DISSECTING LEFTISM MIRROR
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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14 October, 2014

Our Judicial Dictatorship

By Pat Buchanan

Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage? Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes.

Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures.

But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to stop federal judges from overturning laws banning same-sex marriage. We are now told to expect the Supreme Court itself to discover in the Constitution a right of men to marry men and of women to marry women.

How, in little more than half a century, did the American people fall under the rule of a judicial dictatorship where judges and justices twist phrases in the Constitution to impose their alien ideology on this once-free people?

What brings the issue up is both the Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the death of my friend, Professor William J. Quirk, of the South Carolina University School of Law.

In "Judicial Dictatorship" (1995), Bill wrote of the revolution that had been imposed against the will of the majority, and of how Congress and the people might rout that revolution.

The instrument of revolution is judicial review, the doctrine that makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter, the decider, of what the Constitution says, and cedes to the Court limitless power to overturn laws enacted by the elective branches of government.

Jefferson said that to cede such authority to the Supreme Court "would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy." Was he not right?

Consider what has transpired in our lifetime.

The Supreme Court has ordered the de-Christianization of all public institutions in what was a predominantly Christian country. Christian holy days, holidays, Bibles, books, prayers and invocations were all declared to be impermissible in public schools and the public square.

Secular humanism became, through Supreme Court edict, our established religion in the United States.

And the American people took it.

Why was there not massive civil disobedience against this anti-Christian discrimination, as there was against segregation? Why did Congress, which has the power to abolish every federal district and appellate court and to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, not act?

Each branch of government, wrote Jefferson, is "independent of the others and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action."

"No branch has the absolute or final power to control the others, especially an unelected judiciary," added Quirk.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of all pubic schools. But when the Court began to dictate the racial balance of public schools, and order the forced busing of children based on race across cities and county lines to bring it about, a rebellion arose.

Only when resistance became national and a violent reaction began did our black-robed radicals back down.

Yet the Supreme Court was not deterred in its resolve to remake America. In 1973, the Court discovered the right to an abortion in the Ninth Amendment. Then it found, also hidden in the Constitution, the right to engage in homosexual sodomy.

When Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, Bill Quirk urged it to utilize Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, and write in a provision stripping the Supreme Court of any right to review the act.

Congress declined, and the Court, predictably, dumped over DOMA.

Republican presidents have also sought to curb the Supreme Court's aggressions through the appointment process. And largely failed.

Of four justices elevated by Nixon, three voted for Roe. Ford's nominee John Paul Stevens turned left. Two of Reagan's, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, went wobbly. Bush I's David Souter was soon caucusing with the liberals.

Today, there are four constitutionalists on the Court. If the GOP loses the White House in 2016, then the Court is gone, perhaps forever.

Yet, the deeper problem lies in congressional cowardice in refusing to use its constitutional power to rein in the Court.

Ultimately, the failure is one of conservatism itself.

Indeed, with neoconservatives in the van, the GOP hierarchy is today in headlong retreat on same-sex marriage. Its performance calls to mind the insight of that unreconstructed Confederate chaplain to Stonewall Jackson, Robert Lewis Dabney, on the failure of conservatives to halt the march of the egalitarians:

"American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. . Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom." Amen

SOURCE

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CDC Mission Creep: A Dangerous and Wasteful Distraction

By: Josh Withrow

Any time a new infectious disease arises in the United States or throughout the world, Americans are assured that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking measures to prevent an outbreak from turning into an epidemic. Recently, however, the arrival of Ebola patients in United States has appeared to expose major flaws in the CDC's preparedness. A deeper examination of the CDC's focus and activities reveal an agency mired in classic mission creep, constantly nudged off-course by political pressures. Many of the CDC's uses over the past several decades are dubious enough on their own to recommend a reevaluation of the agency's reach. Recent events merely reinforce the need for the CDC to refocus on its vital primary mission: the prevention and control of infectious disease epidemics.

Brief History of CDC and Its Mission Creep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was founded as the Communicable Disease Center in 1946, a small institution whose roots lay in the prevention of malaria and typhus outbreaks among U.S. troops in World War II. As its name suggested, the initial scope of CDC was mostly restricted to epidemiology - the prevention and containment of large-scale outbreaks of deadly communicable diseases. While the CDC enjoyed a great deal of early success in its disease-containment mission, playing a key role in the eradication of polio in the U.S. and of smallpox worldwide, it quickly succumbed to mission creep and began to absorb a number of tangential or unrelated projects. By 2014, the CDC's mission has diversified to the point where its initial "Office of Infectious Diseases" is only one of five branches on its official organizational chart.

This fundamental overreach from the CDC's original (and essential) mission was fully codified in 1992, when the full title of the agency became the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention". Combined with the agency's move away from controlling only communicable diseases, the idea encapsulated within those two new words is frightening in its nearly limitless scope. One of the ways that the CDC has justified this mission creep is by employing a vastly expanded definition of the word "epidemic". Although the word refers, strictly speaking, to the widespread outbreak of an infectious disease, the government and the CDC have taken to referring to anything that causes harm to a large number of people as an "epidemic". Thus, we get the "obesity epidemic," the "gun violence epidemic," the "alcoholism epidemic" - as if America has experienced an epidemic of epidemics.

This substantial broadening of the CDC's jurisdiction has allowed it to be turned into a tool for political interests. Examples of CDC interventions into areas far outside the realm of infectious disease include policy recommendations to reduce obesity, salt consumption, tobacco and alcohol use, and even gun ownership. Notably, not only are all of these areas unrelated to the CDC's original infectious disease focus, they all overlap with other government agencies. Another major avenue for CDC mission creep has been its focus on "environmental health," which by their own definition includes "everything around us - the air we breathe, the water we drink and use, and the food we consume."

This practically limitless mandate has led the CDC to involve itself in such non-disease topics as global warming, building construction, nutrition, and even "the health effects of gentrification."

CDC's Budget Bloat

In the wake of recent accusations that the CDC was caught flat-footed by the arrival of the Ebola virus in America, some officials and lawmakers have pointed to the sequestration budget cuts and other funding reductions at the CDC. As The Federalist's David Harsanyi notes, however, sequestration merely cut projected increases in spending, while a GAO report showed that most of the CDC's cutbacks came from decreases in grant funding.

In fact, while the CDC complains about supposed draconian budget cuts, its budget in 2014 ($6.4 billion) was more than triple its budget from just 1996 ($2.1 billion). The largest increases were in response to specific disease scares - the anthrax scare in 2001, and the H1N1 avian flu threat in 2005 - but notably the funding increases never went away. The CDC's budget request for FY 2015 remains at $6.6 billion total, already back to increasing annually after the modest cuts of 2013.

The most alarming aspect of the CDC's mission creep is not its budgetary impact (though that is not insignificant); rather, it is the extent to which politically motivated research, funded by CDC grants, is used as scientific validation for invasive policy schemes government-wide.

CDC's Gun Violence Campaign Reined in by Congress after Venturing into Direct Lobbying

There are numerous examples of the CDC being used as a tool to attempt to advance political agendas at the federal and state level. Take, for example, the CDC's campaign against guns, which began in earnest with the creation of Intentional Injuries Section within the Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control. Any notion that the division intended to merely study and observe gun violence was quickly dispelled, as the director gave an interview in 1993 in which it was revealed "he envisions a long-term campaign, similar to those on tobacco use and car safety, to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace."

Finally, after the CDC began giving grant money to organizations that advocated for gun control, and published articles giving advice on how to lobby for gun control, Congress intervened by defunding much of the agency's gun violence research and explicitly prohibiting the CDC from promoting gun control.

In spite of this, President Obama has once again attempted to insert gun violence into the CDC's mandate, issuing a 2013 executive order asking the CDC to study "the causes of gun violence and ways to prevent it."

The gun control campaign was one of the federal government's more egregious attempts to use the CDC to advocate for issues well outside of the agency's mission, but there have been numerous similar examples of CDC overreach.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force: Science with an Agenda

Perhaps the best current example of the CDC's overreach into advocating for policy change is the Community Preventative Services Task Force, which "produces recommendations (and identifies evidence gaps) to help inform the decision making of federal, state, and local health departments, other government agencies, communities, healthcare providers, employers, schools and research organizations."

The Task Force is a supposedly neutral assembly of scientists that deals only in objective research, independent of the CDC or any other government body. In reality, the CDC director appoints the Task Force's 15 members, employs its 41 support staff, and
ultimately disseminates the results and opinions from the Task Force's studies.

Somehow, the 15 Task Force members, who only meet three times per year, are currently expected to cover 22 different topics, ranging from asthma to worksite safety to birth defects.

Even if the Task Force members themselves are truly independent, there is simply no way that they can each develop informed opinions in that wide a variety of topics, which clearly indicates that the 41 CDC employees must be heavily involved with the selection, interpretation, and guidelines of the various studies.

The full list on the Task Force's Website: adolescent health, excessive consumption of alcohol, asthma, birth defects,
cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, emergency preparedness, health communication, health equity, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, mental health, motor vehicle injury, nutrition, obesity, oral health, physical activity, social environment, tobacco, vaccination, violence prevention, and worksite health promotion.

Since the end result of these studies is the aforementioned "recommendations" which are intended to be used by both public and private entities, this means that the CDC itself is effectively lobbying for government policy changes. These recommendations include clear instances of policy advocacy, including increasing alcohol and tobacco taxes in order to discourage consumption through higher prices. In effect, the Task Force and its studies are freely used as a government-funded think tank for those who wish to regulate Americans' personal health decisions.

ObamaCare Slush Fund Used by CDC to Lobby for State Policy Change

An even more blatant recent use of CDC dollars for lobbying has been its grant funding under the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Created as part of ObamaCare, the PPHF provides for up to $2 billion each year to be spent without any congressional oversight, and much of this money each year has been allocated for use by the CDC. Some of the more ridiculous grants issued through the PPHF include studies of "dance fitness, massage therapy, painting bike lanes, salad bars in school cafeterias, pet neutering and urban gardening."

In a 2012 letter to HHS, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted that even as a supporter of the CDC's public wellness campaigns, "I am concerned about the appearance of impropriety in several instances where grantees. appear to have used federal funds in attempts to change state and local policies and laws." In particular, Sen. Collins noted the guidelines for states to receive grants under the PPHF, which provided a list of strategies that recipients were "expected" to use "to produce the desired outcomes for the initiative." Several states then reported how they were using the money received under this program to implement some of these very strategies, including changing zoning laws, proposing tax increases on selected products, and increasing tobacco regulations.

The HHS Inspector General concurred with Collins that the CDC's guidelines raised serious concerns about the use of their grant money.

CDC Used Faulty Study to Boost Obesity Campaign

Another high-profile campaign for the CDC, especially under recent administrations, has been a war against the obesity "epidemic". The CDC's activities in this arena have had many of the same lobbying concerns as previously mentioned campaigns. In fact, the current director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, was hired to that post in 2009 straight from running New York City Mayor Bloomberg's infamous nanny-state campaigns against smoking, trans fats, and oversized sodas, which were run with CDC funding.

Even before Dr. Frieden was hired, in 2004 the CDC was caught using a study that vastly inflated the numbers of actual obesity-related deaths in order to advance its advertising and policy recommendation campaigns. The CDC initially touted a study that showed deaths related to obesity had increased by 33 percent from the previous decade to 400,000 annually, but when its numbers were challenged the CDC admitted that the increase was less than 10 percent. Even scientists inside the CDC objected to the methodology used for the study, yet it was published and used anyway.

Embarrassingly, a subsequent CDC-backed study found that when other factors were accounted for, the net total of obesity-caused deaths was 25,814 - 14 times fewer than their earlier estimate. Nevertheless, the CDC Director declared that her agency's anti-obesity campaign would neither scale back nor incorporate the new, smaller death toll.

Clearly, in the case of its obesity data scandal, the CDC had no intention of letting science get in the way of its desired frightening narrative

More HERE

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

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

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

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13 October, 2014

Dubious support for a popular health scare

There is a substantial body of people who get their jollies out of finding "threats" to health in popular products. They obviously want to appear wiser than the rest of us poor sods. There seems to be no accepted name for them but I call them "food & heath freaks". They are probably best known for their unfounded demonization of salt, saturated fat and artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. Sugar is their current big boogeyman.

A somewhat less well-known scare is about Bisphenol A, a component of many plastics. A few molecules of BPA have been shown to leach out of plastic bottles into the liquid contained in the bottle. For that reason plastic bably bottles have been more or less banned and glass baby bottles are mostly used instead. Glass is of course fragile and dangerous when broken but any decrease in safety from its use in baby bottles is ignored by food & health freaks.

The question is, however, how toxic is ingested BPA? Rats given enough of it certainly fall ill but as Paracelsus pointed out long ago, the toxicity is in the dose. And it seems unlikely that a few molecules received from a plastic bottle are harmful. And that is what most studies of the matter show. Like a terrier that won't let go of a bone, however, "research" to detect harm goes on among the food & heath freaks.

The latest stab at BPA has just come out in JAMA and I give the abstract below. I have however read the whole article and I would summarize the results rather differently. What they found was that the amount of BPA in the pregnant mother's blood correlated marginally significantly (p = .03) with the infant's lung function 4 years after birth but not 5 years after birth. That is a very shaky finding indeed and shows, if anything, that BPA is safe. They also looked at the correlation between mother-reported wheezing in the kid and BPA levels but that correlation failed to reach statistical significance (p = .11).

They do however rather desperately hang their hat on a correlation with wheeze drawn from the BPA concentration in the mother at 16 weeks. That correlation had vanished at 26 weeks gestation however so again the results actually show that BPA is safe -- no lasting ill-effects.

Not much there for the BPA freaks. I am not alone in that conclusion. The abstract follows:

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Bisphenol A Exposure and the Development of Wheeze and Lung Function in Children Through Age 5 Years

Adam J. Spanier et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance
Bisphenol A (BPA), a prevalent endocrine-disrupting chemical, has been associated with wheezing in children, but few studies have examined its effect on lung function or wheeze in older children.

Objectives
To test whether BPA exposure is associated with lung function, with wheeze, and with pattern of wheeze in children during their first 5 years.

Design, Setting, and Participants
A birth cohort study, enrolled during early pregnancy in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio, area among 398 mother-infant dyads.
We collected maternal urine samples during pregnancy (at 16 and 26 weeks) and child urine samples annually to assess gestational and child BPA exposure.

Main Outcomes and Measures
We assessed parent-reported wheeze every 6 months for 5 years and measured child forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration (FEV1) at age 4 and 5 years. We evaluated associations of BPA exposure with respiratory outcomes, including FEV1, child wheeze, and wheeze phenotype.

Results
Urinary BPA concentrations and FEV1 data were available for 208 children and urinary BPA concentrations and parent-reported wheeze data were available for 360 children. The mean maternal urinary BPA concentration ranged from 0.53 to 293.55 ‘g/g of creatinine. In multivariable analysis, every 10-fold increase in the mean maternal urinary BPA concentration was associated with a 14.2% (95% CI, -24.5% to -3.9%) decrease in the percentage predicted FEV1 at 4 years, but no association was found at 5 years. In multivariable analysis, every 10-fold increase in the mean maternal urinary BPA concentration was marginally associated with a 54.8% increase in the odds of wheezing (adjusted odds ratio, 1.55; 95% CI, 0.91-2.63). While the mean maternal urinary BPA concentration was not associated with wheeze phenotype, a 10-fold increase in the 16-week maternal urinary BPA concentration was associated with a 4.27-fold increase in the odds of persistent wheeze (adjusted odds ratio, 4.27; 95% CI, 1.37-13.30). Child urinary BPA concentrations were not associated with FEV1 or wheeze.

Conclusions and Relevance
These results provide evidence suggesting that prenatal but not postnatal exposure to BPA is associated with diminished lung function and the development of persistent wheeze in children.

SOURCE

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Why do so many liberals despise Christianity?

Liberals increasingly want to enforce a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. And they see alternative visions of the good as increasingly intolerable.

Liberalism seems to have an irrational animus against Christianity. Consider these two stories highlighted in the last week by conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher.

Item 1: In a widely discussed essay in Slate, author Brian Palmer writes about the prevalence of missionary doctors and nurses in Africa and their crucial role in treating those suffering from Ebola. Palmer tries to be fair-minded, but he nonetheless expresses "ambivalence," "suspicion," and "visceral discomfort" about the fact that these men and women are motivated to make "long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," to "risk their lives," and to accept poor compensation (and sometimes none at all) because of their Christian faith.

The question is why he considers this a problem.

Palmer mentions a lack of data and an absence of regulatory oversight. But he's honest enough to admit that these aren't the real reasons for his concern. The real reason is that he doesn't believe that missionaries are capable "of separating their religious work from their medical work," even when they vow not to proselytize their patients. And that, in his view, is unacceptable - apparently because he's an atheist and religion creeps him out. As he puts it, rather wanly, "It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"

That overriding distaste for religion leads Palmer to propose a radical corollary to the classical liberal ideal of a separation between church and state - one that goes far beyond politics, narrowly construed. Palmer thinks it's necessary to uphold a separation of "religion and health care."

Item 2: Gordon College, a small Christian school north of Boston, is facing the possibility of having its accreditation revoked by the higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, according to an article in the Boston Business Journal. Since accreditation determines a school's eligibility to participate in federal and state financial aid programs, and the eligibility of its students to be accepted into graduate programs and to meet requirements for professional licensure, revoking a school's accreditation is a big deal - and can even be a death sentence.

What has Gordon College done to jeopardize its accreditation? It has chosen to enforce a "life and conduct statement" that forbids "homosexual practice" on campus.

Now, one could imagine a situation in which such a statement might legitimately run afoul of an accreditation board or even anti-discrimination statutes and regulations - if, for example, it stated that being gay is a sign of innate depravity and that students who feel same-sex attraction should be subject to punishment for having such desires.

But that isn't the case here. At all. In accordance with traditional Christian teaching, Gordon College bans all sexual relationships outside of marriage, gay or straight, and it goes out of its way to say that its structures against homosexual acts apply only to behavior and not to same-sex desires or orientation.

The accreditation board is not so much objecting to the college's treatment of gays as it is rejecting the legitimacy of its devoutly Christian sexual beliefs.

The anti-missionary article and the story of Gordon College's troubles are both examples (among many others) of contemporary liberalism's irrational animus against religion in general and traditional forms of Christianity in particular.

My use of the term "irrational animus" isn't arbitrary. The Supreme Court has made "irrational animus" a cornerstone of its jurisprudence on gay rights. A law cannot stand if it can be shown to be motivated by rationally unjustifiable hostility to homosexuals, and on several occasions the court has declared that traditional religious objections to homosexuality are reducible to just such a motive.

But the urge to eliminate Christianity's influence on and legacy within our world can be its own form of irrational animus. The problem is not just the cavalier dismissal of people's long-established beliefs and the ways of life and traditions based on them. The problem is also the dogmatic denial of the beauty and wisdom contained within those beliefs, ways of life, and traditions. (You know, the kind of thing that leads a doctor to risk his life and forego a comfortable stateside livelihood in favor of treating deadly illness in dangerous, impoverished African cities and villages, all out of a love for Jesus Christ.)

Contemporary liberals increasingly think and talk like a class of self-satisfied commissars enforcing a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. The idea that someone, somewhere might devote her life to an alternative vision of the good - one that clashes in some respects with liberalism's moral creed - is increasingly intolerable.

That is a betrayal of what's best in the liberal tradition.

Liberals should be pleased and express gratitude when people do good deeds, whether or not those deeds are motivated by faith. They should also be content to give voluntary associations (like religious colleges) wide latitude to orient themselves to visions of the human good rooted in traditions and experiences that transcend liberal modernity - provided they don't clash in a fundamental way with liberal ideals and institutions.

In the end, what we're seeing is an effort to greatly expand the list of beliefs, traditions, and ways of life that fundamentally clash with liberalism. That is an effort that no genuine liberal should want to succeed.

What happened to a liberalism of skepticism, modesty, humility, and openness to conflicting notions of the highest good? What happened to a liberalism of pluralism that recognizes that when people are allowed to search for truth in freedom, they are liable to seek and find it in a multitude of values, beliefs, and traditions? What happened to a liberalism that sees this diversity as one of the finest flowers of a free society rather than a threat to the liberal democratic order?

I don't have answers to these questions - and frankly, not a lot hinges on figuring out how we got here. What matters is that we acknowledge that something in the liberal mind has changed, and that we act to recover what has been lost.

SOURCE

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Panetta's 'Worthy Fights' Over Obama's Ego

Leon Panetta's memoir, "Worthy Fights," is causing a big stir in Washington and beyond. Panetta was a major player in the president's national security team as CIA director and then defense secretary. The release of his book couldn't be more timely, and the way it's being received by the White House and the media couldn't be more telling of the current state of affairs in the Obama administration.

When Panetta came to the administration, he already had a well-established career in Democrat politics. He had served eight terms in Congress before Bill Clinton recruited him in 1993 to run the Office of Management and Budget. Panetta then became Clinton's chief of staff, taking on the job of bringing order to the political free-for-all that was the White House during the second half of Clinton's first term. After that, he spent time doing what politicos often do when they leave office - he established a policy group, lectured and did some teaching. Then he was tapped by Obama to head the CIA in 2009, and two years later, he became Pentagon chief, wrapping up his service shortly after the beginning of Obama's second term.

For those of us who see Obama's foreign policy for the malfeasance that it is, Panetta's grocery list of national security screw-ups doesn't come as a surprise. What's interesting is how he tries to walk a tightrope of offering praise for the president while skewering him at the same time. Panetta takes pains to hail Obama's keen intellect, as so many who have served with the president often do, but his recollections actually go on to refute that flattery.

Panetta recounts through several episodes that the president lacks the passion of a leader and repeatedly exhibits "a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause." Wouldn't someone with a keen intellect recognize that leadership is crucial to achieving his goal? And, if he believed in his ideas, wouldn't he be willing to actively defend them with logic rather than petulant political attacks on the opposition?

Iraq is a prime example of Panetta's account of Obama's poor leadership. He details how Obama basically sabotaged that country's future by letting his desire to fulfill a campaign pledge - get America out of Iraq - cloud the basic fact that America's military presence was integral to keeping the country together. The White House was "so eager to rid itself of Iraq," Panetta said, "that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests."

Furthermore, Panetta wrote, "My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we'd seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S." His stance, he said, "reflected not just my views but also those of the military commanders in the region and the Joint Chiefs." So Obama's "keen intellect" won out over his knowledgeable advisers.

Indecision combined with deliberately setting unrealistic expectations for Iraq's fragile government essentially sunk the status of forces agreement that the U.S. was trying to hammer out with then-Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki. Obama pleased his constituents, but Panetta argues the end result was "a vacuum in terms of the ability of that country to better protect itself, and it's out of that vacuum that [ISIL] began to breed." (Someone else warned about that too.) Now we've got boots back in the air, fighting what Panetta says should be a "long and sustained battle."

Panetta's motives aren't pure. He's obviously out to sell books, and he may even be angling for a position (secretary of state?) in a Hillary Clinton administration. But Panetta has also captured from the inside what we've been saying about Obama all along - essentially that the president is a narcissist who ignores wise advice in pursuit of his own ideological agenda. In Iraq, that's proved disastrous. And it's worth hammering home.

SOURCE

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

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

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12 October, 2014

A Western Heart

Most of what I put online in my blogs is commentary and news reports written by others that I find interesting from a libertarian/conservative point of view. So I could possibly be seen as a sort of Readers Digest for libertarian/conservatives. In fact, however, on most days I do put up commentary somewhere on one of my blogs that I have written myself. When such comments stretch to more than a sentence of two, therefore, I put them up on the blog A Western Heart (AWH) -- as a convenient way of keeping together my own writings for my own reference.

The blog was originally created by a group of Australian bloggers but the rest of them all gradually burnt out -- leaving me as the only surviving blogger. I am persistent if nothing else.

But another important reason for using AWH has to do with a certain search engine whose name begins with G. For some reason not clear to me AWH gets a much higher priority in searches than do any of my other blogs. If I search for some content that I have put up in more than one place, the AWH entry comes up first by far. I don't know why but I am glad to take advantage of it

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Obama



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A little history, Thomas Jefferson Started A War Against Fundamentalist Islam Over 200 Years Ago

Most Americans are unaware of the fact that over two hundred years ago,the United States had declared war on Islam, and Thomas Jefferson led the charge! At the height of the eighteenth century, Muslim pirates were the terror of the Mediterranean and a large area of the North Atlantic. They attacked every ship in sight, and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms. Those taken hostage were subjected to barbaric treatment and wrote heart breaking letters home, begging their government and family members to pay whatever their Mohammedan captors demanded.

These extortionists of the high seas represented the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers - collectively referred to as the Barbary Coast - and presented a dangerous and unprovoked threat to the new American Republic.

Before the Revolutionary War, U.S. merchant ships had been under the protection of Great Britain. When the U.S. declared its independence and entered into war, the ships of the United States were protected by France. However, once the war was won, America had to protect its own fleets. Thus, the birth of the U.S. Navy.

Beginning in 1784, seventeen years before he would become president, Thomas Jefferson became America's Minister to France. That same year, the U.S. Congress sought to appease its Muslim adversaries by following in the footsteps of European nations who paid bribes to the Barbary States, rather than engaging them in war.

In July of 1785, Algerian pirates captured American ships, and the Day of Algiers demanded an unheard-of ransom of $60,000. It was a plain and simple case of extortion, and Thomas Jefferson was vehemently opposed to any further payments. Instead, he proposed to Congress the formation of a coalition of allied nations who together could force the Islamic states into peace. A disinterested Congress decided to pay the ransom.

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli's ambassador to Great Britain to ask by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens, and why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

The two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam "was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

Despite this stunning admission of premeditated violence on non-Muslim nations, as well as the objections of many notable American leaders, including George Washington, who warned that caving in was both wrong and would only further embolden the enemy, for the following fifteen years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to over twenty percent of the United States government annual revenues in 1800.

Jefferson was disgusted. Shortly after his being sworn in as the third President of the United States in 1801, the Pashaof Tripoli sent him a note demanding the immediate payment of $225,000 plus $25,000 a year for every year forthcoming. That changed everything.

Jefferson let the Pasha know, in no uncertain terms, what he could do with his demand. The Pasha responded by cutting down the flagpole at the American consulate and declared war on the United States. Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers immediately followed suit.

Jefferson, until now, had been against America raising a naval force for anything beyond coastal defense, but having watched his nation be cowed by Islamic thuggery for long enough, decided that it was finally time to meet force with force.

PaintingOfPirateShipBurningInTripoliHarbor1804

Painting of "Pirate Ship Burning in Tripoli Harbor" 1804 .. U.S. Navy Archive

He dispatched a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean and taught the Muslim of the Barbary Coast a lesson he hoped they would never forget. Congress authorized Jefferson to empower U.S. ships to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli and to "cause to be done all other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war would justify".

When Algiers and Tunis, who were both accustomed to American cowardice and acquiescence, saw the newly independent United States had both the will and the might to strike back, they quickly abandoned their allegiance to Tripoli.

The war with Tripoli lasted for four more years, and raged up again in 1815. The bravery of the U.S. Marine Corps in these wars led to the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in the Marine Hymn. They would forever be known as "leathernecks" for the leather collars of their uniforms, designed to prevent their heads from being cut off by the Muslim scimitars when boarding enemy ships.

Islam, and what its Barbary followers justified doing in the name of their prophet and their god, disturbed Jefferson quite deeply. America had a tradition of religious tolerance; the fact that Jefferson, himself, had co-authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but fundamentalist Islam was like no other religion the world had ever seen. A religion based on supremacism, whose holy book not only condoned but mandated violence against unbelievers was unacceptable to him. His greatest fear was that someday this brand of Islam would return and pose an even greater threat to the United States.

This should bother every American. That the Islams have brought about women-only classes and swimming times at taxpayer-funded universities and public pools; that Christians, Jews, and Hindus have been banned from serving on juries where Muslim defendants are being judged, Piggy banks and Porky Pig tissue dispensers have been banned from workplaces because they offend Islamist sensibilities. Ice cream has been discontinued at certain Burger King locations because the picture on the wrapper looks similar to the Arabic script for Allah, public schools are pulling pork from their menus, on and from in the newspapers….

It's death by a thousand cuts, or inch-by-inch as some refer to it, and most Americans have no idea that this battle is being waged every day across America. By not fighting back, by allowing groups to obfuscate what is really happening, and not insisting that the Islamists adapt to our own culture, the United States is cutting its own throat with a politically correct knife, and helping to further the Islamists agenda.

Sadly, it appears that today's America would rather be politically correct than victorious.

SOURCE

Footnote: The North African pirates were eventually wiped out when in 1830 the restored French monarchy sent 600 ships to the other side of the Mediterranean and took over North Africa. The invasion was chaotic but the defence was feeble so the French won

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Campaign finance reform isn't about "getting money out of politics," it's about silencing political dissent

Senate Democrats recently tried to push through a constitutional amendment that would have repealed free speech protections in the First Amendment, making Congress the sole arbiter of what is and isn't political speech. Thankfully, this effort, backed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to get the two-thirds needed for a constitutional majority, killing the proposed amendment for the remainder of the 113th Congress.

Though this effort failed, there stands a good chance that Democrats will, at some point down the road, launch another attempt to repeal the First Amendment, and it will again come under the guise of the Orwellian phrase "campaign finance reform." This phrase may sound nice, but the consequence, as George Will explains in a new video, is the silencing of political speech.

"We Americans are disposed to think that the word 'reform' is a synonym for 'improvement.' But what is called 'campaign finance reform' is nothing less than a frontal assault on the first, the most fundamental of our freedoms -- the freedom to speak our mind and to participate in politics," says Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. "This assault is always conducted stealthily by people who pretend that they only want to regulate money, not speech. They say they are only concerned about the quantity of money in politics."

"You must remember this: People who say there is too much money in politics are necessarily saying three very sinister things. First, they're saying there is too much political speech. Second, they are saying that they know just the right amount of political speech. And third, they are saying that government should enforce the limits they want on the amount of political speech. That is, the government should regulate speech about the government," Will adds.

Despite the feel-good rhetoric Americans so frequently hear from so-called "campaign finance reformers," these efforts aren't about the presence of money in politics, but rather incumbent protection. Campaign finance laws are written by politicians to insulate themselves against criticism and accountability from constituents back home at the expense of one of our most cherished civil liberties.

SOURCE

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How Government Creates Poverty

John Stossel

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson declared "War on Poverty." It sounded great to me. I was taught at Princeton, "We're a rich country. All we have to do is tax the rich, and then use that money to create programs that will lift the poor out of poverty." Government created job-training programs for the strong and expanded social security for the weak.

It seemed to work. The poverty rate dropped from 17 percent to 12 percent in the programs' first decade. Unfortunately, few people noticed that during the half-decade before the "War," the rate dropped from 22 percent to 17 percent. Without big government, Americans were already lifting themselves out of poverty!

Johnson's War brought further progress, but progress then stopped. It stopped because government is not good at making a distinction between needy and lazy. It taught moms not to marry the father of their kids because that would reduce their welfare benefits. Welfare invited people to be dependent. Some people started to say, "Entry-level jobs are for suckers." Many could live almost as well without the hassle of work.

Despite spending an astonishing $22 trillion dollars, despite 92 different government welfare programs, poverty stopped declining. Government's answer? Spend more!

Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, points out that government measures "success" by the growth of programs: "based on inputs, how much money are we spending, how many programs are we creating, how many people are we putting on these programs—not on outcomes—how many people are we getting out of poverty? ... Many of these programs end up disincentivizing work, telling people it pays not to go to work because you'll lose more in benefits than you gain in earning wages."

That doesn't mean the poor are lazy. It means they respond to incentives. They are rational about choosing behaviors that, at least in the short term, pay off.

It's not only welfare that makes it harder for the poor to climb the ladder of success. Well-intended laws, such as a minimum wage, hurt, too. But most people don't understand that. Even Republicans, according to opinion polls, support a higher minimum wage. A minimum sounds compassionate. It's hard to live on $7.25 an hour.

But setting a minimum is anything but compassionate because that eliminates starter jobs. The minimum wage is why kids don't work as apprentices anymore, nor clean your windshield at gas stations. They never get hired because employers reason, "If I must pay $9, I'm not taking a chance on a beginner."

To most economists, the claim that the minimum wage kills starter jobs is not controversial. But it is among the general public. And so politicians pander.

On my TV show this week, Rep. Jim McDermott (D.-Wash.) says that people like Paul Ryan and I "just want to cut the size of government. And trust the private sector to do everything." Well ... yes. The private sector does just about everything better.

McDermott says, "This whole business about somehow raising the minimum wage causes a loss of jobs—if that's true, why don't we just drop the minimum wage altogether and let people work for a dollar a day or $1 an hour?"

OK, let's do it! It's not as if wages are set by the minimum wage. That is a great conceit of the central planners: thinking that only government prevents employers from paying workers nearly nothing. But the reason Americans don't work for $1 an hour is competition, not government minimums. Competition is what forces companies to pay workers more. It doesn't much matter that the law says they can pay as low as $7.25. Only 4 percent of American workers now make that little; 95 percent make more.

The free market will sort this out, if politicians would just let it. Left free, the market will provide the greatest benefit to workers, employers, and consumers, while allowing charity as well.

It would all happen faster if politicians stopped imagining that they are the cause of everything.

SOURCE

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An alarming double standard

Beck asked: “Can you think of a reason, an honest reason, that we have not banned the flights from West Africa yet? Why we’re not stopping this?”

“No,” Levin responded. “I think this is absolute insanity. Well, it’s obviously Obama. The reasons are obvious, because he doesn’t want to appear to be conducting himself in a way that discriminates against that continent.”

“You know what’s really crazy?” Beck added. “It took him all of 30 seconds to ban flights to the state of Israel. He banned flights to Israel over a suspected rocket launch. … This time, we have actual Ebola in our own hometowns, and he’s not banning any flights. Won’t even consider it.”

More HERE

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

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

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10 October, 2014

Mending Medicare Advantage

Last month the Department of Health and Human Services announced that enrollment in Medicare Advantage had reached an all-time high. This admission put the White House in an awkward position: On the one hand, Medicare Advantage is one part of the U.S. healthcare system that enjoys popular support, enabling approximately 16 million seniors to bypass traditional Medicare and instead obtain subsidized coverage through approved private insurers. On the other hand, for the past two years the Obama administration has had to back off from its threats to cut the reimbursements it pays insurers who participate in the program. The reason? President Obama might like to cut Medicare Advantage, but he knows that doing so would anger an important segment of the voting public.

“The political blowback President Obama would suffer from cutting Medicare Advantage too much would be significant,” writes health-policy expert John R. Graham, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, in an op-ed for the Daily Caller. “Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are popular for many reasons. Most importantly, they provide better care than traditional Medicare (TM).” Graham cites a recent study by two respected economists, Joseph Newhouse and Thomas McGuire, who found that MA plans “appear to offer higher value than TM” and that government policy should “move more beneficiaries into MA.”

Newhouse and McGuire’s recommendation has irritated many in the health-policy community, who complain that the government overpays Medicare Advantage plans by 6 percent and that fraud is common. Graham responds to the “fraud” criticism by noting that fraud in traditional Medicare is likely a much bigger problem. As to the “overpayment” claim, Graham urges policymakers to combat this problem by offering an alternative to business as usual: Instead of giving premium subsidies to private insurers, give it to the patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage. “As a modest first step, Medicare should give some Medicare Advantage subsidies to seniors directly, through health savings accounts, instead of handing the taxpayers’ entire contribution to insurance companies.”

SOURCE

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Amazon’s “Dark Side” Is a Bright Spot for Workers and Consumers

Jim Hightower is an old-fashioned Texas progressive, who, if memory serves, once ran unsuccessfully for the governorship of that state. He may be a great polemicist—see “The Dark Side of Amazon”—but he does not know the first thing about how markets work and how Amazon.com, like Wal-Mart, is a benefactor of consumers nationwide and worldwide.

Before the advent of Wal-Mart, rural America was a retail desert. Small shops, limited product availability and, yes, “hometown service”. But the prices of most items were high because the only alternative to shopping locally was to drive to the nearest city or order through the Sears or JC Penney catalog and depend on timely delivery by the US mail in, it was to be hoped, an undamaged package. The downside of local retail shops (limited options and high prices) fell most heavily on low-income households, which may not have had an automobile or could not afford to take time off work to shop at larger urban retailers or even at local merchants, which typically closed at 5 p.m. Wal-Mart solved both problems in one fell swoop.

Sure, local retailers suffered losses of business and some were forced into bankruptcy, but consumers (the only group whose welfare matters in a free market economy) won big-time. Amazon has generated benefits for consumers many times larger than Sam Walton ever dreamt of.

But what about the jobs that disappeared in local retail outlets as Amazon and Wal-Mart drove costs (and prices) down by inventing markedly more efficient distribution networks and negotiating lower prices with manufacturers and other suppliers on behalf of millions of consumers with little bargaining power of their own? An economic system’s chief purpose is to create prosperity (wealth), not jobs. Creating jobs—at the point of a gun, as Josef Stalin proved, or as FDR did by drafting millions of men to shoulder arms against the Axis powers—is easy; creating wealth is not. Prosperity materializes only if existing resources (land, labor and capital) can be utilized more efficiently, squeezing out “waste” and redundancy so that resources can be released from current employments and redirected by alert entrepreneurs to the production of new products that consumers may not even know they want (an iPhone ten years ago, for example) until they become available.

Hightower bemoans the working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, a few of which literally become sweatshops during hot summer months. I am willing to bet, however, that if the people employed in one of Amazon’s “dehumanizing hives” (his phrase) were asked whether they wanted to quit their jobs, not one hand would be raised, especially so in an economy with an unemployment rate still hovering around six percent and a rate of underemployment twice that figure.

Hightower, like many before him, claims that Amazon’s ability to avoid collecting sales taxes on orders shipped out of state from the company’s Washington state headquarters or from its warehouses located around the United States gives Amazon a tax subsidy ranging “from about 4 to more than 10 percent.” That subsidy, which actually ranges from zero to more than 10 percent (four U.S. states—Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana and Oregon—impose no local or state sales taxes at all), supposedly confers a significant competitive disadvantage on brick-and-mortar retailers, who must remit sales tax receipts to the appropriate state tax authority.

But in making that claim, Hightower ignores taxes paid by FedEx and UPS, which deliver Amazon’s packages to customers’ doorsteps. Those delivery services pay, among others, state and local gasoline taxes and corporate income taxes; their employees pay state and local personal income taxes and spend some of their disposable incomes at local grocery stores and other retail outlets, purchases on which sales taxes are due. So, too, do the owners and employees of Amazon’s warehouses.

Amazon relies increasingly on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages to customers’ homes or places of business, especially in rural areas, a relationship that must have been seen by the beleaguered USPS as something like a lifeline thrown to someone going underwater for the third time.

It is true that, like Wal-Mart, Amazon has benefited from tax breaks (“incentives”) offered by local and state governments to lure companies to one particular geographic location rather than another. Handed out to encourage local economic development and the jobs and tax receipts associated with it, such corporate “incentives” are a national scandal, squandering taxpayers’ hard-earned money for dubious benefits. But neither Wal-Mart nor Amazon should be blamed for accepting such incentives, which are offered by politicians who want to claim credit at reelection time for attracting high-profile corporations to their home districts or states. Consumers, by and large, don’t care about the points of origin of their orders, as long as they are delivered when expected, whether from Toledo or Timbuktu.

It is someone ironic, but understandable, that Wal-Mart has joined the chorus demanding that Congress put an end to the sales-tax-free Internet retail environment. Wal-Mart has a physical presence in virtually every state and thus is obliged to collect sales taxes on almost everything it sells. Wal-Mart, of course, would benefit itself by erasing one of Amazon’s competitive advantages. But consumers would be harmed, not only by seeing prices rise by the amount of sales tax Amazon collects and then remits to the treasuries of its customers’ places of residence. Even more seriously, expunging the virtual border between the more than 3,000 separate taxing jurisdictions throughout the United States would mute the interjurisdictional tax-rate competition that makes it politically costly for any one of them to jack up its sales tax rate.

Competition can seem to be ruthless to someone who loses a small business or gets fired from a retail job, but the benefits to consumers swamp the harm done to producers. Already, Amazon is facing threats from Uber and other web-based delivery services that will pick up and deliver orders from local retailers in hours, not one or two days. Amazon could respond by getting permission from government regulators to deliver packages via drones. No one knows what the next new thing will be, but the answer cannot be found by hamstringing Amazon or any other large retailer, but by allowing free and open competition to flourish.

But a mercantilist, anti-market mindset is exactly what one would expect from a progressive defender of the Empire against Sam Walton, Jeff Bezos, and innovative rebels like them.

SOURCE

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Dr. Emanuel's death wish

by Jeff Jacoby

THE ELDERLY are such a pain, aren't they? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel thinks so. Half of those older than 80 have "functional limitations," the prominent health policy analyst and key ObamaCare architect writes in the October issue of The Atlantic. One in three Americans 85 and up has Alzheimer's. Old people are more likely to be disabled, or at least "faltering and declining." They lose their creative mojo. They don't "contribute to work, society, the world." Instead of being regarded as "vibrant and engaged," they grow "feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic."

Especially disagreeable are old parents, who can be so irritating: "They set expectations, render judgments, impose their opinions, interfere, and are generally a looming presence for even adult children," Emanuel complains. By living too long, parents blow their chance to impart "the right memories" to their kids. Nothing could be worse, he insists, than being remembered not as we were in our prime, but as old and decrepit — "stooped and sluggish, forgetful and repetitive, constantly asking, 'What did she say?'" To leave behind memories of our frailty "is the ultimate tragedy."

And that, declares Emanuel, is "Why I Hope to Die at 75."

In his 5,000-word Atlantic essay, Emanuel — who heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and has an appointment at National Institutes of Health— announces that once he reaches 75, he will decline nearly all medical treatment. No more flu shots, no colonoscopies or other screenings, no pacemakers or surgery. "If I develop cancer, I will refuse treatment," he writes. He won't even take antibiotics to cure pneumonia or an infection, preferring instead to be carried off by the "quick and relatively painless" death untreated infection usually leads to.

Or so he says.

Debate over the health resources consumed by America's elderly have been ongoing for decades. As a candidate for Massachusetts governor in 1990, Boston University's John Silber famously generated sparks when he replied to a question about the surging costs of medical care for the elderly by asserting: "When you've had a long life and you're ripe, then it's time to go." President Obama has suggested the same thing, albeit far more tactfully. In 2009 he cited his grandmother's hip-replacement surgery during her final illness, publicly questioning whether such costly procedures for the terminally ill are a "sustainable model" for health care.

Over the years Emanuel has energetically weighed in on these issues, but that's not the focus of his Atlantic essay. His argument is not about dollars and cents, it's about quality of life. Death is a loss, but "living too long is also a loss" — loss of vigor, of autonomy, of productivity, of smarts, of ambition. If we're to take him at his word, he cannot bear the thought of slowing down as he ages. He recoils from the way the old gradually learn to "accommodate [their] physical and mental limitations" — retiring from a profession, taking up hobbies, doing and daring less.

"As walking becomes harder and the pain of arthritis limits the fingers' mobility, life comes to center around sitting in the den reading or listening to books on tape and doing crossword puzzles." Emanuel, whose essay is accompanied by a picture of himself and two nephews on Mount Kilimanjaro, would rather die of pneumonia than live like that. He maintains he is "certainly not scorning or dismissing people who want to live on" despite the debilities of old age. But it's hard to take that disclaimer seriously, when the whole point of his essay is that a diminished life isn't worth prolonging.

He mocks Americans who exercise, do mental puzzles, and consume "various juice and protein concoctions" in their quest to live longer. "Manic desperation," he calls it. "Misguided." "Potentially destructive." That's not scorn?

Maybe Emanuel is merely being provocative. He acknowledges that 75 is an arbitrary age to designate as the boundary between a vibrant life and a feeble one. He admits there are "myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well." At the start of his essay, he claims "I am sure of my position" — yet reserves the right, at the very end, to change his mind once he reaches his 75th birthday.

Emanuel is 57 now, which gives him 18 years to reconsider his death wish, and to learn, perhaps, that the declines of advanced age can be a blessing as well as a curse. To be able to accept the pains and impediments of mortality requires a measure of courage and dignity that few of us are blessed with — or can even imagine — in our prime. Emanuel's own father, now 87, has slowed down considerably. His career is over. His son describes him as "sluggish." And yet the old man describes himself as happy.

Emanuel may dread the prospect of ending up like his father. But he's still young, and not yet wise.

SOURCE

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ONE MORE REASON TO HOPE THE DEMOCRATS LOSE IN NOVEMBER

There are lots of good reasons to hope that the Democrats suffer a humiliating defeat in November, and this one is pretty far down the list. Still, it isn’t insignificant: as we have documented over and over, the Democrats, from the White House and Harry Reid on down, have run this year’s campaign largely against Charles and David Koch. It is rare for the Democratic Party to send out a fundraising email that fails to invoke the specter of the “Koch brothers,” who are treated essentially as bogeymen.

This is unprecedented in our history. Never before has a political party based a campaign on demonizing individual, private citizens who hold opposing beliefs and who exercise their First Amendment right to participate in the political process. In my view, it would be a very bad thing if attacks like those the Democrats have made against Charles and David Koch–which, frankly, border on the insane–were to become the norm.

On Chris Matthews’ Hardball, Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post criticized the campaign the Democrats have run this year, and said specifically that “campaigning against the Koch brothers is idiotic.”

I hope he proves to be right. If the Democrats get clobbered in November, their anti-Koch strategy will go down as a failure, and parties in the future will be unlikely to repeat it. If, on the other hand, the Democrats outperform expectations, they likely will conclude that their diversionary attack on the Kochs worked, and they are likely to try the same thing in the future, against the Kochs or others who disagree with them. Our politics are plenty dirty enough without giving the Democrats that sort of encouragement.

SOURCE

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Walmart Nixes Insurance for 30,000

Another 30,000 employees are finding out they can’t keep their insurance plans, even if they like them. The Associated Press reports, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to eliminate health insurance coverage for some of its part-time U.S. employees in a move aimed at controlling rising health care costs of the nation’s largest private employer.” The terminations will be effective Jan. 1 and will affect 30,000 of the company’s workforce clocking in less than 30 hours a week. “The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees,” the AP adds.

Senior vice president of benefits, Sally Welborn, defended the move, saying, “We are trying to balance the needs of (workers) as well as the costs of (workers) as well as the cost to Wal-Mart.” In other words, the retail giant is trying to keep its business afloat while also maintaining a profit margin – a tedious process every business owner faces that’s been made all the more difficult because of ObamaCare.

Then again, Walmart endorsed ObamaCare, only to turn around and do what leftists really wanted – put more people on the federal dole. Oh, and they’re offering health insurance advice, too.

SOURCE

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

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

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9 October, 2014

Lazy Google spiders

Google seems to have a very relaxed attitude to files that have been on the net for some time. Once they have indexed a file, they seem never to look at it again.

I once had a site with a crowd called 110mb.com and I put a lot of my files up there. Google duly noted that at the time. A couple of years ago, however, 110mb.com deleted my account for reasons known only to them. I was unfazed by that and simply put my files up elsewhere. But if you do a search for any of the files Google still refers you to the long-gone page. It amounts to a subtle form of censorship.

One would think that they would revisit every page at least once a year and take down references to pages no longer there. There are a lot of those on the net.

My current home page is here and you can access all my articles from there

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MRC Ends Suit: Gov’t States It Isn't Enforcing Contraceptive Rule on Self-Certified Religious Group

The Media Research Center (MRC), a non-profit group that monitors liberal bias in the news media, announced today that it was ending its lawsuit to block the Obamacare contraceptive mandate because the organization is a self-certified religious entity and the federal government, through an Agreed Order of Dismissal, has affirmed “that it is not now enforcing, and has no plans to penalize or enforce the contraceptive mandate against the MRC,” reads a press release from the MRC.

“The Agreed Order of Dismissal is a major victory not only for the MRC, but any organization that believes in freedom of religion and the conscience rights of individuals to operate their enterprises free from the threat of government reprisal,” said MRC Founder and President Brent Bozell. “With this agreement, the MRC and its employees will continue to live and work according to our values and our firmly held belief that all human life is sacred.”

The regulation, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, says that nearly all companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, such as ella and Plan B, without co-payments.

The MRC, which has about 60 employees and is the parent organization of CNSNews.com, says the contraceptive mandate violates its religious beliefs. Back in May, the non-profit group said, “For nearly three decades, the MRC has been the nation’s premier defender of pro-life views and Judeo-Christian values from attacks by the liberal media.”

Its president and other employees “practice and live by Judeo-Christian values, and believe abortion, whether through the actions of an abortionist or a drug, is the taking of innocent human life,” said the MRC. “Under the First Amendment, the MRC and its employees have the right to practice and abide by their faith in their everyday lives including in the operations of their mission-oriented non-profit organization.”

Under the rules of the contraceptive mandate, churches, other “official” religious institutions, and “eligible organizations” are allowed to exempt themselves from the mandate through a “self-certification” process.

An employer can self-certify as an “eligible organization” if it opposes part or all of the mandate on religious grounds; operates as a non-profit; and holds itself out as a religious organization.

The MRC completed that “self-certification” but also filed suit against the HHS in April, asking the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia to formally declare that the non-profit was exempt as an “eligible organization” because it is a religious group, a ruling that would also protect the MRC from crippling fines.

If an employer is not exempt from the contraceptive regulation, it must comply or face daily fines of $100 per employee. For the MRC, that potentially amounts to $4,562,000 a year. But the Agreed Order of Dismissal, according to the Oct. 6 press statement, “confirms that there is no imminent threat to the MRC from the government and leaves the MRC free to reopen the suit should the government challenge the MRC’s self-declared exemption in the future.”

SOURCE

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Government Should Target ‘Bad Guys,’ Not Entire Industries, Trade Group Says


A group representing businesses that speed monetary transactions between consumers has taken a legal stand against Operation Choke Point, the secretive Obama administration effort to financially starve industries that are politically out of favor.

The Third Party Payment Processors Association filed a legal brief Friday in support of a lawsuit that challenges the Justice Department initiative’s use of federal banking regulators to pressure banks into closing the accounts of a variety of enterprises.

“They’re using regulation-examining authorities to coerce banks into dropping relationships that are politically unfavorable,” said Marsha Jones, president of the trade association.

The lawsuit, filed by the payday lending industry, accuses three of the government’s main financial regulatory bodies—the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency—of abusing their examination authority.

Their intent, the suit says, is “to enforce a de facto boycott” of industries the Obama administration considers objectionable.

Operation Choke Point, coordinated by the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, works by wielding the implied threat of government audits and other investigations, critics say.

Jones told The Daily Signal the trade group wanted to speak out to prevent the Justice Department from persuading the public that it targets only disreputable enterprises such as pornography, Ponzi schemes or even payday lending:

This isn’t about [only] payday lending, this is about going after third-party payment processors because it’s faster and less costly and easier than going after the bad merchants directly.

A House report concluded that the Justice Department initiative purposefully pressures financial institutions into denying legal businesses access to the very banking system they need to survive—simply because the administration doesn’t like them.

A third-party payment processor is a business—such as PayPal or a payroll depositor—that processes payments for other companies or customers through an independent bank.

Payment processors play a vital role in the economy by easing or making possible monetary transactions among consumers, merchants and financial institutions, Jones said.

The Third Party Payment Processors Association, a 30-member group that formed in 2013, says its mission is to help processors and banks operate “efficiently and compliantly” within today’s government regulatory environment.

The Justice Department, which has declined to speak to The Daily Signal about Operation Choke Point, contends that the campaign’s goal is to combat unlawful, mass-market consumer fraud.

Jones says she not only is fine with that, she’s willing to help:

"Go after the bad guys—we’ll help you find them through creating best practices. But don’t use the components of the payment system to try to sweep entire industries out of business."

Pawn shops, payday lenders, gun sellers and payment processors are among the legal enterprises overtly targeted by regulators at Justice’s behest

The payday industry representatives filed their suit June 5 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

They asked the court to set aside “certain informal guidance documents and other unlawful regulatory actions by FDIC, the [Federal Reserve] Board and OCC on the grounds that they exceed the agencies’ statutory authority.”

In July, after coming under congressional scrutiny, the FDIC took down online lists of “high risk” businesses, citing “misunderstandings” in which its guidance led to sudden decisions by banks to close accounts with established customers that fell under one or more of the listed categories.

Jones said industry experts believe the FDIC removed the lists simply as a “legal tactic,” so the regulatory agency could argue that the suit’s claims no longer apply. Even so, Jones said, removing the “high risk list” isn’t enough to end Operation Choke Point.

Without a court ruling against the practice, she and other critics of the government program say, banks will continue shutting out “high risk” customers to avoid government scrutiny. Otherwise, Jones said, silence “would basically be a nod to the regulators” that they have done nothing wrong.

“Operation Choke Point continues to be the greatest threat to consumer choice and freedom this country has ever seen,” said Brian Wise, senior adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a grassroots organization leading the fight against Choke Point.

In applauding the trade group’s friend-of-the court brief, Wise said he hopes the courts “uphold the standard of due process.”

The public, Wise said, should “demand that the administration, if they want to destroy an entire industry, do it through the legislative process [and] not through unilateral executive action.”

SOURCE

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No Ebola Travel Ban: Dems Defend Obama Policy Through Silence

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that a teenager from West Africa who became sick while visiting Florida on holiday caused Jackson Memorial Hospital to go on high alert on Sunday amid fears that he may have the deadly Ebola virus.

This makes, by our count, the fourth Ebola “scare” since Liberian Thomas Duncan became the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola. All of these “scares” were due to allowing visitors, some of whom may have lied about their exposure to Ebola, into the United States from countries where the deadly virus is at epidemic proportions.

Yet, the Obama administration is not considering a ban on travelers from countries most affected by the deadly Ebola virus outbreak, the White House said on Monday.

"A travel ban is not something that we're currently considering," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing. "We feel good about the measures that are already in place," he said according to Yahoo News.

Now here’s something from The Daily Mail report that should scare every voter in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health has requested 30 additional Ebola testing kits from the CDC to ensure that all of Florida’s public hospitals 'have the ability to test patients who county health officials and the CDC believe need to be tested for Ebola,' said Florida’s Governor Rick Scott.

The Daily Mail also reports that the Florida “Health Department also requested '100 units of additional high-level personal protective equipment to ensure the state is ready to backfill any county whose medical personnel develop a future need for these supplies.'”

In other words, due to Obama’s policy of keeping the border open to travelers from countries where the Ebola epidemic is raging, Floridians can expect MORE Ebola scares, not fewer, or better yet, no Ebola scares.

A normal American government would act immediately to eliminate the existential threat of this growing world epidemic, but the Obama administration is not a normal American government.

As we noted yesterday, the practical result of Obama’s immigration policies toward the sources of Ebola, whooping cough and Enterovirus 68 is a life or death threat to America’s children.

Through their silent support for Obama’s open borders policy Democrats are more than merely complicit in this existential threat to America’s national security – they are actively helping to advance it.

North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis is the only Republican Senate candidate we can find who has grasped that protecting Americans, and especially American children, from the looming health disaster of Obama’s lawless immigration policies is an important issue in the 2014 midterm election. Tillis demanded on Thursday a nationwide travel ban from the three hardest-hit Ebola hotspots: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Tillis’ call for a travel ban shows that his campaign has grasped the political and policy implications of Obama’s disastrous failure to enforce our immigration and health security laws – it is time for the Republicans to drive the message home, close the deal with the “security Mom” vote and win the election.

SOURCE

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It's happening



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

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

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8 October, 2014

The terrible truth about cannabis: British expert's devastating 20-year study finally demolishes claims that smoking pot is harmless

A definitive 20-year study into the effects of long-term cannabis use has demolished the argument that the drug is safe. Cannabis is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and opens the door to hard drugs, the study found.

The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, builds a compelling case against those who deny the devastation cannabis wreaks on the brain. Professor Hall found:

One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it,

Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia,

Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development

One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs,

Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink,

Smoking it while pregnant reduces the baby’s birth weight.

Last night Professor Hall, a professor of addiction policy at King’s College London, dismissed the views of those who say that cannabis is harmless. ‘If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol,’ he said.

‘It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin – we just don’t know how to do it.’

Those who try to stop taking cannabis often suffer anxiety, insomnia, appetite disturbance and depression, he found. Even after treatment, less than half can stay off the drug for six months.

The paper states that teenagers and young adults are now as likely to take cannabis as they are to smoke cigarettes.

Professor Hall writes that it is impossible to take a fatal overdose of cannabis, making it less dangerous at first glance than heroin or cocaine. He also states that taking the drug while pregnant can reduce the weight of a baby, and long-term use raises the risk of cancer, bronchitis and heart attack.

But his main finding is that regular use, especially among teenagers, leads to long-term mental health problems and addiction.

‘The important point I am trying to make is that people can get into difficulties with cannabis use, particularly if they get into daily use over a longer period,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt that heavy users experience a withdrawal syndrome as with alcohol and heroin.

‘Rates of recovery from cannabis dependence among those seeking treatment are similar to those for alcohol.’

Mark Winstanley, of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: ‘Too often cannabis is wrongly seen as a safe drug, but as this review shows, there is a clear link with psychosis and schizophrenia, especially for teenagers.

‘The common view that smoking cannabis is nothing to get worked up about needs to be challenged more effectively. Instead of classifying and re-classifying, government time and money would be much better spent on educating young people about how smoking cannabis is essentially playing a very real game of Russian roulette with your mental health.’

Professor Hall last night declined to comment on the decriminalisation debate.

But in his paper, published in the journal Addiction, he wrote that the rise of medical treatment for cannabis ‘dependence syndrome’ had not been stopped by legalisation. The number of cannabis users seeking help to quit or control their cannabis use has increased during the past two decades in the United States, Europe and Australia,’ he wrote. ‘The same increase has occurred in the Netherlands, where cannabis use was decriminalised more than 40 years ago.’

SOURCE

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Is the Democratic Party more peaceful?

The list below omits Bill Clinton's bombing of the Christian Serbs in defence of the Muslim Kosovars

There is a popular cliche in American politics that holds the Democratic politicians as more peaceful than the Republicans. NagasakibombSupporters would frame it as Democrats being diplomatic versus the Republican warhawks. Opponents would frame it as Democrats being “weak on defense” versus the Republicans who are “strong on national security.” But both supporters and opponents of the Democrats agree that they are more peace-loving than the Republicans. I mean, Barack Obama and Al Gore both have Nobel Peace Prizes!

Yet as with most of the conventional wisdom concerning U.S. politics, this bit of “everyone knows” is completely wrong. Here are some inconvenient truths to fit into the standard narrative:

==> Woodrow Wilson led the U.S. into World War I. His actions before U.S. entry were so belligerent that his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, actually resigned in protest. (Bryan wanted the U.S. to stay neutral, and thought Wilson’s policies were clearly pro-British and anti-German.)

==> Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted policies that were hardly neutral and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, led the U.S. into World II. FDR was in office to oversee the Manhattan Project. After FDR’s death he was succeeded by Harry Truman, the only political ruler in human history to order atomic weapons to be used against civilians.

==> John F. Kennedy in 1961 told a NYT reporter, “Now we have a problem making our power credible and Vietnam looks like the place.” While (Republican) Dwight Eisenhower had sent 900 advisors to South Vietnam, by the time of his assassination in November 1963 Kennedy had sent 16,000 military personnel.

==> Under Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. forces in Vietnam went from 16,000 in late 1963 to 550,000 by early 1968. LBJ also approved “carpet bombing” campaigns. For example, Operation Rolling Thunder from 1965-68 involved more than 1 million sorties and 750,000 tons of bombs.

==> In August 1998 Bill Clinton launched dozens of cruise missiles at targets in the Sudan and Afghanistan, a move described in the NYT this way: “With about 75 missiles timed to explode simultaneously in unsuspecting countries on two continents, the operation was the most formidable U.S. military assault ever against a private sponsor of terrorism.” Cynics claimed the timing and boldness of the operation was to take the Monica Lewinsky scandal off the front pages. (Clinton’s grand jury testimony and nationally televised admission of guilt had occurred earlier in the month.)

==> And of course, President Obama has only escalated the “global war on terror” that mushroomed under his predecessor. His actions have been so opposite to what his supporters had hoped that we’ve got this yard sign:



So in conclusion, no, the Democrats are not the party of peace

SOURCE

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No, America isn’t Communist. It’s only 70% Communist

“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!”

Most people remember Karl Marx’s most potent points and phrases, and the mountain of corpses his disciples left behind, especially in the 20th century. However, most forget or don’t even know the specific policies that Marx advocated.

Within his 1848 Communist Manifesto, Marx outlined a list of ten short-term demands. These, he thought, would be the precursor to the ideal stateless, classless communist society.

Ironically in today’s world, Marx’s demands look pretty much mainstream. That is because nearly every single item on the list has been implemented to varying degrees in the United States.

Think that couldn’t be possible in the Land of the Free? Just take a look. Topping Marx’s list is the abolition of private property. True, private property exists, but only until the state wants to take it. With its powers of eminent domain, the government can and does confiscate people’s property when it wants for public use. Your property isn’t unconditionally yours. Just think of property taxes, for example. If it’s actually YOUR private property, then why would you need to pay tax on it? And why do they have the authority to take it from you if you don’t pay?

Likewise, while we haven’t seen the complete abolition of inheritance (another Marx demand), the government can take up to 40% of your estate when you die. So ultimately your estate is not your own. You don’t get to control what happens to your wealth and possessions when you die. It’s just a matter of proportion.

Marx also demanded the centralization of transportation and communication. Check, and check. Try broadcasting over the airwaves in the Land of the Free without a license and special permission. Practically the entire electromagnetic spectrum is tightly controlled by the state, centralized by a handful of government agencies. Same with the network of roads and highways. Because, after all, without government, who would build the roads…

Another point of Marx is state-guided agricultural production and combination of agriculture and manufacturing. And the Land of the Free does not disappoint. Though its activities may not be as prominent in the news, the US Department of Agriculture is easily one of the busiest government departments. With a budget of $146 billion a year, and much more for subsidies, USDA tirelessly works to dictate every major and miniscule activity in the sector.

Next on the list, is equal liability of all to labor. If you have at any point wondered, as I have, why politicians are always pushing jobs for the sake of jobs, rather than value and wealth creation—now you know why. Between minimum wage laws and the constant stream of legislation that promises jobs for all, it is clear that politicians have wholly internalized this Marxian ideal.

Now, you might think that this is just a fluke, just a coincidence that some US policies resemble what’s on Marx’s list of demands. But then you see these demands, which have not only been fully implemented in the US already, but are thoroughly entrenched in the national psyche:

First, there’s free education for all children, to enable the uniformity of thought. Check.

Then there’s a heavy progressive income tax. Yep, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with this one, which has actually become so mainstream, that to have any system other than this would be considered revolutionary. Check.

Third, is the confiscation of the property of emigrants (expatriates) and rebels. Between the IRS bullying of political opposition groups and the imposition of exit taxes for those that renounce their citizenship, the United States is firmly set up to discourage dissent and escape. Check.

And last but not least, the centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank. Check. Remember, Karl Marx thought central banking was a great idea—the same guy who thought that individual success and private property were evil.

Think about that the next time the Federal Reserve comes up with a plan to help businesses and fix the economy. So now you know, America isn't communist. It's only about 70% communist. No reason to worry.

SOURCE

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That Leftist lack of consistency again



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The Income Inequality Diversion

Politicians such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cashed in on growing concerns about income inequality by employing the rhetoric of redistribution. But such rhetoric fundamentally misconstrues the realities of the knowledge economy. Consider: If politicians were to tax away the income gains accrued over the past 35 years by the wealthiest 1 percent of American households and give that money to the other 99 percent, the latter would have $7,105 more per year. But that sum is no match for the income gains that a family headed by two college graduates enjoyed over the same period compared to a family headed by two high-school grads: $30,000.

“In other words, not going to college appears to be four times more important than anything that could be gained by taxing the rich for people in the lower half of the income distribution,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman. A college degree helps, but even more important are the self-discipline and self-control that one can gain by pursuing academic excellence.

Such character traits are by no means exclusive to college graduates, of course, as the list of billionaires who never finished college indicates. But rather than delve into the relationship between an enterprising mindset and economic success, redistributionists would rather bemoan income inequality. Why? “That answer seems pretty clear,” Goodman continues. “Because they don’t want to talk about Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, bailouts, debt, the stimulus, the rotten cronyism of energy policy, denial of education to poor and minorities, the abject failure of their policies to help poor and middle class people, and especially sclerotic growth.”

SOURCE

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How to LIMIT the US Courts

Over the past 70 years, most States have passed Laws involving Abortion and Gay Marriage and The Death Penalty.

However, in many cases, un-elected, often highly partisan US federal judges have unilaterally destroyed many of these Laws.

Fortunately, the Founders of our country anticipated this deranged SPECTACLE. Article III of the US Constitution says that Congress can limit the jurisdiction of the US federal courts with a simple majority vote.

BOTTOM-LINE: A simple majority in Congress can remove all legislation involving ABORTION and MARRIAGE and THE DEATH PENALTY from the terrifying jurisdiction of our US federal courts.

Via email

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

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

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7 October, 2014

Obama attacks freedom and demands apartheid

Israel's prime minister dismissed a recent White House rebuke of Israeli settlement construction, saying in comments broadcast on Sunday that the criticism goes 'against American values.'

The tough words by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to deepen a rift with the White House over Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians as parts of a future independent state.

A day earlier, an ultranationalist Jewish group said dozens of settlers would move into six apartment buildings purchased in the heart of a predominantly Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

In a striking public rebuke last week, the Obama administration warned Israel that the new project would distance Israel from 'even its closest allies' and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Netanyahu said he does not accept restrictions on where Jews could live, and said that Jerusalem's Arabs and Jews should be able to buy homes wherever they want.

He said he was 'baffled' by the American condemnation. 'It's against the American values. And it doesn't bode well for peace,' he said. 'The idea that we'd have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it's anti-peace.'

SOURCE

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Dallas Ebola Patient Was Another Visa Mistake

Look up "likely visa overstay" in the dictionary, and you should find a picture of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who is the first Ebola case diagnosed within the United States, and who is now being treated in a Dallas hospital.

This looks like another good case for the consular officers training manual of a non-immigrant visa that never should have been issued, but which could have serious public health consequences, not to mention monetary costs.

According to his Facebook page and other reports, Duncan is a 40-something, single, unemployed Liberian living in Ghana who applied sometime in the last year for a visa to visit his sister in the United States. It was reportedly his first time visiting this country.

That is six strikes against his application:

Single
Unemployed
Liberian (5th highest overstay rate of any country in the world)
Living outside country of citizenship
First time traveler to the United States
Sister living in the United States.

Together, all these factors should have weighed very heavily against the issuance of a vistor's visa to Duncan. He clearly appears unqualified.

In 2013, more than 3,500 non-immigrant visas were issued to Liberians. This number has grown steadily since 2009, when just over 1,300 were issued. Most are issued to tourists and business travelers. A relatively high percentage do not return, but settle here illegally to join a well-established Liberian community (many of whom have won green cards in the visa lottery).

The federal government has yet to disclose the details of Duncan's immigration history, but it is fair to ask why he was issued a visa in the first place? More importantly, what steps are being taken to prevent others who may be infected from entering the country?

Using 2013 non-immigrant visa issuance statistics and information on visa validity periods, I estimate that there are about 5,000 people from Sierra Leone, 5,000 people from Guinea, and 3,500 people from Liberia who have valid non-immigrant visas to enter the United States.

The president and his immigration agencies have the authority and the responsibility to deny admission to any alien that has (or cannot establish to the government's satisfaction that he or she doesn't have) a communicable disease of public health significance, such as ebola. In the midst of this severe outbreak, the government should be setting up more robust screening protocols. Reportedly, travelers to the United States are simply being questioned about their contact with infected people and are checked for a fever. In contrast, three African countries (Namibia, Kenya, and Zambia) have banned travelers from the countries that are experiencing the outbreak (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea).

In July, a member of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson suggesting that we bar entry to any foreign travelers who have visited the three Ebola-stricken countries within 90 days of seeking entry to the United States.

But, as with the threat from terrorism and from foreign criminal cartels, the Obama administration seems reluctant to use immigration controls even to protect the homeland.

From CIS

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Record 61.8 million U.S. Residents Speak Foreign Language at Home

Spanish, Chinese & Arabic speakers grew most since 2010

Nearly 62 million U.S. residents now speak a language other than English at home - an all-time high. A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies, based on recently released data from the Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey, shows that one in five U.S. residents over age four speaks a foreign language at home. The number of foreign language speakers grew 2.2 million since 2010. This growth was driven almost entirely by an increase in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic speakers.

"It is important to understand that the enormous growth in foreign language use reflects past policy decisions. Allowing in over one million new legal immigrants a year and to a lesser extent tolerating illegal immigration has important implication for preserving a common language," said Steven Camarota, the Center's Director of Research and co-author of the report. "For too long we have given little consider to whether continuing this level of immigration, mostly legal, hinder the assimilation of immigrants and their children."

View the entire report here. Among the findings:

In 2013 a record 61.8 million all U.S. residents (native-born, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants) spoke a language other than English at home.

The number of foreign-language speakers increased 2.2 million between 2010 and 2013. It has grown by nearly 15 million (32 percent) since 2000 and by almost 30 million since 1990 (94 percent).

The largest increases 2010 to 2013 were for speakers of Spanish (up 1.4 million, 4 percent growth), Chinese (up 220,000, 8 percent growth), Arabic (up 188,000, 22 percent growth), and Urdu (up 50,000, 13 percent growth). Urdu is the national language of Pakistan.

Languages with more than a million speakers in 2013 were Spanish (38.4 million), Chinese (three million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), and Korean and Arabic (1.1million each). Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines.

The percentage of the U.S. population speaking a language other than English at home was 21 percent in 2013, a slight increase over 2010. In 2000, the share was 18 percent; in 1990 it was 14 percent; it was 11 percent in 1980.

Of the school age (5 to 17) nationally, more than one in five speaks a foreign language at home. It is 45 percent in California and roughly one in three students in Texas, Nevada and New York. But more surprisingly it is now one in seven students in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Nebraska and Delaware; and one out of eight students in Kansas, Utah, Minnesota and Idaho.

Many of those who speak a foreign language at home are not immigrants. Of the nearly 62 million foreign-language speakers, 44 percent (27.2 million) were born in the United States.

Of those who speak a foreign language at home, 25.1 million (41 percent) told the Census Bureau that they speak English less than very well.

States with the largest share of foreign-language speakers in 2013 include: California, 44 percent; New Mexico, 36 percent; Texas 35 percent; New Jersey, 30 percent; Nevada, 30 percent; New York, 30 percent; Florida, 27 percent; Arizona, 27 percent; Hawaii, 25 percent; Illinois, 23 percent; Massachusetts, 22 percent, Connecticut, 22 percent; and Rhode Island, 21 percent.

States with the largest percentage increases in foreign-language speakers 2010 to 2013 were: North Dakota, up 13 percent; Oklahoma, up 11 percent; Nevada, up 10 percent, New Hampshire, up 8 percent; Idaho, up 8 percent, Georgia, up 7 percent; Washington, up 7 percent; Oregon, up 6 percent; Massachusetts, up 6 percent; Kentucky, up 6 percent; Maryland, up 5 percent; and North Carolina, up 5 percent.

Taking a longer view, states with the largest percentage increase in foreign-language speakers 2000 to 2013 were: Nevada, up 85 percent; North Carolina, up 69 percent; Georgia, up 69 percent; Washington, up 60 percent; South Carolina, up 57 percent; Virginia, up 57 percent; Tennessee, up 54 percent; Arkansas, up 54 percent; Maryland, up 52 percent; Delaware, up 52 percent; Oklahoma, up 48 percent; Utah, up 47 percent; Idaho, up 47 percent; Nebraska, up 46 percent; Florida, up 46 percent; Alabama, up 43 percent; Texas, up 42 percent; Oregon, up 42 percent; and Kentucky, up 39 percent.

From CIS

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U.S. Immigrant Population Hits Record 41.3 Million

Middle Eastern, Asian, and Caribbean Immigrants Lead Growth

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that nearly one in six adults in the U.S. is foreign-born. The report, based on newly released Census Bureau data, also found that the nation's immigrant population (legal and illegal) grew by 1.4 million from July 2010 to July 2013. The immigrant population, referred to as the foreign-born by the Census Bureau, includes all those who were not U.S. citizens at birth, including illegal immigrants.

"The new data makes clear that while Latin America and the Caribbean are still a significant source of immigration, the growth is being driven in large part by immigration from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa," observed the Center's Director of Research and lead author of the report, Steven Camarota.

View the full report here. Among the findings from the new data:

The nation's immigrant population (legal and illegal) hit a record 41.3 million in July 2013, an increase of 1.4 million since July 2010. Since 2000 the immigrant population is up 10.2 million.

The 41.3 million immigrant population (legal and illegal) in 2013 was double the number in 1990, nearly triple the number in 1980, and quadruple that in 1970, when it stood at 9.6 million.

The sending regions with the largest increases from 2010 to 2013 were South Asia (up 373,000, 16 percent growth); East Asia (up 365,000, 5 percent growth); the Caribbean (up 223,000, 6 percent growth), the Middle East (up 208,000, 13 percent growth); and sub-Saharan Africa (up 177,000, 13 percent growth).

The sending countries with the largest increases 2010 to 2013 were India (up 254,000, 14 percent growth); China (up 217,000, 10 percent growth); the Dominican Republic (up 112,000, 13 percent growth); Guatemala (up 71,000, 9 percent growth); Jamaica (up 55,000, 8 percent growth); Bangladesh (up 49,000, 32 percent growth); Saudi Arabia (up 44,000, 97 percent growth); Pakistan (up 43,000, 14 percent growth); and Iraq (up 41,000, 26 percent growth).

Since the Great Recession in 2007, at least 7.5 million immigrants have settled in the country. New arrivals are offset by return-migration and deaths.

As a share of the total population, immigrants (legal and illegal) comprised 13.1 percent of U.S. residents (about one out of every eight), the highest percentage in 93 years. As recently as 1980, 6.2 percent of the population was comprised of immigrants.

Immigrants comprised 16 percent of the adult population (18-plus) in 2013, nearly one out of every six adults.

Mexicans accounted for the largest immigrant population by far, with 11.6 million legal and illegal immigrants living in the United States in 2013. However, the number of Mexican immigrants in the country declined 1 percent from 2010 to 2013.

The number of immigrants from Europe also declined.

States where the number of immigrants grew the most since 2010 were Texas (up 227,240); California (up 160,771); Florida (up 140,019); New York (up 85,699); New Jersey (up 81,192); Massachusetts (up 62,591); Washington (up 57,402); Pennsylvania (up 57,091); Illinois (up 47,609); Arizona (up 39,647); Maryland (up 38,555); Virginia (up 37,844); North Carolina (up 30,289); Michigan (up 29,039); and Georgia (up 28,020).

States with the largest percentage increase since 2010 were North Dakota (up 27 percent); West Virginia (up 17 percent); and Wyoming (up 14 percent). In South Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho the immigrant population increased 10 percent. It grew 8 percent in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and 7 percent in Iowa, Delaware, and Minnesota.

From CIS

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Executive Amnesty for Traffic Offenders?

Thousands of drunk drivers would be shielded from deportation

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines the potential public safety impact of an executive action to benefit alien traffic offenders, one of the several directives reportedly being considered by the Obama administration. Such a presidential directive would protect tens of thousands of illegal aliens from deportation each year. The analysis found that since 2004, 258,689 aliens whose most serious state or local conviction was a traffic offense were deported by ICE.

These individuals are not "harmless," as proponents of such a policy have suggested. An amnesty for those "convicted exclusively of traffic crimes" would include those convicted of drunk or drugged driving, vehicular homicide, carjacking, vehicular homicide, and joyriding.

More than half (57%) of deported traffic offenders were convicted of drunk or drugged driving. The number of illegal aliens deported after drunk or drugged driving convictions (as their most serious offense) numbered 22,740 in 2013.

View the full report here

More at CIS

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 WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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6 October, 2014

Understanding Obamacare

Here is the 2500-page Affordable Care Act condensed to only 4 sentences...This probably says it as clearly as possible while still being able to be understood (Author unknown)

1) In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured.

2) Next, we require the newly uninsured to be re-insured

3) To re-insure the newly uninsured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.

4) The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became uninsured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original uninsured can be insured, free of charge to them.

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Ebola Fumble: Obama Fails to Use Legal Power to Deny Entry

As the Ebola epidemic has spread through West Africa over the last several months, President Obama has not used legal powers he possesses to help prevent the deadly virus from entering the United States.

Federal law gives the president the power to issue a proclamation to seal the borders to any class of aliens who pose a threat to the United States. The law is broad enough that Obama could have issued a proclamation months ago denying entry to any foreign national from the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria or Liberia. Under the law, such a proclamation could have also included any passport holder who visited those countries as evidenced by visas or entry/exit stamps on the passport.

Section 1182 (f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act gives the president this power, which the Obama administration has refused to use even as Ebola threatens Americans. The law states:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

This means that Obama could, in the time it takes to write out a few paragraphs, stop the flow of people into American communities who have been exposed to Ebola in West Africa.

As I previously reported, four direct flights from Ebola ravaged nations fly into the United States. (PJ link to “Air Ebola“.) Passport checks could be conducted prior to boarding aircraft bound for the United States from foreign destinations.

SOURCE

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British treasurer rails against charities’ ‘anti-business’ agenda and urges firms to stand up for the free market

George Osborne yesterday attacked some charities for being anti-business as he urged firms to put their heads ‘above the parapet’ and stick up for the free market.

The Chancellor said that for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the principles of enterprise and business as a force for widespread prosperity were ‘up for grabs’.

Speaking to business leaders at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention, he called on firms to counter an anti-free market movement led by trade unions and some charities.

‘You have to get out there and put the business argument,’ he said. ‘Because there are plenty of pressure groups, plenty of trade unions and plenty of charities and the like, that will put the counter view.

‘It is, I know, a difficult decision sometimes to put your head above the parapet, but that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

‘There is a big argument in our country about our future, about whether we are a country that is for business, for enterprise, for the free market.

‘For the first time since my adult life, that is up for grabs. That issue felt it had been resolved when the Berlin Wall fell.

‘Politicians like Tony Blair from the left felt like they had understood that free markets create the taxes to fund public services and the like.

‘That argument has gone and you saw it with the very stark contrast between the two political conferences in the last two weeks, so I would urge the business community not to sit on the sidelines of the political debate that is going to happen over the next seven months.

‘It doesn’t mean you have to endorse a party, a party like the Conservatives, but it does mean you have to get out there and put the business argument… that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprise, business low-tax economy which deliver prosperity for generations to come.’

SOURCE

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Democraphobia & the Demise of Democracy in Western Societies

Democraphobia has morphed into a powerful uniting force, drawing together all those who fear the democratic power of the mainstream. This includes both ends of the political spectrum as well as minority groups in society who perceive their values to be significantly at odds with the values of the democratic mainstream.

The Demise of Democracy

Democracy and freedom are declining around the world. Democracy of course, is dependent upon the right to make an informed democratic choice between genuine political alternatives.

As James Allan points out, democracy is under serious attack in countries like Australia, the USA, and New Zealand:

“Democracy in Decline charts how democracy is being diluted and restricted in five of the world’s oldest democracies – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. James Allan targets four main, interconnected causes of decline – judicial activism, the transformation and growth of international law, the development of supranational organisations, and the presence of undemocratic elites… Identifying tactics used by lawyers, judges, and international bureaucrats to deny that any decline has occurred, Allan looks ahead to further deterioration caused by attacks on free speech, intolerant worldviews, internationalisation through treaties and conventions, and illegal immigration.”

And Freedom House agrees, noting that “Authoritarian regimes moved to weaken “the elements of democratic governance that pose the most serious threats to repressive and corrupt rule: independent civil society groups, a free press, and the rule of law.” Democracy is no more than illusion as leaders “suppress all opposition even while maintaining the outward trappings of legality and democratic process (though quietly and insistently dismantling or dominating institutions that guarantee real pluralism, including legislatures, the judiciary, police and security forces, the media, civil society, and even the economy).”

The Rise and Rise of Democraphobia

Democraphobia, fear of democracy, or fear of the democratic power of the people, is a modern epidemic. According to Jeremy Rosen:

“Under the pretext of good relations, Western democracies are now scared to stand for their values. They have all but ceded the field of play out of fear. Democraphobia is not the fear of democracy, which exists in nondemocratic countries such as China or religiously dominated societies. Rather it is the even more craven fear of fighting for democracy. It is the political lust for power that is so strong that in pursuit of fundamentalist votes it betrays its own values……..With such cowardice now the norm, the values of free societies are being eroded. Democracy is feared because it insists on freedom, honesty, and fairness. But democracies themselves no longer stand for those values because they are frightened. They are frightened of their own values because they may have to fight for them and it is easier to give in and give up. That is why democraphobia is leading to the collapse of Western freedoms, just as lust for money has led to the collapse of Western finance. Recognizing the disease is the first step towards a cure.”

Democraphobia is in fact a powerful uniting force, drawing together all those who fear the democratic power of the people. This not only includes both ends of the political spectrum, whether socialistic democraphobia or libertarian democraphobia, but it may also include minority groups in society who perceive their values to be significantly at odds with the values of the democratic mainstream. As Will Wilkison points out regarding libertarian democraphobia:

“In any case, libertarians often display a confusing or confused reaction to democracy as it actually exists. The scheme laid out in most libertarian ideal theory is so distant from actual democratic practice that the whole existing system can seem by comparison a comprehensive injustice. When one’s ideal theory implies that politics is by its nature illegitimate and corrupt, one tends to develop a sharply disapproving attitude toward participation in politics. Lots of libertarians, for example, think it’s morally wrong to vote. (There are many structural reasons the Libertarian Party is hopeless, but here’s one reason libertarians tend to be at best half-hearted political activists.)………”

The results of democraphobia are rampant in Western politics. While our political leaders continue the illusion of democracy, every day we see their obsessive fears about the democratic powers of ordinary people. Legislative, electoral, and constitutional reforms are structured to stifle freedom and disenfranchise the people. And our politicians will readily jump into bed with any minority group who reject traditional values in order to target their common enemy, the ordinary people.

Democraphobia is a morbid disease which is paralysing politicians and destroying our once great country. The people need to stand up for mainstream values, accept the democratic justification for those values and restore democracy

SOURCE

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Government Agrees to Settlement for Raiding Reporter’s Home, Seizing Confidential Files

How one reporter turned a government raid on her home into a win for press freedom

An investigative reporter whose private files were illegally seized during a raid on her home will receive $50,000 as part of a settlement with the Department of Homeland Security.

Audrey Hudson, an award-winning journalist most recently at the Washington Times, told The Daily Signal she was awoken by her barking dog around 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2013, to discover armed government agents had descended on her property under the cover of darkness. The agents had a search warrant for her husband’s firearms. As they scoured the home, Hudson was read her Miranda rights.

While inside Hudson’s house, a U.S. Coast Guard agent confiscated documents that contained “confidential notes, draft articles, and other newsgathering materials” that Hudson never intended for anyone else to see. The documents included the identities of whistleblowers at the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is part of Homeland Security.

At the time, Hudson was investigating and reporting on Homeland Security, specifically its Federal Air Marshal Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

It wasn’t until weeks later that Hudson discovered the documents were missing—and even then only because a federal law-enforcement official told her she could pick up the files. Hudson notified the Washington Times, which took the government to court for violating the Privacy Protection Act.

This led to the settlement, which was first revealed by the Washington Times this week.

“The important thing about this settlement is that we did not let the government’s invasion of my privacy stand,” Hudson said. “We defended the rights of journalists to protect their sources from discovery by government security agencies, and that’s a victory for all journalists.”

The settlement required Homeland Security to pay $50,000 to Hudson, return the seized documents, promise that no copies had been made and any notes about them would be destroyed. In addition, it provides $25,000 to the Washington Times for attorney’s fees and requires the Coast Guard Investigative Service to initiate a review of and provide training on the federal Privacy Protection Act.

Hudson’s attorney, Mark Grannis of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, hailed the settlement as a victory for press freedom.

“The government has bent over backwards to assure us that the seizure of Ms. Hudson’s notes was just an error of judgment, not part of any organized effort to identify her sources,” Grannis said. “We hope that by bringing this claim we have helped to raise awareness within the government that reporters’ notes are legally protected from seizure in all but the most exceptional cases.”

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE



Leftist Israeli journalist Amira Hass went to talk about Israel being an apartheid state at the Palestinian Bir-Zeit university... And got booted for being Jewish! Hurray for liberal logic! She is well-named. "Hass" is of course German/Yiddish for "hate". Hating your country is what Leftists do.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving nest of crooks: "The New York Times plans to eliminate about 100 newsroom jobs, as well as a smaller number of positions from its editorial and business operations. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper’s publisher, and Mark Thompson, its chief executive, said that in addition to the job cuts, NYT Opinion, a mobile app dedicated to opinion content, was shutting down because it was not attracting enough subscribers. The reductions, they said, were intended to safeguard the newspaper’s long-term profitability. “The job losses are necessary to control our costs"

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

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

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5 October, 2014

Another knock on the head for acupuncture

Placebo effect only -- and even that was temporary

Acupuncture for Chronic Knee Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Rana S. Hinman et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance
There is debate about benefits of acupuncture for knee pain.

Objective
To determine the efficacy of laser and needle acupuncture for chronic knee pain.

Design, Setting, and Participants
Zelen-design clinical trial (randomization occurred before informed consent), in Victoria, Australia (February 2010-December 2012). Community volunteers (282 patients aged ?50 years with chronic knee pain) were treated by family physician acupuncturists.

Interventions
No acupuncture (control group, n?=?71) and needle (n?=?70), laser (n?=?71), and sham laser (n?=?70) acupuncture. Treatments were delivered for 12 weeks. Participants and acupuncturists were blinded to laser and sham laser acupuncture. Control participants were unaware of the trial.

Main Outcomes and Measures
Primary outcomes were average knee pain (numeric rating scale, 0 [no pain] to 10 [worst pain possible]; minimal clinically important difference [MCID], 1.8 units) and physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index, 0 [no difficulty] to 68 [extreme difficulty]; MCID, 6 units) at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes included other pain and function measures, quality of life, global change, and 1-year follow-up. Analyses were by intention-to-treat using multiple imputation for missing outcome data.

Results
At 12 weeks and 1 year, 26 (9%) and 50 (18%) participants were lost to follow-up, respectively. Analyses showed neither needle nor laser acupuncture significantly improved pain (mean difference; ?0.4 units; 95% CI, ?1.2 to 0.4, and ?0.1; 95% CI, ?0.9 to 0.7, respectively) or function (?1.7; 95% CI, ?6.1 to 2.6, and 0.5; 95% CI, ?3.4 to 4.4, respectively) compared with sham at 12 weeks. Compared with control, needle and laser acupuncture resulted in modest improvements in pain (?1.1; 95% CI, ?1.8 to ?0.4, and ?0.8; 95% CI, ?1.5 to ?0.1, respectively) at 12 weeks, but not at 1 year. Needle acupuncture resulted in modest improvement in function compared with control at 12 weeks (?3.9; 95% CI, ?7.7 to ?0.2) but was not significantly different from sham (?1.7; 95% CI, ?6.1 to 2.6) and was not maintained at 1 year. There were no differences for most secondary outcomes and no serious adverse events.

Conclusions and Relevance
In patients older than 50 years with moderate or severe chronic knee pain, neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function. Our findings do not support acupuncture for these patients.

JAMA. 2014;312(13):1313-1322. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12660

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Leftist whitewashing of Islam is just another episode of the Left whitewashing America's enemies

For logic-minded Americans still genuinely puzzled as to how it could be that our presidents and secretaries of state and generals and pundits keep hammering home the big lie that Islam has nothing to do with jihad, that the religion of conquest is a "religion of peace," I have a special warning. Such widespread, politics- and mass-media-driven brainwashing is nothing new.

Just as today's opinion-makers seek to divorce Islam from its impact -- for example, brutal conquest, forced conversion, religiously sanctioned sex slavery, beheadings -- past opinion-makers worked equally hard to divorce communism from its impact -- for example, brutal conquest, forced collectivization, concentration camps (Gulags), mass murder.

It worked. Unlike Nazism, communism has never been judged guilty or even held responsible for the carnage and suffering it has caused. On the contrary, it remains a source of "liberal" statist ideas such as Obamacare. My book "American Betrayal" delves deeply into this dangerous double standard. In short, it not only enables collectivist policies to strangle our remnant republic, but also explains why American students can find a drink called Leninade, emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, for sale on a college campus. It is also why silkscreens of Warhol's Chairman Mao, history's top mass murderer, are sought-after items for the homes of the wealthy.

There are no such trendy portraits of Hitler, and who would want them? Who would want to swig a bottle of Hitlerpop, decorated with a swastika? So, why Leninade? Not only does the stench of death not follow the Communist murder-cult, the brand lives.

Barring a groundswell of common sense, I predict that Islam, the brand, will most likely remain separate in the public mind from the violence and repression it causes and has caused for more than a millennium. That's certainly the direction leaders from both political parties have been relentlessly herding us in for over a decade, insisting against all reason -- against all sacred Islamic texts -- that "Islam is peace."

This means that not only must we contend with this cycle of expansionist jihad -- a recurrence that should be familiar from Islamic history were it, too, not subject to whitewash -- we must simultaneously withstand a campaign of lies designed to subvert our understanding of how Islam, in fact, has everything to do with beheadings and other violence both in the Islamic world and in the West.

And yes, such whitewashing has happened before. Stalin's Red Army occupied half of Europe at the end of World War II, but Americans were told they had won the war and that "Uncle Joe" was a great guy. Then there is the whitewash of the transformation the Cold War wrought at home, where agents, agents of influence, fellow travelers, and dupes worked to advance Moscow's will just as Soviet tanks (and agents, too) imposed it abroad. The conventional wisdom, however, set forth by academics, historians, think tank analysts, journalists, filmmakers (whether "liberal" or "conservative"), remains suspended in the amber of the "Red Scare," the 1950s period during which anti-Communist "witch-hunters" searched for "Reds under the bed," allegedly in vain. Never mind that many hundreds of American traitors had infiltrated the federal government in previous decades. The important thing, says the conventional wisdom, is not to connect the dots and examine whether these proxies for Stalin influenced the "American Century."

That, of course, is exactly what "American Betrayal" does, thus enraging all keepers of conventional wisdom. No matter. The more I continue to learn about the extensive penetration by Stalin's secret agents into the federal government over the two decades that FDR and then Harry Truman held the Oval Office, the clearer it is that the American ship of state had too many hands loyal to the USSR pushing at the rudder, influencing, to varying degrees, the direction of U.S. policy and strategy, even if not especially during World War II.

Such is the once-hidden history that comes into closer focus since the U.S. and Russian governments released some subset of their vast secret archives -- intelligence documents, FBI files and the like. Reigning "court historians" keep looking the other way, hoping Americans never notice the big picture: that FDR presided over the biggest national security disaster in U.S. history, the massive infiltration of the U.S. government by agents of a foreign power.

Ken Burns' new PBS documentary, "The Roosevelts," typifies this blackout. For example, take the series' treatment of the Yalta Conference, the final meeting of the so-called Big Three wartime leaders. Old news footage shows the conference table, from Stalin to FDR to Churchill. The camera also shows a man who sure looks like Soviet military intelligence agent and U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss. Next to him is top White House aide and, according to some experts, Soviet agent or asset Harry Hopkins. Both men are seated behind the dupe-ish secretary of state Edward Stettinius.

Does Burns inform viewers of the identities of these notorious figures seemingly "boring from within" before the viewer's eyes? Does he note the existence of scholarship confirming covert agent Hiss' outspoken role at the conference, and evidence that he may have exerted influence over deliberations on China policy, war reparations including German slave labor, and other vital issues in the USSR's favor? Is there any mention of the troubling questions about Hopkins' single-mindedly pro-Soviet stance that caused George C. Marshall to describe "Hopkins' job with the president" as being "to represent the Russian interests"?

Silence. Or rather, Burnsian chatter about the big secret of Yalta being FDR's grave health -- something obvious to anyone who looked at him. The series' ultimate mission is accomplished, however. A re-gilded FDR is burnished to a starry sheen, blinding a worshipful audience.

Is that what history is for?

SOURCE

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Boycotts on Israel -- update

Boycott-related pressures have continued to increase from Europe. New European Union regulations designed to pressure Israeli communities in the West Bank have gone into effect. These do not ban Israeli agricultural products directly but do not recognize veterinary inspection by Israeli monitors, thus disqualifying them from the European market. Poultry products have already been affected, but regulations on dairy and fish products have been delayed.

Ostensibly the European Union seeks to separate all Israeli products originating inside the 1967 borders of Israel from those originating across the Green Line. It is likely this rationale masks the effort for using economic pressure to force desired outcomes in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

A more explicit boycott threat regarding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has come from Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard. In an interview he stated “If nothing happens at the peace negotiations this time, and if we don’t see a new reaction pattern from Israel, then we will discuss new steps, including a change in our trade relations with Israel.” Lidegaar also called for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and for “illegal settlements” to be dismantled.

Danish Trade Minister Mogens Jensen disagreed with Lidegaard, stating “You can use sanctions when there is international approval for doing so… I don’t think that it makes sense for Denmark to go it alone, because then it will have no effect. And I don’t feel that I can say there is a need for sanctions yet.”

Outside of the European Union and European governments, the record for BDS remains mined. The Dutch pension fund ABP, for example, recently announced that it would not divest from Israeli banks, despite a plea to do so from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

As usual, however, trade unions generally remain BDS supporters. One recent development saw Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) passing a resolution condemning Israel over the Gaza war and calling for Britain “to end immediately arms trading with Israel including all military-industrial collaboration. The TUC should, working with the relevant unions, press those companies involved in supporting Israel’s military to cease to do so.” The resolution also called for “the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement until the rights of the Palestinians are established” and for corporations and pension funds to shift investments away from the “Occupied Territories.”

Several commentators have suggested that the resolution represents not only a success for BDS activists in the United Kingdom but a dramatic failure for pro-peace advocates in the British labor movement and for Israeli diplomacy. The impact of the call on the Labour Party remains unclear.

In contrast, in a speech to the Holocaust Education Trust Conservative Party chief whip, Michael Gove, criticized Israel boycott calls and noted “the conflation of anti-Israeli agitation and straightforward antisemitism.”

Reports now suggest that the SodaStream company, located across the Green Line north of Jerusalem and which was the subject of intense BDS pressure, may be relocating to an industrial area of the Negev. Company management has stated that the move, if it occurs, will be prompted by Israeli tax incentives and not BDS. Some 900 Palestinians are currently employed by SodaStream.

SOURCE

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After 9 years of politically motivated prosecution, Tom DeLay Found Not Guilty by State’s Highest Court

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was found not guilty today by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This is the highest appellate court in Texas for criminal cases and thus brings DeLay’s political persecution to an end.

The court upheld the ruling last year from the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. That decision tossed out the convictions on money laundering and conspiracy charges. At that time Justice Melissa Goodwin wrote “The fundamental problem with the state's case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity,” according to a September 19th report on Breitbart News.

In a phone conversation with Breitbart Texas, Tom DeLay said, "I am elated that I can now get on with my life. After nine long years I am finally free. I give all the credit for this verdict to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my attorney Brian Wice."

DeLay said they thought the decision might be posted by the court today and he was on the phone with his attorney when the decision was posted. "We were elated and joyful when we heard the news even though it has been nine long years."

DeLay said he has not felt the burden of this ordeal because of his faith. "I don't know how someone could go through this without Christ," he said.

On June 18th, Breitbart Texas legal analyst Lana Shadwick reported the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was appealing the 3rd Court of Appeals decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

"The Delay case should never have survived a motion for directed verdict.” Shadwick said today in reference to the Court’s ruling. “The trial court judge should have never submitted the case to the jury. Any time the appellate court, as it did here, finds as a matter of law that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the verdict, there was no evidence for the jury to decide under the law." Shadwick has served the State of Texas as a judge, a prosecutor and an appellate prosecutor.

"Tom and I are gratified and elated but not surprised by our overwhelming victory today in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals,” DeLay’s attorney, Brian Wice said in a phone conversation with Breitbart Texas. “The Court concluded that the rule of law matters more in the end than a partisan prosecution's attempts to criminalize our system of politics."

More HERE

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

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

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3 October, 2014

10 Ways Conservatives Can Appeal to Hispanics (Without Becoming More Liberal)

Far too many conservatives have grown pessimistic about the prospect of Hispanics ever agreeing with their policy prescriptions. Others have erred in the opposite direction, suggesting that only shifts in tone or even engaging in a pandering competition with liberals could fix the problem.

These approaches are wrong and self-defeating. If conservatives allow liberals to have a monopoly on Hispanic aspirations and dreams, they will find it increasingly difficult to enact their policies. At the same time, conservatives must understand that some of their problems with this demographic have structural aspects that require long-term solutions.

Here are 10 suggestions for how conservatives can start the arduous work of convincing Hispanics that conservative policies are better. They are found in my recently published book, “A Race for The Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans,” which I will discuss with National Review’s Jim Geraghty tomorrow at 11 a.m., at The Heritage Foundation in a program introduced by Heritage President Jim DeMint.

1. School choice. School choice is the lowest of hanging fruits. Hispanics already like school choice, and they like it a lot. Whether it’s vouchers, charters schools, education savings accounts or tax-credit scholarships, the intensity of their support is even higher than those of non-Hispanic whites or Republicans. In June, the Friedman Foundation reported Hispanics had a higher margin of support for vouchers (+47 percentage points) than Republicans (+42 percentage points) and also higher intensity. School choice also is a classic “wedge issue.” It is the job of conservatives to explain that it is teachers’ unions, the cash cow of liberal politicies, which stand in their way.

2. Family formation. The ongoing breakdown of the Hispanic family is the big news that is never in the news. Although we hear much about the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate among African-Americans, Hispanics’ 53 percent rate hardly ever makes headlines. But a rate that high militates against any hope of Hispanics ever supporting conservative causes in large numbers. Illegitimacy stands upstream from nearly all the societal pathologies that lead people to fall prey to dependency on government. Conservatives must make it their job to help Hispanics get that rate down.

3. Get them to become savers. Education and family have to do with what social scientists refer to as human and social capital, respectively. Financial capital is the stuff in the bank. Hispanics in this country are famously underbanked or even unbanked, which means they don’t use banks enough or even at all. Sending remittances home often prevents capital formation here. Studies show the habit of saving by itself, regardless of how much is saved, is a great predictor of the ability to become upwardly mobile. Policies that will make Hispanics save more will make them more independent of government and thus more likely to be conservative.

4. Show them how liberal policies have put them in a hole. It’s important for conservatives to not only offer a positive policy agenda that gets Hispanics out of a hole, but also to explain how liberal policies have put them there. Dependency on government helps undermines the family, and liberals’ aggressive marketing of food stamps, Obamacare and other government services to Hispanics should be blamed for contributing to family breakdown. Multiculturalism, another liberal policy, has only balkanized Hispanics and prevented them from joining the mainstream.

5. Give them their proper stake in the culture Without Mexico’s cultural imprint, the Southwest would be a scorching version of the Midwest, which for all its allure simply lacks the legendary nature of the Wild West. Mexican-Americans should take great pride in this country and its history, as they helped chisel out the culture of one of its iconic regions. There were Mexicans at the Alamo—fighting on the Texans’ side against Santa Ana—and the first provisional vice president of the Texan Republic was a Mexican-American. This history doesn’t get taught as much as it should because the liberals in charge of our education prefer to emphasize divisiveness, a history of discrimination (which all immigrants have suffered from) or such synthetic PC-ness as “Cinco de Mayo.” Conservatives should emphasize the cultural importance of Mexican-Americans to the making of the American spirit. You give a man a stake in something and he will want to conserve it, which is after all how you make conservatives.

6. Sever the perceptive link between success and government intervention; end affirmative action. Progressives knew what they were doing when they concocted the current affirmative action structure back in the 1970s. Right away, immigrants and their descendants were conditioned to perceive a link between government intervention and success in life. But affirmative action is unjust, hinders meritocracy and seeds resentment against immigration. There’s no reason to accept the affirmative action arrangement we were bequeathed.

7. End Bilingual Education. Bilingual education often ends up being a sad misnomer—many of the “bilingual” education programs und up being monolingual, meaning only in Spanish. This prevents Hispanic kids from getting one of the tools that will lead to success: proficiency in English. Bilingual ed also separates Hispanics kids from their future compatriots at a key time in their development.

8. Ask them if they want to replicate conditions that made them abandon their homeland. This should be a no-brainer. Why would someone from Cuba or Venezuela want to see here the big-government policies that have ruined their lands, or a Mexican the statist and pro-union policies that has prevented Mexico from enjoying its oil wealth. Indeed, why would anyone who emigrated here from anywhere between the Rio Grande and Patagonia want the absence of the rule of law or of strong property rights that haunts part of the region? As for volunteerism, former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda wrote in his masterpiece “Mañana Forever:” “In the United States, there are approximately 2 million civil society organizations, or one for every 150 inhabitants; in Chile there are 35,000, or one for every 428 Chileans; in Mexico there are only 8,500, or one for every 12,000.” Why would any Hispanic want that here?

9. Return to assimilationist policies. I am often asked whether today’s immigrants share American values, and the questioners almost always assume the answer is no. As the point above makes clear, sometimes no doubt it is. But America has been a country of immigrants for four centuries. And not all of those who arrived from County Cork, Eastern Europe or Sicily came believing in a strong work ethic, the creed that many societal problems can be solved by civil society through volunteerism and an abiding trust in the superiority of rule of law over rule of man. Assimilation is what made people the world over understand the American system. It is self-defeating that we have stopped encouraging it.

10. Explain to them that it’s not a question of being dependent or not, but of depending on someone in your family, in your community or circle of friends, or on a government bureaucrat. Liberals have done a good job at depicting conservatives as uncaring individualists with a devil-take-the-hindmost philosophy—so good that even some conservatives bought the stereotype. Not even libertarians can be reduced to such tropes, and definitely not conservatives, who understand dependency is part of the human condition. The only question is whether we depend on relatives, friends or others in our community or whether we turn to an impersonal bureaucracy that simply doles out help without any understanding of need or responsibility. Hispanics get human interdependency and will respond well to policies that help relatives and neighbors set up mutual-aid networks.

SOURCE

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The "Stop Rush" campaign

For two years, a self-described grassroots army has protested “The Rush Limbaugh Show” in a campaign to convince advertisers to pull their commercials from the talk giant’s radio program. Now, Limbaugh’s show is fighting back with a new report arguing that the supposed groundswell of outraged consumers is in reality 10 “hardcore” progressive activists.

“It’s a cynical form of intimidation and harassment and business destruction that targets speech a small group of extremists and bullies find disagreeable,” Brian Glicklich, spokesman for “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

“Stop Rush” bills itself as a multiyear grassroots effort by consumers who object to the trademark tenor and content of Limbaugh’s conservative commentary on politics, society and what he calls “the drive-by media.” The group targets businesses, charities and nonprofits that advertise on the Limbaugh show in hopes of convincing them to pull their commercials.

Limbaugh’s show describes itself as “the most listened-to radio talk show in America, broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide.”

The brainchild of Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of the liberal website Media Matters for America, the Stop Rush campaign began in 2012 – when President Obama was running for re-election. Stop Rush participants are visible on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and use the #StopRush hashtag in communicating with local businesses and other organizations.

However, according to research conducted by Limbaugh’s camp, about 70 percent of #StopRush tweets originated from a total of 10 Twitter account holders. The individuals affiliated with those accounts hail from only four states: California, Florida, Ohio and Georgia.

Using contact information published by the Limbaugh camp, The Daily Signal reached out yesterday to those 10 persons, who include a professor at Kent State University and a writer for The Daily Kos, a left-leaning news and commentary site. Those requests for comment so far are unsuccessful.

Glicklich, the spokesman for the Limbaugh show, said researchers compiled statistics over the summer on those “tweeting” objections to the show at its advertisers. The researchers identified which Twitter accounts were most active in targeting businesses and charities that support the show.

The advertisers, listed along with contact information on the website StopRush.net, are located in all 50 states.

The researchers found that 80 percent of all #StopRush “attacks” came from users located in a state other than that of the targeted advertiser.

“It’s not a principled message,” Glicklich said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “It’s blackmail.”

To reach a large number of businesses, Stop Rush activists employ software that sends out automated tweets. Use of the software, though, violates Twitter’s terms of use.

In a statement to The Daily Signal, Carusone defended those who make up the Stop Rush campaign. He said:

This is a grassroots effort that grows every day. Instead of attacking people on the Internet, Limbaugh’s team would better fill their role by advising their client not to excuse rape in some situations (as he did just last week). Rush Limbaugh is bad for business — and the only thing Limbaugh has to blame for that is his own repeated conduct.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation, a policy research institute with longstanding ties to Limbaugh and his show based on shared conservative principles.

Carusone said the Limbaugh show has been a detriment to radio companies and local businesses.

“Rush Limbaugh’s show has reportedly lost millions of dollars in revenue for radio companies, thousands of advertisers big and small refuse to run ads on the program and radio stations are dropping the show,” the Media Matters executive said. “After initially insisting there were no troubles with advertisers, two years later Limbaugh’s crisis team comes out with a report attributing this massive exodus to just 10 people?”

Glicklich, however, disputed Carusone’s argument. He said the effects of Stop Rush efforts are harmful not to the Limbaugh show, but rather to advertisers — many of them small businesses:

[Advertisers] made a business decision to want to talk to the 20 million people a week who listen and like going to the places mentioned on the show. When they have to do something else because they don’t have the resources to deal with the bullies and intimidation, it harms the businesses. The show hasn’t been affected, but it’s the people and businesses and families.

More HERE

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The Iron Dome Works

It’s been a rough few weeks for one of America’s most vociferous critics of missile defense.

Ted Postol, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and longtime critic of U.S. missile defense, told National Public Radio just three days into the 2014 Gaza missile wars that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system “doesn’t work.” He said it failed up to “95 percent” of the time.

The Israeli government estimated Iron Dome successfully intercepted 90 percent of the Hamas rockets it engaged

For it to work, he claimed the system had to hit incoming Hamas-launched rockets “head on.” But he had photos, he said, of smoke entrails and what appeared to be the Iron Dome approaching the Hamas rockets from side angles or from behind. This “proved” the system didn’t work, even though the vast majority of his analysis was from the missile wars of 2012 and not the 2014 battles.

For 50 days from early July through most of August, Hamas launched nearly 4,500 rockets against Israel. Two Israelis died during that time because of rocket fire, but they were in an area not defended by Iron Dome batteries. None died in areas that were protected by Iron Dome, although in Askelon, 30 Israelis were wounded, some seriously, by Hamas rockets that the missile defense did not intercept. But overall, the Israeli government estimated Iron Dome successfully intercepted 90 percent of the Hamas rockets it engaged, compared to an 80 percent success rate achieved in the 2012 Gaza missile wars.

At first the arms control community greeted the Postol “analysis” with little skepticism. Most believe missile defense is a waste of money that will never work sufficiently anyway, and this report only confirmed their biases. Moreover, they’d long believed Israel’s estimate that Iron Dome worked 80 percent of the time in the 2012 missile wars was news too good to be true.

As the weeks wore on and the rocket attacks from Gaza reached into the thousands with still no Israeli fatalities, the idea that Iron Dome didn’t work became more and more absurd to maintain.

It’s beginning to look as if the Israelis were right about this. They carefully plotted all the intercepts, and they say of the rockets engaged, 90 percent were intercepted and destroyed.

In short, Israeli ingenuity not only trumped Hamas and Iranian rocket makers, it demonstrated in the 3 1/2 years it took to move from the laboratory to the real world that missile defense can work and its supporters in America are right to call for resuming work on protecting our homeland in this way.

More HERE

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

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

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2 October, 2014

Voter Fraud is Happening Across the Country!

Voter fraud is real and it is happening all across the country. While there are always exceptions to the rule, these are predominantly Liberal Democrats who are breaking our immigration laws and trying to swing elections.

First, there is the story of Miss Christina Ayala, a State Representative in Connecticut who was arrested on Friday for 19 counts of voter fraud. Her crime? She allegedly voted all across the state, including districts that she did not live in. Not surprisingly, Ms. Ayala is a Democrat, a member of the Party that believes it is racist to check IDs before allowing people to vote…

Then there’s the group the New Georgia Project, a liberal organization that is currently under investigation for voter fraud. Their mass-registration efforts have come under increased scrutiny and an investigation is ongoing. Add it to the list of liberal organizations that have to cheat in order to compete.

And thirdly – and this is a big one – the liberal group Battleground Texas was caught on videotape failing to take action when confronted with an admission of voter fraud! An undercover volunteer lied to the staff and told them that she had broken multiple election laws. Instead of reprimanding her and turning her over to authorities, the liberal group swept it under the rug… ON CAMERA! This is the same group that was caught registering people to vote and copying registrant data for campaign purposes…

These are just three instances of the types voter fraud that are taking place across the country. This isn’t limited to just Red or Blue states… it is happening everywhere.

And unless we act now and demand a national Voter ID system, these Liberal voter fraud campaigns will continue!

All of this is happening while a political fight rages in Ohio over the state’s voting scheme. Prior to this year, Ohioans were given 35 days of early voting.

This right there is a problem. When most states are limited to voting on just one day, or by absentee ballot, Liberals have given Ohioans the ability to vote in SEPTEMBER for an election in November!

No wonder Ohio went to Obama the last two elections. There were Liberal organizations paid to spend a whole month getting-out-the-vote. Perhaps these Ohio groups were like their Texas counterparts who were caught handing out Cocaine in exchange for Democratic votes!

This year, the Ohio legislator changed the state’s election laws to reduce the early voting window from 35 days to 28 days. The argument was pretty logical: If the election is on November 4th, no one needs to be casting a ballot in September.

The case went back and forth through the lower courts until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow the changes to remain in place, at least temporarily.

All across the country, liberal activists are violating election laws while simultaneously claiming it is racist to demand a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. They claim that this amounts to racism and discrimination.

The only problem is that practically EVERYONE has a photo ID. You need photo identification to board an airplane, rent an apartment/apply for a mortgage, open a bank account, and to apply for government assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid. You need a photo ID to drive a car, buy cigarettes or alcohol, receive medical treatment at a hospital, and buy a firearm. You need a photo ID to buy cough medicine, get married, travel abroad, and to get a job.

The list goes on and on…

You can’t survive in America without a photo ID and that is why states like Texas offer new photo IDs for free to those in need.

It isn’t racist to ask a voter to prove their identity, especially when you have liberal groups going around and bribing people to vote with beer, cigarettes, and even Cocaine!

It isn’t discrimination to ask people to prove their identity, given the fact that we hear stories every year of deceased individuals casting ballots!

The facts are on our side. Voter fraud does exist and when you have important elections decided by just 500 votes (as was the case in 2000 with Florida), we cannot afford to just sit back and watch as our Republic is hijacked!

I had to pay $100 to take a firearm class and then another $150 to apply for my right to bear a concealed firearm in public. By the left’s standards, this should be unconstitutional. Forcing anyone to spend upwards of $250 to exercise a Constitutional right is ridiculous.

If, as the Liberals claim, it is allegedly unconstitutional to force someone to show an ID at the ballot box, then it should be unconstitutional to be forced to show an ID when carrying or purchasing a firearm!

If this truly was a Constitutional argument, then you can’t have one without the other.

But this isn’t about Constitutional rights. This is about the Liberals trying to steal elections. This is about keeping the door wide open so that illegal aliens can vote and so that Democrat groups can bribe people with Cocaine to vote a certain way.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is definitely a good start, but we need to make sure that photo ID is REQUIRED across the country in order to vote.

Cough syrup is apparently too dangerous to buy without an ID, but we are talking about electing the men and women with their fingers on the button and the power to end life on this planet at any given time. The least that we can do is make sure that these politicians aren’t elected fraudulently!

SOURCE

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Time to Change Course: Stop Letting Police Seize Property from Innocent People

“[Civil Asset Forfeiture] should be abolished.” That’s the considered opinion of the two men — John Yoder and Brad Cates — who, in the 1980s, oversaw the development of federal civil asset forfeiture as a tool to combat organized crime and the drug trade.

Forfeiture does not apply to organized crime or drug crimes alone; some 200 other crimes now render individuals’ property subject to seizure.

At the time, forfeiture seemed eminently reasonable. Drug kingpins were making millions from criminal enterprises that banked on addiction and suffering. Whether because they lacked enough evidence to convict kingpins or for tactical reasons, law enforcement officers settled for hitting them in the wallet by seizing money and property traceable to illegal activity.

But three decades later, asset forfeiture’s biggest targets aren’t kingpins; it’s the cash found during routine traffic stops for small-time infractions. As Yoder and Cates point out, forfeiture does not apply to organized crime or drug crimes alone; some 200 other crimes now render individuals’ property subject to seizure.

And most troubling of all, in most states and under federal rules, a citizen’s cash, car and other property can be taken without law enforcement having to charge or convict the owner of a crime. In fact, to get property returned, owners usually have to prove their innocence.

That’s what happened to grocery store owner Terry Dehko when the IRS showed up at his store, accused him of the crime of “structuring” and seized his entire bank account. IRS agents were more willing to put Dehko into bankruptcy than to consider the possibility that his reason for making frequent sub-$10,000 cash deposits was perfectly innocent and reasonable: His insurance covered only up to $10,000 in cash losses from robbery.

One need not be an expert to see the perverse incentives built into a system that pins officers’ continued employment or advancement on their ability to seize cash and property.

And then there’s the Caswell family, who had owned Motel Caswell since 1955. Federal officials tried to seize the motel from the Caswells because some small percentage of occupants had, over the years, been arrested for criminal activity while staying there. A successful seizure would have represented a huge financial windfall for law enforcement. In May, Caswell sold the property for $2.1 million after beating the seizure, but if law enforcement officials had their way, that money would have gone to them rather than the Caswells’ retirement.

These stories are the tip of the iceberg, and both the Dehkos and the Caswells were fortunate to have pro bono legal representation from the Institute for Justice. Many others are not as fortunate and have to make do with cutting deals that allow police to keep part of what is seized, or lose it altogether, simply because getting a lawyer is often more costly than the value of what was taken.

Law enforcement agencies have become increasingly beholden to the financing civil forfeiture provides, allowing them to purchase equipment and finance special task forces outside the scope of the regular political process. One need not be an expert to see the perverse incentives built into a system that pins officers’ continued employment or advancement on their ability to seize cash and property.

Reform is clearly imperative. Sensible reform should preserve the ability of law enforcement to go after true criminal masterminds and drug kingpins but still protect innocent citizens from abusive practices. For example, breaking the profit motive by preventing law enforcement from keeping what it seizes would go a long way toward stopping the rampant use of civil forfeiture against ordinary citizens.

Another possible reform is to increase protection for property owners by raising the burden of proof and placing that burden solely on the government.

Congress also could require law enforcement to charge property owners with a crime — and convict them — before proceeding with a forfeiture action. If prosecutors fail to do so within a reasonable period of time, law enforcement should be required to return the seized property.

Finally, a practice known as “equitable sharing,” in which local and state law enforcement officers seize property and then refer forfeiture actions to federal authorities in return for a portion of the resulting proceeds, encourages state and local authorities to do an end-run around some state laws that limit the ability of local authorities to seek forfeiture and to keep the resulting proceeds. This practice should be severely curtailed or eliminated.

In recent weeks, both Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced legislation in Congress to reform federal forfeiture laws along the lines outlined above. In support of his bill, Walberg recently took to the floor to criticize the lack of due process protections in federal forfeiture laws. A number of states have recently taken up the mantle and passed reforms as well.

Just last week, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., and Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif.,introduced H.R. 5502, the House version of Paul’s legislation. In other words, bipartisan reform looks like a real possibility in this Congress or the next.

But as lawmakers debate the “how” of civil forfeiture reform, one thing is absolutely clear: The path forward cannot be the status quo.

SOURCE

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The myth of the “Food Deserts”

Not mentioned below is that many of the "desert" areas DO have food shops, just not supermarkets. Small ethnic shops -- "bodegas", Korean shops, Indian shops etc are there but not used by all because poor people tend to be conservative in their food choices

Most journalists aren’t aware of this, but “food deserts” in the United States are a hoax.

A food desert has been arbitrarily defined as an area in which at least 20 percent of the households have incomes that put them below the federal poverty line, before receiving any welfare benefits or considering public transportation options or the existence of grocery delivery services, where the nearest grocery store is more than a mile away in urban areas or more than 10 miles away in rural areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture produced the following map to describe the areas where food deserts meet its definition:



What most journalists don’t realize is that the concept of a food desert originated with a study in 2006 funded by the LaSalle Bank of Chicago, which was then the largest business lender in the city.

That’s important because, as a business lender, the bank would profit from the solutions most likely to be implemented by politicians seeking to rectify the “crisis”: building more grocery stores.

That inherent conflict of interest came to a head in Portland, Oregon, where the residents of such a food desert successfully fought against having a grocery store put in their community to “fix” their neighborhood’s food-desert crisis. Gawker‘s Vann R. Newkirk II explains, starting with the role of one of Chicago’s more preeminent former citizens in promoting the concept of food deserts as a crisis requiring government action:

"In previous efforts to promote her “Let’s Move” campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama lauded mayors for easing zoning and permit requirements for grocery stores to move into food deserts. One of her stated goals of the program is “to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities all across the country.” Obama’s campaign to get people moving, increase awareness about nutrition and get farmers markets to disadvantaged areas was so politically safe—and universally accepted as necessary—that she remains easily one of the most favored public figures in this country, despite being married to one of its least. Locally, across several large metropolitan areas, efforts to move grocers and farmers markets near poor neighborhoods have often been met with wide acclaim. These were the rare policy options that worked in a free market system and helped increase quality of life for disadvantaged communities. Slam dunks, they seemed.

But the evidence that grocers and farmers markets actually irrigate food deserts never came. In fact, the actual existence and mechanisms of food deserts have been questioned. The developing body of research has suggested over the past few years that while spatial access to groceries is a factor, economic and cultural access are more important. As Betsy Breyer, a researcher from Portland State University noted, “I don’t think the [food deserts] idea captures the full spectrum of food access possibilities and problems in poor communities.” In many cases, even building expensive stores directly next door to poor people, while solving the “food desert” issue from a definitional perspective, actually does little to help the underlying problem. Public perception and policy, however, have been retreating from the woefully inadequate but somewhat compelling conclusions about nutrition justice at an absolutely glacial pace.

The conflict between public policy, perception and local facts and realities came to a head in national news when earlier this year residents of a once-predominantly black neighborhood in Portland successfully rallied against the building of a Trader Joe’s on a vacant lot in the area. Many folks were baffled. Why wouldn’t people in this place labeled as a clear food desert rejoice at the fact that they could get great groceries (and tasty cookie butter) right down the street? But what outside viewers and eager Traderites willfully ignored was that many citizens were deathly afraid of gentrification and being displaced from their own neighborhoods in a city well-known for aggressive gentrification, much of which had involved early incursions by large chain grocery stores.

Breyer said that in the case of Trader Joe’s in Portland, the food desert concept was “used as an excuse to push an agenda that had nothing to do with food access for low-income communities” and had more to do with providing a rationale for securing access to cheap, promising real estate for developers and, eventually, the chain. The lower-income inhabitants of the neighborhood had figured out what policymakers and informed citizens across the country hadn’t: that the courtship dance with grocery stores was a dance with death for the people that needed the groceries most. The jig was up."

Solving the “problem” of food deserts was never the point of the government programs supposedly established for the purpose of eliminating them. The purpose of these programs is and always have been to benefit the crony capitalist industrial complex of banks, real estate developers, and corrupt politicians.

Never mind the interests of those who would rather not have their tax dollars fund such follies or see their already debt-burdened government borrow large amounts of money to solve problems that really never existed in the first place.

SOURCE

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

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

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1 October, 2014

US slams Abbas’s ‘genocide’ UN speech as ‘offensive’

Is there hope for the Obama administration yet?

The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations, in which he accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts.

“President Abbas’s speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she added.

In Abbas’s address to the UN General Assembly, he demanded an end to the occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Earlier, Israeli leaders reacted with anger and scorn to Abbas’s address, with one official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accusing the PA president of incitement.

In his address, Abbas accused Israel of committing genocide in its recent conflict with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip — calling 2014 “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” — and said that Israel was not interested in living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.

“It’s a speech of incitement full of lies,” an unnamed source from the Prime Minister’s Office told the Hebrew press. “That’s not how someone who wants peace speaks.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement shortly after Abbas’s speech that the PA president demonstrated that “he doesn’t want to be, and cannot be, a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution.

“It’s no coincidence that he joined a [national consensus] government with Hamas,” the foreign minister added. “Abbas complements Hamas when he deals with diplomatic terrorism and slanders Israel with false accusations.

“As long as he’s chairman of the Palestinian Authority, he will continue the conflict. He is the continuation of [late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat through different means,” continued Liberman.

West Bank settler group foreign envoy Dani Dayan responded to the PA chief’s speech by saying that Abbas was the “broadcaster for Hamas” and that the Fatah party leader had delivered one of his most “libelous, defamatory and self-righteous speeches.”

The former Yesha Council chairman said in English on Twitter that “by using the word ‘genocide,’ Abbas gave up the empathy of the Israeli public, including most of the left.”

SOURCE

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Prime Minister Netanyahu’s UN speech

Thank you, Mr. President, Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel. I've come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we see. I've come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The people of Israel pray for peace. But our hopes and the world's hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march.

It's not militants. It's not Islam. It's militant Islam. Typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one. Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds – no creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it's rapidly spreading in every part of the world. You know the famous American saying: "All politics is local"? For the militant Islamists, "All politics is global." Because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world.

Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some, since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it's too late. Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS. And yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.

Listen to ISIS’s self-declared caliph,Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master… The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism… and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West… By Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.

As Hamas's charter makes clear, Hamas’s immediate goal is to destroy Israel. But Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists. That’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered on 9/11. And that's why its leaders condemned the United States for killing Osama Bin Laden, whom they praised as a holy warrior.

So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.

And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common: - Boko Haram in Nigeria; - Ash-Shabab in Somalia; - Hezbollah in Lebanon; - An-Nusrah in Syria; - The Mahdi Army in Iraq; - And the Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.

Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shi'ites. Some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the 7th century. Others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the 9th century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their quest for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance – Where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated, and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die. For them, anyone can be an infidel, including fellow Muslims.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Militant Islam's ambition to dominate the world seems mad. But so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept to power eight decades ago.

The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree about who among them will be the master… of the master faith. That’s what they truly disagree about. Therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.

There is one place where that could soon happen: The Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words: We will export our revolution to the entire world.

Until the cry "There is no God but Allah" will echo throughout the world over… And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran's Revolutionary Guards, have done exactly that.

Listen to its current commander, General Muhammad Ali Ja'afari. And he clearly stated this goal. He said: Our Imam did not limit the Islamic Revolution to this country… Our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government… Iran's President Rouhani stood here last week, and shed crocodile tears over what he called "the globalization of terrorism." Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. He could ask them to call off Iran's global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone. To say that Iran doesn't practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.

This bemoaning of the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s greatest displays of doubletalk.

Now, Some still argue that Iran's global terror campaign, its subversion of countries throughout the Middle East and well beyond the Middle East, some argue that this is the work of the extremists. They say things are changing. They point to last year's elections in Iran. They claim that Iran’s smooth talking President and Foreign Minister, they’ve changed not only the tone of Iran's foreign policy but also its substance. They believe Rouhani and Zarif genuinely want to reconcile with the West, that they’ve abandoned the global mission of the Islamic Revolution.

Really? So let's look at what Foreign Minister Zarif wrote in his book just a few years ago: We have a fundamental problem with the West, and especially with America. This is because we are heirs to a global mission, which is tied to our raison d'etre… A global mission which is tied to our very reason of being.

And then Zarif asks a question, I think an interesting one. He says: How come Malaysia [he’s referring to an overwhelmingly Muslim country] – how come Malaysia doesn't have similar problems? And he answers: Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order.

That's your moderate. So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose, and for one purpose only: To lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran's path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces, and leave it with the capacity of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran's place as a threshold military nuclear power. In the future, at a time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous state in the world's most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pick-up trucks, armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction. I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists. That didn't happen. And President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria's chemical weapons capability. Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons. Ladies and Gentlemen, Would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn't let the Islamic State of Iran do those things either.

Because here’s what will happen: Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charm and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. It's then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world. There is only one responsible course of action to address this threat: Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. Make no mistake – ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.

To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it's set back in every place. That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight. It’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow.

For 50 days this past summer, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters, day after day. You wouldn't let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity. Nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. Yet Israel also faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war. Because, in an attempt to win the world’s sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools, not just schools - UN schools, private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel.

As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians.

We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualty. And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. This concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable, given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. As their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel's citizen army – the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls – they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. Israel's soldiers deserve not condemnation, but admiration. Admiration from decent people everywhere.

Now here’s what Hamas did: Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest.

No less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this. Hundreds of them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated, or spoken out against from this podium last week.

Ladies and Gentlemen, As Israeli children huddled in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer: Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles.

More HERE

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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?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

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. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"



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 3"
Western Heart
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.
"Paralipomena 2"
"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/