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

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

As President, Trump will be as transformative as Reagan; He has blown the political consensus out of the water

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31 October, 2017

Is it racist to own a gun?

The academic article below says it is.  To understand what is going on, you need to know what is meant by "symbolic racism".  Basically it means reasoned racism.  Below are the items of the most popular such scale.  Some items are pro-black and some are anti-black:

The Symbolic Racism 2000 Scale

1.   It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.       

2.  Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up.  Blacks should do the same.

3.  Some say that black leaders have been trying to push too fast.  Others feel that they haven’t pushed fast enough.  What do you think?  

4.  How much of the racial tension that exists in the United States today do you think blacks are responsible for creating?                      

5.  How much discrimination against blacks do you feel there is in the United States today, limiting their chances to get ahead?

6.  Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.

7.  Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.

8.  Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they deserve.


So a symbolic racist disapproves of perceived black characteristics.  But a  very prominent characteristic of blacks is their high rate of violent crime -- muggings, home invasions etc.  So a symbolic racist will also be sure to disapprove of black crime.  And if black crime is salient to you, it follows rather easily that you will be more likely to want to defend yourself from it.  And that is the whole of what the article below shows:  People who accept the reality of black crime are more likely to want to defend themselves from it.

But what are we to make of people who are critical of blacks?  Are they being unreasonable?  Leftists would say that they are.  But conservatives would say that Leftists are deliberately blind to black reality. 

The way in which many newspapers refuse to mention the race of a black perpetrator in a crime report certainly does display a policy of deliberate blindness. So a broader interpretation of the finding would be that realists own guns.

Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions

Kerry O’Brien et al.



Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). This study examined whether racism is also related to gun ownership and opposition to gun controls in US whites.


The most recent data from the American National Election Study, a large representative US sample, was used to test relationships between racism, gun ownership, and opposition to gun control in US whites. Explanatory variables known to be related to gun ownership and gun control opposition (i.e., age, gender, education, income, conservatism, anti-government sentiment, southern vs. other states, political identification) were entered in logistic regression models, along with measures of racism, and the stereotype of blacks as violent. Outcome variables included; having a gun in the home, opposition to bans on handguns in the home, support for permits to carry concealed handguns.


After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).


Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites. The findings help explain US whites’ paradoxical attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control. Such attitudes may adversely influence US gun control policy debates and decisions.



Illegal immigrant who paved way for Massachusetts’ ‘sanctuary’ policy arrested in stunning robbery

The illegal immigrant whose case turned Massachusetts into a “sanctuary” state is behind bars yet again.

Police say he committed a stunning daylight robbery by taking a wheelchair-bound woman, slapping her and stealing the $2,000 she had just carried out of the bank.

Sreynuon Lunn had been free on the streets of Boston because his home country won’t take him back, leaving immigration officers no choice but to release him under a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

His case gained headlines over the summer when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state and local authorities could no longer legally hold immigrants for pickup by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Now ICE is trying to decide whether to try again to pick up and deport Lunn, even as he faces local charges from the latest robbery.

“The first, obvious problem is that Lunn is here at all. He should be removed to either Cambodia or Thailand, but apparently neither country will take him,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants stricter immigration controls.

A 65-year-old wheelchair-bound woman told police that Lunn and a female companion wheeled her away from a bank where she had just withdrawn $2,000, then robbed her. After the woman told Lunn to stop, he responded with an expletive, slapped her in the face and fled, according to the police report. The woman’s son and others witnessed the assault.

Lunn told police that he robbed the woman because he was detoxing and needed money for drugs. He blamed his companion, identified as Tiffany Bovio, for the idea of the robbery.

Immigrant rights advocates said Lunn’s latest arrest amounts to a local crime report that doesn’t merit much attention.

“I’m not going to comment on the charges against Mr. Lunn except to say that under U.S. law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If he did actually commit a robbery, the criminal justice system will put him in prison after giving him his due process,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “However, one thing that is crystal-clear is that the arrest of Mr. Lunn has nothing to do with the Supreme Judicial Court case about his unlawful detention.”

The court ruled in July that Massachusetts law enforcement officers could not hold illegal immigrants just to give ICE agents a chance to pick them up for deportation.

“Massachusetts law provides no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from state custody,” the state high court ruled.

The justices said deportation is a civil proceeding, not a criminal matter, and while there are some cases in which police can detain someone without a criminal charge — drunks, deadbeat parents and “sexually dangerous persons” — that doesn’t apply to illegal immigrants or others eligible for deportation.

Lunn has been under a final order of deportation since 2008, but ICE has been unable to oust him. He was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp in Thailand, and Cambodia refuses to recognize him as a citizen.

ICE agents tried to deport Lunn again this year, taking custody after a previous robbery charge, but were again rebuffed by Cambodia and had to release him after more than three months.

Under the 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the government cannot detain migrants for immigration violations beyond six months, except in cases involving national security or severe mental health problems.

Thousands of people — many with serious convictions on their records — are released from ICE custody each year thanks to the Zadvydas ruling. In one notorious case, a man who served time for attempted murder was released onto the streets after Haiti refused to take him back, and months later he killed a young woman in Connecticut after a drug dispute with her boyfriend.

President Trump this month called for Congress to amend the law to change the Zadvydas ruling and said he wants to crack down on sanctuary cities.

Ms. Vaughan said both are needed.

“This case illustrates exactly why Congress needs to pass legislation that clarifies that state and local law enforcement agencies may and should honor ICE detainers and warrants,” she said. “We’ve seen enough examples of released criminal aliens who go on to harm more people. Enough already.”



Democrats Have Done a 180 on Corporate Taxes. Here’s What They Said Last Year

The president proposed cutting the corporate tax rate in his budget. He wrote that cutting the rate to 28 percent was necessary for “putting the United States in line with major competitor countries and encouraging greater investment here at home.”

Which president am I referring to? You’re probably assuming Donald Trump. Nope. Barack Obama.

As a lame duck sending his final budget to Congress for fiscal year 2016, Obama finally told the truth about how our economy suffers because the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

But now that Trump and the Republican Congress are about to actually act to cut the top federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, Democrats are suddenly railing against it.

The highest-ranking Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Tuesday that “[the] cut in the corporate rate would hardly help the everyday American worker. This is trickle-down. Our Republican colleagues don’t really talk about trickle-down, because they know most of America doesn’t believe in it.”

That was a whopper of a flip-flop. Just last year, Schumer said in a committee hearing on cutting corporate taxes: “I’m game to do it because I think it’s really important for American competitiveness.”

He also told CNBC that “it would be a permanent lower rate, not a holiday rate,” meaning not a one-time cut for the so-called repatriation of trillions in U.S. companies’ profits, which are sitting offshore to avoid getting whacked by U.S. taxes.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority leader, said at a press conference earlier this month that Republicans are “deceptively, misleadingly say[ing] to the American people” that “cutting the taxes of corporate America is going to produce such growth that it will eliminate that increase in the debt.”

Hold on a second. Pelosi put out a press release in 2016 that called for congressional action, saying, “It is long past time for tax reform that would lower the corporate rate.”

Nothing has changed in the last year, except that Pelosi realized this good policy would now be credited to Trump instead of Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. has a top federal tax rate of 35 percent, plus state and local taxes, which brings the total to about 39 percent. To put that in context, the global average among developed nations is just 22.5 percent.

Trump, a businessman, understands that when you tell businesses that they will get taxed a minimum 35 percent in America, those companies will just move overseas or keep their profits offshore, out of Uncle Sam’s reach.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


30 October, 2017

With all the evidence of rationing and cruelty, why is socialized medicine still being pushed by Democrats?

The newest reports coming out of the National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. are genuinely frightening. The latest plans from the NHS in Hertfordshire are considered to be the some of the more extreme measures introduced yet. The new rules will ration care to smokers and the obese. The NHS will mandate smokers quit smoking and take a breathalyzer test before getting treatment, and those considered obese will have to lose weight.

Many pushers of socialized medicine have said rationing doesn’t happen in civilized countries. Many love to say everyone gets great healthcare in countries with socialized medicine unless you’re overweight or happen to smoke.

But the fun doesn’t stop in the U.K. There are examples of failed socialized medicine across the globe the politicians would only open their eyes.

A recent survey of Canadian wait times was shocking. The survey found an average wait time of 20 weeks for medically necessary treatment. 20 weeks may seem like a lot, but if you live in New Brunswick province, you’re waiting for 38.8 weeks. 20 weeks is double the wait time it was in 1993.

Sweden was once a health care model for the world. But that is hardly the case anymore. The 2016 Euro Health Consumer Index painted a grim picture of the Bernie loving Swedish healthcare stating, “the notoriously poor Swedish accessibility situation seems very difficult to rectify, in spite of state government efforts to stimulate the decentralized county-operated healthcare system to shorten waiting lists by throwing money at the problem (“Queue-billions”). Sweden now has the highest healthcare spend per capita, (after the three super-wealthy countries, see Section 4.1) together with The Netherlands and Austria. “Throwing money at a problem” is obviously not an effective way of problem-solving…. Particularly cancer care waits, not least in the capital Stockholm, seem inhumane!”

Bernie Sanders is constantly praising Sweden’s model as a goal for the U.S. Perhaps the Democrat Senator from Vermont should take a trip there and do a little research.

Socialism has not only collapsed the healthcare system in Venezuela, it has also collapsed the economy and is well on its way to collapsing the country. The system is working so poorly in Venezuela that the leadership fires people that give bad news.

Health Minister Antonieta Caporale was fired after releasing data that showed a 76 percent increase in malaria, a 66 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths, and a 30 percent increase in infant mortality. Those don’t sound like the numbers of a successful healthcare system.

Cuba is another socialized nation that has earned praise from the left. If only they took a closer look. Cuban doctors are exported like products to foreign countries to serve as revenue raisers for the central government. Many Cuban doctors are now suing the Cuban government and host governments on the grounds of slavery. The doctors are treated like indentured servants and must do what the government tells them to do. What do you think will happen to medical school enrollment in the U.S. if this was how doctors were treated?

While patients are being denied care in national healthcare systems around the world, Sanders is driving the bus to lead the U.S. into oblivion. Sanders has introduced S. 1804, Medicare for All Act of 2017, a bill that would absolutely put the government in charge of your healthcare. It is further disturbing 16 Members of the Senate have cosponsored the bill. It is scary to think 35 percent of Democrats in the Senate are pushing for a failed system.

Why do socialized healthcare advocates continue to want systems that have clearly failed? This is not theory. Multiple month wait times in Europe, slavery in Cuba, and a total collapse in Venezuela are petri dishes to study. When you study them, socialized medicine doesn’t work.

With all the access Members of Congress have to news sources, healthcare data, and foreign government information you figure they would be able to see a pattern. Will you please quit trying to force the U.S. into a failed system and allow us to have a healthcare system based on the free market? You know, the same principles that lowered the prices and raised the quality of TVs, cars, and computers.

President Trump campaigned to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Speaker Paul Ryan promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now news reports out of the U.K. are giving Congress a real reason to worry about the rationing and cruelty of socialized medicine. Will somebody please repeal and replace Obamacare before it’s too late?



Most would call it extortion, but the Obama DOJ called them “donations”

By Printus LeBlanc

Another day, another Obama era scandal is revealed. Following the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007-2010, the calamity that almost brought down the economy, lawsuits were abound, including suits brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Obama administration lived by the motto “never let a crisis go to waste,” and used the mortgage crisis to benefit political allies at the expense of fraud victims.

Under the authority granted in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), the DOJ launched into dozens of lawsuits against banks and mortgage companies. The act was passed in response to the Savings and Loan scandal, and among other powers, granted the federal government the authority to bring civil claims with less rigorous requirements to establish liability in fraud claims.

It seems like a good idea at the time. If banks and mortgage companies misled their investors and customers, they should pay the price. That is until the Obama administration chose to corrupt the process.

The Obama administration began suing over 30 banks involved in the mortgage-backed security crisis. Many of the banks scrambled to reach settlements with the DOJ. One of the first to settle was JP Morgan in late 2013. JP Morgan settled for a then-record amount of $13 billion. Citigroup followed less than a year later, reaching a settlement totaling $7 billion. However, Bank of America gets the grand prize. Bank of America settled for a whopping $16.65 billion. In total, there would be over $110 billion paid out by banks.

If the money went to the victims, there would be no problem, but the money would find its way to political activist organizations that aligned themselves with the Democrat party.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) began investigating the disbarments of the payments by sending a letter in November of 2014 after noticing something strange in the settlement agreements of the banks.

Many of the settlements have a section that describes a minimum donation to HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. Other segments included minimum donations to housing-related organizations. The minimum payments were often over $10 million per section. In total, many settlements required over $40 million in “donations” to various groups. It gets worse.

The settlements also gave double credit for each dollar “donated,” while money to victims was a one for one exchange. That means after a bank paid the minimum, a $50 million donation would be treated as a $100 million towards the settlement amount. If you’re a bank which would you rather pay?

Earlier this week Rep. Goodlatte released documents from his investigation into the DOJ settlements. The documents are internal DOJ emails that show personnel within the DOJ discussing where to direct the “donations.” One email states, “Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights free legal services)”

How many legitimate victims were not helped because the Obama administration gave double credit for donations to third-party political activist organizations?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the practice of compensating third party groups in future DOJ settlements this past June. He wrote a memo stating, “Unfortunately, in recent years the Department of Justice has sometimes required or encouraged defendants to make these payments to third parties as a condition of settlement.” Sessions is to be celebrated for taking this step.

However, Congress must go further, and Rep. Goodlatte continues to lead the fight.

Goodlatte introduced H.R.732, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017, earlier this year. It passed the House with bipartisan support earlier this week on Tuesday, 24 October. It now waits where good legislation goes to die, the Senate.

Sessions and Goodlatte are to be commended for fighting this dubious practice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must now pass the legislation. Bring the bill up for a vote and force Senators to vote for political activist organizations over victims of fraud. If it is blocked, put it into must-pass legislation such as the budget or debt ceiling. The Senate needs a win, and this piece of legislation is an excellent place to start.



Spain clamors for a 'two-state solution' — in Israel but not in Catalonia

by Jeff Jacoby

IN AN Oct. 1 referendum, the people of Catalonia voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Spain, the nation that has occupied their homeland for generations. Madrid did everything it could to prevent Catalonia from legitimizing its quest for independence by ballot, including sending thousands of troops to block polling places. In the ensuing violence, voters were beaten with clubs, dragged by their hair, and shot with rubber bullets. Nearly 900 civilians were treated for injuries.

Since the election-day assault, the Spanish government has doubled down on its opposition to Catalan self-determination. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, is claiming the right to remove Catalonia's elected officials from office and assume direct control from Madrid. A senior cabinet minister warned Monday that Spain will use force, if necessary, to compel Catalonia to submit.

Why such hostility to the Catalan yearning for self-determination? The people of Catalonia are a distinctive population, with their own culture, language, and customs. Shouldn't their sovereignty be peacefully conferred, rather than brutally resisted?

In other words, shouldn't Spain accept a two-state solution?

After all, the Spanish government unhesitatingly proclaims support for Palestinian sovereignty. Spain's leaders, such as former foreign minister Trinidad Jimenez, insist that the key to Middle East peace "depends on the coexistence of two states." In 2014 Spanish lawmakers adopted a resolution recognizing Palestine as a state and urging the European Union to do the same.

How can Spain, so ready to endorse a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, aggressively oppose one for its conflict with Catalonia?

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


29 October, 2017

US growth storms ahead as hurricanes blow over

Boost for Trump after GDP beats expectations to hit 3%

President Trump’s ambition to expand the American economy at a rate not seen since the 1990s was boosted yesterday when third-quarter growth came in higher than expected.

Gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 3 per cent between July and September, the commerce department said, suggesting that hurricanes Harvey and Irma had had little impact on the economy. Analysts had expected growth of 2.5 per cent.

The strong showing by the world’s largest economy makes a December rise in interest rates even more likely. It could also help the Republicans to push through ambitious tax plans, with the White House claiming that strong growth will pay for $1.5 trillion of planned cuts to corporate and personal taxes.



Why the Left and Right Clash Over National Identity

In 2011, after 899 issues and 73 years of publication, Superman, the most famous American comic book character, announced that he was renouncing his American citizenship.

“I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship,” Superman announces. He then adds, in reference to his famous motto: “Truth, justice, and the American way—it’s not enough anymore.”

After a national uproar, the comic publisher announced that this theme would not be revisited in any future edition of the comic. But an important point was made. To the liberal publishers of Superman, the hero’s American identity just didn’t feel right.

Maybe that was what people wanted from 1938 to the late 20th century. But this national identity stuff has got to go. We should all be world citizens.

This example illustrates a primary difference between left and right: their respective views of nationalism and national identity.

The rejection of national identities began with the founder of leftism, Karl Marx. He ends his major work, “Das Kapital,” with the famous left-wing motto, “Proletariat of the world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Marx regarded national identities as backward and useless. In his view, the only identities that mattered were class identities—the working class and the ruling class. If a worker thought of himself first as a German or Englishman, rather than as a worker, communism would never be achieved.

The rejection of nationalism in Europe became mainstream after World War I. Many Europeans, especially among the intellectuals, concluded that the unprecedented loss of life caused by the Great War was a result, first and foremost, of nationalism.

They concluded that Europeans slaughtered each other for nothing more than a flag and a national identity. Therefore, the argument went, by abolishing nationalism, war could be abolished.

That is the belief that led to the creation of the European Union: The more Europeans identified with Europe rather than with a particular country, the less likely were the chances of war between European countries.

In the United States, however, a national American identity has always been a major part of what it means to be an American.

The three pillars of Americanism, constituting what I have called the “American Trinity,” are found on every American coin and banknote: “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “e pluribus unum.” The latter is Latin for “out of many, one.”

Because America has always been a nation of immigrants, it has no ethnic identity. Therefore, unlike almost all other nations, America could not depend on an ethnic identity to keep its people together.

In fact, if all Americans retained their ethnic identities, America would simply splinter. So a nonethnic American national identity had to be forged and preserved.

To this day, foreigners in the United States are struck by how patriotic Americans are in comparison to whatever country they come from.

They marvel, for example, at the fact that before almost every sporting event—from professional down to high school—the American national anthem is played and/or sung.

Conservatives wish to conserve all these manifestations of American patriotism and nationalism because they believe a sense of national unity is essential to the political and social health of the country.

On the other hand, the American left, like the left in Europe, is opposed to nationalism, and it generally finds patriotic expressions corny at best and dangerous at worst.

This is easily seen. Just visit conservative and liberal areas on July Fourth, America’s Independence Day. You will see American flags displayed throughout conservative areas and virtually none displayed in liberal areas such as Manhattan, or Santa Monica or Berkeley, California.

Left-wing opposition to American nationalism is exemplified by the left’s embrace of “multiculturalism”—the cultivation of all ethnic and racial identities except American. It has even reached the point wherein some American colleges no longer display the American flag.

In lieu of an American national identity, the left prefers an international identity. Thus, ideally, United Nations authority would supersede American authority, and the World Court would supersede American courts.

To conservatives, such ideas are anathema because, in addition to subverting American sovereignty, the United Nations has not done nearly the amount of good in the world that the United States has.

That’s why the liberals at DC Comics had Superman renounce his American citizenship (at the United Nations, no less). In their view, Superman is now even more super. In conservatives’ view, the renunciation is kryptonite.



Obama's DOJ Discriminated Against Conservative Groups

Obama directed billions of financial settlement funds to leftist organizations while blocking conservatives.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, several of the nation’s largest financial institutions made legal settlements with the Obama administration. Public records show that these settlement payouts totaled over $3 billion. The House Judiciary Committee, along with the House Financial Services Committee, as part of an investigation has obtained internal documents from the Justice Department showing that not only did the Obama administration steer settlement payments toward leftist groups, Obama hacks also sought to prevent any conservative groups from receiving any of the settlement funds.

This is eerily reminiscent of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups that came to light in 2013. In an email from July 2014, a senior Justice Department official explained how to draft a mandatory donation provision to prevent Citigroup Inc. from picking “a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF),” noting that the PLF “does conservative property-rights free legal services.” In the same email the Justice official then noted that the National Association of IOLTA Programs would be eligible for the funds because it provided “funds to legal aid organizations, to be used for foreclosure prevention assistance and community redevelopment assistance.”

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) called the documents a “smoking gun.” Goodlatte noted an email specifically identifying former Assistant Attorney General Tony West as the person responsible for directing the money to leftist organizations. “Can you explain to Tony the best way to allocate some money to an organization of our choosing?” asked a deputy of West’s in an email from 2013. Smoking gun indeed.

Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, stated, “The Justice Department emails released by Goodlatte show that only approved left-wing groups were eligible for the banks to make payouts to as part of their settlements, overtly excluding those deemed to be too conservative. What’s worse, is that the settlements often gave the banks double credit if they gave money to the left-wing groups rather than paying the government. Meaning, every $10 million to left-wing groups was counted the same as $20 million to the government.”

On Tuesday, the House voted on and passed the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017.



The Jobs and Wage Effects of a Corporate Rate Cut

Congressional tax writers will soon reveal their plans to reform the federal tax code. The most important thing that Congress and the Trump administration can do to boost economic growth, lift workers’ wages, create jobs, and make the U.S. economy more competitive globally, is reform the business-half of our tax system. And one of the most critical elements of that reform is cutting the corporate tax rate.

There has been a great deal of debate recently over how much a corporate rate cut can create jobs and boost wages and living standards. The Tax Foundation’s extensive economic research and tax modeling experience suggests that cutting the corporate tax rate to a globally competitive 20 percent would substantially lower the cost of capital which, in turn, would boost capital investment, leading to higher wages and more jobs.

Our research also shows that these economic benefits would be enhanced if lawmakers coupled a corporate rate cut with an allowance for full expensing of capital investments.

The GDP, Investment, and Jobs Effect of the Rate Cut

We used our Taxes and Growth (TAG) Macroeconomic Tax Model[1] to simulate the long-term economic effects of these policies separately and combined to give tax writers an idea of how the policies work together. The table below summarizes the long-term results of this exercise.

Here we can see that cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent would boost the long-term level of GDP by 3 percent and increase the capital stock by more than 8 percent. This has the effect of lifting wages by more than 2.5 percent and creating more than 587,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

The results are very similar for allowing corporations full expensing for their capital investments. In this example, long term is generally about ten years, once the policies have worked their way through the economy.[2]

Combining the two policies does not double the results because of their interactive effects. However, we can see that the two policies together would increase the level of GDP by 4.5 percent and the capital stock by nearly 13 percent. These economic forces act to lift wages by an average of 3.8 percent and create 861,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Some might question how a corporate rate cut could create that many jobs while the economy is inching toward full employment. The TAG model is actually estimating the increase in the total amount of hours worked in the economy as a result of the policy change. Thus, some of those full-time equivalent hours could be filled by new workers, while others would be filled by part-time workers moving to full-time, or some idle people coming back into the workforce.

It should also be noted that in performing these estimates, we have not factored in any increase in profit-shifting into the United States, either by U.S. firms repatriating foreign earnings or foreign-based firms increasing their investments into the U.S. We believe that a lower corporate tax rate would encourage such activity, but estimating those effects were outside the scope of this exercise.

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


27 October, 2017

Another nail in the coffin of statins: They raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly a third

This dangerous junk was idolized by many medical commentators.  Some wanted to put it in the water supply to dose up everyone on it.  Statins do seem to help people who ALREADY have heart disease but evidence for their use as a preventive is dubious.  A study of nearly 3,000 older adults found that giving them statins did not extend their lifespans nor did they get fewer  heart attacks.  Since old people are the high risk group, we have to ask if they do not benefit from statins, who would?

Taking statins increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly a third, researchers found. A decade-long study of more than 3,200 patients found those who took statins were 30 per cent more likely to develop the condition.

Some six million Britons take statins every day to reduce their cholesterol and ward off heart disease.

The pills are proven lifesavers, slashing the chance of a repeat attack, yet a scientific row over benefits and side effects has dragged on for years.

Experts have long known there was a link between statins and diabetes – but doctors have always stressed that the advantages of the pills far outweigh the small chance of getting diabetes.

Previous research had put the chance of developing type 2 diabetes at no more than 10 to 12 per cent greater than if someone did not take statins. The latest study, however, suggests the medication increases the risk by 30 per cent.

The researchers, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, think this may be because statins impair insulin production. In the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, they called for regular blood sugar tests of people taking statins.

‘Glucose status should be monitored and healthy lifestyle behaviours reinforced in high-risk patients who are prescribed statins for cardiovascular disease [prevention],’ they wrote.

The scientists tracked overweight people already considered at risk of diabetes for ten years. At the start, 4 per cent took statins, but by the end roughly a third were taking the pills.

No link was found between the potency of the statins used and diabetes risk.

The researchers stressed that the additional risk of developing diabetes should be balanced against ‘the consistent and highly significant’ reduction in risk of heart attacks, strokes and death. Last night experts said that although the relative risk of diabetes may seem high, in reality the absolute numbers of people it would affect would be small.



Trump congratulates China's President Xi on new powers, saying he could be called the 'king of China' - as he labels the reelected leader a 'good person'

This is excellent diplomacy on behalf of America.  It will  certainly go down well in China.  And good relationships with  China are of huge importance

President Trump touted his relationship with China's Xi Jinping and complemented the Chinese leader for his reelection and the fact that his name and dogma were now written into his party's constitution.

'It's really virtually never happened in China,' Trump told Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs in an interview that aired Wednesday night. 'Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president,' the president added.

Dobbs, in a friendly interview, had asked the president about his relationship with Xi, noting how the 'so-called intelligentsia of this country’s foreign policy establishment' had indicated to Trump that he was wasting his time trying to court the Chinese leader.

Trump brought up the fact that the two leaders had spoken on the phone just minutes before, something the president had tweeted about earlier.  'Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!' Trump tweeted after the call.

Speaking to Dobbs he continued heaping on praise. 

'He's a powerful man. I happen to think he's a very good person,' Trump said. 'Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so, you know, there's going to always be conflict.'

'But we have a very good relationship,' Trump continued. 'People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he's called president also.'

Trump's phone conversation with Xi came as the leader was formally handed a second term in power and both his name and his dogma were written into the party constitution – putting him on par with the nation's founder, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong.



Market-oriented policies have reduced poverty worldwide

Although hundreds of millions of people remain trapped in poverty around the globe, at no time in human history have as many people escaped extreme poverty as they have in recent years.

Forty-five years ago, the United Nations declared World Development Information Day to draw attention to development problems and the need for international cooperation to solve them. While problems and impediments to development remain, decentralized international cooperation and exchange have been eradicating poverty at unprecedented levels.

Poverty reduction in China alone is unprecedented in human history. According to the World Bank, in 1990, a mere generation ago, more than 90 percent of China’s people lived on less than $3.20 per day. Two-thirds of its people lived on less than $1.90 per day. The most recent figures are about 12 percent and two percent respectively. The total number of people living in extreme poverty declined by more than one billion, while the population grew by more than 200 million.

While China leads the world in poverty reduction, the story is similar elsewhere. In 1993 more than 80 percent of India’s population lived on less than $3.20 per day and 45 percent lived on less than $1.90. Those numbers have fallen to 60 percent and 21 percent in recent years.

Even countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty rates increased from the early 1990s through the early 2000s, have experienced improvements. The percentage of people living on less than $3.20 per day fell from 75 percent in 2002 to 62 percent recently. More extreme poverty has seen greater declines as the percentage living on less than $1.90 a day has declined from 53 percent to 20 percent.

For decades the United Nations, World Bank, and other governmental and international agencies have tried — with little success — to engineer development from the top down through aid programs. Some economists have criticized these efforts, maintaining that these programs often impede development by creating dependency, distorting market incentives, and entrenching corrupt dictators.

In contrast, decentralized market cooperation has promoted development. This is shown by the most recent update of the Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report (EFW), released last month. The index measures openness to decentralized market cooperation around the globe by looking at the size of government, protection of private property, soundness of money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulatory restrictions. Scores of academic studies have found that economic freedom is associated with economic development.

China, although far from a free-market ideal, has made some of the world’s greatest strides toward economic freedom. While China’s economic liberalization began under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, by 1990 it rated only 4.09 on the EFW’s 10-point scale. Since then, the score has improved 56.5 percent, the largest improvement in all of Asia.

Similarly, India began its economic reforms in 1991. Its economic freedom score has improved 38 percent since then. Even sub-Saharan Africa, with disasters like Zimbabwe, has improved its economic freedom by almost eight percent since 2000.

Liberalization alone is not the only factor contributing to poverty reduction. China’s measured liberalization understates its degree of market reform because it doesn’t account for the additional economic freedom in special enterprise zones. As the recent book China’s Great Migration has argued, the freedom of Chinese citizens to migrate to these enterprise zones has been a major contributor to the reduction in poverty in that country.

If citizens trapped in poverty around the globe had the freedom to migrate to more economically free and productive countries, much the way Chinese citizens can migrate from less-free to more-free areas within their country, even greater poverty reductions could be achieved.



Government No-Fire Zone Abuses Taxpayers

“Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers,” reported Louis Hansen of the San Jose Mercury News. “Little or no warning preceded the dismissals,” which came after performance reviews, as the company struggles to produce its Model 3 sedan, for which 450,000 customers are waiting. Overall, Tesla showed the door to as many as 700 employees. Taxpayers would be hard pressed to find similar action in government at any level, despite disastrous performance.

In 2015 the federal Environmental Protection Agency spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater in southern Colorado’s Animas River. EPA boss Gina McCarthy did not lose her job, and few if any EPA managers were fired over the massive spill. As we noted, for years the EPA kept on staff “policy advisor” John Beale, who performed no work for the agency and claimed to be working for the CIA. The EPA even paid Beale retention bonuses, but no EPA bosses lost their jobs over his fakery.

The federal Social Security Administration paid out more than $1.5 million to ex-Nazis, including death-camp guards and SS soldiers. At least 38 of 66 Nazi guards removed from the United States were allowed to keep their Social Security benefits and only 10 were prosecuted for war crimes in Europe. Reports have not emerged about Social Security bureaucrats losing their jobs for keeping the Nazis funded.

In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service handed out between $13.3 an $15.6 billion in improper payments. Even so, taxpayers will be hard pressed to find a report of any IRS employee or manager being fired for this massive waste and fraud. Indeed, the intrusive federal agency also gave $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary and tax compliance problems of their own.

If motorists don’t like cars produced by Tesla, they can buy a Ford, Toyota or Kia. Taxpayers, on the other hand, have no choice but to deal with the IRS, EPA, and the whole federal bureaucratic establishment. If President Trump is serious about “draining the swamp,” he needs to take a cue from Tesla and fire those who fail to perform for the people.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


26 October, 2017

Deconstructing the equality mania

The Left never cease their pursuit of "equality".  You see it most often in their racist devotion to quotas:  50% of all jobs should go to women; 13% of all jobs should go to blacks; 17% of all jobs should go to Hispanics etc.  They're not quite as rigid as that but "equal representation" or "proportionate representation" is a fiercely pursued aim.

And the current obsession with "white privilege" is another example of the same thing.  Whites are seen as being unequal in various ways and are supposed to be deeply ashamed of that.

Conservatives have of course always resisted such quotas, saying that jobs should be allocated on ability only, not on the colour of the applicant's skin.

But conservatives never seem to go back to basics and ask WHY equality should be pursued.  In most cases it never has existed and never will so why on earth should it be such a holy grail?  What is good about it?  No Leftist I have ever met has been able to answer that question. They just look dumb and say that it is OBVIOUSLY good.  But obvious to whom?  It is certainly not obvious to me. 

The best they can come up with is that pursuing the equality  goal causes people who might normally not have a chance at a particular job to get a chance at it.  It opens up opportunities. But conservatives have never been bothered by equal opportunity.  It's the only sort of equality that they will normally support.  But the opportunity concerned is only the opportunity for the person to show that he/she is capable of better things.  It does not imply that you should get some position REGARDLESS of whether or not you are capable of better things -- which is what quotas tend to do.

So as far as I can see, the breakneck pursuit of equality is simply envy.  If everybody is equal, no-one can be enviable. But that state will never arise so there must be more to it than that. 

And the deeper reason seems fairly clear to me.  The pursuit of equality is destructive. It puts incompetent people in responsible positions.  For instance, a black fireman who can't pass his fireman's exams but who is hired anyway because he is back may well be not very good at putting out fires and thus could allow a house to burn down that might otherwise have been saved.

Leftists always pretend to have noble motives but talk is cheap.  Look at what they do to see what they really intend.  And almost always there are adverse "unforeseen" consequences of any policy they get enacted.  The enormous mess made by Obamacare -- the "Affordable Care Act" -- is a good example.  Because of all the mandates and bureaucracy that form part of it, Obamacare has  caused both premiums and deductibles to soar -- thus making effective health insuranc UNaffordable to many.  Because of high deductibles alone many people who were previously insured are now effecively uninsured for most things.

And that Leftists are basically hostile people is being shown time and time again by the way in which those who depart from the politically correct line are hounded both in the colleges and in the workplace these days.  And when Leftists gain untrammelled power -- as we saw in Soviet Russia and Mao's China, we see how truly destructive they are.  So the pursuit of equality is just another tool in the Leftist's toolbox of destruction.

And it is easy to make an argument that INEQUALITY is a good thing. For a start, it is the natural state of affairs and is a symptom of a society in which superior abilities are called into use. Abilities are very unevenly distributed and putting the most able man into a particular job will often mean success at a particular enterprise when failure might otherwise have ensued. Not everyone can be a good manager, not everyone can be a good fitter and turner and not everyone can be a computer programmer. Finding the right man for the job is something of a holy grail to some enterprises.

And because it is rare, the demand for top talent will usually exceed supply. And that is when competition arises. To get rare talent for his enterprise, a boss will usually offer big money for the services of the talented one, an amount which will be very unequal compared to what less talented people get. So inequality emerges from different abilities and is a symptom of a society getting the best out of its people. Inequality is good.


Liberate government workers from forced union fees

by Jeff Jacoby

MARK JANUS IS a government employee. He works for the state of Illinois as a child-welfare specialist in the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. His job is to represent children caught in situations of domestic turmoil — a field he chose because children's well-being is important to him.

Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, is forced to pay fees to a labor union whether he supports it or not — an egregious violation of his First Amendment freedoms.

"But just because I care about kids doesn't mean I also want to support a government union," Janus wrote last year in the Chicago Tribune. "Unfortunately, I have no choice."

The employees in Janus's workplace are represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a labor union that, under state law in Illinois and elsewhere, has exclusive authority to engage in collective bargaining over wages, hours, and other terms of employment. Naturally, members of the union pay dues. But even non-members are compelled to pay union levies, known as "agency fees," to cover the benefits of being represented by the union.

Yet coercing workers to pay for representation they don't want isn't a benefit. It's extortion. And it's particularly galling when those extorted payments are used to fund political speech and public-policy activism that employees have no wish to underwrite.

Two years ago, Janus filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois law that forces him to pay fees to the union. The Supreme Court recently announced that it will take up the case this term. Janus v. AFSCME poses a straightforward question: Can public employees be forced to subsidize union speech or risk losing their jobs? If the court rules in Janus's favor, it will restore to government workers a right most Americans take for granted: the right to decide for themselves which causes and organizations they support.

It should never have come to this. Thomas Jefferson rightly declared long ago that "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical." Under the First Amendment, it should have been out of the question for government to force public employees to turn over part of their wages to a labor union they don't belong to — or, for that matter, to any other political, ideological, or special-interest organization. But in a 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that public-sector workers could be required to pay agency fees in the interest of "labor peace" — as long as their fees were used only for the actual costs of collective-bargaining and representing employees, and not for anything political.

That was a blunder. Unlike the private sector, where labor and management are both constrained by market forces, competition, and the need to remain profitable, unions in the public sector face no such limitations. The government agencies that AFSCME and other unions bargain with can't go out of business or relocate to another state. Their revenue depends not on customer loyalty and sales but on politicians' decisions about taxes, spending, and public policy.

Consequently, pretty much everything public-sector unions do is political. In Abood, the court tried to distinguish between core collective-bargaining functions, on which nonmembers' fees could be spent, and overt political advocacy, which could not be charged to unwilling workers. But that distinction is illusory, as Justice Lewis Powell — who rejected the majority's reasoning — pointed out at the time:

"The ultimate objective of a union in the public sector, like that of a political party, is to influence public decision-making," Powell wrote. "The union's objective is to obtain favorable decisions and to place persons in positions of power who will be receptive to the union's viewpoint. In these respects, the public-sector union is indistinguishable from the traditional political party."

If that wasn't clear in 1977, it soon became an inescapable fact of life.

For public-sector unions, politics became all-important. AFSCME, like the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and others, poured vast resources into honing their political clout. On its website, AFSCME boasts that candidates "all across the country, at every level of government" have learned to "pay attention to AFSCME's political muscle." The union is not shy about relying on politics to achieve its goals. "We elect our bosses, so we've got to elect politicians who support us and hold those politicians accountable," AFSCME proclaims. "Our jobs, wages, and working conditions are directly linked to politics."

Former AFSCME president Jerry Wurf put it in a nutshell: "We're political as hell," he told Time magazine.

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves," Thomas Jefferson rightly asserted, "is sinful and tyrannical."
And the agency fees forcibly extracted from Mark Janus — and from hundreds of thousands of other public-sector employees who have not joined the union — subsidize all that politics. That is an ongoing affront to the First Amendment.

It is long past time the Supreme Court repaired its 1977 mistake. Abood should be overturned, and the court should affirm that Powell was right: In the public sector, collective bargaining amounts to political advocacy. And under the Constitution, nobody can be compelled by government to subsidize political advocacy involuntarily.

If unions are to be tolerated in government workplaces, their support and funding must be wholly unforced. Government workers who choose to join and pay dues to AFSCME or some other union are free to exercise their First Amendment rights of speech and association. Equally free should be those who want nothing to do with the union. Free not to join, and free not to pay.



Down with the Czars!

Rep. Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Republican, has withdrawn his name for consideration as President Trump’s drug czar. By some accounts, Marino backed legislation that restricted enforcement of opioid laws. Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, who called for Marino’s withdrawal, said “we need a drug czar who has seen the devastating effects of the problem.” Actually, we don’t, and President Trump should consider whether we need a drug czar at all.

The federal government already deploys the Drug Enforcement Administration, with an annual budget of nearly $3 billion. So in effect, the DEA boss renders a drug czar redundant. Don’t forget the Food and Drug Administration, whose budget has ballooned to $5 billion. Plenty of drug czars in that massive bureaucracy, and in recent years czars have been surging all over the federal government.

President Obama appointed 45 czars, and as Judicial Watch noted, “Many of these ‘czars’ are unconfirmed by the Senate and are largely unaccountable to Congress. Further, their activities are often outside the reach of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), creating a veil of secrecy about their precise role in the administration.” As we noted, a day after Washington state allowed the sale of medical marijuana in the style of Colorado and California, drug czar Michael Botticelli sought to spend $25 billion in the war on drugs.

President George W. Bush deployed some 33 czars, including one for bird flu. Franklin Roosevelt appointed at least 11 czars, including one to deal with rubber. These actions imply that unelected appointees with the title of Russian kings can solve all problems. They can’t, but they do waste taxpayers’ money. President Trump, who wants to drain the swamp, should not appoint any drug czar and would be wise to eliminate all czars in government.

Meanwhile, a historical note. A century ago the Bolshevik Revolution was going on, but the Bolsheviks did not overthrow Czar Nicholas. He abdicated the throne and the Bolsheviks toppled the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky, the closest Russia ever came to liberal democracy.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


25 October, 2017

Herrnstein & Murray are still right  -- and very relevant to the healthcare debate

The poor die young.  That is the simplest summary of the latest study looking at the association between wealth and health.  Whenever it is examined, a correlation between social class and health seems to emerge.  The findings surveyed  by Hernstein and Murray are the best known evidence of that but Herrnstein & Murray wrote over two decades ago so it is interesting to see that nothing has changed. Herrnstein died about the time the book was released so was spared the torrent of abuse that was poured out on the scholarly head of Charles Murray when his findings became known.  He survived the onslsaught however and is still making waves.  The attack on him at Middlebury college got a lot of press recently.

There is however a certain vagueness about what you call social class and there are distinct differences between Britain and America in that regard.  And although its importance to social class is generally accepted, wealth is rarely examined in medical research. It is usually considered to be "too sensitive"  for questions about it to be included in surveys.  So the findings below are valuable in filling a gap. The article is titled: "Wealth-Associated Disparities in Death and Disability in the United States and England" and it appeared in JAMA, a leading medical journal.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, reaction the article gets.  It is unlikely that the authors will receive the abuse that was heaped on Charles Murray.  After the first decade or so of huffing and puffing, the Left seem to have bowed to reality.  Mention of class effects on health are these days normally addressed, if at all, as just another example of injustice.  What was once seen as a politically incorrect attack on the poor is now usually seen as an argument for helping the poor in various ways.  The Left ended up assimilating the effect into their "social justice" narrative.

And what cure do the Left advocate for this injustice?  Easy! Single payer health-insurance.  It was one of the arguments behind the agony of Obamacare.  And that makes the study below of exceptional interest -- because it compared American health results with results from a country that has had single-payer healthcare for a very long time: England.  So the poor should do much better in England?  Right?  Wrong!  The wealth effect was similar in both countries.  So this study is exceptionally relevant to one of the most important issues in American politics today.

Academic prose is normally too dense for non-academics to make much out of it but the place where you are most likely to find plain speaking is the set of "Conclusions" at the end of the article.  So let me reproduce in full the "Conclusions" of the present article:

"We found that lower wealth was associated with higher mortality and disability in older adults in both the United States and England. This relationship was apparent from age 54 years and continued into later life. This study found no evidence that providing state-sponsored health insurance from birth (England), or providing state-sponsored health insurance later in life (United States), eliminated wealth-associated health disparities. Our study suggests that policy makers interested in decreasing mortality and function disparities in older adults should take a broad view and consider interventions beyond providing access to health care."

So there was effectively no difference between America and England in health outcomes, including death.  The poor get sicker and die younger in both countries at roughly the same rate.  So the authors are in fact shooting down one of the important talking points of the Left. What they mean by "interventions beyond providing access to health care" is to make the poor richer.  They wisely don't go in to how you achieve that, though. So this is an article of unusual political importance. 

It also has important implications for medical research generally. Probably because of political correctness, epidemiological research in particular simply ignores social class.  If it is mentioned at all, the only index of it used is education.  But my research showed long ago that education misses a lot. You can have highly educated poor people (e.g. the iconic Ph.Ds doing burger flipping in McDonalds) to dropouts making billions (e.g. Bill Gates).  You really do need to examine wealth directly.

But medical researchers just don't do that most of the time. And that very often makes the significance of their findings moot.  If, for instance, you find that big drinkers of pop die young, a medical researcher would normally conclude that pop kills you. They are that stupid. If you happen to know that the poor drink more pop, however, you can say (and I have often said it) that the conclusion is nonsense. If wealth had been included in the analysis, you will probably find that the "effect" of pop on health was in fact the effect of wealth discrepancies.

So I suppose it is a lot to ask for but one hopes that future medical researchers might use the article below to make some mention of what their research was not able to examine.

The authors below do not venture into much consideration of WHY the poor die young but do mention various environmental stressors.  I would add however that genetic influences are at work too. IQ is a much neglected index of social class.  The rich are smarter. The old challenge, "if you are smart, how come you are not rich?, has much justice to it. We can probably all think of exceptions but higher IQ does help you to figure out ways of making money.

Wealth-Associated Disparities in Death and Disability in the United States and England

Lena K. Makaroun et al.


Importance:  Low income has been associated with poor health outcomes. Owing to retirement, wealth may be a better marker of financial resources among older adults.

Objective:  To determine the association of wealth with mortality and disability among older adults in the United States and England.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  The US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) are nationally representative cohorts of community-dwelling older adults. We examined 12?173 participants enrolled in HRS and 7599 enrolled in ELSA in 2002. Analyses were stratified by age (54-64 years vs 66-76 years) because many safety-net programs commence around age 65 years. Participants were followed until 2012 for mortality and disability.

Exposures:  Wealth quintile, based on total net worth in 2002.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Mortality and disability, defined as difficulty performing an activity of daily living.

Results:  A total of 6233 US respondents and 4325 English respondents aged 54 to 64 years (younger cohort) and 5940 US respondents and 3274 English respondents aged 66 to 76 years (older cohort) were analyzed for the mortality outcome. Slightly over half of respondents were women (HRS: 6570, 54%; ELSA: 3974, 52%). A higher proportion of respondents from HRS were nonwhite compared with ELSA in both the younger (14% vs 3%) and the older (13% vs 3%) age cohorts. We found increased risk of death and disability as wealth decreased.

In the United States, participants aged 54 to 64 years in the lowest wealth quintile (Q1) (?$39?000) had a 17% mortality risk and 48% disability risk over 10 years, whereas in the highest wealth quintile (Q5) (>$560?000) participants had a 5% mortality risk and 15% disability risk (mortality hazard ratio [HR], 3.3; 95% CI, 2.0-5.6; P?<?.001; disability subhazard ratio [sHR], 4.0; 95% CI, 2.9-5.6; P?<?.001).

In England, participants aged 54 to 64 years in Q1 (?Ł34,000) had a 16% mortality risk and 42% disability risk over 10 years, whereas Q5 participants (>Ł310,550) had a 4% mortality risk and 17% disability risk (mortality HR, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.7-7.0; P?<?.001; disability sHR, 3.0; 95% CI, 2.1-4.2; P?<?.001). In 66- to 76-year-old participants, the absolute risks of mortality and disability were higher, but risk gradients across wealth quintiles were similar. When adjusted for sex, age, race, income, and education, HR for mortality and sHR for disability were attenuated but remained statistically significant.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Low wealth was associated with death and disability in both the United States and England. This relationship was apparent from age 54 years and continued into later life. Access to health care may not attenuate wealth-associated disparities in older adults.



If FDA can't speed up drug testing, then give patients the right to try

Mikaela Knapp was in the prime of her life. After completing her studies at Stanford University and Berkeley College, Mikaela married her high school sweetheart, whom she had known since fifth grade. At age 25, she had her entire life before her. Then in an instant, it all changed. Mikaela was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and her world turned upside down. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. After a long and hard fought battle, Mikaela passed away in 2014.

What makes her tragedy particularly difficult to accept is that it’s entirely possible to imagine a scenario in which Mikaela would still be alive today. Had Mikaela been able to take advantage of potentially lifesaving treatment, perhaps she would have beaten the odds. Unfortunately for Mikaela and so many others, we’ll never know because prohibitive rules and regulations block terminally ill patients from accessing treatment.

The numbers tell the story. In the last 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only three new treatments for childhood cancers. It takes this long because any medical treatment must undergo rigorous testing to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. The FDA has eased some restrictions in recent years, but less than 3 percent of all cancer patients can enroll in clinical trials. What’s more, eligibility is tricky and tough to navigate. As the Goldwater Institute, a think tank supportive of easing the FDA’s requirements for new treatments, describes it, “patients must be just sick enough, but not too sick.”

To terminally ill patients and their grieving families, these policies are callous and devoid of the urgency needed when a life is on the line. We should not have to ask the government for permission to try to save our own lives. Terminally ill patients should have the right to try. After they’ve exhausted all available treatments, they should be able to work with their doctors and take part in clinical trials, without interference from government bureaucrats.

For some, this could mean accessing promising treatment already being used elsewhere. For instance, there are 22 breast cancer treatments awaiting FDA approval, some of which are currently saving lives in Europe. Knowing that there is a potentially lifesaving treatment outside the United States is what compelled the family of 10 year old Diego Morris of Arizona to travel to England to access Mifamurtide, a drug being administered to treat bone cancer which is not available in the United States. The treatment worked. Today, Diego is back in Arizona doing the things he loves.

Unfortunately, stories like Diego’s are the exception, but perhaps someday, they’ll be more common. Momentum for right to try laws is growing. In all, 37 states have enacted right to try laws and 12 more states have introduced legislation. In most cases, right to try has been approved by huge margins with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This is encouraging, but more is needed at the federal level so that the FDA cannot interfere with the implementation of state right to try laws. Even with the consent of their state government, many doctors and medical practitioners won’t administer experimental medical treatment to terminally ill patients because they rightfully fear that the FDA will come after them.

Federal right to try legislation has support in Congress, most notably from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), whose bill to prevent this bureaucratic injustice recently passed the chamber unanimously. There are also encouraging signs that President Trump would sign right to try legislation if it got to his desk, but until then, terminally ill patients have little choice but to wait.

Right to try opponents worry that it would circumvent the FDA’s approval process and make it difficult for the government to keep track of the effectiveness of experimental medical treatment. But these worries are misplaced. Federal right to try legislation would not keep data and critical information from the FDA, but instead work with the government agency’s safety and testing approval process.

Also, the risk of inaction is far greater. As Matthew Bellina, a Navy Veteran suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, eloquently puts it, “What is the downside of creating new pathways for the terminally ill to access promising treatments? Maybe the law won’t help millions of people, or even many, but for those that it does help, it’s a game changer.”

It’s a question that Mikaela Knapp’s family must ask every day.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


24 October, 2017

What has President Trump done that is good for America?

Answer by Ethan Young, a historian.  He does not like Trump personally but is impressed by how much he has accomplished or enabled already

I suppose I should preface this answer by saying that I was a “Never Trumper” Republican and didn’t vote for him. Now that that’s out of the way…

First, Trump has increased American oil and energy exports. This was already trending before he was elected, but now it’s really gaining steam. Only a decade ago, Americans were concerned about relying too much on the Saudis or other Middle Eastern nations for their energy supply. But today, the US is the third-largest oil producer in the world, it is less dependent on oil imports than at any point in the last 40 years, and it is stealing customers from Russia and Saudi Arabia even with prices as low as $50 per barrel. Even a few years ago, US shale producers would have found it hard to make a profit at that price, but they are succeeding at it now.

President Trump is using this as a powerful card in the game of geopolitics. For example, we have begun shipping liquid natural gas to Eastern Europe with the goal of undercutting Russia’s monopoly and influence there, and the Eastern Europeans are only too happy to diversify their energy portfolio. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable about relying on someone like Putin for my energy needs.

Second, President Trump is rolling back excessive regulations that hurt American businesses and hamper our economic growth. The Clean Power Plan is a good example of this, because it was government by the administrative state on a scale that has never been attempted before. The EPA took a dubious reading of a portion of the Clean Air Act (Section 111, which arguably prevented the EPA from taking this action rather than empowered it to do so) and used it to mandate that the states adopt far-reaching plans to reduce carbon emissions, under threat of the loss of federal highway funds. And the legal foundation of the Clean Power Plan was so rickety that the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of blocking its implementation pending all the lawsuits against it. This and other Obama-regulations were examples of gross overreach by the federal government and did more harm in the long run than good.

Third, President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, which was a toothless, un-enforceable exercise in virtue-signaling that would have made little impact on carbon emissions even if it had fully implemented.

Indeed, there is one genuinely strong argument for remaining a signatory to the Paris Accord on climate change, but it’s one that the accord’s advocates cannot make: The agreement simply doesn’t do anything. It was doomed before negotiators ever assembled for photographs in December 2015. They were not there to commit each country to meaningful greenhouse-gas reductions; rather, everyone submitted their voluntary pledges in advance, and all were accepted without scrutiny. Pledges did not have to mention emissions levels, nor were there penalties for falling short.

When the Paris Accord was first signed, then-Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that 186 nations in the world came together to submit a plan, all of them reducing their emissions.ť That was not true. In fact, most of the major developing countries, whose emissions will drive climate change this century, pledged only to continue with business as usual. China, for example, committed to begin reducing emissions by 2030, roughly when its economic development would have caused this to happen regardless. India made no emissions commitment, pledging only to make progress on efficiency at half the rate it had progressed in recent years. Pakistan outdid the rest, submitting a single page that offered to reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible.ť This is a definition of the word peak, not a commitment.

Since then, the farce proceeded as farces do. Secretary Kerry claimed the Accord would unleash clean-energy investment, but instead, global investment plummeted by 20 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The first quarter of 2017 saw another 17 percent decline versus 2016. The volunteer pledges have commanded precisely the respect they deserve. An April report by Transport Environment found only three European countries pursuing policies in line with their Paris commitments and one of those, Germany, has now seen two straight years of emissions increases. The Philippines has outright renounced its commitment. A study published by the American Geophysical Union warns that India’s planned coal-plant construction is incompatible with its own targets. All this behavior is socially acceptable amongst the climate crowd. Only Trump’s presumption that the agreement means something, and that countries should be forthright about their commitments, is beyond the pale.

Somewhat incredibly, Todd Stern, the Obama administration’s lead climate negotiator, took to the Washington Post to explain that the U.S. could even revise downward its own commitment to eliminate any potential burden. “I know,” he seemingly bragged, “because I helped negotiate that flexibility.” Compare this to his defense of the agreement when signed, in which he repeatedly used the word “ratchet” to describe a process where countries would only strengthen their commitments. But rather than see the cocktail hour interrupted, even that last vestige of substance was flung overboard.

So should the U.S. have stayed or gone? To quote another of President Obama’s secretaries of state: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” For the climate, not much of one. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s assessment of the agreement found that even full compliance would only have reduced global temperatures in 2100 by only 0.2 degrees Celsius. Instead, the debate devolved into the kind one otherwise hears about the UN Human Rights Council, a forum no one mistakes for a serious effort to advance human rights. If other countries are going to sit around discussing the climate, shouldn’t we at least attend? This is what some might call the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) defense.

Further, as Stern argued, “withdrawing from the Paris agreement would be a stain on the legacies of both the president and Secretary of State.ť Other countries would see withdrawal as a slap in the face.”ť But on which president’s legacy is Paris a stain? The Constitution requires the Senate to ratify treaties by a two-thirds supermajority in part to ensure that the United States speaks with a single, consistent voice on the international stage. It was President Obama who offered the world an unwise commitment for which he got nothing in return. It was Obama who refused to submit that commitment for Senate approval because he knew he did not have it.

Then there is the war against ISIS. When it comes to Trump’s boasts, many Americans—including myself—roll their eyes. But when it comes his boasting about ISIS, it’s hard for even his sternest detractors to gainsay him. ISIS was still largely undefeated and in control of much of the territory of Iraq and Syria when Trump was sworn in before a non-record setting crowd. But only nine months into his administration, the Islamic State’s hold on these countries has dwindled, and after the liberation this week of Raqqa, Syria—the capital of the Islamists’ supposed caliphate—it’s fair to say that the group is being routed after years in which it held its own against coalition forces. In January, ISIS controlled 23,300 square miles. Today it is holding on to about 9,300 square miles.

This has happened because Trump loosened the rules of engagement to allow commanders in the field more authority in day-to-day decisions about fighting the enemy. Under Obama, the White House micromanaged the conflict in a manner that calls to mind the way President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara fought the Vietnam War with similarly dismal results. Whether you like Trump or hate him doesn’t change the fact that ISIS fighters are surrendering in droves because of a change in strategy that Trump personally spearheaded.

In fact, if you prune away the rumors of cabinet shake-ups, “adult in the room” melodramas, tweets, fake-news accounts, and inter-cabinet spats, Trump’s foreign policy consists of the following:

A once-ascendant ISIS now shattered and in full retreat; a new honesty about NATO and its funding; an unsustainable Iran deal now on hold and sent to the Senate where as a treaty it belonged; honesty in describing the threat of both radical Islamic terrorism and Iranian hegemony; greater security on the southern border; a restored relationship with Israel and the Gulf States, and an improving one with Jordan and Egypt as well; a workable and constitutional immigration scrutiny of would-be entrants from war-torn Middle East countries; a growing deterrent stance toward Russia and China rather than the rhetoric of “reset” and the “Asian pivot”; an active and growing allied response to the North Korean threat; the beginnings of an all-out effort on missile defense (rather than the prior open-mic presidential promises of a “flexible” post-reelection efforts to curb it in Eastern Europe); a determination to rebuild the military (slowly, given the still far too large annual deficits); some recent incremental progress in Afghanistan due to new rules of engagement; the real red line that Assad cannot use WMD against civilians; a far more adult stance toward U.N. hypocrisies; improved autonomy abroad through increasing energy independence and trading in natural gas; an out from a Paris climate accord whose goals the U.S. meets anyway through free-market solutions; and the emerging outlines of a comprehensive doctrine of “principled realism” that restores deterrence.

The Trump presidency has also achieved a massive reduction in illegal immigration, arresting nearly 100,000 criminal illegal aliens and deporting over 52,000, a 30 percent increase over the same period last year. Illegal border crossings are down over 41 percent. The unemployment rate has ticked down to its lowest level in more than forty years, the stock market is surging, and the Senate just passed a critical piece of legislation that paves the way for tax reform that could potentially turbo-charge the U.S. economy if it’s done correctly.

For conservatives like myself, there are additional things to like about the Trump presidency. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and many other fine conservative judges to lower circuits is a definitely something to feel good about. Nikki Haley is kicking tail at the United Nations, and the Department of Veterans of Affairs has received a much-needed overhaul so it can take better care of those who’ve served our country.

More, Trump has taken a much-needed wrecking ball to political correctness, which has become twisted and weaponized far beyond the purpose for which it was originally intended, to the point where free speech itself is being stifled. Here’s an example: A lot of people think there are only two genders, boy and girl. Now, many other people think they're wrong, or that they should change that opinion. Some might argue that holding such a viewpoint is insensitive to the trans community. You could even argue that it flies in the face of modern social psychology. Fair enough.

But many people still think that there are two genders. And political correctness is the social force that holds them in contempt for that, or punishes them outright for saying so aloud.

Overturning political correctness is probably one of the most valuable and most-overlooked positive aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency, and even I can’t help but admit a certain admiration for his complete irreverence and disregard for its absurdity. In a “you can’t say that!” culture, where certain words and thoughts are no longer allowed, Trump says them, over and over—and then, when challenged, refuses to back down. In a society that has come to accept human frailty and accepts low horizons, Trump called for making the US “great again” and suggested that people can succeed like he has. And in a world where masculinity is now described as toxic, Trump relishes the opportunity to present himself as the tough guy. He simply does not care about political correctness, and more importantly, he’s shown that it’s okay not to care, that you can say what you think and not be afraid to say it. That is a powerful message, and a much-needed one.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


23 October, 2017

The neutrality of music

I pointed out some time ago that music was very important to the Nazis.  They had inspiring songs that kept the troops marching.  I even translated some of them.  But I want to make what I hope is the obvious point that music is independent of politics.  One could appreciate the Nazi songs without at all endorsing Nazi politics. 

I thought that some good evidence of how music can mean anything politically comes from an excellent American pro-military song of the '60s.  The song was widely appreciated so the tune was re-used in a German popular song that expressed anti-war sentiments.  The same tune was used for opposite purposes!

Below is the American song, sung by its author, Staff Sadler, a very manly man

Below is the German song sung by a popular German singer:

The German song is a little curious because Germany was at that time not involved in any wars. So it presumably refers to German troops in the French Foreign Legion -- operating in North Africa, which was giving France troubles at the time. The term "vogelfrei" (outlawed) in the third line supports the connection to the Foreign Legion and the terrain description fits North Africa. Rather ironically, the majority of troops in the French Foreign Legion are German-speaking, though a lot of Russians have joined in recent times.  Some Germans still relish war, obviously.  

Below are the words of the German song, with translation:

Hundert Mann und ein Befehl

Irgendwo im fremden Land
Ziehen sie durch Stein und Sand,
Fern von zu Haus und vogelfrei,
100 Mann, und er ist dabei.

100 Mann und ein Befehl
Und ein Weg, den keiner will.
Tagein tagaus, wer weiß wohin,
Verbranntes Land, und was ist der Sinn?

Ganz allein in dunkler Nacht
Hast du oft daran gedacht,
Dass weit von hier der Vollmond scheint,
Und weit von hier ein Mädchen weint.

Und die Welt ist doch so schön.
Könnt' ich dich noch einmal seh'n!
Nun trennt uns schon ein langes Jahr,
Weil ein Befehl unser Schicksal war.

Wahllos schlägt das Schicksal zu,
Heute er und morgen du.
Ich hör' von fern die Krähen schrei'n
Im Morgenrot, warum muss das sein?

Irgendwo im fremden Land
Ziehen sie durch Stein und Sand,
Fern von zu Haus und vogelfrei,
100 Mann, und er ist dabei.

In English

A hundred men under one command

Somewhere in a foreign land,
they wander through stone and sand,
far from home and outlawed,
100 men and he’s there as well

100 men and one command
and a path that no one wants,
day in, day out, to who knows where,
burned countryside and what’s the use?

All alone in the dark night,
you have often thought about it,
that far from here the full moon shines
and far from here a young girl weeps.

And the world is still so beautiful.
Could I only see you once more.
We have already been apart one long year
because a command was our fate.

At random fate slams us down.
Today him and tomorrow you.
I hear from afar the crows cawing
in the dawn, why must that be?


The IRS Stole $59,000 From an Innocent Veteran; Years Later, They Still Won't Return It

Oh Suk Kwon, an immigrant from South Korea who spent four decades serving in the U.S. military, had his life and business destroyed by the Internal Revenue Service in 2011—on nothing more than a hunch.

After getting out of the Army in 2007, Kwon and his wife purchased a gas station in Ellicott City, Maryland. Four years later, the IRS targeted Kwon's station as part of a now-discredited effort at catching money launderers making large cash deposits. The investigators seized more than $59,000 from Kwon, forcing him to shutter his business. His wife died soon after.

"But after the investigation ended, after the gas station went under, and Kwon's wife died amid the stress of it all, after he moved from his neighborhood in shame and the Internal Revenue Service changed its policy so no other small business would get steamrolled this way—the agency won't give Kwon his money back," writes columnist Petula Dvorak in The Washington Post.

What happened to Kwon is a tragedy. That the IRS won't now admit its mistake and return his money is a travesty.

Kwon was one of hundreds of individuals and businesses targeted by the IRS for nothing but a supposedly suspicious pattern of deposits. A Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report released in April detailed how the agency seized more than $17 million from innocent business owners as part of an effort at targeting so-called "structuring," in which criminals will make cash deposits of less than $10,000 in order to avoid detecting by federal banking regulators. Under the terms of a 1970 federal law, banks must report all deposits of more than $10,000.

But the IRS's anti-structuring investigations were seriously flawed. In more than 90 percent of the cases, the inspector general found, the seized money turned out to be completely legal. The report also found that investigators violated internal policies when conducting interviews, failed to notify individuals of their rights, and improperly bargained to resolve civil cases.

That seems to be what happened to Kwon. An IRS spokesman told Dvorak that Kwon pleaded guilty to a charge of structuring, even though the agency failed to produce any other criminal charges against him.

There is hope for Kwon. Other victims of the agency's anti-structuring investigations have been made whole, but only after years of legal battles. Last year, the IRS returned $29,500 they had stolen in 2012 from a Maryland dairy farmer. The farmer, Randy Sowers, was represented by the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm, in his challenge to the seizure.

"I couldn't believe...they would just come in and take my money with no prior notice," Sowers told a congressional committee in 2015 during a hearing on the "structuring" crackdown. "I thought the government was supposed to protect me. I didn't think they were supposed to come out and try to put me out of business."

The same thing happened to Carol Hinders, an Iowa woman who ran a small, cash-only Mexican restaurant. In 2013, two IRS agents showed up at Hinder's door and told her the agency was seizing $33,000 from her bank account for structuring violations. She was never accused of a crime. She later became the face of an investigative report by The New York Times that showed how the IRS was targeting innocent Americans and abusing its asset forfeiture powers. After that, she got her money back from the IRS.

"The government is seizing billions of dollars of cash and property from Americans often without charging them with a crime," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) at the 2015 congressional hearing where Sowers testified. Civil asset forfeiture, he said, "has proven a far greater affront to civil rights than it has a weapon against crime."

In response to public outrage over how the IRS was targeting businesses with anti-structuring investigations, the agency announced in 2014 that it would change how those investigations operated, focusing only on cases where there was actual evidence of criminal activity.

But that's little consolation to Kwon, who is still facing an uphill legal battle to get his money back. Dvorak reports that the IRS refused his most recent request in August.

"There was no good policy purpose for the prosecution. They did it for money, and they destroyed a good and honest man," Kwon's attorney tells Dvorak. "It is shameful."



Students love Trump's tax plan...when told it's Bernie's

President Donald Trump’s proposal for comprehensive tax reform was almost immediately dismissed as heartless and impractical by his political opponents.

But what would some of those opponents think if they were told the same plan was being proposed by someone they adore—Senator Bernie Sanders?

To find out, we headed to George Washington University to ask students their opinions on Trump’s new tax plan. WIthout much explanation, the students immediately made clear their distaste for the plan.

“It’s not the most efficient, nor beneficial to the general populace,” said one student when asked her opinion of Trump’s plan.

“It’s better for the upper class than anyone else,” added another.

After watching student after student express their disapproval of the plan, we then asked those same students what they thought of Senator Bernie Sanders’ new tax plan.

Immediately, they expressed excitement and support after hearing the details of the plan.

The only problem for them? There was no tax plan for Senator Sanders. The plan they loved was actually President Trump’s.



Is Liberalism a Dying Faith?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Asked to name the defining attributes of the America we wish to become, many liberals would answer that we must realize our manifest destiny since 1776, by becoming more equal, more diverse and more democratic — and the model for mankind’s future.

Equality, diversity, democracy — this is the holy trinity of the post-Christian secular state at whose altars Liberal Man worships.

But the congregation worshiping these gods is shrinking. And even Europe seems to be rejecting what America has on offer.

In a retreat from diversity, Catalonia just voted to separate from Spain. The Basque and Galician peoples of Spain are following the Catalan secession crisis with great interest.

The right-wing People’s Party and far-right Freedom Party just swept 60 percent of Austria’s vote, delivering the nation to 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, whose anti-immigrant platform was plagiarized from the Freedom Party. Summarized it is: Austria for the Austrians!

Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, and Veneto will vote Sunday for greater autonomy from Rome.

South Tyrol (Alto Adige), severed from Austria and ceded to Italy at Versailles, written off by Hitler to appease Mussolini after his Anschluss, is astir anew with secessionism. Even the Sicilians are talking of separation.

By Sunday, the Czech Republic may have a new leader, billionaire Andrej Babis. Writes The Washington Post, Babis “makes a sport of attacking the European Union and says NATO’s mission is outdated.”

Platform Promise: Keep the Muslim masses out of the motherland.

To ethnonationalists, their countrymen are not equal to all others, but superior in rights. Many may nod at Thomas Jefferson’s line that “All men are created equal,” but they no more practice that in their own nations than did Jefferson in his.

On Oct. 7, scores of thousands of Poles lined up along the country’s entire 2,000-mile border — to pray the rosary.

It was the centennial of the Virgin Mary’s last apparition at Fatima in Portugal in 1917, and the day in 1571 the Holy League sank the Muslim fleet at Lepanto to save Europe. G. K. Chesterton’s poem, “Lepanto,” was once required reading in Catholic schools.

Each of these traditionalist-nationalist movements is unique, but all have a common cause. In the hearts of Europe’s indigenous peoples is embedded an ancient fear: loss of the homeland to Islamic invaders.

Europe is rejecting, resisting, recoiling from “diversity,” the multiracial, multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual future that, say U.S. elites, is America’s preordained mission to bring about for all mankind.

Indeed, increasingly, the indigenous peoples of Europe seem to view as the death of their nations and continent, what U.S. liberal elites see as the Brave New World to come.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


22 October, 2017

New Zealand gets its own Donald Trump

New Zealand has an odd electoral system which tends to help  minor parties to get seats in parliament in addition to the two main parties. Which often means that no one party has a majority of seats.  So it is usually necessary for two or more parties to enter into an agreement to govern together.

After the recent inconclusive election, the support of a small populist party -- chiefly supported by Maori and the elderly --  was crucial to forming a new coalition government.  The populist leader, Winston Peters, has policies very similar to Trump and is determined to implement them. He is however entering into an unlikely coalition with the Leftists and the Greens. His coalition partners wildly disagree with him, however. But they can't do without him. 

Peters.  He is half Maori

So it should be interesting from now on.  We may see Trump-like policies being enacted with the support of Leftists and Greens! He should at least be a restraining influence on Green/Left idiocy.  Some details below


SHE’S enjoyed the kind of stardust-scattered rise most politicians only dream of.

Four weeks ago, Jacinda Ardern was at home painting the fence in her trackpants, trying to work off the “nervous energy” of waiting for an election result.

On Thursday, the 37-year-old was crowned Prime Minister-elect following a month of negotiations to form a coalition government with the Greens and New Zealand First.

Like Emmanuel Macron, 39, in France and Justin Trudeau, 45, in Canada, Ardern has ridden a wave of euphoria over her likability, relaxed style and fresh approach to politics.

She shut down radio hosts who asked about her baby plans, took selfies with school kids and even admitted she had been handed a “hospital pass” to the leadership. In seven weeks she reversed Labour’s slide to gain 37 per cent of the national vote, leaving her competing with National’s Bill English on 44 per cent, for the attentions of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to form a coalition government.

The deal struck will offer Peters the role of Deputy Prime Minister and four cabinet posts. However it could also include major policy concessions and become an Achilles’ heel given Peters’ experience as a kingmaker and the party motto of “refusing to accept defeat in any cause we believe in”.

Act Party leader David Seymour said it leaves a “weak Left coalition beholden to a madman on the loose.”

The man whose party scored just 0.5 per cent of the vote said the “perverse marriage” that Labour and the Greens had created threatens millenials, immigrants and businesses.

“The silver lining for the centre right is that the three-ringed circus is likely to fall apart — perhaps even before its three years are up,” he said.

“The Greens and New Zealand First despise each other, and Winston Peters has caused chaos in every government he’s joined. New Zealanders may face an election sooner than they think.”

United Future MP Peter Dunne echoed that sentiment to Green Party leader James Shaw, saying he was now in charge of keeping an “unruly new partner” in line.

Peters said he decided to pair with Labour and the Greens because they offered the best way to mitigate what New Zealand is expected to face in the years ahead.

“It’s time for capitalism to regain its human face,” he said. “Our perception was the people of this country did want change and we’ve responded to that.”

But the political marriage could prove an uneasy alliance for the parties that have starkly different platforms on immigration and business.

Peters wants a ban on foreign ownership of residential and farm land, net migration slashed to 10,000 per year and to create a low tax environment.

In contrast, Labour campaigned on New Zealand being a country “built on immigration” and wants to increase the refugee quota to 1500. It also wants to crack down on foreign property speculators and has planned to build 100,000 new homes across the country.

What's more, at 72 Peters thinks it’s “now or never” to leave a mark on New Zealand after nearly 40 years in politics. “Frankly, of late, I’ve been asking myself that question because we’re coming to an election and I kind of think it’s now or never,” he said in August.

“If we don’t turn it around, and you’ve all got your different views, but if you were remotely neutral and you examined New Zealand — where it once was as a country in the Western world to where it is now ... you’d have to admit we’ve done very badly.”

While supporters celebrate smashing a decade of right-wing rule, if Ardern wants to avoid the popularity slumps seen by Trudeau and Macron since they took office, her greatest political challenge yet may come from within.



The Trump Nominee Poised to Be Point Man on Draining Government Swamp

President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the federal government’s bureaucracy could be a key player in reforming it, and in keeping the president’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.”

“We don’t see any major draining of the swamp with the massive bureaucracy,” Robert Moffit says.

Trump last month nominated Jeff Tien Han Pon, 47, to be director of the Office of Personnel Management, the government’s human resources agency. Pon served in the administrations of both President Bushes—with jobs in the White House, OPM, and Energy Department—and held information technology and human resources positions in several private companies.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing Wednesday on Pon’s nomination.

Pon is largely unknown to those who seek reform of the civil service, said Robert Moffit, a former OPM assistant director under President Ronald Reagan who is now a senior fellow for health studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“The OPM director has enormous authority and can help the president staff the administration, and would be welcome at a time when we don’t see any major draining of the swamp with the massive bureaucracy,” Moffit told The Daily Signal. “Every day, career bureaucrats are issuing decisions on guidelines and making interpretations of regulations. We need management there to take the bull by the horns.”

Trump’s previous nominee, George Nesterczuk, withdrew in August after relentless opposition from federal employee unions.

However, Pon seems less controversial and gained the backing of the Senior Executives Association, a nonprofit that advocates for top federal government officials. In a letter to the Senate, SEA President Bill Valdez wrote:

While serving at the Department of Energy, I had the privilege of working with Jeff on a project he initiated to improve human capital processes at DOE. The thought leadership he brought to that project is indicative of the skills and experience he will bring to his new role at OPM. Jeff’s expertise in human capital management has only grown since I worked with him in government, as evidenced by senior roles with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Futures Inc., and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Pon also doesn’t face outright union opposition.

“While it is early in the nomination process and we reserve final opinion, we appreciate the consideration to name a nominee with a diverse and rich professional history in federal human capital,” Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said in a statement early last month to the publication Government Executive. “We look forward to learning more about Mr. Pon and we hope that he, if confirmed, will view employee organizations as valuable and significant partners.”

Trump is nine months into his administration without an OPM director, the official charged with managing the federal workforce. Moffit and other conservatives have criticized the president for not filling key political positions, which they contend is how he can control career federal employees who have civil service protections.

However, Trump recently told Forbes: “I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be—because you don’t need them. I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people.”

Trump’s vanquished Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, recently urged federal employees to stay, asserting: “I don’t want to lose decades—really, if you added it all up, the thousands of years—of experience in the EPA, in the State Department, in the Labor Department. … If [Democrats] can take back one or both houses of Congress in 2018, you will have people you can talk to again.”

Pon has been the chief human resources and strategy officer for the nonprofit professional membership organization Society for Human Resource Management, where he has worked since February 2012.

For about 18 months before that, he was chief operating officer for Futures Inc., which helps members of the military transition into the civilian workforce.

At barely 21, Pon worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1992. He returned to Washington to work for President George W. Bush as deputy director for e-government at the OPM from June 2003 to December 2005. He left to work as chief human capital officer at the Energy Department from January 2006 through August 2008.

In between the two Bush presidencies, Pon worked in information technology and human resource jobs at Federal Express, Williams Sonoma, PetCo, and Burger King. He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern California.



More Cases of Voter Fraud Pile Up as Liberals Look the Other Way

The Heritage Foundation added another round of cases this week to its ever-growing Voter Fraud Database.

Accounting for these new additions, the database now documents 1,088 proven instances of election fraud, including 949 cases that have resulted in criminal convictions, 48 that have ended in civil penalties, and 75 that have seen defendants enter diversion programs.

Americans should be alarmed, not only because Heritage has compiled so many examples of fraud—impacting nearly every state and elections for all levels of government—but because this figure is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

The Heritage database is not a comprehensive tally of election fraud. That figure would almost certainly be substantially larger.

Most states, after all, lack the robust procedures needed to detect fraud when it occurs. Even when fraud is detected, prosecutors often opt not to pursue cases because their priorities lie elsewhere.

Put simply, American elections are vulnerable and fraudsters know it. Not content to leave their ideological causes or their own careers up to the unpredictable will of voters, many fraudsters choose to act on this knowledge.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


20 October, 2017

Another mess that Obama left for Trump to clean up

Bill Nutter was very sick. Not only had he just lost his second leg to diabetes, but he also suffered from a condition that could cause his heart to stop beating without warning.

But his daughter, Brigitte Darton, felt reassured because her mother had found a bed for the ailing Vietnam veteran and retired police detective at the Bedford VA Medical Center. He would be under the watchful eyes of the staff at a hospital ranked by the Veterans Administration as one of its best nationwide.

So Darton went on a long-planned family vacation in July 2016, only to get a shocking call from her mother the next day. “Your father passed away,” Carol Nutter said. “He didn’t wake up.”

A doctor eventually told Carol Nutter that a staff member on the night shift had failed to check on him hourly, as she should have.

But that was not the full story: The aide, Patricia Waible, eventually admitted that she was playing video games on her computer and didn’t check on Nutter at all, according to someone with firsthand knowledge. And when a nurse discovered Nutter dead the next morning, the hospital’s internal report shows she announced it to her boss with a crude gesture signifying a slit throat.

Now, the VA inspector general has launched a criminal investigation, working with the US attorney’s office and the FBI to identify systemic failings that may have led to Nutter’s death.

And after the Globe contacted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s office about the case on Sept. 22, the agency suspended Waible with pay from her job in the cafeteria where she had been transferred after Nutter’s death. The secretary’s office plans to seek her permanent removal.

But Brigitte Darton can’t understand why it took the hospital so long to take action — and why she discovered what happened to her father from a journalist.

“I hold the VA responsible for all of this. They’re responsible for their employees,” said Darton. “How many other people did this lady cause issues with?”

Waible has not returned multiple text messages and phone calls from the Globe.

The revelations about Bill Nutter’s poor care threaten to open a Pandora’s box of problems for the Bedford VA Medical Center. Although the hospital has received the highest possible five-star rating from the VA, the Globe reported last month that several employees have come forward to raise serious patient-safety concerns.

Whistle-blowers and families of veterans have claimed that relatively healthy patients deteriorate within months after being admitted to the Bedford VA. Others say that veterans living in long-term care buildings on the campus sometimes go without food for many hours, or they’re left in soiled clothes or bed linens. And buildings are laced with asbestos, a Bedford electrician charges, exposing everyone to the cancer-causing material.

In written responses to some of the whistle-blowers’ complaints and other outside reviews, the Bedford VA leaders acknowledged some of the problems but said they are working to improve conditions, where improvement is warranted. Bedford VA spokeswoman Maureen Heard declined to comment on Nutter’s care.

Shulkin has already demonstrated that he’s willing to take tough action if he believes veterans are not getting high quality care. Within 24 hours of a Spotlight report this summer detailing serious problems at the Manchester, N.H., veterans hospital, Shulkin dismissed the top two administrators.

“Secretary Shulkin has made clear that VA will hold employees accountable when the facts demonstrate that they have failed to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us,” said a statement from Shulkin’s spokesman, Curtis Cashour, in late September, citing Waible’s suspension as proof.

In Vietnam, Nutter was a door gunner, shooting at the enemy from the open door of a helicopter. On the ground, Agent Orange, a highly toxic herbicide used to strip foliage from the trees to make it harder for the enemy to hide, poured down like rain, his wife said, and he and his fellow soldiers would seek protection under a tarp. Even then, they feared the chemical was dangerous.

When he returned to the United States in 1969 he was greeted by jeers from anti-war protesters and was so traumatized he would sleep with his arm poised as if he were holding a gun. “He’d literally shake and I’d hold him.” said his wife. “During his last year, he started getting the flashbacks back.”

He channeled his anguish into hard work and enrolled at Northeastern, where he received a degree in criminology and made the dean’s list. He worked as a detective and photographer at the Concord Police Department and started an investigation business on the side.

But after 20 years, the effects of his Agent Orange poisoning surfaced and his health began to deteriorate. He got diabetes, a condition the VA presumes was caused by his exposure to the herbicide. The diabetes, in turn, badly damaged Nutter’s kidneys and forced the amputation of one leg years ago and the second leg in 2016 at the West Roxbury VA. He also suffered severe respiratory problems, which his doctors also attributed to Agent Orange.

But when he was finally stabilized and sent to the Bedford VA in early June, his family thought he had turned a corner.

“He seemed fine, healthy,” said Brigitte Darton. He was just getting out of Lowell General Hospital after fighting off a severe case of pneumonia and his family thought the Bedford VA was the best place for him, in part because Darton was a civilian working with the Air Force and had just returned from a tour of Afghanistan.

“I was hoping the VA would give him the care that non-VA facilities didn’t,” said Darton, who was working nearby at the Hanscom Air Force base and could visit him daily for lunch. “My dad and I were very close.”

But Bill Nutter, 68, was a very vulnerable patient, in danger of cardiac arrest at any given moment due to an arrhythmia. He couldn’t get out of bed on his own, and his hands were so crippled with neuropathy as a result of his diabetes that it was almost impossible for him to press the call button if he was in trouble. Plus, his wife said, his voice was barely a whisper after the surgery, and his roommate was deaf. Even if he could have tried to summon help, no one would have heard him, she said.

His doctors agreed that someone should check on him at least once an hour.

A nurse beginning her morning shift on July 3, 2016, found Bill Nutter unresponsive in his bed, according to the hospital’s report. When she saw her supervisor, she slid her fingers across her throat, indicating he was dead, according to internal hospital reports. “Mr. N9041 is gone,” the nurse explained, using Nutter’s VA patient number.

Carol Nutter recalled that someone from the hospital called that day to tell her that her husband had died, giving her the impression that his heart stopped between one scheduled check and the next, and that his death could not have been prevented.

”They said he went into cardiac arrest and [they] couldn’t do anything about it,” recalled Carol Nutter.

However, a few days later, a doctor called and gave her a better idea of what had actually happened, though he wasn’t specific. Nutter said the doctor was repeating what a woman in the background was telling him.

The woman said “they weren’t doing their job, and if they had done what I told them to, he could have possibly been alive because I told them to check on him once or twice an hour,” Nutter quoted her as saying.

The official medical records described the conversation this way: “Condolences were offered to wife and she was informed that we were calling because we did not believe care was up to our standards.”

Carol Nutter said she heard the words, but didn’t fully grasp what she was being told. Though the report said she was informed of her right to file a “tort claim,” or a potential lawsuit, she insisted she was never given that information.

Bedford VA officials immediately reassigned Waible, who had failed to check on Nutter, while the nurse who made the “cut-throat” sign, still in her probationary period, was terminated. The Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation.

At first, Waible insisted she had made the required checks on Nutter, even initialing paperwork that purported to document her visits. But she eventually confessed when an OIG investigator told her the hospital’s cameras showed she never left her computer for her entire shift, according to someone with direct knowledge. None of these facts were shared with the Nutters, family members said.

Now, Nutter’s family has consulted a lawyer and is trying to figure out whether to take legal action against the VA, after all.



Dreamers, or the American Dream Killers?

Illegal immigration is an increasing tax burden on Americans, while at the same time undercutting their wages

As Congress considers legislation regarding DACA and the so-called “Dreamers,” it’s worth noting the effect immigration — illegal immigration in particular — has on the American Dream.

Recently the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) released its latest study on the financial cost of illegal immigration on American taxpayers. While the mainstream media often touts illegal immigration as being a boon for the economy, the actual burden of the growing illegal population on Americans is conveniently ignored. FAIR’s study calculates that illegal immigrants are costing taxpayers $116 billion annually even after the economic tax revenues associated with illegal alien labor have been factored in.

These expenses are borne out in three primary areas: Medical care, public education and law enforcement. Another factor often ignored is that state and local governments bear the brunt of these expenses. An estimated $88.9 billion falls on state and local government, while the federal government bears $45.8 billion annually. Once again, the legislators in Washington are insulated from the consequences of their own policies.

Another example of illegal immigrants’ impact on American workers is via the federal government’s immigrant worker permit programs. In fiscal year 2017, the fed doled out nearly two million permits, with approximately 1.5 million going to illegals. Matthew J. O'Brien, research director at FAIR, stated, “This [H-1B worker permit program] creates an incentive for people to accept lower wages in exchange for being in the United States and having a shot at an employment-based green card.” So, both American workers and immigrants are being taken advantage of by these programs, as wages have effectively been driven down. So much for the American Dream, right?

Thus, an increasingly heavy tax burden is being foisted onto the American worker as a result of a growing illegal population while at the same time Americans’ wages are being undercut by the fed granting a massive number of work permits to illegals. Is it any wonder why Americans are so frustrated with their government?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


19 October, 2017

New Report: GOP Tax Reform Could Boost Household Income by $4,000

A study released Monday by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers found that congressional Republicans’ tax reform framework would produce thousands of dollars in income growth for American households. 

“Reducing the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 [percent] to 20 percent would … increase average household income in the United States by, very conservatively, $4,000 annually,” says the report from the advisory agency within the Executive Office of the President.

Income increases could reach as much as $9,000, according to the report. 

Using 2016 household income as the baseline, these effects translate into an increase in average household income from $83,143 in 2016 to between $87,520 and $92,222, an increase of $4,000 to $9,000 in wage and salary income alone.

According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, the U.S. “has the fourth-highest statutory corporate income tax rate in the world.” The foundation’s September report continues:

“The U.S. rate of 38.91 percent (comprised of the federal statutory rate of 35 percent plus an average of the corporate income taxes levied by individual states) ranks only behind the United Arab Emirates (55 percent), Comoros (50 percent), and Puerto Rico (39 percent).”

“The main reason that wages increase is that the lower tax rate reduces the total cost of a firm that’s investing in a capital asset, like a machine, here in the U.S., and more assets like machines let workers produce more,” Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in comments released Monday. “And when workers can produce more, businesses can afford to pay their workers more.”

The GOP tax framework presented Sept. 27 by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other GOP leaders seeks to significantly simplify the tax code.

It calls for roughly doubling taxpayers’ standard deduction (an individual’s first $12,000 of income would become tax-free, as would the first $24,000 for married couples) and for condensing the current seven tax brackets to three.

Depending on their income, individual taxpayers currently are taxed at one of these percentages: 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, 35, or 39.6 percent. The three brackets in the Republicans’ proposed framework are 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.

The GOP tax reform framework slashes the current corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

“The  increases recur each year, and the estimated total value of corporate tax reform for the average U.S. household is therefore substantially higher than $4,000,” the report says. “Moreover, the broad range of results in the literature suggest that over a decade, this effect could be much larger.” 

Researchers at Boston University found the tax reform framework increases the gross domestic product.

In a report Monday from Boston University scholars Seth G. Benzell, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, and Guillermo Lagarda, “Simulating The Republican ‘Unified Framework’ Tax Plan,” the scholars found the GOP plan would raise the gross domestic product by between 3 percent and 5 percent.

The researchers also found that real wages, the value of wages adjusted for inflation, are expected to rise by between 4 percent and 7 percent. “The Boston University analysis shows that the GOP’s Unified Framework will raise wages by [4 percent to 7 percent], translating into a $3,500 wage increase for an average American household,” says Adam Michel, a tax-policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.



DeSantis: Trump Tax Plan Provides 'Immediate Relief' for Families

The rate reductions that are part of President Donald Trump's tax code plan, combined with the call to simplify the tax process, will provide "immediate relief" for American families, Rep. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

"The simplicity of the tax code going from 75,000 pages down to a simple system will also give families more time and resources to spend on other things other than tax prep," the Florida Republican told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" program. "By incentivizing companies to locate and stay here, bring profits from overseas back here, I think there will be more employment opportunities for the American people."

DeSantis said he thinks that some of the senators who caused problems with healthcare will also have their own views on tax reform.

"Some of them have opposed tax relief in the past and just really aren't engaged in wanting to cut taxes," DeSantis said. "I think the case needs to be made to them that we're really laying a foundation for sustained growth far into the future. It will have immediate benefits for families."



ObamaCare Is Still Obama's

While Trump made some welcome changes to the law, its failure still belongs with one party: Democrats.

It’s been said that since ObamaCare became law, the U.S. government is now a health insurance company that fields a military. Sadly, that’s not far off the mark and is an affront to those who understand the Constitution and personal liberty.

Pitifully, a growing population turns first to the government to solve their problems, such as health insurance coverage, despite the enumerated powers laid out by the Law of the Land. Now we have a very large sector of America’s economy that is manipulated by government rules, regulation and control that standardizes inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, not to mention inflates costs.

The good news is President Donald Trump acted last week to halt illegal subsidies paid from the U.S. Treasury to insurance companies to cover their losses and, ostensibly, to keep premiums lower. Naturally, the #VeryFakeNews media has been in hyper drive to frame the narrative of the Hateful Republican President who is killing people by taking away their health care through the wrongful use of an executive order.

Let’s apply the truth to the hyperventilating Left and the insurance companies who spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying for this failed policy, and who are now trying to cover up the need for billions in taxpayer bailouts — a.k.a. in bureaucratic-ese, cost-sharing reduction payments.

Fact: In the original “Affordable” Care Act, a risk pool of funding was created to pay insurance companies for potential losses and subsidize low-income patients. But, when the losses were totaling hundreds of millions of dollars because young, healthy individuals didn’t take the carrot/stick to pay high premiums for insurance with an enormous out-of-pocket deductible to finance the expansion of Medicaid and artificially lower premium costs for the sick, that risk pool ran dry. This explains the sky-high annual premium increases since ObamaCare took effect.

Fact: Since the risk pool was woefully inadequate to cover losses and to reimburse commercial insurance companies for the mandated low-cost premiums for some, Barack Obama made an appropriation request of the Congress that was not approved. In response, he used his pen to do it anyway — an action deemed illegal by DC district court in 2016. The ruling came after a 2014 lawsuit filed by the House challenging the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments as lacking a specific, legal appropriation.

With his phone and his pen, Obama, the once-constitutional lecturer, overstepped the Constitution’s declaration that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law…” The Appropriations Clause, as he should know, enumerates the power of the purse to lie in Congress, not by an imperial attempting to salvage his signature legislation.

Fact: These cost-sharing reduction payments, being illegal, were rightfully halted by President Trump with the issue returned to Congress to address. So, despite the dripping hatred from leftists who cannot get over the loss of their coroneted queen, Trump acted in a constitutional manner to correct a wrong.

Relentless in their aim, the Left parrots false statements to grip the GOP with fear. That includes the usual Democrat/media claims that Republicans hate poor people and are trying to kill them just as the November 1st sign-ups begin for ObamaCare coverage in 2018.

Again, the antidote to a plague of lies is a big dose of truth with the disinfectant of sunshine.

In news accounts that began seeping into the public back in the summer as insurance companies were making premium cost projections, the “uncertainty” of the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments pushed some state insurance regulators to have commercial insurers include in their projected premium cost increases the absence of these subsidies or at least submit two projections — one with the CSR one without.

So, another fact: According to the American Academy of Actuaries July publication, these adjusted projections to address this uncertainty attributed to much of the requested increases already made this year for next year’s premium costs. Get that? States like Tennessee approved premium increases this summer to account for the elimination of the CSR payments.

But here’s the part that really disrupts the narrative of folks like those who penned the Oct. 12 Bloomberg editorial, “Trump’s Healthcare Wrecking Ball.” The hypoxic-inducing tantrums that Trump’s move will hurt the poor by shifting costs to the sickest patients, while schizophrenically declaring in the same article that the healthy subsidize the sick, are simply false.

Back to the July American Academy of Actuaries, which notes, “Although those who receive premium subsidies would be insulated from the full increase in premiums, nonsubsidized enrollees would face the full increase, potentially affecting their enrollment behavior and therefore the morbidity of the risk pool” if the CSR payments were to be eliminated.

While President Trump eliminated the illegal payments from the U.S. Treasury to insurance companies, the law still demands that insurance companies offer lower premiums based on income. So, by law, insurance companies must keep prices artificially low for some with the nonsubsidized enrollees paying full price. Again, according to the Actuaries, those forced into buying government-sanctioned insurance with no subsidies “would face the full increase.”

Let’s sum this up. A law empowering government to control health insurance is failed policy and law. Using taxpayer money to make illegal payments to private insurance companies to correct flaws in the law and has rightfully been halted with the issue returned to Congress for action. Failing ObamaCare is still in place despite more than seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the law, and despite the president’s smart moves to inject free-market, consumer-driven controls into the health insurance market.

ObamaCare should now be called ObamaScare considering the frightful tactics of the Left to attempt to affix wrongful blame. But notwithstanding attempts to hang it around Republican necks, this law will forever be the dud prize of Obama and Democrats. It’s now up to Republicans to restore the order of a constitutional government and work with a president whose agenda is overwhelmingly supported by Americans to replace a failed law with effective policy.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


18 October, 2017

What Progressives Really Want- They Are All Grubers

Newt Gingrich in his excellent book  Understanding Trump has used Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s formulation of IYI (Intelligent Yet Idiot) to describe the class of Elitists, intellectuals and “experts” who typify the heavily credentialed but mostly incompetent policy charlatans, intellectual shamans and academic planners against whom the Tea Party, Brexit, and Trump/Make America Great Again movements have reacted. This is a very useful observation and a good starting point if you want to really understand who Progressives are and what they want.

In the most general sense, they want to rule us and decide everything for us. They want to put their policies into effect, as Jonathan Gruber so aptly put it, by writing their laws in such “tortured” (read: deceptive) ways that the “stupid American voters” would just let them do it. They think we need them because they are educated and knowledgable. They have studied and attained degrees and other credentials that supposedly entitle them to say whatever they feel is necessary to get control of us and our lives. If they really understood what they were doing, it would not be so so bad. All their education has endowed them with a great deal of knowledge about certain things and yet it has not given them (or allowed them to develop) a true understanding.

The great inventor and researcher, Charles F. Kettering once said, “Knowing is not understanding. There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.” When Kettering was running the research group at GM, he made a point of retraining any PhD that the company hired. He would train him not to (as most PhDs do) proceed to try to fit the problem to what he already knew but to “,…encounter a problem without preconceptions and to let the problem teach him to both know and understand it. In this way the problem becomes its own solution. The only difference between a problem and a solution is that people understand the solution.” Kettering had a sign hung in the laboratory. It read simply, “Let the problem be the boss.”

But no, the Progressives want to rule us with knowledge not understanding. I don’t want to create the impression that I am picking only on Gruber, its just that he and his guileless truth-telling about his methods and aims give us the perfect example of how disastrous Progressiveism is as an approach to government. Mr Gruber has a complex and subtle knowledge of computer models and economic systems. About human nature and our economic behavior, however, he is as clueless and callous as a robot with Asperger’s Syndrome. Not only does he think we are stupid, he thinks that no matter how abjectly his designed programs fail, he can point to us as the problem- not his failure to understand. When, in 2016 Gruber was questioned on CNN about the incipient failure of the marketplaces he was ready to double down:

“There’s no sense in which it needs to be fixed,” Mr. Gruber said. When questioned further about why the insurance companies were pulling out of the exchanges he blames the companies for not being prepared for a “new kind of insurance market” and goes on to say, “The law is working as designed. However, it could work better. I think probably the most important thing experts would agree on is that we need a larger mandate penalty. We have individuals who are essentially free-riding on the system. They’re essentially waiting until they get sick and then getting health insurance.”

Which is to say, that he wants to see people bullied with higher penalties to force them into the Obamacare plans. When someone like Gruber refers to “experts”, you can bet that he is talking about PhDs and knowledge mongers like himself.

One last example from Gruber comes from an interview he did with Maria Bartiromo- and this is the quintessential knowledge vs understanding argument. when at 7:30 of this interview Bartiromo tells Gruber that ten CEOs of corporations have told her that, from their personal experience, they know that Obamacare is hurting job growth because they have had to halt hiring in their companies, he replies that they and she are wrong and that Obamacare is not hurting job growth. He claims to have data and equations that disprove it. I am reminded of one of my favorite cartoons by S Harris:

These people are not our “betters” they are smug, self-important fools whom we have allowed too much power in our nation and our lives. On top of it all Gruber has been exposed _ at least by the State of Vermont as a thief and a fraud for over billing and billing for work that he claimed had been done by a (probably) non-existent research assistant.

It is just this kind of bald-faced denial of true understanding- this shoveling of data points and “expert” opinion invalidate the real experience of real people- that has finally alerted so many people here and in Britain, at least, that Progressives don’t want to understand anything they just want to find ways to force us to do what they “know” we should be doing. How do they know that? Well, they are experts. What makes them experts? -Credentials earned in sterile, politically correct universities and experience producing essays, books and research that get approval from journalists, others like themselves and (most importantly) political “buy-in” by politicians who know more about how to get elected and re-elected than they understand about their constituents.

The funny thing is, for all that they call themselves Progressives, “progress” is also something they know but do not understand. If their idea of progress is equality, they do not stop at equality of opportunity. They want to to find ways to insure equality of outcome- and that means socialism at the least and communism at the worst. But then, for decades they have been making policy to foster the economic advancement of racial minorities and the black family has been gravely wounded and inequality of outcome is worse than it ever was.

In spite of all their failure, they want the world to work the way they “know” it “should” work and if it doesn’t they are prepared to bully you for “the common good.” and if bullying fails on the first try they will feel - as Gruber does about mandates- to move to coercion and beyond.

There is a Gruber in your future. The rise of this form of charlatanism has been stalled by President Trump but make no mistake, the Progressives are still coming on. They are not just Democrats the Bush administrations were full of them. Many of them are now in the ranks of the “Never Trumpers”. Emboldened over the thirty years since Reagan’s presidency there are too many academics, PhDs, consultants and authors without understanding who have been elevated with riches, position and praise.

By the way, I understand this myself because for the first few years after I got my Master’s Degree, I worked in the belly of that beast. I was a statistical programmer at, what was at the time, one of the premier social science and public policy research companies in the nation. That was a long time ago - Gruber was still in grade school. Since then, I have been in business for myself in honest, productive work but every time I read or hear what “The Establishment” wants to do or prevent, I recognize it as Progressivism and have come to think of it as The Voice of The Gruber.

They are not all without understanding but if they have never done any real work or had to really solve a problem, they should not be trusted to tell us how to live.  Know him or her for who they are, they are all “Grubers”. As is written in Isaiah 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.



Hollywood Actors Who Condemn Trump but Were Silent on Weinstein

Just about all of them but here are some examples

Ashley Judd is the absolute worst.

I want to like her, I really do. Sometimes she chooses a good cause, like speaking up for trafficked and abused children. Those are the activities she should stick to. Unfortunately, Judd had to go to the "Women's March," where hundreds of thousands of women wore pink "pussy" hats while claiming to be upset that Trump had used that word once. She performed ridiculous slam poetry, screeching defamatory accusations about the president wanting to have sex with his daughter and about other terrible things about which she had no first-hand knowledge.

But at no time did she ever discuss a man who she did know did horrific things. No "by the way, Harvey Weinstein is a dirtbag who tried to get me to watch him shower for a part." Why didn't that come up?

I find it very difficult to believe Judd is this angry at Donald Trump, a man who has never done anything to her, or provably to anybody, when there is a man who did do something horrible to her whom she could be screeching about. She needs therapy. And possibly tranquilizers.

Jennifer Lawrence was recently interviewed for her epic fail of a movie, Mother, and gave Democratic talking points like "equality for women in the workplace," blamed Trump for hurricanes, and rattled off the same tired Leftist arguments we've heard forever. During another interview, she claimed that she is terrified of Trump and wanted to make a video of herself saying "F*** you!" to him.

Lawrence claimed she felt she could be a spokesperson for women who are underpaid:

I felt like I had a voice, people look at me and listen to me, and to not say anything, that's never sat well with me.
That seems disingenuous, because she kept quiet about the creepy mogul who everyone in Hollywood appears to have known was abusing women. Why stay quiet over that? Don't you have a responsibility to alert other women that there is a serial sexual predator in their midst? Lawrence hasn't alleged any harassment from Weinstein, although she is seen looking awkward in many photos with him while he holds her too close to his massive girth. It wouldn't surprise me if she had first-hand knowledge of his depravity.

Angelina Jolie penned a letter to the New York Times slamming Trump's travel ban because she claimed refugees were victims of terrorism. At the same time, she knew Harvey Weinstein was terrorizing young women trying to make it in the business -- but she said nothing.

Like Paltrow, she is also Hollywood royalty. The daughter of the very well-known Jon Voight should not have been scared into silence by a creep like Weinstein. If either Jolie or Paltrow had come forward, especially together, Weinstein could have been fired years ago. Instead they stayed quiet -- and allowed him to prey on women who didn't have the luxury of saying "no."



A tax so stupid that it lasted only two months

Almost entirely paid by the poor, who tend to shop locally

On Wednesday, the commissioners of Cook County, Illinois, repealed the controversial soda tax that went into effect in August of this year. December 1, 2017, will be the first day residents of Cook County will no longer be required to pay a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages—and they’re better off without it. Although some of the costs are irreversible—one vending machine company estimated the tax cost them about $75,000 to reconfigure their machines—Cook County is now on a better path.

At one cent per ounce, Cook County’s soda tax was smaller than many of the soda taxes enacted elsewhere, which range from one and a half cents to two cents per ounce. Still, the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), an independent but libertarian-leaning think tank, estimates that the tax effectively raises the price of soda by 50 percent. IPI reports that the after-tax price of a 12-pack of soda has risen from $4 to $5.97. That’s more than five times the local tax on beer, a stunning retail price hike confirmed by the professional fact-checkers at Politifact. A well-known principle of public finance is that some of the burden of a tax imposed at any link in the supply chain eventually gets shifted forward to consumers.

Cook County’s officials, like many other politicians, justified the soda tax as a means of improving public health by reducing sugar consumption. Academic research suggests, though, that consumers may not respond to selective excise taxes in the ways soda tax proponents think they will. Consider the soda tax in Berkeley, California. One study found a 10 percent after-tax reduction in soda purchases within the city’s limits. That is the line trumpeted by soda tax advocates, who should, however, read on. The same study also found a nearly seven percent increase in purchases of soda outside of Berkeley’s taxing jurisdiction. Several letters to the editor have chronicled just the same kind of behavior from consumers in Cook County.

From the start, Cook County’s soda tax was unlikely to improve the health of its citizens and was instead just a way of raising revenue on the backs of the poor. People shopping across borders and substituting other unhealthy foods for higher priced soda render such taxes as worse than useless.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


17 October, 2017

Another squirm about IQ

The Left hate the whole idea of IQ.  It offends against their absurd doctrine that all men are equal.  So when  intelligence becomes a topic, they always do their best to denigrate and misrepresent it.  The article below arises from Trump's assertion that he has a higher IQ than Tillerson. It appeared in "LiveScience", which might as well be called "HalfDeadScience".

The whole aim of the article is to show that IQ score is not fixed and does not matter.  But in claiming those things they show how unscientific they are by not looking at the numbers.  Numbers are the inescapable tools of science.  And that matters.  Psychometricians are well aware that the correlations between different measures of ability are not perfect and that some situational factors can influence an IQ score.  But how strong are those influences?  Could the effect of situational factors be entirely trivial, for instance?

To answer that you have to look at the numbers that have emerged from research into IQ.  And they are revealing.  IQ tests are made up of a number of different types of puzzle that are not obviously related to one-another.  And the whole concept of IQ originated from the observation that some people are good at all sorts of puzzles that are not obviously related to one another. 

So how strong is that effect?  When scores on the different tests are analysed a very strong first eigenvector arises, which shows that scores on all the different tests are strongly related to one-another.  Correlations between the various puzzles run as high as .70, which is a rare magnitude in psychological research.  So there is a single strong trait in existence that we call IQ and which tells us that a high scorer on an IQ test will be good at solving all sorts of problems.

So IQ is real and important.

What about the various influences described below that can influence an IQ score?  Again the numbers are instructive.  Nutrition, for instance, can have an effect.  A person eating a diet that is seriously deficient in important ways will get a reduced score -- but only by about 5 IQ points.  That is not negligible but it is mostly irrelevant in Western society.  Western diets generally do not harm IQ.  Reduced scores on dietary grounds are generally found in very poorly fed populations in India and Africa.  And IQs in Africa are so disastrously low that no feeding would bring them anywhere near European standards.

Let me look very briefly at some more of the influences trotted out below.  IQ correlates with Birth order.  Yes. It does appear to.  The research is not unanimous but that is probably because the effect is so small:  About 1 IQ point.

The Howard Gardner theory of "multiple intelligences" -- eight of them, would you believe? There is a very clear and simple demolition of the whole Gardner theory here -- which points out that the Gardner theory not only ignores the data but that its criteria for calling something "an intelligence" are so loose that sense of humour, sense of smell, musical ability, athletic ability etc could all be called "intelligences". By adopting similar rules I could say that all cats, dogs and horses are birds -- but that would still not make them so.

I could go on but will finish with one outright misrepresentation below.  An article titled "Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents" is described below as showing that "IQ scores also change with the test taker's level of self-discipline and personal motivation and grit".  But the article did not show that.  It showed only that academic performance, not IQ, was influencible by grit etc.  That hard workers do better at school is hardly news but it does not vitiate the fact that High IQ scorers also perform well academically.

So the article below is an exercise in deception, not science

The IQ, or the intelligence quotient, is a measure of a person's mental age divided by their actual age, multiplied by 100. So, a person who is exactly as "mentally old" as one might expect for that individual's chronological age would score a perfectly average 100. People who deviate from that score in either direction are considered to be of above- or below-average intelligence. These scores can change with age and can fluctuate from one testing session to another, according to researchers.

But intelligence is a many-faceted beast. While it is colloquially associated with math and reasoning skills, psychologists assert that there are many kinds of intelligence, with Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University, classifying seven distinct types, including bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial and linguistic.

Given that it's so hard to pin down exactly what intelligence is, the task of measuring it with a standardized test is particularly difficult, experts say. One of the standard IQ tests used today is called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (used for adults and older teens), which measures verbal and nonverbal cognitive skills, or as the psychologist who developed the test put it, the ability to "adapt and constructively solve problems in the environment."

Trump might not get the clear-cut result he's hoping for, since this test and others like it, including the Stanford-Binet test, don't present some unified quantity of a person's "smartness."

Test results are affected by several confounding variables, such as smoking habits, hours spent playing computer games and various aspects of one's personality, according to past research. IQ scores also change with the test taker's level of self-discipline and personal motivation and grit — all things that can change from testing session to testing session — according to a 2005 study that surveyed the IQ test results of 140 eighth-graders.

"Indeed, IQ tests are influenced by many factors," Cornell University developmental psychologist Stephen Ceci told Live Science. "For example, schooling affects IQ test performance," he added, explaining that for each year that a student falls short of finishing high school, there is a drop of between 1.8 and 4 IQ points compared to peers who did finish high school.

In Vietnam, Ceci explained, people who had a higher risk of being drafted stayed in school longer as a means to defer service compared to those with safer draft numbers. IQ testing revealed that those who stayed in school longer had higher scores — not because they were smarter, but because they had greater exposure to the conditions that would help them answer IQ test questions such as "who wrote Hamlet," Ceci said.

IQ test scores even correlate with birth order among siblings, according to two 2007 studies, as reported by The New York Times.

Therefore, IQ tests measure not just intelligence (however that is defined), but also the environment and context of one's life.



Republicans Will Only Succeed if They ‘Get Behind the Trump Agenda’

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Breitbart News that Republicans will only succeed in the midterm elections if “they get behind the Trump agenda.”

The congressman said that the Freedom Caucus remains committed to passing a dynamic tax reform package for middle-class families as well as repealing and replacing Obamacare. Meadows also cheered the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. An EPA analysis revealed that repealing the Clean Power Plan will save roughly $33 billion in compliance costs in 2030.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) cheered the EPA’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Meadows said, “Well it’s a good day for businesses across the country and not just in coal country when we really look at the compliance costs and economics of compliance a lot of times the cost benefits that was done under the previous administration would take credit for things that the rules and regulations accounted for and yet really didn’t take consideration for the cost and emphasize of that particular administrative action. I look at this repeal as a welcome day not just for coal country but all businesses in making sure that we have proper accounting for the cost-benefit analysis.”

Meadows added, “We should really focus on an American First agenda, and these climate pacts and climate regulations have been designed to not necessarily give American workers and the American environment a head start. It really gives our competition a greater ability to compete internationally and disadvantage American companies. I look forward to a reset that still emphasizes clean air and clean water.”

Meadows told Breitbart News that he remains optimistic about Congress’ ability to pass a tax reform package.

One thing that Washington D.C. does not do well is cut spending. We have to get the economy going again and getting tax cuts to wage earners and make sure that our businesses are competitive again. I’m optimistic that despite the rhetoric that we’re hearing, we’re going to be deliver finally on a major campaign promise that the president made to the American people, and that is to put more money back in Americans’ pockets.” Meadows said. “It is critically important that we deliver on tax reform. I believe it is bold and aggressive it may increase the deficit in the short-run, but over the long-term, the economic growth and the power of unleashing economic power of the American worker will certainly help us balance our budgets that Congress has never been able to do with just cutting the budget and limit the spending.

The House Freedom Caucus chairman then revealed that he and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will try to find Democrats to work with and who want to pass a tax reform package. The North Carolina congressman explained, “I can tell you that Jim Jordan and I are working to identify a number of Democrats in the House and the Senate to work with that will truly tax reform bipartisan which will put more money in the middle-income wage earner’s pockets. This should be a bipartisan topic. I want to make sure that we have a tax code that makes sure that everyone benefits, including those in poverty and those middle-income wage earners and those that have already lived the American dream as well as making sure that everyone can receive the benefits of a robust economy and not just the select few.”

President Trump worked with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on an executive action that would expand Association Health Plans (AHPs) that would allow small groups, small businesses, and individuals to band together to create their own health insurance pools.

Chairman Meadows cheered Sen. Pauls’ initiative to lower Americans’ health care costs. Meadows told Breitbart News:

Rand Paul has done a very good job of focusing on association plans, and that goes back for eight or nine months. It has been my belief that since we did not get it done through the legislative initiatives that the president through the rulemaking authority that exists under the Affordable Care Act can put forth the ability for associations to provide insurance policy. It will put down real pressure to bring down premiums I applaud the effort and fully support it.

I will tell you that the president is serious about making sure that premiums get lowered so whether it is executive action on association plans or other executive actions, this administration continues to contemplate other actions as a backup in case Congress failed on repeal and replacement efforts.

Breitbart News reported on the “league of extraordinary candidates,” which consists of populist Republican candidates who remain committed to accomplishing the president’s agenda. Meadows argued that the only Republican candidates that will succeed in the midterm elections are those that “are willing to get behind the Trump agenda.”

Meadow told Breitbart News:

The fundamental question for Republican running all across the country is: are you going to stand with the American people like the president campaigned on and won on November 8? Or are you going to just talk about standing with the American people? The American voter is not going to accept talk any longer. It’s time to show the real proof of each candidate is made of and how they will fulfill that promise.

I think that the anger and the frustration that is prevalent still on the main streets across America will have a profound effect on the midterm elections and Republicans will only succeed if they get behind the Trump agenda.

Meadows explained that the Freedom Caucus remains committed to passing tax reform and passing an Obamacare repeal package. Meadows told Breitbart News that some Freedom Caucus members continue to look towards attaching an Obamacare repeal bill in must-pass legislation. Meadows said, “Well we’re obviously focused on tax reform, and we got to push even harder for a repeal and replacement effort, and there’s a number of us that are working on other ways to make sure that we attach repeal bills to must-pass legislation. Another emphasis for the Freedom Caucus is trying to support the president and identifying those regulations that have to be rolled back.”

Meadows concluded, “It’s all about representing the forgotten men and women, to make sure that they have a voice and members of the Freedom Caucus take that very seriously.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


16 October, 2017

Trump is driving the Left insane

Leftist columnist Michael A. Cohen’s writes in the Boston Globe that "Trump is everywhere and Americans are getting buried". Trump's amazing achievement of getting himself high in the news asgenda every day is deeply painful for the Left.  Some excerpts from Cohen:

It’s impossible to keep up. It’s all-consuming. For millions of Americans, Trump has become an unbearable, infuriating, enraging, and draining presence in our national life. As a political columnist, there’s no escaping him. Going on two years he’s become an omnipresent force in my life. But what about the rest of America? What about those not afflicted by the need to constantly be spinning on the news cycle hamster wheel and those who don’t count themselves part of the MAGA crowd?

I surveyed friends and threw the question out to my Twitter feed about the emotional toll of Trumpism. The responses speak to the extraordinary and largely underreported national trauma — and increasing pessimism about America’s future — that Trump’s presidency is creating.

“There are no grown-ups in charge, no protectors, no one to make sense of things, no one to assure us it will be OK,” said a professor who lives in Las Vegas. “It is so deeply, and continuously, disturbing, that I sometimes doubt our country will survive him.”

A former Obama administration official said, “I am exhausted. All. The. Time. I simply can’t keep up.” A friend and former member of the intelligence community told me he is “utterly exhausted from having my humanity and standing attacked. Wary and anxious that we can’t change it.”

Others struggled for the right words. “Nausea is difficult to describe succinctly,” said an old friend who lives in a blue island in Kansas.

In all the responses I received to this query there was extraordinary and debilitating sense of hopelessness that I’ve never seen before in American politics. “My sense of political efficacy of being able to have any larger impact in the world individually or even as part of a group, has been radically diminished,” a close friend and fellow New Yorker vented. That is, she said, “a bad thing for me and a very bad thing if it gets multiplied out to all of us.”

Many expressed fears of nuclear conflict; others of losing their health care if Republicans succeed in gutting Obamcare. Some talked about moving out of the country, while some compared Trump’s presidency to being in an abusive relationship. People report weight gain, increased anxiety and depression, and sleeplessness.


After all the frustrations and heartburn the Left have visited on everyone else with their insatiable demands for political correctness, it is deeply pleasing to hear that the Left are getting some of their own back


The Scandalous Truth about Obamacare Is Laid Bare

A government program that is ruined by permitting more choice is not sustainable.

It’s not just that Obamacare is financially unsustainable. More seriously, it is intellectually unsustainable, even though this truth has been slow to emerge. This has come to an end with President Trump’s executive order.

What does it do? It cuts subsidies to failing providers, yes. It also redefines the meaning of “short term” policies from one year to 90 days. But more importantly–and this is what has the pundit class in total meltdown–it liberalizes the rules for providers to serve health-coverage consumers.

In the words of USA Today: the executive order permits a greater range of choice “by allowing more consumers to buy health insurance through association health plans across state lines.”

The key word here is “allowing” – not forcing, not compelling, not coercing. Allowing.

Why would this be a problem? Because allowing choice defeats the core feature of Obamacare, which is about forcing risk pools to exist that the market would otherwise never have chosen. If you were to summarize the change in a phrase it is this: it allows more freedom.

The tenor of the critics’ comments on this move is that it is some sort of despotic act. But let’s be clear: no one is coerced by this executive order. It is exactly the reverse: it removes one source of coercion. It liberalizes, just slightly, the market for insurance carriers.

Here’s a good principle: a government program that is ruined by permitting more choice is not sustainable. The New York Times predicts:

"Employers that remain in the A.C.A. small-group market will offer plans that are more expensive than average, and they will see premiums increase. Only the sickest groups would remain in the A.C.A. regulated risk pool after several enrollment cycles"

Vox puts it this way:

"The individuals likely to flee the Obamacare markets for association plans would probably be younger and healthier, leaving behind an older, sicker pool for the remaining ACA market. That has the makings of a death spiral, with ever-increasing premiums and insurers deciding to leave the market altogether"

The Atlantic makes the same point:

"Both short-term and associated plans would likely be less costly than the more robust plans sold on Obamacare’s state-based insurance exchanges. But the concern, among critics, is that the plans would cherry-pick the healthiest customers out of the individual market, leaving those with serious health conditions stuck on the Obamacare exchanges. There, prices would rise, because the pool of people on the exchanges would be sicker. Small businesses who keep the more robust plans—perhaps because they have employees with serious health conditions—would also likely face higher costs"

CNBC puts the point about plan duration in the starkest and most ironic terms.

"If the administration liberalizes rules about the duration of short-term health plans, and then also makes it easier for people to get hardship exemptions from Obamacare's mandate, it could lead healthy people who don't need comprehensive benefits to sign up in large numbers for short-term coverage"

Can you imagine? Letting people do things that are personally beneficial? Horror!

Once you break all this down, the ugly truth about Obamacare is laid bare. Obamacare didn’t create a market. It destroyed the market. Even the slightest bit of freedom wrecks the whole point.

Under the existing rules, healthy people were being forced (effectively taxed) to pay the premiums for unhealthy people, young people forced to pay for old people, anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle required to cough up for those who do not.

This is the great hidden truth about Obamacare. It was never a program for improved medical coverage. It was a program for redistributing wealth by force from the healthy to the sick. It did this by forcing nonmarket risk pools, countering the whole logic of insurance in the first place, which is supposed to calibrate premiums, risks, and payouts toward mutual profitability. Obamacare imagined that it would be easy to use coercion to undermine the whole point of insurance. It didn’t work.

And so the Trump executive order introduces a slight bit of liberality and choice. And the critics are screaming that this is a disaster in the making. You can’t allow choice! You can’t allow more freedom! You can’t allow producers and consumers to cobble together their own plans! After all, this defeats the point of Obamacare, which is all about forcing people to do things they otherwise would not do!

This revelation is, as they say, somewhat awkward.

What we should have learned from the failure of Obamacare is that no amount of coercion can substitute for the rationality and productivity of the competitive marketplace.

Even if the executive order successfully liberalizes the sector just a bit, we have a very long way to go. The entire medical marketplace needs massive liberalization. It needs government to play even less of a role, from insurance to prescriptions to all choice, over what is permitted to be called health care and who administers it.

Freedom or coercion: these are the two paths. The first works; the second doesn’t.



West Point Digs Deeper Hole on Cadet Communist

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a West Point 2016 graduate, now-2LT Spenser Rapone, who, despite his brash history displaying contempt for our nation, and his advocacy for communism, was allowed to graduate. As I noted, now-retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Heffington, an Academy history professor in 2015, had issued a sworn affidavit alerting senior USMA command about Rapone.

In his complaint LTC Heffington concluded, “I cannot reconcile the image of a first class cadet at West Point with the things he has posted online for the world to see. To me, these are red flags that cannot be ignored, and I fail to see how this individual can possibly graduate and become a commissioned officer in six months.”

But they did ignore it.

More recently, Rapone, now assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, has boldly posted his hatred for his commander in chief, SecDef James Mattis, and other senior military leadership on public social media accounts. That constitutes a clear and overt UCMJ Article 88 violation: “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense … shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

West Point command responded to the exposure of Rapone’s insubordination and UCMJ violations with an official statement asserting, “Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” and that “Rapone’s chain of command is aware of his actions and is looking into the matter.”

Responding to that lame assertion, LTC Heffington sent a letter to his USMA class of 1997, noting his “intense devotion and loyalty to West Point,” but detailing the inaction over Rapone and how that reflected the degraded “leadership” culture at West Point.

Heffington wrote, “I firmly believe West Point is a national treasure and that it can and should remain a vitally important source of well trained, disciplined, highly educated Army officers and civilian leaders. However, during my time on the West Point faculty … I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open. The recent coverage of 2LT Spenser Rapone — an avowed Communist and sworn enemy of the United States — dramatically highlighted this disturbing trend. Given my recent tenure on the West Point faculty and my direct interactions with Rapone, his ‘mentors,’ and with the Academy’s leadership, I believe I can shed light on how someone like Rapone could possibly graduate.”

However, Rapone’s case is just the latest indicator of military academy degradation under Barack Obama’s regime. Recall that The Patriot Post took on the command staff at the Air Force Academy in 2012, when Obama’s appointees there quietly endeavored to remove “So Help Me God” from oaths in the cadet handbook “to Support and Defend” our Constitution.

Bottom line: The investigation that needed to be done was two years ago, based on LTC Heffington’s original affidavit concerning Rapone. The investigation that really needs to be conducted now is why that didn’t happen — and of much greater significance, determining how deep Obama’s deep-state socialists have been imbedded in the ranks of American military leadership.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


15 October, 2017

The Republican civil war is spreading (?)

Below is the opening salvo of an article by Leftist writer, Paul Waldman.  Its very first sentence is dubious. The Trump administration has seen an upwards leap in all sorts of economic statistics, from job numbers to the stock exchange. Unemployment claims for instance, have just fallen to the lowest level in 43 years, despite hurricanes. And nearly a million new jobs were created in September.  Trump is keeping his core promise spectacularly well. "Things" are in fact going extraordinarily well for the GOP. 

Broadly, the article is just the latest of the almost daily declarations from the Left saying that the  Trump administration has just doomed itself to extinction.  Never has any death been more prematurely announced.

But it is of course true that Trump has upended American conservatism by injecting national pride as one of the desired policy outcomes.  Cries of "racism" from the Left had bullied the GOP into completely abandoning all mention of national pride -- thus taking away one of their most important rallying cries.  And in a patriotic nation like the USA, losing that rallying cry was epic.  The Left did extraordinarily well to take that weapon out of the hands of American conservatives for so long

So Trump has indeed been a disrupting force in the GOP -- a long overdue disruption.  But the Leftist control of America's political discourse does seem to have seeped into the bones of some GOP figures.  They are genuinely uncomfortable with Trump's loud declarations of America's national interests.  They were comfortable with their old go-nowhere talking points and have not warmed to more red-blooded ones.  And there is no doubt that Trump's personal style grates on them as well.  Trump has  redefined what it means to be "Presidential", rather to the amusement of many who support his policies.

So Waldman is tapping into a genuine ferment in the GOP.  But it is just assertion that the ferment is escalating.  The GOP establishment was not comfortable with Trump from the word "Go".  But many Trump opponents have gradually come over to his side.  And the recent outbreak of amity between Trump and Rand Paul over healthcare regulations is surely epic. 

So, as I see it, unity is spreading among the congressional GOP, not civil war. Adjusting to Trump is still far from complete but it has come a long way.  It probably needs good results in the next mid-terms to cement the Trump transition.

Parties don't descend into vicious civil wars when things are going well for them. So the fact that it's happening now to the GOP tells you a lot about what Republicans are facing, even though they control the White House, Congress, and a majority of state houses and governorships. They are beginning to tear themselves apart over the question of who is to blame for their current difficulties, with one side saying it's the fault of a feckless establishment that is insufficiently loyal to President Trump, and the other side saying — mostly sotto voce, but occasionally out loud — that the responsibility lies with Trump himself.

If the president was right in his repeated insistence that his administration has been a smashing success, there wouldn't be anything to fight about. But in truth, things could hardly be worse: No major legislation has been passed, the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was a spectacular failure, Trump's approval ratings are abysmal and a majority of Americans say he's not fit to be president, one Republican officeholder after another is choosing not to run for re-election, polls show Democrats headed for a dramatic win in 2018, and even the one goal Republicans were all supposed to agree on — a big tax cut for the wealthy and corporations — looks like it might be in trouble.

All of which leads to dissension from within, as White House staff rush to tell reporters that the president is an infantile rage-monster whom they have to trick into not burning down the world. When Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed his concerns about Trump's erratic behavior, none of his colleagues came out to contradict him and say that in fact Trump is a wise and careful leader who is performing his duties successfully, no doubt because Corker was only saying publicly what the rest of them say privately.

But to some on the right, this all smacks of a slow-motion coup by quisling Republicans who lack the courage to stand behind Trump and testify to his greatness. Which is one of the reasons that this week, the hardline conservative group FreedomWorks wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding that he and his leadership team resign for their failure to produce a sufficient quantity of conservative legislation. While the signatories were a little on the has-been side (few are dying to hear what Brent Bozell and Ken Cuccinelli have to say these days), it was evidence of a disgruntlement in conservative circles.



Think tank finds difference between parties greater than ever

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows a growing partisan gap in opinions on major issues, driven in part by Democrats' leftward drift.

Pew found Democrats have moved substantially left on a variety of issues while Republicans' views remain relatively constant. That was true across social and economic issues; Pew claimed that the split between Republicans and Democrats is more pronounced than any divides by race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

"This poll and some other recent ones show that Democrats are pulling more strongly to the left and Republicans are not pulling quite as strongly to the right as a general matter," said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in American public opinion.

One such leftward shift came in Pew's question about welfare. As to whether or not the government "should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt," 71 percent of Democrats respond affirmatively, up 17 points over the past six years.

Republicans' opinions have barely shifted, down slightly from 25 to 24 percent. Additionally, some 76 percent of Democrats say "poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough"—the highest proportion of Democrats since Pew started asking the question in 1994.

Democrats have also substantially increased their support for attending to the interests of U.S. allies. Overall, the number of Americans saying as much has increased eight points since last year, a change which "has come entirely from Democrats," Pew says. Democrats and Democrat leaners have increased their concern about allies from 62 to 74 percent since President Donald Trump took office.

In the case of immigration, while Americans of both parties have grown more liberal, Democrats still lead the trend. When asked if immigrants are more a burden or a boon to the United States, 42 percent of Republicans say they strengthen the country, up from 30 percent in 1994. Over the same time period, the percentage of Democrats saying immigrants were a net benefit grew from 32 percent to 84 percent.

Other areas that have seen conspicuous change among Democrats and no concurrent change among Republicans include racial discrimination—64 percent of Democrats say black Americans cannot "get ahead" because of racial discrimination, up from 28 percent in 2010—and the belief that religion is required for morality—the number of Democrats saying "no" has risen 13 points since 2011, while the number of Republicans has remained roughly constant.

Pew's findings reflect a long-running and growing divide in American beliefs, Bowman said.

"On social issues, those changes have been happening for a very long time," Bowman said. "I think it's actually been moving for quite some time, and the Pew charts just document more recent, faster movement in the last couple of years, but it's certainly been happening for a long time."

Democrats' leftward shift helps to exacerbate an overwhelming partisan divide. Across ten questions Pew has asked of survey respondents since 1994, the difference between Democrats and Republicans averages 36 points. That is the highest rate ever, though the gap has been growing continuously since 1994, when the average difference was just 15 points. The gap between Republicans and Democrats "far exceeds divisions along basic demographic lines, such as age, education, gender and race."

"In nearly every domain, across most of the roughly two dozen values questions tracked, views of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and those of Democrats and Democratic leaners are now further apart than in the past," Pew noted.

Particularly pronounced is the partisan split over President Trump. Eight percent of Democrats approve of Trump's performance in his first year, compared to 88 percent of Republicans who approve. That makes Trump's first-year approval ratings, "the most polarized of any president dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953."

Distaste for Donald Trump and the leftward shift may go hand-in-hand, as Democratic leaders move the party's overall politics left in reaction against the president.

"The party is being pulled in a more liberal direction, there's no question about that," Bowman said. "I mean Elizabeth Warren's comment a few weeks ago essentially that this isn't Bill Clinton's party, we're not the party of welfare and crime. I think she's reflecting the views of many of the people in her party. And I think a lot of it happened during the Obama years."



Trump dumps UNESCO, aka the UN Erasure, Slander, and Cover-up Organization

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it plans to withdraw from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization because of the agency's "anti-Israel bias." That's putting it mildly.

You'd think an institution with the motto "building peace in the minds of men and women" couldn't help but be a positive influence in the Middle East. Leave it to a UN agency to figure out how to parlay that mandate into an assault on Jews. UNESCO has become the tip of the spear in the UN's assault on Israel and earned a more appropriate name: the UN Erasure, Slander, and Cover-up Organization.

"E" is for UNESCO's efforts in recent years to erase Jewish history in the Holy Land. It does this by ignoring the original millennia-old Hebrew names of locations in Israel and using their much-newer Arabic names. UNESCO refers to the Temple Mount (Solomon's Temple) as "Haram al-Sharif" and the Western Wall as the Al-Buraq Plaza ("Buraq" being the mythical flying horse with a woman's head that Islamic tradition says took Mohammed up to heaven for a visit). This phenomenon has become known as temple denial.

In what Miriam Elman calls "a bid to usurp Jewish history," statements by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee have also denied Jewish historical links to the Cave of the Machpelah and its Tomb of the Patriarchs (Jewish patriarchs, that is) in the Old City of Hebron (which UNESCO calls "Al Khalil"). On July 7, UNESCO erased Judaism from both the Old City and the tomb, declaring them parts of "Palestine."

Showing an awareness that the public is increasingly onto his agency's delegitimation of Israel, UNESCO Director of Public lnformation Neil Ford insists unconvincingly that it is "not trying to replace Israeli heritage with Palestinian heritage."

"S" stands for UNESCO's campaign of slander against Israel. It slanders Israel by including ancient Jewish historical sites safely under Israeli control on its list of "Endangered World Heritage Sites," while portraying its legitimate care and maintenance of sites sacred both to Jews and Muslims as attempts to destroy Islamic heritage. In April 2016, UNESCO accused Israel of planting "fake Jewish graves" in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron. In 2012, it approved a request by the Palestinian Authority to list the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as an endangered World Heritage Site because of ostensible Israeli threats.

Furthermore, UNESCO slanders Israel as an occupier of Palestinian territory – territory that includes Israel's capital, Jerusalem, as well as the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Judea and Samaria. One infamous 2016 UNESCO Executive Board decision, titled "Occupied Palestine," contains 13 repetitions of the phrase "Israel, the occupying power."

"C" is for "cover-up." UNESCO pointedly ignores Palestinian actions threatening Jewish and Christian historical sites not under Israeli control. Joseph's Tomb in Nablus was torched by Palestinians in 2000 and again in 2015. Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem has been the target of numerous Palestinian attacks, including fire in September 1996, bombings on April 10, 2005, and December 27, 2006. In 2010, UNESCO declared Rachel's Tomb was really the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque.

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


13 October, 2017

Free markets and free trade

Empirical evidence that free markets make people NICER

Viscount Ridley comments from England:

The “ultimatum game” is a fiendish invention of economists to test people’s selfishness. One player is asked to share a windfall of cash with another player, but the entire windfall is cancelled if the second player rejects the offer. How much should you share? When people from the Machiguenga tribe in Peru were asked to play this game, they behaved selfishly, wanting to share little of the windfall. Not far away, the Achuar in Ecuador were much more generous, offering almost half the money to the other player — which is roughly how people in the developed world react.

What explains the difference? The Machiguenga are largely isolated from the world of markets and commerce. The Achuar are used to buying and selling to and from strangers at markets. The same pattern emerges throughout 15 small-state societies all over the world, in a fascinating study done by the Harvard anthropologist Joe Henrich and his colleagues. The more integrated into the commercial world people are, the more generous they are. As one of the authors, the economist Herb Gintis, summarises the results: “Societies that use markets extensively develop a culture of co-operation, fairness and respect for the individual.”

This would not have surprised Montesquieu, who spoke of “sweet commerce”, or Voltaire, who marvelled at the friendly collaboration of “the Jew, the Mahometan and the Christian” on the floor of the London stock exchange, or Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Richard Cobden, the radical champions of free trade in the early years of the industrial revolution.

Cobden said: “Free trade is God’s diplomacy and there is no other certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace.” He was right. Recent studies have confirmed that commerce is the main cause of peace. “Within the developing world, economic development leads to interstate peace, whereas democracy does not,” concludes Faruk Ekmekci of Ipek University in Turkey. The evidence is overwhelming that markets do not just make people richer, they make people nicer too, less likely to fight and more likely to help each other.

So why on earth has it become accepted wisdom that every move towards free markets and free trade is towards selfishness, conflict and greed, whereas the state is the source of all kindness? When Daniel Hannan launched the Institute for Free Trade at the Foreign Office last week it was attacked by critics as an inappropriately “hard Brexit” initiative, even though free trade has been the British government’s ambition on and off since 1846. As Liam Fox put it at the launch: “Long before Brexit and long before the EU, the United Kingdom was the champion of global free trade.”

Hannan’s critics, such as the misleadingly named campaign Open Britain, imply that free trade is unkind in another way: it leads to lower standards of welfare provision, but this is demonstrably nonsense. Is welfare worse in free-trading New Zealand or protectionist Venezuela? In South or North Korea? In Singapore or Burma? The correlation between free trade and high living standards, including high welfare standards, is tight and causal. Government intervention in social policy goes hand in hand with economic development.

The astonishing enrichment of the world in the past 50 years, when extreme poverty has fallen from more than 50 per cent to below 10 per cent of the world population, could not have happened without free commerce and the innovation it delivers. No serious economist denies this. The liberalisation of world trade since the Second World War has been responsible for making the world not just wealthier but healthier, happier and kinder too. If that sounds incredible to millennials, then perhaps they should ask their professors to give them some less Marx-inspired reading matter.

Ah yes, say Remainers, but look at the Bombardier case. With the help of mercantilist American regulations, big Boeing bullies a rival Canadian aircraft manufacturer with a vital plant in Belfast, reminding us that we need to stay in the European Union so that we can resist such tactics. There are four problems with this argument: first, we are in the EU now; second, being inside the EU has not shielded Airbus from similar disputes with Boeing; third, Britain with its strong defence links to America can lean on America more than Brussels; and fourth and most convincingly, small countries have outperformed big ones in world trade. Look at New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Switzerland.

Remember that the EU and the US have been discussing a free-trade agreement for a third of a century. It always falls foul of protectionist interests on both sides: Italian textiles, French films, American aircraft. Outside the EU, Britain, the least protectionist of all major economies, would long ago have done a bilateral deal with America and made illegal the imposition of unilateral tariffs on manufactured goods.

The Bombardier case shows that the old approach to anti-dumping does not work in a world of integrated international supply chains, where the effects could be spread all over the globe, damaging consumers all along the way. It does nothing to justify trade blocs, but underlines the need to revive the impetus towards world free trade, which is stalling. According to the OECD, the G20 countries were running about 300 non-tariff barriers in 2010. Five years later that number had quadrupled.

As for domestic politics, the champions of markets and enterprise need to recapture the radicalism of Cobden, Ricardo and Smith. Somehow in recent years we have let the authoritarians redefine free commerce as a regressive step, oppressive on the workers, yet free trade creates jobs and raises wages. It is the most radical and liberating idea ever conceived: that people should be free to exchange goods and services with each other as they please, whether they live in different villages, cities or countries, and without governments being able to stop them.

The Conservatives cannot compete with Labour by offering pale imitations of its patronising paternalism. They should offer the young something more revolutionary, liberating, egalitarian, disruptive, co-operative and democratic than stale statism. It’s called freedom.



Universal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare

Michelle Malkin

Two weeks ago, my husband and I received yet another cancellation notice for our private, individual health insurance coverage. It’s our fourth Obamacare-induced obituary in four years.

Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. The insurer informed us that because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA),” our plan no longer met the federal government’s requirements.

Never mind our needs and desires as consumers who were quite satisfied with a high-deductible preferred provider organization that included a wide network of doctors for ourselves and our two children.

Our second death knell, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, tolled in August 2015. That notice signaled the end of a plan we didn’t want in the first place that didn’t cover our kids’ dental care and wasn’t accepted at our local urgent care clinic.

The insurer pulled out of the individual market in all but one county in Colorado, following the complete withdrawal from that sector by Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

Our third “notice of plan discontinuation,” again from Anthem, informed us that the insurer would “no longer offer your current health plan in the state of Colorado” in August 2016.

With fewer and fewer choices as know-it-all Obamacare bureaucrats decimated the individual market here and across the country, we enrolled in a high-deductible Bronze HSA EPO (Health Savings Account Exclusive Provider Organization) offered by Minneapolis-based startup Bright Health.

Now, here we are barely a year later: Deja screwed times four. Our current plan will be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2018.

“But don’t worry,” Bright Health’s eulogy writer chirped, “we have similar plans to address your needs.”

Riiiiight. Where have I heard those pie-in-the-sky promises before? Oh, yeah. Straight out of the socialized medicine Trojan horse’s mouth.

“If you like your doctor,” President Barack Obama promised, “you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Is pathological lying covered under the Affordable Care Act?

Speaking of Affordable Care Act whoppers, so much for “affordable.” Our current deductible is $6,550 per person—$13,100 for our family of four. Assuming we can find a new plan at the bottom of the individual market barrel, our current monthly premium, $944.86, will rise to more than $1,300 a month.

“What’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work,” says Colorado’s state insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar. “[T]his could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support.”

This presumptuous central planner called federal intervention to eliminate “too many” options for consumers the free market at work. Yes, friends, the Rocky Mountain High is real.

This isn’t a “market correction.” It’s a government catastrophe.

Premiums for individual health plans in Virginia are set to skyrocket nearly 60 percent in 2018. In New Hampshire, those rates will rise 52 percent.

In South Carolina, individual market consumers will face an average 31.3 percent hike. In Tennessee, they’ll see rates jump between 20-40 percent.

Private, flexible preferred provider organizations for self-sufficient, self-employed people are vanishing by design. The social-engineered future—healthy, full-paying consumers being herded into government-run Obamacare exchanges and severely regulated regional health maintenance organizations—is a bipartisan big government health bureaucracy’s dream come true.

These choice-wreckers had the arrogant audacity to denigrate our pre-Obamacare plans as “substandard” (Obama), “crappy” (MSNBC big mouth Ed Schultz), and “junk policies” (Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa).

When I first called attention to the cancellation notice tsunami in 2013, liberal Mother Jones magazine sneered that the phenomenon was “phony.” And they’re still denying the Obamacare death spiral. Liberal Vox Media recently called the crisis “a lie.”

I don’t have enough four-letter words for these propagandists. There are an estimated 450,000 consumers like us in Colorado and 17 million of us nationwide—small business owners, independent contractors, and others who don’t get their plans through group coverage, big companies, or government employers.

The costs, headaches, and disruption in our lives caused by Obamacare’s meddling meddlers are real and massive.

But we’re puzzles to corporate media journalists who’ve never had to meet a payroll and don’t even know what is the individual market.

We’re invisible to late night TV clowns who get their Obamacare-at-all-costs talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

We’re pariahs to social justice health care activists and Democrats who want us to just shut up and subsidize everyone else’s insurance.

And we’re expendables to establishment Republicans who hoovered up campaign donations on the empty promise to repeal Obamacare—and now consider amnesty for immigrants here illegally and gun control higher legislative priorities than keeping their damned word.

We’re the canaries in the Obamacare coal mine. Ignore us at your peril, America. You’re next.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


12 October, 2017

NYT: Slanting the News and a Bizarre Comey Connection

Project Veritas has released a video of the New York Times video gatekeeper Nicholas Dudich, who was caught on hidden-camera boasting of his lack of journalistic ethics. Dudich, who serves as Audience Strategy Editor, displays a lack of integrity throughout the video, manages videos which go "on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram" for the Times.

While talking about being objective at the Times, Dudich replies candidly, "No I'm not, that's why I'm here."

Dudich considers himself an important player at the New York Times, telling the Project Veritas Journalist "my voice is on... my imprint is on every video we do."

Dudich goes on to explain what he might do to target President Trump:

"I'd target his businesses, his dumb fuck of a son, Donald Jr., and Eric...

"Target that. Get people to boycott going to his hotels. Boycott... So a lot of the Trump brands, if you can ruin the Trump brand and you put pressure on his business and you start investigating his business and you start shutting it down, or they're hacking or other things. He cares about his business more than he cares about being President. He would resign. Or he'd lash out and do something incredibly illegal, which he would have to."

When the undercover journalist asks Dudich if he could make sure that the anti-Trump stories make it to the front, he replied, "Oh, we always do."

As stated in the NYT Ethical Handbook, the goal of the New York Times is to "cover the news as impartially as possible." It continues in Section 62:

"Journalists have no place on the playing field of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times."

Before working at the Times, Dudich worked on the political campaigns of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In 2016, he was recruited to work for the Clinton campaign:

"So I have that background, so when Clinton in 2016... they needed a volunteer strategist to do video... well, they needed someone to help them do video, and how to make it heartfelt, for Clinton."

He even had to quit his job in journalism in order to work for the Clinton campaign: "I had to leave my job at Fusion ABC to then take a job at Upworthy where I wasn't deemed a journalist anymore to be able to work for the Clinton campaign."

Dudich explains how his activism motivated him to re-engage in the news business: "Like, after the Clinton campaign, I'm like, no I need to get back into news and keep doing shit because, like, this isn't going to change."

Nicholas Dudich also told the undercover journalist bizarre stories about his personal connection to the FBI and his previous excitement as part of Anti-Fa.

"Yeah, I used to be an Anti-Fa punk once upon a time." he told the undercover journalist. "So, I had fun. They'd start s**t, I'm like, I get to hit you. I'm so excited."

He also claims that James Comey, former Director of the FBI, asked him to join Anti-Fa: "I joined that stuff for them [the FBI]. I was an asset... So it was intelligence gathering, seeing if they were [sic], what their agenda was, whether they're a threat or not."

"How'd you meet Comey?" asked the Project Veritas journalist. "He's my godfather," Dudich explained. "My dad and mom knew him and his wife for a really long time."

"Well the Comey hearing, I should have recused myself, but I'm not ever telling anybody there [at the Times] that I have a tie with that or else I don't know if they can keep me on."
According to the NYT Ethical Handbook, Section 107:

"Staff members may not write about people to whom they are related by blood or marriage or with whom they have close personal relationships, or edit material about such people or make news judgements about them."

His father claims that the family does not know Comey. "Yeah, he's embellishing. I don't know why he would say that... Yeah, I don't know why... he's not James Comey's godson. I don't even know James Comey."

When told that his father said he doesn't know Comey, Dudich changes his story:

Dudich: "He's not my Godfather."

Undercover Journalist: "Then why did you say that?"

Dudich: "Eh, I don't know... It's a good story."

"The fact remains that Nick Dudich lies and he's a gatekeeper at the New York Times." says Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, "And that fact should be worrisome to the bosses at the paper of record. Who else are they letting spread misinformation in their name?

This is a continuation of Project Veritas's American Pravda series, which began with a three-part expose on CNN in June.



Response to Vegas Attacks Shows the Heart and Mind of the Left

In response to the senseless violence in Las Vegas, several on the Left have brazenly indicated what they truly think about middle America–folks that go to work, worship on Sundays, listen to country music, drive pick ups, and simply try to build an honest life with family.

Hayley Geftman-Gold, one of CBS’s top lawyers, went on Facebook and offered her honest assessment of the shooting:

 If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered [likely a reference to Sandy Hook] I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing, I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.

Red-State America is repugnant (“Repugs”), a collection of “deplorables” as Hillary Clinton described them before the 2016 election, and deserve to be gunned down by a madman. Of course, the Ivy-educated lawyer and NYC resident quickly apologized once the heat was on, but can anyone doubt that her initial opinions represent that of a substantial number of people living in the “bubble”? Look at the first post right below her original one and see the affirmation from her bubble friends.

Or what about Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher of Drexel University? His response to the tragedy was to proclaim that “Trumpism” and “white victimization” motivated the shooter. He further opined that “white people and men” engage is this type of conduct “when they don’t get what they want.” Tenure and academic freedom have saved him from having to back peddle like Geftman-Gold. After all, this is the same guy who said that all he wanted for Christmas was a “white genocide.” Lovely. But this is the kind of nonsense that passes for academic scholarship today and is being poured into the minds of young people.

The shooting in Las Vegas was a terrible event. The ugly response of the Leftist mind should give us pause as we see how they view a large segment of fellow citizens.



Yes, US tax cuts will mainly benefit those who … pay the most taxes

A popular Facebook and Twitter game asks friends to post an unpopular opinion. Here is an unpopular fact: Tax reformers cannot deeply cut income taxes for lower-income families, because they already pay no collective income tax.

Tax reform is intended to bring simplification and economic growth. Yet many commentators seem interested in only redistribution.

This explains the teeth-gnashing over the Tax Policy Center estimate that the Republican tax blueprint would save the median family $420, but a family in the top income quintile $10,610.

While that sounds unfair, consider this: The top-earning 20 percent of households currently pay 88 percent of all federal income taxes. So even a proportional income tax cut will save them the most money.

In 2013 (the latest data year available), the top 20 percent of households paid $1.2 trillion in income taxes. The next 20 percent paid just $175 billion. The bottom 60 percent collectively paid $0. Actually, the IRS paid them $17 billion, thanks to refundable tax credits.

Put another way: Household income tax bills averaged $47,000 for the top income quintile, $7,000 for the next quintile and negative $200 for the bottom 60 percent.

How are tax reformers supposed to target most income tax savings to those with no income tax burden?

Obviously, some wealthy families escape taxes and some poorer families face painful tax burdens — which should be addressed. However, the aggregate tax savings will align with the aggregate tax burden.

By the way: In anticipation of knee-jerk dismissals of “right-wing lies and propaganda,” all this data is publicly available from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (the same group cited as gospel in the recent health coverage debates). The Obama Treasury produced similar data, which no serious economist has challenged. It cannot be wished away simply because it conflicts with populist narratives.

Nor can this extreme progressivity in our tax code be dismissed as the inevitable result of the rich earning all the income. We can adjust for income inequality by comparing the ratio of taxes paid to income earned.

The richest 1 percent pays 38 percent of all income taxes while earning 15 percent of all pre-tax income. Thus, their share of the income taxes is 2.6 times their share of the income earned. For the top 1 percent and top 20 percent of earners, this ratio has grown steadily since the 1980s — meaning their share of the income taxes has grown significantly faster than their share of the income earned (surprisingly, the top 1 percent’s share of the income remains at 1998 levels).

In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2008 showed that the United States had the most progressive tax code of all 24 countries measured. And that doesn’t even count America’s 2013 upper-income tax hikes, or Europe’s steep value-added taxes, which each widen America’s progressivity lead over Europe.

European governments tax the rich more heavily than America does — yet Europe’s tax burden is flatter because it also slams the non-rich with a VAT and high income (and payroll) taxes. By contrast, America has steeply cut taxes for the non-rich.

Actual tax returns show that the top 1 percent and the top 20 percent pay average effective income tax rates of 23 percent and 16 percent, respectively — nearly the same as in 1979. Yet the average rate paid by the bottom 80 percent of families has fallen from 5.4 percent to 0.1 percent. Millions of low-income families were removed from the income-tax rolls by the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, refundable child credit and reduced, 10 percent bracket (thank you, George W. Bush).

Yes, families pay payroll taxes — often exceeding their income tax burden. But payroll taxes finance the Social Security and Medicare systems, which these families will benefit from later (and cutting payroll taxes means fewer benefits at retirement). Should the entire rest of the federal government be funded by only 20 percent of families? Ten percent?

Adding all federal taxes together, the top-earning 20 percent fund 69 percent of all federal revenues.

The point is not that progressivity is harmful or should be reversed. Rather, it mathematically limits the low-income taxes left to cut.

It’s easy for politicians, populists and panderers to pretend that the middle class pays all the taxes, and thus deserves the largest tax savings. But the first assertion is demonstrably false, which makes the second mathematically impossible. Champions of progressive income taxation have won. The bottom 60 percent have seen their collective income tax reduced to zero. In tax reform, there are no more winnings left for them to claim.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


11 October, 2017

The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics

This is excellent news for conservatives. To win elections you have to win the center, so pushing the Democrats further Left is a losing proposition for them

It started as a scrappy grass-roots protest movement against President Trump, but now the so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.

The jockeying between groups, donors and operatives for cash and turf is occurring mostly behind the scenes. But it has grown acrimonious at times, with upstarts complaining they are being boxed out by a liberal establishment that they say enables the sort of Democratic timidity that paved the way for the Trump presidency.

The tug of war — more than the lingering squabbles between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — foreshadows a once-in-a-generation reorganization of the American left that could dictate the tactics and ideology of the Democratic Party for years to come. If the newcomers prevail, they could pull the party further to the left, leading it to embrace policy positions like those advocated by Mr. Sanders, including single-payer health care and free tuition at public colleges.

The upending of the left comes amid a broader realignment in American politics, with the Republican Party establishment also contending with a rising rebellion, driven by pro-Trump populists. Just as the new forces on the right are threatening primary challenges to establishment Republicans, some groups on the left have begun talking about targeting Democratic incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections.

Entrenched Democratic groups are facing growing questions about the return on the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent over the years. Groups affiliated with Mrs. Clinton “spent so much money based on a bad strategy in this last cycle that they should step aside and let others lead in this moment,” said Quentin James, a founder of a political committee called the Collective PAC that supports African-American candidates.

Mr. James’s committee is among more than three dozen outfits that have started or reconfigured themselves since the election to try to harness the surge in anti-Trump activism. In addition to political committees, grass-roots mobilization nonprofits and legal watchdog groups, there are for-profit companies providing technological help to the new groups — essentially forming a new liberal ecosystem outside the confines of the Democratic Party.

While the new groups gained early traction mostly on the strength of grass-roots volunteers and small donations — and with relatively meager overall budgets — they are beginning to attract attention from the left’s most generous benefactors.

“We’re in a disruptive period, and when we get through it, the progressive infrastructure landscape may look different,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberals who donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups. “There may be groups that have been around that don’t rise to the challenge, and there may be some new groups that do rise to the challenge, while others fade away.”

The Democracy Alliance has helped shape the institutional left, steering more than $600 million since its inception in 2005 to a portfolio of carefully selected groups, including pillars of the Clinton-aligned establishment like the think tank Center for American Progress and the media watchdog Media Matters.

But this year, the Democracy Alliance hired Archana Sahgal, a former Obama White House official, to help the new anti-Trump groups, and it suspended its intensive vetting and approval process to recommend donations to a host of groups created since last fall’s election.

The Democracy Alliance distributed a “resistance map” to its donors in July including new groups focused on converting the anti-Trump energy into electoral wins, such as Flippable, Swing Left and Sister District, as well as legal watchdog groups and others focused on mobilizing protesters, such as Women’s March and Indivisible.

Perhaps no group epitomizes the differences between the legacy left and the grass-roots resistance like Indivisible. Started as a Google document detailing techniques for opposing the Republican agenda under Mr. Trump, the group now has a mostly Washington-based staff of about 40 people, with more than 6,000 volunteer chapters across the country. The national Indivisible hub, which consists of a pair of nonprofit groups, has raised nearly $6 million since its start, primarily through small-dollar donations made through its website.

Yet Indivisible has also received funding from the tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, as well as foundations or coalitions tied to Democracy Alliance donors, including the San Francisco mortgage billionaire Herbert Sandler, the New York real estate heiress Patricia Bauman and the oil heiress Leah Hunt-Hendrix.

And an advocacy group funded by the billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a founding member of the Democracy Alliance and one of the most influential donors on the left, is considering a donation in the low six figures to Indivisible. Mr. Soros has already donated to a host of nonprofit groups playing key roles in the anti-Trump movement, including the Center for Community Change, Color of Change and Local Progress.

Indivisible would “gladly” accept a check from Mr. Soros or his foundation, said an official with the group, Sarah Dohl. But, she added, the group is committed to ensuring that money from major donors does not become a majority of the group’s revenue “because we want to maintain our independence both from the funders and from the party.”

The group may start a political committee that could support primary challenges in 2018 against Democratic incumbents, Ms. Dohl said.

“It’s not a secret that we would like to move the Democratic Party further left,” she said, adding that “the party will only get to where it needs to go if it has groups like ours pushing them to do the right thing.” She cited her group’s aggressive opposition to Republicans’ initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a time when she said Democratic congressional leaders “didn’t really have a strategy.”

Established liberal groups like the Center for American Progress haven’t always been as forceful, Ms. Dohl said, though she added that the think tank “has gotten better at calling on Democrats to stand up and speak more boldly than they have in the past.



Promise Kept: Trump Administration Protects Americans’ Religious Freedom

The Justice Department fulfilled President Donald Trump’s promise to provide clear guidance on the administration’s commitment to restore robust protection of religious freedom across all federal agencies and executive departments Friday.

This fix was sorely needed in the wake of actions by President Barack Obama’s administration that harmed Americans’ religious liberty.

The May 4 executive order that Trump signed in the Rose Garden and Friday’s guidance from the Justice Department clarified what should have been clear all along: that as Americans, we have the right not only to worship according to our consciences, but to publicly live out our beliefs. This includes the right to think, to speak, and to act in accordance with our beliefs in every sphere of life, including in schools, in federal workplaces, in nonprofit organizations, and in for-profit companies.

A number of Obama-era policies curtailed that right, including by forcing religious employers (both closely held companies and nonprofits) to fund abortion-inducing drugs and contraception under Obamacare, in violation of their consciences.

The Obama administration also winnowed the definition of religious freedom down to the narrow idea of “freedom of worship.” This was rebutted in the first line of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memorandum where he described religious liberty as “a foundational principle of enduring importance in America” that “is in its nature an unalienable right.”

The attorney general recalled the words of Founding Father James Madison that the duty owed to one’s creator is “precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” With this strong language, the attorney general has taken a significant step toward restoring a correct understanding of the relationship between people of faith and the government.

The memorandum to the Justice Department’s guidance goes further by outlining 20 principles of religious liberty. Among these are the principles that religious liberty includes both acting and abstaining from acting (Principle 2), that alleged “third-party harms” do not automatically override religious liberty (Principle 15), and that religious organizations can hire according to their beliefs and mission (Principle 19). This is a particularly important point as religious entities like schools must ensure that their employees uphold their codes of conduct in order to be faithful to their missions.

The guidance from the Justice Department also reaffirms the high standard that Congress enacted for federal government actions when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—the test of “strict scrutiny.” Under this highest level of judicial review, if a government policy imposes a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion, it must demonstrate that the government has a compelling interest and that it has carried out its policy through the least restrictive means.

The Supreme Court applied this standard in Sherbert v. Verner.  The court held that the state of South Carolina violated the religious freedom of a Seventh-day Adventist when it denied her unemployment benefits even though her religious beliefs compelled her to decline her employer’s request that she work on Saturdays.

Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 in response to the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which had lowered the threshold for government policies that burden religion. Sessions stated: “Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law.”

Now, like then, Congress should act to protect religious freedom from new challenges as a result of government’s redefinition of marriage.

Donald Verrilli, Obama’s surgeon general, acknowledged during the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges that those who simply disagree with the government’s new policy on marriage could be in jeopardy of losing their tax exemption. Verrilli was acknowledging that if the government begins to enact policies that promote same-sex marriage as orthodoxy, it must either provide a way out for religious dissenters or infringe on their religious freedom.

The Trump administration has fulfilled its promise to uphold religious freedom during the president’s time in office. But, Americans need our representatives to provide permanent, robust protections of our first freedom through legislation.

Congress can pass the First Amendment Defense Act to protect individuals and groups from being penalized by the federal government in tax treatment as well as in accrediting, loans, licensing, distribution of grants and contracts, and employment because of their religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Congress can also pass the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act to protect faith-based agencies that find homes for orphans and foster children from hostile legal actions by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

All Americans benefit from the services that are provided by an estimated 350,000 religious congregations that serve over 70 million people each year. In addition, faith-based organizations provide services to the U.S. economy that are valued at $1.2 trillion, more than Google, Apple, and Amazon combined. These groups—whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or other—should be able to serve their communities without sacrificing their religious beliefs.

The Trump administration has reversed the wrong direction of the Obama years by unequivocally stating its commitment to protecting religious freedom. Congress should follow suit. Our first freedom is the foundation of our country’s civility and religious diversity. All branches of government should respect it at all times.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


10 October, 2017

A puzzle solved

During my 20 year career doing survey research, the topic I looked at most often was authoritarianism -- or something allegedly related to it.  As a libertarian, authoritarianism is anathema to me and I wanted to know why authoritarians are like that. See here.

It was of course obvious to anyone with an awareness of history that Leftism was by far the chief source of authoritarianism in our society. Leftists never stop telling other people what to do and the authoritarian governments of the 20th centuty all had socialist inspirations, with THE great authoritarian regime of the 20th century -- the Soviet Union -- being undisputably Leftist. 

The most frequent authoritarian regimes were however Fascist, regimes that combined socialism with some form of nationalism -- Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Peron etc.  Even the South American military dictatorships were Bolivarist, which was an early form of Fascism. Bolivar believed that the masses need to be "educated" and generally dominated by a self-chosen elite.  Bolivarism emphasizes the common good over the individual. And the remaining explicitly Bolivarist regime -- Venezuela today -- is virtually and disastrously Communist.

So with the obvious leaning towards authoritarianism among Leftists, one would have expected that in their answers to my questionnaires Leftist would have heartily endorsed statements praising authority and authoritarianism.  But they did not.  They were mostly middle of the road in their responses about authoritarianism.

That is no surprise to any psychologist.  The attitude/behaviour gap is very well known among psychologists. And I think we all know of people who say one thing and do another.

But what was the mental process behind that sort of thing?  HOW do people manage to say one thing and do another?  Psychologists would normally suspect social desirability responding or "faking good".  Authoritarianism has a bad name so people would be reluctant to endorse it.  It is a conscious avoidance of sounding bad.

But psychologists can detect that.  They have sets of questions that normally reveal that social desirability responding is going on.  And I of course included such questions in my surveys.  So did the Leftists show high levels of social desirability responding?  They did not. It looked like they were expressing an honest opinion.  But their behaviour reveals what they actually think so how come?

I used to explain it by saying that they know that their real thoughts are so dismal that they dare not admit them -- but it was still a puzzle that they scored normal on the social desirability measures.  I now think I know why.

It goes back to the nature of Leftism.  The are ALWAYS acting a part.  They are always claiming compassionate and tolerant values while boiling with hate inside.  They have to do that in order to get any kind of support.  Hate is not attractive to most people. But that hate does overflow into view at times.  The abuse and punitiveness directed towards politically incorrect people is a major case in point.  And the most politically incorrect person on the planet is undoubtedly President Trump.  And the incessant and seething rage directed towards him is now a wonder.  It reveals the Left as very worrying people.  And they never cease looking for ways in which they might unseat him.

So presenting as kind and compassionate what is in fact rage-motivated is a pretty tough requirement and it is only by a lifetime of pretence that it can be to some extent achieved.  And that habit of self presentation extends easily into answering political questionnaires.  What they are doing in answering the questionnaires is normal for them and is probably perceived as virtuous.  It requires no special pretence or effort. It is normal. It is a habit to them to misrepresent their aims and thoughts.


‘Trumpism’ may be a myth but grassroots contempt for the elites is real

Does Donald Trump’s movement exist outside of Donald Trump himself?

It’s a question on the minds of many ever since Trump confirmed he was serious about running for president in early 2015. Some questioned whether any such movement ever actually materialized but after two years of  Donald Trumpseeing Trump on TV at all hours of the day and witnessing him improbably (to some) win America’s quadrennial national election last year it’s safe to say Trump is the real deal.

Of course the president is just the stylized living embodiment of what he represents, which is essentially the issue portfolio of the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party uprising of 2010 and through extension, the conservative movement. It’s a bit odd to say so considering Trump himself is no ideological conservative and seems much more enthralled with breaking the system (a.k.a. draining the swamp) and taking names than he does with making government smaller and less intrusive.

Regardless of the status of Trump, many wonder whether the movement he created carries over to other politicians or if it’s entirely confined to him. After last week’s Alabama GOP primary run-off (won by Judge Roy Moore) some believe Trump the man may not matter as much anymore.

W. James Antle III wrote at the Washington Examiner last week, “If Luther Strange hadn't accepted Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's appointment to the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there's a good chance he or someone else might have beaten Roy Moore in the Republican primary runoff Tuesday night.

“The perception, fair or not, that there was some sort of corrupt bargain between Bentley and Strange loomed larger in the race than any grand ideological struggle between nationalists and globalists. So in that sense, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's victory lap is premature.

“But there are signs that ‘the populist nationalist conservative revolt’ Bannon describes is starting to exist independently of President Trump, even if it is too early to determine whether it will ever take hold of a significant section of the Republican Party. Some of them are popping up in unusual places.”

In other words, Antle implies Moore may not have beaten a less tarnished opponent if Trump’s distinctive transformation of conservative political culture had never taken place. The president’s endorsement (of Strange) obviously didn’t sway the results of the contest but the passion for overturning the proverbial tables of the ruling class money-changers was so strong that people set aside their common sense to elevate a revolutionary take-no-prisoners conservative crusader like Roy Moore.

Would they have done so even if Trump had never entered politics? I think yes.

It’s all too easy to forget that the movement people now label “Trumpism” launched long ago, perhaps as early as the financial crisis of 2008 when GOP presidential nominee John McCain abruptly suspended his campaign and all-but handed the presidency to a first-term lightweight Democrat senator from Illinois with a golden speaking voice and a penchant for dribbling lofty rhetoric such as “Hope and Change.”

Upon further consideration the voter angst could’ve even begun the year before when wishy-washy Republicans led by John McCain and George W. Bush cut an amnesty deal with Teddy Kennedy and the congressional Democrat majorities that if enacted would have opened the floodgates to an avalanche of both legal and illegal immigrants. This seemed to be the point where the grassroots really began stirring, a restlessness that remains in evidence today.

That “bipartisan” sellout was enough to get people to consider active participation in politics as a necessity, not a privilege. 2007’s amnesty push also shattered the falsely advanced notion that “bipartisan” cooperation always produces good legislation and happy outcomes. Far from it. A lot of Republicans learned an important lesson from those days roughly a decade ago (and there was also a good deal of opposition to the amnesty effort from leftist unions as well).

But regardless of the movement’s founding point, Trump recognized there was a huge opening for someone outside the political system to come in and break the gridlock. Hence the New York real estate developer and reality TV star began his campaign by hammering both parties and the ruling class in Washington. Trump’s was just as much of a battle against the GOP elites as the Democrats and the people understood it.

It was clear from the outset that Trump’s wasn’t a purely Republican undertaking – it was an effort predicated on confronting the Washington establishment and ruling class. Judging by the elites’ reaction to Trump and his supporters, the contempt was mutual. Poor Crooked Hillary Clinton got caught up in the massive food fight over the status quo in government. As a leading representative of the privileged she had no strategy other than to propose dumping more money into various programs, advancing the liberal social agenda and dividing the nation into subgroups who hated each other.

Hillary bet her subgroups were bigger than Trump’s. She might’ve been correct with the popular vote but not where it counts in the Electoral College. Divide and conquer for Hillary resulted in her guzzling lots of chardonnay after the election and writing a book that no one likes.

As for the Republicans, everyone’s speculating who’s now in control of the party.

Caitlin Huey-Burns reported at Real Clear Politics, “Polling bears out Trump's influence. A recent survey by NBC/Wall Street Journal found a significant divide between Republican Party supporters and Trump supporters. For example, while 51 percent of party supporters are satisfied with GOP leaders, only 27 percent of Trump supporters are satisfied with them. Just 36 percent of party supporters had a positive view of Mitch McConnell, but only 13 percent of Trump supporters viewed him positively.

“’Its deep, vitriolic and abiding,’ says one conservative operative about this dislike. ‘I've never seen the gulf this deep or this broad between Republican leadership and the rank-and-file Republican voter. It's a dramatic break.’”

Again, the rift between the grassroots and the GOP congressional establishment has endured for years but the media and Republican leaders talk as though it’s sprung up only on Trump’s watch.

Perhaps the first manifestation of it (at least in recent times) was in 2010 when Utah Republicans took it upon themselves to nominate Mike Lee for senate rather than honor the re-election bid of establishment Senator Bob Bennett at the state party convention. Then, in 2012, long-time Republican “bipartisan” collaborator Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana was voted out in a primary.

Republican voters in these election years also chose conservative challengers in Colorado, Nevada, Delaware and Missouri – fine people who would’ve made excellent senators if only the party ruling class had supported them in their general election contests instead of sanctioning the media and Democrats to tear them to shreds. Think of how large the Republican senate majority would be today if only more of a “team” endeavor had been waged on their behalf back then.

Senator Ted Cruz is now in Washington because he waged his own grassroots-based campaign in Texas in 2012. Cruz defeated establishment Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in one of the year’s biggest primary upsets and went on to convincingly win the general election as well.

Cruz’s second-place finish in the 2016 GOP presidential campaign was also almost entirely fueled by grassroots efforts to allow him first to separate himself from the pack and then compete head-to-head with Trump late into the season. Together with fellow outsiders Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina the non-establishment candidates attracted a fairly consistent two-thirds of the Republican primary vote.

Cruz’s conservative campaign generated the same kind of anti-establishment enthusiasm as Trump’s and most of the senator’s supporters easily made the transition to the outsider nominee for his battle against Hillary.

Cruz himself underestimated the depth of grassroots anger at the establishment when he initially refused to endorse Trump at the party convention last year, perhaps thinking that maybe the nasty campaign and differences in personality would allow him to maintain a separate political identity from what was taking place all around Trump.

He couldn’t. The train went forward and Cruz eventually jumped onboard. Trump was elected. The movement carried the day.

Now commentators are saying the voters got exactly what they bargained for in Trump. Jim Geraghty wrote at National Review, “His quick agreement with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on the debt ceiling was allegedly driven by spite for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan. Is it really surprising that a figure so erratic and temperamental would be unsuccessful in persuading the likes of John McCain, Rand Paul, and Susan Collins to accept a compromise [on healthcare]?

“Trump’s specialty is ‘fighting’ — that is, lashing out at perceived slights, insults, and criticism. It doesn’t change law, set policy, or last much longer than a news cycle. But it sure makes for good television, and it probably makes a lot of Trump’s supporters feel good. From their perspective, after all, he’s doing just what he said he’d do.”

Geraghty’s is an awful cynical view of Trump for what has turned out to be an unquestionably substantive administration on a number of fronts. But yes, Trump’s figure is at the center of it.

Clearly the answer to the “Trumpism” question is yes, the movement could exist outside of Trump; but it wouldn’t be nearly as successful without his compelling personality to drive it. History suggests voters were ready for Trump even before he climbed into the political ring and they’ll stay motivated until the ruling class is destroyed and the Constitution once again reigns supreme.

Trump will be around a while longer; but the movement will last indefinitely.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


9 October, 2017

Does smoking cannabis make people more violent?

The article below summarizes an academic study which claims to show that smoking marijuana causes people to beome more violent.  But I don't think the authors concerned have remotely proved that.  I myself have never smoked anything and I don't intend to so I have no dog in that fight. 

I have read a great deal of the studies of the subject and I am reasonably certain that cannabis promotes psychotic delusions --    but violence is another matter.  My experience is that stoned guys are most likely to sit around passively and make profound remarks like: "Wow, man, like wow!"

So what is wrong with the study below?  Mainly the sampling -- or lack of it.  It was a study of patients released from psychiatric hospitals.  Generalizing from very ill people to normals is simply invalid, to put it mildly.

It's a common comment that any correlation between cannabis use and mental illness may simply show that mentally ill people like cannabis.  Mentally ill people are heavy users of tobacco so that is not an unreasonable view.  The patients are simply trying to self-medicate in both cases.

The authors of the current study, however, claim that they can disprove that theory and show that cannabis sends you mad, not the other way around.  But that too is an absurd claim. You can demonstrate cause only by way of a carefully controlled before and after study and that was not done on this occasion. Instead some statistical jiggery pokery was used.  But that finding too is derived from their non-sample so is again overgeneralizing.  The bottom line is that they have no data proving the matter either way.

A final concern is that the authors mainly seem to concern themselves with "skunk" cannabis, which is much stronger than other forms of cannabis and so should be studied separately.  Skunk does indeed appear to be of concern but what is true of it may not be true of all cannabis.  As toxicologists say, the toxicity is in the dose.

The academic article is Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge


Cannabis users are more likely to commit violent crime, pioneering research has shown. It warned those who smoke the drug regularly run an increased risk of using violence against others.

The project is the first to demonstrate that cannabis is not only linked with violent crime but is the cause.

Violent incidents monitored by the study based on the lives of more than 1,100 American psychiatric patients included assaults, attacks with weapons and rapes.

Researchers said that cannabis causes violence and they found no evidence that the link is the other way round – ie that violent people are more likely to use cannabis.

There was no support, they added, for theories put forward by campaigners anxious to free the drug from the taint of links with crime.

The academics said the effect of cannabis use was clear and not diminished by other factors such as patients who were heavy drinkers of alcohol.

The study comes after a series of American states have decriminalised cannabis – despite it being stronger and more potent than the hash smoked by hippies in the Sixties – or made it available for medical use.

The latest study by five researchers from institutes based in Montreal, Canada, examined the lives of 1,136 men and women who were patients at psychiatric hospitals in Missouri, Pittsburgh and Massachusetts.

Records were gathered from interviews carried out every ten weeks for a year after their discharge.

It said patients who were using cannabis at each of these five checks were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to have turned to violence than those who had not used the drug.

The study pointed to ‘significant findings regarding the adverse effects of cannabis use on violence’.

It found there was a ‘more constant relationship’ between cannabis and violence than between alcohol or cocaine use and violence. The researchers said the link between cannabis and violence was not two-way but ‘uni-directional’.

Contrary to claims that violent people were drawn to use cannabis, researchers found ‘it was cannabis use that predicted future violent behaviour’.

The academics said psychiatrists and medical staff should watch for cannabis users among those who had been in hospital for mental health problems. The team, led by Dr Jules R Dugre, said existing evidence on the links between cannabis and violence was ‘limited’ but their project had ‘clinical and violence risk management implications’.

Kathy Gyngell, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, welcomed the ‘definitive study’ and called for official action. ‘Government has been seriously negligent,’ she said.

‘Where is the public health campaign on the risks of cannabis? If ministers had any sense they would know that we cannot afford this public health and safety crisis.

‘It must lead the Government to review their community care policy for such potentially violent individuals to better protect the public.’

The study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry flies in the face of claims of former drugs tsar Professor David Nutt.

He was sacked by the Labour government in 2009 for opposing the decision to reclassify cannabis from Class C to Class B. Prof Nutt has long argued that alcohol was ‘considerably more dangerous’ than the drug.

More than 20 US states have in recent years legalised cannabis for medical purposes.

Four – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington – have allowed its recreational use.

After the relaxation in 2012 in Colorado, cannabis use by students aged 12 to 18 has become the highest in the country. Figures show 57 per cent tested positive in high school tests.



The media is missing the Republican takeover in New England

In this part of the US, people are rooting for Trump more than ever

Judgey about the way people dress? You’re killing America
On Sept. 19, Politico congressional reporter Burgess Everett tweeted that he suddenly “[Remembers Vermont has a Republican governor].” His tweet prompted Seung Min Kim, a fellow Politico reporter who covers the US Senate, to reply that she “[Learns Vermont has a Republican governor].” That, in turn, instigated a response by Wall Street Journal congressional reporter Byron Tau: “[Googles the name of Vermont’s Republican governor].”

To which Phil Scott, Vermont’s Republican governor, responded that he “[Is Vermont’s Republican governor].”

The moment was comical but also insightful, underscoring just how little Washington’s political class knows about who holds the executive power in the Northeast.

Here’s the surprising truth: It’s not the Democrats.

Last November, while most of the country was either cheering Donald Trump’s presidential win or making an appointment with their therapist about how to cope with the results, New Englanders in four out of the region’s six “blue” states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine — woke up the next morning with four Republican governors.

Two of those governorships flipped from blue to red. It was a trend that the Northeast had not seen for a generation, but it received little national attention. (Connecticut and Rhode Island hold their governorship elections in 2018.)

If the reverse had happened, and four Democrats had won governorships in deep red states last year, the news would have been treated quite differently, said Brad Todd, a Washington, DC-based GOP strategist.

“It would have been on the front pages of every major newspaper in the country. And debated for weeks about how it spells the demise of the Republican Party,” Todd said.

Vermont’s Scott won in a landslide, defeating his Democratic opponent by 9 percentage points while facing two political fronts that should have knocked him out of contention: the candidacy of Trump, who was so unpopular in Vermont, he got crushed there by 29 percentage points; and the popularity of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s sitting US senator.

Interestingly, if you drove through Vermont last year, it was not uncommon to see yard signs for both Scott and Sanders in the same yards.

Meanwhile, on a trip to Cambridge, Mass., last month, I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t approve of their Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. From the leafy halls of Harvard to locals grabbing lunch at Charlie’s Kitchen on Eliot Street, everyone I talked to was a Democrat — and everyone gave him high marks as the state’s manager.

It’s not just anecdotal. Polling has consistently shown Baker is the most popular governor in the country; the most recent survey done by Morning Consult in July showed that 71 percent of Massachusetts voters are happy with the job he is doing. Meanwhile, Republican Chris Sununu holds New Hampshire’s governor’s office, while Maine has voted for Paul LePage twice to hold their executive’s suite.

The Republican Party is the only party that is a national party.
In the aftermath of the 2016 electoral — but not popular-vote — win of Trump over Hillary Clinton, Democrats have spent endless time bemoaning their inability to capture the Electoral College. They blame it on a so-called antiquated system that gives greater weight to the states populated by more cows than people. But it really is a symptom of a bigger problem for the Democrats: The Republican Party is the only party that is a national party.

Republicans, at some level, are competing in every state up and down the ballot, while Democrats are not competing anywhere but on the coasts and in the big cities. In short, they are a regionalized party, confined to the most densely populated parts of the nation — more cut off and compartmentalized than the GOP.

But if you read reports by national political reporters, you would assume that progressivism dominates the country’s landscape. “The decision makers, who are close to culture and news, live in places where the Democratic Party’s last bastions are, encased in a bubble that believes everyone thinks like they do and votes like they do,” said Todd.

“Those noncompetitive deep-blue places are the only places they have left where they dominate, but it also happens to be the only places where cultural and media institutions are headquartered,” he added.

Seven years after the Republicans won the House and three years after they gained the US Senate majority, the media/entertainment complex still fails to accept or understand that the majority of this country is center-right. Until these institutions grasp this fact, they will continue to see their viewership drop and their trust erode.

There is a reason this year’s Trump-bashing Emmy Awards saw viewership figures tank for the second year in a row (11.38 million views — down 5 percent from 2015). You can’t expect to hold onto the middle of the country when you spend four hours mocking the choice many of them made for president.

And you can’t expect anyone to trust your sense of judgment and fairness if you treat a GOP winning streak in the Northeast as if it never happened.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


8 October, 2017

Use of Firearms in Terrorist Attacks: Differences Between the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand

Below is an article just out in JAMA, a medical journal.  It is typical Leftist bilge.  It describes something troublesome without looking at WHY that bad thing happens.  They have of course not looked at race or race-denominated crime-rates.  Countries with and without large black minorities are in entirely different situations so they are not comparing like with like.  Depending in part on where they live, prudent Americans HAVE to own guns to protect themselves from home invasions and other crimes committed by blacks. So firearms are widely available.  And where they are widely available they will be used

By Robert A. Tessler et al.

Although firearms are used in only a small proportion of terrorist attacks, these highly publicized events shed light on access to weapons and mass shootings. The sociopolitical and cultural context surrounding firearms, including the proportion of individuals owning guns, varies between countries.1 The United States has a higher rate of firearms deaths than other high-income countries.2,3 We compared the proportion of terrorist attacks committed with firearms in the United States with the proportion in other high-income countries. We also compared the lethality of attacks with firearms to those by other means.

We queried The Global Terrorism Database from 2002 to 2016.4 Maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, this database incorporates a methodology that includes both machine learning and manual review to abstract high-quality information from more than 1 million daily media reports published worldwide in over 80 languages. The database defines a terrorist attack as the “use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”4 For each attack, the location, type, and number of fatalities are collected. The database categorizes weapons as biological, chemical, explosive, fake weapons, firearms, incendiary (eg, arson), melee, sabotage equipment, vehicle (nonexplosive), other, and unknown.

To avoid calculating proportions in countries with few data points, we calculated the proportion of attacks involving firearms among countries in the top 75th percentile (10 attacks or more) over the study period. The number of fatalities per attack was calculated by weapon type. Of the 23 countries with at least 1 attack, 17 were in the upper 75th percentile of total attacks; the countries are listed in footnote “d” in the Table. We estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) per fatality in the attack with a Poisson distribution for attacks using firearms, vehicle/melee, incendiary, or biological/chemical weapons compared with explosives.

From 2002 through 2016, the database captured 2817 terrorist attacks in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, of which 2403 (85.3%) were in Western Europe and 329 (11.7%) in the United States. The Table details the count of attacks by weapon used in country or region and year. Nearly all attacks (n?=?2788, 99.0%) occurred in countries with 10 or more attacks. The types of attacks were as follows: explosives (n?=?1379, 49.0%), incendiary (n?=?1015, 36.0%), firearms (n?=?260, 9.2%), vehicle/melee (n?=?151, 5.4%), and miscellaneous (n?=?88, 3.1%). In 2015 and 2016, compared with earlier years, there were notable increases in attacks involving vehicle/melee in the United States and Western Europe.

The Figure, A shows the proportion of firearms attacks among countries with 10 or more attacks, with the United States at 20.4% (n?=?67) followed by the Netherlands at 14.3% (n?=?3) (?2 for all countries, P?<?.001). In the 2817 attacks, there were 1031 fatalities, of which 566 (54.9%) were attributed to firearms. The Figure, B shows the number of fatalities per attack by weapon type. Among all weapon types compared with explosives, the IRR per fatality was 4.75 (95% CI, 4.18-5.39) for attacks with firearms, 1.21 (95% CI, 0.91-1.59) for vehicle/melee, and 0.05 (95% CI, 0.03-0.08) for incendiaries.

Although firearms were used in fewer than 10% of terrorist attacks between 2002 and 2016, they accounted for about 55% of the fatalities. Among countries with 10 or more attacks, the proportion involving firearms in the United States was higher than in any other nation. Moreover, the risk of fatality was considerably higher in attacks committed with firearms than in attacks using other weapons.

In the United States and other countries, government policies and legislative efforts to protect citizens from terrorism should consider the proportions and lethality of terrorist attacks committed with firearms.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 6, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5723


Illegal Immigration Costs U.S. Taxpayers a Stunning $134.9 Billion a Year

Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers a mind-boggling $134.9 billion annually, according to a detailed analysis of federal, state and local programs that include education, medical, law enforcement and welfare. Conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington D.C. nonprofit dedicated to studying immigration issues, the in-depth probe reveals that state and local taxpayers get stuck with an overwhelming chunk-$116 billion-of the burden. State and local expenditures for services provided to illegal aliens total $88.9 billion and federal expenditures $45.8 billion, the analysis found. For those who claim illegal immigrants contribute by paying taxes, government figures show that only $19 billion was recouped by Uncle Sam.

"A continually growing population of illegal aliens, along with the federal government's ineffective efforts to secure our borders, present significant national security and public safety threats to the United States," the FAIR report states. "They also have a severely negative impact on the nation's taxpayers at the local, state, and national levels. Illegal immigration costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Illegal aliens are net consumers of taxpayer-funded services and the limited taxes paid by some segments of the illegal alien population are, in no way, significant enough to offset the growing financial burdens imposed on U.S. taxpayers by massive numbers of uninvited guests." This defies a myth, long promoted by influential open border groups, that illegal aliens pay their fair share of taxes.

More than 12.5 million illegal immigrants and their estimated 4.2 million citizen children benefit from the U.S. government's generosity. The biggest expenditure ($17.14 billion) on the federal level is for medical services, which include uncompensated hospital costs, Medicaid births, Medicaid fraud and Medicaid benefits for U.S.-born children (anchor babies) of illegal immigrants. The second-largest federal expenditure is law enforcement and justice ($13.15 billion), which includes incarceration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations and an alien assistance program. The feds spend $8 billion on general government programs and $5.85 billion on welfare, which consists of free school meals, food stamps, a supplemental nutrition program known as Women Infants and Children (WIC) and temporary assistance for needy families. FAIR points out the profound impact that illegal immigration has on programs intended to provide services exclusively to low-income Americans.

For state and local governments education is by far the largest expense, an eye-popping $44.4 billion that goes mostly to K-12 public schools nationwide, though over a billion of it is spent on college tuition assistance. General public services, described as expenses associated with garbage collection, fire departments and other locally-funded services total $18.5 billion for illegal aliens, the analysis found. Medical expenses came in third ($12.1 billion) for state and local governments and law enforcement ($10.8 billion) in fourth. FAIR researchers determined that a large percentage of illegal aliens work in the underground economy and frequently avoid paying income tax, leaving law-abiding, taxpaying Americans to foot the exorbitant tab for public services. The report also breaks down expenditures by state, with the top four spenders to provide illegal alien benefits California ($23 billion), Texas ($10.9 billion), New York ($7.5 billion) and Florida ($6.3 billion).

Over the years Judicial Watch has reported on a variety of studies and assessments involving the huge cost of supporting illegal immigrants, but this appears to be the most thorough and alarming in recent memory. The breakdown by category, state and federal services offers an incredibly detailed account of a major crisis perpetuated by a famously porous southern border. As FAIR writes in its report, it's not just about money though the cost of supporting illegal immigrants should outrage every legal U.S. resident and American citizen.

"A continually growing population of illegal aliens, along with the federal government's ineffective efforts to secure our borders, present significant national security and public safety threats to the United States," FAIR writes. Judicial Watch has also extensively covered the dire national security crisis along the Mexican border, including an investigative series documenting how Islamic terrorists have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate-and attack-the United States.



U.S. Army STILL hasn't booted communist soldier

In recent weeks, photos of Army 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone promoting communism in uniform began circulating the internet.

Typically barred from promoting political affiliations while in uniform, Rapone's actions were a major departure from acceptable military conduct. Even worse, the ideology he espouses is not only dangerous, but a moral enemy of the country he swore to protect.

Rightfully, many military leaders condemned the photos. For their part, West Point and the Army opened up an investigation into Rapone's conduct.

However, one GOP U.S. Senator is among many who don't think this is enough. In fact, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is demanding that the Army immediately revoke Rapone's commission.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is demanding West Point officials revoke the commission of an officer who posted photos of himself with pro-communist messages hidden under his graduation uniform, calling it an "extreme embarrassment" for the military.

    In a letter to acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy Tuesday, the Republican senator also questioned whether service officials ignored signs of misconduct and potential insubordination during the cadet's time at the U.S. Military Academy.

    "It is extremely concerning that someone who so often expressed such hostile views towards the United States' system of government was able to obtain a commission," he wrote. "(His) revolutionary ideas were harbored long before he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant. Were West Point administrators or faculty aware of his views and behavior?"

    "Posts on social media by Rapone broadcast his devotion to the communist cause and his plans to infiltrate and sabotage the military," the senator wrote. "His conduct, writings, and sympathies for American adversaries predates his commission in the Army.

    "Therefore, I respectfully request the United States Army immediately nullify Rapone's commission and pursue all available disciplinary options under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Rapone should be required to pay back in full the cost of his education, and the United States Military Academy should consider revoking his degree."

In addition, Rubio also demanded that West Point release "all relevant information regarding West Point's efforts to ensure cadets who actively support the destruction of our government do not waste more taxpayer funds or prevent a more worthy candidate from attending" the academy.

Of course, there's little doubt this issue hits closer to home for Rubio. Being of Cuban descent, Rubio's parents fled their home country in response the the communist takeover by the Castro regime. Perhaps being more conscious of the dangers of communism than most, Rubio is rightfully demanding the Army take appropriate action.

Since the story originally broke last month, it has also come to light that one of Raport's closest mentors at West Point Military Academy,  Dr. Rasheed Hosein, a Middle East history professor, has been placed on administrative leave. We may soon learn if he had a role in Rapone's radicalization, though one of the professor's Facebook posts may hold a clue. It's a picture of him standing next to Rapone, who's in a colored turban and white tunic. Underneath, the professor wrote: "The brothers are gonna work it out."

Whatever the case, Rapone has no business serving in the United States military, let alone as a commissioned officer in charge of troops. With Senator Rubio weighing into the controversy, hopefully Rapone's days as a member of the Army are numbered.    



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


6 October, 2017

Congress Could Let All Patients Have the 'Right to Try' Without Going Through the FDA's Complicated Application Process

It is a rare thing to see Congress pass a law that increases personal freedom.

Yet that is exactly what it could do later this fall if the House follows the Senate's lead on a so-called "Right to Try" bill. The law would allow individuals with terminal illnesses, without having to first get permission from the Food and Drug Administration, to try drugs that have not been approved. Since 2012, 37 states have adopted "right to try" laws, giving patients to access experimental treatments that have cleared the first phase of the FDA's trials, with the permission of a doctor.

Passing a law at the federal level would be important for residents of those remaining 13 states, but would also help steer FDA policy, advocates say.

"Right to try is about the terminal patients who don't fit into a control group, who can't afford to travel or move to another country, and who simply want permission to seek the same treatments that other patients—sometimes patients in the same medical facility—are already receiving," says Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of healthcare policy for the Goldwater Institute, an Arizona-based free market think tank that has largely spearheaded the state-level Right to Try movement.

The U.S. Senate in August passed—by unanimous consent—Senate Bill 204, a right to try bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. That bill, and a similar proposal sponsored by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., were the subject of a hearing hosted Tuesday by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. There is no immediate timetable for either bill to receive a vote on the House floor, and Tuesday's hearing made clear that right to try legislation faces more opposition in the lower chamber than it did in the Senate.

"The legislation being proposed could expose critically ill patients to greater harm," worries Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., minority chairman of the committee. Other Democrats expressed similar worries, even while expressing sympathy for patients who are asking little more than for government to get out of the way during the final days of their lives. There are "very legitimate frustrations with the current system," for allowing patients access ot non-FDA-approved drugs, admitted Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas. But those problems are not a good reason to remove the FDA from the process, Green said.

Currently, the FDA runs a so-called "expanded access" program for terminally ill patients who cannot get into drug trials for various reasons. According to a Government Accountability Office report published in July, FDA had approved 99 percent of the 5,800 requests made from 2012 through 2015 by patients seeking access to the program.

Lack of access, then, is not the problem, but time is. Patients with terminal illnesses can wait as little as a few hours to as long as 30 days for the FDA to respond to a request to try a new drug, according to the GAO, and that wait could ending any slim hope of finding a successful treatment. If you think dealing with bureaucrats is awful when you're standing in line at the DMV or applying for a passport, imagine having to go through that same process when your life is on the line.

Under Scott Gottlieb, the newly appointed commissioner of the FDA, the administration has moved to slash the amount of paperwork necessary to get patients enrolled in expanded access programs. Earlier Tuesday, Gottlieb announced further reforms to streamline the experimental treatment review process for patients and doctors. The FDA "believes difficult decisions about individual treatment are best made by patients with the support and guidance of their treating physicians," Gottlieb told the committee Tuesday.

Those welcome changes do not accomplish as much as a federal right to try law, in part because the FDA's statistics are something of an illusion. Gottlieb says the FDA accepts 99 percent of all applicants, ignoring how many patients don't bother going through the process in the first place.

About 500,000 Americans die of cancer each year, but the FDA receives only 1,200 applications from all terminally ill patients for its expanded access programs. The gap suggests a large number of patients who aren't asking for access to experimental drugs because they either don't know about the FDA's programs or don't care to navigate the system.

If nothing else, the recent groundswell of support for state-level right to try laws suggests the status quo isn't working for many patients.

Advocates for right to try also point out that the FDA has only gotten its act together because of pressure applied by the widespread adoption of right to try laws in the states. It wasn't until last year that the FDA announced it was creating a web portal to help guide patients through the expanded access application process. The website is only now being rolled out for public use.

"Shorter forms and hand-holding bureaucrats don't fix the system's fundamental flaw," Christina Sandefur, vice president of the Goldwater Institute, told Reason via email in response to Gottlieb's comments Tuesday. "It requires dying patients who have exhausted all government-approved options to beg the government for permission to obtain treatment to save their lives."



Abusive gerrymandering can be stopped, but not by judges

Jeff Jacoby

Two of the oldest traditions in US political history are at the heart of Gill v. Whitford, a case now before the Supreme Court.

One of those traditions is gerrymandering — the mapping of legislative districts so that they become one-party monopolies. The other tradition is condemning such mapmaking as a cancer on American democracy.

Lawmakers have been manipulating election maps to their political advantage from the Republic's earliest days. When Elbridge Gerry (signer of the Declaration of Independence, delegate to the Constitutional Convention) was governor of Massachusetts in 1812, his allies drew the state's congressional lines to favor their party, the Republican-Democrats, stacking the deck against the opposition Federalists. Infuriated Federalists blasted the map's ungainly new districts, especially one in Essex County that resembled a salamander. A cartoonist drew it with wings and claws, and the "gerry-mander" was born.

Both parties engage in gerrymandering when it suits their interests; both parties denounce gerrymandering when it thwarts those interests. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan inveighed against the partisan cartography of California Democrats, who had "so rigged the electoral process that the will of the people cannot be heard." In the latest election, Reagan complained, Republican candidates had gotten most of the votes, yet Democrats won most of the seats.

The identical complaint, with the parties reversed, is at play in the current case. After the 2010 Census, the GOP majority in Wisconsin's legislature gerrymandered state assembly districts so effectively that, in the 2012 elections, Republicans won 60 percent of the seats despite drawing only 48.6 percent of the votes.

There is agreement across the board that gerrymandering is a bipartisan sin, one that has only grown worse with modern computer-aided algorithms and mapping software. The damage gerrymandering does to democratic accountability — to the people's right to choose their representatives — is widely resented. Polls consistently show that majorities of voters think legislative maps drawn by legislators are unfair.

Partisan gerrymanders are a large part of the reason contemporary politics have grown so toxic. As Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse argue in a friend-of-the-court brief, the proliferation of ultrasafe legislative seats has led "to a more polarized and dysfunctional political climate. In safe districts, an incumbent's biggest threat is often a primary challenge from a more extreme member of his or her own party. This threat makes legislators reluctant to work across the aisle and support bipartisan legislation."

Thanks to hyperpartisan redistricting, competitive elections for the House of Representatives have largely disappeared. About 90 percent of incumbents are routinely reelected. The average margin of victory is around 65 percent. Gerrymandering has made a sham of most congressional elections. Whatever else the House of Representatives is, it isn't representative.

The malady is easy to diagnose. The remedy is a different matter.

The plaintiffs in Gill are asking the Supreme Court to declare overly partisan redistricting unconstitutional, on the grounds that it deprives voters of the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Heretofore, the court has resisted such pleas, considering it improper for the judiciary to insert itself into partisan skirmishing. In Justice Felix Frankfurter's formulation, "Courts ought not to enter this political thicket." That is still sound advice.

Yes, redistricting is noxious. Yes, it makes American politics worse. But not every problem is one that courts can solve. The Constitution explicitly, and wisely, leaves the details of organizing congressional elections to the political branches: "The Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."

Political gerrymandering should be replaced with a fairer system. But it's up to the states and Congress, not judges, to make that happen. Judicial confirmation battles are already bruising and unpleasant. Imagine how much uglier they will become if judges become the arbiters of whether political maps are too, er, political.

The best alternative to gerrymandering is to take redistricting away from politicians and entrust it to an independent commission. It isn't an impossible dream: Three states (California, Arizona, and Iowa) already use such commissions. If voters elsewhere really object to gerrymandering — not just when pollsters ask about it — they have the power to force change. Let the pressure for reform grow sufficiently acute and abusive mapmaking will be curtailed. But that pressure has to come from below. This is a political ill, to be healed by political means.



A Tale of Two Budgets

This week, the House is voting on a Fiscal Year 2018 budget while at the same time the Senate is debating its own version – and there are a number of stark differences. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

For all the years of GOP lawmakers calling for balanced budgets, at least on paper, the House budget would reach balance, while the Senate budget would not.

The House also expedites an important down payment on deficit reduction by calling for over $200 billion in spending cuts from reconciliation. That’s not enough, but far more than the Senate’s minimum target of $1 billion in savings. Yes, one.

The House budget also expedites tax reform that does not add to the debt – the clearly stated past goal of the President's budget, Republican leaders, and the White House – while the Senate budget allows for $1.5 trillion in additional borrowing. (Just to restate that, the Senate would allow $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and asks for only $1 billion in spending cuts.)

Both budgets rely on vastly overstated economic growth numbers, but the Senate budget includes those assumptions in a way that will actually make the debt worse.

No independent economist or forecaster anywhere is predicting the kind of sustained economic growth that would be necessary for tax cuts to be self-financing, and Congressional leaders should not be banking on it as policy. In fact, tax cuts that add to the debt will suppress economic growth, not unleash it.

If the current Senate GOP budget – or anything close to it – becomes our fiscal roadmap, no person supporting it will be able to claim to be a fiscal conservative or supporter of fiscal responsibility.

The House budget, on the other hand, paves the way for more responsible, revenue-neutral tax reform accompanied by at least some mandatory spending reductions that are a down payment on fiscal responsibility.

If lawmakers are unwilling to pass a budget that would truly put our debt on a downward path and address both tax and major entitlement reform, Members of Congress should at least reject adding trillions to the national debt on massively exaggerated promises of economic growth and take an approach that more closely resembles the House budget.

Media release from Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (newton@crfb.org)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


5 October, 2017

Isis savagery horrifies Taliban fighters in Tora Bora

Osama bin Laden’s cave hideout has become the setting for an unlikely alliance

Gunfire still rolls across Tora Bora’s caves, long after peace should have come to this corner of Afghanistan. The conflict continues unabated, but today it is an Islamic State rearguard defending the ridge lines and peaks.

“Bin Laden may have gone but the ideological machinery is still in place,” Brigadier Nasim Sangin, a commander with the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 201st Corps, said at the site of an al-Qaeda shrine below Tora Bora. He stared up into the peaks as sporadic bursts of machinegun fire echoed back and forth along the valley sides. “Unless you can remove that, and its sanctuary in Pakistan, then there will never be peace here.”

His troops have been fighting Isis in the mountains of Nangarhar province, abutting Pakistan, since the terrorist group arrived here three years ago after defeating the local Taliban fighters in a bloody turf war.

In July Brigadier Sangin’s soldiers succeeded in checking their advance and then driving them back from the lowlands below the Suleiman Khel valley — better known by its Pashto name Tora Bora, meaning “black caves” — and into the valley. Yet the ANA advance ground to a halt, leaving Isis fighters straddling a key supply route over a five-mile stretch of the Tora Bora valley all the way across the mountains into Pakistan.

“I have been stuck here for three months,” Brigadier Sangin growled as dusk fell. “My brigade have been scattered on operations across three different provinces and I haven’t got enough men to take these peaks and caves and drive Isis back over the border.”

Isis has been heavily diminished by US airstrikes, special forces raids and Afghan army operations, as well as by its battles with the Taliban, but it has defied complete defeat in Afghanistan. Its presence has caused a paradigm shift in the allegiances of regional, international and local actors in the war; the latest era of the “Great Game” — the historical confrontation over Afghanistan between Britain and Russia.

The Russians withdrew from the country in 1989 after a failed war, but since Isis’s appearance in Afghanistan they have started financing and equipping the Taliban, allegedly as a check against Isis encroachment into the Muslim population in its own central Asian sphere of interest.

“Russia’s support of the Taliban is materiel and financial,” an American official in Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times this week. “They are concerned about the migration of Isis and believe that the Taliban can block that, though we think it’s a false narrative and is really part of a dual-track policy to give the Russians an inroad with whichever power is in place pending a peace one day.”

Iran, another historical enemy of the Taliban, has also increased its support, partly to contain the spread of Islamic State westwards toward its border but also to undermine American influence in the country.

The Taliban fighters on the plain below Tora Bora have agreed an informal local armistice with the Afghan army, allowing it to turn its guns on Isis, their common enemy.

“I fought the Russians, I have fought the communists, I have fought the foreigners but believe me, the Daesh [Isis] are the worst enemy of all,” said Mira Khan, a Taliban commander in the village of Nasir Khel, below Tora Bora. He handed himself and seven of his fighters over to Brigadier Sangin’s troops four weeks ago under the terms of an amnesty conditional to his service against Isis. “At least the Taliban just shoot their enemies. The Daesh chopped some of my men and family into quarters and left them scattered along the valley so we could never retrieve them.”

He claimed to have seen an Isis sniper with two prosthetic legs who had been carried to his position on a mule. “He fought and died using just his hands and eyes, with no thought of escape,” he said. “We have never seen such savagery.”

Afghan officers said that the local armistice with the Taliban did not reflect any broader change in their operations in Nangarhar. “The Taliban didn’t have much choice but to let us through their area,” Brigadier Sangin added. “They had already been beaten by Isis and the locals were begging us for help.”

Nevertheless, it was an uneasy feeling driving through the hardcore Taliban zone on the approaches to Tora Bora with a column of Afghan troops. “When things change here, they change fast,” a soldier told me, pointing to a Taliban flag that flew from a roadside tree.

The ANA’s casualties fighting in the region have been heavy. Earlier in the summer the brigadier lost 16 troops in a single Isis night attack on one of his outposts. “I received a panicked radio call from the company commander shouting ‘they are inside the compound and upon us’, and that was it,” he said. “It was all over in ten minutes. The entire post overrun, my men dead and Isis disappeared back into the night.”

The jihadists’ casualties have been far higher than the army’s. ANA intelligence intercepts from conversations between Isis commanders in Afghanistan and a logistics headquarters in Landi Kotal, a town on the western edge of the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, recorded 1,264 deaths in Nangarhar province last year and 760 in the first six months of this year.

US officers in Afghanistan claim to have killed more than half of all Isis fighters in the area since launching their campaign against them, and to have reduced the jihadists’ area of control by two thirds. The dead include each of the first three Isis leaders in the region. American officials say that the group’s latest nomination for the role of emir in Afghanistan has been sent to Syria for approval, where it is under review by Islamic State’s leadership council.

“There is an existing line of communication between Isis in Afghanistan and Isis main in Syria,” a US official involved with the operation against Isis said. “The response time gets longer and longer, reflecting the degradation of Isis in Syria and Iraq.”

US officials and Afghan intelligence officers share concerns that, despite the many casualties and setbacks on the battlefield, Isis has reverted to a new campaign of covert recruitment across Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad in 2011.

“We believe the Daesh still has nearly 1,900 men in Nangarhar, though the Americans estimate only 1,000,” an Afghan military intelligence officer said. “Their funding lines appear to remain intact, so they recruit heavily in Pakistan’s tribal areas and send them over here to replace their casualties.”

Standing by a shrine to four of Bin Laden’s fighters — remarkable among the scree-strewn slopes for the tall rock headstones and totem poles adorned by local women with brightly coloured cloths and trinkets — Brigadier Sangin cocked his head to the sound of a new burst of shooting from the shadows of Tora Bora.

“If I just get my scattered battalions back from their other operations,” he murmured ruefully. “If I could just get enough men, then I could get up the valley and annihilate the Daesh all the way to the Pakistan border before the snow comes in six weeks and I can’t move.”



When Life Gives You Paul Ryan, Make Lemonade


It is now clear that Republicans are incapable of giving us a free market in health insurance, so it continues to be illegal in America to buy health plans that don’t cover shrinks, domestic violence counseling and HIV screening, and perhaps always shall be.

But there are still other good things Republicans can do!

First, for fun, Republicans ought to request a Congressional Budget Office score of Obamacare. The GOP’s various replacement bills have been pilloried over their CBO scorings, showing, for example, that if given a choice, up to 20 million Americans would voluntarily choose not to buy health insurance in the year 2026. The horror.

Hey, does anybody remember how the Democrats “scored” Obamacare?

I do! Democrats gamed the numbers given to the CBO by asking it to score the first 10 years of a bill that collected taxes for 10 years, but only started paying out benefits in the last six years.

On the basis of that accounting trick, the Democrats spent months hectoring Republicans who refused to vote for the bill, saying they were against SAVING THE TAXPAYERS MONEY. Yes — we’d be SAVING MONEY by providing health care for all, especially transgenders and illegals.

Now that both parts of Obamacare are in place — the money coming in and the money going out — how about asking the CBO to score the real Obamacare?

Second, where are the hearings? The usual complaint with Republicans is that they’re all talk, no action. But when it comes to Obamacare, it’s the reverse: The GOP is all action, no talk.

I pay attention to politics. Have there been hearings I’ve missed? Republicans seem to think the Tea Party did all their work for them, so why bother losing friends by holding hearings to demonstrate what a catastrophe Obamacare is?

No, that’s not how it works. The public needs to be educated on the destruction Obamacare has wrought. Apparently, so do members of Congress, having exempted themselves from experiencing Obamacare the way the rest of us do.

Millions of Americans have been thrown off their insurance plans. Or they’re getting the exact same plan they had in 2009 — at 10 times the price. Or their so-called health insurance isn’t accepted by any English-speaking doctors.

Republicans need to put faces to Americans being whipsawed by astronomical premiums along with enormous deductibles, all to pay for useless health insurance.

We want to hear from anguished doctors whose patients are only allowed to buy plans that no longer cover anything they actually need, and can’t pay the bill when emergencies force them to seek medical care anyway.

Third and finally, if Trump wants a win, how about medical malpractice reform? That’s a fix that will instantly cut at least 20 percent off the cost of everyone’s health care.

Republicans can say, With zero support from the Democrats, we can’t pass any decent replacement for Obamacare, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying to improve health care for all Americans.

The whole country has been screaming for malpractice reform for decades. Democrats know how repelled the public is by lawyers making millions of dollars from obscene jury awards, but, unfortunately, their party is joined at the hip to trial lawyers.

Shyster lawyers taking 50 percent “contingency fees” off their lottery-style winnings have made health care not only a lot more expensive, but also unbelievably annoying. Patients are forced to take medicine that’s bad for them and sit in doctors’ offices waiting for pointless tests — all because the doctor doesn’t want to get sued.

The GOP should have a gigantic photo of John Edwards on display throughout the hearings. The former North Carolina senator made more than $30 million pushing a theory that we now know was bogus science. It’s as if all Edwards’ legal victories depended on the Earth being flat.

As a result of his since-disproven claim that cerebral palsy was caused by a doctor’s failure to perform a C-section, getting pregnant now is more dangerous, as doctors are forced to perform more of these riskier surgeries or stop delivering babies altogether.

“She speaks to you through me, and I have to tell you right now … I feel her. I feel her presence. She’s inside me, and she’s talking to you.” — Actual quote from attorney John Edwards to a jury of illiterates in 1985.

Let doctors testify about having to go out of business, drop practices and perform needless surgeries and tests — for the sole purpose of avoiding lawsuits.

Lawyers’ PACs will spend gobs of money fighting any limits whatsoever on malpractice suits, but so what? They’ll have a lot less money to spend against Republicans in the future. (And it might distract them from trying to bring terrorists into the country!) Even if Republicans lose, the price of Democrats going to bat for these hilarious ambulance chasers would be worth it.

If decent health insurance is off the table, we should at least demand that Republicans entertain us.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


4 October, 2017

Envy of success

A nice looking couple from a wealthy background get married but they reveal too much of their privileged background in the wdedding announcement.  In an envious world I suppose that was crass but they were just doing what was normal for them.  And why should they hide their background? Their announcement has however attracted much criticism

Envious people could perhaps reflect on John F. Kennedy Jr., a very privileged person  who married a privileged lady, Carolyn Bessette.  They became the focus of society attention, including being invited to the White House by Bill Clinton. So they surpassed the couple below in social success.  But, like many of his class, Kennedy owned a light plane that he liked to fly. On  July 16, 1999, Kennedy crashed it, killing both of them.  Carolyn was only 33 at the time.  Light planes are always dangerous and Kennedy was probably coked up when he crashed it so "privilege" is not always what it seems, is it?

Imagine the distress of Carolyn's parents -- to have seen their beautiful daughter taken to the heights of social eminence, only to die young without even leaving the consolation of a child

THERE’S a specific type of upper class New Yorker who gets their wedding announced in the New York Times. They’re usually white, blonde, Ivy League educated and very, very rich.

Grace Hays Holcomb du Pont and Conor Jackson Sutherland — yep, those are their real names — fit those criteria perfectly. She’s a teacher and he’s an investment banker.

They were married on Saturday and their hilariously obnoxious and out of touch wedding announcement in the Times went viral on the weekend.

“Nothing at all elitist about them. Just your average Americans, offspring of ordinary hardworking billionaires, falling in love and deciding to walk through life hand-in-hand together,” wrote one Facebook commenter.

Another declared it, “The greatest white person wedding announcement of all time.”

The announcement:

Grace du Pont, Conor Sutherland

Grace Hays Holcomb du Pont was married Sept. 30 to Conor Jackson Sutherland in Manhattan. The Rev. J. Donald Waring performed the ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church. The bride and groom both graduated from Princeton, she cum laude and he magna cum laude.

Mrs. Sutherland, 26, was until Thursday at Achievement First Apollo Middle School, a charter school in Brooklyn, where she worked on special projects as a member of the operations team. From 2012 to 2014, she taught sixth-grade science with Teach for America at Ranson Middle School in Charlotte, N.C. She also received a master’s degree in teaching from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

She is a daughter of Jean Young du Pont and Pierre S. du Pont V of Tarrytown, N.Y. The bride’s father is a partner, in Manhattan, at HPM Partners, an investment and wealth management firm. Her mother was until 2016 the president and chief executive of the Garden Conservancy, an organization in Garrison, N.Y., and is now a legal, strategic and development consultant. The bride is a descendant of Éleuthčre Irénée du Pont, the founder of what is now known as the DuPont Company. She is also a granddaughter of Pierre S. du Pont IV of Rockland, Del., who was the governor of Delaware from 1977 to 1985, and is a great-great-granddaughter of Llewellyn Powers, who was the governor of Maine from 1897 to 1901.

Mr. Sutherland, 30, helps buy, manage and sell companies in the portfolio at Apollo Global Management, an investment firm in Manhattan.

He is the son of Denise Jackson Sutherland of Glen Cove, N.Y., and the late Donald J. Sutherland. His mother was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in Manhattan from 1969 to 1986, and served from 1987 to 2014 as a trustee of the Professional Children’s School in New York. His father was the founder and chief executive of Quincy Partners, a leveraged buyout firm that was in Glen Head, N.Y.

The couple dated at Princeton, but had met a few years earlier, in 2007, in North Haven, Me., when Ms. du Pont offered a ride to Mr. Sutherland and a friend, whom Ms. du Pont knew. The two men had just moored their sailboat and were preparing for a long row back to the dock, whereas she was piloting her family’s motorized tender. They took the ride.


Some wisdom from ancient times summarizes the matter: "Envy not the glory and riches of a sinner: for thou knowest not what his ruin shall be". (Sirach 9:16, Douay)


Trump and the Pax Americana

Tom Switzer

After July's G20 summit in Hamburg, the ABC's Chris Uhlmann remarked that President Trump cast an "uneasy, lonely, awkward figure" who had "pressed fast forward on the decline of the United States as the global leader." The television clip went viral online. But was Uhlmann right?

It is certainly true Donald Trump has unnerved many people around the world. His strident 'America First' campaign rhetoric, taken together with his decisions to withdraw the U.S. from both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accords, raised doubts about the Pax Americana. The U.S. is also bogged down in a crisis of confidence, exacerbated by its toxic polarisation and hyper-partisan political culture.

But it is also true Trump has reaffirmed the security alliances with Japan, South Korea and Australia in Asia, Israel and the Saudi-led Sunni Gulf states in the Middle East and -- albeit grudgingly -- NATO in Europe. So much for withdrawing the U.S. from the world. Nor has he imposed the 45% tariffs on China or 30% tariffs on Mexico that would have pushed the global economy into recession.

Although the U.S. will not command the kind of strategic and economic pre-eminence it has held since the 1940s -- a trend  Richard Nixon recognised as early as the early 1970s -- America will remain the most powerful state in the world for the foreseeable future.

America has the largest and the most technologically superior military in the world. It has the most diverse and technologically advanced economy. Global tech platforms, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, are used by more than a billion people. All dominate their respective markets; all are American.

America is demographically vibrant: its fertility rates surpass those of its competitors Japan, Europe and China. It has transformed itself into an energy superpower: the shale gas 'fracking' revolution means energy self-sufficiency and independence.

To be sure, a clash is taking place between Trump (who is apparently attacking the liberal international order) and U.S. foreign-policy elites (who champion American global leadership). In the meantime, as the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer has argued, this produces an American foreign policy that is discombobulated and hard to understand. That unnerves allies.

If the U.S. is committed to keeping in check a rising China -- the only true rising hegemon capable of destabilising regional order and American primacy -- it needs a president who is thinking strategically and working closely with regional allies. But that is not happening, because Trump is widely perceived as a loose cannon and strikingly ignorant of the world -- a potentially deadly combination.



The Leftmedia Love Affair With Totalitarianism

The New York Times is praising Mao Zedong for his "progress" with feminism, while ignoring his genocide.

One of the greatest benefits of living in the U.S. is the constitutional protections of individual rights and freedoms that all Americans enjoy. But it is precisely those individual rights and freedoms that place limits on officials within government. The Left views such limits to government as socially problematic rather than beneficial. Witness the growing sentiment among college and university students who are actively questioning the value of freedom of speech — not only questioning it, but even calling for it to be prevented, with violence if necessary. For these social “justice” crusaders, individual freedom should always be subservient to collectivist “progressive” values.

It is in such a climate as this that one of the primary Demo/MSM propaganda fronts, The New York Times, is promoting communism (overtly this time), in a series of praise articles including, “When Communism Inspired Americans,” “Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism” and “The Little Red Book for Children.” This series, highlighting the “glory days” of communism, omits references to the countless millions of civilian men, women and children who were murdered or starved under these regimes.

The latest entry in this series purports to portray how women fared under Red China’s communist regime, asserting, “The communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.” When it was not slaughtering them and their children, that is. It praises China’s former totalitarian strongman Mao Zedong for his efforts in promoting feminism. The author, Helen Gao, is an American of Chinese descent, and she writes glowingly of her grandmother’s opportunity to work as a journalist during the early days of the “People’s” Republic. A brief side note here. To have been a journalist at that time in China, Gao’s grandmother would have been obligated to spout Communist Party propaganda without freedom of the press protections Gao herself enjoys here in the good old U.S.A. But we digress.

Seeking to somehow dispel the obvious objections readers might raise regarding her willingness to praise the vision and efforts of a murderous tyrant responsible for the deaths of 45 million of his own people, Gao quotes her grandmother’s saying, “The communists did many terrible things, but they made women’s lives much better.” There — problem solved. Noting the absurdity, one humorist responded, “NYT next week: For all its flaws, Hitler’s Nazi movement brought healthy vegetarian meal planning to the Reich.” Except, of course, the NYT doesn’t like to highlight that the Nazis were also socialists.

Notably, this latest example of the NYT’s communist dezinformatsiya campaign comes in the midst of nuclear threats from Red China’s nuclear puppet — NoKo’s communist nut Kim Jong-un. Move on, nothing to see here!



DOJ files suit against company for allegedly not hiring Americans

The Department of Justice announced Thursday it has filed a lawsuit against a Colorado corporation for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers. 

The complaint alleges that in 2016, Crop Production discriminated against at least three United States citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because Crop Production preferred to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.

“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “…

Where there is a job available, U.S. workers should have a chance at it before we bring in workers from abroad.”

This is the first complaint filed stemming from the “Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative,” which was launched on March 1. 

A Civil Rights Division official told Fox News that since the initiative’s launch, the division has opened 29 investigations of “potential discrimination against U.S. workers based on a hiring preference for foreign visa workers.”

DOJ officials also told Fox News the department has reached at least one settlement with a company discriminating against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers, and distributed over $100,000.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


3 October, 2017

Stupid Spanish machismo bad for their future

The face of modern Spain

Machismo is a personality disorder common in peri-Mediterranean lands.  It arises from the fact that most societies there are  mother-dominated or grandmother dominated.  The women concerned propagandize their sons about how much the sons owe them and insist that the sons act as "Mamma" requires.  Israel is of course a Mediterranean country and Yiddisher Mammas are well known for acting that way.  The Sheldons and Irvings of the world, however, seem to have better ways of establishing their independence and self-esteem rather than going macho.

Machismo is exaggerated displays of masculinity, toughness and  strength.  It is designed to deny that you are a "Momma's boy"  and assert your masculinity. So macho men are quick to take offence at any perceived slight.

And the Madrid government is lamentably and foolishly macho -- presumably reflecting what Spaniards tend to vote for. The folly of their approach is most easily seen in the case of Gibraltar.  It seems to be perceived by them as a wound in the body of the nation, a slight to their manliness.  So they never cease demanding that Britain cede it to them.

But they unintentionally make it easy for Britain to deny that.  The first step in "recovering" Gibraltar should surely be to get Gibraltarians on side.  Spain should make nice to Gibraltarians in every possible way, including substantial special concessions such as reduced taxes.  So does Madrid do that?  No way! They go out of their way to make life difficult on Gibraltar.  So, when given a vote on the matter, something like 98% of Gibraltarians voted to remain part of Britain.

And the shocking treatment of Catalans during their independence referendum described below is another example of stupidity inspired by machismo.

There were once some less emotional Catalans who saw advantage in remaining part of Spain.  And given a proper opportunity for discussion, they might have been in the majority. 

Consider how Britain treated the call for Scottish independence.  Instead of trying to suppress a referendum they called one and enabled a proper and peaceful democratic discussion of the matter in Scotland. And despite the long-standing and vociferous calls for independence in Scotland, how did the vote turn out?  The majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK! Had Spain treated the Catalans as resctfully as the Scots were treated, the Catalan question might by now have been resolved in Spain's favour.  But brute force rather than respectful discussion is the macho way

So what will happen now?  Anti-Spanish attitudes in Catalonia will have become rock-solid and virtually universal.  And perceiving themselves as oppressed by Spain, Catalans will go down the well-trodden way to express that feeling:  Terrorism. Spain will soon have a fresh lot of domestic terrorists to deal with.  Clever!

Catalan officials claimed 90% of 2.2million voters had called for independence in an 'illegal' referendum blighted by violent scenes which left at least 888 people injured.

World leaders condemned the brutal scenes after officials revealed that hundreds of protesters have been injured so far.

Officers were seen stamping and kicking protesters as they stormed buildings and seized ballot boxes.

Footage captured in the village of Sarria de Ter in the province of Girona showed authorities using an axe to smash down the doors of a polling station where Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was due to cast his vote.

He said the region had won the right to become an independent state with the referendum results due in a few days.

And in Barcelona, the region's capital, officers fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters demonstrating against their votes being denied.

Boris Johnson condemned the violent clashes but said that the UK saw the vote as unconstitutional.

The Foreign Secretary said: 'We are obviously worried by any violence but clearly the referendum, as I understand it, is not constitutional so a balance needs to be struck. We hope very much that things will calm down.'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier called on Theresa May to intervene with the Spanish government over the police crackdown.

Mr Corbyn condemned the 'shocking police violence' being used as he tweeted: 'I urge Theresa May to appeal directly to Rajoy to end police violence in Catalonia & find political solution to this constitutional crisis.'

Pope Francis also urged Europeans not to fear unity and to put aside nationalistic and other self-interests during a speech in Bologna in Italy.

He did not mention the police violence during Catalonia's independence referendum - but in a speech to university students, he recalled that the European Union was borne out of the ashes of war to guarantee peace.

He warned that conflicts and other interests were now threatening those founding ideals.

Francis said: 'Don't be afraid of unity! May special interests and nationalism not render the courageous dreams of the founders of the European Union in vain.'

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has campaigned for independence for Scotland – tweeted: 'Some of the scenes in Catalonia are quite shocking and surely unnecessary. Just let people vote.'

European leaders also voiced their disquiet over the degree of violence used, and called for dialogue between regional and national leaders.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel tweeted: 'Violence can never be the answer. We condemn all forms of violence and reaffirm our call for political dialogue.'

Spain's Prime Minister claimed the Catalonian referendum had been prevented amid the scenes of violent chaos across the country.

And tens of thousands of fans were banned from attending FC Barcelona's football match with Las Palmas in a protest against the violence.

Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the referendum and the central government says it is illegal.

But regional separatist leaders pledged to hold it anyway and called on the area's 5.3million eligible voters to show up to cast their ballots. They later said 90-% of 2.2million voters had opted for an independent Catalonia.

Mr Puidgemont condemned the Spanish government's crackdown. He said: 'Police brutality will shame forever the Spanish state.'

But the Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said officers in Catalonia are acting 'in a proportionate manner'. She added that the Catalan government 'has behaved with absolute irresponsibility' by going ahead with the referendum.

Shocking footage from Barcelona shows police officers throwing voters down a flight of stairs and stamping on people as they raid a polling station.

FC Barcelona condemned the violence on the streets as it announced that its game today would be 'played behind closed doors'.

The club has long supported Catalonia's right for a vote on independence, without throwing its weight behind the yes or no camp.

It said in a statement: 'FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken part in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression.

'Given the exceptional nature of events the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League's refusal to postpone the game.'

The club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: 'It wasn't done for security, the security was guaranteed.  'We have done it behind closed doors so that everyone can see our opposition at what is happening.'

This morning in Barcelona, police forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from a polling station at a school.

Daniel Riano was inside when the police busted in the building's front door.

The 54-year-old said: 'We were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything.

'One policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out, while I was holding my wife's hand. It was incredible. They didn't give any warning.'

Ferran Miralles said a crowd scuffled with police outside as they formed a tight perimeter around the door. Miralles said: 'They were very aggressive. They pushed me out of the way.'

Elsewhere in the city, police arrested several people outside the Treball voting centre amid scuffles on the street. Officers dragged some of the protesters away and detained them.



Trump's consistency over time

AN 18-YEAR-OLD newspaper clipping featuring Donald Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton and even Al Gore has been unearthed by an internet sleuth — and much of it could have been written today.

North Korean nuclear weapons, dodgy Clinton donations and Mr Trump’s hands-on negotiation style all get a mention in the clipping from the 1 November 1999 edition of Wisconsin newspaper The Oshkosh Northwestern, which was discovered by Reddit user PresidentJohnMiller.

“It’s amazing how nothing has changed in the last 18 years,” they wrote.

The full-page “News Makers” section features a brief on Mr Trump, who at the time was considering a run for president as the Reform Party nominee, titled “Trump would be US trade rep”.

“Donald Trump said Sunday that as president, he personally would handle US trade talks and would restore respect from countries doing business with America,” it reads, adding that Mr Trump “took aim at North Korea and China for ignoring US overtures and building nuclear weapons” and “branded Cuba’s Fidel Castro as ‘absolutely a killer and should be treated as such’”.

If nothing else, the clipping highlights Mr Trump’s consistency.

As president, the billionaire has taken a hands-on approach to what he describes as “bad deals” including the Paris Climate Accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In November, the president-elect was one of the first world leaders to respond to the death of the Cuban dictator, tweeting simply “Fidel Castro is dead!”, before describing him in a statement as a “brutal dictator” whose legacy was one of “firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights”.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


2 October, 2017

Russian Collusion?

We keep being told that President Trump is not normal. This much has been blindingly obvious. He had never run for office or otherwise served in a public capacity. He has been accused, not without reason, of breaking all manner of political norms. America’s most nontraditional president was never going to conduct business as usual from the West Wing. Less than a year into his first term, he has already caused much anguish in Washington. This should be no surprise—while running for office Trump repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and shake things up. Americans knew who they were voting for, and history will judge the results.

That said, Trump’s nascent presidency has coincided with perhaps the greatest violation of political norms this country has ever seen—a violation that has nothing to do with Trump’s behavior. Since the election last November, there has been a sustained, coordinated attack on Trump’s legitimacy as president following his victory in a free and fair election. This has the potential to cause far more lasting damage to America than Trump’s controversial style.

Democratic operatives and their media allies attempted to explain Trump’s victory with a claim they had failed to make stick during the general election: Trump had nefarious ties to Russia. This was a fertile area for allegations, if for no other reason than that Trump had been reluctant to express criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly condemned Russia’s 2011 elections, saying they were “neither free nor fair” and expressing “serious concerns” about them. She publicly called for a full investigation while meeting with top Russian officials. This made Putin livid. “Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘foreign money’ was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action,” The New York Times reported.

Trump’s relationship with Putin was decidedly different. In December 2015, Putin called Trump “a really brilliant and talented person.” Trump replied: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” He added, “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”

Then rumors surfaced in the summer of 2016 that Russia probably had something to do with the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee email system, as well as the successful “phishing” of Democratic insider John Podesta’s inbox. Russia was also alleged to have tried to hack the Republican National Committee, but without success. It remained an open question whether the Russians were trying to help Trump or were simply trying to create chaos in the election. Regardless, these Democratic Party emails were published by WikiLeaks, and they confirmed what many critics had said about Clinton and the DNC—the DNC had engineered the primary to ensure a Clinton victory; the Clinton campaign had cozy, borderline unethical relations with members of the mainstream media; Clinton expressed private positions to Wall Street banks that were at odds with her public positions; and various other embarrassing details indicating her campaign was in disarray.

According to Shattered, a well-sourced book about the Clinton campaign written by sympathetic reporters, Clinton settled on a Russia excuse within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. [Campaign manager Robby] Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

The Russian collusion story involves a lot of details, but there are two basic tactics that Trump’s enemies have used to push the narrative: they have put seemingly innocuous contacts with Russians under a microscope, and they have selectively touted details supplied by a politicized intelligence apparatus. And this has all been amplified by a media that has lost perspective and refuses to be impartial, much less accurate.

Meetings with Russians
If most of us can now agree that Putin’s Russia is a potential threat to the United States, we shouldn’t forget that the Washington establishment regarded this as a radical opinion not so long ago. Shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008, Time magazine ran a cover with him asking a Russian bear, “Can we be friends?” The media generally celebrated Secretary of State Clinton’s attempt at a Russian “reset” in 2009. Obama was later caught on a hot mic promising Putin more “flexibility” once he was reelected. And during Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, when his opponent Mitt Romney characterized Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe, Obama mocked him by saying, “The 1980s called. They want their foreign policy back.” The New York Times editorial page said of Romney’s Russia comments that they “display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.”

Trump’s election changed all that. Not since the heyday of McCarthyism in the 1950s have so many in Washington been accused of consorting with Russians who wish to undermine American democracy.

More HERE 


Challenging the Racist Cops Myth

The real controversy should not be over those protesting the national anthem but the perpetuation of the racism myth.

NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem was a movement steadily gaining momentum. It suddenly exploded last weekend after Donald Trump called out the protesting players for disrespecting the American flag. Now the Leftmedia elite are blaming Trump for causing “division.” But the truth is Trump hit upon an issue that has become deeply offensive to many Americans: Multi-millionaires are protesting supposed injustice and racism in America that is simply not backed up by the facts. Those protesting are demanding that Americans concede to accepting a reality that amounts to a lie. And what is that lie? That police across the nation are systemically racist against blacks. It’s the Democrat war on cops.

Any time an issue like racism is raised, it evokes high degrees of emotion and passion, because it hits at two fundamental truths. First, an individual has absolutely no control over their ethnicity; quite literally they are “born that way.” Second, people naturally gravitate toward and relate to those with whom they share the most in common. And neither of these truths are inherently wrong or evil. When these realities are raised as ultimate delimiters and primary identifiers between people, that’s when the ugly problem of racism emerges. In other words, friction happens when people are taught to attribute everything about themselves and others primarily to the lowest common denominator of race. For example, the reason you got in trouble was because you’re black, or the reason you got into a good school is because you are Asian, etc.

It is precisely this flawed race-based mindset that has been behind the current NFL anthem protests. When objectively looking at the actual data, an honest individual can easily see the flaw in these protesters’ objections. The truth is that police are not a bunch of racists running around seeking black men to kill or imprison.

In 2015, the number of individuals killed by police was 995. That’s out of a total population of 318 million people. Obviously, the bare fact that an individual was killed doesn’t tell the whole story, but of those killed only 90 were determined to be unarmed. Of those unarmed individuals killed only 4% were black men killed by white cops. In the vast majority of all police killings (three-quarters), law enforcement officers were confronted by individuals who were armed. One statistic often left out of the conversation is the number of police killed. In 2015, 124 out of an estimated 900,000 full-time federal, state and local officers lost their lives in the line of duty.

The objective data simply does not support the protesters’ message of a pandemic of racist cops. It is merely a popular myth perpetuated by those who ply their trade by convincing people that they are helpless victims and targets of some massively unjust society, especially the police.

Why is it that none of these NFL players or owners has the courage to actually stand up and challenge the lie that is being perpetuated? The greater problem is not players kneeling during the national anthem, it’s that no one is willing to step up and challenge the lie of systemic racism.



3 Proofs That the Conservative Movement Is Alive and Well

For those who think the conservative movement is in disarray and may be even close to cracking up, I call attention to three anniversaries being celebrated this week.

These three anniversaries reflect organizations that have made a significant difference in our politics and our culture for half a century: the Media Research Center, The American Spectator, and the Fund for American Studies.

Led by the irrepressible Brent Bozell, the Media Research Center is marking its 30th anniversary of exposing the left-wing bias of the mass media by the simplest of methods—using their own words to hoist them high.

At its annual Dishonors Awards dinner, the Media Research Center presented the hysterical reactions of the networks’ finest to Donald Trump’s presidential victory. In their apocalyptic analysis, anchors and reporters alike did everything but urge their viewers to renounce their citizenship and move to Canada or the Cayman Islands without delay.

Rush Limbaugh, the King of Talk Radio with a weekly listening audience of 20 million, revealed that he first heard of Bozell while reading him in National Review, which was all the accreditation he needed. About the mainstream media, Limbaugh was to the point: “They’re dead wrong. They’re dead stupid.”

Radio talk show host Mark Levin summed up the evening by describing MRC and Brent Bozell as “national treasures.”

For half a century, The American Spectator under the editorship of R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. has been slicing and dicing liberals and progressives like Bill and Hillary Clinton at the hands of accomplished polemicists like P. J. O’Rourke, Ben Stein, Patrick Buchanan, and Malcolm Muggeridge.

When others on the right hesitated, the Spectator welcomed neoconservatives like Irving Kristol to its pages. When the conservative movement waxed lackadaisical and split into factions following the Reagan years, Bob Tyrrell delivered a kick to its pants with his book, “The Conservative Crack-Up.”

A special favorite of the Spectator was The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor Robert Bartley, an adviser to the magazine at the time of his death in 2003. At this year’s anniversary gala, the Spectator honored Bartley and featured remarks by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus; Stein; and humorist Greg Gutfeld, host of “The Greg Gutfeld Show” on Fox News.

The American Spectator has weathered financial storms and revolutionary changes in journalism, but is still publishing its Menckenesque insights into American politics—although now in digital rather than print form.

The academic empire of the 50-year-old Fund for American Studies, with its 11 institutes that span the globe from Washington, D.C., to Hong Kong, attest to the old saw that a good idea can have exceedingly good consequences.

In 1967, former New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison—the son of the famed inventor Thomas Alva Edison—recruited Dr. Walter H. Judd, youth leader David R. Jones, political consultant Marvin Liebman, and editor/author William F. Buckley Jr. to build a program that would educate college students in American government, politics, and economics.

The group approached Georgetown University professor Lev E. Dobriansky about sponsoring a summer institute on comparative and political and economic systems at his university. In 1970, 57 students attended the first institute.

Today, more than 1,000 students annually attend course credit programs at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and Chile. The programs cover economics and politics, political journalism, business and government affairs, philanthropy, and legal studies.

In addition, the fund sponsors other educational programs and conferences for students and professors throughout the year, including a 15-week academic and internship program each fall and spring in Washington, D.C., as well as the Walter H. Judd Freedom Award, presented annually to individuals who have advanced the cause of freedom in the United States and abroad.

Russian dissident and chess grand master Garry Kasparov will receive the 2017 Judd Award. The fund will also honor at its 50th anniversary banquet this year former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Stephen Hayes, editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard.

When we consider the manifold contributions of the Fund for American Studies, The American Spectator, and the Media Research Center over the years and reflect that they are but a part of the conservative movement, we can rest assured that the movement is alive and well and resolute in its goal to preserve ordered liberty in America, both for this generation and generations to come.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


1 October, 2017

An earthquake in the Senate Tuesday night with Roy Moore win

The 2018 election map looks marvelous for Republicans. The Republicans only have to play defense in Nevada, and can put the Democrats on defense across the map. Out of the 25 Democrat-held Senate seats up for re-election, President Trump won ten of the states and lost two more by razor-thin margins. Surely the Republican Party is gearing up for a monumental election season. Surely the Republican elites are preparing to challenge Democrats in all twelve of those states. Surely the establishment is saving its money and wisely spending it to target Democrats. Lest we forget, these are D.C. Republicans?

On Tuesday, the Alabama electorate sent shockwaves through the Republican establishment elites of the nation. The underfunded challenger, Judge Roy Moore, soundly defeated the cash-rich incumbent, Sen. Luther Strange, in the Republican primary by over nine points. Strange didn’t just raise more money, he had the entire establishment behind him, including a few very powerful PACs.

The Senate Leadership Fund is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) personal PAC. For this race, it doled out over $7.9 million for Strange according to Issue One, a nonprofit that analyzes money spent on elections. In total, over $30 million was spent by outside groups and the RNC to re-elect the establishment incumbent. This begs the question, why would Republican-leaning groups spend millions in a Republican primary?

For some unknown reason, it was believed that Moore would have a tough time in the general election. This is the same man that was twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court. This is also in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat state-wide since 2008 and hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992.

Now that the primary is over, surely we can all get along?

The McConnell fund issued the following statement, “We are proud to have fought alongside President Trump and the NRA in support of a dedicated conservative who has loyally supported this President and his agenda. Senator Strange can hold his head high knowing that he played a critical role in cleaning up the corruption in Montgomery, confirming President Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, and strongly supporting the President’s priorities on border security and repealing Obamacare. While we were honored to have fought hard for Big Luther, Judge Roy Moore won this nomination fair and square and he has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands.”

Despite the statement of support, McConnell’s fund still has negative stories about Judge Moore on its website, so it’s kind of hard to take them seriously.

If McConnell does wish to be taken seriously, we can expect millions to be poured into the state for Moore. After all, according to leadership, it’s going to be a tight race.

Aside from wasting millions, Republican leadership now has another problem. Because McConnell went negative against fellow Republicans, the damage must now be undone. McConnell constantly pushed negative stories about Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) from uber-liberal progressive news sources, in effect doing the work of the Democrats. McConnell attempted to poison the electorate to get the win. Now other PACs must come in behind leadership and spend money to rehab the image destroyed by the Republican elites.

At this point, donors have to be asking themselves, “Is my money being well spent?”

Aside from the race being a fiscal disaster for the Republican elites, the defeat has changed the landscape for the remaining incumbent Republican Senators.

In a statement, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning blasted the development, saying, “Republican primary voters are sick of the do-nothing status quo which is leaving Obamacare intact, and sitting Republican Senators will face the brunt of this intraparty anger as we’ve already seen.”

Chris McDaniel is looking at Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kelli Ward is looking at Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Danny Tarkanian is looking at Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Are Republican leaders willing to spend more money defending incumbent Senators from primaries in safe Republican seats than winning new seats?

The 2018 election map does look great for Republicans unless you are an incumbent. If an incumbent Senator is supported by McConnell and Republican leadership, that Senator is seen as part of the problem by the grassroots. The millions being doled out by leadership funds are seen as a signal to the base, that person is part of leadership. Republican leadership should recognize how their base feels about them and spend their money wisely. Concentrate on winning new seats, and let the primary process play itself out, otherwise, your one-million-dollar donation to an incumbent will do more harm than good.


Briefly: The GOP's tax framework

President Trump and congressional Republicans rolled out a sweeping tax overhaul proposal on Wednesday that won immediate praise from conservatives, uniting a party that had been divided over how to repeal ObamaCare.

Business groups and the far-right House Freedom Caucus both backed the GOP blueprint to slash business taxes and trim the number of individual tax rates as Republicans looked to quickly move on from another failure to repeal the health care law.

Trump and his congressional allies are salivating for a major legislative win after a year filled with losses and disappointments, most of them related to a failed effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Their new hope is tax reform, which on the surface at least offers plenty for Republicans to agree upon.

Trump, seeming more at ease discussing tax compared to health care, said the framework “represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce taxes, rebuild our economy and restore America’s competitive edge.”

The president stressed that the benefits would go to the middle class, not the wealthy, though Democrats disputed that assertion.

“I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me, believe me,” Trump said at an event in Indiana to sell the plan.

“This is the right tax cut and this is the right time. Democrats and Republicans in Congress should come together finally to deliver this giant win for the American people and begin [a] middle-class miracle.”

The president traveled to Indiana with Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is facing a tough reelection race in a red state. He pressured the senator to back his efforts, threatening to campaign against him if he declined.

The nine-page plan calls for three individual tax rates of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent, while expressing openness to an additional rate that’s higher than 35 percent. The top rate is currently 39.6 percent.

The framework also would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and would cut the rate for “pass-through” businesses whose income is taxed through the individual code, to 25 percent. It would also nearly double the standard deduction and would repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

The blueprint gives Republicans a chance to turn their attention away from their failed efforts to repeal ObamaCare, a defeat in the skirmish over the debt ceiling, where Democratic leaders struck a deal with President Trump, and lack of action on Trump’s border wall.

The document was widely praised by GOP lawmakers, including the leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee and Freedom Caucus, two groups that can act as thorns in leadership’s side.

“They’ve made a much better start than health care,” said Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus.

Freedom Caucus members had wanted to see more tax details before voting on a budget resolution that will allow Republicans to pass a tax bill with only a simple majority in the Senate.

“President Trump has delivered a forward looking tax reform framework that will let hard working Americans keep more of their money, simplify our system, end carve outs for special interests, and will help make our businesses competitive abroad,” the group said.

The plan also won the backing of many outside conservative groups, some of which did not get fully on board with lawmakers’ ObamaCare repeal bills, as well as business groups.

“It’s definitely progress in the right direction,” said Brad Close, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Federation of Independent Business.

To be sure, the plan left many details — particularly about which tax breaks to eliminate — up to the congressional tax-writing committees.

“Yes, we have a lot of work ahead, but today marks a major step forward in that process,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said.

Lobbying is sure to increase as more details are made known, but the business community is supportive of the main parameters of the plan.

“There’s going to be a bananas amount of advocacy once legislative language is released, but [Republicans are] doing a good job of getting people to buy into the goal,” said Rohit Kumar, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who now leads the tax policy practice at PwC.

Still, some trade groups have started pushing back against parts of the framework.

A coalition that includes state and local government groups and labor unions came out against the proposal’s likely repeal of the state and local tax deduction (SALT).

“This plan is a Washington money grab that takes away the most popular tax deduction from 44 million taxpayers in all 50 states, most of them middle class,” the coalition, Americans Against Double Taxation, said in a statement.

Repeal of the state and local deduction is also a problem for GOP lawmakers who represent high-tax states, such as New York and California.

“Any tax reform legislation must retain the state and local tax deductions,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) tweeted. “Hard working New Yorkers must not be taxed twice.”

Some business groups also expressed concerns about the framework’s plan to partially limit the deduction for corporations’ interest expenses.

“Interest deductibility is an essential component of businesses which rely on debt financing — companies of all sizes and across all sectors,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Investment Council, which represents the private-equity industry.

To counter criticism that the plan will largely benefit the rich, the framework leaves the door open for a top individual rate above 35 percent “to ensure that the reformed tax code is at least as progressive as the existing tax code and does not shift the tax burden from high-income to lower- and middle-income taxpayers.” 

Still, top Democrats blasted the effort, arguing that it would provide a windfall to the wealthy and increase the deficit. In particular, they focused on the plan’s repeal of the estate tax, the increase in the bottom tax rate and the lower rate for pass-through businesses.

“This is wealth fare. Wealth fare, helping those of great wealth with more tax breaks,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Democrats also complained that they were not a part of the process of creating the tax framework. House Republicans met at a retreat at the National Defense University on Wednesday to discuss the plan, and Democrats had sought to be invited.

“This has been a partisan process from the start with virtually no Democratic input, as Republicans have put politics above policy and the economic security of hardworking Americans,” said House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard Neal (D-Mass.).



An answer to Puerto Rico whining about Trump

The mayor of San Juan lashed out at Trump administration on Friday, decrying its relief effort in the wake of hurricanes Jose and Maria and saying if it doesn’t solve the logistics “what we we are going to see is something close to a genocide”.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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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. And now a "Deplorable"

When it comes to political incorrectness, I hit the trifecta. I talk about race, IQ and social class. I have an academic background in all three subjects but that wins me no forgiveness

At its most basic psychological level, conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the discontented people. And both are largely dispositional, inborn -- which is why they so rarely change

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.

So an essential feature of Leftism is that they think they have the right to tell other people what to do

Leftists are the disgruntled folk. They see things in the world that are not ideal and conclude therefore that they have the right to change those things by force. Conservative explanations of why things are not ideal -- and never can be -- fall on deaf ears

Leftists aim to deliver dismay and disruption into other people's lives -- and they are good at achieving that.

German has a word that describes most Leftists well: "Scheinheilig" - A person who appears to be very kind, soft natured, and filled with pure goodness but behind the facade, has a vile nature. He is seemingly holy but is an unscrupulous person on the inside.

The new faith is very oppressive: Leftist orthodoxy is the new dominant religion of the Western world and it is every bit as bigoted and oppressive as Christianity was at its worst

There are two varieties of authoritarian Leftism. Fascists are soft Leftists, preaching one big happy family -- "Better together" in other words. Communists are hard Leftists, preaching class war.

Socialism is the most evil malady ever to afflict the human brain. The death toll in WWII alone tells you that

You do still occasionally see some mention of the old idea that Leftist parties represent the worker. In the case of the U.S. Democrats that is long gone. Now they want to REFORM the worker. No wonder most working class Americans these days vote Republican. Democrats are the party of the minorities and the smug

We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people -- Churchill

The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them

Definition of a Socialist: Someone who wants everything you have...except your job.

Let's start with some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The difference in practice

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

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.

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

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story

We conservatives have the facts on our side, which is why Leftists never want to debate us and do their best to shut us up. It's very revealing the way they go to great lengths to suppress conservative speech at universities. Universities should be where the best and brightest Leftists are to be found but even they cannot stand the intellectual challenge that conservatism poses for them. It is clearly a great threat to them. If what we say were ridiculous or wrong, they would grab every opportunity to let us know it

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

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" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

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

In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive

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"

Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out

Insight: "A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him." —Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

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.

Hatred has long been a central pillar of leftist ideologies, premised as they are on trampling individual rights for the sake of a collectivist plan. Karl Marx boasted that he was “the greatest hater of the so-called positive.” In 1923, V.I. Lenin chillingly declared to the Soviet Commissars of Education, “We must teach our children to hate. Hatred is the basis of communism.” In his tract “Left-Wing Communism,” Lenin went so far as to assert that hatred was “the basis of every socialist and Communist movement.”

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

Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Leftists don't understand that -- which is a major factor behind their simplistic thinking. They just never see the trade-offs. But implementing any Leftist idea will hit us all with the trade-offs

"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 their theories fail badly.

Mostly, luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.

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

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 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.

Seminal Leftist philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel said something that certainly applies to his fellow Leftists: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history". And he captured the Left in this saying too: "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself".

"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

Funny how to the Leftist intelligentsia poor blacks are 'oppressed' and poor whites are 'trash'. Racism, anyone?

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.

A Conservative manifesto from England -- The inimitable Jacob Rees-Mogg


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.

Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House

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

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

At the beginning of the North/South War, Confederate general Robert E. Lee did not own any slaves. Union General Ulysses L. Grant did.

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.

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.” ? Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty


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 wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

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."

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

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." --?Arthur Schopenhauer


The Bible is an Israeli book

There is a view on both Left and Right that Jews are "too" influential. And it is true that they are more influential than their numbers would indicate. But they are exactly as influential as their IQs would indicate

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.


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

A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.

As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows

Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry

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"
"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)

Some more useful links

Alt archives for "Dissecting Leftism" here or here
Longer Academic Papers
Johnray links
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
General Backup
General Backup 2

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.

Cautionary blogs about big Australian organizations:

Bank of Queensland
Queensland Police
Australian police news
QANTAS, a dying octopus

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:

OR: (After 2015)