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 October, 2015

Is a grateful heart the mark of a conservative?

I think it is. Prayers of thanks are routine for Christians but I think it extends beyond Christians.

I was moved to that thought by the case of conservative Australian cartoonist  ZEG, who is a former member of the armed forces, a former policeman and a very conservative man.  Zeg (Steven Gunnell) undoubtedly has a grateful heart.  At age 48 he has discovered that he has a dangerous vascular formation in his brain that could kill him at any time.  And it is very nearly inoperable. It is probably as I write this that he is undergoing the risky surgery involved. He will probably survive but runs a big risk of being destroyed as a person.

So is Zeg bitter, angry and resentful?  Far from it.  I reproduce on AUSTRALIAN POLITICS the email he sent to people he knows before he went into hospital.  It is one long note of gratitude and thanks to his many friends.  I am proud to be among them. There are even some politicians he praises!

But what struck me particularly was this paragraph:

"Remember always that we inherited this great gift of freedom and democracy from the generations before us -- thus it is our responsibility, NAY,  our duty to ensure that the next and future generations inherit not only what we have now but an even better and more secure freedom"

Could any Leftist write that?  I can't see it.  They HATE what they have inherited.  That we feel a connection with our forefathers and an appreciation of what they worked -- often very hard -- to achieve is a large part of what makes us conservative.  We are connected to our past.  Leftists are not.  Or if they do feel a connection, they despise it.  What sad people!

And as Zeg says, in appreciating the blessings that we have been given through no work of our own, we feel an obligation at least to preserve it.  Most of us would rather just get on with our own lives rather than bothering with politics but, when there are so many twisted and relentless enemies of what is dear to us, we have to fight.


Rand Paul on Socialism: ‘If You Don’t Listen … They Exterminate You’

 In an interview on “The Glenn Beck Program” on Monday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called socialism “the most anti-choice economic system,” where ultimately if you don’t listen, “they exterminate you.”

“It’s the most anti-choice economic system. If you don’t listen, they fine you. If you don’t pay the fine, they imprison you. If you will not listen, ultimately what has happened in history – and people get mad when I say this – but they exterminate you, and that’s what happened under Stalin,” said Paul.

During the first Democratic presidential primary debate in, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he would explain what democratic socialism is.

“You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Sanders during the debate.

“We're going to win, because first we're going to explain what democratic socialism is, and what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of one percent in this country own almost 90 percent--own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today--in a rigged economy--that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said at the time.

“Bernie Sanders is talking about the way capitalism is being done is immoral, and he can make a good case for it. The way the crony capitalists are in with the people in Washington, the way Washington is being run is immoral,” Beck said during his program on Monday.

“The problem though is Bernie complains about crony capitalism. He kind of gets it right, but he equates it with all of capitalism, and he actually promotes something called democratic socialism, and I’ve been trying to point out, because I’m on a lot of college campuses – we have a big following in college campuses – that there’s nothing sexy, and there’s nothing cool about socialism,” said Paul.

“What there is, is the implied force that goes along with taking away your choice. They tell you, you cannot make reindeer. You cannot make cars. You cannot sell water. Only the state tells you what you can do. It’s the most anti-choice economic system,” he said.

“If you don’t listen, they fine you. If you don’t pay the fine, they imprison you. If you will not listen, ultimately what has happened in history – and people get mad when I say this – but they exterminate you, and that’s what happened under Stalin,” Paul added.

“People say, oh, no, no, he wants democratic socialism. The problem is a majority can be just as bad as one single authoritarian, and that’s why we shouldn’t allow any of our rights to be subject to a majority,” he said.

“Our Founding Fathers understood that. They understood that your rights come from your creator, and no majority should be able to take them away from you,” Paul said.



Fear of blacks is not racist

Walter E. Williams explains that stereotypes have a "kernel of truth" -- as psychologists long ago pointed out.  See Allport, G. W. (1954). "The nature of prejudice". Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Hillary Clinton told a mixed audience, "I mean, if we're honest, for a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people, the sight of a young black man in a hoodie still evokes a twinge of fear" (http://tinyurl.com/ojxsrhm).

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of that observation, I'd like to ask a question. Would well-meaning, open-minded white people have a similar fear at the sight of an elderly black man using a walker and wearing a hoodie?

Whether we like it or not, easily observed physical characteristics — such as race, sex, height and age — convey information. That's because there is often a correlation between those characteristics and other characteristics not so easily observed. Say that you're a police commander faced with the task of finding vandals responsible for slashing car tires and smashing windows. How much of the city's resources would you expend investigating 60- to 70-year-old Chinese men? You probably wouldn't spend resources on any men in that age group. So who is responsible for your decision not to investigate 60- to 70-year-old Chinese men and other men of the same age? If you said it's the behavioral reputation of that demographic as a group, you'd be absolutely right.

When I had nearly completed my doctorate at UCLA, Mrs. Williams and I purchased a home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a high-end, exclusive suburb of Washington. Our house was on the corner, and motorists often tossed debris on our lawn adjacent to the street. A Saturday chore was to pick up the trash. One Saturday, an elderly white man offered, "When you're finished working here, can you come to work at my place?" I responded that I'd be busy putting the finishing touches on my doctoral dissertation and would not have the time. The man was embarrassed and apologized profusely.

The man took for granted, with a high degree of probability, that if one saw a black man picking up trash in Chevy Chase in 1971, he was a hired hand. The man's action may have been annoying, but it would be an error to classify it as racism.

When I was awarded a national fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in 1975, we moved to Palo Alto, California. I was determined to lose weight and shape up during my year at Hoover. I visited Stanford's basketball court. White guys argued with one another to have me on their team, but that was the last time. I could barely run up and down the court, much less do anything constructive upon arrival. They appeared angry with me. No doubt their displeasure was, "How dare you be a 6-foot-5-inch black guy and bad at basketball?!"

So who is responsible for such an expectation held by whites? If blacks didn't have a reputation for basketball excellence, I wouldn't have suffered the scorn. By the way, 10 months later and about 15 pounds lighter, I returned to the basketball court with my former excellence, dignity and racial pride.

So what are we to make of Clinton's observation? Who is responsible for "a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people" experiencing a "twinge of fear" at "the sight of a young black man in a hoodie"? Before coming up with your answer, know that in cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, black taxi drivers often avoid picking up young black males. A black female commissioner in Washington once warned cabdrivers against picking up "dangerous-looking" characters — for example, a "young black guy ... with (his) shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants, (and) unlaced tennis shoes." A black and Hispanic president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers told his drivers to "profile" their passengers. "The God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics," he said.

So we have black taxi drivers who get the same "twinge of fear" as Hillary Clinton's liberal white people. Who is responsible for creating that fear? I hope you won't say black taxi drivers and well-meaning white people.



Obama Tells Falsehoods About Israel, Retracts, Then Repeats Falsehoods

The top propaganda tactics the administration is using to demonize the Jewish State

After weeks of murderous Palestinian stabbing attacks upon innocent Israelis, how has the Obama Administration responded?

Although Israel has been killing or apprehending knife-wielding terrorists, while Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has been inciting and glorifying their acts of murder, the Administration presents both sides as morally equivalent, while insinuating or even asserting Israeli responsibility.

Obama officials have been doing this in five ways:

1. Condemning violence and incitement on both sides: Specifically condemning attacks on innocent Israelis, Secretary of State John Kerry nonetheless also called upon “all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm” and called for “leadership that condemns the tit-for-tat.” And State Department spokesman John Kirby explicitly stated, “we recognize that incitement can go both ways here.”

2. Refusing to identify or condemn PA incitement to violence: Despite disseminating falsehoods  about Palestinian terrorists being innocents murdered in cold blood by Israel and Muslim supremacist calls by Abbas for Muslims to block imaginary Israeli take-over and “desecration” of Muslim shrines with “their filthy feet,” Administration officials don’t allude to this, much less condemn it. Quite the contrary: State Department spokesman Mark Toner implied Israel isn’t upholding the status quo on Temple Mount, while Mr. Kirby explicitly endorsed this false Palestinian claim, saying, “certainly, the status quo has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.”

3. Refusing to identify which side is using terrorism: Secretary Kerry has spoken of “a revolving cycle,” while Mr. Toner has referred to the “recent wave of violence,” not Palestinian terrorism, and refused to “assign blame” for the attacks. So did Mr. Kirby (“this isn’t about affixing ... blame on either side”).

4. Accusing Israel of using excessive force in dealing with the knife-wielding terrorists: Mr. Kirby baldy stated that “we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force.”

5. Rationalizing the Arab violence as partly the product of Jews moving into or living in the West Bank: Secretary Kerry spoke of  a “massive increase in [Jewish] settlements over the course of the last years,” which is neither a warrant for murder nor even true: construction within Jewish communities in the West Bank has dropped during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-year tenure to its lowest point since the Rabin government.

When the Obama Administration nullifies and voids the meaning and worth of its original condemnation of attacks on Israelis with defamatory charges and moral equivalence, it exposes its hostility and bias against Israel.

It is also inflammatory –– if Kerry can assign blame for Arab terrorism on Jews building houses in the West Bank, why can’t Arabs?

It is also untenable: one cannot credibly condemn terrorist acts and then include under the rubric of restoring calm forbearing from lawful actions of self-defense taken in response to them.

Under consequent pressure to to clarify the U.S. position, White House spokesman Josh Earnest denied that Secretary Kerry assigned any specific blame for the recent tensions –– which, of course, he had. Mr. Kirby avowed that “we have never accused Israeli security forces with excessive force with respect to these terrorist attacks” –– which, of course, he had –– and recanted his false statement, saying, “I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif has been broken” –– which, of course, he did.

These disavowals and retractions are correct and necessary –– but do not dispose of the root problem of hostility and bias.

Recall, for example, Secretary Kerry last year publicly bolstered the Palestinian delegitimization campaign by suggesting that Israel could become an apartheid state and would be understandably the target of boycotts if negotiations then on foot failed. Kerry later retracted his words –– but the damage was done.

The Administration seems to be seeking the damaging effects of these subsequently triangulated statements. The clarifications are just sufficiently retractive to mollify critics, while nonetheless preserving the original, damaging impact.

In this instance, President Obama seems to think they retracted too much.

Accordingly, on October 16, he himself doubled down on the original misrepresentations uttered by his officials on October 13 and 14, but retracted on October 14 and 15,  saying, “We must try to get all people in Israel, and the West Bank” to oppose “random violence.” President Obama also urged both Messrs. Netanyahu and Abbas to tamp down rhetoric, and again called into question Israel’s maintenance of Jerusalem’s status quo.

As for Abbas’ incitement –– still not a word from him, nor from UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who has also doubled down on some of the earlier false charges in the UN Security Council.

The Obama Administration is telling falsehoods about Israel, retracting them and then restating them. When someone persists with falsehoods, even after admitting them to be untrue, he intends them to stick.



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

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


29 October, 2015

Olives from Spain and tomatoes from Italy:  Why?

Various people exhort us to read the label on the bottles and cans that we buy.  Greenies want us to be sure that the contents have not hurt any whales, food-freaks want us to be sure that no salt has ever come near it and patriots want us to avoid buying anything imported.

And I DO read labels, but for a quite different reason from the three above.  I like the information they contain about economics.  They don't actually mention economics but they still tell us various things about economies.

The labels that particularly interest me are on the El-cheapo cans  on the bottom shelves of supermarkets -- usually bearing some sort of "House" brand. And what they tell us about the world is quite amazing.  They tell us that CHINA FEEDS THE WORLD.  Not only do they make almost all of our electrical gadgets these days but they also feed us all to a significant extent.  "Product of China" is what you nearly always read in the small print on those "Home brand" bottles and cans.  Chinese groceries now populate the world.

People tend to sneer at such goods but for the many who prefer to keep their money for beer and cigarettes, China is a godsend.

So how come?  Doesn't China have its work cut out feeding its own 1.3 billion people?  It's those clever Chinese farmers.  They can make crops spring lushly out of even unpromising ground.  Let me give an historical example of that:

Two of my great grandfathers were in on the Palmer River goldrush.  The 19th century was a century of goldrushes as new lands were opened up -- and one of the goldfields was on the Palmer river in far-North Queensland, Australia.  And much gold was dug there by people from all over the world.  And Chinese miners were there too.

Some of the Chinese, however, realized that they could win more gold by using their farming skills.  The miners had to eat and bringing in food from South was very expensive.  So the Chinese market gardeners got more  gold from selling their produce than they ever would have got by mining.

BUT:  The soils on Cape York Peninsula (where the Palmer lies) are notoriously poor and shallow.  So what to do about that?  Easy: The Chinese gardeners went all around collecting people's shit -- the traditional fertilizer of China, India and lot of other places. Shit-collecting is real shit-work but it is amazing what people will do for gold. And shit is great fertilizer so the Chinese market gardens flourished.  You can still see patches of lushness where the Chinese gardens were as you travel through the area to this day.

So the Chinese are great farmers and much of China is fertile so they coax amazing amounts of food crops out of their farms. China is about the same size as CONUS, Australia and Canada (around 3 million square miles in all 4 cases) so they do actually have a lot to work with -- enough to feed their own 1.3 billion people plus feeding lots of us.

And you can learn all that by reading labels!

But sometimes you can get a surprise.  You pick up a cheap can and expect to see "China" somewhere on the label but in fact see the name of some European country.  Why would Europeans want to send their stuff half way around the world to Australia?  Easy: Because of the EU common agriculture policy, which is mostly aimed at propping up French peasant farmers but which affects the whole of the EU.

Europe's problem is one that makes Greenies say "nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah" when you tell them about it.  Now that fracking has put panic about oil running out to rest, the Greenies these days are constantly prophesying that we will run out of food (Global warming, you know).  European agricultural administrators must wish there was some truth in that because their problem is the opposite: Europe produces TOO MUCH food -- more food than they can sell.  They pay their farmers big  subsidies to produce all the excess food and then pay Australians and others to eat it. Insane of course but that's politics.  You wouldn't want to contend with angry French farmers either.

So when I recently picked up from my local supermarket a very cheap bottle of Manzanilla olives from Spain and some very cheap canned tomatoes from Italy it was because the EU was selling the stuff off at a fraction of its cost just to get rid of it.  In the old days they used to donate it all to Russia (They did!) but Russia feeds itself pretty well now that they have got rid of Communism

Still, I suppose it is good that the Chinese have some competition.  Pity the European taxpayer, though.  Interesting things, those labels, aren't they?

Incidentally, olive trees grow so well in Australia that in South Australia they are regarded as weeds!


I am pleased to report that I have at least some readers who know stuff.  One reader has asked how I square surplus olives with reports that this year's olive crop is way down due to unfavorable weather

In a way, the question answers itself.  The big jar of olives that I recently bought is NOT the product of this year's crop.  It has been known since ancient times how to store olives and I am sure that the EU people of today are really good at it. And in the way of these things, the EU bods would not sell off their stuff straight away.  They would wait until all hopes of a normal sale were gone.  So goodness knows when my olives came off the tree.  They taste great anyway

Another thing that I believe to be true but have not researched is that olives grown for oil and olives grown for human consumption are different.  So a shortage of oil olives may not tell us much about the supply of eating olives. 

For what it's worth, I NEVER these days buy ANY European olive oils -- not even the big green tins of "Olio Sasso.  Diretta importata dall Italia" that I remember from my childhood.  Italian and Spanish olive oil distributors have really blotted their copybooks with contaminant and substitution scandals so I now buy  Australian olive oil exclusively.  Australian olive oil is a Southern European product made with Northern European ethics. So there are pyramids of Spanish and Italian olive oil in my local supermarket but I bypass them all.


Obama's fundamental transformation of America is happening by way of unchecked immigration

Is Trump the only hope?

A column written by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) should be required reading for those appalled by the “fundamental transformation” of America. Their warning couldn’t be clearer. “America is about to break every known immigration record. And yet you are unlikely to hear a word about it,” they write. “The Census Bureau projects that the foreign-born share of the U.S. population will soon eclipse the highest levels ever documented, and will continue surging to new record highs each year to come.”

The numbers are daunting. As recently as the 1970s, fewer than one in 21 U.S. residents were foreign born. According to the Census Bureau, over the next eight years the number of foreign born residents will reach an all-time high, with a total of 51 million immigrants accounting for more than one in seven U.S. residents, or approximately 14.8% of the nation’s population.

And it won’t stop there. If current immigration policies remain in place, the bureau is projecting an immigrant population growth rate nearly four times faster than that of the native-born population. Thus, the foreign-born share of the population will reach 57 million, or 15.8% of the population in 2030, 65 million (17.1%) in 2040, and a whopping 78 million (18.8%) by 2060. By that year the nation’s total population will grow to 417 million, representing 108 million more people than we had in 2010. “This increase is roughly equivalent to adding the combined populations of California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts to the country,” the bureau explains.

Unfortunately, as more and more Americans are coming to realize, the ruling class in Washington, DC — more familiarly known as the entire Democrat Party and the Establishment wing of GOP — are embracing an unprecedented level of cooperation on this issue. In other words, Democrats are hard at work removing every obstacle to unassailable power, while Republicans are busy kowtowing to corporatist oligarchs looking to eviscerate middle class wages.

All while our reliably corrupt media sing the praises of “bipartisanship.”

“Consider the giant special interests clamoring for the passage of the Senate’s 2013 ‘gang of eight’ immigration bill: tech oligarchs represented by Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, open borders groups such as La Raza and the globalist class embodied by the billionaire-run Partnership for a New American Economy,” Sessions and Brat explain. “For these and countless other interest groups who helped write the bill, it delivered spectacularly: the tech giants would receive double the number of low-wage H-1B workers to substitute for Americans. La Raza would receive the further opening of America’s borders (while Democratic politicians gain more political power). And the billionaire lobby would receive the largest supply of visas for new low-skilled immigrants in our history, transferring wealth and bargaining power from workers to their employers.”

The inevitable implications? “This is not immigration reform,” they warn. “This is the dissolution of the nation state, of the principle that a government exists to serve its own people.”

That lack of reform includes last week’s failure by the Senate to pass the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act. It would have withheld federal funds from sanctuary cities in open defiance of federal immigration law, and imposed a mandatory-minimum five-year sentence on any illegal alien that is deported and then returns. That element of the statute was better known as “Kate’s Law,” named after Kathleen Steinle, who was murdered by Juan Francsico Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon who had been deported five times.

The vote was 54-45, with Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk voting against the measure, and Democrats Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in support. Thus, it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to break a Democrat filibuster and move forward. That would be the same 60 vote threshold ignored by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who invoked the “nuclear option” in 2013, reducing the threshold to a 51 vote majority, so he could pack the DC Circuit Court with Democrat judges. By contrast, the reliably feckless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has never seen fit to return the favor, making an utter mockery of the “stop Obama” mandate voters handed the GOP during the 2014 election. A mandate driven in large part by Obama’s lawless agenda aimed at flooding the labor market with illegal aliens.

It is an agenda utterly anathema to working class Americans. Brat and Sessions note that, following a large expansion of immigrants from 1880-1920, doubling the U.S. immigration population from seven million to 14 million, Congress passed a law to reduce the flow. Over the next 50 years, America’s foreign-born population shrank from 14 million to 9.6 million. “This period witnessed rapid wage growth,” the authors explained, one in which “the bottom 90 percent of wage earners saw an 82.5 percent increase in their wages.”

In 1965, led by the late Ted Kennedy, the floodgates were re-opened and a massive wave of primarily low-skill immigrants quadrupled the immigrant-born population from 10 million in 1970, to more than 42 million today.

The consequences? “The Congressional Research Service reports that during the 43 years between 1970 and 2013 — when the foreign-born population grew 325 percent — incomes for the bottom 90 percent of earners fell nearly 8 percent,” Sessions and Brat report.

Nonetheless, the entire Democrat Party is on board with eradicating American prosperity, because they would rather rule in a Third World hellhole than serve in an exceptional nation. They collaborate with the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who would triple the number of H-1B visas, while he remains willfully oblivious to Disney forcing 250 American IT workers to train their foreign replacements or forfeit their severance packages occurring in his own state, or Jeb Bush, who countenances different treatment for border-busters if their lawlessness is motivated by “an act of love” for their families.

“After nearly half a century of massive immigration it is time to turn our attention to our own residents,” Sessions and Brat advise. “It is time to help our own workers, families and communities—immigrant and U.S.-born—rise together into the middle class. We need an immigration policy that shows compassion for Americans.”

We need far more than that. America is at a crossroad. Either we take our nation back from those with a treasonous contempt for national sovereignty, or we disintegrate into an amalgamation of sub-groups beholden to a self-anointed cabal of corporatist and political masters.

Make no mistake: immigration, both illegal and legal, is the issue in next year’s election because it affects everything else of importance, including the economy, jobs, crime, health care, welfare, and national security. Those who wish to turn this nation into a de facto clearinghouse for the entire world must be sent packing. In short, it’s either them or us.



Walmart Wage Hikes Come With a Steep Price

After years of being the whipping boy of the Left, Walmart finally capitulated to both the market and the catcalls by agreeing to raise the minimum wage it pays its employees. Walmart workers received at least $9 per hour beginning this past April, and that will rise to $10 per hour starting next February. That decision, though, came with an ongoing cost, as 450 workers at Walmart's Arkansas headquarters were axed earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the company's bottom line is also hurting as the retailer warned its earnings per share could drop as much as 25% by the end of next year. Share prices have also declined 11% for the year. While the Left has put forth plenty of theories about how Walmart could afford to give its workers a raise, the reality isn't panning out as planned.

Wages are getting upward pressure from the overall retail market, so Walmart isn't alone in its dilemma. The Gap began the wage-raising trend last year, with Walmart and Target following a few months later. Retailers remain concerned about keeping employees as competition in their labor segment intensifies, but some have also adopted more automation and self-service options, shrinking the labor pool over what it may have been before the wage hikes.

Spending more on labor, though, makes profitability more difficult. Craig Rowley, a retail consultant, warned that "we are still in a slow-growth economy," adding, "when you take on an expense like raising wages, you've got to take less profit." Overall, it's predicted that retailers could spend as much as $4 billion trying to match Walmart and the others edging up to the $10 minimum wage. The solution will likely lie in cutting jobs and unprofitable locations, as legacy retailers JCPenney and Macy's have already done or still plan to do this year.

It's worth noting, though, that these companies are increasing pay without being forced by Uncle Sam. Earlier this year, a minimum wage hike pushed by Senator (and now presidential hopeful) Bernie Sanders failed in the Senate as Sanders tried to sneak it into a GOP budget resolution. Executive action by Barack Obama and some local and state legislatures, however, has increased the minimum wage in some areas with negative effects on job creation and retention when the raise was too steep.

Yet what's missing in this minimum wage debate is the question of value. In simple terms, is the employee bringing as much worth to the company as he's being paid? Minimum wage has always been considered a floor for beginning employees, with the experience and skills they gain increasing their worth to the employer. In return, the employer either increases their wages or risks losing those employees to a competitor. It's been the way of capitalism for decades - at least until economic conditions over the last 50 years hollowed out the center of the job market for men ages 25 to 54. From 1948 until 1972, more than 95% of that group was employed. That number has now fallen to near 88% under Obama.

Minimum wage or not, this drop in labor participation will have long-term detrimental effects, as skills either atrophy or are never acquired. There's a fine line in almost any business between being profitable or going bust - in Walmart's case, the margin runs just 3%. Changing market conditions will always affect its bottom line, but if Walmart is struggling, those rose-colored economic glasses through which the so-called experts see the world may need a new prescription.



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

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


28 October, 2015

Canada's Turn Left

It is not yet clear if the political sea change that has taken place in Canada will also be ideological. Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the 43-year old neophyte who has never held an executive post, the left-of-center Liberals have unseated Stephen Harper's Conservatives with an overwhelming parliamentary majority that no poll or commentator had predicted. They will have virtually a free hand to govern.

But there are two problems. One: the Canadians have not necessarily voted in these elections, dominated by character and personal issues, for a lot more government intervention. Two: Trudeau-who has promised to preserve a big chunk of Harper's legacy, including tax cuts, free-trade agreements and support for major oil-related projects, including the Keystone XL pipeline that has met with such resistance across the border-wants to have it both ways. His otherwise interventionist agenda is incompatible with Harper's legacy on fiscal policy, taxes and resource-related free enterprise.

Not that Harper was a free-market champion. His rhetoric was often much bolder than his actions, hampered by the fact that he had to govern with a minority in Parliament during the first half of his tenure-and that, in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, they were temporarily influenced by Keynesian fiscal ideas.

All in all, it is fair to credit Harper with bringing the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent, signing dozens of free trade agreements, including a major one with the European Union (none were perfect, because these types of arrangements never are), and maintaining a decorous restraint when the commodities-related downturn led to calls for massive government spending, particularly this year. (Canada has had five consecutive months of economic contraction.)

Trudeau says he will keep the corporate tax rate and the trade agreements, maintain support for the Keystone XL pipeline, and lower taxes for the middle class, a move that he will fund with a moderate tax hike affecting the richest 1 percent. In this, to some extent he keeps the recent Liberal tradition-Liberal Prime Ministers Jean Chr‚tien and Paul Martin also lowered the corporate tax rate. Except that his agenda hinges on a massive infrastructure-related spending plan that he calls an "investment" but which will entail an extra US$46 billion in government expenditure. He admits that this effort will generate a US$25 billion fiscal deficit during the first three years, but he promises to deliver a surplus in his fourth year.

It is easy to picture the deficit becoming structural, Trudeau's promises to keep most taxes rates where they are thrown out the window and, unless the prices of commodities pick up, the Keynesian stimulus expanding. I would not be surprised if he ended up pressuring the central bank to lend him a monetarist help. There is no telling where these policies end.

Trudeau is commendable on some social issues, including his proposal to legalize marijuana, and he seems prudent on foreign policy issues, but his view of the economy is riddled with contradictions. It is also unclear whether he will provide the leadership that will be necessary to overcome the pressure by many left-leaning members of his party who will want to scuttle part of the Harper legacy. (He has said, with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that he will let Parliament decide.)

Whether Canada makes real progress in the years ahead will depend to a large extent on whether Justin Trudeau decides to emulate his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who was infused with the big-government Zeitgeist of the 1970s, or to take Harper's legacy one step further down the path of liberalization.



A False Choice: Mass Deportations vs. Mass Legalization

 The debate over what to do about the illegal population has too often been framed by supporters of amnesty as a choice between mass amnesty and mass deportations. A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies challenges this false choice and presents a real-world alternative.

The report, by William W. Chip, an international attorney and a member of the Center's Board of Directors, divides the illegal population into three groups in order to understand the real choices we face: those who will return to their homelands voluntarily, those who will return reluctantly, and those who are legalized and allowed to remain.

Chip emphasizes that large numbers of illegal aliens return home on their own; many illegal immigrants "will voluntarily repatriate because they are homesick, cannot find a steady job, or have achieved their financial objectives." He cites an earlier Center study which found that "during the first 5.5 years of the Obama administration the illegal alien population would have declined by approximately 2.5 million, nearly 25 percent, had the president's truncated enforcement of our immigration laws not facilitated the arrival of an equal number."

The "reluctant returnees" are illegal aliens who wouldn't otherwise go home - usually because they have found the steady, gainful employment needed to put down roots - but who can be induced to do so by policies that make finding and keeping a job difficult. Rather than relying solely on the "hard-power" approach of deportations, Chip outlines an additional "soft-power" strategy. If Congress would pass the required legislation, this would involve universal use of E-Verify, the free online system already used to screen nearly half of new hires.

But in the absence of new legislation, a president could still pursue a soft-power strategy by instituting what Chip calls "G-Verify" (G standing for "government"). This would use information already in the possession of the Social Security Administration to bring about a steady reduction in the illegal workforce through measures targeting identity fraud, namely the use of false or stolen Social Security numbers to obtain employment. Chip writes "Because the G-Verify process would play out over a period of years, the great majority of unauthorized workers would have time to arrange their affairs in order to make an orderly return to their homelands."

View the entire report at: http://cis.org/Mass-Deportations-or-Mass-Legalizations-A-False-Choice.

The report notes that some 10 million legal aliens - tourists, students, workers - enter the U.S. every three weeks, while over the same period some 10 million leave when their permission to remain here expires. If the "reluctant" illegals were incentivized to return home over a period of several years, their departure would mount to a rounding error in this normal ebb and flow of alien arrivals and departures.

Via email from CIS


Thousands of Alien Felons Are Being Released from Prison. And Congressional Action Could Lead to Thousands More

The Center for Immigration Studies examines sentencing reform legislation now before Congress and finds provisions of concern that could lead to the release of dangerous criminal alien offenders.

The Obama administration has announced the pending release of 6,000 felons from federal prisons, of whom an estimated 2,000 are non-citizens. This is the first wave of releases; the total number of serious alien drug offenders released could exceed 13,000.

A bill under consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee, known as the "Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015," S.2123, proposes to go down the same path and shorten the sentences for repeat cross-border drug traffickers, manufacturers, and distributers caught in the future.

Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and author of the analysis, said, "It is beyond incomprehensible that Senate leaders would attempt to fast-track a sentencing reform bill painted with such a broad brush that tens of thousands of aliens will be released from federal penitentiaries with no assurance of prompt deportation - putting public safety at great risk."

View the entire article at: http://cis.org/cadman/thousands-alien-felons-are-being-released-prison

The present bill affects sentences going forward, and also is retroactive in effect, which could make it easier for some alien offenders to challenge their deportation.

Equally concerning, it does not ensure that released alien prisoners will be detained while in deportation proceedings following their release. Since 2013, the administration has freed more than 76,000 convicted criminal aliens while in deportation proceedings, resulting in an uncounted toll of new crimes.

Several specific provisions will shorten the sentences of aliens who are repeat offenders convicted for trafficking illegal drugs into the United States from abroad, and for those caught serving as drug mules. In addition:

Courts will be required to seal juvenile offenders' records, including those

The bill shortens the sentence for those also charged with illegally possessing or using a firearm to effect the crime (often drug trafficking), from 25 down to 15 years.

"The immigration and public safety priorities of the Republican-led Senate will be apparent if this bill is rushed through like the Trans-Pacific trade and Iran sanctions bills, while Sen Vitter's solid anti-sanctuary bill, S.2146, languishes," said Cadman. "The tragic death of Kate Steinle and so many others seems to have already been forgotten."

Via email from CIS


The Cascading Collapse of Obamacare's COOPs

One piece of Obamacare is already collapsing: The COOPs (cooperative insurers) that the federal government propped up with loans to compete in exchanges. Many are now closing down under pressure from state insurance departments, as they are threatened with insolvency because they charge premiums in the Obamacare exchanges that do not cover costs.

The administration is desperate to stave off the day of reckoning, going so far as to insist the federal loans be categorized as "assets" (rather than liabilities) on the COOPs' balance sheets. Well, state insurance departments are having none of it. The story of Colorado's Obamacare COOP illustrates why these new insurers were willing to risk insolvency in the exchanges, despite insisting they were doing business prudentially.

Last Friday, Colorado's Division of Insurance ordered the state's Obamacare COOP not to offer policies in the state's Obamacare exchange next year. To show how quickly this COOP has fallen, I'll share three stories:

First, from November, here's the Colorado HealthOP's CEO bragging about her low premiums as Obamacare's second open season rolls out:

    "Colorado HealthOP chief executive Julia Hutchins said critics and competitors who say their aggressive pricing for the second open enrollment was an attempt to buy up market share have the wrong spin on things. The CO-OP is a fundamentally different approach, she said".     "We're a nonprofit. We're not trying to buy anything," Hutchins said. "We were created to serve everybody."

Second, after the end of the second open season, here she is explaining how her grabbing huge market share through low premiums is a good business practice:

    "Colorado HealthOP, one of 23 CO-OPs nationwide, reduced premiums on its middle-tier, or silver, plans by an average of 10 percent. Its customer count shot up from about 14,200 in late 2014 to about 75,000 this enrollment period.

    "We're right about where we projected we'd be," said HealthOP chief executive Julia Hutchins. "Growth is really important for stability. You really need a big pool to spread risk effectively."

Finally, here is Colorado HealthOP's press release, looking back in anger, in response to the regulator's decision last Friday:

    "This morning, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) announced that Colorado HealthOP will not be able to sell its plans on the Connect for Health Colorado marketplac

    Colorado HealthOP's closure is the latest in a series of CO-OP shut downs across the country, spurred by the federal government's failure to pay billions of dollars in promised funding."

So, the COOPs' business plans did not fail. It is the taxpayers who failed! The COOPs expected to be able to go back to Congress for unlimited bailouts. Too often, this is a credible strategy for businesses dependent on government. Unfortunately for the COOPs, the taxpayers chose to elect representatives who were not interested in continuing this game.



What the Obama Recovery REALLY Looks Like

With Hillary Clinton running as the heir to Barack Obama, it's worth examining his economic record. Turns out, it's not so hot:

    "Fifty-one percent of working Americans make less than $30,000 a year, new data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows.

    That’s $2,500 a month before taxes and just over the federal poverty level for a family of five. The new numbers come from the National Wage Index, which SSA updates each year based on reported wages subject to the federal income tax.

    In 2014, half of working Americans reported an income at or below $28,851 (the median wage), and 51 percent reported an income of less than $30,000. Forty percent are making less than $20,000. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be impoverished."

It's worth mentioning, because most of the press won't, that Bernie Sanders has been running against the Obama economic record for months, pointing frequently to stagnant wages and the unemployment rate. One would think that this would be newsworthy, but it's not.

Perhaps this is why political outsiders are dominating the election so far. As is usually the case, the American people are way ahead of the politicians. The conservative candidate who wants to win would do well to harp on how Obama's billions in stimulus spending have helped create eight years of stagnation and desperation.



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

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


27 October, 2015

Does Leftism promote social peace?

Throughout history, redistribution of wealth and income has been from the poor to the rich and many of those societies were quite stable -- with Tokugawa Japan being the outstanding example of that. So the idea that redistribution from the rich to the poor is needed to secure social peace lacks immediate plausibility.

Starting with the arch-conservative and deep-thinking Otto von Bismarck, however, the idea has grown that government welfare handouts to the poor are needed to prevent revolutions and social upheavals.  And Leftists have gladly latched onto that idea.

The idea that Leftists would promote social peace is however implausible at first glance.  How could the politics of rage promote any kind of peace?  And there are clear instances where Leftism has in fact promoted social conflict.  Communist revolutions are the pre-eminent example of that but the way the American Left has promoted rage among blacks by telling them constantly that their various disadvantages are due to white racism is another deplorable example.

And it seems clear that Leftists preachings about equality are  hostile.  Such preachings seem more motivated by a desire to tear down the rich rather than lift up the poor.  It is only capitalism that has in fact lifted up the poor.

For decades now I have been impressed by the provocative dictum of Leibnitz  to the effect that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Various improvements in all sorts of things since Leibnitz make it clear that he was wrong but the intended message that some good things have bad things as their precondition and that some bad things are needed to secure good things still resonates.

And I think that hate-motivated Leftist raging about inequality and injustice could be rather like that.  It could be doing us all some good, despite appearances.  Among the genuinely disadvantaged it must create the impression that someone is listening to them  and working on getting help to them. And the alternative to that could well be social unrest.  Traditional societies were able to keep the poor powerless because they controlled the means of communication.  That is no longer so. Communication is something of an epidemic in the age of the internet.  Muslims already use social media to organize their attacks so it is obvious that others could do likewise.

So I am rather inclined to think that Leftism may on balance be a good thing.  It may help preserve social peace. The task of conservatives is not then to shut them up, persecute them or remove them -- which is what Leftists try to do to conservatives.  No.  Our task is simply to do our best to thwart their brainless and destructive levelling policies. Let them preach but also let us block or unwind their ill-considered and impoverishing policies wherever we can -- JR.


Snapping of the American Mind

No, you haven’t lost your mind.  Yes, America has.

If someone just 20 years ago had said, for starters, that we’d someday elect an anti-American president who would intentionally flood our borders with millions of illegal immigrants and Islamist “refugees,” that we’d soon celebrate as “heroic” a former Olympic champion for mutilating his body and pretending to be a woman, that we’d have five extremist lawyers on the Supreme Court unconstitutionally force the radical redefinition of marriage to mollify people with same-sex fetishes – you might call that person crazy.

Well, crazy is the new normal. America has lost its mind. We’ve snapped. Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear and a brain to think knows it.  But why? How did it happen? What exactly caused America’s moral GPS to send our nation headlong into oncoming traffic?  And can anything be done to fix it?

Maybe once in a generation are we so graced with a communicator like veteran journalist and best-selling author David Kupelian. His matchless ability to unpack the complicated issues of our day with simplistic precision is nothing short of genius, a gift from God he has shared once more in his latest book, “The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture.”

As I’ve said before, when David puts pen to paper, it “has the same effect on your brain that yawning has on your ears at high altitude. Things just suddenly pop with crystal clarity.” The closest comparison I can make to David Kupelian is author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. As a Lewis enthusiast of the first order, I don’t make that comparison lightly.

In, “The Snapping of the American Mind,” Kupelian one ups himself by exploring, in lucid detail, the root cause of our current age of lawlessness and moral anarchy. Yet, somehow, he manages to leave us filled with hope for American revival and renewal. “Snapping” is just the book America needs for a time such a time as this.

In it you will learn:

    How the left has succeeded in redefining not just “marriage,” but the rest of Americans’ core values, from “equality” to “justice” to “freedom”;

    Why America, unquestionably the least racist nation on earth, is now being portrayed as a deeply racist pariah state;

    Why the United States is intentionally being flooded with millions of needy, dependent, Third World immigrants;

    How a group that amputates healthy body parts and has a 41 percent attempted suicide rate is officially declared “normal,” yet new “research” suggests conservatives have malformed brains;

    Which of the two major U.S. political parties has a far higher incidence of mental illness;

    Why Americans today are more stressed-out, confused, conflicted and addicted than at any time in the nation’s history – and where this ominous trend is leading;

    And much, much more …

Kupelian, who is vice president and managing editor of WND and editor of Whistleblower magazine, authored two previous blockbuster bestsellers, “The Marketing of Evil” and its sequel, “How Evil Works.”

“The progressive left under Obama,” he writes of his new book, “is accomplishing much more than just enlarging government, redistributing wealth and de-Christianizing the culture. With its wild celebration of sexual anarchy, its intimidating culture of political correctness and its incomprehension of the fundamental sacredness of human life, it is also, whether intentionally or not, promoting widespread dependency, debauchery, family breakdown, crime, corruption, depression and addiction.”

“Surveying this growing chaos in American society,” notes the book’s summary, “Kupelian exposes both the utopian revolutionaries and their extraordinary methods that have turned America’s most cherished values literally upside down – to the point that madness is celebrated and normality demonized.”

In essence, “Snapping” untangles the modern-day manifestation of the timeless biblical truth found in Isaiah5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

But unlike the woeful occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kupelian offers a substantive path forward – real hope and real change that will fundamentally repair what the “progressive” left has “fundamentally transformed.”

“I don’t give up hope,” said Kupelian on the radio show “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory. “I mean, you could say, if there’s no hope then what do you do? You go off, you drop out, you live for yourself, for your family, and you try to live a good life. No; too many people have fought and bled and died to help this country and to help strangers in foreign lands. There’s still half the country that has not had their mind snapped.”

Which half of the country maintains majority influence over the whole, may determine whether we have any future at all.



GOP Conservatives Are Here To Stay

The election of Paul Ryan as House speaker is a victory for conservatives -- but some say he is still not conservative enough

When Paul Ryan was drafted for Speaker, who held the real power in that dynamic? Not Ryan – he knew he couldn’t say ‘No” because he would catch the blame if everything went to hell. No, the guys with the real power were the dreaded conservatives – they were the ones whose bottoms were getting bussed.

Sure, there are only a few dozen in the Freedom Caucus, but today they are in the driver’s seat, forcing the caucus kicking and screaming to the right. They are the ones who pummeled the House GOP into transforming from the old status quo-reinforcing transactional paradigm based on trading earmarks into an ideological paradigm based on fighting the liberal agenda. The conservatives have won. We need to understand and accept that so we can move on to the next phase in our campaign to destroy progressivism and restore America.

The fact that conservatives have taken the reins away from the moderates makes people mad, mostly moderate people. Their problem is that we conservatives just won’t cooperate and compromise and lose. This insistence on actually doing conservative things freaks out the squares – “You mean, when you said you wanted to defund Obamacare, you guys were serious?”

Now, that’s not to say that many of us on the right are not also frustrated and annoyed at the hardcore conservatives. We are. Even I am occasionally, like when they won’t take “Yes” for an answer. Paul Ryan was saying “Yes” when he agreed to not push amnesty, to maintain the Hastert Rule, and to reform House procedures. In return, all Ryan wanted was to be allowed to spend more of his time with his kids than sucking face with donor class squishes and trading our principles for their cash. Oh no, Paul – don’t throw us in the briar patch.

Yeah, hardcore conservatives are a pain, but it’s a good hurt, like when your legs get sore after a run or your knuckles ache after punching a hippie.

Let’s face facts – without the hardcore conservatives, Paul Ryan would be happily wonking out as Ways and Means chairman instead of promising to give up about 90% of what we want. John Boehner would still be the Annoying Orange of GOP politics, clinking his highball glass in his secret conclaves with the same K Street jerks we want to see shuttering their expensive offices and wearing barrels as they ride out of D.C. in a caravan of battered U-Hauls.

The smart center right guys get this. They know how to make hard lemonade out of the hard right lemons of the Freedom Caucus. I negotiate for a living as a trial lawyer, and I understand that getting 80% of what my client wants on a given deal means I’m getting hi-fived and a bonus. And I love playing the “Craziest Guy in the Room” card. Sometimes, I even am that card. The CGITR strategy involves being the guy willing to pull a Samson and bring it all down on top of everyone – he’s perfectly happy to get smooshed in the collapse just as long as he takes you all with him. That’s the role of the hardcore conservatives who won’t settle for anything less than 110% of what they want. You can point to them, sigh, shake your head sadly, and say, “Gosh, you better give me 80% and then maybe – maybe – I can hold off these lunatics.”

All hail the conservatives who won’t compromise, who won’t buckle, who won’t let the go-along/get-along gang keep going along and getting along. After all, without the hardcore conservatives, the speaker issue would be moot. Pelosi would be in charge and busy helping Obama turn this country into Venezuela II: The Enfascisting.

There’s no turning back either. We are not returning to the days when the House GOP caucus was satisfied to be a bunch of gentlemanly losers happy to spend several terms spinning their wheels on the Potomac as the government grew and metastasized on their watch. Every election cycle, more of the old guard retires and more of the new breed comes on board. The tilt has happened. John Boehner left the speakership and the House for one reason and one reason only – to avoid a humiliating repudiation at the hands of the GOP caucus that a dozen cases of Jack Daniel’s couldn’t make him forget.

Boehner made no secret that he held conservatives in contempt. And for that the conservatives broke him. Maybe the media missed this essential truth, but that’s a lesson ambitious Republican politicians are all going to learn. The likes of David Brooks will wet their collective Dockers, but the Age of the Squish has come to an end. The RINOs are Cecil, the conservatives are the dentists, and the no one wants to the next head on the wall next to Eric Cantor and Sobby John’s.

This isn’t some phase the GOP is going to outgrow. We’re not afraid to demand that those who lead us be conservative. No dignified elder statesman with a track record of honorable defeat is going to talk some sense into us. We have no desire to utter the squish war cry of, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

Yeah, conservatives can be annoying. Hell, they often annoy me, and I’m so hardcore that I’d oppose replacing EBT cards with community gruel pots because I think that’s still too generous to deadbeat Democrat-voting losers. But people who actually believe in something often are annoying.

Here’s the reality. We conservatives have won. And as we exchange our place on the fringes of the party with the RINOs – when the squishes mutter that the GOP they knew is gone, they’re right – we are dealing with a whole new set of challenges. We conservatives now represent the GOP consensus, and power struggles we have seen are our growing pains.

We will get through them. We will prevail. We are the conservatives, and this House is now our house.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


26 October, 2015

The war on sugar -- another example of how governments are incompetent, careless and can't be trusted

For decades, officialdom condemned fat and salt in our diets.  As contrary evidence piled up however, they have had to walk that back and the usual advice in 2015 is that LOW consumption of fat and salt is most likely to be harmful. 

But control freaks have to have something to prove their wisdom by, apparently, so in the last year or two sugar has been made the big demon.  It's utter nonsense, of course.  These days sugar is in almost everything -- including fruit straight off the tree -- and we have all been consuming piles of it for decades. So are people dying like flies?  Far from it.  Lifespans have continued their upward rise.  

And what about the effect on our waistlines?  There is no way increased weight can be clearly tied to sugar consumption.  To claim cause and effect is pure speculation.  There have been all sorts of lifestyle changes in recent years and the sheer cheapness of food these days is actually the most likely culprit for "obesity".  Within living memory it was a real worry for parents to put enough food on the table for their families, but big advances in agricultural practice, distribution (big supermarkets) and international trade have steadily brought real food prices down to the point where no-one in the developed world need go hungry. These days Oliver Twist can always have "More" if he wants it. And many people now DO want it.

After the about-face on fat and salt, I think that alone should make us cynical but there is also no good research backing up this latest fad.  There is research but it is all flaky. I spent many years as a health blogger so I know what the evidence against sugar is:  It is all either
in vivo (rodent studies) or epidemiological.  But rodent studies generalize poorly to humans and you CANNOT infer cause from epidemiological studies. If you want to know what rubbish is spouted in the name of epidemiology, grab John Brignell's little book: The Epidemiologists: Have They Got Scares for You!

IT’S becoming a public enemy up there with the likes of fat, salt and smoking.

Now a much-anticipated report has put sugar barons on notice, recommending a 10-20 per cent “sugar tax” on soft drinks and moves to limit the marketing and promotion of sugary foods to children.

Public Health England’s document has been more than a year in the making and has slammed the food-friendly environment that has left the UK bulging at the seams.

“The whole food environment and culture has changed slowly over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now more places to buy and eat food which is, in real terms, cheaper, more convenient, served in bigger portion sizes and subject to more marketing and promotions than ever before,” it said, adding that the continually expanding swath of restaurants, cafes and fast-food means simple labelling laws aren’t enough.

The public health body is calling for a 10-20 per cent tax on sugary drinks which are the main single source of sugar for school-aged children. It also wants to see a crackdown on marketing and promotions that target children directly, better labelling an overhaul of public facilities and messages like the “five a day” campaign to ensure they are cutting through.

“It is likely that price increases on specific high sugar products like sugar sweetened drinks, such as through fiscal measures like a tax or levy, if set high enough, would reduce purchasing at least in the short term,” the report said.

Sugar is becoming in the latest battleground in the fight against global obesity following on from fat and salt. It’s estimated to make up 12-15 per cent of UK diets, much of which is disguised in sauces, mayonnaise, cereals or alcohol. The public health body wants it cut back to less than five per cent in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, to prevent a host of health problems from obesity to diabetes and dental decay which cost billions a year in healthcare.

But despite the high-profile support, the recommendations are unlikely to come into effect. A spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support the idea. The British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said they “recognise industry has a role to play in tackling obesity” but don’t believe it has had a significant impact.

Nutritionist Susie Burrell said she would “absolutely” love to see a “junk tax” introduced in Australia that goes beyond sugar to cover fast food, confectionary and soft drinks.

“Isolating sugar is failing to look at the complexity of nutrition and the way people eat. Portion size and fried foods are just as big an issue as sugar is,” she told news.com.au. “Any scheme that would generate revenue to be used in the treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease would be welcomed.”


UPDATE: In case it was unclear above, I was talking about the advice emanating from government bodies. Actions by governments  have so far been muted. That is unlikely to last, however


Levin: 'Last Vestiges of Soviet Communism Are U.S. College Campuses'

During his Wednesday broadcast last week, nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin said that America’s college campuses are the last vestiges of Soviet Communism.

“The last vestiges of soviet communism are the college campuses in this country,” Levin said. “The amount of money they spend on facilities, on swimming pools, on tennis courts, you name it. Way over the top!”

Below is a transcript of Levin’s comments:

    “The Community Reinvestment Act, that’s government that’s too big to fail, destroyed our housing market, destroyed families all across this country. College tuition through the roof.

    “The last vestiges of Soviet communism are the college campuses in this country. The amount of money they spend on facilities, on swimming pools, on tennis courts, you name it. Way over the top! And these kids pay tuition, they can’t afford it, but they need a college education in many cases, they believe, to get into a profession.

    “And so they’re encouraged with low interest loans to take out these loans. They take out these loans. In the end they can’t afford them. They can’t get jobs because our borders are wide open. They can’t get jobs because we’re killing the golden goose, and they’re stuck. And the liberals have another idea, a magic wand, the liberal magic wand. No more debt, look at that, boom it’s all gone.

    “And not only that, you should go to college for free. Yeah, like the housing market, that was free, and it almost destroyed many of you out there. And now health care, right? That’s free, and you can’t afford that can you?  It’s through the roof.

    “Nothing’s free. And the bottom line is they don’t hit the so-called rich, a definition that changes repeatedly. They hit you, working people, people who make a modest income. You put some money away, maybe you can go on a vacation, maybe you can put some money away for a pension.

    “You’re the ones they’re hitting, because only you can pay for these programs in the end. The rich aren’t paying for Obamacare. You are. The rich aren’t paying for the war on poverty. You are. The rich aren’t paying for illegal immigrants. You are. The rich aren’t bailing out the banks through TARP. You are. And you pay for all of it.

    “These people are liars. How many more times are you going to accept what comes out of their mouths?

    “And there’s more. We’re supposed to hate the National Rifle Association, because it defends the Second Amendment.  And so the liberals create monsters. They create straw men. They create devils. So we’re supposed to hate the NRA, you know, like Haliburton, like oil companies, like anything they don’t control that dares to challenge them. Hate the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife when he was alive.”



From Britain: Another Leftist hypocrite

Seumas Milne is remembered for his comment on the assassination by Muslims of British soldier Lee Rigby in 2013.  Milne said it ‘wasn’t terrorism in the normal sense’, in an apparent attempt to minimize the crime.  Under new leader Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour party has moved much further to the Left than it was under Tony Blair

The stare of a fanatic who is sure he knows it all

Jeremy Corbyn's new 'Marxist-sympathising' spin doctor Seumas Milne sent his two children, now in their 20s, to a pair of elite grammar schools instead of a number of comprehensives which were closer to his London home.

Milne's children Patrick, 22, attended the Tiffin School in Kingston upon Thames, while his 25-year-old sister Anna went to Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston-upon-Thames.

The millionaire spin doctor has taken a leave of absence from The Guardian to become the Labour Party's executive director of strategy and communications.

Milne lives with his wife Cristina Montanari in 1992 and live in a £2 million Victorian house in Richmond.

According to The Telegraph, Milne, 57,  attended the £34,740-a-year Winchester College. His father, former BBC director-general Alasdair Milne died in 2013 leaving him one third of his £3.9 million estate.

Milne and his wife ignored four nearer comprehensive schools and instead sent their children to the Tiffin grammar schools some four miles away.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has been critical of Corbyn's leadership told Gordon Rayner of The Telegraph: 'Seumus Milne will clearly struggle to understand working people and I'm puzzled as to why Jeremy would have appointed him. 'I would have thought he would have chosen someone more down to earth and more in touch with real people.'

The appointment of a left-wing columnist as Labour's strategy and communications chief highlights a lack of 'professionalism' by Jeremy Corbyn, Lord Mandelson has said.

Lord Mandelson - a driving force behind reforms to the party in the 1980s and 1990s and at the heart of New Labour's spin operation - said he was unimpressed by Mr Corbyn's time at the helm since his surprise election.  'I don't think he's growing into the job at all, no,' the former cabinet minister said.

'I don't think he is showing any professionalism in his leadership of the Labour Party and you see from his appointment of his strategy and communications director Seumus Milne, whom I happen to know and like as it happens, but (is) completely unsuited to such a job.

'He has little connection with mainstream politics or mainstream media in the country and yet he's in charge of communications for the Labour Party. 'That doesn't sound very professional to me.'

The arch-Blairite has faced calls for his expulsion from the party for 'openly inciting insurrection' against Mr Corbyn, but he has insisted he is 'not going anywhere'.



Sanity Prevails: Teen Who Had Consensual Sex is Removed From Sex Offender Registry

Zach Anderson is a 20-year-old from Indiana who used the dating app Hot or Not when he was 19. On the app, he found an Michigan girl's profile, and they began talking. The girl said she was 17. They eventually met up and had sex. It turns out the girl lied, and she was actually 14, not 17. As the age of consent in Michigan is 16, the girl could not consent to sex. This meant that their encounter automatically made Anderson a felon and a sex offender--and despite please for leniency from both the girl and her mother, Anderson was sentenced to three months in prison and forced to spend the next 25 years on the Indiana and Michigan sex offender registries.

Obviously, this is insane. He did not rape a girl. He was lied to by someone who admits she deceived Anderson about her age. The law, unfortunately, didn't care that he was lied to. He was guilty, and he would be on a sex offender registry until he was 44 years old. Until, thankfully sanity prevailed and a judge re-sentenced Anderson to probation and removed him from the Michigan sex offender list. And yesterday, he was finally removed from Indiana's as well.

Thank goodness.

Anderson is not a sex offender. He was a 19-year-old who thought he was engaging in relations with a 17-year-old. He had no reason to believe his partner was lying about her age, and the encounter was completely consensual. This is not the actions of a criminal. It does not do society any good to put a person who has virtually no risk of harming anyone in the community on a list that will restrict where he can live and work. He is not a pervert, he is not a pedophile, and he is not a rapist. He should never have been put on the same list as someone who is a convicted rapist or child molester.

Cases like this are far too common. Something needs to be done before more lives are ruined for innocent mistakes.



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

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


25 October, 2015

Capitalism beats regulation

Capitalism started running before regulation could get its boots on

Stepping into the furor over eye-popping price spikes for old generic medicines, a maker of compounded drugs will begin selling $1 doses of Daraprim, whose price recently was jacked up to $750 per pill by Turing Pharmaceuticals.

San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., which mixes approved drug ingredients to fill individual patient prescriptions, said Thursday it will supply capsules containing Daraprim's active ingredients, pyrimethamine and leucovorin, for $99 for a 100-capsule bottle - or $1 per capsule.

The move to provide cheap alternatives to Daraprim is an attack on Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, who immediately rose the price of the drug by 5,000 per cent after his company acquired it last month.

The 3 1/2-year-old drug compounding firm also plans to start making inexpensive versions of other generic drugs whose prices have skyrocketed, Chief Executive Mark Baum told The Associated Press.

The high price of prescription medicines in the U.S. — from drugs for cancer and rare diseases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year down to once-cheap generic drugs now costing many times their old price — has become a hot issue in the 2016 presidential race.

News that Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and other drugmakers have bought rights to old, cheap medicines that are the only treatment for serious diseases and then hiked prices severalfold has angered patients.

It's triggered government investigations, politicians' proposals to fight 'price gouging,' heavy media scrutiny and a big slump in biotech stock prices.

Imprimis, which primarily makes compounded drugs to treat cataracts and urological conditions, will work with health insurers and prescription benefit managers in each state to make its new capsules and other compounded generic medicines widely available, Baum said.

'We're geared up. We're ready to go as soon as the orders come in,' he said.

Compounded drugs are typically made to fill a doctor's prescription for an individual patient, sometimes because the mass-produced version is in short supply or completely unavailable and sometimes to allow for customized formulations or dosages.

Compounders don't need Food and Drug Administration approval to do that, unlike drugmakers making huge batches of drugs on complex production lines.

Baum said Imprimis will produce its pyrimethamine/leucovorin capsules, using bulk ingredients from manufacturing plants approved by the FDA, at its own facilities in Allen, Texas; Folcroft, Pennsylvania; Irvine, California, and Randolph, New Jersey.



Another Picture Gallery now up

I have picked out what I think are the best pictures off my blogs from the months of July to December last year.  There are some good cartoons among them that should not be missed.

You can access them HERE or HERE


Clinton, O’Malley Say Americans Are Their Enemies

The Leftist hatred of ordinary people is never far beneath the surface

In the days since last week’s debate between candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, some commentators have suggested that Americans have seen enough, that no additional Democrat debates are necessary. In one respect, those commentators are right. In just a few seconds during the debate, the two candidates who harbor the most extreme views on guns showed why they shouldn’t be entrusted with our country’s highest elected office.

It happened when the candidates were asked, “which enemy are you most proud of?”

Of the five candidates onstage, the only supporter of the right to arms, former U.S. senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb—who had already answered a question about gun control by saying that people have the right to defend themselves—said that the enemy he was most proud to have had was the one who wounded him with a grenade during the Vietnam War. Webb didn’t elaborate, but he was referring to an occasion on which, as a Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant, he led an attack against a communist bunker system, an action for which he was awarded the Navy Cross “for extraordinary heroism.”

However, the other four candidates—gun control supporters one and all—reflexively associated the word “enemy” not with America’s overseas adversaries, but with other Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee tempered their answers, at least, Sanders saying only that “Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry . . . do not like me,” Chafee saying that the “the coal lobby” is a group he’s “at odds with.”

By stark contrast, however, Hillary Clinton and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, far and away the most extreme gun control supporters running for president, showed no such restraint. O’Malley said his enemy is the five million member “National Rifle Association.” Clinton went further, naming not only “the NRA,” but also the health insurance companies, the drug companies, Republicans, and only one group of people who are not Americans, “the Iranians.”

How things have changed. In 2004, during the keynote speech at the Democratic Party National Convention, then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama said, albeit with questionable sincerity, “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” In 2007, presidential candidate Obama claimed that he wanted to unify the country and break it out of what he called “ideological gridlock.”

Today, tempted with the opportunity to indulge herself in the deadly sin of hate before a national TV audience, the leading candidate for the same party’s presidential nomination did so without hesitation or remorse. She gleefully said that she considers tens of millions of Americans to be the “enemy.” She equated the NRA, American business interests, and Republicans with those whose signature chant is “Death to America.” And the party faithful in the debate hall cheered her with the same enthusiasm Obama’s “one America” speech received 11 years ago.

It was an ugly moment, but it shouldn’t define the character of our political disputes going forward. In deciding to whom to entrust the presidency of the United States between now and Election Day 2016, all Americans, regardless of viewpoint, should hold candidates to a standard higher than what Hillary Clinton appears capable of delivering.



Hillary's dishonesty never stops

Among the many issues standing between Hillary Clinton and the White House is what various media outlets have delicately labeled a “credibility problem.” Politico was more blunt in an August 27 article, asking, “Can Hillary overcome the ‘liar’ factor?” That piece went on to cite a Quinnipiac University poll, in which 61% of respondents indicated they did not believe Hillary was honest and trustworthy. Worse, when voters were asked the first word that came to mind about Clinton, the top three replies were (in order of popularity) “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” According to the article, “Overall, more than a third of poll respondents said their first thought about Clinton was some version of: She’s a liar. … [T]he striking reality is that, for Clinton, a lack of trust is the first thing many think of.”

Count us in on that.

Given that nothing characterizes Hillary Clinton in the American mind more than dishonesty, however, we would have thought that she could at least come up with something more original than the thoroughly discredited claim that “[f]orty percent of guns are sold at gun shows, online sales.” This is one of the main talking points to support closing the equally mythic “gun show loophole” through “universal” background checks.

The “40%” hogwash is of course legendary amongst gun control advocates, but it is also becoming an almost mandatory mantra for gun control supporters. None other than President Obama himself was called on it not once, but twice, by the same media fact-checker at the Washington Post. As is so often the case, however, the president’s followers and partisans immediately took up the argument, as if hoping the volume and repetition of their lies would obliterate the truth.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) took a turn in May. In September, former Maryland governor and current Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley joined the chorus when laying out his own expansive antigun platform. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continues to make the claim on his website (although he hedges slightly with the phrase “up to 40 percent”).

So Hillary’s adoption of the lie, if not inevitable, at least was not surprising. What is disappointing, however, is that even after the claim has been repeatedly debunked by “fact-checkers” within the antigun media, the worst the Washington Post could muster for Hillary last week is three out of four “Pinocchios.” “By any reasonable measure,” fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “Clinton’s claim that 40 percent of guns are sold at gun shows or over the Internet – and thus evade background checks through a loophole – does not stand up to scrutiny.”

On-the-ground experience also illustrates how off the mark research estimates can prove in real world settings.  When Colorado expanded its background check system to cover private transfers in 2013, the 40% claim was the baseline used by officials to estimate that an additional 420,000 annual checks would be conducted as a result of the expansion.  However, in the first year of implementation, only 13,600 such checks were required, amounting to merely 4% of the statewide total.  While some margin of error is usual in research estimation, we generally view being off by a magnitude of 10 to have missed the mark entirely.  



Putin Forces Obama to Capitulate on Syria

By MIKE WHITNEY, a contributor to "Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion"

The Russian-led military coalition is badly beating Washington’s proxies in Syria which is why John Kerry is calling for a “Time Out”.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an emergency summit later in the week so that leaders from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan could discuss ways to avoid the “total destruction” of Syria. According to Kerry, “Everybody, including the Russians and the Iranians, have said there is no military solution, so we need to make an effort to find a political solution. This is a human catastrophe that now threatens the integrity of a whole group of countries around the region,” Kerry added.

Of course, it was never a “catastrophe” when the terrorists were destroying cities and villages across the country, uprooting half the population and transforming the once-unified and secure nation into an anarchic failed state. It only became a catastrophe when Vladimir Putin synchronized the Russian bombing campaign with allied forces on the ground who started wiping out hundreds of US-backed militants and recapturing critical cities across Western corridor. Now that the Russian airforce is pounding the living daylights out of jihadi ammo dumps, weapons depots and rebel strongholds, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is tightening their grip on Aleppo, and Hezbollah is inflicting heavy casualties on Jabhat al Nusra militants and other Al Qaida-linked vermin; Kerry’s decided it’s a catastrophe. Now that the momentum of the war has shifted in favor of Syrian president Bashar al Assad, Kerry wants a “Time out”.

Keep in mind, that Putin worked tirelessly throughout the summer months to try to bring the warring parties together (including Assad’s political opposition) to see if deal could be worked out to stabilize Syria and fight ISIS. But Washington wanted no part of any Russian-led coalition. Having exhausted all the possibilities for resolving the conflict through a broader consensus, Putin decided to get directly involved by committing the Russian airforce to lead the fight against the Sunni extremists and other anti-government forces that have been tearing the country apart and paving the way for Al Qaida-linked forces to take control of the Capital. Putin’s intervention stopped the emergence of a terrorist Caliphate in Damascus. He turned the tide in the four year-long war, and delivered a body-blow to Washington’s malign strategy. Now he’s going to finish the job.

Putin is not gullible enough to fall for Kerry’s stalling tactic. He’s going to kill or capture as many of the terrorists as possible and he’s not going to let Uncle Sam get in the way.

These terrorists–over 2,000 of who are from Chechnya–pose an existential threat to Russia, as does the US plan to use Islamic extremists to advance their foreign policy objectives. Putin takes the threat seriously. He knows that if Washington’s strategy succeeds in Syria, it will be used in Iran and then again in Russia. That’s why he’s decided to dump tons of money and resources into the project. That’s why his Generals have worked out all the details and come up with a rock-solid strategy for annihilating this clatter of juvenile delinquents and for restoring Syria’s sovereign borders. And that’s why he’s not going to be waved-away by the likes of mealy-mouth John Kerry. Putin is going to see this thing through to the bitter end. He’s not going to stop for anyone or anything. Winning in Syria is a matter of national security, Russia’s national security.....

The entire US political establishment supports the removal of Assad and the breaking up of Syria. Kerry’s sudden appeal for dialogue does not represent a fundamental change in the strategy. It’s merely an attempt to buy some time for US-backed mercenaries who are feeling the full-brunt of the Russia’s bombing campaign. Putin would be well-advised to ignore Kerry’s braying and continue to prosecute his war on terror until the job is done.



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

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


23 October, 2015

Israeli PM Netanyahu is covering up for Hitler??

A report below that I will have a lot to say about immediately following it:

The Israeli Prime Minister has caused a storm hours before his visit to Germany by saying the former Palestinian Muslim elder in Jerusalem convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews.

In a speech to the Zionist Congress late on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu referred to a series of attacks by Muslims against Jews in Palestine during the 1920s.  He claimed they were instigated by the then Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Husseini famously flew to visit Hitler in Berlin in 1941, and Netanyahu said that meeting was instrumental in the Nazi leader's decision to launch a campaign to annihilate the Jews. 'Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,' Netanyahu said in the speech.

'And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here."

'"So what should I do with them?" Netanyahu said Hitler asked the mufti, who responded: 'Burn them.'

Netanyahu, whose father was an eminent historian, was quickly harangued by opposition politicians and experts on the Holocaust who said he was distorting the historical record.

Palestinian officials said Netanyahu appeared to be absolving Hitler of the murder of six million Jews in order to lay the blame on Muslims. Twitter was awash with criticism.

Saeb Erekat, the PLO's secretary general and chief Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis, said: 'It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews.

'Mr Netanyahu should stop using this human tragedy to score points for his political end.'

Even Netanyahu's defence minister, close ally Moshe Yaalon, said the prime minister had got it wrong.   'It certainly wasn't (Husseini) who invented the Final Solution,' Yaalon told Israel's Army Radio. 'That was the evil brainchild of Hitler himself.'

It is not clear what sources Netanyahu was relying on for his comments. A 1947 book 'The Mufti of Jerusalem' and a newspaper report at the time said a former Hitler deputy had testified at the Nuremberg war crimes trials that Husseini had plotted with the Nazi leader to rid Europe of its Jews.

Husseini was sought for war crimes but never appeared at the Nuremberg proceedings and later died in Cairo.


That Netanyahu was in any way excusing Hitler must be one of the most absurd suggestions ever but nothing is too absurd for the Leftist media.  Netanyahu is a long-time student of the relationship between Hitler and the Arabs so his words are well-considered.

There are two issues in the matter.  Did Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, change Hitler's mind about the Jews and was Netanyahu in some way excusing Hitler?

The second is of course absurd and Netanyahu said it was absurd.  Hitler was the man who set the holocaust in train and he and his henchmen are to blame for it.  Nothing can excuse that.  Only the Leftist media would suggest otherwise.  An attempt to understand Hitler's mind is not an attempt to wipe away his guilt.

The more interesting question is what influence the Mufti had on Hitler's thinking.  And here the first thing to know is that it was Hitler's practice in all policy areas to give only general guidance and leave it up to his deputies to sort out the details.

It is certainly crystal clear that Hitler was hostile to the Jews from early on but it is NOT clear exactly what he wanted to do about them. Many historians have suggested that he initially wanted only to expel them but gave up on that idea when nobody else would have them.

Netanyahu however, from his reading, claims that it was not only the difficulty of expelling them but also the advice of the Mufti that changed Hitler's mind.

But again we hit the problem that NOBODY knows Hitler's exact thoughts on the matter.  He certainly kept his public pronouncements vague -- as politicians usually do -- so Netanyahu's reconstruction of his thinking is as good as any other. Hitler may or may not have been swayed by the Mufti in allowing the destruction of the Jews.  Netanyahu has his reasons for his reconstruction and we may in time hear the details of that.

There is an account of what transpired during the meeting beteen Hitler and the Mufti and it does not mention the words that  Netanyahu quoted.  But that fails to note that the account is not verbatim. It is a journalistic account in the third person so involves an element of interpretation and selection by the reporter.

My view is that we will never know at what point Hitler decided that the Jews had to be exterminated.

Now for some other comments on the matter with which I only partially agree.

Mufti Advised Hitler on Holocaust, Says Middle East Forum Scholar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn criticism for comments about the role of al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in conceiving and perpetrating the Holocaust.

Indeed, leading Nazi aides testified that al-Husaini was one of the instigators of the genocide. In his Damascus memoirs, the mufti admitted how he advised Hitler and other leading Nazis, and that he acquired full knowledge of the ongoing mass murder.

Middle East Forum scholar, historian, and author Wolfgang G. Schwanitz added, "It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust. He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe."

Although Schwanitz hadn't previously heard the dialogue between Hitler and al-Husaini as told by Netanyahu, he says it is absurd to ignore the role played by al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, a war criminal, in encouraging and urging Hitler and other leading Nazis to exterminate European Jewry.

According to the foremost expert on the ties between Nazis and Islamists, there is much evidence that al-Husaini's primary goal was blocking all of the ways out of Europe. He pushed Hitler to slam the last doors of a burning house shut.

In their 2014 book Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, published by Yale University Press, Schwanitz and co-author Barry Rubin delve into the deep ties between Hitler and the Grand Mufti:

"At their meeting [on November 28, 1941, Hitler and al-Husaini] concluded the pact of Jewish genocide in Europe and the Middle East, and immediately afterward, Hitler gave the order to prepare for the Holocaust. The next day invitations went out to thirteen Nazis for the Wannsee Conference to begin organizing the logistics of this mass murder."

The highly acclaimed book also examined the Grand Mufti's efforts to prevent Europe's Jews from finding refuge in the land that would become Israel:

"And since any European Jews let out of Europe might later go to Palestine, al-Husaini made it clear that if Hitler wanted Muslims and Arabs as allies he must close Europe's exits to Jews. At the same time, al-Husaini and Arab rulers also told Britain that if it wanted to keep Arabs and Muslims from being enemies, it must close entrance to Palestine to all Jews. By succeeding on both fronts, al-Husaini contributed to the Holocaust doubly, directly, and from the start."


The comments above about the Wannsee conference are misleading.  It was called, not by Hitler but by Heydrich.  Hitler did not attend.  And the claim: "The next day invitations went out" seems unlikely, as the conference took place on 20 January 1942, nearly two months later.  And we can't be sure what was said and decided there.  Both Eichmann, who took the notes of the meeting, and Heydrich, deliberately made sure that the final record of the conference was kept bland with nothing too specific in it. So, with great respect to Schwanitz and the late Barry Rubin, I can see no way in which the Wannsee conference is at all relevant to what Netanyahu specifically said.

So I stand by what I said earlier:  The matter is indeterminate. Netanyahu has his grounds for his interpretation and others have their grounds


Liberal Extremist Trying to Keep Trump off SNL

Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is set to host Saturday Night Live this November, and liberal pressure groups are doing their best to keep him off the air. This week, a certain liberal congressman chimed in:

According to Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), allowing Trump — who has come under fire for his comments about illegal immigrants — to host SNL is a step too far.

“It is a level of endorsement that says to America that every hateful and racist thing Donald Trump has said since the moment he launched his campaign is acceptable and no big deal,” Gutiérrez wrote in a letter Tuesday to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke.

Gutiérrez highlighted Trump’s early, controversial statements about illegal immigrants which lead to some businesses dropping their affiliations with Trump, including NBC.

“The reaction in July from NBC was swift and clear: ‘Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.’ And NBC said, ‘Respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.’ Serta, Macy’s, NASCAR, Univision, and ESPN were among the others that also acted to dump Trump” he wrote.

The Illinois Democrat continued saying allowing Trump to host SNL would be 90 minutes of “free network airtime” for his campaign.

“I think I speak for a lot of Americans, especially immigrant Americans and Latino Americans, when I say that if SNL is allowed to proceed, it would be a huge corporate blunder,” he added.
Who's Gutierrez? He's the guy who recently demanded that Obamacare coverage be extended to  illegal aliens.  The man who would seek to punish Trump for controversial speech that he disagrees with sees no problem with rewarding those who break our nation's laws and disrespect our borders.

It has become a tradition for presidential candidates to host the late night television show, and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton did recently. Many Republicans were outraged by President Clinton's disgraceful actions in Benghazi that left four Americans, including our ambassador, dead.  Where was Rep Gutierrez then?



This Country Built a Wall, and it Worked

Those who are quick to dismiss candidates like Donald Trump, and the members of the GOP grassroots who demand immigration reform are quick to dismiss the notion that building a wall will solve anything. But if recent developments in Hungary are any example, those folks may need to reconsider:

    Hungary said Monday its shutdown of the border with Croatia had put a stop to the influx of migrants and refugees.

    Only 41 people crossed into the EU member state on Sunday, the government said.

    "The border closure is working, it has effectively stopped illegal border-crossing," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told reporters in Nagykanizsa, close to the Croatian border.

    "The Hungarian government is determined to keep the measures in place as long as is needed," he said.

    "We are continuously monitoring the situation at the Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian borders, and are ready to react to any situation which might develop."

    The figure of 41 represents a new daily record low in 2015 for Hungary, which witnessed up to 10,000 people stream across its borders daily since the summer.

The rest of Europe is on the verge of chaos, as migrants have caused massive disruptions in Germany and Sweden, where ISIS infiltrators are targeting Assyrian Christians and promising to launch a new Crusade.

This election has been characterized by its disregard for the conventional wisdom. Perhaps we need to dismiss the conventional wisdom on the border as well.



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

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


22 October, 2015

Has Vladimir Putin shown Obama how to do it?

Democracy has always been a rare thing on the world scene.  The Athenian and Roman democracies did not last.  Its only lasting base of support has been in North-Western Europe and its derivative societies.  Even Southern Europe has a poor record of democracy.  I mention Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal the Colonels in Greece, Tito in Yugoslavia and Petain in France.  That's the whole of S. Europe and all those ruled at various times during the C20.  Contrast that with Iceland's Althing, a parliament with a continuous history going back over 1,000 years.  And we all know about King John and the Magna Carta of 1215.

So the idea that democracy should be encouraged everywhere is laudable but seems unrealistic.  It just has no roots in most of the world and certainly does not in the Middle East.  "Choose your dictator" seems to be the only choice in the M.E.  The current chaos in Iraq, the rest of the M.E. and North Africa is surely ample testimony to that.  Where one dictator is not promptly replaced by another, great chaos, not democracy, seems to result.

And American foreign policy used to recognize that.  Conservative Latin American dictators were routinely supported as a preferable alternative to a Communist insurgency. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza—“He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard”.

But Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America includes ditching as much of America's traditional wisdom and values as possible and we now see the results.  America should have supported Assad in Syria but instead undermined him -- and offered nothing as a replacement other than pious hopes.  The world can therefore probably be grateful that Vladimir Vladomirovich has shown more sense.  Only his intervention seems likely to eliminate the totally foul Islamic State -- an outcome hoped for among people of goodwill worldwide

RUSSIA’S power play in Syria appears to be paying off with the superpower making inroads against Islamic State and other extremist groups, leaving its American rivals looking ineffective and highlighting US failures in the region.

When Russia decided to involve itself in the war in Syria, American officials accused it of “pouring gasoline on the fire” in Syria and being “unprofessional” for only giving the US an hour’s notice of its intention to launch air strikes.

But just weeks later, Russia’s provocative move seems to be paying off.

Professor Clive Williams of Macquarie University’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism told news.com.au that Russia’s support had helped Syrian armed forces make advances in some contested areas and “clearly it has made a difference for them”.

Earlier this year, commentators were writing off the Syrian army and suggesting that the government’s days were numbered.

With Russian air support, Syrians have been able to hit back against Islamic State in central and north-western regions, in a war that has stretched out for four years under the US’s watch.

The US is opposed to the Syrian regime headed by brutal President Bashar al-Assad and has so far refused to help its troops, but Prof Williams said it was better for the Assad regime to be in power, than for the likely alternative of jihadist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra to prevail.

“We know what Islamic State is capable of, they are obviously ruthless and clearly have an agenda to dominate other opposition groups,” he said.

He said Russia’s success highlighted the US’s lack of strategy.

“America doesn’t really have a strategy but Russia’s is clear cut,” he said, adding that Russia aimed to support Assad’s regime and its own strategic interests.

While the US’s aim was to support Iraq and counter Islamic State, Prof Williams said what it was doing “was not really making much of a difference on the ground”. This was partly because the US did not want to put American boots on the ground and was limited in what it could achieve through air strikes.

Iraqi forces backed by the US had corrupt leaders and were poorly motivated, and seemed to be militarily incapable of making advances against Islamic State.

“They rely mainly on the Kurds to do the ground fighting and they are really only interested in establishing their own state,” Prof Williams said.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama admitted that his efforts to help resolve the Syria crisis had so far failed, but defended his strategy and dismissed assertions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was now the dominant world leader.

But this week former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger argued in The Wall Street Journal that Russia’s military action was the latest symptom of the “disintegration of the American role in stabilising the Middle East order”.

He said the geopolitical alliances in the region were now in “shambles” and that four countries — Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq — had ceased to function.

“American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all parties and is therefore on the verge of losing the ability to shape events,” Kissinger wrote.

“The US is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Egypt on human rights, with Saudi Arabia over Yemen, with each of the Syrian parties over different objectives.”

He said the US wanted to remove Assad but had been unwilling to generate effective political or military leverage to achieve that aim, or to put forward an alternative political structure to replace him. This had allowed Russia, Iran, Islamic State and other terrorist organisations to move into the vacuum.

Overall if you looked at American involvement in the Middle East since the 1990s, Prof Williams said: “it has all been pretty disastrous in terms of long term outcomes”.

He said that America’s best move to combat Islamic State could actually be to withdraw from the conflict and let regional countries sort out what is essentially a regional problem.



Israel Fights Terror and Moral Relativism

There are a number of insidious aspects that form the heart of progressive ideology. But none are more insidious than the Left’s love affair with moral relativism. And nowhere is that contemptibly bankrupt notion pursued with more vigor than the ongoing attempt to blame both sides in what is looking more and more like a Palestinian-incited third intifada taking shape in Israel.

Unsurprisingly, the latest campaign of murder, assaults and stabbings perpetrated by thugs and wannabe terrorists was engendered by a lie. “Arabs are convinced that Israel is set on destroying, desecrating or ‘Judaizing’ Haram al-Sharif, the Jerusalem compound that includes al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site,” explains New York Post columnist Benny Avni. “As [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas indelicately put it in a mid-September speech, the Jews are trying to ‘defile al-Aqsa with their filthy feet,’ and must be stopped.”

Thus, it doesn’t matter that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that assertion, banned both Arab and Jewish Israeli officials from visiting the site, and offered to meet with Abbas to defuse the violence. It doesn’t matter that Jewish officials have pointed out the same arrangement in place since 1967, giving the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) de facto control of the site, remains intact.

Nor does it matter that Abbas, who continues to spread that rumor, has also been caught in another vicious lie. In a speech Wednesday, Abbas claimed Israelis “executed” an innocent 13-year-old boy, Ahmad Mansara, “in cold blood.” First, Mansara is hardly an innocent. He and his 15-year-old cousin were captured on video stabbing an Orthodox Jew and a Jewish child. The 13-year-old then attempted to attack two policemen and was shot. “I went there to stab Jews,” he told investigators about his crime spree. As for his “execution,” here is a picture of Mansara recovering from his wounds — in a Jewish hospital.

And it certainly doesn’t matter that during this latest terror campaign, Palestinian assailants have assaulted more than 50 Jews, killing eight. That includes 60-year-old Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, run over by a thug who drove his car into several people waiting at a bus stop and then emerged with a cleaver and hacked the man to death.

All that matters is the kind of fecklessness demonstrated by Secretary of State John Kerry, who insisted (before it was walked back) the latest murder campaign is due to a “massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years” (they are the same number with more population), or the equally disgusting comment by State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who stated the Obama administration was trying to “drive home the point that both sides need to take affirmative actions that reduce tensions.” He added, “I don’t think it’s necessarily saying that we’re blaming one side or another.”

Another State Department spokesman, John Kirby, upped the moral relativist ante. “Individuals on both sides of this divide are — have proven capable of, and in our view, are guilty of acts of terrorism,” he declared.

Both sides are equally at fault? Perhaps the conglomeration of moral cowards that inhabit the Obama administration can enlighten us regarding an Israeli effort that is “more or less” equal to the torching by Palestinians of the highly revered Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank Thursday night, or a Palestinian diagram displayed by Israel’s UN Ambassador at the United Nations on Friday entitled, “How to stab a Jew.” Perhaps they could point to a Jewish campaign similar to Palestinian calls for a “Friday of revolution” aimed at precipitating additional violence.

Obama condemned the violence perpetrated against Israel, but couldn’t leave moral relativity out of the equation. “It’s important for both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli elected officials and President Abbas and other people in positions of power to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding,” he insisted.

Misunderstanding? What Obama ignores Netanyahu has clearly understood for decades. “The root cause of terrorism lies not in grievances but in a disposition toward unbridled violence,” he stated back in the ‘80s. “This can be traced to a worldview which asserts that certain ideological and religious goals justify, indeed demand, the shedding of all moral inhibitions.”

Shedding morality itself is also a staple of the left-wing media, led by The New York Times and its shameless attempt to question Jewish history regarding the location of the Temple Mount, insisting that certainty remains “elusive” — before adding a subsequent correction that stated the article does not “directly challenge Jewish claims to the Temple Mount.” Leftmedia behavior is best explained in one sentence by The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens: “In the Middle East version [of media-covered violence], a higher Palestinian death toll suggests greater Israeli culpability.” Stephens deftly sums up the current state of affairs, writing, “Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice.”

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of morally equivocating accomplices in the Obama administration, the UN or all the other countries and media outlets that constitute “world opinion.” World opinion that reflexively blames Jews for having the temerity to defend themselves from people like Hamas, whose charter of existence calls for the extermination of the Jewish State, or Palestinians who broadcast TV shows in which cartoonish characters teach young Palestinian children to embrace Jew-hatred.

CNN, long a champion of moral equivalence, published a column on Friday by Yoav Schwartz, CEO of a Tel Aviv tech company. Schwartz, who took the hand-wringing approach to the current violence, noted that immediately after the Boston Marathon was bombed, the fear that gripped that city was similar to the way things felt in Israel this week. Yet he wondered what was in the hearts of the Tsarnaev brothers that drove them to that act, noting Israelis ask the same questions. He then descended into the mindless drivel that drives the moral relativists. “We have to believe there is a solution,” he writes. “But as time marches on, it gets harder to accept, so I have to ask my Palestinian brothers and sisters, what’s really in your heart, 1948 or 1967?”

Schwartz and CNN got the answer less than 24 hours later. Five more knife attacks occurred Saturday, praised by Hamas. On Sunday, an Israeli policeman was killed and 10 others wounded when a man opened fire at a bus station. In the meantime, so-called human rights organization like Amnesty International and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories insisted police and soldiers are “too quick to shoot to kill.” They also criticized the idea that Israelis should carry weapons to protect themselves.

Ever since 9/11, the American Left has been determined to figure out why terrorists hate us, even as leftists remain utterly blind to the most obvious answer: Terrorists hate us because evil exists, and they are animated by that evil. And those who embrace moral relativism embrace cultural suicide, be it in in Israel, Europe — or the United States.



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

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


21 October, 2015

Are firstborns smarter?

This is an old hypothesis that Robert Zajonc devoted considerable work to in the '70s.  He found an effect of up to 3 IQ points.  A recent international study with large samples has however recently re-examined the theory.  There is a popular account of the findings here. The journal abstract is as under:

Examining the effects of birth order on personality

Julia M. Rohrer et al.

This study examined the long-standing question of whether a person’s position among siblings has a lasting impact on that person’s life course. Empirical research on the relation between birth order and intelligence has convincingly documented that performances on psychometric intelligence tests decline slightly from firstborns to later-borns. By contrast, the search for birth-order effects on personality has not yet resulted in conclusive findings. We used data from three large national panels from the United States (n = 5,240), Great Britain (n = 4,489), and Germany (n = 10,457) to resolve this open research question. This database allowed us to identify even very small effects of birth order on personality with sufficiently high statistical power and to investigate whether effects emerge across different samples. We furthermore used two different analytical strategies by comparing siblings with different birth-order positions (i) within the same family (within-family design) and (ii) between different families (between-family design). In our analyses, we confirmed the expected birth-order effect on intelligence. We also observed a significant decline of a 10th of a SD in self-reported intellect with increasing birth-order position, and this effect persisted after controlling for objectively measured intelligence. Most important, however, we consistently found no birth-order effects on extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination. On the basis of the high statistical power and the consistent results across samples and analytical designs, we must conclude that birth order does not have a lasting effect on broad personality traits outside of the intellectual domain.


So the effect was very small.  In fact, if we look at the supplemental material, we see that the difference in the British sample was just one IQ point -- totally unimportant for all intents and purposes.  So even the small effect found by Zajonc would seem to have been overstated.

Whether a difference of one IQ point requires explanation is unclear but several environmental explanations have been suggested in the links above.

What was NOT found is also interesting. That birth order had NO effect on any personality variable upsets a lot of theories -- but is consistent with genetics rather than the environment being the main influence on personality -- e.g. if you are a miserable whiner like most Leftists are, you were born that way.

One theory that would seem rather damaged by the findings even though it was not directly tested was the pet theory of Frank Sulloway.  Firstborns are conservatives and later-borns are  rebellious, says Sulloway.  Rebelliousness would seem to be a personality variable. See here for a dissection of the strange Prof. Sulloway and his theory.


European wisdom at work

A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim migrant invaders that she is threatening to leave the country and go back home to the Czech Republic. She explains, via an email letter (because the press is forbidden from reporting on this), how horrific the conditions are in these hospitals, with the Muslim invaders bringing diseases they weren’t even prepared to treat. But that’s just part of it. The superior attitudes of these Muslims and their belief that they should get everything for free is wreaking havoc everywhere, from the hospitals to the pharmacies

Her report:

Many Muslims are refusing treatment by female staff and, we, women, are refusing to go among those animals, especially from Africa. Relations between the staff and migrants are going from bad to worse. Since last weekend, migrants going to the hospitals must be accompanied by police with K-9 units.

Many migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB and many exotic diseases that we, in Europe, do not know how to treat them. If they receive a prescription in the pharmacy, they learn they have to pay cash. This leads to unbelievable outbursts, especially when it is about drugs for the children. They abandon the children with pharmacy staff with the words: “So, cure them here yourselves!” So the police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also large pharmacies.

Truly we said openly: Where are all those who had welcomed in front of TV cameras, with signs at train stations?! Yes, for now, the border has been closed, but a million of them are already here and we will definitely not be able to get rid of them.

Until now, the number of unemployed in Germany was 2.2 million. Now it will be at least 3.5 million. Most of these people are completely unemployable. A bare minimum of them have any education. What is more, their women usually do not work at all. I estimate that one in ten is pregnant. Hundreds of thousands of them have brought along infants and little kids under six, many emaciated and neglected. If this continues and German re-opens its borders, I’m going home to the Czech Republic. Nobody can keep me here in this situation, not even double the salary than at home. I went to Germany, not to Africa or the Middle East.

Even the professor who heads our department told us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who for 800 Euros cleans every day for years, and then meets young men in the hallways who just wait with their hand outstretched, want everything for free, and when they don’t get it they throw a fit.

I really don’t need this! But I’m afraid that if I return, that at some point it will be the same in the Czech Republic. If the Germans, with their nature cannot handle this, there in Czechia it would be total chaos. Nobody who has not come in contact with them has no idea what kind of animals they are, especially the ones from Africa, and how Muslims act superior to our staff, regarding their religious accommodation.

For now, the local hospital staff has not come down with the diseases they brought here, but, with so many hundreds of patients every day – this is just a question of time.

In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, which they had dragged across half of Europe for three months. The child died in two days, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The physician had to undergo surgery and two nurses are laid up in the ICU. Nobody has been punished.

The local press is forbidden to write about it, so we know about it through email. What would have happened to a German if he had stabbed a doctor and nurses with a knife? Or if he had flung his own syphilis-infected urine into a nurse’s face and so threatened her with infection? At a minimum he’d go straight to jail and later to court. With these people – so far, nothing has happened.

And so I ask, where are all those greeters and receivers from the train stations? Sitting pretty at home, enjoying their non-profits and looking forward to more trains and their next batch of cash from acting like greeters at the stations. If it were up to me I would round up all these greeters and bring them here first to our hospital’s emergency ward, as attendants. Then, into one building with the migrants so they can look after them there themselves, without armed police, without police dogs who today are in every hospital here in Bavaria, and without medical help.



Sweden Close to Collapse

If the wave of migrants keeps coming, in 10-15 years, Swedes will be a minority in their own country. That there is, in fact, an exchange of populations going on, should be clear in any sober assessment.

    "The final consequence of... Sweden's immigration policy is that the economy will collapse -- because who is going to pay for it all? And economic breakdowns, once they happen, always happen very fast." -- Lars Hedegaard.

    In the last two weeks, more than 1,000 "unaccompanied refugee children" have arrived from Germany via ferry; more than half of them have now vanished and are listed as missing.

    For the last few weeks, the central train station in Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, has been overrun with migrants; the volunteers that for the first few days showed up with food, water and clothes now seem to have lost interest.

    It will not be long until the Swedes realize that the state will not look after them. The country that just 20 years ago was considered one of the safest and most affluent in the world, is now in danger of becoming a failed state.

Sweden is fast approaching a complete collapse. More and more municipalities are raising the alarm that if the migrants keep coming at this pace, the government can no longer guarantee normal service to its citizens. In addition, ominous statements from government officials have left Swedes in fear of what tomorrow may bring. If the migrant wave keeps coming, in 10-15 years, Swedes will be a minority in their own country.

At a press conference October 9, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that Sweden is in a state of crisis. However, when asked to clarify what he meant by this, Löfven was unable to produce a single coherent sentence.

Three ministers appeared by the Prime Minister's side at the hastily summoned press conference, which came on the heels of an extraordinary government meeting. The purpose of the press conference seems to have been to convey two messages:

    To explain to the world and the Swedish people that Sweden is facing "one of the largest humanitarian efforts in Swedish history."
    That there is no more housing available, and migrants should be prepared to live in tents.

During the question period after the ministers' speeches, journalist Tomas Ramberg of Ekot Public Radio asked: "You say that Sweden is preparing for a crisis situation, what do you mean by those dramatic words?"

Stefan Löfven's reply was incomprehensible:

    "Yes, well first of all we, we are in the middle of what I mean seriously when I'm saying, when I express a, a big thank you to all the people doing such a great job, because it is a humanitarian effort, it's just as the Minister for Justice and Migration just said. What we are actually doing is that we are saving lives when people who come from bombs, from, from killing, from oppression, their lives are shattered. We, we help them and that is a, that is a great humanitarian effort, and of course now that we can see the number of people who need it, that are seeking protection, then it is one of the greatest humanitarian efforts. And that we are facing a crisis situation, that is in part why I, we are outlining today that we are also preparing for a situation where we may need to house people in tents, because we stand up with the humanitarian refugee policy, right of asylum, but we can now also see that we cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are more coming than ever in such a short time, and we need to provide a roof over their heads. Then it is -- other things may be required."

However, the fact that the government is now talking about housing migrants in tents, may be a signal that Sweden, despite everything, may not want to be on the front lines of the "humanitarian" battle anymore, after all. The prospect of spending an ice-cold Swedish winter in a tent may make migrants choose countries other than Sweden. If not, a complete collapse of the Swedish system is imminent.

Right now, the Swedish government is borrowing money abroad to pay for immigration. But that amount is not enough. On October 8, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) warned that municipalities need to increase the tax rate by 2%. The average municipal income tax is already 32%, on top of which many Swedes also pay a federal income tax. A 2% rise in the tax rate would mean 15,000 kronor ($1,825) more in taxes each year for the average household.

High-ranking politicians and officials are also saying the situation is extremely grim. On October 1, Minister for Home Affairs Anders Ygeman said that the current wave of immigrants will lead to "huge economic strains;" and a few days later Immigration Service Director General Anders Danielsson explained that "within the framework of the system we all know, we are now approaching the end of the road." Statements such as these have never been heard before in Sweden, especially in connection with the "sacred" issue of migration. Until now, Swedes have perpetually been told that we live in a rich country that has no problem handling all asylum seekers who want to come here.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (left) said last week that Sweden is in a state of crisis. Pictured at right, the results of rioting in a Stockholm suburb, December 2014.

In the shadow the 1.5 million migrants expected to arrive this year in Germany, the EU's largest country (population 81 million), migrants are also pouring into a rather smaller Sweden. Geographically Sweden is large, but consists mainly of forests and wilderness, and fewer than 10 million people live in the country. Until 2010, Sweden took in about 25,000 migrants a year. However, in 2010, then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt made a deal with pro-immigration Green Party, (Miljöpartiet) -- by his own admission to punish voters for allowing the anti-mass-immigration Sweden Democrats party (Sverigedemokraterna) into parliament.

Reinfeldt's deal opened the immigration floodgates. In 2014, 81,000 people sought asylum in Sweden; and 33,500 were granted asylum. However, as many of the immigrants subsequently brought over their relatives, that figure substantially increased. Last year, 110,000 people were granted residency status in Sweden. One should add to this figure an unknown number of illegal aliens.

There is now talk of 180,000 asylum seekers coming to Sweden in 2015. That number is more than twice as many as the year before. If half of them are granted asylum, and they each bring over three relatives, we are talking about 270,000 new immigrants to Sweden -- within one year. Over 8000 people arrived just last week, 1,716 of whom were so-called "unaccompanied refugee children."

Swedes who only follow the mainstream media get the impression that all the migrants arriving are war refugees from Syria, but the number of Syrians is actually less than half of the total

Much more HERE

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


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

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


20 October, 2015

Obama’s ‘Behavioral Data’ Order Has Sinister Implications

Logan Albright has some reasonable concerns below but the problem may not be as great as he thinks.  As I have been pointing out rather a lot lately, psychology is mostly bunk, so policies based on it are unlikely to get the results intended

If I had to sum up the Obama administration in a single word, I think that word would be “arrogance.”

The president has always regarded himself as the smartest guy in the room, with an ego that has been relentlessly stroked by the press and the people he surrounds himself with. He has refused to work with Congress, preferring instead to dictate his agenda to them and expect absolute compliance, or else.

He opines about national news before knowing the facts. He expects foreign leaders to bend to the force of his personality in lieu of actual negotiations. He even promised to roll back the tides and heal the planet, as though Mother Nature herself would bow to his raw charisma and mighty intellect.

This arrogance is also displayed in President Obama’s attitude towards the people who elected him. The American public, in his mind, are little more than sheep, to be herded in whatever direction he deems appropriate. It’s the mindset behind all big-government progressives, but it’s been particularly evident under this president.

The latest example is an executive order issued by Obama that asks various government agencies to start using behavioral data in the way they market and implement government services.

Behavioral economics has become fashionable of late, with the core idea being that you can use psychology and data to influence people’s behavior. It’s a sinister twist on marketing, with the idea basically being that people must be tricked into making the “right decision.”

These techniques have been heavily encouraged by Obama’s former regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, who argued in his book “Nudge” that government should paternalistically push people into making better choices.

First of all, what a “better” choice is depends entirely on individuals and their priorities. It’s not government’s place to tell us that we are living our lives wrongly, that we eat too much, that we exercise too little, or that products we like and want to buy just aren’t good enough.

Second, the instructions to use data in promoting federal programs lead to the obvious question of where this data is going to come from. Reading the White House statement, it appears that they plan to draw largely from existing behavioral science research, but the order also creates a social and behavioral sciences team of experts to help advance these tactics.

One line from the statement is particularly worrisome:

"In addition to these federal actions, universities, nonprofits and researchers are announcing expanded efforts to work together to use insights from the social and behavioral sciences to improve programs."

This sounds suspiciously like the White House recruiting private researchers to spy on us and “nudge” us into government programs. We already know that the government collects all kinds of data on innocent citizens, claiming national security as a justification. What happens when they start collecting it to actively influence our decision making?



No, Bernie Sanders, Scandinavia is not a socialist utopia

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN BERNIE SANDERS was asked during CNN's Democratic presidential debate how a self-proclaimed socialist could hope to be elected to the White House, he gave the answer he usually gives: Socialism has been wonderful for the countries of Scandinavia, and America should emulate their example.

"We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people," Sanders said. When the moderator turned to Hillary Clinton, she agreed that America has to "save capitalism from itself" and that, yes, Scandinavia is great. "I love Denmark," declared Clinton. It was the only time in the debate a candidate uttered the verb "love."

Liberals have had a crush on Scandinavia for decades. "It is a country whose very name has become a synonym for a materialist paradise," observed Time magazine in a 1976 story on Sweden. "Its citizens enjoy one of the world's highest living standards. . . . Neither ill?health, unemployment nor old age pose the terror of financial hardship. [Sweden's] cradle-to-grave benefits are unmatched in any other free society outside Scandinavia." In 2010, a National Public Radio story marveled at the way "Denmark Thrives Despite High Taxes." The small Nordic nation, said NPR, "seems to violate the laws of the economic universe," improbably balancing low poverty and unemployment rates with stratospheric taxes that were among the world's highest.

Such paeans may inspire Clinton's love and Sanders's faith in America's socialist future. As with most urban legends, however, the reality of Scandinavia's welfare-state utopia doesn't match the hype.

To begin with, explains Swedish scholar Nima Sanandaji, the affluence and cultural norms upon which Scandinavia's social-democratic policies rest are not the product of socialism. In Scandinavian Unexceptionalism, a penetrating new book published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Sanandaji shows that the Nordic nations' prosperity "developed during periods characterized by free-market policies, low or moderate taxes, and limited state involvement in the economy."

For example, Sweden was a poor nation for most of the 19th century (which helps explain the great wave of Swedish emigration to the United States in the 1800s). That began to change as Stockholm, starting around 1870, turned to free-enterprise reforms. Robust capitalism replaced the formerly agrarian system, and Sweden grew rich. "Property rights, free markets, and the rule of law combined with large numbers of well-educated engineers and entrepreneurs," Sanandaji writes. The result was an environment in which Swedes experienced "an unprecedented period of sustained and rapid economic development." In fact, between 1870 and 1936 Sweden had the highest growth rate in the industrialized world.

Scandinavia's hard-left turn didn't come about until much later. It was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that taxes soared, welfare payments expanded, and entrepreneurship was discouraged.

But what emerged wasn't heaven on earth.

That 1976 story in Time, for example, went on to report that Sweden found itself struggling with crime, drug addiction, welfare dependency, and a plague of red tape. Successful Swedes — most famously, Ingmar Bergman — were fleeing the country to avoid its killing taxes. "Growing numbers are plagued by a persistent, gnawing question: Is their Utopia going sour?"

Sweden's world-beating growth rate dried up. In 1975, it had been the 4th-wealthiest nation on earth (as measured by GDP per capita); by 1993, it had dropped to 14th. By then, Swedes had begun to regard their experiment with socialism as, in Sanandaji's phrase, "a colossal failure."

Denmark has come to a similar conclusion. Its lavish subsidies are being rolled back amid sharp concerns about welfare abuse and an eroding work ethic. In the last general election, Danes replaced a left-leaning government with one tilted to the right. Loving Denmark doesn't mean loving big-government welfarism.

The real key to Scandinavia's unique successes isn't socialism, it's culture. Social trust and cohesion, a broad egalitarian ethic, a strong emphasis on work and responsibility, commitment to the rule of law — these are healthy attributes of a Nordic culture that was ingrained over centuries. In the region's small and homogeneous countries (overwhelmingly white, Protestant, and native-born), those norms took deep root. The good outcomes and high living standards they produced antedated the socialist nostrums of the 1970s. Scandinavia's quality of life didn't spring from leftist policies. It survived them.

Sanandaji makes the acute observation that when Scandinavian emigrants left for the United States, those cultural attributes went with them and produced the same good effects. Scandinavian-Americans have higher incomes and lower poverty rates than the US average. Indeed, Danish-Americans economically outperform Danes still living in Denmark, as do Swedish-Americans compared with Swedes and Finnish-Americans compared with Finns. Scandinavian culture has been a blessing for native Scandinavians — and even more of one for their cousins across the ocean.

No, Scandinavia doesn't "violate the laws of the economic universe." It confirms them. With free markets and healthy values, almost any society will thrive. All socialism does is make things worse.



A Liberal’s Ten Commandments

The best way for liberals to advance their various causes would be to take a pledge to live the rather progressive lives that they advocate. Here are a modest Ten Commandments to lend them credibility in the eyes of the American people.

1. Climate Change. Perhaps the greatest carbon emission sin is jet travel. On an average London-to-New York flight each passenger emits well over 1 ton of C02 emissions, an indulgence that can nullify a year of recycling of other less-privileged Americans. All supporters of government-mandated reductions in fossil-fuel emissions could at least take the following pledge. “I will fly across the Atlantic no more than once every five years.” Private jet travel — the worst of the mortal carbon sins — of course would be banned, at least until we can transition into solar and wind aviation. Al Gore in the middle seat of Row 44, fighting to put his oversized carry-on into the overhead compartment, would be a symbolic act worth far more than all his heated and well-paid rhetoric.

2. Schools. Most liberals oppose charter schools, support teachers’ unions, and encourage generous immigration, legal and illegal. To further diversity in the schools, create easier integration, and to nullify the insidiousness of white privilege, each liberal should pledge, “I will put at least one of my children in an inner-city public school, or in a school where the white enrollment is in a minority.” What better way to acculturate a young elite to the new world around him? Could not the Obama children attend a D.C. public school?

3. Guns. Gun control is an iconic liberal issue, specifically limitations on handguns and concealed weapons. Too many guns in too many places supposedly encourage violent crime. Again, what better way to make a statement than by having all liberal celebrities, business people, and politicians take the following pledge: “I will pledge that no one in my security detail will ever carry a concealed firearm of any sort”? Surely the pope, of all people, did not need armed guards, with lethal concealed weapons, surrounding his pope-mobile?

4. Illegal Immigration. Liberals support the idea of unlimited immigration, legal or not. But the key for successful upward mobility for newly arrived immigrants, attested in nearly all studies, is integration and acculturation with American citizens. Therefore the following pledge seems ideal for any supporter of open borders: “I will socialize weekly with at least one illegal immigrant, whether inviting him to a sporting event, dinner, or recreational activity.” Were one upscale family to adopt an immigrant family from south of the border, the latter’s health care, legal, education, economic, and culture challenges might be alleviated. There are plenty of empty and mostly unused guest houses behind estates in Malibu and Santa Monica, and very few shelters for new arrivals: why not combine need and idleness — and help the helpless?

5. Sanctuary Cities. Most liberals support sanctuary cities and the idea of open borders, including the right of cities to nullify federal law. Why not pledge,  “I will swear support for all American cities that choose to nullify any federal laws that they find oppressive and somehow contrary to the idea of America”? When a cattleman shoots a wolf, and a county sheriff guffaws and claims “that’s a federal problem, not mine,” then we will have come full circle to the sort of disasters that occur in San Francisco.

6. Diversity. “White privilege” and “black lives matters” are slogans that resonate with liberals. Both could be reified with a simple pledge: “I will live in a neighborhood in which at least one of my immediate neighbors is a non-white household.” In addition, why not eliminate the idea of a gated community altogether? Why send not-so-coded signals that the Other is not wanted? (Could not the Obama administration put a $1,000,000 luxury tax on each of a community’s exclusionary gates?)

7. Voting Laws. For liberals, driver’s license IDs are unnecessary for registration or even showing up at the polls to vote. Why, then, not cement that pledge by sanctifying the uselessness of such IDs in everyday life? “As proof of solidarity, I pledge that I will not use my own driver’s license ID either during any commercial purchase or at the airport security line — both being far more important than mere voting.”

8. The Environment. West Coast liberals should do something to alleviate the effect of the drought, given that they have cancelled most of the secondary phases of the California Water Project and released several million acre-feet of stored reservoir water into the ocean: “I pledge that I will not use any water that is stored in, and transferred at great costs from, a man-made, artificial reservoir, especially those at great distances built in sensitive areas such as Yosemite National Park.” There could even be an additional corollary: “I pledge that I will not waste precious water on my lawn or ornamental plants.” (One sees lots of new plastic, artificial lawns in Fresno, which has a vast aquifer, but almost none in Palo Alto and Atherton, which do not). Can one imagine Woodside or Los Altos with Astroturf?

9. The University. The university is a bastion of liberalism and therefore must reflect such progressive values. “I pledge to support no university whose rate of increase in annual tuition exceeds the rate of inflation or that pays different wages to different categories of professor for the exact same class taught.” Why not boycott Harvard or Berkeley, given that their part-time policies make Wal-Mart’s look enlightened?

10. Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action is a bedrock liberal issue, especially the idea of changing evaluation criteria on the basis of perceived social need. Why not strengthen a commitment to affirmative action in deed as well as word, given the insidious nature of white privilege that gives a leg up to white elite youth in a way impossible for the children of the Other?  “I pledge that at least one of my children will enter a reverse affirmative action program by refusing admission to any school that admits only 10% of its applicants. Instead he will only enroll in a more egalitarian one that admits 90% of its applicants.” And for those who cannot live up to their rhetoric, why not at least a lesser oath, “I promise to use no backdoor pressure — alumni, legacy, private phone call, quid-pro-quo — to help my college-age children circumvent the admission process in a way that is unavailable to others”?

Given that these pledges do not reflect current liberal behavior, apparently abiding by them would mean that there would soon be no more liberals.



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

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


19 October, 2015

"Covert" measure of racism invalid

I have been critical of the IAT for over a decade (See e.g. here) so I am pleased to see that its invalidity seems to be becoming widely accepted.  The text below is from a wide-ranging survey of psychological research findings that have not stood up to scrutiny

Perhaps most consequentially, replications failed to validate many uses of the Implicit Association Test, which is the most popular research tool in social psychology. Its designers say the test detects unconscious biases, including racial biases, that persistently drive human behavior. Sifting data from the IAT, social scientists tell us that at least 75 percent of white Americans are racist, whether they know it or not, even when they publicly disavow racial bigotry. This implicit racism induces racist behavior as surely as explicit racism. The paper introducing the IAT’s application to racial attitudes has been cited in more than 6,600 studies, according to Google Scholar. The test is commonly used in courts and classrooms across the country.

That the United States is in the grip of an epidemic of implicit racism is simply taken for granted by social psychologists?—?another settled fact too good to check. Few of them have ever returned to the original data. Those who have done so have discovered that the direct evidence linking IAT results to specific behavior is in fact negligible, with small samples and weak effects that have seldom if ever been replicated. One team of researchers went through the IAT data on racial attitudes and behavior and concluded there wasn’t much evidence either way.

“The broad picture that emerges from our reanalysis,” they wrote, “is that the published results [confirming the IAT and racism] are likely to be conditional and fragile and do not permit broad conclusions about the prevalence of discriminatory tendencies in American society.” Their debunking paper, “Strong Claims and Weak Evidence,” has been cited in fewer than 100 studies.


The text above is part of an article that looked at replications.  There have been several attempts made recently to see if a research finding will be repeated if the same experiment is repeated. About two thirds of the reports could not be replicated.  When someone else carried out exactly the same research, the original finding was not repeated.  That is of course very destructive to faith in scientific "findings".

There is however another problem that is equally disquieting:  Researchers keep refusing to make their raw data generally available for others to check the analyses.  Many journals have policies saying that authors MUST make their raw data available to other scientists.  But it still does not happen.  As the report below shows, only 38% of psychologists were willing to make their raw data available to others.  That is however good when compared with climate researchers.  The percentage there seems to be 0%.

Are We Wasting a Good Crisis? The Availability of Psychological Research Data after the Storm

By  Wolf Vanpaemel et al.


To study the availability of psychological research data, we requested data from 394 papers, published in all issues of four APA journals in 2012. We found that 38% of the researchers sent their data immediately or after reminders. These findings are in line with estimates of the willingness to share data in psychology from the recent or remote past. Although the recent crisis of confidence that shook psychology has highlighted the importance of open research practices, and technical developments have greatly facilitated data sharing, our findings make clear that psychology is nowhere close to being an open science.


And it's even worse here, where 31 emailed requests for data yielded only 4 positive answers. 

"Psychology is bunk" would be a reasonable comment on most of it.  That psychologists are overwhelmingly Leftist does help to explain that.  Leftism is bunk too -- JR

It's Time to Change the Name of the Democrat Party

On major networks across the nation, Tuesday’s Democrat presidential debate was interrupted so viewers could watch a tribute to Karl Marx.

Oh wait, that was the Democrat presidential debate.

Itching to succeed the current progressive occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee took the stage to lay out their plans for America — plans that sounded a lot like “from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.”

Chafee promised to “close the gap” between the haves and have nots, and self-proclaimed democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders decried the rigging of the American economy to favor the 1%. Rigging is bad. Very bad. Unless people like Bernie do the rigging. Then rigging is good. Very good.

Meanwhile, Clinton donned her Wonder Woman cape to “save capitalism from itself” and address “the kind of inequalities we’re seeing in our economic system.” She must have accidentally deleted the memo that centrally controlled distribution of wealth to achieve equality is also known as socialism. Then again, Clinton has deleted a lot of things lately.

It was quite a show, really — and it’s amazing any podiums were placed stage right, since the whole evening was a performance of Left and Lefter.

Ironically, as The Wall Street Journal notes, “The end of a two-term Presidency is typically a time for taking credit, celebrating achievements and promising to continue successful policies,” but even the Left recognizes a stupid idea from time to time.

After all, what could they possibly point to from Obama’s two terms? A near-doubling of our national debt? Hardly a winning argument.

Instead, the candidates actually admitted that, after seven years of Obama, things are still pretty dreary. O'Malley, for example, pointed to a shrinking middle class. “Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70% of us are earning the same, or less, than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership, and we need action.” Of course, he had to go back 12 years to be sufficiently Bush-bashing.

So what would one of these new bosses look like?

A lot like the old boss, actually.

As Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) points out, when asked by debate moderator Anderson Cooper how they would differ from Obama, the candidates proffered Obama 2.0, including a “right” to health care; free college for all; amnesty, in-state tuition and ObamaCare for illegal immigrants; paid family leave; a $15 minimum wage; and a free pony.

Ok, not a pony.

“One thing never came up,” notes IBD: “the national debt. Under Obama, it’s soared from 60% to over 100% of GDP, meaning our national IOU is bigger than our $18 trillion economy. To anybody but Democrats, that’s a crisis.”

But socialism has done so smashingly elsewhere, why not try it here?

In describing his socialistic utopia, Sanders pointed to — where else — the Scandinavian paradise. After all, Denmark, Sweden and Norway have “accomplished” much “for their working people,” says Sanders. Well, if Bernie wants to have a Danish love-fest, he might also want to do some better debate prep.

Admittedly, Denmark has a huge welfare state, which Sanders loves. But that state is propped up by high taxes on the middle class that include not only high income taxes but also a value-added tax — meaning a tax on every stage of production or distribution of a product. This is hardly the “top 1%” paying their “fair share.”

Indeed, as National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes, “If Senator Sanders were an intellectually honest man, he’d acknowledge forthrightly that the only way to pay for generous benefits for the middle class is to tax the middle class, where most of the income earners are.”

Second, Scandinavia is actually more free-market friendly than Sanders thinks. Corporate tax rates are lower there than in the United States, and the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index ranks Sanders' beloved Denmark a slot ahead of the U.S. in freedom level. Does this mean he’ll soon propose cutting our corporate tax rate?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, now.

In truth, as IBD notes, “The Democratic debate shows just how far left the party’s lurched. Capitalism was on trial, and self-ID’d socialism was literally front and center. Stop the charade. Just change your name to the Democratic Socialist Party.”

Nary a candidate was willing to assert categorical opposition to socialism and all advocated socialistic policies under the guise of equality. In the end, they put on a show that would have made Marx proud.



21st century Nazis going strong

21st century Nazis don't of course exactly mirror the 1930s Nazis but the attitude similarities are great -- including Leftist origins. They are not only hostile to the Jewish state but they champion the quite Fascist Palestinian statelet.  And their biases would do Hitler proud. Even though Israel is just responding to Arab attacks, the demonstrators below see no fault with the Arabs but all fault with the Jews.  "The Jooooos" are a bug in the brain of many Leftists.  Even though he was one himself, even Karl Marx did not like Jews

Hundreds of Free Palestine demonstrators bring London traffic to a standstill with protest outside Israeli embassy and in Oxford Street

Parts of London were brought to a standstill when hundreds of pro-Palestine campaigners took part in rallies yesterday.  In Oxford Circus, stunned shoppers were stopped in their tracks by protesters setting off red and green smoke bombs and carrying 'Solidarity with the Palestinian Resistance' banners.

Meanwhile, outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, campaigners came together to 'oppose the escalating attack on Palestinians'.

People came together outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington to unite for 'peace, freedom and justice'

Layla White, of London Palestine Action which organised the sit-down protest at the crossing between Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: 'We've taken disruptive direct action today to draw attention to the Palestinian popular resistance which is defying curfews and reclaiming the streets of Palestine against military occupation every day.'

Transport for London said about 10 buses were briefly diverted by a group of people blocking the road.

Pro-Palestine groups also organised a protest in High Street Kensington, opposite the Israeli embassy, yesterday, which welcomed hundreds of people waving, and wearing, the Palestinian flag.

A statement on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website read: 'We have come together to unite for Palestine. We have come together to unite for peace, freedom and justice. To unite against hatred, intolerance and racism.

'We have come together to oppose this escalating attack on Palestinians. We welcome all who stand with us in our opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.'

The protests came as Israelis shot dead three Palestinian 'knife attackers' in Jerusalem and Hebron, including a 16-year-old boy.  Israeli police spokesman Luba Samri said officers shot and killed the teenager in Jerusalem after he tried to stab them when they stopped to ask him for identification.

Elsewhere today, an Israeli pedestrian shot and killed a Palestinian who tried to stab him in the West Bank city of Hebron - a frequent flashpoint where a few hundred Jewish settlers live in close proximity to tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The military said the Palestinian was shot dead before he could harm the man.  Later, police said a Palestinian woman stabbed a female officer at a border police base in Hebron before the officer shot her dead. The officer's hand was 'lightly wounded'.

Protesters set off smoke bombs during a protest at the crossing between Oxford Street and Regent Street

And this evening, a Palestinian was shot after stabbing an Israeli soldier in the city, the army said.

Over the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks - most of them stabbings.  In that time, 39 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 18 labelled as attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops.

Most of the attacks on Israelis have been carried out by Palestinians with no known ties to militant groups.

The violence erupted a month ago over the Jewish New Year. It was fueled by rumours that Israel was plotting to take over Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site, a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque - Islam's third-holiest shrine and a key national symbol for the Palestinians.

Israel has adamantly denied the allegations, saying it has no plans to change the status quo at the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.

The Palestinian fears have been fueled by a growing number of Jews visiting the compound in recent months, especially during holidays, with the encouragement of Jewish activists groups and senior government officials.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has at times tried to calm the situation by saying violence is not in the Palestinians' interest and behind the scenes has ordered his security forces to reduce frictions.

But Israel accuses him of incitement, saying he has not condemned attacks on Israelis and falsely accused Israel of having 'summarily executed' a Palestinian boy who stabbed an Israeli youngster. The Palestinian teen is recovering in hospital.

Israel has taken unprecedented steps in response to the attacks. It has deployed soldiers in its cities and put up concrete barriers outside some Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, where most of the attackers came from.

Ordinary citizens have also increasingly taken up arms to protect themselves.

On Friday, Palestinian assailants firebombed a West Bank site revered by Jews as the tomb of the biblical figure Joseph.



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

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


18 October, 2015

Personality and politics

Even since 1950, psychologists have been trying to predict one's politics from one's personality. The idea was that conservatives all had personalities that were defective in some way. It was a big topic in the '50s and 60s but still burbles on today at a low level.  The exciting connections discovered early on have all gradually withered away under criticism of various sorts --  but a last redoubt remains in the form of research with the Altemeyer "Right wing authoritaranism" (RWA) scale -- an attitude inventory that does have a few weak correlations here and there.

One of the old warriors who is still plugging on is John Duckitt -- originally a white South African but now escaped to New Zealand.  Duckitt was for a long time an uncritical acceptor of the conventional wisdom but after some pointed criticism from me (here, here and here) he gradually seems to have become more cautious.

His latest paper reflects that.  He has become very cautious about what the RWA scale measures.  He says: "measures such as the RWA scale cannot be assumed to be assessing anything more than what their items are directly reflecting—a dimension of social attitudes of a broadly ideological nature".  How vague can you get?

In other words he says "search me!" when asked to put a name to what the RWA scale measures. I would say the same.  He does however continue elsewhere to refer to it as a measure of authoritarianism and seems to regard it as a measure of some sort of conservatism, without presenting any evidence to that effect.

In using the RWA scale he inherits an extensive body of prior research that purports to tell us what causes RWA attitudes, with "Openness to experience" being a major candidate.  High RWAs are not very open to experience, it is alleged.

Duckitt has however turned his current skepticism about what the RWA measures onto measures of "Openness to experience" also.  And he concludes, as I also tend to do, that the concept is overly broad.  He has decided that the concept can fruitfully be broken down into two parts:  Openness to intellectual experience and openness to aesthetic experience -- which seems reasonable enough.

But what does he discover when he relates those different sub-components to RWA?  He finds that it is only openness to intellectual experience that predicts RWA.  So a lot of the excitement seems to have gone out of RWA.  There is now only one thin personality dimension that predicts it substantially.  Very thin pickings for 65 years of research!

But here we come to the big question:  What does it all mean for behaviour?  Duckitt has been churning questionnaire answers through his computer for many years but what connection does any of it have with behaviour -- with what people do?  The original measure of authoritarian attitudes -- the F scale -- went out of favour because it had almost NO connection with behaviour.  And Altemeyer himself -- author of the RWA scale -- says that answers on it do not predict vote to any important extent.  When used in Russia it predicts Communist loyalties!  So much for the "Right-wing" tag attached to it: Right-wing Communists??

So Duckitt's correlations would seem to have nothing to do with real-life.  In psychometrician's terms, neither his Intellectual Interest scale nor his RWA scale are satisfactorily validated. What they really measure as general concepts is just speculation.  So let me suggest some possible meanings to Duckitt's findings.  I actually think they are enlightening. 

It seems to be early days for us to KNOW what the intellect scale measures but I would have a substantial bet that it is largely a measure of our ubiquitous old friend: IQ.  It is high IQ people who are expressing intellectual interests.  That sounds pretty likely, does it not?

And that in turn throws some light on what the RWA scale measures.  High scorers ("authoritarians") on the RWA scale score low on the intellectual interest scale.  So now we know:  the RWA scale measures dumb opinions!  It too probably correlates negatively with IQ, though I have not seen anything on that.  The RWA does not measure just ANY dumb opinions, however.  There is a universe of dumb opinions and the RWA measiures just one subset.  My suggestion would be that the RWA scale reflects primarily the political issues of yesteryear -- old-fashioned attitudes.

But let's get back to behaviour.  Duckitt at one point does list what he sees as relevant behaviours:

(a) pressures to opinion uniformity among group members,
(b) endorsement of an autocratic leadership and decision making structure,
(c) intolerance of diversity in group composition
(that betokens the potentiality for dissent),
(d) rejection of opinion deviants and extolment of conformists,
(e) in-group favoritism and out-group derogation,
(f) attraction to groups (both in- and out-groups) possessing strong shared realities,
(g) conservatism and adherence to the group’s norms,
(h) loyalty to one’s in-group to the degree to which is constituted a ‘good’ shared reality provider.”

Any conservative would immediately identify that list of behaviours as what he encounters whenever he talks to Leftists, and to Warmists in particular. Duckitt seems to think that those attributes define conservatives but I would like to see the evidence on that. 

But conservatives and climate skeptics know from experience who behaves like that.  If you want to encounter closed-mindedness just try to discuss the evidence for global warming with a Leftist.  They just won't listen.  They quote their supreme authority -- Al Gore -- and just get abusive if you talk about such things as the satellite temperature record.  They are so closed-off that they usually don't even know the basic facts about global temperature.   See below for how much the president of the Sierra club knows about it:

And see here and here for the sort of scholarly rejoinder that climate skeptics get from true believers. [/sarcasm]

And for the flood of Fascist-style attempts from the Left to suppress free speech,  see here for just one recent summary.

So Duckitt is happy in his little world of weakly correlated attitude statements but whether they tell us anything about the world outside his window is very dubious. They certainly do not tell us that conservatives are either authoritarian or closed minded -- JR.


The End of the American Century?

In a 1941 Life magazine article, Henry Luce, a publishing magnate once described as "the most influential private citizen in America," coined the phrase, "the American Century" to advance his vision of America becoming a benign global superpower that would use its influence to build a new world order based on political and economic freedom. Historians and political scientists have sometimes adopted the phrase to describe our own times, dating the beginning of the American Century from the end of World War II in 1945.

The American Century has been, as Luce had hoped, on the whole a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity. World War III was avoided. Freedom and human rights have become international norms, largely due to the military, economic and political power of the United States.

Like the Roman Empire's golden age of peace and prosperity called "the Pax Romana," the American Century has been a "Pax Americana," without imperialism, advancing freedoms and human dignity everywhere. The American Century, it is no exaggeration to say, has surpassed the Pax Romana as a golden age, not only for the American people, but for friends and allies and for all mankind fortunate enough to be within the circle of America's benign influence.

Perhaps the apex of the American Century arrived when the United States prevailed over the Soviet Union and the Cold War ended with the collapse of the totalitarian USSR - one of the most unfree societies in history - in 1991. The following year, Francis Fukuyama's book, "The End of History," proclaimed that the centuries-long struggle between freedom and tyranny had finally been decided in favor of freedom.

And many in the Free World believed, and all hoped, that this might be true.

But 2015 may well mark the end of the American Century. It has not lasted as long as a real century - only 70 years.

In 2015, American power and influence is in decline and retreat everywhere. Totalitarian and authoritarian actors are on the march against the United States and the entire Free World.

Russia, under de facto dictator Vladimir Putin, has annexed the Crimea and invaded Ukraine, exposing as worthless the security guarantees made by U.S. President Bill Clinton to Kiev under the Budapest Agreement, in exchange for Ukraine giving up the hundreds of nuclear missiles based on its territory. Russia is embarked on a massive buildup of nuclear missiles and conventional forces against a United States and European NATO that are militarily a pale shadow of the alliance that prevailed during the Cold War.

Russia's return to the Middle East, allied with Syria and Iran, successfully challenging and displacing the United States with military strikes on U.S.-backed Syrian rebels in October, may mark the exact date of death of the American Century. Suddenly, Russia has replaced the U.S. as the dominant power in the Middle East, in a world still dependent on oil.

This latest is perhaps the decisive humiliation, canceling the credibility of U.S. security guarantees that upheld "peace through strength" to contain aggression and sustain the American Century. It was preceded by many other blows:

    China is modernizing and multiplying its nuclear missiles and conventional air and naval forces at an alarming rate, challenging the capability of a weakened U.S. Navy to protect allies in the Pacific.

    North Korea, a failed state in everything except its capability to make nuclear missiles, can now make a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland with its KN-08 intercontinental missile, moving the North American Aerospace Defense Command to spend nearly $1 billion to better protect its underground command post inside Cheyenne Mountain from an electromagnetic pulse attack.

    Iran has prevailed over the United States in nuclear negotiations that will end economic sanctions and enrich the mullahs with $150 billion, even though Iran probably already has the bomb, or can soon acquire one. This even though Iran is the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism, has toppled a U.S. ally in Yemen, and has virtually taken over Iraq.

    Terrorism grows ever stronger. The Islamic State is the first terror state in history, waging genocidal war against Christians and all who oppose it. Muslim migrants are inundating Europe and the Americas, bringing with them the seeds of terrorism and Shariah law, which is incompatible with Western values.

Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism are a greater collective threat to freedom than were the USSR or Nazi Germany.

President Obama has in six years virtually destroyed the credibility of the United States as the security guarantor of the Free World, a legacy that was painstakingly built and maintained over six decades by 11 previous presidents and was the foundation of the American Century.

How far will the forces of tyranny and chaos march during the final two years of our transformational president?



Military Strategist: Obama’s Middle East Policies ‘Have Accelerated Christian Genocide’

 Retired Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, a military strategist with the Pentagon, said on Wednesday that President Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East has “accelerated Christian genocide” and left the region in chaos.

“[Obama’s] Middle East policies – what they are – not only have accelerated Christian genocide but have left the region totally in turmoil and inflamed,” said Maginnis at a discussion about his new book at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., where he is a senior fellow.

Maginnis said he believes Obama has shaped his foreign policy -- including the fight against the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups that are perpetrating genocide -- around his administration’s efforts to cut a nuclear deal with the Islamic state of Iran.

“I think the real reason behind this is because he put that all aside – it was a deal he made with a devil, which is in Tehran and [Obama] says, ‘I won’t do this stuff, which interferes with you, as long as I get a deal with you,’ and, of course, we know that the Iranian deal is his legacy,” he said.

Maginnis described his book, “Never Submit: Will The Extermination of Christians Get Worse Before It Gets Better” as a “call to action to help those that are facing genocide in the Middle East.”

He cited statistics that show that when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, there were 1.5 million Christians living in the country. Now it is estimated that the Christian population in Iraq has declined to around 200,000.

“After all, Saddam Hussein allowed Christians to worship openly. They were part of his government,” Maginnis said. “The removal of Saddam and others, I would argue, started this ugly Shia/Sunni revolution that, in turn, spawned ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), and arguably as well started the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia and spread across the region.”

Maginnis doesn’t, however, blame only Obama for the ongoing persecution and extermination of Christians throughout the Middle East, including beheadings, the enslavement and rape of women and forced conversions. He claims that the current genocide dates back to toppling Saddam Hussein after the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003.

In his remarks, Maginnis laid out the solution to ending the genocide in the Middle East, including providing enclaves throughout the region where Christians can live safely, identifying the enemy as Islamic terrorists, and U.S. support for officially declaring the situation in the Middle East as genocide.



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

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


16 October, 2015

New Australian PM squashes envious Leftist attack on his wealth

An interesting lesson in how to do that  effectively

MALCOLM Turnbull today acknowledged he and wife Lucy had been lucky and were wealthier than most Australians who worked harder than them. But the Prime Minister, the richest member of Parliament, made no apologies for his wealth: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.”

Mr Turnbull was responding to Labor attacks on his investments in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tactic that has highlighted how well-off the Prime Minister has become.

He returned the attack, accusing Labor of taking Parliament down the “the avenue of the politics of envy”.

It was a strong response, which left the Labor benches quieter than they were when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten put the question to Mr Turnbull.

“I don’t believe my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said.  “Of course hard work is important but, you know, there are taxi drivers that work harder than I ever have and they don’t have much money. “There are cleaners that worker than I ever have or you ever have and they don’t have much money.

“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise.  “Some of us will be more successful than others, some of us are fortunate in the turn of business, some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents.”

For a second day, the Prime Minister took questions on his and wife Lucy’s investments — all declared in public and none considered illegal — and repeated his argument he had sent his money off shore to avoid a conflict of interest from Australian investments.

He said the investment vehicles had been selected by a New York-based Australian financial adviser Josephine Lyndon, who has managed that portfolio. He said: “Is tax being paid in Australia by Australians? In my case and in Lucy’s case, in the case of our family interests, the answer is absolutely yes, in full.”

And he turned on Labor’s leader Mr Shorten who, he said, “could be talking today about the economy, could be asking about growth, could be proposing some new ideas on innovation or enterprise”.

Instead, he said, Labor wanted “Just another wander down the avenue of the politics of envy, just another smear”.



Reporters Exploded Into Cheers When Bernie Sanders Said This

Bernie Sanders’ statement that Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified data is none of the voters’ business was met with a roar of applause…

…by the very reporters who are supposed to cover the story.

“The entire press room just exploded when Bernie said that about Hillary's emails,” tweeted Rubin Report host Dave Rubin.

“Audible clapping and laughter in the press filing room after Bernie Sanders' ‘enough of the emails moment,’” tweeted Yahoo News reporter Hunter Walker.

This is what state-run media looks like.



New Paper Destroys Obamacare Claims

President Obama likes to tout the success of the Affordable Care Act by quoting the number of Americans that are now insured, a funny verbal trick that disregards the number of Americans who were forced into paying higher premiums and losing the care they liked despite explicit presidential promises to the contrary.

At the end of the day, whether or not the program HAS insured more people is not nearly as relevant as whether or not more Americans are receiving a higher quality of care. According to a new paper, they're not:

    "In a new working paper, Wharton economists Mark Pauly, Adam Levine and Scott Harrington estimate how much better or worse off the non-poor uninsured are under ObamaCare. They measure the cost of the plans, the benefits of consuming pre-paid medical care and out-of-pocket payments without obtaining coverage. They conclude that, “even under the most optimistic assumptions,” half of the formerly uninsured take on both a higher financial burden and lower welfare, and on net “average welfare for the uninsured population would be estimated to decline after the ACA if all members of that population obtained coverage.

    In other words, ObamaCare harms the people it is supposed to help. This is not a prescription for a healthy, durable program.

    Markets have also been disrupted by a cascade of failures among the ObamaCare co-ops that were intended as a liberal insurance utopia. These plans were seeded with billions of dollars in federal start-up loans and were supposed to work like the credit unions or the electric collectives of the Depression era. No profits were allowed, advertising to introduce new products was restricted and industry executives were barred from management. As it turns out, attempting to outlaw expertise and incentives tends not to produce good results."

Is this likely to change people's minds? Probably not. Liberals will likely demand endless funding for this flawed model or, failing that, a total shift to a publicly managed government healthcare system. In the interim, the American taxpayer and the American health care consumer will suffer.



Why Not Just Get Rid of Labor Law?

While politicians seem to never tire of proposing new ways to regulate the workplace, I want to propose a radically different idea: get government out of the workplace altogether. If that’s too radical for you, here is a compromise proposal: allow parallel systems under which workers in the same industry can choose to work as employees or work as independent contractors in an essentially unregulated labor market.

Public awareness of the “gig economy” seems to have started with Uber, a company with 4,000 employees and 160,000 drivers who are not employees. A class action lawsuit in California seeks to have the drivers reclassified as employees so they can “get benefits” they are not now getting and be “protected” from employer abuse.

There are two big problems with this lawsuit: (1) it’s based on bad economics and (2) Uber drivers don’t want to be employees.

Let’s take the second issue first. I must have read a dozen editorials and news stories about Uber — all implying that we have a new class of workers who all of a sudden are being denied all the benefits of being employees, just like ….. hmmm … just like whom?

Did you know that just about every taxi cab driver in the United States is an independent contractor? That’s right. In this industry — that has been around for longer than any reader of this column has been alive — the drivers have never been employees. What makes Uber different is not that the drivers are independent contractors. It’s that Uber is using modern technology to compete in an industry that has become stodgy and insensitive to consumer needs.

Why are taxi cab drivers independent contractors? Because they prefer it. And so do Uber drivers. But how can that be? Employees get fringe benefits like health insurance and 401(k) matches. They are assured of a minimum wage. They get time-and-a-half for overtime — by law.

The answer is that the drivers — regardless of their formal education — are smarter than the news reporters and the opinion columnists. The drivers know there is only so much money you can get from the passengers. If some of this money goes for fringe benefits that means less take home pay. This insight has been confirmed by just about every economic study of the issue that has ever been done. Employee benefits and workers' wages are dollar for dollar substitutes. So becoming employees would not create any net gain for the drivers.

Meanwhile, there are tax advantages of not being an employee. Independent contractors, for example, can take deductions that employees typically cannot. And (ironically), since the tax relief for employer-provided health insurance is smaller than the tax credits being offered in the (Obamacare) exchanges for everyone who is earning a below-average income, millions of workers are actually better off buying insurance on their own.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was passed at a time when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression. If there was once a need for it, that need has come and gone. Today we tell teenagers they can’t be employees if they can’t produce $7.25 worth of goods and services in an hour. But if you are an independent contractor — say an artist, actor, writer, musician and, yes, even a taxi cab driver — the federal government doesn’t care how much you earn.

Other labor market regulations work pretty much the same way. Employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age and God knows what else. But if you are hiring a handyman for home repairs or a gardener or a maid or hailing a taxicab, you can discriminate all day and all night. If your employer supplies you with a ladder, there are all kinds of safety regulations that apply to it. If you work for yourself and supply your own ladder, it can be as safe or unsafe as your like.

Does this mean that the non-employees are at a huge disadvantage? No, it’s the other way around. As I explained at Forbes the other day, markets are better at dealing with these issues than government. The evidence suggests that Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have had virtually no impact on actual worker safety. And there is no evidence that antidiscrimination laws have affected the average wages of women, blacks, Hispanics or anyone else.

However, these laws and regulatory agencies do add to the administrative costs of employment. Independent contractors and their clients avoid those costs.

This may be one reason why the unregulated sector of the labor market is growing by leaps and bounds. Writing in The New York Times, Noam Scheiber notes that:

    The number for the category of jobs mostly performed by part-time freelancers or part-time independent contractors, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a labor market analytics firm, grew to 32 million from just over 20 million between 2001 and 2014, rising to almost 18 percent of all jobs.

Another study, commissioned in part by the Freelancers Union, estimates that about one-third of the work force, or 53.7 million people, now do freelance work, an increase of 700,000 from a year earlier.

All this is being helped along by a relatively new phenomenon: computer apps. Writing in The New York Times, Natasha Singer says:

    Ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, odd-jobs marketplaces like TaskRabbit, vacation rental sites like Airbnb, and grocery-shopping apps like Instacart have clearly made travel, lodging, home renovation and dining more efficient for millions of people.

Add medicine to that list. Uber-like house calls are already available in several cities. Unless government gets in the way, they will soon be available to you.



Ending Life Is Great; Saving It, Not So Much

Leftists have always hearted death.  They are merciless killers whenever they get the chance

Just days after signing assisted suicide into law in California, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed “Right to Try” legislation. In other words, he told his citizens to drop dead. Right to Try is the idea that terminally ill patients should be able to access medicines that are certified as safe but have not yet survived the gauntlet of approval from the bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration.

So if you are terminally ill and suffering in California, the governor thinks it’s a great idea for you to commit suicide with the help of your doctor. If, however, you wish to try all avenues to avoid suffering and extend your life, well, tough luck.

Brown argued that the FDA already has a compassionate use program to meet this need, but it’s cumbersome to apply and very few people benefit from it. Brown’s seemingly clear preference for suicide here is not terribly compatible with Catholic teaching — a faith he loves to cite when it suits him. But California’s legislature passed the bill by large enough margins to override a veto, so we’ll see what happens.

On a final note, health care economics are going to play an increasing role in end-of-life decisions, and that may explain Brown’s move. Specifically, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observes, “What accounts for that inconsistency? Here’s one factor that may play a role: California is on the hook for millions of state employees' and retirees' generous medical benefits. When one of them receives a terminal diagnosis, it’s a lot cheaper to hasten his death than to attempt to prolong his life.”



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

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


15 October, 2015

Wealth, Poverty and Politics

By Walter E. Williams

Dr. Thomas Sowell, my colleague and friend, told me several years ago that he wasn't going to write any more books, but that was two books ago, and now he has just published his 45th.

The man writes with both hands, as can be seen from his website (http://tsowell.com), which lists his 45 books, 19 journal articles, 71 essays in periodicals and books, 34 book reviews, and occasional columns written in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Star, Newsweek, The Times (Britain) et al. Plus, he writes a semiweekly column for Creators Syndicate.

"Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective" is a true gem in terms of exposing the demagoguery and sheer ignorance of politicians and intellectuals in their claims about wealth and poverty. Sowell discusses a number of factors that help explain wealth and income differences among people and nations around the world. They include geographical, cultural, social and political factors, which Sowell explains in individual chapters. Readers will benefit immensely from the facts and explanations laid out in those chapters, but here I want to focus on what I think is his most important chapter, "Implications and Prospects."

How many times have we been told that the rich are prospering at the expense of the poor? Sowell points out that most households in the bottom 20 percent in income have no one working. How can someone who isn't producing anything have something taken from him?

What about the supposed "paradox of poverty" in a rich society such as ours? Sowell says that this is a paradox only to those who start out with a preconception of an egalitarian world in defiance of history and have a disregard for the arbitrariness of government definitions of poverty. Poverty occurs automatically and has been mankind's standard fare throughout its entire history. It is high productivity and affluence that are rare in mankind's history and require an explanation.

Government definitions of poverty make talking about income gaps and disparities meaningless. If everyone's income doubled or even tripled, poverty would certainly be reduced, but income gaps and disparities would widen.

One of the biggest problems in analyzing poverty is the vision that the poor are permanently poor. A University of Michigan study followed specific working Americans from 1975 to 1991. It found that particular individuals who were in the bottom 20 percent in terms of income saw their real incomes rise at a much higher rate than those in the top 20 percent. An IRS study, covering the period from 1996 to 2005, found a similar result. Workers whose incomes were in the bottom 20 percent saw their incomes rise by 91 percent. Over the same span, those in the top 1 percent saw their incomes fall by 26 percent. The outcomes of both studies give lie to the claim that "the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer."

Sowell argues that another source of confusion in discussions of economic differences is the failure to distinguish between income and wealth. The use of the term "the rich" to describe people in higher income brackets is just one sign of confusion. Being rich means having an accumulation of wealth rather than having a high income in a given year. This distinction is not just a matter of semantics. Calls for raising income tax rates to make "the rich" pay their undefined "fair share" are an exercise in futility because income taxes do not touch wealth. Higher income taxes are a tax on people trying to accumulate wealth.

There are many other tidbits of information in "Wealth, Poverty and Politics," such as the impact of age on income. For example, only 13 percent of households headed by a 25-year-old have been in the top 20 percent, whereas 73 percent of households headed by someone 60 or older have been.

Dr. Sowell's new book tosses a monkey wrench into most of the things said about income by politicians, intellectuals and assorted hustlers, plus it's a fun read.



Staying the Course in Syria? Which Course?

For the past six and a half years, the world has witnessed failure after failure of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. It would be terrific if we had a president who understood how U.S. involvement or lack thereof can make a situation go from bad to worse. But we don’t.

During an interview with Steve Croft on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Obama insisted he would stay the course in Syria. “We are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on [Bashar al-] Assad for a transition.” Obama then reaffirmed that he would not “reinsert [the U.S.] in a military campaign inside of Syria.”

When asked about the failure to train and equip Syrian rebels, Obama conceded the $500 million effort “did not work,” but he also argued, “I’ve been skeptical from the get-go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside Syria.”

Is that so? Remember his Sept. 10, 2014, national address, in which he declared, “[W]e have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.”

That doesn’t sound like he was “skeptical from the get-go.” In fact, he now says his next objective is — wait for it — to provide direct aid to existing, Pentagon-approved rebel units.

Obama insists he’s staying the course. What course? He set a phony “red line” on Assad using chemical weapons only to backtrack and attribute it to “the world” setting the line. He half-heartedly asked Congress to approve attacking Assad and then backed away in favor of throwing $500 million to train 5,000 rebels — of which only a handful were fully trained. Now he’s even stopped that program. Again, what course?

It bears repeating that Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq left a vacuum that was filled by the Islamic State. In Syria, Obama’s capricious strategies to remove Assad from power left a vacuum of a similar sort, which was also filled by the Islamic State, Russia and Iran. Remember though, Obama lectured in 2012 that Russia did not pose a threat. But Russia’s interests in the region are not the same as ours, so Russia is a threat indeed.

Writing an opinion piece for The Washington Post, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates assert, “The fact is that Putin is playing a weak hand extraordinarily well because he knows exactly what he wants to do. He is not stabilizing the situation according to our definition of stability. He is defending Russia’s interests by keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. This is not about the Islamic State. Any insurgent group that opposes Russian interests is a terrorist organization to Moscow.”

Despite Obama’s contention that Putin is weak, the Kremlin’s strongman is projecting power in Syria that has the major powers in the world on edge, including the United States. Further, as National Review’s Andrew Stuttaford explains, Putin’s intentions may be “to prove that Russia is a reliable ally to have in a tough spot,” and “to force a binary choice upon the West — Assad or ISIS.” All of this is humiliating to the United States, but hey, at least Obama is staying the course.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson offers this perspective: “Putin is sending a warning to the oil-exporting Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf, who are as rich as they are militarily weak: Russia, not the United States, is the new cop on the Middle Eastern beat.”

Hanson further notes, “If oil-rich and nuclear Russia and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran can bully the Sunni monarchies, Putin’s new cartel may control the spigot of some 75 percent of the world’s daily export of oil.”

But don’t worry; the rebels in Syria will take care of business. It turns out the rebels who we armed may have played a part with Putin intervening in Syria. How so? Because one of the weapon systems with which we armed the Syrian rebels is the TOW missile. This is the most deadly anti-tank missile in modern warfare, and Assad’s armored vehicles have suffered substantial losses from it. Several Russian tanks have been lost as well, which explains why Russian aircraft has been targeting rebel fighting positions that are firing the TOW missiles.

Proxy war, anyone? Isn’t this reminiscent of us arming the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles in the 1980s to shoot down Russian aircraft? The decision to arm the Syrian rebels with these missiles is extremely worrisome because of the technology involved. Did anyone in this administration bother to consider what Islamic State jihadis will do if they get their hands on those missiles?

What about the U.S. fighter jets tasked with taking out Islamic State targets? Now that Russia is involved in Syria, our fighter pilots are under strict new rules to give way if Russian aircraft come within 20 miles of our aircraft. (By contrast, the British Royal Air Force has been given the green light to shoot down hostile Russian jets in Syria.) So give our pilots strict rules and declare that Russia’s strategy isn’t working. Thanks, Obama.

Finally, in case you missed it, China is moving warships into the Mediterranean, supposedly to fight the Islamic State. Given China’s general alliance with Russia, however, it’s hardly a mystery why they’re really there.

What is taking place in Syria right now is what happens when the U.S. is viewed by major powers in the world as being weak. It’s a geopolitical nightmare that will take a leader who projects strength to overcome. Perhaps a leader who doesn’t define leadership, as Obama did in his interview, as “leading on climate change.”



Tracking America's Suicide

Amidst a plethora of sensational news reports elbowing each other to seize first place in America’s national consciousness, there is a story that has lurked beneath media radar that teaches us much more about the status of our country than school shootings, Russian bombings in Syria, Iranian perfidy, Hillary Clinton’s makeover attempts, and Republican candidates' daily presidential gymnastics. It concerns an event that took place in Afghanistan in 2011, when a group of Green Berets, which included Captain Danny Quinn and Sergeant First Class Charles Martland, were faced with reprehensible acts that pitted them against some local officials in a classic episode involving a clash of civilizations.

It seems that Quinn and Martland were apprised of a situation involving an Afghan mother who was severely thrashed by an Afghan soldier who had kidnapped her son, chained him to a bed, and was repeatedly raping the helpless child whenever he felt the inclination. Quinn and Martland confronted the Afghan commander, who then laughed in their face, said that “it was only a boy,” and that Americans should find better ways to use their time.

But these Green Beret heroes wouldn’t stand for that. Martland proclaimed that they morally could not tolerate Afghan soldiers committing atrocities against their own people in the presence of U.S. forces, and the two men made their point clear by body-slamming the soldier and kicking him off the post. Whereupon the American soldiers “were reprimanded because they were told it wasn’t their place to intervene and they should properly observe Afghanistan’s cultural and relationship practices,” according to Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has taken up their case against the Army’s outrageous decision. In fact, although Quinn has since left the military, Martland is currently fighting to keep his position before he is discharged, effective November 1.

Without question, these American soldiers represent the best that our country has to offer, sterling exemplars of moral rectitude and courage. However, they are currently facing an enemy that is arguably more insidious than anything they have faced so far on the battlefield. What enemy is that? It is the reigning multiculturalist ideology, a witch’s brew of moral relativism that over the past two generations has morally castrated Western civilization by expunging efforts to make principled judgments defending our values. At best, multiculturalists believe in nothing in particular. And as the West’s enemies know, something always beats nothing, and it doesn’t matter how reprehensible that something is. In short, multiculturalism represents the suicide of Western civilization.

Indeed, westerners could learn much from the approach taken by Sir Charles James Napier, a general in the British Army who was a commander-in-chief in India during the 19th century. When confronted by Hindu priests whose custom was to burn alive widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands, he is reported to have said:  “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

Wait a minute! you might say. Doesn’t this represent that terrible era when Western nations considered themselves morally superior to everyone else?  We now all agree how repulsive that was! Well, as a matter of fact, General Napier did live during that era, yes. With regard to claims of Western moral superiority, however, we might have asked the opinion of widows faced with immolation. Or, better yet, ask the boy whom that Afghan commander continuously raped what he thinks of that “custom.”

In fact, our judgments should be based on the values that have defined our civilization for the past two millennia, and not airily dismissed on the grounds of multicultural moral relativism. That means that Martland should be applauded and not condemned for refusing to “respect” a barbarous cultural practice, to which multiculturalism, which dominates nearly every aspect of Western life, can find no objection. This is why it represents the death knell of our civilization, from within and not from without, as presciently noted by another famous 19th century figure, Abraham Lincoln. "If destruction be our lot,“ he noted in his 1838 Lyceum Address, "we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”



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

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


14 October, 2015


Most of what I put up on my six blogs is a selection of what I see as good or interesting articles written by others.  But I also do a fair bit of original writing -- mostly debunking Leftist claims.  On GREENIE WATCH, I debunk some Warmist claim almost daily.  EVERY claim made in support of global warming is bunk so there is plenty for me to debunk there.  Yesterday I wrote something there that might please lovers of pumpkin pie.  Some Warmist said that warm weather would destroy pumpkin crops. I showed why that is nonsense.

But I am putting up this present comment to draw attention to two of my blogs which rarely feature debunking stories, but which have such stories up currently.

On POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH earlier today, I drew attention to an obscure piece of academic research from Britain which blows out of the water the feminist panic about an "epidemic" of rape.  There is no such epidemic, at least as it is usually conceived.

And on EDUCATION WATCH, I look today at a claim from the "Boston Globe" to the effect that Boston has an all-black school that produces results as good as Boston private schools.  Amid the mountain of reports showing a huge gap in educational attainment between backs and whites, we suddenly have one report claiming that they have found out how to bridge that gap.  It had to be bunk, of course, and when I dug down a bit, it surely was. The "Boston Globe" didn't mention it, but less bright students were systematically excluded from the school concerned.

Leftism is solid lies.

Why is the world ignoring a wave of terror in Israel?

By Arsen Ostrovsky

In the last week, my country, Israel, including our capital, the Holy City of Jerusalem, have come under an unprecedented wave of Palestinian terror.

A week ago, Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were brutally executed by Palestinian terrorists point-blank in their car. Their four children, Matan, 9, Nitzan, 7, Neta, 4, and Itamar, 9 months old, who are now orphaned, were still in the back seat and miraculously unharmed. Their lives are now irreparably altered.

Days later, two more Israelis were stabbed to death in Jerusalem. One of the men killed was holding his two year old child at the time. More lives and families torn apart.

Two weeks ago, Alexander Levlovitz, who was on his way home after Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) dinner, was murdered when Palestinian youths threw rocks at his car and he lost control.

Over the past 48 hours in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and virtually all parts of Israel, we have had over 150 terror attacks, including stabbings, shootings, stones thrown and vehicular rammings.

Yet somehow the international community is silent in the face of this terror onslaught against my people. Is our blood cheaper? Do Jewish lives not matter?  Let there be no mistakes, ifs, buts or maybes. We are being targeted for one reason and one reason only: we are Jews.

I understand Europe has a number of pressing concerns, including Islamic State and the wave of Syrian refugees, but what about us? Do we not count?

Many leaders, especially in Europe, are quick to condemn Israeli settlements, yet sure take their time to utter a muddied, equivocal word of condemnation against these terror attacks. Likewise human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty.

Then I look at some of the media reporting on these attacks, such as that from the BBC, and ask myself how on earth they can twist the facts and logic beyond a semblance of recognition to actually place the blame on Israel.

"Only when the Palestinian leadership unequivocally renounces terrorism and roots out and condemns all those who preach violence against Israel and hatred of the Jewish people, can there be hope for real peace."

Even more exasperating are those international leaders who, after only noticing the situation when Israel has the audacity to defend itself, then predictably call for us to exercise "restraint". Excuse me? Restraint?

Imagine for a moment if people were being mown down with cars, guns or knives by Islamic terrorists on the streets of central London, Paris, Washington or Moscow. How would leaders of those countries react?

Where are all those so-called enlightened liberals, who continue to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Jewish State, but are silent in the face of Palestinian terror against Jews?

Israelis, like all people, have the right to live in safety and security, free from terror. And our government and security forces have an obligation to take whatever action necessary to ensure this.

The tension across Israel, especially Jerusalem, is increasingly palpable. Somehow this wave of terror feels different to last summer’s rocket barrage from Hamas. At least then we had the Iron Dome and time (albeit only 15 seconds) to find shelter. But it is something much more intimate and personal when a terrorist singles you out to kill you in cold-blood.

Many commentators and pundits are calling these "lone wolf" attacks. But how many lone wolf attacks does it take to constitute a co-ordinated wave of terror?

The bottom line is that attacks like these do not occur in a vacuum. Such acts of pitiless slaughter are the direct result of a pervasive Palestinian infrastructure headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, indoctrinating hate, inciting violence and instilling a worldview justifying such gruesome acts.

Barely a week ago, Abbas gave an incendiary speech before the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly, all but giving a green light to this wave of terror.

In a speech on Palestinian TV on September 16th, Abbas proudly stated “we bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven.” He then added “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.”

And people still wonder where these terrorists get their motivation.

Not only has the Palestinian Authority failed to condemn these barbaric terror attacks, they have now, incredibly, sought to condemn Israel for defending ourselves. Abbas is surely giving new meaning to the term "chutzpah". Is this really a sign of a leader who yearns for peace?

Only when the Palestinian leadership unequivocally renounces terrorism and roots out and condemns all those who preach violence against Israel and hatred of the Jewish people, can there be hope for real peace.

As the PA continues to insist that the world recognize a Palestinian state, one must ask exactly what type of state it wants: one that teaches the virtues of peace, or incites and glorifies terror?

In a groundbreaking speech on Islamic extremism this July, the British Prime Minister David Cameron made clear, if you say “violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter” – then you too are part of the problem.”

To all those people who fail to condemn this Palestinian terror, or find ways to excuse, equivocate or minimize it, I say the same – "then you too are part of the problem."



Lower the drinking age

By Abigail R. Hall

This semester I am teaching a lot of college freshman. As I look out into my classroom I am excited for my students. They will get to participate in university life, make new friends, and try to figure out what to do when they enter “the real world.” It’s an exciting time in their lives. But looking at my students, I also worry. I worry that some will have problems adjusting. I worry that some will abuse their newly found freedom, and it will get them in trouble. I worry about the choices they will make. It concerns me that, at 18, they may make decisions with life-altering consequences and repercussions they can’t yet appreciate. 

I think back to when I was a freshman in college. I was by no means a partier, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have memories of drinking the worst rot-gut whiskey in my friends’ dorm rooms and houses. (The warm cola chaser didn’t help.) The worst I ever suffered were hangovers, but others aren’t so lucky. Every year about 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related injuries. Rape and sexual assault are issues on many campuses, and alcohol often lurks in the background. About 25 percent of students report their drinking has resulted in academic consequences ranging from missing class and failing exams to receiving poor grades. Tragically, more than 150,000 students develop health-related problems from drinking. 

With these statistics in mind, I say that I care deeply about my students and will gladly advocate changes to make them safer.

That’s why I support lowering the drinking age.

Given the data I’ve presented, my position must seem crazy. But the laws setting the minimum drinking age at 21 are classic examples of a well-intentioned policy with truly devastating unintended consequences. 

In 1984 the National Minimum Drinking Age Act required all 50 states to raise their drinking age to 21 or face a 10 percent decrease in federal funding for highways. On the surface this seems like a good idea. The federal government, interested in preserving the lives and health of American youth, pushed states to adopt stricter guidelines on alcohol. But the story doesn’t end there. 

Prohibiting a substance doesn’t make the market for it disappear. Just as the prohibition of drug use and prostitution has not stopped these activities, banning drinking for persons under 21 doesn’t stop 18-year-olds from drinking. Prohibition does, however, make underage drinking a lot less safe. By pushing that market for alcohol underground, people like my college students have to do their drinking in secret or risk getting caught, fined, and possibly jailed. They could face additional consequences at school. 

The problem here is obvious. If a 21-year-old woman overindulges at the bar, the bartender, friends, or even other patrons can encourage her to stop. If she becomes ill or injured, someone is there to help. 

But if the woman is 18 she can’t go to the bar. So, like many college students, she goes to her friends’ place or a party. If she becomes violently ill from overconsumption or something else happens, what options are available? The woman, unable to help herself, must rely on friends who are probably also underage. They are faced with the choice of calling for help and getting busted or trying to care for their friend themselves and hoping for the best. 

Another problem is what economists call “potency effects.” Underage drinkers are more likely to consume stronger or greater quantities of alcohol at each opportunity than legal drinkers because they know they may be caught or not have regular access to alcohol. They “pregame” -- that is, drink -- before going out, knowing they won’t be served alcohol later. This behavior, encouraged by the drinking laws, is more likely to lead to alcohol poisoning and even death. In fact, of all underage drinking, some 90 percent is consumed through binge drinking.

People who care about the perils of alcohol should seriously consider supporting a lowering of the drinking age. While that policy won’t eliminate alcohol abuse among youth, it could save thousands of lives.



Health Jobs Dominate Terrible Jobs Report

No good words were used to describe last week’s Employment Situation Summary: “Every aspect of the September jobs report was disappointing,” wrote Michelle Girard, chief U.S. economist at RBS (quoted in Forbes). This is largely a repeat of the August jobs report, although those and previous months’ figures were also revised downwards.

One-quarter of September’s new jobs were in health services: 34,000 of 142,000 added to nonfarm payrolls. Of those 34,000 health jobs, 37 percent were in ambulatory facilities, and 45 percent in hospitals. This is a change from the past few months. Because of a long-term shift in the location of care, there are now almost seven million people working in ambulatory settings, versus just under five million working in hospitals.

We should hope September’s disproportionately high hospital jobs growth is idiosyncratic, and the trend to faster growth in ambulatory facilities is restored. Hospitals are very expensive facilities and have very concentrated lobbying power that they bring to bear to keep their payments higher than they would be otherwise. One of their most successful talking points is that hospitals are the largest employers in a community, which obviously attracts the support of politicians. As the health services workforce shifts to ambulatory settings, this talking point will lose its power.

Significant revisions to previous months’ reports are reflected in the longer term change (See Table II). Over the past twelve months, employment in ambulatory settings has somewhat faster (4.06 percent) than hospital employment (3.04 percent). The health services workforce overall has grown faster (3.17 percent) than the non-health workforce (1.83 percent).

Labor costs comprise a large share of health spending, which is less productive than spending in other parts of the economy. Unfortunately, continuing high growth in health jobs likely contributes to slow economic growth today and Obamacare’s failure to slow the rate of health spending.



FDA Driving Drug Prices into Stratosphere

Bloomberg Business has another story of a jaw-dropping price hike for a very old medical. In this case, Colchicine, a gout remedy so old that the ancient Greeks knew about its effects, used to cost about 25 cents per pill in the U.S. Then in 2010 its price suddenly jumped 2,000 percent.

How did this happen? Colchicine is one of a small number of drugs that were marketed in the United States before 1938. That year, Congress passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require new drugs to be approved for “safety” as well as be “pure” (that is, not adulterated or misbranded, as had been required since 1906).

When the Act was amended in 1962 to require “efficacy,” drugs approved since 1938 had to be approved again. However, pre-1938 drugs have never had to be approved. In today’s parlance, they were “grandfathered.”

Or, at least they were grandfathered until 2006, when the Food and Drug Administration decided to cause the makers of those drugs to apply for approval under the 1962 standards of both safety and efficacy. This is called the Marketed, Unapproved Drugs Initiative and Compliance Policy Guide.

Winning approval requires very expensive clinical trials. Pre-1938 drugs are no longer patented. However, forcing them to go through the FDA regulatory gauntlet effectively gives their manufacturers’ exclusivity similar to patents. The FDA asserts the unapproved drugs were unsafe, citing a few examples. Nevertheless, it looks like the cure has serious side effects, suggesting the FDA has overstepped reasonable boundaries by requiring drugs used for almost a century to submit to regulation.



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

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


13 October, 2015

Blind rage when new Nashville bus line blocked at State level

I am putting up below a small part of a long rant in the Boston  Globe about a proposed dedicated bus road in Nashville.  The Democrat-run city had obtained a substantial Federal contribution to the cost with the rest to come from the city and the State.  The GOP-led State Legislature kyboshed the idea and the Globe is incensed.

I am putting this up because the entire rant is emblematic of Leftist thinking.  No attempt is made to understand or even find out WHY the GOPers blocked the project.  The GOPers apparently just acted to be malicious.  That the money might have been better spent elsewhere is not considered.  Bus lanes can work sometimes but often represent a lot of spending for little return.  They can also interfere with other traffic, causing wasteful bottlenecks

Because they don't listen, Leftists just see conservative  opposition to their schemes as totally unreasonable blockages and therefore explicable only as the actions bad men with evil motives.  They are always surprised to hear that someone might see a downside to their often hare-brained schemes.  We are just supposed to be starry-eyed at their brilliance.

The only evil motive they could come up with on this occasion was that some people in the richer end of town saw the project as likely to bring into their suburbs people from the poor end of town.  But no evidence is presented to say that that was likely nor is it shown that such objections were a factor in the decision.  They don't even show that the objectors were GOP supporters.  Many rich people these days -- Jews in particular -- vote Democrat, rightly seeing the Democrats as determined to get control of everyone -- including the "riff-raff".

America pays a high price for having one half of politics unwilling to listen to both sides of a question.  It engenders rage and hate

Karl Dean, a Democrat in his second term as this city’s mayor, had a few minutes to tell President Obama about his dream: building a “trackless trolley” line that would connect Nashville’s gentrifying east side with its ritzy west. He had spent years submitting applications for a $75 million grant, and he made sure the president knew about it.

Two months after that January 2014 meeting in Nashville, the dream seemed to be coming true. The White House announced that money for Dean’s project was in the president’s budget.

Unbeknownst to Dean, however, an extraordinary coalition was at work behind the scenes to take away the money before the check could be written. The local leader of a group created by the conservative Koch brothers helped write a bill that was introduced in the Tennessee Legislature by a sympathetic Republican lawmaker and that was designed to kill the project.

“I’m not used to having the state come in and try to crush us,” Dean said in an interview last month, on his last full day in office.

The tale of the trackless trolley is, on one level, a prosaic account of a fast-growing city struggling to pay for much-needed mass transit. But as the story unfolded, it became clear that there was something much deeper going on: a bare-knuckle city-versus-state fight at a time when the partisan divide between big cities — mostly run by Democrats — and state capitals, where the GOP largely holds sway, has reached a historic extreme. It showed how national politics, and secretly financed outside groups, can influence even local battles.

The 7-mile high-speed bus line, lyrically dubbed the “Amp,” was supposed bring together the disparate sides of Music City. Instead, it tore Nashville apart.

Zeroing in on this sort of local battle has become a key to success for groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed organization that counts its Tennessee chapter among its most effective.

What is clear is that the political ground is more fertile than ever for national groups to enter local fights. And it was exactly this divide that opponents of the Amp sought to exploit, pitting City Hall against the Capitol, two buildings sitting three blocks apart in downtown Nashville.

A system of Boston-style trolleys was deemed too costly, so Dean pitched the idea of a high-speed bus network on dedicated lanes, which some refer to as trackless trolleys, with the city’s east-west corridor as the first route.

The line would start in East Nashville, which is 39 percent African-American, and has more than its share of public housing, with half its families earning less than $38,000. It has lately become a gradually gentrifying haven for artists, musicians, hipsters, and working-class residents who make the city hum, in more ways than one.

The route would cross the Cumberland River and run along Broadway, past neon-bathed honky-tonks with their cacophony of country bands, near the historic Ryman Auditorium, and alongside the arena where the Country Music Awards are held. It would pass Lee Beaman’s auto dealerships and continue on West End Avenue past Vanderbilt before ending near a hospital complex.

That would bring it deep into West Nashville, where nearly one-third of families have an income more than $200,000, and 92 percent are white, according to census records. Just beyond the western terminus is Belle Meade, one of the nation’s wealthiest neighborhoods, where residents cross creeks to enter a park-like setting of rolling hills, emerald lawns, Tara-style mansions and French-influenced chateaus.

But some in the West End, in luxe neighborhoods such as Woodland, feared an influx. One resident, Edie Wenczl, elegantly dressed and wearing a string of pearls, stood during a 2012 public meeting on the Amp to declare her opposition.

“We don’t want the riff-raff of East Nashville in our neighborhood,” said Wenczl, who lives in what she calls a “precious” enclave of stately homes near the route’s western terminus, and explained in an interview that part of her concern was traffic on her street.

Rick Williams, the owner of Nashville Limousine Service for 15 years, also was aghast. He couldn’t believe it when he heard that taxpayer money would be used for the Amp.

“Is it my job to use tax money contributed by everybody to help a certain segment out, to say, you don’t want a car and responsibility of owning a car, or car insurance, is it my job to make transportation easier for you?” Williams said. He became chairman of a group he called “Stop Amp.”



Nearly 1,000 People Move From Blue States to Red States Every Day

The so-called “progressives” love to talk about how their policies will create a worker’s paradise, but then why is it that day after day, month after month, year after year, people are fleeing liberal blue states for conservative red states?

The new Census data on where we live and where we moved to in 2014 shows that the top seven states with the biggest percentage increase in in-migration from other states are in order: North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. All of these states are red, except Colorado, which is purple.

Meanwhile, the leading exodus states of the continental states in percentage terms were Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Kansas. All of these states are blue, except Alaska and Kansas.

The latest Rich States, Poor States document (which I co-author), published by ALEC, the state legislative organization, finds that nearly 1,000 people each day on net are leaving blue states and entering red states. This migration is changing the economic center of gravity in America—moving it relentlessly to the South and West.

Travis Brown, the author of the indispensable book “How Money Walks,” shows that two of the leading factors behind this movement of human capital are 1) whether a state has a right to work law (half of the states do) and 2) how high the top income tax rate is in the state. Nine states have no income tax today, and they are creating twice the pace of jobs as are high-income tax states.

Data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) show a similar trend. Each year the IRS issues a migration data report that examines how many tax filers (and dependents) in the year changed their residency and how much income was transported from one state to another. The numbers for the most recent year (tax filing year 2013) are gigantic and put the lie to the claim that interstate migration is too small to matter in terms of the wealth and economic opportunity in one state versus another.

In 2013, Florida gained $8.2 billion in adjusted gross income from out-of-staters. Texas gained $5.9 billion—in one year. Five of the seven states with the biggest gains in income have no income tax at all: Florida, Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Nevada. New York was again the big loser, with another 112,236 tax filers leaving and taking $5.2 billion with them. (So much for those TV ads trying to lure businesses into America’s 2nd highest taxed state with temporary tax breaks.) Illinois lost nearly 67,000 tax filers and $3.7 billion of income it can no longer tax.

I’ve never met a Democrat who could come up with even a semi-plausible explanation for why families and businesses are hightailing it out of blue states. They are leaving states with high minimum wages, pro-union work rules, high taxes on the rich, generous welfare benefits, expansive regulations to “help” workers, green energy policies, etc. People are voting with their feet against these liberal policies.

When I debated Paul Krugman this summer, I confronted him with this reality. His lame explanation for the steady migration from liberal North to conservative South was that “air conditioning” has made the South more livable. Americans are evidently moving because of the weather.

There are two glaring problems with this theory: California and North Dakota. In the last decade ending in 2013, 1.4 million more Americans left California than moved into the once-Golden State. It’s a good bet these California refugees didn’t leave for more sunshine or better weather.

And if warm weather is what is attracting people to the South—and surely there is some truth to that—why did the coldest state outside Alaska, North Dakota, have the biggest population gain in percentage terms in the most recent year? The answer is that workers went to get jobs created by the Bakken Shale oil and gas boom. By the way, California is one of the oil- and gas-richest states in the nation, but its “green” politicians are regulating that industry out of businesses. So much for caring about working-class Americans.

The latest Census and IRS data merely confirm what Americans can see every day with their own two eyes. Red states are a magnet. There’s a downside to this for sure. Conservatives have a legitimate gripe that as blue-staters come into their prosperous red states, they try to turn them blue. That’s happened in New Hampshire, where Massachusetts transplants vote for the left-wing policies they just fled.

But the underlying trend is unmistakable: Liberal blue states are economic dinosaurs. Will they change their ways before they go the way of Detroit and become extinct



The NYT defines what a ‘Modern Man’ is

The New York Times is not just the Paper of Record. It is, among so very many other things, the adjudicator of acceptable opinion, the arbiter of style, and the guide for the perplexed. It was thus with humble gratitude that males, all of whom are prostrate betas before the Times’ grand alpha, received the article that appeared last week in the Men’s Style/Self-Help section: “27 Ways to Be a Modern Man.” How would we know, if the New York Times didn’t tell us?

Brian Lombardi, the Times’ appointed oracle on what makes a Modern Man, is as gnomic and enigmatic as any of his Delphic predecessors. He tells us, for example, that “the modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.” My best guess as to what this could possibly mean is that it is a reference to the Wu-Tang Clan, which, I am informed, is “an American hip hop group from New York City, originally composed of East Coast rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.”

That’s right: “the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.” There are plenty of us still alive, but never mind. Brian Lombardi’s epigrammatic utterances include no explanation of why modern man must consult Wu-Tang weekly. There is no why. One does not question the oracle.

But then, there is this: "The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away."

Very well, but also: "The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will".

If Modern Man must never own a gun, that’s his choice. But he “has no use” for one? What if the intruder who storms his bedroom is too strong for Modern Man to fight off unarmed? What if the intruder has a knife — or is even so much of an Antiquated Man as to have a gun?

What can Modern Man do then? Reach for the melon baller that Lombardi advises he use to make sure  “the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves” are “uniformly shaped”?

A clue as to how all this sage advice hangs together comes in the oracle’s penultimate utterance: "The modern man cries. He cries often".

Perhaps the Modern Man is so given to such displays because the intruder was indeed armed, and Modern Man wasn’t, and Modern Man’s wife had no chance to get away.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


12 October, 2015

Russia Declares ‘Holy War’ on Islamic State


According to Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the [Russian] Church's Public Affairs Department, "The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it.  The Russian Federation has made a responsible decision on the use of armed forces to defend the People of Syria from the sorrows caused by the arbitrariness of terrorists. Christians are suffering in the region with the kidnapping of clerics and the destruction of churches. Muslims are suffering no less".

This is not a pretext to justify intervention in Syria.  For years, Russia's Orthodox leaders have been voicing their concern for persecuted Christians.  Back in February 2012, the Russian church described to Vladimir Putin the horrific treatment Christians are experiencing around the world, especially under Islam:

"The head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and India.  The cleric asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy directions in future.

"This is how it will be, have no doubt," Putin answered.

Compare and contrast Putin's terse response with U.S. President Obama, who denies the connection between Islamic teachings and violence; whose policies habitually empower Christian-persecuting Islamists; who prevents Christian representatives from testifying against their tormentors; and who even throws escaped Christian refugees back to the lions, while accepting tens of thousands of Muslim migrants.

Russian Patriarch Kirill once even wrote an impassioned letter to Obama, imploring him to stop empowering the murderers of Christians.  That the patriarch said "I am deeply convinced that the countries which belong to the Christian civilization bear a special responsibility for the fate of Christians in the Middle East" must have only ensured that the letter ended up in the Oval Office's trash can.  After all, didn't Obama make clear that America is "no longer a Christian nation"?

Of course, Russian concerns for Christian minorities will be cynically dismissed by the usual brood of talking heads on both sides.  While such dismissals once resonated with Americans, they are becoming less persuasive to those paying attention, as explained in "Putin's Crusade-Is Russia the Last Defender of the Christian Faith?"

For those of us who grew up in America being told that the godless communist atheists in Russia were our enemies, the idea that America might give up on God and Christianity while Russia embraces religion might once have been difficult to accept.  But by 2015, the everyday signs in America show a growing contempt for Christianity, under the first president whose very claims of being a Christian are questionable. 

The exact opposite trend is happening for Russia and its leaders-a return to Christian roots.

Indeed, growing numbers of Americans who have no special love for Russia or Orthodoxy-from billionaire capitalist Donald Trump to evangelical Christians-are being won over by Putin's frank talk and actions.

How can they not?  After one of his speeches praising the West's Christian heritage-a thing few American politicians dare do-Putin concluded with something that must surely resonate with millions of traditional Americans: "We must protect Russia from that which has destroyed American society"-a reference to the anti-Christian liberalism and licentiousness that has run amok in the West.

Even the Rev. Franklin Graham's response to Russia's military intervention in Syria seems uncharacteristically positive, coming as it is from the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which for decades spoke against the godless Soviets:

"What Russia is doing may save the lives of Christians in the Middle East....  You understand that the Syrian government ... have protected Christians, they have protected minorities from the Islamists."

Should U.S supported jihadis ("rebels") succeed in toppling the government of Syria, Graham correctly predicts that there will be "a bloodbath of Christians":

"There would be tens of thousands of Christians murdered and slaughtered and on top of that, you would have hundreds of thousands of more refugees pouring into Europe. So Russia right now, I see their presence as helping to save the lives of Christians."

Incidentally, it's an established fact that the "good rebels"-or "moderates"-are persecuting Christians no less than the Islamic State.

When asked why the Obama administration is so callous towards the plight of persecuted Christians, Graham, somewhat echoing Putin, said the American president was more invested in promoting the homosexual agenda than he is in protecting Christians:

"I'm not here to bash the gays and lesbians and they certainly have rights and I understand all of that, but this administration has been more focused on that agenda than anything else. As a result, the Middle East is burning and you have more refugees moving today since World War II. It could have been prevented."

In reality, it's not Russian claims of waging a holy war to save Christians from the sword of jihad that deserves to be cynically dismissed, but rather every claim the Obama administration makes to justify its support for the opposition in Syria (most of which is not even Syrian).

There are no "moderate rebels," only committed jihadis eager to install Islamic law, which is the antithesis of everything the West once held precious.  If the "evil dictator" Assad kills people in the context of war, the "rebels" torture, maim, enslave, rape, behead, and crucify people solely because they are Christian. How does that make them preferable to Assad?

Moreover, based on established precedent-look to Iraq and Libya, the other countries U.S. leadership helped "liberate"-the outcome of ousting the secular strongman of Syria will be more atrocities, more Christian persecution, more rapes and enslavement, and more bombed churches and destroyed antiquities, despite John Kerry's absurd assurances of a "pluralistic" Syria once Assad is gone.  It will also mean more terrorism for the West.

Once again, then, the U.S. finds itself on the side of Islamic terrorists, who always reserve their best for America.  The Saudis-the head of the Jihadi Snake which U.S. presidents are wont to kiss and bow to-are already screaming bloody murder and calling for an increased jihad in Syria in response to Russia's holy war.

Will Obama and the MSM comply, including through an increased propaganda campaign?  Top Islamic clerics like Yusuf al-Qaradawi-who once slipped on live television by calling on the Obama administration to wage "jihad for Allah" against Assad-seem to think so.  Already the U.S. "welcomes" the new cruel joke that Saudi Arabia, one of the absolute worst human rights violators, will head a U.N. human rights panel.

At day's end and all Realpolitik aside, there is no denying reality: what the United States and its Western allies have wrought in the Middle East-culminating with the rise of a bloodthirsty caliphate and the worst atrocities of the 21st century-is as unholy as Russia's resolve to fight it is holy.



7 Times Obama Ignored the Law to Impose His Executive Will

President Obama—the imperial President, the “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” president who can’t wait to show us his “year of action”—once vowed to do exactly the opposite.

"The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America"

That was candidate Obama back in 2008. This comment somehow slipped under the radar for the past few years and resurfaced this week.

Proving the absurdity of this campaign promise, Heritage’s legal experts have put together a list of seven illegal actions the Obama administration has taken in the president’s unilateral drive for executive power.

If it seems like there should be more than seven, you’re on to something. It’s more complicated than you think to tell what’s illegal or unconstitutional when it comes to presidential power. Heritage’s Elizabeth Slattery and Andrew Kloster explain:

While it might not be possible to define in all instances precisely when an action crosses the line and falls outside the scope of the President’s statutory or constitutional authority, what follows is a list of unilateral actions taken by the Obama Administration that we think do cross that line.

1. Delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate

The administration announced that Obamacare won’t be implemented as it was passed, so employers with 50 or more employees don’t have to provide the mandated health coverage for at least another year (and longer if they play their cards right). Slattery and Kloster observe that “The law does not authorize the president to push back the employer mandate’s effective date.”

2. Giving Congress and their staffs special taxpayer-funded subsidies for Obamacare

It was uncomfortable for members of Congress when they realized that, through Obamacare, they had kicked themselves and their staffs out of the taxpayer-funded subsidies they were enjoying for health coverage. But the administration said no problem and gave them new subsidies. In this case, “the administration opted to stretch the law to save Obamacare—at the taxpayers’ expense.”

3. Trying to fulfill the “If you like your plan, you can keep it” promise—after it was broken

When Americans started getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies because Obamacare’s new rules were kicking in, the president’s broken promise was exposed. He tried to fix things by telling insurance companies to go back to old plans that don’t comply with Obamacare—just for one year. Slattery and Kloster note that “The letter announcing this non-enforcement has no basis in law.”

4. Preventing layoff notices from going out just days before the 2012 election

There’s a law that says large employers have to give employees 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs. And layoffs were looming due to federal budget cuts in 2012. But the Obama administration told employers to go against the law and not issue those notices—which would have hit mailboxes just days before the presidential election. The administration “also offered to reimburse those employers at the taxpayers’ expense if challenged for failure to give that notice.”

5. Gutting the work requirement from welfare reform

The welfare reform that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996 required that welfare recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program work or prepare for work to receive the aid. The Obama administration essentially took out that requirement by offering waivers to states, even though the law expressly states that waivers of the work requirement are not allowed. “Despite [the law’s] unambiguous language, the Obama administration continues to flout the law with its ‘revisionist’ interpretation,” write Slattery and Kloster.

6. Stonewalling an application for storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain

This was another case where the administration simply refused to do what was required by law. An application was submitted for nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, but “Despite the legal requirement, the Obama administration refused to consider the application.”

7. Making “recess” appointments that were not really recess appointments

Slattery and Kloster explain that “In January 2012, President Obama made four ‘recess’ appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, claiming that, since the Senate was conducting only periodic pro forma sessions, it was not available to confirm those appointees.” The catch: The Senate wasn’t in recess at the time. Courts have since struck down the appointments, but the illegitimate appointees already moved forward some harmful policies.

More: Slattery and Kloster list even more actions that, while they might not be illegal, are definitely abuses of executive power. That list includes imposing new immigration law by executive fiat and refusing to enforce more than one federal law.



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

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


11 October, 2015

Actor dressed as Hitler on the streets of Germany tells how people were pleased to see him

In a country being swamped by aggressive and hate-filled Muslims that the German government is just accepting, Hitler comes to be seen as the reasonable leader they now lack. It is not impossible for a moderate Western government to keep out incompatible minorities.  Australia has done it  -- see below.  But most Western governments are not moderate.  They bow down to head-in-the-sand Leftist thinking. They are extremists in their attitudes to differences between people -- they act as if there are no differences at all.  No wonder Hitler seems a reasonable man in that context.  Extremism begets extremism -- JR

An actor dressed as Hitler on the streets of Germany was begged to bring back labour camps, kissed and made to feel like 'a pop star' - casting an uncomfortable light on growing support for right-wing extremism in the country.

Oliver Masucci plays the Nazi leader in 'He's Back' ('Er ist wieder da'), a biting social satire by author Timur Vermes which was released in German cinemas this week.

However, it is not his performance, but the reactions of people on the street to 'Hitler' which have got the country talking as it prepares to welcome hundreds of thousands of refugees this year alone.

The film imagines what it would be like if Hitler was transported to the 21st century, and is interspersed with documentary footage which captures people's real reactions to seeing the 'dictator' on the streets

'He's Back' is based on Vermes' 'what-if' best-seller of the same name, published three years ago. In it, Hitler is baffled to find himself in a multicultural Germany led by a woman, Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He discovers TV chefs, Wikipedia and the fact that Poland still exists before he ends up a small-screen star, in a social commentary on society, mass media and celebrity hype.

But the film goes a step further than the novel, and intersperses the action with real life documentary footage - including footage of people welcoming back the despotic mass murderer with open arms.

In real life, Masucci - walking through the streets with a Hitler moustache and uniform - got rousing receptions from ordinary people, many of whom pose for 'selfies' with him.

The reaction horrified the actor, who revealed to the Guardian how he was made to feel like a 'pop star' when he arrived at the Brandenburg Gate.  'People clustered around me,' he said. 'One told me she loved me, and asked me to hug her. One, to my relief, started hitting me.'

Older people began pouring their hearts out to him, often voicing extremist views.  'Yes, bring back labour camps,' one person says to the 'dictator' in the film.

Masucci, best known as a stage actor, also told German daily newspaper Bild about his mixed feelings while shooting the unscripted scenes with people on the street.

'During shooting, I realised: I didn't really have to perform - people felt a need to talk, they wanted to pour their hearts out to a fatherly Hitler who was listening to them,' he said. 'I found it disturbing how quickly I could win people over. I mean, they were talking to Hitler.'

In the film, his character chillingly notes 'a smouldering anger among the people, like in the 1930s,' with visible satisfaction.

Masucci's Hitler also meets members of the populist-nationalist Alternative for Germany party and the neo-Nazi NPD, while the final scenes show news footage of far-right mobs and a rally by the PEGIDA movement, short for 'Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident'.

The release of the movie has touched off broad debate in a country where guilt over World War II and the Holocaust continues to influence political debate.

'A fake Hitler, a small moustache clearly helped people lose their inhibitions and... allowed insights into Germany's dark side,' found the daily Berliner Morgenpost, which added:  'The far-right ideology smoulders to this day and has found new forums... in the form of the Alternative for Germany and the PEGIDA movement.'

At the public premiere Thursday, a Berlin audience roared with laughter during the funnier moments, but quietened during some of the real-life footage.  One viewer, who gave her name as Angela, said: 'It was all a bit too forced. The film is playing too hard on the fear about Nazi ideology, and they only picked out the worst sequences.'

Another viewer, Tobias, was more disturbed.  'This is real,' he said. 'We need to debate this. It shows how easily people can be manipulated. This is the right moment, because the danger is here now.'



Australia is not much different from the USA but has become completely successful in keeping out illegal immigrants

All it needs is some real conservatives in power

AUSTRALIA’S tough border protection regime has stopped more than 650 “potentially ­illegal immigrants” arriving by boat in less than two years.

Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed the figure yesterday as he warned that people smugglers were using Australia’s change of leadership from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull as an opportunity to drum up business.

Mr Dutton said the Turnbull Government remained committed to the existing policy and would “stare down” the threat posed by people smugglers.

“I want to reiterate today — in the strongest possible terms — that the resolve of the Prime Minister and myself, the whole Government, is to make sure that we don’t allow deaths at sea to recommence,” Mr Dutton said.

Operation Sovereign Borders commander Major-General Andrew Bottrell said it was now more than 430 days since the last successful people smuggling venture to Australia and nearly two years since the last known death at sea.

He said the most recent attempt was in August but the passengers and crew on that vessel were “safely returned” to their country of departure.

Mr Dutton, who visited the Christmas Island detention centre this week, said there had been a “transformation” in the make-up of the detainee population.

He said of the 285 people being held on Christmas ­Island, 125 were there as a result of visa cancellations, 57 were overstayers and just 96 were now “illegal maritime arrivals”. The largest nationality group was Iranians — 21 per cent of those detained.

Forty New Zealanders [Maori?] with criminal convictions are being detained on the island and face deportation. Several are appealing against their visa cancellations.

He added the Government was also in discussions with a number of countries about resettling those seeking asylum on Manus Island, but would not speculate on a possible deal with the Philippines.

“I think we’re best to discuss those issues in private with those partners,” he said.



ObamaCare Program Shorts Insurance Companies Billions

ObamaCare’s risk corridors were a lot more risky than what the federal government let insurance providers believe. In order to accomplish the goal of increasing the number of Americans covered with health insurance, the federal government created risk corridors, assuring insurance companies that they could sign up people usually too old, sick or poor for the level of insurance they were buying. ObamaCare would reimburse those losses, the government promised.

Last year, insurance companies asked to be reimbursed for $2.9 billion. On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services said it would only pay out $362 million.

Oops. Who will pay the ultimate price? It’s not the government, and nor will it be the insurance companies. CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans Marilyn Tavenner said, “Stable, affordable coverage for consumers depends on adequate funding of the risk corridor program. It’s essential that Congress and CMS act to ensure the program works as designed and consumers are protected.”

Add this to the list of problems that both sides of the aisle want to fix with Obama’s signature legislation. Better yet, scrap it and start over.



Another blow to the antioxidant religion

"Settled science" bites the dust again

Compounds hailed for their cancer-fighting abilities could in fact increase the risk of the disease, experts have warned.  Antioxidants could double the rate at which the most dangerous form of skin cancer - melanoma - spread, they said.

The findings come in the wake of other recent studies, which showed antioxidants hasten the progression of lung cancer.

Professor Martin Bergö, from the Sahlgrenska Academy, warned those people with cancer, or an elevated risk of developing the disease, should avoid nutritional supplements that contain antioxidants.

In January 2014, a study at the academy, part of the University of Gothenburg, demonstrated that the compounds aggravated the progression of lung cancer.  Mice that were given antioxidants developed additional, and more aggressive tumours.  Furthermore, experiments on human lung cancer cells confirmed the findings.

Given the well-established evidence that free radicals can cause cancer, the research community had simply assumed antioxidants, which destroy them, would provide protection against the disease.

They are found in many nutritional supplements, and are widely marketed as a means of preventing cancer.

However, follow-up studies at the academy have now found that antioxidants double the rate of metastasis - spread - in malignant melanoma.

Professor Bergö said: 'As opposed to the lung cancer studies, the primary melanoma tumour was not affected.  'But the antioxidant boosted the ability of the tumour cells to metastasize, an even more serious problem because metastasis is the cause of death in the case of melanoma.



For decades, governments steered millions away from whole milk. Another backflip coming up?

"Settled science" bites the dust again

U.S. dietary guidelines have long recommended that people steer clear of whole milk, and for decades, Americans have obeyed. Whole milk sales shrunk. It was banned from school lunch programs. Purchases of low-fat dairy climbed.

“Replace whole milk and full-fat milk products with fat-free or low-fat choices,” says the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government's influential advice book, citing the role of dairy fat in heart disease.

Whether this massive shift in eating habits has made anyone healthier is an open question among scientists, however. In fact, research published in recent years indicates that the opposite might be true: millions might have been better off had they stuck with whole milk.

Scientists who tallied diet and health records for several thousand patients over ten years found, for example, that contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.

By warning people against full-fat dairy foods, the United States is “losing a huge opportunity for the prevention of disease,” said Marcia Otto, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas and the lead author of large studies published in 2012 and 2013, which were funded by government and academic institutions, not the industry. “What we have learned over the last decade is that certain foods that are high in fat seem to be beneficial.”

In 2013, New Zealand researchers led by Jocelyne R. Benatar collected the results of nine randomized controlled trials on dairy products. In tallying the tests on 702 subjects, researchers could detect no significant connection between consuming more dairy fat and levels of “bad” cholesterol. (Four of the nine studies included in the tally were funded by the industry. Those results were consistent with those of the trials funded by government entities.)

The same year, Otto and Mozaffarian, then both at the Harvard School of Public Health, conducted another study on the effects of milk. Their study sought to address a key weakness in the previous research.

One of the flaws of nutrition studies is that they rely on people to accurately recall what they’ve eaten over the course of a year. Those recollections are vulnerable to inaccuracy, especially for dairy fats which can be found in small amounts in many different foods. This inaccuracy may be one of the reasons studies have yielded contrary results on the link between milk and heart disease.

To improve estimates, Otto and Mozaffarian used a blood sample for each of more than 2,800 U.S. adults. Using the blood sample, they could detect how much dairy fats each had consumed. And over the eight-year follow up period, those who had consumed the most dairy fat were far less likely to develop heart disease compared to those who had consumed the least.



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

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


9 October, 2015

Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households in the USA

The video and transcript are now available for the Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on two recent reports about immigrant welfare use. The first report found that 51 percent of households headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal, use welfare, compared to 30 percent of households headed by the native-born. The second looked at legal status, finding that 49 percent of legal immigrant households and 62 percent of illegal immigrant households access welfare.

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a leading authority on welfare, spoke of the link between education level and welfare. Even though most immigrant households include someone who works, immigrants are disproportionately low-skilled, so they cannot pay enough in taxes to pay for government benefits they receive. Low skill immigrants receive "4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar paid," Rector said.

View the video HERE.  View the transcript HERE


The Right Does Have Answers on Guns, Mr. President

By Dennis Prager

On the assumption that there are good and bad people on both the right and the left and that everyone is horrified by mass shootings, how is one to explain the great divide between right and left on the gun issue as it relates to these mass murders?

Why does the left focus on more gun control laws, and why doesn't the right?

One reason is quintessentially American. Most Americans believe that it is their right - and even their duty - to own guns for self-protection. Unique among major democratic and industrialized nations, Americans have traditionally believed in relying on the state as little as possible. The right carries on this tradition, while the left believes in relying on the state as much possible - including, just to name a few areas, education, health care and personal protection.

A second reason for the left-right divide is that the left is uncomfortable with blaming people for bad actions. The right, on the other hand, is far more inclined to blame people for their bad actions.

Thus, liberals generally blame racism and poverty for violent crimes committed by poor blacks and Hispanics, while conservatives blame the criminals. Likewise, during the Cold War the left regarded nuclear weapons as the enemy while conservatives saw Communist regimes that possessed nuclear weapons as the enemy. It was the arms, not the values of those in possession of the arms, that troubled the left.

The third reason for the left-right divide on guns is that the two sides ask different questions when formulating social policies. The right tends to ask, "Does it do good?" The left is more likely to ask, "Does it feel good?"

Attitudes toward the minimum wage provide an excellent example.

As I noted in a recent column, in 1987, The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage. The title of the editorial said it all: "The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00."

"There's a virtual consensus among economists," wrote the Times editorial, "that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market."

In 1987 the Times editorialized against having any minimum wage because it asked the question: "Does it do good?"

Twenty-seven years later, the same editorial page wrote the opposite of what it had written in 1987, and called for a major increase in the minimum wage.

Why? Did the laws of economics change? Of course not.

What changed was the question the Times asked. Having moved further and further left, the Times editorial page was now preoccupied not with what does good, but with what feels good. And it feels good to raise poor people's minimum wage.

So, too, on gun control. Immediately after the killings in Oregon, President Obama expressed great anger over Congress's unwillingness to pass more gun laws. But neither he nor other left-wing gun control advocates tell us what law or laws - short of universal confiscation of guns (which is as possible as universal deportation of immigrants here illegally) - would have stopped any of the mass shootings that recently occurred.

To liberals it feels good to declare a college a "gun-free zone." Does it do good? Of course not. It does the opposite. It informs would-be murderers that no one will shoot them.

On gun violence, the left doesn't ask, "What does good?" It asks, "What feels good?" It feels good to call for more gun laws. It enables liberals to feel good about themselves; it makes the right look bad; and it increases government control over the citizenry. A liberal trifecta.

Are federal background checks a good idea? The idea sounds perfectly reasonable. But if they wouldn't have prevented any of the recent mass shootings, they would have been no help.

So, then, short of universal confiscation, which is both practically and constitutionally impossible, what will do good? What will reduce gun violence?

One thing that would make incomparably more difference than more gun laws is more fathers, especially in the great majority of shooting murders - those that are not part of a mass shooting. Why aren't liberals as passionate about policies that ensure that millions more men father their children as they are about gun laws? Because such thinking is anathema to the left. The left works diligently to keep single mothers dependent on the state (and therefore on the Democratic Party). And emphasizing a lack of fathers means human behavior is more to blame than guns.

Another is to cultivate participation in organized religion. Young men who attend church weekly commit far fewer murders than those who do not. But this too is anathema to the left. The secular left never offers religion as a solution to social problems. To do so, like emphasizing fathers, would shift the blame from guns to the criminal users of guns.

I would ask every journalist who cares about truth to ask every politician who argues for more guns laws, and every anti-gun activist, just two questions:

"Which do you believe would do more to decrease gun violence in America - more gun laws or more fathers?" "More gun laws or more church attendance?"

Barack Obama says, "Our gun supply leads to more deaths. The GOP has no plausible alternative theory."

The GOP does. But as usual, few Republicans say what it is. And no liberal wants to hear it.



Why Government Has Grown

by HERBERT LONDON.  I have been reading Herb for about 40 years so I am pleased to see that he is still fighting the good fight at age 76

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, once said "all politics is local." It was a sample statement that in time became axiomatic. One politician after another echoed the refrain. In fact, I cannot recall any public refutations.

For a time logic suggested that this assertion is correct. In my judgment, however, that time has passed; if anything, politics is national.

The relationship between the government and the individual is complicated in large part because of mediating institutions - these private agencies of family, schools, churches, associations. These institutions in the aggregate are individually served to moderate a heavy and intrusive hand of federal authority. Alexis de Tocqueville, writing about America in the 1840's described these institutions as part of the national character and national resiliency.

The difficulty with this characterization is that these moderating structures are in disarray. Each is failing at its role eroding the barrier between government and the individual.

Family status is confused by the high rate of divorce, illegitimacy and polyamory. The bonds that held family together are challenged by progressive notions of sexual union. What a family is, how it is defined, is subject to a variety of interpretations; one thing is clear - the family as a unit, together through a bond is rapidly disappearing.

Empirical evidence is mounting that the schools do not do their job. Students graduate from high school unprepared for a job or higher education. Most significantly, the principles on which this civilization is based are not transmitted. Young people may love the freedom America allows but they know very little about "first principles" or why our form of liberty must be defended. Unanchored to my traditional belief, these citizens are subject to propagandizing and even the incremental loss of liberty.

Churches were once religious centers urging a belief in God. Some still perform this role. But many are social and political centers promoting social justice narrowly construed as political lobbying. Sermons often deal with national issues rather than biblical propositions. The result is that churches have lost their legitimacy as moral arbiters. They may represent some segment of the population, but cannot claim the role of transcendent interpreters of faith or morals.

Associations were once the bulwark of civil authority and pride. They did good deeds; they were the backbone of towns; they represented civic duty and a desire to help those in need. Now, however, their numbers are dwindling. Those in attendance tend to be gray around the temples. Downtown associations are becoming uptown clubs.

Facing conditions of the kind described here it is hardly surprising that federal government influence is growing. Citizens are adrift searching for meaning in lives that cannot find comfort in traditional institutions.

The nanny state organized by President Obama and his advisors is a national outgrowth of mediating institutions in trouble. If there is a way out of this morass, it is through restoration. Rebuilding schools as learning centers; families as units of cohesion; churches as moral centers and associations as the backbone of civic authority. It can be done, but it does mean weaning the citizenry from the test of national assistance. After decades of feeding at the public troth, habits of mind have been inscribed. As I see it, the time has come to uninscribe them. And it is suitable to do it as soon as possible.



Obama Putin vows to protect Christians worldwide

As part of his manifesto for the upcoming Russian presidential elections, candidate Vladimir Putin has promised to add the protection of Christian communities across the globe to the duties of his foreign office.

Following the meeting with Patriarch Kirill, The Patriarch was accused of using his power to meddle in political affairs, yet defended himself saying "We would like to talk to [Putin] as the prime minister, but first of all as with a candidate for the presidential post in our country who, of course, has more chance than anybody else to turn this candidacy into the real post"

The head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Pakistan and India. The cleric asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy priorities in the future.

Putin answered: "This is how it will be, have no doubt."



Baltimore: A City Broken After (Black) Mismanagement

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a presentable black but a fool nonetheless

Politically, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made a mistake after the incident in Baltimore that left Freddie Gray mortally injured in the back of a police van. During the protests and criticisms of the city's police force, she sided with the mob looking for its brand of "justice" instead of her police force attempting to uphold Rule of Law.

It yielded bitter fruit. Police officers strapped on their guns every morning demoralized. City residents viewed the police with disrespect. And criminals are flexing newfound confidence.

As a result, crime has spiked in the city. During September, the number of non-fatal shootings were double that of 2014. Homicides climbed 39%.

This is where it gets ironic: Hot Air's Jazz Shaw notes that the U.S. Council of Mayors held a meeting in the city at the beginning of October to discuss, in the words of the Baltimore Sun, "economic development, community policing and the spike in homicides many cities saw over the summer."

Baltimore is hardly the poster child for solutions to these problems, as Rawlings-Blake announced that she would not seek another term as mayor. Another leftist village burns.



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

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


8 October, 2015

The black jellyfish in the White house

Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power compressed seven-plus years of the Obama administration’s staggering stupidity, clueless arrogance and frightening adolescence into a single tweet. “We call on #Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo & civilians & to focus on ISIL,” it stated.

Does anything epitomize this administration better than a clueless tweet from a clueless twit? Most of the reaction to it is best described as astonished bemusement. “Did you consider beginning with ‘We REALLY REALLY REALLY express our SUPER-DUPER DEEP concern…’? That would’ve been good,” offered Freedom Post. “Just out of idle curiosity, any ideas beyond hash tags and stern communiques?” wondered Michael Frost. “Ooh, Samantha, if there’s anything the Russians respond to it’s sternly-worded tweets. What’s next? A folk song?” cracked Al Copersino.

“In the first two hours after Power sent the tweet, 100% of the responses were either critical, mocking, or both,” the Independent Journal informed us. This would be the same Samantha Power who, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, were pulled out of the United Nations General Assembly meeting by President Obama for a video conference just in time to avoid listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.

What didn’t Obama want them to hear? “I’ve long said that gravest danger facing our world is the coupling of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and I’m gravely concerned that the nuclear deal with Iran will prove to be the marriage certificate of that unholy union,” Netanyahu stated.  “One of history’s most important yet least learned lessons is this: the best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes.”

Netanyahu also saved a few choice words for the conglomeration of dictators, thugs and weak-kneed Western leaders who epitomize the increasingly fraudulent entity we called the United Nations. “Seventy years after the murder of six-million Jews, Iran’s rulers promised to destroy my country, murder my people, and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here, has been absolutely nothing. Utter silence. Deafening silence,” Netanyahu stated.   

“Politicians in the region close to Tehran as well as analysts who have been closely following its role in Syria say a decision has been made, in close coordination with the Russians and the Assad regime, to increase the number of fighters on the ground through Iran’s network of local and foreign proxies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Close coordination? Where are the same Democrat and media hacks who pontificated about “snap back” sanctions? No doubt we can expect them to defend that assertion with all the gusto demonstrated by cockroaches that scurry back into the dark corners of a kitchen when the light is turned on. That’s what happens when the pontificators are revealed as the utter frauds they truly are — and always were.

It’s a fraud that begins right at the top of the political food chain. “President Obama, addressing Russian intervention in Syria at a White House press conference, said Tuesday Iran and Syria President Bashar Assad represented Russia’s entire coalition ‘and the rest of the world makes up ours,’” Fox News reports.

Obama dug himself an even deeper hole. “This is not a contest between the U.S. and Russia,” he insisted. “We’re not going to make Syria a proxy war between Russia and the United States. Our battle is with ISIL."

News flash, Mr. Obama. Vladimir Putin has already made this a de facto proxy war on behalf of both Iran and Assad. Moreover, your so-called coalition won’t lift a finger to stop him. Why would they? As Henry Kissinger cynically observed almost 40 years ago, "It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.” No one has epitomized that reality more than the current occupant in the White House.

And no one is more dangerous. For the first time in seven years, the most arrogant president in American history is facing an opponent he and the Orwellian Ministry of Truth our media has become cannot cow into silence, intimidate with false charges of racism, or belittle with anything resembling a shred of credibility.

Thus when Obama opines that “Mr. Putin’s action’s have only been successful in so far as they have bolstered his poll ratings inside of Russia” and that this foray into Syria “is not a smart strategic move on Russia’s part,” it doesn’t take much of an imagination to believe such admonitions are little more than a source of a amusement for the former KGB thug.

Thus one is left to wonder how the same adolescent-like petulance that engendered Obama making sure Kerry and Power were not in attendance for Netanyahu’s speech will manifest itself with regard to the man who has taken a wrecking ball to the president’s carefully cultivated image.

An internationally belittled narcissist with a long track record of dismissing critical wisdom from his military advisors is the stuff of genuine nightmares.

Two recent political cartoons emphasize our current dilemma. The first is a reference to yet another administration scandal, the revelation that intel reports were manipulated to create a public narrative that all was going well in the fight against ISIS. Two diplomats are standing next to Obama seated at a desk, while the president is reading an intel report with a smiley face on the cover. “If your Turkish allies were bombing your Kurdish allies and your Russian allies were bombing your Syrian allies, you’d doctor the intelligence too,” one of the diplomats states.

The second cartoon is far more devastating. Two men with the words “Russia” and “China” printed on their respective backs are shown sharing a knock-knock joke. “Want to hear a joke?” asks the Russian. “Yes,” the Chinese character replies. And so it goes: “Knock! knock!" "Who’s there?” “President Obama” “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” “I love that one,” the Russian says. “Me too,” says the Chinese character.

“The Pentagon said Friday that an American-trained rebel commander in Syria had surrendered trucks and ammunition this week to forces affiliated with an offshoot of Al Qaeda,” the New York Times reported Sept. 26, further noting that this debacle follows an admission by Centcom head Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to a Senate committee 10 days earlier that “only four or five Syrians trained by the American military to confront the Islamic State remained in the fight — an acknowledgment that a $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters had gone nowhere. General Austin also said that the United States would not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian fighters anytime soon,” the paper added.

On the other hand, it appears the Obama administration did perpetrate a devastating attack over the weekend. Unfortunately it was on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, killing 22 and wounding 37 others. Why was the attack perpetrated? “The military has been playing an increasingly active role in Afghanistan amid a Taliban resurgence, particularly in the northern province of Kunduz,” reports the Times.

Taliban resurgence? “The bottom line is, it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama told us in May of 2014. “When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way. By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000. In addition to bringing our troops home, this new chapter in American foreign policy will allow us to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism, while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe.”

“I think Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” Obama added.

No again, Mr. President. Americans have learned that winning wars is utterly anathema to a president and his party whose retreat from the world stage is a complete disgrace — topped only by their determination to pave the way for Iran’s entry into the nuclear club. And make no mistake: It was Obama and Democrats who convinced Americans they could embrace the luxury of war-weariness, utterly irrespective of events on the ground. If that luxury precipitates a spate of domestic jihadist violence Americans will pay a terrible price to re-learn a simple lesson:

Just because you don’t want war with Islamo-facists doesn’t mean they don’t want war with you. And the reality that so many Americans are apparently convinced after only 14 years that 9/11 was a “one off” is astounding.

“What did he know and when did he know it?" asks New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. "The immortal question about Richard Nixon and Water­gate should be posed to Barack Obama about Syria. What and when did he know about Vladimir Putin’s axis-of-evil coalition? The significance is not limited to Syria. The question goes to the heart of the Iran nuclear deal, especially the timing of the congressional votes.”

Goodwin illuminates the implications. “By eliminating most sanctions and freeing Iranian assets, the nuke deal provides money and protection for the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to attack our allies. And Iran’s liberation gave Putin the Muslim ground troops he needs,” Goodwin further notes it was the deal with Iran that put Putin’s Syrian plan into action.

There are two ways to go through life. You can either exert a measure of control over the vicissitudes of this existence, or be carried along on a current of self-inflicted helplessness. When an individual chooses the latter option, the results may be tragic. When the last remaining outpost of freedom on the planet chooses the same option, they may be cataclysmic.



Jobs Report Reveals More Americans Out of Work

The labor force participation rate is at a 40 year low

The jobs report, released the first Friday of every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is one of the most closely watched indicators of how the economy is doing. The report collects a wide variety of statistics on employment and labor utilization, in an attempt to paint an overall picture of the American labor market. Over the few months, the Obama administration has been pleased with the numbers, with the official unemployment rate ticking down consistently, albeit at a glacial pace.

Last Friday’s report, by contrast, offered no good news. In fact, there was nothing even spinnable into kinda-sorta good news. The economy is stagnant, and the numbers reflect that. The official unemployment rate, which represents Americans looking for jobs but unable to find them, remained unchanged, which may not seem like bad news on the surface, but when placed in context it becomes clear how troubling this actually is.

The really important number we need to look at is the labor force participation rate. This determines how many people are considered “workers.” When people drop out of the labor force,they are no longer considered unemployed, even though they don’t have jobs. This means that we can see a situation where the official unemployment rate is dropping, but the actual number of jobless Americans is rising, since they are merely giving up on trying to find a job.

For this reason, the unemployment rate always has to be evaluated together with the labor force participation rate; it’s the only way to get a true sense of what is going on in the labor market. On Friday, the labor force participation rate dropped to 62.4 percent, which is the lowest it has been since October of 1977.

With an unchanged unemployment rate, but dropping labor force participation, joblessness is worsening in the U.S. After seven years of stimulus and quantitative easing, the labor market is still down in the dumps. It’s time to admit that Obamanomics isn’t working and start implementing some pro-growth reforms to get people working again. ObamaCare, the minimum wage, regulations on small business, licensing requirements, and high taxes are all conspiring to prevent people from working.Removing some or all of these barriers to the labor market would jumpstart the economy and get people back into the labor force.

Only by producing more can we create more wealth, and with the highest proportion of Americans in forty years sitting on the sidelines, the economy will continue to stagnate.



Actor James Woods: 'I Was Right That Obama Would Ignore Christian Hate Crime Element of Oregon Massacre'

On October 5 actor James Woods sent out a tweet criticizing President Obama over the president's reaction - or what Woods sees as a non-reaction - to the recent mass shooting in Oregon.

On October 1 Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people and took his own life at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Witnesses have reported that Harper-Mercer specifically targeted Christians for death.

Woods's tweet reads: "Three days ago I predicted that President Obama would ignore the Christian hate crime element of the Oregon massacre. I am sad to be right."
On October 2 Woods predicted that if the Oregon gunman had killed people for their Christian beliefs then the media and President Obama would avoid the topic.

In the wake of the massacre President Obama has called for a discussion on gun control. He is also planning to meet with the families of the victims.



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

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


7 October, 2015
For German Jews, Maybe It Really Is 1936 All Over Again

An entirely predictable result of Frau Merkel's foolishness

This can’t be good:

    “I had five years of civil war in Syria, but the journey here was more dangerous,” said Hadiya Suleiman, a 45-year-old mother of five from Deir ez-Zur in eastern Syria, where ISIS killed her 18-year-old son. “Here, I feel for the first time like a human being. We thank our mother, ‘Mama Merkel.’”

    But many Jews are watching the wave of migrants flocking to Germany with some measure of alarm, concerned with what a massive influx of Arabs could mean for Germany’s Jews and the country’s relationship with Israel. “This is not yet France, this is not yet London,” said one Israeli who has lived in Berlin for about 10 years and asked not to be identified. “Yet,” he added pointedly. “There are so many people here and the state is not able to help them,” Monika Chmielewska-Pape told JTA last week. “The situation is very hard for refugees here. If we don’t help them, the people stay on the street.”

    But Chmielewska-Pape said she is not typical of Germany’s Jews. Most, she said, are anxious about the migrants, fearful of the consequences of a massive influx of Arabs into Germany. Chmielewska-Pape said her own decision to help the migrants did not come easily, and she keeps her Jewish identity to herself — including from the left-wing Germans who volunteer alongside her and whom Chmielewska-Pape said are not sympathetic toward Israel or the Jews. The irony of refugees fleeing through Europe to the relative safe haven of Germany is not lost on anyone here. Seventy-five years ago Jews were the refugees, trying to flee a genocidal German chancellor whose name became synonymous with evil. Few countries were willing to accept Jewish refugees; most were turned back and perished at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis.

If you can’t tell the difference between the plight of the Jews under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,and the invasion of Christendom by “migrants” from the Islamic ummah, you have a major cognitive dysfunction.

    But many Jews here believe that Germany’s atonement for its past is coming at Jewish expense. They’re worried that the influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslims will turn Germany into a place hostile to Jewish concerns and to Israel – and that along with the migrants there are terrorist infiltrators who will try to realize their dreams of jihad on German soil.

Meanwhile, the main reason the childless Ossi, Merkel, is importing Arabs is the elephant in the room: German women simply refuse to have children:

    History isn’t the only reason Merkel is welcoming the migrants. With negative population growth, Germany needs more people to help sustain its economy, the strongest in Europe. At its current birth rate of 1.38 children per woman, the lowest in the world, Germany’s population will shrink by some 20 percent over the next 45 years. An influx of immigrants could offset the shrinking workforce.

This won’t end well.



All mass shooters are white males, right?

All you hear from the leftist media and liberals is how all mass shooters are white males. The corrupt media is even trying to make Chris Harper-Mercer out to be a ‘white-supremacist’ despite the fact he is as black as Obama. So is true, aside from Oregon that all mass shootings are done by white-male? Eh, not really. The media and the left has selective memories when it comes to mass shootings in America.

Virginia Tech shooting seems like so long ago. Despite happening 2007 the left has memory loss at who the perpetrator was. His name was Seung-Hui Cho and he isn’t exactly a white male. Last I checked, Seung-Hui Cho is South Korean. Maybe the left is confused because of the South in Korea. Maybe they think it’s some white guy from the American south instead.

Five years before the Virginia Tech shootings we had Beltway Sniper attacks. One of the attackers was named John Allen Muhammad. Not exactly an American sounding name. John Allen Muhammad was a black Muslim.

Then we have Christopher Dorner. The name may sound white, but he was blacker than Obama. Dorner killed killed four people on a racist rampage back in 2013 in California. I know, two years ago is hard to remember for liberals. It’s like, that was two years ago dude!

Shall I go on? Ok.. I will..

Anyone remember Nidal Malik Hasan? A Muslim terrorist who killed 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood in 2009. This is where Obama tries to protect his Muslim buddies, and refuses to declare the case an act of terrorism. Instead, Nidal Malik Hasan’s rampage killing 13 people is called ‘workplace violence.’ Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mass shooting, not done by whitey.

Aaron Alexis – a black ‘man’ killed 12 people in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Aaron Alexis was cited on at least eight occasions for misconduct during his time in the Navy. I guess back in 2013, he decided to try to get revenge on all those evil white people in the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

And finally we have Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Memory loss is no excuse for this Muslim terrorist as he killed six (including himself) on a jihad rampage for Allah. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez targeted military installations, not a mosque or some little halal cafe in Chattanooga. [He opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and wounding three other people before he was killed] Not exactly Mr. White either.

I could go back further, but the fact leftists don’t remember (or chose not to) these mass shootings might confuse them. In non of these mass shooting cases would more gun control have worked, same as those done by the white boys.

There’s no racial pattern to mass shootings either. They aren’t all done by whites, blacks, Muslims or Asians. No matter how hard the media tries blame one race over another, they just fall flat on their face. It’s another reason why no one trusts them anymore.



Is an unseen enemy taking its toll against ISIS?

Indications are there is and, as such, it is having a devastating impact upon ISIS. In fact, it may well be wreaking much more havoc among ISIS than are U.S. air strikes against the terrorist group. ISIS finds itself fighting an enemy it is hard-pressed to defeat. That enemy is AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Before addressing the medical issue ISIS now faces, an historical perspective is needed to explain how ISIS got into this deadly situation.

Some 1400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad began preaching his religion to uneducated Bedouins. For people struggling to survive in a harsh environment and lacking much spiritual motivation, selling them on Islam was, initially at least, challenging for Muhammad. That changed as the Prophet sought to appeal to man's basic instincts.

What better way to gain followers from among the uneducated than to convince them a god exists whom, if they become believers, will sanction sinful acts they undertake against non-believers, allowing them to gain wealth-not by their own toil-but by taking it from others. And, to further sweeten the pot, Muhammad threw in for the victors the sexual benefit of being able to claim the wives of vanquished non-believers as sex slaves.

Muhammad proclaimed such acts-normally considered sinful-were not sinful as believers were simply fulfilling Islam's mandate non-believers convert or die. By playing to their lust and greed, Mohammad brought in followers by the thousands. With their actions no longer limited by a moral compass, their barbarity towards sanctioned victims proved limitless.

Nowhere has this perception of Islam's sanctioned brutality been more obvious than with ISIS which is committed to imposing its brand of Islam upon the entire world. We have borne witness to their limitless brutality-whether it is beheading sanctioned victims, burning them alive or detonating explosive devices attached to newborns as a demonstration to their followers of such bomb's effectiveness.

Prophet Muhammad recognized early on in his marketing endeavors with Islam "sex sells." It was an important recognition for getting prospective recruits to think less with what was above their neck and more with what was below it.

He also knew he had to package it in a way that would motivate followers' willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for Islam on the battlefield. He had to free his fighters of the marital love bonds that might otherwise tie them down and make them less willing to die for Islam. He had to promise them something that would make this life pale in comparison to what awaited them in the next.

Muhammad accomplished this as part of a three-step process.

First, in his teachings he made clear the role of Muslim women was secondary to that of Muslim men-who were free to take more than one wife. The wife's role would always be subservient to the husband's. He was her master and she had to obey.  Her obedience included a duty never to deny him his sexual desires. If she did, he had the right to rape or otherwise discipline her.

Muhammad's focus here was to meet his warriors' sexual needs while weakening the normally strong loving bond formed in a one husband-one wife marital relationship. He sought to achieve this by de-valuing a women's worth in this life and, to reduce a single wife's loving influence, by allowing husbands to have several.

Second, Muhammad realized his male followers were in need of sexual gratification "on the road." Spreading Islam meant traveling far and wide to do so. Taking the warrior away from the home meant providing for his sexual desires away from it as well. Thus, Muhammad taught that Allah sanctioned taking captive as sex slaves infidel women. Such women were simply chattel acquired as the spoils of war.

Third, having de-valued the role of women and addressed the warrior's sexual needs both at and away from home, Muhammad now sought to instill in his fighters the ultimate motivation to make them fearless. While the material rewards a victorious Muslim warrior gained were extensive, Muhammad revealed an even greater reward awaited he who dies in battle trying to attain those material rewards.

Muhammad promised the reward of an afterlife that was a sexual Paradise. As he, and many subsequent Islamic scholars have attested, 72 non-menstruating, non-urinating, non-defecating, full-breasted, beautiful, young, non-child bearing, "eternal" (recycled) virgins await them there. These virgins will sing a man's praises for all eternity and never be dissatisfied with him.

Thus, Muhammad painted a picture for his followers of a present life blessed with the material rewards gained from battlefield victories and an afterlife of eternal sexual pleasures should one die trying to be victorious. For those who bought into it, there was nothing to lose.

These beliefs have been handed down to the followers of Islam for 70 generations. These same sexual rewards promised in both this life and the next have become an important recruiting tool for ISIS today.

But AIDS is an enemy that did not exist in Muhammad's day. It is an enemy that mostly uneducated ISIS followers, engaging in numerous sexual acts with an unlimited stable of victims, were eventually bound to confront.

Reputable sources such as the Daily Mail and Catholic.org have reported ISIS now suffers from a full-blown epidemic of AIDS-a disease linked to promiscuous sex with an infected partner, the sharing of infected drug needles and gay sex. As the latter two are forbidden by Islam, it is interesting the disease is as prevalent as it is. The above sources report the problem may well have begun when an Indonesian ISIS member who knew he had AIDS gave blood to his fellow fighters-for which he was later executed. But, once the disease took root, all three sources above (despite these taboos under Islam) may well have contributed to it spreading like wildfire within such a rape culture.

When a captive slave is raped by one AIDS carrier who then sells her to another fighter, the disease infects all within the rape chain. Efforts are being made to equip hospitals within ISIS territory with the capability to treat AIDS/SDT patients. One such facility is said to exist in Almayadeen City, Iraq. But clearly, the non-existence of an adequate medical infrastructure to provide skilled treatment is unavailable. As a consequence, those suffering the most are the rape victims who became conduits for spreading these diseases. Such victims are either left to suffer without medical attention or are put to death as they have lost their value to ISIS.

Involuntary homosexual activity marks yet another dark side of ISIS. One ISIS prince, "Abu Ala'," reportedly issued a fatwa allowing him to marry and sodomize male recruits but disallowing any man the reciprocity to so sodomize him.

As an August 27, 2015 Kurdish television documentary details, ISIS engages in the practice of raping all new male recruits in a ceremony described as "marriage"-with the act videotaped to later blackmail them should they prove reluctant to participate in ISIS operations. The documentary is based on the testimony of numerous ISIS members captured by the Kurds and includes some of the ISIS rape tapes.

One such recruit, Ahmed Hussain, described on camera how he was abducted, drugged, tortured, and gang-raped-forced into marriage fifteen times. He said afterward, "they washed my head and put cologne on me. They told me no one could join ISIL without being married."

It is most fitting that ISIS-a group whose appeal has been built upon its rape culture-now appears to be paying the price for doing so. An unseen enemy is making their passage to the afterlife an excruciatingly painful one.

As far as seeking an ISIS cure, while tragic for the innocent victims affected, AIDS may prove to be just what the doctor ordered.



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

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


6 October, 2015

Justice and the Obama Justice Department

This is a long article but the subject is a big and important one -- JR

If you think about it, it makes sense that in America—the only nation in the world to define itself not by blood or land, but by a law, the Constitution—the government agency charged with enforcing that law, and enforcing the laws passed under it, would be called the Department of Justice. As such, the work of the Justice Department is highly important. It plays a fundamental role in our nation’s life, because its work has to do in one way or another with how honest, how fair, and how safe our country is.

That being said, I’m regretful to have to add that in a country where honesty, fairness, and safety are so strongly influenced by one department of government, over the past six years—largely because of that department’s work—our country has grown less honest, less fair, and less safe than it ought to be. Let me give you some examples.

Recently we hear a great deal about the prosecution of “evildoing” corporations, but not so much about the prosecution of individuals who are the alleged evildoers. Why is that? To be specific, a lot of what we hear with respect to corporations is not about prosecutions at all—it’s about “deferred-prosecution agreements” or “non-prosecution agreements,” agreements that extract enormous financial penalties. Indeed, the current Justice Department takes pride in setting record after record in terms of collecting these penalties.

Other attorneys general, myself included, made such agreements. But the penalties that have been extracted over the past six years are unprecedented. They involve numbers in the billions, and are of a scale that makes it appear that the Justice Department is acting as a profit center for the government.

Justice Department investigations begin by looking into claims, for example, of unlawful payments to foreign officials or of unsafe motor vehicles. Corporations often face disastrous collateral consequences simply from having charges brought against them, which is why they are often willing to admit to conduct that the government cannot prove, to pay enormous fines, and to accept the oversight of monitors. In return, the government agrees that no charges will be filed so long as the corporations remain on good behavior for some specified period of time. Charges are rarely brought against individuals, on the other hand, because individuals can be put in jail. When faced with this, people usually fight back—and when they fight back, they frequently win.

This process generates cynicism about the American justice system, as individuals go uncharged, billion-dollar penalties are assessed, and the ones who pay are not wrongdoers, but corporate shareholders and employees.

* * *

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is the one we think of as having the main responsibility for protecting fairness. Yet its recent record has indicated other priorities. Recently its Voting Section went out of its way to review a decision to change the system of municipal elections in Kinston, North Carolina, from partisan to non-partisan. That change had been approved by the voters of Kinston, which is a majority black town. Indeed, it had been approved by an overwhelming two-to-one vote.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department may intervene when voting rules are changed in any state where there’s historically been discrimination. But because black citizens were in the majority in Kinston, there should have been no occasion to intervene. The DOJ justified its intervention by saying that blacks were not always a majority of voters, even though they were a majority of the citizens; it argued further that the removing of party labels might deprive black voters of an identifying label necessary for them to vote for black candidates—i.e., the label “Democrat.” In other words, the Justice Department was arguing that the black voters of Kinston needed the paternalism of the Justice Department to protect them from themselves.

Fairness and safety are sometimes related to one another. During the 2008 election, two members of the New Black Panther Party showed up at a polling place in Philadelphia dressed in black battle fatigues, one of them brandishing a nightstick and the other yelling at white voters that they would soon be ruled by a black man. The scene was described in an affidavit by a poll watcher—a veteran civil rights activist who had often supported Democratic candidates—as something he had never seen or heard of in his 40 years of political involvement.

In the waning days of the Bush administration, the DOJ’s Voting Section filed a lawsuit and won a default judgment. But in the spring of 2009, after the Obama administration took over, those handling the case were directed to drop it. The only penalty left in place was a limited injunction that barred the person with the nightstick from repeating that conduct for a period of time in Philadelphia. And when the Office of Professional Responsibility looked into the matter, their finding criticized the bringing of the case more than the dropping of it.

Contrast that response with the DOJ’s treatment of a 79-year-old protestor outside an abortion clinic who was sued by the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section for praying outside the clinic and urging entrants to reconsider abortion. When that protestor was pepper sprayed by an abortion supporter for exercising his First Amendment rights, the Criminal Section did nothing.

Consider as well the 2012 case of Trayvon Martin, a young man who was shot in an encounter with a neighborhood watch member. Notwithstanding that the shooter was not a member of any police department, and that he was acquitted of criminal responsibility in the incident—nevertheless, in the wake of the case the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division zeroed in on the police department of Sanford, Florida, where the incident occurred, suggesting discriminatory policing. A similar pattern—whereby a confrontation between a police officer and an African-American is followed by a Justice Department proceeding against the jurisdiction, regardless of the legal outcome or the equities of the incident—has been followed in cities such as Baltimore, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri.

State and local jurisdictions do not have the resources or the political will to fight the federal government. As a result, more than 20 cities are now operating under consent decrees secured by the Justice Department, with court-appointed monitors imposing restrictive standards on police officers who now think twice before they stop suspects or make arrests. The results are predictable. Shootings are on the rise in New York, as are quality-of-life crimes that create a sense of public disorder and social deterioration. Seattle is also a good example: a federal lawsuit and a court-appointed monitor followed on the heels of a publicized incident, and now homicides are up 25 percent, car theft is up 44 percent, and aggravated assault is up 14 percent.

One lesson to draw from all this is that personnel is policy. If you examine the resumés of people hired into the DOJ beginning in 2009, you will find that the governing credential of new hires was a history of support for left-leaning causes or membership in leftist organizations. By the time of the 2012 election, it was considered unremarkable for DOJ lawyers to display political posters on their office walls, and even outside their offices—something inimical to the spirit and mission of the Department of Justice.

* * *

When it comes to defending against terrorism, one would think that the role of the Justice Department would be relatively limited compared to that of the military and of our intelligence gathering agencies. But for six years the DOJ has played an outsized and unhelpful role. This results, in part, from a policy set by the current administration of viewing terrorism as it was viewed before 9/11—as a crime to be prosecuted rather than an act of war to be combatted.

This administration is also unwilling to draw any connection between radical Islam and terrorism. Just in the last few days, it has been reported that officials are trying to determine a motive for the conduct of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who is accused of killing five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga. He had travelled to Jordan and posted admiring statements about ISIS on his web page, and yet officials are puzzling over why he acted as he did. The DOJ refuses to use the word terrorism in relation to this investigation.

A man named Ali Muhammad Brown is charged with three counts of murder in Seattle, allegedly motivated by his desire to avenge attacks on Muslims by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also been prosecuted in the state courts of New Jersey on state terrorism charges—the first time such charges have ever been filed in New Jersey’s history. The charges there are based on a fourth murder that he committed—the murder of a teenager named Brendan Tevlin that had the same motivation as the Seattle murders. The maximum for this crime under the New Jersey statute is life imprisonment, whereas the federal statute carries the death penalty. But the Justice Department has declined to bring this prosecution. It’s utterly beyond understanding why the DOJ would yield to a state charge with a lesser penalty—unless, of course, one realizes that it would simply prefer not to discuss the matter.

This aversion goes further, and it has further effect. In 2009, Khalid Sheik Muhammad and others were to be tried before a military commission at Guantanamo for their roles in the 9/11 attacks. The defendants had announced their intention to plead guilty and proceed to martyrdom. Notwithstanding that these detainees were in the custody of the military and the Department of Defense, the Attorney General, with the President’s cooperation, suspended the trials and announced in 2010 that he would bring those defendants to Manhattan, near where the World Trade Center attack had occurred, to stand trial in a civilian court.

This plan caused a bipartisan furor. Congress went so far as to pass a statute barring the use of any federal funds to bring detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S. As a result, the plan was cancelled in 2011. But by that time the military commission had been aborted and the prosecution had to be recommenced from scratch. In addition, Khalid Sheik Muhammad and his friends got the message that the new administration’s heart wasn’t in it. They took to resisting every step in the process, which is still in the pre-trial stage.

Also in 2009, the Attorney General, following up on his stated belief that the CIA had violated the torture statute in the interrogation of captured terrorists, publicly disclosed what had been classified memos describing the CIA’s interrogation program—a program that had not been in use since 2003. He presumably released those memos in the belief that disclosure would bring on a firestorm of criticism. The effect was to disclose to potential terrorists what was in the program so they could train to resist it, just as they train using the publicly available Army Field Manual in order to resist interrogations described in it. When the hoped-for firestorm failed to develop, the Attorney General announced that even though prior investigations of CIA conduct by career DOJ prosecutors had concluded that there was not enough evidence to justify criminal prosecution, he was going to re-open those cases. He did so without bothering to read the detailed memos by those previous prosecutors explaining why no criminal charges were warranted. You can imagine the effect on the morale of the CIA.

The re-opened investigations yielded no criminal charges, and the result was announced two years later as part of a news dump on a Friday afternoon. We currently have no interrogation program in place beyond the Army Field Manual, and in any case current policy seems to favor prosecution over capturing terrorists abroad for interrogation. This is due in part to the efforts of the DOJ, and our ability to gather intelligence is correspondingly limited.

Defenders of current policy trumpet electronic intelligence. But electronic intelligence comes in bits and pieces, and it’s very difficult to know which bits and pieces are relevant and which are simply noise. As former CIA Director Michael Hayden once put it, it’s kind of like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle when you have thousands of pieces, you don’t know which ones are part of the puzzle, and you haven’t been able to look at the picture on the box. Human intelligence, by contrast, comes in narrative form—which is to say you get to look at the picture.

The Obama administration also supported the recent restriction that was put on bulk intelligence gathering by the CIA, in the mistaken belief that such a policy compromised Americans’ privacy. In point of fact, the only information gathered was the calling number, the called number, the length of the call, and its date. That information was saved, and when we got a suspicious telephone number—for example, the number of the Chattanooga terrorist—we could take it and figure out which numbers had called that number and which numbers had been called by it. As a result of the recent restriction, we are not going to have that information anymore. It is going to be kept by the carriers, if they agree to keep it.

Are there any bright spots in the Justice Department? The National Security Division, which handles oversight of electronic intelligence on applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, is the newest division in the department. Formed in 2006, it is staffed by people who are dedicated to protecting the country, and it continues to function very well insofar as the legislation that is now in place allows it to function. Otherwise, there is very little good to report.

* * *

How did we get to where we are today? Even before the 2008 election, the warning signs were there. The man who was to become U.S. Attorney General told an audience during the election campaign that the Bush administration had permitted abuses in fighting terrorism. He said there would have to be “a reckoning.” During his subsequent tenure, in a moment of unguarded candor, he described himself as the President’s “wingman.” From the standpoint of the Justice Department, I can’t overstate the demoralizing significance of an attorney general saying something like that. If I had ever described myself, during my tenure, as President Bush’s wingman, I would have expected to come back to find the Justice Department building empty and a pile of resignations on my desk. Even Attorney General Robert Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother, to my knowledge never described himself in such terms. Yes, the attorney general is a member of the administration—but his principal responsibility is to provide neutral advice on what the law requires, not to fly in political formation.

The problems in the DOJ won’t be solved simply by electing a less ideological president in 2016. Many of the political appointees of the past seven years will resign and take up career positions within the department, and once such people receive civil service status, it is virtually impossible to fire them. In other words, the next attorney general will be confronted with a department that’s prepared to resist policy changes. This will require great patience and dedication by the new political appointees in their efforts to return the department to its true mandate—not doing justice according to your own lights, or even according to the lights of the president who appoints you, but defending law and having enough faith in law to believe that the result, more often than not, will be justice.



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

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


5 October, 2015

Leftist irrationality

Conservatives are well-used to Leftist irrationality.  If you present a Leftist with some fact that undermines one of his claims, you will get not cool reflection or rational debate but rather rage, abuse and avoidance.  In a face to face situation, the Leftist will actually walk away from you.  So it is clear that, with Leftists, we are dealing with emotions not reason.  They can write whole articles about (say) socialism without for one moment considering the facts about the practical impacts of socialism.

And those of us who can remember it remain quite astounded at the ecstasy among Leftists when Obama won his first Presidential election.  Winning an election is cause for celebration for anyone but the Left really seemed to lose all touch with reality. They really seemed to believe  that Obama's win signalled the time when "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".  Not since King Canute has such a claim been made in politics and even Canute was more level-headed than that. Commentators spoke of "Obamania" and the "Obamessiah".

So we don't really need anyone to tell us that the Left are more emotional than conservatives but it is nice to see it confirmed in a careful set of psychological experiments and surveys.  The abstract below:

Are Leftists More Emotion-Driven Than Rightists? The Interactive Influence of Ideology and Emotions on Support for Policies

By Ruthie Pliskin et al.


Although emotions and ideology are important factors guiding policy support in conflict, their interactive influence remains unclear. Based on prior findings that ideological leftists’ beliefs are more susceptible to change than rightists’ beliefs, we tested a somewhat counterintuitive extension that leftists would be more susceptible to influence by their emotional reactions than rightists. In three laboratory studies, inducing positive and negative emotions affected Jewish–Israeli leftists’, but not rightists’, support for conciliatory policies toward an adversarial (Studies 1 and 3) and a non-adversarial (Study 2) outgroup. Three additional field studies showed that positive and negative emotions were related to leftists’, but not rightists’, policy support in positive as well as highly negative conflict-related contexts, among both Jewish (Studies 4 and 5) and Palestinian (Study 6) citizens of Israel. Across different conflicts, emotions, conflict-related contexts, and even populations, leftists’ policy support changed in accordance with emotional reactions more than rightists’ policy support.


A more detailed summary HERE

The authors looked at emotion generally but I have always argued that anger/rage/hate is the dominant emotion among Leftists.  The authors above added in anger to their study more or less as an afterthought but did find that anger was a particularly powerful motivator among Leftists.


California Labor Union That Fought for $15 Minimum Wage Now Wants an Exemption

The labor union that led the charge for a $15 minimum wage hike in cities across California is now moving to secure an exemption for employers under union contracts.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor buried the exemption on the eighth page of its 12-page proposal for the Santa Monica City Council to review Tuesday while deciding whether to follow Los Angeles and increase the minimum wage.

The loophole would allow employers with collective bargaining agreements to sidestep the wage hike and pay their union members below the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.

James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, said the exemption is a union attempt to encourage businesses to unionize by making themselves the only low-wage option as union membership continues to drop off.

“This proposal would force any worker in Santa Monica whose labor is worth less than $15 an hour to purchase union representation in order to hold a job,” Sherk said. “Unions should not be able to selectively exempt themselves from the harmful consequences of the minimum wage hikes they lobby for.”

The move in Santa Monica is not the federation of labor’s first attempt to compound a collective bargaining exemption into a minimum wage increase.

The federation received an outpouring of criticism when it attempted to push the same carve-out for unionized employers after Los Angeles decided to increase its minimum wage from $9 to $15.

“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in a blistering editorial. “It plays into the cynical view that the federation is more interested in unionizing companies and boosting its rolls of dues-paying members than in helping poor workers.”

Rusty Hicks, the head of the federation, released a statement in May saying that businesses and employees under collective bargaining agreements should have the ability to negotiate a wage below the law’s mandated minimum in exchange for other benefits.

“This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing,” Hicks said.

Hicks told the Los Angeles City Council to thwart the measure’s passage unless the exemption was included, but he ultimately lost the battle after receiving significant backlash for the request.

In Santa Monica, where council members ordered a rewrite of the minimum wage proposal Tuesday night, the exemption stirred no controversy among members. Council members told a local paper the exemption would remain in the final minimum wage proposal.



Labor unions awarded millions from federal agencies

Under President Obama, federal agencies are doling out tens of millions of dollars to one of the Democratic Party’s most essential constituencies: big labor.

The grants range from safety training to union membership recruitment to whipping up support for the president’s signature program called Obamacare, a Washington Times review of federal contracting records shows.

Last week, for example, the Department of Energy awarded a $900,000-plus grant for the development of a safety regimen for workers facing hazardous duties in energy and waste jobs. It didn’t go to a safety firm or training school but rather to a labor union: Akron International Chemical Workers Union. And the local Democratic congressman in Ohio got to score some political points with his blue-collar constituents by announcing it.

“It’s clearly an insight into how this president and his administration have used taxpayer funds to accomplish political purposes,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. “Congress needs to look at this, and dig out these grants specifically given to unions and eliminate them.”

(Corrected paragraph:) In President George W. Bush’s tenure, the federal government awarded about $29 million in grants to two of the largest groups representing big labor, the AFL-CIO and SEIU. In contrast, Mr. Obama has thus far awarded at least $53 million to these two groups — 83 percent more than Mr. Bush’s entire tenure.

“I’m utterly unsurprised federal grant-making to unions has increased under Obama. This administration has a way of rewarding their friends and harming their enemies,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.

Two years ago, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO was awarded $593,956 by the Department of Heath and Human Services to go door to door and use social media to recruit low-income Latinos to sign up for the president’s signature health care law. The local San Jose chapter of the SEIU was given $1 million to do the same thing but to focus on uninsured Asians and Pacific Islanders within their union. Its Los Angeles branch was given $500,000 to target multiracial populations speaking Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Laotian, Cambodian, Hmong and Vietnamese.

Last year the Illinois affiliate of the AFL-CIO was awarded $400,000 for outreach to “promote best practices in response to plant closings and mass layoffs” within the state by the Department of Labor. And, since 2011, the Idaho affiliate has been given more than $300,000 to monitor pending or actual closures of plants and potential affected employees and “assist in the collection of information regarding specific groups of dislocated workers.”

Mr. Manning said grants given to unions to bolster Obamacare enrollment or to further recruitment in their own ranks should be first on the list.

“Some of these grants are just so obviously political — this administration has utilized that capacity to its fullest,” he said.

Mr. Obama, who is ideologically in line with collective bargaining and big labor ideals, has used his tenure to appoint like-minded individuals to the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, among other federal agency posts, who in turn use their positions to give grants and push pro-labor initiatives.

“The biggest single thing the president has done is make labor-friendly appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and various positions within the Department of Labor,” said Ruth Milkman, a City University of New York sociologist specializing in labor issues. “The president has revived a long historical tradition of appointing people to these positions who are supportive of labor relations. Under Reagan and Bush, there were people who didn’t believe in collective bargaining in those positions, which made it difficult to pass initiatives that benefit ordinary workers.”

Mr. Holtz-Eakin agrees the biggest change benefiting labor has been through presidential appointments. Mr. Obama has pushed the NLRB so far left, negotiations are now made at “the five-yard line,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said.

Most recently the NLRB ruled a contractor can be liable for the labor violations of a subcontractor, reversing decades of precedent at the board and infuriating free market conservatives and business.

In addition to making pro-labor appointments within the federal government, Mr. Obama has used executive actions to push union-supported positions, such as making more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay, requiring federal contractors to provide paid leave and using project labor agreements — which gives unions monopoly bargaining power for all workers, not just unionized ones — for federal construction projects.



Jindal calls for return to Judeo-Christian heritage

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal opened his Believe Again town hall meeting with a prayer for the victims of the shooting at an Oregon community college and a Manchester school bus rollover.

“Today is a pretty tough day if you’ve been watching the news,” he told about 80 people at the Shores Event Center in northeast Cedar Rapids Thursday.

“We pray for the comfort, the peace only you can bring … and heal broken hearts,” Jindal, head bowed, implored.

That seemed to set the tone for his hourlong remarks and question-and-answer session that ranged from his anger with “surrender Republicans” who won’t seize the opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood to the need to return to the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States.

Jindal, the 44-year-old second-term governor, is angrier with Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, than he is with Democrats, who, he said, are honest about their intentions to move the nation to the left and expand the role of government.

“At least Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist,” he said. “We’ve got conservative who will say one thing when they are running for office and they do another when we actually elect them.

“So our choice in Washington is you’ve got honest socialists or lying conservatives. That’s a heck of a choice,” he said to chuckles.

Jindal called America an “inherently Judeo-Christian nation” where “government didn’t create our rights. Government rather secures our God-given rights.”

He went on to say that part of the Judeo-Christian heritage is “we don’t discriminate against anyone.” America can be a diverse society and defend religious liberty, he said.

Jindal is toiling in the low single digits in polls, but has high favorability rating among Iowa Republicans. His net favorability rating is double Donald Trump’s and puts him in fourth place behind Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. He’s well-positioned for a “moment,” as one campaign aide put it.


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


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

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


4 October, 2015

Spin-Meister Hibbing does good

John R. Hibbing has been doing research into the underlying differences between liberals and conservatives for a long time.  And Hibbing has a great talent  -- for spin.  Put any set of findings about Left/Right differences in front of him and he can  interpret those finding as showing that liberals are the cool cats and conservatives are the bad eggs.  Leftist psychologists do that routinely, of course and I have been amusing myself "Unspinning" their claims since 1968. And I have been unspinning Hibbing for at least 10 years.  See here and here

But Hibbing seems ultimately to have been educated by his own data and now just takes refuge in jargon rather than spin. And his work is interesting for the type of data he produces.  He tries to examine biological differences directly -- which is in principle less fakeable.  Although it is less fakeable, it is also harder to interpret. So let me look at one of his papers that I don't think I have directly addressed before.  Here is the Abstract:

The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: connecting physiology and cognition to preferences

By Michael D. Dodd, Amanda Balzer, Carly M. Jacobs, Michael W. Gruszczynski, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Hibbing


We report evidence that individual-level variation in people's physiological and attentional responses to aversive and appetitive stimuli are correlated with broad political orientations. Specifically, we find that greater orientation to aversive stimuli tends to be associated with right-of-centre and greater orientation to appetitive (pleasing) stimuli with left-of-centre political inclinations. These findings are consistent with recent evidence that political views are connected to physiological predispositions but are unique in incorporating findings on variation in directed attention that make it possible to understand additional aspects of the link between the physiological and the political.


A more detailed summary HERE
And later in the paper Hibbing becomes very humble indeed. We read:  "It may be that those on the political left are more out of step with adaptive behaviours".  He rightly sees caution as adaptive.

In any case, the findings are perfectly well interpretable as showing that Leftists avoid unpleasant thoughts and that conservatives are more cautious about possible threats and dangers.  Hibbing's obfuscatory version of that is that conservatives have  "greater orientation to aversive stimuli".  But since conservatism has been associated with caution for a couple of hundred years, "caution" is clearly a more informative and well-grounded word to describe conservatism than  is "oriented to aversive stimuli".  In some contexts "conservative" is even used as a synonym for caution.

And the bit about Leftists avoiding unpleasant thoughts is also familiar.  Leftists in fact tend to live in a cloud cuckoo land of their own (with apologies to Aristophanes) where all thoughts jarring to their beliefs are zealously kept out.  And they most rigorously avoid any thoughts about possible bad impacts that their policies might have.  Ever since the French Revolution there have been mountains of evidence about what beliefs in "all men are equal" lead to but no Leftist seems to have heard of any of it.  Too unpleasant!  Much nicer to dwell on feelings that Leftists are all heart. 

In fact, given the anger that drives their policies, they probably NEED to seek out pleasant thoughts to cool themselves down.

So Hibbing's findings do confirm some basic truths -- after you get past the jargon.

Some critics (e.g. here) on both the Left and Right have criticized Hibbing on the grounds that it is the Left, not the Right, who are cautious about global warming.  How does that fit in?  Easy peasy:  Conservatives are only concerned about real threats and real dangers.  And most conservatives can see the threat of dangerous global warming for the transparent hokum that it is.  They can see that it is a made-up threat, not a real one.  For liberals on the other hand, global warming is a most pleasant fantasy.  It enables them to see themselves as "saving the planet".  How heroic can you get?  A saviour of the planet!  Beat that!

Hibbing was right -- JR


The Hungarians have got balls

They have very rapidly erected effective border controls to stop the Muslim invasion.  An obvious lesson if an American government wanted to control its borders

From the back garden of Istvan Molnar's home, you can see Hungary's newly erected 'Iron Curtain' in the distance.

The razor-wire fence has become a defining symbol of the migrant crisis. The barricade — 4m high and constructed in six weeks on the back of prison labour — runs the length of the country's 110-mile border with Serbia.

The Berlin Wall, by comparison, was 96 miles long. This hinterland between Hungary and the Balkans was once the main entry point to the European Union for the diaspora pouring out of the Middle East.

Today, on the Hungarian side, waiting for anyone who breaches the barricade, are squads of police reinforced by SWAT teams from Hungary's elite Counter Terrorism Centre (TEC).

The role of these officers, in black commando uniforms, is to 'capture persons that pose a danger for themselves and the public' — a mission statement that leaves little doubt about the way Budapest views the wave of asylum seekers we have all seen on the TV news.

Tear gas, pepper spray and water canons were used against them after they attempted to break through the fence — not far from Mr Molnar's house in the village of Roszke — on the morning it went up on September 15.

The day before, a record 9,380 migrants were rounded up on Hungary's Serbian border after crossing the frontier and put on trains to Austria; the day after, the number had slumped to just 366.

Now, little more than a fortnight after the 'Iron Curtain' sprung up in a field outside Istvan Molnar's house, provoking international condemnation, village life is returning to normal in Roszke (pop: around 3,000) after months of near-chaos.

Migrants, sometimes hundreds at a time, no longer pass Mr Molnar's window at all hours of the day and night. The people smugglers have moved on. The reception camp, where migrants were processed, is empty.

'There is no one to process at the moment,' the police officer manning the gate of the compound told us, shrugging his shoulders. Men, women and children who turn up in Roszke, and elsewhere on the Hungarian/Serbian border, are simply being turned away despite criticism from Germany and other EU partners.

Hungary's response? Another razor-wire barrier is in the process of being built on the border with Croatia. The strategy is trumpeted in giant government posters on roadsides and roundabouts. 'The country must be defended,' they read.

Mr Molnar, 61, a gardener, and his wife Irenke, 57, gave water and blankets to the migrants, but, like almost everyone else here, they approve of the crackdown. The couple voted for the man who is behind it, prime minister Viktor Orban. 'I think the police should certainly be allowed to use force where necessary to stop people coming through,' said Mr Molnar.

There is another, more fundamental, sub-plot to Hungary's brutally effective migrant policy, though.  It is encapsulated in Mr Orban's inflammatory public statements about 'Christian Europe' being under threat. 'If you're being overrun, you can't accept migrants,' he wrote in a German daily newspaper.

'We must not forget that those who are coming in have been brought up under a different religion and represent a profoundly different culture.  'The majority are not Christians but Muslims. That is an important question because Europe and European culture have Christian roots. Is it not already, and in itself, alarming that Europe's Christian culture is barely able to uphold Europe's own Christian values? The people want us to control the situation and protect our borders.'

The Crusader rhetoric conjures up an image of Muslim hordes at the gates of fortress Hungary. Indeed, to understand the psychological forces behind the hatred you need to understand how Christian-Muslim conflict is deeply embedded in the Hungarian DNA just as mutual suspicion and hatred have historically existed between Arab and Jew in the Middle East or Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland.

Mr Orban is both reflecting — and many, would say, exploiting — this primal fear of 'outsiders', especially Muslim outsiders, in Hungary.

The origins of that legacy can be found in Mohacs, a small town on the Danube, near the Croatian border. It was here in 1526 that a heavily outnumbered Hungarian army suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Ottoman invaders under Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Battle of Mohacs was Hungary's equivalent of the Battle of Hastings; one defeat led to the Norman conquest of England, the other to 150 years of Ottoman rule in Hungary.

The battlefield on the outskirts of Mohacs is now a memorial site. An inscription inside proclaims: 'Here began the ruination of a once strong Hungary.'

Mohacs, in fact, marked the end of the old independent Kingdom of Hungary. In the immediate aftermath, Christian churches were converted into mosques, a poll tax was levied on non-Muslims, and Hungarian landlords were dispossessed.

Children in Hungary are taught about this at school, just as British children are taught about 1066. Foreign domination, first by the Ottoman Turks, followed by Austria, then — after World War II — by the Soviet Union, lasted almost five centuries, with Hungary properly emerging only in 1989 as a fully independent republic, following round-table talks which led to the end of communist rule.

Viewed through the prism of history, recent events in Hungary become, if not acceptable, then at least more understandable.

If you take away the razor wire, tear gas and incendiary language, Britain's solution for dealing with the migrant crisis is little different from Hungary's. Both countries argue that creating a quota system will only encourage more new arrivals and both maintain that the emphasis should be on improving conditions in refugee camps in states neighbouring Syria.

Unlike Britain and the rest of Western Europe, however, Hungary and the reborn states of central Europe emerged from the Soviet era more ethnically homogeneous.

Hungary had no immigration during the Soviet era. Borders were effectively sealed. No one, as we well know, was allowed out, or in.

After the Iron Curtain came down, the immigrants that did come were mostly Christian Europeans. Consequently, Hungary was not prepared for the sudden arrival of large numbers of Muslim asylum seekers.

Local people, it is clear, do not want them. This fear has been exacerbated by the racial hatred, religious violence and ethnic cleansing on Hungary's doorstep, unleashed following the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia.

There were atrocities on all sides, setting neighbour against neighbour, Muslim against Christian, in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia. Some took place only miles from Istvan Molnar's home in Roszke on the other side of the new 'Iron Curtain'.

The fears of politicians reflect the fears of the people, and vice-versa.  The politician at the centre of the controversy, of course, is Viktor Orban, who insists that Hungarians have 'the right not to live together with populous Muslim communities'.

One statistic, in particular, has been used to justify the government's hardline position on migrants. The figure is 291,000 — the number of migrants who entered the country illegally this year before the border was fenced off. Of these, 80 per cent were single young men, according to the latest UN data.

The Hungarian authorities have no idea who these people are. They could be potential terrorists or economic migrants. But one thing is for sure, the Hungarians reason: they couldn't have been genuine refugees, otherwise why would they have entered the country illegally?

Mr Orban has described this most recent 'influx' as an invasion. The figure he quotes (291,000) does not include genuine asylum seekers.

Not so long ago, Viktor Orban faced criticism of his increasingly authoritarian style.

Today, however, his popularity is soaring. A recent poll showed around 82 per cent of Hungarians were in favour of tighter immigration controls.

'Brussels is failing to understand just how deeply Hungarians feel about this issue,' said Neil Barnett, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank in London, who lived in Hungary for more than a decade.

'For centuries the Magyars have felt themselves to be the unthanked guardians of European Christendom. However much arching of eyebrows this causes in Brussels, here is a question that threatens to tear Europe apart at the seams.'

Because, for Hungarians, the 'Iron Curtain' is a source of pride, not shame.



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

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


2 October, 2015

A kinder era of politics? Whom are the British Leftist leader and his hate-filled acolytes trying to kid?

How dangerous is Jeremy Corbyn? Needless to say, his ecstatic supporters think he is practically saintly. But even some Tories believe that, though the new leader of the Labour Party is obviously wrong-headed, on the whole he seems quite a decent bloke.

Even I found myself thinking this during parts of Mr Corbyn’s conference speech on Tuesday afternoon when he repeated again and again that all he wanted in life was ‘kinder politics, and a more caring society’. Don’t we all?

He may be economically illiterate — so I reflected as he roamed his way through a number of his pet subjects — but he doesn’t look as though he could hurt a fly, and despite everything his heart appears to be roughly in the right place.

If I have been lulled, even momentarily, into thinking such things, it shows how fantastically successful Mr Corbyn and his allies have been in re-branding themselves as cuddly, consensual and basically harmless. They have embarked on the mother of all con-tricks, and their intended dupes are the electorate.

The central article of faith of the Corbynistas is that the British people hate extremism, and they must therefore do everything they can to airbrush out — or, if absolutely necessary, repudiate — any examples of fanaticism in their past, and to avoid saying or doing anything in the future that might alarm the voters.

Thus John McDonnell, the silver-haired Shadow Chancellor, warned us on Monday morning to expect a very boring speech from him later that day in which he would come across as an old-fashioned bank manager. He was trying to make himself sound as unthreatening as possible.

But Mr McDonnell is an extremist. In 2003, which is not very long ago, he said that it was ‘about time’ we started ‘honouring’ IRA terrorists. He recently apologised if he gave any offence, but actually one can’t disown such statements. He was a 51-year-old man when he said it, not a wide-eyed teenage radical, and he was plainly expressing deeply held views.

In 2010, he publicly admitted that he would like to ‘go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher’. I very much doubt that this was intended as a joke, but even if it was, it carried with it something nasty and unpleasant and fundamentally undemocratic.

As for Mr Corbyn, however light-hearted and mild-mannered his performance was on Tuesday, he has spent too much time with men of violence for it to be written off as an accident. One of his first acts as an MP was to invite Gerry Adams, then president of the IRA’s political wing, to the House of Commons in 1984, a fortnight after the terrorist organisation had tried to blow up Margaret Thatcher and the rest of the Cabinet, killing five people in the process.

Doesn’t this association (which was continued) with Adams, who had abjured the ballot box, tell us something very important about Mr Corbyn? I would say the same about his hobnobbing with members of Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist organisations committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

It is perfectly legitimate to believe passionately in a united Ireland or a Palestinian State. What is so disturbing about Mr Corbyn is his habitual fraternisation with people who have tried to achieve these outcomes through violent means.

Now he has the effrontery to burble on about kindness and caring, and it may be tempting to take this seemingly gentle and self-deprecating man at face value. Tempting — but very stupid.

Incidentally, his contrivance of gentleness was briefly undermined quite early in the leadership campaign when he was forensically questioned by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel Four News about his ‘friends’ at Hamas. For a moment the easy-going schoolmasterly mask dropped, to be replaced first by testiness and then by rather ugly aggression.

Don’t be taken in by this monumental act: that is my message. Just look at some of the minor players with whom Mr Corbyn has surrounded himself.

Andrew Fisher, his new political adviser, boasted on his website about taking part in what sounds like a student tuition-fee riot in 2010. He wrote: ‘Hundreds of people were enjoying the role reversal of the police being penned in and scared. I felt elated.’

And John Ross, an economics adviser to the new leader, once said, admittedly a long time ago: ‘The ruling class must know they will be killed if they do not allow a takeover by the workers. If we aren’t armed there will be a bloodbath.’ That doesn’t sound very kind and caring to me.

Of course, all this is in the past, and largely deniable as the former hard Left activists strive to fill our ears with honeyed words. The trouble is that, try as they might, they cannot entirely keep the lid on present and future eruptions of hatred and unpleasantness.

Just as Mr Corbyn was limbering up to preach his grotesquely insincere Sermon on the Mount, Unite leader Len McCluskey veered off script, and accused the Tories of being like the Nazis in seeking to reform strike laws. He invoked trade union members forced to wear armbands bearing a red triangle at Dachau concentration camp.

Well, Len is cock-a-hoop at the moment on account of Jeremy’s victory, and so got carried away, and quite forgot the new party line that politics is now supposed to be all about being caring and kind to one another.

Even the normally more sensible Tom Watson, the new Deputy Leader, called yesterday for Labour to kick the ‘nasty Tories down the road’, so that it can regain power in 2020.

I’m afraid that many others will also be forgetful about Mr Corbyn’s strictures. Last Saturday night a mob of class warriors carrying flame torches attacked a specialist cereal cafe in Shoreditch, East London, because they hate middle-class ‘gentrification’.

This put John McDonnell in a ticklish situation when he was interviewed on BBC2’s Newsnight on Monday evening. At least three times between 2010 and 2012 the man who is now Shadow Chancellor called for ‘insurrection’ to ‘bring down’ the Government.

In short, those deranged class warriors in Shoreditch were doing pretty well what he had ordered, but he could hardly cheer them on now. Nor could he criticise his own people, though. So he slid out of the question by saying that violence was ‘counter-productive’, without condemning what they did.

We should never be complacent, but I don’t think the Corbynistas will pull off their grand deception. It may be possible to put their highly discreditable pasts behind them. But they won’t be able to silence intemperate union leaders and unruly street warriors who are itching for a non-Parliamentary fight. Their hard Left supporters will almost certainly press for the de-selection of moderate Labour MPs.

Sometimes Corbyn and McDonnell will be forced to rebuke their wilder and more undisciplined followers for going too far too quickly, but they won’t be able to wash their hands of them, and nor will they want to. In the end, they are extremists cut from the same cloth.

During his speech on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn criticised spin, and represented himself as Mr Straight-as-a-Die. The truth is that in masquerading as kind and gentle and open to a new sort of inclusive politics, the Corbynistas are guilty of one of the biggest swindles practised on the British people in modern times.



The 'Affordable Housing' Fraud

Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.

A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.

It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”

Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.

Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”

Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.

One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.

This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries — and so have many other people who never studied economics.

Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.

Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving “open space,” and “open space” has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to worry about housing prices.

Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.

How “complex” is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of “open space” would keep housing from becoming “unaffordable”?

Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of “open space,” “saving farmland,” or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?

When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?

However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?



Trump: Millions Who Pay No Taxes Will Keep Paying No Taxes

Donald Trump offered his tax plan Monday, and it has quite the populist appeal. His plan says, “If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households — over 50% — from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, ‘I win,’ those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.”

On top of that, he’d lower the top rate from 39.6% to 25%, and reduce corporate taxes from the current highest-in-the-world rate of 35% to 15%. On the other hand, he wants to eliminate deductions that help people like hedge fund managers pay a lower rate than many Americans. We suppose their tax forms will say, “I lose.”

Indeed, “eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich” is how he proposes to keep the plan “revenue neutral.” Fat chance of that. His proposed four brackets of 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% will “simplify the tax code,” he said. “It’ll grow the American economy at a level that it hasn’t seen for decades.”

It’s worth noting, as Trump does, that there are already millions of Americans who pay no income tax, though they do have to fill out complex tax forms to reach that conclusion. Thus, they have no “skin in the game,” and everyone should bear some of the burden, even if it’s just 1%. But Trump would expand the numbers paying nothing — smart politics.

On the other hand, these same workers pay a disproportionate share of the payroll tax, which supposedly funds the biggest drivers of our debt: Major entitlements.



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

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


1 October, 2015

Capitalism, Socialism and the Pope

Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba and the United States and his previous efforts to bring about a rapprochement between the two countries brings the world’s attention to three facts.

First, Cuba is one of two remaining communist countries in the world — countries dedicated to the belief that individuals have a duty to live for the state. Second, although the United States does not have the freest economy in the world (Hong Kong and Singapore get that honor and we now rank number 16!), it is the symbolic fountainhead of capitalism — a country whose founding document proclaims the right of everyone to pursue their own happiness. Three, there are still people in the world who contend that communism is better.

One way to see the 20th century is to view it as one long debate over economic systems. What was the best way to lift people out of poverty and put them on the road to economic prosperity? Was it capitalism? Or was it some variant of statism — communism, socialism, fascism or the welfare state?

At the beginning of the century you could at least understand why there was a debate. Intelligent people believed that enlightened government could outperform the marketplace. All over the world they tried to put that belief into practice. The result was carnage on a scale never seen before. An estimated 170 million people were killed by their own governments in the last century! That is six times the number who died in combat, fighting wars.

Here is another stunning fact. The great majority of those deaths were at the hands of true believers – people who were ideologically driven and were at least nominally committed to making the world a better place.

By the time the century ended the debate was over. Clearly, people continued to live in poverty not because of the free market, but because of bad government. And this realization led country after country to turn to privatization, deregulation, liberalized international trade and freer markets. The results have been stunning. As this chart shows, 80 percent of the world’s worst poverty (people living on the income equivalent of less than a dollar a day) was eradicated in the past 40 years. Nothing like that has ever happened before. American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks asks:

    "So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.

    It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.

    I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world.It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented."

As I wrote previously, the Pope’s published views of all this are disappointing and in stark contrast to the views of John Paul II. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis states:

    "Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    …[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system"

More than 200 years ago, Adam Smith made a remarkable discovery: you can’t succeed in the marketplace without meeting the needs of others. Competition in the market is competition in meeting other people’s needs. The most successful competitors are the ones who do the very best at meeting other people’s needs. All the charitable institutions in the world over the course of the last decade have not met as many needs as the market meets in a single hour.

The marketplace uniquely melds altruism and self-interest. Take Bill Gates, the man who pioneered the personal computer revolution. By empowering computer users everywhere, he became the world’s richest man; and now he is giving all his wealth away. Was he motivated by selfishness? Or was he altruistically trying to create the greatest good for the greatest number? The beauty of the marketplace is that Gates' motivation doesn’t matter. You get pretty much the same result either way.

In a voluntary exchange, both parties are made better off. Moreover, new entrants into a real market are opportunities for more mutually beneficial exchanges. But under zero sum rationing, other people are a threat. One person’s gain is invariably another person’s loss. One person’s place in the bread line is a place another cannot have. One person’s state-owned housing unit is an apartment another cannot have.

It is under statism, not capitalism, that the powerful exploit the powerless. And unlike Bill Gates, socialist rulers derive their income by theft, not by trade.

Fidel Castro’s former bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sánchez says that the communist leader “lived like a king” and “ran country like a cross between medieval overlord and Louis XV.” While ordinary Cubans stood in breadlines and suffered the effects of a declining economy, Castro had his own private yacht and his own private island — a luxury Caribbean getaway, complete with dolphins and a turtle farm. In Havana, he lived in an immense estate with a rooftop bowling alley, a basketball court and fully equipped medical center.

I’m aware that on the Pontiff’s way to Washington, the Vatican let it be known that “the Pope is not a liberal.” I am also aware that the wording in encyclicals is often produced by the jockeying and maneuvering of insiders who want to see their favorite idea or phrase blessed by the holy father in print.

Still, the world would be so much better off if Rome would pay better attention to science — both the science of economics and the science of climate.

Everything that is now being done by governments around the world to affect climate change is creating the biggest burdens for those at the bottom of the income ladder. Encouraging the wrong behavior in this regard will only hurt those the pontiff says we should be helping.

And, as the 20th century so clearly shows, bad ideas about economics not only cause harm. Bad political economy kills.



Healthcare premiums up $4865 since Obama promised to cut them $2500

Remember "if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it?" Yeah, that was a pretty good Obama lie. In fact it was PolitiFact's 2013 "Lie of the Year" and also topped the Washington Post's "Biggest Pinocchios of 2013" - "Pinocchio" being a nice of way of saying "pile of bovine excrement."

Of course, we're quite used to wading through great piles of organic fecal material with regards to this administration (red lines in Syria, degrade and destroy ISIS, al-Qaida is decimated), but it does seem the greatest falsehood perpetrated on the American populace was his signature achievement called Obamacare.

Now, before we get to the statistics, take a little stroll down memory lane with me and listen to Obama promise YOU, the American sucker taxpayer that with the passage of Obamacare, health premiums for a family of four will go down $2500 a year.

Gosh it sure sounded good. But. All. Lies.

According to Investors Business Daily, "since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865."

For those of you mathematically challenged, the difference between going down $2,500 and going up is $4,865 is $7,365. Not what I'd call a "rounding error."

However, you really have to give credit to the White House. They've discovered more ways to spin than carnival ride designers. After this fact was revealed, (according to the annual Kaiser Family Foundation report), the White House said it was actually great news because it meant premium costs were rising more slowly than before.

Ohhhh, riiiight.

Now to be fair (and balanced), at least that part is true. Investors Business Daily says "since 2006, the average annual increase for family plans at work has been 4.9%, down from around 10% a year from 1999-2005."

But President Obama did NOT say, hey guys this is a great plan because your premiums will go up not quite as fast. That's not a particularly compelling promise.

"If what he meant was "we're going to keep the rate of increase in premiums about where it's been for several years now," he was being purposefully misleading." [GASP! Our PRESIDENT being purposefully misleading??]

"Of course, even if he did mean what he didn't say, Obama can't claim credit for the slowdown.
The truth is that the current trend started in 2006, long before Obama took office, and longer still before ObamaCare took effect.

And the continued trend of modest premium increases has been due largely to the shift in the employer market toward health savings account-type plans, which just happened to hit the market in 2005."

Oh - health savings account-type plans. Isn't that what conservatives have been recommending for like...forever?



Putin goes where Obama fears to go

Will it take Russian troops to destroy ISIS? Unlike U.S. troops, they would not be hampered by idiotic "Rules of Engagement".  Russian toughness squashed the Muslim Chechens

In dueling speeches at Monday’s UN General Assembly meeting, Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin sounded off in the latest round of tense relations between the U.S. and Russia. Unfortunately, because of Obama’s thoughtless foreign policy America is looking weak and clueless on the world stage.

Obama continued to rail against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. “We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated,” he declared. “If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.” Of course, “stand by” is precisely what Obama has done with regard to Ukraine and Crimea.

“Stand by” has also been Obama’s “plan” with regard to Syria. And Putin has used the opportunity to bolster Russia’s presence in the Middle East. In a one-two punch this month, the Kremlin provided military support to bolster longtime Syrian ally Bashar al-Assad, and then — just in time for the UN confab — announced an intelligence sharing agreement with Syria, Iraq and Iran to combat the Islamic State.

The Wall Street Journal explains the significance of that move for Iraq: “It’s hard to fault Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for the decision. He’s watched for a year while the U.S. coalition has made little progress against Islamic State. His decision risks putting Baghdad further under Tehran’s sway, and pushing more Iraqi Sunnis into Islamic State’s arms. But desperate leaders will act in desperate ways.”

One Iraqi militia leader put it this way: “We believe that Russia and Iran are serious about defeating ISIS while the U.S. doesn’t want to defeat ISIS. We wish that the Iraqi government wouldn’t trust or depend heavily on the U.S. because we’ve had a bad experience with the U.S. in this regard.”

So Obama has not only abandoned Iraq to the Islamic State, but to Iran and Russia.

Russia’s pledge to help Assad catches the U.S. flatfooted after Obama’s own pathetic attempts to combat ISIL in Syria have come to nothing. The haphazard air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria or in Iraq has had little impact on stopping the terror group’s territorial gains. And the embarrassing $500 million training program that led to a half-dozen pro-Western boots on the ground in Syria didn’t do much more to instill confidence in America’s abilities. In fact, the program has been suspended.

On the positive side, Obama in his remarks promoted the Islamic State from “JV team” to “apocalyptic cult.” Baby steps.

Fox News' Brit Hume surmised, “Obama’s speech at the UN [Monday] encapsulated perfectly notions that have long driven his foreign policy. He looks upon the behavior of America’s adversaries as not simply self-interested or even evil but mainly outdated, old-fashioned. … Obama warns America against ‘a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China or a resurgent Russia, a revolutionary Iran or Islam that is not compatible with peace.’ While those may sound like the very threats we face, Obama further warns against ‘the idea that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force.’ … Does it even occur to him that the problem is not ‘bellicose words’ but following them up by backing down?”

Putin clearly holds the upper hand right now. He has been resolute, bold and committed — all the qualities that Obama has lacked from the beginning. In the name of political expediency, Obama created a power vacuum in Iraq and Syria, allowing the Islamic State to grow and prosper. Now, Russia, which has alternated between being America’s strategic competitor to outright opponent, is stepping in to fill the void.

This is a dangerous situation that will only give Russia (and Iran) a stronger foothold in a region where Obama has steadily ceded U.S. influence and leadership. Regaining the respect of our allies and enemies alike will only get tougher as time goes by. The fact that Putin felt confident enough to call out America at the UN is a prime example of what lies ahead of the U.S. does not regain the mantle of leadership in world affairs.



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

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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

As a good academic, I first define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.

The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals

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

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

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!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research

The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

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


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

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Dagmar Schellenberger
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Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

Main academic menu
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basic home page
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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: