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

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

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30 November, 2014

MSNBC Shrill Is No Accident. It’s How Liberals Really Think

William Voegeli

It’s been more than 50 years since William F. Buckley first complained, “Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.”

Since then, things have only gotten worse. At the dawn of the Obama era, for example, Mark Schmitt, former editor of The American Prospect, wrote that the “conservative power structure” is so “dangerous” because it operates “almost entirely on bad faith,” thriving on “protest, complaint, [and] fear.”

Just before the recent midterm elections The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky called the GOP “as intellectually dishonest and bankrupt and just plain old willfully stupid as a political party can possibly be,” one whose only agenda “is to slash regulations and taxes and let energy companies and megabanks and multinational corporations do whatever it is they wish to do.”

In other words, it is impossible not only for any reasonable person to be conservative, but even to take such idiotic, malignant ideas seriously. And neither Schmitt nor Tomasky is a particularly shrill partisan, compared to the polemicists at Salon.com, MSNBC or the New York Times editorial page. With such allies, it’s no wonder that Barack Obama’s wish for a new political unity that would transcend and heal the divisions between red states and blue states has come to nothing.

Liberal rhetoric emphasizes compassion, empathy and kindness—“Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” President Obama has said—because these emotions need not and really cannot be theorized.

It’s tempting, but mistaken, for conservatives to think that the problem is as simple as liberals’ failure to observe the Golden Rule of democratic politics: take your adversaries as seriously as you want them to take you. That’s a good standard, of course, but it’s sound advice for everyone. American discourse would benefit if all disputants observed what economist Bryan Caplan calls the “ideological Turing test,” which requires characterizing a viewpoint you disagree with so discerningly and scrupulously that an adherent of that position finds your summary of it as clear and persuasive as any provided by a true believer.

Caplan’s test turns out to be not only a good general rule, but a good way to grasp one of liberalism’s defining features. It’s hard to understand liberals as they understand themselves because they insist there’s really nothing to understand. Liberal rhetoric emphasizes compassion, empathy and kindness—“Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” President Obama has said—because these emotions need not and really cannot be theorized.

Even its philosophers reject the need for a theoretical framework. “The idea that liberal societies are bound together by philosophical beliefs seems to me to be ludicrous,” the left-of-center philosopher Richard Rorty contended. Philosophy “is not that important for politics.”

Liberalism, as liberals understand it, is not a philosophy, ideology, body of doctrines or a mode of interpreting political reality. It is, instead, nothing more than common sense and common decency applied to the work of governance.

It follows directly from this premise that opposition to the liberal project is necessarily senseless and indecent. Viewing themselves as simply nice people who want the world to be a nicer and nicer place, liberals regard conservatives as either mean people who want the world to be a mean place, or stupid people who can’t grasp that impeding liberalism means impeding the advance of niceness.

Convinced that no intelligent, decent person could take conservatism seriously, liberals believe it is not necessary or even possible, when engaging conservative ideas, to go beyond diagnosing the psychological, moral or mental defects that cause people to espouse them. Liberals claim to understand conservatives better than they understand themselves on the basis of seeing through the cynical self-interest of conservative leaders (and funders), and the fanaticism or stupid docility of conservative followers.

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, scourge of the Koch brothers, went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show in 2010 to deny that the Tea Party movement was “a spontaneous uprising that came from nowhere.” In fact, Maddow explained, many of those attending its demonstrations “were essentially instructed to rally against things like climate change by billionaire oil tycoons.”

Viewing themselves as simply nice people who want the world to be a nicer and nicer place, liberals regard conservatives as either mean people who want the world to be a mean place, or stupid people who can’t grasp that impeding liberalism means impeding the advance of niceness.

This condescension has always been part of the liberal outlook. In 1972, eight weeks after George McGovern suffered a historically massive defeat against Richard Nixon, film critic Pauline Kael told the professors at a Modern Language Association conference, “I know only one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

Conservatives will wait decades in the hope of a fair hearing from such adversaries. That time would be better spent urging Americans who haven’t made up their minds that the same traits that make liberals contemptuous of conservatism make them dangerous for America. Liberalism exists to solve problems, and liberals regard every source of dissatisfaction or discord as a problem, not an aspect of the human condition that we must always contend with but can never sanely hope to eradicate. In denouncing “Dirty Harry” as a “deeply immoral movie,” Pauline Kael explained in 1972 that crime is caused, not by evil, but by “deprivation, misery, psychopathology and social injustice.”

Yet the crime wave that made urban life intolerable from the early 1960s through the early 1990s has, somehow, receded dramatically, even though liberals are as agitated about deprivation and social injustice today as they were 40 years ago. Such reactionary ideas as more cops, more prisons and longer sentences—all based on the conservative belief that constraining human wickedness through stern disincentives is plausible, but solving it therapeutically through social work is deluded—has made the difference. Liberal disdain for the wary view of human nature, which is conservatism’s foundation, turns out to be of one piece with the “idealism” and “compassion” that culminates in governmental malpractice, rendering liberalism a threat to the American experiment in self-government.



And Then There's the Crony Socialism

One of the largest myths going is that government helps the Little Guy. On it’s face this is patently absurd. More government – taxes and/or regulations – raises the costs of everything for everyone. The Big Guys are far better equipped to absorb the punishment – while the Little Guys are pummeled into un-existence.

Then there’s the Crony Socialism – it’s not Crony Capitalism, because it has very little to do with capitalism. Wherein Big Guys – who have the wherewithal – bend government policy to their will. To their advantage – and against that of the Little Guys seeking to compete with them. For instance:

Green Scam: 80% of Green Energy Loans Went to (President Barack) Obama Donors

Crony Socialists Looking to Ban Online Gambling Don’t Seem to Realize It’s a WORLD WIDE Web

Obama Donor’s Firm Hired to Fix Health Care Web Mess It Created

Obama Crony Wins Contract to Give Phones to Jobless

Obama’s United Auto Workers Bailout

Which brings us to the ridiculous Network Neutrality political rhetoric being extruded by the Obama Administration.

President Obama his own self recently said this:

“(N)et neutrality”…says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations….

Then there’s Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the President’s allegedly politics-free, independent Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

FCC Chief on Net Neutrality: ‘The Big Dogs Are Going to Sue, Regardless’

First – why are these lawsuits inevitable? Because the FCC has already twice unilaterally imposed Net Neutrality – and twice the D.C. Circuit Court has unanimously overturned the orders as outside the bounds of their authority.

Rather than complaining about additional suits to again fend off the Leviathan – perhaps the Leviathan should pull in its tentacles. Especially when it has already had two lopped off by Courts. As Jonah Goldberg has said: Don’t just do something – stand there.

But wait a minute – which “Big Dogs” does Wheeler mean? The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) government intends to yet again assault.

To be sure, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, et. al are big companies.

Verizon: ~ $207 billion.

Comcast: ~ $140 billion.

AT&T: ~ $183 billion.

But they aren’t looking for Crony Socialist favors from government – merely protection from its monumental overreaches.

Then there’s this plucky little upstart for whom the Obama Administration is fighting.

Google: ~ $370 billion.

Get that? Google is bigger than Verizon and Comcast – combined.

Google has spent the last decade-plus shoving Net Neutrality down our throats.

Google…Support(s) Net Neutrality, Call(s) For Extension To Mobile Providers

Google has uber-generously funded pro-Net Neutrality Leftist efforts. It twice helped President Obama get elected. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was one of the first Obama Administration “adviser” hires.

The relationship really is that syrupy:

Obama & Google – A Love Story

So this isn’t a galloping shock:

Who Wins the Net Neutrality Debate? Google, of Course

No matter how the FCC rules next year, Google can move forward with fiber rollouts, even if they’re restricted, because it will still be earning far-healthier revenues from carrying content.

Google’s two-pronged strategy has been obvious for a long time, but lately it has looked genius given the net neutrality battle….

(I)t’s a strategy only a very large company could undertake….

Get that? Google is more than Big Guy enough to absorb the government hit – the Little Guys looking to compete with them aren’t.

“It’s a strategy only a very large company could undertake” - using government to make the marketplace untenable for anyone but themselves.

Creating for Google a for-all-intents-and-purposes government-mandated monopoly.

The very thing the Obama Administration – with its gi-normous Internet overreach – alleges it is attempting to address/prevent.

To paraphrase George Orwell: All monopolies are equal – but some are more equal than others.

To paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Google will be a son-of-a-bitch monopoly – but it’ll be our son-of-a-bitch monopoly.

“Don’t be evil.” Enjoy the Crony Socialism, All.



Surprise: Lois Lerner’s ‘Destroyed’ Emails Magically Reappear!

Friday afternoon, a government watchdog announced that it had magically found 30,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails!

That should be cause for celebration, but remember: the IRS went to great lengths to convince you that Lois Lerner’s emails were lost forever. They went so far as to throw Lois Lerner’s hard drive in an incinerator to make sure that any data left on it was destroyed.

We now have 30,000 potential smoking guns proving Lois Lerner’s, and potentially the Obama White House’s, participation in the targeting of opposition (conservative) non-profit groups!

We were told there was nothing more Congress could do and the IRS flat-out admitted that all during the investigation, it never even bothered to look for Lois Lerner’s emails!

Think about that… The IRS had been saying for weeks that Ms. Lerner’s emails were completely lost, all the while the agency never even bothered to search for them. Saying that is suspicious would be an understatement.

But now, a Federal Watchdog has uncovered what appear to be tens of thousands of Ms. Lerner’s emails.

How did the IRS respond? After months of claiming to have exhausted all recovery methods, you’d think that Obama’s IRS would be excited to hear the news of the recovered emails, right?

The IRS has “no comment.” That’s right, they have “no comment” on the fact that everything they told Congress was a lie.

It will take weeks for analysts to decode the recovered emails, but one thing is for certain: There’s something out there that the administration doesn’t want you to see. Why else would Ms. Lerner’s hard-drive be incinerated before data could be recovered?



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

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


28 November, 2014

Enabling the Delusional Democrats

After the 2012 campaign, liberal journalists swarmed around Republican Party chair Reince Priebus offering what was called an "autopsy" on every way Republicans failed, with a special emphasis on more outreach to minority voters. Democrats and their media enablers painted a picture of demographic doom for an aging white Republican base.

Two years later, Republicans made dramatic gains among minority voters. In House races across America, Republicans won 50 percent of the Asian vote to 49 percent for Democrats. Republicans won 38 percent of the Hispanic vote in House races. Gov. Sam Brownback drew 47 percent of Hispanics in Kansas, and Gov-elect Greg Abbott pulled in 44 percent of Hispanics in Texas. Support for Obama among Hispanics has been cut in half.

Surprise, surprise: It's a development you didn't find reported on the networks.

Meanwhile, Democrats will not only be in the minority in both houses of Congress, facing the largest GOP House majority since 1949. They will likely hold just 18 statehouses and both chambers in only 11 state legislatures.

Unlike Priebus, Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz admitted no need for an "autopsy," but instead took to PBS and bizarrely argued Democrats didn't really lose. "If you look at 2010 and the 2014 midterm elections, clearly, we know the voters support our agenda, that they consistently last Tuesday voted to increase the minimum wage, voted in a gun safety statewide initiative. They defeated personhood amendments."

She's delusional or a serial liar. There ain't a third option.

PBS anchor Gwen Ifill didn't point out that the four states that passed a minimum-wage hike — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota — all elected Republican senators, which would seem to contradict that weird "voters support our agenda" line. Ifill didn't point out to the deluded Democrat that Planned Parenthood dumped millions of dollars to fight "anti-choice" Republicans in Colorado and North Carolina and failed badly.

Journalists just pass along the weird Democratic denials that they have any unpopular stands without comment or context. On NPR, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne reported Obama would issue an executive order on amnesty because he has a mandate ... from the midterms?

"The president points out this is the lowest turnout since 1942. Nearly two-thirds of the public didn't vote. Most of those nonvoters were Democrats. A lot of them were young people and Latinos," he explained. "And so what he's saying is folks are dispirited because nothing has happened."

His Post colleague Chris Cillizza repeated that line in the newspaper: "Democrats — and Obama in particular — remain convinced that the 2014 elections proved nothing about how the country feels about Republicans." Ordering amnesty will supposedly enrage and expose "elements within the Republican Party that its leaders have worked to keep quiet in recent months."

These people cannot fathom — just as they couldn't with Reagan — that America wants a conservative agenda enacted. It's not just liberals; it's the moderates, too. They are convinced conservatives are going to destroy the Republican Party, even when the GOP wins one victory after another when it champions conservative solutions.

So they bray that the new Republican majority will go too far to the right. They make that prediction every time there's hope for a conservative policy victory. Remember: Their crystal balls said Ted Cruz's Obamacare shutdown was going to destroy the GOP. They all said that. The result: a GOP landslide this year with nine new Republican senators who all pledged to repeal Obamacare.




The far left’s emboldened totalitarian impulses

By Bill Wilson

The modus operandi of America’s far left isn’t subtle: It’s all about “taking.” Money, property, privacy, speech, guns — you name it. Everywhere we look, the foundational underpinnings of our once-free, once-prosperous society are being encroached upon by government’s emboldened totalitarian impulses.

Which brings us to the No. 1 thing they are taking from us: Control — over our lives, our livelihoods and our children.

For the American people the arc toward totalitarianism has been accompanied by unsustainable government debt, soaring dependency, economic stagnation and the steady decline of individual liberty. For those in charge, though, it’s meant more money, more power and more patronage.

Author Jason Mattera had the audacity to walk into a public building in Washington, D.C. recently and ask one of the architects/ profiteers of this totalitarianism — Senate majority leader Harry Reid — how he managed to become a multimillionaire in the service of the public. Reid refused to respond to Mattera’s questions, but one of his henchmen did — grabbing the author and violently pinning him up against a wall.

When Mattera protested that he was a member of the media, the henchman replied “I don’t care if you’re press or not.”

Sadly, this sort of thuggish, third world behavior shouldn’t surprise us. After all Barack Obama’s Justice Department didn’t care that Fox News reporter James Rosen was a reporter when it decided to spy on him — just like it spied on reporters and editors at three Associated Press bureaus in an effort to identify the outlet’s sources. Far from representing a living, breathing set of principles that government is sworn to uphold, the First Amendment has become an obstacle to surmount. Not just a relic, a nuisance.

Just ask U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who in the aftermath of the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remarked that America needed to “rethink parameters on free speech.”

The left never lets a crisis go to waste — especially if that crisis involves guns. In Connecticut, for example, Gov. Daniel Malloy wants to require parents who homeschool their children to periodically present them before government panels so their “social and emotional learning needs” can be assessed. The stated excuse for such an invasive policy? The perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was briefly homeschooled by his parents.

That’s not really what Malloy’s intrusion is about, though. Homeschooling — like other flourishes of the free market — constitutes a clear and present danger to the rising totalitarian state. To them, it’s an expression of defiance, an explicit rejection of the indoctrination of government-run education. So naturally the left views anyone who chooses such a path as subversive — and in need of being monitored.

Which leads us to the National Security Agency (NSA) — and the $2 billion data storage facility center it recently constructed in rural Utah. The purpose of this facility is classified — but former NSA executive Thomas Drake says it is being used to rife through our phone records, emails, text messages, web histories and online purchase records.

“Technology now affords the ability of a state-sponsored surveillance regime,” the executive said. “They have an obsessive compulsive hoarding complex. They can never get enough.”

Where is all of this leading? Let’s ask environmental radical Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — who recently argued that those of us who believe global warming “does not exist” should be found guilty of “a criminal offense … and ought to be serving time for it.”

Interesting. So does Kennedy believe the researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — whose data has revealed a nearly two-decade “pause” in global warming — should also be thrown in jail? Or what about the scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center — who recently found a record 7.7 million square miles of sea ice extent in Antarctica?

Here’s the thing though: Government doesn’t need to challenge facts such as these. Not when contrary thoughts — or data disputing the myths it uses to repress, regulate and rob the American people — can simply be criminalized (with offending thinkers thrown in jail).

We are entering a truly dangerous time in the United States right now. So either be careful what you think — or be prepared to suffer the consequences of your free thought.



Why Do Democrats Look Down on Voters?

By Clive Crook

I support many Democratic policy positions and want to see them succeed. The Affordable Care Act, in particular, is a worthy endeavor: Despite the botched rollout and a great deal of unfinished business, I want to see it prevail. Sometimes, though, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the incompetence Democrats bring to the task of selling their best ideas. The party, without a doubt, is its own worst enemy.

This is the heading under which I file Grubergate. In the protracted discussion of Jonathan Gruber's comments about Obamacare and the stupidity of the U.S. electorate, his critics and apologists have missed the main point. This isn't about the rights and wrongs of the health-care reform, or the mendacity or good faith of the Barack Obama administration; it's about the Democrats' worldview, and the party's tireless capacity for offending potential supporters.

People have argued endlessly about whether the comments prove Obamacare was a deliberate deception of U.S. voters, or even about whether Gruber was or was not an architect of the reform -- pointless semantic questions. It depends what you mean by "deception" and "architect." Neither issue really matters.

Of course Gruber was deeply involved in the conception and design of the reform. And yes, in a certain sense, Obamacare's advocates did deceive people about the law, by presenting it in what they judged to be the best possible light. How shocking of politicians and their advisers to do that.

Politics is about selling. In between brutal honesty about the full consequences of any particular policy and bald-faced lies about what's intended is a wide zone of permissible salesmanship. As it happens, I think it would be good practice -- and good tactics as well -- for politicians to be more forthright than they usually are about the costs and drawbacks of what they're proposing. But the fact remains, all politicians accentuate the positive in what they're advocating and distract attention from the disadvantages.

Here's what counts about Gruber's comments: His views on the stupidity of the American electorate express the party's reflexive disdain for the very people it hopes (in all sincerity, by the way) to serve.

All salesmen sell -- but some respect their customers, whereas others look down on them. Too many Democrats fall into the second camp, and too few of those are any good at disguising it. In this respect, Gruber, who calls himself a "card-carrying Democrat," is typical of many in the party -- and Democrats are different from Republicans. In their own way, to be sure, many Republicans also take a dim view of the citizenry. (Recall Romney's 47 percent.) But the Democrats' brand of disapproval has a particular quality that puts their party and its good ideas at a perpetual electoral disadvantage.

This syndrome of Democratic disdain, I think, has two main parts. First, liberals have an exaggerated respect for intellectual authority and technical expertise. Second, they have an unduly narrow conception of the values that are implicated in political choices. These things come together in the conviction that if you disagree with Democrats on universal health insurance or almost anything else, it can only be because you're stupid.

Voters recognize this as insufferable arrogance and, oddly enough, they resent it. Democrats who might be asking where they went wrong in the mid-term elections -- not that many of them are -- ought to give this some thought. The conviction that voters are stupid, however, isn't just bad tactics. It's also substantively wrong.

It's good to have policy makers with brains who know what they're talking about. I've even argued that technocrats ought to have a bigger role in shaping policy. But expertise of the kind many Democrats venerate isn't enough. It's no guarantee of wisdom -- nor of honesty.

Democrats despair, for instance, over the public's reluctance to accept without reservation the supposedly settled science of climate change. They call disagreement on this topic a denial of science -- that is, an expression of the purest ignorance. This is wrong. Action on climate change is necessary, yet the electorate's skepticism is understandable. Contrary to what they're told, the science isn't settled: Enough is known to justify action, but that isn't how the case is put. Advocates admit of no doubt, which is false; and they recoil at dissent, which is unscientific. Claiming certainty where there isn't any does not inspire public confidence.

Voters understand that the smartest experts get things wrong. They also understand the concept of unintended consequences. A certain guardedness in the face of fast-talking experts brimming with confidence isn't stupid; it's sensible.

On almost any given policy question, even if all the relevant facts were beyond dispute, choices would still involve complex value judgments. This, for many Democrats, is another blind spot.

As the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has shown, liberals tend to give priority to the principles of equity (or fairness) and the avoidance of harm; most conservatives recognize those values but also give roughly equal weight to liberty, loyalty, order and sanctity (as in the sanctity of life, or the sanctity of marriage).

It isn't obvious that either worldview is more worthy of respect than the other. Perhaps it's morally wrong to attach great weight to loyalty, say, or sanctity. A person who doesn't share your moral intuitions, or who attaches different weights to different values, may be a better or worse person than you are. But having conservative values doesn't make you stupid, any more than having liberal values makes you smart.

Voters make mistakes, but I see no compelling evidence that the U.S. electorate is stupid, or lacking in collective wisdom. I see plenty of evidence to the contrary. It really shouldn't be so hard for Democrats to muster some respect for the people whose votes they want. And if that is beyond them, they should for heaven's sake learn to fake 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.

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 November, 2014

Ferguson: A Race Bait Case Study

As anticipated, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced Monday night that the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was justified self defense. “[The grand jury] determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson, and returned a ‘No True Bill’ on each of the five indictments,” said McCulloch. In fact, Brown’s autopsy determined he was facing Wilson when shot, and one of Brown’s wounds was at close range inside Wilson’s patrol vehicle, the result of Brown’s attempt to reach through the driver’s door window and take the officer’s gun after having assaulted Wilson.

Predictably, Barack Obama and his dependable stable of “race bait” surrogates immediately set about to convert the verdict into political capital. Of course, the 24-hour news recycling talking heads, all vying for advertising market share, provided the race agitators a very big stage, and will continue to do so as long as they can stir up enough protestors.

For his part, Obama claimed the racial anger was “understandable,” but, given that there is no upcoming election, he left the constituent building to his race baiting attorney general, Eric Holder, who ensured the nation that the Justice Department investigation remains open: “While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing.”

Holder is a master race baiter, and, when joined by race hustlers, including Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and legions of lesser useful idiots, they have become very effective at promoting hate crime hoaxes in order to foment discontent and rally black constituents.

Ahead of the 2012 presidential election, Holder and company set the race bait by vowing to “seek justice” after a “white-Hispanic” man, George Zimmerman, shot and killed, in self-defense, a black teenage thug named Trayvon Martin.

Ahead of the 2014 midterm election, Holder promised to “seek justice” in the shooting of another black teenage thug. In both cases, for political expedience, Holder assumed the shooters were guilty until proven innocent. Obama even suggested in an address to the UN that the Ferguson shooting could be seen in the same light as atrocities committed by ISIL cutthroats.

Among the more visible racists in Ferguson immediately after the shooting were the Black Panthers, who coined the chant, “What do we want? – Darren Wilson! – How do we want him? – Dead!”

Missouri Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon, who is fishing for a 2016 veep slot under Hillary Clinton, joined that chant, referring to Brown as an “unarmed teenager” and promising “to achieve justice for Michael Brown,” but omitting any reference that Wilson’s actions might have been justified.

Having worked as a uniformed officer in two states while completing my undergraduate degree, I take great offense at the constant description of Michael Brown as an “unarmed teenager.” No law enforcement officer should ever approach a suspect or assailant, whether in a vehicle or on a street, with the assumption he or she is “unarmed.” I would not be writing these words had I wavered from that precautionary training. The fact that Brown did not possess a weapon is hindsight 20/20, not something Wilson knew at the time of the altercation.

For the record, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, over the last decade there were an average of 58,261 assaults against law enforcement personnel each year, resulting in 15,658 injuries and more than 150 deaths per year.

Now, after three Brown autopsies and copious deliberations, the verdict is in – the shooting was justified. But don’t expect the facts to get in the way of the race bait political agenda.



Two New York Times Reporters Posted Darren Wilson’s Home Address. Look Here To See THEIR Home Addresses

Since the Grand Jury verdict in Ferguson, there have been riots, looting, assaults, guns fired and cars and businesses burned to the ground. Meanwhile, all the criminals and thugs doing this are baying for policeman Darren Wilson’s blood because they don’t like the fact he had his day in court and evidence wasn’t strong enough to bring the case to trial. So, in this violent environment, when the life of Darren Wilson and his new wife are in danger, the New York Times is attempting to impose the death penalty on him via newspaper by publishing his home address.

It was a disgusting, despicable, immoral act and the two reporters responsible, Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson, deserve to lose their careers over what they did. Of course, this is the New York Times, so they’re unlikely to pay any sort of penalty. Still, I thought they deserved to pay a price.

…It would be wrong, for example, to publish Bosman’s address at

CHICAGO, IL 60660-4204

It would be similarly wrong to publish the address of Robertson, too.

NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119-3203

If these New York Times reporters are willing to put Darren Wilson’s address out there when it will unquestionably endanger his life, then they should have no complaints about the whole world knowing where they live. Like they say, what’s good for the goose, is good for the dirtbag New York Times reporters.



PolitiFact is a Leftist Politi-Lie

The Tampa Bay Times has set itself up as the arbiter of political speech through its PolitiFact.com feature that some naively take seriously. Based upon their self-proclaimed excellence at determining the truth, the only responsible thing to do is to hold their self-described “Lie of the Year” over the past half-decade up to similar scrutiny with the benefit of time.

In 2009, the publication declared that Sarah Palin’s assertion that Obamacare would lead to government “death panels” as the lie or the year. Of course, subsequent review of the law reveals that the law does set up a Medicare board that makes determinations over which treatments can be provided and which cannot. This refusal to fund certain treatments which might be life-saving or life-extending due to a cost benefit analysis clearly makes one wonder if PolitiFact issued an apology to Governor Palin for this mischaracterization of her death panel statement.

In December 2010, PolitiFact.com decided that the contention that Obamacare represented, “a government takeover of healthcare” was their Lie of the Year. Given Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s recently discovered admission that the system is designed to drive out private employer health plans within twenty years, and the knowledge that government regulations dictate what treatments can be received due to coverage terms, it is hard to hold on to the illusion that Obamacare was anything but a government takeover of health care. When you add in the requirements that patient information be supplied by doctors to the government, and the inability to keep your doctor if you like him/her, the case that this was a government takeover of the health care system is hard to refute, even if they use private carriers to deliver the actual services. The only question is can PolitiFact get four Pinocchios for its Lie of the Year Award for 2010?

PolitiFact actually got their Lie of the Year right in 2011. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) deliberately mischaracterized the Paul Ryan budget proposal as meaning that, “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” The Ryan proposal clearly left Medicare in place, albeit with some cost changes to make it more affordable over the next forty years.

However, PolitiFact’s winning streak ended at one in 2012, when they chose Mitt Romney’s charge that President Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs as the Lie of 2012. The ever diligent PolitiFact staff chose to believe a Chrysler spokesperson who assured them that they would not be making the extremely politically unpopular decision to begin Jeep production in China. Just months after the presidential election, the Italian owned Chrysler Corporation announced that they were in fact going to build Jeeps in China.

PolitiFact defenders can contend that the Jeep factory in Ohio remains intact, but they cannot say that Romney was wrong in his contention that Jeeps would be made in China, and to deem it the Lie of 2012 reveals more about the judges than the statement itself. Particularly when you remember that the Obama Administration went on multiple national news outlets declaring that the killing of four Americans in Benghazi was motivated by an offensive YouTube video in a pre-election cover up.

Finally, PolitiFact woke up in 2013 to the unavoidably obvious lie of the half-decade, President Barack Obama’s promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” A lie that was obvious to anyone who read the August 2010 Labor Department regulations on employer health plans.

These regulations revealed in explicit terms that 69 percent of all employer health plans would not qualify under Obamacare no matter how much their users liked them. So while PolitiFact got their Lie of the Year correct in 2013, it was at least three years after the Obama Administration itself revealed the deception – too late to have any real meaning.

Finally reporting the truth well after it would have any impact on the public policy debate hardly makes up for PolitiFact’s three years of willful self-deceit, but they deserve some credit for eventually stumbling into the truth no matter how hard they tried not to see it.

Next month, we will get the official PolitiFact 2014 Lie of the Year. Based upon the history of this pronouncement, it should be held in the same regard as a National Enquirer headline at the supermarket – except that is probably being unfair to the tabloid.



Buy your health insurance out of state

by Jeff Jacoby

THE SECOND open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is underway, and the law is more unpopular than ever. According to Gallup, a record-high 56 percent of Americans now disapprove of the 2010 law.

Reasons to dislike Obamacare have abounded from the outset, and on Friday the administration unveiled a new one: In large swaths of the country, the price of insurance sold on the federal health exchange is going up. That will force many of those who bought coverage last year to scramble to find a new policy or fork over as much as 20 percent in higher premiums. How's that "affordable" health care working out for you?

Republicans in Congress — less inclined than some deep thinkers to sneer at "the stupidity of the American people" — unanimously opposed the Affordable Care Act when it was enacted, and were rewarded in the 2010 midterms for their steadfastness. In the ensuing four years, Republicans repeatedly called for replacing Obamacare with alternatives expanding choice, competition, and market reforms — and the voters just rewarded them again.

Of course, even with their new majorities in Congress Republicans will have to contend with President Obama's veto pen. So a bill "repealing every last vestige of Obamacare," as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky exuberantly proposed on Election Night, isn't in the cards anytime soon. But that doesn't mean there is nothing to be done, particularly since the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to the law, one that could potentially cause Obamacare to topple under its own weight.

One way or another, changes in the law are coming. Not all of them have to be bitterly controversial, or provoke cries of Republican overreaching. Here's a suggestion: Allow individuals to buy health insurance from out of state.

In an age when consumers can purchase almost anything from vendors almost anywhere, government policies protecting insurance companies from interstate competition are indefensible. Lawmakers would be laughed out of office, rightly, if they insisted that the only CDs, cellphones, or ceramics their constituents could buy were those manufactured in the state where they lived. All sorts of financial products are routinely acquired without to state borders proving an impenetrable barrier: life insurance, service warranties, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, credit cards. Why should a medical plan be any different?

There is no good reason to deny freedom of choice to Americans when it comes to buying health insurance. Yet licensing rules in virtually every state effectively prevent individual residents from shopping for health plans in any other state. Consequently, there is no national market for health insurance. There are only autonomous state markets, many dominated by near-monopolies that can get away with offering lower quality insurance at ever-higher premiums.

As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute points out, it isn't only insurance companies that are sheltered from the rigors of competition. Insurance regulators are insulated too. State governments, inveigled by special interests, can burden health insurance policies with more and more mandatory benefits, driving up premiums to cover services that many consumers would never willingly choose.

In Massachusetts, for instance, health insurance policies must cover at least 49 specified treatments and types of providers, among them midwives, infertility treatments, hair prostheses, and chiropractors. But what if all you want is a plain-vanilla health plan akin to those sold by insurers in New Hampshire (only 38 state-required health-care mandates) or, better yet, in Michigan (24) or Idaho (13)? Tough luck. That's what it means when interstate commerce in health insurance is blocked.

Polls show broad public support for the idea — as high as 77 percent in a recent Rasmussen poll. Legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, currently being drafted by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, will reportedly include interstate choice. "We want … every American to be able to buy the kind of health insurance they want at a price that they are willing to buy and from any company in America that will sell it to you," Rubio said in a recent radio interview.

Which isn't to say change can only come from above. One can envision a moderate, pro-reform governor championing such market choice at the state level — a just-elected Republican, say, with a deep knowledge of the health insurance industry. How about it, Charlie Baker? Why not use that new bully pulpit to advocate for legislation freeing Massachusetts residents to buy a health policy from any properly licensed insurance company in America willing to sell it to them?

It's a fix long overdue. With the distortions imposed first by RomneyCare and then ObamaCare, Massachusetts could use it more than ever. The rest of the country could too.



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

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


26 November, 2014

BOOK REVIEW of "The Pity Party" by William Voegeli

Review by Rich Lowry

The trump card of liberalism is always compassion. Whether it’s in a dorm room or on the Senate floor, in any debate the presumption is that liberals self-evidently care about people and their opponents do not. End of discussion. In his new book, William Voegeli subjects liberal compassion to a sustained examination that exposes its inadequacies, contradictions, perversities—and, ultimately, its threat to our system of government.

His work is invariably acute and grounded in a sure-footed understanding of the philosophical undercurrents of our politics. This book is neither mean-spirited nor a diatribe; it’s a brilliant intellectual dissection that bristles with insight and arresting formulations.

Since compassion is so central to contemporary liberalism, The Pity Party is less a critique of an aspect of liberalism than of liberalism itself—and of our most prized virtue. Compassion, Voegeli notes, “is routinely used not just to name a moral virtue, but to designate the pinnacle or even the entirety of moral excellence.”

In his famous 1984 Democratic convention speech, New York Governor Mario Cuomo set out the animating vision of liberalism. He said that government should be “the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings—reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.” President Obama has said, less ringingly, that “kindness” accounts for all of his political principles. (Voegeli comments acidly, “Apparently, all one really needs to know about politics can be learned in kindergarten.”)

Voegeli’s examination begins with the vacuum left by modernity’s destruction of the former “comprehensive shared understanding” of human affairs. By his account, there are several ways to fill it. One is totalitarianism, which discredited itself in the horrors of the 20th century. Another is the notion of self-interest well understood that undergirds The Federalist’s political science and informs Adam Smith’s economics. But liberals distrust the market’s propensity to render selfishness benevolent. Their answer is compassion. They rely on what they take to be our natural empathy to forge a togetherness. This dispensation doesn’t depend on any grand theory, and liberals reject both premodern and totalitarian versions of philosophical unity. They notionally reject certainty itself, embracing Judge Learned Hand’s belief that “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.”

* * *

There is a countervailing tendency, though. Liberals, according to Voegeli, “want the modern bargain of agreeing to disagree, but also keep trying to graft a moral and teleological unity onto it.” They envy the universality of the great religious faiths, and seek their own vague, secular version. “The marriage of liberal universalism and liberal skepticism,” he writes, “proclaims the brotherhood of man while rejecting the fatherhood of God.”

Although it is difficult to recall, there was a time when liberal compassion didn’t dominate the Democratic Party. It used to be that what Voegeli calls the “Eleanor tendency,” after Franklin Roosevelt’s naïvely do-gooding First Lady, was checked by a patriotic, tough-minded vein within the party. John F. Kennedy represented the high tide of the “desentimentalization of liberalism.” His assassination changed everything. Liberalism went from appealing to the country’s pride to inveighing against its depravity. In 1962, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., published a collection of essays called The Politics of Hope; in 1969, he titled a new collection The Crisis of Confidence.

This is the liberalism we know. It demanded the enactment of a sweeping program to save America from itself, and lurched from an emphasis on “the helplessness of sufferers” in the 1930s, to the further contention that they were helpless because of what had been done to them. The cultural attributes that lift people out of poverty came to be dismissed as merely a way to blame the poor for their own poverty.

* * *

Voegeli subjects all of this to withering assault. He makes liberal use of the word “bullshit,” elevating it to a major concept and featuring it in a chapter heading: “How Liberal Compassion Leads to Bullshit.” The word is a little jarring, especially from a writer as calm and judicious as this one, but Voegeli makes a good case that it's exactly right, quoting the philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt that the “essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony.”

At the core of liberal bullshit is the fact that the same people who care so much about social programs—don’t seem to care whether they work or not. Social programs never end, and only extremely rarely are they significantly reformed. Even if programs like Head Start are proven to be ineffectual, they are still defended as totems of compassion. The answer is always more spending, and more programs, regardless of how much government has already grown.

This gets to the central dynamic of liberal compassion. To wit, “the liberals who create, perpetuate, defend, and expand social welfare programs are devoted to them less because they care about helping than because they care about caring,” as Voegeli puts it. It is this flaw, he writes, that “connects the theory of liberalism to the malpractice of liberalism,” to its toleration of waste and failure. There may be a perverse psychological benefit to the malpractice. He quotes the late political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain: “Pity is about how deeply I can feel. And in order to feel this way, to experience the rush of my own pious reaction, I need victims the way an addict needs drugs.” Considering people as victims, and encouraging them to consider themselves as such, does them no favors. Citing Thomas Sowell’s work on the success of Chinese immigrants throughout Southeast Asia despite persistent discrimination, Voegeli notes that there are no examples of “groups that have acquired significant, durable social and economic advantages by feeling sorry for themselves, or by inducing other, more powerful groups to feel sorry for and guilty about them.”

* * *

Liberals are loath to insist on basic cultural norms. Who are we to judge, they ask, between a life of indolence and of work, a life of self-discipline and of indulgence? It is this attitude that gives rise to what George W. Bush aptly called the soft bigotry of low expectations. C.S. Lewis famously diagnosed the tendency of kindness, unmoored from any standards, to exhibit an “indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it.” This non-judgmentalism only applies to victims, not to those who liberals believe are heartlessly unwilling to help. Voegeli borrows the formulation of Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield that liberalism is, in essence, an “alliance of experts and victims.” It scorns those who resist this alliance—as stupid for not deferring to the experts and as unfeeling for not bowing to the needs of the victims. The only truly legitimate expression of compassion in the liberal mind is government programs, which tend to crowd out private charity. The United States has much more private social welfare spending than Western European countries that have more fully embraced the welfare state. As Voegeli writes, “The sincere, spontaneous reaction to suffering, which propels the liberal project, is attenuated by the pursuit of that project.”

How have conservatives responded to liberal compassion? Voegeli devotes his final chapter to this question. The compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush sought to blunt the image of conservatives as heartless, with some limited political success (it helped make Bush seem less threatening in the 2000 campaign). But substantively it was a non-starter. Obviously, social problems have policy implications, but that doesn’t mean they have policy solutions. The Bush agenda, consequently, was always unclear and smallbore.

Voegeli himself is partial to the negative income tax schemes advanced by Milton Freidman and Charles Murray to guarantee a certain income to everyone and leave it at that. Murray would abolish most major social welfare programs. For Voegeli, this approach has the advantage of acknowledging that the welfare state is inevitable (every modern developed country has one), while radically simplifying it. It would establish boundaries on the state and accentuate the importance of private charitable organizations and individual responsibility. Of course, a negative income tax is not going to get marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee anytime soon, let alone signed by a president.

Voegeli concludes The Pity Party by arguing that the politics of compassion is inherent to democracy, with its natural emphasis on equality. This doesn’t mean that it is good for democracy. The tendencies of liberal compassion are deeply harmful to it. The pity party’s impatience for action and willingness to trample procedural constraints to get it are corrosive of our constitutional system. Its programs erode the mores upon which self-government depends. Compassion, in short, can’t be the basis of a worthy democratic politics. “Much more than their empathy,” Voegeli writes of the people who govern us, “we require their respect—for us; our rights; our capacity and responsibility to feel and heal our own damn pains without their ministrations; and for America’s constitutional checks and limitations, which err on the side of caution and republicanism by denying even the most compassionate elected official a monarch’s plenary powers.”

To wring this out of them is an essentially endless project, to which William Voegeli’s new book is an invaluable contribution.



Leftist hate in Britain

The name Jack Monroe may ring a vague bell with regular readers. She was the Guardian blogger on ‘poverty issues’ who featured in a Labour party political broadcast last year masquerading as an ‘ordinary person’.

Among her top tips for beating the ‘savage cuts’ was a recipe for making Kale Pesto Pasta for 42p a portion. Kale Pesto Pasta is what the Guardianistas think ‘ordinary people’ should eat.

Jack, then a single mother with more tattoos than your average professional footballer, gave up her £27,000-a-year job answering the phone for the fire brigade to exercise her ‘right’ to bring up her son on benefits and pursue a full-time career sitting in front of her laptop moaning about ‘austerity’.

Naturally, she was hailed by Left-wing rags like the Guardian and the Independent as ‘the modern face of poverty’. Pretty soon she was being invited on to the BBC as a spokeswoman for the welfare classes.

She even got a gig at Sainsbury’s on the strength of it, demonstrating exciting things to do with left-over chicken.

When I lampooned her in this column, she published an indignant reply on the Guardian website — where else? — denying all manner of stuff I hadn’t accused her of and claiming I was only picking on her because she was a lesbian.

That wasn’t true, either. I had no idea she was a lesbian and hadn’t even alluded to her sexuality. Still, the Left never let the facts get in the way of a good smear campaign. It’s pity she’s white, in a way, because otherwise I could have been accused of ‘racism’ as well as ‘homophobia’ and demonising single mums.

It’s what the Left always do when someone shines a torch into their murky Fantasy Island world. Instead of engaging in an argument, they sling dirt.

When they’re not parading their moral superiority, the Guardianistas like to posture as victims of an evil Right-wing conspiracy. Thus, any mild criticism of their behaviour or opinions, however justified, can be dismissed as ‘hate speech’.

The truth of the matter, as I have long maintained, is that the real hatred comes from the Left. Those who preach ‘tolerance’ the loudest are among the most bigoted, intolerant people on earth.

As the furore over the Emily Thornberry ‘White Van Man’ tweet has exposed, Labour — and the Left in general — has nothing but undisguised contempt for ‘ordinary people’.

Thornberry was forced to resign from the Shadow Cabinet after appearing to ridicule the owner of a house festooned with three English flags, complete with ubiquitous white van on the forecourt.

It proved, we are told, that Labour is a metropolitan, middle-class party which doesn’t understand white working class voters and holds them in contempt.

This analysis is right, but only up to a point. It doesn’t go far enough. The Left don’t just hate the white working class, they hate everyone who doesn’t share their warped world view. The Guardianistas never, ever, demonstrate the kind of ‘respect’ towards their opponents that they routinely demand for themselves and their chosen client groups. When it comes to slagging off ‘Tory scum’, nothing is beyond the pale.

Take the saintly Jack Monroe, who postures as a victim of ‘poverty’ and every kind of ‘phobia’ going. She goes mental if anyone casts aspersions on her ‘lifestyle’ choices.

Yet she appears to believe it is perfectly permissible to use a dead child to make a political point. Yesterday, it emerged that she had attacked David Cameron on Twitter — the online asylum for those suffering from advanced narcissism — for using ‘stories about his dead son as misty-eyed rhetoric to legitimise selling the NHS to his friends’.

This was a disgusting reference to Cameron’s son, Ivan, who died after suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, aged six, in 2009.

Admittedly, the Prime Minister has spoken publicly about his admiration for the medical staff who cared for Ivan and cited his family’s own experience to counter those who claim he doesn’t ‘care’ about the NHS.

And there was a moment before the last election when he came dangerously close to getting into a distasteful ‘arms race’ about the NHS with Gordon Brown, who also lost a young child in unbearably sad circumstances. But to rake up this tragedy in support of an outright lie — the entirely false allegation that Cameron intends to ‘sell’ the health service to his ‘friends’ — is as indecent as it is insensitive.

No doubt Jack’s ‘followers’ are giggling into their Kale Pesto Pasta. Her cheerleaders at the Guardian will be basking in the reflected glory of their celebrity chef sticking it to the hated Tories.

By the time you read this, she will probably have been invited on Newsnight or Radio 4’s Today programme to expound her views on how Cameron is exploiting the death of his son as a smokescreen to ‘privatise’ the NHS.

Presumably, A Girl Called Jack — as she styles herself online — is big on ‘women’s issues’. So why does she believe that intruding on another woman’s grief is a proper way to behave?

No parent ever gets over the loss of a child. It is especially tough on the mother who has brought that precious life into the world. What makes Jack Monroe think that Samantha Cameron isn’t worthy of human compassion? Doesn’t Sam Cam count, because she happens to be married to a Conservative politician?

Probably not. In the sick world inhabited by the Guardianistas, all Conservatives are wicked monsters and are not entitled to common decency.

Look at the way the Left reacted with jubilation to the death of Margaret Thatcher. They queued up to dance on her grave and now, thanks to Jack Monroe, they are dancing on the grave of a dead boy, just because he happened to be the son of a Tory Prime Minister.

Last night, as revulsion at her remarks escalated, Sainsbury’s sacked her. Heaven knows why they hired her in the first place. Would you buy a left-over chicken recipe from this woman?

Conservative MPs are calling on the Guardian to fire her, too. They should save their breath.

Jack Monroe should be preserved in aspic, as a stark reminder of the true, deep-seated hatred which lies behind the self-regarding, self-satisfied, self-pitying posturing of the modern British Left



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

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


25 November, 2014

Thanksgiving day thoughts

The Jewish state's newest hero wasn't Jewish

Jeff Jacoby

BY THE THOUSANDS they streamed to Yanuh-Jat, Israelis of every description making their way on Wednesday to the remote northern Galilee district, where a fallen hero was to be buried with full honors. Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, was there to pay his respects; so were the minister of internal security and the nation's top police commissioner. From around the country, hundreds of black-hatted haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") Jews came on chartered buses, disembarking to join throngs of Arabic-speaking Druze in traditional white turbans, police officers in dress blues, and so many other mourners that even the roofs of nearby homes were crowded with onlookers.

They had come to bid farewell to Zidan Saif, the Druze police officer who was the first responder on the scene of Tuesday's massacre at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Saif had put himself between the terrorists and the worshipers, taking a bullet in the head and dying of his wounds that night. Befitting a defender who had died in the line of duty, his coffin was draped with Israel's flag, its blue Star of David prominently centered.

Like many of the Jewish state's loyal sons and heroes, Saif wasn't Jewish. That didn't make him any less an Israeli, just as Israel's sizeable Arab and non-Jewish minorities don't make it any less the sovereign Jewish homeland. Nor did it diminish even slightly the honor and gratitude Israelis across the spectrum expressed for the slain officer. In his eulogy, Israel's president extolled Saif as "one of the first guardians of Jerusalem." A rabbi from the Jerusalem synagogue where the bloodbath had occurred told residents of the village he had come "simply to be with you and to cry with you," and called the "devotion and the determination" of the 30-year-old patrolman "an example to us all."

There have always been pessimists convinced that Israel's multiethnic Jewish democracy is doomed to fail. For some, the horrific images from the Bnei Torah synagogue, where peaceful scholars were hacked to death as they prayed, their blood drenching phylacteries and turning prayer shawls crimson, only encourages such fatalism.

"The attack on the synagogue in Har Nof," wrote commentator Joel Pollak, sends the message that "Jews and Arabs may not be able to live together easily even in the same country." A New York Times analysis was bleakly headlined: "In Jerusalem's 'War of Neighbors,' the Differences Are Not Negotiable."

For all the savagery of the terrorism that has sent so many innocents over the years to early graves, though, the funeral of Saif is poignant evidence that peaceful coexistence is not only possible in the Jewish state, it's a daily reality, woven into the warp and woof of Israeli life.

Of course there are tensions, disputes, and resentments, just as there are in every imperfect democracy — and what democracy isn't imperfect? Yet Israel from the outset has risen to the challenge of building a society held together by centripetal forces stronger than the centrifugal differences pushing it apart. Indeed, the Jewish state's declaration of independence, proclaimed by David Ben Gurion in May 1948, explicitly implored the country's non-Jewish inhabitants to remain "and participate in the building-up of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship." A great number did remain — including many thousands of Arab Druze — and went on to share in the blessings of Israeli freedom, democracy, and equality.

It's still a work in progress, but largely a successful one. The small Jewish state with the notable Arab minority not only survives but thrives, the implacability of its worst enemies and the violent instability of its neighborhood notwithstanding. Yes, terrorism is a grim plague. Yes, the toxic Palestinian political culture that incites it is growing worse. All the same, Israel manages to stand out as an oasis of pluralism, respect, and tolerance in a part of the world not known for those qualities.

One of the strongest condemnations of the synagogue slaughter came from — of all people — Bahrain's foreign minister, who blasted the "killing [of] innocents in a house of prayer." Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa warned sharply that "those who will pay the price for the crime of killing innocents in a Jewish synagogue and for welcoming the crime are the Palestinian people."

It was startling to see such strong language from a senior Arab official, especially when many Palestinian officials were "welcoming the crime," quite exuberantly and openly. But as journalist Evelyn Gordon pointed out in Commentary, pragmatic Arab governments like Bahrain's know quite well that at a time when Muslims are being butchered and abused by fanatics across the Middle East, "mosques in Israel and the West Bank — including Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque — remain among the safest places in the Mideast for Muslims to pray."

That's no small achievement, even if the world does take it for granted. Terrorists may have killed Zidan Saif, but his memory will be a lasting blessing, for Jews and non-Jews alike.



Effects of Obamacare on Economic Productivity

By economist Casey Mulligan, University of Chicago

The topic of my talk today is the economic side effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes referred to as Obamacare. Since most of the economy has to do with labor and work, that’s where I’ll start. But, first a caveat. I’m an economist, and I’m going to talk about some parts of this complex law that have an impact on the labor market. Other parts of it relate to health and medicine, and because I’m not a doctor or a biologist, I’m not going to speak to those parts. From an economic or labor-market perspective, I’m going to explain how the costs of the ACA outweigh its benefits. But I can’t measure or estimate its effects on health care. I leave that to others.

The key economic concept required to understand the labor market effects of the ACA is what economists call “tax distortions.” Tax distortions are changes in behavior on the part of businesses or households for the purpose of reducing their taxes or increasing their subsidies. We call them distortions because they don’t occur for real business or real personal reasons. They occur because of the tax code. A prime example of a tax policy that creates distortions is the ethanol subsidy—technically it is a credit, not a subsidy—whereby gasoline refiners are subsidized on the basis of how many gallons of gas they produce with ethanol. Because of this subsidy, businesses change the type of gas they produce and deliver, people change the type of gas they use—which affects engines—and corn is used for ethanol instead of as feed or food. Nor do the distortions stop there. Arguably, food prices are increased due to the reallocation of corn to different uses—and when food prices are higher, restaurants and households do things differently. There are distortions economy-wide, all for the chasing of a subsidy.

To be clear, just because taxes cause distortions doesn’t mean that we should never have taxes. It just means that in order to get the full picture when it comes to policies like an ethanol subsidy or laws such as the ACA, we need to take into account the tax distortions in order to ensure that the benefits we are seeking exceed the costs.

The Employer Mandate/Penalty/Tax

So what are the tax distortions that emanate from the ACA? Here let me simply focus on two aspects of the law: the employer mandate or employer penalty—the requirement that employers of a certain size either provide health insurance for full-time employees or pay a penalty for not doing so; and the exchanges—sometimes they’re called marketplaces—where people can purchase health insurance separate from their employer. The mandate or penalty is intended, of course, to encourage employers to provide health insurance.

And the exchanges are where the major government assistance is provided, since those who purchase insurance in an exchange typically receive a tax credit. As I’ll explain, taken together, the penalty on employers and the subsidies in the exchanges add up to a tax on full-time employment—a tax that you pay if you work full time but not if you work part time or don’t work at all. And the problem with that, of course, is that by taxing full-time work—which is the same as subsidizing part-time work and unemployment—you get less of the former and more of the latter two.

How does this full-time employment tax work with regard to the employer mandate? As I mentioned, the penalty applies only in the case of full-time employees and only to employers that don’t offer health coverage, and it applies only in those months during which those full-time employees are on the payroll. If an employee cuts back to part-time work, the employer no longer has to pay the penalty. The dollar amount of the penalty doesn’t depend on whether the employee is rich, poor, or middle class—if he works full time, the employer must either provide insurance or pay the penalty. And the penalty is indexed to health insurance costs, so every year those costs increase more than the economy and more than wages, the penalty will increase more than the economy and more than wages.

The current penalty is usually described as $2,000 per year per full-time employee. But it’s really more than that, because the penalty, unlike wages, is not deductible from business taxes. So in terms of a salary equivalent, the penalty is closer to $3,000 a head. Needless to say, this penalty reduces competition in the labor market: It discourages employers from competing for full-time employees—which, if you’re an employee, is a bad deal. Also there are a lot of employers who are not going to pay the penalty because they don’t meet the size threshold of 50 or more employees, and employees are going to suffer because these small employers won’t want to become large employers and therefore subject to the penalty.

Furthermore, this mandate or penalty—and by this time it should be clear that we can think of it as a tax on having a full-time employee—disproportionately harms low-skill workers. Think about it this way: How many hours does a worker have to work each week to produce the $3,000-per-year of value to justify keeping his job or being hired? For a minimum-wage worker, that comes to eight hours a week, all year round—one day of work a week for the government due to the ACA alone. Higher-skilled employees can obviously produce $3,000 worth of value in less time, so the penalty will have less of an impact on them.

Subsidized Health Insurance Exchanges

What of the tax distortions that come from the subsidized health insurance exchanges or marketplaces? To begin to think about this, imagine paying full price for your health care. How does full price work? Well, you pay the full price. The health care provider doesn’t look at your tax return and adjust the bill accordingly. So we would never call paying full price for health care an income tax of any kind. Or imagine there is a discount on the full price—for instance, 30 percent off for everybody, regardless of income.

In that case it’s still not an income tax. No matter how much you earn, you pay the same price. But what if the discount (or subsidy) is tied to your employment situation? Not to your income, but to your employment situation. That’s how the exchanges work. If you have a full-time job with an employer that offers coverage—which is the case for most employees in our economy—you don’t get the subsidy offered through the exchanges. If you want to get the subsidy, you need to become a part-time worker or spend time off the job.

In other words, this discount, too, is a tax on full-time employment. Of course, no politician ever calls it a tax. But when you are in a group of people that doesn’t receive a subsidy that people in another group receive, that’s a tax.



Why British Labour Party leader's bid to parade his patriotism is SO unconvincing

There is one quality in a leader that Ed Miliband certainly does not lack: ruthlessness. The manner in which he destroyed the political career of his elder brother in order to gain control of the Labour Party told us that.

Now, he has sacked one of his earliest champions - and apparently a friend - Emily Thornberry.

The shadow attorney general had tweeted - without comment - a picture of a house in Rochester festooned with St George’s flags that had caught her attention while campaigning in the local by-election.

That was enough: in the brutal style of Alan Sugar, Miliband told her ‘you’re fired’. Yet this was not so much cruelty on Miliband’s part, as sheer panic.

For Thornberry’s terminal offence was to draw attention to the single biggest weakness of the modern Labour Party - the sense that it speaks for a rarified class of public sector officials and administrators, rather than the working people it was originally created to represent.

More particularly, the Labour leader felt obliged to ditch his friend because her de-haut-en-bas [from on high] tweet encapsulated exactly what many see as his own identity: a man who regards the patriotic working man driving a white van as at best an anthropological oddity, and as at worst a savage.

That the Labour leader still doesn’t quite get it was made clear when he insisted that when he sees a St George’s Flag, he feels ‘respect’ for the person displaying it.

Respect is what politicians say they accord to those whose views they can’t stand (‘with the greatest of respect’). Fellow-feeling is more what the public might want him to say that he experienced on seeing the national flag — but then that would be a lie and Miliband is too hopeless an actor to get away with a fib even if he wanted to.

We are all deeply influenced by our upbringing, for better or for worse. The Labour leader was brought up in a highly intellectual Marxist home, in which it would have been axiomatic that nationalism was only a bad thing.

That was entirely understandable: his father Ralph, born Adolphe, had escaped from a Holocaust created by the most toxic German nationalism. Many others in that Jewish family had not been so fortunate, being murdered in the Nazi death camps.

But the Marxist default position, that the only war worth fighting is the class war and that all expressions of national and cultural identity are delusional except in so far as they can be described as ‘anti-colonial’, has bedevilled the Left as a whole: the Miliband home was a salon for many influential figures who shared this world view and sought to propagate it through the educational system (at which they were quite successful.)

But, as applied to the wider Britain outside the academy, it has created nothing more than a blank space on the map. Robert Colls, the author of Identity of England, remarked of the Blair years: ‘To fill the historical vacuum, “diversity” became New Labour’s watchword. But diversity . . . left nothing to build on.’

Blair's first political campaign had been the Beaconsfield by-election of 1982. Between his adoption as the Labour candidate and the campaign’s start, the Falklands War broke out.

The young Blair campaigned on the basis that ‘the islanders cannot be allowed to determine the future of the Falklands’ — and was completely marginalised, losing his deposit.

As the socialist novelist and journalist George Orwell wrote in My Country Right Or Left, during the 1940s: ‘Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred and always stronger than internationalism.’ Seventy years later, it still is.

Orwell was, in terms of the British Left, very isolated in holding such opinions. Yet unlike so many of them at the time — and certainly unlike the current generation of career politicians — he had deep first-hand knowledge of what he was writing and talking about.

This helps explain what he wrote about the peculiar out-of-touchness of the Left-wing intelligentsia, which bears repetition today: ‘England is perhaps the only 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, from horse racing to suet puddings.

‘It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save The King” than of stealing from a poor box.’



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

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


24 November, 2014

In case you were wondering ...

Taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease does not help -- even if you are in an "at risk" category. A short excerpt from the latest research report below. The results could not have been more negative:

Low-Dose Aspirin for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Events in Japanese Patients 60 Years or Older With Atherosclerotic Risk Factors: A Randomized Clinical Trial

The study was terminated early by the data monitoring committee after a median follow-up of 5.02 years (interquartile range, 4.55-5.33) based on likely futility. In both the aspirin and no aspirin groups, 56 fatal events occurred.


Once-daily, low-dose aspirin did not significantly reduce the risk of the composite outcome of cardiovascular death, nonfatal stroke, and nonfatal myocardial infarction among Japanese patients 60 years or older with atherosclerotic risk factors.

JAMA, Nov. 17


Wealthy Are Indeed Paying Their 'Fair Share'

For years, the leftist mantra when it came to taxes was basically "soak the rich." The statement was always couched in the belief that the wealthy could afford it. But the so-called rich were never paying an amount these do-gooders (who, in a lot of cases, rarely paid income tax because they lived off a family trust fund) determined was the proper tithe to the state. Barack Obama called it the "Buffett Rule," believing the proper amount the top 1% should be paying is 30 cents on the dollar.

So according to new figures released by the Congressional Budget Office, we should be in taxpayer nirvana - the top 1% now pays 24% of all taxes. Moreover, a further dissection of the numbers to account for government wealth transfers shows that the entire burden of paying for the government falls squarely on the shoulders of the richest one-quarter or so of taxpayers.

Mark J. Perry writes for the American Enterprise Institute, "In fact, the richest 20% of Americans by income aren't just paying a share of federal taxes that would be considered `fair' - it goes way beyond `fair' - they're shouldering almost 100% of the entire federal tax burden of transfer payments and all other non-financed government spending."



South Africa update

A report entitled "The ANC's hybrid regime, civil rights and risks to business" has just been issued. The author is Dr. Heinrich Matthee, a political risk analyst to internatinal companies and an Associate of the Africa Studies Centre, Leiden (Netherlands). The report was written for South African Monitor

The report comes to the following conclusions:

1. There has been a major change in foreign media reporting on the Zuma government in the one-party-dominant state of South Africa. It is epitomized by The Economist's call in May 2014: "Time to ditch the ANC".

2. Under the rule of president Jacob Zuma, South Africa has moved from a flawed democracy to a hybrid regime. The fracas in Parliament on 13 November 2014, with riot police removing an opposition politician, and Zuma's opaque nuclear deal with Russia, are just the latest signals in this regard.

3. The locus of politics is no longer parliament and elections, but a field of power where non-democratic and democratic elements interact. These elements include: an unaccountable presidentialism; the securitization of politics and political assassinations; weak democratic checks on the executive; extending the ANC's power in a one-partydominant state through state patronage and pro-ANC crony capitalists.

4. Factional competition over positions and resources is intensifying in the ANC, its allies and breakaway factions, like the Economic Freedom Fighters and NUMSA trade union. These dynamics will result in shifts, uncertainty and discretionary decisions in economic policy-making. They will also result in militant strikes, political tensions and protests, and local political assassinations.

5. High levels of state debt and the ANC's own funding problems are driving a search for sources of income. The ANC has "eaten the state". Higher taxes, new licence conditions and more beneficiation requirements are now likely in the next five years.

6. The ANC government is proceeding with several initiatives and legislation that will weaken property rights and increase government intervention in the economy. Sectors like minerals and energy, the security industry, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and agriculture will be most exposed. The ANC could become more dependent on foreign patrons like Russia and China.

7. Political competition and factionalism over positions and resources will intensify in the run-up to the local elections in 2016, the ANC's leadership succession in 2017, and the national elections in 2019.

Via email from AfriForum


A perfect storm brewing for Israel

Across every border Israel shares with its Arab neighbors, within its own borders, and far removed from them, a formidable range of threats - from damaging economic sanctions and international isolation, through murderous terrorist attacks, jihadi insurgency and domestic insurrection, to the specter of weapons of mass destruction and a nuclear Iran - is coalescing with disturbing speed into a multi-faceted menace that jeopardizes the survival of the Jewish nation-state to a degree arguably unprecedented since its inception.

Successive governments have consistently misread the battlefield, and misled by the seductive deception of political correctness, they have embraced misguided policy principles, wildly at odds with the dictates of political realities.

To understand this rather harsh condemnation, it is first necessary to realize that, in principle, there exist two archetypal and antithetical contexts of conflict - in the first of which a policy of compromise and concession may well be appropriate, and another, in which such a course is disastrously inappropriate.

In the first of such contexts, one's adversary interprets any concession as a genuine conciliatory initiative, and feels obliged to respond with a counter-concession. In this context, the process will move toward some amicable resolution of the conflict by a series of concessions and counter-concessions.

In the alternate conflictual context, however, one's adversary does not interpret concessionary initiatives as conciliatory gestures, made in good faith, but as an indication of vulnerability and weakness, made under duress, portending defeat.

Such initiatives will not elicit any reciprocal conciliatory gesture, but rather demands for further concessions.

If one concedes to the demands, instead of enjoying a convergent process that leads toward peaceable resolution of differences, a divergent process will lead either to capitulation or to large-scale violence. In other words, once one side realizes that its adversary is acting in bad faith and can only be restrained by force; or the other side realizes it has extracted all the concessions it can by non-coercive means - meaning that further gains could only be won by force - problems worsen for the party seeking bilateral satisfaction.

If one happens to be in a situation that approximates the second context, but adopts a policy suited for the first, disaster is inevitable.

Sadly, for more than two decades, this is precisely what Israeli governments - with varying degrees of myopic zeal and/or reluctant resignation - have done. Unless robust and resolute remedial measures are undertaken without delay, such disaster is inevitable.

There can be little doubt that the Arab-Israeli conflict resembles the second context far more closely than the first. After all, every gut-wrenching concession Israel has made since the early 1990s has failed to produce any conciliatory response from its Arab adversaries. All it finds is greater intransigence and more obdurate insistence on further appeasement.

Because of excessive restraint and inadequate resolve, Israel is inexorably descending into an abysmal position, depicted with forceful eloquence by Winston Churchill, in the sober caveat he articulated in the first volume of his epic series on World War II, aptly titled The Gathering Storm.

He warned: "If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

Although many will wish to deny it, this is the situation that could well emerge for the Jews of Israel if the policy of ruinous restraint continues. If they forfeit national sovereignty, now under unprecedented international assault, while they may not become "slaves," Israelis could well be relegated to infidel dhimmi status in their own homeland.

Israel's past military and economic successes have been so stunning that they have obscured the true precariousness of Jewish political independence in the region.

For those who have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by highly visible signs of strength and vigor - such as mushrooming high-rises and modernistic freeways - the somber assessment of the inherent asymmetry of the conflict and the fragility of Jewish national existence made by Yigal Allon in the prestigious publication Foreign Affairs should be a salutary reminder.

Considered by many the epitome of moderate statesmanship, Allon cautioned: "... a military defeat of Israel would mean the physical extinction of a large part of its population and the political elimination of the Jewish state. ... the Arab states can permit themselves a series of military defeats while Israel cannot afford to lose a single war. Nor does this reflect a [finite, hence bearable] historical trauma in any sense. To lose a single war is to lose everything...."

The bitter fruits of Israeli restraint, retreat and reticence abound in every direction and on every front.

In some cases they are close to full ripeness, in others, to less so - so far. In some cases disaster is close at hand, in others it has been avoided - or rather, delayed - more by propitious good fortune than by prudent good judgment.

It was only by the grace of God - or good fortune, depending on one's proclivities - that, during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza earlier this year, Hezbollah was preoccupied with the civil war in Syria. Consequently, it could not open up a second front and bring the full weight of this arsenal (and those tunnels) to bear on Israel, which could have overwhelmed the protective capacity of the Iron Dome defense system.

Slightly to the east, the breathtaking barbarity of the Syrian civil war rages on, bringing the daunting prospect of a common border with Islamic State and/or al-Qaida affiliates, and underscoring how imbecilic it would have been to relinquish the Golan to the murderous Assad regime, in the forlorn hope of trading land-for-peace.

Along Israel's eastern border, with the ascendancy of Islamist elements in Jordan, the Hashemite monarchy is looking increasingly wobbly. This tenuous situation is exacerbated by the hordes of refugees (reportedly over 600,000) fleeing the brutality in Syria, presumably infiltrated by Islamist agitators, who are placing unbearable strains on Jordan's social and economic resources, and undermining the stability of the regime. With the possibility of the monarchy being replaced by radical Muslim elements, or even remaining as a puppet regime controlled by them, the notion of territorial concessions in Judea-Samaria, which adjoins the kingdom to the West, becomes even more dangerously delusional than before.

Even if some flimsy deal were struck with the largely irrelevant and unrepresentative Mahmoud Abbas, the responsible assumption must be that he would be replaced, post haste, by more extremist forces such as Hamas (as per the Gaza precedent) - or worse.

Israel would be faced with the perilous prospect of a vast, unbroken stretch of Islamist-controlled territory, from the eastern approaches of Greater Tel Aviv to Jordan's current border with Iraq, and beyond - into areas under the iron rule of Islamic State.

In Sinai as well, the outlook is bleak, with the peninsula falling under the sway of jihadist elements which the Egyptian army is finding increasingly difficult to curb.

One of the most dangerous militant groups active in Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State, a link likely to afford it more money, weapons and recruits to fight the government in Cairo.

All this savagery will inevitably press on Israel's long southern border stretching from Gaza to the Red Sea. If rocket attacks on Eilat continue, tourism to the city will cease and it will lose its principal source of income, without which its very existence is in grave doubt.

As daunting as the preceding catalogue of dangers is, it is hardly an exhaustive list of the perils facing the Jewish state today. Not a word has been mentioned about the possibility of a third intifada on the part of the Palestinians in Judea-Samaria or a renewed conflagration in Gaza. Perhaps the gravest threat of all is the prospect of insurrection and revolt by the Arab citizens of Israel - if they sense weakness and vacillation on the part of the Jews.

What is called for today is not a repetition of reticent restraint, but the demonstration of ruthless resolve.


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


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

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


23 November, 2014

Momentous events in both England and the USA yesterday. Two reports below

British Labour Party's snooty elite hates patriotism, says editor of left-wing journal that triggered Labour leadership crisis

Attitudes reminiscent of the U.S. Democrats. In the recent Rochester by-election, both the Labour party and the Tories lost to a patriotic party. For an explanation of the uproar over Emily Thornberry’s offensive tweet of a "picture of a house bedecked in England flags", see Here.

Two weeks ago, JASON COWLEY, editor of Labour’s house journal the New Statesman, triggered Ed Miliband’s leadership crisis by describing him as an ‘old-style Hampstead socialist’ and ‘quasi-Marxist’. Here, he delivers a withering post-Rochester verdict . .

"When did Labour become the party of vested interests and snooty metropolitans? When did a modest terrace house, a white van and the flag of England become symbols of contempt for the Left?

Emily Thornberry, the Islington MP and lawyer, who, while campaigning in Rochester and Strood, sneeringly tweeted a picture of a house bedecked in England flags, has been forced to resign from the Labour front bench.

But her tweet and Ed Miliband’s panicked response to it epitomise why Labour is so desperately struggling to connect with voters and why Miliband has lost the confidence of many of his MPs.

Miliband leads a party that purports to speak for and aspires to represent, in his own awkward phrase, ‘everyday people’. But many in Labour have a problem with these very same ‘everyday people’, especially if they do not share their liberalism or metropolitan prejudices.

The snooty metropolitan Labourite doesn’t like these people’s patriotism. They don’t understand why they might be attracted to the populist rhetoric of Nigel Farage’s Ukip. They dismiss legitimate concerns about immigration and the fracturing of social cohesion as bigotry.

Nor does the snooty metropolitan elite seem to grasp that swathes of society do not work in the public sector and that two-thirds of private-sector workers do not even have pensions.

I’ve mocked Miliband for being a Hampstead socialist who does not understand lower-middle-class aspiration. Like Emily Thornberry, he lives in a grand house in North London. He studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, the obligatory degree for our out-of-touch political class, and then, because he was considered ‘Labour aristocracy’ [His father was a prominent Marxist intellectual], went straight to work for Gordon Brown at the Treasury.

He had a brief sabbatical teaching at Harvard University. Then he was gifted a safe seat in Doncaster, fast-tracked into the Cabinet, after which he became leader of the party in his early 40s. Some struggle.

Miliband’s life experience is extraordinarily narrow. He has never worked in or run a business, and can scarcely bring himself to mention wealth-creation in his speeches. He has never lived or worked among the urban poor, as Clement Attlee, Labour’s greatest prime minister, did as a young man at Toynbee Hall in London’s East End.

Miliband is a member of what George Osborne privately calls ‘The Guild’ of career politicians. But, to adapt a saying of the great cricket writer C L R James, what do they know of politics who only politics know?

Emily Thornberry’s tweet could not have been more ill-timed or more symptomatic of a deeper malaise. If Labour were serious about wanting to win a mandate for the far-reaching political and economic reform it says the country needs, it would be aspiring to win back Rochester, which it held from 1997 to 2010. Instead, it stands on the sidelines and sneers, even as it is routed at the polls.

Draw a metaphorical line from the Wash estuary in Norfolk to the River Severn. South of the Severn-Wash line, excluding London, there are 197 seats, of which Labour holds ten. In the aspirational English south the party is hugely unpopular — and becoming more so.

Labour confronts a weak and divided Tory party. A more accomplished leader than Miliband would have seized this moment and found a way to address not only people’s anxieties but also their aspirations.

Miliband can seem a relentlessly gloomy politician, who is interested not in building a coalition of all the people but in appealing only to the bottom third of society. He speaks as if too many of us are victims whose lives can be redeemed only by state action. It’s old-style, top-down, the-man-in-Whitehall-knows-best Fabianism.

During the Scottish referendum campaign, I spent some time with Alex Salmond, now former leader of the Scottish National Party. In many ways, Salmond is a high-class huckster, spinning improbable yarns.

But he is also a brilliant popular communicator. He speaks about Scotland and its people with optimism and in a style and tone that resonate.

Now, the SNP has become the natural party of government and it is poised to storm Labour’s Scottish strongholds in next May’s election.

Back in the early days of his leadership, Miliband and his advisers liked to compare themselves with Margaret Thatcher. They admired her conviction and the way she transformed Britain by smashing an economic consensus. The Milibandites described their ambition as similarly ‘Thatcheresque’.

Yet Mrs Thatcher once said: ‘The Old Testament prophets did not say, “Brothers, I want a consensus.” They said, “This is my faith. This is what I passionately believe. If you believe it, too, then come with me.”’

The trouble for Ed Miliband is that he has told us what he believes, but, lethally for him and the Labour Party, fewer and fewer people believe him or want to come with him, as events in Rochester [by-election] showed.



Obama refuses to administer the law on immigration

President Obama announced a plan Thursday night to mainstream millions of illegal immigrants with an executive order allowing them to stay instead of facing deportation, bringing howls from Republicans who complained about so-called 'anchor babies' helping their illegal parents remain in the U.S.

The president calmly explained in a 16-minute speech – subtitled in Spanish – the parameters of what angry Republicans are calling a lawless 'amnesty.'

'We’re going to offer the following deal,' he said: 'If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.' 'You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.'

'That’s what this deal is. Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t,' the president cautioned.

'This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive – only Congress can do that.' 'All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.'

Republicans pushed back immediately, with most of the energy coming from tea party conservatives.

'Tonight President Obama issued an oral royal decree that will be followed by a written regal decree, as any good monarch would do,' Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert jabbed in a statement.

'This unlawful, blatant executive action would legalize more than 5 million people here illegally. This president is single-handedly creating a constitutional crisis and hurting the citizens he took an oath to protect and defend.'

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, another tea party-linked lawmaker, called the president's speech 'a desperate attempt to remain relevant.'

It will take the federal government several months to prepare for receiving applications. By that time, Republicans will control both houses of Congress and may take action to reverse the policy.

'The president has decided to defy the American people, ignore the election results, and usurp the legislative process,' Lee said. 'This act demonstrates he respects neither election outcomes, nor the rule of law.'

But the president played on Americans' heartstrings in what sounded at times like one of his 2008 campaign speeches. The immigration debate, he said, is 'about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.'

'Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?' he asked. 'Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?'

'Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?'

He also quoted the Old Testament – Exodus chapter 22, verse 21. 'Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger,' the president said, 'for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too'

Obama's policy mainly targets parent of children who were born in the U.S. and are therefore citizens.

Millions of such children, derided as 'anchor babies' by commentators on the right, are already guaranteed a place in America – but their parents are not. Current law permits the U.S. to deport the parents.

That term, considered by some to be in the same class as racist epithets but not strictly taboo in America, was nonetheless being tossed around Capitol Hill on Thursday.

MailOnline spoke to two Republican aides who readily complained about parents of 'anchor babies' who will benefit from Obama's plan. 'They were anchor babies yesterday and they'll be anchor babies tomorrow,' said a staffer to a GOP congressman from a southern state.

'If we want to keep those families together there are two ways to do it. One is the Obama way and the other is to send the whole family back across the border and make them wait in line like everyone else.'

Another aide who serves as professional staff on one of the House of Representatives' standing committees, said that 'anchor babies are becoming an anchor around the neck of the U.S. economy.'

'What the president doesn't seem to get,' he said, 'is that Americans chose to reject his philosophy on Election Day, and part of that philosophy involves giving work authorizations to illegal immigrants so they can take jobs away from citizens.'

The Daily Caller calculated on Thursday that Obama's gambit will give legal status to more people than the number of jobs the White House has created since the president assumed office.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, blasted the president ahead of his speech for what he said was a blatant disregard for America's separation of powers.

'Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own,' he said. 'That’s just not how our democracy works.' 'The president has said before that "he's not king" and he's "not an emperor," but he’s sure acting like one.'

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives the legislative branch of government – Congress – authority to create laws covering immigration and naturalization.

South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan seconded Boehner. 'What the president has done is unprecedented, unconstitutional, and an affront to the American people,' Duncan said.

'In addition to poisoning the well and making it almost impossible to work together on other issues, the President’s actions have created a constitutional crisis that our Founding Fathers had hoped to avoid.'

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who chairs an immigration task force with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, praised Obama on Thursday.

'President Obama is using his pen to help the country and we celebrate his courage,' he said. 'I am going sign up the families that are covered, keep fighting for the families that are not covered, and we are going to make the City of Chicago a model for the rest of the country.'

He insisted that Obama's unilateral actions should be codified into law, but held out little hope. 'We all must recognize that no executive action is a substitute for legislation, so the fundamental challenge of getting legislation through the Republican-controlled House remains the same,' Gutierrez said.

Labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, greeted the news with enthusiasm, in part because organized labor – outside of government – is at its low point in the postwar era.

'Recent border crossers,' the White House said, will become 'a priority for deportation.'

Another newly advantaged group are so-called 'DREAMers,' people who were brought to the United States as children.

Obama is protecting those 'who arrived in the US before turning 16 years old and before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today,' the White House said.

The White House has tacitly acknowledged that Thursday's move is a temporary fix, while also demanding buy-in from Congress to make it permanent. 'To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,' Obama said.

That seems unlikely, however. And a hypothetical Republican president elected in 2016 could reverse his entire plan with the stroke of a different pen.

'We cannot let this stand,' said House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa. 'The president’s unilateral actions on immigration are a violation of his responsibilities and the trust the American people have placed in him,' said the California Republican.

'President Obama is playing a dangerous political game with lives and deepening the mistrust that the American people and Congress have in his ability to faithfully execute the law.'

Issa and other staunch conservatives have pledged to use their new and larger majorities in Congress to block Obama from implementing his orders.

The president has broad discretion to determine how to enforce certain laws, but lawmakers can use the power of the purse to forbid the government from spending money to implement those plans.

The Department of Homeland Security, for instance, has requested commercial bids for a project that would produce as many as 34 million 'green cards' and work permits. Producing those documents is an example of something whose execution requires budgetary permission.

Some in Congress favor a plan to use a Dec. 11 budget extension deadline as leverage, while others insist it's legally possible to employ a little-used process called 'recision' to remove line items from a budget that has already become law.

Obama will not sign any budget bill that defunds Thursday's order, a senior official told the D.C. newspaper Roll Call, and Republicans lack veto-proof majorities needed to cancel out his disapproval.

The White House relied Thursday on a complicated and controversial opinion that insists there's a link between deportation reprieves and border security.

By reclassifying millions as legal U.S. residents, the logic goes, the government will no longer be obligated to expend resources tracking them down, capturing them and deporting them.

That, the administration argues, will free up manpower and money to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

Complicating that picture is a flood of hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minor children who have cascaded into the U.S. illegally from Central American countries since 2012 when Obama first announced that he would give a reprieve to DREAMers.

Activists pushing for new legal status for a mostly Hispanic population of 11 million people living in the shadows have been calling on Obama to protect a broad spectrum of illegal immigrants

'The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back,' the White House claimed in a fact sheet sent to reporters in the hour before Obama's speech [And he's got a bridge to sell you]

'Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration.'

But some advocates warned immigrants not to get their hopes up yet – especially with lawmakers threatening to thwart Obama’s plan.

'What I am telling my families to do is be prepared for war. We’re going to see a legislative arm do whatever they can to stop the president,' said Jessica Dominguez, an immigration attorney in Southern California. 'I am not going to let my community be saddened again by words. We need action.'

In Sacramento County, California, however, Sheriff Scott Jones issued an impassioned plea to Obama in a video published Thursday.

He told stories of criminal aliens who went on crime sprees and people who killed after multiple deportations.

'I understand the integral role that the undocumented population plays in our national and state economies,' Jones said.

'The problem I have is I can’t tell which ones are good and which ones are evil, and neither can you. By their very definition they are undocumented.'

“This is not about racism – it is about an increasingly violent and uncertain world in which we are inadequately protected.'

He asked for a permanent solution instead of a temporary proposal.

'Mr. President, my request to you today can simply be stated: make immigration reform a priority,' Jones said.

'I do not care which reform you choose. Pathway to citizenship, guest work program, or any of the other innovative programs that currently exist.”

“But deferred action or amnesty is deferring this crisis. It is not reform, it’s simply giving up. It does nothing to make America or the undocumented population any safer.'



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

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


21 November, 2014

Of mice and men

It has long been known that results from mouse research often do not generalize to humans so it is good to see an explanation for that below.

Food freaks often use the results of mouse experiments to claim that following their latest food fad will lengthen your life. I have always argued that mice are particularly inappropriate in that application as mouse lifespans differ so markedly from human lifespans. Making generalizations about lifespan from a short-lived species to a long-lived species is particularly absurd.

The finding below of large intrinsic differences between mouse and man should strengthen that criticism. Food and health claims based on mouse research should be routinely disregarded. The only occasion when mouse research could be of interest is when mouse research, human epidemiology and theory all point to the same conclusion

Mice and men are genetically far further apart than was previously thought, calling into question the important role the rodents play in medical research.

A new study has found that while mice and humans share many protein-coding genes, the way their genes are regulated is often very different.

US scientists were surprised to find that gene activity diverged wildly between the two species in some key biological pathways.

The finding may help explain why more than 90% of new medicines that pass animal tests then fail in human trials.

Laboratory mice have been a pillar of medical research for more than a century, being used by scientists investigating everything from social behaviour to obesity.

Only half of human and mouse DNA match compared with 96% of human and chimpanzee DNA.

Co-author Dr Michael Beer, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: "Most of the differences between mice and humans come from regulation of gene activity, not from genes themselves. Because mice are an important model for human biology, we have to understand these differences to better interpret our results."


(Yes. My allusion in the heading to John Steinbeck and Robert Burns was deliberate)


Turley Takes Obama to Task

Barack Obama claims to be a “professor of constitutional law,” but a genuine constitutional scholar, George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley, a self-acknowledged liberal Obama supporter, has offered severe criticism of Obama’s “über presidency,” his abuse of executive orders and regulations to bypass Congress.

When asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly how he would respond “to those who say many presidents have issued executive orders on immigration,” Turley responded, “This would be unprecedented, and I think it would be an unprecedented threat to the balance of powers.”

In July, Turley gave congressional testimony concerning Obama’s abuse of executive orders: “When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There’s no license for going it alone in our system, and what he’s done is very problematic. He’s told agencies not to enforce some laws [and] has effectively rewritten laws through active interpretation that I find very problematic.”

He continued: “Our system is changing in a dangerous and destabilizing way. What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an über presidency. … The president’s pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming but what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in the establishment of our tripartite system of government. … Obama has repeatedly violated this [separation of powers] doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. … What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest challenges to our constitutional system in the history of this country. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There could be no greater danger for individual liberty. I think the framers would be horrified. … We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. … No one in our system can ‘go it alone’ – not Congress, not the courts, and not the president.”

Turley reiterated this week: “[Obama has] become a government of one. … It’s becoming a particularly dangerous moment if the president is going to go forward, particularly after this election, to defy the will of Congress yet again. … What the president is suggesting is tearing at the very fabric of the Constitution. We have a separation of powers … to protect Liberty, to keep any branch from assuming so much authority that they become a threat to Liberty. … The Democrats are creating something very, very dangerous. They’re creating a president who can go it alone – the very danger that are framers sought to avoid in our Constitution. … I hope he does not get away with it.”



The Leftmedia Blinders

Speaking truth to power? What a joke!

The big broadcast companies, ABC and NBC, stayed silent as the story that Jonathan Gruber boasted of lying to get ObamaCare passed gathered steam in conservative media. Didn’t it matter that the person who Barack Obama claimed was one of the major minds behind the law lied to get it passed? But yet, as Newsbusters reports, the networks stayed loyal to the Washington establishment. Perhaps they hoped the Gruber story would just go away.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that what is news in Washington often only matters to the players of Washington. The Leftmedia don’t hustle for the stories that matter to the public because the media and the government are often bedfellows – literally. Mark Leibovich, in his book “This Town,” tells of the marriage between Andrea Mitchell, a reporter for NBC News, and Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. During the financial collapse of 2009, Mitchell treaded a thin line to report on her husband’s economic policies. Talk about a conflict of interest.

It seems only when journalists are pushed out of the system do the most damning stories come to light. On Nov. 14, Melissa Francis of Fox Business Network told viewers that her previous bosses at CNBC told her not to report the hard numbers on ObamaCare because it was – get this – disrespectful to the president.

Here’s how Francis told the story: “I said on the air that you couldn’t add millions of people to the system and force insurance companies to cover their preexisting conditions without raising the price on everyone else. I pointed out that it couldn’t possible be true that if you liked your plan, you can keep it. That was a lie, and in fact, millions of people had their insurance canceled. As a result of what I said at CNBC, I was called into management where I was told that I was ‘disrespecting the office of the president’ by telling what turned out to be the absolute truth.”

To be fair, telling the truth is to disrespect this president.

Based on Francis’s account, the producers at CNBC don’t have a clue what journalism is. Disrespect? Good journalism is never awed by those in power. Not to mention, as in this case, Obama’s “you can keep your plan” comment was awarded the “Lie of the Year” from Politifact.

When the New York Post reached out to CNBC for response to Francis’s allegation, a representative for the company replied, “That’s laughable, but we take notice, because as the fastest-growing network in prime time, we’re always on the lookout for high quality comedy writers and actresses.” Instead of confirming or denying what happened, they just make fun of their old news anchor. That should prove their commitment to journalism.

But Francis is not the only journalist to be pushed from the mainstream broadcast news networks because of how she did the job. Sharyl Attkisson left CBS in March in what she called an “amicable” manner. But sources in the company allege that Attkisson, then an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter, left after months of disagreement with management. CBS wasn’t supporting as much investigative journalism as they did in the past, and it certainly didn’t want to go hard charging after Obama like Attkisson did with her reporting of the Fast and Furious scandal, or her proposal to further investigate the Benghazi attack and subsequent cover-up.

Recently, the most damning of Washington scandals have not originated from the top of the Washington media food chain. They have been sniffed out from the bottom, where independent journalists and bloggers discover the documents and the sound bytes. It wasn’t the mainstream media that dug into the archives of Obama’s comments to come out holding the one in which the president said he liberally stole ideas from Jonathan Gruber.

The Washington press corps is too close to the problem. They don’t see why Gruber’s comments are germane because such deceitful games are the modus operandi in Washington. As Obama said in denying Gruber’s comments, ObamaCare was “extensively debated” and “fully transparent” – by which he meant lying and obfuscation are just part of American politics.

The American voter needs to know what the swamp along the Potomac is really like. They need the information to decide whether to put their trust in such a government. But the Leftmedia wear blinders when it comes to the very power to whom they purport to speak truth.



A White House Mass Pardon for Identity Thieves

President Obama is poised to show his "compassion" this week by granting work cards to an estimated five million illegal immigrants through an imperial executive order. As for the vast, untold number of law-abiding citizens whose identities have been stolen by foreign law-breakers, two words: Tough luck.

Social Security card fraudsters have made out like bandits thanks to the White House. Their victims are about to get kicked in the teeth again.

Two years ago, when Obama launched his first administrative amnesty known as "DACA" (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the White House gave aid and comfort to illegal alien applicants who were concerned that their previous felony identity theft and fraud crimes would preclude them from the new non-deportation benefits. The Department of Homeland (In)security made clear that illegal workers who wanted coveted employment documents would not have to disclose to the feds whether they used stolen Social Security numbers.

Center for Immigration Studies analyst Jon Feere reported at the time that ethnic lobbyists and open-borders businesses lobbied the Obama administration hard "to keep American victims of ID theft in the dark while shielding unscrupulous businesses from enforcement." As an Obama official told The New York Times, DHS employees are "not interested in using this as a way to identify one-off cases where some individual may have violated some federal law in an employment relationship."

Translation: See no identity theft. Hear no identity theft. Speak no identity theft.

A high-profile immigration attorney crowed: "Good news for deferred action applicants: If you used a false Social Security card, you need not reveal the number on your deferred action application forms. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has clarified that when the forms ask for an applicant's Social Security number, it refers to Social Security numbers issued to the applicant. If you used a friend's number, a made-up number or a stolen number, you should answer N/A for 'not applicable' where it asks for the number."

Since then, more than 500,000 DACA applications have been approved with abysmal oversight, little public disclosure and total absolution for identity rip-off artists. The latest planned administrative amnesty will dwarf that ongoing fiasco.

Victimless crimes? Tell that to those who have been harmed by the estimated 75 percent of working-age illegal aliens who have fraudulently used Social Security cards to obtain employment. Tell it to victims in border states with the highest percentages of illegal aliens, where job-related identity theft is rampant.

Tell it to hardworking Americans like Wisconsinite Robert Guenterberg, whose Social Security number was exploited by illegal aliens for years to buy homes and cars — while the IRS refused to tell the victims about the fraud to protect the thieves' privacy rights.

Tell it to U.S. Air Force veteran Marcos Miranda, whose name and Social Security card were filched by an illegal alien to work at a pork slaughterhouse. He was even thrown in jail for unpaid traffic tickets racked up by his identity thief. "Even though I am Hispanic, I am against illegal immigration," Miranda told the Associated Press. "Even though a lot of them come to work, there are always bad apples. (Identity theft) has really made my perspective ... negative about immigration."

And what about the children? As the Center for Immigration Studies points out: "Children are prime targets. In Arizona, it is estimated that over one million children are victims of identity theft. In Utah, 1,626 companies were found to be paying wages to the SSNs of children on public assistance under the age of 13. These individuals suffer very real and very serious consequences in their lives."

They include Americans like Jay Di Napoli of Colorado Springs, who has fought for years to clear his name and financial records after his late father — an illegal alien who abandoned his American wife and children — "took my original Social Security card and birth certificate when I was 2 years old." The criminal "began selling these documents to undocumented workers coming across our border with Mexico. In fact, he sold my Social Security number to illegals over 28 times before his death in 2009, and my number continues to be sold to this day. What's more, my late father's actions have caused extremely grave damage in virtually every facet of my life."

The amnesty brigade loves to extol the virtues of those who are "doing the work no Americans will do." But when it comes to punishing illegal workers who have raided the lives of innocent Americans to feloniously secure jobs, mortgages and medical care, mum's the word.

Obama's new "American Dream" is the stuff of hellish nightmares: Reward the law-breakers. Punish the law-abiders. And sell out our national identity in pursuit of cheap votes and cheap labor. R.I.P.



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

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


20 November, 2014

Our Futile Efforts to Boost Children's IQ

The twin studies have always shown little influence from family environment -- both as regards IQ and personality. Charles Murray notes more evidence to that effect below

It’s one thing to point out that programs to improve children's cognitive functioning have had a dismal track record. We can always focus on short-term improvements, blame the long-term failures on poor execution or lack of follow-up and try, try again. It’s another to say that it's impossible to do much to permanently improve children's intellectual ability through outside interventions. But that’s increasingly where the data are pointing.

Two studies published this year have made life significantly more difficult for those who continue to be optimists. The first one is by Florida State University’s Kevin Beaver and five colleagues, who asked how much effect parenting has on IQ independently of genes. The database they used, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, is large, nationally representative and highly regarded. The measures of parenting included indicators for parental engagement, attachment, involvement and permissiveness. The researchers controlled for age, sex, race and neighborhood disadvantage. Their analytic model, which compares adoptees with biological children, is powerful, and their statistical methods are sophisticated and rigorous.

The answer to their question? Not much. “Taken together,” the authors write, “the results … indicate that family and parenting characteristics are not significant contributors to variations in IQ scores.” It gets worse: Some of the slight effects they did find were in the “wrong” direction. For example, maternal attachment was negatively associated with IQ in the children.

There’s nothing new in the finding that the home environment doesn’t explain much about a child’s IQ after controlling for the parents’ IQ, but the quality of the data and analysis in this study address many of the objections that the environmentalists have raised about such results. Their scholarly wiggle-room for disagreement is shrinking.

The second study breaks new ground. Six of its eight authors come from King’s College London, home to what is probably the world’s leading center for the study of the interplay among genes, environment and developmental factors. The authors applied one of the powerful new methods enabled by the decoding of the genome, “Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis,” to ask how much effect socioeconomic status has on IQ independently of genes. The technique does not identify the causal role of specific genes, but rather enables researchers to identify patterns that permit conclusions like the one they reached in this study: “When genes associated with children’s IQ are identified, the same genes will also be likely to be associated with family SES.” Specifically, the researchers calculated that 94 percent of the correlation between socioeconomic status and IQ was mediated by genes at age 7 and 56 percent at age 12.

How can parenting and socioeconomic status play such minor roles in determining IQ, when scholars on all sides of the nature-nurture debate agree that somewhere around half of the variation in IQ is environmental? The short answer is that the environment that affects IQ doesn’t consist of the advantages that most people have in mind -- parents who talk a lot to their toddlers, many books in in the house for the older children, high-quality schools and the like.

Instead, studies over the past two decades have consistently found that an amorphous thing called the “nonshared” environment accounts for most (in many studies, nearly all) of the environmentally grounded variation. Scholars are still trying to figure out what features of the nonshared environment are important. Peers? Events in the womb? Accidents? We can be sure only of this: The nonshared environment does not lend itself to policy interventions intended to affect education, parenting, income or family structure.

The relevance of these findings goes beyond questions of public policy. As a parent of four children who all turned out great (in my opinion), I’d like to take some credit. With every new study telling me that I can’t legitimately do so with regard to IQ or this or that personality trait, I try to come up with something, anything, about my children for which I can still believe my parenting made a positive difference. It’s hard.

There’s no question that we know how to physically and psychologically brutalize children so that they are permanently damaged. But it increasingly appears that once we have provided children with a merely OK environment, our contribution as parents and as society is pretty much over. I’m with most of you: I viscerally resist that conclusion. But my resistance is founded on a sustained triumph of hope over evidence.



Why the November 4th GOP Victory Will Disappoint

By all accounts, the recent mid-term election was a GOP victory of epic proportions. But, as the euphoria dissipates, let me add a cautionary note--the victory was not a grand as it seems since the Left (and this includes the Democratic Party) still dominates the political culture. The parallel is the gambling casino-the house always enjoys the advantage since it sets the odds, the game's rules and who is permitted to play. The recent GOP's victories might be compared to a gambler having a big day but, in the long run, the odds are stacked against him.

The Left's "house advantage" comes from its domination of the mass media, its army of "expert" talking heads able to quickly spin narratives (think Ferguson) and its overwhelming control of universities. It is this domination that permits it to classify some ideas as "too extreme" and "controversial" and thereby beyond the mainstream. How else can we possibly explain how supporting the legalization of marijuana has suddenly become praiseworthy and drastically curtailing immigration-a long-standing government role is now tantamount to xenophobic hatefulness. Put bluntly, it is the Left that decides "what everybody knows to be good" and, conversely, what is beyond the pale.

The political upshot is that those who reject the Left's cosmology must overcome long odds just to make their case, no different than a blackjack player having to be exceptional skilled just to be even when competing against a mediocre dealer. To continue the gambling parallel, a GOP candidate is advised to avoid "games" where the House has too much of an advantage, e.g., slot machines, and instead play where the House edge may only be 2-3%, e.g., backgammon. .

Consider how GOP candidates steadfastly avoided the hot-button issues of affirmative action, government mandated set-asides, racial quotas and all else in the racial spoils system. This evasion cannot be explained as a rational aversion to an unpopular policy-several states (including liberal California) have banned racial preferences and polls regularly confirm public hostility to race-based preferences. Rather, a GOP candidate who campaigned on an anti-affirmative action position is at an immediate disadvantage since "respectable folk" will accuse him of trying to reverse decades of civil rights progress. Such a candidate's past utterances will also be put under a microscope to uncover any hint of racism, even an ambiguous off-hand remark or Facebook posting as "proof" that opposition to affirmative action is "really" about being anti-black.

In other words, the discussion will go into reverse so instead of, say, discussing how affirmative action makes the US less competitive internationally, the candidate will instead waste time defending himself as having the right to talk openly about an issue that surely deserves a public airing. Only an extraordinarily clever candidate can accomplish this task and so prudence dictates selecting another less "controversial" menu item.

Examples of this Left-defined "no-go" zone abound. Consider the tribulations any Republican will face when addressing the Left's pagan-like infatuation with the environment. Envision a GOP candidate insisting that like any decent human being he has nothing against the Alabama Cave Shrimp, the American Cinchona Plantation Treefrog or the Big-footed Minute Salamander (all actual endangered species) but such protection hurts the creation of decent jobs and with job loss comes poverty and, in turn, poverty brings ill-health, inadequate education, and even upsurges in domestic violence. Again, as with challenging affirmative action, the argument will proceed backwards as the speaker has to explain that he really does love Mother Nature and has no desire to decimate the rain forest. Tellingly, not one in a thousand knows what an Alabama Cave Shrimp looks like let along its contribution to the eco-system though everybody knows the harmful consequences of joblessness.

What is particularly troubling is the asymmetrical nature of these "no go zones." A liberal Democrat might safely suggest all those earning less than $50,000 receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP ("food stamps") and that unhealthy food be heavily taxed. This proposal at worst would be deemed impractical but few would castigate the advocate's moral character. But, picture the reaction if a Republican suggests that SNAP benefits ought to be limited to five years and recipients required to learn how to cook healthy, inexpensive meals. Such advocacy is not just impractical -even to suggest it betrays an Ebenezer Scrooge-like mean spirited "war on the poor." And good luck to the GOP candidate who claims that his policy limiting SNAP is a "war on dependency" versus a plan to starve babies.

Clearly, what explains the Republicans flight from is its cowardice, a dread of being labeled "out of the mainstream" albeit a recently defined mainstream that contravenes centuries of tradition, and may actually be unpopular (save, of course, among our Mandarins). Indeed, I suspect that RNC campaign consultants have a secret list of policies that every GOP candidate must avoid lest he becomes politically radioactive and thus run afoul of those who define "the mainstream" and what is out-of-bounds. I can hear the RNC advisor saying "Don't mention the federal government's overreach in trying to combat campus sexual harassment -you will be tarred as being anti-women, pro-rape and no amount of talking about limited government will permit escape. Just mouth the usual banalities about more government funding for a college education."

Short of inventing spine-stiffing pills for nervous GOP candidates, what can be done? Forget about trying to educate the public that, for example, a lifelong dependency on Washington largess is not a constitutionally guaranteed right or that colorblind college admissions is not racist. This is too complicated for TV sound bites and such pronouncements will somehow be twisted into more evidence that the GOP lacks compassion.

Let me instead suggest a strategy that goes back a millennium to a Norse fighter -the berserker (as in the phrase "going berserk"). This warrior usually dressed in a bearskin and whose wild, out-of-control behavior and fearlessness verged on insanity. The very sight of the ax wielding, foaming-at-the-mouth madman often caused the enemy to flee.

As with Viking raiding parties, only a few suffice. These "crazy" candidates will confront what the Left has certified as "taboo" and thereby clear the path for more timid types of follow. He (or she) will unashamedly declare that diversity is not our strength, it is a liability and its celebration only invites trouble. He will continue on by insisting that national sovereignty absolutely requires controlling borders and that pouring yet more money into education now resembles trying to get blood from turnips. And that relentlessly expanding government welfare entitlements only creates a nation of docile toy poodles. And on and on. The MSNBC pundits will be horrified! O dear.

His "wild" utterances will not, of course, bring the policy changes that many conservatives crave, at least not immediately. Nor will they win elections. But, they will make "unspeakable" views speakable and therefore stop the process where the unspeakable eventually becomes unthinkable. At a minimum, many who secretly harbor these Left-defined "controversial" views will at least now know that they are not isolated kooks. I look forward to the day when one of the participants in a staid PBS election debate arrives in a bearskin suit and shocks everyone by simply telling the truth.



The Left’s legacy of lies

In her exceptional book "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character," Diana West writes that Wirt, a Gary, Indiana schools superintendent, asserted before a Congressional committee in May 1934 that there was a deliberately conceived plot among members of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal administration to overthrow the established social order in the United States and substitute a communist-style planned economy.

For performing his patriotic duty, Wirt was branded a liar by committee Democrats, smeared by the press and even ridiculed by Roosevelt himself, a fate that would likewise befall future anti-communists such as ex-Soviet agent Whittaker Chambers, journalist M. Stanton Evans, Representative Martin Dies (D-TX) and Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI).

According to Diana West, there are many striking parallels between America's struggle with Communism and the present battle with radical Islam. The government's "see-no-Islam" policy makes truth, evidence and reality subservient to cultural sensitivity to maintain the Big Lie that "Islam is the religion of peace." It is the systematic suppression or altering of facts that advances and sustains the ideology of the left and its barricades in academia and the media.

Stated simply, the left has a tradition of deceit and a history of changing history.

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, a leading architect of Obamacare, is now under fire for comments in which he conceded that to pass the healthcare law, supporters relied on "the stupidity of the American voter" to hide its actual effects and represents the latest example of how the law was built on a foundation of lies.

Consistent with the left's pattern of deception, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) denied ever hearing about Gruber, but her website in December 2009 featured a lengthy blog post citing his analysis of Obamacare in an effort to dispel "myths" about the bill. C-SPAN also posted a clip from a Nov. 13, 2009 press conference where she touts Gruber's work.

Obama used the Internal Revenue Service and three-letter security agencies to suppress political speech with which he disagreed and harass news reporters who filed stories critical of him, while claiming there was not a "smidgen of corruption" in the so-called IRS scandal.

Obama supported and armed Islamic jihadists in Egypt, Libya and Syria, some of whose weapons may have ended up in Afghanistan and were used against American troops, while rejecting that his administration has misled the public on the Benghazi, Libya attack.

Military records and sources reveal that on July 25, 2012, Taliban fighters in Kunar province, Afghanistan successfully targeted a US Army CH-47 helicopter with a new generation Stinger missile. According to this report, the US Special Operations believe the Stinger fired against the Chinook was part of the same lot the CIA turned over to the Qataris in early 2011, weapons Hillary Rodham Clinton's State Department intended for anti-Khadafy forces in Libya, but were subsequently given to the Taliban.

Now Obama is planning an executive amnesty that would give work permits, Social Security numbers, and drivers licenses to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants, after insisting for years that he had absolutely no legal authority even to slow deportations.

Leftists have a legacy; they lie to get elected, they lie to enact their policies and they lie when those policies fail.



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

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


19 November, 2014

McClosky revisited

I recently received the following query from a reader:

I am working on a book on liberal/conservative differences from a conservative’s point of view. In this process I came across a very old study (McClosky, Herbert (1958) "Conservatism and Personality". The American Political Science Review 52 (1) This was the wildest set of findings about Conservatives that I have ever seen--Adorno et al. included. Here are a few of his statements.

“By every measure available to us, conservative beliefs are found mos frequently among the uninformed, the poorly educated and so far as we can determine, the less intelligent”

And “Far from being the elite or the masters or the prime movers, conservatives tend on the whole to come from the more backward and frightened elements of the population, including the classes that are socially and psychologically depressed.”

And: “ ..the extreme conservatives are easily the most hostile and suspicious, the most rigid and compulsive, the quickest to condemn others for their imperfections or weaknesses, the most intolerant, the most easily moved to scorn and disappointment in others…”

This study actually had a few years of popularity (and criticism) and then seemed to just fade away.

In reply, I wrote

His scale was invalid. It did not predict vote. Like most (all?) conservatism scales constructed by Leftists, it was a caricature of what conservatives believe

Some further comments:

I commented on the McClosky work in my 1973 paper: "CONSERVATISM, AUTHORITARIANISM AND RELATED VARIABLES: A Review and Empirical Study" but a few more words here might not go astray.

McClosky's work was one of a long line of Leftist attempts to demonstrate psychological inadequacy in conservatives. His work is distinguished however by the care he took to define conservatism adequately, unlike the ludicrous Altemeyer, who gave that no thought at all. McClosky was basically a political scientist so was aware of an array of conservative thinkers such as Kirk, Burke, Rossiter etc. He quoted from them to define what conservatism is.

He was not exactly a searching thinker, however, so largely missed the wood for the trees. The issues that concern conservatives vary with the times. It is only recently, for instance, that homosexual marriage has become an issue of concern for conservatives. So he failed to go beneath the day to day issues that have energized conservatives over the years and figure out what the root causes of conservative thinking are. He failed to see that simple cautiuousness is the most basic level of conservatism and that a concern for individual liberty is one of the most basic deductions from a cautious attitude. So he failed to trace any of the day to day concerns back to the basics. He failed to see that a conservative respect for tradition and history stems from a very basic cautious desire to find out what works. If someone wants to know whether a proposed policy will work as intended, history may in fact be the only guide to that.

So the list of conservative attitude statements that he compiled and used in his surveys sounded very old fashioned and did not address basic conservative concerns. And, probably unintentionally, he expressed conservative attitudes in an implausible way. He wrote down what Leftists think conservatives believe rather than using statements uttered by actual contemporaneous conservatives. And the result was to vitiate his work. He failed to find out anything about actual conservatives because he misidentified who conservatives were. His allegedly conservative statements were agreed to just as much by Leftist voters as by conservative voters. Hilarious! So the characteristics he observed in his surveys were not the characteristics of conservatives at all. They were probably the characteristics of old-fashioned people, if anything.

And other Leftist reseachers both before and after him (Adorno, Altemeyer) have fallen into the same trap. They clearly have a horror of actually talking to conservatives so rely for their impression of conservatives on the caricature of conservatism that exists in their little Leftist mental bubble-world. They see opposition to homosexual marriage, for instance, as an expression of "homophobia" rather than acknowledging that caution may cause it to be seen as a dangerous departure from what we know works in human family arrangements.

But Leftists do bad research in general. The global warming nonsense alone should tell us that. It is theory totally divorced from the data. Leftist researchers leap to conclusions and lack basic caution about inferences. It is no wonder that something like 99% of academic journal articles are only ever read by the author and his mother. And as I think most published academic journal article authors will tell you, even the referees who evaluate the article for publication clearly only skim-read it at best. So we have to be very thankful indeed for the occasional real advance in our understanding of the world that comes out of academic research -- JR.


The one thing Obama is good at: Short-sheeting Israel

At least in his handling of US relations with the Jewish state, Obama has exhibited a mastery of the tools of the executive branch unmatched by most of his predecessors.

Consider two stories reported in last Friday’s papers.

First, in an article published in The Jerusalem Post, terrorism analyst and investigative reporter Steven Emerson revealed how the highest echelons of the administration blocked the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office from assisting Israel in finding the remains of IDF soldier Oron Shaul.

Shaul was one of seven soldiers from the Golani Infantry Brigade killed July 20 when Hamas terrorists fired a rocket at their armored personnel carrier in Gaza’s Shejeia neighborhood.

As Emerson related, after stealing his remains, Hamas terrorists hacked into Shaul’s Facebook page and posted announcements that he was being held by Hamas.

Among other things it did to locate Shaul and ascertain whether or not he was still alive, the IDF formally requested that the FBI intervene with Facebook to get the IP address of the persons who posted on Oron’s page. If such information was acquired quickly, the IDF might be able to locate Oron, or at least find people with knowledge of his whereabouts.

Acting in accordance with standing practice, recognizing that time was of the essence, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office began working on Israel’s request immediately. But just before the US Attorney secured a court order to Facebook requiring it to hand over the records, the FBI was told to end its efforts.

In an order that senior law enforcement officials told Emerson came from Attorney General Eric Holder’s office, the FBI was told that it needed to first sign an “MLAT,” a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Israel, a procedure that would take weeks to complete, and is generally used in cases involving criminal prosecutions and other non-life threatening issues.

In other words, facing a bureaucracy acting independently, Holder – reportedly Obama’s most trusted cabinet secretary – acted quickly, decisively and effectively. And thanks to his intervention at the key moment, although Israel was able – after an exhaustive forensic investigation – to determine Oron’s death, today it is poised to begin negotiations with Hamas for the return of his body parts.

Then there was the unofficial arms embargo.

In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House and State Department had stopped the Pentagon at the last minute from responding favorably to an Israeli request for resupply of Hellfire precision air-to-surface missiles. The precision guided missiles were a key component of Israel’s air operations against missile launchers in Gaza. The missiles’ guidance systems allowed the air force to destroy the launchers while minimizing collateral damage.

In keeping with the standard decades-long practice, Israel requested the resupply through European Command, its military-to-military channel with the US military.

And in keeping with standard practice, the request was granted.

But then the White House and State Department heard about the approved shipment and spun into action. As in the case of Oron’s Facebook page, they didn’t reject Israel’s request. They just added a level of bureaucracy to the handling of the request that made it impossible for Israel to receive assistance from the US government in real time.

As State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf put it at the time, “We’re not holding anything. A hold indicates, technically, that you are not moving forward on making a decision about a transfer…. These requests are still moving forward; there’s just additional steps in the process now, and there’s been no policy decision made to not move forward with them…. They’re just going to take a little while longer.”

The Hellfire missiles, along with other ammunition Israel requested during the war, arrived in September – a month after the cease-fire went into effect.

On Friday veteran military affairs reporter Amir Rappaport reported in Makor Rishon that the hold on the Hellfire missiles was only one aspect of the White House’s decision to stop arms shipments to Israel during the war. Shortly after Operation Protective Edge began, the administration stopped all contact with the Defense Ministry’s permanent procurement delegation in the US.

According to Rappaport, for the first time since the 1982 war in Lebanon, “The expected airlift of US ammunition [to the IDF] never arrived at its point of departure.”

The difference between Obama’s actions during Operation Protective Edge and Ronald Reagan’s partial arms embargo against Israel 32 years ago is that Reagan made his action publicly. He argued his case before the public, and Congress.

Obama has done no such thing. As was the case with the FAA’s scandalous ban on flights to Ben-Gurion Airport during the war, Holder’s prevention of the FBI from helping Israel find Oron, and Obama’s arms embargo were justified as mere bureaucratic measures.

As Harf claimed in relation to the embargo, there was no hostile policy behind any of the hostile policy moves. Obama and his senior advisors are simply sticklers for procedure. And since during the war Obama insisted that he supported Israel, policymakers and the public had a hard time opposing his actions.

How can you oppose a hostile policy toward Israel that the administration insists doesn’t exist? Indeed, anyone who suggests otherwise runs the risk of being attacked as a conspiracy theorist or a firebrand.

The same goes for Obama’s policy toward Iran. This week we learned that the administration has now offered Iran a nuclear deal in which the mullahs can keep half of their 10,000 active centrifuges spinning.

Together with Iran’s 10,000 currently inactive centrifuges which the US offer ignores, the actual US position is to allow Iran to have enough centrifuges to enable it to build nuclear bombs within a year, at most.

In other words, the US policy toward Iran exposed by Obama’s nuclear offer is one that enables the most active state sponsor of terrorism to acquire nuclear weapons almost immediately.

But Obama denies this is his policy. For six years he has very deftly managed Congressional opposition to his wooing of the Iranian regime by insisting that his policy is to reduce the Iranian nuclear threat and to prevent war.

Opposing his policy means opposing these goals.

Consistent polling data show that Obama’s policies of harming Israel and facilitating Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal are deeply unpopular. His successful advancement of both policies despite this deep-seated public opposition is a testament to his extraordinary skill.

On the other hand, Obama’s virtuoso handling of the federal bureaucracy and Congress also reveal the Achilles heel of his policies. He conceals them because he cannot defend them.

Obama’s inability to defend these policies means that politicians from both parties can forthrightly set out opposing policies without risking criticism or opposition from the administration.

How can Obama criticize a serious policy to support Israel when he claims that this is his goal? And how can he oppose a serious policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons when he says that he shares that goal?

At least as far as Israel is concerned, Obama’s mastery of the federal bureaucracy is complete. It is not incompetence that guides his policy. It is malicious intent toward the US’s closest ally in the Middle East. And to defeat this policy, it is not necessary to prove incompetence that doesn’t exist. It is necessary to show that there are far better ways to achieve his declared aims of supporting Israel and blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons program.



Six Conundrums Of Socialism

Here are six Conundrums of Socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

Think about it! It pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century. Makes you wonder who is doing the math.

These three, short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works. And here’s another one worth considering…

2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. But we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t. Think about it… and Last but not least:

3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.

Am I the only one missing something?



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

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


18 November, 2014

The NYT (below) notices racial disparities in voting

So it's now OK for us all to talk about race?

It has not escaped the notice of political analysts that 72 percent of whites without college degrees — a rough proxy for what we used to call the white working class — believe that “the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy.” Or that on Nov. 4, these same men and women voted for Republican House candidates 64-34.

Similarly, the overwhelmingly white electorates of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted decisively in referendums to raise the minimum wage while simultaneously voting for Republicans, whose party has adamantly rejected legislation to raise the minimum wage.

There is an ongoing debate among politicians, political scientists and partisans of both parties over the dismal support of Democratic candidates among whites. Does it result from ideological differences, racial animosity or a perception among many whites that they are excluded from a coalition of minorities, the poor, single women of all races, gays and other previously marginalized constituencies?

Arguably, the poor Democratic showing among whites does not represent naked race prejudice, as Obama’s election and re-election attest. But it can be seen as a reflection of substantial material interests that affect the very voters who carry greater weight in low turnout midterm Congressional elections.

Whites as a whole, who made up 75 percent of this year’s electorate, voted for Republican House candidates by a 24-point margin, 62-38, the exact same margin by which they supported Republican candidates in the 2010 midterms. In 2006, when opposition to President George W. Bush was intense, Republicans won white voters by eight points, 52-44.

The opposition of whites to the Democratic Party is visible not only in voting behavior, but in general opposition to key Democratic policy initiatives, most tellingly in hostility toward the Affordable Care Act. A November 2013 National Journal poll found, for example, that 58 percent of whites said Obamacare would make things worse for “people like you and your family,” more than double the 25 percent that said that Obamacare would make things better.

Asked whether the Affordable Care Act would make things better or worse for the country at large, 60 percent of whites said worse and 35 percent of whites said better.

Obamacare shifts health care benefits and tax burdens from upper-income Americans to lower-income Americans, and from largely white constituencies to beneficiaries disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities. The program increases levies on the overwhelmingly white affluent by raising taxes on households making more than $250,000.

To achieve its goals, Obamacare reduces spending on Medicare by $500 billion over 10 years, according to the Medicare board of trustees, which oversees the finances of the program. Medicare serves a population that is 77 percent white. Even as reductions in Medicare spending fall disproportionately on white voters, the savings are being used to finance Obamacare, which includes a substantial expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid recipients are overwhelmingly poor and, in 2013, were 41 percent white and 59 percent minority.

In addition to expanding Medicaid, the overall goal of Obamacare is to provide health coverage for the uninsured, a population that, in 2010 when the program was enacted, was 47 percent white, and 53 percent black, Hispanic, Asian-American and other minorities.

It’s not hard to see, then, why a majority of white midterm voters withheld support from Democrats and cast their votes for Republicans.

Republicans are not satisfied with winning 62 percent of the white vote. To counter the demographic growth of Democratic constituencies whose votes threaten Republican success in high-turnout presidential elections, Republicans have begun a concerted effort to rupture the partisan loyalty of the remaining white Democratic voters. Their main target is socially liberal, fiscally conservative suburbanites, the weakest reeds in the Democratic coalition. These middle-income white voters do not share the acute economic needs of so-called downscale Democratic voters and they are less reliant on government services.

The Republican strategy to win over these more culturally tolerant, but still financially pressed, white voters is to continue to focus on material concerns – on anxiety about rising tax burdens, for example — while downplaying the preoccupation of many of the most visible Republicans with social, moral and cultural repression.

The current effectiveness of the anti-tax strategy was demonstrated in the unexpected victory of Larry Hogan, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in deep blue Maryland, who defeated Anthony Brown, the highly favored Democratic lieutenant governor.

“The average Marylander sees a governor and legislature willing to impose record tax increases on the rest of us that we don’t need, don’t want and can’t afford,” Hogan declared at the start of his campaign and repeated relentlessly until Election Day.

Hogan won by decisively carrying all the majority white suburbs surrounding Baltimore city, including Howard County, a former bastion of suburban Democratic strength.

In Colorado, Cory Gardner, the Republican Senate nominee, joined the Republican assault on Obamacare and taxes:

"The President’s healthcare law has added countless new taxes to millions of Americans, and economic growth will continue to struggle until we can accomplish real, meaningful tax reform. The future of our economy depends on it."

Significantly, Gardner also stiff-armed the Christian right on issues of contraception and abortion in his successful two-point win over Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent. Gardner highlighted a more culturally tolerant approach when he endorsed over the counter access to the “morning after” pill – a form of contraception many in the right to life movement consider a form of abortion – and when he renounced past sponsorship of a “personhood” constitutional amendment titled “The Life Begins at Conception Act.”

In a mea culpa comment rarely heard in campaigns, Gardner told The Denver Post:

"I’ve learned to listen. I don’t get everything right the first time. There are far too many politicians out there who take the wrong position and stick with it and never admit that they should do something different."

Despite this, not only did the Christian right stick with Gardner, but white evangelicals provided his margin of victory. These religious voters, who made up 25 percent of the Colorado midterm electorate, voted for Gardner over Udall by a resounding 70 points, 83 to 13. This margin was enough to compensate for Udall’s 20-point victory, 57 percent to 37 percent, among the remaining 75 percent of the Colorado electorate.

The clear implication of these results for Republican candidates running in 2016 and beyond is that you can break with conservative orthodoxy on some issues to better appeal to a general election electorate without paying the price of losing white Christian support.

If Republicans are successful in toning down their candidates, it will take from Democrats a weapon that has proved highly successful in state and federal elections: demonizing Republican Party candidates as a collection of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.

The Democrats’ portrayal of Republicans has served to motivate both Democratic voters and donors, especially suburban white Democrats, by tapping into their anger and fear of a morally intrusive Republican Party.

“Anger in politics can play a particularly vital role, motivating some people to participate in ways they might ordinarily not,” according to Nicholas Valentino, a professor of communication studies and political science at the University of Michigan, and the lead author of “Election Night’s Alright for Fighting: The Role of Emotions in Political Participation,” a 2011 study of voter motivation.

Anger leads citizens to harness existing skills and resources in a given election. Therefore, the process by which emotions are produced in each campaign can powerfully alter electoral outcomes.

A Democratic tactic designed to focus on mobilizing white voters – the sustained effort led by Senator Harry Reid to demonize the Koch brothers – has not yet, by most accounts, paid off.

Insofar as the Republican Party successfully sandpapers its sharp edges, the necessity for change will now shift to the Democrats. Most recently, this kind of metamorphosis was accomplished by Bill Clinton’s 1992 “Southern governor’s strategy” presidential campaign when he defied liberal orthodoxy on such issues as welfare and the death penalty.

One question presents itself: how transformative a political leader is Hillary Clinton? Can she avoid entrapment by divisive issues of key importance to competing wings of the center-left coalition: L.G.B.T. rights; marijuana legalization; climate change; gun control; racial profiling; fracking; pension rights for public employee unions; citizenship for undocumented immigrants; and the ever pressing social welfare needs of the country’s poor?

In May 2008, with Obama taking the lead, Hillary Clinton committed to continue the race “for the nurse on her second shift, for the worker on the line, for the waitress on her feet, for the small-business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the coal miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran.” As James Oliphant, the National Journal’s White House correspondent wrote:

"Clinton didn’t say “white people,” but she didn’t need to. The message was clear. And she was even more explicit in an interview with USA Today that month, saying, “Obama’s support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening.”

The white vote in the years since 1992 has become consistently more committed to Republican candidates. Mitt Romney carried whites by a 20-point margin, 59-39, larger than either John McCain, 12 points, or George W. Bush, 17 points.

Clinton has her work cut out for her, especially if the Republican nominee heeds the advice of party leaders and makes a concerted effort to further erode — by whatever means necessary — white Democratic support.



Obama's hatred of Israel again

Obama State Department prevents Israeli from playing in the NBA

The Dallas Mavericks thought they had waived Israeli Gal Mekel to the Indiana Pacers. But then the US State Department stepped in. At a time when the Obama administration is trying to legalize millions of illegal aliens, and has doubled the number of student visas from China the State Department refused to extend Mekel's visa to allow him to continue to play in the NBA. Mekel is returning to Israel, the Pacers didn't get the player they wanted, and the Obama administration has managed to hurt another Israeli.

The NBA granted the injury-depleted Pacers a hardship exemption that allowed them to sign a 16th player through last ?Thursday. When the State Department refused to move up the expiration date on Mekel’s visa even by one day, the Pacers, who had only 9 players on their active roster, backed out of the deal to sign another player before their waiver lapsed.

The Pacers were desperate to sign the Israeli star because only one of their five guards was able to play. Four of the five are injured.

Normally, visas for foreign-born players in the NBA are automatically transferable with the players to whom they are issued. More than 100 foreign-born players are currently in the NBA. This is the first instance many basketball analysts can recall where a foreign-born player was prevented from signing with a new NBA team because a visa could not be transferred.

Indiana wanted the 26-year-old Israeli shooting guard after his impressive start in Dallas, which included 19 points and 9 assists against the Pacers in Indianapolis on October 18.

Mekel was one of two Israelis in the NBA; the other is Omri Caspi of the Sacramento Kings. But then you're not surprised, are you?



Rand Paul Confronts EEOC Bureaucrat: ‘How Can You Show Up to Work with a Straight Face?’

Sen. Rand Paul got a bit fiery on Thursday when given the opportunity to confront a bureaucrat who works for the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

While speaking during the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on the nomination of P. David Lopez to serve as EEOC’s General Counsel, Sen. Paul expressed a heavy dose skepticism about the agency’s bureaucratic enforcement methods, wondering aloud how Lopez could do his job with a straight face.

“Do you realize the downside of the unlimited nature of going after people with no complaint and what this is going to do to business?” he asked Lopez. “Do you not understand what we’ve got to somehow balance that we want people to have jobs?”

The senator was especially incensed about the concept of the EEOC investigating workplaces that have no prior complaints about hiring discrimination. “You’re going after law-abiding people where there’s been no complaint,” he said, “and you don’t feel, at all, any compunction or guilty over what you were doing?”

He continued: “How can you show up to work with a straight face? I don’t understand how you wouldn’t resign immediately, and say, ‘This is abhorrent.’” The senator also accused Lopez of using the “bully nature” of his agency to “punish business.”

Lopez responded that he grew up the son of small business owners, and so he understands their daily struggles. However, he added, the EEOC targets businesses even without explicit complaints because: “Most individuals who get discriminated against in the hiring process do not know that they’ve been discriminated against because employers usually do not say that they’ve been discriminated against.”

Paul was dismissive: “We’re going after mythology then.”


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


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

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


17 November, 2014

Liberal compassion is a fraud

William Voegeli below analyses Leftists as big and hungry egos -- something I also do

Four years ago I wrote a book about modern American liberalism: Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. It addressed the fact that America’s welfare state has been growing steadily for almost a century.

All along, while the welfare state was growing constantly, liberals were insisting constantly it wasn’t big enough or growing fast enough. So I wondered, five years ago, whether there is a Platonic ideal when it comes to the size of the welfare state—whether there is a point at which the welfare state has all the money, programs, personnel, and political support it needs, thereby rendering any further additions pointless. The answer, I concluded, is that there is no answer—the welfare state is a permanent work-in-progress, and its liberal advocates believe that however many resources it has, it always needs a great deal more.

Why do liberals feel that no matter how much we’re doing through government programs to alleviate and prevent poverty, whatever we are doing is shamefully inadequate?

Mostly, my book didn’t answer that question because it never really asked or grappled with it. It showed how the Progressives of a century ago, followed by New Deal and Great Society liberals, worked to transform a republic where the government had limited duties and powers into a nation where there were no grievances the government could or should refrain from addressing, and where no means of responding to those grievances lie outside the scope of the government’s legitimate authority. This implied, at least, an answer to the question of why liberals always want the government to do more—an answer congruent with decades of conservative warnings about how each new iteration of the liberal project is one more paving stone on the road to serfdom.

Readers could have concluded that liberals are never satisfied because they get up every morning thinking, “What can I do today to make government a little bigger, and the patch of ground where people live their lives completely unaffected by government power and benevolence a little smaller?” And maybe some liberals do that. Perhaps many do. The narrator of “The Shadow,” a radio drama that ran in the 1930s, would intone at the beginning of every episode, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

Well, the Shadow may have known, but I don’t. The problem with this kind of explanation for liberal statism is that very, very few liberals have been compliant or foolish enough to vindicate it with self-incriminating testimony. Maybe they’re too shrewd to admit that ever-bigger government is what they seek above all else. Or maybe they don’t realize that’s what they’re up to.

If we make the effort—an effort to understand committed liberals as they understand themselves—then we have to understand them as people who, by their own account, get up every morning asking, “What can I do today so that there’s a little less suffering in the world?” To wrestle with that question, the question of liberal compassion, is the purpose of my latest book, The Pity Party.

Indifference to Waste and Failure

All conservatives are painfully aware that liberal activists and publicists have successfully weaponized compassion. “I am a liberal,” public radio host Garrison Keillor wrote in 2004, “and liberalism is the politics of kindness.” Last year President Obama said, “Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. When I think about what I’m fighting for, what gets me up every single day, that captures it just about as much as anything. Kindness; empathy—that sense that I have a stake in your success; that I’m going to make sure, just because [my daughters] are doing well, that’s not enough—I want your kids to do well also.” Empathetic kindness is “what binds us together, and . . . how we’ve always moved forward, based on the idea that we have a stake in each other’s success.”

Well, if liberalism is the politics of kindness, it follows that its adversary, conservatism, is the politics of cruelty, greed, and callousness. Liberals have never been reluctant to connect those dots. In 1936 Franklin Roosevelt said, “Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” In 1984 the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, “Tip” O’Neill, called President Reagan an “evil” man “who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations . . . . He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.” A 2013 Paul Krugman column accused conservatives of taking “positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable.” They were, he wrote, “infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness . . . . If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick.”

The fact that liberals are, if anything, increasingly disposed to frame the basic political choice before the nation in these terms suggests that conservatives have not presented an adequate response.

A first step in that direction is to note a political anomaly pointed out by Mitch Daniels, the former Republican governor of Indiana. Daniels contended that disciplining government according to “measured provable performance and effective spending” ought to be a “completely philosophically neutral objective.” Skinflint conservatives want government to be thrifty for obvious reasons, but Daniels maintained that liberals’ motivations should be even stronger. “I argue to my most liberal friends: ‘You ought to be the most offended of anybody if a dollar that could help a poor person is being squandered in some way.’ And,” the governor added slyly, “some of them actually agree.”

The clear implication—that many liberals are not especially troubled if government dollars that could help poor people are squandered—strikes me as true, interesting, and important. Given that liberals are people who: 1) have built a welfare state that is now the biggest thing government does in America; and 2) want to regard themselves and be regarded by others as compassionate empathizers determined to alleviate suffering, it should follow that nothing would preoccupy them more than making sure the welfare state machine is functioning at maximum efficiency. When it isn’t, after all, the sacred mission of alleviating preventable suffering is inevitably degraded.

In fact, however, liberals do not seem all that concerned about whether the machine they’ve built, and want to keep expanding, is running well. For inflation-adjusted, per capita federal welfare state spending to increase by 254 percent from 1977 to 2013, without a correspondingly dramatic reduction in poverty, and for liberals to react to this phenomenon by taking the position that our welfare state’s only real defect is that it is insufficiently generous, rather than insufficiently effective, suggests a basic problem. To take a recent, vivid example, the Obama Administration had three-and-a-half years from the signing of the Affordable Care Act to the launch of the healthcare.gov website. It’s hard to reconcile the latter debacle with the image of liberals lying awake at night tormented by the thought the government should be doing more to reduce suffering. A sympathetic columnist, E.J. Dionne, wrote of the website’s crash-and-burn debut, “There’s a lesson here that liberals apparently need to learn over and over: Good intentions without proper administration can undermine even the most noble of goals.” That such an elementary lesson is one liberals need to learn over and over suggests a fundamental defect in liberalism, however—something worse than careless or inept implementation of liberal policies.

That defect, I came to think, can be explained as follows: The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do. Or it may be, at least in some cases, that it just isn’t possible for the government to bring about what liberals want it to accomplish. As the leading writers in The Public Interest began demonstrating almost 50 years ago, the intended, beneficial consequences of social policies are routinely overwhelmed by the unintended, harmful consequences they trigger. It may also be, as conservatives have long argued, that achieving liberal goals, no matter how humane they sound, requires kinds and degrees of government coercion fundamentally incompatible with a government created to secure citizens’ inalienable rights, and deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

I don’t reject any of those possibilities, or deny the evidence and logic adduced in support of each. But my assessment of how the liberal project has been justified in words, and rendered in deeds, leads me to a different explanation for why, under the auspices of liberal government, things have a way of turning out so badly. I conclude that the machinery created by the politics of kindness doesn’t work very well—in the sense of being economical, adaptable, and above all effective—because the liberals who build, operate, defend, and seek to expand this machine don’t really care whether it works very well and are, on balance, happier when it fails than when it succeeds.

The Satisfaction of Pious Preening

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Latinate word “compassion” means, literally, “suffering together with another”—it’s the “feeling or emotion, when a person is moved by the suffering or distress of another, and by the desire to relieve it.” Note that suffering together does not mean suffering identically. The compassionate person does not become hungry when he meets or thinks about a hungry person, or sick in the presence of the sick. Rather, compassion means we are affected by others’ suffering, a distress that motivates us to alleviate it. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, “When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself.”

We can see the problem. The whole point of compassion is for empathizers to feel better when awareness of another’s suffering provokes unease. But this ultimate purpose does not guarantee that empathizees will fare better. Barbara Oakley, co-editor of the volume Pathological Altruism, defines its subject as “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” Surprises and accidents happen, of course. The pathology of pathological altruism is not the failure to salve every wound. It is, rather, the indifference—blithe, heedless, smug, or solipsistic—to the fact and consequences of those failures, just as long as the empathizer is accruing compassion points that he and others will admire.

As philosophy professor David Schmidtz has said, “If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t.”

Indeed, if you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, the failure of government programs to alleviate suffering is not only an acceptable outcome but in many ways the preferred one. Sometimes empathizers, such as those in the “helping professions,” acquire a vested interest in the study, management, and perpetuation—as opposed to the solution and resulting disappearance—of sufferers’ problems. This is why so many government programs initiated to conquer a problem end up, instead, colonizing it by building sprawling settlements where the helpers and the helped are endlessly, increasingly co-dependent.

Even where there are no material benefits to addressing, without ever reducing, other people’s suffering, there are vital psychic benefits for those who regard their own compassion as the central virtue that makes them good, decent, and admirable people—people whose sensitivity readily distinguishes them from mean-spirited conservatives. “Pity is about how deeply I can feel,” wrote the late political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain. “And in order to feel this way, to experience the rush of my own pious reaction, I need victims the way an addict needs drugs.”

It follows, then, that the answer to the question of how liberals who profess to be anguished about other people’s suffering can be so weirdly complacent regarding wasteful, misdirected, and above all ineffective government programs created to relieve that suffering—is that liberals care about helping much less than they care about caring. Because compassion gives me a self-regarding reason to care about your suffering, it’s more important for me to do something than to accomplish something.

Once I’ve voted for, given a speech about, written an editorial endorsing, or held forth at a dinner party on the salutary generosity of some program to “address” your problem, my work is done, and I can feel the rush of my own pious reaction. There’s no need to stick around for the complex, frustrating, mundane work of making sure the program that made me feel better, just by being established and praised, has actually alleviated your suffering.

This assessment also provides an answer to the question of why liberals always want a bigger welfare state. It’s because the politics of kindness is about validating oneself rather than helping others, which means the proper response to suffering is always, “We need to do more,” and never, “We need to do what we’re already doing better and smarter.”

That is, liberals react to an objective reality in a distinctively perverse way. The reality is, first, that there are many instances of poverty, insecurity, and suffering in our country and, second, that public expenditures to alleviate poverty, insecurity, and suffering amount to $3 trillion, or some $10,000 per American, much of it spent on the many millions of Americans who are nowhere near being impoverished, insecure, or suffering.

If the point of liberalism were to alleviate suffering, as opposed to preening about one’s abhorrence of suffering and proud support for government programs designed to reduce it, liberals would get up every morning determined to reduce the proportion of that $3 trillion outlay that ought to be helping the poor but is instead being squandered in some way, including by being showered on people who aren’t poor.

But since the real point of liberalism is to alleviate the suffering of those distressed by others’ suffering, the hard work of making our $3 trillion welfare state machine work optimally is much less attractive—less gratifying—than demanding that we expand it, and condemning those who are skeptical about that expansion for their greed and cruelty.


Those of us accused of being greedy and cruel, for standing athwart the advance of liberalism and expansion of the welfare state, do have things to say, then, in response to the empathy crusaders. Compassion really is important. Clifford Orwin, a political scientist who has examined the subject painstakingly, believes our strong, spontaneous proclivity to be distressed by others’ suffering confirms the ancient Greek philosophers’ belief that nature intended for human beings to be friends.

But compassion is neither all-important nor supremely important in morals and, especially, politics. It is nice, all things being equal, to have government officials who feel our pain rather than ones who, like imperious monarchs, cannot comprehend or do not deign to notice it.

Much more than our rulers’ compassion, however, we deserve their respect—for us; our rights; our capacity and responsibility to feel and heal our own pains without their ministrations; and for America’s carefully constructed and heroically sustained experiment in constitutional self-government, which errs on the side of caution and republicanism by denying even the most compassionate official a monarch’s plenary powers.

Kindness may well cover all of Barack Obama’s political beliefs, and those of many other self-satisfied, pathologically altruistic liberals. It doesn’t begin to cover all the beliefs that have sustained America’s republic, however. Nor does it amount to a safe substitute for those moral virtues and political principles necessary to sustain it further.



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

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


16 November, 2014

San Francisco shows how "Progressive" Policies Are BAD for the poor

In recent years, a contradiction has unfolded in San Francisco. On the one hand, the city continues to practice progressive economic policies. But rather than helping its poor and middle-class—as such policies are advertised as doing—these groups in San Francisco have become more unequal, downwardly mobile, and altogether priced-out. This raises the question of whether the policies themselves are contributing to the problem.

First, though, it's worth noting the magnitude of the city's inequality, which is problematic not so much because the rich have gotten richer, but because everyone else has gotten poorer. This was determined by a Brookings Institution paper earlier this year which found that between 2007-2012, San Francisco trailed only Atlanta as the nation's most unequal city, with the top 5 percent of households earning average incomes nearly 17 times higher than the bottom 20 percent. During this period, inequality grew far more quickly in San Francisco than in any other U.S. city, with incomes for those top households increasing by nearly $28,000 to $353,576, and incomes for the bottom 20 percent decreasing by over $4,000 down to $21,313. But other brackets were hit also, as incomes declined for the bottom 80 percent of households, meaning those making up to $161,000. The study validated media narratives about how gentrifying San Francisco had become exclusive to the rich at everyone else’s expense.

A lot of the reason for this shift is because of the tech industry's emergence. Once confined to the southern part of the region, Silicon Valley's imprint expanded across the city throughout the 2000s, and is now a mainstream cultural force. Not only have businesses like Twitter opened offices downtown, but once-working-class areas like the Mission provide housing and start-up space for industry workers, causing an influx of new wealth and neighborhood disruption.

But the city's progressive tendencies seem only to have worsened this shift, with an over-reaching government that offers inadequate—or plain wrongheaded—solutions to problems.

This is most evident in the way that it has handled housing. San Francisco now has one of the nation's most expensive markets, with median home prices at $1 million. Numerous explanations have surfaced for what caused the spike, ranging from the area's growing population and wealth, to its land constraints. But the spike can also be explained by regulations that discourage new housing. For example, lots within the city's downtown, where infrastructure is already in place to handle added population, are held to severe height restrictions, and this is even more the case in outlying neighborhoods. The structures that are built endure robust approval processes that can take years, and require millions in lobbying—creating expenses that get passed down onto customers. The developers of the proposed Washington 8 condo project on the downtown waterfront, for example, waited eight years and spent $2 million on campaigning only to have their project rejected.

The political establishment's response has been to impose anti-market forces onto the housing that does exist, under the impression that this will keep prices down. Three-quarters of San Francisco's units are rent-controlled because of a law that requires this for buildings constructed before 1979. Mainstream economists have long believed that such laws are counterproductive, because they encourage price spiking of market rate units, and under-maintenance or abandonment of the regulated ones. This has been the case in San Francisco: Along with laws that make evicting bad tenants difficult, rent control has prevented landlords from collecting the necessary fees for upkeep. As a result, they have left vacant an estimated 10,600 units, or 5 percent of citywide housing stock.

San Francisco's labor laws, also designed to help the poor, seem similarly counterproductive. In 2003, the city mandated a minimum wage of $8.50 per hour, with future increases tied to inflation. Later laws forced large businesses to also provide health care and paid sick leave. This has brought baseline hourly wages to roughly $13.12, with proposals to increase it to $15. But it's unclear whether the existing measure has been beneficial, or merely offset itself by raising living costs. A University of California, Berkeley, study showed that the law led to higher prices at restaurants, and it stands to reason that other low-wage industries were similarly affected, thereby causing inflation, but not necessarily any newly-created wealth. Indeed, in the decade since the law took effect, San Francisco's Consumer Price Index increased faster than any other Bay Area county. According to a Governing Magazine cost-of-living calculation, the purchasing power of $1 in San Francisco is 40 percent less than in cities like Houston and New Orleans.

Another thing jacking up prices is high taxes. San Francisco ranks ninth-highest out of 107 major cities in sales tax rates, with a combined state, county, and local rate of 9.5 percent. Although state laws have limited property tax rates to about the national average, San Francisco has a complex arrangement of business fees and taxes that can reach .65 percent of gross receipts. Residents also pay a flat income tax of 1.5 percent, in addition to a California income tax rate that can reach 13.3 percent, the nation's highest.

These taxes pay for government services that, in another ode to progressivism, are famously inefficient because of monopolistic union control. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Rapid Transit, the two main public transportation agencies, have some of the nation's highest-paid transit workers, although the former has dismal performance ratings, and both have gone on strike in the last 13 months. Other government unions have defeated ballot initiatives to reform an expensive public pension system that is crippling the city's ability to provide services.

But perhaps the ultimate mark of a progressive city is that it relies on the government, rather than private industry, to micromanage economic outcomes. In San Francisco, this has produced a regulatory and administrative style that favors certain businesses—and demographics—over others. The creation of something called PDR zoning allowed the city to impose costly fines on white-collar start-ups for using office space that it wanted available for “light industrial” craftsmen, who are presumably more authentic to the nouveau riche. The city-run cab industry, meanwhile, has long crowded out new drivers, and private options like Uber, in order to protect existing medallion holders. Other disruptive urban innovations, such as food carts, micro-housing, and Airbnb, tremble under hawkish government oversight while large tech companies have received millions in tax breaks to locate in neighborhoods that were already revitalizing.

These policies do not seem to have hurt San Francisco’s growth, thanks to engrained advantages like a good climate, interesting culture, and proximity to educated workers. But those studying the causes of inequality should note the uneven nature of the city’s growth: While overall population has boomed since 2007, middle-class population has declined, and the share of poor households moving to the suburbs has increased, suggesting that the next step after income loss has been exile. Progressive economic policies—or at least the way they are applied in San Francisco, without apparent knowledge of government bureaucracy’s pitfalls—have contributed to the trend. Those policies have caused higher taxes and living costs, poor services, regulatory barriers to entry, and a loss of economic freedom. This creates a system that the rich can endure, and sometimes exploit to their benefit, but that poorer people cannot abide, helping to explain San Francisco's further plunge into stark class division.



ObamaCare's Foundation of Lies

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, one of the original architects of ObamaCare – which passed without a single Republican vote – is at the center of a new political storm Democrats can ill afford these days. Earlier this week, a video surfaced of a panel at the University of Pennsylvania last year in which Gruber discussed the “Affordable” Care Act. In the video, he argued the law had to be written in a way that obscured what it was actually about because there was no other way it could have passed. No kidding.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber told the audience. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass.”

There can be no better example of the hubris, arrogance and utter lack of respect for the democratic process than the words of this elitist.

Enraged yet? Wait, there’s more.

In that same clip, Gruber said, “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” Gruber also responded to a charge made earlier in the panel that the law had a “dumb way” of subsidizing high-risk insurance customers. Gruber tacitly granted as much, but said, “If you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.”

Caught in the act, Gruber went on MSNBC this week to explain himself. “I was speaking off the cuff,” he said. “And I basically spoke inappropriately, and, uh, I regret having made those comments.” This non-apology apology was nothing more than Gruber saying he’s sorry the comments were made public.

Shortly after his MSNBC appearance, another clip surfaced from another 2013 forum where he explained how the Democrats collectively worked to fool voters and get the bill passed: “That passed because the American voters are too stupid to understand the difference.”

Gruber was also recorded thanking a Massachusetts “hero” for inventing the so-called “Cadillac tax” on premium health plans: “John Kerry said, ‘No, no. We’re not going to tax your health insurance. We’re going to tax those evil insurance companies. We’re going to impose a tax that if they sell insurance that’s too expensive, we’re going to tax them.’ And, conveniently, the tax rate will happen to be the marginal tax rate under the income tax code. So, basically, it’s the same thing: We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on higher prices that offsets the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basically exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

The White House is now doing damage control. White House spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said, “The Affordable Care Act was publicly debated over the course of 14 months, with dozens of congressional hearings and countless town halls, speeches and debates. … Not only do we disagree with [Gruber’s] comments, they’re simply not true.” Another anonymous White House official said, “[Gruber] did not work in the White House.” Then why was he paid nearly $400,000 for his work?

Press Secretary Josh Earnest protested, “The fact of the matter is the process associated with writing and passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went even further, telling reporters Thursday, “I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.” Maybe if she had read the bill, she would have found out what’s in it – or at least who wrote it.

In truth, Pelosi praised Gruber’s work in 2009 before it became inconvenient to know him. And her website cites him by name in at least seven places.

The Obama administration relied heavily, for example, on Gruber’s data to predict the effect ObamaCare would have on health care costs. In fact, administration officials praised the computer model he devised. His mouth got him into trouble in 2009 when, in the heat of congressional debate, he admitted the legislation “really doesn’t bend the cost curve.” This was a point many Republicans, notably Rep. Paul Ryan, made during the debate over the bill.

Gruber himself also tried to qualify his remarks and tried to redirect attention back to Republicans. During his MSNBC appearance, Gruber said, “I think that this comes to the master strategy of the Republican Party, which is to confuse people enough about the law so that they don’t understand that the subsidies they’re getting is [sic] because of the law.”

Wait, who’s trying to confuse people? Take a quick look at some of Barack Obama’s gems regarding his precious health care law over the last six years:

“If you like your current insurance, you keep your current insurance. Period. End of story.”

“We can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.”

“Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”

“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.”

And then there’s this one: “This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Not a single one of these statements contained a shred of truth. Now, thanks to Gruber, it’s even more clear these stump comments were never anything more than utter lies.

No matter what Gruber or Obama or Pelosi say now, the fact is the American people were conned and lied to. Obama and his people knew that was the only way ObamaCare would happen.

The future of ObamaCare is in serious doubt, not just legally but politically.

Take for example Ron Fournier, senior political columnist for National Journal and longtime champion of ObamaCare. “Gruber’s remarks may not be dispositive, but they certainly are evidence,” Fournier wrote this week. “And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies.”

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina may have said it best when asked about the motivations of Gruber and the Obama bureaucrats who supposedly knew better than the American people: “I would say this to the professor: Put down the cognac and the lost writings of J.D. Salinger, if you want to see how stupid our fellow citizens are, take a look at last Tuesday night because they rejected you, this bill and this administration.”

And let’s not forget that period in time following Obama’s election in 2008. No one was clamoring for health care reform. What the citizenry really wanted was a solution to the economic crisis. Yet the Obama administration saw an opportunity to exploit a crisis to its own advantage – to increase access to abortion, give the IRS unprecedented power to meddle in peoples' lives and increase regulatory reach over the health care sector.

ObamaCare was a vehicle not to solve the nation’s health care issues but to expand federal control over the populace. The final product was never, and still is not, popular with the public. It was one of the prime movers of the 2014 midterm elections. And if it was such a good bill, why was it necessary to lie to the American people to get it passed? The answer is now obvious.



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

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


13 November, 2014

Why Liberals Read More Books Than Conservatives

Wayne Allyn Root has some good points below but perhaps I can add something too. I also rarely read books these days -- though I used to read 2 or 3 books a week when I was a kid. I just don't have the time to read books because there is so much to keep up with online. I spend around 12 hours a day reading but I read stuff off a screen, not from books.

Another probable factor behind book reading is that liberals have a greater need to "tailor" what they see and hear. The content of a book is fairly predictable so the book can be chosen to tell you stuff you like to hear. You can stay comfortably inside your little Leftist mental bubble by reading mainly books. If instead you listen to radio and TV you might occasionally hear something that threatens your little fantasy world. You might for instance hear what those wonderful peace-loving Muslims of ISIS are doing these days. Horror! We don't want to hear that!

And you might even hear fleetingly that Israel invaded Gaza only after Gazans had rained thousands of rockets down upon Israel. Could those powerless but wise and heroic Palestinians do that? Much nicer to read a book by Jimmah Carter or his ilk telling us that Israel is an "Apartheid state". Never mind that Israeli Arabs have exactly the same rights as Israeli Jews and are found at all levels of Israeli society

A new study came out last week that proves that liberals (Democrats and Progressives) read more books than Conservatives (Republicans or Libertarians). Leading publishing executives even commented on it, saying that more books should be aimed at liberals because Conservatives just don't read. The inference, of course, is that Conservatives are ignorant, lazy, or just not intellectually curious. Meanwhile liberals will undoubtedly use these new "facts" to prove that they are intellectual heavyweights- the very kind of highly informed intellectuals who should be running our country.

What a crock! The truth is that facts are many times misleading- and this is a perfect example. The fact is that liberals have the time to read books simply because they are rarely in positions of authority or leadership- they do not own businesses, run companies, or serve in positions of great responsibility. It's easy to find the time to read a book on a couch or lazy-boy when you get off work at 3 PM daily- and have no responsibilities once you walk out the office door. Unfortunately for the rest of us in positions of ownership and leadership, our days never end. We are making business calls, participating in conference calls, and answering emails at all hours of the day and night. For the people defined as "conservative" our responsibilities never end- leaving us little, if any, time to even fantasize about reading books.

Who are "conservatives?" Conservatives are simply defined as the "producers" of our economy- Americans with important jobs; in leadership positions; with great responsibility; the type of people that are "on the go" 24/7- who make our economy go and grow.

No, conservatives don't have the time to read books. But they are busy creating, funding and shaping the businesses, industries, and jobs that make a difference in our world (and our economy). Reading books is not something they have time for in their busy schedules. They have mortgages, property taxes, income taxes, private schools and college educations (for their kids) to pay for. When you're bright and ambitious and want to provide a better life for your family, there are a lot of bills to pay- big bills. No, reading books is just not high up on the "priority list" for conservatives.

Equally misleading is the fact that, while busy entrepreneurs and executives (like me) don't have time to read books, we actually read far more than any liberal. We simply choose to read publications important to our careers, our success, and our understanding of the business world. For instance I rarely read a book- but I read 5 to 7 newspapers a day. My daily "must read" is the Wall Street Journal. I read it from front to back every morning. I also read the NY Times, LA Times, USA Today and my local Las Vegas Review Journal. But that's just the start. I read Forbes, Fortune, Robb Report and a multitude of other important business and political magazines.

By the way, I do "read" several books a month- but I do not have the time to sit and read them in traditional fashion. I read them by listening to books on tape. So while liberals are fancying themselves as "gifted intellectuals" because they read 2 or 3 books a month, I'm busy reading 50 to 100 business publications a month, while also listening to 20 books on tape. So who's really doing the most reading? I'd argue that reading the Wall Street Journal daily is far more intellectual and crucial to success, than reading 2 or 3 books (perhaps romance novels or psycho-babble by Dr. Phil) at the beach. Reading books is a good thing- but not nearly as good for society (or the economy) as working 24/7 to create and build businesses. Not even close. Liberals don't read more books than conservatives because they are smarter- they just have more leisure time.

The reason that Conservatives don't read books is the exact same reason that liberals fail miserably on talk radio. Just in the past few months, high-profile liberal talk radio networks Air America and Jane Fonda's GreenStone Media (feminist radio) both declared bankruptcy and went off the air. Why? Because radio is not something most people listen to at home. Talk radio is the perfect form of entertainment while driving in your car. And who drives in their cars (particularly during morning and evening rush hour)? People with jobs, businesses, careers- otherwise known as conservatives (at least fiscal conservatives). Talk radio is dominated by conservative hosts- they literally scream all day long about high taxes and wasteful government spending. You know why? Because the drivers listening to these shows are the ones who pay all the taxes!

Conservatives drive in the morning to work (sometimes an hour or longer commute), they drive back home at night, they drive in-between to business lunches, client meetings and sales calls. Then they drive on Saturday and Sunday mornings to their children's ballgames, karate classes, Lacrosse matches, and swimming lessons. These are people with families, big mortgages, careers. No wonder they are fiscally conservative.



In Another Blow to Obamacare, the Supreme Court Will Hear This Case

As director of the Center for Health Policy Studies, Nina Owcharenko oversees The Heritage Foundation’s research and policy prescriptions on such issues as health care reform on the federal and state levels, Medicare and Medicaid, children’s health and prescription drugs. Read her research.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the King v. Burwell case exposes another potential weakness in the health care law. In the King case, the Supreme Court will consider whether the Internal Review Service has the authority to expand the application of healthcare subsidies to federal exchanges.

The subsidies are a key tool used under the law to drive individuals onto the government exchanges. Without the subsidies, fewer individuals likely would chose to purchase the government-mandated plans.

But only 14 states and the District of Columbia established state-based exchanges and even some of those (Oregon and Nevada) are backing out for 2015. In the remainder of states with exchanges, the federal government, not the state governments, established the exchanges.

As my colleague Andrew Kloster summarized in another post on a related case, “The tax subsidies for low-income Americans are only available, “through an Exchange established by [a] State under section 1311.” Federal exchanges are set up under Section 1321 of Obamacare – not Section 1311. But the administration still wants to provide subsidies, even though the law doesn’t appear to authorize the handout.” And there lies the problem.

So should the Supreme Court decide that the subsidies are not valid in the federal exchange, it will mark yet another major blow to Obamacare, because the subsidies in those states where the exchanges were established by the federal government no longer will be available.

One of the first blows to Obamacare also came as a result of a Supreme Court ruling. Although the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, as part of the NFIB v. Sebelius decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states choosing not to expand their Medicaid program as posited under Obamacare would not lose their entire federal funding for Medicaid, but would lose only the enhanced funding extended under the law. Today, 23 states still have not expanded their Medicaid programs, delivering another blow to the core of Obamacare.

There are other signs that Obamacare is weakening. The promise that Obamacare would bend the cost curve and lower premiums isn’t being fulfilled. Instead, there are increases and higher premiums inside and outside the exchanges.

The promise that you could keep your plan and your doctor has been dashed as millions face involuntary cancellations, meaning they’ve lost their plan, only to then find narrowed networks in the government exchanges, meaning they have access to fewer doctors and services than before.

The promise of deficit-free spending has also been shown to be a mirage: Obamacare’s policies actually will increase deficits and fall short of producing the savings it promised. And even the revenues expected to help pay for the health care law aren’t materializing.

And probably the weakest link in Obamacare is its lack of public support. The latest Real Clear Politics average for October showed a 13.5-point difference between those who opposition Obamacare and those who support it. Election night exit polls reinforced this point.

As Obamacare’s core continues to weaken, the new Congress should start fresh and advance a new health care agenda.

This agenda, in sharp contrast with Obamacare, should be based on the principles of patient-centered, market-based health reform where individuals can own their own health care and choose the kind of plan that best meets their healthcare needs, and where a level playing field forces the healthcare sector to compete for consumers based on price, quality and value.



"Big Truthy" Is Watching You

On Monday, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, requested that the National Science Foundation send him all information about how and why the taxpayer-subsidized "Truthy" data-mining project came into existence. Its lead researcher is Filippo Menczer — professor of informatics and computer science and the director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing — who is now on sabbatical at Yahoo! Labs.

Menczer and Indiana University vehemently deny that Truthy is a "political watchdog," a "government probe of social media," "an attempt to suppress free speech or limit political speech or develop standards for online political speech," "a way to define "misinformation," a partisan political effort, "a system targeting political messages and commentary connected to conservative groups," "a mechanism to terminate any social media accounts," or "a database tracking hate speech."

But Menczer himself admits the project arose after he learned about a conservative Twitter bomb campaign against failed Senate Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in 2010. His information-gathering system bears liberal comedian Stephen Colbert's neologism "truthy." And the Washington Free Beacon's Elizabeth Harrington reports that Menczer "proclaims his support for numerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama's Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and True Majority."

In presentations to academic groups, Menczer has specifically highlighted his team's research on conservative groups, individuals and hashtags. I've seen it. At Harvard University's "Truthiness Conference" in March 2012, for example, he showed his audience the results of monitoring and mapping the hashtag "#obamacare" and singled out the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation for using it. His government-funded database mined information on who was retweeting #obamacare-labeled tweets and pinpointed "patterns of propagation."

Menczer and company also policed Twitter users who opined that Obama supported policies that promote Sharia law. Truthy targeted pro-Sarah Palin tweets and tweets using the hashtag "#tcot" — which stands for "Top Conservatives on Twitter" and which I've used since 2009. The government-funded researchers also went after opponents of Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, as well as a "Republican activist in Pennsylvania" whose Twitter account was then shut down after Truthy identified tweets that included web links to John Boehner's official congressional leadership page.

The goal, Menczer explained, is to "detect" Twitter users' themes and memes "early before damage is done — that is what we're trying to do." Truthy will "automatically detect language," and its overseers will conduct "sentiment analysis" to control and prevent "damage."

Nope, no political goals or ideological agenda there. Nothing to see here. Run along.

Menczer defends against leftwing bias by claiming that "almost all of the most popular hashtags, the most active accounts, and the most tweeted URLs, are from the right. We looked really hard for any 'truthy' memes from the left."

Look harder, pal.

As conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh and his staff discovered (no tax grant money necessary), the astroturfed social media boycott campaign against his show for the past several years has been spearheaded by only 10 Twitter users who account for almost 70 percent of all "StopRush" tweets to advertisers, amplified by illicit software. Moreover, they found, "almost every communication from a StopRush activist originates from outside the state of the advertiser." These lib bots constitute "a small number of extremists sending tens of thousands of tweets and other messages" to bully and intimidate advertisers.

Yet, there hasn't been a peep about the insidious #StopRush smear campaign from Menczer and his Obama administration-backed liberal snitch squad. It's time for some truth in Truthy advertising.



Apparent attack on voter confidentiality

Touch-Screen Voting Machines Collected Millions of Tea Party Fingerprints for Homeland Security

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a disgruntled engineer for the largest voting machine manufacturer in North America leaked information to NR about the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement with 2014 mid-term election voting data.

The source claimed that in the months preceding the election, more than seventeen thousand new touch-screen voting machines were deployed in almost every state in the union. The bulk of the machines were located in areas with known Tea Party and Libertarian population densities.

The latest generation of machines shipped with new fingerprint gathering technology developed by DHS in cooperation with Apple... Apple has been working on ways to make the technology profitable by marketing it directly to military agencies and other companies.

Our source revealed that during the course of the election over 4 million Tea Party and Libertarian fingerprints were collected and distributed directly to the DHS Domestic Terrorist database.



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

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


12 November, 2014

A Smoking Gun for Us 'Stupid American Voters'

Recently, a very disturbing video emerged that contains the metaphorical smoking gun concerning President Obama’s many lies about Obamacare. This should remove any lingering doubt that we’re dealing with a fascist-type administration.

Of course, there should be no need for a smoking gun, because it is now undeniable that Obama lied on his major selling points about the Affordable Care Act. Unlike many Democrats in falsely accusing President George W. Bush of lying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, I don’t use the term “lie” lightly.

I don’t mean that Obama made good-faith statements about his bill that he honestly believed at the time but would later turn out to be erroneous. I am not even suggesting that he made promises he knew would be difficult to fulfill that he ultimately could not. I am saying that he made statements that he knew to be false when he made them.

Obama said countless times, despite knowing better, that if Americans liked their health care plans and their doctors, they could keep them. He said that average health care premiums for a family of four would decrease by some $2,500. He said his bill would be budget-neutral. His administration talked out of both sides of its mouth in characterizing the bill variously as a tax and as a penalty, depending on which label served his interests at the time. Team Obama assured us that employer-based plans would not be wedged out.

No one should need further proof of these multiple and oft-repeated lies, but should you need more, there is indeed more – and it’s explosive and hot off the presses.

The Daily Caller reports that in a newly surfaced video, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor, made some stunning admissions concerning how the administration presented the bill and how it overtly deceived the public because the bill never would have passed otherwise.

To understand the administration’s contempt for the American people, it is important for you to watch the video. (It’s on YouTube, titled “GRUBER: ‘Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”) But in case you cannot, here is what Gruber said: “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK? So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money – it would not have passed. … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass. … Look, I wish (health economist) Mark (Pauly) was right (that) we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

You can see the mindset that these people have. There is no mistaking it. They know better than we “stupid” American people what is good for us, so they’ll do whatever is necessary, including purposely deceiving us, to advance their political agenda.

This is the stuff of outright tyrants – arrogant, unaccountable, cavalier despots. This is political fascism. This is not representative government. This type of behavior nullifies the Constitution and disenfranchises the American people.

It’s one thing to have strong ideological views. It’s altogether another to impose those views at any cost and in derogation of the people’s rights. This is who this president is. These are the people he surrounds himself with.

Obama and his team are not chastened, much less repentant, over the recent election results. They remain undeterred, and they intend to continue using whatever means they deem necessary, in their self-assessed superior wisdom, to accomplish their political ends, beginning with immigration.

It’s hard to believe that this man was ever elected and exceedingly harder to believe he was re-elected, but it is now quite clear that even he and his team believe he wouldn’t have been able to achieve re-election or advance much of his agenda had he been truly honest and transparent about his aims and the effects of various bills.

If you were unaware of or in denial about Obama’s character and his willingness to deceive and act against the will of the American people before – despite other smoking guns, such as those concerning his lies on the Benghazi, Libya, attacks – you have no excuse now.

Two dangerous years remain in Obama’s term. Even Democrats who might agree with many of Obama’s remaining agenda items have a duty to oppose his further abuse of our system, including on immigration. But whether or not they step up, it is imperative that Republicans take a hard line against any such corrosive acts against the rule of law and our Constitution.



Arizona voters did something that could stop Obama's unconstitutional moves

Voters in Arizona approved Proposition 122, an important amendment to the state constitution that enshrines nullification, or anti-commandeering. Specifically, it allows the state to “exercise its sovereign authority to restrict the actions of its personnel and the use of its financial resources to purposes that are consistent with the Constitution.”

This amendment, approved by a 2.8% margin, will make it easier for Arizonans to refuse to enforce federal laws, forcing Washington to do its own dirty work. Under the provision, voters could hold referendums on withholding state resources from enforcing Obamacare, federal impingement on American’s Second Amendment rights, NSA spying programs, and other measures, according to the Tenth Amendment Center.

Other states have considered nullification measures as a method of pushing back on the massive, unconstitutional expansion of federal government by un-elected bureaucrats in federal agencies under President Barack Obama or any future White House occupant, but this is believed to be the first amendment to a state constitution with such a broad scope.

Arizonans could have held such referendums at any time, but adding this language to the state’s constitution means that such referendums will now be statutory, rather than constitutional, making it easier — and far less expensive — to get on the ballot for the people to decide.

“Simply put, the amendment enshrines a process to refuse state cooperation with unconstitutional federal acts in the state constitution,” the report said, citing a statement from Judge Andrew Napolitano that state refusal to participate in federal programs makes them “nearly impossible to enforce.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently upheld actions by states to refuse to implement federal programs. The report cites four key decisions — Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842), New York v. US (1992), Printz v. US (1997) and National Federation of Businesses v. Sebelius (2012).

James Madison, writing in Federalist #46, said that two of the most important “means of opposition” to the federal government were the “disquietude of the people” and their “refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union.” Arizona just added to its constitution the means for its citizens to express both more readily.

It is sincerely to be hoped that other states will follow the example of The Grand Canyon State, but for now, it’s a good day to be an Arizonan.



Republicans Can Upend the Democrat Race Narrative

Many realities utterly anathema to Democrats' divide-and-conquer strategy for winning elections revealed themselves last Tuesday. Yet perhaps the one that threatens their future far more than any other is the reality that, for the first time in decades, the Democrat race narrative is starting to crumble. Suddenly, black America’s invariably reliable allegiance to their party is in play.

For the last half-century, Democrats successfully painted the entire GOP as the “racist” party. The enormity of that success cannot be overstated, as Democrats managed to take American history completely out of the equation while doing so. History that reveals the Republican Party was established by anti-slavery activists, while it was Democrats who flocked to the Ku Klux Klan following its establishment as a Tennessee social club. In the middle of the 20th century, the “Dixiecrats,” including segregationists such as Alabama Public Safety Commissioner “Bull” Connor and former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, emerged. It was Connor who ordered the use of police dogs and fire hoses to disperse civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham during the spring of 1963. It was Maddox who refused to serve black customers in his restaurant, brandishing an axe handle in the process. And then there was the late Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd, who served over 50 years in that chamber, despite not only being a member of the KKK but a leader of his local chapter.

Many black Americans have no idea a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were also responsible for ending a Democrat filibuster preventing a vote on the bill in the Senate.

What black Americans do know is that Democrats ultimately captured their hearts and souls, not only to the point of getting their votes, but to the point where any who dared stray from the Democrat plantation faced the kind of ostracizing best exemplified by the pathetic treatment afforded Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Emerge, a now-defunct black news monthly, portrayed Thomas as a lawn jockey on its cover with the heading “Uncle Thomas, Lawn Jockey for the Far Right.” USA Today columnist and Pacifica Radio host Julianne Malveaux hoped aloud that “his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease,” because he is “a reprehensible person.” Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown claimed Thomas was “legitimizing the views of the Ku Klux Klan,” a view shared by Jesse Jackson.

All of this was and is perfectly acceptable in Democrat circles, where even now the only “authentic” black Americans are those on the liberal side of the political ledger. Thus it is no surprise that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the first black senator elected in the South since the Reconstruction era, received an “F” from the NAACP, because he doesn’t believe in “civil rights” according to NAACP president Ben Jealous. What Scott really doesn’t believe in is the progressive agenda. Nor is it any surprise that execrable New York Congressman Charles Rangel expressed his belief that all southern Republicans “believe that slavery isn’t over and they think they won the Civil War,” implying all those GOP victories last Tuesday were attributable to racism. “I meant that they used to call themselves ‘slave-holding states,’” Rangel declared.“ They’ve been frustrated with the Emancipation Proclamation. They became Republicans, then Tea Party people.”

No one’s more frustrated than Rangel and other Democrats who see the writing on the wall. Their angst is undoubtedly exacerbated by the election of Utah Rep. Mia Love, the first black Republican woman elected to Congress in a state where the population is less than 1% black. Love is actually far more problematic than Scott because she also pokes a hole in another cherished Democrat narrative, a.k.a. the GOP’s “war on women.”

Yet while the cracks in the Democrat race narrative are beginning to show, those fissures can only be widened when the Right learns to be proactive and frame the argument. An exchange between Bill Kristol, the conservative publisher of The Weekly Standard, and CNN commentator Jay Carney, former White House Press Secretary, is illustrative. When Carney expressed the idea that GOP support for voter ID is racist, Kristol merely disagreed. What Kristol should have said is that there is nothing more racist than the notion that black Americans are inherently incapable of procuring an ID, and that Carney should be ashamed of making the kind of sweeping generalizations that are the essence of racism.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gets it exactly right. “The idea that you would play such a card and try fear-mongering among minorities just because you disagree with Republicans, that they are somehow all racists, I find it appalling. I find it insulting,” she said, specifically referring to a Democrat flyer disseminated in Georgia warning blacks that “if you want to prevent another Ferguson” you’d better get to the polls and vote Democrat.

It didn’t fly. Republican David Perdue handily won the Senate race against Democrat Michelle Nunn by eight percentage points.

Furthermore, there were potentially seismic indications of black disenchantment with Democrats before Election Day. On Friday, July 11 in Chicago, what started out as a protest against the violence that had resulted in 189 people being shot and 33 killed in that month alone turned into an Obama bash-fest. One black resident accused the president of “forsaking the African-American community and African-American families.”

Sadly, it’s nothing new. Democrats have conspired to maintain an odious narrative of black victimhood and GOP racism since the 1960s.

What more and more black Americans may now be realizing is the party they’ve hitched their wagon to for five-plus decades is still telling them things have barely changed for the better, if they have changed at all – and that maybe, just maybe, 50 years of unquestioning allegiance producing virtually no improvement means it’s time for a change.

In short, the Grand Old Party has been handed a grand opportunity to make serious inroads into the black community. The quickest way to blow that opportunity? Hop on board the comprehensive immigration reform train. The stats tell the story all the rosy rhetoric surrounding immigration reform can’t obscure: In Oct., black America’s unemployment rate remained double that of whites, 41,000 black Americans lost their jobs, and their labor force participation rate declined by 114,000 – all in an economy improving for everyone else.

It’s time the GOP made it clear to black America that they have their backs and stand in stark contrast to Barack Obama and Democrats, both eager to legalize millions of illegals who will further devastate black employment prospects. This is nothing less than a sellout of black America, and it is incumbent on the GOP to explain that Democrats see it as a reasonable tradeoff for unassailable power – power that is only possible because Democrats take black support for granted.

The opportunity to forge a new racial narrative is at hand. The Democrats' racial playbook is old and tired, the race card is more than maxed out. All that is needed is some serious GOP outreach in black communities over the next two years. Memo to the GOP: Those two years may buy you another four, including a Republican president in 2016.



GOP adds another Senate seat as Sullivan wins Alaska

Republican candidate Dan Sullivan defeated Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race Wednesday. The win gives the GOP eight Senate pickups in the midterm elections. The party is also seeking a ninth seat in Louisiana’s runoff in December.

Sullivan ran a confident campaign, ignoring the debate schedule Begich established and setting his own terms.

He pledged to fight federal overreach, talked about energy independence and at seemingly every opportunity, sought to tie Begich to President Barack Obama and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who are unpopular in Alaska.



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

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


12 November, 2014

Far-Left Hollywood actress to sue conservative publisher

Liberal Hollywood actress and darling of Planned Parenthood, Lena Dunham, is gunning for the Freedom Center and Truth Revolt --- and now I urgently need your help to build up our legal defense fund.

You might have read about it on the Drudge Report or seen it in The Hollywood Reporter, The Daily Mail, the Los Angeles Times, or People Magazine or any other mainstream media outlet...

Leftwing Hollywood feminist Lena Dunham is threatening to sue Truth Revolt and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, because we wrote an article in which we quoted her book, Not That Kind of Girl!

Who is Lena Dunham, you may wonder? She is the New Hot Thing-a leftist actress who is the darling of the liberal media; who has been one of Obama's most rabid backers; who has been in America's face as a supporter of what she calls "reproductive rights" and "female sexuality"; and who teams up with groups such as Emily's List and Planned Parenthood to try to tilt the playing field in favor of leftwing causes.

She's also a best selling author whose new book causes the flesh to crawl because, among other things, of the way it describes her relationship with her younger sister. This part of Not That Kind of Girl caught our eye, which is why we described it, using Dunham's own words, in Truth Revolt.

Without going into detail, I'll just say that it's very disturbing, especially coming from someone who has presented herself as so very progressive and such a critic of sexual abuse --- and in particular, a spokesperson against the right's fictitious War on Women.

Whether you want to call what Dunham wrote an admission of sexual abuse or just a very progressive view of sibling relations is up to you. What is not up for debate is that she wrote some bizarre and graphic passages that Truth Revolt quoted -- and the next thing we knew, we had a letter from her attorney, threatening suit for defamation.

In his "cease-and-desist" letter, Dunham's lawyer stated "Our client intends to vigorously pursue all possible legal remedies available to her . . . Remedies available to my client include, without limitation, actual damages to her personal and professional reputation which likely would be calculated in the millions of dollars [plus] punitive damages." The letter demanded that the story be immediately removed.

The letter also stated: "Demand is further made that you immediately print a prominent public apology and retraction at all media whereat you published the Story, stating that the Story is false, that you regret having published it, and that you apologize to Ms. Dunham and her family for having published it."

We refused to comply with these demands. In response to the attorney's threat, we stated: "We refuse. We refuse to withdraw our story or apologize for running it, because quoting a woman's book does not constitute a "false" story, even if she is a prominent actress and leftwing activist. Lena Dunham may not like our interpretation of her book, but unfortunately for her and her attorneys, she wrote that book - and the First Amendment covers a good deal of material she may not like."

Our lawyer advises us that we have a strong legal defense, based on the First Amendment, and we fully expect to prevail. But the costs of defending a case are high, and now we could be facing $250,000 in legal defense costs-a negligible sum for someone like Dunham, but a serious expense for us.

Lena Dunham is a very public figure that stars and directs the HBO show "Girls." She has made a career out of shocking her audiences and exploiting her celebrity to push hard-left causes. Her book is certainly fair game, as are questions about her sickening conduct with regard to her sister. That is what the First Amendment is for and what it protects.

Truth Revolt criticized Dunham. Dunham fired back on Twitter, and her sycophants in the media covered for her. But she didn't stop there. She decided, as leftists often do, that to silence critics is more appealing than simply utilizing her own freedom of speech under the First Amendment. People like Dunham want to be as "provocative" and "edgy" as they choose. But when anyone calls them on their conduct they want to unplug the microphone.

So, she ordered her attorney to issue this letter threatening suit. If she does sue, the Freedom Center and Truth Revolt are prepared to go to the wall in defense of free speech. Lawsuits can be incredibly expensive, especially when the other side is a major entertainer with millions in the bank and fellow Hollywood leftists urging her to silence a fearless conservative publication like Truth Revolt. But we will do what needs to be done to protect the First Amendment.

Via email. You can donate to the defense here


Salon sneers at the Military on Eve of Veterans Day, saying: 'It's been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom.'

It could be argued that America has faced no serious external threat to its freedoms since the war of independence. But is that the point of past and present American military deployments? In keeping with the Leftist lack of feeling for others, the Salon writer is indifferent to attacks on the freedom of other people. People such as the victims of Hitler or ISIS are not worth defending, apparently

Salon.com has a funny way of honoring the military right before Veterans Day.

David Masciorta penned an offensive column Sunday titled, "You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy" with the sub-head "It's been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end." The reaction on social media was swift and merciless. The Salon Twitter account used a shortened version of the column's sub-headline to promote clicks to its site:

At the risk of polluting this site with Mr. Maciorta's leftist ranting, let's just take a quick look at his "argument":

"One of the reasons that the American public so eagerly and excitedly complies with the cultural code of lionizing every soldier and cop is because of the physical risk-taking and bravery many of them display on the foreign battleground and the American street. Physical strength and courage is only useful and laudable when invested in a cause that is noble and moral. The causes of American foreign policy, especially at the present, rarely qualify for either compliment. The “troops are heroes” boosters of American life typically toss out clichés to defend their generalization – “They defend our freedom,” “They fight so we don’t have to.”

No American freedom is currently at stake in Afghanistan. It is impossible to imagine an argument to the contrary, just as the war in Iraq was clearly fought for the interests of empire, the profits of defense contractors, and the edification of neoconservative theorists. It had nothing to do with the safety or freedom of the American people. The last time the U.S. military deployed to fight for the protection of American life was in World War II – an inconvenient fact that reduces clichés about “thanking a soldier” for free speech to rubble. If a soldier deserves gratitude, so does the litigator who argued key First Amendment cases in court, the legislators who voted for the protection of free speech, and thousands of external agitators who rallied for more speech rights, less censorship and broader access to media."

Salon's choice of subjects got an immediate reaction on Twitter



Border Patrol Stripping Agents Of Their Rifles

The Obama administration loathes its own agents -- because they want to do their job

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have uncovered that some U.S. Border Patrol agents have lost a key part of their arsenal. And that has agents who patrol along the border here, extremely worried.

We learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are inspecting the quality of agents’ M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol sectors nationwide. But agents tell us, some of those M4s have not been replaced. And, we’ve learned, agents are required to share rifles amongst each other.

“There’s a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it,” said Art del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector union. “We know it’s a dangerous job. We know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job.”

The M4 carbine is used by the U.S. military and by Border Patrol agents. It’s even used by the Border Patrol’s tactical unit, BORTAC. Agent Brian Terry was carrying the M4 when he was shot and killed in December 2010.

Del Cueto tells us that because some of those M4s have not been replaced, agents are pooling their weapons, which makes it difficult to personalize the settings on a rifle, such as the sights.

“The problem is they are now pool guns so what happens is instead of having their individual ones they have sighted in they’re having to use a pool weapon that you don’t know who used it before you,” del Cueto said.

Customs and Border Protection released a statement to the News 4 Tucson Investigators last week, stating: “CBP’s Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are jointly inspecting the serviceability of M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol Sectors nationwide. Some of (the) inspected M4 carbines were deemed unserviceable and removed from inventory to alleviate safety concerns. Inspections will continue to ensure the unserviceable M4 carbines are repaired or replaced for reintroduction into the field. No further information is available at this time.” ...

Prather believes removing some of the rifles maybe politically motivated. He says he was told that many of these guns are being removed for issues that are easily repaired like the firing pin and bolt.

He broke down a M4 as he spoke.

“This weapon is designed to be able to be in a battle situation, changed out rather quickly even so fast that modern weapons have areas to hold spare bolts,” he said.

That makes him suspicious that the agency could be disarming its agents.

The U.S. government has enough surplus weapons that every local yokel Sheriff’s department gets machine guns and armored vehicles on your tax dollars. But the Border Patrol agents are getting their rifles confiscated by the Border Patrol. It sort of makes you think that the administration is trying to cause an invasion, no?

So it’s worse that sending weapons South of the border to criminal cartels in an attempt to shore up the case for a demand letter to FFLs. Now we want to ensure that agents who want to stop the criminals aren’t armed. There’s your administration and your tax dollars at work.



The Bureaucrats’ Secret Buying Spree

Oh, to be a bureaucrat in the U.S. federal government! What other jobs pay just as much or more than similar work done in the private sector, but with much, much more generous benefits? Which would appear to be even more generous than we previously knew, thanks to the discovery of a surprising new perk by Scott McFarlane of Washington, D.C.’s NBC affiliate, News4 I-Team: taxpayer-funded purchase cards with no accountability!

The federal government has spent at least $20 billion in taxpayer money this year on items and services that it is permitted to keep secret from the public, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team.

The purchases, known among federal employees as “micropurchases,” are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies. A sampling of those purchases, obtained by the I-Team via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals at least one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year without having to disclose or detail the purchases to the public....

The I-Team, using the Freedom of Information Act, received a list of “micropurchases” made by the Dept. of Homeland Security at Starbucks vendors nationwide in 2013. The list includes dozens of transactions, including in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Several of the purchases were made at an Alameda, California, Starbucks vendor and cost more than $2,400 each, just below the $3,000 threshold for which purchases need not be publicly disclosed. After reviewing the I-Team’s findings, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of a U.S House Oversight subcommittee said, “When you have $10,000 being spent at one Starbucks by DHS employees in one city in six months, someone is abusing the purchasing permission that we have given them.”

Now, multiply that single abuse by a single federal government bureaucrat for spending $10,000 at a single Starbucks location by the federal government’s two million civilian employees, and that goes a very long way to explaining how the bureaucrats’ secret buying spree can add up to a bill that totals $20 billion dollars.



Anti-Israel Jews object to having a light shone upon them

In October 2014, 40 professors of Jewish studies published a denunciation of a study that named professors who have been identified as expressing “anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic rhetoric.” While the 40 academics claimed they reject anti-Semitism totally as part of teaching, they were equally critical of the tactics and possible effects of the AMCHA Initiative report, a comprehensive review of the attitudes about Israel of some 200 professors who signed an online petition during the latest Gaza incursion that called for an academic boycott against Israeli scholars.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is troubled that a group of largely Jewish professors denounced a study which had as its core purpose to alert students to professors who have demonstrated, in a public forum, that they harbor anti-Israel attitudes. Since the individuals named in the report teach in the area of Middle East studies, they are also likely to bring that anti-Israel bias into the classroom with them, and students, therefore, would obviously benefit from AMCHA’s report.

SPME questions why the 40 academics would oppose such a report of bias that indicates where professors’ stand politically, especially, as in this case, when those anti- Israel attitudes are extremely germane to their area of teaching, namely Middle East studies.

As AMCHA co-founder Tammi Benjamin noted, “I don’t understand why a professor has freedom of expression to sign a boycott petition and we don’t have freedom to say, "Look who signed the boycott petition".



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

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


11 November, 2014

Conservatives are more disgusted by animal mutilation than are liberals

That is the finding of the article below. See particularly their Table 4. Seeing a ripped apart animal didn't disturb American liberals much at all. Given the mass-murdering ways of socialists when they get untrammelled power (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Castro etc) that should not be much a of a surprise -- to say nothing of the Leftist indifference to abortion. They have the psychopath's emotional shallowness and indifference to suffering in others. They are basically very nasty people. Despite Leftist pretensions, it is conservatives who really feel for others.

The findings below are really quite striking. The brain activity observed across a lot of brain regions in response to an image of a mutilated animal was quite a strong predictor of political orientation. Conservatives were really stirred up by the image whereas liberals were not. You can tell pretty reliably where a person is politically by how much suffering disgusts him

Rather vaguely, the authors of the article interpret their results as showing that conservatives have a general negativity bias. But their own results refute that. There was NOTHING general in the responses of conservatives. The authors used a number of different stimuli but it was only the mutilated animal that evoked a strongly differentiated response. It could be argued that the results show conservatives to have a weak stomach but if a strong stomach goes with being relaxed about mass-murder and killing babies,a weak stomach would seem highly desirable. The monstrous description of killing the unborn as "choice" showed Leftist hard-heartedness long before the research below did

Nonpolitical Images Evoke Neural Predictors of Political Ideology

By Woo-Young Ahn et al.


Political ideologies summarize dimensions of life that define how a person organizes their public and private behavior, including their attitudes associated with sex, family, education, and personal autonomy [ 1, 2 ]. Despite the abstract nature of such sensibilities, fundamental features of political ideology have been found to be deeply connected to basic biological mechanisms [ 3–7 ] that may serve to defend against environmental challenges like contamination and physical threat [ 8–12 ].

These results invite the provocative claim that neural responses to nonpolitical stimuli (like contaminated food or physical threats) should be highly predictive of abstract political opinions (like attitudes toward gun control and abortion) [ 13 ].

We applied a machine-learning method to fMRI data to test the hypotheses that brain responses to emotionally evocative images predict individual scores on a standard political ideology assay.

Disgusting images, especially those related to animal-reminder disgust (e.g., mutilated body), generate neural responses that are highly predictive of political orientation even though these neural predictors do not agree with participants’ conscious rating of the stimuli.

Images from other affective categories do not support such predictions. Remarkably, brain responses to a single disgusting stimulus were sufficient to make accurate predictions about an individual subject’s political ideology.

These results provide strong support for the idea that fundamental neural processing differences that emerge under the challenge of emotionally evocative stimuli may serve to structure political beliefs in ways formerly unappreciated.



Backgrounder on the Middle east

The author is an American Kurd working for the U.N.

After thinking about your comment on the Kurds, and what the Press won't tell you, I thought you might like the perspective of someone whose spent a bit of time over here, and what I know from my personal experience of being over here, which is a perspective the general American public is clueless about because of our bought and paid for media.

So let me start by defining the players:

Arab Sunni Islam: They believe there was only one prophet, Mohammad, and that anyone that believes otherwise is an infidel. They hate Israel, and don't acknowledge their existence. They were allies of the Nazi's in WWII.

Arab Shia (Shi'ite) Islam: They believe that there were follow-on prophets after Mohammad. These "Prophets" are known as "Imam's" and their word is god's law, anyone who doesn't believe as they do is an Infidel. They hate Israel, and don't acknowledge their existence. They were allies of the Nazi's in WWII as well.

That's the primary difference between these two groups, but both are radical in their view of Islam, (wahhabism - the ultra conservative or orthodox belief in Islamic law, created by the Saudi royal family - think Amish v.s. Modern Christianity) and feel that anyone that doesn't believe like they do, is ok to kill as defined by their version of the Quran.

They all believe in Sharia law as greater than any government, and both sects believe in a Caliphate, or Islamic State forming again one day like the Ottoman Empire, which was the last one prior to the breakup after WW1. That's why you see Christians being culled and killed in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Lybia, Syria, etc. ............ as both sides believe Christianity to be an abomination, and are intolerant of anything but their own religion. Yes even in the countries we consider 'allies', like Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, etc. (Pretty much all the oil producing countries, and places with royal families)

80+% of the Arab Muslim population, whether Sunni or Shia, support what is going on with ISIS - as they are supporting ethnic cleansing of Christians and other beliefs which are non-Muslim.

There are no civilian casualties when bombing ISIS, as if they aren't pointing a gun, they are in direct support of the ISIS fighters, so don't believe a word the media says about civilian casualties. The military knows this, but the media doesn't have a clue.

Now for the Kurds. The Kurds are a dispersed ethnic group, across the entire Middle East, and predominantly live in Kurdistan, Turkey, northern Syria, and northern Iraq, where there has traditionally been peace. Kurds comprise anywhere from 18% to 25% of the population in Turkey, 15-20% in Iraq, 9% in Syria, 7% in Iran and 1.3% in Armenia. In all of these countries except Iran, Kurds form the second largest ethnic group. Roughly 55% of the world's Kurds live in Turkey, about 18% each in Iran and Iraq, and a bit over 5% in Syria. They are purportedly the descendents of King Solomon, and are Persian in ancestry. They encompass a variety of religions: they are Islam, Yarsan (Muslim, but non-confrontational), Yazidis (Christian theology), Zoroastianism (Ahura Mazda - Persian religion), Judaism (yes, there are Kurdish Jews), and Christianity.

While I was in Iraq, it was in Irbil where private western financial capital was flowing, (not U.S. government bribes, like in the south) in building three to five star resorts like Marriot, Best Western, Howard Johnson, and was the only area considered "safe" enough in the entire country to walk the streets without body armour outside the wire. Investment capital was flowing there, not in Bagdad as one might think, as the Kurds have a very European mindset, and are the only place in Iraq, and in the Middle East as a whole, where their public schools allowed girls to be educated. They are thought as chattels everywhere else, including places like Abu Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, etc., who are supposed to be our allies.

The Kurds have the Peshmerga, which has always been feared by both Sunnis AND Shia, because the Kurds have been used as canon-fodder for generations when under Arab control, and now that they have autonomy in northern Iraq, they despise most Arabs, which has the Royal families worried. What scares them even more, is the Female Peshmerga -- which are so feared by ISIS, they are avoiding the Peshmerga wherever they can, which is why you don't see much in the way of conflict against the Kurds in the north.

All we have to do in order to get rid of ISIS, which all rumours indicate is being funded by both the Saudis, and the Yemenis, is to arm the Kurds, and tell them Iraq is theirs for the taking. They have a 375,000 man/woman standing army in the Peshmerga, and only need the weapons to do the job. They don't want our help on the ground, but welcome our air support. It's the smart move to not get re-engaged in another Saudi-Prince-dictated war.

Hope that helps you to understand a bit about this side of the world, and why picking any allies against ISIS, puts us in bed with other terrorists, like Hamas, and Hezbollah, or puts us in cooperation with Iran, unless we do the right thing, and pick helping just the Kurds. If Israel was very smart, they would come to the aid of the Kurds, join forces, and make us all look like idiots, as the Kurds and the Israelis together could clean out the entire Middle East with ease.

Via email


Too much time on the present, not enough time on the past crusades

Imperialism was invented in the Middle East and the Jihadis are its modern-day exponents

“Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty four hours and too little on the last six thousand years.” — Will Durant

We are forever hearing the Muslim world using the term “Crusader” in reference to the West when accusing us of every evil that has ever befallen them, as though we had invented colonialism and exploitation or the acquisition of booty in the pursuit of empire.

One of the most prevalent characteristics of the jihadist—when he’s not using the religion of Islam to justify his savagery—is his habitual revision and/or obfuscation of actual Middle Eastern history. Always careful to avoid turning back the pages far enough to reveal how Islam’s religious parvenus actually pioneered the very idea of imperialism and colonial rule, the jihadist must overlook the fact that long before there was a Palestine “occupied” by a State of Israel, there was also a Palestine when Jews lived absent the presence of religiously intolerant Arab Muslims. Today’s “pro-Palestinian” protester vehemently refuses any discussion regarding the awkward historical truth defining who is actually occupying who in the land of Israel.

Efraim Karsh has noted, “Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is the Middle East where the institution of empire not only originated (for example, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Iran, and so on) but where its spirit has also outlived its European counterpart.” We are now accustomed to seeing anti-Zionism placards at any event arranged for the purpose of protesting against the State of Israel, as though any Jew should be ashamed of admitting to being a Zionist. Unlike the Islamic imperialist (read: jihadist), the Zionist doesn’t want to rule the world and hold indigenous captives under his thumb. Rather he simply wants to return to the land of Israel, his ancient homeland, and live there in peace, safely out of reach of the Islamic imperialist.

But the jihadist will travel back in history only so far as Jabotinsky and Herzl, as though Zionism began with them. Never mind the fact that Jabotinsky and Herzl and their Zionism saved many Jews from the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Sobibor, or repatriated into Israel those Jewish survivors who walked out of the darkness of Eastern Europe at the end of WW2, the jihadist, in his madness, erroneously sees only a mirror image of himself and Islam’s imperialistic tendencies in the Zionism of the Jew.

This is why the nefarious Protocols of the Elders of Zion has become the Arab Muslim’s most popular proof for his vitriol against the Jews of Israel. Never mind the ancient history of Zionism, that this same Zionism predates even the Muslim Arab invasion of ancient Israel, the Islamist sees only Jabotinsky and Herzl and the Jewish refugee fighting (and winning) his way back into what had been for so long a preponderant Arab Muslim Palestine.

The Arab Muslim, the original jihadist, has never been willing to tolerate a sovereign Jewish state, regardless the evidence of a perpetual Jewish presence in the land of Israel. As Jamil Mardam, Syria’s Foreign Minister, told Herzl’s friend Moshe Shertok back in 1943, “You won’t find a single Arab leader who would voluntarily acquiesce in your becoming the majority in Palestine…there can be no mutually agreed settlement as no Arab statesman will accept a Jewish majority.” Islam’s jihadist is willing to look only so far back into the history of the Middle East as serves his religion’s imperialistic dictates. About the fate of the Jews, even Jews running from the Holocaust, he couldn’t care less.

For every European and American kingmaker who travelled to the Middle East “to do the impossible for the ungrateful,” to borrow a phrase from Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, there was always an Arab Muslim waiting there who dreamed of empire and was more than willing to accept their money, even at the expense of the common Arab who was simply trying to raise a family and live in relative security. The reasons given today to justify Islamic jihad are simply born of a religiously taught hatred of everything Western but have no valid connection to the real history of the Middle East and therefore no credence when used to inculpate the West for the volatile instability of the region.

Arab Muslim empires rose and then came crashing down long before Western powers took their turn at exploiting the Middle East’s natural resources. One has only to take a short read into the history of Islam’s many kings and caliphs to realize that the jihad waged back then, with Arab Muslim killing Arab Muslim, was not at all dissimilar to the jihad waged today, with Arab Muslim killing Arab Muslim, Jew and Christian: jihad, not because there is any sense to it, or because there is an end that could possibly justify the means, but only because Islam and its tenets advocate jihad and for no other reason.

The jihadist is not interested in ancient history and how that history can never justify his crimes against humanity. The jihadist is only interested in the last twenty four hours and the measure of harm he has loosed into the world.



Oprah the hater

She still hates America even though it has given her so much -- in money and otherwise

Oprah Winfrey made some shocking comments in a recent interview with BBC, when she alluded that the only reason someone wouldn’t like President Barack Obama is if they were a racist.

When the interviewer asked Oprah if she thought people were against Obama because he was black, she responded, “There’s no question.”

She went on to say that she thinks “there’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that. And it’s the kind of thing no one ever says, buy everybody is thinking.”

Apparently Oprah isn’t aware that her comments don’t set her apart. Instead, they group her with a slew of Obama supporters that claim that disapproval of the president stems from either religious or racial discrimination. And she clearly hasn’t paid attention to stations like MSNBC or “celebrities” like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

She certainly isn’t alone in her accusations, but continued on to make a statement about racisms in general, stating that “As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin, problem’s not solved.”

So when does Oprah see racism coming to an end?

“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism,” Oprah said, “and they just have to die.”

That’s right, according to Oprah, when everyone who ever had a racist ancestor dies, America will be set free from all of its problems.


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


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

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


10 November, 2014

Is Obama a psychopath?

Coach Dave Daubenmire correctly diagnoses Obama's pathology below

I am not asking this with my tongue in my cheek. I am as serious as a judge. As I sit here and write, I am listening to Mr. Obama's press conference. Something is very wrong with this guy. He is either mentally ill or demon possessed. Either choice is a possibility. But something is definitely wrong with him. He seems somehow inhuman.

I’ve lived my entire life in a world of athletic competition. I understand the human emotion that is associated with winning and losing. I grew up with the opening theme of ABC's Wide World of Sports continuously playing in my head. (If I close my eyes I can hear the voice of Jim McKay bouncing around the corners of my brain.)

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat brings with it emotions. That is why we watch sports. We love the human drama of athletic competition. That's why we have press conferences after games. We love to hear the emotional reaction to winning and losing.

President Obama is a hollow man. He has no feelings. He feels no emotions. The human drama of competition seems to have no outward effect on him.

Can I be blunt? He got his butt kicked. Every talking head on the tube is pointing the finger at his unpopularity. “The bloom is off of the rose. It is a direct repudiation of his policies. The era of Obama is over.” It is as if everyone knows it but him.

Politics is nothing more than a beauty contest, and Obama has been voted off of the island. But he acts as if he still owns the island. There seems to be no agony in his defeat. It is not normal. His emotions do not line up with reality. He is either sick or he is possessed. I'm not laughing. I am serious.

His party rejected him. The American people rejected him. His fawning media has turned their affections in a different direction, yet he shows no emotion. I watch him on the TV. I watch him in his press conference. I watch his eyes as he responds to the media's questions. I believe he is a sick, dangerous man.

I Googled the word ‘sociopath’. “A person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

Bingo. That's him. That's the guy living the life of President of the United States.

I went a bit further and Googled “Characteristics of a Sociopath.” Read it for yourself. Permit me to summarize. You recognize his mental illness by these traits.

- An oversized ego.
- Lying and showing manipulative behavior.
- Incapable of showing empathy.
- No lack of shame or remorse.
- Staying eerily calm in dangerous situations.
- Behaving irresponsibly or with extreme impulsivity.
- Having few close friends.
- Being charming ---but only superficially.
- Living by the pleasure principle.
- Showing disregard for societal norms.
- Having intense eyes.

The man is either sick or non-human. He does not react like a normal human being.

Consider this from the article:

“Sociopaths can be very charismatic and friendly -- because they know it will help them get what they want. “They are expert con artists and always have a secret agenda,” Rosenberg said. "People are so amazed when they find that someone is a sociopath because they’re so amazingly effective at blending in. They’re masters of disguise. Their main tool to keep them from being discovered is a creation of an outer personality."

As M.E. Thomas described in a post for Psychology Today: "You would like me if you met me. I have the kind of smile that is common among television show characters and rare in real life, perfect in its sparkly teeth dimensions and ability to express pleasant invitation."

Reading that gives me the willies...how about you?

No emotions. Cold. Calculating. He doesn't even know that he lost. He is unaware that he has been rejected. He acts as if it is business as usual while the entire Democratic Party is wishing for a moving van out in front of the White House.

In my coaching career I lost a lot of games. I know how it feels. I know how it makes you react. He has destroyed his party. His friends are running for cover. But he acts as if he has just won.

Sociopaths are dangerous. Some famous sociopaths in recent history include Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gazy.

You laugh at me. You ridicule what I say because I compare him to serial killers. Go ahead. Laugh. He displays all of the characteristics of the above mentioned goons. They were charismatic and likeable.



Removing the root cause of car attacks on Israelis

In the postmortems of the terrorist car attacks in Jerusalem, it is easy to see the writing on the wall.

Ibrahim al-Akary, the terrorist who on Wednesday ran over crowds of people waiting to cross the street and catch the Jerusalem Light Rail, was the brother of one of the terrorist murderers freed in exchange for IDF hostage Gilad Schalit. He had placed the photograph on his Facebook page of Moataz Hejazi, the terrorist killed by police after shooting Yehuda Glick outside the Begin Heritage Center last Wednesday.

A few days before Abdur Rahman Slodi got into his car and mowed down three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and a dozen other pedestrians two weeks ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas exhorted the Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, by all means possible.

The question is, what was the trigger and how was it pulled?

Today the main factor unifying al-Qaida and Islamic State and their sister groups and followers in the region and worldwide is ideology. They all share the same hatred of the West, of all religions other than Islam and of all competing forms of Islam. They all seek the establishment of a global caliphate that will rule the world under the banner of Islam.

As Pace notes, they see themselves as soldiers in a long-term struggle. Their goal is not necessarily to conquer their target populations. Rather they seek to make life impossible for target societies. Mass chaos sowed by constant, low intensity, near-scatter-shot attacks can over time be sufficient to break the will of a targeted society or military organization to fight them.

Ideology is not something that people pick up or discard quickly or easily. For a person to be attracted to the jihadist cause he has to undergo indoctrination over a significant period of time. You cannot incite a person to strike if he hasn’t already been indoctrinated in a manner that makes him amenable to your incendiary call to action.

And this brings us back to the Palestinians and the trigger for the attacks conducted by independent or semi-independent terrorist operatives.

With the exception of Pakistani students in madrassas, few societies have undergone the mass indoctrination that the Palestinians have undergone over the past 20 years of Palestinian Authority rule. From the cradle to the grave, and most significantly in the school system, Palestinians are indoctrinated to hate Jews and seek the violent destruction of Israel. They are told that it is an Islamic duty to fight Jews and destroy Israel. This is as true in regular PA schools as it is in schools run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

We are experiencing today in Jerusalem a decentralized terrorist campaign rooted in the 20-year indoctrination of the Palestinians.

Yes, Hamas and Fatah still operate terrorist cells and units that are members of terrorist hierarchies. But at the same time, they have used a model similar to al-Qaida’s in developing semi-independent and wholly independent networks of operatives and operational cells. These independent cells are highly motivated and are willing to wait until they receive generalized signals from their leadership to strike.

So it was for instance in June with the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers in Gush Etzion. A few weeks before the kidnapping took place, from his home in Qatar, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal remarked that Hamas needed more hostages to trade for jailed terrorists.

The terrorists in Hebron were motivated to strike. With the financial assistance of Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas ideologue and operational commander in Turkey, they were able to purchase what they needed for the kidnapping. And when Mashaal said the time had come to kidnap Israelis, the countdown to the kidnap and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah began.

The cell was isolated and tiny. Mashaal’s order was indirect.
In the case of the violence in Jerusalem, indoctrination in UNRWA schools in places like Shuafat refugee camp where Akary lived, not to mention throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, has raised generations of Arabs who hate Israel and Jews.

Owing to this indoctrination, when presented with mass incitement by preachers in the mosques, and most importantly by the official Palestinian Authority media, these calls for violence are immediately embraced on a massive scale. Indeed, the comfort level that the Arabs of Jerusalem feel today in supporting terrorism may well be unprecedented.

In dealing with this burgeoning, decentralized terrorist campaign, aside from taking action to protect bus stops with various barricades, Israel needs to go after the triggers. It needs to break up the indoctrination system. And it needs to destroy the Palestinian leadership’s ability to communicate their incendiary messages.

Since UNRWA schools operating in Jerusalem engage in anti-Semitic indoctrination, Jerusalem municipal authorities must give them the choice of using Israeli textbooks or shutting down. If Israel wishes to assert its sovereignty, UNRWA schools would be a good place to start. Beyond that, preachers in mosques who incite murder and call for the destruction of Israel should be arrested.
As for the PA’s communications networks, all of the radio and television signals operating in the PA come from the Israeli electromagnetic spectrum. It is time to shut them down.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Wednesday, Abbas is directly inciting the murderous attacks on Jerusalem through the PA media organs. The way to protect Jerusalem is to remove him and his Hamas partners from the airwaves.

In the long term, it is imperative that Israel provide incentives to both the Jerusalem Arabs and the Palestinians to integrate peacefully with Israeli society. But before the government can seriously engage in this task, it needs to destroy the triggers of this terrorist onslaught.

It is not enough to complain about Palestinian indoctrination and incitement. It is time for Israel to end them.



Why Obama Hates Netanyahu

The writer below is too polite to mention it but I think a major reason why Obama hates Netanyahu is that Netanyahu is a real man -- while Obama has never been anything but a parasite

Obama's foreign policy was supposed to reboot America's relationship with the rest of the world. Old allies would become people we occasionally talked to. Old enemies would become new allies. Goodbye Queen, hello Vladimir. Trade the Anglosphere for Latin America's Marxist dictatorships. Replace allied governments in the Middle East with Islamists and call it a day for the Caliphate.

Very little of that went according to plan.

Obama is still stuck with Europe. The Middle East and Latin American leftists still hate America. The Arab Spring imploded. Japan, South Korea and India have conservative governments.

And then there's Israel. The original plan was to sideline Israel by focusing on the Muslim world. Instead of directly hammering Israel, the administration would transform the region around it. The American-Israeli relationship would implode not through conflict, but because the Muslim Brotherhood countries would take its place.

That didn't work out too well. Instead of gracefully pivoting away, Obama loudly snubbed Netanyahu. A photo of him poking his finger in Netanyahu's chest captured the atmosphere. Netanyahu delivered a speech that Congress cheered. And Obama came to see him as a domestic political opponent.

The torrent of anti-Israel leaks from the administration is a treatment usually reserved for political opponents. The snide remarks by White House spokesmen and the anonymous personal attacks on Netanyahu in the media echo domestic hate campaigns out of the White House like Operation Rushbo.

Netanyahu wasn't just the leader of a country that the left hated. He had become an honorary Republican.

When Obama met with him, Netanyahu firmly but politely challenged him on policy. He has kept on doing so ever since, including during his most recent visit. At a time when most leaders had gotten the message about shunning Romney, Netanyahu was happy to give him a favorable reception. Netanyahu clearly wanted Romney to win and Obama clearly wished he could pull a Clinton and replace Netanyahu. But Netanyahu's economic policies were working in exactly the same way that Obama's weren't.

The two men hate each other not only on a personal level, but also on a political level.

Netanyahu had successfully pushed through a modernization and privatization agenda that on this side of the ocean is associated with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. It's likely what Romney would have done which is one more reason the two men got along so well. Obama's visible loathing for Romney is of a piece with his hatred for Netanyahu.

He doesn't just hate them. He hates what they stand for. That's why Harper and Netanyahu get along so well. It's part of why Obama and Netanyahu get along so badly.



A new recipe

I rarely update my recipe blog these days but I have just put up a recipe for a diet curry


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

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


9 November, 2014

Leftist rage

Rage is what Leftists do

What is best in life? Well, experiencing Tuesday night’s meltdown at Democratic Underground is certainly nowhere near the top of the list, but it was halfway entertaining — for a Tuesday night.

Below are the greatest hits from a night filled with intense rage, frustration, more rage, sadness and confusion among users at the interactive leftist website.

FLyellowdog: ”This whole election is leaving me with some very scary feelings. And I’m simply sick…physically sick…and emotionally drained.”

tinfoil hat YouTube screenshot Ephemeral Rift

sammy750: “The GOP is the biggest scandal of the century. Huge voter suppression and fixing the voting machines so they didn’t register right. The GOP is the biggest fraud, AG Holder will be busy undoing all the GOP fraud wins”

global1: “So The American Voters Have Rewarded The ReThugs For Shutting Down The Government….obstructing everything President Obama wanted to accomplish; sticking with the NRA; refusing to raise the minimum wage; refusing to deal with the immigration issue; piling more debt on students/student loans; voting to repeal ACA over 50 times when the American People finally had some relief on health insurance; and the list goes on and on. What is wrong with the American People. They believe the lies. They like to be lied to. They vote against their better interests.”

akbacchus_BC: “This is what I do not understand, how could the Rethugs get elected again? What is wrong with some Americans? Did Democrats not vote? Now the President cannot get anything done unless it is by Executive Order. I really wish the President could tell the rethugs to piss off and sign as much policies by Executive Order and piss them off more and they cannot impeach him, bunch a idiots. This President tried to work with the assholes but man, they did not want to work with him.”

hedgehog: “So, MSNBC is predicting the Republicans hold the House – How? Is it all due to gerrymandering?”

Beatle: “What the fuck is the matter with this nation? Things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse, and as hard as we try and yell and cuss, no one is doing shit about all the criminality going on with the banks, politicians, and anyone that breaks the law as long as they’re filthy rich. I’m so fucking pissed off right now I can’t see straight. My blood pressure is sky high. I need to take it easy.”

KingCharlemagne: “I am deeply disappointed in my fellow Americans tonight. The suffering that will ensue was and is mostly entirely preventable. So I am disappointed that we shall have to endure this suffering for at least 2 years now because Americans could not see through the lies sold to them by this pack of charlatans, demagogues and scalawags. Yes, the Democrats largely ran away from President Obama after allowing the Republicans to frame the race as “Obama, Obama, Obama” and that bespeaks a party in trouble. But in the final analysis, voters chose to vote against their self-interest and against the interest of their compatriots for what? To ‘send a message’ to Dems? The reality is that things will not get better in the next two years. They will get worse and possibly much, much worse. And so I am disappointed that my fellow Americans chose a path that will cause suffering for their countrymen when I have to believe most of them did not seek to cause such suffering.”

BlueDemKev: “MSNBC has called Colorado for Gardner. WTF, Colorado? Are you that pissed off because Pres. Obama asked Congress for some token gun regulations after 20+ elementary school students were slaughtered just a week before Christmas?”

Ampersand Unicode: ”I’m actually scared — as in can’t-sleep-tonight-Halloween-came-five-days-late scared — of the GOP fascists taking over the Kennedy state. I voted for Coakley but am not optimistic because of all the endorsements Baker has gotten and the past history of electing GOP governors (Romney, Weld). I’m also looking to leave because MA just voted to keep the filthy casinos. Also, there is a gun store that just popped up out of nowhere down the street from my house on a main street. I no longer feel safe in my neighborhood or my state. Should I find a way to move to Vermont where Bernie and the sane people live? Or if I can’t afford to leave, should I just do myself in? I honestly am terrified that we’re living in the decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Reich.”

DebJ: “Tonight doesn’t make me wish I had quit smoking. An early death would be merciful compared to a long slow one with insufficient nutrition and no health care, which is what is coming up. I’m torn, can’t decide in which order to cry and vomit and get sick.”

2naSalit: “If anyone thinks we, as a nation, have any chance of saving ourselves from our wanton disregard for the biosphere which supports our existence, this election has proven we don’t really give a rat’s ass about our own sorry asses (or that of anyone else). Unless there is some major infrastructure destroying catastrophe that some of us survive before the biosphere is toast, our species is in for some big trouble. I suspect we are in for a lot more trouble than any of us have bargained for. With our distractions keeping us from looking around and seeing how destructive our way of life has become and that we could have each personally done something to change it… and we have no one but ourselves to blame. So brace yourselves for the gloom and doom of losing your habitat, like most other species have been facing for quite a while now, because we’re next on the menu.”

CK_John: “I think the President has to put resignation on the table and not give them the satisfaction of being impeached.”

whereisjustice: “If you’ve been to Asia and witnessed the slums and factory farms filled with impoverished workers, the US has just taken another step in that direction tonight. Sure, we’re not there yet. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get there. Like global warming, the change isn’t noticeable when all you look at is your backyard thermometer. It’s coming. Sooner or later it is going to catch up with you and your children.”

upaloopa: “So now that we have nothing more to lose how about taking our party on a hard turn to the left. Let’s come up with every progressive idea we can and put together a liberal platform for 2016. Never compromise with the devil”

brett_jv: “I wish I could chalk it up to ‘All this election PROVES is that 50% the people who showed up to vote in 6 states … are mouth-breathing, brain-washed, Faux-Watching knuckle-draggers’, but the reality is, it goes MUCH deeper than that. Nearly 1/2 the country are this way. This is proof that lies and propaganda … work. This election shows that a great many people in this country … are actually either morons, or they are evil.”

zelduh: “Can we PLEASE let them secede? I think it is time to acknowledge that uniting the North and the South is a three hundred fifty year-old failed experiment. Next time any political leader in the South mentions that they want to secede, we should jump at the opportunity to untangle the country from the Red states. This country cannot have clean air, water and earth in many states, because Republicans. This country cannot have science in many states, because Republicans. This country cannot have rational, thoughtful, logical gun regulations, because Republicans. Women cannot exercise control over their own bodies in many states, because Republicans.”



100% of Newly Elected GOP Senators Campaigned on Repealing Obamacare

Every new GOP senator who won in last night’s election campaigned on repealing Obamacare.

Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) all ran on a platform of repealing Obamacare.

Gardner touted patient-centered care and a full repeal and replacement of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

“Small businesses and the American people cannot afford President Obama’s countless new regulations and tax increases. There is a right way and a wrong to improve our country’s healthcare system, and the President’s healthcare law just isn’t working. We need patient-centered care and lower costs. It is not too late to start over with a full repeal and replacement of the President’s healthcare law,” Gardner said in a statement.

Daines echoed those statements, also calling to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Every American wants healthcare at a reasonable cost. No American wants a complicated plan full of false promises, special political favors, and costs we cannot afford. We should repeal Obamacare and implement an affordable health care system that actually improves the quality of health care,” he said.

Perdue noted on his campaign page that he was one of the millions who had their personal health care policy cancelled and would support free market solutions to replace Obamacare.

“Obamacare is an overreaching federal program that will actually reduce the quality of health care and increase costs. I am one of the millions of Americans that had my personal policy cancelled after being told I could keep it. To make matters worse, Obamacare is discouraging full-time job creation. The consequences of politicians passing a massive bill without reading it continue to emerge. We need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with more affordable free market solutions,” Perdue said on his campaign page.

Cotton signed the Club for Growth’s “Repeal-It!” pledge which states, “I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state upon my election to the U.S. House of Representatives/U.S. Senate to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government.”

Ernst and Tillis have said they would repeal Obamacare.....

Louisiana’s Senate GOP candidate, Bill Cassidy, has also voiced support for the repeal of Obamacare, listing 10 reasons why it should be replaced. As a practicing physician, Cassidy has said that the ACA would drive up costs, endangers access to care, destroys jobs and increases taxes just to name a few.

“By definition, a law that creates over 150 boards, bureaucracies, and commissions does not empower patients. Repealing this law is the first step to enacting real health care reform that lowers costs and expands access to quality health care for all Americans,” Cassidy said.



How Democrats Lost the absurd 'War on Women'

Democrats with double-X chromosomes (and some with a Y one) were on a mission to end the supposed Republican “war on women.” Flanked by gender-driven generals nationwide vying for votes, and applauded by the likes of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, these crusaders took to the campaign trail on a quest to bring fallopian freedom to the fairer sex everywhere.

But when their day of glory came, they went down to defeat, and went down hard.

Not once, not twice, but in state after state across the nation where voters recognized the hyperbolic rhetoric as smoke and mirrors distracting from the absence of real policy proposals, and where they tired of seeing sensible discussions discarded in favor of a campaign-trail version of the Vagina Monologues. Democrats may have treated women voters as ignorant dupes, but it didn’t work.

Take Sandra Fluke, for example, the poster child for unbridled sex, whose core political ideology centers on the demand for government-provided contraception to support her sexual escapades. She gained national fame by testifying to Congress of the need for contraception she and other young women couldn’t possibly pay for themselves (even for $9 a month at Walgreens). Fluke failed in her bid for California State Senate – losing by more than 21 points. War on women? Voters didn’t buy it.

Or consider progressive darling Wendy Davis, who famously filibustered in the Texas State House for the right to dismember unborn babies at the latest stages of pregnancy. Davis lost her bid for Texas governor by a whopping 21 points – the worst showing for Democrats in a Texas gubernatorial race since 1998. What’s more, Davis couldn’t even win among women, losing by nine points among all women and 25 points among married women. War on women? Don’t use that lie to mess with Texas.

Then there was Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who might as well have been a woman given his campaign was so focused on the “war on women” that the press dubbed him “Mark Uterus.” Even the reliably liberal Denver Post grew tired of Udall’s single-issue campaign and instead endorsed his pro-life Republican opponent, Corey Gardner. Udall lost his Senate seat, winning only 52% of women voters among his typically Democrat-leaning constituency. War on women? Coloradans weren’t that high.

And that’s not to delve into the details of the “war on women” candidates endorsed by sex-magazine Cosmopolitan. Of the 12 candidates backed by Cosmo (none of whom, incidentally, were Republican), only two won. Aside from Fluke and Davis, Tuesday’s losers included Staci Appel (Iowa), Mary Burke (Wisconsin), Alison Lundergan Grimes (Kentucky), Michelle Nunn (Georgia), Amanda Renteria (California), and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (New Hampshire).

Might these losses actually suggest the war on women is real? Could these women’s gender have sunk them?

Not so fast. Women actually did win on Election Night – and win big. But many were women whose political aims extended beyond abortion and contraceptives to issues women – and men – actually care about: the economy, national security, federal spending and out-of-control debt. Rather than insulting women by insinuating their vote is based purely on particular feminine needs, the conservative women who ran and won actually believe females are capable of rising above their hormonal cycles to critically evaluate the issues facing our nation.

Take Joni Ernst, for example. Forget an imaginary “war on women.” This combat veteran actually fought in a real war – Iraq. Now, she’s poised to become the first female senator from Iowa and the first female veteran in the Senate. War on women? Ernst was too busy vowing to make Washington’s big spenders squeal to claim imaginary oppression.

Or take conservative Mia Love of Utah, who made history by becoming the first black Republican woman elected to the U.S. House. War on women? Only if you look at how women have suffered under Obama’s failed policies.

Then there’s Elise Stefanik of New York, who at age 30 just became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. War on women? As an unashamed pro-life advocate, Stefanik was automatically disqualified from joining the ranks of the war’s self-declared victims.

Speaking of abortion, the “war on women” mantra also failed on the ballot initiative level. Voters in Tennessee, for example, voted to amend the state’s constitution to clarify that it does not require taxpayer funding for or guarantee any right to abortion. War on women? Only if you count the millions of unborn women who have been slaughtered in the name of “choice.”

As political analyst Charles Krauthammer so accurately noted, “I think this is the end of the ‘War on Women,’ and the Democrats have lost it.”

Here’s the bottom line: Burdened by this administration’s policy disasters and absent any real plans to remedy the mess, Democrats sought to divert attention from their stunning failures by campaigning on a phony “war on women.” But women didn’t buy it. Instead, it backfired, and backfired big.



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

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


7 November, 2014

GOP does well at State level

After a day of double-checking partisan composition numbers in the more than 6,000 legislative races this year, the extent of Republican success in legislative and governor’s elections is mostly clear. Suffice it to say, it was a banner election for the GOP.

There are two pieces still undecided. Control of the Colorado House remains up in the air pending tallies in several very close races. The Alaska governor is still undecided and will not be settled until absentee ballots are collected and tabulated. And ,of course, all of the results are preliminary pending certification and recounts. It does appear, though, that all is settled at the state level except for the Colorado House and Alaska governor.

Republicans ran the table, taking the majority in 10 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats. Those chambers were:

Colorado Senate (conceivable that Dems could still hold on after recounts)

Maine Senate
Minnesota House
Nevada Assembly
Nevada Senate
New Hampshire House
New York Senate
New Mexico House
Washington Senate
West Virginia House.
The West Virginia Senate is currently tied at 17 D-17 R.

For governors, Republicans netted three after switching seats in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. Democrat Tom Wolf won a governorship in Pennsylvania.

Factoring in all of those changes, here are the bottom line numbers (the Nebraska unicameral Legislature is nonpartisan):
Legislatures: 29 R, 11 D, 8 split and 1 undecided (CO)
Chambers: 67 R, 29 D, 1 tied and 1 undecided (CO House)
Governors: 33 R, 16 D and 1 undecided (AK)
State governments: 23 R, 7 D, 18 divided and 1 undecided (AK)

It appears that Republicans will have a net gain of between 350 and 375 seats and control over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. Republicans gained seats in every region of the country and in all but about a dozen legislative chambers that were up this year.

Remarkably, given the Republican wave that swept across the nation, Republicans emerged from the election controlling exactly the same number of state governments as they controlled before the election. Democrats lost many chambers and governors, but most of those states now have divided state government.

Alaska could still stay Republican if incumbent governor Sean Parnell pulls out a victory. He currently trails his challenger by more than 3,000 votes.

The sharp increase in divided state governments could lead to gridlock. Legislators and governors, however, are more likely to seek compromise especially when it involves the budget since all states but one must pass balanced budgets every year.

A Republican wave swept over the states, leaving Democrats at their lowest point in state legislatures in nearly a century.

Everything went in the direction of the GOP as Republicans seized new majorities in the West Virginia House, Nevada Assembly and Senate, New Hampshire House, Minnesota House and New York Senate, The West Virginia Senate is now tied. All results are unofficial pending recounts.

Control of several legislative chambers was still up in the air early Wednesday as counting continued in several tight races that will determine control of the Colorado Senate, New Mexico House and Maine Senate.

The lone bright spot for Democrats was holding majorities in the Iowa Senate and Kentucky House.

The overall number of divided state governments will increase with changes in governor in places such as Massachussets, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maryland along with the legislatures in West Virginia, Minnesota and New York.

The Vermont legislature will have to choose the state's governor because incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin did not pass the 50 percent threshold. The Democratic General Assembly will almost certainly install Shumlin as governor.

Fun facts:

Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late U.S. senator and a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, was elected to the Connecticut Senate on his first try for policial office. Democrats held onto their majority despite a furious push from Republicans.

Teenager Saira Blair was part of the Republican surge in West Virginia, so she will become the nation’s youngest legislator at the age of 18 when she takes her oath of office.

Update 10:21 a.m. ET: Republicans pad their wins by taking control of Washington Senate, Colorado Senate and New Mexico House. State legislative chambers now stand at 66 Republican, 28 Democrat, one tie and two undecided.



The Most Important Gains Might Be GOP Governor Wins

Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 presidential contender, is arguably the most admired Republican governor among party members of all stripes for his exemplary governing of a blue state while simultaneously successfully fighting off multiple assaults by the entire Wisconsin Democrat party.

After inheriting a massive deficit from his Democrat predecessor, Walker now has the state nearly $1 billion in black. He cut taxes by more than $2 billion, spurring an economic revival that reduced unemployment from 7.7% to 5.5% and raised per capita income by 9%. Confidence in the state’s economy among employers skyrocketed.

Perhaps more than anything else though, he won the respect and admiration of decent Americans for his stalwart stand against the massive barrage of every dirty trick in the Democrat playbook, including false charges of campaign financing violations by Democrat district attorneys, all of which were summarily tossed out of court. Walker’s third win in four years only solidifies his 2016 presidential résumé.

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas likewise governed as a fiscal conservative, although his opponents were often those in his own party. He wants to reform Kansas' economy and winnow down its unfunded liabilities. His most controversial act involved cutting the state’s personal income tax by nearly half, one of the largest tax cuts in the state’s history. He also rejected the feds' money meant for setting up an exchange under ObamaCare. His efforts angered a number of “moderate” Republican lawmakers, and as payback, they stymied several of his other agenda items.

In fact, a number of “moderate Republicans” were so angry with Brownback that they formed a group named “Republicans for Davis,” his far-left Democrat challenger in yesterday’s election. The group grew to 104 members, 53 of whom are former legislators, including 37 who’ve long been out of office, but all are still politically active in the party. That 104 “Republicans” would do their best to replace a Republican with a far-left governor might indicate that Brownback lacks some negotiating skills, but it speaks volumes more about those Republicans.

Brownback’s win undermines the Leftmedia narrative of a repudiation of his conservative fiscal policies. In fact, a large percentage of conservatives and their allies see his work as a giant step in the right direction, and Kansas voters gave him a second term.



Judge Rejects the 'Disparate Impact' Fraud

Attorney General hopeful Tom Perez’s race-based justice scheme surfers a major setback

On Monday, one of the Obama administration’s foremost racial arsonists was given his comeuppance by a federal judge. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who is on the American left’s short list for replacing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, was informed by Judge Richard J. Leon that his effort to find housing discrimination where none existed amounted to “wishful thinking on steroids.”

Perez sought to apply the policy of “disparate impact” to housing. Judicial Watch explains this contemptible concept. “Under the theory of ‘disparate impact,’ a defendant can be held liable for discrimination for a race-neutral policy that statistically disadvantages a specific minority group even if that negative ‘impact’ was neither foreseen nor intended,” they write. “In such cases, defendants can be forced to pay for harm caused not by their own actions, but by economic and statistical realities, even if beyond their control.” (italics original)

Leon wasn’t buying it. He characterized the attempt to legitimize disparate impact as a vehicle to expand the possibility of filing discrimination cases as “hutzpah (sic) (bordering on desperation).” “This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction,” he wrote, adding that the arguments made by Obama administration attorneys were “nothing less than an artful misinterpretation” of the law.

The law to which Leon referred is the Fair Housing Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In February 2013, HUD made disparate impact a policy tool, one the administration employed to build discriminatory cases against mortgage lending institutions that garnered them hundreds of millions of dollars.

In July of that year, Wells Fargo paid a $175 million settlement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused the bank of discriminating against thousands black and Hispanic borrowers – based on loan analyses made by the bank and its independent brokers from the years 2004 and 2009. Wells Fargo admitted no wrongdoing, claiming it was settling to avoid even costlier litigation expenses. That windfall was topped by a record-setting $335 million settlement made by Bank of America in 2011, following allegations of discrimination by Countrywide Lending, purchased by Bank of America in 2008. Once again the feds used disparate impact to allege that minority borrowers had received less favorable borrowing terms than whites.

Perez is an old hand at this shakedown racket. In 2011, the DOJ created the Fair Lending Unit staffed with more than 20 lawyers, economists and statisticians, determined to ferret out discriminatory lending practices at the more than 60 banks that were targeted at the time. The man in charge of that division was Special Counsel for Fair Lending Eric Halperin. Halperin ultimately answered to none other than Tom Perez, who headed the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

That would be the same Tom Perez who compared bankers to KKK Klansmen, insisting the only difference between the two groups was that bankers discriminate “with a smile” and “fine print,” but were nonetheless “every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood.”

That would also be the same Tom Perez who in 2010 railed against the housing meltdown “fueled in large part by risky and irresponsible lending practices that allowed too many Americans to get unsustainable or unaffordable home loans.” It was then he promised that once the Fair Housing Unit was up and running, it “will use every tool in our arsenal, including, but not limited to, disparate impact theory.”

Perez is determined to protect disparate impact theory from being adjudicated by the Supreme Court. On Nov. 7, 2011 the Court agreed to hear Magner v. Gallagher, a case about racial discrimination in housing. As the Weekly Standard reveals, a Supreme Court decision on the theory was utterly anathema to Perez, whose effort to make the case “go away” became his self-admitted “top priority.” The case was about several property owners who alleged that St. Paul, Minnesota’s ramped up enforcement of the city’s housing code for rental units reduced the availability of low-income rentals, creating a disparate impact affecting black Americans. The district court tossed the suit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reinstated it, complete with the concept of disparate impact. The city appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which was poised to decide for the first time whether disparate impact cases pursued under the auspices of the Fair Housing Act can be brought before the courts.

Perez, who has referred to disparate impact as the “lynchpin” of his civil rights agenda, didn’t want to take that chance. He managed to get the city to drop its case from the Supreme Court docket. Judicial Watch provided some of the sordid details, noting they had obtained documents “under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, showing that St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing arranged a meeting between the then-chief of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, current Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Mayor Chris Coleman a week before the city’s withdrawal from the case, captioned Magner v. Gallagher. Following Perez’s visit, the city withdrew its case and thanked DOJ and officials at HUD for their involvement.”

In June of 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear another case revolving around disparate impact. Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens concerned the town’s efforts to redevelop a blighted neighborhood. A group of renters filed suit alleging the move violated the FHA because the majority of the renters were non-white and they were unable to afford the new mid-priced, single-family dwellings. The district court dismissed the argument ruling all the renters were equally affected. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed that ruling, basing their decision on disparate impact.

Once again Perez prevailed, getting Mt. Holly to drop the case, and once again preventing the Supreme Court from issuing a ruling on disparate impact. Judge Leon noticed. In a stunning rebuke of Perez himself, Leon accused the Labor Secretary of gaming the system, timing cases and arranging the aforementioned settlements he found “particularly troubling.”

It ought to trouble every American that the Obama administration remains determined to codify racial discrimination based on the idea that statistics can be a viable substitute for actual intent. To image how absurd this theory truly is, one need only apply it to the National Basketball Association where a “disproportionate” number of black American athletes, relative to the percentage of the nations’s overall population, earn a living. Should white college basketball players who weren’t drafted by the NBA be able to file a lawsuit alleging discrimination, based on nothing more than that statistical discrepancy? Absent the necessity of proving intent to discriminate, the power of the government to file discrimination charges become virtually unlimited.

Leon noted there was nothing in the wording of the FHA or anything he read regarding Congress’s intent when it passed the FHA that supported HUD’s interpretation of the law. He further noted that complying with disparate impact theories would force various entities to compile information on a number of factors, including race, religion, gender, etc., that those entities are often banned from obtaining under state law.

Perez may be forced to work overtime yet again. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. State officials have been sued by the Inclusive Communities Project, a Dallas-based group advocating integrated housing. The ICP alleges the state allocated a disproportionate number of federal low-income housing tax credits to minority neighborhoods, a practice that “makes dwellings unavailable in particular areas, thereby perpetuating residential segregation in the Dallas area,” the group said in court papers.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act used to hammer Wells Fargo and Bank of America may also be affected by the ruling. Miami attorney Paul Hancock, who filed a brief backing the Lone Star state on behalf of business groups led by the American Bankers Association, illuminated the implications if the Court decides to leave the theory of disparate impact intact. “It really pushes more toward advancement of racial quotas as the only way to avoid legal claims,” he said in a phone interview.



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

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


6 November, 2014

Another lot of international rankings -- of prosperity, by Legatum

The countries listed as most prosperous (See below) are broadly as one would expect but there are some glaring anomalies both with the final results and the way they are calculated. A very large absurdity is giving New Zealand a much higher ranking than Australia. While that will undoubtedly give Kiwis a glow, it does not explain the brutal fact that migration between Australia and NZ is almost all one-way. Kiwis flee their country and move to Australia in droves. Real wages are much higher in Australia and there must be few Kiwis who are unaware of that. So it will be surprising news to Kiwis to hear that NZ is more prosperous than Australia.

The problem arises because "wellbeing" or "Quality of life" is included in the index and assessing that cannot be done objectively. I have not been able to pick why NZ did so well but it is certainly broadly true that NZ is a pleasant place -- as long as you don't mind earthquakes and high rates of crime and child abuse perpetrated by the Maori.

And looking in detail at the methodology used, there clearly are some oddities. I was amused that separation of powers in government was included. That system does prevail in the USA and France but lots of other countries get by perfectly well without it (Australia, Canada, Britain etc). I would call that a nonsense criterion of prosperity.

Mr Obama doesn't believe in the separation of powers anyway. He thinks he's got a "pen and a phone" with which he can usurp the legislative monopoly of Congress.

Infant mortality is another absurdity. Cuba has a lower infant mortality than the USA, Does that make Cuba more prosperous than the USA? No. It just means that American hospitals go to great lengths to succour premature births and that does not always succeed. Similar births in Cuba would all be counted as stillborn.

And what about religious attendance? That is high in the USA, Russia and Muslim countries but very low in Britain and Australia. Does that mean that Russia and Muslim countries are more prosperous than Britain and Australia? Judging by the desperate measures Muslims take in order to get into Britain and Australia, I think we once again have to say that "voting with your feet" reveals the true situation.

And what you think of climate can vary too. Cold is most life-threatening but some people prefer it nonetheless. Living in Alaska is a choice, after all. I could go on ....

The graphic below summarizes the findings:



A sampling of the early election results

With thanks to various authors in my Twitter feed

Obama admin official says POTUS doesn't feel "repudiated" by results. Three weeks ago he said his policies would be "on the ballot."

Adding to his accomplishment as gun salesman of the decade, @BarackObama has killed off the Democratic Party. What a guy!

Republicans Pick Up at least 8 Senate Seats -- making a Senate majority. Sen Harry Reid on the floor in his office in fetal position moaning right now.

S. Carolina's black US senator and Indian-American governor – both Republican, both handily re-elected. More of that GOP racism, right?

Incumbent Republican Paul LePage Re-elected as Governor of Maine

Thom Tillis Defeats Kay Hagan in North Carolina

Charlie Crist Fails to Unseat Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Wendy Davis clobbered in Texas

Jeffrey Katzenberg's Cash didn't save Kentucky's Alison Lundergan Grimes. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) re-elected

Another unbelievable story! In Maryland a #climate skeptic is getting elected governor.

Republican Charlie Baker Wins Gubernatorial Race in Deep Blue Massachusetts

Dems lost a HUGE talking point against tax cuts with Sam Brownback (R) winning re-election in Kansas.

When the #GOP is united on issues the working class cares about--jobs, wages, Obamacare, borders--they can win BIG.

Is it too late for @TomSteyer to pour another $75 million into warmist Senate Democrats?

That plaintive wail you hear is the collective sound of Democrat denialists all chanting in unison: "It's not a waaaave."

Only way tonight could have been better is if Franken lost. FU Minnesota.

Dems blaming "itches," "curses" and other such mysterious ephemera for Republican gains tonight.

Look for @BarackObama to go into full blame mode, lashing out at everyone in America.

Netanyahu watching the election results come in

Elise Stefanik, a Republican, will become the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress. Sent there by NY voters. How's that Republican War on Women going?

Republican war on women here too?

Businessman Rauner wins for the GOP in IL - amazing - GOP is flipping GOVERNOR'S seats. It was supposed to be a bad night for GOP govs. Good riddance to Gov. Pat Quinn -- who is currently under federal investigation for corrupt use of public money

After Toppling RINO Eric Cantor in the primaries, economist Dave Brat Wins His Seat in Reps. for Virginia


'Shut Up,' Holder Explained, as Ferguson Case Nears Conclusion

It’s been nearly three months since the untimely death of “gentle giant” Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri. We recently learned from one of the multiple autopsies performed that, shortly after Brown stole goods from a convenience store and assaulted a clerk, he was shot at least once at close range in an apparent struggle for Officer Darren Wilson’s gun. He then ran away before coming back toward Wilson. It’s believed, based on autopsy and eyewitness reports, that Wilson shot a charging Brown several more times, with one head shot being the fatal wound.

But this autopsy report is only one of the items leaked from grand jury testimony in the case. The hacker group Anonymous predicts, “On or about November 10, 2014 the Grand Jury decision will be announced. Darren Wilson will NOT be indicted on ANY charges related to the murder of Mike Brown. All local police Chiefs and jail commanders have been notified to begin preparing for major civil unrest.” This nugget of information reportedly came from two separate, unrelated sources.

The leak may be designed to motivate black voters ahead of Election Day (though that may backfire). Police, on the other hand, probably hoped to delay a verdict until colder weather set in – cold means fewer protests and riots.

The constant grind of this rumor mill is wearing on Attorney General Eric Holder, who injected himself into the situation early on to stir the racial pot. Recall his 2009 declaration that America is “essentially a nation of cowards” because “average Americans simply do not talk enough with each other about race.” The problem is that only certain types of “average Americans” are allowed to lead those “conversations,” and the conversations themselves must arrive at only one conclusion: The myriad problems plaguing the black community are ultimately attributable to white privilege and racism.

Now, we wonder if Holder is working behind the scenes to shake up the Ferguson Police Department. One outcome of this intervention could be the dissolution of the Ferguson PD, folding it into the St. Louis County police department. That scenario, which some reports say has both Wilson and embattled Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigning, is described as “the first step in a major shakeup.”

In an MSNBC interview, Holder was adamant about the situation. “I said I’m exasperated – it’s a nice way of saying I’m mad,” Holder vented. “That’s just not how things should be done with people in law enforcement. Whoever the sources of the leaks are need to shut up.”

Shut up, he explained. That does pretty well sum up the Left’s position on race.

Yet Barack Obama’s decision to get federal officials involved in the Ferguson matter has made it more of a three-ring circus – one that keeps fanning the flames of violence. (It may be helpful to compare the behavior of the hooligans who swarmed to Ferguson after the Michael Brown shooting to that of the hundreds who gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada earlier this year to take part in a peaceful standoff with federal officials.) The Ferguson situation could have been handled by local and state authorities, just as the scattered protests in the wake of George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict from the Trayvon Martin case were, but Barack Obama and his allies were thinking about the midterm elections and the need to save a Democrat Senate – so all hands were called on deck.

Even if a grand jury clears Wilson, his career as a Ferguson police officer may well be over. But his legal troubles won’t be – odds are the “wrong” verdict from a local grand jury will only result in more rioting and prompt the Holder Justice Department to charge Wilson with violating Brown’s civil rights. We’ve seen this movie before. In the original, the star was Rodney King. It’s a remake we weren’t supposed to see in the “post-racial America” promised by Obama’s election.



A shifty Leftist; British Labour party leader can't even PRETEND compassion convincingly

No eye contact; no sympathetic word; an obvious discomfort at being anywhere near the poor

The Princess Royal shows how it should be done

Ed Miliband has been accused of looking "awkward" and “terrified” while giving money to woman begging on the street.

Labour were forced to deny that Mr Miliband had given the woman who, was sitting on a pile on newspapers on a Manchester street, just 2 pence. A spokesman for the party said he had given the woman a "handful" of coins although critics on Twitter were unconvinced.

In July Mr Miliband made a high profile speech in which he said he will turn his back on photo opportunities and focus on the issues.

However during a Friday walkabout in Manchester, flanked by photographers, the Labour leader paused briefly to donate to the woman.

The speed he completed the transaction and the uncomfortable look on his face drew immediate criticism.



Sugar Is Evil and Other Silly Claims in the Obesity Wars

Don’t go blaming willpower for the obesity epidemic–that’d be a “crime” according to the documentary “Fed Up,” by the producer of “An Inconvenient Truth” Laurie David and hosted by Katie Couric.

The film, whose tagline is “the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see,” presents sugar as a harmful, addictive drug and dismisses exercise as a vital component of weight loss.

“The message has been pushed on us–it’s your fault you’re fat,” says Dr. Mark Hyman in the trailer, following up with, “forget about it.”

And that’s what the 2014 film, at least on the basis of the trailer, aims to do: remove the blame from individuals and place it squarely on the shoulders of “junk food” producers.

An aggressive agenda against the sugar industry is at the heart of the film, subtly lambasting Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign as well for its focus on exercise as a solution to obesity. According to David, there “aren’t enough hours in the day” to use exercise as the cure for obesity.

While the film claims to unveil shocking revelations about sugar, the trailer showed nothing I haven’t read in a women’s fitness magazine every month for the past ten years. Soda is full of added sugar, supermarkets are stocked with high-calorie cereal arranged at kid-level eyesight and would you believe the sugar industry is in business–big shocker–to make money?! How radical for a business.

What the film doesn’t appear to address enough is educating Americans about the right foods so they can make better decisions themselves–and not just wait for government intervention or an overhaul of the free market food production system.

Grocery stores aren’t only stocked with Frosted Flakes and potato chips. Stop by the produce section sometime. They’ve never stopped selling apples, spinach, cucumbers or grapefruit –I promise.

A featured speaker in the film, Gary Taubes, claims the country is “blaming willpower” (or lack thereof) for our mass entrance into obesity–and that’s wrong, according to him. But that personal responsibility is part of the package, no matter what way you look at it.

Instead of trying to force people to make good choices by eliminating “bad” food, people should learn how food affects them so they want to make better choices for themselves. And when it comes to children, parents are the ones responsible for ensuring their children aren’t eating foods in substance or quantity that will lead to obesity.

“Years from now, we’re going to say, I can’t believe we let them get away with that,” says author Mark Bittman of the evil “junk food” industry. But he’s wrong.

If the sugar industry is wreaking havoc on your life, you have only yourself to blame. Fast food restaurants, airports and convenience stores stock healthy options everywhere now. We have more options than ever before to feed ourselves fairly cheaply with healthy foods at every turn.

The demand for diet, exercise and nutritional education, as seen by the massive diet and exercise industry, is huge. We must respect individual dietary choices whether we like them or not.

If Laurie David and friends or anyone wants to help end obesity, they should focus on education, not elimination of junk food



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

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


5 November, 2014

The run-up to election day

The fate of the nation is in the hands of voters who’ve endured a barrage of TV ads, direct mail, blatant untruths and soaring rhetoric funded by untold millions of dollars. Such spending is to be expected when the government controls so much of our daily lives.

Most will sigh and say, “I can’t wait for this election to be over!” Yet the sun won’t set on Wednesday before the narrative shifts to the 2016 presidential election.

In races from the Court House to the State House to the U.S. House, Democrats have frantically attempted to distance themselves from Barack Obama during the last few months, and the situation has vacillated between pitiful and humorous. Now, the political environment on the Left has been downgraded to pure desperation.

Let’s adapt Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck if…” approach (also used by Mark Alexander earlier this year to spot liberals generally) to identify panicking Democrats.

You might be a desperate Democrat running on the 2014 ballot if you claim your own constituents are racist and sexist.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), fighting for her political life tied directly to Barack Obama’s policies, declared her opponents to be those of the South who won’t vote for women or minorities, specifically blacks. “I’ll be very, very honest with you,” said Landrieu in what’s our first clue she’s lying. “The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place.”

She later doubled down, adding, “Everyone knows this is the truth, and I will continue to speak the truth even as some would twist my words seeking political advantage.”

Bless your heart, Mary, you must’ve forgotten about Louisiana’s dynamic Democrat duo of Governor Kathleen Blanco (female) and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (black), who grossly mismanaged the response to Hurricane Katrina.

You might be a desperate Democrat in 2014 if you claim Republicans believe slavery (in the sense of blacks on a plantation) still exists.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), most renowned for tax fraud, declared Republicans to be Civil War era Confederates: “Some of them believe that slavery isn’t over and they think they won the Civil War!”

Obviously, he thinks the key to winning in New York is to insult the intellect of voters. He claims slavery still exists while ignoring the fact that it was the actions of Republicans who abolished slavery and amended the Constitution to allow voting of minorities. Unfortunately, he’s probably correct in his assumption.

You might be a desperate Democrat in 2014 if you repeat the claim that Republicans will impeach Obama if they win in November.

A chorus of the chattering Left has frequently repeated this trope over the last few months, but just last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fretted, “Frankly, a Republican House and Senate could go beyond shutting down the government – they could waste months of our lives on impeachment.”

Yeah, that’s right. Voters are asked to believe the guy who’s left more than 350 bills passed by the House dry-rotting on his desk as he leads the refrain sung only by the desperate Left about obstruction and impeachment.

Finally, you might be a desperate Democrat in 2014 if in Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland or insert-the-name-of-your-state you’ve seen campaign fliers referencing the unrest and violence in Ferguson, Jim Crow laws or even lynching.

It is 2014. Yet the turnout tool used by the party of the people, the Democrats, is not to address the historically high unemployment of blacks. It’s not to discuss horrific black-on-black crime or the incredibly high out-of-wedlock births spurred on by a government that rewards its citizens trapped in welfare dependence (poverty plantations, if you will). Oh, no, desperate Democrats spread fear and fuel a division that is, for the most part, conjured up by the hustlers of race who “lead” the, ahem, progressive party.

Tragically, it also might be noted: You might be viewed as a useful idiot voter who supports Democrats if you fall for such inflammatory dishonesty now synonymous with the failed policies of the Democrat Party.

As 2014 draws near its end, the Democrat Party, steered by the abysmal policies and platitudes of Barack Obama, coupled with the folly offered as a substitute for thoughtful debate, is pure symbolism over substance.

Those who employ and subscribe to such may take offense to the light-hearted Jeff Foxworthy approach. Yet our thoughts and beliefs determine our behavior. Said more academically, “Cogito ergo sum.” The Latin declaration translates, “I think, therefore, I am.”

Democrats of 2014, we now see exactly what you think and exactly what you are.



Millennials have been hit the hardest by ObamaCare's insurance premium increases, new study says

Young people who have, under the threat of a punitive tax, purchased health insurance coverage on the individual market have seen their premiums skyrocket under ObamaCare. While premiums have increased substantially for everyone, a new study shows that millennials have seen larger increases than their older counterparts:

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday.

The study, which was shared Tuesday with The Washington Times, examined average health insurance premiums before the implementation of Obamacare in 2013 and then afterward in 2014. The research focused on people of three ages — 23, 30 and 63 — using data for nonsmoking men and women with no spouses or children.

The Washington Times, which saw the study in advance, notes that premium increases for 63-year old men and women were 37.5 percent and 22.7 percent. Though increases don't account for tax credits, which offset the cost of the premiums for those individuals and families who earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, the study explains that "[a]nother important consideration in the discussion of subsidized premiums is that the subsidized portion of the premium still must be paid by the government through the money it collects from the nation." In other words, the costs of ObamaCare's dramatic premium hikes have been passed onto taxpayers.

What's causing the premium hikes? HealthPocket points to new ObamaCare regulations on insurance companies, both who they must insure and benefits they're required to offer in their health plans:

The reasons for the premium increases start with the ACA’s prohibition on rejecting applicants with pre-existing conditions, which means that insurance companies must account for the additional costs of covering chronically ill or disabled people.

Another cost driver is the heightened benefit mandate. The ACA requires insurance policies to include 10 “essential health benefits,” including pediatric dental and vision care, maternity care and newborn care, even for policyholders with no children or whose children are adults.

One cost driver not mentioned by HealthPocket is ObamaCare's age-rating restrictions, which prohibit insurers from charging older people more than three times what younger policyholders pay. As well-intentioned as this policy may be, insurers just pass costs of covering older policyholders to younger enrollees.

Though the individual mandate tax will rise next year to 2 percent of annual income or $325, whichever is greater, millennials, who tend not to utilize their coverage often, are better off avoiding ObamaCare than being taken advantage of by the Obama administration.



Yellen and Pope Francis vs. Pareto

“The extent and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said last week at a conference on economic opportunity and inequality sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Vilfredo Pareto would tell Dr. Yellen to relax—inequality is and always has been a constant. Pareto is known for discovering the Pareto principle, or what most people know as the 80-20 rule. Pareto observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population and developed the principle by observing pea pods in his garden; 20% of the pods contained 80% of the peas.

The longer you live, the more you observe Pareto’s principle play out over and over in many different contexts. 80% of revenue is provided by 20% of customers. The ratio also applies to customer complaints. I dined with the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant the other night who said that 80% of his revenue came from his noodle soups, which at most comprise 20% of his menu. My experience in the nonprofit world was that 80% of donations came from 20% of those on the mailing list.

Pareto observed that the 80/20 pattern “repeated consistently whenever he looked at data referring to different time periods or different countries,” writes Richard Koch in his book The 80/20 Principle.

So while inequality has been the norm throughout history, the new Fed chair claims that, “By some estimates, income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years, much higher than the average during that time span and probably higher than for much of American history before then.”

She went on to say, “The distribution of wealth is even more unequal than that of income. … The wealthiest 5% of American households held 54% of all wealth reported in the 1989 survey. Their share rose to 61% in 2010 and reached 63% in 2013. By contrast, the rest of those in the top half of the wealth distribution families that in 2013 had a net worth between $81,000 and $1.9 million held 43% of wealth in 1989 and only 36% in 2013.”

So what? As Mr. Koch explains in his book (emphasis his), if 20% own 80%, “then you can reliably predict that 10 percent would have, say, 65 percent of the wealth, and 5 percent would have 50 percent. The key point is not the percentages, but the fact that the distribution of wealth across population was predictably unbalanced.”

But Yellen has fallen in with Pope Francis, who told the United Nations assembly, “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems.”

While it doesn’t seem like it here in America, the world is becoming freer and because of that, poverty is falling.

In the article “Pope Francis, Bad Economist,” James Harrigan and Anthony Davies wrote (link in original):

Over the past two generations, while the number of people on Earth doubled, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by 80 percent, largely as a result of increased economic freedom globally.

Today, almost all people in economically free countries can afford cures for diseases that killed the richest people only a century ago. The average person with a cell phone today has better and quicker access to more complete information than the President of the United States enjoyed just a generation ago. A plot of land that a century ago could feed one family today can feed hundreds of families.

But the leaders of the Catholic and Monetary Churches don’t care about lifting people out of poverty—it’s envy they’re engaged in. And as Helmut Schoeck showed in his book Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior:

[W]e are least capable of acting sensibly in economic and social matters when we face, or believe we face, an envious beneficiary of our decision. This is true especially when we mistakenly tell ourselves that his envy is a direct consequence of our being better off, and will necessarily wane when we pander even to unrealistic demands. The allocation of scarce resources, in any society, is rarely optimal when our decision rests on fear of other men’s envy.

The Chairwoman continued to stoke the fires of envy with more statistics. “After adjusting for inflation, the average income of the top 5% of households grew by 38% from 1989 to 2013. By comparison, the average real income of the other 95% of households grew less than 10%.”

There is no need for Yellen’s preaching. Envy has been institutionalized in this country with the progressive income tax and inheritance taxes. As Schoeck points out, “Envy can become more easily institutionalized than, say desire or joy.” And it has.

Despite these headwinds, the serially successful and productive continue to earn and accumulate the vast share of wealth. That’s why resource investing legends Rick Rule and Doug Casey urge speculators to back entrepreneurs who have proven track records. Rule wrote on Casey Research:

A substantial body of evidence exists that it is roughly true across a variety of disciplines. In a large enough sample, this remains true within that top 20%—meaning 20% of the top 20%, or 4% of the population, contributes in excess of 60% of the utility.

The key as investors is to judge management teams by their past success. I believe this is usually much more relevant than their current exploration project.

Despite some of the highest tax rates in the world and libraries full of regulations to contend with on the national, state, and local levels, the entrepreneurial spirit overcomes, while—as expected—nonproducers hold very little wealth. “The lower half of households by wealth held just 3% of wealth in 1989 and only 1% in 2013,” Yellen told her audience. But in America, the lower half doesn’t have to stay that way and rarely does.

Pareto’s insight is that wealth will never be equal, whether under capitalism, fascism, communism, or whatever-ism. What freedom offers is the possibility to ascend from poverty to wealth with brains, hard work, and good decision making.

Pareto’s principle should not only be accepted but celebrated, and envy ridiculed, not institutionalized. Schoeck explained:

Envy’s culture-inhibiting irrationality in a society is not to be overcome by fine sentiments or altruism, but almost always by a higher level of rationality, by the recognition, for instance that more (or something different) for the few does not necessarily mean less for the others: this requires a certain capacity for calculation, a grasp of larger contexts, a longer memory; the ability, not just to compare one thing with another, but also to compare very dissimilar values in one man with those in another.

Ironically, Ms. Yellen’s zero-interest policy puts more separation between the middle class and the rich than Pareto could ever imagine. But then again, a “higher level of rationality” is severely lacking at the central bank.


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


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

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


4 November, 2014

Americans, Brits and French are BORN miserable: Length of gene determines how happy you will be - and Danes rank top (?)

Cross-cultural studies of happiness are inherently problematic. The fact that there is no word in German for happiness may give you a clue about that. Germans can only be "gluecklich", which actually means "lucky". I remember years ago talking to an elderly German Jew who had escaped Hitler and ended up in Sydney, Australia. We were talking about the meaning of "gluecklich", when he said: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not". He knew he was lucky to have escaped the gas chambers but he missed the rich cultural life of prewar Germany. So "gluecklich" is NOT an adequate translation of happy. So do you rate the happiness of Germans when you can't ask them about it? Beats me. So I think the international happiness differences described below must be taken with a large grain of salt.

The article below also seems to be talking about quality of life but how you measure that is quite controversial. How highly do you rate good weather, how highly do you rate crime incidence, how highly do you rate income? How highly do you rate traffic jams, how highly do you rate particulate air pollution, how highly do you rate ethnic diversity? The answers to such questions can only be matters of opinion


The French are often accused of being grumpy and dismissive. But Britons and Americans are also hardwired to be miserable, scientists claim.

Despite stable governments and good economies, those living in the UK and US will never be as happy as people in other nations, because they are simply born more miserable.

They are genetically programmed to be less cheerful than the Danes, for example, who top the list of the happiest nation.

Americans and Britons (such as the famously grumpy American actor Larry David, left, and British tennis star Andy Murray, right) are actually hardwired to be miserable, new research claims
Gabby Logan calls Andy Murray a miserable b******' at lecture

And scientists at the University of Warwick discovered it all comes down to a gene which regulates levels of the hormone serotonin in the brain.

Short forms of the gene inhibit levels of the hormone, which can invoke depression. Meanwhile those with longer forms of the gene are more likely to be happier, as a result of higher levels of serotonin in the body.

Researchers discovered people from Denmark have the longest form of the gene, and as such topped the happiness chart.

But Professor Andrew Oswald said it could be worse, we could be French - the nation with one of the shortest forms of the gene, which may explain their reputation for being grumpy.

Annual tables of national happiness ratings, compiled by organisations across the world, tend to rank Denmark at the top, along with nations including Panama and Vietnam.

They use factors ranging from job satisfaction to economic progress, health, wealth and education standards, along with weather, war and political stability to judge nations.

Scandinavians do well as their health is good, they are educated to a high standard and they earn more. But warm weather countries can do well too.

Some wealthy Western countries fare less well because there are big divides between rich and poor or they have high unemployment rates or less job satisfaction for instance.

But according to Professor Oswald, many of these may still be miserable even if they are earning a fortune, basking in sunshine and living to 100.

His findings from 131 countries for the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences, found genetics to be the most important factor but not the only one.

Those who are either young or old tend to be happiest rather than those who are middle aged.

Those who are slim are happiest, with obesity levels in some developed countries making them less happy as nations.

And being married, in a job and well educated can also be a contributory factor.

Professor Oswald, said: 'Intriguingly, among the nations we studied, Denmark and the Netherlands appeared to have the lowest percentage of people with the short version of the serotonin gene.'

He added that many individual Americans were happy but they tended to be descended from immigrants who came from countries like Denmark in the first place.

He said: 'There was a direct correlation between the (US) individual's reported happiness, and the levels of happiness in the country their ancestors had come from.

'Our study revealed an unexplained correlation between the happiness today of some nations and the observed happiness of Americans whose ancestors came from these nations.'



Obama plays the oldest racist card in the deck: Hatred of Jews

Yehudah Glick has spent the better part of the last 20 years championing the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – Judaism’s holiest site. On Wednesday night, the Palestinians sent a hit man to Jerusalem to kill him.

And today Glick lays in a coma at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Two people bear direct responsibility for this terrorist attack: the gunman, and Palestinian Authority President and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas. The gunman shot Glick, and Abbas told him to shoot Glick.

Abbas routinely glorifies terrorist murder of Jews, and funds terrorism with the PA’s US- and European-funded budget.

But it isn’t often that he directly incites the murder of Jews.

Two weeks ago, Abbas did just that. Speaking to Fatah members, he referred to Jews who wish to pray at Judaism’s holiest site as “settlers.” He then told his audience that they must remain on the Temple Mount at all times to block Jews from entering.

“We must prevent them from entering [the Temple Mount] in any way…. They have no right to enter and desecrate [it]. We must confront them and defend our holy sites,” he said.

As Palestinian Media Watch reported Thursday, in the three days leading up to the assassination attempt on Glick, the PA’s television station broadcast Abbas’s call for attacks on Jews who seek to enter the Temple Mount 19 times.

While Abbas himself is responsible for the hit on Glick, he has had one major enabler – the Obama administration. Since Abbas first issued the order for Palestinians to attack Jews, there have been two terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Both have claimed American citizens among their victims. Yet the Obama administration has refused to condemn Abbas’s call to murder Jews either before it led to the first terrorist attack or since Glick was shot Wednesday night.

Not only have the White House and the State Department refused to condemn Abbas for soliciting the murder of Jews. They have praised him and attacked Israel and its elected leader. In other words, they are not merely doing nothing, they are actively rewarding Abbas’s aggression, and so abetting it.

Since Abbas called for Palestinians to kill Jews, the White House and State Department have accused Israel of diminishing the prospect of peace by refusing to make massive concessions to Abbas. The concessions the Americans are demanding include accepting the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from land they foresee becoming part of a future Palestinian state; denying Jews the rights to their lawfully held properties in predominantly Arab neighborhoods; and abrogating urban planning procedures in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem built within the areas of the city that Israel took control over from Jordan in 1967.

The US claims that it has great influence over the Palestinians. If this is true, then as Fatah’s official celebrations of Glick’s attempted murder make clear, that influence is being intentionally exercised in a negative way. The Americans are encouraging the Palestinians to be more violent, more radical and more extreme in their demands of Israel and propagation of Jew-hatred.

The Obama administration is abetting Palestinian terrorism today. And it is doing so after it spent last summer siding with Hamas and its state sponsors Qatar and Turkey in its illegal war against Israel.

Moreover, it is important to note that the most outrageous statements the administration has made to date against Israel came after the first terrorist attack in Jerusalem directly inspired by Abbas’s call to murder Jews.

The most outrageous statements the administration has made about Israel came of course this week with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg’s report that senior unnamed Obama administration officials called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a chickenshit” and a “coward.” They also described an administration in a state of “red hot anger” against Netanyahu and his government. Those statements were made after three-month old Chaya Zissel Braun, an American baby, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem in an Abbas-incited attack.

The most distressing aspect of Goldberg’s quotes is that in and of themselves, these profane, schoolyard bully personal attacks against Israel’s elected leader were the mildest part of the story.

The most disturbing thing about the gutter talk is what they tell us about Israel’s role in Obama’s assessments of his political cards as they relate to his nuclear negotiations with Iran.

The senior administration officials called Netanyahu a coward because, among other reasons, he has not bombed Iran’s nuclear installations.

And now, they crowed, it’s too late for Israel to do anything to stop Iran.

They are happy about this claimed state of affairs, because now Obama is free to make a deal with the Iranians that will allow them to develop nuclear weapons at will.

The obscene rhetoric they adopted in their characterization of Netanyahu didn’t come from “red hot anger.” It was a calculated move. Obama knows that he has caved in on every significant redline that he claimed he would defend in the nuclear talks with Iran.

Obama has chosen to demonize Netanyahu and castigate Israel now as a means to transform the debate about Iran into a debate about Israel. The fact that the trash talk about Netanyahu was a premeditated bid to capture the discourse on Iran is further exposed by the fact that Obama has refused to take any action against the officials who made the statements.

He isn’t going to punish them for carrying out his policies.

Obama knows that after next week’s midterm elections, he will likely be facing a Republican-controlled House and Senate. He has no substantive defense against attacks on his policy of enabling the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism to acquire nuclear weapons. The threat a nuclear- armed Iran poses to the US is self-evident to most people who pay attention to foreign affairs.

Since he can’t win the substantive debate, he wants to change the subject by pretending that the only country that opposes Iran’s nuclear weapons program is Israel, which, his senior advisers insinuated to Goldberg, was apparently bluffing about its danger. After all, if it was a reason for concern, Netanyahu would have bombed Iran three years ago rather than try to accommodate Obama.

As a consequence, any congressional opposition to his deal makes no sense and therefore must be the result of the nefarious Israel’s lobby’s control of Congress. Loyal Americans, like Obama, must stand up to the cowardly, power grabbing, warmongering Jews, led by the coward in chief Netanyahu.

In other words, in castigating Netanyahu and Israel, the Obama administration has decided to use Jew-hatred as a political weapon to defend its policies of abetting Palestinian terrorism and enabling Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

There are critical messages to the Israeli people and our leaders embedded in the Goldberg article.

First, the unbridled attacks against Israel’s democratically elected – and popular – prime minister show us that when we are faced with an inherently hostile administration, the wages of appeasement are contempt.

No Israel leader has done more to appease a US administration than Netanyahu has done to appease Obama. Against the opposition of his party and the general public, Netanyahu in 2009 bowed to Obama’s demand to embrace the goal of establishing a Palestinian state.

Against the opposition of his party and the general public, in 2010 Netanyahu bowed to Obama’s demand and enacted an official 10-month moratorium on Jewish property rights in lands beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and later enacted an unofficial moratorium on those rights.

And Netanyahu bowed to Obama’s pressure, released murderers from prison and conducted negotiations with Abbas that only empowered Abbas and his political war to delegitimize and isolate Israel.

And for all his efforts to appease Obama, today the administration abets Palestinian terrorism and political warfare.

As to Iran, Netanyahu agreed to play along with Obama’s phony sanctions policy, and bowed to Obama’s demand not to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. All of this caused suffering to the Iranian people while giving the regime four-and-a-half years of more or less unfettered work on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu only cut bait after Obama signed the interim nuclear deal with Iran last November where he effectively gave up the store.

And for Netanyahu’s Herculean efforts to appease Obama, Netanyahu found himself mocked publicly as a coward by senior administration officials who snorted that now it is too late for him to stop Obama from paving Iran’s open road to nuclear power.

One of the assets that Netanyahu’s continuous attempts to please Obama was geared toward securing was US support for Israel at the UN Security Council. And now, according to the senior administration officials, Obama has decided to spend his last two years in office refusing to veto anti-Israel Security Council resolutions.

Before formulating a strategy for dealing with Obama over the next two years, Israelis need to first take a deep breath and recognize that as bad as things are going to get, nothing that Obama will do to us over the next two years is as dangerous as what he has already done. No anti-Israel Security Council resolution, no Obama map of Israel’s borders will endanger Israel as much as his facilitation of Iran’s nuclear program.

As unpleasant as anti-Israel Security Council resolutions will be, and as unpleasant as an Obama framework for Israel’s final borders will be, given the brevity of his remaining time in power, it is highly unlikely that any of the measures will have lasting impact.

At any rate, no matter how upsetting such resolutions may be, Goldberg’s article made clear that Israel should make no concessions to Obama in exchange for a reversal of his plans. Concessions to Obama merely escalate his contempt for us.

Bearing this in mind, Israel’s required actions in the wake of Goldberg’s sources’ warnings are fairly straightforward.

First, to the extent that Israel does have the capacity to damage Iran’s nuclear installations, Israel should act right away. Its capacity should not be saved for a more propitious political moment.

The only clock Israel should care about is Iran’s nuclear clock.

As for the Palestinians, whether Netanyahu’s willingness to stand up to Obama stems from the growing prospect of national elections or from his own determination that there is no point in trying to appease Obama anymore, the fact is that this is the only pragmatic policy for him to follow.

The proper response to the assassination attempt on Yehudah Glick is to allow Jews freedom of worship on the Temple Mount. The proper response to Obama’s nuclear negotiations is a bomb in Natanz. Obama will be angry with Israel for taking such steps. But he is angry with Israel for standing down. At least if we defend ourselves, we will be safe while isolated, rather than unsafe while isolated.



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

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


3 November, 2014

Did rationing in World War 2 increase intelligence of Britons?

The journal article is Aging trajectories of fluid intelligence in late life: The influence of age, practice and childhood IQ on Raven's Progressive Matrices and the key passage is reproduced below:

"Standardizing the MHT [original] scores indicated a difference between the cohorts of 3.7 points. This is slightly smaller than expected and may be brought about by survival and selection bias discussed above. Late life comparisons indicate a significantly greater difference between the cohorts, comparing the cohorts at age 77; where there is overlap in data we find a difference of 10.4 raw RPM points or 16.5 IQ points, which is surprisingly large."

What this says is that both groups started out pretty much the same but by the time they had got into their 70s the younger group was much brighter. The authors below attribute the difference to nutrition, which is pretty nonsensical. They say that eating "rich, sugary and fatty foods" lowers IQ but where is the evidence for that? The only studies I know are epidemiological and overlook important third factors such as social class. So those studies can only be relied on if you believe that correlation is causation, which it is not. And one might note that average IQs in Western nations have been RISING even as consumption of fast food has been rising. So even the epidemiology is not very supportive of the claims below.

Where important micronutrients (iodine and iron particularly) are largely absent in the food of a population -- as in Africa -- nutritional improvements can make a big difference but the idea that Aberdonians in the 1920s were severely deprived of such micronutrients seems fanciful. Aberdeen has long been an important fishing port and fish are a major source of iodine -- and iron is mostly got from beef and Scots have long raised and eaten a lot of beef. The traditional diet of poor Scots -- "mince 'n tatties" -- is certainly humble but it does include beef. Aberdeen even has an important beef animal originating there: The widely praised "Aberdeen Angus". You can eat meat from them in most of McDonald's restaurants these days.

So why was the IQ divergence between the two groups below not observed in early childhood when it was so strong in later life? A divergence of that kind (though not of that magnitude) is not unprecedented for a number of reasons: IQ measurement at age 11 is less reliable than measures taken in adulthood; IQ becomes more and more a function of genetics as we get older. In early life environmental factors have more impact and it takes a while for (say) a handicapping early environment to be overcome.

But I suspect that the main influence on the finding was that two different tests were used. IQ was measured at age 11 by an educational aptitude test and in the 70s it was measured by a non-verbal test. The two were correlated but only about .75, which does allow for considerable divergence. So the oldsters (1921 cohort) were simply not good at non-verbal puzzles, probably because they had little experience with them. The tests they did in 1921, however mostly used problems similar to problems they had already encountered many times in the course of their schooling.

The 1936 cohort, by contrast, had most of their education in the postwar era when people spent longer in the educational system. And IQ testing in the schools was much in vogue up until the 1960s so that generation would have had a much wider testing experience.

The retest was, in other words, invalid. It was not comparing like with like


A study by the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian has found that children who grew up during the Second World War became far more intelligent than those who were born just 15 years before.

Researchers think that cutting rich, sugary and fatty foods out of the diets of growing children had a hugely beneficial impact on their growing brains.

The University of Aberdeen team examined two groups of people raised in Aberdeen, one born in 1921 and one born in 1936. These people are known as the Aberdeen Birth Cohort and were tested when they were aged 11 and when they were adults after the age of 62. The study consisted of 751 people all tested aged 11 and who were retested between 1998 and 2011 on up to five occasions.

Researchers compared the two groups at age 11 found an increase in IQ of 3.7 points which was marginally below what was expected but within the range seen in other studies. However, comparison in late life found an increase in IQ of 16.5 points which is over three times what was expected.

Before the war, more than two thirds of British food was imported. But enemy ships targeting merchant vessels prevented fruit, sugar, cereals and meat from reaching the UK.

The Ministry of Food issued ration books and rationing for bacon, butter and sugar began in January 1940.

But it was the MoF’s Dig For Victory campaign, encouraging self-sufficiency, which really changed how Britain ate. Allotment [mini farm] numbers rose from 815,000 to 1.4 million.

Pigs, chickens and rabbits were reared domestically for meat, whilst vegetables were grown anywhere that could be cultivated. By 1940 wasting food was a criminal offence.



The statin craze is fading as doctors see the side-effects

Two thirds of GPs are refusing to comply with controversial NHS advice to prescribe statins to millions more adults, polling has found.

Family doctors said guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), advising 40 per cent of adults to take the pills, were “simplistic”. They insisted they would not allow the “mass medicalisation” of the public.

The guidelines, published in July, say drugs to protect against strokes and heart attacks should be offered to anyone with a one in 10 chance of developing heart disease within a decade.

It means 17.5?million adults, including most men aged over 60 and women over 65, are now eligible for the drugs, which cost less than 10p a day.

A number of cardiologists have defended the guidance, which Nice says could cut 50,000 deaths a year from strokes and heart attacks.

But the advice has divided experts, with prominent doctors accusing Nice’s experts of being too close to the pharmaceutical industry.

The survey of 560 GPs, carried out by Pulse magazine, found 66 per cent of family doctors say they are not complying with the guidance. The system of pay for family doctors means part of their income depends on how far they comply with guidelines on prescribing, including the Nice advice on statins.

Many of the GPs said they were not prepared to be “bribed” to put more patients on the drugs, with others saying the recent advice was “bonkers,” and “simplistic”. “You won’t bribe me with payments to hit statin targets,” said Dr Sanjeev Juneja, a GP from Rochester, Kent. “I have seen havoc caused in some patients with this drug, so Nice pressure is not so nice.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said: “This is something that an awful lot of GPs have concerns about, and they simply aren’t prepared to prescribe drugs in such a broad way, when the evidence supporting this approach isn’t clear.”

Arguments have raged about the side effects of statins. In May the British Medical Journal withdrew statements which had said that one in five of those on the drugs suffered from ill-effects such as muscle pain, tiredness and diabetes, saying the claims were wrong.

But some doctors believe such problems have been under-reported.

Dr May Cahill, a GP partner in Hackney, east London, said she was not convinced of the benefits of prescribing drugs with “horrific” sideeffects. She said: “Why give something to a patient that you would not take yourself nor recommend a family member or friend to?”

Dr Andrew Green, chairman of the BMA’s clinical and prescribing subcommittee for GPs, said no doctor should automatically prescribe the drugs based on a “slavish devotion” to advice from Nice.

Until July, GPs were advised to offer statins to anyone with a one in five chance of heart disease within a decade. The new advice halves the threshold to one in 10.

Even before that change, Britain was the “statins” capital of Europe, with the second-highest prescribing levels in the Western world for the drugs. A study last by year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which examined 23 industrialised nations, found this country had the highest levels of statins use in Europe, with 13 per cent of adults taking the pills daily.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London cardiologist who has been critical of the Nice guidance, said: "Although it is clear that the benefits of statins outweigh harms in those who have suffered a heart attack and are at high risk, this is in my view is not the case in a healthy population, where it does not reduce the risk of death.

"I am pleased to see that the majority of GPs are also realising this and acting upon it."



Immigration Services Union: Amnesty Will Lure More Terrorists, Criminals, Disease Carriers to US

On Tuesday, the president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council said the Obama administration is endangering America on a daily basis by pressuring immigration officials to rubber-stamp applications for potential Islamic terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers.

Kenneth Palinkas, who represents 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) agents, said the situation will actually become "exponentially worse" and "more dangerous" after Obama enacts his executive amnesty later in the year. Palinkas referred to the USCIS contract bid for up to 34 million green cards and work authorization permits ahead of Obama's planned executive amnesty, which Breitbart News first reported.

Palinkas, who has repeatedly slammed the agency's culture that encourages as many applications to be approved as possible without proper vetting, said the Obama administration is actively blocking USCIS's "loyal and dedicated adjudicators and personnel" who "diligently man the front lines in the battle to protect Americans from terrorism and the abuse of our economic and political resources" from doing their jobs.

"As the individuals who screen the millions of applications for entry into the U.S., it is our job to ensure that terrorists, diseases, criminals, public charges, and other undesirable groups are kept out of the United States," he said. "Unfortunately, we have been blocked in our efforts to accomplish this mission and denied the professional resources, mission support, and authorities we urgently need by the very same government that employs our skill sets."

He said immigration "caseworkers still operate under a quota system that prioritizes speed over quality, and approvals over investigations." He mentioned that the agency is pressured to process applications "without regard to national security" and mentioned potential "plans to waive interviews of applicants who seek adjustment of their status in the U.S. to ready our workforce for the coming onslaught of applications unforeseen in previous administrations."

"We are still the world’s rubber-stamp for entry into the United States – regardless of the ramifications of the constant violations to the Immigration and Nationality Act," he said. "Whether it’s the failure to uphold the public charge laws, the abuse of our asylum procedures, the admission of Islamist radicals, or visas for health risks, the taxpayers are being fleeced and public safety is being endangered on a daily basis."

Palinkas, who opposed the Senate's "Gang of Eight" comprehensive amnesty bill, said "America dodged a bullet" when the Senate's amnesty legislation that "would have been a financial and security catastrophe" did not pass Congress. But since efforts by Senators like Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) to stop Obama's executive amnesty failed in Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) Senate, Palinkas urged Americans to pressure their elected officials to stop Obama's executive amnesty: "If you care about your immigration security and your neighborhood security, you must act now to ensure that Congress stops this unilateral amnesty."

"Let your voice be heard and spread the word to your neighbors," he said. "We who serve in our nation’s immigration agencies are pleading for your help – don’t let this happen. Express your concern to your Senators and Congressmen before it is too late.”



Are GDP Numbers a Trick or a Treat?

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its third-quarter report, claiming Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by an annual rate of 3.5%. The report goes on to list a number of indicators leading to the conclusion that the economy, though still unspectacular, is on the upswing. With Election Day right around the corner, that’s good news, right? Maybe it’s a little too good.

How fortunate for Barack Obama and Democrats in power that this positive economic report comes out just days before the midterms. It brings back memories of the days leading up to the 2012 presidential election, when Obama spun a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to suggest that the country was still better off than it would have been without his failed stimulus and his punishing interventionist policies. “The private sector is doing just fine,” he said that summer.

In a keen analysis of the numbers, James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute argues the GDP report is nothing more than “lipstick on a pig.” Pethokoukis notes that, since the last two quarters are really little more than a rebound of the first quarter, the year’s overall growth has not been impressive.

One of the biggest boosters to third-quarter GDP was a 16% surge in defense spending due to Operation Inherent Resolve. As for the high export numbers, we have reduced economic performance in China and Europe to thank for that, along with a strengthening dollar driven by concern over European debt and global security matters. These factors, though beneficial to the American economy right now, will lead to a slowdown in the future as world economies adjust and react to a bleaker world economy.

It’s also worth noting that every major indicator mentioned positively in the third-quarter report – from consumer spending to housing to the sale of durable goods and beyond – is down compared to the second quarter. And just wait until this report is quietly revised down sometime after the midterms.

Taking all this into account, it’s clear the economy is still not strong. Furthermore, there are no realistic appraisals that it will improve under current conditions. Chief among those conditions are the business-killing, government-loving policies of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats. Voting out Democrats in Congress is not a guarantee the economy will improve, however, because we’ll still have Obama for two more years, and Republicans haven’t exactly paved the way to economic salvation. But it’s a start.



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

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


2 November, 2014

Left-leaning academics reject science

Chris Mooney is continuing his voyage of discovery in social science. He has just rediscovered one of the most well-known facts about Leftists -- that they reject genetic explanations of human behavior. Perhaps encouragingly, however, among a group of academic sociologists there was SOME acceptance of genetic influences. Among many other Leftists, there would be none.

Mooney's usual schtick is bashing conservatives and climate skeptics so it is understandable that he is very defensive about where the Left stand on science. Rather hilariously, he finds their stance on global warming heartening. But global warming is inherently anti-science. What scientists do is use regularities that they discover in nature to predict the future -- but Warmism predicts a DEPARTURE from known trends and regularities. There has been so little warming in the last 100 years or so that changes have to be expressed in tenths of a degree Celsius. So the best scientific prediction from that trend would be that warming in the 21st century will also be trivial.

But that does not suit Greenie catastrophism and Messianism. So they have various unproven theories which say that the normal scientific prediction is wrong and we are all facing doom unless we do what they tell us. If that consoles Mooney he really is moony. The Left are solid Warmists so the Left is much more anti-science than Mooney believes. If Warmism really were science they would readily make their raw data available for re-analysis and would welcome debate. They do neither. They even resort to lawfare to protect their data and do their damnedest to shut down debate

In trying to find something anti-science among conservatives Mooney would have a better case if he had stuck to creationism -- the belief that God created the world in 7 days of 24 hours approximately 4,000 years ago. The fact that only a small number of conservatives hold that view would not normally disturb chronically deceitful Leftist polemicists. (Democrats even manage to create a "war on women" out of the fact that Republicans are reluctant to facilitate abortion). Theologically sophisticated Christians, of course, point to the fact that, as in English, the original Hebrew word for "day" can be used vaguely and may refer to a long period ("In my day", for instance)


Conservatives often face a lot of questions -- and controversies -- for their views on science. Most notably, only 22 percent of conservative Republicans accept the scientific consensus that global warming is mostly caused by humans. Meanwhile, conservative officials in some states have pushed to undermine the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms.

Liberals get a lot less flack, in general, for ignoring scientific findings. Yet there is also reason to think they, too, are susceptible to allowing their political biases influence their reading of certain scientific questions. And now, a new study just out in the journal Sociological Spectrum accuses them of just that.

The study is far from the authoritative word on the subject of left wing science denial. Rather, it is a provocative, narrow look at the question. In particular, the study examined a group of left wing people -- academic sociologists -- and evaluated their views on a fairly esoteric scientific topic. The specific issue was whether the evolutionary history of human beings has an important influence on our present day behavior. In other words, whether or not we are "blank slates," wholly shaped by the culture around us.

While there's virtually no argument in the scientific community that personality traits like being extroverted run in families and have at least some genetic component, there's been much greater debate among academics about whether other phenomena, such as an inclination toward committing violence and demonstrating an unusual level of jealousy, are rooted in nature rather than life experience.

The new study, by University of Texas-Brownville sociologist Mark Horowitz and two colleagues, surveyed 155 academic sociologists. 56.7 percent of the sample was liberal, another 28.6 percent was identified as radical, and only 4.8 percent were conservative. Horowitz, who describes himself as a politically radical, social-justice oriented researcher, said he wanted to probe their views of the possible evolutionary underpinnings of various human behaviors. "I wanted to get at the really ideological blank slate view, it’s sort of a preemptive assumption that everything is taught, everything is learned," he explained.

Sure enough, the study found that these liberal academics showed a pretty high level of resistance to evolutionary explanations for phenomena ranging from sexual jealousy to male promiscuity.

In fairness, the sociologists were willing to credit some evolutionary-style explanations. Eight-one percent found it either plausible or highly plausible that "some people are born genetically with more intellectual potential than others," and 70 percent ascribed sexual orientation to "biological roots." Meanwhile, nearly 60 percent of sociologists in the sample considered it "plausible" that human beings have a "hardwired" taste preference for foods that are full of fat and sugar, and just under 50 percent thought it plausible that we have an innate fear of snakes and spiders (for very sound, survival-focused reasons).

Yet the study also found that these scholars were less willing to consider evolutionary explanations for other aspects of human behavior, especially those relating to male-female differences. Less than 50 percent considered it plausible that that "feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," for instance, and just 36.4 percent considered it plausible that men "have a greater tendency towards promiscuity than women due to an evolved reproductive strategy.” While it is hard to be absolutely definitive on either of these issues (we weren't there to observe evolution happen), evolutionary psychologists have certainly argued in published studies that people exhibit jealousy in sexual relationships in order to ensure reproductive fidelity and preserve the resources that come from a partner, and that men are more promiscuous because they are not constrained in how often they can attempt to reproduce.

So is this proof positive that academic sociologists are science deniers? Not at all. Still, it's certainly noteworthy that a substantial minority of these scholars are resistant even to the least controversial evolutionary explanations, such as those involving hardwired tastes for certain foods or innate fears of poisonous critters.

But there's also a notable limitation to the study. When it comes to some of the more controversial statements about the evolutionary basis of various human behaviors that were used (for instance, the assertion that "The widely observed tendency for men to try and control women's bodies as property...has a significant evolutionary biological component"), the research doesn't really take a strong stand on whether they're actually true -- which makes it rather hard to call the sociologists woefully biased. Instead, study subjects were merely asked to state whether they considered such statements "highly plausible," "plausible," "implausible," or "highly implausible."

"I think the 'science denial' here among sociologists is their mechanical dismissal of evolutionary reasoning applied to human behaviors -- a dismissal that's much sharper when considering potential sex differences in behavior," says Horowitz, explaining why the study took this approach.

Take one case where sociologists were pretty dismissive -- the assertion that "Feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," which only 44 percent of them considered plausible. Certainly evolutionary psychologists have argued that sexual jealousy is a deeply rooted part of human "nature." One such scholar is David Buss at the University of Texas-Austin, who argues in his book The Dangerous Passion that jealousy is an "adaptation...an evolved solution to a recurrent problem of survival or reproduction," namely, keeping your mate faithful to you.

"Though we can't strictly speaking 'prove' that jealousy was adaptive, we find the mechanical dismissal of the adaptiveness hypothesis dogmatic," comments Horowitz.

There's no doubt that many left leaning academics have historically been quite skeptical about evolutionary psychology, presumably out of the fear that ascribing certain traits to biology suggests that they cannot be changed -- and thus, can perpetuate inequality. The famed Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker extensively challenged their "blank slate" view in a bestselling 2002 book. Going back further, in the storied "sociobiology" wars of the 1970s, evolutionary thinkers like Harvard's E.O. Wilson sought to apply their understanding of humankind's origins to modern human behavior -- and fell into a ferocious row with broadly left-leaning scholars who attacked biological or genetic "determinism," and defended the idea that social factors explain most of what we need to know about why people do what they do....

None of this is to say that a few sociologists' views about evolution can be considered proportionate with global warming denial, in either the volume of those holding the belief or the belief's consequences. But it does suggest that 100 percent objectivity doesn't exist on any side of the aisle.



A defeat for bureaucratic rigidity and a win for individual liberty

The American nurse at the centre of a national battle over quarantine rules for health workers returning from west Africa has won the latest round in her fight not to be forced into three weeks of isolation.

A judge in Maine rejected a request by the state to impose a mandatory quarantine order on Kaci Hickox in a ruling that was being closely followed by politicians and heath chiefs across the country.

Miss Hickox, who has showed no Ebola symptoms and twice tested negative for the disease, had refused to agree to a voluntary home quarantine during the 21-day incubation period since returning home from treating Ebola patients for an aid agency in Sierra Leone.

Judge Charles LaVerdiere had initially imposed a temporary order requiring Miss Hickox to keep three feet away from people and to avoid public places.

But after hearing arguments from lawyers for the state and Miss Hickox and evidence from a health expert, he lifted those restrictions ahead of a full hearing to be held on Tuesday.

"This decision has critical implication for [Miss Hickox's] freedom, as guaranteed by the US and Maine constitutions, as well as the public's right to be protected from the potential severe harm posed by transmission of this devastating disease," he noted in a written ruling.



Over 214,000 Doctors Opt Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Over 214,000 doctors won't participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It's also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In January, an estimated 70% of California's physicians were not participating in Covered California plans.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Reimbursements under Obamacare are at bottom-dollar - they are even lower than Medicare reimbursements, which are already significantly below market rates. "It is estimated that where private plans pay $1.00 for a service, Medicare pays $0.80, and ACA exchange plans are now paying about $0.60," a study by the think-tank American Action Forum finds. "For example, Covered California plans are setting their plan fee schedules in line with that of Medi-Cal-California's Medicaid Program-which means exchange plans are cutting provider reimbursement by up to 40 percent."

2. Doctors are expected to take on more patients to make up for the lost revenue, but that's not happening, because primary care doctors already have more patients than they can handle. "Furthermore, physicians are worried that exchange plan patients will be sicker than the average patient because they may have been without insurance for extended periods of time, and therefore will require more of the PCPs time at lower pay," says the study.

The study also points to two reasons that doctors might not get paid at all:

3. An MGMA study indicates that 75% of ACA patients that had seen doctors had chosen plans with high deductibles. Given that most of the patients are low-income, doctors are concerned that the patients cannot meet the deductibles and they will get stuck with the bill.

4. HHS requires that insurers cover customers for an additional 90 days after they have stopped paying their premiums: the insurer covers the first 30 - but, it's up to the doctor to recoup payment for the last 60 days. This is the number one reason providers are opting to not participate in the exchange plans. Currently, about a million people have failed to pay their premiums and had their plans canceled.

So, Obamacare is asking doctors to take on sicker patients for less money, with the risk of not getting paid at all? No wonder doctors are running from these plans!



Houston Mayor Withdraws Sermon Subpoenas

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday she has instructed city lawyers to withdraw subpoenas ordering five local pastors to turn over all sermons and other communications relating to their opposition to an ordinance that allows transgender people to use any public bathroom regardless of gender.

"After much contemplation and discussion, I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas issued to the five Houston pastors who delivered the petitions, the anti-HERO petitions, to the city of Houston and who indicated that they were responsible for the overall petition effort,” Parker, the city’s first lesbian mayor, told a press conference.

She vowed to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) – dubbed the “bathroom bill” by critics – in place.

“It is extremely important to me to protect our Equal Rights Ordinance from repeal, and it is extremely important to me to make sure that every Houstonian knows that their lives are valid and protected and acknowledged,” Parker said.

“We are going to continue to vigorously defend our ordinance against repeal efforts.”



Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi Just Ordered to Be Immediately Released From Mexican Jail by Judge

Marine veteran Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi has been ordered to be immediately released from a Tijuana jail, following a Mexican federal judge’s ruling late Friday.

Tahmooressi, who moved to San Diego to receive treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was jailed March 31, after accidentally crossing the Mexican border with three loaded weapons in his car, which are against the law in Mexico.

The family issued the following statement: “It is with an overwhelming and humbling feeling of relief that we confirm that Andrew was released today after spending 214 days in a Mexican jail.”

Congressman Duncan Hunter of San Diego, a Marine combat vet, is particularly galled at the President’s lack of action on behalf of Tahmooressi. Hunter and several other Congressional Reps have worked to free Tahmooressi.



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

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


Home (Index page)

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.

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them.

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"

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

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

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.

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

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"


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.

"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.

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"


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
"Paralipomena 3"
Western Heart
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.
"Paralipomena 2"
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: