been holding Scotland (Germany?) back.

There is vast and historic resentment of England in Scotland, despite the fact that only English money keeps Scotland afloat. The resentment goes back at least to the 14th century and the various wars between England and Scotland, which the English mostly won. To many Scottish minds, those wars were only yesterday and they brand England as an oppressor.

So Scots have a strong national consciousness and sense of their Scottish identity. They sing about it a lot. In that sense they are even more nationalist than were Weimar Germans. Up until Hitler, most Germans felt first loyalty to their Land (State). A Saxon, for instance, saw himself as a Saxon first before he saw himself as a German. It was actually Hitler who created a strong sense of National identity among Germans.

Hitler's magic formula can be summarized as Socialism+Nationalim = Popularity. And, for better or worse, Hitler was very popular among Germans in the late '30s. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is having the same success with that old formula. She is very socialist, mocks the English often and is hugely popular in Scotland. See below. (Ed Miliband is the English Labour Party leader and the rather dim son of a German Jewish Marxist so his politics are very Left. But the SNP is even more Leftist).

Senior Labour figures have rounded on Ed Miliband over his "complacency" in Scotland as a new poll revealed that the SNP is on course to win every seat north of the border.

Henry McLeish, the former Scottish Labour leader and first minister, said that Mr Miliband had been kept in the dark by his own MPs about the scale of the disaster facing the party in Scotland.

The New Statesman, which has been described as the "bible of the left", said that the surge in support for the SNP has "definitively ended Mr Miliband's hopes of winning an absolute majority".

It warned that if he becomes Prime Minister he will be "reliant" on the support of the nationalists and his "greatest task" will be trying to stop Nicola Sturgeon's party from breaking up the Union.

The editorial said: "Even after the SNP’s victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, which we predicted, he remained complacent over Labour’s decline in Scotland, where he is even less popular than David Cameron.

"It is the surge in support for the SNP, which has positioned itself to the left of Labour, that has definitively ended Mr Miliband’s hopes of winning an absolute majority.

"Should he become prime minister, he will now almost certainly be reliant on the support of a large nationalist bloc to govern."

It came as an Ipsos-Mori survey for STV News suggested that he SNP is on course to win an unprecedented clean sweep of all 59 Scottish seats, forcing some of Mr Miliband's closest allies out of office.

The poll, which suggested Labour's share of the vote is only marginally higher than the Conservatives, led to a bitter backlash from Labour MPs who said that Mr Miliband has become so "toxic" he has been told not to campaign in Scotland.



If America sent the Hispanics home ...

IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONISTS often claim that there are no "jobs Americans won't do," if only US borders would be secured against economic migrants who are willing to work hard for low pay and few benefits. If the fruit-and-vegetable industry couldn't rely on seasonal farmhands from Mexico and Central America, for example, growers would perforce offer the higher wages necessary to attract American citizens to pick the country's fresh produce. What alternative would they have? Let crops rot in the field?

In reality, agriculture is no more of a zero-sum industry than any other, and there is no fixed number of people it must employ.

That point is strikingly made by recent stories on the development of new technology poised to transform the nation's $2.5 billion strawberry business.

While most grain crops in the United States have long been cut and gathered by giant combine harvesters, growers of strawberries have continued to employ human workers to pick a crop too delicate to be left to mechanized equipment. That was "partly to avoid maladroit machines marring the blemish-free appearance of items that consumers see on store shelves," as The Wall Street Journal noted last Friday. No less important was the "trained discernment" needed to select only the ripe strawberries from plants that also have immature fruit not yet ready for picking.

From the standpoint of strawberry farmers, it doesn't much matter whether the dwindling of migrant labor is due to tougher border enforcement in the United States, better economic prospects in Mexico, or some other factor. The farmers' overriding concern is that the fruit must be harvested, and they can no longer rely on immigration flows to get the job done.

Nothing to do, then, but boost the pay and perks for strawberry-pickers until they're high enough to induce more US citizens to work in the fields?

Far from it: Strawberry growers have become increasingly committed to finding a technological solution. The Journal story describes the Agrobot — a prototype of a 14-arm automated harvester that couples vision sensors and advanced software in a device capable of "pluck[ing] ripe strawberries from below deep-green leaves, while mostly ignoring unripe fruit nearby."

The Agrobot is only one entrant in the race to revolutionize the strawberry industry. Another competitor is Harvest CROO Robotics. The Florida-based engineering team is at work on a high-tech harvester able not only to pick ripe fruit at the rate of one per second per mechanized arm, but also to run continuously for an entire day.

Strawberries and strawberry fields may be forever. But the strawberry industry, like every industry, changes. If those changes make it more productive, the whole economy stands to gain.


In Australia, most crops are picked using mechanization, including tomatoes


Biblical Values -- or Vegas Values?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Almost all of the declared and undeclared Republican candidates for 2016 could be found this weekend at one of two events, or both.

The first was organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and held in Point of Grace Church in Waukee.

Dominated by Evangelical Christians, who were 60 percent of Republican caucus-goers in 2008 and 2012, the Point of Grace Church event drew no fewer than nine Republican hopefuls.

Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, past winners of the Iowa caucuses, were there. So, too, were Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Scott Walter. Cruz and Walker are sons of Christian preachers.

All nine GOP hopefuls espoused Judeo-Christian values, and all nine pledged unyielding opposition to same-sex marriage.

"At a forum before evangelical Christians," wrote The New York Times, "the Republican candidates told a cheering crowd that the fight over same-sex marriage would not end with a Supreme Court decision.

"Mr. Cruz said advocates of traditional marriage should 'fall to our knees and pray.'" Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the "institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed long before our laws existed."

Onward Christian soldiers!

At the second event, however, there was not a lot of kneeling and praying, and not much talk of same-sex marriage. For it was held in Sin City at the Venetian hotel-casino and home of Sheldon Adelson.

Having amassed a fortune of $29 billion from gambling dens in Macau and Vegas, the 81-year-old Adelson is among the richest men on earth. The event was the annual conclave of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

In Vegas, The Washington Post reports, "a crop of White House aspirants sought to outdo each other in opposition" to the Iran nuclear deal. "Ted Cruz declared that he 'intends to do everything possible to stop a bad Iran deal.' ... Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pledged that 'Israel's enemies are our enemies. Israel's cause is our cause.'"

Now, there is no conflict between being pro-Israel and anti-same-sex marriage. Yet there is still something jarring here.

What are candidates who profess Christian values doing in Sin City courting a casino mogul for millions in contributions, when that mogul compiled his immense fortune by exploiting the moral weakness of Christians and non-Christians alike?

Does not the Bible condemn gambling? Do Evangelical Christians not regard gambling as a vice, and a moral failing? Are not Christians supposed to practice what they preach?

Googling "Evangelicals" and "gambling" one comes across a compelling 2009 essay of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America's moral crisis," writes Mohler.

"The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God's word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed — a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture ...

"Gambling is a direct attack on the work ethic presented by Scripture. ... Gambling corrupts the culture, polluting everything it touches. ... Why are Christians so silent on this issue? ... The silence and complacency of the Christian Church must end."

In defense of their courtship of Adelson, Republicans say that gambling is now legal. Yet, so is prostitution and marijuana in some precincts, and abortion and homosexuality are constitutional rights.

Would Christian conservatives accept campaign contributions from men who grew rich running abortion mills, or bathhouses for homosexuals, or from selling pot, or from Planned Parenthood?

Reportedly, Adelson contributed $92 million in 2012, to the campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other Republicans. And he is poised to spend more for a Republican president in 2016.

A tiny fraction of that $92 million, in attack ads, could break a candidate to whom Adelson is opposed. A large fraction could make credible a candidate who would otherwise be an also-ran who would not survive the first primary.

With that kind of money on offer, the temptation to tailor one's views to accommodate Adelson is great. But it is a temptation.

In this tale of two cities this weekend, Waukee and Vegas, we may be witnessing a shift in moral power in the Grand Old Party.



Baltimore in a vicious spiral

According to a notice by the Baltimore Police Department, there is a credible threat that the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods, Crips and other gangs entered into an agreement to attack police and coordinate looting. Furthermore, some of Baltimore’s outlaw elements may want to take the violence outside the city, targeting white police officers. The West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center released a memo warning police officers that they might be the target of gang violence. Remember: The man who killed New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos earlier this year was associated with the Black Guerilla Family gang in Baltimore.

And what about the man whose death sparked the rioting? The Baltimore Sun has attempted to piece together a timeline of the arrest of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, looking to discover how he sustained the injuries that led to his death. Like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Gray has been made out to be a martyr at the altar of police brutality, but he was no angel. Gray’s rap sheet includes at least 18 arrests for various offenses. Baltimore police have not shed any light on why Gray was arrested earlier this month, stating only that he was carrying a knife, which was actually discovered after he was arrested.

It can be said that Gray was not a model citizen; however, the Baltimore Police Department is not a model law enforcement agency. The local police department has some problems of its own. A lengthy investigation in 2014 by the Baltimore Sun uncovered numerous incidents of police brutality and resultant civil suits that cost the city $5.7 million over three years.

As with civil unrest in Ferguson, Oakland, CA, and other cities around the country, a terrible pattern is playing out in Baltimore, and it looks something like this: In an effort to reclaim the city from criminals and gangs, police have on occasion gone beyond their mandate and sometimes been guilty of the very crimes they attempt to stop. The community, which should welcome and feel protected by the police, instead fear and loathe them because of injustices, either real or perceived. The situation can fester for years until an incident, oftentimes the shooting or death of someone in police custody, pops the top off a pressure cooker.

Not all those arrested are victims, and not all cops are criminals. Far from it. Yet, the media, ever in pursuit of a story, will report any angle that feeds the story. Sometimes facts are optional. Race hustlers like Al Sharpton and naïve liberals like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake don’t help the situation. Cooler heads must prevail and examine the root causes of these issues; otherwise Baltimore will be just another name on a sad and growing list of cities tearing themselves apart.



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

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



Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

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

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: