DISSECTING LEFTISM MIRROR ARCHIVE
Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

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

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30 September, 2014

Priebus has earned right to speak on GOP's behalf about conservatism

Hugh Hewitt

Twenty years ago this week, the famed "Contract with America" was put forward by the House and Senate Republicans of 1994. The Contract committed to voters that, if given legislative majorities in the upcoming elections, the new GOP-run Congress would, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress (1995–96), propose tax cuts, a permanent line-item veto, measures to reduce crime, and constitutional amendments requiring term limits and a balanced budget.

The power of the Contract was not in any of its particulars, but in the promise of speed, action and urgency. Now as the country rounds into the homestretch of the 2014 election contests, the GOP has the wind at its back as the issue set has shifted dramatically in its favor. Adding to existing dismay with Obamacare (extremely high in places like Minnesota) there is a pervasive and deep reawakening of the fear that America has not kept up its defenses, nor its important role in the world.

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The drift of Obama has created a draft in which GOP candidates across the country are moving forward and past their Democratic opponents, even when the latter are deeply established incumbent D.C. "lifers" like Sens. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Mark Udall in Colorado.

The Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus is already well and rightly known as a agent of massive change within the party, and the "Reince reforms" on the scheduling of caucuses and presidential primaries, the organization of debates, the selection of Cleveland as the site for the 2016 Republican National Convention and an early convention date, are all powering increasing optimism that the GOP will be in a good position to challenge the Hillary Leviathan come Nov. 2016.

But to match the Democrats in credentials and stagecraft in the race to replace Obama in the White House over the next two years, the GOP must retain its majority in the House and gain one in the Senate. And the majorities would not only produce achievement and stagecraft but perhaps also crucial breakthroughs, such as a restoration of some critical funding for the Pentagon and steps on border security that are a necessary precondition to regularization of the millions of illegal aliens in the country.

To set the stage for the climate of urgency and action, Priebus is said to be preparing a key speech for Thursday of this week in which he will lay out a template reminiscent of the vision document of 1994. He is not a legislator of course, but he is the leader of the party nationally, and has earned the right to speak on the party's behalf about the key pillars of conservatism, as governors and state legislators join with incumbents and challengers for federal office. Priebus is actually the only Republican positioned to speak into the media vacuum on behalf of the Grand Old Party right now, so Thursday's address will be an important one.

Let's hope it stresses not just speed in D.C. and a commitment to deep reforms, but an ongoing recognition that a free people are best left to decide for themselves how to use their time, their money and their land, educate their children, choose their health care, and worship their God as they see fit. The military's needs have to be front and center, and the reform of a bloated entitlement state, but mostly Priebus needs to capture the spirit of serious and fast reform, and a refusal to stand by for the last two years of Obama's epic fail bemoaning but not acting.

Watch that space. It will be interesting indeed.

SOURCE

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If Republicans run as Republicans they will win

Political pollsters have a tough job. They have to create formulas to determine if the person who they are interviewing is likely or unlikely to vote, and it is within this calculation that their reputations are made.

Typically, those who are likely to vote in an off-year election are pretty set. They are the people who always vote in elections, and a few others who are motivated by specific issues. In a wave election, the numbers of those motivated by specific issues escalates changing the electoral landscape as the candidates who are beneficiaries of this increased participation sweep to victory.

The 2014 election is rapidly looking like something new and different. Democrats are reportedly demoralized by the failed Obama Administration and general fatigue. Republicans, on the other hand, in an orgy of expectation that the primary elections believed the key to taking the Senate was getting the “electable” candidates nominated.

And get them nominated they did.

The establishment got their candidates. Now, they are staring in the face of a potentially disastrous election where their chosen ones dramatically underperform all reasonable expectations, the result of their attacks on their own political party’s base to cement primary victories.

One state party chairman has privately bemoaned that social conservatives in his state openly question why they should bother voting at all. Given the national party’s desire to kick them out of the big tent to make room for a hoped for influx of pot smoking hipsters, who can blame them?

Across the nation, tea party conservatives question the wisdom of being tied to a Republican Party that wants them to just shut up and vote for whomever the establishment decides, and it is this indecision on whether to vote at all, that is at the heart of the GOP’s polling woes.

Conservative voters who have traditionally been amongst the most likely people to vote out of a sense of civic responsibility are disgusted. They are tired of being attacked by the so-called conservative party, and really tired of being treated like second class citizens by the donor and consultant class that controls the official party.

The good news for the establishment is that conservatives want to forgive them for their attacks. They desperately want to vote Harry Reid out of the Senate Majority Leader’s office. They still believe that voting Republican is their best chance to limit the size and scope of government, and to get the runaway federal branch under control. They want to rein in the lawless executive branch and restore constitutional government.

They want to believe that the Republican Party is still the conservative political party and is not just a different gang of thieves looking to plunder America’s pocket books.

Conservatives still believe that America is the greatest country in the world, and that our system of government along with the free enterprise system provides the pathway to future prosperity. Conservatives believe that freedom is worth fighting for, even though, they hate having to do it.

Conservatives believe in the rule of law, and that those who come to our country illegally should not be rewarded for their crimes, being put ahead of those who are waiting in line and following the rules.

The Republican Party has the answer to turn these conservative voters who are currently wondering whether it is worth turning out to vote this election for candidates who have proven to despise them.

All they have to do is read and repeat to conservative voters their own political party platform, and pledge to govern by it. If the Republican establishment candidates actually ran as Republicans, the number of likely voters would swell, and the promise of a sweeping victory in November would be realized.

The next few weeks will tell the tale of whether the national Republican Party truly wants to win a transformative election that is impossible for the left to overturn in the vastly different political environment of 2016, or if they are content with at best a one or two seat majority in the Senate and a pick-up of six to ten seats in the House. A result that is highly likely to be erased in two years.

If Republicans run as Republicans in the final weeks of this election, they still can turn this into a rout. But then, they might have to govern as conservatives, and perhaps they fear that even more than being backbenchers.

Should be an interesting five weeks and change.

SOURCE

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For Voter ID Opponents, This Was a Stunning Blow

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction that had been issued against Wisconsin’s voter-ID law by a federal district court in April. The court told Wisconsin that it “may, if it wishes (and if it is appropriate under rules of state law), enforce the photo ID requirement in this November’s elections.” In reaction, Kevin Kennedy, the state’s top election official, said that Wisconsin would take all steps necessary “to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election.” The appeals court issued its one-page opinion within hours of hearing oral arguments in the appeal.

As I explained in an NRO article in May, the district court judge, Lynn Adelman, a Clinton appointee and former Democratic state senator, had issued an injunction claiming the Wisconsin ID law violated the Voting Rights Act as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. Adelman made the startling claim in his opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2008 upholding Indiana’s voter-ID law as constitutional was “not binding precedent,” so Adelman could essentially ignore it.

However, that was too much for the Seventh Circuit. It pointed out, in what most lawyers would consider a rebuke, that Adelman had held Wisconsin’s law invalid “even though it is materially identical to Indiana’s photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).”

It was also obviously significant to the Seventh Circuit that the Wisconsin state supreme court had upheld the state’s voter-ID law in July, since the three-judge panel cited that decision, Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, too. In fact, the appeals court said the state court decision had changed the “balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief.”

In other words, there was no justification for striking down a state voter-ID law that was identical to one that had been previously upheld by both the Supreme Court of the United States and that state’s highest court.

This decision is only on the appropriateness of the injunction that was issued. But in a bad omen for the plaintiffs, the Seventh Circuit said the “state’s probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great that the state should be allowed to implement its law, pending further order of this court.” The appeal “remains under advisement” and the court said that “an opinion on the merits will issue in due course.”

This is also another big defeat for Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in July that the Justice Department would be intervening in this lawsuit. The Department lost a lawsuit that claimed South Carolina’s voter-ID law was discriminatory in 2012, and a federal judge recently refused to issue an injunction against North Carolina’s voter-ID law in another lawsuit filed by Justice.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is in a hard-fought reelection campaign, said after news of the Seventh Circuit’s action came out that “voter ID is a commonsense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process.” Echoing similar claims by state representative JoCasta Zamarripa of Milwaukee, Dale Ho, a lawyer at the ACLU, claims this will cause “chaos at the polls,” despite the fact that there has been no such “chaos” in any of the other states that have implemented voter-ID laws over the past ten years.

What this decision means is that, as Governor Walker said, at least in Wisconsin, it will now be “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” And it adds to the long string of losses suffered by opponents of voter-ID laws. Slowly but surely, voter ID is getting implemented across the country.

SOURCE

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THE PROFOUND STUPIDITY OF LIBERALISM ON DISPLAY

The View is a television show that, apparently, a lot of women watch. Currently, Rosie O’Donnell, who was once famous for something–I have no idea what–is one of the hosts. Still, many women watch. So this video of The View’s women grappling with the Obama administration’s response to ISIS terrorism is noteworthy.

I want to highlight O’Donnell’s contribution near the end: We are bombing Syria because Syria has so much oil, so there is a “financial incentive.” What the Hell is this supposed to mean? Why are liberals obsessed with oil? And what, exactly, is the “financial incentive”? Here is the clip, then some further comments:

Click here for video

O’Donnell’s comments are astonishingly foolish. For one thing, Syria has very little oil: it produces less than 1/2 of 1% of the world’s petroleum. Whereas we, the United States, are the number one source of fossil fuel energy. And how would bombing ISIL give the U.S. access to more oil, at rates somehow cheaper than those at which we can develop our own endless petroleum resources? At over $1 million per Tomahawk missile, isn’t this doing it the hard way? Not to mention that, on a best case scenario, we won’t own whatever minimal amounts of oil may be beneath Syria’s soil. (This is a minor, legalistic detail that doesn’t occur to low-IQ liberals.)

So what is the point? What do Syria’s tiny petroleum reserves have to do with our bombing of ISIL? It seems obvious that the answer is: Nothing. Yet liberals are so stupid, or, to be charitable, so irrationally wedded to outmoded memes, that they can’t resist babbling about oil, even as North Dakota produces more petroleum than Syria could ever dream of. What, exactly, is the “financial agenda” behind our effort to retaliate against ISIS brutality?

That would be a fun question to pose to poor Ms. O’Donnell. There is none, obviously. Just as “oil” had nothing to do with our overthrowing Saddam Hussein. But liberals aren’t smart. They can’t let go of a theme they have settled on, no matter how foolish it may be. Is Rosie O’Donnell an extreme case? Probably. But, to paraphrase John Lennon, she isn’t the only one.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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29 September, 2014

The war on fast food: More medical idiocy

The war on fast food is unrelenting so logic must not be allowed to get in the way.  The claim below that hamburgers etc make you stupid is itself stupid.  All that they have rediscovered  are the familiar observations that poor people are more likely to eat fast food and poor people are dumber.  It's a class finding only.  No effects of the food have been shown. 

The authors were aware of the class issue in that they controlled for maternal education but education is not strongly correlated with income, particularly among women.  Remember those burger flippers with Ph.D.s and the plumbers who live in the best suburbs?  The journal article is "Prospective associations between dietary patterns and cognitive performance during adolescence" by  Anett Nyaradi et al. in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2014


It's no secret that eating hamburgers and fries could affect your waist line but new research has found it can also take a toll on your brain.

Researchers found that higher intake of a western diet by 14-year-olds had scored lower in cognitive tasks by the age of 17.

Within the western dietary patterns, the study found participants with a high intake of take-away food, deep fried potatoes, red and processed meat and soft drinks had negative associations that affected their reaction time, mental ability, visual attention, learning and memory.

While participants who had higher consumption of fruits and leafy green vegetables, had a positive cognitive performance.

Researcher Dr Anett Nyaradi told Science Network  that it could be due to increased micronutrient content from leafy green vegetables, which has linked to enhanced cognitive development.

Dr Nyaradi said several factors may be at play in this diet-related decline in cognitive skills, including the level of omega-6 fatty acids in fried foods and red meat.

Metabolic pathways function best with a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the western diet can shift this to a 1:20 or 1:25 ratio, according to Science Network.

Dr Nyardi told Science Network that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates has been linked to impairment in the functioning of the hippocampus, which is a brain structure centrally involved in learning and memory that increases its volume during adolescence.

'Adolescence represents a critical time period for brain development. It is possible that poor diet is a significant risk factor during this period…indeed, our findings support this proposition,' she said.

Dr Nyardi said that high intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates affected learning and memory during adolescents

The University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute observed 602 participants from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study.

Each participant were required to fill out a food frequency questionnaire at the age of 14 to identify the factor analysis of 'healthy' and 'Western' dietary patterns.

When they turned 17, a cognitive performance was assessed using a computerised cognitive battery of tests that included six tasks.

SOURCE

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Devolution is needed in America too

The world watched and waited to learn the fate of Scotland following its vote on the referendum for independence. For many other regions within the U.K., including Wales and Northern Ireland; within Europe, including Spain’s Catalonia and Belgium’s Flanders; and states within the U.S., including Vermont, Texas and Alaska; Scotland’s vote energized and inspired separatists’ movements — even though they were disappointed with the outcome.

While Scotland voted “No,” and chose to remain in the United Kingdom, it made enough noise and caused enough concern in London, that, in effect, it won anyway. When the race appeared to be close  Westminster panicked — the “parties went into scramble mode.” They vowed “to introduce legislation to grant Scotland’s semiautonomous government more powers [devolution] if voters reject independence.”

Other groups seeking independence are studying what Scotland did. The “No” vote will not squelch other separatist groups looking for self-governance, rather, it is, as the WSJ called the effort: “a template for conflict resolution.”

While many are reporting on the Scotland vote as a warning for Europe and lessons for separatists, there are important parallels — and encouragement — with the movement afoot in the American West’s rebellion over excessive federal control of land and resources (which was at the core of the Bundy Ranch stand-off).

In the West, the federal government regulates more of the land than the states or private citizens do. Those lands are generally rich in natural resources. Yet, the federal government makes decisions far way, in Washington, D.C., that hold back economic potential, which would benefit the states if they were allowed to be creating jobs and new wealth — resulting in an increased tax base.

As was the case in Scotland, Washington, D.C., has different priorities. If states had more autonomy, more authority over the lands within their borders, they’d make better decisions.

Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, agrees. He told me: “A desire for ‘self-governance’ is hard wired into humans. When asked the question, ‘who should decide the things that affect your life?’ the vast majority of people will answer, ‘me.’ This extends to the idea that local governance is better than edicts from a distant government. People have more power locally.  ‘Who decides? I decide.’”

The federal government has abused — and is abusing — its ability to declare national monuments by putting massive swaths of land out of productive use. It is doing the same with the Endangered Species Act: introducing predators into active ranching regions and using protecting a lizard to prevent oil-and-gas drilling. It claims to be saving potential owl habitat by stopping logging, resulting in overgrown, unhealthy tinderboxes where we see logging resources (and protected habitat and watershed) go up in smoke — polluting the air and water. I could go on, as there are many more examples, but these are some of the causes in which I’ve personally been involved and previously addressed.

Much like Scotland finally had enough of being under the thumb of British rule, the Bundy Ranch story — with total strangers converging in Nevada in defense of a rancher they’d never met — gave voice to an anger that has been building up in the West. Nevada has more federally managed land than any other state — more than 80 percent.

Utah has led the way by becoming the first state to pass legislation that called on the federal government to begin to work with Utah on transferring federals land to the state — as was the ultimate intent of the Enabling Act that called for the federal government to “dispose” of the lands. More than 60 percent of Utah’s lands are managed by the federal government, and those lands are often rich in natural resources. Because the majority of the lands in Utah are managed by the federal government, with much of them off limits to development, the State doesn’t get the benefit of potential economic activity. It doesn’t get the full, possible tax revenue. To help with the loss, the federal government “gives” the state “payment in lieu of taxes” — which are being reduced due to budget challenges in Washington, D.C.

The Sutherland Institute’s  Coalition for Self-Government in the West has a report: Opportunity Lost, which provides an excellent overview of the situation in Utah. Regarding energy resources, it points out: “The geologies of oil and gas reservoirs on federal and private lands in the Rocky Mountains, including in Utah, share many similar features. Indeed most of the production growth of crude oil has occurred in well-established oil fields. These production gains are realized from the application of new technology, such as three-dimensional seismic, directional drilling, and hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies are developing new rules for the use of these technologies on federal lands that may impact the ultimate production, and therefore potential economic benefit, of these lands. In addition to the existing layers of regulatory hurdles and related litigation, delays in the implementation of these rules may have contributed to the relatively slower growth of oil and gas production on federal lands already.”

Through The American Lands Council, Utah Representative Ken Ivory has spearheaded Utah’s effort to force the federal government to honor its promise to “dispose” of certain federal lands. The Utah legislation calls for the lands to be turned over to the state as a proposed remedy to D.C.’s failure to perform on its obligations under the contract. Utah lands would then be managed for greater access, health and economic productivity. They could be added to the state tax base and would allow Utah to manage these lands for their best use. Ken told me that at a recent debate on this matter, opponents tried to spread fear about self-governance — much like that spread in Scotland: “The ‘Better Together’ campaign …at times uses scare tactics.” (CNN) But reports show the self-governance approach is legal, and it can be done.

The movement is growing. Several states, like Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have created task forces to study issues surrounding how public lands controlled by the federal government would be managed if they were transferred to the state. Others, like New Mexico, Arkansas, and Alaska, are working on legislation and/or resolutions. Additionally, legislators in Washington, Oregon and Colorado are looking closely at the issue.

Representative Ivory, and others like him, is pushing for victory. But, even if, as happened in Scotland, the self-governance of federal lands doesn’t happen, a groundswell of support could bring about policy changes that would benefit the West and help states develop their “full economic potential” — which would benefit all of America.

The CSM closes its Scottish independence story with this: “Scotland requires a new approach to economic policy development and implementation, with government working collaboratively with business and others to identify and pursue competitive advantage.” The same could be said for the West.

A report about Scotland, and other separatist movements, in the Business Insider states: “From early on in the campaign they also focused more on making it less about all the things the U.K. is doing wrong and more about how they can do it better.” In the West, we know we “can do it better.” Let your state and federal elected officials know that you support state management of public lands and that you want decisions made at the local level — because we can do it better.

SOURCE

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Liberal Incivility and Gabby Giffords

When a gunman attempted to murder Rep. Gabriel Giffords in January 2011, the country was shocked by what was widely interpreted as an act that symbolized the incivility that had transformed American politics. That assumption, which was primarily aimed at undermining the Tea Party movement that had swept the midterm elections months before in the 2010 midterms, was soon debunked when we learned the shooter was an apolitical madman. But liberals have never ceased yapping about the implications of their opponents’ alleged meanness. Now it turns out the person who is doing the most to give the lie to this assertion is Ms. Giffords.

Giffords’s plight in the wake of the shooting engendered the support of all Americans as she struggled to recover from catastrophic wounds that forced her to abandon her political career. Like James Brady did a generation before, Giffords’s valiant recovery from a severe head wound made her the object of the nation’s sympathy and warm wishes. That wasn’t diminished by her activism on behalf of controversial gun-control laws. But as Giffords has begun to realize that empathy for her situation doesn’t translate into a willingness by the majority of Americans to embrace her positions on gun control, her intervention in political races is now taking on the aspect of a political attack dog rather than that of a sympathetic victim.

As Politico reports today in a story that runs under the headline “Gabby Giffords gets mean,” the former congresswoman has taken off the gloves in a series of political ads aimed at taking out Republicans she doesn’t like. In them, her super PAC seeks to exploit the suffering of other shooting victims but twists the narrative to make it appear that people like Martha McSally, the Republican woman running for Giffords’s old seat, were somehow involved or even complicit in violent shooting of a woman named Vicki by a stalker. As Politico notes:

"Some longtime supporters are starting to cry foul. On Friday, the Arizona Republic’s editorial page, which is typically liberal leaning, called the “Vicki” ad “base and vile.” The commercial, the newspaper said, put the murder “at McSally’s feet, as if she were responsible. A murder indictment implied. But, of course, McSally had nothing to do with” the death."

This is rough stuff by any standard but for it to be the work of a woman whose shooting elevated her to the status of secular saint is particularly shocking. Other ads that her group has produced pursue the same specious line.

All may be fair in love, war, and politics but there’s a lesson to be learned here and it’s not just that sympathetic victims can turn nasty if they don’t get their way on policy questions.

The liberal conceit that conservatives have fouled the political waters with their strident advocacy for accountability in terms of taxes and spending was always something of a stretch. While the Tea Party, like every other American political faction, has its share of rude loudmouths, despite the libels aimed at it from the liberal mainstream media it is no more a threat to democracy than its counterparts on the left. But modern liberalism has at its core a deep-seated intolerance of opposition. It was never enough for them to criticize the positions of conservatives or Tea Partiers; they had to skewer them as anti-democratic or supportive of political violence, despite the lack of evidence to support such wild allegations.

Nor are liberals deterred by the irony of their efforts to defame conservatives. As I wrote back in January 2012, even as she issued a call for political civility, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely linked the Tea Party to the Giffords shooting. So why should we be surprised that Giffords would play the same card as she seeks to demonize and defame those who would frustrate her pro-gun control efforts?

Part of the disconnect here is due to a misunderstanding about Giffords’s personality. Though she is rightly praised for her hard work in recovering from her wounds, prior to the shooting Giffords was never shy about using the most incendiary rhetoric aimed at demonizing her political foes.

The point here is not so much to debunk the stained-glass image of the plucky Giffords in the aftermath of her ordeal. Rather, it is to understand that those who seek to characterize political differences, even over issues as divisive as guns, as those between the advocates of good and those of evil are always doing a disservice to the country. Liberals and many of their cheerleaders in the media take it as a given that conservatives are mean-spirited ghouls who don’t care about the poor or are in the pay of malevolent forces. They then take great offense when some on the right pay them back in kind with similarly over-the-top allegations.

The kind of gutter politics practiced by Giffords’s advocacy group does nothing to further a productive debate about guns or any other issue. But it does bring to light the hypocrisy of liberals who believe their good intentions or inherent virtue should allow them to defame opponents in a manner they would decry as incitement to violence if it were directed at them.

The good news, however, is that voters aren’t stupid. As much as they may sympathize with Giffords, they understand that the good will she earned can be easily dissipated if it is to be put in service to sliming those who disagree with her. Just as trotting out Giffords or the families of the Newtown massacre victims won’t convince Americans to trash their Second Amendment rights, neither will the former politician’s ads enable her to get away with sliming another woman with a mind of her own. Sadly, Giffords’s hold on America’s heartstrings may be over.

SOURCE

The Giffords organization did take the ad down early but said it was only because McSally had changed!  She hadn't.  They just hadn't bothered to find out what her views on guns were.  Facts don't interest the Left.  Lies are much more useful to them.

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

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

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28 September, 2014

Dissenting from American Liberalism & Conservatism

The article by Razib Khan below is not one that I totally agree with but I agree with his central contention that neither the Left nor the Right give appropriate weight to genetics in their thinking.  Razib is well versed in genetics research and I too take an interest in that literature.  And the more you know about that literature the more you have to shut up if you want acceptance in mainstream politics. 

Hardly a day goes by without a new report of some trait or condition being found to be strongly influenced by genetics but that is in the academic literature  and any attempt to inject those findings into popular discourse will be howled down as "racist".  It will mainly be the Left who do the howling but the cultural predominance of the Left in American society intimidates conservatives into being at least silent on the matter.  So in explaining themselves and their policies conservatives  rarely refer to genetics, thus omitting a huge explanatory variable in human behavior.

And I sin muchly in often mentioning genetic facts.  No candidate in either of the main parties would want to be associated with me.  Take the issue of black IQ.  The American Psychological Association is the world's premier body of academic psychologists and they are undoubtedly Left-leaning.  As it is part of what academic psychologists do to be aware of the research literature, however, members of the APA who are interested in the issue know what the research on IQ shows.  So the APA now accepts that the IQ of the average black American is one standard deviation (which is a lot) or 15 points below the IQ of the average non-Hispanic white.  Blacks, in other words have on average a sub-adult IQ.  The APA even put out a special issue of one of its major journals some years back devoted to presenting the evidence for that one SD gap.  See here for more details on the subject.

But getting known for mentioning that gap is career poison.  One thinks of the unfortunate Jason Richwine in that connection.  I am old, retired and financially independent so I run no similar risks.  The only risk I run is of being ignored.  And I largely am. So Razib is right in thinking that neither side of politics has a good grasp of reality.  They build their reasoning on sand


 I had a long discussion yesterday with an individual who has been reading me since 2003. We talked about lots of things. One issue which perhaps I need to reiterate because it’s implicit is that I dissent to a great extent from the premises which underlay both American conservatism and liberalism. Like American liberals I think the life outcomes of many Americans are not due to their choices simply understood. Rather they are the outcome of chance events, whether it be through social background, or, simple happenstance. Years ago I recall Nassim Taleb complaining that people would read The Millionaire Next Door, and believe that by doing everything those individuals did they too could become millionaires, as if there was no random component to such outcomes. The reality is that some people are in the right place and right time. And, some people are born in the right social positions.

Where I dissent from American liberals is the idea that all of the outcomes in our society, in particular inequality, are due to chance or inherited social position (e.g., race or class privilege). In The Son Also Rises Greg Clark reports on intriguing results which indicate that social competence in heritable. To some extent this is common sense. Personal dispositions are heritable, and some dispositions are more congenial to remunerative activities than others. Though many on the Left (though not all) are willing to acknowledge the arguments in Steve Pinker’s The Blank Slate in the abstract, in the concrete they get very little weight when it comes to social policy. To give an example, for many on the Left we can talk about differences between groups (whether it be cultural or biological) only when all social inequality is abolished. The catch in this though is that any persistent differences may also result in persistent social inequality or difference in outcome.

 When it comes to the American Right there are two distinct strands. The first is the child of classical liberalism, to some extent in a more thorough fashion than the American Left. For this element the idea that capitalism is efficient in allocating resources, and that people receive their just desserts due to hard work, becomes such an all-encompassing narrative that other variables are neglected. This was clearly evident in 2008 when some conservative libertarians kept harping on the “free market” mantra because they literally had no other playbook. I recall specifically someone from the American Enterprise Institute on the radio arguing that bankers should keep their bonuses because that’s how capitalism works, even after the bailouts. When confronted by this he really had no response. He was literally dumbfounded. It is as if the market was the ends of the American political system, and all wealth is the product of the market.

Though not as constitutionally hostile to the idea of heritable differences this sort of free market conservatism is not comfortable with the idea that not everyone is born with the same opportunities. The reality is that the liberal Left critique of the nature of the outcomes of a free market is correct in some deep sense, even deeper than American liberals may wish to acknowledge. Some people are born with the genetic deck stacked against them, not just the social one (and of course, as noted above there is a lot of random noise). That undermines some of the moral case for the virtue of the market, since it is not blindly arbitrating the outcomes of our choices, as opposed as sifting based on the accumulated weight of inherited history, some of which is due to the genetic lottery.

 The second strand in American conservatism is that of the Religious Right. The problem that it has is most clearly illustrated by the issue of gay rights. Though logically toleration of homosexual behavior and its innate or non-innate nature are not related, the Religious Right prefers that homosexuality be a choice for the purposes of moral censure. That is because though these Christians believe in original sin, they seem to espouse a sort of moral perfectionism where all men are equally endowed with the same sentiments and preferences (those sentiments being debased by Satan or the Satanic influence of culture). As opposed to Homo economicus, these Christians believe in Homo christianus. Though I personally espouse the bourgeois virtues of the Religious Right, their neglect of human diversity in disposition and sentiment leads us down the path of great disappointment, as many will miss the mark. A Religious Right which focused more on social cohesion in a general and collective sense, rather than personal and individual moral perfectionism, probably could produce better results (yes, it does take a village!). But the American radical Protestant model is fundamentally individualistic, and treats each human as equal and similar before Christ. And there I believe is the folly with moral crusades which attempt to turn every American family into the same American family. Such a world never was, and such a world will never be.

The Left looks to the perfect future which could be. The Right looks to the perfect past which was, and could be.

SOURCE

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Media poison about Israel:  Why?

In the last few weeks since the cease fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza many journalists and other media commentators have started to argue over whether or not the Associated Press, The New York Times, the BBC and so on have been engaged in deliberate acts of distortion in order to present Israel as the villainous aggressor and the people and government in Gaza as the innocent victims of this excessive and criminal violence. 

Most of this debate, if one can call it that, focuses on an essay written by Matti Friedmann who used to work for AP.  Claim and counter-claim have been tossed about, some people, including his former bureau chief, arguing that there has been intimidation and coercion from the Hamas-run officials inside Gaza and from their politically-correct sympathizers around the western world, and other reporters working with other agencies and networks have reacted with shock, dismay and anger at being accused of such things, assuring everyone that they are honest, objective, professionals. But then a few of Freidman's fellow journalists at AP, such as Stephanie Butnick, have backed up his story, even adding some further charges of their own.  Is this just a matter of he said/she said and everyone is entitled to their own opinion?

Although I am of the opinion after months and years of scrutinizing the news media, comparing the different sources, and coming to realize the amount of distortion and manipulation involved in demonizing Israel and hushing up the perfidy and fanaticism of the Hamas cause, I think the current debate on the intentions and integrity of the press agencies misses the point.  Everyone believes he or she is right.  It would be invidious to say otherwise or, rather, to collect all the data, make a chart, and draw logical conclusions.  That is not the point.

What is the point?

It is certainly not a question mainly about conscious rational decisions.  In many, if not most instances, the insulted editors and directors of the media probably do believe in all sincerity that they are carrying out their tasks with tact and integrity, while the reporters with a great deal of courage to point their fingers at their (former) colleagues and bosses honestly think they were forced into presenting lopsided versions of the events in the Middle East.  As the old proverb has it, the proof is in the pudding: or, in a more recent formulation, if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks, then it is a duck.  The question has nothing-or rather very little to do with conscious intentions, let alone with beliefs and feelings.

If the proof is in the eating, the pudding has not been cooked well: the ingredients are a poisonous mixture of half-truths and outright lies, as well as of omissions and irrelevant side-issues.  This apparently sweet-looking image of poor suffering Palestinians and blood-thirsty Zionists is a disgusting mess.  Yet the bakers and chefs, along with the waiters and busboys all truly assume that they have been serving up precisely what their public wants and needs.

Overwhelmingly (to lapse for a moment into impressions and statistical charts) the western press has misrepresented the events of the fighting in Gaza-in fact, has not seen the fighting but presented the actions as a lopsided, disproportionate attack on the poor innocent civilians of Gaza; with the score-card of dead, injured, and homeless won by the Gaza people hands down.  Provocative acts in the way of rockets and mortars shot into Israel, tunnels built with funds sent for humanitarian aid used instead for infiltration of Israeli territory, hiding of control and command centres, and storage of weapons and ammunition, and the actual number and identification of body-counts and causes of Palestinian losses all downplayed, if not manipulated, omitted or denied.  Evidence of private dwellings booby-trapped so as to cause maximum secondary explosions, schools and mosques turned into munitions depots, hospital rooms devoted to military functions and a dozen other acts of perfidy have either been airbrushed away or trivialized.

Why can't the major media smell the stench or taste the noxious substance they have concocted? Why do most readers accept what they are served without objection?

First of all, it is because they are operating in an atmosphere of self-delusion, using discourses that do not allow their common sense to function properly, and are caught in a vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophecies.  Post-modernism has provided the media moguls with a texture of specious reality in which to collect the news, process it through distorting lenses, and created as a set of so-called authorities to which they can measure and verify what they have confected.  But this is still on the superficial level of words and images that are constantly rearranged and given new colours and tones, or new artificial flavours to return to our kitchen metaphor.

Second of all, there are layers of contextual history to be folded back and depths of unconscious motivation to be plumbed. In other words, the pudding has to undergo a chemical analysis and run through a physics investigation.  Not only do they not believe they are doing anything wrong or unprofessional.  In their own eyes and minds, they have vehemently doing precisely what they ought to do, what they have been taught to do, what they feel their readers want and need to know.  You can't argue with that.  In fact, they won't allow you to argue with them or to criticise their reasoning powers or their sense of common reality.

Still, deep down, the reality they operate from is not the same as the one most Jews and most Israelis, from personal and family history, from private and public experience share.  Many psychohistorians, historians and psychologists who have been able to engage with terrorists, fanatics and suicide-killers point out-these excitable, traumatized and deluded persons operate within hallucinations and fantasies against projections of their own dysfunctional infancies and childhoods, respond to abusive parents, strict religious upbringing, loss of identity through migration and conflictual socializing.  What they don't react against at the core of their being-though they use these other superficial hurts and humiliations as the rationalization for their violence-is "the occupation," poverty per se, discrimination or prejudice by neighbours, teachers or government officials.  We know that Hamas, ISIS, Al-qaida, and a myriad of other militant, murderous organizations and pseudo-states are, as one says, in a "Bad Place," a confusing and confused place in their own minds.  If they threaten or attack, you don't reason with them: you protect yourself, you attack them, you destroy them.

But-and this is the point we are getting at-what about the journalists, academics, intellectuals who support them, feel they should give them a voice, present not so much their side of the story as their narrative as the replacement for the privileged, colonialist, imperialist, aggressive, demonic other side?  They are "our" journalists, academics, journalists, intellectuals: they are us.  And yet the way they "frame" the news justifies our defeat, or at least the obliteration of Israel, all Jews everywhere, Americans and their allies in Europe and elsewhere.  That is what we can see them doing, but that is not how they see themselves.

To us they are condescending, that is, we are fools and dupes of our own apocalyptic narrative, our lachrymose sense of history, our irrational refusal to accept what we read in the newspapers, see on television, hear them say.  Accused, they are defensive, go into denial, and cry victimhood: The big bad wolf is after them. The troll under the bridge is lurking to grab them and gobble them up.

Why?  God knows! Is there a solution? A new recipe to follow?

I dare not psychoanalyse people I have never met.  The group behaviour does mark out the symptomatic behaviours that seem to justify their willingness to turn against western enlightened values and Judeo-Christian traditions, as well as overlooking manifest signs of evil and psychotic political actions.  For some reason they are duped by the false and manipulated versions of the events in Gaza which non-western journalists, from India, for example, were able to see and then report.  They have somehow or other become susceptible to the suggestions of a sentimentalized and infantilized of the passive Palestinians, and yet seem able, at least partly, to see what ISIS does in Syria and Iraq.  Yet even there we can see hints, clues, symptoms, somewhat blurred versions of the mental disease: the journalists who sympathize with the fanatical causes, who even convert or work for the Islamicist or left-leaning radical networks, who identify with the so-called downtrodden and exploited-at times marry into the clans.  Is this similar to the Laurence of Arabia love-affair with the exotic Arabian cause or the Stockholm Syndrome?

To reverse some of the effects of the post-modernist malaise (or psychosis), it would be necessary for them to climb out of the moment and (re)gain a comprehension of the complexities of life.  The reduction of complicated and significant versions of the Truth to nothing but diverse, competing and equally meaningless "positionalities" requires practice in analytical skills-knowledge of many languages, study of the dynamic interaction of different kinds of cultures, (re)training in the elements of classical logic, Renaissance rhetoric and comparative jurisprudence, as well as studies in the history of religion.  Instead of being satisfied with superficialities and sound-bites the journalist should learn to keep probing, seeking hidden motivations, unseen and often unconscious powers in the otherwise inexplicable and self-destructive behaviour of most peoples.  One is tempted to say, "Give them an old -fashioned education and a good dose of practical experience in the real world" but at least to understand their manifest failures to approach what they say and do with caution.

SOURCE

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

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

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26 September, 2014

The resveratrol myth is slowly unwinding

That anti-oxidants in food are good for you has by now been extensively debunked.  There is some evidence that they are bad for you. See here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance.   And a favorite anti-oxidant is resveratrol.  The latest report:

Pregnant women who have the odd drink should avoid red wine, researchers suggest.  They say that an ingredient in the wine that is normally viewed as healthy could harm their unborn child's pancreas.

Resveratrol has been credited with having protective effects against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and a number of other conditions.

Naturally present in red wine, red grapes and some berries, it is also available as a supplement.

However, a study now suggests it can lead to developmental abnormalities in the foetal pancreas. The study was carried out by the Division of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and the Division of Reproductive and Development Science at Oregon Health and Science University in the United States.

Lead researcher on the study Dr Kevin Gove said: 'This study has direct relevance to human health. 'Resveratrol is widely used for its recognised health benefits, and is readily available over the counter.

'The important message in this study is that women should be very careful about what they consume while pregnant, and they should not take supplements, like Resveratrol, without consulting with their doctors.  'What might be good for the mother may not be good for the baby.'

As part of the study, Dr Grove and colleagues gave resveratrol supplements every day throughout pregnancy to obese macaque monkeys eating a Western diet.

A second group of obese monkeys was not given the supplement, and both were compared with lean monkeys fed a healthy diet.

The animals were closely monitored for health complications, and blood flow through the placenta was determined by ultrasound.

The foetuses were analysed for developmental abnormalities, and findings showed definitive evidence of pancreatic abnormalities.

The study was published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 

SOURCE

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A Potentially Deadly Denial of Reality

The ideologically-inspired bankruptcy of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party remains unrelenting.

Last Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill in the Senate that would revoke citizenship for Americans who join ISIS. Believing time is of the essence, Cruz sought to fast track the Expatriate Terrorist Act, meaning he bypassed the normal Senate committee process. He did so because the Senate is nearing the end of its current session and having the bill go through committee “would mean that it could not pass in time to prevent Americans fighting right now with ISIS from coming back and murdering other Americans,” he said. "There is an urgency and an exigency to this situation,“ Cruz added.

Unfortunately, fast tracking the bill left it vulnerable to defeat if a single Senator objected. Enter freshman Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) who blocked the bill because "legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter raising significant constitutional issues.” And as surely as night follows day, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Monday that reports citing an unnamed senior administration official claiming that some of those Americans had in fact returned home were accurate.

There are no exact numbers, but the National Counterterrorism Center estimates more than 100 Americans have gone overseas to join the battle against their own country. “It includes those who’ve gone, those who’ve tried to go, some who’ve come back," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity at a briefing. He sought to reassure the public, insisting "the FBI is looking at them.”

Such reassurances ring exceedingly hollow. The same FBI spent considerable time "looking" at Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, and did nothing. They also looked at Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, before they ultimately decided there was no merit to the Russian warning that Tsarnaev was associating with Islamic terrorists.

The common denominator? The same stifling political correctness likely to render the FBI equally impotent in their effort to keep track of American born traitors.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) epitomizes the logic-numbing contradictions that arise when one seeks to reconcile such political correctness with daunting reality. “One of the concerns is the number of U.S. citizens who have left our country to go join up with ISIS,” he noted during a speech last week. “It is believed there have been some number up to 100 that have done that.” He then shocked the crowd. “It is also believed that some 40 of those who left this country to join up with ISIS have now returned to our country,” he revealed, also adding the ostensible the reassurance about the FBI “looking” at them.

After that Bishop proceeded to go over the politically correct cliff, insisting that “at the present time, the intelligence is ISIS does not present a threat to the homeland,” even as he hedged, noting that such a reality is “not something that will remain static going out into the future.”

One is left to wonder about the quality of that intelligence. In an interview last week, Director of Intelligence James Clapper, who once told the nation that the Muslim Brotherhood was a “largely secular” group that had “eschewed violence," admitted his agency had "underestimated” ISIS’s capacity even as he further noted that he couldn’t provide a timeline about how soon the terrorist group would have the capacity to attack the United States.

Clapper is not anomalous. Last Wednesday, Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, testified at a Senate hearing that ISIS terrorists are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate our porous Southern border, even as he laughingly insisted that he was “satisfied we have the intelligence and the capability on our border that would prevent that activity.” When Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pointed out the absurdity of that claim, noting that activist James O'Keefe had videotaped himself crossing the border – wearing a Bin Laden mask in one attempt – Taylor had no response.

Taylor’s cluelessness is apparently shared by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. During a House Homeland Security hearing last Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked Johnson if he was aware of any “apprehensions of suspected or known terrorists” attempting to illegally enter the United States. “Sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind,” Johnson responded. “That doesn’t mean there is none.” Chaffetz asked Johnson if he knew four suspected terrorists with “ties to known terrorist organizations in the Middle East” were detained at two different locations on the Southwest border Sept. 10. "I’ve heard reports to that effect. I don’t know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them, but I’ve heard reports to that effect,“ Johnson responded.

Johnson does get credit for opposing a plan by the Obama administration to lift an 1983 ban on Libyans coming to America – to study aviation or nuclear sciences. Remarkably, both the State and Defense Departments claim the ban is outdated because such training would help Libyans reconstitute their military. They further insist the screening process preventing potential terrorists from obtaining the necessary visas is much improved, and that the ban in unnecessary because Libya has "evolved” since it was imposed.

Libya has indeed “evolved.” Courtesy of the president’s “leading from behind” campaign that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has evolved into “a chaotic failed state that exists in name only,” in which “radical jihadist groups have free rein," explains former House Intelligence Committee chairman Pete Hoestra. Despite Johnson’s assurances, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA), along with Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), have said they will continue moving forward with a bill to lock in the ban. "Libya’s government remains unstable today and the country is becoming more dangerous as rival rebel groups battle each other for control of Libya’s cities,” they said in a joint statement. “It’s necessary that we keep this ban on Libyans in place so that we protect Americans and our national security from threats in Libya.”

And from the Obama administration as well.

In a National Review column aptly titled “A Confederacy of Dunces?” historian Victor Davis Hanson chronicles the track record of Obama administration officials who remain in “resolute denial” regarding radical Islam. They include Clapper and his aforementioned admissions, as well as CIA Director John Brennan, who once dismissed the notion of an Islamic caliphate as “absurd,” and has referred to jihad on a number of occasions as “a holy struggle,” and “a legitimate tenet of Islam.” Hanson also reminds us that former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano gave us the term “man caused disasters” as a substitute for terrorist attacks, even as she claimed “the system worked” when Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to board a jetliner with a bomb that failed to detonate. Secretary of State John Kerry once assured us that Bashar Assad was a “man of his word” and “generous,” before he himself evolved and threatened Assad with strikes that would be “unbelievably small” for crossing a chemical “red line” that both he and Obama subsequently disavowed.

As for President Obama himself, perhaps nothing illuminates a resolute denial of reality better than his contention that the self-identified Islamic State in Iraq and Syria “is not Islamic.” Such utterly pernicious nonsense is dismissed by examples from the Koran itself:

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” (8:12).

“When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful” (9:5).

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth” (9:29).

And while Islam’s defenders point out there ware verses such as “In matters of faith there shall be no compulsion” (2:256), they conveniently omit to mention the concept of "abrogation,“ which posits that later revelations supersede earlier ones.

The verses advocating violence against unbelievers come after the ones urging peace and conciliation.

Yesterday, the Obama administration embarked an a bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria. Why the sudden urgency? A previously unidentified terrorist offshoot of Al Qaeda, the Khorasan Group, "was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the U.S. homeland," said Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That would be the same U.S. homeland that suddenly seems far more vulnerable to attack than we’ve been led to believe by perhaps the worst assemblage of security experts this nation has ever endured. An assemblage that must be dragged kicking and screaming towards the most important reality they continue to deny: time is of the essence.

Every day we pretend that "non-Islamic” ISIS and other terror organizations can be “managed” by airstrikes alone is a day when more Americans recruits can be drawn to a jihad whose attractiveness increases in direct proportion to the Obama administration’s increasingly feckless denial of reality. Make no mistake: we are in the midst of a civilizational struggle. If we fail to meet it with the necessary force and clarity, America will indeed be “fundamentally transformed” – one domestic attack after another.

SOURCE

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Should the UN be shut down?

Philanthropist Kenneth S. Abramowitz has issued a call to "save western civilization from itself" by shutting down the United Nations, among other measures.

As part of a general effort to fight the false narratives and terminology propagated by the left wing, Abramowitz says that the UN should no longer be portrayed as an important advance for world peace. In fact, he states, it has been taken over by dictatorships and should be closed.

Abramowitz says that the rational citizens of the West must cease using the enemy's terms - like "Second Intifada" for the terror war unleashed against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Accords, or "occupation" and "West Bank" for the Jewish liberation of the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.

Among the most noxious false narratives in the world today, Abramowitz identifies the description of Islam as "a religion of peace" when in fact its terror arms an only be defeated by military means; the belief that a "peace process" will placate Israel's Arab enemies when in fact, appeasement guarantees war - and the claim that the West suffers from irrational, racist "Islamophobia," when in fact it simply exhibits "a normal, rational fear of Islamists - not Muslims."

Abramowitz depicts the global struggle as one in which "rational centrists" in Western civilization are under attack from within - by leftists, as well as naïve isolationists - and from without - by Islamists and the United Nations.

SOURCE

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

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

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25 September, 2014

ObamaCare Devalues Life

Over the last several decades, Americans have statistically had one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. This fact can be attributed to advances in medicine, surgical procedures and lifestyle changes amongst our populace to prolong life. Americans valued life – and most still do. Many Americans, both young and old, have turned to dieting, exercising and taking vitamins and supplements to enhance their immune system to try to live longer. In the words of health policy guru Ezekiel Emanuel, these choices and activities can now be defined as a culture of the “American immortal.”

According to Emanuel, however, “living too long is also a loss.” In his writing he opines that once a person reaches a point in life where he or she can’t contribute to society any more, it’s time for them to consider making choices that will allow them to leave the world sooner rather than later. He argues that since many elderly often become mentally incapacitated and the chances of having a stroke, heart attack and cancer increase, they and those around them would be better off if their life was not prolonged. After all, who wants to be left with taking care of someone who can’t take care of themselves, and who wants to pay for all those medical bills?

“By the time I reach 75,” Emanuel writes, “I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make.” Why should someone who has lived a long, full life need to live any longer?

Because life is precious. Life is valuable. For numerous reasons, humans generally desire to live as long as possible. If we as human beings didn’t place such a high value on life, then why would so many people seek to improve their health, visit the doctor to receive treatment for illnesses, take vitamins and do as much as possible to keep those around us alive for as long as we can?

To be clear, Emanuel does not advocate (at least in the article) for euthanasia, or for physician assisted suicide. But he suggests the burden of an elderly person’s life is not worth the cost to have them kept alive for their last remaining years.

That may be a legitimate question for us to consider individually and with our families as we age, but Emanuel’s thoughts are particularly influential. He is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and he heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. But more than that, he was a chief architect of ObamaCare.

His devaluation of old age is a huge warning sign pointing to public policies featuring the notion that elderly people don’t need to live past a certain point. If likeminded people get their way, writes National Review’s Wesley J. Smith, then “it won’t be so much about choosing not to receive expensive care after 75, but being unable to get it even if that’s what you want.”

Surely this can’t happen, not in America. Not after being told that more Americans have access to better health insurance than ever before. Not after being told that premiums for average households would go down. And certainly not after Barack Obama himself declared that if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. But what if we’re told when we can see our doctor? If the recent findings of the Veterans Administration in Phoenix are any indication as to what the waiting list might look like for our entire nation under government run health care – and we think they absolutely are – then we’re in serious trouble.

Regarding the deaths of up to 40 veterans, Inspector General Robert Griffin stated in a recent report, “I think that in our report a careful reading shows they might have lived longer or had a better quality of life” if there had not been delays in care. If veterans have to wait for care and treatment, then what will the wait for tens of millions of people look like under ObamaCare? Will those who have “lived long enough” be moved down the list to make room for younger people?

Bureaucrats can’t make the best choices for you and your family. Individuals should have the freedom to choose which doctor they see and what (if any) treatment to receive (and when to receive it) based on advice from their doctor and family members. Public policies that deny this choice not only devalue life, but deny it. Denying life is one of most egregious crimes against society that a government can commit, and we the people cannot tolerate it.

SOURCE

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Hillary Clinton's Letters to Saul Alinsky Prove Her Radicalism

Correspondence between Hillary Clinton and leftist organizer Saul Alinsky was recently made public by The Washington Free Beacon, and it proves the danger posed to this country should Clinton win her as-yet-unannounced bid for the White House. One thing is clear: Hillary is no “moderate.”

Clinton wrote the letters in 1971 while she was living in Berkeley, California, interning at Trehauft, Walker and Bernstein, a leftist law firm that counted the Black Panthers among its clients. In the exchanges, Clinton inquired about the expected publication of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” his work on organizing for socialist change that has since become the bible for leftist activism. “I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille [for Radicals] and need some new material to throw at people,” she wrote.

Of his “Rules for Radicals” (which by the way was dedicated to Lucifer), Alinsky wrote, “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-nots on how to take it away.” Note: If you’re in a middle-class family struggling to make ends meet, Alinsky would have considered you a Have, not a Have-Not.

Clinton corresponded with Alinsky between 1968, when she was a Wellesley student writing a thesis about him, and his death in 1972. Some of their exchanges detailed not only her adoration for his ideology and political strategy, but her thought process on going to law school to work to achieve change from the inside. Alinsky’s view of achieving radical social change was to work incrementally both within institutions and outside them. He recognized, particularly through viewing the failures of the New Left during the late 1960s, that America was not ready for socialism. His methods called for ideological stealth and gradualism under the cover of pragmatism.

While Clinton turned down an invitation to work for Alinsky, she never forgot his guiding principles. She offered only a paragraph about him in her book “Living History,” deliberately playing down the man who obviously figured prominently in her political education. Another fine example of pragmatic cover a la Alinsky was that her Wellesley thesis was sealed from public view until 2001 at the request of the Clinton White House. Alinsky’s disciples go to great lengths to cover their tracks.

Hillary was a principal force in the White House that pulled Bill to the left during his presidency. In fact, it was many of her actions during the early years of the co-presidency that caused Democrats to lose Congress in 1994 and almost cost Clinton re-election. Is there any reason to believe that Hillary has mellowed in recent years? None at all.

A Hillary Clinton presidency would be an opportunity for her and her leftist friends to push their agenda even further than they did under Obama. This country may not survive two Chicago activists in a row. It will be hard enough to undo the damage Obama has done. If Clinton follows him into the White House, it will be like a third Obama term that will embed ObamaCare into our society forever, send the investment class permanently overseas, and leave the economic scraps for her fellow domestic Alinsky disciples.

SOURCE

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What Jack Ma Can Re-Teach America

Jack Ma is the founder of the Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba. According to The New York Times, Alibaba is “the world’s largest Internet commerce company, with 231 million active buyers using its site, 11.3 billion annual orders and $296 billion in annual merchandise sales.” Its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange established its value at $168 billion, 2-½ times the size of eBay. But, unlike the fairy tale Ali Baba, Jack Ma is no thief. He has, however, “borrowed” from American ideals we seem to have forgotten in an age of envy, greed and entitlement. Incredibly, he has become a success in communist China, an unlikely place to find such principles practiced.

While there are legitimate concerns over how the Chinese government might capture and use credit card numbers and other information that flows through Alibaba’s website, the philosophy Jack Ma embraced on his road to success is straight from an older and nearly forgotten America.

In addition to business advice, the website vulcanpost.com has compiled some of Ma’s sayings that are the antithesis of Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” in which Chairman Mao laid out Communist Party principles.

Here are some thoughts from Chairman Jack:

“What is failure: Giving up is the greatest failure.”

“What your duties are: To be more diligent, hardworking and ambitious than others.”

In modern America we punish the fruits of hard work and ambition with higher taxes and more regulation, forcing many businesses to seek relief by moving overseas. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, “With the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate at over 39 percent, including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.”

To those who waste energy complaining, Jack Ma offers this advice: “If you complain or whine once in a while, it is not a big deal. However, if it becomes habitual, it will be similar to drinking: the more you drink, the stronger the thirst. On the path to success, you will notice that the successful ones are not whiners, nor do they complain often.”

To an older generation these truths are beyond debate and when applied they can improve any life.

Jack Ma has scrupulously avoided politics and advises people in business to do the same, which is probably why the Beijing dictatorship has allowed him to pursue his goals. Apparently, they do not see him as a threat to their hold on power.

Still, the principles Ma used to build his giant firm are ready-made for the Republican Party, which seems to have no positive message and is cowering in shadows for fear of being demonized by media and the left.

Jack Ma has some wisdom on that score. He says you can’t unify everyone’s thoughts, but you can unify everyone through a common goal.

While his message applies to anyone, anemic Republicans could use it most. They should stop whining about President Obama and start focusing on principles with a track record of success.

Unlike in the fairy tale, such a treasure doesn’t need a secret phrase to unlock it. It’s right in front of them and there for the taking.

SOURCE

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Ret. Marine General: Obama’s ISIS plan hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding

About two weeks ago, President Obama laid out his ISIS strategy, and he is struggling to garner support - not only from an alliance or coalition (which is lacking, as no one is naming the countries or their level of support) - but also from senior military generals and defense officials, current and retired, who certainly know something about battle. The latest torpedo comes from a former Commandant of the US Marine Corps, General James Conway.

As reported by The Daily Caller, "The man who was the top Marine general from 2006 until his retirement in 2010 says President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat the terrorist group, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is doomed to fail. "I don't think the president's plan has a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding," retired Marine General James Conway, who served as the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps during the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration, said at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Friday, according to a source in attendance."

You can always count on a Marine to not mince words. Then again, this is something we all knew was the case two weeks ago, when Obama delivered his 15-minute empty speech which focused more on what he was not going to do along with self-righteous indignation in dismissing ISIS' Islamic ideology.

Another highly decorated and regarded US Marine General chimed in on the subject. As the Daily Caller reports, former CENTCOM Commander retired General James "Mad Dog" Mattis told the House Intelligence Committee, "You just don't take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do. Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground.' If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose."

Even former Obama administration Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has confided in an interview that he was against the withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. So who does Obama listen to? Obviously not the people assigned to key national security positions. I suppose being a complete political animal means he only confides in Darth Vader's sister, Valerie Jarrett. Of course if this were a campaign, then David Axelrod and David Plouffe would be in charge. Maybe behind the scenes, Chicago is still running our country.

We are slowly watching the demise of our nation at the hands of an egomaniacal intransigent ideologue. We will be ultimately victorious, but the pain is going to be rather intense for a period of time.

SOURCE

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Obama hits at companies moving overseas to avoid America's high taxes

The Treasury passed rules Monday to discourage U.S. companies from moving overseas in an attempt to escape the nation's ravenous tax laws. They are effective immediately. There was no public comment period, no debate in Congress. One day, Barack Obama was complaining, Warren Buffett was investing in Burger King's inversion and we were making jokes about donut burgers.

The Treasury ignored the true problem of America's failed tax laws, refusing to create a climate that would encourage businesses to return to this country, and instead made polices that would eat into the profits on inverting companies. One swoop, one day and there are more shackles on America's economy. The Leviathan hath moved.

More HERE

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

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

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24 September, 2014

Is Obamacare Working?

Yes, according to Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, and the Commonwealth Fund. But all these folks were cheerleaders for the Affordable Care Act from day one.

Sarah Kliff, another Obamacare supporter, estimates that health reform has enabled about 5 million people to become newly insured. But that’s only about 10 percent of the uninsured. What happened to the mandate that required that everyone have health insurance this year or face a fine? Turns out that the mandate doesn’t actually apply to millions of people. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 90 percent of the uninsured are exempt from the mandate.

Certain exemptions are written into the law itself. For example, the mandate doesn’t apply to American Indians, to people who have religious objections, or to people who earn too little to be required to file an income tax return. But as I wrote at Forbes the other day:

"... the administration has piled on with 14 ways people can avoid the fine based on hardships. These include homelessness, domestic violence, being evicted from a residence, having a utility cut off, property damage from a fire or flood, and even a canceled insurance plan. Also, people can avoid the penalty if a close family member has died recently or if they have medical expenses resulting in substantial debt."

It gets worse. Many of the people who signed up didn’t pay their first premium. Of those who did, many have stopped paying. For example, Aetna is estimating that by the end of this year they will have lost about 30 percent of their initial enrollees. There is a report of similar attrition out of Florida, which has apparently lost one-fourth of its initial enrollees already. The administration, which has access to national numbers, has refused to release any information on such “buyer’s remorse” since May.

Underlying all this is the fact that millions of newly insured people didn’t understand what they were buying, even though their premiums are being heavily subsidized. As Lena Sun, writing in the Washington Post, reported:

"Nonprofit organizations across the country are being swamped by consumers with questions. Many are low-income, have never had insurance and have little knowledge of the health-care system. The rampant confusion poses a potential hurdle for the success of the health law: If many Americans don’t understand how health insurance works, that could hurt their ability to use their benefits – or to keep their coverage altogether."

Health insurance guru Robert Laszewski puts it this way:

"So what you’ve got is an insurance industry that did not do a good job in gearing up for a population that has never had health insurance before, an Obama administration that did a horrible job on the back end, resulting in a flood of calls to insurer call centers, and a population that is low-income and is not health-insurance literate. Put those things in a bag and you’ve got a problem."

So if Obamacare is failing miserably at insuring the uninsured, what difference does it make? Even though the health insurance mandate is affecting very few of the uninsured, it is having a major effect on people who are insured.

Up to 80 percent of the people who had individual insurance last year will lose their coverage by the time all the Obamacare rules completely set in. Up to 90 percent of the plans that cover people at work will lose their grandfathered status. In many of these cases, people are being forced to buy richer and more expensive plans — with more coverage than they want or need. In other cases, they may lose insurance altogether.

SOURCE

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Why Rouhani loves New York

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to New York next week will be a welcome relief for the Iranian leader. Finally, he’ll be somewhere where he’s appreciated, even loved.

Ahead of his trip to America, the US media continued its practice of presenting Rouhani as a moderate, and a natural ally for the US. NBC News’ Anne Curry interviewed Rouhani in Tehran, focusing her attention on his dim view of Islamic State.

Rouhani told Curry, “From the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.”

The US media and political establishment’s willingness to take Rouhani at his word when he says that he’s a moderate is one of the reasons that [Israeli] Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz was in such a desolate mood on Wednesday.

During a briefing with the foreign media, Steinitz described the state of negotiations between the US and its negotiating partners – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – and Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program.

The briefing followed the latest round of the biennial Israeli-US strategic dialogue. Steinitz led the Israeli delegation to the talks, which focused on Iran, the week before nuclear talks were scheduled to be renewed.

One of Steinitz’s chief concerns was the US’s insistence that Rouhani is a moderate.

In his words, “The only thing that has changed [since Rouhani replaced president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is the tone. The only difference is that the world was unwilling to hear from Ahmadinejad and [his nuclear negotiator Saeed] Jalili, what it is willing to listen to from Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif.”

Unlike the Americans, the Iranian people are through with the fiction that Rouhani is a moderate, which is why he no doubt will be happier in New York than in Tehran.

Rouhani’s trip to New York coincides with his one-year anniversary in office. Since he took power, a thousand Iranians have been executed by the regime. Forty-five people were executed in just the past two weeks.

According to Iranian scholar Majid Rafizadeh, the public’s tolerance for regime violence has reached a breaking point.

In an article in the Frontpage Magazine online journal, Rafizadeh described how 3,000 people descended on regime executioners as they were poised to kill a youth in Mahmoudabad in northern Iran. The protest forced them to call off the show.

They murdered the young man the next day, when no one was looking.

As Iran scholar Dr. Michael Ledeen has explained, the rise in regime brutality is directly proportional to the threat it perceives from the public.

And the regime has good reason to be worried.

Anti-regime protests and strikes occur countrywide, every day.

For instance, from September 9-14, MEK, an Iranian opposition group, documented public protests against security forces and attacks on regime agents in Tehran, Zanzan, Bane, Qom, Karaj and Bandar Abbas.

These actions ran the gamut from a strike by a thousand gas workers in the Aslaviyah gas fields who protested searches of their dormitory rooms by regime agents, to two separate assaults on military vehicles in Zanzan, to youth responding violently in cities throughout the country when regime agents tried to enforce Islamic dress codes on women and girls.

Under the same Rouhani who waxed so poetically against beheadings when speaking to an overeager NBC reporter, not only have state executions have massively intensified. Public floggings, public hand amputations and other public demonstrations of regime brutality have also expanded to levels unseen in recent years.

Rouhani promised to protect women’s rights. Yet since he took office, women’s rights have been severely curtailed.

Last month, the Revolutionary Guards barred women from working as waitresses. In July, Tehran’s mayor barred women from sharing workspace with men. These moves and others like them, aimed at enforcing gender apartheid in all public places in the country, force millions of women into poverty. The official unemployment level for women is already hovering around 20 percent.

Then there are Iran’s other social ills, for instance drug addiction.

Iran has the highest level of drug addiction in the world. According to Babak Dinparast, a senior Iranian drug enforcement official, some 3.5 million Iranians, or 4.4% of the population, are drug users.

In April, Dinparast made the stunning claim that 53% of drug users are government employees.

According to the Iranian parliament’s research institute, the average productive hours of Iranian workers is 22 minutes a day.

In Transparency International’s ranking of administrative and economic corruption, Iran ranks 144th out of 177 countries.

In other words, Iran is coming apart at the seams. The people cannot stand the regime. The regime, incompetent and unwilling to tackle any of Iran’s problems, responds to the public’s outrage with massive, brutal repression.

If left to its own devices, in all likelihood, the Iranian regime would have been toppled five years ago when it falsified the results of the 2009 presidential elections, and so fomented the Green Revolution But the people of Iran didn’t bet on the regime’s ace in the hole: the Obama administration.

The same Obama administration that supported the overthrow of US allies in the war on Islamic jihad – Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – stood by the Iranian regime as it massacred its people in the streets of Iranian cities for daring to demand their freedom.

If the 2009 Green Revolution was the gravest threat the regime had faced since the 1979 revolution brought it to power, today the regime is also imperiled.

On Monday, Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was released from the hospital after undergoing prostate surgery. Several strategic analyses published since then claim that his days are numbered and that as a consequence, the regime faces a period of profound uncertainty and instability.

The Iranian people are watching all of this, and waiting.

As was the case in 2009, the disaffected Iranians, who hate their regime and want good relations with the US and the West, remain the greatest threat to the regime.

Beyond its borders, Iran is also under stress. With its Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah forces committed to Syria in defense of Bashar Assad, Iran finds its position in Iraq threatened by the rising power of Islamic State.

Yet, as happened in 2009, in the midst of this gathering storm, the Obama administration is rushing to the mullahs’ rescue, begging Iran to support US efforts to fight Islamic State, indeed claiming that securing Iran’s support and cooperation is a necessary precondition for the mission’s success.

To say that this US policy is madness is an understatement.

As Michael Weiss documented in Foreign Policy in June, Iran and its puppet, the Syrian regime, played central roles in facilitating the development and empowerment of Islamic State both in Syria and Iraq. A defector from the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate reported in January that the regime helped form Islamic State.

First, it sprang Sunni jihadist leaders from Sednaya prison in 2011. Then, it facilitated in the creation of the armed brigades that became Islamic State.

The idea was that through Islamic State, it could tarnish the reputation of all of its opponents by claiming they were all jihadists.

US military officers with deep knowledge of Iran’s role in Iraq told Weiss that Islamic State’s leadership entered Iraq from Iran.

A key al-Qaida financier, Olimzhon Adkhamovich Sadikov, was charged in February by the US Treasury Department with “provid[ing] logistical support and funding to al-Qaida’s Iran-based network.”

US Army Col. Rick Welch, who served as the military liaison to both the Sunni tribes and the Shi’ite militia in Iraq during the 2007-2008 US military surge, told Weiss that the assessment of Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ites alike was that “Iran was funding any group that would keep Iraq in chaos.”

Iran sought chaos in order to prevent the establishment of a stable Iraqi government allied with the US while incrementally establishing Iranian control over the country.

Iran’s actions in Iraq and Syria, in other words, have for the past decade been focused on expanding Iranian power at the expense of the US and the Iraqi and Syrian people.

This behavior of course is in line with Iran’s global strategy. From its support for Hamas to its control over Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, from developing a strategic alliance with Venezuela to expanding its presence throughout South and Central America, through its closely cultivated relationship with Russia, Iran’s every move involves expanding its power and influence at America’s expense.

And yet, despite this, the Obama administration has made strengthening the Iranian regime and appeasing it the centerpiece of its Middle East policy.

President Barack Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg in March that Iran is a rational actor that the US can do business with.

He said, “If you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.”

As Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry apparently now perceive things, Iran opposes Islamic State, and therefore it will play a supportive role in the US campaign against Islamic State. Moreover, by participating in the campaign, Iran will demonstrate its good faith and so make it possible for the US to cut a deal with the mullahs that will legitimize their illicit uranium enrichment – because really, how big a threat can a country that opposes Islamic State be?

As for Iran, it sees its interest as having the US destroy Islamic State, and if possible, having the US pay Iran for the privilege of fighting Iran’s war – against the foe Iran did so much to create.

And this brings us back to Steinitz’s gloomy assessment of the talks with Iran. Steinitz warned against the growing prospect of the US caving in to Iran’s nuclear demands as a payoff for Iranian support against Islamic State.

In his words, “Some people might think, ‘Let’s clean the table, let’s close the [nuclear] file,” in order to get Iran on board against Islamic State.

Unfortunately for Steinitz, and for the rest of the world, including the US, the Obama administration seems bent on proving him right.

Today the Iranian regime is weaker than it has been since it violently repressed the Green Revolution.

And that is why Rouhani is happy to be coming to New York.

He is certain that now, as then, the Obama administration will save the regime. This, even as the mullahs advance their goal of becoming the hegemons of the Middle East at the US’s expense, and completing their nuclear weapons program, which will secure the regime for decades to come, and threaten America directly.

SOURCE

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

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

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23 September, 2014

Even Hong Kong has too much government

You often read very thoughtful progressives explain why the government sector in the US is too small. You'd think 40% of GDP would be enough, but they insist we have "unmet needs" for a single-payer health care system (18% of GDP), universal preschool, etc. We should be spending something closer to 50% to 55%, like France or the Nordic countries.

If you ever find yourself starting to be persuaded I suggest you visit Hong Kong. I just got back from a trip to Hong Kong (previously I had visited in 1991 and 1999), and marveled at the world class infrastructure. Others seem to have been similarly impressed, as a recent study ranked Hong Kong's infrastructure number one in the world. This in an economy where government spending is 18.5% of GDP, vs. 41.6% in the US.

I don't know how good their schools and health care are, but their life expectancy is third highest in the world (trailing Japan and Singapore) despite bad air pollution. And they score very well on international education rankings.

Hong Kong does have its share of problems. I've mentioned air pollution--although in fairness a lot of that is beyond the government's control--drifting down from the heavily industrialized Pearl River Delta. They also have a lot of income inequality. I'd say that's partly offset by two factors. Many of the poor are immigrants from much poorer countries, who come to HK to do jobs like housekeeping. And all classes in Hong Kong are vastly better off than a few decades ago.

Hong Kong's per capita GDP (PPP) is now about the same as the US. The appearance of the city is a real hodgepodge, with older buildings in Kowloon looking awful, unless you have nostalgia for the HK of films like Chungking Express and In the Mood For Love. (And what movie buff doesn't?) But those old concrete tenements are rapidly being replaced by glitzy new buildings. There's a big hole in the ground where they're building a new high-speed rail station. Imagine getting on the train in tropical HK, and getting off the train in wintry Beijing, the very same day.

What impresses me the most is not so much the current position of Hong Kong, but rather it's trajectory. Unlike the US and Europe, it is still seeing rapid improvement. The fact that an economy can do so well with the government spending only 18.5% of GDP makes me even more skeptical of the progressives' call for a bigger welfare state in the US. If we are spending 41% of GDP, then the problems here are not due to any lack of resources for the government.

Now let's consider what is universally viewed as Hong Kong's greatest failing---housing. It's very expensive, and even middle class people live in very small apartments in high-rise towers. Now consider that real estate is the one sector where Hong Kong's government is heavily involved in the economy. They own most of the land, and sell only very limited amounts of land for new construction. Many people in otherwise laissez-faire Hong Kong live in public housing projects. So it appears that the biggest problem in relatively libertarian Hong Kong is too much government. More specifically, too much government involvement in housing. They should privatize both the land and the public housing projects. Here's an interesting article by Richard Wong of the University of Hong Kong:

The value of Hong Kong's housing capital last year was estimated at HK$6.8 trillion, or 320 per cent of gross domestic product. This is the net value of private residential housing at market prices, based on gross market value minus the value of outstanding mortgage loans. Total loans were a modest HK$900 billion - a mere 11.8 per cent of the gross market value.

In Hong Kong, private residential housing only accommodates about half the population. The other half is in government-provided public rental housing and subsidised ownership homes, mainly tenant purchase scheme and homeownership scheme flats.

The market value of government-provided housing is very substantial, but because there are extremely severe restrictions limiting their use either as rental property or as assets for sale on the open market, their values are highly discounted. They simply provide shelter for the original occupants. As such, they are marginal to the market economy and measured GDP.

Privatisation of public rental units and deregulation of sale restrictions for ownership units, on the other hand, would substantially enhance the market value of government housing. What would be their market value if such steps were taken?

Based on the open market transaction prices of HOS and TPS flats, the gross market value of public rental housing units is estimated at HK$2.45 trillion, TPS homes at HK$410 billion, and HOS flats at HK$1.56 trillion. The total value of government subsidised housing is therefore HK$4.42 trillion, or 208 per cent of GDP.

What will be the economic gain to society from the privatising of public rental housing and waiving or substantially lowering of unpaid land premiums on all government-subsidised housing units? The value of private and public housing stock would easily amount to HK$11.24 trillion, or 528 per cent of GDP.

To put this percentage into perspective, consider Piketty's estimates of the value of all forms of capital (and not just housing capital) as a percentage of GDP. He found this to be 617 per cent in France, 543 per cent in Britain, 418 per cent in Germany, 417 per cent in Canada, and 456 per cent in the US.

Hong Kong could be a very capital-rich city if only government housing units were privatised and deregulated, which would put an additional HK$3.36 trillion housing value in the market.

First, half the population would be happier because the gap between the rich and the poor would be sharply reduced in one fell swoop.

Second, the pressure on government to finance rising health care costs, old-age social welfare payments, education spending, and even housing investment would be indirectly alleviated, as many underutilised public housing units would become unlocked and return to market circulation.

Third, new economic activity at the grass-roots level could be spawned. Mortgaging parents' homes is often a key way to raise capital among those without credit rating.

Fourth, mortgaging parents' homes would also provide an important source of upward intergenerational mobility, both in providing human capital investments to children and making down payments for their home purchases.

Fifth, these benefits would come at no one's expense. The government would not even need to raise taxes.

PS. Whenever I do these posts people complain that Hong Kong is not a typical country. It's a single city, with only 7.3 million people. That's true, but of course there are many European economies with similar populations, and in most modern economies only about 3% of the population is farmers. You could argue that at least in terms of demographics Hong Kong and Sweden are more alike than either place is like the US, which has a much larger and more ethnically diverse population.

SOURCE

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Has ‘The Strike’ already started?

One of the first things you notice when you go looking for “mainstream” reviews of the film “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” is how few there are.

In fact, it would appear the hope that “John Galt” might sink like a stone without trace actually outweighed the modest personal gratification these critics might have gotten by individually shredding its low-budget lack of slam-bang action and its “mean-spirited” theme.

One of them, however, did break ranks and weigh in last week with a very curious criticism of a scene that occurs near the beginning of the film, as Dagny Taggart suffers a sprained ankle after literally crashing her way into Galt’s Gulch.

The Dagny character (Laura Regan, in this outing) is examined by a physician, using a hand-held scanning device of his own invention that appears to operate like a miniature fluoroscope. The physician is played by a fine character actor named Steven Tobolowsky. Dagny recognizes him as someone who had been a famous neurosurgeon “on the outside.” He smilingly says he now practices “a different kind of medicine” here.

Anyway, the Tobolowsky character states “Every physician should have one of these.” Our trusty statist reviewer seems to have interpreted this to mean Tobolowsky’s character was somehow greedily withholding this invention from those in the “outside world” because they wouldn’t pay him enough, just as Galt is withholding his source of cheap electric power. (When all this time we thought it was the Greedy Oil Companies!)

So . . . a millionaire brain surgeon is willing to give up all that wealth and prestige in order to be a GP in a little mountain village -– accepting a vast reduction in standard of living -– but the meaning of this scene is that he’s “too greedy” to share his invention? Might it not be a tad more reasonable to assume the point is that in today’s heavily regulated (in fact, government controlled) medical field, no single individual could hope to win “FDA approval” of such a device in a time period measured in less than decades or for a cost measured in less than millions, even though a single inventor, working in some mountain village, has here managed to get one up and running in only a matter of months, and is obviously willing to employ it without demanding any vast fee?

Look at all the iconic breakthrough firearms invented by John Moses Browning, working at his private workbench in Utah, back before 1920. Today, any single individual seeking to invent and manufacture the Browning Automatic Rifle would be jailed, if he didn’t die in a hail of ATF gunfire in the initial government raid. (What’s that? “All you need is a license”? Write in and apply for one, then, informing the ATF that in keeping with the 2nd and 14th Amendments you plan to sell your new machine gun to any “civilian” who can come up with the cash, just as John Browning did. Let me know how you do.) And it follows as the night from day that the pace of medical innovation in America will also now slow, under the regulation and rationing imposed by ObamaMedicare.

But Tobolowsky’s character is withholding his invention because he’s “greedy”?

When Rand predicted in her 1957 masterpiece that even physicians might someday join her “strike of the productive class” -– millionaire neurosurgeons preferring to accept a much reduced standard of living rather than put up with a government regulatory takeover of the entire field of medicine — critics jeered that this was far-fetched nonsense. But today, a “government takeover of medicine” is so close to being a fait accompli that Rand gets little credit for having shown any great powers of foresight and extrapolation here -– the average younger viewer apparently just dismissing this as “The same right-wing ‘Tea Party’ whining we’ve been hearing for years — these greedy right-wingers just want all the poor people to get sick and die.”

This is not all just “theoretical.” I happen to know a few physicians who are either recently retired or in the process of retiring, years earlier than might otherwise have been expected. Why? They tell me “Medicine is no fun anymore.” Why? For the most part these guys aren’t doctrinaire Objectivists, or Libertarians, or political animals of any stripe. They tend to draw few distinctions between Medicare and private insurers and the new regulatory purveyors of Obamacare. They still enjoy diagnosing and healing. They just noticed that every year they were spending less time and money on practicing medicine, and more on a growing office staff that spends its days on the telephone or on their computer monitors, seeking “permission” from some far-away, anonymous bean-counter (who DOESN’T have a medical degree) before the doctor is allowed to proceed with each (progressively more curtailed) step of testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

These medicos are not writing long-winded political diatribes to their local newspapers. They’re just throwing up their hands, folding their tents, telling the spouse “Honey, we’ve got enough money, this is no fun anymore and it’s getting worse, let’s retire and enjoy life for however many years we’ve got left.”

They may not all be moving to the same mountain valley in Colorado. But they are going on strike. We are losing their services, and the bright kids who should have succeeded them are wisely going into management or Big Pharma.

I believe I can even tell you how it’ll end up. Washington will promise everyone the same quality of medicine, all essentially for free, and that’s what they’ll deliver: Soviet-style medicine, with really long lines and increasing mortality rates (which they’ll fudge to look better), for the “bottom 93 percent” of us.

For the 7 percent who can pay cash? The best quality medical treatment will now be available in sparkling modern clinics operated by the best and the brightest American-trained doctors . . . just not in the U.S.A.

Where was it the leaders of the Soviet Union used to go for their medical treatment? I don’t think it was Leningrad.

SOURCE

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Secret courts have worrying implications

Did you know that if the U.S. government decides that it wants to violate, i.e. trash, provisions of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, it simply creates secret federal courts of law that will rubber stamp all that it desires?

Well, now we know a small part of the ugly truth about our federal government, and we have exiled hero Edward Snowden to thank for it. He’s revealed some of the nasty secrets and Uncle Sam is out to get him for it.

We know, for example, that Uncle Sam secretly threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad warrantless demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — successfully forcing the company to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program.

Yahoo resisted the government’s demands but ultimately lost the battle in a secret court -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review -- which decided that the Fourth Amendment requirements for search warrants may simply be ignored when the government deems it necessary for national security purposes.

Now NSA enjoys extensive warrantless access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, also complied in secret. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling.

PRISM was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. It allowed the NSA to order U.S.-based tech companies to turn over e-mails and other communications to or from foreign targets without search warrants for each of those targets. Other NSA programs gave even more wide-ranging access to ­personal information of people worldwide, by collecting data directly from fiber-optic connections. And the tech companies were bound by law to keep the governments nefarious activities secret.

Now we know that secret courts are constitutional because the secret judges say so, and using secret courts to trash the Bill of Rights is constitutional because the secret judges say so.

The implications are that our government is essentially lawless -- no provision of law in the United States of America is beyond the reach of government trashing in secret with secret courts.

SOURCE

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

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

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22 September, 2014

Mr Key has the keys to New Zealand

NZ is a nation of only 4 million people so might seem of no importance.  But for people tired of the squabbles of the big world it could be very important indeed.  It is about as far away from Europe as you can get and has a very large ocean separating it from the USA.  And perhaps most importantly, NZ consists of two large and beautiful islands (imaginatively named North Island and South Island) with a very mild climate.  Even in the South of the South island, snow very seldom stays on the ground for long.  And they speak English (in a rather odd way) and you can drink the water!  And you never have to Press 1 for English.  Worth thinking about  -- particularly for soon-to-be snowed-in residents of the Northern USA


New Zealand's ruling National party secured a third term in government in the election on Saturday, winning an outright majority on a platform to continue strong economic growth.

Prime Minister John Key's centre-right party received 48.1 per cent of the vote, giving it 62 of 121 parliamentary seats and improving its performance on the previous vote in 2011.

The 53-year-old former foreign exchange dealer triumphed despite allegations of dirty political tactics involving government ministers, and claims that a government spy agency had planned mass secret domestic surveillance.

The National Party was set to make electoral history under the proportional voting system by being able to govern on its own, but is seen as having strengthened its majority by renewing support deals with minor parties which formed the previous coalition government.

The leader of the opposition Labour Party, David Cunliffe, conceded defeat yesterday, with the centre-left party winning 24.6 percent of the vote.  "The truth is, the party vote has returned a National government, and over the coming days and weeks we will need to reflect upon why," Mr Cunliffe said in his concession speech. He said he had called Key to congratulate him on his victory.

"It is rare for any government to be defeated while surfing an economic rebound with around a four percent growth rate, even though the longer-term problems remain to be addressed," Cunliffe added.

Key said he was "ecstatic" about the result. "It's a great night," he said. He added that people could see the nation was moving in the right direction and that he was grateful to them.

Key campaigned on the government's record of economic management and strict controls on spending, which helped New Zealand record decade-high growth.

SOURCE

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The Scottish Fascists showed true Fascist form

Nationalism plus socialism is the formula for Fascism and the Scottish National Party embodies  both of those.  And the behaviour of many of their supporters recently was much like that of the supporters of Hitler and Mussolini. If you doubt that, read on

By Jim Murphy (A Scottish Labour party member of the British parliament)

I always knew the independence referendum would be the most important event I would ever be involved in, the most important event for Scotland. Because of that I decided to campaign in a totally different way, going back to an old-fashioned politics predating social media and spin doctors. I embarked on a 100-stop tour of open-air meetings across my beautiful country.

It was just me, my microphone, my makeshift stage of two Irn-Bru crates and whoever turned up.

And I loved most of it. I visited places I’d never been to before and discovered that the best comedians aren’t only found at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Many were in the crowds with a wry comment or a well-timed put-down. I’m not sure I got the better of every exchange.

However sometimes it became far more sinister. There is a dark corner of Scotland where an intolerant Scottish nationalism lives. We all know that no political movement is without its idiots. But what went on at times in the referendum was of a different nature altogether – it wasn’t the occasional fool but an orchestrated campaign.

In places like Motherwell, Dundee and Kirkcaldy, Yes groups organised big crowds of their followers to drown out our events, preventing undecided voters from joining open-air democracy. In their dozens and sometimes in their hundreds they screamed ‘Traitor!’, ‘Scum!’, ‘Quisling!’ and even ‘Terrorist’.

And there was one more vile insult they hurled at me. In the midst of the campaign, new details appeared in the media about alleged 1970s child abuse in and around Westminster. To some of my opponents, it didn’t matter that I was in primary school when these terrible cases were alleged to have taken place. Instead it became a regular insult to scream ‘Paedophile!’ at me throughout my street meetings.

An anti-English group, Siol nan Gaidheal – or ‘Seed of the Gaels’ – boasted that they had been ‘following Murphy’ for ‘in-your-face confrontations’. And there was a lot of publicity for the least-skilled egg thrower – it took him four eggs before he hit me. But I couldn’t care less about an egg thrower, what was worrying was their determination to deny us space in Scotland’s streets.

And it wasn’t just me; Ed Miliband and others were also in their sights, and the BBC’s Glasgow HQ was targeted by Yes protesters because of unfounded allegations of anti-independence bias at the BBC.

I know the vast majority of Yes supporters would never dream of behaving like this. They decided to support the Yes campaign because they believed it was best for their family and our country. They are decent and honest people, many of whom are hurting this weekend.

But wherever we went there was often a noisy crowd that followed us. Rightly, nothing like this ever happened to Alex Salmond or the Yes campaign.

After a while my meetings became impossible places to guarantee public safety – I had to halt my tour and seek police advice. To this day, I still don’t know how high up in the Yes campaign these actions were sanctioned, but I do know how widespread they became.

I lost count of how many No voters told me they were too worried to wear a sticker or display a poster. The effect was that visually, the Yes campaign appeared to speak for the majority. If the vote was decided by which campaign had the most window posters, then Scotland would be independent.

Fortunately windows don’t vote.

SOURCE

Chris Brand has further details of Scotland's descent into Fascist street thuggery.  He lives in Edinburgh so saw some of the aggression personally.

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A German's View on Islam  -- from a few years back but well worth repeating

I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

  'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many  more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come.’ 

  ‘My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.' 

  ‘We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is a religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.’

  ‘The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is  the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.’ 

  ‘The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' is cowed and  extraneous. Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China 's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.’

  ‘The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet. And who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery? Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

  ‘History lessons are often  incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany , they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will  have begun.’

  ‘Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.’

  ‘Now Islamic prayers have been  introduced in Toronto and other public  schools in Ontario , and, yes, in  Ottawa ,  too, while the Lord's Prayer was removed (due to being so offensive?). The  Islamic way may be peaceful for the time being in our country until the  fanatics move in.’

  ‘In Australia , and indeed in many countries around the world, many of the most commonly consumed food items have the halal emblem on them. Just look at the back of some of the most popular chocolate bars, and at other food items in your local supermarket. Food on aircraft have the halal emblem just to appease the privileged minority who are now rapidly expanding within the nation's shores.’

  ‘In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of "no-go" zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not  intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuse to acknowledge British law.’ 

  ‘As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts - the fanatics who threaten our way of life.’

SOURCE

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ObamaCare, the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans

ObamaCare is the political gift that keeps on giving for Republicans hoping to take control of the U.S. Senate. Not only are millions of Americans projected to tragically have their insurance policies cancelled due to the law's onerous regulations, but in the state of Minnesota, the largest provider to those who signed up using the state's health insurance exchange has found that they cannot afford to continue doing business in the state under the law.

But cancellation notices are not the only way that ObamaCare will negatively impact Democrats' political fortunes. Voters will be hit hard later this month and in October with notices that their insurance premiums are rising 7.5 percent on average, or more than four times this year's inflation rate.

Quite a different story than what was promised during the president's push to pass the bill.

While most people remember the "if you like your health insurance, you can keep it" lie, the other major sales pitch for passage of the failed law centered around the promise that health insurance rates were going to go down by $2,500.

This claim was laughed at as being absurd, given the law's increased mandates on what and who health insurers had to cover. In spite of legally mandated increased costs, somehow advocates of the law claimed that health insurers were going to magically be able to significantly lower rates.

Now that health insurers have had a year to digest the underlying costs of providing coverage with the exchanges in full effect, this naive or deceitful promise is being laid to waste by reality.

Supporters of the law are expected to take two tacks in explaining away the increase. Most will say that a 7.5 percent increase is a good thing, because it was less of an increase than they feared. This ignores the fact that the average annual income for workers has declined nearly $5,000 for the median worker since 2007, and this past year remained virtually the same as the year before.

Into this reality of stagnant wages, an ObamaCare-triggered 7.5 percent health insurance increase is devastating to families just trying to survive, and poison to Democrats who imposed it on the people.

And contrary to the assertions of some, it isn't the health insurers' fault. This is an ObamaCare-driven cost increase passed directly onto the consumer. No matter how much supporters of the law may scream desperately trying to shift blame from themselves, those who voted for the law own the higher cost to consumers.

The premium notices arriving in the weeks prior to the election should serve as a painful reminder to voters about their member's ObamaCare vote. If the rates had decreased, you can be assured that Democratic politicians would be bragging about their support for the law. Instead, they can only hope that voters can be convinced to blame someone else.

For those who opposed ObamaCare, this final vindication that the cost savings pillar of the law is falling should not bring glee. Their constituents are hurting, and rather than crowing, they need to redouble their efforts to repeal this poorly conceived law.

SOURCE

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.  This time with additional commentary of Scotland's independence referendum

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

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

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21 September, 2014

Brain chemistry as a determinant of mood

All the happiness research concludes that happiness is dispositional:  No matter what happens to us, we return after a while to our genetically pre-set level of happiness.  And happiness is also a strong differentiator of liberals and conservatives.  So liberals are born unhappy, which is why they are always wanting to change things in the futile search for a system that they will be happier with.  The research reported below is concerned with a closely related topic, pessimism/optimism so we may be getting closer to seeing exactly what makes liberals the angry and irrational creatures they are

If you find it hard to look on the bright side and your glass is half-empty rather than half-full, blame your lateral habenula.

Scientists say chemicals in this small part of the brain are crucial to feelings of disappointment. If the chemistry is right, we may find it easier to brush off the bad times.  But if it is out of balance, we may feel set-backs more keenly.

Researcher Roberto Malinow said: ‘The idea that some people see the world as a glass half-empty has a chemical basis in the brain.’

To work out why some people find it hard to be optimistic, the professor looked at the chemistry of a lateral habenula, a tiny area deep inside the brain.

Studies on monkeys have shown the lateral habenula becomes very active when the creatures are denied a fruit juice they are expecting.

In experiments on rats and mice, Professor Malinow showed the balance of two brain chemicals in the region to be key.

One, called glutamate, ramps up activity in the area, while the other, GABA, dampens it down.

Rats with depression made less GABA than others. But when they were given an anti-depressant, levels increased.

It is thought pessimists naturally make less GABA. This would make them feel knock-backs more deeply – and so expect bad things to happen more often.

The finding suggests making enough GABA is crucial to dealing with disappointment.

Professor Malinow, of the University of California, San Diego, said: ‘What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.’

His research, published in the journal Science, doesn’t just help explain why some people are more pessimistic than others – it could also help in the search for new treatments for depression.

SOURCE

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Losing the Half-Century War on Poverty

We were only a few short years into the War on Terror when the Left demanded we pull the plug because of a lack of results. Yet 50 years into the War on Poverty declared by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, we’ve spent an estimated $22 trillion trying to alleviate poverty with little to show for it.

One in seven Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as when the policies began to take effect in the late 1960s. The 2013 poverty rate of 14.5% was the first decline in the year-over-year rate since 2006, as the 2012 rate was 15%. But even during flush economic times, we’ve never driven the poverty rate below 10%.

Despite the stagnation in the poverty rate, the changes wrought by Johnson’s “Great Society” have manifested themselves in a number of societal ills that were uncommon five decades ago. Many of those stem from an out-of-wedlock birthrate that has skyrocketed from single-digits in 1964 to over 40% today. With the marriage rate in steep decline, we could call it the era of the “baby daddy” – despite recent U.S. Census reports indicating a female-headed single-parent family is five times more likely to be poor than a married-couple one. Marriage really does matter.

On the other hand, to be poor in this day and age carries with it a number of advantages even middle-class families could only dream of a generation or two ago. Contrary to popular perception, the average poverty-level family likely has a car (and perhaps two) as well as their own place to live, whether a single-family home or apartment – less than one in 10 live in a mobile home or trailer. Just 4% of those considered poor are homeless at some point during a calendar year, according to Census Bureau statistics. (The Heritage Foundation has done an outstanding study detailing these and other facts about our poor.)

The dirty little secret about America’s “poor” is that most of the dozens of means-tested government programs aren’t considered income for recipients. If these programs were given an income equivalent, only a tiny percentage of the 45.3 million Americans who fall below the poverty line would be considered poor and the perceived need for these programs would decrease. Last year the Cato Institute put out a controversial study claiming that welfare programs in many states paid more than minimum wage jobs, providing a disincentive to work but a tremendous incentive to vote in such a way as to assure the gravy train will continue to roll. The more people who are touched by government assistance, the easier it is for politicians distributing the “help” to maintain power. As the saying goes, those who rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the vote of Paul.

In short, the Great Society has created the great dependent underclass, a massive voting bloc that is now beholden to statists. No longer do we hear of the generation too proud to accept “relief” from the government. And no longer do we subject our dependent class to the humiliation of cashing welfare checks or counting out food stamps – now it’s as easy as swiping a credit card, only with no payment due. Meanwhile, those from the faith-based community who used to provide for society’s less fortunate by providing a hand up rather than a handout are more and more shut out of the process.

The stated intention of the Great Society was to simply provide the tools to bring people out of poverty – they still had to do the work. But work is hard and handouts are easy, and that simple truism has brought us to the unsustainable situation we’re in today, with no end in sight unless radical change comes from the very government that has become the vote-gathering provider to so many. It won’t be under this regime, of course, as Barack Obama has put us on a path to throw another $13 trillion at the problem over the next fruitless decade.

SOURCE

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Bobby Jindal Sets Up 2016 Presidential Bid

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal released a comprehensive energy plan this week that he believes will put America on the road to energy independence while reinvigorating the economy and reducing government interference. It also serves to set him apart from other prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates.

This 48-page policy vision covers six major areas of the energy debate, and also spends a fair amount of ink criticizing the Obama administration and its leftist cadres who would love nothing better than to create scarce resources and higher prices.

The plan, released by Jindal’s nonprofit policy group “America Next” and co-written by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), calls for promoting responsible development of domestic energy resources and building an infrastructure to transport it. This means supporting oil and natural gas exploration and refining, going forward with the Keystone XL pipeline, and embracing clean coal and nuclear power as the viable energy sources that they can be.

Jindal’s plan also examines the negative impact government regulation is having on the energy industry, and proposes eliminating the most burdensome and redundant restrictions that keep the energy industry from growing. He wades into the debate over renewable energy, recognizing that there is great potential for jobs and fresh energy sources. He believes the government should encourage technological innovation, but he points out that the crony capitalism of the Obama administration has created a rigged game where ineffective companies like Solyndra get pumped up with taxpayer dollars and then fail miserably.

The proposal emphasizes how a clear energy strategy can guide America to a stable future. More jobs and cheaper energy in the long term will be an obvious boost to the economy. Energy independence will make the nation safer and less reliant on foreign sources, many of which are in the hands of America’s enemies.

Jindal faults the Obama administration and the environmental lobby for deliberately creating a situation where energy is more expensive and consumers pay more for it. Environmentalists always turn against forms of energy as soon as they become widespread and inexpensive. Leftists love it when natural gas was expensive, he said, but “as soon as it became affordable, all of the sudden they decided they didn’t like it so much.”

This is because, as Jindal explains, scarcer, more expensive energy gives the government a foothold on greater control of the economy. Energy scarcity is a myth; there is more than enough natural gas, oil and coal under our feet in this country alone to power this nation at current levels of consumption for decades, if not centuries. But Obama would have us believe that we are approaching crisis levels, thereby creating an excuse for greater regulation, when then artificially raises prices. In effect, he’s arbitrarily deciding which companies win and lose in the marketplace.

Jindal’s energy policy is not without its controversies. Calling for the phasing out of ethanol and lifting the ban on oil exports, though reasonable, will create arguments within GOP circles. But he is stirring the debate, much like he did with the release of his health care proposal in April. In the coming months he will be releasing similar policy plans on education, defense and jobs.

These policy prescriptions together make for an interesting presidential platform. Jindal says he hasn’t decided whether he will run, but none of the likely candidates have made formal announcements yet. That won’t happen until after the dust from the midterms settles. Jindal does have a name recognition problem; few people in the general electorate know much about him.

On the plus side, Jindal has been vocal about the problems of the Obama administration. More importantly, at each step, he has offered alternatives to the statist policies wrecking our country. Anyone who can do that deserves to be heard.

SOURCE

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The Jihadi Logic

What was the Islamic State thinking? We know it is sophisticated in its use of modern media. But what was the logic of propagating to the world videos of its beheadings of two Americans (and subsequently a Briton) – sure to inflame public opinion?

There are two possible explanations. One is that these terrorists are more depraved and less savvy than we think. They so glory in blood that they could not resist making an international spectacle of their savagery and did not quite fathom how such a brazen, contemptuous slaughter of Americans would radically alter public opinion and risk bringing down upon them the furies of the U.S. Air Force.

The second theory is that they were fully aware of the inevitable consequence of their broadcast beheadings – and they intended the outcome. It was an easily sprung trap to provoke America into entering the Mesopotamian war.

Why?

Because they’re sure we will lose. Not immediately and not militarily. They know we always win the battles but they are convinced that, as war drags on, we lose heart and go home.

They count on Barack Obama quitting the Iraq/Syria campaign just as he quit Iraq and Libya in 2011 and is in the process of leaving Afghanistan now. And this goes beyond Obama. They see a post-9/11 pattern: America experiences shock and outrage and demands action. Then, seeing no quick resolution, it tires and seeks out leaders who will order the retreat. In Obama, they found the quintessential such leader.

As for the short run, the Islamic State knows it will be pounded from the air. But it deems that price worth paying, given its gains in propaganda and prestige – translated into renown and recruiting – from these public executions.

Understanding this requires adjusting our thinking. A common mantra is that American cruelty – Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, “torture,” the Iraq War itself – is the great jihadist recruiting tool. But leaving Iraq, closing Abu Ghraib and prohibiting “enhanced interrogation” had zero effect on recruiting. In fact, jihadi cadres from Mali to Mosul have only swelled during Obama’s outstretched-hand presidency.

Turns out the Islamic State’s best recruiting tool is indeed savagery – its own. Deliberate, defiant, triumphant. The beheadings are not just a magnet for psychopaths around the world. They are choreographed demonstrations of its own unbounded determination and of American helplessness. In Osama bin Laden’s famous formulation, who is the “strong horse” now?

We tend to forget that at this stage in its career, the Islamic State’s principal fight is intramural. It seeks to supersede and supplant its jihadi rivals – from al-Qaeda in Pakistan to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria – to emerge as champion of the one true jihad.

The strategy is simple: Draw in the world’s great superpower, create the ultimate foil and thus instantly achieve supreme stature in radical Islam as America’s nemesis.

It worked. A year ago, the world had never heard of this group, then named ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Now it is the subject of presidential addresses, parliamentary debates and international conferences. It is the new al-Qaeda, which itself has been demoted to JV.

SOURCE

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TSA Demands to Search Man AFTER Plane Lands. He Filmed His Response

More boneheaded bureaucracy

Kahler Nygard, 22, of Minnesota was called off a plane by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when it landed in Colorado earlier this month. He filmed his unsettling encounter with the agency.

"I'm the only one walking off the plane," Nygard states in the first video he posted on Youtube six days ago. "They let me fly all the way to Denver. Everyone's wondering what's going on with me," he says as heads turn toward him. "No, I have not committed a crime."

His plane tickets, like those of about 14,000 other individuals, are apparently marked by the TSA "SSSS" for Secondary Security Screening Selection. That means he gets to go through all those extra pat-downs every time he wants to travel through the air for unknown reasons based on hazy criteria.

His second video has all the creepy action. Once he gets off the plane, a TSA agent named Andrew Grossman claims the screening of Nygard was "not completed" in Minnesota, so they need to re-examine "his body and his bags" now. The agent calls Nygard "pretty objectionable" for filming the encounter, demands to see his boarding pass, and threatens to call Denver police on him for not complying.

Regarding the boarding pass, Nygard responds "I misplaced it." This seems to stump Grossman, as do Nygard's many valid questions. He repeatedly asks if he's being detained, and gets a different, mushy answer each time. He asks why he needs to be screened after a flight since he traveled safely from one location to the other, and the agent says, "I'm not going to argue with you." He asks under which statute or law he's being detained, and the agent replies, "I'm following my orders."

He walked out of the airport despite the agent's demands, and according to NBC, "Nygard says he flew back to Minneapolis [last] Thursday. Besides another pat-down, he says there were no issues." He wasn't arrested as the agent threatened, but the TSA says it "is investigating the case."

SOURCE

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

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

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19 September, 2014

An unsympathetic view of America

Last night I went to "The perfect American" by modern composer Philip Glass. It was a good opera, with lots going on, lots of drama and lots of dramatic music.  It even had a death scene.  So, except for Glass's unique music, it could have been a 19th century opera.  I went to it only for the music but it was a good show as well.  One's attention did not wander.

The whole point of the opera was to lampoon Walt Disney.  The intelligentsia will never forgive Disney for being anti-Communist but to my mind those who make excuses for Communism are the ethical cripples.

Disney was portrayed as a pathological egotist.  I am in no doubt that a hugely successful entrepreneur such as Disney had  to have a considerable ego but I am equally sure that a man who built up from scratch such a huge organization as the Disney organization had to be a very good people manager -- and no-one likes an egotist.  So whatever ego Disney had must have at least been kept in check most of the time.  So I very much doubt the accuracy of the Disney portrayal by Glass. But much in the opera was admittedly fictional so I suppose one should not take it as history



Another historical blooper was the portrayal of Abraham Lincoln as a champion of blacks and a believer in equality.  That is schoolboy history.  Lincoln was neither of those things.  In his famous letter to Horace Greeley Lincoln said that it was only the union he cared about, not blacks.  And after the war he wanted to send them all back to Africa, but was shot before he could implement that.  Let's have some words from the man himself, words spoken at the White House and addressed to a group of black community leaders on August 14th, 1862:

"You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated."

Got that?

And Glass's history is equally shaky in portraying Disney as a racist.  His biographer Neal Gabler in his 2009 book 'Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination' concludes, "Walt Disney was no racist. He never, either publicly or privately, made disparaging remarks about blacks or asserted white superiority. Like most white Americans of his generation, however, he was racially insensitive."

And in decribing Disney as the perfect American, Glass was largely disparaging America as a whole -- something Leftists such as Glass generally do.  The opera has yet to be performed in America.  I predict a very mixed reception to it when it is performed in America.

Why the opera first went to Madrid, then to London and then to Brisbane I do not know.  It was a very extravagant production in Brisbane with a far larger cast than needful and a huge (4-ton!) mechanical  contraption in the roof used to change scenes etc so maybe it was that only the Brisbane arts community felt able to afford it -- JR

UPDATE

Below is a picture of the front cover of the program notes for the opera.  It is supposed to be a blending of Walt's face with the face of Mickey mouse.  The effect, however, is to make Disney look insane, and certainly two-faced.  So it is all part of the demonization of him.  A most unpleasant and disturbing piece of Leftist art.



Leftists customarily envy other people's success and  Disney was VERY successful, so this attempt to pull his memory down might have been expected

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I think we all know this guy



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TWO medical backflips in one day

Common treatments for prostate cancer could speed the growth of tumours, a major study has warned

Researchers found that steroid drugs which are widely prescribed because they control the disease not only stop working over time - but began to drive the spread of cancer.

The study by the Institute of Cancer Research, The Royal Marsden Foundation trust and the University of Trento in Italy tracked 16 men with advanced prostate cancer in detail.

The research found that use of glucocorticoids - steroid drugs often given alongside hormonal therapy - coincided with the emergence of mutations that led the drug to activate the disease.

Researchers said in future, men with advanced cancer should undergo very regular blood test monitoring to identify such mutations, in order to change their treatment.

They said that "liquid biopsies" analysing tumour DNA circulating in the blood could give an accurate picture of cancer development in individual patients, so treatment could be better targeted.

The study, published in in Science Translational Medicine, used complex genetic analysis of biopsies and blood samples from patients with advanced prostate cancer.

In several patients, use of glucocorticoids coincided with the emergence of androgen receptor mutations and the progression of cancer into more advanced forms.

The study showed that blood tests to measure circulating tumour DNA levels – which is less expensive and invasive than taking repeated samples of tumours with needle biopsies – could be used to monitor the emergence of treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

Study leader Dr Gerhardt Attard, Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "Our study showed that a steroid treatment given to patients with advanced prostate cancer and often initially very effective started to activate harmful mutations and coincided with the cancer starting to grow again."

Professor Paul Workman, Interim Chief Executive at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "Drug resistance is the single biggest challenge we face in cancer research and treatment, and we are just beginning to understand how its development is driven by evolutionary pressures on tumours.

"This important discovery reveals how some cancer treatments can actually favour the survival of the nastiest cancer cells, and sets out the rationale for repeated monitoring of patients using blood tests, in order to track and intervene in the evolution of their cancers."

Dr Matthew Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "There are currently too few treatment options for men living with advanced stage prostate cancer. Not only do we desperately need to find more treatments for this group of men, we also need to understand more about when those that are available stop working and why."

He said the research was important because it could help to pinpoint the stage at which some drugs stop being effective.

"In the future this could arm doctors with the knowledge they need to ensure that no time is wasted between a drug that stops working for a man and him moving on to another effective treatment," he said.

However he cautioned that the study was an early piece of research, carried out in very few men, with larger studies needed.

SOURCE

Low-calorie sweeteners found in diet drinks RAISE the risk of obesity and diabetes by affecting how the body processes sugar

Millions rely on them to help them stay thin. But low-calorie artificial sweeteners actually raise the risk of obesity, researchers fear.

The popular sugar alternatives found in diet drinks and in sachets in cafes and restaurants may also increase the odds of diabetes.

The sweeteners under the microscope are saccharin, which is found in Sweet’N Low, sucralose, which is found in Splenda, and aspartame, which is found in many diet drinks.

The Israeli researchers that ‘today’s massive, unsupervised consumption’ of artificial sweeteners needs to be reassessed.

The warning at a time when growing concern about the damage done by sugar is likely to mean more people are switching to artificial alternatives.

British experts urged caution, saying that much of the work was done in mice. But they also said that water is the healthiest drink.

The researchers, from the Weizmann Institute of Science, first showed that all three sweeteners made it more difficult for mice to process sugar.

This is known as glucose intolerance and is important because it raises risk of developing diabetes and obesity.

In a study of almost 400 people, the researchers linked artificial sweetener with being fatter and glucose intolerance.

And, worryingly, volunteers who didn’t normally eat or drink artificially-sweetened foods began to become glucose intolerant after just four days of consumption.

The numbers affected were small – just four out of seven men and women in the trial – but the research overall was judged significant enough to be published in Nature one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

Other experiments suggested the sweeteners do the damage by altering type of bacteria in the gut.

While this might seem odd, some of the bugs that live naturally in our digestive system are very good at breaking down food.

If they thrive on artificial sweeteners, this could lead to more energy being extracted from food and more fat being stored – raising the odds of obesity.

 Lead researcher Professor Eran Elinav, said: ‘Our relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the food we eat affects us.

‘Especially intriguing is the link between use of artificial sweeteners - through the bacteria in our guts - to a tendency to develop the very disorders they were designed to prevent.

‘This calls for reassessment of today's massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.’

The professor has stopped using artificial sweeteners. He has also removed sugar from his diet – but says it is too early to make health recommendations based on his study.

Dr Katarina Kos, a diabetes expert from the University of Exeter, said that larger-scale human studies are ‘urgently required’.

Brian Ratcliffe, professor of nutrition at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, said that most of the experiments related to saccharin – which is rarely found in diet fizzy drinks.  He said: ‘There seems no reason to suggest that swopping to a diet version of your favourite fizzy drink is unwise.’

Gavin Partington, of the British Soft Drinks Association, said research contradicts ‘the overwhelming body of scientific evidence’.

He said: ‘More than 40 studies have concluded that the use of low-calorie sweeteners do not lead to either an increased risk of obesity or diabetes.

‘Decades of clinical research show that low-calorie sweeteners, such as those in diet drinks, have been found to aid weight control when part of an overall healthy diet and assist with diabetes management.’

The International Sweeteners Association, which represents manufacturers including the maker of Splenda, also strongly rejected the research.

SOURCE

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Eric Holder’s Treating Conservatives Like Terrorists!

Yesterday, Eric Holder announced a new program to go after homegrown extremists in the United States. Except, instead of exclusively targeting radical Islamic terrorists, the Department of Justice is going after YOU!

It’s no secret that Eric Holder and Barack Obama hate Conservative America… Holder and Obama have done more to divide America than any of their predecessors.

It is no surprise that most Americans believe that the country is more divided now than it was when King Obama took office.

That is because instead of targeting our country’s enemies, the Department of (in)Justice has changed its mission to targeting Conservative Americans!

Just days after a deranged Occupy Wall Street couple went on a shooting spree in Las Vegas earlier this summer, the Department of Justice restarted its Domestic Terror Task Force. Now you might ask: “why was this task force shuttered to begin with?”

After 9/11, the government’s resources were shifted towards monitoring Islamic terrorists abroad. But according to Eric Holder, that mission is now over. Thanks to Obama’s “strong and effective anti-terror efforts,” al-Qaeda no longer poses a significant threat. Those are Eric Holder’s words, not mine…

“But we must also concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders,” Eric Holder continued in a statement earlier this summer. However, he restricted his definition of extremist groups to just those on the far right, defining domestic terrorists as those “motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”

If you look through a lot of the training materials given to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, you won’t see any mention of Islamic extremism. Instead, you will see a domestic terrorist profile that describes the average Conservative American.

According to the DOJ’s own manuals:

If you’re pro-life, you could be a terrorist… If you believe in the second amendment, you definitely could be a terrorist… If you believe in small and limited government, you could be a terrorist…

If you fly the Gadsden Flag in front of your house, the government believes you are a terrorist…

Think about that for a second… If you fly a historical Revolutionary War flag on your flag post – the one that reads ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ – then the government just assumes you’re a terrorist…

The government is trying to pressure you to change your ways. The government is trying to threaten you to abandon your ideals.

This has been developing for years. Ever since Barack H. Obama took office, government agencies have shifted their focus from monitoring Islamic terrorists towards focusing on Conservative domestic “extremists.”

We know from the leaked training manuals that the DOJ is shifting its focus towards Conservative so-called “extremists.” We know that just reading this email/article has probably put you on the DOJ’s radar.

By all definitions, this program is atrocious. It boggles the mind to think that the Attorney General has the authority to target half the country based on nothing but their Conservative ideology.

SOURCE

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

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

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18 September, 2014

Confirmed: You can tell someone’s politics by their body odor

This is less weird than it seems.  There is now heaps of evidence that ideology is strongly heritable genetically so conservatives and liberals are physically different, probably in the old brain.  In my view Leftists are people who have been born miserable.  But if the two groups are physically different in one way, they may well differ physically in other ways

    A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs. In the study, participants rated the attractiveness of vials of body odors obtained from “strong liberals” and “strong conservatives” on a five-point scale. The participants had no prior knowledge of which vial belonged to which partisan armpit.

    Some participants had particularly strong reactions to the vials, as the paper explains:

    "In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was ‘the best perfume I ever smelled’; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded by another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had ‘gone rancid’ and suggested it needed to be replaced.

WaPo describes the nuts and bolts of the study. Get a bunch of people to fill out a political questionnaire, then have them wear pads under their arms for 24 hours. Get another bunch of people, have them fill out the political questionnaire, then give each of them a snoutful of those musky pads. Result: A “small but significant” correlation between how pleasant the smeller finds the smell and how ideologically similar the source of the smell is to the smeller, i.e. liberals smell better to liberals and conservatives smell better to conservatives. Which makes sense, as there’s a fairly strong evolutionary reason to pair up with someone who shares your political beliefs: A household where mom and dad agree on the big stuff like religion and politics is more likely to be a tranquil household, and a tranquil household is better for the offspring who are responsible for passing along mom’s and dad’s genes."

Makes me wonder, though, when and why we evolved the ability to sniff out politics. It’s useful as a first-blush mate-screening mechanism, I guess, but it’s surely not foolproof. Talking politics with a love interest must be a better way to weed out the conservative wheat from the liberal chaff (or vice versa, for our liberal readers) than giving them a good snort. The response to that, presumably, is that most of human evolution happened in the age before language, when biological cues were the only way to communicate. Okay, but … why was political compatibility necessary in a time before language? What were cavemen moms and dads grunt-arguing about at the dinner table? Either this smell cue is a late-developing feature in humans, arising after civilization had already begun to gel and forms of political organization became relevant, or it’s related not so much to politics as to the deep psychological underpinnings of liberalism and conservatism. E.g., maybe some people belonged to ancient tribes which, due to their environments, required greater regimentation and respect for authority among their members to succeed. Over many ages, a scent cue formed in men and women who are naturally predisposed to have greater respect for authority, so that they could find each other. As civilization grew up later, that impulse of respect for authority became a trait associated with conservatism. If that’s how it happened, then it’s not so much “liberalism” and “conservatism” that we’re smelling in each other than the primitive impulses that inform each.

SOURCE

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The Spread of Rocky Mountain Jihad

Michelle Malkin

Something's fouling Colorado's crisp air -- and I'm not talking about the pot smoke.

In my adopted home state, the toxic fumes of Islamic jihad have penetrated the most unlikely hamlets and hinterlands. Obama administration officials are vehemently denying plots by ISIS operatives to cross our borders. But the lesson here is clear: Thanks to laptop recruitment, reckless visa policies and homegrown treachery, the U.S.-based jihad export-import business is and has been thriving.

Last week, 19-year-old Shannon Conley of Arvada (a Denver suburb once known as the "Celery Capital of the World") pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Conley, a militant Muslim convert, plotted to aid al-Qaida and its affiliates. According to the federal criminal complaint filed in April, she planned to use her military training with the U.S. Army Explorers "to go overseas to wage jihad" and "to train Islamic jihadi fighters in U.S. military tactics." A certified nurse's aide, she also told investigators she would use her medical training to aid jihadi fighters.

Over the Internet, Conley met an ISIS-affiliated Tunisian Muslim based in Syria. She was headed there on April 8 when the feds arrested her at Denver International Airport. Her luggage contained jihad propaganda, materials on administering first aid on the battlefield, and CDs and DVDs bearing the name of Anwar al-Awlaki, the jihadi counselor to the 9/11 hijackers and Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan.

Conley's not the first Colorado woman to go jihad. In January, Muslim convert Jamie Paulin-Rodriguez was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for providing material support to terrorists. The 31-year-old nurse practitioner left her home in Leadville, a tiny old silver-mining town perched at 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, to marry an Algerian terror plotter in Ireland. The man, Ali Damache, was a recruiter for North Africa's al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. He brainwashed Rodriguez's then 6-year-old son (fathered by an illegal alien from Mexico) to build pipe bombs, shoot guns and declare war on Christians and "kafirs" (pejorative for non-Muslims).

Like Conley, "Jihad Jamie" was radicalized in online forums and chatrooms. That's how she met fellow "Jihad Jane" collaborator Colleen LaRose, who enlisted her in a conspiracy to murder Swedish cartoonist and outspoken critic of Islam, Lars Vilks.

LaRose also introduced Rodriguez to another Colorado Muslim avenger, New York City subway bomb plotter Najibullah Zazi.

Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport shuttle driver who lived in suburban Aurora, was a green-card holder from Afghanistan. He flew back to his native land to join the Taliban in 2008, but was snatched up by al-Qaida leaders to lead suicide bomb operations back in the U.S. He acquired explosives in Denver, which he drove to New York City as part of the plot to bomb Manhattan subway lines in September 2009. Zazi's scheme was part of a larger conspiracy involving al-Qaida pilot Adnan Shukrijumah. The two huddled with top jihad operatives in Pakistan. As I noted earlier this month, Shukrijumah is still on the loose with a $5 million FBI bounty on his head.

Jihad's Colorado ties can also be traced to Pakistani militant cleric Sheik Mubarak Ali Gilani, the leader of terror group Jamaat ul-Fuqra. (It was Gilani whom Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was traveling to interview when he was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002.) Gilani once visited and owned land in Colorado tourist hot spot Buena Vista. Ul-Fuqra established a nearby high-altitude training compound, where terror operatives stored AK-47 rifles and an estimated 6,000 rounds of ammunition. The camp was raided by local and federal law enforcement officials in 1992; a quartet of homegrown jihadists were convicted of various crimes, including the firebombing of a Hare Krishna temple in Denver in 1984. Another ul-Fuqra weapons storage facility was busted in Colorado Springs.

Al-Qaida also reached into the northern Colorado town of Greeley, where the Muslim Brotherhood's founding father Sayyid Qutb attended Colorado State College of Education (now the University of Northern Colorado) in the 1950s. His exposure to the friendly, freedom-loving farming community engendered his virulent hatred of the West, leading him to declare that "an all-out offensive, a jihad, should be waged against modernity. ... The ultimate objective is to re-establish the Kingdom of God upon earth." His acolytes range from Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki to the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (now behind bars in Colorado's supermax prison in Florence for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and the new generation of caliphate warriors.

The decades-long spread of Rocky Mountain jihad is instructive. From the Big Apple to the Beltway to the Mile High City, there is no safe haven from Muslim terrorism. They and their willing accomplices are already here -- and have been for a good, long time.

SOURCE

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Census: Real Household Income Peaked in 20th Century

So far, if measured by household income, the 21st century has not been a good one for the United States of America.

In its annual report on "Income and Poverty in the United States," released on Tuesday, the Census Bureau described real median household income as stagnating for two years after declining for two.

"Median household income was $51,939 in 2013, not statistically different in real terms from the 2012 median of $51,759," said the Census Bureau. "This is the second consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income."

In the longer view, real median household income has declined since it peaked at the end of the last century.

"Median household income was $51,939 in 2013, not statistically different from the 2012 median in real terms, 8.0 percent lower than the 2007 (the year before the most recent recession) median ($56,436), and 8.7 percent lower than the median household income peak ($56,895) that occurred in 1999," said the Census.

The same basic pattern holds for real average (as opposed to median) household income. Real average household income peaked at $77,287 (in constant 2013 dollars) in 2000, the last year of the 20th century. It dropped to $74,569 by 2004, and then climbed back up to $76,912 in 2006. But by 2013, it had dropped to $72,641 -- a real decline of 6.4 percent from the peak of 2000.

American households are poorer now than they were when the 21st century began. Among householders who dropped out of high school as well as those who graduated from college, real median income has declined.

The real median income for households headed by high school dropouts peaked in 2000 at $30,699. In 2013, it was $25,672 -- a drop of 16.4 percent from the 20th-century peak.

The real median income for households headed by high school graduates who did not attend college, peaked in 1999 at $49,802. In 2013, it was $40,701 -- a drop of 18.3 percent from the 20th-century peak.

The real median income of households headed by Americans who have earned at least a bachelor's degree peaked in 1999 at $97,470. In 2013, it was $86,411 -- a drop of 11.3 percent from its 20th-century peak.

The real median income for married couple families peaked in 2007 at $81,552. By 2013, it had dropped to $76,339 -- a decline of 6.4 percent.

In households headed by a male with no spouse present, real median income peaked in 1999 at $52,201. In 2013, it was $44,475 -- a decline of 14.8 percent.

In households headed by a female with no spouse present, real median income in 2000 at $34,786. In 2013, it was $31,408 -- a decline of 9.7 percent.

At the beginning of the 20th century, America was still a pioneering nation. People were responsible for their own and their family's material well-being -- and proud to be so.

There was no Medicaid, no food stamps, no federal housing projects and no school lunch program.

In the 20th century, our government built these things for us, and the pioneering spirit of the nation began to erode.

By the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Census Bureau, 109,631,000 Americans were living in households that received benefits from one or more means-tested federally funded program. That was 35.4 percent of the national population.

That was before Obamacare began full implementation this year, with its expansion of Medicaid and its premium subsidies for people who buy government-mandated government-approved health insurance plans on government-run exchanges.

If the welfare state continues to grow, it is a safe bet that household incomes will continue to shrink.

The question Americans face: Do we want to take care of -- and control -- our own lives, or have government do it for us?

SOURCE

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Huh: Anti-Gun Billionaire Buys a Nazi Tank

If you've paid attention at all to the gun control debate over the past two decades, you've certainly heard the argument from gun control activists, "What do you want? For people to be able to buy and own tanks?!"

That argument and question are red herrings. The average citizen is not trying to own or buy tanks (even though there are legal ways to do it), but an anti-gun billionaire dedicated to taking away your Second Amendment rights, just bought one.

Co-founder of Microsoft  Paul Allen has dumped hundreds-of-thousands of dollars into anti-gun campaigns and now, he's the proud owner of a WWII Nazi tank. Chris Egar over at Guns.com has more:

    "The tank in question, a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H, commonly referred to as a Panzer IV, was allegedly sold in July for $2.5 million to a foundation tied to Allen. However, attention over the deal, which is now tied up in a lawsuit over non-delivery, has now earned Allen the scorn of gun rights groups when compared to the tech pioneer’s half-million dollar donation to help push gun control ballot initiative I-594.

    “While Paul Allen is eager to get his hands on a genuine weapon of war … he is all-too-willing to support a measure that throws obstacles in the way of law-abiding citizens who may just want to borrow or buy a firearm from a friend or in-law,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a statement Friday. “How silly is that?”

I thought "weapons of war" belonged on the battlefield, Mr. Allen?

You just can't make this stuff up.

SOURCE

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

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

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17 September, 2014

The Real Sickness At The Heart Of American Culture

People don't like to talk about America's culture for the same reason that a man who just had a heart attack doesn't want to discuss the double bacon cheeseburger he's eating. He knows what he's doing is killing him, but it's easier not to deal with it. We’re in the same boat.

* We treat success as an accident or a cheat while defending people who make bad decisions, who won't educate themselves or who won't work.

* We've allowed pornography to become so accessible that it's practically universally viewed, even among teenagers.

* We love victims so much that people actually fake hate crimes to claim victim status.

* We celebrate losers and deviants by giving them their own reality shows. Meanwhile, Hollywood regularly portrays businessmen, Christians and soldiers as the worst people on earth.

* More children have died because of Roe v. Wade than were killed during the Holocaust.

* Marriage is falling apart and we’re encouraging that by pushing gay marriage.

* Our universities reward Communists, terrorists and blatant anti-American sentiment with professorships. Those are the last people who should be teaching impressionable young Americans.

* There's a whole grievance industry full of people who make a living claiming to be "offended" by things.

* Religion and morality are denigrated while nihilism and immorality are considered cool.

* Legalism has superseded morality and what's "right" and "wrong" has become secondary to what's "legal" and "illegal."

* We're the greatest, most powerful, most prosperous and most virtuous nation that has ever existed and despite all of that, we obsess over our nations faults instead of our achievements.

* Americans across the spectrum are being encouraged to separate themselves off from the larger culture and nurse grievances that barely would have been given a thought a few decades ago.

Yet, we're told that we shouldn't worry about any of these things because people have always worried about our culture and things have turned out just fine. Even if that's so, have you ever considered the possibility that worrying about the culture and taking steps to keep it from getting out of hand is exactly what once kept it from going to the dogs?

Yes, there was a time when people worried about Elvis provocatively shaking his hips on stage and it's easy to laugh at that, but wouldn't we be better off if that was one of the biggest moral problems we faced as a society today? We don't like to admit the ugly truth; we’re more educated and much less racist than we used to be as a society, but we are also morally inferior to Americans from fifty years ago in almost every other way that matters.

Many people believe Rome fell because of a decline in morals while the Soviet Union disintegrated because they spent so much money trying to keep up with Reagan that they went broke. Well, we have both problems going on simultaneously. Meanwhile, preppers have become legion. Billions of dollars are being held back from the economy because people are saving up in case there's an economic collapse. Businesses are sitting on mountains of cash and looking to move their headquarters overseas. Many educated, informed people believe America is headed towards bankruptcy or runaway inflation not in fifty years, but within the next decade or two. If you're looking for signs that this country is in deep trouble, there are red flags galore waving in your face.

But this isn't just an economic problem, a spending problem or a leadership problem -- although those are all concerns. It's a cultural problem with our morals and what we value as a society on the most fundamental levels.

* In practice, our society focuses almost exclusively on the short term without thinking about the long-term consequences of our actions.

* We have a higher moral standard for the NFL than we do for our own leaders in Washington.

* We have a political party dedicated to the idea taking things from people who've worked for it and giving it to people who haven't.

* We make little effort to assimilate immigrants into our society and instead, encourage them to embrace the culture they fled for the United States.

* We've stopped acting as if we have to pay back the money we borrow.

* We treat the rule of law as optional, depending on who's impacted by it.

* We believe our children can grow up in a moral sewer and still turn out to be fine, upstanding citizens regardless.

We've become so divided, so antagonistic, so morally separated that for the first time in over a century there are people asking hard questions how much we really have in common with other Americans. If you're comparing let's say a conservative from South Carolina to a liberal from California, the honest answer is "not much that matters." Perhaps not even enough to hold a country together over the long haul if one group or the other ever became politically dominant.

There's only one way to change that and it's to address the real sickness at the heart of American culture. That sickness is our newfound reluctance to address the moral health of our society. Over the long haul, we can't thrive and we may not even be able to survive as a divided, degenerate society full of people who reward failure, resent success and live for the moment. Morality matters and if we forget that, our nation is doomed to descend into decadence, decay and perhaps one day, even dissolution.

SOURCE

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Will The Swiss Vote to Get Their Gold Back?

On November 30th, voters in Switzerland will head to the polls to vote in a referendum on gold. On the ballot is a measure to prohibit the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from further gold sales, to repatriate Swiss-owned gold to Switzerland, and to mandate that gold make up at least 20 percent of the SNB's assets. Arising from popular sentiment similar to movements in the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, this referendum is an attempt to bring more oversight and accountability to the SNB, Switzerland's central bank.

The Swiss referendum is driven by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the conduct not only of Swiss monetary policy, but also of Swiss banking policy. Switzerland may be a small nation, but it is a nation proud of its independence and its history of standing up to tyranny. The famous legend of William Tell embodies the essence of the Swiss national character. But no tyrannical regime in history has bullied Switzerland as much as the United States government has in recent years.

The Swiss tradition of bank secrecy is legendary. The reality, however, is that Swiss bank secrecy is dead. Countries such as the United States have been unwilling to keep government spending in check, but they are running out of ways to fund that spending. Further taxation of their populations is politically difficult, massive issuance of government debt has saturated bond markets, and so the easy target is smaller countries such as Switzerland which have gained the reputation of being "tax havens." Remember that tax haven is just a term for a country that allows people to keep more of their own money than the US or EU does, and doesn't attempt to plunder either its citizens or its foreign account-holders. But the past several years have seen a concerted attempt by the US and EU to crack down on these smaller countries, using their enormous financial clout to compel them to hand over account details so that they can extract more tax revenue.

The US has used its court system to extort money from Switzerland, fining the US subsidiaries of Swiss banks for allegedly sheltering US taxpayers and allowing them to keep their accounts and earnings hidden from US tax authorities. EU countries such as Germany have even gone so far as to purchase account information stolen from Swiss banks by unscrupulous bank employees. And with the recent implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Swiss banks will now be forced to divulge to the IRS all the information they have about customers liable to pay US taxes.

On the monetary policy front, the SNB sold about 60 percent of Switzerland's gold reserves during the 2000s. The SNB has also in recent years established a currency peg, with 1.2 Swiss francs equal to one euro. The peg's effects have already manifested themselves in the form of a growing real estate bubble, as housing prices have risen dangerously. Given the action by the European Central Bank (ECB) to engage in further quantitative easing, the SNB's continuance of this dangerous and foolhardy policy means that it will continue tying its monetary policy to that of the EU and be forced to import more inflation into Switzerland.

Just like the US and the EU, Switzerland at the federal level is ruled by a group of elites who are more concerned with their own status, well-being, and international reputation than with the good of the country. The gold referendum, if it is successful, will be a slap in the face to those elites. The Swiss people appreciate the work their forefathers put into building up large gold reserves, a respected currency, and a strong, independent banking system. They do not want to see centuries of struggle squandered by a central bank. The results of the November referendum may be a bellwether, indicating just how strong popular movements can be in establishing central bank accountability and returning gold to a monetary role.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

WI: Election officials scramble to implement voter ID law:  "Wisconsin election officials were scrambling Monday to deal with a federal appeals court's ruling reinstating the requirement that voters show photo identification when casting ballots. The law had been on hold, after being in effect only for the low-turnout February 2012 primary, following a series of court orders blocking it. But a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, just hours after hearing oral arguments, said late Friday that the state could proceed with implementing the law while it weighs the merits of the case. The decision came after a federal judge' ruling in April struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden on poor and minority voters who may lack the required identification."

Comcast calls rumor that it disconnects Tor users “wildly inaccurate”:  "Comcast has lately found itself issuing public apologies on a somewhat regular basis as subscribers share tales of horrible customer service. But the latest accusation leveled against Comcast -- that it is threatening to disconnect customers who use the anonymity-providing Tor browser -- hasn't been backed by convincing evidence that it's happening. ... 'This story is wildly inaccurate,' Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told Ars. 'Customers are free to use their Xfinity Internet service to visit any website or use it however they wish otherwise.' While Comcast publishes an acceptable use policy, the company 'doesn’t monitor users' browser software or Web surfing and has no program addressing the Tor browser,' Douglas said."

Arab nations offer airstrikes against Islamic State:  "Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State, senior State Department officials said Sunday. The offer was disclosed by U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is approaching the end of a weeklong trip that was intended to mobilize international support for the campaign against the group."

European Space Agency picks site for first comet landing in November:  "The European Space Agency says it has decided on the spot where it will attempt the first landing on a comet, a maneuver that is one of the key elements of a decade-long mission. The Paris-based agency plans to drop the 100-kilogram (220-pound) lander, called Philae, from its Rosetta space probe in November. Scientists unanimously picked the landing spot, from five considered, on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko based on its relatively safe terrain."

NFL domestic violence crisis: Do they play next week?:  "The Ray Rice scandal has finally affected Greg Hardy. Both football players were arrested for domestic violence earlier this year. Initially, Rice was given a two-game suspension; Hardy who was later convicted, was not suspended. But [when] a video of Rice knocking out his wife [became] public, Rice [was] suspended indefinitely by the National Football League and fired by the Ravens. Hardy, a Carolina Panthers all-pro linebacker convicted in July on two counts of assault on a female and communicating threats, [had] faced no league suspension. ... Sunday morning, the Panthers deactivated Hardy, meaning he [didn't] play against the Detroit Lions. This [came] after the Minnesota Vikings deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson in connection with his arrest on charges of reckless or negligent injury to [his own 4-year-old] child."

NY: Oligopolists  launch $3 million anti-Airbnb campaign: "A coalition of New York politicians, housing advocates [sic], labor [sic] groups and hotel owners on Friday launched a $3 million campaign against Airbnb and other websites that facilitate 'illegal hotels,' a spokesman for the organization said. The group, called Share Better, aims to counter the Airbnb media campaign that features upbeat stories of regular people renting out their homes and sharing meals or other experiences with their guests."

NATO’s reckless Russia-baiting:  "Ever expanding its membership eastwards towards the Russian border, showing a willingness to intervene in territories picked almost at random, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, and regularly announcing its intention to 'promote' security and stability throughout 'the globe,' NATO has acted increasingly provocatively and recklessly towards Russia. And what's more, it has done so not because it has a clear strategy to 'encircle' the old enemy, as some critical commentators have speculated; rather, its two-decades’ worth of hyperactivity is born of a crisis of purpose, an absence of strategy."

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

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

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16 September, 2014

The anti-salt craze is dying

I have been banging on for some years about the idiocy concerning table salt that pervades public health warnings.  Governments are always leaning on food processors to reduce the salt in their products.  That less salty foods are not as safe from bacterial contamination seems to be ignored.

The genesis of the warnings is partly theoretical and only weakly empirical.  The factual part is that high salt intake is correlated with both increased blood pressure and more frequent cardiovascular disease.  But correlation is not causation so the proof is weak.

The first big crack in the dam was a 2011 report in JAMA of a high quality study of the matter.  Its conclusion: "In this population-based cohort, systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic pressure, changes over time aligned with change in sodium excretion, but this association did not translate into a higher risk of hypertension or CVD complications. Lower sodium excretion was associated with higher CVD mortality."

So it was LOW salt levels that killed you!

That study was greeted with a fair amount of outrage and accusations that it was just an unrepeatable "one off" result.

The dominoes are now falling, however.  Just this year another good study exonerating salt has come out.  Abstract below:

Relationship Between Nutrition and Blood Pressure: A Cross-Sectional Analysis from the NutriNet-Santé Study, a French Web-based Cohort Study

Helene Lelong et al

Abstract

BACKGROUND Hypertension is the most prevalent chronic disease worldwide. Lifestyle behaviors for its prevention and control are recommended within worldwide guidelines. Nevertheless, their combined relationship with blood pressure (BP) level, particularly in the general population, would need more investigations. Our aim in this study was to evaluate the relative impact of lifestyle and nutritional factors on BP level.

METHODS Cross-sectional analyses were performed using data from 8,670 volunteers from the NutriNet-Santé Study, an ongoing French web-based cohort study. Dietary intakes were assessed using three 24-hour records. Information on lifestyle factors was collected using questionnaires and 3 BP measurements following a standardized protocol. Age-adjusted associations and then multivariate associations between systolic BP (SBP) and lifestyle behaviors were estimated using multiple linear regressions.

RESULTS SBP was higher in participants with elevated body mass indices (BMIs). Salt intake was positively associated with SBP in men but not in women. The negative relationship between consumption of fruits and vegetables and SBP was significant in both sexes. Alcohol intake was positively associated with SBP in both sexes; physical activity was not. The 5 parameters representing the well-accepted modifiable factors for hypertension reduction plus age and education level, accounted for 19.7% of the SBP variance in women and 12.8% in men. Considering their squared partial correlation coefficient, age and BMI were the most important parameters relating to SBP level. Salt intake was not associated with SBP in either sex after multiple adjustments.

CONCLUSIONS BMI was the main contributory modifiable factor of BP level after multiple adjustments.

Am J Hypertens (2014)


So it was being overweight that killed you, not salt.

So how come people have been getting it wrong?  A theoretical article recently tidies up the loose ends.  There is no abstract associated with it so I reprint the first part of it -- showing that  it was a case of the causal arrow pointing the wrong way:

An Unsavory Truth: Sugar, More than Salt, Predisposes to Hypertension and Chronic Disease

James J. DiNicolantonio et al.

He et al state that the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and blood pressure may be mediated, at least in part, by salt intake. We take the issue with several points made by the authors and make a case for quite different conclusions. The authors state that "salt is a major drive to thirst": "an increase in salt intake will increase the amount of fluid consumed, and if part of this fluid is in the form of soft drinks, sugar will be increased proportionately." In other words, salt consumption drives fluid intake, and sugar may just, coincidentally, come along for the ride. We would argue something more akin to the opposite. Sugar consumption leads to insulin spikes, low blood sugar, and hunger. Sugar is a major drive to hunger: an increase in sugar will increase the amount of food consumed, and if part of this food is in the form of processed foods, sodium will be increased proportionately. In other words, sugar consumption drives food intake, and sodium may just. coincidentally, come along for the ride. Processed foods are the principal source of dietary sodium. They also happen to be predominant sources of added sugars.

American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 114, Issue 7, p1126–1128


For other findings that alerted me to the salt nonsense, see the sidebar of my  FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog

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The Great Wall of Credit: Lessons From Chinese Housing

Despite centuries of study, most mainstream economists are still baffled by the phenomenon of market bubbles and periodic corrections. Most, following in the footsteps of John Maynard Keynes, seem content to throw up their hands and ascribe these fluctuations to unpredictable "animal spirits," the irrational behavior of consumers that leads to insufficient demand. Others make the even greater mistake of blaming recessions on too much freedom, too much deregulation of markets, insisting that all we need is more government spending to bring stability to the markets, despite all the historical evidence to the contrary.

None of these talking heads seems to realize that there exists an economic theory that perfectly explains these market phenomena, an explanation that has been around for well over a century yet which, despite its predictive and explanatory success, and despite the fact that F. A. Hayek was awarded a Nobel Prize for its development, remains neglected by all but a few "fringe" academics.

This is the Austrian theory of business cycles, which, in brief, holds that the expansion of credit by government sends false market signals to investors. The overestimation of consumer demand then results in investments that don't pay off, and economic pain as the market corrects itself.

No better example of this misguided policy can be found than that of China's housing market. The residential real estate market in China is the most critical sector of the world economy. The extraordinary growth of economy, driven chiefly by exports to the West, resulted in China becoming the world's workshop. Starting in the late 1970s, as the country moved from an agrarian economy into an industrial, and eventually a service-based, one, the population was drawn out of the countryside and into urban centers in the largest mass-migration the world has ever seen.

Not surprisingly, the chief demand of Chinese workers upon arriving in cities was for decent, affordable housing. The increased wage growth driven by China's booming economy, combined with the surge in demand, caused home prices to skyrocket. In the aftermath of 1976's Great Leap Forward, the existing housing stock was in deplorable condition, and massive construction projects were implemented in an effort to keep up with demand, which further contributed to higher prices. As affordability became an issue, the Chinese government saw no need to pay attention to the fundamentals of supply and demand. "If you build it," they reasoned, "they will come." They had no reason to think otherwise, as continuing migration painted a picture of an inexhaustible demand.

Of course, demand is never inexhaustible. As migration began to slow, housing developments began to lie vacant. Entire "ghost cities" now litter the Chinese countryside, where homes were built without regard to whether consumers wanted or could afford them.

Rather than allowing prices to fall, the proper reaction to an excess of supply, the government kept subsidizing developers, propping up friends of the Party and expanding credit to encourage further home buying by the newly developing middle class. The incentives were overwhelmingly for overinvestment in a market that has no fundamental ability to sustain itself.

The easy credit policies adopted by China have left investors with few options. Inflation is too high to hold on to currency, and the government's willingness to continue to inflate the housing bubble and bail out failing enterprises makes housing the most sensible choice for most investors, even if it means long-term economic pain when the bubble finally bursts.

There is precedent for what is going on in China. When Japan tried to stubbornly keep reinflating its housing bubble in the early 1990s, the economy stalled for more than a decade. Here in America, we have seen firsthand what happens when the government practices interventionism in the real estate business. Still reeling from the pain of the housing crisis in 2007, one would hope that the rest of the world could learn a lesson from our failed policies. As things stand now, it doesn't look good.

The Chinese government is now faced with a choice: It can liberalize markets and let the market readjust to the proper equilibrium, or it can continue to kick the can down the road. Both options will come with economic pain, but the latter's will be far more severe and persistent in the long run. As Murray Rothbard, one of the chief exponents of Austrian business cycle theory, wrote, "As soon as credit expansion stops, then the piper must be paid, and the inevitable readjustments liquidate the unsound over-investment of the boom."

The question for China, then, is not if the crisis will come, but when. And with the size and influence of China's economy, the answer will have implications for every nation in the world.

SOURCE

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A Society Sickened by Welfare

America can no longer afford the current level of government largesse

Congress has returned to Washington, but not for long. The looming midterm elections mean that lawmakers are here only for what USA Today calls “a three-week sprint” before they’re back out to campaign. That, in an age of growing dependency on government, means voters can expect to hear more pandering.

‘Tis the season for promises of government largesse. The critical variable is how much the politicians will offer — or rather, how much taxpayers will ultimately be on the hook for.

The problem, to put the matter very plainly, is that there’s no such thing as something for nothing. All money, goods and services — every last dollar of it — must be created through someone’s hard work.

Remember, government has no money on its own. It produces nothing, so it earns nothing. Government has only the money it takes from taxpayers or borrows against the payments of future taxpayers.

Everything government “gives” to one person or organization must be taken from another person or organization. Every dollar that government redistributes to someone, it must first take from someone else, and then deduct carrying costs before passing it on.

We can see some of the results of this in the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, published recently by the Heritage Foundation. The index reports how food-stamp participation has soared over the past decade. From 2003 to 2013, it grew by more than 26 million people.

To show how much of a jump this is, consider that in 1970 the number of individuals receiving food stamps was well below 10 million. By 2003, it was just above 20 million. By 2013, it was fast approaching 50 million.

Meanwhile, the index also charts how total welfare spending has climbed, rising by $246 billion between 2003 and 2013. Today the federal government operates more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing and medical care to poor and low-income Americans.

According to Heritage poverty expert Robert Rector, government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012, and roughly 100 million Americans received aid from at least one of them, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient.

That’s a lot of dependency. And it can’t be consequence-free.

“If we keep on this way, we’ll reach a tipping point where there are too many people receiving government benefits and not enough people to pay for those benefits,” writes Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, in The Wall Street Journal. “That’s an untenable problem. The receivers cannot receive more than the givers can give.”

Besides, charity through government redistribution is not real charity. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” That is what we see taking place through the government’s embrace of moral hazard.

It’s clear that the politics of government largesse and good policy (holding individuals and institutions responsible for their actions) don’t always coincide. The question is, how far down the dependency road will we go before we discover that we can’t turn back?

SOURCE

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

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

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

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15 September, 2014

Indoctrination by ESPN

Preaching Fascist "control" over people

For the Left, the Ray Rice episode is an opportunity to “reprogram the way we raise men.”

If conservatives want to know why we are losing the culture and the country, it is important to understand that while very few kids and young adults are watching Fox News (or news programs of any kind, for that matter), they inhale sports programming. It’s ubiquitous — television, radio, the Internet. And thus equally unavoidable is sports commentary, more and more of which has less and less to do with sports. Tendentious “sports journalists,” the majority of whom are decidedly left of center, are much less guarded about their hostility to conservatives than their fellow progressives on the political beat. It is a hostility that takes for granted the chummy agreement of its viewers and is designed to make Millennials want to be part of the fun.

This week, the big national news is a sports story. It involves Ray Rice. The star running-back was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after video surfaced showing him punching his now-wife’s lights out in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The National Football League and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, are in the hot seat because, some allege, the NFL had the video before suspending Rice for a measly two games. Logically, the video shouldn’t matter: The commissioner clearly knew Rice had knocked Janay Palmer out cold before issuing the trifling suspension. But graphic video has a way of overrunning logic.

My purpose here is less to wade into the Rice mess than to consider how radical ideas — like the Left’s war on boys — get mainstreamed.

Let’s say the New York Times published, or CNN aired, a fawning news story about tribal politics and Alinsky-style community organizing — how the Left uses (and often manufactures) crises to shake down big corporations, the payoffs from which pour into the coffers of “grass-roots community groups” (i.e., left-wing grievance activists such as ACORN and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network), underwriting their promotion of the “social justice” agenda in schools and the media. Big deal, right? Such stories are standard mainstream-media fare, and very few impressionable young people see them.

But what if the news story was not ostensibly political? And what if it was not published in news media but in entertainment programming — say, a hip sports show, slipped into the mix between the top plays of last night’s ballgames?

On Friday, after highlights of the previous night’s game between the hometown Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, ESPN’s Sports Center reported, incredulously, that many female Ravens fans proudly wore their No. 27 jerseys in homage to Rice. Although this week’s coverage made him Public Enemy No. 1, it turns out that Rice is still quite popular among fans in Baltimore. One woman, clad in her Rice jersey, explained that while she did not condone his behavior, Rice had said he was sorry and was deserving of a second chance, just like other people who have done abominable things. It was a mitigating factor, in her view, that Ms. Palmer (now Mrs. Rice) had started the fight, and that the muscular professional football player was simply retaliating.

A second female Rice fan conceded that there was no excuse for the running back’s violent aggression, but contended that it was for the legal system, not the NFL, to punish him. Since prosecutors allowed Rice to enter a rehab program in anticipation of dismissing the case, rather than face a criminal conviction and prison sentence, she reasoned that the NFL should have let it go at that.

Is she right? Personally, I think a private organization like the Ravens or the NFL should have its own, loftier standards of conduct. A business is well within its rights to demand more of its employees than that they merely avoid criminality.

That said, however, the common assumption that Rice got a comparative slap on the wrist from the legal system is dubious. State prosecutors insist that he got the same deal any first-offender would have gotten. As a former federal prosecutor, I suspect that is true. Rice expressed contrition; the victim married him and ardently supports him; he is apparently complying with the rehab terms; and, unlike the vast majority of similarly situated defendants, his offense is going to cost him millions of dollars in lost salary and advertising income. Am I trivializing domestic violence? Are the state prosecutors? I don’t think so. Police and prosecutors must assess Rice’s case in the context of all domestic-violence cases involving men beating women. Unfortunately, many of them are far worse than Rice’s offense and involve serious recidivist offenders. It is certainly possible that he got special treatment because he is a celebrity, but that can also cut the other way.

In any event, I was surprised that ESPN gave airtime to the Rice supporters. The progressive soap-opera storyline of the Rice coverage is that our aggressive, competitive culture, which has made the NFL so popular, desensitizes men to the gravity of domestic violence; that women are uniformly outraged by this state of affairs; and that football and the men who play it must be tamed. ESPN is a prominent author of this particular narrative, so one wouldn’t expect coverage of women who dissent from it.

I should have figured, though, that the segment was just a set-up for what followed: a lengthy editorial interview with Kate Fagan. A former college basketball player, Ms. Fagan is now, yes, a sports journalist. Author of a memoir "The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians", she is a staple at ESPN-W. That’s where the network focuses on women in sports and, seamlessly, on political and social matters that the Left has successfully branded “women’s issues.”

For the politically aware, listening to Kate Fagan is a lot like listening to President Obama or any other deft community organizer. She first invoked tribal politics in refusing — or at least making a show of refusing — to rebut the female Ravens fans who sympathize with Rice. That, she said, would be “pitting women against women” — a no-no. She then skillfully lowered the boom: The problem is not Rice’s cheerleaders; it is our “culture.”

Those women, you see, are really victims of insidious bourgeois attitudes inculcated by the education system. Our task, therefore, is not to condemn them for being so wrong but to ask ourselves, “Why is this issue not as black and white as it should be?” Translation: Why is something so obvious to thoughtful progressives like Ms. Fagan so elusive to the riff-raff in their Rice jerseys?

So what’s the answer? Ms. Fagan opined that people should stop focusing so much on whether Commissioner Roger Goodell should get fired or how long Rice’s suspension should be. That’s too “reactive,” and Fagan says it’s time to be “pro-active.”

How? By working to undo our “culture” of “raising men to want to not be like women,” a culture that tolerates the teasing of boys who “throw like a girl.” The way to do that, she said, was to “hold the NFL’s feet to the fire” until the league ponies up “millions of dollars” for a domestic-violence fund. The extorted treasure would then be doled out to grass-roots community organizations, who could then send their trained experts to middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Boys would be instructed that differentiating men from women breeds domestic violence.

As Fagan put it, the goal must be “reprogramming how we raise men.” That, she said, is how we’re finally going to get — all together now — “change.”

Through all of this, the ESPN anchor played the role of amen-corner, not interviewer. There was no suggestion that the women clad in Rice jerseys might have some valid points — it was simply accepted that they were well-meaning simpletons who, like schoolboys, need “reprogramming.” There was no hint that football as a sport, and the NFL as an institution, might not be drivers of domestic violence — that while the culture bears responsibility, the problem might have a lot more to do with the breakdown of the family, the scorn heaped on chivalry, the disappearance of manners, and the general coarsening of our society that result from relentless progressive attacks on traditional values and institutions.

No, it was instead presented as incontestable fact that (a) there was a crisis involving violence, (b) the NFL and its violent sport must be responsible for it, (c) the NFL has deep pockets, and (d) the NFL should thus be coerced to fund bien pensant activists to perform progressive social-engineering on schoolboys.

Kids who tuned in to ESPN Friday morning to see the highlights of Thursday night’s game were treated to political indoctrination masquerading as sports commentary. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what football fans were treated to during the coverage of the game itself. And it happens pretty much every day.

Conservatives complain incessantly, and not without cause, about Republican fecklessness in confronting the Obama Left’s agenda, about the news media’s becoming an adjunct of the White House press office. But Washington’s political arena is just where the score is tallied. The game is being played, and lost, in the popular culture.

SOURCE

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Yahoo was threatened with heavy fines by US government over metadata

The US government threatened to fine Yahoo $US250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand for user data that the company believed was unconstitutional, according to court documents unsealed on Thursday. They illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA's controversial PRISM program.

The documents, roughly 1500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands. The company's loss prompted Yahoo to become one of the first companies to join PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other US-based technology firms.

"The released documents underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts," said company general counsel Ron Bell in a Tumblr blog published Thursday afternoon.

The program, which was discontinued in 2011, was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year, prompting intense backlash and a wrenching national debate over allegations of overreach in government surveillance.

Federal Judge William C. Bryson, presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, ordered the documents from the legal battle unsealed on Thursday as part of broad effort by the court system to declassify the arguments that formed the legal foundation for PRISM.

The original order to Yahoo came in 2007 and set off alarms at the company because of the sweep of its requests and its side-stepping of the traditional requirement that each target be subject to court review before surveillance could begin. The order, said Yahoo officials, required only that the target be outside of the United States at the time, even if the person was a US citizen.

The company challenged the order on constitutional grounds but lost repeatedly, both at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and an appeals court, the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review. The government requested and obtained permission to share the ruling with other companies as it gradually pressured most of the major players in the American tech industry — including Google, Apple and Facebook — to comply with the data demands.

The requests concerned not the content of e-mails but what it called "metadata", which detailed who users exchange emails with and when. It is not known if e-mail collection continues in some other form.

SOURCE

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Obama Reshapes Appellate Bench

 Democrats have reversed the partisan imbalance on the federal appeals courts that long favored conservatives, a little-noticed shift with far-reaching consequences for the law and President Obama’s legacy.

For the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. The Democrats’ advantage has only grown since late last year when they stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster the president’s nominees.

Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.

The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts

SOURCE

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Obama Administration Stops Prosecuting Illegal Aliens!

The Department of Justice has announced that it will end “Operation Streamline,” a successful program that prosecutes illegal aliens!

Operation Streamline is a Department of Justice program aimed at prosecuting illegal aliens caught for the first time. The program is hugely successful. Or at least, it was until the Obama administration got involved in selectively enforcing our immigration laws…

In 2005, Operation Streamline led to the apprehension and prosecution of 140,000 illegal aliens in Yuma County, Arizona. That is just in ONE YEAR and in ONE COUNTY!

Last year, however, only 6,000 illegal aliens were apprehended and prosecuted in that county under the program. This is from a combination of the program working to dissuade illegal border crossings and the Obama administration’s refusal to prosecute captured illegals.

But even that is too many prosecutions for Obama’s DOJ, which has announced that it is ending the program all together! The Department of Justice is ending this program because it is too successful. Not only that, but the DOJ is going to stop local law enforcement from prosecuting these illegals as well.

“I have been informed that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona will no longer be prosecuting first time undocumented aliens (UDAs),” explains one local Sheriff…

More HERE

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

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

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14 September, 2014

Well said

Written by Prof. Gad Saad a couple of years ago but well worth re-running

As someone who grew up in the Middle East and who was fortunate enough to escape the horrors of genocidal religious hatred stemming from the Lebanese civil war (see my earlier post regarding my childhood in Lebanon here), I am immeasurably thankful for the Western liberal values that allowed immigrants such as myself to flourish in a society without fear of being persecuted if not killed. Regrettably, over the past four decades or so, the West has been progressively slumping into an abyss of self-hatred (see my earlier post on this issue here) and a cancerous and self-destructive ethos of political correctness and more generally a departure from common sense (see my earlier post on this matter here).

Amongst Western intelligentsia, to criticize if not loathe American values is viewed as progressive and liberal whilst to support brutal and intolerant religious and political ideologies is a hallmark of being enlightened. It is the freedoms afforded by America that permits Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political activist, to spew endless antipathy toward the United States while championing astonishingly brutal regimes.

Apparently, Professor Chomsky is unaware of what would happen to him (a Jewish man) if he were to live in Gaza and offer similarly trenchant criticisms of Hamas. Moral relativism has so infected the minds of Western intellectuals that they are now simply incapable of criticizing how others organize their societies (see my earlier post on moral relativism here). It is apparently gauche to do so.

We should all reject such suicidal nonsense. A central feature of being a tolerant and just society is to be intolerant of ideologies that are contrary to our shared values of liberty, freedom, and equality. A pluralistic and free society functions well only if all of its members support its defining values (see my recent post here on the failure of multiculturalism as a political philosophy).

SOURCE

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Worth thinking about



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Study shows conservatives are happier than liberals

This is a common finding -- JR

Conservatives don’t normally pay much attention to fancy psychobabble, but this is a worthy exception. Some nerdlinger social scientists in America have discovered that people with Right-wing views tend to be happier than those with Left-wing views – even if the party that best represents them is out of power. This gem is based upon data involving more than a million people living in 16 European countries, including the UK, and it puts pay to the Left-wing thesis that they’re the happiest people on the planet because they’re in touch with their inner-dolphin. Turns out that spending your youth sitting on a beanbag smoking a joss-stick and talking about how, like, "systems are crushing us" is not the only path to enlightenment. Au contraire, mon hippie, it’s a distraction.

Why are conservatives happier? The research found that Right-wingers tend not to blame their problems on other people – so they refuse to be depressed by victimhood. This makes a lot of sense. When you accept that you are your own master, then you feel in command of your own destiny and, so, more inclined to address your crises rather than bury them in political melodrama. The Left’s emphasis upon social solidarity is all very well, but reliance upon others can lead to inaction, disappointment or resentment – and the constant belief that capitalism is a global plot to deprive you of whatever you want in life inevitably grinds you down. Are the guys in ponytails who sit in vegan cafes strumming a guitar and singing sad songs about the World Bank really happy? Probably not. By contrast, self-reliance leads to autonomy which leads to getting stuff done and regarding your fellow citizens not as taxpayers or state employees but as individuals and friends. It’s full o’zip and p.o.s.i.t.i.v.i.t.y!

Ah, yes, there’s a certainly simplicity to being Right-wing. Not “simple” in the sense of “unthinking” but in the sense of thinking carefully about everything and then coming to the conclusion that what really matters are the simple things.

Alternatively, you could do what a lot of Right-wingers have done and convert to Christianity. Oddly the study doesn’t acknowledge research that shows that believers are happier than non-believers – and that they become happier the more times they pray or go to church. All of which must make Richard Dawkins the saddest man on the planet.

SOURCE Journal abstract follows:

The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals

Okulicz-Kozaryn A, Holmes O, Avery DR.

Abstract

Political scientists traditionally have analyzed the effect of politics on subjective well-being (SWB) at the collective level, finding that more liberal countries report greater SWB. Conversely, psychologists have focused primarily on SWB at the individual level and shown that being more conservative corresponds in greater SWB. We integrate the theoretical foundations of these 2 literatures (e.g., livability and system justification theories) to compare and contrast the effects of country- and individual-level political orientation on SWB simultaneously. Using a panel of 16 West European countries representative of 1,134,384 individuals from 1970 to 2002, we demonstrated this SWB political paradox: More liberal countries and more conservative individuals had higher levels of SWB. More important, we explored measurement as a moderator of the political orientation-SWB relationship to shed some light on why this paradox exists. When orientation is measured in terms of enacted values (i.e., what the government actually does), liberalism corresponds in higher SWB, but when politics is measured in terms of espoused values (i.e., what individuals believe), greater conservatism coincided in higher SWB.

J Appl Psychol. 2014 Aug 25

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Frightened Turtles

by EDWARD CLINE

I would like to remind readers that we live in a country that is barely free. If we lived in ideal political conditions in which the only flaw might be a border closed to some or all immigration, the "open borders" argument might hold water. But we live in a growing authoritarian or police state.

This is an issue which many intellectuals - including some I should logically regard as moral and intellectual allies - shy away from like frightened turtles.

This country for too long has been the plaything of statists and "social engineers" of every stripe - Republicans, Democrats, environmentalists, welfare statists, special interests or lobbyists, and so on. President Barack Obama is the apex and end heir of every statist law and notion ever proposed or legislated, ever since ratification of the Constitution, even as the ink on it was barely dry - and Obama is the logical end of all those unopposed laws and policies. He loots without care or thought of whatever might replace the looted wealth and nullified rights - except for stage-managed anarchy and beating into submission the American spirit.

Obama practices Islamic taqiyya, which is saying one thing in his woozy, folksy style English, but meaning something else. Most readers here, instead of conceding that Obama is a nihilist, buy the official line that he is merely a rudderless, arrogantly insouciant pragmatist. Actually, his predecessor, George W. Bush, was a card-carrying pragmatist, formulating his policies on the premise that he could preserve that status quo - whatever that might have been - by denying the deadly peril of Islam. However, Obama, who administration has been top-heavy with Muslims from his first term, is a rotten-to-the-bone nihilist steeped in "community organizing" and a subscriber to the agenda of the "socialist transformation" of the country into a super-size European Union. Some intellectuals of my acquaintance deny that he is a nihilist, and instead call him a rudderless pragmatist or assign him some other non-condemnatory appellation.

This is not observing his behavior and actions with any kind of objectivity. It is an evasion of the evidence of one's senses. Waiting for Obamacare to collapse? Waiting for Obama to okay the Keystone Pipeline? Waiting for him to put together a "Coalition of the Reluctant" to combat ISIS? Waiting for him to rein in our lawless Attorney General, Eric Holder, or to order any number of federal agencies to stop spying and threatening private citizens and organizations that question federal power? Take a number.

Yes, immigrants in the past and in recent times have come to this country for the freedom to work and enjoy the fruits of their productivity. That was when the INS had semi-rational criteria on entrance to the country. But waves of Muslims with their own colonizing and settlement agenda and hordes of illegals from Mexico and points south have been streaming in almost unopposed. Mixed in with these numbers are also Muslims and jihadists of every terrorist stripe, especially now from ISIS. Not to mention criminals with records in their native countries.

Many illegals are not coming to America to reinvent the wheel. Many of them are coming and have come to game the welfare state, and are not truly "yearning to be free," except on the dole.

Many readers here deny that is the case. But all they can do is talk, talk, talk the fine points of a philosophy of reason to prove their ideological purity, even in the face of their and America's slow demise. "We stand for open borders, never mind that we're being swamped with illiterate aliens whose room and board and education we are expected to pay for; never mind many of them are diseased - many of them children now being seated in public school classrooms with native born American children; never mind the malevolent designs of a president who is seeking to bolster the Democrats' death grip on this country, and who has demonstrated repeatedly his hostility to this country, to Western culture, and to Western civilization. None of that is important."

They think and say this while they're being eaten alive by the drooling beast of Obama's policies. They refuse to contemplate the horrible notion that they and every other American have been "played."

Well, what's wrong, one might ask, with enrolling illegal immigrant children in school? Does any reader here seriously believe that they will be imbued with the American spirit of independence and self-reliance? If native born American children are being brainwashed by Common Core and anti-American curricula in their studies, and the leftwing teachers' unions to regard themselves as unexceptional and that "they didn't build that," what are the chances of illiterate illegals having flashes of insight that our educational establishment is a scam and has been for decades.

I think one of the most off-base remarks made in "Immigration and the Welfare State" is:

    In addition to the economic gain, there is an important security benefit to an open immigration policy. Since it is a great boon to an immigrant to be in the country legally rather than illegally, the overwhelming majority, given the choice, will walk in through the front door, thereby initiating the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. The flood of migrant workers seeking to illegally sneak across the Mexican border will reduce to a trickle. The money and manpower currently deployed to keep Mexican workers out of the country can then be used to keep Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists out of the country.

Has the author ever heard of Obama's blueprint for across the board "amnesty," the Dream Act, of legislation sanctioning the instant, automatic citizenship, with full welfare state benefits, for numberless illegals? Isn't this legislation grossly unfair to those who spent years working for their citizenship, and who might have had to wait years to gain admittance to the country per the Immigration and Naturalization Service's now politically governed - and, frankly, racist - rules?

And is Obama really interested in keeping Islamic terrorists out of the country? To judge by his actions and his policies - one of which is for the U.S. to train "moderate" terrorists to combat "extreme" terrorists - I think not.

There is another statement by Bernstein that I take exception to:

    "Some argue that because of America's current welfare state, the country cannot afford an open immigration policy. This is false for two reasons. One is that a welfare state is pernicious to both those funding it and those parasitical off of it; the former, because they're robbed-the latter because its perverse financial incentives support men's most indolent premises, and seduce onto the dole many who could otherwise gain minimum wage employment. From purely humanitarian considerations, the welfare state must be irrevocably dismantled, regardless of America's immigration policy"

Yes, the welfare state must be dismantled and abolished. But, when will that happen? Those who come here either game the welfare state or wind up depending on it. They are supposed to replace the "simpering Americans" who regard the country as a paradise of entitlement. How? Our economy is moribund and few new jobs - middle or low-paying - are being created, except in the "public sector." We have an expanding public sector and an ever-shrinking private sector. Where are the new jobs going to materialize? In a command economy such as ours, which sector will see the greater growth?

My main point here, however, is that because we are living in a virtual state of siege - the "homeland" is now "Fortress America" that refuses to identify a hostile, murderous foreign enemy, Islam, hampered by a plethora of controls and prohibitions on virtually every aspect of American life - we are in a no-win conundrum that will only resolve itself with a political and concomitant philosophical collapse of the altruist morality that sustains an ever-omnivorous state - or a revolution. These are scenarios which "official" Objectivists are reluctant to contemplate or discuss.

The Founders weren't.

SOURCE

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

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

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12 September, 2014

A Case Against Product Regulation

By Sean Gabb, commenting from Britain

There is currently much protest in the British media against proposals to regulate the consumption of home electrical appliances. For example, it is claimed that washing machines and kettles use more electricity than they need, and that limits should somehow be set to their wattage.

These protests have been given a European dimension. Since they come from the European Commission, the proposals have generated headlines almost as bad as “Now Brussels wants us to wear smelly knickers.” This is a pity. As Richard North often points out, the same proposals have been made in America and elsewhere in the world, and they come to Britain via Brussels only so far as the European Union is the means by which global regulations are implemented in Europe.

Regardless of who is making them, I deny that product regulation is necessary. Here are some brief objections:

First, it may be that modern electrical appliances need less electricity to do their job than we are in the habit of believing. If this makes appliances noticeably cheaper – either to buy or over their whole lifecycle – consumers will tend to choose them. All it needs is normal product advertising, or the urging of private advocacy groups. If, for whatever reason, people remain indifferent to noticeable savings, that is their concern. People surely have a right to waste their own money. Or, looking from a “green” point of view, every extra penny spent on boiling a kettle means one penny less to spend on petrol.

Second, it may be that the savings from lower wattage appliances are not significant at the individual level, but add up, at the collective level, to the saving of several new power stations. This is more likely to be the case, and here is an argument for what the economists call “external cost” or “market failure.” In such cases, the balance of cost and benefit to each individual produces outcomes that most individuals do not think desirable. The standard answer is regulation by the State.

On full examination, however, most alleged cases of external cost turn out to be other than they seem. Rather than a failure of unregulated markets to tend towards an optimal use of resources, they are evidence of state-imposed distortions in some other market. Here, the distortion is in the electricity market. Ever since the nationalisation of domestic gas supply in the 19th century, the ruling assumption has been that utilities should be provided through centralised networks at least underwritten by the State. This generally means that not all costs of supply are reflected in retail prices. Some of these costs – control of foreign supplies, for example – are loaded onto the people as taxpayers. Others – compulsory purchase laws for land, or privileged rights of way – are loaded onto specific property owners.

If this complex shuffling of costs were ended, it might be that a higher retail price for electricity would encourage the desired savings. Or it might be that the present system would be shown up as less efficient than some other way of generating or distributing electricity. Before pointing at one spot on the picture and crying “Market Failure!” we should try looking at the whole picture.

Third, product regulations are hardly ever made by disinterested experts. Mostly, they emerge from a dirty mix of bureaucratic sloth and ignorance, and capture of decision-making bodies by special interest groups, and outright corruption. That is how the ratios were set for automatic gear boxes in the American car market. That is how they are being set for electric light bulbs throughout the world. If products are safer or cheaper as a result, that is at best an accidental side effect of the process.

Fourth, even supposing a regulation achieves its stated purpose, it should be resisted. States rely on legitimation ideologies. Most of these ideologies include the claim that state regulation works in the public interest. Being able to show a regulation that does this is useful propaganda for a system that, as a whole, is both exploitative and inefficient. 

Let me give a famous example. There is reason to believe that, had the British Government taken an active interest, during the 1840s, in telling the railway companies where to build their lines, we could have had a better network than we did in fact get. There is a continuous literature of cost benefit analyses of the burdens imposed by having two spines to connect London to the industrial cities of the North, and flowing from the largely accidental emergence of the railway gauge that we still use.

This being granted, the propaganda value of successful state direction would have offset any gains from efficiency by giving us a bigger State by 1870 than we had. The officials and the relevant interest groups would have ruthlessly used the precedent of successful regulation of the railways to justify regulating everything else. 

It would be the same now. Let it be shown that cutting the consumption of vacuum cleaners from 2KW to 700W had saved the cost of building three new power stations, and that would not the end of the matter. The cry would go up for linking refrigerators to the Internet, so their temperatures could be turned up or down according to some agenda by the authorities, or for built-in motion detectors on electric lights to turn them off in probably empty rooms. Where regulation by the State is concerned, nothing ever ends in itself. Everything that works is made a precedent for something else. Anything that fails becomes an argument for something else.

In summary, governments impose greater costs on a country than washing machines and kettles that may use up more electricity than they technically require. State failure is more pervasive than market failure. This, not European scare stories, should be the case against the proposed regulations.

SOURCE

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Obamacare's bill for small businesses? Big bucks, fewer jobs

Obamacare is taking a toll on small businesses, according to a new analysis of the effects of the health-care reform law, which found billions of dollars in reduced pay and hundreds of thousands fewer jobs.

Take-home pay at small businesses was trimmed by some $22.6 billion annually because of the Affordable Care Act and related insurance premium hikes, researchers at the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank headed by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found in a report released Tuesday.

Individual year-round employees at businesses with 50 to 99 workers lost $935 annually, while those at firms with 20 to 49 workers are out an average of $827.50 per person in take-home pay, the report found.

That report also says that there has been the loss of more than 350,000 jobs due to Obamacare-era premium hikes at small businesses.

In five states, the losses have exceeded more than 20,000 jobs apiece, including Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas. California lost an estimated 42,788 jobs due to Obamacare, the report estimated.

And those wage and job-level effects have come before the implementation of Obamacare's employer mandate, which beginning in 2016 will compel firms with 50 to 99 full-time workers to offer them health coverage or pay a fine.

"We find evidence that the labor force is absorbing these detrimental costs even before the government has started enforcing the most stringent ACA regulations," the report said. "These costs are likely a result of businesses preparing for the employer mandate, providing health insurance to workers and losing access to low-cost coverage."

"Obviously, these are huge numbers," lead author Sam Batkins said about the findings.

And because of the employer mandate coming down the road, "we expect the trends to worsen," Batkins added.

Batkins said the research detected a marked response at small businesses to insurance premium prices after the implementation of the ACA in 2010, in contrast to how those employers responded to price hikes before the law was adopted. Specifically, there was a correlation between small businesses' cutting jobs and workers' take-home pay being reduced when premiums went up after the ACA took effect, as opposed to before.

"While there was no significant relationship between health-care premiums and employment before the ACA, since 2010 small businesses have slowly started shedding jobs and reducing wages," the report said.

Batkins said, "The data sort of points to the law itself. ... Post-ACA, the trends are pretty stark in terms of reduced employment and reduced take-home pay."

For instance, for every 1 percent increase in total premiums paid for insurance for workers at firms employing 50 to 99 people, there was a 0.109 decrease in average weekly pay since the ACA, the report said. Before the ACA was passed, "we do not identify any statistically significant relationships" between wages and health premiums, the report said.

"Although the estimates might appear small, when one considers how premiums have changed since the ACA, the costs are profound," the report said. "Pre-ACA, total premiums in the average state cost $4,653 in 2009 and grew by 19.8 percent to $5,576 by 2013."

"So a 19.8 percent increase in total premiums is associated with a 2.2 percent decrease in average weekly pay," the report said.

In all, the $22.6 billion in reduced take-home pay equals 6 percent of all wages in the small-business category.

The 350,000 estimated jobs the report said have been lost in small businesses because of Obamacare came entirely from employers with just 20 to 49 workers.

"We do not find any statistically significant relationships between health-insurance premiums and jobs in businesses with between 50 and 99 employees," the report said.

Asked if the overall costs to small business employment and wages are warranted by Obamacare's goal of providing affordable health insurance to millions of uninsured people, and of improving the quality of insurance offered to enrollees, Batkins said, "I think the jury is still out."

"This report has shown that the costs are fairly high," Batkins said. "And the enrollment is going to have to be fairly high, as well, to cover the costs."

SOURCE

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Why Is Dependency Rising, and Can It Be Reversed?

Often during an economic recovery, welfare caseloads fall as jobs return. In this recovery, welfare caseloads kept climbing through 2012. That’s the message of a new Census Bureau report released last week, which found that, at the end of 2012, the number of Americans in households collecting “means tested” welfare assistance was officially 109 million.

That’s close to the number of people huddled around TV sets to watch the Super Bowl.

It’s also 35 percent of all households that receive at least one form of public assistance – food stamps, Medicaid, supplemental security income, nutrition programs for kids, housing aid, and so on. Many tens of millions receive multiple forms of aid.

This number does not include those on disability and unemployment insurance. That’s millions more. Social Security and Medicare are earned programs, so they are not included.

When 109 million Americans are on some form of welfare assistance, we have to wonder whether we have reached some kind of welfare tipping point.

Have we reached a welfare tipping point? No. I disagree that the trend of dependency is irreversible.

We succeeded in reducing government dependency in the 1990s, when governors like Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and John Engler of Michigan began to experiment with work and educational requirements, time limits and so on, to encourage work over welfare. Then the feds enacted a landmark welfare reform bill in 1996, which adopted many of these reforms on a national level. These reforms – coupled with an economy that was creating millions of new jobs – helped reduce cash welfare caseloads by more than half in five years.

Why is dependency again on the rise? Today many of those reforms are gone. Only 5 percent of the welfare today is through the old cash assistance program. Now the new welfare is food stamps, disability, and unemployment insurance, to name a few. President Obama repealed the limited work requirements for these programs. Last year when Republicans dared insert even modest work requirements for food stamps applied only to nondisabled adults without children, they were accused of being cruel.

The Left has encouraged more welfare participation. President Obama boasts that Obamacare has already added 3 million people to Medicaid rolls, as if more welfare caseloads is a policy triumph. Nancy Pelosi has called food stamps and unemployment insurance one of the most effective economic stimulus programs.

Welfare caseloads aren’t falling in part because this administration doesn’t want them to. Times sure have changed. Bill Clinton boasted about the reduction in welfare caseloads in the 1990s.

What’s most important as a first step toward restoring self-reliance is to at least acknowledge as a nation that when there are 109 million Americans collecting some form of welfare, we have a crisis on our hands. It’s partly the economy, but partly cultural. The poverty lobby has worked hard to erase any negative stigma attached to welfare benefits. In some cities in America food stamps are like a parallel currency. By the way, in 2012 there were 51 million Americans on food stamps.

One possible approach has been suggested by Rep. Paul Ryan. He would turn many of the welfare programs, like food stamps, back to the states so they can find ways to expeditiously move people swiftly back into work.

What is for sure is that the feds have failed in replacing welfare with the dignity of work. Or worse, they haven’t even tried.

SOURCE

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

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

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11 September, 2014

IQ in decline across the world as scientists say we’re getting dumber

This is a generally good article below but it needs a little more background.  In particular, one needs to know why IQ scores rose for most of the 20th century (the "Flynn effect").  The evidence seems to converge on more schooling. As people got more and more  schooling (as they mostly did throughout the 20th century) they learned more and more test-taking strategies and that helped when they did IQ tests.  But that process obviously had its limits and that limit has now generally been reached.  Now that the Flynn effect has run its course we see what the underlying tendency is -- towards a dumbing down of the population.  With dumb women having most of the babies, any other result would be a surprise

FOR at least a century, average IQ has been on the rise, thanks to improved nutrition, living conditions and technology.  But now, scientists think the trend is going into reverse.

In Denmark, every man aged 18 is given an IQ test, to assess them in case of military conscription. It means around 30,000 people have been taking the same test for years — and scores have fallen by 1.5 points since 1998.

The pattern is repeated around the world, according to New Scientist, with tests showing the same thing happening everywhere from Australia and the UK to Brazil and China.

The most rapid signs of IQ growth in the US appeared between the 1950s and 1980s, the magazine reported, with “intelligence” rocketing by around 3 points per decade.

The trend for rising IQs was first documented by New Zealand scientist James Flynn, and is known as the Flynn Effect. It has been attributed to advances in health and medicine, as well as ever-expanding technology and culture forcing us to contend with a multi-layered world.

Now, the theory is that in developed countries, improvements such as public sanitation and more stimulating environments may have gone as far as they can in terms of increasing our intelligence.

The first evidence of a dip in IQ was reported in Norway in 2004, closely followed by similar studies emerging from developed countries including Sweden and the Netherlands.

Dr Flynn has said that such minor decreases could be attributable to reversible issues with social conditions, such as falling income, unhealthy diet or problems with education.

But some experts believe our IQs are in a state of permanent decline.

Some researchers suggest that the Flynn effect has masked an underlying decline in our genetic intelligence — meaning more people have been developing closer to their full potential, but that potential has been dropping.

This has been attributed in some quarters to the fact that the most highly educated people in society are having fewer children than the general population.

It is an uncomfortable thought, and one that strays worryingly close to controversial theories on genetic modification and even eugenics.

Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster in the UK says our IQ has declined by 1 point between 1950 and 2000, which seems very small.

But Michael Woodley, a psychologist at Free University of Brussels in Belgium, said even such a small drop can mean a dramatic reduction in the number of highly intelligent people — those geniuses who are responsible for our greatest innovations.

In fact, Dr Woodley says our IQ has been in decline since Victorian times, while Professor Gerald Crabtree says it happened as soon as we started to live in densely populated areas with a steady supply of food — 5000 to 12,000 years ago.

The importance of IQ trends is up for debate in itself, since IQ tests can be an unreliable measure of intelligence, skewed by education and preparation for solving certain kinds of problems.

Furthermore, many experts say there are multiple forms of intelligence. While academic intelligence is important, it is often people with other qualities, such as determination and self-control, who are most successful or socially productive.

When we say we are becoming more intelligent, are we simply learning different ways of thinking?

As Dr Flynn himself said: “There are other intellectual qualities, namely, critical acumen and wisdom, that IQ tests were not designed to measure and do not measure and these are equally worthy of attention.

“Our obsession with IQ is one indication that rising wisdom has not characterised our time.”

SOURCE

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A nasty one for the meat haters

The medical literature is full of admonishments to eat less red meat.  Is a backflip on the way?  Meat is certainly the easiest way to get a high protein diet

The study  was of a good sample of people people aged 30–54 years and featured very extensive controls -- so the inferences are fairly secure  -- which is unlikely to be equally true of other studies in the area


You might think that a diet involving juicy steaks, blocks of cheese or pots of houmous is a heart-attack waiting to happen.

But people who eat a high-protein diet have a lower risk of high blood pressure than those who eat less protein.

U.S. researchers found people who consumed about 102g of protein a day had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than people who consumed half this amount.

In terms of food, 102g equates to about four beef steaks, five chicken breasts or ten tins of chickpeas.

Fibre was also found to be beneficial, so a diet high in this and protein led to a 59 per cent reduction in the risk of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure - also known as 'hypertension' - is called the 'silent killer' because it rarely has obvious symptoms.  If left untreated, however, it can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

According to NHS figures, around 30 per cent of people in England have high blood pressure but may not know it.  The only way of knowing there is a problem is to have blood pressure measured by a GP or other healthcare professional.

Previous studies have shown protein-rich foods like eggs or seafood have blood pressure-lowering qualities.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, tracked 1,361 healthy people for an average of 11.3 years to see if they developed high blood pressure.

Researchers found both animal and plant proteins were associated with lower blood pressure readings.

Both types of protein also led to a statistically significant reductions in the risk of high blood pressure.

The beneficial effects of protein were apparent for men and women and those of any weight.

The study's author Justin Buendia, a research assistant at Boston University School of Medicine in the U.S., said eating more protein could mean we might feel fuller sooner,

As a result, we eat less of other high-calorie food groups, improving our overall diet.

He told Yahoo news: 'It may be that people who eat more protein have healthier diets in general.

'With higher protein consumption, you may eat less of other high-calorie foods.

You may feel full sooner, and that would lead to lower weight, which would lead to beneficial metabolic outcomes, such as lower blood pressure.'

However, he added that protein itself might have a quality that reduces hypertension because the amino acids in proteins may help dilate blood vessels, effectively lowering blood pressure.

Arginine - an amino acid found in both plant and animal protein sources, including eggs - plays a role in blood-vessel dilation, he said.

He added that recent animal studies suggest some amino acids in dairy products may have similar effects.

'Having an egg or some milk for breakfast is probably a good way to start the day. In terms of snacking, instead of going for a bag of chips or bread, have yogurt or a piece of cheese or a small handful of nuts.'

However, another study found for middle-aged people, eating protein from animal sources like meat and cheese was as deadly as smoking.

The University of Southern California study found for those aged 50 or more, people who ate the most animal proteins were almost twice as likely to die early as those who ate low amounts.

They were also four times as likely to be killed by cancer, a figure comparable to smoking.

The protein found in meat, cheese, eggs and other animal products was responsible for feeding tumours and fuelling the ageing of the body's cells, the researchers said.

Protein could also be bad for your kidneys, increasing the risk of developing kidney disease, and can also increase the risk of calcium kidney stones. 

SOURCE

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Favors and Loot for Sale

By Walter E. Williams

At a July fundraising event in Chicago, Mrs. Michelle Obama remarked, "So, yeah, there's too much money in politics. There's (sic) special interests that have too much influence."

Sen. John McCain has been complaining for years that "there is too much money washing around political campaigns today." According to a 2012 Reuters poll, "Seventy-five percent of Americans feel there is too much money in politics." Let's think about money in politics, but first a few facts.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama raised a little over $1 billion, while Mitt Romney raised a little under $1 billion. Congressional candidates raised over $3.5 billion. In 2013, there were 12,341 registered lobbyists and $3.2 billion was spent on lobbying. During the years the Clintons have been in national politics, they've received at least $1.4 billion in contributions, according to Time magazine and the Center for Responsive Politics, making them "The First Family of Fundraising."

Here are my questions to you: Why do people and organizations cough up billions of dollars to line political coffers? One might answer that these groups and individuals are simply extraordinarily civic-minded Americans who have a deep and abiding interest in encouraging elected officials to live up to their oath of office to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Another possible answer is that the people who spend these billions of dollars on politicians just love participating in the political process. If you believe either of these explanations for coughing up billions for politicians, you're probably a candidate for psychiatric attention, a straitjacket and a padded cell.

A far better explanation for the billions going to the campaign coffers of Washington politicians and lobbyists lies in the awesome government power and control over business, property, employment and other areas of our lives. Having such power, Washington politicians are in the position to grant special privileges, extend favors, change laws and do other things that if done by a private person would land him in jail. The major component of congressional power is the use of the IRS to take the earnings of one American to give to another.

The Dow Chemical Co. posted record lobbying expenditures last year, spending over $12 million. Joined by Alcoa, who spent $3.5 million, Dow supports the campaigns of congressmen who support natural gas export restrictions. Natural gas is a raw material for both companies. They fear natural gas prices would rise if export restrictions were lifted. Dow and other big users of natural gas make charitable contributions to environmentalists who seek to limit natural gas exploration. Natural gas export restrictions empower Russia's Vladimir Putin by making Europeans more dependent on Russian natural gas.

General Electric spends tens of millions of dollars lobbying. Part of their agenda was to help get Congress to outlaw incandescent light bulbs so that they could sell their more expensive compact fluorescent bulbs. It should come as no surprise that General Electric is a contributor to global warmers who helped convince Congress that incandescent bulbs were destroying the planet.

These are just two examples, among thousands, of the role of money in politics. Most concerns about money in politics tend to focus on relatively trivial matters such as the costs of running for office and interest-group influence on Congress and the White House. The bedrock problem is the awesome power of Congress. We Americans have asked, demanded and allowed congressmen to ignore their oaths of office and ignore the constitutional limitations imposed on them. The greater the congressional power to give handouts and grant favors and make special privileges the greater the value of being able to influence congressional decision-making. There's no better influence than money.

You say, "Williams, you've explained the problem. What's your solution?" Maybe we should think about enacting a law mandating that Congress cannot do for one American what it does not do for all Americans. For example, if Congress creates a monopoly for one American, it should create a monopoly for all Americans. Of course, a better solution is for Congress to obey our Constitution.

SOURCE

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

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

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10 September, 2014

Aging antisemite now crawling up Muslim anuses



His hatred of Israel has beome obsessional

Former President of the United States and unapologetic friend of violent extremists around the globe Jimmy Carter spoke this past weekend at an Islamic conference and hailed the “principles of Allah” as the key to finally seeing peace in the Middle East.

The failed president who was too weak to retrieve our captured U.S. citizens from the hands of Iranian college students has been seen, until recent years, as the worst president with regards to foreign policy. With the numerous failures of President Obama having devastating consequences around the globe, it’s clear that Jimmy Carter has been downgraded to being the second most-cowardly president in history.

During his speech at the annual convention for the Islamic Society of North America on Saturday, Carter  called for “justice for the Palestinians,” saying, “You can’t bring peace to the Middle East without justice and human rights for the Palestinians. When my prayers are answered and we have peace in that Holy Land then the Israelis and all their neighbors will be blessed to live in peace and prosperity.”

Of course, proposals of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been routinely rejected by Hamas and other Palestinian thugs.

During a luncheon earlier in the day, Carter hailed his own efforts to bring peace to the world and declared,

“We are all Americans in a system that allows basic human rights: peace, justice and the ability to treat each other as equals. I hope all of you will use the principles of Allah to bring peace and justice to all.”

Of course, these “principles of Allah” by which ISIS, Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to commit horrific acts by citing Allah as the driving force.

Last week, ISIS marched 250 half-naked Syrian soldiers into the desert and slaughtered each and every one of them for supposed affronts to the principles of Allah. The event was celebrated by extremists on Twitter.

Thereligionofpeace.com claims that in the last ten years, 18,000 terror attacks have been carried out by those looking to fulfill the “principles of Allah.”

Youngconservatives.com highlights the supposed “principles of Allah” to which Carter refers. These include a command from the messenger of Allah that Muslims must “fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah.”

While Carter has carved out a place in history as the coddler of despots, it’s curious that he has not approached the pursuit of peace by calling for the Muslim world to adhere to the principles of Christ. It’s equally odd that he has not appealed to the Muslim world to adhere to the principles of Judaism.

SOURCE

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How Conservatives Can Win the Hearts and Minds of Hispanics and Women

The Left has a perceived monopoly on female and Hispanic voters. After all, it has its “war on women” refrain and the push for amnesty for illegal immigrants. Leftists proclaim the government gospel for the common man, and in so doing, they have won the hearts and minds of the downtrodden – or so they assume.

The conservative movement needs to rebrand and return to its core values to snatch this near-victory from the Left.

Examine the numbers and it appears the Democrat Party has picked the demographics to pander to in order to win for generations to come. Women outnumber men in this country 161 million to 156.1 million, and women are more likely to vote, with 63.7% of them voting in the election that gave Barack Obama his second term. The turnout for men was 59.7%.

The Hispanic population has climbed steadily since the 1970s. There are now 54 million Hispanics in the U.S. In the next 30 years, whites will become a minority, something that probably leaves the Left tickled pink because 78% of Obama’s support came from minority groups. Indeed, Pew Research Center said the Hispanic population surpassed the white population in California this year.

These numbers appear likely to produce long-term wins for Democrats, but demographic groups this large fracture into subgroups that conservatives can reach with their message. In essence, conservatives should take advantage of the Democrats' own divide and conquer strategy, winning those who are receptive to Liberty. Not all women want the Left’s version of “reproductive rights.” Not all Hispanics are illegal immigrants or wards of the state.

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, believes if conservatives vigorously reach out to Latinos, they can find allies in the Hispanic community. He recently released a book about his fellow Hispanics called “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans.”

“Nobody came here to be Balkanized into different neighborhoods,” Gonzalez said. “They came here to succeed.”

Mexican culture has been with America from the beginning. Mexicans lived inside Texas when it was incorporated into the rest of the states, for example. The tortilla is just as American as hamburger (German), pizza (Italian) and apple pie (Dutch).

Don’t think Hispanics are one homogeneous group. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Cubans landed in Florida to escape communism. And remember: Liberty is colorblind.

Gonzalez said the word “Hispanic,” as used to describe all people hailing from the Spanish-speaking world, only came into use in the 1970s when the government designated “Hispanics” a minority group. This time of social upheaval and the influx of Latino immigration created the heavy Democrat support found among Latinos, according to Gonzalez:

“That millions of immigrants, the majority from Latin America, began arriving just as the United States was being hit by a social and cultural tornado receives surprisingly little analysis. This whirlwind, after all, ripped up norms that had been in place for generations.

"These new immigrants had no memory of what the country had been like. In the media, in schools and in entertainment, they began to hear dubious reinterpretations of America and a denigration of traditional values. For many of them, ‘assimilation’ meant adopting the emerging standards of a rapidly evolving country.”
And Democrats have treated women in the same manner – as ignorant dupes who can only vote Democrat. Thanks to the Left’s rhetoric and polices, women view the Republican Party as “stuck in the past” and “intolerant,” according to a Republican study leaked to Politico. The study found 49% of women dislike Republicans, while only 39% view Democrats with distain. But those numbers almost flip if women are married and possess a college education, with 48% supporting the GOP and 38% backing Democrats. No wonder Democrats want to destroy marriage.

R.R. Reno of First Things offered a thoughtful response to the Politico story, and an even better rebuttal to a Slate rejoinder.

Reno argues Democrats tap into women’s sense of vulnerability:

“[M]y explanation of the profound difference between single and married female voters involves a final assumption: The Democratic Party is the party that promises to expand government to take care of people whose lives aren’t working out. This doesn’t mean Republicans are cold-hearted. It’s just that, for many different reasons, Republicans don’t think government can or should take care of all our needs.

"Put those assumptions together, and I have an explanation for why single women vote so heavily for Democratic candidates: Their inability to achieve a core life-goal (marriage) makes them feel vulnerable, and so they vote for the party that promises to use government to protect the vulnerable.”

America has people – the poor, immigrants, single moms – that are vulnerable. They’re afraid that if rules and regulations are thrown back, then the more powerful – the big business, the men with fists – will grab power in the vacuum and do harm. And how will the weak get more power without the benevolent power above that keeps them safe? They don’t realize progressives need to keep them poor and weak in order to preserve their own power. The question for lovers of Liberty is this: How do we empower people to pull themselves up through hard work, to self-govern?

This is where the conservative movement must rebrand. Instead of poorly delivering the same message, hoping that minorities are convinced into voting for the same white male politicians, conservatives must embrace more diverse leadership and show that conservative policies made that advancement possible. Let’s welcome female politicians who support Liberty and conservative ideals with their own unique governing style. Let’s fill the school boards with concerned mothers and town councils with Latino businessmen. Then, let’s unfetter the people by decentralizing the government – kicking the power back to the local level. And we’ll see who will be the party of the people.

SOURCE

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In praise of a great Christian empire: Byzantium

The author below does not mention it but the fact that Byzantium was fanatically Christian may have helped it to survive.  The Greek and Russian Orthodox churches are its descendants

Based in Constantinople (modern Istanbul), it lasted until 1453. At times, it was the richest and most powerful state in the known world. Today, it is almost forgotten. Its main presence in the English language is as a word meaning complex bureaucracy.

Why should we remember Byzantium? Well, everyone admires the Greeks and the Roman Empires. But, once your eyes adjust, and you look below the glittering surface, you see that it wasn’t a time any reasonable person would choose to be alive. The Greeks were a collection of ethnocentric tribes who fought and killed each other till they nearly died out. The Roman Empire was held together by a vampire bureaucracy directed more often than in any European state since then by idiots or lunatics. Life was jolly enough for the privileged two or three per cent. But everything they had was got from the enslavement or fiscal exploitation of everyone else.

Yet, while the Roman State grew steadily worse until the collapse of its Western half, the Eastern half that remained went into reverse. The more Byzantine the Eastern Roman Empire became, the less awful it was for ordinary people. This is why it lasted another thousand years. The consensus of educated opinion used to be that it survived by accident. Even without looking at the evidence, this doesn’t seem likely. In fact, during the seventh century, the Empire faced three challenges. First, there was the combined assault of the Persians from the east and the Avars and Slavs from the north. Though the Balkans and much of the East were temporarily lost, the Persians were annihilated. Then a few years after the victory celebrations in Jerusalem, Islam burst into the world. Syria and Egypt were overrun at once. North Africa followed. But the Home Provinces – these being roughly the territory of modern Turkey – held firm. The Arabs could sometimes invade, and occasionally devastate. They couldn’t conquer.

One of the few certain lessons that History teaches is that, when it goes on the warpath, you don’t face down Islam by accident. More often than not, you don’t face it down at all. In the 630s, the Arabs took what remained of the Persian Empire in a single campaign. Despite immensely long chains of supply and command, they took Spain within a dozen years. Yet, repeatedly and with their entire force, they beat against the Home Provinces of the Byzantine Empire. Each time, they were thrown back with catastrophic losses. The Byzantines never lost overall control of the sea. Eventually, they hit back, retaking large parts of Syria. More than once, the Caliphs were forced to pay tribute. You don’t manage this by accident.

The Byzantine historians themselves are disappointingly vague about the seventh and eighth centuries. Our only evidence for what happened comes from the description of established facts in the tenth century. As early as the seventh century, though, the Byzantine State pulled off the miracle of reforming itself internally while fighting a war of survival on every frontier. Large parts of the bureaucracy were scrapped. Taxes were cut. The silver coinage was stabilised. Above all, the great senatorial estates of the Later Roman Empire were broken up. Land was given to the peasants in return for military service. In the West, the Goths and Franks and Lombards had moved among populations of disarmed tax-slaves. Not surprisingly, no one raised a hand against them. Time and again, the Arabs smashed against a wall of armed freeholders. A few generations after losing Syria and Egypt, the Byzantine Empire was the richest and most powerful state in the known world.

This is an inspiring story – as inspiring as the resistance put up by the Greek city states a thousand years before to Darius and Xerxes. If the Turks, who destroyed it in 1453, can admire the Byzantine Empire, and even feel proud of it, why shouldn’t the rest of humanity admire it?

SOURCE

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Guy Who Tried to Shut Down Kid's Lemonade Stand Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine

Remember Doug Wilkey, the grumpy Floridian who tried to get a lemonade stand that was operating next door to his house shut down by local authorites? Whelp, looks like he's getting a taste of his own medicine.

A tipster contacted the city and pointed officials toward records that show Wilkey, as recently as March, listed his Patricia Avenue home as the principal business address for Bayport Financial Services.

Planning director Greg Rice said officials were drafting a letter notifying Wilkey, 61, that all companies operating in the city require a business tax license, which costs about $45 a year, and that home-based-business owners must sign an affidavit agreeing to follow special rules.

It's tempting to say "Karma's a bitch, sucka!" and leave it at that.  But that's the wrong response.

Yes, Wilkey, 61, started it by trying to bring in the government where simple human-to-human interaction should have sufficed. But is is just as troubling that the local government has now decided to use its powers to harass this man, simply because he's kind of a jerk with unpopular opinions.

Crotchety old men aren't as photogenic as entrepreneurial kids, but they deserve the same rights and protections. All the reasons why Guerrero deserves to be left alone to make an honest buck apply equally to Wilkey. In fact, running a financial services company out of your home likely has even fewer negative externalities than setting up a lemonade stand.

It seems pretty clear the city is looking into this guy's business because he managed to draw attention to himself in a negative way. And of course the hypocrisy here is as delicious as a glass of Country Time on a hot day.

But I guarantee you that there are other home-based businesses on that block. In a time and place where nearly every human action is smothered in laws, rules, and regulations, enforcement will necessarily be arbitrary. Limited resources mean that cops and licensing bureaus get to choose who they go after, and those choices will usually be made for reasons that have little to do with efficiency or justice.

When I wrote about the lemonade stand, I gave the local Dunedin authorities "three cheers." I take them back. When a grumpy tipster complained about a commercial activity by a cute kid who wasn't hurting anyone, they looked into the matter and wisely chose inaction. Then the same situation presented itself with a less appealing protagonist, and they did the opposite. Zero cheers.

SOURCE

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

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

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9 September, 2014

Is Obama presidentially-incapacitated by narcissistic rage?

Dr Sellin has got part of the story below but he puts too much weight on narcissism alone.  Obama is undoubtedly narcissistic.  Most Leftists are.  That is why they are so arrogant and insensitive to rational argument.  But Obama is more than narcissistic.  He is psychopathic.  There have been many manifestations of that.  See here

An individual with narcissistic personality disorder exhibits extreme self-importance, has a constant need for attention and admiration, is secretive and controlling, cannot empathize with others, and has a heightened sensitivity to criticism. To get the attention he craves, a narcissist may try to create crises or diversions that return the focus to him. The narcissist feels entitled, that the world owes him, regardless of whether he makes a contribution.

Narcissists are selfish and self-centered people, who are capable only of thinking about their own issues regarding power, prestige, and personal adequacy. They cannot understand the problems of people around them, and are not aware of other peoples' feelings. Although they act superior and confident, this actually hides the fact that they have very fragile egos. They live with the illusion that they are perfectionists and that people revere them. The slightest disrespect or challenge can quickly lead to the development of "Narcissistic Rage," a term coined by Heinz Kohut in his 1972 book "The Analysis of the Self." The fuming rage the narcissist exhibits is different from the anger that people usually feel; it is either irrational or severely blown out of proportion from an insignificant remark or action. According to Kohut, this rage impairs a narcissist's cognition, therefore impairing his judgment.

A narcissist needs to sustain the illusion of being bigger, larger, smarter and more successful than everyone else in order to feel stable. Narcissists need constant admiration, attention and compliments, not to increase their self-esteem, but to prevent a feeling of instability that could lead to dysfunction or breakdown. Narcissistic rage occurs when that core instability is heightened. In essence, the reason narcissists are so self-centered is that their grandiosity-based personality needs to be constantly reinforced to remain stable.

In the present context, narcissistic rage can take two forms:

I. Explosive - The narcissist attacks everyone in his immediate vicinity and is verbally and psychologically abusive.

II. Pernicious or Passive-Aggressive - The narcissist sulks, gives the silent treatment or is vindictive, plotting how to put the transgressors in their proper place. They can sabotage the work of people whom they regard to be the sources of their mounting wrath.

As described by Ernest Istook, Obama's behavior matches the American Psychiatric Association's definition of passive-aggressive behavior, "a habitual pattern of passive resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, stubbornness, and negativistic attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected of others." Often, such persons see themselves as blameless victims, projecting fault onto others. Commonly, they follow erratic paths and cause constant conflicts.

Obama is cautious and dithers even on perilous issues like confronting the ISIS threat, not as a result of campaign promises, but because to make any decision risks the reassuring adulation of his political base and a fawning media.

And nothing the narcissist says is ever what he means. Language is simply used as a tool for deception, and manipulation. Everything they do is for show, or only meant in the moment. That's why everything around them seems so chaotic and confusing.

Obama's vindictive and illegal use of the IRS results from his perception that critics are enemies, seeing Republicans as a greater threat to him personally than terrorists. When you are a narcissist, the world looks like it should approve, adore, agree and obey you. Anything less than that seems like an assault and a narcissist feels justified in raging back at it.

No one should expect a significant change in Obama's behavior because narcissists demonstrate an enduring pattern of inflexibility that is pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.

Nevertheless, even narcissists eventually have to be held accountable for their actions.

SOURCE

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Obama’s Benghazi Narrative Falls Apart!

A groundbreaking claim has been made by the five commandos who were charged with protecting the CIA facility in Benghazi, Libya.

In a book they are authoring together, these five commandos have admitted what we have all suspected for the past two years: that they were ordered to “stand down” and not rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens and the rest of the inhabitants of the Benghazi Consulate.

Words can’t express how groundbreaking this allegation is.

They heard a consular security agent screaming on the radio, pleading for help. “If you guys do not get here, we are going to die,” he pleaded over the radio.

So the Commandos suited up, got their gear, and jumped in the car. They were only one mile away from the Consulate and felt that they could have affected the outcome of the terrorist attack. But they were stopped. They were prohibited from leaving the CIA facility and were allegedly told to “stand down” multiple times by the CIA’s own Station Chief.

The Obama administration and Congress have both released reports claiming that rescue teams were never ordered to ‘stand down.’ Both branches of government have perpetuated the narrative that there was nothing anyone could have done. We now know that is a complete lie!

It really is this simple. We have suspected for years that our boys on the ground were given ‘stand down’ orders. It simply doesn’t make sense for the administration team to claim that it took so long for trained security personnel to travel one mile to the compound!

These men were given the order to stand down and forced to wait.  They sat and did nothing for almost THIRTY minutes before they disregarded their orders and left anyway.

Imagine how things could have changed if these five men were allowed to launch their rescue mission immediately… imagine how many people might still be alive if they weren’t told to stand down…

Now imagine what it would take for the entire federal government to perpetuate a narrative that was a complete lie!

The Obama administration said that a stand down order was never issued… the military said the same… the CIA as well… even Congress perpetuated the narrative that the administration did all it could…

But the five men on the ground know the truth and they are making sure the world knows as well! They know that they were told to ‘stand down’ and that people died as a result! Had it not been for the multiple ‘stand down’ orders given, the Security Annex Team might have been able to save Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, and the rest of the staff.

In the next week, the House Select Committee on Benghazi will hold its first public hearing. The Democrats and administration bureaucrats are already mudslinging, making claims that the entire investigation is a farce.

They are doing everything they can to perpetuate the narrative that President Obama and his administration did everything they could on that fateful night… They are doing everything they can to shutdown the Congressional investigation…

SOURCE

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Meet the Left-Wing Extremist Running for U.S. Senate

Amanda Curtis seeks to replace plagiarist Democrat John Walsh.

Did you hear about the Republican candidate for Senate out West who wants to overthrow the entire American economic system? The one who, when asked about his view on the situation on Iraq, said he needed more time? Who said he couldn’t answer questions about the situation at the Mexican border because “only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows”?

Of course you didn’t. Because he is a she, and a Democrat. Her name is Amanda Curtis.

You certainly would have heard about a Republican candidate like that, though. He would have been banner-headline material on The Huffington Post, Salon, and other liberal redoubts. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would have given him the business. Op/ed columnists around the country would have held him up as an example of how radical wingnuts had seized control of the GOP.

After all: Any time some random Republican somewhere says something idiotic, you can pretty much count on it making national news. If he or she says something especially stupid (see: Akin, Todd) it’s likely to launch a national debate, in the sense of “debate” meaning “weeks of discussion in which everyone agrees the comment was heinous and keeps saying so, over and over.”

This happens with such regularity there’s even a term for it (coined by Slate’s David Weigel): the Republican Lawmaker Principle. There is, however, no corresponding Democratic Lawmaker Principle—though not because Democrats never say outrageous things. They do, and the conservative blogosphere delights in raking them over the coals for it.

But the broader media generally don’t pick up on Democratic inanities because, viewed through the filter of unconscious liberal bias, the comments are just unfortunate isolated incidents, rather than what dumb Republican comments are seen as: yet more data points supporting the thesis that Those People Are Swivel-Eyed Lunatics. This is true of every dumb Democratic remark, no matter how many occur.

This brings us back to Curtis, a state lawmaker in Montana. Democrats chose her to run for the Senate after the six-month incumbent, John Walsh, was busted for plagiarism.

Curtis has said some unflattering things about gun rights, and Christians, and her desire to punch other lawmakers in the face—all of them in YouTube diaries she broadcast as commentaries on the Montana legislative session. Nothing terribly far-out there. The far-out part is her association with the Wobblies.

The Wobblies are the Industrial Workers of the World, a hard-left union of historical vintage that let the 20th century pass it by. “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” the group proclaims. “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Nothing says “modern, forward-thinking progressive” like warmed-over Lenin.

Curtis’ husband is more active in the IWW than she, but her admiration for communist economics doesn’t stop there. Not long ago she replaced her Facebook profile picture with a photo of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the former chairwoman of the Communist Party USA.

Question: If a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate signified his admiration for the president of the American Nazi Party—or even the John Birch Society—do you think the media would find that at all newsworthy? Sure they would. What if a Republican had written for a newsletter of the Ku Klux Klan, as Curtis has written for the IWW? Ditto. Yet on the rare occasions when news outlets have seen fit to mention such details, they have done so in terms of conservatives “pouncing on” them. Man, those critics have some nerve, don’t they?

Curtis might be a fallback candidate, but that did not stop Montana Democrats from nominating her at a convention—just as Virginia Republicans last year nominated E.W. Jackson, a fire-and-brimstone minister, to be the state’s lieutenant governor. Jackson’s off-the-wall ravings about the sickness inherent in homosexuality, the satanic peril of yoga and so forth turned him into an object of national sport—and he wasn’t even seeking national office.

Curtis, however, is. Will she wind up getting the Jackson treatment before November? It’s possible—but don’t sit on a hot stove while you wait.

SOURCE

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A nasty one for vegetarians and other food freaks

Adding soy to your diet could speed up the rate at which breast cancer cells spread, scientists have warned.  Researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York studied 140 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

Half took soy protein powder containing genistein while the other half took a placebo for between seven and 30 days before they had surgery to remove their cancer.

The scientists compared tumour tissues from before and after the operation and found changes in the expressions of certain genes, that are known to promote cell growth, in those women taking the soy supplement.  The findings led them to conclude the soy protein could potentially accelerate the progression of the disease.

The study states: 'These data raise concern that soy may exert a stimulating effect on breast cancer in a sub set of women.'

All those taking part in the study had recently had breast biopsies and were diagnosed with stage one or two breast cancer. They were all scheduled to have a mastectomy or lumpectomy two to three weeks later.

The researchers said it is not yet clear if the effects can be reversed.

Jacqueline Bromberg, co-author of the study, said: 'Although the genes were being expressed, it is not clear that this will translate into actual tumour growth.  'But the concern is that there may be the potential.  'Only 20 per cent of those patients who took the soy had really high levels of the genistein metabolite.'

She said the reasons behind the disparity are unclear, adding that there is no way to predict who would have this reaction after consuming soy.

Of the women with high genistein levels, a few of them experienced changes in a specified set of genes that are known to affect breast cancer cell growth, death, or some aspect of breast cancer pathology, Dr Bromberg, said.

The changes were seen in women who consumed around 51.6 grams of soy - the equivalent of about four cups of soy milk a day.

The researchers concluded those who eat soy regularly could 'reasonably consume that amount' through the course of a day, particularly vegetarians and those who do not eat dairy products.

SOURCE

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

********************************

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

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

****************************





8 September, 2014

The white liberal fantasy collides head-on with the reality of Islam

by Robert Henderson

NB: The territory taken from Iraq and Syria has gone by various titles: ISIS, ISIL and IS. I shall use ISIS standing for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

The present mess in the Middle East and North Africa is largely the creation of the prime political absurdity which lies at the heart of the modern liberal fantasy, namely, that what they call liberal democracy (in truth a politically correct illiberal state) can be manufactured if only the right circumstances are created. This woefully wrongheaded idea reprises today the mistake made during the dissolution of the British Empire. The British withdrawal strategy was simple: for each ex-colony create the formal structures of a parliamentary democracy – parliaments, written constitutions, electoral systems and so on – and then, like a climbing plant covering a trellis, democratic behaviour would grow and wrap itself around the formal structures. It was at best laughably naïve and at worst a cynical fig leaf to cover the unseemly haste with which Britain relinquished control of their colonies.

The reason why the British post-colonial strategy failed is beautifully simple: political systems cannot be self-consciously created. They are organic growths. When it comes to representative government elected on a broad franchise ( a more honest description of the reality than democracy) , such growths are remarkably rare. Look around the world and see how many secure representative political systems there are. The Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand qualify because they have such representative systems and have not experienced violent revolution either at all or for centuries. All are Anglo-Saxon in origin. Who else? Switzerland and Iceland. Being generous we can perhaps add the Scandinavians and Holland. For the rest, including all the major European states, there is not one which has not had governments overthrown by outright violence or unconstitutional means since 1900.

To the rarity of stable and lasting representative government growing organically, can be added the insuperable problem of territories with immense ethnic and racial variety accepting the outcomes of elections with which they disagree. Indeed, such variety is probably the prime reason why representative government is so rare. Such disabling heterogeneity of population was the situation with the colonies Britain freed after 1945 and is the situation with the ethnic, racial and religious kaleidoscope that is the Middle East and North Africa.

A complaint is often made that the European colonial powers caused much of the post-colonial difficulty through their drawing of colonial boundaries which produced territories without a natural national unity. This complaint does not hold water. It is not that the European imperial powers did not draw such boundaries, but rather that it would not have made any general difference where the boundaries were drawn because the same problem would have arisen as a consequence of the exceptionally diverse nature of the lands involved. There were no discrete territories with populations which were large enough and homogeneous enough in race, religion and culture to form a natural nation state.

The fruits of recent Western meddling

The consequences of Western interference since the turn of the century has been uniformly dismal: it has either replaced harsh order with growing chaos or replaced one dictatorship with another. Consider how the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa has come about. First, Bush junior and Blair go gallivanting into Afghanistan and reduce that to a battleground for violent Islam and tribal hatreds and jealousies to play out. From there they decide to meddle in Iraq by invading on the entirely spurious grounds that Saddam Hussein represented a threat to the West because he had weapons of mass destruction. That the UN Weapons inspectors reported they had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and asked for more time counted for nothing. Neither did the fact that at the time of the invasion Saddam was being restrained in his behaviour by sanctions and a Western-enforced no-fly zone over the Kurdish areas. Having deposed Saddam and his regime Iraq was placed under a military occupation which went the way of all military occupations, gradual dissolution through the exhaustion of the occupying power.

Then came the miserably entitled Arab Spring, whose fruits have been bitter indeed. Because there are nonatural nation states in the area, the “Arab Spring” was doomed to the failure it has been because the states involved were all fissile territories whose diverse populations were only held in check from internecine fighting by harsh dictators, whether republican or monarchical.

Libya has been reduced to a state of anarchy with rival militias, tribes, gangs – call them what you will- making hay with the weapons made freely available by the overthrow of Gadhafi. With a grim irony Egypt has swapped a covert military dictatorship for an overt military dictatorship, whilst dispensing with an elected if Islamist president on the way. Iraq has lurched into an increasing state of disorder as the US has gradually withdrawn and is now divided between Iraq, Kurdistan and ISIS.

Most gruesomely for Western politicians, the tyrant of Syria Bashir Assad has withstood the attempts, vociferously supported by the West, to destroy him and his regime by the rag-tag and politically indeterminate “Free Syrian Army” and is now through the emergence of ISIS the only plausible obstacle to ISIS ‘ continued existence and expansion. If realpolitik ruled the West would be making common cause with Assad but because they have labelled him a devil they cannot bring themselves to do the sensible thing and make common cause with him so that he can restore some sort of order to Syria.

What can and should be done by the West?

The liberal warmongers are ever more eagerly saying that If the West does not intervene militarily to destroy aggressive Islam then parts of the Middle East will be breeding grounds and safe havens for terrorists to carry their terror into the West.

But if the West does intervene militarily to successfully snuff out ISIS, then the likelihood would be that ISIS members, especially those who come from Western states, would return to their various countries determined to wage terrorist war there. Moreover, the West would be committed to remaining indefinitely in the territory they have taken from ISIS, their very presence being a standing motive for violent Muslims in the West to attack the countries which harbour them.

Nor would the destruction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria be an end of violent Islam creating havens to protect, train and send terrorists into to the West. Afghanistan is ripe to fall to the Taliban once Western military forces are withdrawn. Parts of Pakistan are controlled by violent Islam. Libya is little more than a geographical expression filled with petty warlords and ripe for violent Islam to go to if it is not already there. Deeper into Africa there is the Boko Haram spreading throughout the West. In the East Kenya and Uganda suffer from Muslim terrorist attacks, Ethiopia and Somalia have serious Islamist incursions to deal with while in Sudan violent Islam holds power. It is increasingly difficult to point to parts of Africa which remain untouched by violent Islam.

The plain truth is that even if the West were willing and able to suppress ISIS in Syria and Iraq by force, they could never control violent Islam because violent Islam would simply keep on the move from one accommodating territory to another.

How serious a threat to the West is ISIS?

The potential of ISIS to create a lasting aggressive and powerful Islamic state is grossly overblown. It has taken a great deal of territory very rapidly, but that is unsurprising in a place like the Middle East where there is a good deal of desert and the formal states whose land has been taken were all in some governmental disarray , which is not a recipe for inspiring troops to resolutely fight a determined aggressor such as ISIS. In the case of Iraq the discriminatory behaviour of the Maliki government had seriously alienated the Sunni minority which provided a reason for Iraqi Sunnis to have some fellow feeling with the Sunni ISIS. Moreover, even where there are large numbers of people willing to resist ISIS, as appears to be the case in Kurdistan, that is of little avail if they are equipped with much inferior weaponry and training.

But taking territory is one thing, maintaining control of it quite another. That is particularly the case where the territory conquered has a population which is chronically divided by religion and ethnicity and is spread over several formal states. ISIS need to rapidly show they are up to administering the land they have taken. Easier said than done, especially as they are likely to be engaging in warfare for quite some time to come, both with elements within the territory they have taken and from outside. Terror tactics only take a conqueror go so far. They are not a sufficient basis for ruling.

There is also considerable scope for ISIS to fracture because the land they have captured is exceptionally ethnically and religiously diverse, the ISIS personnel is very cosmopolitan and may come to be resented by even the native Sunnis in the ISIS territory and ISIS will have to fight the remnant of Iraq (with its hostile Shia majority) and Assad’s Syrian Army. There is also the possibility that Iran may join in.

Much has been made of the modern weaponry and auxiliary military equipment ISIS have taken , but the equipment will require considerable expertise to maintain and operate it. Such skills, especially that needed to maintain the equipment, will probably not be available in the quantities needed. Moreover, ISIS will need to buy more modern weaponry, especially munitions, as time goes on and it is not clear who will sell it to them in sufficient quantity and quality.

A ghastly irony for the West, and most particularly the USA, is the fact that they have supplied much of the military equipment which ISIS are using , either because the equipment has been captured from Iraqi forces or because the equipment was supplied by the West to the Syrian rebels fighting Assad, significant numbers of whom share the mentality of ISIS. The fact that ISIS have had the success they have had is unsurprising given the circumstances. Keeping hold of what they have will take up all their energies for the foreseeable future.

The enemy within

The real threat to the West comes not from ISIS but the large Muslim populations in the West which the treacherous and deluded liberal internationalists have allowed to settle as they pursued their fatuous dream of a world without borders or nation states. The last UK Census in 2011 shows 2.7 million people identifying themselves as Muslims (4.8 per cent of the population). This is almost certainly substantially less than the real figure because the Census depends on self-reporting and there is a significant minority of the UK population who never complete the Census form because they are either here illegally or have a mentality which makes them think that giving any information about themselves to a government is dangerous.

How does the West protect itself from homicidal Muslims within its own territory? It would be a next to impossible question to find an adequate answer to even in a country which has meaningful border controls because of the number of Muslims born and bred in the West. In a country such as Britain which effectively has open borders the question becomes not merely hideously difficult but absurd.

In Britain the Coalition government has floundered around talking about removing passports from people trying to leave Britain if they are suspected Jihadis, , the banning from Britain of those who have been in Iraq and Syria, the reintroduction of control orders and, most pathetically, the idea that Muslim coming back from fighting for ISIS can be turned into good British citizens through re-education.

Any action by Western politicians is problematic because as a class they have lost the ability to instinctively act in the national interests of the people they are supposed to represent. They ignore the first duty of a politician in a democracy which is to ask what is best for their own people. Instead their calamitous mentality is that described in Jean Raspail’s “Camp of the Saints” where the response of politicians and the liberal elite generally to the passive-aggressive misery of huge numbers of migrants from the Third World arriving in the West overwhelms the needs of their own people.

But Western elites are becoming seriously afraid of both the danger represented by violent Muslims in their countries and the anger of their native populations . As a consequence there are things being said now by public figures which would have been unthinkable only a few short weeks ago. The one-time Shadow Home Secretary David Davis pushes for British Muslims who go to fight with the likes of Isis to be stripped of their British citizenship regardless of whether this leaves them stateless so that their “trip to Syria is no longer a short violent holiday but a life sentence to the lifestyle they claim to espouse, complete with Sharia law and a desert climate”. The Leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage advocates the same thing while the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey says that “ Multiculturalism has resulted in honour killings, female genital mutilation and rule by Sharia law” and supports the call to remove British citizenship from those who go to join violent Islam. The Mayor London Boris Johnson wants Muslims returning from Syria and Iraq to be considered guilty until proven innocent of terrorist activity, a bald reversal of the ancient right under English law to be considered innocent until proven guilty. .

The journalist Leo McKinstry places the responsibility for the present danger firmly on successive British governments :

“The fact is that extremism has flourished in a climate formed by the twin strategies of mass immigration and multiculturalism. Open borders have led to a phenomenal expansion in Britain’s Muslim population to almost three million, many of the new arrivals hailing from parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where Islamic sectarianism is rife.

At the same time the dogma of cultural diversity has become one of the central obsessions of the state. We are constantly told that we must celebrate the vibrant enrichment of our society. But, by its emphasis on cultural differences and its loathing for traditional British values the doctrine of diversity has been a catastrophe for Britain.

In place of integration it has promoted division and separatism. We are a land increasingly without a mutual sense of belonging or shared national identity. It is little wonder that, according to one recent survey, 26 per cent of Muslims here said they feel no loyalty to Britain.”

The problem is that while the public rhetoric is changing nothing significant alters on the ground. The words change but the circumstances remain much the same. The liberal elites are still paralysed by both political correctness and the ghastly fact that dangerous fifth columns now exist because of their mass immigration policies and the consequent need to suppress native British dissent about its effects. In addition through their policy of multiculturalism the liberal elite has encouraged ethnic and racial minorities to both live culturally apart from and behave in a flagrantly provocative manner towards the native population. The upshot of all this is that those with power in the West dare not admit there is a general problem amongst immigrant communities ( which live largely separate lives in their own communities) because to do so would be to admit that the fault lay with them.

In an attempt to circumvent the danger of being held to account, Western politicians and the mainstream media try to peddle the “violent Muslims are only a tiny percentage of Muslims living amongst us; the vast majority are well educated, peace loving, hardworking law abiding citizens”. This is a dubious proposition in itself when the crime, educational attainment, benefit take up and unemployment statistics show Muslims to be more prone to crime, have below average educational attainment and are more likely to be unemployed or on in-work benefits than the population as a whole. But even if none of those things were true the problem of violent Islam in Britain would still be there because many of the Muslims who have been outed as sharing violent Islam’s ideas are not from the lower reaches of society.

The important thing to understand is that it is never the peaceful minority which counts in these circumstances. What matters is the terrorist minority. They drive the terror and enlist the non-violent to aid them in various ways. The Provisional IRA (PIRA) in Ireland probably never had no more than a thousand people actively engaged in terrorism: sanctioning and planning terrorist attacks, making bombs, planting bombs, killing or maiming those thought to untrustworthy or simply disobedient to PIRA’s will. But there were very large numbers who were willing to provide PIRA with safe houses, to store of weapons, to tell PIRA about informers and come out on the streets at the drop of a hat to protest in the PIRA interest. In addition, the existence of a large population with a sense of victimhood (the Irish Catholics) allowed in Mao’s words the PIRA “guerrilla to move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. “

But there are terrorist and terrorists. There are two radical differences between PIRA and violent Islam. PIRA were not driven by religious fanaticism (it was a Marxist organisation) and its members were drawn from communities which shared similar moral values to those of the British. This meant that when the time came to make a peace of sorts between Britain and Irish Republicans there was a great deal of cultural similarity between the two parties. The representatives of violent Islam, even those born and bred here, will have little fellow feeling with or understanding of the native British population.

The second and most important difference is that the nature of the PIRA and ISIS end games. For PIRA it was a united Ireland. That was a genuinely possibility because the British government accepted that if Northern Ireland voted for union with the Irish Republic they could have it provided the Republic agreed. Although hardline members of PIRA did not want to make peace, many PIRA members did , together with a majority of ordinary republicans . Crucially, the republicans in favour of peace could see it simply as a stepping stone to the unification of Ireland, not as a defeat for their cause. In addition, the demographics of Northern Ireland were heading towards a Catholic and therefore largely republican majority by the time peace was formally made.

Violent Islam does not have an end game which any Western government could concede either in whole or in part. Its practitioners want the overthrow of Western society and the imposition of Islam. There is no conception of compromise. If Britain existed under the control of such people it would be an unforgiving theocracy. Because violent Islam is implacable, no concession short of outright victory for violent Islam will end the violence. If Western governments make concessions such as granting Sharia courts parity with civil courts violent Islam will simply pocket the bribe and march on towards the final end of total dominance.

Where does this leave the West? It leaves the countries with large Muslim populations at perpetual risk from both terrorism and the likelihood of Western elites attempting to appease Muslims by granting them more and more privileges. These risks will increase because Western Muslims have higher birth rates than native Western populations. In addition, further substantial Muslim immigration will probably occur because Western governments will try to placate Muslims by relaxing entry requirements and border controls are always likely to be ineffective . Western black converts to Islam could also swell the numbers significantly.

Is there a silver lining or two amongst the Islamic clouds? Well, at least the realities of the situation the liberal elite have created are becoming impossible to ignore. Most encouragingly, the concept of treason is suddenly back on the political agenda. This is fundamentally important because patriotism is not an optional extra but the glue which sticks a society together. But the storm cloud which cannot be dispersed is the immoveable fact of millions of Muslims living within Western societies who harbour substantial numbers of people who are unquestioningly hostile to the countries in which they reside. That is what rule by the politically correct devotees to internationalism have brought us. It has been an act of the most fundamental treason.

SOURCE

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

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

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7 September, 2014

Pictures, pictures!

I have just gone through my blogs for the first half of this year and picked out what I think are the "best" pictures that appeared in that period.  You can access the result here or here.

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Leftist president of France is revealed as an elitist snob – common on the Left

As well as being a bore, a fornicator and a nincompoop, François Hollande stands accused of being a snob. His former mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, has revealed – along with other peccadilloes too excruciating to recount here – that the man who publicly professes to loathe the rich privately despises the poor. The son of a solidly bourgeois home, Hollande apparently sneered at Miss Trierweiler’s humbler origins, and referred privately to the underprivileged as “les sans-dents”: the toothless.

Miss Trierweiler finds this attitude incongruous in a Leftist politician, which makes me wonder how many Leftist politicians she can have spent time with. Snobbery is a well-established socialist vice. It began with Karl Marx, who could be vicious about the people modern Leftists primly call “the most vulnerable in our society”. The old cadger had no time for such euphemisms.

Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, pimps, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass which the French call la bohème.

Not all Leftist politicians are snobs, obviously. Some honourably speak to and for their poorest constituents without ever patronising them – Tony Benn was an outstanding example. But others are clandestinely dismissive of the people they purport to represent. Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” remark was a rare – because recorded – glimpse into the way Labour can privately view its core voters.

After a lifetime of observing such hypocrisy, George Orwell – who was a socialist, but no snob – brilliantly portrayed it in Nineteen Eighty-Four. On the one hand, the Party claimed to be on the side of the masses.  But simultaneously, true to the Principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules.

Snobbery is not confined to any party or faction, of course. What seems far more common on the Left, though, is the need to find some inert, subjugated, grateful mass to champion. At first, that mass was supposed to be the industrialised proletariat. But, when working people were enfranchised, they often turned out to have troublingly conservative opinions. The needy politicians then turned to immigrants and other minorities. Annoyingly for them, some of these groups were equally unwilling to play the part allotted to them.

So Lefties began to cast the net wider, searching for people who could be relied on not to contradict the official line: oppressed colonials, Palestinians, black South Africans. Sadly, these groups, too, refused to be either unconditionally grateful or politically correct.

I sometimes wonder whether political neediness explains the popularity of the animal rights movement: here, finally, is a constituency that can be relied on never to gainsay its self-proclaimed champions. Passive, predictable and in need of protection, animals are the perfect political prop.

As for Hollande, the French saw through him long ago. With 13 per cent approval ratings, he is the most unpopular leader in the history of his country (though, in fairness, there were no opinion polls during Charles X’s reign). Some French people may be toothless, but they’re evidently not mindless. They are on the receiving end of  the Euro-correct socialism that is immiserating France, and they know it. Vivent les sans-dents!

 SOURCE

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American warmongers at work

All Democrats or "progresives"

By Patrick J. Buchanan

About how America became involved in certain wars, many conspiracy theories have been advanced — and some have been proved correct.

When James K. Polk got his declaration of war as Mexico had "shed American blood upon the American soil," Rep. Abraham Lincoln demanded to know the exact spot where it had happened.

And did the Spanish really blow up the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, the casus belli for the Spanish-American War?

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, involving U.S. destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, remains in dispute. But charges that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked U.S. warships on the high seas led to the 1964 resolution authorizing the war in Vietnam.

In 2003, Americans were stampeded into backing an invasion of Iraq because Saddam Hussein had allegedly been complicit in 9/11, had weapons of mass destruction and was able to douse our East Coast with anthrax.

"(He) lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it," said Rep. Clare Luce of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, according to many historians, made efforts to provoke German subs into attacking U.S. warships and bring us into the European war through the "back door" of a war with Japan.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of World War II, as last month marked the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Thus, it is a good time for Eugene Windchy's "Twelve American Wars: Nine of Them Avoidable." A compelling chapter in this new book, by the author of "Tonkin Gulf," deals with how Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, schemed to drag America into Britain's war in 1915.

In 1907, Britain launched the Lusitania, "the greyhound of the sea," the fastest passenger ship afloat. In 1913, Churchill called in the head of Cunard and said Lusitania would have to be refitted for a war he predicted would break out in September 1914.

The Lusitania, writes Windchy, was "refitted as a cargo ship with hidden compartments to hold shells and other munitions. By all accounts there were installed revolving gun mounts."

On Aug. 4, 1914, after war was declared, Lusitania went back into dry dock. More space was provided for cargo, and the vessel was now carried on Cunard's books as "an auxiliary cruiser."

Churchill visited the ship in dry dock and referred to Lusitania as "just another 45,000 tons of live bait."

When war began, German submarine captains, to save torpedoes, would surface and permit the crews of cargo ships to scramble into lifeboats, and then they would plant bombs or use gunfire to sink the vessels.

Churchill's response was to outfit merchant ships with hidden guns, order them to ram submarines, and put out "Q-ships," disguised as merchant ships, which would not expose their guns until submarines surfaced.

German naval commanders began to order submarines to sink merchant ships on sight. First Sea Lord Sir John ("Jackie") Fisher said he would have done the same.

Churchill, seeing an opportunity to bring America into Britain's war, wrote the Board of Trade: "It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany. ... We want the traffic — the more the better — and if some of it gets into trouble, the better still."

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan wanted to warn Americans not to travel aboard British ships. But President Woodrow Wilson, writes Windchy, "said that American citizens had a right to travel on belligerent ships with impunity, even within a war zone," a defiance of common sense and an absurd interpretation of international law.

On May 1, 1915, Lusitania set sail from New York. As Windchy writes, the ship "secretly carried munitions and Canadian troops in civilian clothes, which legally made it fair game for (German) U-boats.

"After the war, Churchill ... admitted that the Lusitania carried a 'small consignment of rifle ammunition and shrapnel shells weighing 173 tons.' New York Customs Collector Dudley Malone told President Wilson that 'practically all her cargo was contraband of various kinds.'"

Future Secretary of State Robert Lansing knew that British passenger ships carried war materiel. German diplomats in New York warned American passengers they were in danger on the Lusitania. And instead of sailing north of Ireland to Liverpool, the Lusitania sailed to the south, into waters known to be the hunting ground of German submarines.

Lusitania blew up and sank in 18 minutes. Munitions may have caused the secondary explosion when the torpedo hit. Some 1,200 people perished, including 128 Americans. America was on fire, ready for war when the next incidents occurred, as they would in 1917 with the sinking of U.S. merchant ships in similar waters.

Had Wilson publicly warned U.S. citizens not to sail on the ships of belligerent nations and forbidden U.S.-flagged merchant ships to carry contraband to nations at war, America might have stayed out of the war, which might have ended in a truce, not a German defeat.

There might have been no Adolf Hitler and no World War II.

 SOURCE






By the Way, ObamaCare Is Killing Employer-Based Insurance

When then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously declared in 2010 that Congress had to pass ObamaCare in order “to find out what’s in it,” who knew that the contra-factually named Affordable Care Act would be the unwanted gift that just keeps on giving (or, rather, taking)? Well, actually, everyone who opposed the bill knew – and warned against it. But it’s become increasingly obvious that even the ObamaCare-loving Democrats knew. Only they lied about it. And that’s putting it nicely.

According to Ezekiel Emanuel, a former White House special adviser on health policy who was in the inner circle of designing ObamaCare, 80% of employer-provided health coverage will be gone within the next 10 years. And according to research by S&P Capital IQ, that number will be closer to 90%. This isn’t an “oops” side effect of Obama’s health care plan – it was the plan all along.

Of the disappearing health plans, Emanuel said, “It’s going to actually be better for people. They’ll have more choice. Most people who work for an employer and get their coverage through an employer do not have choice.” Of course, what he leaves unsaid is that Barack Obama’s White House firmly believes the government knows what’s “better” for Americans more than Americans do.

Recall, if you will, that Obama criticized a Republican health care proposal during his first campaign, arguing it “would lead to the unraveling of the employer-based health care system. That I don’t think is the kind of change that we need.” Then again, he also repeatedly said, “If you like your plan you can keep you plan.” And we’ve all seen how well that turned out.

Alas, a lot can happen between campaign promises and government takeover. And politicians developing a penchant for truth-telling typically isn’t one of them.

The reason so many employer-based plans will be going the way of Obama’s campaign promises is, under ObamaCare, companies pay a $2,000-per-employee penalty for not providing a government-approved health care plan – far less than the cost of actually providing coverage. But that’s okay, supporters argue, because those who lose their employer-provided coverage will be dumped into the ObamaCare exchange. Of course, that’s exactly where Democrats planned for them to be all along – a government run health care system with “more choices,” as long as those choices are within the limits of what the government deems Americans should want to choose. It’s for your own good.

That truth made it all the more laughable when Obama declared this week, “[P]eople want more control over their lives, not less.” He’s the one taking that control away.

This isn’t to say employer-provided insurance plans are perfect. Written into our tax law for the past seven decades is a provision (born from Word War II wage freezes) that gives tax preference to employer-provided insurance, making the cost of the insurance deductible for employers and not counted as income for employees. The problem, as political analyst Michael Barone points out, is this: “High-earning employees with gold-plated, employer-provided health insurance get deductions that are worth many thousands of dollars. Those without employer-provided health insurance, or low-earners who are among the 40 percent of earners who do not pay income tax, get exactly zero.”

In another column, Barone notes, “A freer market in health insurance means eliminating this tax preference, presumably through a tax credit for those purchasing health insurance on their own.”

This is what Sen. John McCain suggested in 2008 when Obama accused him of yanking the string to unravel employer-based coverage. Which brings us exactly to where we are today thanks to ObamaCare: the unraveling of employer-based coverage, only this time, dishonestly and covertly.

As imperfect as this coverage may be, it’s undoubtedly better than the debacle we are only really beginning to suffer, and eliminating employer coverage is hardly how Obama billed his plan. Then again, his advertising isn’t known for accuracy. Far truer were the warnings that from the beginning ObamaCare was little more than a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. Just watch out. As things on the health care front get even worse, the Left will undoubtedly swoop in with the “real” fix. Forget Greeks bearing gifts. Beware of Democrats bearing promises.

SOURCE

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

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

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5 September, 2014

Time to Divide Ukraine?

Time to concentrate on ISIS.  Putin could either hinder or help with that.  Guess which way he will go in the present climate of hostility towards him

Michael H. McGee

The United States needs to stay out of the current dispute between Russia and the Ukraine. We should withdraw our sanctions against Russia, and withdraw our threats and rhetoric as well. Let the parties involved work out the solution between themselves. Vladimir Putin is correct that there are a lot of Russian nationalists in eastern Ukraine, and a lot of others who identify themselves as ethnic Russians. Eastern Ukraine probably should be a part of Russia.

Some national borders are not worth fighting over or going to war over, particularly those somewhat arbitrarily established within the last few generations. And particularly when the border fails to take account of the natural loyalties of those encompassed within an arbitrary line drawn on a map.

Getting out of the way of the Russians will not harm the United States. Russia is not our enemy. We have much more to gain by retaining friendly relations with Russia than we do by attempting to fight Ukraine’s battles for them. The United States has no defense treaties with Ukraine, and that nation is not a member of NATO.

The Ukraine has only been an independent nation since 1991, and the long history of the area does not support the border as it is currently drawn. For example, in 1686 the area presently known as the Ukraine was provisionally partitioned between Poland and Russia. Russia obtained the areas to the east of the Dnieper River. Poland retained the areas to the west of the Dnieper. After some more changes of ownership, in 1795 even the Polish parts of Ukraine were annexed by Russia. After that time, the Ukraine was always a part of Russia and the Soviet Union until 1991. See here

Of course we do have an obligation to defend our NATO allies in Europe. It’s perfectly appropriate for us to do what we have to do to give both aid and comfort to our NATO allies. To the extent that our rhetoric is intended to reassure Europe that Russia will not threaten their borders, then we need to do just that.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John Kerry, though, seem to be going well beyond what is necessary to reassure our NATO allies. They need to STOP IT! RIGHT NOW! Getting involved in a dispute over an arbitrarily established border in an underdeveloped eastern European country will only weaken the United States in the eyes of the world, and will take our focus off the real problems we face. It’s not our fight.

Barack Obama must reestablish an atmosphere of cooperation with Vladimir Putin and seek to help restore a firm sense of security among our NATO allies in Europe. Putin is not going to try to invade Poland or Germany in this lifetime! There is no Threat from the East to our primary European allies. There is no danger to Capitalism and market economies. The fears of our allies are neither justified nor reasonable. Let it go, guys!

Many leaders in Congress and in Western Europe seem to be reacting with the old Cold War mentality, a product of the Twentieth Century, and still want to “crush” the Russian Bear. Even the Obama administration seems to have a low-grade infection of the Cold War disease. Take your antibiotics and let it go, boys and girls.

There is no threat to the United States, whom we love so dearly. Perhaps we are confusing love of our country with a fear of any and all change in the world. Not all change is bad, and some changes, if not good, are merely neutral to the security of both the United States and NATO.

Ukraine is about the same size as the US State of Texas. Below is a map which shows the natural fault-lines in Ukraine. The blue areas are those Oblasts (which are similar to US counties) which in the 2004 election results supported a Russian-leaning candidate. The yellow areas are those Oblasts which in the 2004 elections supported a Western-leaning candidate. There is no overlap in these results. There are no yellow Oblasts scattered among the blue, or blue among the yellow. Yellow is very yellow, and blue is very blue.



The 2004 election results could represent a proxy for a referendum regarding the wishes of the people of the Ukraine. These election results demonstrated the deep divisions between the western and eastern regions of Ukraine. See here

There needs also, though, to be a geographic logic to any division of the country, and Ukraine must retain enough territory to retain its viability as a nation. Russia could annex the eastern part of the country along the physical lines depicted above, and there could be peace.

Draw the new border beginning at the southern and eastern side of the Dnieper River from where it empties into the Black Sea at Kherson. Go up the eastern side of the Dnieper River to near the turn at Dnepropetrovsk, and then follow the eastern side of the Samara Lake. Go from there to the north along the eastern side of Highway M18, to where it ends at the intersection with Highway M03 west of Kharkov. The border could then follow along the eastern side of the railroad tracks from where they meet M18/M03, and push north to the Russian border.

Borders do not need to be a cause for war, conflict or sanctions. Not always.

SOURCE





Where Have the Immigrant Children and Students Gone?

Thomas Jefferson once said, “A country with no border is not a country.” It was true wisdom.

In the 1950s the United States had an immigration policy that maintained national security and unity in a country of peoples with hundreds of different nationalities, races and ethnicities. The system did largely favor immigrants of Western nations, but a nation has an absolute right to decide who immigrates within its borders. If citizens want to change immigration policy, so be it. But what citizens want and what they get are two very different things in Washington, DC.

In 1965 Ted Kennedy arose to do the Democrat thing and fundamentally transform America with his proposed immigration bill. He denied his intentions vigorously: “Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. … [T]he bill will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area. … [The] ethnic pattern of immigration is not expected to change as sharply as critics think.”

That bill became the first in a series of immigration “reform” bills that passed and gave us our present rancorous multicultural society.

Sixty-five years later, with a population far more than “substantially” changed, we face critical, urgent problems caused by unrestrained immigration that must be solved soon if we are to remain a nation. We offer two examples.

First, even after the lessons of 9/11, government has failed to sufficiently track student visas, and some recipients simply disappear before or after their visas expire. Last year alone 58,000 failed to leave when required, and of that group, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is trying to find 6,000 considered to be of “heightened concern.”

Between 2003 and 2012 the number of students on visas nearly doubled, climbing from 663,000 to 1.2 million. It now exceeds a million per year. And virtually any kind of school qualifies: beauty school, massage school and, yes, flight school, a third of which have no FAA certification.

One school with four campuses remains in operation even though five top executives have been indicted for visa fraud. The indictment charges that 80% of enrolled foreign students had delinquent attendance, which the school failed to report. The execs pled not guilty.

The ICE official in charge of investigating student visa violations said ICE has no choice but to allow the school to continue facilitating student visas, explaining, “[T]his is the United States of America and everyone has due process.”

Second, where are the thousands of illegal alien children who continue entering our country? Some in the government know, but ABC News could not get an answer. The Department of Health and Human Services website says, “We cannot release information about individual children that could compromise the child’s location or identity.”

Not compromising illegal aliens' identity now takes precedence over not compromising national security. Remember, many of those “children” are in their late teens or early 20s. Some belong to either of the two most dangerous Latino gangs that have been recruiting heavily at detention centers. Plus there’s no way of knowing how many terrorists have infiltrated our nation after Barack Obama’s emasculation of the Border Patrol and the laughable performance of ICE.

Reportedly, more than 100 shelters are spread throughout the country to house children, and more are going up. Additionally, more than 37,000 children have been released to relatives or sponsors. How many of the relatives are here illegally themselves?

One private social welfare organization refused $50 million for housing children to avoid “negative backlash.” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) did the math, and it comes to a cool $166,000 annually per child.

Even members of Congress can’t get information out of the administration, a typical Obama game.

Bottom line: Wherever these kids land, local costs rise immensely. By law they are entitled to health and social services as well as education, meaning bursting hospitals, welfare rolls and classrooms. Adding kids who can’t speak English, and are probably illiterate in their own language, will require more specialized teachers. It’s too bad the full costs won’t hit before November.

Finally, what’s going on at the border now? Certainly the influx of illegals hasn’t ended, but ISIL beheadings and Vladimir Putin’s adventures are front page now. The alien invasion is old news.

We’ve seen much of what Obama meant by “fundamentally transforming” America, but with almost two-and-a-half years remaining in his presidency, it looks like we ain’t seen nothing yet.

SOURCE





Of Racial Delusions and Riots

Last week, as riots in Ferguson, Missouri decrescendoed and the country held its collective breath over the question of the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, rappers Diddy (formerly P. Diddy, formerly Puff Daddy, formerly Sean Combs), 2 Chainz, The Game, and Rick Ross, along with 10 of their fellows, released a song: “Don’t Shoot.”

The Game explained why he felt the necessity to record the song: “I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown’s happening to them. This possibility has shaken me to my core.”

The lyrics of the song speak to a perverse view of race in America – a view reinforced day after day by a media dedicated to the proposition that American law enforcement maliciously targets black men at random. To this point, nobody knows the facts of the case in the Brown shooting. Nonetheless, the rappers label the shooting cold-blooded, first-degree murder. Because facts are unnecessary; only feelings are real. “God ain’t put us on the Earth to get murdered, it’s murder,” says one rapper, TGT. Another, The Game, raps, “They killin' teens, they killin' dreams, it’s murder.”

Next, Diddy launches into a listing of various black men killed under controversial circumstances. Some, like Emmett Till, were murdered in acts of pure and evil racism. But Diddy lumps together Till with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown – and even Ezell Ford. Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department released the identities of the two police officers who shot Ford. One was Asian; the other was Hispanic. The Huffington Post did not even cover their races. The Los Angeles Times buried that relevant fact in paragraph 13 of their comprehensive story. But again, facts do not matter: Only a feeling of persecution matters.

Then Rick Ross sums up the generalized view of America created by media-stoked racial conflagrations like the Michael Brown situation: “Black men, we pay the toll, the price is your life, Uncle Sam want a slice, black dress code now we looting in the night, now we throwing Molotovs in this Holocaust.” A grand total of just under 100 young black men are killed by white police officers each year, according to statistics provided to the FBI by local police. To compare police treatment of young black men to the Holocaust is not only statistically idiotic, but also morally dangerous.

Nonetheless, that is the view of police for many blacks: police as paramilitary white force out to target black men. When I was recently in the CNN green room with former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, he and I got to talking about the Ferguson situation. I asked him why he believed there was such a racial gap in the interpretation of the situation. His answer: “You’re Jewish, right? Wouldn’t you jump to conclusions if you heard that the Nazis or Hamas had killed a Jew?”

Of course, not even Van Jones, Diddy, 2 Chainz, and the rest truly believe what they say about the police. All those who spout about a “Holocaust” by police against blacks would call 911 in approximately 3.5 seconds if their houses were robbed. But if we truly believe that America’s police forces are akin to Nazis or Islamic terrorists, there can be no decent solution. Fighting police would be a moral imperative, not a moral evil.

And therein lies the problem. The only real answer to the antipathy between large segments of the black community and police is threefold: first, taking seriously fact-based allegations of racism against the authorities, and investigating and prosecuting such allegations if well-founded; second, not jumping to conclusions about non-fact-based allegations; and third, lowering crime rates among young black men, thereby lowering interactions between police and young black men.

But those are not solutions backed by the racially delusional. Instead, they suggest an unending and circular “conversation” about race that goes something like this: Police sometimes shoot young black men; that’s because police are racist; therefore, those who resist police are not morally unjustified; rinse, wash, repeat.

Sadly, America’s media backs this second approach. And so we end up with damaging foolishness like “Don’t Shoot” infusing our pop culture and the snarky but empty-headed racial guilting of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert invading our news. And nothing gets solved. We just get more hate, more rage and more violence.

SOURCE

********************************

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

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

****************************





4 September, 2014

How to squash liberal nonsense

The comments below are part of a larger study  -- introduction here.  It fits in well with my contention that Leftists have large but weak egos so are desperate for praise

Mike Wallace was a Liberal correspondent for the television show 60 Minutes. He was your typical Liberal hack, using every underhanded means to try and portray his subjects as somehow inferior, regardless of whether they were or not. Some depictions of him behind the scenes show an almost psychopathic quality to his nature. There is an article here, showing how he sought to get hours of interview time on an honorable interviewee, in the hopes he could find 60 or 90 seconds of damaging tape to sprinkle through a piece, to ostensibly solidify whatever accusations of impropriety he was leveling. When offered a live interview instead, he declined, and ran his hit piece. He died recently.

I have found that you will often find such abandonment of honesty and rule adherence among extreme Narcissists. I assume this is because the Narcissist desperately wants to be able to assert the inferiority of another, and the superiority of themselves by comparison. By this means, they temporarily assuage their amygdala, and avert the agony of being forced to honestly confront their own damaged nature. See, they are not defective, because this other guy is the real scumbag!

The underlying mechanism by which this behavior is produced, is the Narcissist seeking to shield their fragile amygdala from stimulation by their own knowledge of what they are. Like Nancy Hopkins, the alternative is finding themselves physically ill, and wracked with panic. By drawing attention to the faults in others, they are fortifying their false reality against attack by real reality, and sparing themselves this agony.

However the practical effect of this psychological drive in a sociodynamic environment is a much more complex behavioral strategy. In such a group environment, they are driven, from a practical perspective, towards turning others against an individual they feel is vulnerable to such an attack. If you are the r-type traitor in a group, such an urge can help you to keep everyone’s attention focused upon who you perceive to be vulnerable to ostracization. This will spare you the possible retribution you would otherwise get if everyone were distracted, and looked at you honestly.

Ironically, even as the Narcissist executes such a brilliant strategy perfectly, they are unaware of it, since their whole focus is on establishing a false reality in which everyone else is defective, and they are superior. The more they can make others buy into their false reality, the more they assuage their own amygdala. It is but a coincidence, retained purposely by Darwin of course, that they will also have manipulated things in a way that will be beneficial to them in the group socio-dynamic environment.

In 1988 and 1989 a 10 part series titled Ethics In America aired on PBS. Funded by the Annenburg Corporation for Public Broadcasting, it was organized as a moderated discussion, in which the moderator posed ethical dilemmas to various luminaries from media, academia, the military, government, law, and other areas, then directed discussions of their answers, and conducted probing followups as necessary.

In the episode titled Under Orders, Under Fire (Ethics in the Military, Part II), there was a telling segment, in which two journalists, ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings, and CBS News Correspondent Mike Wallace, took part in a debate on the responsibility of journalists covering a war.

The relevant portion of this video begins at 33 minutes and 30 seconds into the debate. The premise is that the US is involved in a war, similar to Vietnam, in a country called Kosan. We have allied with the South Kosanese, in their war against the North Kosanese. ABC News reporter Peter Jennings has been offered the opportunity to join a North Kosanese Patrol, and videotape what he experiences, for airing on the nightly news.

In this video, Mike Wallace will make the mistake of trying to assert intellectual superiority/dominance over Peter Jennings by asserting that a real reporter would leave a US combat Patrol to be ambushed and killed, so he can get “the story.” Few others on the panel truly believe this to be noble, and many offer spirited logical arguments focusing on the value of soldier’s lives, the morals involved, and other logical arguments. Wallace repels them all, and then becomes even more assertive of his position.

After almost ten minutes of successfully fighting off polite, logical criticisms, Col. George M. Connell, USMC, is asked his opinion. He sneers with disgust and slowly and angrily says,

“I feel utter contempt. Two days later they (the reporters – Jennings and Wallace) are both walking off my hilltop and they’re 200 yards away, and they get ambushed and they’re lying there wounded. And they’re going to expect I’m going to send Marines out there to get them. They’re just journalists. They’re not Americans. Is that a fair reaction? You can’t have it both ways.”

This segment begins at 42 minutes and 30 seconds.

This argument presents several emotional images to the Liberal.

“I feel utter contempt.”

First, Colonel Connell ignores the reasoned, logical debate over the necessity of news reports, the relative value between the reporter’s report, and the soldier’s lives, the importance of the citizenry being informed, and all other logical, reasoned debates related to the issue and it’s morals. Rather, Colonel Connell goes straight for the Liberal jugular, and simply describes his gut emotional reaction to Wallace’s position, and implies it should be every other individual’s response as well.

Second, and even more important, Colonel Connell “out-groups” Mike Wallace. Wallace isn’t in the in-group anymore – he is a traitor on the outside of our group. Liberals are innately programmed to fear this.

Today, we see Liberals promoting the idea that dissent during wartime, as our troops are engaging an enemy, is patriotic. Such is the bizarre lengths Liberals will go to, to shield their amygdala, and avoid being out-grouped. This is probably because in the more primitive environment, if an r-type Liberal got out-grouped, they were dead. Does anybody think Cass Sunstein could make it on his own, in a K-selected state of nature, filled with prehistoric versions of SEAL Teams, where the only way you got food was to fight off groups of others for it? Of course not. This is why Liberals are evolutionarily programmed to be terrified of out-grouping.

As a hard-core Liberal ideologue, Wallace was undoubtedly programmed to betray his in-group, of course. Have no illusions, as a Liberal, he was subconsciously programmed to betray our nation and our people. If a war would benefit us with cheap oil, he would oppose it, saying, “No blood for oil.” If a war had no benefit to us but would kill our troops, he would have no problem sending our military men to some place like the Sudan or Somalia, to die for outsiders who wouldn’t even appreciate their sacrifice. He would have wanted deeply (though he was probably ignorant of the urge’s existence) to betray the US and his fellow in-group members.

Here, he wanted to justify this emotional urge with some complex discussion of the moral requirements of journalism, the necessity of providing the information, the need to get the story, the system by which reporters are embedded with an enemy, etc. And he manages to maintain that line of argument as others argue with him logically. As he maintains his position, he is successfully assuaging his amygdala, leading him to become ever more emboldened, right up until Colonel Connell out-groups him with several short sentences. Game over – amygdala shakked by a Warrior extraordinaire.

Colonel Connell’s delivery is well crafted in several other regards.

“Two days later they (the reporters – Jennings and Wallace) are both walking off my hilltop and they’re 200 yards away, and they get ambushed and they’re lying there wounded. And they’re going to expect I’m going to send Marines out there to get them.”

Here, Colonel Connell presents an image of Wallace as weak, cowardly, and helpless, and he presents it as ancillary to the main argument.

This is devastating to the Narcissist’s necessary self-image of being the superior individual (a similar trait to the Liberal’s need to feel superior to the Conservative in some fashion, despite their laughable patheity). Notice, Colonel Connell presents this with no debate, as almost an irrelevant afterthought to another, more important issue. Most people wouldn’t even register it, but Wallace did, and even worse, he never even got to argue with the portrayal. Deep down, every Liberal ideologue knows they are a psychological pansy in a species which reviles such – and the characterization hurts them far more than we can imagine. Here, it affected his mood and his ability to focus, in a way which a person without such a disorder couldn’t possibly imagine. His false reality was attacked, and he didn’t even get a chance to defend it. Even worse, in his mind, everyone else now accepts that he is inferior, on the word of another. Someone has done to him what he is programmed to do to others. He has been inferior-ized, and the group is now focused on him, his aberrance, and his weakness.

Colonel Connell also reinforced this effect through his use of the word contempt. The words angry, saddened, infuriated, etc all portray to a Narcissist (and a Liberal ideologue) their own power to evoke such emotions in their adversary, as well as their adversary’s ability to be emotionally unbalanced and controlled. This is seen by the Liberal as a sense of subtle power and importance (more on this later). As a result, such evincing of emotion, or use of emotional terminology will provide them with strength.

The word contempt carries a subconscious air of their K-type adversary’s superiority, and the Liberal’s inferiority. Although minor, such aspects of language have profound effect upon Narcissists and Liberals. Always denigrate the Liberal’s importance and power within the social environment, and never imply they are important enough to warrant a real emotion. In the language of Heartiste, this would be referred to as “frame.” You are so awesome, and the Liberal such a pathetic peon, you really could care less about them, beyond a passing feeling of contempt when they cross your radar.

Had Colonel Connell operated on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, and become legitimately enraged, and shown a profound emotional outburst, Wallace would have drawn strength from that, perhaps even using it to argue to others that his enemy was unbalanced, thereby out-grouping Colonel Connell. Had Colonel Connell used emotional wording which conveyed power on the Liberal, such as hurt, angry, enraged, incensed, etc, the Liberal would have gained strength as well, just not as much.

Instead, Colonel Connell evoked an air of uncaring, unemotional contempt for Wallace, diminishing Wallace’s stature in the eyes of everyone present, and forcing Wallace’s amygdala to confront his own actual patheity and unimportance.

Colonel Connell’s use of the phrases “my hilltop” and “they’re lying there wounded. And … going to expect I’m going to send Marines out there,” similarly reduces Wallace to but an infinitesimal peon, prone to injury and helplessness, in a real man’s world. Together the effects on Wallace’s psyche were priceless, and added to the shock of his out-grouping.

“They’re just journalists. They’re not Americans. Is that a fair reaction? You can’t have it both ways.”

Many have noted that Narcissists are like children. Offer them two options to explain their behavior, both bad, and those are the only two options they will see. “Either you are [bad option one] or you are [bad option two]? Which is it?” Whatever it is about their personality quirk, this will trip them up quite reliably, especially if you offer some fact, however tenuous, supporting the idea that one of the two bad options must be true. I have used it, and it is incredible how they will limit their thought processes to the two options, and panic if neither is acceptable. They actually do not have the ability in the midst of debate to find their way to a third option which would rescue them from their conundrum.

Here, Wallace hears two options. Either he continues to maintain he is a journalist, and therefore allowed to betray his nation, in which case he is firmly out-grouped as a traitor, or he admits he is wrong, and he is an American, but a particularly stupid one who was prone to believe he could betray, and he is again on the way to being out-grouped. Neither is particularly attractive, and Wallace knows this. This “bad option two-fer” debate technique completely disabled Wallace’s ability to backtrack back to the use of logic or reason, however tortured to support his position.

“You can’t have it both ways”

The Coup de Grace. The subconscious goal of every Liberal ideologue in matters of group conflict is to have it both ways. Betray their in-group to gain the favor of the out-group, while maintaining they cannot be attacked by the in-group they betrayed due to the warrior’s loyalty to in-group. If the in-group wins, they protest they are a part of the in-group, and shouldn’t be killed by their own people. If the out-group wins, then they plead that they helped the out-group and should benefit from favoritism.

If a cop shoots a criminal, then take the side of the criminal, since the cop can’t shoot you, but the criminal can. If it’s a war against Saddam, take Saddam’s side, since the Marines can’t kill you legally and Saddam can. Viet Cong, Communists, whoever. Liberalism in group competition is just a strategy of using intellectualism to justify treason to in-group for personal self-interest. The most amazing aspect is, Liberals can blind themselves to this reality, right up until you find a way to unarguably call them out on it.

Here, Wallace is called out on this, and told, by a man who kills other men for a living, you can’t have it both ways. Never underestimate the power of calling the Liberal out on the exact nature of their strategy openly. Single mom-hood arises from diminished concern for quality child-rearing. Sex ed facilitates the r-strategy of earlier onset of sexual behavior in youth, and Liberals don’t oppose that because they are r-strategists. High taxes are about creating the r-selected environment of free resources for all, including the losers. And treason in group competition is a selfish, cowardly survival strategy born of r-selection.

The visceral, desperate protestations that Liberals launch into when so confronted, are evidence of the Liberal’s fear of, and susceptibility to, this type of attack. In my experience with Narcissists, the more vicious their counterattack to a statement, the more that statement traumatizes them, and savages their amygdala. The aggressiveness of their response is a direct attempt to assuage their wounded amygdala, and make you stop targeting it. I have no doubt it is the same with Liberals.

Thus the more the Liberal protests, the harder you press, unemotionally, and contemptuously. “Dissent is patriotic?” In War? Ever hear of the definition of treason? What are you an idiot?” “Collateral damage is wrong.” Better our own soldiers die? Typical Liberal Traitor. What a disloyal scumbag! These are out-grouping techniques which can alter the tone of a debate quite quickly, and put an end to Liberal advocacy.

Of course, Colonel Connell’s’ delivery, totally unemotional, with slit thin eyes delivering a death stare of hatred, was perfect. It even carried just the right amount of a subconscious air of violent conflict. Not so much Wallace could portray Colonel Connell as an extremist who might kill him, but enough Wallace knew that a battlefield execution for such disloyalty might be a possibility in Colonel Connell’s world. There is nothing like the threat of K-selection to make the r-type bunny rabbits scurry.

At the end, Colonel Connell looks directly into Mike Wallace’s eyes, as Mike Wallace avoids eye contact by staring ahead. This is interesting, since it is established that those with amygdala damage cannot make eye contact, or even examine the areas around another person’s eyes to gather emotional cues. Here, Wallace assiduously avoids any eye contact.

I have seen this myself on a couple of occasions, especially in my primary Narcissistic guinea pig. After a marathon session tripping his amygdala in conversation, he actually compulsively looked at the floor when talking to me, despite there being no intimation of physical threat on my part. This trait was actually identical to what one would see in an extremely autistic child, and was much different from his normal countenance. I was fascinated, and thought it might indicate an increased desire to avoid any amygdala stimulation resulting from the subtle stress of direct eye contact.

Based upon several instances I have observed, I suspect that humans have evolved an innate tendency to avoid eye contact when the amygdala has been overwhelmed. In individuals facing a superior threat (for which the amygdala cannot find a solution to quiet itself, and is overwhelmed), this probably serves as an unconscious threat avoidance behavior. It might speak to the utility of forcing direct eye contact in debate with Liberals, as you stimulate their amygdala while maintaining a totally unconcerned, domineering frame.

This interview is interesting in the context of our national debate over politics in that it highlights two different styles of debate with Liberals. For the first seven and a half minutes, debaters treat Mike Wallace as a reasonable equal, and seek to sway his opinion with logic. In response, Wallace becomes ever more forceful in his treasonous assertions, even as he trips himself up with his own arguments. Of course, this is exactly what our reasonable and respectful treatment of Liberals in our national political debates has gotten us today, on the national stage.

After seven and a half minutes, one man utters a few contemptuous sentences, reducing Mike Wallace to a traitor whom everyone should ignore. And Mike Wallace’s response to this contemptuous dismissal of his views?

A chastened, hand-wringing coward, saying, “It’s a fair reaction,” followed by a complete cessation of his traitorous Liberal assertions. If you examine the video at 42 minutes and 57 seconds, Mike Wallace’s face actually contorts into a micro-expression of extreme agony. Pause the video, and it is astonishing. I have seen that expression in real life myself – this was not a once in a lifetime event. All Liberal ideologues have that pain inside them. In a state of nature, that force within their brain probably kept them alive, by forcing them to swallow their pride, and avoid confrontations at all cost. Today, it lays there within them dormant, waiting for a Conservative, with sufficient testicular fortitude, to step up to the debate, and use it to modify their behavior, and train them to not espouse Liberalism.

Of course the most important aspect of Colonel Connell’s response is that in arguing with emotion and crushing the Liberal, he has just set the course for the Lemmings within the group. Not a single individual on that panel will even begin to support Mike Wallace’s position at that point. Indeed, the issue would not even be raised again.

In this debate, Colonel Connell could have chosen to try and debate Mike Wallace logically, and convert him to a more Conservative position using facts, logic, and reasoned argument. The result would have been a recalcitrant Mike Wallace, a Liberal convert in Peter Jennings, and a whole panel of Lemmings, unsure of who to follow, at best. Instead Colonel Connell abandoned logic, crushed Mike Wallace emotionally as an example to the crowd, and on seeing the example, the Lemmings immediately fell in behind Colonel Connell.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you debate a Liberal, and lead a movement. The Liberal is the example waiting to be made, not an equal. The Liberal is deserving of nothing more than passing contempt.

SOURCE

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

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

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3 September, 2014

Paul Ryan's Way Forward

To take the measure of this uncommonly interesting public man, begin with two related facts about him. Paul Ryan has at least 67 cousins in his Wisconsin hometown of Janesville, where there are six Ryan households within eight blocks of his home. And in his new book, “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea,” he says something few politicians say, which is why so many are neither trusted nor respected. Ryan says he was wrong.

At a Wisconsin 4-H fair in 2012, Ryan encountered a Democrat who objected to what then was one of Ryan’s signature rhetorical tropes – his distinction between “makers” and “takers,” the latter being persons who receive more in government spending than they pay in taxes. He had been struck by a report that 60 percent of Americans were already – this was before Obamacare – “net receivers.” But his encounter at the fair reminded him that, for a while, he and many people he cared about had been takers, too.

The morning after a night “working the Quarter Pounder grill at McDonald’s,” Ryan, 16, found his father, who had been troubled by alcohol, dead in bed. Janesville’s strong sinews of community sustained Ryan and his mother; so did Social Security survivor benefits. When GM’s Janesville assembly plant closed, draining about $220 million of annual payroll from a town of 60,000, many relatives, friends and constituents needed the social safety net – unemployment compensation, job training, etc.

“At the fair that day, I realized I’d been careless with my language,” he writes. “The phrase gave insult where none was intended.” He has changed his language and his mind somewhat but thinks the fundamental things still apply.

“Society,” Ryan writes, “functions through institutions that operate in the space between the individual and the state,” and “government exists to protect the space where all of these great things occur.” Hence government has a “supporting role” as “the enabler of other institutions.” Progressive government, however, works, sometimes inadvertently but often deliberately, to subordinate or supplant those institutions. This depletion of social capital is comprehensively injurious to the culture. And “all the tax cuts in the world don’t matter much if you don’t get the culture right.”

Progressivism aims to place individuals in unmediated dependency on a government that can proclaim, as Barack Obama does: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Meaning, people depend on government for what they are and have.

Few of today’s progressives are acquainted with their doctrine’s intellectual pedigree or its consistent agenda. Progressivism’s founders, however, considered it essential that the nation make progress, as they understood this, beyond the Founders' natural rights philosophy, which limits government by saying (in the Declaration of Independence) that it is “instituted” to “secure” these rights.

Hence Woodrow Wilson, a progressive who understood his doctrine’s premises, urged Americans to “not repeat the [Declaration’s] preface.” Progressivism preaches that rights do not pre-exist government, that they are dispensed and respected by government as it sees fit and to fit its purposes. Those purposes grow unconstrained by the Constitution that progressives construe as a “living” – meaning infinitely elastic – document.

Since 1999, when he became its second-youngest member, Ryan has been an intellectual ornament to the House of Representatives – and a headache for risk-averse Republican Party operatives. They pay lip service to electing conservatives who will make the choices necessary to stabilize the architecture of the entitlement system and unleash the economic growth that must finance the system’s promises. But they want to let voters remain oblivious about the choices required by that architecture’s rickety condition.

Such Republicans are complicit with Obama, who demonstrated the self-destructive nature of his now-evaporating presidency by his contemptuous, and contemptible, treatment of Ryan on April 13, 2011. After he loftily aspired to teach Washington civility, the White House invited Ryan to sit in the front row at a speech in which Obama gave an implacably hostile and mendacious depiction of Ryan’s suggestions for entitlement reforms. Obama thereby repeated his tawdry performance in his 2010 State of the Union address, when, with Supreme Court justices in the front row of the House chamber, he castigated them for the Citizens United decision, which he misrepresented.

Both times, Obama’s behavior bespoke the insecurity of someone who, surrounded by sycophants, shuns disputations with people who can reply. Ryan, however, has replied with a book that demonstrates Obama’s wisdom in not arguing with a man who has a better mind and better manners.

SOURCE

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Eric Holder as a cry-baby & Obama as a perpetual adolescent

ATTORNEY GENERAL and all around scum-bucket Eric Holder felt it imperative to rush off to Ferguson, MO, to toss in his two cents worth of gas on a burning fire. He could have pointed out that the reason there is 50% unemployment among the black males in town, men who have nothing better to do than cause mischief for the benefit of the TV cameras, was because three-quarters of them never even finish high school. Instead, he took the opportunity to let them know he shared their grievances against the police because twice in his younger days, he, too, had been – oh, the humanity! -- stopped by traffic cops.

The odd thing is that I am a white man roughly 10 years older than Holder, and I was stopped by cops about a dozen times between the ages of 13 and 21. The first couple of times, I was stopped by Beverly Hills cops because we lived in an apartment just outside the city border, and, so, if I were spotted walking or riding my bike at dusk, on my way home from the playground or on my way to a book store, I would find myself being questioned by the guys in blue. Nobody, they would explain, exaggerating only slightly, walked or rode a bicycle in Beverly Hills after sunset.

Once I began driving, I was stopped on a regular basis even by L.A. cops because I looked too young to be driving legally. Finally, by the time I was going to UCLA, and work on the Daily Bruin would occasionally keep me on campus until late at night, I was often stopped and questioned by those same Beverly Hills cops on my way home. But now it was because, as they pointed out, nobody rode a motorcycle before or after dusk in Beverly Hills.

Whether or not Mr. Holder believes me, I never took it amiss. I did not think they were picking on me because I was young or short or Jewish. I believed they stopped me because I looked suspicious to them, and I figured they were just earning their salaries, and that if I had their job, I, too, would be stopping me and asking a few questions.

What Holder doesn’t mention is that, as a young man, he had been an Afro-haired college activist who had been part of a student uprising at Columbia University that took over and held an ROTC building for five days in 1970. Because even back then, college administrators were a gaggle of cowards, he wasn’t booted out on his butt, but allowed to hang around and get a law degree.

Only someone as race-fixated as Barack Obama would have appointed Holder in the first place or stood by while his attorney general refused to indict the Black Panthers for intimidating white voters in Philadelphia.

Speaking of Obama, the thing I have come to understand about him is that in addition to being a leftist with a scary agenda, a bigot and a narcissist, he is an adolescent. That’s why he’s so lazy. Sometimes, students are bored because they’re very bright and grasp a subject so quickly that they tend to doze off while waiting for their fellow classmates to catch up. Other times, students are bored because they are those other classmates and simply can’t grasp the lesson.

And sometimes, as I believe is the case with Obama, it’s because their minds are so lazy and self-absorbed that the only things they can manage to focus on for any length of time are those amusements such as golf and basketball or attending galas, that simply don’t call for mental discipline.

SOURCE

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NLRB goes rogue against small business

Labor Day provides the opportunity to evaluate those government agencies that impact the workplace, and gauge if they are helping or hurting the employment situation in America.

In the six Labor Days since President Obama took office, his appointees have gone to outrageous lengths to compel the 93 percent of the private-sector workforce who don't belong to an organized labor union to become dues-paying members.

While the Labor Department and the National Mediation Board have each pushed hard to create rules that overwhelmingly favor union organizers over those employees who oppose unionization, it is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which has taken the most outlandish actions in their attempt to tip the balance toward primary Democratic Party funders in Big Labor.

Few need to be reminded of the NLRB's general counsel's failed attempt to compel Boeing Corp. to remain in union-friendly Washington state, rather than relocating to South Carolina. After garnering national headlines and sending Congress into a frenzy, the NLRB backed down from their attempt to stop the aircraft manufacturer's move to the right-to-work state. But the audacity displayed by the agency — that they believed they could dictate company relocation or expansion decisions — made this obscure entity a national talking point of big government gone wrong.

The general counsel, at the same time, filed a lawsuit against two states whose voters had affirmed the right to secret ballots in union elections through their state constitutional amendment processes. The uproar in the states being sued was real, but this NLRB threat largely faded away as Big Labor's attempt to do away with secret elections through congressional action failed.

Now, the NLRB is going off the rails again. They have decided to destroy business franchise/franchisee agreements by allowing the corporations that spin out thousands of small businesses using their name, business model and products to be sued over the alleged actions of a few of the small, independent business.

This strikes at the heart of the independence of almost 1 million locally owned franchise businesses. If the actions of a few franchises can drag the corporate partner into legal action, then the cost of operating this small business model rapidly escalates, and the advantages of splitting profits with local, independent store operators rapidly disintegrate.

If the left wants to change the franchise laws, that is their prerogative. They need to go to Congress and seek to change the law, not go to the rogue, Big Labor-controlled NLRB to rewrite the law.

It's three strikes and you're out for the NLRB's ability to play investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner when it comes to our nation's labor laws. Legislation by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) that would rein in the NLRB's outrageous, one-sided behavior by stripping away the NLRB's adjudicatory authority, returning it to the federal justice system where it belongs.

It is time to rip the power over our nation's labor laws from this rogue body's grip and give it back to Congress and the federal court system. It is time for the House of Representatives to pass Austin Scott's Protecting American Jobs Act.

SOURCE

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Price transparency lowers healthcare costs

A study recently published in Health Affairs describes how price transparency drove down the cost of MRIs by almost twenty percent from 2010 to 2012. Compared to patients who did not have the advantage of transparent pricing, patients who knew what their MRI procedure would cost saw a cost reduction of $220 per procedure. Further, price transparency was associated with a significant shift from hospitals to outpatient facilities.

This result is just the beginning. It was not a result of true consumer-driven health policy, but an intervention by an insurer. When a physician referred a patient for an MRI, the insurer required prior authorization before paying for it. When the patient called for prior authorization, the customer-service rep was able to give the patient the choice of a lower-cost provider in the same area. Importantly, the insurer’s rep was able to tell the patient how much he or she would save by using the lower-cost provider.

This is something that healthcare providers resist mightily—for obvious reasons. As a consequence, more expensive providers, especially hospitals, dropped their fees significantly. This resulted in a 30 percent compression of prices.

It is a step in the right direction. The Health Affairs article notes that government dictating price transparency has no effect—as discussed previously at this blog. Nevertheless, there is a lot further to go. For example, one-third of the patients had zero co-pay or deductible, and so were completely insensitive to price. Also, it still requires too much bureaucratic intervention. Why should a patient have to call the insurer to figure out the best price for the service?

For reducing costs, imaging is probably low-hanging fruit. Nevertheless, this experience teaches valuable lessons. Prior authorization alone (when an insurer simply makes a yes or no decision on whether it will pay for a procedure) is a cause of irresolvable conflict between payers and providers. Because the patient remains insensitive to price, if the physician decides to do the paperwork for prior authorization, it does not reduce costs. This was confirmed for Medicare in a Congressional Budget Office estimate in 2013.
However, introducing price sensitivity to prior authorization “softens up” the decision for both patient and insurer: The patient understands that the insurer is trying to get the best bang for the buck, not just prevent access to diagnosis.

What are the next steps?

    Private insurers can make prices of credentialed providers even more transparent, by posting fees on their websites and clearly informing patients about how much money they will save by going to low-cost providers.

    Private insurers can design ways to financially reward patients who have no co-pays or deductibles to make price-conscious decisions also.

    Medicare can also design ways to reward beneficiaries for making cost-saving imaging decisions (likely through Medigap plans, which often cover beneficiaries’ co-pays).

This is still a long way from consumer-driven health care. However, like reference pricing for surgery, this experience should motivate insurers to continue experimenting with letting patients know, understand and respond to the prices of medical care.

SOURCE

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

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

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2 September, 2014

The self-loathing of the British Left is now a problem for us all

A British perspective on Leftist hate.  The reference to Rotherham concerns child abuse  of white girls by Muslims-- abuse that was long covered up by political correctness

It’s often been observed that a certain type of British Lefty hates Britain – and that they reserve particularly hatred for Englishness. Back in 1941 George Orwell made this acute remark:

    "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"

So what’s new? The difference today is that this shame and self-hatred now dominates Left-wing thought, whereas it was once balanced by the decent Left: who were proud to inherit the noble traditions of radical English patriotism.

Evidence for this disease is all around us, but shows up particularly in two red-button issues-of-the-day: the independence referendum, and the appalling revelations from Rotherham.

First, Scotland. The latest polls show that the United Kingdom is close to breaking up. This is a remarkable state of affairs when you consider that, a year ago, polls were two to one against partition. How has this occurred? Because we have allowed the British Labour party to lead the No debate.

This was a disastrous decision, given that, as Orwell noted, Labourites and Lefties revile and deride so many of the things perceived as quintessentially British. Take your pick from the monarchy, the flag, the Army, the history of rampant conquest, the biggest empire in the world, the supremacy of the English language, anyone who lives in the countryside, the national anthem, the City of London, the Royal Navy, a nuclear deterrent, the lion and the unicorn, duffing up the French, eating loads of beef – all this, for Lefties, is a source of shame.

The result, north of the Border, is plain to see. Whenever the passionate and patriotic SNP asks the No campaign for a positive vision of the UK (instead of dry economic facts, and negative fear-mongering) all we hear is silence, or maybe a quiet murmur about “the NHS”. Yes, the NHS. For many Lefties, the NHS – an average European health system with several notable flaws – is the only good thing about Britain. It’s like saying we should keep the United Kingdom because of PAYE. Thus we tiptoe towards the dissolution of the nation.

There is a deep irony here. If Scotland secedes it will hurt the Labour Party more than anyone, electorally. But such is the subconscious hatred of Britain and Britishness in Lefty hearts, I believe many of them think that’s a price worth paying: just to kick the “Tory Unionists” in the nuts, just to deliver the final death-blow to British “delusions of grandeur”.

It is a tragic state of affairs. And yet there is worse. Rotherham.

We don’t need to rehearse the facts. We’ve all read them, and reeled away in horror. The interesting question is how and why would any country allow the racialised gang-rape of its own daughters?

Why? Because too many in that country, especially on the Left, most especially in the Labour Party, despise their own ordinary people: the white working classes.

Take this comment by Jack Straw, Labour MP for Blackburn, and Home Secretary from 1997-2001, when the Rotherham atrocities were beginning. “The English are potentially very aggressive, very violent.” It is almost unimaginable that any senior politician would say this of his own people in America, Russia or France. Yet here it comes straight out of the mouth of a very senior politician indeed – along with many other expressions of Guardianista sneering: at the white working classes with their “chav culture”, “BNP values”, “Gillian Duffy bigotry” and so forth.

What kind of message does Straw’s statement send to everyone else? It says that the English are dislikeable, that they are to be feared, and contained, to be treated with contempt. It says that the ordinary English are a nasty race who need to be diluted by mass immigration; it says, in particular, that poor white English people are especially worthless.

And thus, Rotherham.

Yes, it’s infinitely depressing. But we cannot give in to despair. Instead we could listen again to George Orwell, who once said that, however silly or sentimental, English patriotism is “a comelier thing than the shallow self-righteousness of the left-wing intelligentsia”. Orwell wrote those words seventy years ago. It is time we paid attention, and turned the tide.

SOURCE

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My Journey from Tyranny to Liberty

BY LILY WILLIAMS

I am an Chinese immigrant who come to America to seek freedom from the Communist China. I was born right before China’s Cultural Revolution and grew up in Chengdu, Capitol of Sichuan province, China. As you know, in China there is only one party that is truly in power: The Communist Party. The government, which is the Communist Party, controls everything: Factories, schools, the press, hospitals, land, and universities. Growing up there, I never heard of such a thing as a “private company." There were no choices of any sort. We were all poor. We had no gas or stove, no TV, no phones, no refrigerators, and no washing machines. In the cities, electricity was rationed. In the countryside, there was no electricity.

Our family of five had to live on the very low wages my parents earned. The local government issued coupons for people to buy everything from pork to rice, sugar, and flour and there was never enough. We got to buy only 2.2 pounds of pork per month for our family of five. We lived in a two room 'apartment', without heat in the winter and no indoor plumbing. I got impetigo every winter from the cold damp winter weather, which was common for kids to get. Eight families lived in our complex, and we had to share bathrooms (holes in the ground outside), one for all males, and one for all females. When the lights were out, no one would replace the bulb for a while so it would be totally dark to go to the bathroom. It became a quite scary adventure at night for us to go there. We had only government run hospitals which were filthy. I was afraid of going to a hospital because I might get diseases. The last two years before I left for college, we moved into a three-room apartment provided by my dad's work-unit. It had concrete walls and a concrete floor, a water faucet and sink, but no heat. It had a shared public restroom without a shower or bathtub - but, it was infinitely better than what we had before.

I was eager to go to school when I turned 6 years old. My parents did not let me to go to school because they needed me to babysit my younger brother who was one year old. They could not afford his child care. I cried for a long time that night. My parents felt so guilty so they bought me a movie ticket next day. Finally, I went to school at age of 7. I was so happy and motivated to be a top student. As a child, we were brainwashed in public school every day. We were taught that two-thirds of the world population were suffering and living in hunger and our socialist country was the best. We didn't think that maybe China should be counted as part of the two thirds of suffering humanity! We believed whatever the government told us because we did not know anything else. I thought the other countries must be hellish if they were worse than we were. Anyway, we chanted daily: “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live the Communist Party. I love Chairman Mao." I was so brainwashed as a small child that I could see Chairman Mao in the clouds or the cooking fire. He was like a god to me. We were required to read all of Mao’s Red books, wear Mao’s buttons, write journals, and confess any bad thoughts to Mao.

We were required to conform, not stand out as an individual. I was held back to join the Young Pioneers because I was not humble enough (I told my classmates I should be in the first batch to join due to my 100% grade on every subject and they reported on me). The big powerful state from top to bottom was always watching us very closely: from Beijing’s central government to our neighborhood block committees and police stations. We had no rights, even though our constitution said we did. It was very scary that local police could stop by our home to pound on the doors at night for any reason. The government told us how to dress (Mao’s suit), what to buy and eat (coupons), where to live (household registration system) and what to read (government newspapers). The land belonged to the people (the government actually) and citizens were not allowed to have any weapons or off to prison they would go. Things have changed a lot in China since the open door policy of Deng Xiaoping really got going in the early 1980s; people have more freedom than ever before to start businesses, get jobs in another city, travel overseas, etc, but the political system is still fundamentally the same one party rule.

My favorite teacher in high school told me that he was sent to a Re-education Labor Camp because the Communist Party punished those who criticized the party even though the party was asking for feedback. His health was ruined during those years. He said “China is not a country of laws." I was determined to study law in college. After three whole days, eight hours of testing each day, I scored very high and was admitted by Fudan University (one of the top five universities) in Shanghai law school. I became the first one in my entire extended family ever to go to college. When there I was depressed to find out that what we learned in school and what was reality were totally different things. The society was not ruled by law but ruled by men. After I became a law school faculty member at Fudan University in Shanghai, I had to be careful about what to say in the classroom or during the party political study and self-criticism meetings. My leaders in law school even intruded into my private life telling me, for example, that I received too many letters (I was too social), or I should not go to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for dinner and spend a night. I was a law school faculty member and yet I was still being treated as a child!

I realized I could not really have the personal freedom I dreamed to have if I stayed in China, so I decided to re-enter school in the USA. It was a long and stressful process for me to step down from my position and leave China. I went to the local security office to apply for my passport seven times and was treated as a deserter with papers literally thrown at my face. My law school made me sign a paper saying that I must return to my job in Shanghai after two years of graduate study, or they will eliminate my position and send my personnel file (everyone has one in China which follows you from birth to death) to my hometown in Chengdu, which would be a death sentence for my law teaching career. However, I was determined to leave and did not care about what I had to sign.

I arrived in America in 1988 with $100 in my pocket. The first ten years when I was in the U.S, I still had nightmares about being trapped in China by the government and having to dig a big hole in the ground, into the blue Pacific Ocean, so I could escape, jump into the Ocean, and swim to the United States. Even when I went back to China later to visit with my American husband in 1991, my fears would return. For example, staying at a friend’s apartment in Beijing, one night the police came to pound on the door and wanted to check our papers. Someone must have reported to them that that there was a foreigner in the neighborhood. I was pregnant with our first son at that time, and we were in deep sleep after midnight when the police’s door-pounding scared the heck out of me and brought all the childhood bad memories back. Fortunately, they only wanted to check our papers, or maybe just let us know who was in charge. Another time I was in China during June 4th (Tian An Men crackdown) anniversary for a business trip, I was in a business-friend’s car, when we were randomly pulled over by the local police to check out our IDs and search our car. They did not have to show any search warrant. I used to also travel often to Guangdong Province for business when I worked in Hong Kong. I remember the taxi drivers called the local police “mafia” because of their brutality and corruption.

I did not hesitate to become an American citizen in 1995. Here I could speak freely and have my rights protected. I do not take my new freedom for granted. I vote in every election. As a U.S. citizen, I have worked for private companies in Hong Kong and Denver. Later, I started my own business and worked hard to grow my business. For the past 15 years, my husband and I have raised three children in Parker, Colorado, enjoying a middle class life: kids, a house, a dog, and 2 cars. From the $100 I brought over from China to having my own businesses and properties, I know I am living the American Dream. All the immigrants I know who come to this country do so because they believe America is a land of opportunity and freedom. We know that if you are smart, work very hard, and save your money, you will be successful and make a nice living here. I love this country. I want my children to continue to enjoy the freedom that brought me here. I want my children to have the same opportunity I had to succeed.

By telling my own story, I wanted to share my message with you: big governments do not work; big governments are very dangerous because they eventually use force. Big government attracts people who love power and control. Big government seems to want to distract you and direct your choices to unimportant social conventions yet limit your choices on really important things like speech, self-defense, and property rights. The freedom we have in this country is precious. The governments in the US are essentially pretty good. However, we are losing more and more liberty every day. The two major parties of this country have always expanded the government (federal or state), even when they say they are shrinking them. Whoever is in power always wants to 'do' something, to 'solve' some problem. It never really works because government must use force to solve whatever problem of the day arises. Now the federal government is $17 trillion in debt from all the problems it has 'solved'; we are losing our freedom to choose in many aspects of our life: health care, education, speech, privacy, what we want to buy to protect our families, how much money we want to keep after our hard work, etc., and even in New York drink sizes! Big government is like a cancer; it will grow and spread and keep growing if we don’t stop it. Do not believe things will always get better. I know that people are born the same everywhere, yet their cultures and systems of government can be vastly different. Our culture, our people, and our increasing reliance on more government are, I think, a very dangerous trend.

The country has been on the wrong path for too long, all our governments have been growing bigger for too long. What kind of country is this if we have to work over a half of the year to pay all the taxes and fees: federal, state, city, county; including payroll, phone, gas, car license, eating out, hotel stays, air travel, licenses, tariffs, etc. We are taxed to death for many things we don't want and the country is broke. This is astounding to me. What kind of country is this if the government uses force to take your money and spend the way they see fit and still tell you it is good for you? Are you its servant or master? Do you own yourself or not? What kind of country is this if the government takes away your choice of marrying anyone who makes you happy? Are you a consenting adult or not? What kind of country is this if the government can put you into a prison for what you are consuming? What kind of country is this if we become like a China Socialist Iron Rice Bowl, where people are treated the same everywhere; where it does not matter whether you work hard or not, that you are told "If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." and where you must redistribute what you produce. What kind of country is this where the government monitors our private email and phone calls? What kind of country is this if the IRS can target you based on your political affiliation? Why have we Americans become so unsure of ourselves that we want to be like other countries and to think like them instead of wanting them to be like us? When did this change happen? Where is the America I dreamed of - full of strong men and women without fear of acting on their own behalf?

Big government people have always been attracted to power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Big government people are perpetually alarmed busybodies who fearfully want to insert themselves into everybody's business here and abroad, telling them what to do or not do. That is why I felt I had to become an advocate for liberty. Let us stop these people now. Wake up and stand up. Remember how this country was founded and what our constitution really protects - Individual Liberty! Vote for liberty, vote for small, effective, and limited government

SOURCE

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

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

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1 September, 2014

Some amusing medical news

One of the enduring myths among health freaks is the magical power of fish oil.  There has however always been a lot of doubts about that among medical researchers so there have been many studies looking into the matter.  The latest review of the medical literature knocks the whole thing on its head.  The article concerned is hidden behind a fierce paywall but I think it is too amusing to stay only there.  So I am reproducing the abstract below.  Reproducing abstracts is not generally considered a breach of copyright.  The abstract was in fact sent to me by JAMA so I infer that they want the findings to be known in professional circles

Fish Oil Supplements

Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are present in cold-water fish such as herring or salmon and are commercially available in capsules (over the counter and by prescription), can decrease fasting triglyceride concentrations 20-50% by reducing hepatic triglyceride production and increasing triglyceride clearance. 1 With long-term intake, they may increase HDL-C.

Efficacy

The results of recent studies do not offer any convincing evidence that fish oil supplements either prevent cardiovascular disease or improve outcomes in patients who already have it. 2 3

Lovaza (formerly Omacor), a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), was the first omega-3 PUFA product to be approved by the FDA for treatment of severe hypertriglyceridemia (Table). Daily doses of 3-12 g can lower triglycerides by 20-50%, but have not been shown to prevent pancreatitis, which is a major concern in patients with very high triglycerides. Vascepa, the second FDA-approved omega-3 PUFA product for treatment of severe hypertriglyceridemia, is the ethyl ester of EPA. In controlled trials, it has reduced triglyceride levels by 22-33% compared to placebo. 4

Adverse Effects

DHA can increase LDL-C levels, but EPA apparently does not. Fish oil supplements are generally well tolerated. Adverse effects have included eructation, dyspepsia, and an unpleasant aftertaste. Worsening glycemic control has been reported in diabetic patients taking large doses. Fish oil in large doses can also inhibit platelet aggregation and increase bleeding time; whether it could cause clinically significant bleeding has not been established.

Conclusion

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can lower high plasma triglycerides, but they have not been shown to decrease the risk of pancreatitis. The results of recent studies do not offer any convincing evidence that fish oil supplements prevent cardiovascular disease.

From The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics

JAMA. 2014;312(8):839-840. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.9758.  Adapted from "Drugs for Lipids." Treat. Guide Med. Lett. 2014;12(137):1-6.

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The Stage Is Set for Executive Amnesty

Just a few weeks ago, it appeared immigration would dominate the news headlines leading up to the November election. But war in the Middle East and Ukraine and riots in Ferguson have pushed the situation at the border down to a few sidebar stories.

Yet the political stakes are high, and the red line of Barack Obama’s promise to take steps on immigration reform by the end of summer – with or without Congress – means there could be an executive action on his part in the next few weeks. “[H]ave no doubt, um, in the absence of congressional action, uh, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better,” he said Thursday. The president has nothing to lose and everything to gain politically.

Most likely his action will be an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order, which essentially served as a permission slip for more than 1.5 million illegal aliens who came as children with their parents. Administration insiders believe five or six million more illegals will benefit from any new Obama move. Proponents argue it’s a necessary step to take because resources are limited and Congress didn’t act. Meanwhile, Democrats believe the Republican reaction would be beneficial to their side. They’re just daring Republicans to say the “i-word” should Obama go through with this DACA-expansion amnesty.

But Obama himself made the case against executive action not all that long ago. In 2012, he argued he couldn’t go any further than deferring deportations for children: “If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option.”

Much of this could have been avoided, claims “Gang of Eight” member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “I’ve been warning that [Obama] would do something unilaterally on immigration at some point, despite his denials of any intention to do that,” said Rubio. “My fundamental warning was that if [Republicans] didn’t like the legalization provisions in the bill, it was quite possible, if we didn’t act, that we would get the Gang of Eight-style legalization but without any of the bill’s enforcement mechanisms,” he added, defending his participation.

While Rubio was in favor of the Gang of Eight approach at the time, he now believes it was a mistake. If done again, he would secure the border first, then install broader E-verify requirements and reform the tracking of visa entries and exits. Of course, enforcement is all up to the will of the Executive Branch. And House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), for one, is of the opinion that Obama is “threatening to rewrite our immigration laws unilaterally” rather than provide enforcement.

Nor is enforcement on the mind of governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who introduced Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto by saying all immigrants were welcome in his state, legal or not.

In his speech, the Mexican president called the United States “the other Mexico” and gushed that California had “evolved” compared to other states which “skimp on recognition of … the rights of immigrants.” It’s estimated that 11.4 million immigrants who were born in Mexico reside in the United States, a sizable chunk of the roughly 120 million who populate Mexico. A recent Pew survey found just over one-third of Mexicans would move to the United States if they had the chance, and one-sixth would even do so illegally. That’s about 20 million more for the permanent underclass of likely Democrat voters.

Clearly, much of this immigration furor is political posturing for both the November midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. But with either result, Obama has the chance to emerge victorious – either he gets a Democrat-controlled Senate to keep House Republicans at bay, or he gets a completely Republican-controlled Congress that will incentivize him to use his pen, if not his phone. Amnesty is just one place where he can whet his appetite for dictatorial power, with climate change being another.

The irony, of course, is that mass amnesty will hurt Obama’s own low-income constituents most by depressing wages and making it hard to find jobs. All net job gains since 2000 went to immigrants.

Thus, despite polls which for years have shown Americans would prefer no greater number of immigrants – if not a decrease in the rate – it’s likely that executive policy will take us in the other direction while ignoring the vital function of border security. The system isn’t actually broken, but the laws aren’t being enforced.

SOURCE

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The Democratic Shift to the Left

The Democratic Party is torn between a liberal establishment that wants more government, and an even more liberal wing that wants the same thing squared

It would take a heart of stone, as the fellow said, not to laugh out loud at President Barack Obama's recent comparison between the two major political parties.

"Ideological extremism," he told The New York Times, "is much more prominent right now in the Republican Party than the Democrats. Democrats have problems, but overall if you look at the Democratic consensus, it's a pretty commonsense, mainstream consensus. It's not a lot of wacky ideological nonsense, the way it is generally fact-based and reason-based."

Spoken like a true partisan: My Side is calm and reasonable, and Your Side is full of raving lunatics.

The tea party movement has indeed created a rift on the right between a somewhat conservative establishment and a viscerally conservative insurgency. The struggle between those two factions has provided the grist for roughly 2.3 gajillion news stories over the past few years.

But as Commentary magazine's Seth Mandel put it so nicely a few months ago, "complaints over the last few years about the GOP being pulled to the right by conservatives were not about liberals' desire to meet in the middle and compromise, no matter how much they might decry the supposed extremist drift of the right. What they wanted was their very own Tea Party."

The judgment is, as the president would say, fact-based. You can see that in the fawning adulation that greeted the Occupy protests, which amounted to one long primal scream against capitalism. Whatever the protests lacked in coherence (which was a lot), they made up for in passion. And for a while, the most dangerous place to stand in America was between a microphone and the cadre of Democratic politicians racing to express their proud solidarity with that inspiring movement of starry-eyed young dreamers.

You can see the desire for a Democratic tea party in the cheers that greet Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Tribune of the Proletariat, whose angry tirades against the moneyed interests draw standing ovations and chants of "Run, Liz, run!"

And you can see it in the polls: Two decades ago, 35 percent of active Democrats said their views were mostly or always liberal. Now 70 percent say so. The Democratic Party's mainstream consensus, as the president calls it, has moved decidedly to the left. (Granted, Democrats do not all think alike, any more than Republicans do; generalizations are vexing. But if the president employs them, so can we.)

Just as the Republican Party now has many big-government conservatives—those who think Washington should export democracy abroad and impose virtue here at home—the Democratic Party once had what might be called small-government liberals: those who thought government could make some things better, yet still leave other things alone.

Where is the small-government liberal today? He or she is not to be found in the economic realm, where the mainstream Democratic consensus supports a higher minimum wage, more regulation of business, systemic government control of certain sectors (e.g., education and health care) and massive government intervention in the rest.

Likewise, there is scant dispute on the left regarding the welfare state.

The biggest fight over social programs in the past few years dealt with health care, and it concerned whether to settle for Obamacare or push for single-payer. Liberals who argue that the country might have too many social-welfare programs and spend too much on them are mostly unheard from. To paraphrase conservative author William Voegeli: Democrats do not want the social-welfare state to grow indefinitely—they just want it to be bigger than it is right now.

One might think the small-government liberal shows up in the realm of personal choice. And it is true that on one very narrow band of issues—sex and abortion—liberals agree government should butt out. Yet this is where the butting-out largely ends.

For while liberals largely support, say, the legalization of marijuana, that is not owing to any broader sense that people own their bodies and should be free to do as they like with them—such as ride a motorcycle without a helmet, or engage in sex for profit, or drink a 64-ounce sugary soft drink, or forgo health insurance.

Rather, the contemporary mainstream liberal view of such things holds that individual choices affect the collective good. And since government's job is to safeguard the collective good, government should therefore regulate individual choices. If it allows people to smoke marijuana, that is because it has decided a little reefer now and then causes less collective harm than the harm caused by prohibition.

In other words, the mainstream Democratic view asks how much personal freedom smart public policy should permit. It has little room for the notion that some personal freedom should lie beyond the reach of public policy in the first place.

Does that seem too strong? Then consider the campaign to eviscerate the First Amendment. Democratic leaders such as John Kerry, Sen. Patrick Leahy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and many others—including countless grass-roots activists—want to amend the Constitution to nullify the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, so the government can once again dictate what people can and cannot say about politicians in the weeks leading up to an election. Tellingly, the proposals include provisions stipulating that the press would still be allowed to speak freely about political candidates.

This is a tacit concession that everyone else would not. In that event, rights are no longer trumps; they are simply one more consideration to be balanced against all the rest. Which means they are not really rights at all.

In short, the Democratic Party is torn between a liberal establishment that wants more government, and an even more liberal wing that wants the same thing squared. At bottom, both wings believe the formula for perfection is simple: Put the government in charge of everything, and put the right people in charge of the government. Then just sit back and wait for Shangri-La.

History has falsified that premise time after time. But to the president, it's just plain common sense. Now who's peddling wacky ideological nonsense?

SOURCE

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

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

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

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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.

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?

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

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.


MYTH BUSTING:


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course



R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"



IN BRIEF:

The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU

"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."



The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"


Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean


It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out



JEWS AND ISRAEL

The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


ABOUT

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation


My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"




Index page for this site


DETAILS OF REGULARLY UPDATED BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:

"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"


BLOGS OCCASIONALLY UPDATED:

"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Recipes"
"Some memoirs"
"Paralipomena"
Western Heart
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" .
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
OF INTEREST (2)
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues


There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)



Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)



Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/42197/20121106-1520/jonjayray.comuv.com/