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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31 July, 2014

The TV Cameras Responsible For Civilian Deaths In Gaza
 
I write this as a member of the press. I’m proud to be a journalist and a documentary filmmaker. I’m a member of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, and the co-recipient of this year’s Edward R. Murrow Award from the American Overseas Press Club. I say this off the top because I’m not an outsider pointing my finger at the media. Every year, journalists sacrifice their lives in war zones so as to keep us informed and protect freedom of the press, a cornerstone of democracy.

But the fact is that when it comes to Israel, the media has acted irresponsibly. Good journalism has been replaced by politically correct misreporting, and one of the net results is that Palestinian civilians, including children, are paying with their lives. How so?

There is no group that can be more evil, in the narrowest sense of the word, than the rulers of the Gaza strip, Hamas. They are openly anti-democratic, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Western. The list continues. These are the people who distributed candies, danced in the street and openly celebrated after 9/11.

I simply don’t know what else they could do to make Westerners dislike them. For good measure, they are anti-Palestinian nationalism. They don’t believe in a Palestinian state. They believe that “statehood” is a Western invention. They also believe in the destruction of the Jewish state as a step toward an international Islamic Republic. And yet, despite all of this, they are portrayed as freedom fighters by much of the international media.

The Western press has taught them that if they turn their children into props, they will win the propaganda war against Israel. In today’s media war, you need a good prop. Israeli Cabinet minister Naftali Bennett understood this when he faced CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. When she repeatedly used the term “occupied territories” to refer to parts of the ancient land of Israel, Bennett was ready. He pulled out a 2000-year-old coin that says “Zion” on it.

He held it to the camera and asked something like, “I’m a Jew. How can I be ‘occupying’ Zion? How can I occupy my own land?” His point was “I’m not an occupier, I’m indigenous”, and he used an ancient coin as a prop for an audience with a limited attention span. It worked.

Turkish prime-minister Erdogan also understands that in today’s media war you need props. In 2010, the boat called the “Mavi Marmara” was just such a prop. From a PR point of view, it was a relatively cheap trick. You get a boat, you fill it with what Lenin called “useful idiots”, i.e. well-meaning politically-correct members of the bourgeoisie, espousing half-baked ideas. Then into the mix you insert a dozen jihadists ready to kill and be killed – and you’ve got yourself a media circus of incredible proportions.

The Mavi Marmara incident involved a “ship of fools” which tried to run Israel’s sea blockade around Gaza. Ostensibly they were bringing humanitarian aid, but humanitarian aid can be delivered without any problems. It’s missiles that are a problem. So when Israeli commandos armed with paintball guns so as not to hurt anyone boarded the ship, they were attacked by jihadists wielding axes and knives. The commandos called for help. The jihadists were killed.

But they had won the prop war. My fellow journalists portrayed the jihadists as victims and the Israelis as oppressors. The anti-Israel forces got billions of dollars worth of free publicity, and Turkish-Israeli relations were damaged almost beyond repair. None of this would’ve happened if there hadn’t been a prop that the cameramen could point their cameras at. The boat was the prop. Now it’s the children.

Hamas has understood what the ideology of terror has clearly espoused for over a hundred years. When attacking a democracy, the terrorist has to put it in a quandary. The way to do that is to force the democracy to kill civilians. So if you set up your terror-base under a school or a hospital, you’ve got it made in the shade. You launch missiles, for example, against Israel. Now the Israelis have a choice. Either they don’t respond, in which case the terror mounts in the face of ongoing impotence, or they do respond, in which case you’re going to have civilian deaths and dramatic pictures for the West’s nightly news.

Basically, the Western media has taught Hamas that it doesn’t matter how downright evil you are. It doesn’t matter if you launch two thousand missiles at civilian targets, including the airport. It doesn’t matter if you use your own children as human shields. You’ll get the coverage you want if CNN, BBC et al. have props to point their cameras at. Our form of news-gathering has taught Hamas to turn their children into those props, and to sacrifice them on the altar of Jihad. By misreporting, our media has encouraged the bad guys to kill their own children, and has dragged Israel into a war it did not want.

Nissim Sean Carmeli was a 21 year old soldier in Golani, Israel’s marines. He emigrated here from Texas. Until a few years ago, he went to the high school around the corner from my house. He had plans to go to university, meet a girl, start a family. When a few weeks ago Hamas started raining hundreds of rockets down on Israeli civilians, nobody wanted to send Sean and his friends into Gaza. As in Afghanistan, that would involve house to house fighting with a ruthless enemy who knows the terrain and has booby trapped every passage.

It would have been very easy for the Israeli Air Force to simply level entire blocks of Hamas dominated neighborhoods. Americans have done this with impunity in Iraq and Afghanistan. But since Hamas plants its terror network beneath schools, hospitals and mosques, such a bombing mission would have involved high Palestinian casualties. So Israel decided not to level Gaza and send Sean in. He died so as to minimize Palestinian losses.

I just came back from where his family is sitting Shiva, the Jewish custom of mourning. There were no anti-Arab speeches, no signs of militarism, just the tremendous grief of parents burying a child. As a journalist, I sat there and hung my head in shame, overwhelmed by the simple truth that while journalists feign concern for Palestinian kids, they are actually creating the environment for their deaths. In the meantime, Israelis like Sean are paying with their lives to avoid the very deaths they are being blamed for.

SOURCE

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Kerry Undermines Israel

Secretary of State John Kerry, presumably pursuing the wishes of his boss, has badly flubbed dealings between Israel and Hamas. The main reason for his failure is an assumption that both sides want peace and that all it requires is some magic words from the Obama administration. They’re dead wrong.

Over the weekend, Kerry pushed for a cease-fire negotiated in Paris with Israel’s enemies, Qatar and Turkey, and it contained practically every Hamas demand. We’re shocked – shocked – that it failed. The White House has pushed for a cease-fire only since Israel began its ground incursion into Gaza to clear out Hamas' tunnel networks (built with forced child labor) and destroy its missile caches. In other words, once Israel started truly succeeding, the Obama administration sought to stop that progress.

A White House statement describing a call between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The President … reiterated the United States' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.” Furthermore, the statement read, “[T]he President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire that ends hostilities now.”

Worse, the administration even turned on Israel at the UN, pushing a Security Council-enforced cease-fire.

Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Fatah (the other Palestinian faction that controls the West Bank) all want Hamas rule ended in Gaza. And the Obama Justice Department still classifies Hamas as a terrorist group. So why would the Obama State Department expect a good result from working for Hamas against all other interested parties?

Israel would love nothing more than to live in peace, but that’s difficult when its immediate neighbors want its total destruction. That’s why the “peace process” has yielded so little regardless of decades of trying, and that’s why Israel’s objective now is to cripple Hamas. Netanyahu warned Israelis to prepare for a “prolonged” war because Israel has no interest in quitting before its objectives are achieved, especially in the face of betrayal by the U.S.

The bumbling over the cease-fire isn’t the only thing the Obama administration is doing to enrage Israel. Nuclear talks with Iran continue to grant both time and concessions to the mullahs – who also happen to want Israel wiped off the map and support Hamas' efforts to do so. Iran is not just a thorn in Israel’s side like Hamas; it’s an existential threat.

Perhaps much of the problem is that Kerry is the wrong man for the job. In 1971, he testified before the Senate against American troops, saying, “They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”

If the man could so outrageously slander his own countrymen, why should the Israelis trust him to have their best interests in mind? Clearly he doesn’t (remember his apartheid state comments), and therefore they don’t trust him.

SOURCE

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THE DRUG WAR IS FINISHED

The drug war is finished. Kaput. It’s now just a matter of time when the federal government calls an end to this evil, immoral, destructive, and racist government program.

Yesterday, the New York Times became the latest addition to those calling for an end to the drug war, with an editorial entitled “Repeal Prohibition, Again.” That was followed by two more editorials written by members of the NYT editorial board, one entitled “Let States Decide on Marijuana” by David Firestone and the other “The Public Lightens Up About Weed” by Juliet Lapidos.

That’s about as mainstream as one can get.

Comparing drug laws to Prohibition, the Times wrote:

"It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

While the Times unfortunately limits its call to marijuana instead of expanding it to all drugs, once people see the benefits that come from ending the criminality of marijuana, the rest of the federal drug-war apparatus will soon fall as well.

The federal government never should have enacted drug laws in the first place. For one thing, there is no authorization in the Constitution for such power. That’s why, in fact, Americans amended the Constitution to make the possession of booze illegal — and then repealed that amendment. The same thing needed to be done with drugs.

Second, governments have no business punishing people for what they put into their mouths. Freedom means the right to live your life the way you want, so long as your conduct is peaceful. That obviously encompasses what you put into your mouth. Other people might object to what you ingest for health concerns or any reasons, but such objections should never have been translated into having the state incarcerate and fine people for ingesting what they want. Drug addiction and drug usage are none of the state’s business.

Third, look at the consequences of the drug war: gangs, cartels, drug lords, gang wars, robberies, muggings, thefts, burglaries, illegal searches, ruination of lives, years of incarceration, enormous fines, asset forfeiture laws, military-type raids, infringements on civil liberties and privacy, racist enforcement, bribery, corruption, murders, assassinations, and the militarization of the police.

All that is about as far from a peaceful and harmonious society that one can get. And it’s all because of the prohibition of drugs.

In fact, try to think of one legitimate reason to keep the drug war going. You can’t do it.

Get the U.S. military involved? It already is involved, heavily. Just ask the people of Latin America, where the Pentagon has played a heavy role in waging the war on drugs in that part of the world, which has done nothing more than convert Latin American countries into cauldrons of violence. Ask the people of Mexico, where some 60,000 people have died in the last 7 years owing to a massive, military-style crackdown in the war on drugs.

Increase jail sentences for drug-law violators? It’s been done. In fact, the feds are now granting early release to many of the people whose lives they are ruined. The feds are recognizing that those long jail sentences didn’t do the trick.

Asset-forfeiture laws? They’ve been tried. In fact, they’ve been converted into a convenient way for law-enforcement people to steal cash and other valuable property from poor people. They’ve accomplished nothing else.

They’ve tried everything, and everything has failed. The drug warriors have nothing left in their arsenal.

So why the delay in ending the drug war? One reason: jobs. There is an enormous segment of society that has become dependent on the war on drugs, a segment that not only depends of things like bribes but also on legitimate income streams like salaries.

These are the drug-war addicts. We’re talking about assistant U.S. Attorneys, DEA agents, deputy sheriffs, Border Patrol, policemen, assistant district attorneys, clerks, state and federal judges, and so many others. This segment is now the principal obstacle to ending the drug war.

I can just picture a big protest in Washington against ending the drug war. There would be two groups of people all rallying together and sharing the same signs saying “Keep the Drug War Going!” The two segments would be (1) U.S. drug-war law-enforcement agents and (2) the drug lords and drug dealers. Both segments know that drug legalization would put them both out of a job immediately.

That’s what happened when Prohibition was ended. No more booze gangs, no more gang wars over turf, and no more booze bribery of prosecutors and judges. That’s because there wasn’t a black market anymore.

The same thing will happen with drug legalization. In fact, that’s one of the ironies of the drug war. It purports to go after drug lords, cartels, and gangs but in fact is the cause of their existence. The more the drug laws are enforced, the stronger the black-market sector becomes. With drug legalization, the goal of smashing the drug dealers is achieved, not by arrest and incarceration but instead by putting them out of business through the restoration of a legal free market.

The question now is: Who will be the last person punished in the war on drugs?

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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30 July, 2014

Facebook sides with Nazis

A Facebook page calling for the death of Israeli Jews does not violate the social network's "community standards," according to multiple messages sent by Facebook in response to user complaints.

The page in question, is named, "Death to zionst baby killer israeli jews." The page, which spells "Zionist" incorrectly, features an Image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a vampire with blood dripping down his chin as he feasts on a child. It was started on July 25.

Individuals complaining about the page were greeted with the following message (screen captured below):

"We reviewed your report of Death to zionst baby killer israeli jews. Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the Page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards."

Last Thursday, a mob of more than a dozen men assaulted a Jew in his suburban Paris home who had been identified through a French Facebook page that listed the faces and identities of Jews to be attacked. The social network declined to remove the page until after the assault had taken place.

SOURCE

UPDATE: After a social media outcry, Facebook has since removed the page.

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Is business a force for free markets?

When Communism, with its enmity to business, was breathing down their necks, business was much more pro-market. Now Communism is gone as a major threat, they are off the chain

By Martin Hutchinson

Traditionally, business was the most important political backer of free markets – which made sense, because business needs markets in order to exist at all. However in the last generation, the views of business, as expressed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other outlets, have increasingly diverged from the free market ideal. As crony capitalist ideas have come to dominate business thinking, so crony capitalism itself has come to dominate the U.S. economy, with dire results for productivity growth and the living standards of Americans themselves.

The most egregious anti-market attitude of modern business, at least the largest businesses, is on immigration. Here it favors essentially the abolition of all restrictions. Thus it wants to import high-skill immigrants in tech sectors to compete with U.S. STEM graduates for the limited number of jobs available (we learned this week that Microsoft, one of the advocates of increased immigration, is to lay off 15,000 U.S. workers.) This is a very shortsighted policy indeed; by driving down the wages paid to STEM graduates, so that computer scientists earn less now than they did in 1999, business lobbyists are ensuring that the best and brightest U.S. students head for careers in areas such as law where they are better protected from foreign competition.

At the low-skill end of immigration, business generally favors both legalization of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country (thus encouraging a further flow, as we are seeing currently) and the establishment of not one but two guest worker programs, under which further low-skill workers can be imported to drive low-skill wages down to subsistence levels. Needless to say, this is not in the interest of the U.S. people as a whole, who are impoverished thereby. It is not even in the long-term interest of business. Very high low-skill immigration and declining U.S. living standards degrade the gigantic domestic market, so that it is no longer the template against which international competition must measure itself. Without the world's richest and most sophisticated consumers, U.S. business will be at a growing disadvantage against competitors from richer and better ordered countries such as Japan, Germany, Scandinavia and eventually South Korea, Taiwan and South-East Asia.

The free-market approach to immigration recognizes that people are not goods and that the arguments for free trade in goods break down when the item moving from country to country is an immigrant. Barbers are paid more in Boston than they are in Bangalore because of the greater wealth surrounding them, and an extra barber imported to Boston competes directly with the local workforce and plays far more havoc with domestic living standards than an imported car, machine tool or item of software. Hence, to prevent Boston barbers' living standards from being driven down to those of the Congo, we must restrict imports of people. The cheap labor lobby, whether in the tech sector, in agriculture or in low-wage service sectors, is attempting to enrich itself by immiserating its fellow citizens.

More HERE

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Liberals against liberalism

Liberalism is one of a select band of troublesome political concepts that has multiple meanings. Indeed, ‘liberalism’ as used in one context can be the opposite of what it means in another.

The attitude of liberalism to freedom provides a prime example of these contradictory meanings. Classical liberalism, which was to the fore in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, typically placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of individual autonomy and liberty. In sharp contrast, contemporary liberalism tends to be deeply intolerant and elitist.

Fred Siegel, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank based in New York, has provided an enormous service with his innovative history of modern American liberalism, The Revolt Against the Masses. It helps put many of the most retrograde trends in the US into their proper context. It also helps shed light on parallel developments in other countries, including Britain, even though they are outside Siegel’s remit.

For Siegel, a defining feature of modern liberalism is its attachment to what he calls the clerisy – a technocratic elite which he identifies with academia, Hollywood, the prestige press, Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Despite its professed attachment to equality of opportunity, this elite holds the mass of the American public, what Siegel refers to as ‘the middle class’, in contempt. The clerisy sees itself as superior to the rest of the population on meritocratic grounds.

As the reach of the state has burgeoned, the clerisy has taken on an increasingly important social role. Over the years, American government has grown vastly, commanding more resources and employing more people, than ever before. As Joel Kotkin, one of the sharpest observers of contemporary American politics, has pointed out: ‘Since 1990, the number of government workers has expanded by some five million to some 20million. That’s four times the number who were employed by the government at the end of the Second World War, a growth rate roughly twice that of the population as a whole.’ Members of the technocratic elite present themselves as impartial experts, but their interests are closely tied to the fortunes of this vast state apparatus.

Siegel’s revisionist starting point is to argue that modern liberalism emerged in the pessimistic years following the immediate aftermath of the First World War. Its leading figures were writers and thinkers such as Randolph Bourne, Herbert Croly, Sinclair Lewis and HL Mencken. Their goal was to build a new American aristocracy that would distance itself from the perceived debasement of modern commercial society.

This early part of Siegel’s work often parallels John Carey’s 1992 study of Britain from 1880 to 1939, titled The Intellectuals and the Masses. Both works portray an intellectual elite that loathes the mass of the population. Indeed, HG Wells, better known today as a science-fiction writer, was a prominent political influence on both sides of the Atlantic in the early twentieth century. Siegel accurately describes American liberalism of the 1920s and onwards as a ‘cousin’ of British Fabianism.

Siegel’s identification of the 1920s as the time when modern liberalism emerged puts him at odds with conventional studies. Many authors argue that it was in the 1930s, with the New Deal of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), that liberalism was born. Others point to the Progressive era, which reached its peak in the early years of the twentieth century, as the starting point of liberalism.

But Siegel argues that modern liberalism was fundamentally at odds with progressivism. The progressive movement was a bipartisan and largely middle-class Protestant movement that wanted to outlaw alcohol, gambling and prostitution. It also wanted to curb the power of big business and to create what it saw as a better life for the middle class. Siegel argues that liberalism represented a decisive cultural break from progressivism as it saw the American democratic ethos as a threat to freedom at home and abroad.

In the 1930s, many liberals admired the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. At the same time, they took the view that the American middle class, stifled by smalltown conformity, was proto-fascist. It Can’t Happen Here, a novel by Sinclair Lewis on the dangers of homespun American fascism, was widely praised by liberal commentators.

Liberalism gained increasing political influence under FDR’s presidency, although he did not go as far as many liberals would have liked. In the early 1930s, Roosevelt established a Brain Trust, a group of academic advisers, to help develop his economic programme. Although this might seem an unremarkable move, in retrospect it was innovative for its time. It was an early example of technical experts playing a leading role in the formation and implementation of policy.

FDR also played a leading role in the popularisation of the idea of ‘economic rights’ – more accurately called entitlements. In his 1944 State of the Union address, he proposed a Second Bill of Rights that included such elements as the right to a useful and remunerative job, the right to adequate food, and the right to protection from unemployment. The president rightly contrasted these entitlements to classical political rights such as free speech, a free press and freedom of worship.

Although the idea of economic rights might sound positive, it in fact laid the basis for a system where different interest groups competed for access to resources from a rapidly growing state. For example, by the 1960s a framework of state-sponsored mobility gave a select number of African-Americans work in a profusion of anti-poverty, anti-discrimination, housing and social-services agencies. These bureaucracies provided jobs for a minority of educated black Americans and gave white radicals an outlet to rail against a wider society they condemned as irredeemably racist. Yet, at least in Siegel’s telling, this development angered most whites while at the same time undermining the prospects for most blacks.

There are many twists in Siegel’s tale, but an important turning point was the early 1970s and the emergence of what he calls gentry liberalism. This was a form of modern liberalism that was hostile to the ideas of progress and mass affluence. It stood in contrast to earlier generations of modern liberals who generally supported the idea of progress.

To be sure, there were green elements in the earlier years. HG Wells, for instance, was a proponent of population control and eugenics. But the primary target of gentry liberalism, as a new form of Malthusianism, was mass culture and mass consumption rather than the poor having numerous children.

Siegel presents Barack Obama as at the apex of the new liberalism. Obama himself is a graduate of the machine that has dominated Chicago politics for decades. His administration is predominantly staffed by a small number of credentialed experts who overwhelmingly hail from a few big cities. Despite all the talk of opportunity, this administration looks down with disdain on the mass of the population. Racial and political authenticity is held up as more important than policy accomplishments. It is also worth noting that this political grouping has substantial support from America’s most wealthy.

A final element of Siegel’s study of modern liberalism might surprise some British fans of John Stuart Mill. In an appendix, he points to Mill, the mid-nineteenth century British thinker, as a key inspiration for modern American liberalism. Mill is better known as an eloquent defender of individual autonomy, particularly in his essay ‘On Liberty’. But Siegel points out that Mill was an ambivalent figure who also held up the idea of a clerisy or ‘endowed class’ whose wisdom and intelligence put it above the average person. This idea of a superior intellectual elite later reappeared in numerous guises, including what HG Wells referred to as the new ‘Samurai’.

The main weakness of The Revolt Against the Masses is Siegel’s conflation of criticism of the American authorities with disdain for what he calls the middle class. For example, he does not clearly distinguish between criticism of authoritarian trends in American society and the view that the general public is proto-fascist. It is indeed true that these two trends are often fused in the minds of American liberals, but that need not necessarily be the case. It is quite possible to oppose on principle American authoritarianism while rejecting the notion that the mass of the population is inherently anti-democratic.

To make the distinction between the two liberalisms clear, it is necessary to breathe new life into two other key concepts from the political lexicon. First, upholding moral equality – the notion that no individual is intrinsically worth more than any other – provides a way of undermining the undemocratic claims of the technocratic elite and its supporters; and second, upholding the idea of freedom, in the classical liberal sense of individual autonomy, is essential to resisting the overwhelming authoritarian impulse of modern liberalism.

SOURCE

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ODDS AND ODDER

?The odds of winning the Florida lottery are 1 in 22,957,480.

The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 175,223,510
.
The odds of winning Mega Millions is 1 in 258,890,850.

The odds of a disk drive failing in any given month are roughly 1 in 36.The odds of two different drives failing in the same month are roughly one in 36 squared, or 1 in about 1,300.

The odds of three drives failing in the same month is 36 cubed or 1 in 46,656.

The odds of seven different drives failing in the same month (like what happened at the IRS when they received a letter asking about emails targeting conservative and pro Israeli groups) is 37 to the 7th power = 1 in 78,664,164,09 (that's over 78 Billion).

In other words, the odds are greater that you will win the Florida Lottery 342 times before having those seven IRS hard drives crashing in the same month.

HUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Sounds like someone thinks we are idiots.

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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29 July, 2014

What triggered the 2007-2008 financial crisis?

I have not previously heard of this but it does have explanatory power. I should have guessed that government bungling lay behind it. We all knew that the pricking of the housing bubble lay behind the financial collapse but what pricked the housing bubble? The bubble peaked in 2006 and in 2007 the trouble started, building up to the collapse of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros. and AIG in 2008

In 2005, Americans who racked up an inconceivable amount of credit card debt realized they could file for bankruptcy to relieve themselves of any obligation to pay back debts.

There were those who exploited the system, of course, spending excessive amounts of money on credit cards, and then filing for bankruptcy the moment any bank started asking questions.

Banks wanted protection from this sort of abuse, so they lobbied for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act which made it costly to actually file for bankruptcy.

Everything was great, and smooth sailing after that, right? Nope.

Turns out that there were people who were actually, you know, bankrupt. The new law made it to where a large number of people didn't have the money to even file for bankruptcy. As a result, these people had to default on all their debts, including their mortgages, which the banks had to foreclose.

So, now we have a situation in which all the banks have a bunch of houses they can't do anything with. What are they going to do with houses? Well, they need to sell them, of course.

As it would turn out, though, all the banks simultaneously realized that the housing market was being flooded with houses from other banks doing the same thing. Because of supply and demand, housing prices plummeted, causing even more people to default on their mortgages.

This also meant that the value of mortgage-backed securities dropped precipitously as well, leading to more than $40 billion of writedowns for U.S. financial institutions.

Banks lost so much money that they themselves began filing for bankruptcy, including one of the prominent banks that lobbied for the law in the first place, Washington Mutual. Nearly everyone lobbying for the law was subsequently punished: Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Charles O. "Chuck" Prince stepped down after losing $11 billion of writedowns on top of more than $6 billion in the third quarter of that year. Stan O'Neal was ousted as CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co., the world's largest brokerage, after an $8.4 billion writedown. Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest securities firm, had subprime losses that cut fourth-quarter earnings that year by $2.5 billion...

SOURCE

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The quintessential liberal




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Is Putin Really Worse Than Stalin?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In 1933, the Holodomor was playing out in Ukraine.

After the “kulaks,” the independent farmers, had been liquidated in the forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture, a genocidal famine was imposed on Ukraine through seizure of her food production.

Estimates of the dead range from two to nine million souls.

Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who called reports of the famine “malignant propaganda,” won a Pulitzer for his mendacity.

In November 1933, during the Holodomor, the greatest liberal of them all, FDR, invited Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to receive official U.S. recognition of his master Stalin’s murderous regime.

On August 1, 1991, just four months before Ukraine declared its independence of Russia, George H. W. Bush warned Kiev’s legislature:

“Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.”

In short, Ukraine’s independence was never part of America’s agenda. From 1933 to 1991, it was never a U.S. vital interest. Bush I was against it.

When then did this issue of whose flag flies over Donetsk or Crimea become so crucial that we would arm Ukrainians to fight Russian-backed rebels and consider giving a NATO war guarantee to Kiev, potentially bringing us to war with a nuclear-armed Russia?

From FDR on, U.S. presidents have felt that America could not remain isolated from the rulers of the world’s largest nation.

Ike invited Khrushchev to tour the USA after he had drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood. After Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba, JFK was soon calling for a new detente at American University.

Within weeks of Warsaw Pact armies crushing the Prague Spring in August 1968, LBJ was seeking a summit with Premier Alexei Kosygin.

After excoriating Moscow for the downing of KAL 007 in 1983, that old Cold Warrior Ronald Reagan was fishing for a summit meeting.

The point: Every president from FDR through George H. W. Bush, even after collisions with Moscow far more serious than this clash over Ukraine, sought to re-engage the men in the Kremlin.

Whatever we thought of the Soviet dictators who blockaded Berlin, enslaved Eastern Europe, put rockets in Cuba and armed Arabs to attack Israel, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 1 all sought to engage Russia’s rulers.

Avoidance of a catastrophic war demanded engagement.

How then can we explain the clamor of today’s U.S. foreign policy elite to confront, isolate, and cripple Russia, and make of Putin a moral and political leper with whom honorable statesmen can never deal?

What has Putin done to rival the forced famine in Ukraine that starved to death millions, the slaughter of the Hungarian rebels or the Warsaw Pact’s crushing of Czechoslovakia?

In Ukraine, Putin responded to a U.S.-backed coup, which ousted a democratically elected political ally of Russia, with a bloodless seizure of the pro-Russian Crimea where Moscow has berthed its Black Sea fleet since the 18th century. This is routine Big Power geopolitics.

And though Putin put an army on Ukraine’s border, he did not order it to invade or occupy Luhansk or Donetsk. Does this really look like a drive to reassemble either the Russian Empire of the Romanovs or the Soviet Empire of Stalin that reached to the Elbe?

As for the downing of the Malaysian airliner, Putin did not order that. Sen. John Cornyn says U.S. intelligence has not yet provided any “smoking gun” that ties the missile-firing to Russia.

Intel intercepts seem to indicate that Ukrainian rebels thought they had hit an Antonov military transport plane.

Yet, today, the leading foreign policy voice of the Republican Party, Sen. John McCain, calls Obama’s White House “cowardly” for not arming the Ukrainians to fight the Russian-backed separatists.

But suppose Putin responded to the arrival of U.S. weapons in Kiev by occupying Eastern Ukraine. What would we do then?

John Bolton has the answer: Bring Ukraine into NATO.

Translation: The U.S. and NATO should go to war with Russia, if necessary, over Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea, though no U.S. president has ever thought Ukraine itself was worth a war with Russia.

What motivates Putin seems simple and understandable. He wants the respect due a world power. He sees himself as protector of the Russians left behind in his “near abroad.” He relishes playing Big Power politics. History is full of such men.

He allows U.S. overflights to Afghanistan, cooperates in the P5+1 on Iran, helped us rid Syria of chemical weapons, launches our astronauts into orbit, collaborates in the war on terror and disagrees on Crimea and Syria.

But what motivates those on our side who seek every opportunity to restart the Cold War?

Is it not a desperate desire to appear once again Churchillian, once again heroic, once again relevant, as they saw themselves in the Cold War that ended so long ago?

Who is the real problem here?

SOURCE

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Paul Ryan Lays Out the 'Way Forward' on Poverty

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a sweeping proposal this week to reform how federal and state governments address the issue of poverty in America. His plan, “Expanding Opportunity in America,” looks into a number of ways to create new programs and bolster some existing federal programs while eliminating others that just don’t work. Ryan is becoming the go-to Republican on poverty policy, which is key for a party that needs a more welcoming message on the subject – to borrow his upcoming book title, “The Way Forward.”

The primary element of Ryan’s plan calls for the creation of Opportunity Grants that would change how the government conducts fighting poverty. This brings together 11 existing streams of federal aid – from food stamps to housing assistance – into block grants that would allow states to tailor aid packages to the poor based on individual need. States would assign a caseworker to each person applying for aid, and together the caseworker and the individual would create a plan based on short- and long-term goals. These goals would form the basis of a contract in which the states would continue to supply aid so long as the person continued to live up to their end of the agreement – whether it be finding or maintaining a job, pursuing an education or remaining drug-free.

Ryan proposes changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is one of the few proven ways the government has to reduce poverty and encourage work, and he wants to simplify the application process. In addition, he wants to make all childless adults over 21 eligible to apply. He suggests adding the EITC to each paycheck throughout the year, rather than distributing it as a one-time payment in each year’s tax refund.

There are a number of fixes to education aid in the proposal, including converting Head Start funding into a block grant to allow states to experiment with different models for early education. A big part of the primary and secondary education component is the consolidation of multiple federal programs into flexible block grants to the states, which allows for more tailored solutions at the community level. The proposal also reforms the accreditation process to allow more institutions and specific courses to gain accreditation, thereby increasing the education options for students seeking federal aid.

Ryan addresses the problem of an exploding prison population and the negative effect incarceration has on upward mobility. He proposes allowing federal judges more flexibility in sentencing non-violent felons who would otherwise be subject to mandatory minimums, and he wants to tailor prison education and rehabilitation programs to those inmates most at risk for recidivism.

Ryan’s plan, which you can read in detail here, is a thoughtful consideration how to address what is wrong with federal aid to the poor. As Ryan notes, “Fifteen percent of Americans live in poverty today – over 46 million people.” In that, he sees opportunity: “There’s a vast amount of untapped potential in our country.” Federal anti-poverty programs have done little to actually reduce poverty ever since Lyndon Johnson began the so-called War on Poverty 50 years ago. Ryan’s plan calls for making aid more effective and more accountable, two goals with which Washington is not familiar.

To be sure, Democrats are already trying to shoot holes in Ryan’s plan. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, says Ryan loves block grants because they are easier to cut. Van Hollen and other House Democrats also note Ryan has proposed cutting numerous federal programs and therefore cannot be taken seriously. Only a statist would consider cost cutting a negative trait.

The fact is, many of Ryan’s proposals, like prison education and improved education funding, have already seen the light of day as individual legislative proposals that have drawn bipartisan support. Democrats don’t like his plan because it would mean lifting people out of poverty and freeing them from their poverty plantations. Ryan is also a possible 2016 presidential candidate, which makes him a prime target.

Beyond all the policy nitty gritty, the key takeaway from Ryan’s effort is that the GOP needs to do a better job of addressing poverty. Blue collar Americans need to hear that Liberty can work for them. As American Enterprise Institute fellow James Pethokoukis puts it, Ryan “sees low-income Americans as underutilized assets who need to be reintegrated into the work economy so they and America can reach full potential.” This is done, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “not [by] making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”

SOURCE

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Leftists are religious too

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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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28 July, 2014

Another day in the life

by Shani Paluch Simon

This morning I got up and decided to offer Mia (7) to spend the day with me. We were not going to spend the day at my clinic in the hospital, nor were we going to have a fun girly day with mani-pedis and lunch in Tel Aviv. Today was a day to demonstrate support and solidarity - it would be sad, but it was important, and not everything we need to do in life is fun or pleasant.

We started off at the local supermarket and picked up several cartons of drinks, several kilos of baked goods and we set out on our journey.

Our first stop was Neve Yaakov, a suburb in Jerusalem that I had never visited before. I placed an address in my Waze and set off. Next thing I knew I was driving through Kalandiya, along the separation fence, road strewn with rocks and debris from clashes that had taken place between border police and local Palestinian villagers this past week. I checked if I could re-route but the other option was to drive through Shuafat - which did not appear a more appealing option.

Mia asked me about the separation fence. I tried explaining that the fence is a scar on our land, an un-healing, seeping wound on our soul and their soul. That the fence protects us and it hurts us. My heart felt heavy, I wanted the fence to end, I wanted to get to our destination already.

We arrived in Neve Yaakov, a poverty stricken suburb on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. Mia looked around, her beautiful big eyes, even wider than usual. As we made our way, hands laden with the goods we had purchased for the family of the fallen Ethiopian soldier, Moshe Malko z"l, Mia missed no detail - the neglected buildings, the rubbish on the streets, the rusty remains of what once must have been public playground equipment. Jerusalem is one of the poorest, most neglected cities in Israel.

Along with many others, we came to give our support and condolences to the family of a soldier who had lost his life to protect us. We approached Moshe Malko z"l's father - a lone tear streaming down his face, a broken heart, a broken soul - life would never be the same. How many kilometers had he walked in the deserts of Ethiopia to come to this land? What had he dreamed of for his future when he gazed at the stars in the desert skies on his journey to Israel? How much hardship had he and his family endured acclimatizing to life in Israel? And now this. How cruel life can be.

From Neve Yaakov we made our way to the military cemetery at Mount Herzel - us and 30,000 other people, who came to escort and support the family of Max Steinberg z"l on his final journey. Max was a lone-soldier - he had first come to Israel on Birthright - he fell in love with the country, with the people and chose to leave the comforts of Los Angeles, to make aliya and to serve in the army. Max's parents arrived in Israel for the first time in their lives yesterday - to bury their son.

Mia was astounded by the numbers of people attending the funeral, but she was even more astounded by the endless rows of graves. "Mummy, I don't understand - how many soldiers have died for our country? Did they all die young, before they had a chance to marry and have families?"

Too many soldiers Mia - and each soldier that dies has died too young - irrespective of whether they had married or had children.

Too many.

Too young.

This last week alone, 32 more - each a son, a brother, cousin, friend, partner, father.

We listened to the many eulogies, the personal stories of Max's z"l family and friends. We left before the military ceremony of the funeral. The message to Mia had been clear, it was enough for one day. When I considered whether to have Mia spend the day with me - I asked myself if she was too young - yes, she was too young - too young for air-red sirens, for sleeping in a bomb shelter, for hearing loud booms over our heads. Our soldiers are too young - too young to go to war, to bear weapons, to die. In my dialogue with myself I could suddenly hear my grandmother's voice, the words she would say in resignation each time tragedy rudely knocked on the door of our people - ??? ?? ????? - "this is our life".

When I look into the eyes of my children I need to hope that this is not true - I need to hope that the fences will come down, that when I wake -up tomorrow and Gili is suddenly 18 that we will no longer need an army. Some might say that I need to wake-up - today. That my grandmother was right.

I need to dream and hope a little more. Please.

SOURCE

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What I Don’t Like About Life in the American Police State

By John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute

There’s a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, as time goes by, I find the things I don’t like about living in a nation that has long since ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom are beginning to outnumber the things I love.

Here’s what I don’t like about living in the American police state: I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy.

I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.

I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA. I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes. I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.

I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater. I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely. I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army. I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens. I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.

I don’t like the fact that since President Obama took office, police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”

I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for non-violent crimes. There are over 3,000 people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check. I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.

I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant.

I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.

I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose—whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras—is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.

I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.

I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90% occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for Corporate America.

I don’t like feeling as if we’ve come full circle back to a pre-Revolutionary era.

I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us. I don’t like agencies like DARPA developing weapons for the battlefield that get used against Americans back at home. I don’t like the fact that drones will be deployed domestically in 2015, yet the government has yet to establish any civil liberties protocols to prevent them from being used against the citizenry.

Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.

Now there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. And there are certainly those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores. However, I happen to come from a long line of people who believe in the virtue of hard work and perseverance and in the principle that nothing worthwhile comes without effort.

So I’m not giving up, at least not anytime soon. But I’m also not waiting around for the government to clean up its act. I’m not making any deals with politicians who care nothing about me and mine. To quote Number Six, the character in the British television series The Prisoner: “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!”

I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’re at a crisis point in American history. If we don’t get up off our duffs and get involved in the fight for freedom, then up ahead the graveyard beckons. As Martin Luther King Jr. warned, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

SOURCE

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Scientists discover way to stop malaria parasite in its tracks

The global race to develop the next generation of malaria drugs has been given a boost after Australian scientists discovered how to starve the malaria parasite of nutrients, effectively killing it before it takes hold.

The breakthrough, published in Nature on Thursday, comes at a time when the parasite has developed a resistance to anti-malarial drugs, with researchers and health care workers growing increasingly desperate for replacement treatments.

‘’It’s really exciting because we are on our last drug and when that drug goes, there are no more drugs to treat malaria,’’ Burnet Institute director Brendan Crabb, a microbiologist and co-author of the paper, said.

Parasite resistance to the present drug, artemisinin, has been detected in four countries in south-east Asia: Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The mosquito that carries the parasite has also developed a resistance to at least one insecticide used for malaria control in 64 countries.

Transmitted via infected mosquitoes, the malaria parasite multiplies in the liver and then invades red blood cells.

Once inside a red blood cell, the parasite settles in and starts spreading its proteins through the red blood cell cytoplasm, which helps it survive and absorb nutrients.

‘’There are hundreds and hundreds of proteins that the parasite needs to get across into the red blood cells and this study has shown that there is only one way for all the proteins to get out into the red blood cells,’’ said co-author Tania de Koning-Ward, from Deakin University’s medical school. ’’If we block that pathway, then we kill the parasite.’’

The two collaborating research groups, one from the Burnet Institute and the other from Deakin University, each managed to deny the parasite the proteins it needs to survive but did so using different techniques.

Professor Crabb and colleague Paul Gilson worked with infected human blood cells grown in the incubator at the Burnet Institute, while Associate Professor de Koning-Ward and her team used the parasite that causes malaria in mice to test the efficacy of blocking the proteins from being released.

‘’We basically showed the same results,’’ Associate Professor de Koning-Ward said.

The team first outlined its theory in a 2009 Nature paper but this latest research proves the theory works in practice.

The development is significant as it relies on a new mechanism, which means drugs developed using this novel technique will be unlike the drugs now on the market.

Blocking the release of the parasite’s proteins also appeared particularly potent, killing the parasite within six hours.

The malaria parasite has about 5000 genes. The study used genetically modified parasites, with the gene responsible for transferring proteins manipulated so it could be switched off.

Professor Crabb said the cost of developing new malaria drugs was about half a billion dollars. He said it took five to 10 years for new treatments to reach the market.

According to the World Health Organisation’s 2013 World Malaria Report, released last December, about 207 million cases of malaria were recorded in 2012 with 627,000 deaths. Ninety per cent of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE 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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27 July, 2014

Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist

By Danusha V. Goska

How far left was I? So far left my beloved uncle was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in a Communist country. When I returned to his Slovak village to buy him a mass card, the priest refused to sell me one. So far left that a self-identified terrorist proposed marriage to me. So far left I was a two-time Peace Corps volunteer and I have a degree from UC Berkeley. So far left that my Teamster mother used to tell anyone who would listen that she voted for Gus Hall, Communist Party chairman, for president. I wore a button saying "Eat the Rich." To me it wasn't a metaphor.

I voted Republican in the last presidential election.

Below are the top ten reasons I am no longer a leftist. This is not a rigorous comparison of theories. This list is idiosyncratic, impressionistic, and intuitive. It's an accounting of the milestones on my herky-jerky journey.

10) Huffiness.

In the late 1990s I was reading Anatomy of the Spirit, a then recent bestseller by Caroline Myss.

Myss described having lunch with a woman named Mary. A man approached Mary and asked her if she were free to do a favor for him on June 8th. No, Mary replied, I absolutely cannot do anything on June 8th because June 8th is my incest survivors' meeting and we never let each other down! They have suffered so much already! I would never betray incest survivors!

Myss was flabbergasted. Mary could have simply said "Yes" or "No."

Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. I did not want to live that way anymore. I wanted to cultivate a disposition of gratitude. I wanted to see others, not as victims or victimizers, but as potential friends, as loved creations of God. I wanted to understand the point of view of people with whom I disagreed without immediately demonizing them as enemy oppressors.

I recently attended a training session for professors on a college campus. The presenter was a new hire in a tenure-track position. He opened his talk by telling us that he had received an invitation to share a festive meal with the president of the university. I found this to be an enviable occurrence and I did not understand why he appeared dramatically aggrieved. The invitation had been addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. X." Professor X was a bachelor. He felt slighted. Perhaps the person who had addressed his envelope had disrespected him because he is a member of a minority group.

Rolling his eyes, Prof. X went on to say that he was wary of accepting a position on this lowly commuter campus, with its working-class student body. The disconnect between leftists' announced value of championing the poor and the leftist practice of expressing snobbery for them stung me. Already vulnerable students would be taught by a professor who regarded association with them as a burden, a failure, and a stigma.

Barack Obama is president. Kim and Kanye and Brad and Angelina are members of multiracial households. One might think that professors finally have cause to teach their students to be proud of America for overcoming racism. Not so fast, Professor X warned. His talk was on microaggression, defined as slights that prove that America is still racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist, that is, discriminatory against handicapped people.

Professor X projected a series of photographs onto a large screen. In one, commuters in business suits, carrying briefcases, mounted a flight of stairs. This photo was an act of microaggression. After all, Professor X reminded us, handicapped people can't climb stairs.

I appreciate Professor X's desire to champion the downtrodden, but identifying a photograph of commuters on stairs as an act of microaggression and evidence that America is still an oppressive hegemon struck me as someone going out of his way to live his life in a state of high dudgeon. On the other hand, Prof. X could have chosen to speak of his own working-class students with more respect.

Yes, there is a time and a place when it is absolutely necessary for a person to cultivate awareness of his own pain, or of others' pain. Doctors instruct patients to do this -- "Locate the pain exactly; calculate where the pain falls on a scale of one to ten; assess whether the pain is sharp, dull, fleeting, or constant." But doctors do this for a reason. They want the patient to heal, and to move beyond the pain. In the left, I found a desire to be in pain constantly, so as always to have something to protest, from one's history of incest to the inability of handicapped people to mount flights of stairs.

9) Selective Outrage

I was a graduate student. Female genital mutilation came up in class. I stated, without ornamentation, that it is wrong.

A fellow graduate student, one who was fully funded and is now a comfortably tenured professor, sneered at me. "You are so intolerant. Clitoredectomy is just another culture's rite of passage. You Catholics have confirmation."

When Mitt Romney was the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, he mentioned that, as Massachusetts governor, he proactively sought out female candidates for top jobs. He had, he said, "binders full of women." He meant, of course, that he stored resumes of promising female job candidates in three-ring binders.

Op-ed pieces, Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon posts erupted in a feeding frenzy, savaging Romney and the Republican Party for their "war on women."

I was an active leftist for decades. I never witnessed significant leftist outrage over clitoredectomy, child marriage, honor killing, sharia-inspired rape laws, stoning, or acid attacks. Nothing. Zip. Crickets. I'm not saying that that outrage does not exist. I'm saying I never saw it.

The left's selective outrage convinced me that much canonical, left-wing feminism is not so much support for women, as it is a protest against Western, heterosexual men. It's an "I hate" phenomenon, rather than an "I love" phenomenon.

8.) It's the thought that counts

My favorite bumper sticker in ultra-liberal Berkeley, California: "Think Globally; Screw up Locally." In other words, "Love Humanity but Hate People."

It was past midnight, back in the 1980s, in Kathmandu, Nepal. A group of Peace Corps volunteers were drinking moonshine at the Momo Cave. A pretty girl with long blond hair took out her guitar and sang these lyrics, which I remember by heart from that night:

"If you want your dream to be,

Build it slow and surely.

Small beginnings greater ends.

Heartfelt work grows purely."

I just googled these lyrics, thirty years later, and discovered that they are Donovan's San Damiano song, inspired by the life of St. Francis.

Listening to this song that night in the Momo Cave, I thought, that's what we leftists do wrong. That's what we've got to get right.

We focused so hard on our good intentions. Before our deployment overseas, Peace Corps vetted us for our idealism and "tolerance," not for our competence or accomplishments. We all wanted to save the world. What depressingly little we did accomplish was often erased with the next drought, landslide, or insurrection.

Peace Corps did not focus on the "small beginnings" necessary to accomplish its grandiose goals. Schools rarely ran, girls and low caste children did not attend, and widespread corruption guaranteed that all students received passing grades. Those students who did learn had no jobs where they could apply their skills, and if they rose above their station, the hereditary big men would sabotage them. Thanks to cultural relativism, we were forbidden to object to rampant sexism or the caste system. "Only intolerant oppressors judge others' cultures."

I volunteered with the Sisters of Charity. For them, I pumped cold water from a well and washed lice out of homeless people's clothing. The sisters did not want to save the world. Someone already had. The sisters focused on the small things, as their founder, Mother Teresa, advised, "Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love." Delousing homeless people's clothing was one of my few concrete accomplishments.

Back in 1975, after Hillary Rodham had followed Bill Clinton to Arkansas, she helped create the state's first rape crisis hotline. She had her eye on the big picture. What was Hillary like in her one-on-one encounters?

Hillary served as the attorney to a 41-year-old, one of two men accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. The girl, a virgin before the assault, was in a coma for five days afterward. She was injured so badly she was told she'd never have children. In 2014, she is 52 years old, and she has never had children, nor has she married. She reports that she was afraid of men after the rape.

A taped interview with Clinton has recently emerged; on it Clinton makes clear that she thought her client was guilty, and she chuckles when reporting that she was able to set him free. In a recent interview, the victim said that Hillary Clinton "took me through Hell" and "lied like a dog." "I think she wants to be a role model… but I don’t think she’s a role model at all," the woman said. "If she had have been, she would have helped me at the time, being a 12-year-old girl who was raped by two guys."

Hillary had her eye on the all-caps resume bullet point: FOUNDS RAPE HOTLINE.

Hillary's chuckles when reminiscing about her legal victory suggest that, in her assessment, her contribution to the ruination of the life of a rape victim is of relatively negligible import.

7) Leftists hate my people.

I'm a working-class Bohunk. A hundred years ago, leftists loved us. We worked lousy jobs, company thugs shot us when we went on strike, and leftists saw our discontent as fuel for their fire.

Karl Marx promised the workers' paradise through an inevitable revolution of the proletariat. The proletariat is an industrial working class -- think blue-collar people working in mines, mills, and factories: exactly what immigrants like my parents were doing.

Polish-Americans participated significantly in a great victory, Flint, Michigan's 1937 sit-down strike. Italian-Americans produced Sacco and Vanzetti. Gus Hall was a son of Finnish immigrants.

In the end, though, we didn't show up for the Marxist happily ever after. We believed in God and we were often devout Catholics. Leftists wanted us to slough off our ethnic identities and join in the international proletarian brotherhood -- "Workers of the world, unite!" But we clung to ethnic distinctiveness. Future generations lost their ancestral ties, but they didn't adopt the IWW flag; they flew the stars and stripes. "Property is theft" is a communist motto, but no one is more house-proud than a first generation Pole who has escaped landless peasantry and secured his suburban nest.

Leftists felt that we jilted them at the altar. Leftists turned on us. This isn't just ancient history. In 2004, What's the Matter with Kansas? spent eighteen weeks on the bestseller lists. The premise of the book: working people are too stupid to know what's good for them, and so they vote conservative when they should be voting left. In England, the book was titled, What's the Matter with America?

We became the left's boogeyman: Joe Six-pack, Joe Hardhat. Though we'd been in the U.S. for a few short decades when the demonization began, leftists, in the academy, in media, and in casual speech, blamed working-class ethnics for American crimes, including racism and the "imperialist" war in Vietnam. See films like The Deer Hunter. Watch Archie Bunker on "All in the Family." Listen to a few of the Polack jokes that elitists pelted me with whenever I introduced myself at UC Berkeley.

Leftists freely label poor whites as "redneck," "white trash," "trailer trash," and "hillbilly." At the same time that leftists toss around these racist and classist slurs, they are so sanctimonious they forbid anyone to pronounce the N word when reading Mark Twain aloud. President Bill Clinton's advisor James Carville succinctly summed up leftist contempt for poor whites in his memorable quote, "Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find."

The left's visceral hatred of poor whites overflowed like a broken sewer when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008. It would be impossible, and disturbing, to attempt to identify the single most offensive comment that leftists lobbed at Palin. One can report that attacks on Palin were so egregious that leftists themselves publicly begged that they cease; after all, they gave the left a bad name. The Reclusive Leftist blogged in 2009 that it was a "major shock" to discover "the extent to which so many self-described liberals actually despise working people." The Reclusive Leftist focuses on Vanity Fair journalist Henry Rollins. Rollins recommends that leftists "hate-fuck conservative women" and denounces Palin as a "small town hickoid" who can be bought off with a coupon to a meal at a chain restaurant.

Smearing us is not enough. Liberal policies sabotage us. Affirmative action benefits recipients by color, not by income. Even this limited focus fails. In his 2004 Yale University Press study, Thomas Sowell insists that affirmative action helps only wealthier African Americans. Poor blacks do not benefit. In 2009, Princeton sociologists Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford demonstrated that poor, white Christians are underrepresented on elite college campuses. Leftists add insult to injury. A blue-collar white kid, who feels lost and friendless on the alien terrain of a university campus, a campus he has to leave immediately after class so he can get to his fulltime job at MacDonald's, must accept that he is a recipient of "white privilege" – if he wants to get good grades in mandatory classes on racism.

The left is still looking for its proletariat. It supports mass immigration for this reason. Harvard's George Borjas, himself a Cuban immigrant, has been called "America’s leading immigration economist." Borjas points out that mass immigration from Latin America has sabotaged America's working poor.

It's more than a little bit weird that leftists, who describe themselves as the voice of the worker, select workers as their hated other of choice, and targets of their failed social engineering.

6) I believe in God.

Read Marx and discover a mythology that is irreconcilable with any other narrative, including the Bible. Hang out in leftist internet environments, and you will discover a toxic bath of irrational hatred for the Judeo-Christian tradition. You will discover an alternate vocabulary in which Jesus is a "dead Jew on a stick" or a "zombie" and any belief is an arbitrary sham, the equivalent of a recently invented "flying spaghetti monster." You will discover historical revisionism that posits Nazism as a Christian denomination. You will discover a rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western Civilization and American concepts of individual rights and law. You will discover a nihilist void, the kind of vacuum of meaning that nature abhors and that, all too often, history fills with the worst totalitarian nightmares, the rough beast that slouches toward Bethlehem.

5 & 4) Straw men and "In order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs."

It astounds me now to reflect on it, but never, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. In fact, I did not even know those positions when I was a leftist.

"Truth is that which serves the party." The capital-R revolution was such a good, it could eliminate all that was bad, that manipulating facts was not even a venial sin; it was a good. If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. One of those eggs was objective truth.

Ron Kuby is a left-wing radio talk show host on New York's WABC. He plays the straw man card hourly. If someone phones in to question affirmative action – shouldn't such programs benefit recipients by income, rather than by skin color? – Kuby opens the fire hydrant. He is shrill. He is bombastic. He accuses the caller of being a member of the KKK. He paints graphic word pictures of the horrors of lynching and the death of Emmett Till and asks, "And you support that?"

Well of course THE CALLER did not support that, but it is easier to orchestrate a mob in a familiar rendition of righteous rage against a sensationalized straw man than it is to produce a reasoned argument against a reasonable opponent.

On June 16, 2014, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank published a column alleging that a peaceful Muslim was nearly verbally lynched by violent Islamophobes at a Heritage Foundation-hosted panel. What Milbank described was despicable. Unfortunately for Milbank and the Washington Post's credibility, someone filmed the event and posted the film on YouTube. Panel discussants, including Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel, made important points in a courteous manner. Saba Ahmed, the peaceful Muslim, is a "family friend" of a bombing plotter who expressed a specific desire to murder children. It soon became clear that Milbank was, as one blogger put it, "making stuff up."

Milbank slanders anyone who might attempt analysis of jihad, a force that is currently cited in the murder of innocents -- including Muslims -- from Nigeria to the Philippines. The leftist strategy of slandering those who speak uncomfortable facts suppresses discourse and has a devastating impact on confrontations with truth in journalism and on college campuses.

2 & 3) It doesn't work. Other approaches work better.

I went to hear David Horowitz speak in 2004. My intention was to heckle him. Horowitz said something that interrupted my flow of thought. He pointed out that Camden, Paterson, and Newark had decades of Democratic leadership.

Ouch.

I grew up among "Greatest Generation" Americans who had helped build these cities. One older woman told me, "As soon as I got my weekly paycheck, I rushed to Main Ave in Paterson, and my entire paycheck ended up on my back, in a new outfit." In the 1950s and 60s, my parents and my friends' parents fled deadly violence in Newark and Paterson.

Within a few short decades, Paterson, Camden, and Newark devolved into unlivable slums, with shooting deaths, drug deals, and garbage-strewn streets. The pain that New Jerseyans express about these failed cities is our state's open wound.

I live in Paterson. I teach its young. My students are hogtied by ignorance. I find myself speaking to young people born in the U.S. in a truncated pidgin I would use with a train station chai wallah in Calcutta.

Many of my students lack awareness of a lot more than vocabulary. They don't know about believing in themselves, or stick-to-itiveness. They don't realize that the people who exercise power over them have faced and overcome obstacles. I know they don't know these things because they tell me. One student confessed that when she realized that one of her teachers had overcome setbacks it changed her own life.

My students do know -- because they have been taught this -- that America is run by all-powerful racists who will never let them win. My students know -- because they have been drilled in this -- that the only way they can get ahead is to locate and cultivate those few white liberals who will pity them and scatter crumbs on their supplicant, bowed heads and into their outstretched palms. My students have learned to focus on the worst thing that ever happened to them, assume that it happened because America is unjust, and to recite that story, dirge-like, to whomever is in charge, from the welfare board to college professors, and to await receipt of largesse.

As Shelby Steele so brilliantly points out in his book White Guilt, the star of the sob story my students tell in exchange for favors is very much not the black aid recipient. The star of this story, still, just as before the Civil Rights Movement that was meant to change who got to take the lead in American productions, was the white man. The generous white liberal still gets top billing.

In Dominque La Pierre's 1985 novel City of Joy, a young American doctor, Max Loeb, confesses that serving the poor in a slum has changed his mind forever about what might actually improve their lot. "In a slum an exploiter is better than a Santa Claus… An exploiter forces you to react, whereas a Santa Claus demobilizes you."

That one stray comment from David Horowitz, a man I regarded as the enemy, sparked the slow but steady realization that my ideals, the ideals I had lived by all my life, were poisoning my students and Paterson, my city.

After I realized that our approaches don't work, I started reading about other approaches. I had another Aha! moment while listening to a two minute twenty-three second YouTube video of Milton Friedman responding to Phil Donahue's castigation of greed. The only rational response to Friedman is "My God, he's right."

1) Hate.

If hate were the only reason, I'd stop being a leftist for this reason alone.

Almost twenty years ago, when I could not conceive of ever being anything but a leftist, I joined a left-wing online discussion forum.

Before that I'd had twenty years of face-to-face participation in leftist politics: marching, organizing, socializing.

In this online forum, suddenly my only contact with others was the words those others typed onto a screen. That limited and focused means of contact revealed something.

If you took all the words typed into the forum every day and arranged them according to what part of speech they were, you'd quickly notice that nouns expressing the emotions of anger, aggression, and disgust, and verbs speaking of destruction, punishing, and wreaking vengeance, outnumbered any other class of words.

One topic thread was entitled "What do you view as disgusting about modern America?" The thread was begun in 2002. Almost eight thousand posts later, the thread was still going strong in June, 2014.

Those posting messages in this left-wing forum publicly announced that they did what they did every day, from voting to attending a rally to planning a life, because they wanted to destroy something, and because they hated someone, rather than because they wanted to build something, or because they loved someone. You went to an anti-war rally because you hated Bush, not because you loved peace. Thus, when Obama bombed, you didn't hold any anti-war rally, because you didn't hate Obama.

I experienced powerful cognitive dissonance when I recognized the hate. The rightest of my right-wing acquaintances -- I had no right-wing friends -- expressed nothing like this. My right-wing acquaintances talked about loving: God, their family, their community. I'm not saying that the right-wingers I knew were better people; I don't know that they were. I'm speaking here, merely, about language.

In 1995 I developed a crippling illness. I couldn't work, lost my life savings, and traveled through three states, from surgery to surgery.

A left-wing friend, Pete, sent me emails raging against Republicans like George Bush, whom he referred to as "Bushitler." The Republicans were to blame because they opposed socialized medicine. In fact it's not at all certain that socialized medicine would have helped; the condition I had is not common and there was no guaranteed treatment.

I visited online discussion forums for others with the same affliction. One of my fellow sufferers, who identified himself as a successful corporate executive in New Jersey, publicly announced that the symptoms were so hideous, and his helpless slide into poverty was so much not what his wife had bargained for when she married him, that he planned to take his own life. He stopped posting after that announcement, though I responded to his post and requested a reply. It is possible that he committed suicide, exactly as he said he would -- car exhaust in the garage. I suddenly realized that my "eat the rich" lapel button was a sin premised on a lie.

In any case, at the time I was diagnosed, Bush wasn't president; Clinton was. And, as I pointed out to Pete, his unceasing and vehement expressions of hatred against Republicans did nothing for me.

I had a friend, a nun, Mary Montgomery, one of the Sisters of Providence, who took me out to lunch every six months or so, and gave me twenty-dollar Target gift cards on Christmas. Her gestures to support someone, rather than expressions of hate against someone -- even though these gestures were miniscule and did nothing to restore me to health -- meant a great deal to me.

Recently, I was trying to explain this aspect of why I stopped being a leftist to a left-wing friend, Julie. She replied, "No, I'm not an unpleasant person. I try to be nice to everybody."

"Julie," I said, "You are an active member of the Occupy Movement. You could spend your days teaching children to read, or visiting the elderly in nursing homes, or organizing cleanup crews in a garbage-strewn slum. You don't. You spend your time protesting and trying to destroy something -- capitalism."

"Yes, but I'm very nice about it," she insisted. "I always protest with a smile."

Pete is now a Facebook friend and his feed overflows with the anger that I'm sure he assesses as righteous. He protests against homophobic Christians, American imperialists, and Monsanto. I don't know if Pete ever donates to an organization he believes in, or a person suffering from a disease, or if he ever says comforting things to afflicted intimates. I know he hates.

I do have right-wing friends now and they do get angry and they do express that anger. But when I encounter unhinged, stratospheric vituperation, when I encounter detailed revenge fantasies in scatological and sadistic language, I know I've stumbled upon a left-wing website.

Given that the left prides itself on being the liberator of women, homosexuals, and on being "sex positive," one of the weirder and most obvious aspects of left-wing hate is how often, and how virulently, it is expressed in terms that are misogynist, homophobic, and in the distinctive anti-sex voice of a sexually frustrated high-school misfit. Haters are aware enough of how uncool it would be to use a slur like "fag," so they sprinkle their discourse with terms indicating anal rape like "butt hurt." Leftists taunt right-wingers as "tea baggers." The implication is that the target of their slur is either a woman or a gay man being orally penetrated by a man, and is, therefore, inferior, and despicable.

Misogynist speech has a long tradition on the left. In 1964, Stokely Carmichael said that the only position for women in the Civil Rights Movement was "prone." Carmichael's misogyny is all the more outrageous given the very real role of women like Rosa Parks, Viola Liuzzo, and Fannie Lou Hamer.

In 2012 atheist bloggers Jennifer McCreight and Natalie Reed exposed the degree to which misogyny dominates the New Atheist movement. McCreight quoted a prominent atheist's reply to a woman critic. "I will make you a rape victim if you don't fuck off... I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow… Is that kind of like the way that rapists dick went in your pussy? Or did he use your asshole… I'm going to rape you with my fist."

A high-profile example of leftist invective was delivered by MSNBC's Martin Bashir in late 2013. Bashir said, on air and in a rehearsed performance, not as part of a moment's loss of control, something so vile about Sarah Palin that I won't repeat it here. Extreme as it is, Bashir's comment is fairly representative of a good percentage of what I read on left-wing websites.

I could say as much about a truly frightening phenomenon, left-wing anti-Semitism, but I'll leave the topic to others better qualified. I can say that when I first encountered it, at a PLO fundraising party in Marin County, I felt as if I had time-traveled to pre-war Berlin.

I needed to leave the left, I realized, when I decided that I wanted to spend time with people building, cultivating, and establishing, something that they loved.

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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25 July, 2014

Flights to Israel OK'd

The U.S. flight ban to Tel Aviv has been lifted, giving Israel a needed reprieve from a misguided decision. When the FAA banned all U.S. flights to Tel Aviv earlier this week, it handed Hamas a huge win.

As fighting continues, Israel has lost more than 30 soldiers, while Hamas has sacrificed more than 700 Palestinian lives for propaganda purposes. It’s working. Reuters reports, “UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said there was ‘a strong possibility’ that Israel was committing war crimes in Gaza.”

Pressure on Israel is growing from all sides, though Barack Obama repeatedly professes his “unshakeable commitment” to our ally. Why does our support then always seem so shakeable?

SOURCE

Navi Pillay is an ass with a long record of being an ass

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Socialists Are Cheaters, Says New Study

"The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task," according to a new study, "The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems," from Duke University and the University of Munich. The team of researchers concluded this after working with 259 participants from Berlin who grew up on opposite sides of the infamous wall.

When playing a dice game that could earn them €6 ($8), subjects originally from the East, which was for four decades under socialist rule, were more likely than their market economy counterparts in West to lie about how they fared. The Economist explains the task:

The game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40 times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

The results were that "East Germans cheated twice as much as West Germans overall," leaving the researchers to conclude the "the political regime of socialism has a lasting impact on citizens' basic morality."

The paper discusses some potentially related reasons for the outcome, such as the fact that

socialist systems have been characterized by extensive scarcity, which ultimately led to the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany. In many instances, socialism pressured or forced people to work around official laws. For instance, in East Germany stealing a load of building materials in order to trade it for a television set might have been the only way for a driver of gravel loads to connect to the outside world. Moreover, socialist systems have been characterized by a high degree of infiltration by the intelligence apparatus.

The Duke-Munich team positions their work against a 2013 study, "Of Morals, Markets and Mice," which concluded "that market economies decay morals" but "compared decisions in bilateral and multilateral market settings to individual decisions rather than an alternative economic allocation mechanism." The new research finds that "political and economic regimes such as socialism might have an even more detrimental effect on individuals’ behavior."

In another aspect of the study, the researchers note that "we did not observe an overall difference between East and West Germans in pro-social behavior," such as donating to hospitals, the capitalist-influenced demographic does, in fact, donate marginally more.

SOURCE

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EU calls on Hamas, Islamic Jihad to disarm

The EU does something right for a change: 28-country bloc defends Israel’s right to fight, says indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza is ‘criminal and unjustifiable’

The European Union on Tuesday called on Hamas and other Gaza terror groups to disarm, taking a strikingly pro-Israel stance and supporting the country’s “legitimate right to defend itself.”

The union’s 28 foreign ministers issued a joint statement after a meeting of the European Council, calling for an end to Hamas rocket attacks and an immediate ceasefire. “The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm,” it said.

It also condemned the rocket fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip as “criminal and unjustifiable acts,” but said Israel must do more to prevent civilian casualties.

“While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the EU underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law,” it said.

The statement came as the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls climbed steadily, with some 30 Israelis killed since the operation began, and more than 600 Palestinians, many of them civilians, according to Palestinian officials in Hamas-run Gaza.

The EU, which is often stridently critical of Israeli policies, also decried Hamas’s “calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields.”

It said it was “extremely concerned” about the situation, and reiterated its call for an immediate ceasefire.

The EU also appealed for the open of crossings to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and emphasized that the current campaign pointed to “the unsustainable nature of the status quo” in the coastal enclave.

Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned Hamas rocket fire and called on the group to stop using civilian sites for military purposes. He also called for a ceasefire.

Responding to the EU statement, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the statement proved “that the free world is united with Israel against Hamas terror, and Israel has the full right to protect itself.”

SOURCE

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The sacredness of a baby

An Israeli man instantly used his body to protect a baby



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Another Law-Abiding Citizen Arrested!

As you know, every state has its own gun laws. Even though the Second Amendment says that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that this applies to the states, there are a number of gun control states that completely trample on your constitutional rights.

The People’s Republik of New Jersey is one of those states.

In the State of New Jersey, firearms are banned except for certain exemptions. It is illegal to possess a firearm unless you jump through hoops to receive an exemption.

For law-abiding citizens, that means they have to apply for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. The law says that police have 30-days to process these applications, but few towns even bother to meet that deadline.

Even still, an FPID only allows you to possess a gun within your home or in a locked case on the way to a gun range. If you take a gun outside of your property, you are instantly a felon.

The only way to legally take a gun outside your home in these gun control states is to obtain a License to Carry a Firearm, something that is often statistically impossible for about 26% of all Americans.

Studies have found that approximately 11.1 million Americans possess a concealed carry permit. That’s up from 4.6 million in 2007. That is significant growth. And while the number of states issuing concealed weapons permits has increased, there is still a minority of states that completely restrict concealed carry.

Approximately 3.5% of all Americans possess a concealed weapons permit. These people are certified by their home states and deemed trustworthy enough to carry a gun in public. But in many cases, states refuse to recognize the legitimacy of these permits and law-abiding citizens end up in prison over it!

But for Shaneen Allen, a licensed concealed carrier in Pennsylvania, her Second Amendment rights end at the state-line. This is an absolutely tragic story. This woman, unfortunately, wrongly assumed that her concealed weapons permit would be accepted everywhere, kind of like a drivers license. So, when she was pulled over by a New Jersey Police Officer, she wanted to be honest with him. So she told him she was a licensed concealed carrier.



Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. The police officer alleges that she improperly changed lanes. But, because she handed her concealed weapons permit to the officer along with her driver’s license, she now faces a MINIMUM of three years in prison!

The aptly named Graves Act requires that first time gun offenders receive a minimum three-year prison sentence in New Jersey.

Shaneen Allen is a black, single mother of two young children. She has no prior criminal record. Before she was arrested, she worked as a licensed phlebologist. When she was robbed two-times in just one year, she made the decision to purchase a gun to protect herself and her family. She went through the process to become a licensed concealed carrier in the State of Pennsylvania. There is zero evidence that Shaneen Allen intended to use the gun for any malicious purpose. Yet, she was still arrested. She spent a whopping FORTY days in jail before she was actually released on bail and even now, she’s facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.

This woman made a mistake… She admits to that. But while actual criminals cop plea deals to get less prison time, the prosecutor refuses to show Shaneen Allen any leniency!

This is a textbook example of why we need National Concealed Carry Reciprocity! But when Republicans tried to insert reciprocity into a Senate bill this month, Harry Reid shot it down!

Innocent Americans are being tripped up and having their lives ruined by these ridiculous and unconstitutional concealed carry laws.

The Second Amendment is clear… It says our right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” Yet in states like New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington DC, the state does just that!

And for those who happen to travel through these gun control states, they are forced to decide between disarming and putting their families in danger or defying the law entirely.

There shouldn’t even be a law to defy! In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owner Protection Act (FOPA). The goal of this was to ensure that people could travel across state lines with their locked firearms without becoming felons. This law MUST be extended to concealed weapons permit holders!

There is absolutely no reason that a law-abiding citizen like Shaneen Allen should face the prospect of a felony conviction and prison time for exercising his or her constitutional rights! There is no reason that Americans should have to disarm while traveling through the most dangerous states!

The answer is simple. We must demand National Concealed Carry Reciprocity now!

SOURCE

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Living on the Fumes of Greatness

Only men over sixty have ever been subject to the military draft in America. Knowing you could be forced by government to fight in a war focuses one's attention on what's happening in the wider world beyond the peaceful shores of the Unites States. Today, however, our military is all volunteer. Fewer than 1% of Americans serve now and that's been true for decades. If you don't want to, you don't have to. Is that a good thing? I'm not so sure.

Americans under sixty have led a remarkably pampered life by world historical standards. They've grown up in the most powerful country the world has ever seen and have never been forced to seriously consider how brutal other humans can be when they're allowed. The vast majority of people who lived out their lives on this planet did so in walled cities or constantly looking over their shoulders as they moved about with weapons close at hand.

Some of us, though, have paid attention to what goes on outside our borders. Some have studied history and have come to understand that the Pax Americana we've known all our lives is more the exception than the rule. Most, however, never consider Orwell's observance that: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." We don't appreciate how fortunate we are to have been born in late-20th-century America. We still have rough men ready to do violence on our behalf, but we don't have a government that either appreciates them or knows how to use them properly.

I hate to point this out, but we're not just getting fat, dumb, and lazy; we're already here, and have been for some time. Obesity is epidemic. We don't know much about history, geography, civics, or anything else, and more than 90 million of us have dropped out of the workforce. The evidence is overwhelming that our citizenry is in serious decline. Consequently, so is our nation. More and more of us are dependent on government entitlements and, due to our ignorance of simple arithmetic, we are unaware that those expensive programs are mathematically unsustainable. Bankruptcy looms, but we keep on spending as if it weren't.

We keep reelecting a government that is a reflection of us. Paradoxically however, opinion polls indicate that we don't approve of the government for which we keep voting. Why do we continue to reelect congressmen, senators and a president we dislike? Is it because they tell us what we want to hear? Perhaps the lyric in the Sheryl Crow number applies to us: "Lie to me. I promise, I'll believe," she sang. How long can this continue though? When I ponder that, something columnist Mark Steyn wrote comes to mind: "Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive."

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, penned something last week that also haunts me. Commenting about the illegal alien crisis on the Mexican border, she observed: "America is the house that is both falling apart and under new stress. Those living within it, those most upset by what they're seeing, know America has big problems-unemployment, low workforce participation, a rickety physical infrastructure, an unsound culture, poor public education. And of course discord of all sorts... They know America can't pay its bills. They fear we're living on the fumes of greatness. They want us to be strong again."

"Living on the fumes of greatness." Yes. That is indeed what we're doing.

Noonan was describing Americans who do pay attention, who understand history, who know we cannot go on doing what we're doing. But I'm afraid such people are in the minority now. Remember: 52% of us reelected Barack Obama two years ago in spite of what he did in his first term. The Wednesday morning after that sad election day I was forced to realize that yes, the America in which I grew up has fundamentally changed.

First generation immigrant Dinesh D'Souza just released a movie titled, "America: Imagine The World Without Her." I haven't seen it yet, but I know what's in it. He sees what I see. I have been imagining such a world and it isn't a pretty one, because I know there are brutal people out there who ponder it gleefully. They smell American decline and they extend their probes further and further to see what they can get away with. How far will that be? I'm afraid to think.

I still choose to believe in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary that it's not too late, that enough Americans are beginning to understand we simply must turn things around.

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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24 July, 2014

British Airways continues to fly to Israel despite European and US airlines cancelling flights

British budget airline easyJet has joined European and American operators in scrapping flights to Israel after a Hamas rocket landed close to its Ben Gurion airport.

Air France, KLM and Germany's Lufthansa have also suspended flights to the war-torn country, as have US airlines Delta, United Airlines, and US Airways under orders from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

But a spokesman for British Airways said it was still continuing its twice-daily London Heathrow to Tel Aviv services, while 'monitoring the situation closely'.

SOURCE

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MH17: no link to Kremlin in plane downing - US intelligence officials say no evidence of direct Russian government involvement

The report below is probably the best informed yet and should go some way towards damping down the hysteria about President Putin. The plane was clearly shot down by Ukrainians -- Russian speaking ones. Given that Ukraine has resisted their demands for independence and attacked them instead (have we forgotten that Americans also once fought for their independence?), they were clearly entitled to shoot back, and, equally clearly that was what they thought they were doing in attacking the plane. The launcher appears to have been an early model, a BUK 1 so all they may have seen on their radar was a blip that could have been Ukrainian. As far as I can see, the only guilt lies with the Malaysian managers who sent their plane into airspace where planes were already being shot down

Senior US intelligence officials have said that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

The officials briefed reporters on Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used in discussing intelligence related to last week's air disaster, which killed 298 people.

The plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the intelligence officials said, citing intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

In terms of who fired the missile, "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality," one official said, adding at another point, "There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here," a reference to a fictional detective who solved mysteries.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. was still working to determine whether the missile launch had a "direct link" to Russia, including whether there were Russians on the ground during the attack and the degree to which Russians may have trained the separatists to launch such a strike.

"We do think President Putin and the Russian government bears responsibility for the support they provided to these separatists, the arms they provided to these separatists, the training they provided as well and the general unstable environment in eastern Ukraine," Rhodes said in an interview with CNN.

He added that heavy weaponry continues to flow into Ukraine from Russia following the downing of the plane.

The intelligence officials said the most likely explanation for the downing was that the rebels made a mistake. Separatists previously had shot down 12 Ukrainian military airplanes, the officials said.

The officials made clear they were relying in part on social media postings and videos made public in recent days by the Ukrainian government, even though they have not been able to authenticate all of it. For example, they cited a video of a missile launcher said to have been crossing the Russian border after the launch, appearing to be missing a missile.

But later, under questioning, the officials acknowledged they had not yet verified that the video was exactly what it purported to be.

Despite the fuzziness of some details, however, the intelligence officials said the case that the separatists were responsible for shooting down the plane was solid. Other scenarios - such as that the Ukrainian military shot down the plane - are implausible, they said. No Ukrainian surface-to-air missile system was in range.

From satellites, sensors and other intelligence gathering, officials said, they know where the missile originated - in separatist-held territory - and what its flight path was. But if they possess satellite or other imagery of the missile being fired, they did not release it Tuesday. A graphic they made public depicts their estimation of the missile's flight path with a green line. The jet's flight path was available from air traffic control data.

In the weeks before the plane was shot down, Russia had stepped up its arming and training of the separatists after the Ukrainian government won a string of battlefield victories. The working theory is that the SA-11 missile came from Russia, although the U.S. doesn't have proof of that, the officials said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers said last week that "because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Thus, we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems," she said.

Asked about evidence, one of the senior U.S. intelligence officials said it was conceivable that Russian paramilitary troops are operating in eastern Ukraine, but that there was no direct link from them to the missile launch.

Asked why civilian airline companies were not warned about a possible threat, the officials said they did not know the rebels possessed SA-11 missiles until after the Malaysian airliner was shot down.

SOURCE

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Israel's shoes



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How to Control Soaring Health Costs

The US healthcare system is in crisis and everything points in the wrong direction. The population is rapidly aging and will thus consume ever larger amounts of healthcare while the tax base supporting these benefits shrinks. Meanwhile the definition of "medical problem" expands so tribulations once judged moral failings. e.g., alcoholism, are legally treatable illnesses.

And let's not forget the growing tide of gender disorders that might require state-paid wienerectomies and the influx of illegals, many who are already sick, happy to use "free" ER's and hospitals. Modern medicine has also shown a knack for uncovering new problems that were once judged normal, for example, Attention Deficit Disorder. Further add Obamacare and similar insurance measures encouraging the over-use of medicine for self-inflicted problems like obesity. Then there are the modern plagues of AIDS, SARS and various super-bug illnesses. Conceivably, Washington may eventually become little more than a health provider.

Alas, no solutions exist on today's agenda. Forget about rationing-unthinkable politically ("death panels"). Nor will technological fixes suffice-too costly-while future bargain basement medical breakthroughs are pure fantasy.

Fortunately, there is a cost effective, politically popular solution to our healthcare woes. Just reinvigorate medical practices that do not entail scientific medicine. We are speaking of what is often called "alternative medicine" and the advantages here are immense.

Most important, compared to science-based practices, the "alternative" options are always cheaper. No need to spend years and huge sums training practitioners, conducting tedious laboratory research, funding million dollar FDA trials or building high-tech facilities. I probably could sample every elixir in my local Chinese herb shop for less than a single overnight stay at Mt. Sinai Hospital. All and all, these non-traditional interventions will save billions, lighten the caseloads of doctors and hospitals while simultaneously allowing Washington to address other issues such as a stronger military. The only fly in the ointment is expanding their use but compared to all the other cost-saving measures, obstacles here are minor.

Promoting alternative medicine is not all that difficult. Dr. Paul Offit's Do You Believe in Magic? reveals the great allure of non-scientific treatments. Why not? Given a choice of making an appointment, visiting the doctor, waiting for an hour or so, forced to strip prior to being examined, shipped off to multiple invasive tests, anxiously awaiting the telephone call ("the doctor would like to see you again...no I can't say why") and then navigating all the resulting paperwork, a web search for some inexpensive magic pill ("that Big Pharma doesn't want you to know about") is less time- consuming and far more pleasant.

Moreover, "folksy" approaches are already appreciated regardless of what the men in the white coats say. One survey found that 88% of the public agreed that "...there are some good ways of treating sickness that medical science does not recognize." Belief in miracles abound. Steve Jobs, hardly Mr. Stupid and a man who could pay for the best modern medicine money could buy, put off surgery that would have successfully treated his cancer in favor of nine months of acupuncture, fruit juices, bowel cleansing, and various herbs.

Add some seductive verbiage about the putative cures being rooted in ancient Egyptian wisdom, cures favored by disease-free Amazon jungle Indians, or remedies endorsed by sundry mystical swamis. It's hard to imagine why any man would schedule a hospital visit for a potentially risky prostate biopsy when a half dozen or more "improve prostate health" pills are available at Walgreens, all endorsed by the 18 year-old clerk. Then there's homeopathy, naturopathy, aroma therapy and energy medicine (magnets). Or maybe try crystal therapy or just wearing a copper bracelet or religious options-prayer, lighting candles, visiting holy shrines, holy water, and on-the-spot cures from faith healers. It is not that these remedies are useless-perhaps some do perform as advertised-but it is the cost that concerns us here.

Now for the good news. "Alternative medicine" is on the rise. The federal government's The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is now part of the National Institute of Health. Its research has shown, for example, the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing suicide. The world famous Cleveland Clinic now has a center for Integrative Medicine that is exploring acupuncture, massage therapy and Chinese herbs. Many medical schools and hospitals now teach alternative medicine. Medical marijuana is quickly becoming legal everywhere and the cost is trivial compared to what Big Pharma can offer.

So, what is to be done to push yet more people away from budget-busting science-based medicine? The first step is to enhance legitimacy and let me suggest wrapping it in multiculturalism. Now, for example, the Afro-Caribbean Santería ceremonies to drive out the devils, even if it demands sacrificing a chicken or two, should be viewed as no different from seeing a doctor. And, with official recognition as a "valid cultural expression," government money will arrive just as it funds culturally diverse art exhibitions, theater groups and similar celebrate-our- differences activities.

These more culturally attuned healthcare programs should be ongoing 24/7 and be conveniently located to help the sick, no different than current expensive neighborhood convenient care clinics. Surely many inner-city churches would gladly rent their basements to Sharmans and Voodoo priests to work their magic on those suspicious of regular doctors. Upscale neighborhoods would now have $5.00 co-pay centers for transcendental meditation, multiple therapeutic yoga's, deep breathing, macrobiotic body cleansing regimens and the ancient Tibetan medicinal Ggso ba rig pa. Muslims would of course have their own alternatives. Again, it is a matter of cost, not efficacy per se.

Now for the bottom line: let Washington pay for it, every last secret potion and animal sacrifice of it. I'd guess that each of these alternative medical treatments would cost one-tenth of what the average Medicare- paid doctor visit costs. A brilliant bi-partisan political ploy, to boot-it saves tons of money while giving millions just what they want. Just what the doctor ordered.

SOURCE

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Does your race determine your biological age? Controversial research claims black people age more quickly - and are up to THREE YEARS older in health terms

Africans mature earlier too, by about two years

Black people age more quickly than white people, a controversial new study has claimed.

Researchers say that the researcher could shed new light on higher mortality rates in black people. They say the biological age differences by race increase up until ages 60-69, and then decline.

The current study uses data on 7,644 black and white participants, ages 30 and above, from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers calculated each participant’s 'biological age' by looking at 10 biomarkers that have been linked to aging, including C-reactive protein, serum creatinine, glycosylated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol.

The team compared then compared biological ages of blacks and whites as indicated from the biomarkers.

'Our results showed that, on average, blacks tend to be more than three years older biologically than whites,' Morgan Levine and Eileen Crimmins of the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology. wrote in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

'Blacks experience morbidity and mortality earlier in the life course compared to whites.' 'This is consistent with findings from previous studies reporting that blacks tend to have levels of biological risk factors that are indicative of someone significantly older chronologically.' 'Such premature declines in health may be indicative of an acceleration of the aging process.'

The researchers calculated each participant’s 'biological age' by looking at 10 biomarkers that have been linked to aging, including C-reactive protein, serum creatinine, glycosylated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol.

The study uses data on 7,644 black and white participants, ages 30 and above, from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

'On average, the biological age for blacks was 53.16 years,' compared to 49.84 years for whites, the researchers report.

The team say the cause could be stress-related.

'Everyday stressors associated with being black may negatively impact physiological functioning and, under chronic exposure, accumulate over the lifespan and contribute to growing disparities in biological risk,' the authors wrote.

'Furthermore, if such environmental, behavioral, and mental factors contribute to an acceleration of the aging process, we would expect that persons who are aging the fastest should have the highest risk of mortality, and thus (have a) lower life expectancy.'

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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23 July, 2014

FAA suspends U.S. airlines’ flights to Israel

No guts. Let the airlines decide

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibited all U.S. airlines from flying to Israel for at least 24 hours. All three U.S. carriers with nonstop flights to Israel – United, U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines — canceled their flights to Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

El Al, which is not bound by the FAA order issued in the early afternoon Tuesday, said it plans to continue to maintain its normal schedule of up to five daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv from the United States.

The FAA order came after a rocket fired from Gaza struck and destroyed a home in Yehud, an Israeli town about a mile from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. “Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by U.S. operators are prohibited until further advised,” the notice said.

A slew of other airlines also canceled their flights to Tel Aviv.
including Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austria Airlines, Germanwings, Turkish Airlines and Swissair, according to Israeli media reports.
The European Aviation Safety Agency told Agence France-Presse it would issue a “strong recommendation to avoid until further notice Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport.”

Delta diverted a flight en route to Tel Aviv from New York’s Kennedy Airport on Tuesday. Flight 268, carrying 273 passengers and 17 crew members, instead was sent to Paris.

SOURCE

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Picture gallery

Every now and again I pick out what I think are the best pix and graphics from my various blogs and compile them into "galleries". I have just got around to doing the gallery for July to December, 2013, which can be accessed HERE or HERE or HERE. Some fun stuff there.

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Israel's War of Restraint Continues

Secretary of State John Kerry has been dispatched to Egypt as the latest world diplomat to call on Hamas to accept an Egyptian cease-fire proposal in the Gaza conflict – a pact backed by both the United States and Israel, provided Hamas complies, which they won’t. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is “deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.” Meanwhile, Kerry called on Hamas to “step up and show a level of reasonableness, and … accept the offer of a cease-fire.” Does he know who he’s talking to?

In two weeks of fighting, Gaza officials claim the Palestinian death toll exceeds 500 as Israel retaliates for indiscriminate rocket attacks coming from Hamas strongholds. Conversely, 20 Israelis have been killed by Hamas strikes (including two Americans fighting in the Israeli army). The low number is mainly thanks to the success of Israel’s “Iron Dome” defensive infrastructure designed to repel the frequent Hamas rocket attacks.

While Israel sent in ground troops, the high Palestinian death toll is not from an overly aggressive Israeli offensive. Hamas doesn’t “give a whit about the Palestinians,” scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “All they want is more and more civilian deaths.” He also noted, “Here’s the difference between us: We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Indeed, a common practice of Hamas leadership is to place weapons, supply dumps and command-and-control sites amid civilians (hospitals, schools, markets, etc.) to maximize casualties from any Israeli attack – in effect holding their own people hostage. The Israeli government warns occupants of targeted areas in advance of their bombings, yet Hamas leaders ask their civilians not to seek safety. The end result is the high Palestinian death toll, and a victory for Hamas in the propaganda war as numbers are gobbled up by an anti-Semitic populace worldwide.

Unbelievably, the UN discovered some of those rockets in a Gaza school and promptly handed them to the government in Gaza, i.e., Hamas. The stupidity is stunning.

Speaking of stupidity, John Kerry was caught on a hot mic disparaging Israel’s efforts at limiting civilian casualties with pinpoint strikes. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry sarcastically blustered. It isn’t the first time Kerry has criticized Israel. In April, he warned of an apartheid state if Israel didn’t make changes.

This Israeli offensive is intended to clean out a network of tunnels and other shelters used by Hamas to store and transport weapons and give cover to leadership. It’s also clearly self-defense. “If it’s left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead,” said Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-NC). So a fed-up Israel is fighting back after months of fruitless negotiations and ever-increasing attacks.

Predictably, the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution – which Israel helped to boost a decade ago by clearing out its own unwilling settlers and providing 3,000 greenhouses to jumpstart an economy they hoped would be based on a thriving Gaza export industry – isn’t working out in favor of either party. “This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals,” writes columnist Charles Krauthammer, “while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years which nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.” When the choices are vigilance or extinction, sometimes blows have to be exchanged.

SOURCE

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The Statin religion: British doctors are bitterly divided over calls for half of all adults to be put on pills to cut cholesterol

Having reached the age of 72, Professor Klim McPherson was prepared to accept some deterioration in his physical capabilities. But when, earlier this year, he found he was struggling to bend over to tie up his shoelaces, he decided enough was enough.

And so it was that little more than a month ago, the Oxford don stopped taking the little orange tablets his doctor had prescribed him and which he had been swallowing before bedtime every night for the past three years.

To his great surprise, within seven days, the aches and pains that had so restricted his movements had almost entirely disappeared.

'I'd been finding it difficult getting down the stairs and had to negotiate them step by step,' says Professor McPherson, one of the country's most eminent public health experts.

'As for reaching my laces, that was painful and uncomfortable. But now I can once again do all the things I couldn't do before.'

The medication that Professor McPherson has chosen to go without is a statin called Simvastatin.

Like the seven million or so other Britons who take statins on a daily basis, the professor had been prescribed the drug to lower his cholesterol levels and so reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

In this way, the NHS estimates the drugs, which can cost as little as £16 for a 12-month course, save 7,000 lives a year.

And so it is against this background that last week, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), the NHS watchdog, issued guidance that the drugs should in future be prescribed even more widely - in fact, to almost half of all adults.

'Cardiovascular disease (CVD) maims and kills people through coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke,' explained NICE's Professor Mark Baker. 'Together, these kill one in three of us. Our proposals are intended to prevent many lives being destroyed.'

A worthy aim, undoubtedly. However, to say that not everyone agrees with the role statins have to play in the future health of the nation would be something of an understatement.

NICE's proposals have caused an unprecedented outbreak of warfare among the medical and scientific community.

On one side are those who wholeheartedly support the ever-widening use of statins. On the other are those who believe their side-effects have been massively underestimated.

This, some claim, is due to an over?reliance on research funded by the pharmaceutical industry, for whom statins have proved to be the single most profitable class of drug ever manufactured.

They argue that depression, cataracts, an increased risk of diabetes and the sort of muscle pains experienced by Professor McPherson could affect anywhere between 10 and 40 per cent of statin users.

And, while they do not deny the benefits statins can bring to those at a high risk of heart disease, they warn against putting millions of healthy patients on pills for the rest of their lives.

At the centre of this battle is the patient, confused and unsure what to believe. It is a worrying state of affairs and one that some fear could have terrible consequences.

'There are some real concerns people will come off statins because of this and then a fatal heart attack will occur,' says Jules Payne, CEO of the charity HEART UK, which provides support, guidance and education services to healthcare professionals and people with concerns about cholesterol.

'We will lose people when the whole point of this is to keep people alive.'

Statins work by lowering levels of cholesterol, the fatty substance in the blood that clogs up arteries. They block the action of a certain enzyme in the liver which makes 'bad' cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein.

While statins are routinely given to patients who have had heart attacks, angina or bypass surgery, they are also given to patients at risk of CVD. GPs calculate the level of risk by looking at factors such as smoking history, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body mass index.

Doctors in this country used to prescribe statins only to those with a 30 per cent risk of a heart attack within the next decade, but this was cut to a 20 per cent risk in 2005.

As a result, Britain has become not just the statins 'capital' of Europe, but the second highest prescriber of the drug in the Western world, after Australia.

Under the new NICE guidance, the threshold would be lowered further still so that those who have a 10 per cent risk will be offered statins.

NICE estimates that between five and ten million adults are currently taking the drugs, although 12.5?million are eligible. But under the new guidelines, another 4.5?million would qualify. This means that 17?million adults - nearly half of the 37?million adults in Britain - would either be on statins or offered them.

Part of the reason for this change is that many statins are now out of patent, meaning that they can cost just a few pence a day. Preventing a heart attack in this way is obviously much cheaper for the NHS than treating someone who has suffered one.

But some doctors are concerned. They warn that while the drugs themselves may be cheap, once the cost of extra GP appointments to prescribe and monitor patients is added in, the annual cost to the NHS could run into billions of pounds.

They also claim that by targeting a relatively low-risk section of the population, the plan could make minimal difference to the number of heart attacks and strokes while exposing millions more people to possible side-effects.

While some studies have shown that these affect just one in 10,000, some doctors and academics believe the problems they cause are much more widespread.

This fundamental disagreement was highlighted in May when the British Medical Journal was forced to withdraw claims published in an article stating that statins cause side-effects in one in five patients.

Leading the attack on the BMJ was Oxford University's Professor Sir Rory Collins, who has led analysis of many statin trials, and who accused the paper's authors of overstating the risks 20-fold. In so doing, he warned that patients could be discouraged from taking statins and their lives put at risk.

But still, the controversy rolls on. Critics of the ever-widening roll-out have claimed that the data driving the new NICE guidelines was largely funded by the pharmaceutical companies and has not been sufficiently scrutinised by independent researchers.

And they have also attacked the independence of NICE itself, pointing out that at least half of its 12-strong advisory panel of experts have direct financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture statins.

NICE has since stated that none of the panel members stand to gain financially from the guidance and that all of the links were formally declared to NICE and published online.

Among the most vocal critics of the new statin strategy is Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a GP from Macclesfield who is also a member of the British Medical Association's General Practitioner's sub-committee.

He says that the official research is contradicted by what he and fellow medics see on a daily basis.

'If just one in 10,000 patients were really suffering side-effects as we are told is the case, then in all my clinical work I might expect to have seen one or two people with these problems,' says Dr Kendrick.

'Two weeks ago on a Monday morning the first three people who came to see me were complaining about the adverse affects of statins. They were mainly suffering from muscle aches and pains and one had quite bad stomach problems.

'Over New Year, another female patient went into hospital with severe stomach pains and nearly had an operation. She came to see me and I said statins can cause stomach pains, and she stopped and the pain went away. If she hadn't, she would have had her abdomen opened up.

'These drugs are all damaging, and as you get older that damage gets all the more serious.

'You find that someone who can just about get out of a seat starts taking statins and then can't get out of his seat; someone who used to be able to walk down the shops now can't.

'I say that statins won't make you live 15 years longer - but they will make you feel 15 years older.'

Of course, real evidence is needed before an informed decision can be made. As a scientist, and in of spite his own personal experience, that is something that Professor McPherson acknowledges.

For this reason, he is among those calling for the existing data produced by the pharmaceutical companies to be tested independently before statins are offered more widely.

'I think NICE making these somewhat draconian rules on the basis of such an inadequate evidence basis is foolhardly,' he says.

SOURCE

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Federal $25 Billion Drug Bust

Drug regulation and enforcement should be solely a State matter

Michael Botticelli, the federal “drug czar” and adviser to Barack Obama, wants to spend $25 billion next year to fight drugs. A report to Congress from the drug czar’s office said, “we must seek to avoid oversimplified debates between the idea of a war on drugs and the notion of legalization as a panacea.” The proposal to spend $25 billion came a day after Washington state allowed the sale of marijuana in the style of Colorado. California voters authorized medical marijuana in 1996.

As for oversimplification, how about the idea that a “war on drugs” declared by Richard Nixon in 1971 can solve the problem by spending $1 trillion? “What do we have to show for it?” asked Richard Branson on CNN. “The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with about 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation. What a waste of young lives.”

Likewise, Allison Schrager notes in the Huffington Post that the United States spends more than $40 billion each year on drug prohibition, and that is only the explicit cost. Implicit costs include “increased violence, otherwise productive citizens in prison, and perpetual poverty, both at home and, especially, abroad.”

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, launched by Richard Nixon, started with a budget of $65 million in 1972. In 2014 the budget approaches $3 billion, and DEA bosses want to keep the money coming. In Washington more money is the answer to everything. That’s why the war on drugs continues, despite massive costs, casualties, and collateral damage.

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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22 July, 2014

Genes and Race: The Distant Footfalls of Evidence: A review of Nicholas Wade’s book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History“.

Despite the great care the author below took not to tread on any toes, waves of shrieks emanated from the always irrational Left in response to it. As a result SciAm issued an apology for publishing it. The author, Ashutosh Jogalekar, was eventually fired over it. He is a chemist of apparently Indian origin so has obviously missed some of the political indoctrination that dominates the social sciences and humanities in America today.

Also reproduced below by the same author is an article about briliant physicist Richard Feynman. The author deplores episodes of sexism in Feynman's life but makes the perfectly reasonable sociological observation that the sexism concerned was typical of Feynman's times so should be judged in that context. That article REALLY caused explosions at SciAm. They were in such a spin over it that they at first de-published it. Open censorship has a bad name, however, so they later re-published it.

SciAm is not really interested in science, however, as their advocacy for the global warming cult shows. Theory contradicted by the evidence does not bother them. They are really The Unscientific American. A conservative boycott of the publication would be fitting -- JR


In this book NYT science writer Nicholas Wade advances two simple premises: firstly, that we should stop looking only toward culture as a determinant of differences between populations and individuals, and secondly, that those who claim that race is only a social construct are ignoring increasingly important findings from modern genetics and science. The guiding thread throughout the book is that “human evolution is recent, copious and regional” and that this has led to the genesis of distinct differences and classifications between human groups. What we do with this evidence should always be up for social debate, but the evidence itself cannot be ignored.

That is basically the gist of the book. It’s worth noting at the outset that at no point does Wade downplay the effects of culture and environment in dictating social, cognitive or behavioral differences – in fact he mentions culture as an important factor at least ten times by my count – but all he is saying is that, based on a variety of scientific studies enabled by the explosive recent growth of genomics and sequencing, we need to now recognize a strong genetic component to these differences.

The book can be roughly divided into three parts. The first part details the many horrific and unseemly uses that the concept of race has been put to by loathsome racists and elitists ranging from Social Darwinists to National Socialists. Wade reminds us that while these perpetrators had a fundamentally misguided, crackpot definition of race, that does not mean race does not exist in a modern incarnation. This part also clearly serves to delineate the difference between a scientific fact and what we as human beings decide to do with it, and it tells us that an idea should not be taboo just because murderous tyrants might have warped its definition and used it to enslave and decimate their fellow humans.

The second part of the book is really the meat of the story and Wade is on relatively firm ground here. He details a variety of studies based on tools like tandem DNA repeats and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that point to very distinctive genetic differences between populations dictating both physical and mental traits. Many of the genes responsible for these differences have been subject to selection in the last five thousand years or so, refuting the belief that humans have somehow “stopped evolving” since they settled down into agricultural communities. For me the most striking evidence that something called race is real comes from the fact that when you ask computer algorithms to cluster genes based on differences and similarities in an unbiased manner, these statistical programs consistently settle on the five continental races as genetically distinct groups – Caucasian, East Asian, African, Native American and Australian Aboriginal. Very few people would deny that there are clear genetic underpinnings behind traits like skin color or height among people on different continents, but Wade’s achievement here is to clearly explain how it’s not just one or two genes underlying such traits but a combination of genes – the effects of many of which are not obvious – that distinguish between races. The other point that he drives home is that even minor differences between gene frequencies can lead to significant phenotypic dissimilarities because of additive effects, so boiling down these differences to percentages and then interpreting these numbers can be quite misleading.

Wade also demolishes the beliefs of many leading thinkers who would rather have differences defined almost entirely by culture – these include Stephen Jay Gould who thought that humans evolved very little in the last ten thousand years (as Wade points out, about 14% of the genome has been under active selection since modern humans appeared on the scene), and Richard Lewontin who perpetuated a well-known belief that the dominance of intra as opposed to inter individual differences makes any discussion of race meaningless. As Wade demonstrates through citations of solid research, this belief is simply erroneous since even small differences between populations can translate to large differences in physical, mental and social features depending on what alleles are involved; Lewontin and his followers’ frequent plea that inter-group differences are “only 15%” thus ends up essentially translating to obfuscation through numbers. Jared Diamond’s writings are also carefully scrutinized and criticized; Diamond’s contention that the presence of the very recently evolved gene for malaria resistance can somehow be advanced as a dubious argument for race is at best simplistic and at worst a straw man. The main point is that just because there can be more than one method to define race, or because definitions of race seem to fray at their edges, does not mean that race is non-existent and there is no good way to parse it.

The last part of the book is likely to be regarded as more controversial because it deals mainly with effects of genetics on cognitive, social and personality traits and is much more speculative. However Wade fully realizes this and also believes that “there is nothing wrong with speculation, of course, as long as its premises are made clear”, and this statement could be part of a scientist’s credo. The crux of the matter is to logically ask why genes would also not account for mental and social differences between races if they do account for physical differences. The problem there is that although the hypothesis is valid, the evidence is slim for now. Some of the topics that Wade deals with in this third part are thus admittedly hazy in terms of corroboration. For instance there is ample contemplation about whether a set of behavioral and genetic factors might have made the West progress faster than the East and inculcated its citizens with traits conducive to material success. However Wade also makes it clear that “progressive” does not mean “superior”; what he is rather doing is sifting through the evidence and asking if some of it might account for these more complex differences in social systems. Similarly, while there are pronounced racial differences in IQ, one must recognize the limitations of IQ, but more importantly should recognize that IQ says nothing about whether one human is “better” or “worse” than another; in fact the question is meaningless.

Wade brings a similar approach to exploring genetic influences on cognitive abilities and personality traits; evidently, as he recognizes, the evidence on this topic is just emerging and therefore not definitive. He looks at the effects of genes on attributes as diverse as language, reciprocity and propensity to dole out punishment. This discussion makes it clear that we are just getting started and there are many horizons that will be uncovered in the near future; for instance, tantalizing hints of links between genes for certain enzymes and aggressive or amiable behavior are just emerging. Some of the other paradigms Wade writes about, such as the high intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews, the gene-driven contrast between chimp and human societies and the rise of the West are interesting but have been covered by authors like Steven Pinker, Greg Cochran and Gregory Clark. If I have a criticism of the book it is that in his efforts to cover extensive ground, Wade sometimes gives short shrift to research on interesting topics like oxytocin and hormonal influences. But what he does make clear is that the research opportunities in the field are definitely exciting, and scientists should not have to tiptoe around these topics for political reasons.

Overall I found this book extremely well-researched, thoughtfully written and objectively argued. Wade draws on several sources, including the peer reviewed literature and work by other thinkers and scientists. The many researchers whose work Wade cites makes the writing authoritative; on the other hand, where speculation is warranted or noted he usually explicitly points it out as such. Some of these speculations such as the effects of genetics on the behavior of entire societies are quite far flung but I don’t see any reason why, based on what we do know about the spread of genes among groups, they should be dismissed out of hand. At the very least they serve as reasonable hypotheses to be pondered, thrashed out and tested. Science is about ideas, not answers.

But the real lesson of the book should not be lost on us: A scientific topic cannot be declared off limits or whitewashed because its findings can be socially or politically controversial; as Wade notes, “Whether or not a thesis might be politically incendiary should have no bearing on the estimate of its scientific validity.” He gives nuclear physics as a good analogy; knowledge of the atom can lead to both destruction and advancement, but without this knowledge there will still be destruction. More importantly, one cannot hide the fruits of science; how they are used as instruments of social or political policy is a matter of principle and should be decoupled from the science itself. In fact, knowing the facts provides us with a clear basis for making progressive decisions and gives us a powerful weapon for defeating the nefarious goals of demagogues who would use pseudoscience to support their dubious claims. In that sense, I agree with Wade that even if genetic differences between races become enshrined into scientific fact, it does not mean at all that we will immediately descend into 19th-century racism; our moral compass has already decided the direction of that particular current.

Ultimately Wade’s argument is about the transparency of knowledge. He admonishes some of the critics – especially some liberal academics and the American Anthropological Association – for espousing a “culture only” philosophy that is increasingly at odds with scientific facts and designed mainly for political correctness and a straitjacketed worldview. I don’t think liberal academics are the only ones guilty of this attitude but some of them certainly embrace it. Liberal academics, however, have also always prided themselves on being objective examiners of the scientific truth. Wade rightly says that they should join hands with all of us in bringing that same critical and honest attitude to examining the recent evidence about race and genetics. Whatever it reveals, we can be sure that as human beings we will try our best not to let it harm the cause of our fellow beings. After all we are, all of us, human beings first and scientists second.

SOURCE

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Richard Feynman, sexism and changing perceptions of a scientific icon

I fell in love with Richard Feynman when I was in middle school. That is when I discovered “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman” in my dad’s bookshelf. For the first few hours I laughed till tears were rolling out of my eyes. This was not science, it was choice entertainment of the highest order. Whether he was fixing radios by “thinking”, blowing up the physics lab at Princeton to test his thoughts on a water sprinkler experiment or cracking top-secret safes at Los Alamos for pure amusement, there was no one like Feynman. This perception was shared by almost all his colleagues and millions of Feynman fans around the world. I was hooked....

My first foray into taking a more critical view of Feynman came from his once arch-rival and contender for most brilliant theoretical physicist in the world, Murray Gell-Mann. Unlike many others Gell-Mann was never swayed by the Feynman legend, so he provides a good conduit through which to view the latter’s personality. Although dismissing his status as some kind of a physics God, Gell-Mann genuinely admired Feynman’s brilliance and originality – on this count there seems to be unanimous consensus – but his take on Feynman’s personal quirks is more revealing. The main thing about Feynman that really got Gell-Mann’s goat was that Feynman seemed to “spend a huge amount of time generating anecdotes about himself”. Now that much would be clear to anyone who does even a perfunctory reading of “Surely You’re Joking…” but Gell-Mann’s opinion of Feynman seems to indicate a much more deliberate effort on Feynman’s part to do this. Feynman often used to portray himself as some kind of working class city slicker thrown in the middle of distinguished, Sanskrit-quoting, tea-imbibing intellectuals at Princeton or Los Alamos, but the fact was that he relished being a contrarian among these people. A more careful reading of “Surely…” makes it clear that he got into thorny situations deliberately. One suspects that much of this was simply the result of boredom, but whatever the reason, it does give credence to Gell-Mann’s observation about him trying hard to generate stories about himself.

The deliberate generation of these stories could occasionally make Feynman appear like a jerk. A case in point concerns an anecdote when he kept the tip for a meal hidden beneath an inverted glass full of water. He wanted to illustrate to the waitress a clever way of sliding the glass over to the edge of the table, collecting the water without making it spill, and retrieving the tip. But of course he did not actually tell the waitress this; he wanted to simply play a prank so he left it to her to figure it out. The incident is actually trivial and those who would complain loudly about the poor woman having to mop up the water just to get her tip are exaggerating their case, but it does capture a central thread in the Feynman narrative, the physicist’s often casual habit to inconvenience other people simply to prove a point, play a prank or conduct an experiment. He did this all his life, and a longer view of his life and career gives you the feeling that most of his colleagues put up with it not because they actually enjoyed it, but because they benefited from his brilliance too much to really bother about it.

What started bothering me more the deeper I dug into Feynman’s life was something quite different: his casual sexism. The latest insight into this comes from Lawrence Krauss’s book “Quantum Man” which does a great job explaining the one thing about Feynman that should matter the most – his science. But Krauss also does not ignore the warts. What startled me the most was the fact that when he was a young, boyish looking professor at Cornell, Feynman used to pretend to be a student so he could ask undergraduate women out. I suspect that this kind of behavior on the part of a contemporary professor would almost certainly lead to harsh disciplinary action, as it should. The behavior was clearly, egregiously wrong and when I read about it my view of Feynman definitely went down a notch, and a large notch at that. Feynman’s apparent sexism was also the subject of a 2009 post with a sensationalist title; the post pointed out one chapter in “Surely…” in which Feynman documented various strategies he adopted for trying to get women in bars to sleep with him. Neither were Feynman’s escapades limited to bars; more than one of his biographies have documented affairs with two married women, at least one of which caused him considerable problems.

It’s not surprising to find these anecdotes disturbing and even offensive, but I believe it would also be premature and simplistic to write off Richard Feynman as “sexist” across the board. People who want to accuse him of this seem to have inadvertently cherry-picked anecdotes; the nude painting in topless bars, the portrayal of a woman in a physics lesson as a clueless airhead, the propensity to lie on the beach and watch girls. But this view of Feynman misses the big picture. While not an excuse, several of his 1950s adventures were probably related to the deep pain and insecurity caused by the death of his first wife Arlene; by almost any account the two shared a very deep and special bond. It was also during the late 40s and early 50s that Feynman was doing some of his most intense work on quantum electrodynamics, and at least a few of the situations he narrates were part of him letting off steam.

Also importantly, while some of Feynman’s utterances and actions appear sexist to modern sensibilities, it’s worth noting that they were probably no different than the attitudes of a male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years, a society in which women were supposed to take care of the house and children and men were seen as the bread winners. Thus, any side of Feynman that raises our eyebrows is really an aspect of a biased American society. In addition, Feynman’s ploys to pick up girls in bars were – and in fact are – probably practiced by every American male seeking companionship in bars, whether consciously or unconsciously; what made Feynman different was the fact that he actually documented his methods, and he was probably the only scientist to do so. In fact we can be thankful that society has now progressed to a stage where both genders can practice these mate-seeking strategies on almost equal terms, although the gap indicated by that “almost” deserves contemplation as an indication of the unequal bargaining power that women still have. The point though is that, whatever his actions appear like to a modern crowd, I do not think Richard Feynman was any more sexist than a typical male product of his times and culture. The fact that society in general behaved similarly to what he did of course does not excuse the things he did, but it also puts them in perspective. I think recognizing this perspective is important partly to understand how our views on sexism have changed for the better from 1950 to 2014. The encouraging development is that actions by Feynman – and male society in general – that were considered acceptable or amusing in 1950 would quite rightly cause instant outrage in 2014. We still have a long way to go before both genders achieve parity in science, but the change in attitudes is definitely encouraging.

However the fact that simply dismissing Feynman as sexist is problematic is ascertained by this 1999 article from the MIT Tech (by a woman) which gives us a more complete picture of his views toward women. As far as we know, there is no evidence that Feynman discriminated against women in his career; the letters he writes to women in the collection of letters edited by his daughter indicate no bias. Both male and female students admired him. His sister Joan documents how he was always supportive of her own career in physics. At one point he came to the aid of a female professor filing a discrimination suit at Caltech. In addition he was a devoted husband to his first and third wife and a loving and supportive father to his daughter who in fact tried hard to get her interested in science.

The irony thus seems to be that, just like Feynman was fond of generating cherry picked anecdotes about himself, we seem to be fond of generating skewed, cherry picked anecdotes about him that accuse him of sexism. In fact most conversations about Feynman seem to center on a few select anecdotes that showcase some side of his character, whether positive or negative, and this anecdotal reading of his life is something he himself encouraged. But a more complete view of Feynman’s life and career indicates otherwise. My own perceptions of Feynman have changed, and that’s the way it should be. At first I idolized Feynman like many others, but over time, as a more careful reading of his life revealed some of the unseemlier sides of his character, I became aware of his flaws. While I still love his lectures and science, these flaws have affected my perception of his personality, and I am glad they did. There are things that he said or did that are clearly wrong or questionable at the very least, but we can at least be grateful that we have evolved to a stage where even the few instances of his behavior that have been documented would not be tolerated on today’s college campuses and would be instantly condemned. As a man I do not now admire Feynman as much as I did before, but I am also glad to have a more complete understanding of his life and times.

However I think it’s also important that we don’t make the same mistake that the “Feynman industry” has made – focus on a part of the celebrated physicist’s life and ignore many others. Feynman was a brilliant physicist, Feynman was occasionally sexist – and sometimes disturbingly so- and Feynman also supported women in science. One reason why it’s interesting to explore these contradictory sides of Feynman’s personality is because he is not a scientist who is usually regarded as complicated and contradictory, but the facts indicate that he was. Feynman himself did a kind of disservice by sending a few wrong messages through the recounting of his adventures, and others have performed an equal disservice by embellishing his achievements and papering over his ugly side. But knowing his emphasis on honesty and integrity in science – one ethic that does consistently shine forth from the narrative of his life – he would almost certainly want us to do better. We can condemn parts of his behavior while praising his science. And we should.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE 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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21 July, 2014

VA Employees Actually Shredded Vets’ Benefits Claims!

With the tragic news surrounding the downing of Malaysian Air Flight 15 and the Israeli military’s invasion of Gaza, little if any of the news media is focused on what is going on here at home.

For months, we have known about the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs. It has been two months since Eric Shinseki resigned as the head of the Department. And all this time later, we are still learning about shocking new revelations about the mistreatment of our veterans.

We have known all along that VA employees were utilizing “secret lists” to hide veteran patients from their superiors. The goal was to create an illusion of efficiency. Many VA employees received bonuses based on how efficient their hospital/office was. Efficiency was graded according to the number of veterans who received treatment within a given time period. So, the VA employees would deliberately hide some veterans’ applications so that they appeared to be more efficient.

Well, we have just learned that doesn’t even begin to describe what was happening to our vets!

It turns out that in addition to hiding veterans’ claims on secret lists, tens of thousands of veterans’ benefits claims were just shredded. Not hidden… not put in a different drawer and saved for later… they were shredded. Destroyed. Instead of taking ownership for the backlog of veterans’ benefits applications, some bureaucrats just destroyed the applications!

Congress is going to give illegal aliens benefits and leave our military veterans to suffer! Tell Congress NOT ONE CENT of funding goes to illegal aliens until our vets receive the care that they’ve earned and deserve!

Michael Sulsona of Staten Island, New York is a Vietnam Veteran. When he was twenty years old, he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam and lost both of his legs. Ever since that fateful day, he has lived his life as a double-amputee. He sacrificed both of his legs in the service of his country.

When he returned to the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs provided him with a wheelchair. Over the years, Michael’s wheelchair has been upgraded and retrofitted, but lately, the VA had refused to replace this veteran’s broken wheelchair. Time after time, the VA sent repairmen out to Michael Sulsona’s house to repair the wheel chair. And no sooner had they left, but something else would break.

Michael Sulsona has been petitioning the VA to provide him with a new wheelchair for TWO YEARS. No one who sacrifices in the service of this great country should have to wait even a day to get a response from the VA!

Well, while shopping at a Lowes home improvement store, Mr. Sulsona’s wheelchair broke again and he found himself stranded in a warehouse with no way to maneuver.

In that instance, three kind Lowe’s employees did what the VA couldn’t find time to do for years: they fixed his wheelchair. Not only did they fix the bolt that had broken, but also they replaced every single bolt in his wheel chair.

We have been told time and time again that the problems in the VA have been fixed. Yet every week, a new whistleblower steps forward to shine the light on more horrific practices. How could the VA ignore a Vietnam veteran’s application for a new wheelchair for so long? Could he be one of the tens of thousands of vets who had their benefits applications shredded? That would make a whole lot of sense!

With all of the coverage that Mr. Sulsona’s story received, the VA finally sent him a new wheelchair after two long years of him petitioning. But, it shouldn’t have to take public shaming to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to do its job! A story shouldn’t have to go viral in order for a double-amputee Vietnam vet to receive a wheelchair!

With what is going on at the border, there has been a lot of talk comparing the treatment that illegal immigrants are receiving to the mistreatment of our veterans. This is definitely an apt comparison. It is absolutely SHAMEFUL that the President is trying to push a $3.7 BILLION illegal immigrant benefits bill through Congress when the legislative body hasn’t even passed a spending bill to let the VA finally help our veterans!

What I am about to tell you, however, is going to make the illegal immigration connection look like a non-issue.

Last year, while the Obama administration was struggling to “fix” the Obamacare website, the administration actually pulled VA employees away from helping vets and had them work on the Affordable Care Act. That’s right: instead of allowing VA nurses and employees to service our veterans, the White House actually had them working on processing Obamacare applications!

Scott Davis is a program specialist at the VA’s national Health Eligibility Center in DeKalb County, Georgia. Last week, he blew the whistle on the fact that VA employees were actually forced to put aside Veterans’ applications and focus exclusively on processing Obamacare applications.

What the hell is going on in this country? When will the American people stand up and demand that Congress act?

SOURCE

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Released Illegal Alien From Border Crisis Murders Woman!



We all knew that this would happen. At the rate that the Obama administration is releasing illegal aliens, it was only a matter of time before the Federal government’s “catch-and-release” policy came back to bite it.

I would like to introduce you to Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas. This is an illegal alien who broke our laws an entered the country with a few children so he could lie to Border Patrol and play off their sympathy to gain amnesty.

This man came to the country from Honduras so, according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Border Patrol couldn’t simply deport him immediately. Since he was traveling with young children, the law stated that he had the right to appear before a judge, which would be years away.

So, police released Mr. Monterroso-Navas with nothing but a promise from him to appear before a judge at a scheduled date. This is the same promise to appear that most illegal aliens are agreeing to right before Border Patrol lets them go… The vast majority (over 90%) of these caught-and-released illegals will never EVER appear before a judge. The illegal aliens’ whole goal is to come to the United States, get caught and released, and then disappear into American society so they can wait for the day that full blown amnesty becomes the law of the land!

By all measures, Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas would have been off scot-free. He would have been free to wander the United States for three years before his deportation hearing. And then, when the hearing date came and went, he would become just another statistic…

But Mr. Monterroso-Navas didn’t have to wait three years to get an appointment with a judge. That’s because, just days after being ‘caught-and-released,’ he was arrested for murdering a woman.

Just to be clear, the crime was committed after he was released by Border Patrol. Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas was apprehended by Border Patrol, released based on his promise to appear in court, and then within days he had murdered someone.

Every day, hundreds of illegal aliens are caught-and-released based on nothing but a promise to appear in court. We know absolutely nothing about these people. We don’t know if they are carrying communicable diseases, if they have a criminal history, or whether releasing them will put American lives at risk… but none of that seems to phase the Obama administration!

Tell Congress to STOP the Obama administration from freeing illegal alien rapists and murders! Deport them NOW!

Earlier this year, the Obama administration released 36,000 illegal alien criminals from prison. Just to be clear, these people weren’t in prison because they are here illegally. These people were put in prison because, after breaking our laws and entering the United States, the broke another one of our laws. According to the government’s own reporting, the 36,000 released illegal alien criminals were collectively convicted of 88,000 crimes. These include 426 sexual assaults, 303 kidnappings, 193 homicides, 1,317 domestic violence assaults, 1,724 weapon offenses, and one even tried to shoot a public official. All of these criminals are now back on the streets.

This is a sign of a President who really doesn’t care about Americans’ well-being. Hell, Vice President Joe Biden has claimed that these illegals are already Americans!

The fact remains that we simply cannot afford the risk of letting these illegal aliens free to roam our country. Border Patrol agents have reported cases of swine flu, scabies, and other communicable diseases that we as a country had eradicated decades ago. But, with the influx of Third World migrants, these diseases have been reintroduced in the United States.

And if the diseases don’t kill you, the unfortunate fact is that the illegals themselves might! Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas is just one of the violent illegals that got caught! You hear stories from Border Patrol that along with Central Americans, they are also catching illegals from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and you can’t help but wonder whether Barack Obama’s political correctness is enabling a future 9/11!

The truly despicable part of this whole story is that when Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas was arrested after the murder, the Associated Press conveniently left out the fact that he was one of the ‘caught-and-released’ illegal aliens. The mainstream media doesn’t want you to know that this murder was the result of Obama’s failing border strategy!

The powers-that-be are trying to keep a lid on these gruesome crimes. Make no mistake: as the days and weeks pass, we will hear more stories of caught-and-released illegals committing horrific crimes.

Why should we have to wait until then to deport these criminals? Why do we have to wait for innocent blood to be spilled before we put these illegal aliens on a plane back to whatever country they came from?

This President is literally putting Americans’ lives at risk and I refuse to stand by and pray that the story of Pedro Alberto Monterroso-Navas doesn’t repeat itself!

SOURCE

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Fiddling While the Border Burns



Over the last week or two, we in our humble shop have alerted you to the upcoming “broad” and “generous” executive order permitting amnesty, the rampant increase in grants of “asylum” to illegal aliens, Democrat delusions about a secure southern border, and even larger delusions about the urgency of addressing the problem – it’s about the children, you see. While thousands of unaccompanied minors stream across our southern border, Barack Obama and Democrats use the situation as a political football. And rather than address the problem with tried and true solutions like better barriers, better security and pressuring the nations providing all these border crossers to cease and desist, they’re doubling down on their misguided ideas.

White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri chastised Republicans for “using the Rio Grande as a reason not to do immigration reform,” and added, “Our belief is now, more than ever, the American people see immigration as an urgent issue and want the administration to act.” In the latter respect Palmieri is correct, but the Obama idea of action is to just let all of them in, and Americans prefer a secure border as well as returning these people to their homelands. It’s likely Obama will write an Executive Order later this summer expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order he wrote two years ago, which was the backdoor method by which he put the defeated DREAM Act into place.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), though, is fighting back. While his proposed bill won’t address those already allowed to stay under the current DACA order, it would prohibit the expansion of DACA beyond its currently prescribed limits. “We want to stop any more people from getting deferred action under DACA and we want to stop the president from being able to expand it as we have heard he wants to do,” said Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), meanwhile, will introduce a bill to amend the 2008 anti-trafficking law being abused to allow this surge of illegal minors. “We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration,” Vitter said. “I’ve said that if we want to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, let’s deport these people by the planeload.”

Appealing to raw “for the children” emotion, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) railed, “Before Republicans help our Border Patrol agents and all the personnel that’s [sic] trying to do something to handle this humanitarian crisis, they want President Obama to deport the DREAMers who are … legitimately here. These are children. But instead of considering a thoughtful, compassionate solution to a real-life crisis on our border, radical Republicans are trying to hold these kids ransom.” Illegal aliens are “legitimately here”? Who knew?

Middle ground may be electoral quicksand for GOP hopes this fall, particularly if fed-up voters view Republicans as afraid to act for fear of alienating a portion of the Hispanic vote. Ample evidence indicates that this problem was not unforeseen, so the question about who’s to blame is just as important as what to do about it.

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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20 July, 2014

Malaysia Airlines management has a lot to answer for

To save money, they deliberately took a risk which will now undoubtedly destroy their airline. I think the responsibility for this tragedy now lies entirely with the airline. The rebels were entitled to attack Ukrainian aircraft after Ukrainian aircraft had attacked them. And they were known to fire on Ukrainian aircraft. The BUK missile system was first deployed in 1979 so the version used by the rebels may have been rather primitive, with little capacity to distinguish an airliner from a Ukrainian transport aircraft

Two cabin crew swapped shifts so they would not be on the doomed Malaysian airliner downed by a missile in eastern Ukraine, after raising concerns about the safety of flying over the war zone.

Other senior pilots and cabin crew had flagged up fears about the flightpath in the weeks leading up to the tragedy, although Malaysia Airlines last night denied ignoring crew concerns.

Some staff are reported to have refused to fly over the airspace where the passenger airliner was downed because they deemed it to be too volatile and dangerous, especially after two Ukrainian planes, a fighter jet and a transport aircraft, were shot down by rebels.

According to well-placed Malaysia Airlines sources, at least two cabin crew swapped shifts so they would not be on MH17, specifically because they were worried about the flightpath. The Mail on Sunday has been told worried pilots consulted air traffic controllers in Malaysia and also made an informal approach to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But still Malaysia Airlines did not divert the route, unlike other carriers.

British Airways as well as all US airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Qantas, were already avoiding the war zone in Ukraine, adding an extra 20 minutes’ flight time, and there is growing pressure on Malaysia Airlines to explain why it did not follow suit.

Asiana Airlines, another company avoiding the war zone, said: ‘Although the detour adds to flight time and cost, we have been making the detour for safety.’

SOURCE

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Can America disengage?

I do not at all agree with the screed below but it represents a view that needs an answer. And one point it makes is undoubtedly true: It is sheer madness, not to mention cruel, to be arming and financing both sides of the Arab/Israel conflict. Even the bleeding hearts must notice that it has led to over 100 dead Palestinians currently. Is that what the supporters of the Arabs want? It probably is -- the Left love death -- but they should be confronted with that consequence. In my view, aid to all hostiles should be cut off while at the same time Israel continues to receive what she needs to defend herself.

So there is in principle no problem with aid to Egypt as long as it continues to honor its peace treaty with Israel -- something that Mubarak did and which the present military government has continued.

But the Palestinian authority is undoubtedly hostile to Israel so aid should be cut off until it too concludes an enforceable peace treaty with Israel. I cannot see that there is any other moral course.

The second point below is that Israel is a no-account place that is not worth defending. Many writers have pointed out ways in which Israel is materially useful to America but that is not the big factor of course. The big factor comes down to morality, religion, values and feelings. And in that sphere Israel is a giant among nations. They wrote both parts of our holy book and even those who do not hold the Bible holy cannot avoid the fact that the Bible has been the principal foundation of our civilization. To give back to those who have given us so much seems again to me to be the only moral course. As our own Bible tells us, they are a holy nation


“[The United States has] a fateful tie to the Israelis from which we have, in contradistinction to the Israelis, everything to lose, and nothing to gain.” George F. Kennan, Diaries, 25 April 1978.

“Our form of government, inestimable as it is, exposes us, more than any other, to the insidious intrigues and pestilent influence of foreign nations. Nothing but our inflexible neutrality can preserve us.” John Adams, c. 1809.

As the renewed Israeli-Palestinian war rages in Gaza, America is presented with an ideal moment to run — not walk — away from its suicidal commitment to both sides. Surely, no sane American — except the Neocons, whom it would be absurd to consider either sane or loyal Americans — could have missed the fact that what is going on in the current war has had absolutely no immediate impact on the United States.

The war is occurring in a far away place that is no longer of any strategic interest to the United States because the combination of Washington’s relentless, war-causing and Islamist-motivating interventionism and Obama’s cowardly surrenderism have already given the entire region to the Islamists and ensured — thanks to Jewish-American Neocons — Israel’s ultimate doom. Therefore it matters not a lick to any but disloyal Americans whether the Israelis kill all the Palestinians, the Palestinians kill all the Israelis, or, in the best case scenari0, they mutually destroy each other. At the end of the war they all simply will be dead foreigners of whom we had no need and for whom we need not bid any teary farewells. Peoples who want to fight religious wars deserve whatever they get, and these two peoples are determined to fight their religious war until one side or the other is destroyed. Well, so be it, let us get out of it now.

There is a rub for the United States, however, and that reality makes complete U.S. disengagement more urgent than ever before. That rub lies in the fact that each bomb or missile the Israeli air force uses in Gaza will eventually yield a dead American soldier or Marine and/or a dead civilian. This is not a fact that President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry will use to inform the American people about what is at stake for the United States in the long run, because they — along with most of their party and the Republican Party — really could not care less about our nation’s security as long as campaign contributions and media support keep flowing from disloyal Israel First, U.S. citizens and their fundamentally anti-American organizations. As long as that graft keeps flowing their way from the Israel Firsters, they are all more than willing to motivate our Islamist enemies by backing Israel to the hilt.

All of these officials will seek to hide their corrupt relationship with U.S. citizen, Israel First leaders by blathering on about the need for a cease-fire, a two-state solution, and restraint from both sides. What is it, do suppose, that makes senior elected and appointed American officials live in the fantasy world that sees an amicable solution to this problem as a possibility. The answer is bribery, as these people are all listed as members in good standing on Israel First’s bountiful payroll list. Because of the dire need to uphold what is left of the Constitution, we must permit these enemies of America to prattle on, but recognizing their flagrant disregard for genuine U.S. national interests we ought to just ignore them.

It is exquisitely clear, that Israelis and Arabs are going to fight each other until one or the other is annihilated, so let them fight.

SOURCE

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Rupert Murdoch critical of media regulation

Rupert Murdoch is determined to add Time Warner Cable to his media empire. The cable company recently rejected his initial $80billion bid from 21st Century Fox, but apparently Murdoch is ready to up the ante above $85 a share, sources told Bloomberg News.

If accepted, the takeover would be the biggest media deal in more than a decade.

The move could create a mega-sized media conglomerate that owns rights to dozens of popular TV shows and thousands of films, as well as cable TV networks and local broadcast TV channels.

It's estimated that Fox would save nearly $1billion annually by eliminating overlapping staff.

Details of the Time Warner Cable bid were released this week just one day before Murdoch appeared at a B20 conference in Sydney, Australia and criticized the excessive financial red tape in free market economies.

If Murdoch proceeds with the Time Warner Cable takeover, it would be heavily scrutinized by antitrust regulators. Fox would likely have to sell CNN to appease the regulators since the company already has it's own 24-hour news network.

He says that the G20 governments need to 'take a back seat' and allow businesses to drive economic growth.

He said U.S. President Barack Obama was penalising businesses by cracking down on so-called 'profit shifting' by major corporations to countries with lighter tax regimes, a technique that is also in the sights of the G20.

'My blood pressure goes up when I think of the number of local, state and federal regulations we have in our lives today,' the 83-year-old Australian billionaire told the meeting. 'That is just in America. Don't even get me started on the European Union.'

Murdoch told the meeting: 'I believe that business does have a role in shaping public policy, mainly in helping limit the size and scope of government.

'For businesses large and small, there's simply too much red tape, too many subservient politicians stifling economic growth and entrepreneurism.'

Obama, meanwhile, earlier this year proposed tightening restrictions on U.S. multinationals that shift their tax domiciles abroad in his 2015 budget.

Obama wants to raise the minimum level of foreign ownership in a newly inverted holding company to 50 per cent from about 20 per cent, making the deals more difficult to carry out.

'Do we really expect overseas companies to voluntarily bring profits back to be taxed at 35 to 40 percent in the United States, when the corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5 per cent?' Murdoch said. 'This is not the way to achieve economic growth.'

SOURCE

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Deeds not words



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Hamas got rich as Gaza was plunged into poverty

With multi-million-dollar land deals, luxury villas and black market fuel from Egypt, Gaza's rulers made billions while the rest of the population struggled with 38-percent poverty and 40-percent unemployment

While the fighting is only expected to worsen the distress of the residents of Gaza, the Strip's economic outlook for the Strip was never good. The unemployment rate in Gaza stood at approximately 40% before the latest conflict, with a similar proportion being classed as living under the poverty line.

But while most of the Gaza population tries to deal with the difficulties of daily life, it seems that one sector at least has had few worries about their livelihoods - Hamas leaders and their associates.

Multi-million-dollar deal

Someone who has benefitted financially is the former Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. Before 2006 and Hamas' shocking electoral win and subsequent dominance of the Palestinian government , 51-year-old Haniyeh was not considered a senior figure in Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But according to reports in the past few years, Haniyeh's new-found senior status has allowed him to become a millionaire. This is an unusual feat, given that he was born to a refugee family in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza.

In 2010, Egyptian magazine Rose al-Yusuf reported that Haniyeh paid $4 million for a 2,500msq parcel of land area in Rimal, a tony beachfront neighborhood of Gaza City. To avoid embarrassment, the land was registered in the name of the husband of Haniyeh's daughter. Since then, there have been reports that Haniyeh has purchased several homes in the Gaza Strip, registered in the names of his children - no hardship, as he has 13 of them.

At least with regards to his eldest son, it seems that the apple does not fall far from the tree, given his arrest on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with millions of dollars in cash in possession, which he intended to take into Gaza.

Subsidized fuel sold for profit

According to sources in Gaza, Haniyeh's wealth, like others high up in Hamas, came primarily from the flourishing tunnel industry. Senior Hamas figures, Haniyeh included, would levy 20 percent taxation on all of the trade passing through the tunnels.

Hamas's heyday came after the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as its parent organization the Muslim Brotherhood was growing in popularity in Egypt.

In those days, Hamas leaders and their associates were not afraid to show off their ostentatious wealth. Gaza's market for luxury villas costing at least a million dollars was booming, most purchased by people associated with the establishment of Hamas. A Gazan familiar with the real estate market summed it up at the time with a quip about a Hamas crony who had recently acquired a luxury villa: "Two years ago, he couldn’t afford a packet of cigarettes."

At the same time, Khairat a-Shater, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who headed his own business empire, made sure to personally transfer tens of millions in cash to senior administration officials in Gaza as well as to commanders from the Hamas military wing.

There were senior Hamas members who preferred that the money be kept in a safer place than the Gaza Strip, and invested it in various Egyptian assets, often through business partnerships with Muslim Brotherhood officials. In some cases, the man conducting the deals on behalf of Hamas officials, who ensured that they received their dividends in cash, was Ayman Taha, a Hamas founder once considered one of its key spokesmen. In 2011, Taha himself paid $700,000 for a luxury three-floor villa in the central Gaza Strip; a year ago, he was charged with being an agent for Egypt.

The Egyptian street has become inflamed with anger directed against Hamas over the last three years, partly due to what appears to be its financial gains at the expense of the Egyptian people. The tunnels in Rafah, the town straddling the Gaza-Egypt border, for example, saw a flourishing fuel-smuggling industry from Sinai. The fuel subsidized by the Egyptian government was entering Gaza at a low price, but being sold for eight times that. Those who made the greatest profits from the sale of the fuel were Hamas members, even as Egypt often reported shortages for its own people.

Hamas, says Professor Ahmed Karima of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, has long become a movement of millionaires. According to Karima, the organization can count no less than 1,200 millionaires among its members. He did not, however, specify the source of this information.

Mashal's mall

It was not only Hamas members in Gaza who became rich. It appears that political leader Khaled Mashal is another member of the organization who used Hamas funds to his own ends. In 2012, a Jordanian website reported that Mashal had control of a massive $2.6 billion, in large part deposited in Qatari and Egyptian banks. This is likely Hamas' accumulated assets from years through donations, as well as its investments in various projects in the Arab and Muslim world. It is also known that, among other things, Hamas has invested in real estate projects in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Dubai. And, according to reports, Mashal did not always separate Hamas money and his own.

Hamas' expulsion from Syria was a severe financial blow for the movement. In 2011, before the start of the Syrian conflict, Hamas's assets in the country had reached a value of $550 million. Apart from its real estate holdings, Hamas invested in various commercial companies, including a cargo company registered to a Syrian businessman close to Moussa Abu Marzook, Mashal's deputy.

As with other areas, in its financial dealings Hamas leaders keep their cards close to their chest and maintain a high level of secrecy. Investments are made through front companies, using family and associates. Companies linked to Mashal in Qatar are registered to his wife and daughter.

Once he was forced to close his office in Damascus (after falling out with the Assad regime over its oppressive response to the conflict), Mashal declared that his place was in Qatar. There, he claimed that $12 million he had stored in his safe in his Damascus office had been lost. Not many accepted this story, and to this day believe that Mashal kept the money, transferring it to his own personal accounts.

Reliable sources claim that a project by the Fadil real estate firm in Qatar is linked to Mashal, his son and his son's wife. The prestigious project in Doha, the Qatari capital, includes the construction of four towers of more than 27,000 square meters, including office and commercial space attached to a mall with an area of ??10,000 square meters. The company has never disclosed the source of its funding.

According to a World Bank report released in November of last year, the Gaza Strip ranks third in the Arab region in terms of poverty, ranking above only Sudan and Yemen. The report stated that the poverty rate in Gaza stands at 38 percent. Furthermore, of the 144 countries included in the report, Gaza was the 44th poorest, with most of the countries with a higher poverty rate being located in Africa.

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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19 July, 2014

Was pennypinching behind the crash?

The crashed MH17 flight took a route 300 miles to the north of its usual path, an aviation expert has said.

Robert Mark, a commercial pilot who edits Aviation International News Safety magazine, said that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur normally travelled along a route significantly further south than the plane which crashed.

Malaysia Airlines has insisted its plane travelled on an "approved route" used by many other carriers.

But Mr Mark said: "I can only tell you as a commercial pilot myself that if we had been routed that way, with what's been going on in the Ukraine and the Russian border over the last few weeks and months, I would never have accepted that route.

"I went into the FlightAware system, which we all use these days to see where airplanes started and where they tracked, and I looked back at the last two weeks' worth of MH17 flights, which was this one.

"And the flight today tracked very, very much further north into the Ukraine than the other previous flights did ... there were MH17 versions that were 300 miles south of where this one was."

Records of recent MH17 flights on the FlightAware appear to bear out Mr Mark's claim, with earlier flights significantly further south than the flight that crashed.

Mr Mark’s intervention came amid mounting questions over why passenger jets were flying over the war zone three months after pilots were warned to avoid it.

Aviation safety authorities in America and Europe warned pilots in April about potential risks flying in or near Ukraine airspace.

Experts claimed that operators continued to fly across the zone because it was the quickest and cheapest route for some flights.

Norman Shanks, a former head of group security at the BAA airports group, said: "Malaysia Airlines, like a number of other carriers, has been continuing to use it because it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money."

Attacks on aircraft in the area have been rife. In the past week alone two Ukrainian military aircraft were shot down and a third was damaged by a missile.

SOURCE

UPDATE: More interesting info

It appears that the BUK launcher was captured from the Ukrainians, not supplied by Russia. And there WAS a Ukrainian transport plane nearby

Yesterday Dr Igor Sutyagin, research fellow in Russian studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said he believed MH17 was shot down by rebels based in Torez.

He added: ‘These separatists boasted on Twitter about capturing a BUK SA11 missile launcher on June 29, and several hours before the downing of the plane, locals in Torez reported seeing BUK missile launchers and separatist flags around the city.

Dr Sutyagin also told MailOnline that information had been leaked from a source he was unwilling to name that the pilot of MH17 'felt bad' about his course over Ukranian airspace, so turned south.

Little did he know, according to Dr Sutyagin, that his plane would then be mistaken by rebels for a Ukrainian government resupply flight.

He said: 'There is a Ukrainian mechanised brigade blocked by separatists near the Russian border. It's blocked on three sides by separatists and behind the brigade is the Russian border, so they can't get out. The Ukrainians try to resupply them from the air by transport aircraft.

'Now, the pilot of MH17 said that he "felt bad" and wanted to change course to get out of the danger zone. But several kilometers to the south is a Ukrainian Army heavy transport plane, an IL76, or Candid, which has the same echo as a 777 on a radar screen.

'The two planes came close. They tried to shoot down the transport delivering supplies to the brigade. They believed that they had been firing at a military plane, but they mistakenly shoot down a civilian airliner.'

SOURCE

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Some points about the Malaysian aircraft disaster

July 3, 1988: US warship Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf, mistaking it for a threatening warplane, during the war between Iraq and Iran. All 290 people aboard are killed. The ship used the sophisticated Aegis air defense system.

So who is saying that the much more poorly equipped Ukrainian rebels could not have mistaken the airliner for a military transport?

But the most interesting question for me is what the plane was doing in a declared no-fly zone

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG offers some conspiracy theories about why the jet was shot down -- focusing on the aircraft's big contingent of AIDS experts

I deplore the attempt to blame Vladimir Putin. The deed was clearly done by rebels under no-one's control

I am inclined to blame the international community for refusing to recognize the reasonable demands of the Russians of Eastern Ukraine. They should not have had to resort to war to gain independence. One might remember that a war was fought to gain American independence way back. Has nothing been learned?

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18 July, 2014

Another Obama Admin. Hard-Drive “Crash!”

Another day, another Obama administration hard-drive crash!

It seems like it is a daily occurrence in the Obama administration that a high profile, anti-Conservative bureaucrat happens to experience a computer crash right in the middle of a criminal investigation.

First, it was Lois Lerner, the bureaucrat at the heart of the IRS scandal. Her computer “crashed” within days of the IRS learning it was under investigation for targeting Conservative groups.

Then, we learned that computers in the Environmental Protection Agency had also mysteriously “crashed.” When the EPA was under investigation by Congress, the agency was unable to hand over crucial documents because it too experienced a catastrophic computer “crash.”

Now, we have the story of April Sands, a bureaucrat in the Federal Elections Commission who used to work alongside Lois Lerner. She has been accused of illegally promoting Barack Obama and the Democratic Party while she was supposedly on the job.

This woman is pure scum. When Lois Lerner worked at the Federal Elections Commission, April Sands worked as her deputy. She was a lawyer in the FEC but resigned when it became known she was using ‘company time’ to campaign for President Obama and Congressional Democrats. This is a woman who used her government-issue computer to post hateful political posts on Twitter:

I apologize for the poor resolution, but after April Sands realized she was under investigation, she attempted to delete her Tweets.

Do you see what she said? She said that if you still call yourself a Republican, “you are my enemy.” She worked for the FEC with Lois Lerner! It was her job to make sure that elections were fail and neutral!

And now, right as this woman becomes under investigation, the FEC notifies Congress that her computer also mysteriously “crashed” and that all of her emails had been lost.

Tell Congress you have had ENOUGH of these fake computer “crashes.” Arrest Lois Lerner, April Sands, and the rest of these criminals!

There is a law in place that prevents government employees from ‘politicking.’ The Hatch Act prohibits government bureaucrats from engaging in politics. Some government positions have heavier restrictions than others, but the fact remains that if you work for the Federal Government, you are supposed to be neutral, at least as far as the public is concerned.

Federal employees aren’t allowed to campaign for politicians… they aren’t allowed to post on social media that they support a particular candidate… just about the only thing that government employees can do is donate money to a campaign. But, they can’t publicly announce it.

But April Sands didn’t follow the law. On June 18th, 2012, a Monday, April Sands tweeted that she was donating $51 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. This is ILLEGAL under the Hatch Act!

The only problem? Since this particular social media post happened right around lunch time, investigators were unsure whether this fundraising pitch was posted using a government computer (which would be highly illegal) or a personal device during a lunch break (which is apparently less illegal).

Because April Sands was an employee of the Executive Branch, she was prohibited from soliciting or promoting political donations "while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties." So, the solution is simple: subpoena April Sand’s computer and hard-drive to determine whether she did in fact violate the law.

However, when the Office of Inspector General went to seize April Sands’ computer, they were notified that the FEC had “unfortunately” recycled Ms. Sands’ hard-drive. The FEC had destroyed the evidence before it could be seized. As a result, the Inspector General was unable to prove that Ms. Sands’ solicitations and political activity were posted from an FEC computer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia thereafter declined to pursue criminal prosecution because the hard-drive was physically recycled and the evidence was lost.

Do you see what is happening? Every time a member of the Obama administration is found to have used the power of the office to target the political opposition, all of a sudden their computers mysteriously “crash.”

And then, instead of trying to recover the hard-drives, the Obama administration recycles them and literally melts them down!

This is as crooked as they come. Pure Al Capone.

If this type of computer “crash” happened during an investigation once, then maybe it could be a coincidence. We have known all along that Lois Lerner’s crash wasn’t a coincidence… but now we have THREE instances where Obama administration departments went under investigation and all of a sudden the computers crash and the hard-drives are recycled!

Enough is enough!

SOURCE

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Attacking Israel With the Big Lie: Genocide

“Here’s the difference between us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

It’s a classic talking point. It’s also objectively true, and that truth is very frustrating for Israel’s critics.

All one needs to do is delve into the muck of Twitter and read the timelines for such hashtags as #GazaUnderAttack and #GenocideInGaza: “They’re killing the women and children to ensure there won’t be a new generation of Palestine.” “One Holocaust can NEVER justify another.”

And let’s not even talk about the globally trending hashtag #HitlerWasRight.

Of course it’s not just on Twitter. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the feckless Palestinian Authority, recently condemned Israel for committing “genocide” in Gaza. For decades, political cartoonists and cartoonish politicians have been jaw-jawing about how Israel now wears the SS uniform.

This too is basically a talking point – and a very old one. But this one is plainly a lie.

If the Israelis are, or have ever been, interested in genocide, they are utterly incompetent at it. As slanders go, it’s almost funny, like the old paranoid delusion that George W. Bush was simultaneously an idiot and a criminal mastermind.

On the one hand, the Israeli military is supposed to be ruthlessly competent and determined to wipe out the Palestinians. On the other, the Palestinian population has grown more than 100 percent since 1970. The population in the Gaza Strip has grown nearly threefold since 1990. The Palestinians themselves expect the population to double over the next two decades. “Genocide” is a loaded political term, but under any remotely reasonable definition, shouldn’t those numbers be going the other way?

It’s just a hunch, but if the Israelis wanted to wipe out as many Palestinians as possible, never mind commit genocide, they probably wouldn’t issue warnings to Gazans (by phone and leaflet) to get out of harm’s way. Nor would Israel continue to allow hundreds of trucks of food and medical aid to enter Gaza even as hundreds of rockets leave Gaza.

And if Hamas were chiefly concerned with protecting Palestinian lives, it would not implore Gazans to stay in their homes – serving as human shields and inflating the body count as a propaganda prop to increase international pressure on Israel.

One perverse complaint, often subtly echoed in the mainstream media, is that it is somehow unfair that Israelis are not dying, so far, from Gaza rocket strikes. The Israelis have the Iron Dome defense system, which intercepts the rockets aimed at civilians. They also have bomb shelters; the Palestinians do not. They have these things because, as Netanyahu said, Israelis are interested in protecting their citizens.

As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin notes, no one is asking why the Palestinians don’t have bomb shelters. The assumption seems to be that the Gazans don’t have the wherewithal to build them. This is untrue because they do have bomb shelters – they just reserve them for Hamas' leaders and fighters. Indeed, Hamas has dug thousands of tunnels under Gaza, largely so it can smuggle in, and store, more rockets to fire on Israel. Better that those tunnels were used as shelters for civilians, but that would mean not letting them die for the greater “good.”

Of course, not being as bad as the Nazis is a very low bar. And the fact that Israel clears it like a pole-vaulter leaping over a brick is not the same as saying Israel is without fault. But Israel’s shortcomings stem largely from the fact it is trying to deal with “peace partners” openly uninterested in lasting peace. Solving that problem is hard. So hard that some would rather shout “Nazi!” at Jews.

It’s a moral scandal that it’s even necessary to bring up this inconvenient truth. But it is necessary because even many of the people who would never say “Hitler was right” have nonetheless internalized another lesson from the Nazis. It was Joseph Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”


SOURCE

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Hamas Wants to Die

David P. Goldman adopts a psychoanalytic viewpoint below



It's like the old joke: Why do Jewish men die before their wives? Because they want to. Civilizations for the most part die because they no longer want to live. That is the nub of my 2011 book How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam Is Dying, Too). They cease to believe in their own future and distract themselves from the prospect of extinction as best they can. Hellenistic Greece was the first universal demographic disaster; it gave us prototypes of the steam engine and the computer (via Hero of Alexandria) as well as the modern literary forms. But even wealthy men exposed their daughters and the population imploded. When Aristotle taught that men naturally seek the good, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence had already turned against him. Most men seek nothingness. Soon the last surviving remnants of the classical world will disappear. In another generation, more people will speak Hebrew than Greek.

Hamas wants to die, obviously and visibly. That thought horrifies Westerners. As a number of Israeli commentators observe, Hamas doesn't particularly care about having a Palestinian State. It wants to destroy the Jewish State and is willing to die in the process. It wants to die in such a way that Israel will die, too. There is something utterly surreal to Hamas crowding civilians around military targets, and Israeli pilots declining to attack them. It recalls joke about the sadist and the masochist. The masochist says, "Beat me!," and the sadist says, No…suffer."

Hamas, to be sure, proposes to die in an accelerated time frame and a particularly disgusting fashion, but it should be kept in mind that self-willed extinction is the norm. West of the Indus, Israel is the only survivor among the thousands of little nations that flourished between 10,000 BC and 600 AD. To be sure, there have been plenty of small tribes that wanted to live but were trampled by conquering hordes. The rule, however, is that civilizations die of their own disgust with life. Most of the industrial nations are dying, some very quickly. Most of the Muslim world would rather die than accommodate modernity (although some of it may choose to cease to be Islamic).

I do not mean to sound cruel, but the best thing you can do for victims of a dying culture is: Don't be one of them. Individuals who want to live have the option of changing cultures. I do not mean that Israel (or anyone else) should go about killing off enemies in order to satisfy their death wish. God forbid: life is still sacred to us even if it is repugnant to them. Neither do we have to commit suicide in order to accommodate our crazy neighbor's death-wish. We might try to talk him down from the roof, but we are entitled to step aside when he jumps. It is not in our power to persuade suicidal civilizations to carry on living. Ultimately it is our job to contain the damage to ourselves. We cannot help but accept some civilian deaths while engaging an enemy that seeks the maximum number of civilian casualties.

All of this is anathema to liberals, whose premise is that human agency can fix all problems. Enlightenment materialism posited a natural man who either sought self-preservation (Hobbes) or naturally pursued his own best interests (Locke) or was inherently good before corrupted by civilization (Rousseau). Satanic laughter from around the Levant drowns out the squeaky, thin voices of the Enlightenment. One no longer needs to read about it in books. The Middle East has become "How Civilizations Die: The Reality Show."

Israel is the only developed nation (with a fertility rate of three) that loves life sufficiently to bring more children into the world than are required to replace the existing population. Even the US has fallen below replacement as Hispanics assimilate into Western culture and younger evangelicals behave more like their secular peers. Israel today, as at the time of the prophets, remains a unique and irreplaceable light unto the world, the paragon of a nation, the hope of all humanity. Today it is the proof that modern men and women can embrace life and raise themselves above the tragic fate of the peoples since the dawn of man. Anti-semitism is the vicious grudge that death harbors against life. We are tired of refuting the clumsy calumnies that are thrown at Israel each day in the liberal media. Our response is in the imperative: "Choose life!"

SOURCE

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Latest news: Israel’s military foils large-scale infiltration from Gaza

Israeli forces foiled a large infiltration attempt through a tunnel from Gaza. It is believed the infiltrators were planning to carry out a major terror attack on an Israeli target, the IDF said in a statement. According to photos taken by the IDF, the infiltrators were carrying weapons including shoulder-mounted RPGs.

The IDF identified the 13 armed men exiting a tunnel inside Israel early Thursday morning, near Kibbutz Sufa close to the Gaza border. Once the men realized they had been spotted they attempted to dive back into the tunnel, but were thwarted by an airstrike by Israel’s Air Force. The IDF said some of the infiltrators were injured.

Hours after the infiltration attempt, the IDF posted video of the infiltration and the airstrike on the opening of the tunnel.

Hamas later took responsibility for the attempted infiltration, and said that all of its members returned 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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17 July, 2014

Research on basic differences between liberals and conservatives

Science popularizer Chris Mooney is back on his old platform with claims that conservatives are born bad. Leftist psychologists have been endeavouring to prove the evilness of conservatives at at least since 1950 and, despite their failures to convince anyone but themselves, they don't give up lightly. So Mooney has seized on the latest scraps from their table. See below.

Mooney has seized in particular on the work of Hibbing, whom I have noted on a few previous occasions (e.g. here), and I don't think much more needs to be added to what I have said before. Basically, Hibbing labels conservatism as "negativity", despite the fact that there is a long history of conservatism being more informatively labelled as "caution". And exactly the same behaviour can reasonably be labelled either way. "Negativity" is the snarl-word for the more neutral "caution". So Hibbing's main contribution is a twisted or at least tendentious use of language.

Read through the article below and you will see that everything Hibbing condemns can reasonably be attributed to caution. And I don't think anyone is proposing that we give caution up.

Mooney's other point -- that political attitudes have a large inherited component -- is well borne out by the twin studies, however. The only issue is WHAT is the inherited personality factor behind the political attitudes. I would argue that Leftists are born miserable and that makes them destruction-prone. They are so unhappy with the world around them that they want to destroy as much of it as they can.

Statistician Matt Briggs also has some amusing comments on Hibbing.

Mooney does however have below a short flash of insight that largely neutralizes his animus. I have highlighted it in red


You could be forgiven for not having browsed yet through the latest issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences. If you care about politics, though, you'll find a punchline therein that is pretty extraordinary.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences employs a rather unique practice called "Open Peer Commentary": An article of major significance is published, a large number of fellow scholars comment on it, and then the original author responds to all of them. The approach has many virtues, one of which being that it lets you see where a community of scholars and thinkers stand with respect to a controversial or provocative scientific idea. And in the latest issue of the journal, this process reveals the following conclusion: A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.

That's a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics—upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).

It is a "virtually inescapable conclusion" that the "cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different."

The occasion of this revelation is a paper by John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska and his colleagues, arguing that political conservatives have a "negativity bias," meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments. (The paper can be read for free here.) In the process, Hibbing et al. marshal a large body of evidence, including their own experiments using eye trackers and other devices to measure the involuntary responses of political partisans to different types of images. One finding? That conservatives respond much more rapidly to threatening and aversive stimuli (for instance, images of "a very large spider on the face of a frightened person, a dazed individual with a bloody face, and an open wound with maggots in it," as one of their papers put it).

In other words, the conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets—centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns—would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology.

The authors go on to speculate that this ultimately reflects an evolutionary imperative. "One possibility," they write, "is that a strong negativity bias was extremely useful in the Pleistocene," when it would have been super-helpful in preventing you from getting killed. (The Pleistocene epoch lasted from roughly 2.5 million years ago until 12,000 years ago.) We had John Hibbing on the Inquiring Minds podcast earlier this year, and he discussed these ideas in depth; you can listen here:

Hibbing and his colleagues make an intriguing argument in their latest paper, but what's truly fascinating is what happened next. Twenty-six different scholars or groups of scholars then got an opportunity to tee off on the paper, firing off a variety of responses. But as Hibbing and colleagues note in their final reply, out of those responses, "22 or 23 accept the general idea" of a conservative negativity bias, and simply add commentary to aid in the process of "modifying it, expanding on it, specifying where it does and does not work," and so on. Only about three scholars or groups of scholars seem to reject the idea entirely.

That's pretty extraordinary, when you think about it. After all, one of the teams of commenters includes New York University social psychologist John Jost, who drew considerable political ire in 2003 when he and his colleagues published a synthesis of existing psychological studies on ideology, suggesting that conservatives are characterized by traits such as a need for certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity. Now, writing in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in response to Hibbing roughly a decade later, Jost and fellow scholars note that

There is by now evidence from a variety of laboratories around the world using a variety of methodological techniques leading to the virtually inescapable conclusion that the cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different. This research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with heightened epistemic concerns for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety. [Italics added]

Back in 2003, Jost and his team were blasted by Ann Coulter, George Will, and National Review for saying this; congressional Republicans began probing into their research grants; and they got lots of hate mail. But what's clear is that today, they've more or less triumphed. They won a field of converts to their view and sparked a wave of new research, including the work of Hibbing and his team.

"One possibility," note the authors, "is that a strong negativity bias was extremely useful in the Pleistocene," when it would have been super-helpful in preventing you from getting killed.
Granted, there are still many issues yet to be worked out in the science of ideology. Most of the commentaries on the new Hibbing paper are focused on important but not-paradigm-shifting side issues, such as the question of how conservatives can have a higher negativity bias, and yet not have neurotic personalities. (Actually, if anything, the research suggests that liberals may be the more neurotic bunch.) Indeed, conservatives tend to have a high degree of happiness and life satisfaction. But Hibbing and colleagues find no contradiction here. Instead, they paraphrase two other scholarly commentators (Matt Motyl of the University of Virginia and Ravi Iyer of the University of Southern California), who note that "successfully monitoring and attending negative features of the environment, as conservatives tend to do, may be just the sort of tractable task…that is more likely to lead to a fulfilling and happy life than is a constant search for new experience after new experience."

All of this matters, of course, because we still operate in politics and in media as if minds can be changed by the best honed arguments, the most compelling facts. And yet if our political opponents are simply perceiving the world differently, that idea starts to crumble. Out of the rubble just might arise a better way of acting in politics that leads to less dysfunction and less gridlock…thanks to science.

SOURCE

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ZIRP: The Fed’s WMD Against Savers

John Maynard Keynes famously called for “the euthanasia of the rentier,” that is, the destruction of landowners who live on rental income. Does Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen advocate the same treatment for retirees trying to live on interest income? One wonders. The Fed’s policies have devastated seniors and others who have scrimped and saved only to find that inflation has eaten away at the paltry interest they’ve earned from nominally “safe” financial assets, such as bank savings accounts, certificates of deposits, and U.S. Treasury bonds. Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs examines the havoc in the summer 2014 issue of The Independent Review.

“The politicians constantly bark about their solicitude for those who are helpless and in difficulty through no fault of their own,” Higgs writes. “Yet scores of millions of people who save money to support themselves in old age now find themselves progressively despoiled by the very officials who purport to be their protectors.”

Since late 2008, the Fed has pursued a zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) aimed at keeping rates low. This may be good for the federal government, because it holds down the interest costs of the soaring national debt, but it has devastated ordinary savers, Higgs explains. Just compare savings yields and inflation. According to a June press release by Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “all items” Consumer Price Index is rising 2.1 percent per year. This rate exceeded the yields that month for savings accounts (1 percent or less), 5-year CDs (1.37 percent), and 5-year Treasury bonds (1.69 percent).

Here’s another way to view the scope of the problem. In the United States, every age group over 16 years old has seen a decline in labor participation—with one exception: those 55 years and older. ZIRP isn’t the only cause that has sent Grandma and Grandpa back into the workforce, but it has certainly been a powerful “stick” to get them to seek out Help Wanted signs at the local mall.ZIRP: The Fed’s WMD Against Savers
John Maynard Keynes famously called for “the euthanasia of the rentier,” that is, the destruction of landowners who live on rental income. Does Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen advocate the same treatment for retirees trying to live on interest income? One wonders. The Fed’s policies have devastated seniors and others who have scrimped and saved only to find that inflation has eaten away at the paltry interest they’ve earned from nominally “safe” financial assets, such as bank savings accounts, certificates of deposits, and U.S. Treasury bonds. Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs examines the havoc in the summer 2014 issue of The Independent Review.

“The politicians constantly bark about their solicitude for those who are helpless and in difficulty through no fault of their own,” Higgs writes. “Yet scores of millions of people who save money to support themselves in old age now find themselves progressively despoiled by the very officials who purport to be their protectors.”

Since late 2008, the Fed has pursued a zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) aimed at keeping rates low. This may be good for the federal government, because it holds down the interest costs of the soaring national debt, but it has devastated ordinary savers, Higgs explains. Just compare savings yields and inflation. According to a June press release by Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “all items” Consumer Price Index is rising 2.1 percent per year. This rate exceeded the yields that month for savings accounts (1 percent or less), 5-year CDs (1.37 percent), and 5-year Treasury bonds (1.69 percent). Here’s another way to view the scope of the problem. In the United States, every age group over 16 years old has seen a decline in labor participation—with one exception: those 55 years and older. ZIRP isn’t the only cause that has sent Grandma and Grandpa back into the workforce, but it has certainly been a powerful “stick” to get them to seek out Help Wanted signs at the local mall.

SOURCE

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Supply-Side Contraceptives

Paul Krugman and others on the left routinely sneer at the idea that you can actually increase government revenues by cutting tax rates. (Turns out most of the time you can’t, but in some cases you can.)

But there is a similar myth on the left. It’s the idea that by spending more money on health you can reduce overall health care costs. According to the New York Times, President Obama is using that idea to support free contraceptives for women:

“The Obama administration says the cost of providing contraceptives will be offset by savings that result from greater use of birth control, “fewer unplanned pregnancies” and improvement in women’s health.”

Here is Matt Yglesias at Slate making the same point:

“While birth control costs more than nothing, it costs less than an abortion and much less than having a baby. From a social point of view, unless we’re not going to subsidize consumption of health care services at all (which would be a really drastic change from the status quo) then it makes a ton of sense to heavily subsidize contraceptives...But just on the dollars and cents subsidizing birth control is a no-brainer.”

The trouble is: there is no evidence for that claim. In fact, there is no evidence that making contraceptives free leads to their greater use. The Obamacare mandate requiring contraceptives to be available without deductibles or copayments is apparently not causing women to use more contraceptives according to a report by the IMS Institute. And if the mandate doesn’t lead to greater use, there can’t be fewer births, etc.

Free contraceptives are only one example of how the Obama administration gets it priorities wrong when it comes to health insurance. For example, the Affordable Care Act requires employers and insurers to provide a long list of preventive services (such as mammograms, blood-pressure screening, cholesterol screening, etc.). And as in the case of contraceptives, Obama administration officials have been claiming that the money spent on these procedures will result in overall savings.

Yet here again the evidence says otherwise. Most preventive procedures cause health care spending to go up not down. And while we are spending scarce premium dollars on low-dollar items of sometimes dubious value we are continuing to leave people exposed for large catastrophic costs.

One of the worst examples of getting the priorities wrong is the way Obamacare changed Medicare. Every senior is now entitled to a free wellness exam (of almost no medical value). At the same time, every senior continues to be at risk for tens of thousands of dollars of costs from a prolonged hospitalization.

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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16 July, 2014

A day in the life ..

by an Israeli woman

Last night my children lost their air-raid siren virginity - sounds crass, I know, but there is nothing warm and fuzzy and innocent about your children hearing their first air-raid siren. They hurried to the mamad (a reinforced room, equivalent of a bomb shelter in newer homes and apartments, ours doubles as our guest room) - they walked, they did not run, they have been drilled. Mia (7) played with her cousins, Gili (5) immediately recited two chapters of Psalms (he's just that kind of kid) and Elli (2.5) played obliviously on the iPad. There were no booms, no scary sounds, no dramas. The ten mandatory minutes of residing in the mamad from the commencement of the siren passed, everyone returned to the usual bed-time routine. Shortly after - a second round - same routine, once again, there were no booms, no scary sounds, no dramas. Bedtime.

Since this all started nearly a week ago, Mia & Gilli have been sleeping in the mamad - two less children to collect in the middle of the night if a siren goes off, the naïve hope that we'll spare them trauma - that if there's a siren, maybe they won't even wake up if we don't have to move them.

I lay in bed, floating between sleep and wake-fullness, terrified that I might sleep through a siren. Exhausted body, restless mind. I toss and turn, my restlessness disturbing Moshi, he heads off to one of the kids empty beds to try and sleep what remains of the night.

5:30am. Awake. Hopes of any sleep long-gone, the night is over. I hear the pitter patter of Gili's feet climbing the stairs - he finds Moshi in his bed and lays down next to him.

5:59am I hear an unfamiliar sound in the distance, almost like a hiss, the sound is foreign, unidentified. A split second later, wailing sirens - I dash to Elli's room, I hear Moshi call my name, I sense his movements, a deafening whistling sound overhead. Sirens wailing. I feel around for Elli's blanky. I can't find her favourite bunny. No time. I hug her close, trying not to wake her. I have no recollection of how I got from her room upstairs to the entry of the mamad. I only remember thinking that I'm watching a woman in a movie running with her sleeping toddler, sirens, the deafening whistle overhead of a missile - this is not me, not my life. Bang. Moshi slams the mamad door behind me. I hold Elli close, her sweet breath on my neck, she cuddles me and continues to sleep. Mia turns in her sleep. Gilli lays there, eyes wide-open, no Psalm recitals this time. Boom. Boom. Boom. BOOM. Windows rattle. Too close. BOOM. Windows rattle. Too close. Silence. We wait. Five more minutes pass. Moshi thinks we can open the room. They say to wait ten minutes. I motion him to sit. Boom. Boom.

I'm not sending my kids to school and kinder today. I'm not. I don't care if the Home-front says I can. I'll stay with them until my babysitter arrives. I picture Mia's school - I cannot picture them gathering the children in 90 seconds to the bomb shelter. And that's if there is 90 seconds. We only had 30 seconds in the morning. The kids are happy to stay home with me, maybe not as happy as they would normally be to have a fun day with Mummy.

Moshi recites to me what Gili said to him just before the siren hit - they lay in bed, and Gili turns and says to him: "Daddy, I can hear a missile coming". Moshi retells that he looked at him in wonder and then the siren hit. He had heard the same distant hiss, the foreign sound that I could not identify, and he named it. My children have not watched even one TV or news report since this crisis started, they know what we have told them and what they have heard from their friends in the playground. Why at 5 years of age could my son identify the sound of something that I could not identify at 38 years of age?

I speak to my neighbor, he was watering his garden when the siren hit. Of course the whistle of the missile was deafening. He saw the iron dome missile pass above us, overhead, between our homes.

I call the hospital, delay my clinic to the afternoon, cancel some meetings.

I wanted to have a normal, fun day. No, they cannot go to the pool. No, they cannot go to the trampoline. We will have a normal, fun day - indoors. Playtime, pancakes, drawing, movies, popcorn, more movies. I'm not counting their screen-time today.

2:00pm. The babysitter arrives, Mia and Elli play, I cuddle and kiss them. Gili has fallen asleep in the mamad. Exhausted. I gaze at him, I don't want to disturb his sleep.

I leave for the hospital - if I drive at a legal speed it'll take me 35 minutes, if I drive faster I can do it in less. I drive faster. I should have kissed Gili. I feel my body tense. Please no air-raid sirens while I'm on the highway. I know what I have to do if it happens. I don't want to do it. Please no sirens. I don't want to stop my car, lay down on the hot asphalt and cover my head with my hands. My hands were not made to protect my head. I pass a truck carrying domestic size gas canisters. Please no siren. Not now. Really bad time for a siren. No siren.

I arrive at the clinic, I apologize to the new patient for delaying the appointment from the morning. We had a siren, my children are young, I didn't want to send them to school/kinder. The patient and her husband smile knowingly, their eyes full of compassion and understanding. I look down at the patient file, she is from Kibbutz Nitsanim. I cringe. Kibbutz Nitsanim borders on Gaza - what I experienced this morning has been their daily reality for the past many years, and since the crisis started last week they have had up to 70 rocket missiles a day shot to their area. I apologize. I shift in my chair. We had one siren today. They reassure me.

I start her intake. She has come to us in order to participate in a clinical trial. She has three children. She wants to live. She will be randomized to a standard treatment or a new biological agent that may further improve her chances for cure. I explain to her what randomization means. It's like the role of a dice. She could explain to me what randomization means, their day-to-day reality is like the role of a dice. Yes, yes, it's true for all of us - but it's not.

The clinic ends. A siren. It's twice as long as usual. It doesn't seem to end. Boom - distant. BOOM - closer. BOOOOM - too close. I should have kissed Gili.

I call home - no sirens there.

I keep working. I work on my laptop. Occasionally my eyes dart to the PC screen on my desk, to the news page - sirens over my home. I call home - everyone is fine, no booms.

11pm. I arrive home. I kiss sleeping Gili.

Bed. Exhausted. Heavy heart. Heavy mind. Please sleep - arrive! I will wake up if there's a siren.

I think of our children. I think of theirs.

I want to sleep.

I want to awake in the morning to the pitter-patter of feet, to long cuddles. To quiet skies.

I want to wake up to mundane routine. Sleep. Goodnight.

SOURCE

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Spending and Morality

Walter E. Williams

During last year's budget negotiation meetings, President Barack Obama told House Speaker John Boehner, "We don't have a spending problem." When Boehner responded with "But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem," Obama replied, "I'm getting tired of hearing you say that." In one sense, the president is right. What's being called a spending problem is really a symptom of an unappreciated deep-seated national moral rot. Let's examine it with a few questions.

Is it moral for Congress to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another? I believe that most Americans would pretend that to do so is offensive. Think about it this way. Suppose I saw a homeless, hungry elderly woman huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. To help the woman, I ask somebody for a $200 donation to help her out. If the person refuses, I then use intimidation, threats and coercion to take the person's money. I then purchase food and shelter for the needy woman. My question to you: Have I committed a crime? I hope that most people would answer yes. It's theft to take the property of one person to give to another.

Now comes the hard part. Would it be theft if I managed to get three people to agree that I should take the person's money to help the woman? What if I got 100, 1 million or 300 million people to agree to take the person's $200? Would it be theft then? What if instead of personally taking the person's $200, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take the person's $200? The bottom-line question is: Does an act that's clearly immoral when done privately become moral when it is done collectively and under the color of law? Put another way, does legality establish morality?

For most of our history, Congress did a far better job of limiting its activities to what was both moral and constitutional. As a result, federal spending was only 3 to 5 percent of the gross domestic product from our founding until the 1920s, in contrast with today's 25 percent. Close to three-quarters of today's federal spending can be described as Congress taking the earnings of one American to give to another through thousands of handout programs, such as farm subsidies, business bailouts and welfare.

During earlier times, such spending was deemed unconstitutional and immoral. James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, said, "Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, Madison stood on the floor of the House of Representatives to object, saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Today's Americans would crucify a politician expressing similar statements.

There may be nitwits out there who'd assert, "That James Madison guy forgot about the Constitution's general welfare clause." Madison had that covered, explaining in a letter, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one." Thomas Jefferson agreed, writing: Members of Congress "are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare. ... It would reduce the (Constitution) to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please."

The bottom line is that spending is not our basic problem. We've become an immoral people demanding that Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another. Deficits and runaway national debt are merely symptoms of that larger problem.

SOURCE

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The State’s “MyPlate” War Is a War on Consumer Choice

Think You Have the Freedom to Eat Whatever You Want? Think Again

The state doesn’t stop short of your kitchen. Its members are determined to decide what, how, and where you can eat; on top of that, they try to assign food portions according to each “type of person.” Armchair bureaucrats, with no insight into the specific needs or desires of individuals, limit what you can buy in restaurants and supermarkets.+

Many of us already know that regulations substantially reduce economic freedom and create artificial monopolies that inflate prices. Fewer people appear to be aware, however, the degree to which state intrusions reduce our food choices. Like the father who does not allow a child sweets before dinner, the state takes on that role and dictates what you can and cannot eat.+

Starting with the production of food, there is government intervention at every stage. In the United States, expansive government agencies are in charge of deciding which grains are suitable for planting, and what their ideal condition during harvest should be.+

Even before production, massive farm subsidies distort the food industry. According to a study published by the Cato Institute, the federal agency in charge of subsidizing agriculture costs US taxpayers between US$10 and US$30 billion every year. The amounts vary depending on crop market prices, natural disasters, and previous payments, among other factors.+

Subsidies lead to an increase in rural land prices, block agricultural innovation, and create incentives for rent-seeking and excess production. They also discourage both cost reduction and diversity of land use, and go hand in hand with artificial prices and food waste.+

Mandated safety procedures, not tailored to consumer wishes, also add to prices. They make producers spend more on various additives to achieve centrally planned quality standards. Moreover, these create a barrier to entry for new producers who do not yet have the experience or are not financially capable of reaching these standards. Someone seeking to make a go of it in the industry, without obeying the food police, will soon find himself in legal hot water — as so many food-truck cases have shown.+

Self-Regulation? Not So Fast

In most US states, small producers of raw milk, even those that have been extremely careful with their methods, must break the law to satisfy consumer demands. This is a particular case that illustrates how the private sector can, in fact, create its own guidelines for safe consumption. The Raw Milk Institute, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve people’s health and immune systems, and they teach production methods to agriculturists, offer education to the wider public, and set guidelines that providers can adhere to for the safety of consumers.+

Of course, the state does not have, nor should it have, an extraordinary capacity to monitor all production processes. Imposing top-down regulations is a fool’s errand, since food can be produced in so many ways, and new methods continue to arrive on the scene.+

There are always players who favor regulations, though — for the people, and with no crony interests at all. The food-truck battle is also illuminating here, since “safety” is merely a codeword for protectionism, keeping potential entrepreneurs out of the market.+

Mobile restaurants offer a desirable option for city workers with a hectic schedule: a win-win situation for everyone, or so it would seem. Municipalities are seeking to legislate operations essentially out of existence. California legislator Bill Monning, for example, has introduced a bill to prohibit food trucks from operating within 1,500 feet from a public school. Children might — perish the thought! — buy from the food trucks instead of from their school cafeterias.+

However, such justifications are wafer thin, since most children are not allowed to leave the school property during lunch. Further, the restrictions do not apply for fast-food restaurants, such as Burger King, and we all know how healthy they are.+

Dare one ask, if not the children, who are they trying to “protect” with this legislation?+

Unintended Consequences, Undermining Personal Responsibility

As the United States has given subsidies to farmers for decades, those in power have made some items cheaper. That sounds great, right?+

However, every law has its unintended consequences, since not all items are treated equally as far as the handouts go. Consider what you would prefer: a Big Mac with french fries and a soft drink, or a smaller salad portion? As you can see from the diagram, subsidies have, unfortunately, worked twisted our incentives contrary to a balanced diet.+

Given that every individual is responsible for his eating habits, lawsuits against firms such as McDonald’s for causing obesity are absurd. They also ignore the elephant in the room: the multi-million-dollar subsidies given for the production of a Big Mac’s ingredients.+

Still, those in office want to appear like they are doing something to avert a purported obesity crisis. Their proposed solution is to create more regulations and a USDA program in charge of nutrition: MyPlate.+

To be clear, I support initiatives, similar to MyPlate, that seek to educate consumers on adequate food portions — of which there are already many working on a private basis. I take exception, however, with subsidies that benefit certain groups of producers and interfering in such ways that work exactly opposite to their rhetoric. The food industry is already extremely innovative; let it breathe free for these innovations to hasten.+

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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14 July, 2014

What This World Cup Reminds Us About Right vs. Left Thinking

Every four years, world soccer fans stop to witness their own version of Mt Vesuvius, The World Cup, wherein national pride, soccer passion, and the subjective slant on an objective result erupt for one month, culminating in the sport's pinnacle event and prize, The World Cup Final and Title. As in many sporting events; there are outstanding and poor performances; a maddening mix of good fortune and bad luck; and healthy doses of injustice, unfairness, and suspicious decisions which impact the results. This year's edition has been no different; with the usually fascinating array of favorites performing as expected and others greatly disappointing, as well as surprise Cinderellas and feel good runs by good teams overcoming setbacks.

As I watched this event, however, it became abundantly clear that we were witnessing something not quite seen in recent editions, spilling before us like a sarcastic reminder of the difference between two very different ways of looking at reality. On one hand, we had teams like Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and the United States, all displaying one consistent trait despite varying levels of skill, luck, and success in this tournament. For the most part, these teams worked hard, demonstrated a humble respect for their opponents, and exhibited a healthy confidence in their ability to succeed through taking responsibility for both success and failure.

On the other hand, we had teams like Uruguay and Brazil who, along with their fans, demonstrated a delusional, almost child-like subjectivity and victim perspective which was both insulting to the sport and to their own integrity. Uruguay reminded us that passionate, irrational, and rampant victimization is the genuine antithesis of calm, logical reality. After Luis Suarez clearly and intentionally bit an opponent for the third time in his career and was suspended, the Uruguayan team and its fans wailed on about international conspiracies and prejudiced decisions, only to be embarrassed as Suarez later admitted to the action, although still pretending that it was accidental. We should not wait for any Uruguayan player, fan, or journalist to apologize for insulting us with the protest that this action was imaginary and the suspension the most unjust decision in soccer history.

If Uruguay's sin was blindly defending a spoiled, twisted star player against righteous indignation and just punishment, Brazil, the host, has provided us with an even more embarrassing combination of a warped entitlement with audacious hypocrisy and selective rage. Acting like spoiled children expecting their pre-destined trophy, these players and fans clearly believed that all that they had to do to win their sixth championship was throw their uniforms on the grass and bow. Worse still, they bashed opponents, both on and off the field, who dared to get in their pre-determined path to glory on home turf. Taking advantage of favoritism by some referees and good fortune, Brazil reached the semifinals of what was supposed to be yet another coronation only to be soundly humbled 7-1 by a workman-like, efficient, and proactive German squad which, like many teams in this tournament, did not expect success to be handed to them on a gold plate. As many experts observed, Brazil took advantage of intimidated referees who let them get away with blatant fouls or gave them gift free kicks and even a penalty en route to a game they had no business attending, and from which they were soundly removed.

If we have learned anything, especially recently, it is that blind, mindless, passionate irrationality fueled by irresponsible delusions of entitlement and rampant hallucinations of victimization cannot hide incompetence and foolish futility forever. Sooner or later, the chickens come to roost, and the piper must be paid. The only thing worse than hypocrisy is blatant, insolent hypocrisy, and Brazilian players and fans exhibited those traits in full measure, ranting on when their star player was injured after a referee allowed them to bash their opponent relentlessly for most of the game without much consequence. Ignoring or downplaying their treatment of opponents while wailing endlessly about the injury of their star player, Neymar, these players and fans demonstrated the lowest form of hypocrisy and selective rage.

The parallel between Brazil's behavior and our political Left's thinking is striking. While the Right generally promotes proactive self-responsibility and personal initiative, the Left worships at the altar of reactive irresponsibility and entitlement, wherein people point fingers at others for their failures and cry wolf at every turn. Like a Brazilian team which feigned disaster with every trip and depicted normal tackles by opponents as premeditated terrorist actions, the Left turns drama into an art form in its quest to whine, weep, and push its way to its agenda via the route of victimization. Like a Brazilian team that was ultimately unable to hide its many warts under the guise of emotional entitlement and bullying of opponents who dared to deny that entitlement, the Left is constantly scrambling to hide its twisted logic and irrational claims behind frenzied fantasy and hypocritical intolerance.

Ultimately, Brazil's façade fell beneath the weight of a side which did not expect things to be handed to them. Eventually, the sheer strain of pretending to be competent while whining and feigning victimization proved to be too much for these 23 community organizers who were better at pointing fingers than kicking soccer balls. Just as adept at diving and feigning harm as the Dutch, but far less competent and skilled as a team, Brazil discovered what the Left should have discovered by now, which is that greatness is mostly achieved by those who humbly work hard, respect others, and do not manipulate people and situations for their selfish gain. The great Brazilian teams of Pele and Garrincha gave Brazil its legendary reputation as the creators of the Jogo Bonito, the beautiful game. Thinking that they could live off that legend and gain a title because of their uniform or their home crowd, this Brazilian team reminded us that seeking success through smoke and mirrors never works in the end.

SOURCE

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Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi – Mr. and Mrs. Tammany Hall



If illegal aliens and unaccompanied minors from Central and South America voted Republican, the Democrats would surround our country with a force field Darth Vader couldn't penetrate. Yet we need a force field like barrier to protect our nation from an invasion of epic proportion and significant risk to the sovereignty and security of our nation - illegal immigrants, crime and terrorists.

It seems we just never learn from history - ancient, recent past or just yesterday. Tunnel warfare is the new norm. There are a growing number of tunnels leading into the United States from Mexico, not unlike the tunnels that helped defeat us in Vietnam, and the ones from Gaza to Israel or Lebanon to Israel that Hezbollah (Iran-IRGC) utilized in the 34 day war. Fences make for good neighbors. It is an old adage worth repeating. Yet there are those in the US who still claim a fence system won't work, and all point to the news video of people climbing over a section, barbed wire notwithstanding. Of course they breached it....who was there to counter it, and what consequences are there when border security catches them? Lice and scabies and aggravation?!

But if you ask anyone in Israel if the fence system has helped stem the tide of terrorist incursions and the answer will mostly be yes. Why? There's a big difference between ours and theirs. They actually take it seriously and have the armed manpower dedicated to enforcing it. Under Obama, our military, law enforcement, and homeland security have been dealt withering blows to readiness in the form of reduced funding, and executive edicts changing the rules of engagement to ridiculously anemic policies that are sure to protect our enemies and nearly guaranteed to jeopardize our citizens.

A well designed series of layered, aggressive security measures can protect our Southern border - but it will take commitment, new presidential leadership, and hiring actual security professionals, not the academics on Team Obama, few of whom have ever been in the trenches, and know war, terrorism, and threats from a book not from a battle.

As a physician it is repulsive to think our President has tacitly encouraged the diaspora of children - some sick, many poorly educated, a few victims of violence, most encouraged to do so by adults for a variety of ulterior motives - tens of thousands of children, greatly imperiled as they travel through a variety of dangers on a journey landed them at the gates of the promised land - the United States.

That we - the nation nicknamed "America" are a beacon of hope, and that proverbial ‘shining city on the hill,' in spite of our languid, dare I suggest lousy leadership, is nothing short of amazing. And we should be a lighthouse in the darkness of a dangerous world. But that our leaders have done nothing to discourage such a death march, have done nothing to reign in Mexico which is nothing more than a large ‘toll booth" where anyone wishing to traverse its borders may do so, for the right amount of money, and that POTUS et al has done nothing to discourage our putative allies in Central America from dropping off their children as if we were some international day care center or adoption agency, is reprehensible.

There blood on the hands of the Obama, Pelosi, the DNC and the home countries that encourage these children to make the dangerous trek northwards - Honduras, El Salvador, and other similarly corrupt enterprises with a national flag, which claim they are too poor to care for their peoples, but certainly act affluent enough to send a first lady to ensure ‘her people' were properly cared for in our nation (speak about chutzpah). There is also blood on the hands of our leaders for doing nothing over the last several years to discourage illegal immigration; all they have done under the presidents' watch is convey to the peoples' of Central America that a form of "dream act" will occur under the democrats, from various methods - not enforcing immigration law, prohibiting citizenship verification when police detain someone, the use of anchor babies, and now amnesty children, or being in the US long enough that we won't send you home (which under Obama seems to be a New York minute).

Is it any wonder people will take the risk? And is it any wonder their home countries encourage it? Money will flow home to family members who remained in Central America. New tunnels and transit routes will open up, allowing other forms of criminal behavior to flourish - guns, cartels, human trafficking, drugs, kidnapping for ransom. Nothing good comes from an open border, and these children are a visible sign of the magnitude of Obama's failure to his nation, and devotion to his party as well as fervent allegiance to ideology.

During Obama's watch the illegal alien problem in our nation has grown exponentially. Millions of illegals or unlawfuls reside in the US. Obama has done nothing to or with Mexico to curb this problem. Soon the US will become a banana republic like Mexico and other Central American countries. Our border is porous - a sieve. Our nation is hosting too many who cost more than they contribute. Crime has risen. Hospitals are overcrowded. English in many areas is the rarely spoken word. The cost to Americans includes a drain on community infrastructure, increased crime - and approximately $14,000 per person, per year; according to Heritage Foundation studies based upon government data, comparing the costs (welfare for example) balanced against what each illegal contributes. It is a net loss to our community. And the myth that none of us would have fresh fruit without illegals or the unconstrained immigration of Latinos is just that - a liberal myth. Do migrant workers aid in our farming - of course. But the notion that democrats and liberals pedal suggesting illegal immigrants contribute more than they take from communities is just not based upon fact. The public health costs alone are staggering. But that is a critical protection for communities.

Many also send money back to their ‘home' countries - which serves as a revenue stream of sorts. What money you might ask? WIC - the welfare industrial complex - you and me.

SOURCE

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Get Bosses Out of Health Insurance Altogether

By Michael D. Tanner

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on July 9, 2014.
The Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has pushed all the buttons that could be expected when sex and religion intersect. Many on the right are celebrating because they value religious expression and feel rather less excited about sex, especially of the non-procreative variety. And much of the Left is outraged because religion is generally considered of far less import while sexual freedom has a high priority. But both sides are missing the point.

It is true that your boss shouldn’t be deciding whether or not your insurance plan includes contraceptives. It is also true that your boss shouldn’t have to pay for your contraceptives if it violates his or her religious beliefs. But why is this debate limited to employers with certain clearly defined religious beliefs, or for that matter to contraception?

The bigger question should be: Why is some woman arguing with her boss about what benefits are included in her insurance plan in the first place?

There’s no good answer. The entire concept that our boss should provide our insurance is an anomaly that grew out of unique historical circumstances during World War II. At the time of a significant labor shortage, President Roosevelt imposed wage (and price) controls, preventing employers from competing for available workers by raising salaries. In an effort to circumvent the regulations and attract workers, employers began to offer non-wage benefits, among them health insurance.

In 1953, the IRS compounded the problem by holding that employer-provided health insurance was not part of wage compensation for tax purposes. This means that if a worker is paid $40,000 and their employer also provides an insurance policy worth $16,000, the worker pays taxes on just the $40,000 in wages. If, however, instead of providing insurance, the employer gave the worker a $16,000 raise — allowing the worker to purchase his or her own insurance — the worker would have to pay taxes on $66,000 in income, a tax hike of as much as $2,400. This puts workers who buy their own insurance at a significant disadvantage compared to those who receive insurance through work.

As a result, Americans were driven to get health insurance through their job: In 1960, just a third of non-elderly Americans received health insurance at work, roughly. Today, 58.4 percent do. (That’s actually down from the peak of 71.4 percent in 1980).

Employer-provided insurance is problematic for several reasons. Most significantly, it hides much of the true cost of health care from consumers, encouraging over consumption. Basing insurance on employment also means that if you lose your job, you are likely to end up uninsured. And once you’ve lost insurance, it can be hard to get new coverage, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

But, in the context of Hobby Lobby, employer-provided insurance is even more insidious: It gives your boss the power to determine what is and is not included in your insurance plan. The government’s answer, of course, is simply to mandate that certain benefits, in this case contraceptives, be included. But that merely substitutes the government’s judgment for your boss’s. Thus we infringe on your employer’s desires and your own, leaving both of you at the mercy of politicians.

Instead of fighting over religious liberty vs. contraceptive coverage, both sides should agree to start transitioning away from employer-provided insurance and into a system where each of us owns personal and portable insurance, independent of our job.

Getting there requires changing the tax treatment of health insurance so that employer-provided insurance is treated the same as other compensation for tax purposes: that is, as taxable income. At the same time, to offset the increased tax, workers should receive a standard deduction, a tax credit, or expanded Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), regardless of whether they receive insurance through their job or purchase it on their own.

As a result of this shift in tax policy, employers would gradually substitute higher wages for insurance, allowing workers to shop for the insurance policy that most closely match their needs. That insurance would be more likely to be true insurance — protecting the worker against catastrophic risk, while requiring out-of-pocket payment for routine, low-dollar costs. And it would belong to the worker, not the employer, meaning that workers would be able to take it from job to job and would not lose it if they became unemployed.

But it would also mean that workers, not their bosses, would decide what benefits they want to pay for. People could have contraceptive coverage or any other kind of coverage if we wanted it and were willing to pay for it.

In a less politically polarized world, that would be a reform that both left and right could embrace. In this one, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE 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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14 July, 2014

Meet the medical student who wants to bring down a popular quack

Benjamin Mazer is a third-year medical student at the University of Rochester. Last year, after becoming increasingly concerned with the public-health impact of Dr. Mehmet Oz's sometimes pseudoscience health advice, he decided to ask state and national medical associations to do something about it.

"Dr. Oz has something like 4-million viewers a day," Mazer told Vox. "The average physician doesn't see a million patients in their lifetime. That's why organized medicine should be taking action."

Last year, Mazer brought a policy before the Medical Society of the State of New York—where Dr. Oz is licensed—requesting that they consider regulating the advice of famous physicians in the media. His idea: Treat health advice on TV in the same vein as expert testimony, which already has established guidelines for truthfulness. I asked Mazer about what inspired the policy, and what became of his efforts.

Julia Belluz: So you're the medical student who wants to bring down Dr. Oz?

Benjamin Mazer: I'm definitely not the only one. This issue was brought up by a number of physicians I worked with during my family medicine clerkship. We had all of this first-hand experience with patients who really liked his show and trusted him quite a bit. [Dr. Oz] would give advice that was really not great or it had no medical basis. It might sound harmless when you talk about things like herbal bills or supplements. But when the physicians' advice conflicted with Oz, the patients would believe Oz.

JB: Tell me about the policy you proposed. How did doctors react?

BM: I wrote policy for the Medical Society of the State of New York [where Dr. Oz is licensed] and the American Medical Association asking them to more actively address medical quackery on TV and in the media—specifically Dr. Oz.

The New York policy was passed in modified form. Organized medicine in New York is aware of what Dr. Oz is saying and how he is able to fall through the gaps of regulation. Many New York physicians testified at their annual meeting about the harm they are seeing happen day-to-day with their own patients. Patients stop taking proven medications in favor of "natural" medications that Dr. Oz promotes. Many patients trusted Dr. Oz more than their own family doctors and this conflict hurt the doctor-patient relationship.

When we brought the policy to the American Medical Association, they reaffirmed existing policy instead of our resolution asking them to take action against inappropriate medical testimonials on TV. The AMA basically thought they were doing enough with existing policy.

JB: Why don't you think the policy was picked up at the national level?

BM: Organized medicine is a slow beast. Also, some people might be underestimating the harms he's doing. Many physicians and certainly much of the public often ask, "What's the harm in an herbal pill or new diet?" The indirect harms can be great.

Organized medicine has an interest in protecting physicians as a profession. They want to maintain the prestige, trust, and income that physicians have historically received in the US. In order to protect the profession as a whole, organized medicine sometimes has to protect individual doctors, even if they are not acting in the best interest of patients. The AMA may fear that undermining Dr. Oz could undermine overall trust in doctors.

JB: Was there a particular patient who inspired this crusade against TV quackery?

BM: The patient who inspired the policy I wrote was an older woman in her 60s who had a lot of the classic, chronic health problems we deal with in America. She was overweight, she had diabetes, heart disease. And so the physician I was working with was recommending these oral diabetes medications that are pretty standard fair. She had watched the Dr. Oz Show featuring green coffee-bean supplements—and how it was great to lose weight—and she was convinced this was going to be a huge impact on her weight.

We tried to politely express concerns that this probably wasn't going to be effective because there's no evidence for it. She refused the diabetes medications. The hope she had placed in the green coffee-bean extract was part of that.

JB: What do you think is the impact of Dr. Oz's sometimes dubious health advice?

BM: I think these things impede the doctor-patient relationship. These doctors are actually doing a great job. But the trust people are placing with Dr. Oz—when their family physicians even nicely try to contradict him—disrupts their relationship.

JB: As a physician, what are you thinking when you hear Dr. Oz say he believes in magic?

BM: The movement in medicine has been toward evidence-based medicine because physicians had done things by their gut and belief for hundreds of years. Most physicians would agree it's only through the scientific process and evidence that we were able to make huge differences in medical care. It's insulting to talk about important medical issues and drugs as if it they were a matter of belief. It degrades all that work that has been done.

JB: If you could talk to Dr. Oz, what would you say to him?

BM: I would probably say that he does have the health interest of his viewers in mind. But in the long term, undermining good science and the relationship patients have with their current physicians is probably doing much more harm than good. If they're not going to listen to advice from physicians—who are providing good, evidence-based advice—if they're going to listen to other doctors on the show, it's going to do more harm than good.

SOURCE

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Federal judge orders IRS to explain lost Lerner emails ‘under oath’

A federal judge has ordered the IRS to explain "under oath" how the agency lost a trove of emails from the official at the heart of the Tea Party targeting scandal.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the tax agency 30 days to file a declaration by an "appropriate official" to address the computer issues with ex-official Lois Lerner.

The decision came Thursday as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which along with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill has questioned how the IRS lost the emails and, in some cases, had no apparent way to retrieve them.

The IRS first acknowledged it lost the emails in a letter to senators last month.

"In our view, there has been a cover-up that has been going on," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. "The Department of Justice, the IRS, had an obligation, an absolute obligation ... to alert the court and alert Judicial Watch as soon as they knew when these records were supposedly lost."

The IRS says it lost the emails in 2011 when Lerner's computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. She has since retired.

During the court hearing, Sullivan indicated he wanted the portion of the declaration on the computer issues to be wide-ranging, saying "that's about as broad as I can make it."

It also emerged at the status hearing that a Treasury Department inspector general probe into the matter is underway.

The lawyer representing the IRS, Geoffrey Klimas, argued that any further discovery in this case might impede the IG's investigation.

Sullivan seemed leery of that argument and also asked that the IRS official speak to that subject in the explanation the agency submits.

Further, Sullivan ordered that the IRS official explain how Lerner's files may be recovered through "other sources."

SOURCE

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Hamas Co-opts Leftmedia

Hamas Orders Civilians to Die in Israeli Airstrikes: Order comes down to ignore warnings from Israel, stay inside

Hamas’ Interior Ministry has ordered residents of the Gaza Strip to remain in their houses if they are about to be bombed by the Israelis, a move that effectively turns citizens into human shields and is intentionally meant to boost the casualty rate, according to a copy of the order published by Hamas.

Israel warns Gaza residents of air strikes before they take place so innocent civilians have time to flee and seek shelter.

The latest Hamas order that citizens ignore Israel’s warnings and stay put is a clear effort by the terror group to increase the death count and apply pressure on Israel to cease its military campaign meant to end Hamas’s attacks.

“The interior ministry warned citizens about Israel sending messages telling them to leave their houses,” according to translations of the official Arabic statement provided by Oren Adaki, an Arabic language specialist at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“The goal of these actions is to create confusion among the citizens,” the Interior Ministry said, instructing “all citizens to not heed these messages from Israel.”

“The goal of these messages is terrorizing citizens and to cause panic among them,” read the statement, which instructs Palestinians to “not do what the messages instruct them to do,” Adaki explained.

“The ministry [is] calling all our people not to deal or pay attention to the psychological warfare carried out by the occupation through rumors that broadcast across his media and delivering publications and communications on the phones of citizens, and the lack of response for each of these means, which aims to weaken the domestic front in light of great steadfastness of our people to face the aggression,” the Hamas Interior Ministry for National Security stated on Thursday in an order published in English and Arabic.

The Israeli military attempts to communicate with Palestinians and warn them of upcoming attacks via paper leaflets, text messages, and phone calls, among other means.

Hamas is notorious for intentionally putting citizens in harms way in order to maximize body counts and portray Israel as an aggressor.

The terror group often fires rockets from heavily populated civilian areas and uses schools, mosques, and hospitals as bases for their military operations.

The Interior Ministry also demanded that Egypt fully open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip and allow the free flow of people and goods.

“The Interior Ministry [is] demanding Egyptian authorities to urgent [sic] open of the Rafah crossing to deal with humanitarian cases and to alleviate the difficult conditions in the strip,” the statement reads.

Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer criticized Hamas’ disregard for innocent life during a speech on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“We are dealing with an enemy that not only has no respect for our civilians,” Dermer said, explaining that the terror group is “hoping to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible.”

“They also have no respect for their own civilians,” Dermer added, criticizing the group for putting its people in harms way.

SOURCE

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Sending pink slips to a war zone

By Jonathan Hendershott

In a stunning display of callousness, the Defense Department has announced that thousands of soldiers — many serving as commanding officers in Afghanistan — will be notified in the coming weeks that their service to the country is no longer needed.

Last week, more than 1,100 Army captains — the men and women who know best how to fight this enemy because they have experienced multiple deployments — were told they’ll be retired from the Army.

The overall news is not unexpected. The Army has ended its major operations in Iraq and is winding down in Afghanistan. Budget cuts are projected to shrink the Army from its current 520,000 troops to 440,000, the smallest size since before World War II.

What is astonishing is that the Defense Department thought it would be appropriate to notify deployed soldiers — men and women risking their lives daily in combat zones — that they’ll be laid off after their current deployment.

As one Army wife posted on MilitaryFamily.org, “On some level I knew the drawdowns were inevitable, but I guess I never expected to be simultaneously worried about a deployment to Afghanistan and a pink slip because my husband’s service is no longer needed.”

Yet the issues go far beyond thanklessness. The nation should worry about the increased national-security risk of separating such a large pool of combat-experienced leaders. The separated soldiers are those who carry the deepest knowledge base of counterinsurgency operations.

A senior Defense Department official warned: “If the force is smaller, there’s less margin for error. Let’s face it — things are pretty uncertain out there.”

Commenting on the extraordinarily large number of captains being retired, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell said: “In other times, they’d probably continue to stay in the Army. But these are not normal times.”

Indeed not. While mass layoffs in the private sector generate front-page headlines, the media have largely ignored the reduction of our military. But who can blame them?

The war-weary public doesn’t want to hear that the cuts put the country at risk.

After more than a decade of fighting, even the most faithful — who used to rally behind the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending CARE packages filled with cookies, candies and reminders of home — have moved on with their lives, with few thoughts of the soldiers still serving there.

And for far too many, a soldier is an uncomfortable reminder of what we have failed to do in the Middle East.

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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13 July, 2014

Breathtaking lawlessness

The Supreme Court has restrained the executive branch—for now

America’s federal executive branch has met some setbacks as of late. Two recent Supreme Court rulings have constrained the administration’s impulse to act as it wishes. Yet, the mere fact that the administration has overreached as it has—and would have continued to do so had the court not stopped it—should send us a clear warning: The instincts of executive power are always toward accumulating more power. In both cases, the court found, the administration clearly ignored the express instructions of the Constitution in favor of its own convenience.

The first decision concerned an attempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. But the Clean Air Act’s emissions strictures posed a problem, because they would require the agency to restrict emissions above a certain threshold from stationary sources. Carbon dioxide is emitted in large amounts from even small sources, so applying the Clean Air Act would mean subjecting schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings to the same standards as industrial power plants.

The EPA, realizing how unpopular this would be, took it upon itself to rewrite the law, issuing what it called a “tailoring rule,” a scheme my colleague Marlo Lewis described as an act of “breathtaking lawlessness.” The attempt to amend, in the absence of congressional intent, clear, numerical, statutory provisions was a stark usurpation by the executive branch. Remember, the Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress.

The court agreed. Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “patently unreasonable—not to say outrageous—for EPA to insist on seizing expansive power that it admits the statute is not designed to grant.” The court said the EPA was “laying claim to extravagant statutory power over the national economy,” and that if the court agreed with it, it “would deal a severe blow to the Constitution’s separation of powers.” Yet this shot of good sense came with a bitter chaser (more on that later).

In the second decision, just last week, the court found unconstitutional President Obama’s recess appointments of some members of the National Labor Relations Board whose nominations had been blocked in the Senate, because the Senate had not declared itself to be in recess. The administration argued that it was entitled to use the power whenever “the Senate is not open for business.”

The court rejected that view unanimously. As Case Western University law professor Jonathan Adler observed, “None of the justices were willing to accept the position of the Obama Administration, which was unnecessarily extreme. In choosing to make the recess appointments in the way it did, such as by not following precedents set by prior administrations (including Teddy Roosevelt) and filling some Board spots that the Senate never had time to fill, the Administration adopted a stance that was very hard to defend, so it could not attract a single vote.” (My organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, filed an amicus brief in the case before it reached the Supreme Court.)

The administration’s expansive view of its own enumerated powers is disturbing. But it should not be surprising. It is in the nature of executive power to seek to accrue more power. Throughout history, executives have claimed more power for themselves, whether by imperial decree or the new variant of “pen and phone.” And they’re not just raiding the legislature. Executives have a tendency to usurp judicial power too, whether by Star Chamber or administrative court.

This is why free societies must always be on guard against executive “mission creep.” As James Madison said, “There are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Now, about that chaser. In its decision on the EPA rule (where the court only slightly limited the agency’s ability to regulate emissions from stationary sources), four of the nine justices agreed that the EPA should have the power to rewrite the law. When the English Parliament gave Henry VIII such a power in 1539, the philosopher David Hume later said that it “made by one act a total subversion of the English constitution.” In other words, basic freedom from executive law-making survived by just one vote last week.

So, while the idea of liberty is extremely resilient, its practical restraint on government by such means as constitutions is always fragile. The question therefore must be whether we can develop “antifragile” institutions of liberty.

Perhaps. The developing “sharing economy” might be seen as a “sharing constitution” in its early stages. Uber’s righteously defiant reaction to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s “cease and desist” orders may be an indicator of a way forward. Yes, the road from Virginia traffic court to constitutional convention is a long one, but could we be seeing an “application revolution” in action that increases citizens’ power over runaway executive magistrates?

SOURCE

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Yes, the left hates America

By Tom Toth

The left hates America. That’s why they want to fundamentally transform it.

When Barack Obama first ventured to occupy the Oval Office, the purpose of his presidency would be to “fundamentally transform of United States.” An ear-pleasing term for far-left activists excited to move on from the George W. Bush administration with the progressive freshman Senator for Illinois, and a term that was spoken with absolute truth and intention.

Fundamental transformation is a change to the core, the very fiber of what makes up the subject of the transformation.

In this case, it’s the United States. The desire for fundamental transformation of America begins with Obama’s base. A recent poll conducted by Pew Research found that only 40 percent identifying as “solid liberals” feel proud to be an American—a strikingly low number especially when considering that the poll was taken after a half decade of a “solid liberal’s” second term in the White House. What exactly needs to happen for the other 60 percent of liberals to be proud of the United States?

The Affordable Care Act has passed, transforming the entire United States healthcare system into a bureaucratic monstrosity that’s somehow managed to work even less efficiently than the rest of Washington’s sluggish government programs.

The IRS was used to successfully target Conservative groups and their donors over the course of two campaign cycles, financially stifling limited government non-profits organizations from receiving legal non-profit status and disproportionately auditing those who financially supported their operations.

The EPA made regulations that have killed the future development of coal plants and new regulations arbitrarily cutting 30 percent of carbon dioxide “pollutants” threaten the stability of the entire energy development industry.

NASA’s highest operational priority is “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science.”

The United States completely pulled out of Iraq, opening the door for Islamic radicals to pillage and plunder the cities American servicemen and women died to control. Any doubts about these Caliphate-seeking crazies were wiped away by images this week of the tomb of the Biblical Prophet Jonah in Mosel, Iraq being sledgehammered. In Afghanistan, Obama’s given an arbitrary American exit date to Islamic militants so that they can prepare to do the same.

The United States Department of Justice is no longer enforcing immigration laws and hundreds of thousands are crossing across the United States’ sovereign borders without fear of deportation.

The demands from the far left base that voted Barack Obama into office have been dually fulfilled—but the pride is still not there. The nation has still not been fundamentally transformed.

The Tea Party represents the America that the left wants fundamentally transformed. Barack Obama and the 60 percent of liberals who are not proud to be Americans resent what America is, where it came from, what its values are, and the citizens who tirelessly advocate for that America.

Barack Obama sees his time in office screaming toward an abrupt end with his primary mission yet to be fulfilled. Before that inevitable day, he’s doing everything in his power to see America, as everyday Americans know it, brought to its knees (see: IRS targeting, refusal to enforce federal law).

“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened that any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” If America is still indeed great, then Americans are capable of achieving what Alexis de Tocqueville observed two hundred years ago about our ability to fix the mess our representatives in government are bound to create.

Until that happens however, the fight for fundamental transformation rages on.

SOURCE

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Chimpanzee intelligence is determined by their genes not their environment, researchers say

A chimpanzee’s intelligence is largely determined by the genes they inherit from their parents, reveals a new study.

It found Chimpanzees raised by humans turn out to be no cleverer than those given an ape upbringing.

Research into chimp intelligence could help scientists get a better handle on human IQ, say scientists.

The study involved 99 chimpanzees, ranging in age from nine to 54, who completed 13 cognitive tasks designed to test a variety of abilities.

The scientists then analysed the genetics of the chimps and compared their ability to complete the tasks in relation to their genetic similarities.

Genes were found to play a role in overall cognitive abilities, as well as the performance on tasks in several categories, the scientists discovered.

This is because while genes also play a major role in human intelligence, factors such as schooling, home life, economic status, and the culture a person is born in complicate the picture.

Previous studies have suggested that genetics account for around a quarter to a half of variations in human intelligence.

The new research involving 99 chimpanzees from a wide range of ages showed that genes explained about 50% of the differences seen in their intelligence test scores.

Chimps raised by human caretakers did no better in the tasks than individuals brought up by their chimpanzee mothers.

'Intelligence runs in families,' Dr. William Hopkins from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, who ran the study, said.

'The suggestion here is that genes play a really important role in their performance on tasks while non-genetic factors didn’t seem to explain a lot. So that’s new.'

He believes the experiment could shed new light on human intelligence. 'Chimps offer a really simple way of thinking about how genes might influence intelligence without, in essence, the baggage of these other mechanisms that are confounded with genes in research on human intelligence.

'What specific genes underlie the observed individual differences in cognition is not clear, but pursuing this question may lead to candidate genes that changed in human evolution and allowed for the emergence of some human-specific specialisations in cognition.

SOURCE

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Why Countries Must Pay Their Debts

Many countries have, over the past few decades, sought debt restructuring from the IMF and other international institutions, and others have sought outright cancellation of their debts, such as Mexico in 1982 and 1994, Russia in 1996, Argentina in 2001, and Hungary in 2010.

Debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries in the wake of the 2005 Gleneagles Summit has made such cancellations seem acceptable in the course of international affairs. As a result of this, as well as a result of rapid economic growth in the developing world, debt as a percent of gross national income has fallen significantly

Yet debt remains a persistent problem in many countries. Headlines have been grabbed in recent weeks by Argentina’s most recent rumbling about debt repayment. A recent U.S. federal court ruling, which was then upheld by the Supreme Court, instructs Argentina to repay its American creditors. Argentina’s president, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, has accused the U.S. government of being unfair, and even extortionate.

The case of Argentina reveals the problem with debt forgiveness: it gives the perverse incentive to governments to run up debts they know they will not have to pay. America should stick by its guns and ensure the repayment of its loans.

People are more irresponsible when they do not face the consequences of their actions. The same is true of states. When a state is not liable for the risks it takes, it has an incentive to increase its risk. This is the case in debt cancellation. When the developing country does not have to pay off its debt, it has no reason to concern itself with spending loans effectively; if things get bad they can simply have their debt forgiven.

The moral hazard problem causes the further perverse incentive for elites within countries to allow their people to suffer as a means of expediting acknowledgment by the creditor countries that they cannot possibly pay off their debts. It is pure folly to allow countries to renege on their lawfully accrued debts.

When one state, or group of states, is awarded a debt cancellation, fear of similar provisions being made for other states may be aroused in investors. This will lead to panic and movement of investment funds from developing world economies, which are already considered relatively more risky, to safer investments in the developed world.

By paying off their debts, however painful such payments may be in the present, not having to kowtow to creditors ensures their independence and engenders respect, rather than pity or contempt in a country’s neighbors. Default breeds contempt.

Developing countries must resolve their internal corruption and organizational problems that prevent them from effective development. In the case of Argentina, Ms. Kirchner must accept responsibility for her government’s profligacy and quit acting like a petulant child.

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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11 July, 2014

Even Leftists Question Obama's Immigration Policies

Barack Obama is in Texas doing four fundraisers instead of visiting the geographical line that passes for a border. Republican Gov. Rick Perry declined Obama’s invitation to meet for an Air Force One photo op, suggesting that they have a more substantive meeting. The subject: Immigration. The new flood of illegals is overwhelming border states, the Border Patrol and the nation. And it’s almost entirely by design.

Obama has now urged Congress to provide $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the “humanitarian crisis” his own policies created. Of course he didn’t quite put it that way. By some estimates, we are already spending $252 per day per illegal child, but the president’s go-to plan for any crisis is more spending. And as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) notes of Obama’s emergency request, “That’s $60,000 per child.”

Update: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) says, “This isn’t a funding problem, it’s an enforcement problem. … I’d be happy to give the president $3.7 billion to secure the border if I thought he’d actually do it. But time and again President Obama has shown that he cares more about the interests of illegal immigrants than of law abiding citizens. Congress shouldn’t give President Obama a single penny until we see him use the current resources to secure the border, increase interior enforcement, and reduce illegal immigration.”

Supposedly, the money is only part of an aggressive response to the crisis. The funds would be divided among various agencies – the Department of Health and Human Services to care for children, and the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “border security” and transporting children. But there’s also some funding included for fighting wildfires in the West. Naturally.

The plan originally included hiring additional immigration judge teams and expediting immigration repatriation proceedings, but after angry pro-illegal immigration groups began complaining, Obama backpedalled. “It would take away their right to council, right to proper screening,” Leslie Holman, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, whined. “It would undermine completely due process.” So, the extra judicial teams and the expedited hearings are out.

Of the children, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained they’re not trying to avoid authorities – they want to be found. The kids expect that after the detention nonsense they’ll be allowed to remain in the country. Join the gravy train. Earnest hopes Congress will act promptly with the emergency requests – otherwise Obama might just have to do something on his own.

Officials claim that these immigrants are entering the U.S. to escape violence in their homelands, but a leaked DHS security report tells a different story. The fact that virtually no one is ever deported motivates these kids more than poverty or violence. In 2013, only 0.1% of illegal Central American minors were deported. It may be dangerous to cross Mexico, but the potential rewards are great.

The report also says, “The same family members or sponsors are appearing several times to claim different children from the custody of U.S. authorities.” And almost all of the families are illegals too.

Even some Democrats are now criticizing the Big O’s handling of this mess, and his media toadies are questioning how he’ll escape it. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) complained, “With all due respect to the administration, they’re one step behind. They should have seen this [flood of children] coming a long time ago.” Not only that, Cuellar said, “If he wants to do the fundraisers first and then after that stop by the border, it’s not too far away. I think it would be good for him to put a face to it, but, again, it looks like he’s dug in, not wanting to come.”

The Leftmedia, too, is growing alarmed, though in their typical sycophantic way. NBC News presented the crisis facing Obama with grave concern. “Obama can’t afford the perception that his policies have encouraged an uncontrolled flow of young people across the border,” NBC reporter John Harwood said. “He’s got to do something to stem that tide.” It’s more than perception.

USA Today’s Susan Page described the border mess as a potential “Katrina moment” for Obama. “This is unacceptable to more than Republicans on immigration, the situation we have there,” she said. “And boy is that going to anger some of his core constituents who have wanted him to do more on immigration, not less.” The trouble with her analogy is that George W. Bush didn’t create the hurricane.

The Associated Press perhaps unintentionally lays bare the president’s craven political strategy, saying he “wants to keep the focus of the debate in this midterm election” on Republicans he’s “accused of blocking progress on a comprehensive overhaul of America’s immigration laws.” Still, however, the AP casts the president as a victim of circumstances, saying, “He announced … that, due to a lack of progress on Capitol Hill, he was moving forward to seek out ways to adjust U.S. immigration policy without congressional approval.” Furthermore, this “crisis has put him in the difficult position of asking Congress for more money and authority to send the children back home at the same time he’s seeking ways to allow millions of other people already in the U.S. illegally to stay.”

It’s not surprising to see hurt feelings in the media, though, as Media Research Center President Brent Bozell observed: “Imagine after Katrina that reporters are getting ready to go to New Orleans, and the Bush administration says to reporters, ‘Now one thing: no recording devices, no questions, no interacting with staff or children, no photos and no interviews. But other than that you can cover Katrina,’” he said. “The response would be that this is the statement of a dictatorship.” And yet too often they’re barely able to muster any real criticism of Obama.

The president may wax eloquent about “humanitarian” needs, but make no mistake – he will use the kids flooding across the border as nothing more than political pawns to advance his agenda.

SOURCE

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Immigration atrocity: The story of Bryan Price and Oleksandra Bronova

Bryan Price is a U.S. Marine veteran who married his wife Oleksandra, a Ukrainian national. The two are legally married, however after violence broke out in Ukraine this past spring, the two fled the violence and relocated to Mexico.

Oleksandra Bronova graduated from Cambridge University. She speaks five languages and could be a productive member of whatever country would take her in. She literally had to flee a civil war and hoped that having legitimately married an American, she could immigrate legally to the United States.

Seeing everything that was going on at the border, how illegal aliens being let into the country no-questions-asked, Bryan and Oleksandra gathered up their belongings and headed to the nearest border crossing. Upon reaching the crossing, the two handed the border patrol agent their marriage certificate and a binder full of documents proving that Oleksandra was a refugee fleeing her war-torn country.

However, unlike the Hispanic children who were being let into the country scot-free, Oleksandra was immediately handcuffed by border patrol and separated from her husband.

The couple had planned on trying to get a special entry into the United States, and if things went wrong, the two planned to return to their home in Mexico to try a different approach. They never got that opportunity. Rather than being turned away, Oleksandra was arrested and she has spent the past two weeks in a MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON!

Tell Congress to intervene and stop the Obama administration from holding Oleksandra Bronova in a maximum-security prison while gang members are being set free!

So let’s get this straight… a Hispanic mother comes to the country and gets a slap on the wrist and a Greyhound ticket to anywhere in the country. But when a Marine veteran’s wife, a refugee from a war-torn country, comes with legitimate paperwork to try and enter the country, she gets thrown in a maximum-security Prison?

This couple didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t sneak into the country… they approached a border checkpoint with documents in hand in search of help. If they were denied, they planned on returning to Mexico and seeking help through other channels. And instead of welcoming this Cambridge graduate and veteran’s wife into the country, we threw her in the worst prison we possibly could…

This is shameful! What is wrong with this country? Where did we go wrong?

Words can’t describe how angry I am at how the Obama administration is handling this border crisis. The fact that 300,000 illegal aliens have been caught-and-released since APRIL is shocking. But what is even worse is the fact that while Democrats are chomping at the bit to hand out lollipops to illegal aliens (aka future Democrat voters), legitimate immigrants like Oleksandra are being refused entry.

This woman didn’t try to break into this country. She hasn’t asked for a handout or government assistance. She doesn’t want ANYTHING from you and I, other than a chance to live out her life with her American husband away from war-torn Ukraine.

And instead of hearing her out and putting her in touch with someone who could help, she was arrested and thrown into a maximum-security prison.

This woman doesn’t belong in prison… she belongs at home with her husband!

When we focused on the military father who was going to lose custody of his daughter because he was deployed and couldn’t appear in court, we got tons of likeminded Conservatives to hammer Congress with thousands of faxes. And that ultimately got the attention of a handful of Congressmen who got involved in the case.

We need to do the same thing here! We need everyone to stand up and call attention to the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ amnesty push. This isn’t about fixing our immigration system. If it was, Oleksandra Bronova wouldn’t be in a maximum-security prison simply because she asked to be admitted into the United States!

Tell Congress to intervene and STOP the Obama administration from holding Oleksandra Bronova in a maximum-security prison while gang members are being set free!

Saddened by the state of our country,

SOURCE

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IAF destroys homes of all Hamas commanders, kills senior members

In recent air strikes on Gaza, all of the homes of Hamas brigade commanders have been destroyed, Israel Radio reported early on Wednesday.

According to a report by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, one of the homes targeted was that of senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Hafiz Mohammed Hamad. In the strike early on Tuesday, Hamad and five of his family members were reportedly killed.

In a separate incident, a joint IDF-Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operation struck a vehicle containing a commander of Hamas's naval commando unit, Muhammad Sa'aban, aged 24, on Tuesday.

Palestinian media reported that four Hamas people in total were killed in the targeted strike on the vehicle.

Sa'aban's commando unit operated in northern Gaza, security forces said. He was immediately killed in the strike. Sa'aban was a resident of Jabalia in Gaza.

The strike came hours after the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge in an effort to quell increased rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel in recent weeks.

Later on Tuesday, the air force struck three homes in Gaza used by Hamas as command and control centers for enabling rocket fire against Israel.

The homes belonged to Muhammad Sba'at, a senior member of Hamas's rocket launching formations in Beit Hanount, who was involved in several recent rocket attacks against Israel, Amin Ibrahim Al-Alba'an, a Hamas member, and Abu Jarad, a Hamas member from northern Gaza who has been engaged in terrorism against Israel.

Palestinians said six people were killed and about 25 wounded in one of the houses attacked.

Some 100 targets in Gaza have been struck by the IAF since the operation began, including homes used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, underground rocket launchers, underground attack tunnels, remote rocket launch infrastructure, training camps, and additional centers of terrorist activities.

Since midnight Tuesday, some 30 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have exploded in Israel.

The Iron Dome anti-rocket system has intercepted six rockets.

Palestinians say that a total of 24 people have been killed in IAF strikes since Operation Defensive Edge began.

SOURCE

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It’s Not True that 20 Million Americans Gained Coverage Under Obamacare

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund claims 20 million Americans “gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of May 1.” But a closer look at that number reveals it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

First, the authors, Dr. David Blumenthal, president of Commonwealth, and Vice President Sara Collins, get to the 20 million by adding together 1 million young adults who gained coverage under a parent’s policy, 8 million consumers who selected a marketplace plan, 5 million who purchased directly from an insurer, and 6 million who enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Also, the authors admit the 20 million figure does not distinguish between those who were previously insured and those who were not – even though the previously insured would not be “gaining” coverage but merely replacing one form of coverage with another.

And what about those 5 million who purchased coverage outside the exchanges? Is it fair to say they “gained” coverage because of the ACA? The authors site a Congressional Budget Office April 2014 report. Indeed, the CBO said, “[R]oughly 5 million people will enroll in ACA-compliant plans outside of the exchanges each year from 2014-2024.” (Page 9)

However, in the following paragraph, the CBO writes, “In the absence of the ACA, 9 million to 10 million people would have enrolled in nongroup coverage each year from 2014 through 2024, CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate. With roughly 5 million people expected to enroll in nongroup plans in years after 2015 under the ACA (excluding those people who purchase policies in the exchanges), that number will be 4 million to 5 million lower under the ACA than the number projected in the absence of the law.” (Emphasis added)

CBO is clearly projecting that net enrollment in the non-exchange individual market will decline (presumably because CBO believes that a portion of current individual market enrollees will seek subsidized replacement coverage in the exchanges as a result of the law). Therefore, here again, those 5 million projected enrollees do not represent a “gain” in coverage.

The 20 million figure sounds like a breakthrough, but the truth is the gains in coverage are not as strong as they are portrayed.

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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10 July, 2014

Eric Holder Attacks Another Voter ID Law!

The right to vote is paramount in our society. No one is denying that. However, just as it is important to protect voter rights, it is equally important to ensure that illegal voters do not cancel out American voters.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that voter fraud exists. Melowese Richardson was a poll worker in Ohio who was caught voting for President Obama more than once. When she was released from prison early, she received a hero’s welcome from Al Sharpton and the Democratic Party.

Then you read stories of how 3000 registered voters in Florida listed a single UPS store as their address. Nothing to see here, just three thousand people registered to vote in FLORIDA out of a storefront…

The sad thing is that even a few hundred fraudulent votes can swing an election one way or another.

George W. Bush won Florida and then the Presidency by a 500-vote margin. Five hundred and thirty seven votes ultimately decided the 2000 Presidential election.

It is no coincidence that instances of voter fraud, when they are discovered, come from so-called “swing states.” There’s no need to push for illegal votes in states like New York and California. The risk isn’t worth the reward because these states already vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. However, when entire states can potentially be decided by a few hundred votes, all of a sudden voter fraud seems a lot more tempting.

To clamp down on voter fraud, many states have passed Voter ID requirements. Instead of just asking a prospective voter to sign his or her signature, many states now require voters to show a photo ID before they are allowed to enter the booth.

This is a common sense solution to a problem that could truly have catastrophic consequences. We are talking about electing representatives with the power to take the United States to war. We are talking about electing presidents with access to nuclear launch codes. Elections are serious business and the least we can do is ensure that only authorized individuals are casting their ballots.

This logic hasn’t stopped Attorney General Eric Holder from attacking states with Voter ID requirements. Even though the Supreme Court of the United States upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law as constitutional, Eric Holder’s Justice Department continues to target Voter ID states!

Asking for Voter ID is not a crime! Tell Congress to protect the sanctity of the vote and STOP Eric Holder from attacking states’ Voter ID laws!

Now, Eric Holder has announced that he is suing the State of North Carolina for its “discriminatory” Voter ID law.

This is a talking point that the Left loves to throw around. They argue that forcing citizens to show a photo ID at a polling place would place an unnecessary burden on poor and minority communities where few possess photo identification.

The problem with this ridiculous liberal argument two-fold:

First of all, it is next to impossible to survive in twenty-first century America without a driver’s license or some other form of ID. You need photo identification to board an airplane, rent an apartment, 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.

To suggest that living in America without some form of government-issued identification is normal is absolutely ridiculous! If the number of people without photo ID really is so large, the government should spend less time suing states like North Carolina and more time helping these people get to their local DMVs!

Second of all, Voter ID laws are not a new phenomenon and every shred of evidence out there suggests that these photo identification requirements actually increase voter turnout, especially in minority communities!

From 2011 to 2013, when Texas instituted its own Voter ID law, turnout in off-year state-wide referendum elections increased by 63%! In many predominantly Hispanic districts, voter turnout increased four-fold over this time period. If requiring photo identification is so racist, wouldn’t we expect to see less minority voters after the law went into effect?

The same is true for North Carolina, the very state that Eric Holder is suing. When you compare primary election turnout from 2010 (before the Voter ID law) to 2014 (after), the data shows that voter turnout increased across the board, particularly among African American voters where it increased by 29.5%.

How can Voter ID be racist if it increased African American voter turnout in North Carolina by 29.5%???

Eric Holder doesn’t care about facts. He just regurgitates the same stale Democrat talking points in order to go after the President’s opposition.

Voter ID isn’t racist! The only thing racist is the fact that the Democrats think minority voters are too poor or stupid to figure out how to obtain a photo identification card!

We need to protect our electoral system. With what is going on at the Southern Border, Voter ID is more important now than it ever has been. Together, we can rally behind this and stop Eric Holder from targeting North Carolina’s law.

But that isn’t good enough! We need to force Congress to institute a national Voter ID law! When the alternative is having illegal aliens pick our Representatives, Senators, and Presidents, we simply cannot afford to leave our electoral system vulnerable to fraud!

SOURCE

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Obama: treacherous or incompetent?

For many, it is difficult to decide whether Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the United States or that he is doing so as a consequence of some type of ideology-induced stupidity.

The damage wrought through the implementation of his absurd and impractical liberal "solutions" to national problems is readily evident.

When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 the national debt of the United States was $10,626,877,048,913. As of Jun 26, 2014, the debt was $17,512,592,730,102.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2007 on the eve of the recession, there were 146.6 million Americans working. Today, after six years of the Obama Administration, there are 145.8 million Americans in jobs, 800,000 below the previous peak. Since Obama came into office in 2009, 7.2 million people have left the workforce, making the true unemployment rate 8.3 percent, not 6.1 percent. Median household income is down almost $2,300 from what it was when Obama took office. Real wages are lower than they were in 1999. Growth in the first quarter of this year was a negative 2.9%, the biggest downward revision from the agency's second GDP estimate since records began in 1976.

In April, prior to the present massive and growing surge in illegal minor immigration, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Obama has created an "open borders" situation by failing to enforce U.S. immigration law. One could fairly conclude that the current crisis was a deliberate policy decision because the Obama indicated that he would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that offers amnesty for illegal immigrant children and provides an incentive for exactly the type of mass illegal invasion we are witnessing on our southern border.

There should be little doubt that Obama's open borders policy is meant to fundamentally transform the country's demographics, produce millions of additional Democratic voters and welfare recipients and permanently undermine the national security of the United States.

The ATF "Fast and Furious" scheme, likely designed to erode Second Amendment rights, allowed weapons from the U.S. to "walk" across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers. The ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Obama's IRS targeted his perceived political enemies, conservative and pro-Israel groups, prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, whether there was any White House involvement and whether there was an initial effort to hide who knew about the targeting and when. Obama apparently lied when he told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that there was "not even a smidgen of corruption" in IRS activities.

The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, although, on May 19, 2014, White House spokesman claimed Obama learned about the scandal only recently through press reports.

The unfolding sectarian violence in Iraq is just the latest crisis where the Obama administration seemingly has been caught off guard. From the Veterans Affairs scandal to Russia's swift annexation of Crimea, news of the world somehow keeps taking Obama and his team by surprise. Or are they just lying to camouflage flawed or failed policies, which have harmed the United States?

The attack on our "consulate" in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was perhaps the most egregious of Obama's many foreign policy failures because four Americans needlessly died due to a failure to provide adequate protection both before and during the attack.

Obama falsely blamed an internet video as the cause of the attack to hide the truth: the resurgence of jihadists in Muslim Brotherhood-governed Egypt, the continuing demand for the Blind Sheikh's release (which underscored the jihadists' influence), and the very real danger that jihadists would attack the embassy (which demonstrated that al-Qaeda was anything but "decimated").

It is likely that a clandestine operation supplying weapons through Turkey to the Syrian rebels was being run out of Benghazi. Efforts were made not to draw attention to what was happening there. That could explain why local militias were paid to provide security, why requests for increased security were denied and why the US military was either unprepared to respond or told not to do so.

A Benghazi cover-up may have also prevented a thorough examination of the possible passivity or complicity of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government in the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi and the potentially dangerous consequences of arming Islamic factions in Syria over which the US has little control, where the weapons we supplied may someday be used against us.

It should be obvious that Obama lied about Benghazi, he lied about Obamacare, the IRS, the VA scandal and in countless other instances.

Nevertheless, the liberal media remain willfully ignorant, will not report the truth and continue to protect Obama, regardless of the costs to the country.

Obama will survive in office until public awareness of his administration's treachery matches its level of incompetence and exceeds the media's capacity to tolerate corruption.

Jimmy Carter made mistakes. Barack Obama, a creator of crises, practices deceit and the willful betrayal of trust.

It does matter whether the damage inflicted upon our country results from ineptitude or premeditation.

It is ideology-induced treachery.

SOURCE

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The Daydream and the Nightmare

by PEGGY NOONAN

Obama isn't doing his job. He's waiting for history to recognize his greatness

I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We've got a sitting president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University's respondents also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50, who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were ashamed.

We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president's signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn't like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive.

That's a long way of saying nothing's working.

Which I'm sure you've noticed.

But I'm not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: "So sue me." "They don't do anything except block me. And call me names. It can't be that much fun."

In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him-well, changed. He is "taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting "star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.

On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with "interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes" interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' ''

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)

****************************



9 July, 2014

Clinton was fired for obstructing Nixon probe: book

Hillary Clinton might be hoping no one buys “Nixon’s Secrets” — Roger Stone’s new book marking the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal.

Stone — a Nixon staffer who is so partisan he has a tattoo of his old boss’ face on his back — reports that Clinton was fired as a staff lawyer for the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee for “writing fraudulent legal briefs, lying to investigators and confiscating public documents.”

Yale Law School grad Clinton was 26 in 1974 when she started working for the committee that was investigating whether or not there was enough evidence to impeach or prosecute President Nixon for the Watergate affair.

Clinton’s boss, Jerry Zeifman, the general counsel and chief of staff to the Watergate Committee, claims he fired her because she was working to impede the investigation and undermine Nixon’s defense.

“Hillary’s lies and unethical behavior goes back farther — and goes much deeper — than anyone realizes,” Zeifman told Fox News in 2008. When asked why he fired Clinton, Zeifman responded, “Because she is a liar.”

In 2008, after Hillary campaigned in his home state of Connecticut, Zeifman wrote that he regretted “I had not reported her unethical practices to the appropriate bar associations .?.?. Nixon clearly had right to counsel, but Hillary .?.?. wrote a fraudulent legal brief and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.”

SOURCE

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Burgeoning Regulations Threaten Our Humanity

Insofar as mainstream economics may be said to make moral-philosophical assumptions, it rests overwhelmingly on a consequentialist-utilitarian foundation. When mainstream economists say that an action is worthwhile, they mean that it is expected to give rise to benefits whose total value exceeds its total cost (that is, the most valued benefit necessarily forgone by virtue of this particular action’s being taken). But nearly always the economists make no attempt to evaluate as part of their benefit-cost calculus any costs that might be incurred as a result of how and by whom the action is taken.

Often they verge on the assumption that benefits and costs exist apart from those who take the action, even though this assumption clashes with the foundational principles of their science. Thus, in benefit-cost calculations, economists often attach a value to certain expected benefits (e.g., the dollar value of lives saved as a result of a safety regulation) and compare this value to the dollar outlays by the government that imposes and enforces the regulation and by the private parties who are compelled to comply with it, often at great private expense.

I cannot recall, however, ever seeing a benefit-cost computation that attaches any cost valuation to the loss of freedom by the regulated parties. It is as if it matters not at all that an action is mandated, as opposed to freely chosen. Freedom itself is, in effect, considered worthless, and hence its loss entails no sacrifice regarded as worthy of receiving weight in the calculation.

On the basis of such procedures, at least in a pro forma sense, countless regulations and laws have been imposed on the public willy-nilly. Apart from the many questions that might be raised even in the context of the usual benefit-cost study, one who values freedom cannot help but be struck by how entire societies have been overwhelmed by suffocating regulations and by how drastically people’s freedoms have been curtailed, all under the presumption that each drop of this deluge constituted a net improvement in social well-being. Insofar as the trampled freedom is concerned, the motto seems to have been: nothing valued, nothing lost.

In a more fundamental sense, the essence of such mainstream benefit-cost calculations boils down to a glorification of the material and the measurable and a complete denial of the spiritual. With such a mentality, rulers justify making each of us a puppet at the end of the strings they pull and jerk. That we value above all the capacity to make our own decisions, to shape—insofar as the laws of nature and economics permit—the contours of our own lives matters not a whit to our rulers and their apparatchiki. They know what is best for us to do and to refrain from doing—indeed, they have the numerical studies to prove that they know best!

Freedom, however, needs no benefit-cost justification. To deprive us of it is to deprive us of a priceless part of what makes us human beings, rather than programmed robots or puppets on strings. For too long people have deferred to the imagined expertise and superior judgment of those who presume to rule them even in the tiniest details of their daily lives. Little by little, as mentalities adjust to such continuously growing controls, people are losing not only latitude for self-direction, but a core part of their very humanity.

In the most economically developed parts of the world, this process has already proceeded so far that one wonders whether the Communists’ vision of creating a New Man was so far-fetched after all. For the sake of our humanity, for the sake of our very souls, we must challenge the continuation of this onslaught. No doubt you and I may sometimes decide badly in one way or another, but unless we have the freedom to make decisions for ourselves—and, as the necessary correlate, the obligation to bear full responsibility for any harm we cause in the process—we shall ultimately find ourselves in that horrifying dystopia where everything that is not required is forbidden and where we are no longer truly human at all.

SOURCE

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When Government Spending Made Sense

Did you know that in the year 1803 President Thomas Jefferson presided over the purchase of 828,000 square miles (529,920,000 acres) of land west of the Mississippi River, the so-called Louisiana territory, consisting of all or part of 15 present day U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, by the government of the United States of America, for the sum of only $15 million dollars – just $300 million in the value of today’s dollars?

For that we Americans got all of today’s Aransas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, parts of Minnesota, most of North and South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, and the parts of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, plus Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the City of New Orleans.

You see, in 1803 our politicians were frugal and Thomas Jefferson got us real value for our money. That’s when government spending made sense. He bargained with France for more than half a billion acres – about a third of the land in present day America – for a paltry .04 cents per acre.

Sadly, today it’s a far different story. Our nation is now in debt to the tune of more than $17 trillion, $583 billion, and $720 million dollars – a sum which is rapidly escalating by the second. Federal spending during just this year alone as of today’s date totals more than $3 trillion, $514 billion, and $738 million dollars.

President Jefferson, in 1803 could have purchased the entire planet Earth for less than a fraction of what our government is spending in 2014.

Compare that with today’s government spending sprees. Last year, for just one example, the Pentagon spent $572 million to buy only 30 Russian-built military helicopters for Afghan security forces. All of that money has been flushed down the toilet as America is pulling out of Afghanistan and the Taliban will be taking over the country and the helicopters.

Jefferson spent only about half that much money and we lucky Americans received in perpetuity about a third of the land in our entire nation. We’ll own that land forever and it cost us less than 30 Russian helicopters abandoned in Afghanistan. Would you rather have 828,000 square miles of prime American heartland or 30 Russian made helicopters for twice the price to donate to Afghani terrorists?

Our politicians today are spending on a cost adjusted basis in just one day more than what Thomas Jefferson spent during his entire presidency and the average American citizen is getting absolutely nothing to show for it.

Today we have American unmanned military drones costing almost $4 million each falling out of the sky and crashing like dead flies at the rate of more than 400 drones lost in only the last 12 years. They’ve slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair.

The military owns about 10,000 of these unmanned drones, and by 2017, the armed forces plan to fly drones from at least 110 bases in 39 states, plus Guam and Puerto Rico. No one in the government expects any of these drones to last very long. They’re disposable.

Our politicians today have no qualms about disposing of $4 million dollars like so many dirty tissues of Kleenex. I think it’s about time that they and their legions of government bureaucrats started spending again like it was done in 1803.

That was when government spending made sense

SOURCE

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Poor Billionaire (Relatively Speaking)

by DON BOUDREAUX

Suppose that you are Nicholas Woodman. You awaken one morning and discover from a news report that Bill Gates is 55 times – 55 times! - financially richer than you are. How do you feel? Envious? Of course. Relatively deprived? How could you not suffer such a deflating sentiment?

In an absolute sense, you must admit, you live quite well. You are one of the richest human beings ever to trod this earth (and, indeed, one of the richest to trod it in the relatively prosperous early 21st century). Yet you understand from the “Progressive” ethos that what really matters is not one’s absolute standard of living over the course of a lifetime. Instead, what matters (according to this ethos) is relative financial rankings today – that is, how much $$$ you are currently worth relative to how much $$$ other people are currently worth. If other people have a great deal more money than you have, you are deprived. You are entitled to feel envious and to pontificate about the immorality of such financial inequality.

So even though you, Nicholas Woodman, currently have a net worth of $1.3 billion, your financial wealth remains a paltry 1.8 percent of Bill Gates’s financial fortune of $72 billion. Should you complain? Should you demand government action to ‘redistribute’ some of Gates’s wealth to you?

Anyone who knows that you, Nicholas Woodman, are on the 2013 Forbes list of 400 richest Americans would think you to be insufferably envious, appallingly ungrateful, pathetically insensitive, unspeakably greedy, and, indeed, likely mentally unbalanced if you complained and moaned about how much more financial wealth Bill Gates currently has relative to the amount of financial wealth that you have. You, after all, have daily and easy access to an array of goods and services that most people in the world can only dream, with futility, of ever enjoying. And historically, your consumption possibilities – what you can and do daily consume – is indescribably greater than what any of your ancestors until just a generation or two ago could consume. So why are you complaining?

You answer: “Because, relative to the richest American, I’m financially poor.” And indeed, financially you have virtually nothing compared to Mr. Gates. (What, after all, is a puny $1.3 billion relative to $72 billion?)

And yet I’m quite confident that no one would think your complaints to be justified. I for sure would not think that your complaints are justified (should you in fact, rather than in my simple hypothetical here, actually issue such complaints).

So why do we in America today think it appropriate for middle-income (or even “poor”) Americans to complain about the financial wealth of rich Americans? Middle-income, and even “poor,” Americans are among the richest human beings ever to breathe. The goods and services that ordinary and “poor” Americans today consume on a daily basis are far larger in volume and far grander in variety than what most people on the globe today consume on a daily basis – and unimaginably greater than what ordinary (and even “rich”) people throughout most of history consumed on a daily basis. Even Louis XIV never spoke in real time with anyone who was not within earshot of Louis’s royal voice.

In 2012 (the latest year for which I can find reliable data), the mean household income of the top 5 percent (income-wise) of American households was only 28 times larger than the mean household income of the bottom 20 percent (income-wise) of American households. (The mean household income of the top 20 percent of American households was only 16 times larger than the mean household income of the bottom 20 percent of American households.)

And the minimum annual income necessary for a household to be in the top one percent in the U.S. in 2012 – just above $394,000 – means that even some one-percenter households have annual incomes that are ‘only’ 34 times larger than the annual incomes of the typical households in the bottom quintile.

In other words, the difference in the current financial income of a typical bottom-quintile American household in 2012 from that of each of the incomes of even some households in the top one percent is smaller than is the difference in the current financial status of Forbes‘s lowest-ranked American billionaire, Nicholas Woodman, (on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans for 2013) and that of America’s wealthiest tycoon (Bill Gates).

So riddle me this: if we believe (as I suspect most of us do believe) that Nicholas Woodman would have no business envying or otherwise fretting about the size of Bill Gates’s fortune relative to his own, why do so many of us accept as appropriate the envying and fretting by middle-class and poor Americans about the size of the fortunes of the top ten or top one percent? I can see no good reason.

I understand that in the above I do not distinguish as carefully as I would in other contexts the differences between household incomes and individual incomes. Nor do I – again, as carefully as I would in other contexts – either explain the especially great hazards of using data on household incomes (as opposed to individual incomes) or distinguish between income and wealth. But none of these distinctions is relevant for the point of this post, which is that the difference between the financial well-being (however measured) of the person (Woodman) at the bottom of the Forbes‘s list of 400 richest Americans and that of the person (Gates) at the top of that list is greater than is the difference between the financial well-being of even poor Americans and that of many Americans in the top five percent or even the top one percent.

If billionaire Woodman ought not complain about the wealth (or income) of Bill Gates, then ordinary and even ‘poor’ Americans ought not complain about the wealth (or income) of the typical person or household in the top 20, 10, 5, or 1 percent.

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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8 July, 2014

Dangerous Times: Obama the Betrayer

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Which of those solemn promises has Barack H. Obama not betrayed? I can’t think of a single one.

If Obama is different from other presidents, it’s not for the color of his skin, which is just a PR hustle to blackmail suckers into proving they aren’t racists. No: Obama will be historic for his fanatical leftism, which has no precedent in American history. The biggest headline is Obama’s ideology, not his race.

The left is a revolutionary cult, one that has no compunctions about violations of laws or human rights – for what they imagine to be a utopian cause, of course. But every single power cult in history is all for love and peace – once it takes over. Head-chopping Muslims sing the song of love and peace just as well as the left.

Just consider two quotes.

Karl Marx, 1848: “… there is only one means to shorten, simplify and concentrate the murderous death throes of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new, only one means – revolutionary terrorism."

Vladimir Lenin, 1918: “the fundamental feature of the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat is revolutionary violence.”

Terrorist killings of innocent civilians are exactly the same as deliberate murder under domestic criminal law. But the left has legitimized terrorism when it is directed against bourgeois society. That is the key to their moral perversion. That is also why Obama does not object to terrorism “as such.” If he cared about Islamist terrorism in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and all the rest, he would also have to reject the Mau Mau terrorism that brought his dreamed-of father to power in Kenya. (Jomo Kenyatta quickly kicked him out of the post-colonial government.) In any case, Obama and the indoctrinated network that now controls the United States government consider terrorism “in a good cause” justifiable – which is why they do not mind 9/11/01 and the whole rise of jihad terrorism in the last forty years. If anything, the hard left wing of our foreign policy establishment is full of excuses for clear crimes against humanity.

So far, Obama has shown utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution, for our military, and for the crucial duties of the Department of Justice, the Border Patrol, and the IRS. The hard left at the core of the Democratic Party is essentially Obamanist, as expressed by Rep. Joe Garcia.

The real problem is therefore not a single human being called Obama, but an entire political apparatus that turns out Obamas like robots. Hillary is an Alinsky acolyte, and Alinsky was simply another revolutionary agitator – now called “community organizer” by our party-line press. Alinsky’s biggest innovation was to make common cause with organized crime in Chicago.

Starting with the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, radical Muslims joined the Alinsky axis to make the toxic triangle of revolution, criminal mafias, and reactionary Islamism.

The historian Bat Ye’or wrote in her book, Eurabia:

[Beginning in 1973,] the combination of a powerful Eurabian lobby with ... European political, media, and educational systems produced throughout the EU that uniform political thinking known as “political correctness”... Dissenters were harshly censured in universities, books, and the media.

Exactly the same media-political fear regime was implemented in the United States. These events were not coincidental. In many cases, we know exactly which politicians and media empires were bought by Gulf oil dollars. Starting with the Clintons, we have seen state mafias gain national power – first the Dixie Mafia, and now the Chicago Machine. Obama is simply the logical outcome of forty years of indoctrination in our politics, education, and media.

We can now see these toxic forces converging in the purposeful sabotage of our southern border. The Sinaloa cartel is the biggest drug cartel in Chicago, and it received weapons from our DOJ during the “Fast and Furious” smuggling program. Valerie Jarrett met with “immigration activists” (like La Raza) in the weeks before the assault on our border. Iran’s terrorist arm Hezb'allah has agents colluding with drug mafias and people smuggling all over South America. Breaking down our southern borders serves all three.

It’s impossible to know where Obama has done the most damage – at home or abroad. The Middle East is now breaking down into that much-feared regional war, with Russia, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Iraq converging on the Saudi- and Qatar-supported murder gangs of ISIS and ISIL, which now number in the tens of thousands. To add to the turmoil, the United States has helped to supply and train AQ barbarians in Jordan and Turkey, to join their bloodstained brothers wherever they decide to strike next.

All these bloody disasters can be attributed to U.S. and European policies in support of Islamofascist radicals. Jimmy Carter allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to take power in Iran, which is now within weeks of possessing a nuclear bomb. Western politicians like Jacques Chirac enabled Saddam Hussein in Europe and the U.N., leading directly to suicidal immigration flows of millions of Muslims from the badlands of Pakistan to all the capitals of Europe. The EU supported the Turkish Islamofascist party of Recip Erdo?an, now fighting the Turkish Salafist party. The Clintons failed to pursue Osama bin Laden after the first World Trade Center bombing in New York in 1993. Major money flows have been going from the ultra-radical Muslim Brotherhood to the Carter and Clinton centers.

But it took Obama to betray Egypt’s Mubarak, the single greatest pillar of peace in the Middle East for four decades. It was Obama who overthrew Gaddafi, and dissolved Libya into a bloody civil war that still continues. It was Obama who directed Ambassador Stevens to smuggle vast quantities of Libyan arms to the Syrian rebels, including the worst of the worst, the Al Nusrah gang, which killed children in the Christian village of Ma’aloula. It was Obama who supported the rise of the MBs in Egypt – the very people who assassinated Anwar Sadat forty years ago for making peace with Israel. Today, it is Obama who is preparing to surrender Afghanistan to the woman-hating Taliban, and who is refusing to help our U.S.-promoted Baghdad government to ward off the latest assault by primitive savages.

(Baghdad is now getting jet planes from Russia and an invading army from Iran and Syria, whose loyalties nobody knows. But they sure don’t like us.)

In sum, Obama has presided over the most malignant foreign policy in U.S. history.

This is not an accident. This policy was planned and executed by radical leftists like Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett, corrupt media barons like the New York Times, and Islamofascists like John Brennan. They include the same Big Media corporations that control our “mainstream” media. They also include famous Silicon Valley high-tech companies like Apple and Google, who support Obama’s Progressive Policy Institute, and George Soros, who supports the anti-Israel front group J Street. Google’s vice president for North African sales was indeed directly involved in agitating for the Arab Spring, which our media simultaneously discovered and headlined, only to lead to Muslim Brotherhood despotism in Egypt.

It is very hard to know if we will come out of this mad state of affairs intact. America has teetered on the edge of Marxist disaster once before in its history, during the FDR and Truman years, when the fruits of the Manhattan Project were instantly transmitted to Stalin in Moscow, who was able to explode his own copycat bomb as early as 1949. Leftist betrayal is not new, nor is it unusual.

If you believe delusionally that the “bourgeois” nation-state is the enemy of all that is good and decent, and that destroying it will bring about utopia, smuggling nuclear secrets to Jozef Stalin becomes a great gift to humanity. Once you accept delusional cult beliefs, the end simply justifies the means. And delusional cults are a dime a dozen in human history.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote this week:

The American image has been tarnished by the progressives who took control of the U.S. government in 2009. They set about to expand the state's power, which was exactly what had destroyed the productive drive and creative skills of the post-World War II Russians and Chinese. They made a hash of health insurance, grossly distorted finance and destroyed personal savings by manipulation of the credit markets. They conducted a war on fossil fuels, handing a victory to Russia, which uses its hydrocarbon exports to exercise political influence in Europe. They weakened the dollar by running up huge national debts and wasted the nation's substance on silly projects like "fighting global warming."

Obama’s mentors shared a bitter hatred for middle-class values, starting with his mother and father, followed by his Muslim madrassa teachers in Jakarta, then Frank Marshall Davis in Hawaii, on and on, culminating in Jerry Wright, who calls our culture of freedom and productive work “middleclassness” – a direct translation of Marx’s “bourgeoisie,” the enemy that must be destroyed.

What is different about the Obama left is not the basic doctrine of revolutionary destruction. What’s different is the new alliance between the radical left and jihadist Islam. According to Bat Ye’or, that alliance goes back to the 1970s, after the Arab oil embargo, when Wahhabi and Khomeinist Muslims started to buy politicians by the barrel in Europe and America. Obama is the culmination of decades of Muslim influence-buying, which now controls much of our media, politics, and educational system.

Today, we are seeing that alliance emerge in the Muslim world, where the Western left has consistently supported murderous jihadist movements and regimes.

Obama has supported mass-killing regimes in the Middle East against more moderate, stabilizing rulers: Mubarak, Gaddafi (much better than today’s civil war in Libya), Maliki (ditto for Iraq), Karzai (ditto for Afghanistan). Instead, Obama consistently favors al-Qaeda-linked killer gangs in Syria and the biggest sponsor of terrorism, Iran. His treatment of our longtime allies has been atrocious. Betrayal is his middle name.

The hokey “spontaneous” immigrant wave of children and criminals is just another example of hard-left agitprop – in this case culminating in massive, deliberate child endangerment and probable abuse.

Obama’s self-appointed mission in life is to destroy the most productive and beneficial culture in history. Obama personally taught Alinsky’s Rules to his ACORN followers, and Alinsky called us “the enemy.” That word is used in war, and radicals like Obama and Malcolm X are bitter warlike agitators. (The old word for “community organizer” was “communist agitator”). Radicals like Obama read their revolutionary heroes literally, just like any Bible-quoting fundamentalist preacher.

The civilized world has a great ability to recover from disaster, as it showed three times in the last century. But each time the resistance has had to be led by those who tell the truth. Sane and sensible people today cannot rely on our twisted media, and we cannot believe our broken politicians. We have new web technologies at our fingertips that allow us to throw out the bums – be they RINOs, leftist radicals, or Islamofascists. Eventually our confused voters will figure it out – but don’t expect other people to make it happen.

Everything depends on telling the truth, and you and I must take full responsibility for doing so. Nobody else will do it for us.

SOURCE

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Revisiting ‘Freedom Summer’

Was it really the summer Martin Luther King's dream began to die?

Fifty years ago, civil rights activists began Freedom Summer. Or, I should say, some people who held themselves out as “civil rights activists” did so.

PJ Media’s Ron Radosh recently referred to a PBS documentary on the event, which the public network described as the summer when “more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states.” More modestly stated, it was an effort to register black voters en masse.

Or was it? A recent revelation should cause objective historians to take a very hard second look at how and why Freedom Summer came to be, and at what really transpired in Mississippi that summer. From here, it appears that a campaign which has long been considered a civil rights movement milestone was really the beginning of the legitimate civil rights movement’s interment.

A June 19 Politico Magazine remembrance by historian Josh Zeitz shed new light on its leaders’ true intentions.

Zeitz apparently feels that he’s now in the historical clear to acknowledge and even celebrate motivations which, if widely known at the time, would have outraged millions of Americans of good will who had been moved by the nonviolence of Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers to accept the need for landmark legislation — the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — to enforce the right to vote, and to formally outlaw segregation in schools, workplaces, and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Though it wasn’t formally passed by the House and signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson until July 2, the legislation’s passage had been certain since June 19 when it cleared the Senate.

Zeitz, an open Democrat, lays bare what he admiringly acknowledges “was in many ways a very cynical strategy.”

Was it ever, as it involved deliberately placing northern white kids in mortal danger:

"The architects of Freedom Summer were shrewd, pragmatic veterans of a brutal street fight … they wagered that if white students from prominent Northern families were arrested, beaten and illegally jailed—as they fully expected they would be—the federal government would finally recognize its responsibility to intervene in Mississippi....

The goal, explained (organizer Bob) Moses in advance of the summer project, was to create a political crisis. “Only when metal has been brought to white heat can it be shaped and molded,” he said. John Lewis … predicted that if white students were placed in harm’s way, “the federal government will have to take over the state … out of this conflict, this division and chaos, will come something positive.” ...

Though Moses rejected the charge that … (they) planned “to get some people killed so the federal government will move into Mississippi,” he also maintained that “no privileged group in history has ever given up anything without some kind of blood sacrifice.”

Zeitz’s attempt to draw a parallel between Freedom Summer and the previous year’s Birmingham Campaign led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. falls flat. Of course, Birmingham organizer King knew that serious violence in what was then known as “Bombingham” was virtually guaranteed. But he didn’t need to, and didn’t, recruit naive white Northern guinea pigs who could not possibly have been prepared to fully protect themselves in an incredibly hostile environment to ramp up the national pressure which became the catalyst for achieving passage of the Civil Rights Act. It should also not be forgotten that Mississippi’s culture of racial violence at the time was far worse than Alabama’s, or that King was not involved with Freedom Summer.

I’m not convinced that Freedom Summer needed to happen at all.

It’s not as if the federal government stood still after the act’s passage. In a late-June op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Schenkkan showed that President Lyndon Baines Johnson went all-in with tangible enforcement:

Jim Crow began to die, in part because LBJ well understood that passing laws was one thing and enforcing them quite another. Just as he had been determined to muscle the bill through Congress, Johnson was determined to see the law carried out by every executive power at his command.

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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7 July, 2014

World news



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Now for lots of U.S. news

Virginia activists win on ride-sharing

Virginia activists scored another victory this week. First they fought back against ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and won. And now they won another big battle for economic freedom.

When the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles sent a cease-and-desist to the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft, citizens were outraged.

Uber and Lyft provide a cheap, quality alternative to government-controlled taxis. That’s why the medallioned-cab industry used the government to crack down on the competition.

But Virginians fought back. They used the FreedomWorks action center and told Governor Terry McAuliffe and DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb. There was a large social media campaign to revoke the cease-and-desist order. And in the end, the citizens of Virginia won.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles gave up its crusade to ban Uber and Lyft. Grassroots action made the difference.

This powerful lesson proves what patriots can accomplish whenever government steps outside its normal bounds and hurts small business.

Via email

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ND workers enjoy high wages despite lack of minimum wage law

Prosperity is the way to increase wages. And getting the government out of the way is the key to that. ND got its start through fracking -- before the Feds noticed what was happening

As policymakers in Washington, D.C., debate raising the federal minimum wage, entry-level workers in North Dakota enjoy pay levels nearly twice the current federal minimum.

“Effectively, our minimum wage in town is $14 an hour,” claims Shawn Kessel, administrator for the City of Dickinson, a community in North Dakota’s booming oil fields.

Neither North Dakota nor the City of Dickinson have a minimum wage policy.

Kessel isn’t basing his estimate on any official survey, but rather his own observations. He told Watchdog he discusses wages with local business leaders and tracks the wages offered in job listings in his city. He’s convinced the number is accurate, and it is certainly in line with other data and observations in the state.

Wages even for entry-level jobs are so high in North Dakota they sometimes go viral. Watchdog reported previously on a photo by University of Michigan economist Mark Perry of job listings at a Walmart in Williston, which showed cashiers commanding wages of more than $17 per hour.

Plus, North Dakota has led the nation in personal income growth in six of the past seven years.

In March, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report showing North Dakota’s personal incomes have nearly doubled over the past decade, to more than $57,000 per year. That’s a 93 percent increase from 2003 when incomes in the state were $29,569 per capita.

More remarkable is that North Dakota’s booming incomes come at a time when income growth is slowing in the rest of the country. Nationally, personal income growth slowed from 4.2 percent in 2012 to 2.6 percent in 2013, but North Dakota nearly tripled the national rate at 7.6 percent. The state also was double the second-ranked state, Utah, which saw 4 percent growth, according to the BEA.

North Dakota’s per-capita personal yearly income is $57,084 in 2013, up from $54,871 in 2012. The state now ranks third in the nation in per capita personal income, behind only Connecticut’s $60,487 and Washington, D.C., at $74,513.

Still, at least one policymaker in the state supports hiking the minimum wage. U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, is a co-sponsor of legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

“I don’t know anyone who puts in 40 hours of work who makes $15,000 a year can make ends meet in North Dakota,” she said of the policy in April.

But in North Dakota, high wages even for entry-level workers seem to be a product of supply and demand, not government policy. The state has launched a national campaign led by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley to lure 20,000 new workers to fill open jobs.

SOURCE

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The Clinton Motto: Contempt and Elitism

As the expression goes, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." When it comes to the Clinton Family the apple never fell, and all associations with the tree leave one contemptuous, elitist and complete incapable of relating to real human beings, real life and reality.

The associations can be wide reaching, like the entire Democrat party. Only the Democrats, who claim to champion women's rights, could think of former President Bill Clinton as a hero. President Clinton was a national embarrassment; he molested an intern in the Oval Office while on the taxpayer's dime.

Make no mistake, Clinton molested Monica Lewinsky... President Clinton was 51. He was the adult in the room. He chose to molest Lewinsky. He chose the easiest path to what he wanted. Like David Letterman, he didn't even have the decency to pay a professional. That's not someone who should be hailed as a hero. That's a criminal who should spend time in jail.

With former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, contempt and elitism are the standard; the Clinton Family Motto. It was thought the zenith of her Clinton-tude were on full display during the Benghazi hearings when she - quite angrily, as if her child had died in Benghazi - lashed out, screeching, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

But she reached new heights (depths?) when she spoke with Diane Sawyer about how tough life was after the White House:

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told Diane Sawyer in an interview with ABC News. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy."

That's not a typo. That's mortgages and houses. Plural.

Only the elitist thinks that line is connecting with Americans. Next, she'll be talking about conscious uncoupling, or how she was pinned down by gunfire in Bosnia. Oh...wait...

We've come to expect these things from Hillary and Bill, but it came as a surprise (though it shouldn't have) when Chelsea Clinton out-contempted and out-elited the two of them.

As reported by National Review:

"In the latest Clinton money quote, the career first daughter pronounced in a Fast Company interview that she has “tried really hard to care about things that were very different from my parents. I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t. That wasn’t the metric of success that I wanted in my life."

Chelsea's entire adult life has been about and around money. Constant money. Floods of money. Tons of money. Her parents have earned over $100 million since they left office. Her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, is a successful investment banker and now has his own hedge fund.

Their wedding cost $3 million. They live in a $10 million apartment in Manhattan.

For her part-time work as the worst interviewer ever to exist on planet Earth (and that includes Bill Press AND Magic Johnson!) she earned $600,000. Some say earned, some say received an untraceable campaign contribution to her mother. Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe.

For Chelsea to claim that she doesn't care about money is not just a lie, it's part of the elitism and contempt that the Clintons, as a family, share. Contempt for the little people. Contempt for the truth. Contempt for honesty. And the belief that they are above it all; Specifically, things like money, decency and human life.

The only thing more embarrassing than the Clinton's are those who look up to them.

SOURCE

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"Affordable housing" follies

Following a long career as an ideologically-driven career politician, in 1999, Jerry Brown reinvented himself as the pragmatic mayor of Oakland, California.

When local activists called for Oakland to adopt inclusionary zoning policy—so-called “affordable housing” mandates—Brown invited the Independent Institute to provide a scholar for the Blue Ribbon Commission formed to investigate the proposal.

With the help of our supporters, the Independent Institute was able to provide Senior Fellow Benjamin Powell. He researched the effects of these policies where they had already been implemented, and then presented his findings to the Commission.

Dr. Powell showed definitively that these “affordable housing” policies would make housing less affordable in Oakland—reducing both the construction of housing and the supply of land for residential construction! As a result Brown opposed the Oakland measure.

Statewide, policymakers persisted in proposing these benign-sounding, but misguided laws, last year passing AB 1229 which would have mandated “affordable housing” units for all developments throughout the state.

Fortunately, Jerry Brown—now Governor, in a resounding display of the Independent Institute's turning ideas into impact, remembered the lesson, and vetoed the bill! Brown declared:

"As mayor of Oakland, I saw how difficult it can be to attract development to low and middle income communities. Requiring developers to include below-market units in their projects can exacerbate these challenges, even while not meaningfully increasing the amount of affordable housing in a given community."

Ideas matter! And ideas rooted in principle in fact win out when presented in the non-partisan, non-politicized manner that is the Independent Institute’s stock-in-trade.

Email from The Independent Institute

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At Colo. restaurant, menu comes with armed waitresses



RIFLE, Colo. — At Shooters Grill, you can decide whether your freshly made cherry pie comes with ice cream, but you have no choice on who delivers it: An armed waitress. All nine of the servers at the restaurant pack heat as they shuttle plates of food to diners, from Glock semi-automatics to Ashlee Saenz's thigh-length Rueger Blackhawk .357 six-shooter. On the wall, posted alongside copies of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, is a sign declaring that those inside are still "proudly clinging to my guns and Bible."

Owner Lauren Boebert, 27, says she didn't start out to make a statement when she began carrying a pistol on her hip a month after opening Shooters a year ago. But through the months, her other waitresses thought it was kind of fun and they, too, started carrying in this town of 9,200 about 180 miles west of Denver.
"We don't worship guns. We worship Jesus," said Boebert, a mother of four whose husband works in the oil industry. "We're here to serve people."

Word is getting around about the unusual service at the restaurant, which earlier this year won a series of readers-favorite awards from a nearby newspaper for its home-cooked food that includes all-day breakfast and prime rib. A reporter sent to cover the restaurant in late June highlighted Boebert, Saenz and the other waitresses. Word got around and curious customers started pouring in.

Monday afternoon, Robert Vedrenne ate an early dinner, drawn by that newspaper article in the Glenwood Springs (Colo.) Post Independent. A native Texan, Vedrenne wondered whether Boebert and her staff were just using guns to sell mediocre food. They weren't. Menu items include the M16 burrito, the Swiss and Wesson grilled cheese, and "Locked and Loaded nachos."

"I wanted to see if this was gimmicky or if it really was good food," said Vedrenne, who is temporarily living in the area for work. "And it was good. I'll be back."

In May, the Denver-based Chipotle burrito chain asked gun owners to stop bringing guns into the company's stores following a series of demonstrations from strident Second Amendment supporters in Texas. And last year, Starbucks also asked gun owners to leave their weapons behind when buying coffee. However, in Rifle, Boebert said the local Starbucks franchisee has no problem when she walks in wearing her Springfield XDS .45.

Rifle has a low rate of violent crime, and Shooters' waitresses say they never expect to use their weapons, which are carried in holsters like ones police officers use to prevent people from grabbing their firearms. Boebert said she just wanted to create a place where people like her would feel comfortable carrying their weapons publicly, as is their legal right in Colorado.

The restaurant also offers handgun safety classes to patrons, who get dinner and a four-hour seminar for $75. And while the waitresses' guns are loaded, they're under strict orders to keep safeties on and their weapons holstered unless there's a darn good reason to draw.

Police Chief John Dyer told the Post Independent that he has no problem with the way Boebert is operating. The restaurant doesn't serve alcohol, and all of the waitresses have been safety certified to carry concealed weapons, even though they need no special permit to carry openly.

"If it was a bar, I might be saying something different," he told the paper. "And besides, they make a really good burger."

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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6 July, 2014

The Forgotten Flag of the American Revolution and What It Means



It's a continual amazement to me what people claim to find in the Declaration of Independence. I have read it many times now and most of its alleged contents are simply not there. Daniel Hannan below for instance nominates "Magna Carta, jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law" as things that are demanded there. But of that list I can find jury trials only. Most of the Declaration comprises complaints about the King stopping the American grandees from making more and more laws to regulate their countrymen. It was the King who was the libertarian, not the revolutionaries.

The proponents of revolutions are as far as I can tell always Leftists -- Leftists who have fine talk about the justice of their cause but who basically are just grabbing power for their own clique. And I cannot see that the American revolutionaries were any different. They even headline their Declaration with that classic but absurd Leftist slogan: "all men are created equal".

The Leftism that the Declaration embodied is of course much more limited than the Leftism we know today but it was a definite Leftist episode in history nonetheless


We all know the story of American independence, don’t we? A rugged frontier people became increasingly tired of being ruled by a distant elite. A group calling themselves Patriots were especially unhappy about being taxed by a parliament in which they were unrepresented. When, in 1775, British Redcoats tried to repress them, a famous Patriot called Paul Revere rode through the night across eastern Massachusetts, crying “The British are coming!” The shots that were fired the next day began a war for independence which culminated the following year in the statehouse in Philadelphia, when George Washington and others, meeting under Betsy Ross’s gorgeous flag, signed the Declaration of Independence.

It’s a stirring story, but it’s false in every aspect. Neither Paul Revere nor anyone else could have shouted “The British are coming!” in 1775: The entire population of Massachusetts was British. (What the plucky Boston silversmith actually yelled was “The regulars are out!”) The overall level of taxation in the colonies in 1775 was barely a fiftieth of what it was in Great Britain, and the levies to which Americans had objected had been repealed before the fighting began. The Boston Tea Party, which sparked the violence, was brought about by a *lowering* of the duty on tea. George Washington wasn’t there when the Declaration of Independence was signed. The flag that the Patriots marched under was not, except on very rare occasions, the stars-and-stripes (which probably wasn’t sewn by Betsy Ross) but the Grand Union flag.

Known also as the Congress Flag and the Continental Colors, the Grand Union Flag had the 13 red and white stripes as they are today, but in the top left-hand quarter, instead of stars, it showed Britain’s flag, made up of the St. George’s Cross for England and the St. Andrew’s Cross for Scotland. It was the banner that the Continental Congress met under, the banner that flew over their chamber when they approved the Declaration of Independence. It was the banner that George Washington fought beneath, that John Paul Jones hoisted on the first ship of the United States Navy. That it has been almost excised from America’s collective memory tells us a great deal about how the story of the Revolution was afterward edited.

The men who raised that standard believed that they were fighting for their freedoms as Britons — freedoms that had been trampled by a Hanoverian king and his hirelings. When they called themselves Patriots — a word that had been common currency among Whigs on both sides of the Atlantic long before anyone dreamed of a separation — they meant that they were British patriots, cherishing the peculiar liberties that had come down to them since Magna Carta: jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law.

SOURCE

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Declaration of DEPENDENCE is the rule today

How many of us still "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."?

It's the essential question. After all, 53% of Americans voted for a president in 2008 who doesn't seem to hold these truths. In several speeches after he was inaugurated, he left out the three essential words "by our Creator" when quoting from the Declaration of Independence.

One was in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during which he paused and fluttered his eyelids, as if he were suffering an involuntary tic lasting a second or two - and then proceeded to leave out those critical three words. It didn't seem like an accidental oversight to me. It seemed deliberate.

The words are revolutionary. All the signers at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence agreed with them and placed their lives and property in danger when they signed because if they lost the ensuing revolution, they would be hanged and their property confiscated. They knew that. They believed in a Creator with a capital C. They believed in liberty. They were willing to die for those beliefs. How many of us are willing to die for them now? My guess is not so many.

The principle upon which our country was founded is that our rights come from God, but it looks like Americans today don't believe that. They tend to believe instead that our rights come from government, and an increasing number don't believe there is any such thing as a God. Most sit back as secularists chip away at religious freedoms in schools, in the military, and virtually every public place whether local, state, or federal. Provisions of Obamacare now require churches to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, which those churches consider murderous.

This has sparked a major backlash among Catholics - the largest Christian denomination in America. Catholics initiated their "Fortnight For Freedom" campaign last week in which they declare their unwillingness to obey this Obama's mandate.

Secularists think they can create a perfect society without God because people are inherently good. They think government is the vehicle for their utopian creation. Believers, however, hold that all men are sinners, and don't see any possibility of utopia this side of heaven. They see government as a necessary evil which, if allowed to get too powerful, can create hell on earth.

Then there's the Declaration's right to liberty, which the World English Dictionary defines as: "the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction." What follows, of course, is taking responsibility for those choices. Liberty also carries the right to fail in our "pursuit of happiness." The Declaration doesn't guarantee it - only its pursuit.

Conservative Americans believe liberty is the most important right. Leftists believe equality is more important. If some Americans succeed in pursuing happiness - or property, as it was originally written - leftists like President Obama believe government should confiscate it and distribute it to Americans who didn't pursue it, or if they did, were unsuccessful in their efforts to obtain it.

Leftists do this not to only make them happy, but to persuade them to vote for leftist candidates who will pursue more redistribution. This is what America is becoming. Leftist redistribution schemes stifle our fabled American initiative and inventiveness, and consequently stifle our economy too. We're losing our liberty - our freedom from government control and restriction. That is what's bringing Europe down, and it will bring us down too if we allow it to continue. We're seeing lately that Americans don't want liberty so much as they want government to take care of them. That's the trend.

America used to attract people from all around the world who wanted to experience liberty - to build a life for themselves without government control. People who came here did that. Now, more than thirty percent of immigrants go right on welfare - twice the rate for native-born Americans - and many of them are illegal aliens as well. To win a second term, President Obama appealed to people who see government as protecting their sexual liberties - and then making them dependent on government programs in every other aspect of their lives from cradle to grave. Those who put an X next to his name last November 6th were endorsing a "Declaration of Dependence," and spurning independence.

On the Fourth of July, we should ask ourselves: Are we still a liberty-loving people, or have we become afraid of it?

SOURCE

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The erosion of American sovereignty

Is the sovereignty that the founders achieved being thrown away?

Territorially, Americans need only look to the south for a reminder of how lax border enforcement can lead to chaos as more than 50,000 children have streamed over the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months. It is difficult to call a nation sovereign if it is unable to control its own borders. Why is it that an additional $2 billion and a “sustained border security surge” is necessary to prevent tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from entering our nation? Such negligence indicates, at best, a serious lack of commitment to our territorial integrity.

And what about our legal sovereignty? The Obama administration has urged Congress to ratify treaties that would make the drafters of the Declaration blanch. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would subject the U.S. to baseless international lawsuits and require the U.S. Treasury to transfer millions of dollars in offshore oil royalties to the International Seabed Authority in Jamaica for “redistribution” to the so-called developing world.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would subject U.S. disability laws to the scrutiny of a committee of supposed experts holding court in Geneva. The administration also is preparing to sign the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, which would require the U.S. to ban its anti-personnel landmines, depriving U.S. armed forces of a key tool for shaping the battlefield. Again, ask Ukraine, which ratified the Ottawa Treaty in 2005, how its zero-tolerance landmine policy is working for it as Russian tanks roll into its territory.

In the Declaration, the Founders complained about being subject to foreign taxation, to being subjected to “a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution,” and to being transported across the seas to face criminal charges in a foreign land. The Declaration gave notice that these infringements on American sovereignty would not stand. Yet the Obama administration would have Americans subjected to taxes from the International Seabed Authority and U.S. laws and policies adjudicated by international committees sitting in Switzerland. Some American progressives would even have our military leaders and servicemen tried by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands.

Today, as in 1776, such infringements on American sovereignty must not stand. The drafters of the Declaration would be shocked to find Americans submitting themselves to the will of international organizations. The United States should, of course, work with other nations in a principled way that advances its national interests. But the Founders would be amazed by the extent and depth of the threats to American sovereignty posed by this new progressive vision.

The Founders did not risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor casting off the rule of King George III so that, more than 200 years later, America could subject itself to the whims of unelected foreign bureaucrats. Sovereignty was essential to the founding of America in 1776, and it is essential to America today. Happy Sovereignty Day!

SOURCE

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Is the United States Still the Land of the Free?

A Gallup poll finds a growing number of people questioning whether our country remains the land of the free.

According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who are dissatisfied with the freedom to do what they choose with their lives has more than doubled since 2006, from 9 percent to 21 percent.

In 2006, the United States ranked #1 in the world in satisfaction with our level of freedom. Now we rank just 36th.

Gallup reports: “The decline in perceived freedom among Americans could be attributed to the U.S. economy…. Another possible explanation for the decline in freedom is how Americans feel about their government.”

Americans’ perceptions accurately reflect the decline in economic freedom in the United States as measured by the Index of Economic Freedom, published jointly by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, our score rose gradually, and we joined the ranks of the economically “free” in 2006. Since then, we have suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.

The United States is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.

Ronald Reagan once remarked: “I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.” For a large and growing number of Americans, the answer, unfortunately, is “no.”

SOURCE

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Our Independence Is Not Yet Won

Independence Day honors the brave sacrifice that 56 patriots made when they gathered in Philadelphia to affix their names to the most treasonous document of the time: the Declaration of Independence.

However, our independence is not yet won. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, our independence was not gained on July 4, 1776, nor was it finalized when the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. Our fight for independence is ongoing.

We continue to fight this battle for independence every day, not against the British crown, but against the very part of man’s nature that compels individuals to pursue power.

Every day we continue to fight the battle against tyranny that started exactly 238 years ago. We continue to fight against those politicians who seek to overturn our founding documents and revert this nation to a system of rulers and subjects. And under this President, we have slipped backwards in our fight.

This is an inherent part of the human condition. For as long as men congregate, there will always be people who seek to put themselves at the top.

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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4 July, 2014

The Declaration of Independence

It is reasonable for any nation to commemorate the date most associated with its attainment of political independence. So July 4 celebrations in the USA are readily understood. I write from a non-American perspective however so although I see much to celebrate about America I see little to celebrate about the Declaration of Independence. Australia got its independence just by some old men signing papers so starting a war in which thousands died seems to require heavy justification to me.

And when I look at the Declaration I find that the body of it is a desire for more power for the local American legislatures. And the war got them that. But what good did that do the average American in return for his blood? All they got was some flowery words from their existing grandees, roughly the same people who were in power both before and after the war.

Both in the preamble and the subsequent Constitution some magnificent ideals from Europe's liberal enlightenment were enshrined. The Declarers may even have believed in them. Be that as it may, the ideals served well to sanctify a thoroughly selfish power grab by the existing American elite. Many Americans still believe in those ideals, as well they might, but, functionally, they are just the propaganda of yesteryear.

And ideals and words are a poor defence against government. The constant denials to this day of rights granted under the first and second amendments are evidence of that. The "rights" that Americans have are only what the elite of the day are prepared to allow. "The original intent of the founding fathers is being violated on a daily basis". See an example below.

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If you like your GPS … tough, you can’t use it

"Remember the frustrating old days of trying to drive while reading, or having a co-passenger read, a map that may or may not have helped you find your destination? Well if some in Congress have their way, those days may be coming back. You see language in the draft Transportation bill that will soon be considered in Congress would give the National Transposition Safety Administration new power to regulate apps like GPS, Google Maps, and Waze. Potential federal regulations including limiting driver’s ability to input information while the car is in motion, or requiring people to certify they are a passenger before being able to use the device making people click a button saying that they are a passenger."

SOURCE

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Labels & Liberals

By Jonah Goldberg (I agree with Jonah. I think all Leftists have authoritarian motivations -- JR)

I am very sympathetic to Charles Murray’s desire to split off the merely wrong “liberals” from the more sinister (my adjective) “progressives.” I’m also immensely flattered by his kind words for my book. But I also know that he is a good liberal in the classic sense and so he has no problem with good faith disagreement. He writes:

As a libertarian, I am reluctant to give up the word “liberal.” It used to refer to laissez-faire economics and limited government. But since libertarians aren’t ever going to be able to retrieve its original meaning, we should start using “liberal” to designate the good guys on the left, reserving “progressive” for those who are enthusiastic about an unrestrained regulatory state, who think it’s just fine to subordinate the interests of individuals to large social projects, who cheer the president’s abuse of executive power and who have no problem rationalizing the stifling of dissent.

Every libertarian I know indulges an occasional moment or two of melancholia over the fact that they lost the word “liberal” to the left and must carry around the label “libertarian” — a term that clanks off the American ear like a steel wrench bouncing off sterile a concrete floor. Even Friedrich Hayek didn’t like the word, preferring “Old Whig.” (I searched in vain, but I could swear I read an interview in which Hayek complained about how “un-euphonious” the term libertarian is). A great many conservatives think we are all “classical liberals.” Hayek would have largely agreed, as he famously argued that America was the one place where one could be a conservative and still be a champion of liberty (that’s because American conservatives conserve classically liberal institutions).

Now, if Charles could get everyone to agree to his taxonomy I’d be more than happy to go along. I certainly agree there’s a distinction between the two factions of the left he describes. I usually just use liberal versus leftist. But liberal and progressive is more than fine by me. Either way, though, I think there are two problems with Charles’ idea.

First, leftists refuse to raise their hands when called upon as such. Over the last ten years or so it has become very difficult for those of us on the right to tell the players apart in the opposing league. It used to be that there were, to name a few, conservative Democrats, progressive Democrats, vital center liberals, moderates, Scoop Jackson Democrats, McGovernites, Naderites, Jesse Jackson Democrats and DLC Democrats. On the more explicitly ideological side, and going further back, there were also socialists, Communists, this, that and the other kind of Marxists, Stalinists, Trotskyites, and anti-Communist liberals and anti-anti-Communist liberals. I love reading about the vicious splits between and among American socialists and American communists in the 1930s or the particularly venomous hate the 1960s left had for 1960s liberals. But today, such distinctions are very hard to find on the left.

Today, the spirit isn’t so much pas d’ennemis à gauche (no enemies to the left) as is its a rejection of labels altogether. They think ideological commitments are something only crazy people have – and by crazy people I/they mean rightwingers. They all say they’re just fact-finders and empiricists, problem-solvers and non-ideologues determined to do good things. When people on MSNBC say they are “progressives” they don’t mean they ideological descendants of Comte or Croly, they mean they are the good guys (in a non-heteronormative way, of course).

The second problem is that even if you could get everyone to wear a sandwich board laying out their ideological commitments like today’s specials, it wouldn’t matter. Because they all get along! Question about the prominent liberals Charles Murray had dinner with: Have they openly complained about all of the horrors their progressive confreres have unleashed upon the country? If this distinction is as real as Charles says it is, why hasn’t the left been roiled with ideological and factional squabbles the way conservatism has been over the last few years? Where is the Occupy Wall Street vs. establishment brouhaha to correspond with the Tea Party vs. establishment “civil war”?

We talk a lot about fusionism on the right, but the real fusion has been on the left. Barack Obama’s intellectual lineage comes directly from the 1960s left (Ayers, Wright, Allinsky, Derrick Bell, SANE Freeze etc). But he is an altogether mainstream liberal today. To the extent mainstream liberals complain about Obama it is almost entirely about tactics and competence. When was the last time you heard a really serious ideological complaint about Obama from, say, EJ Dionne or the editorial board of the New York Times? I’ll go further. When was the last time you heard liberals have a really good, public, ideological fight about anything? I’m sure there have been some interesting arguments between bloggers and the like. But I can’t think of anything – on domestic policy at least – that has spilled out onto the airwaves and op-ed pages in a sustained way. The Democratic Leadership Council – once committed to moving the Democratic Party rightward — closed up shop in 2011. They muttered something about accomplishing their mission, but that was basically sad office talk over cake and packing crates. Al Gore was once considered a conservative Democrat, but he moved to the left and has stayed there. Hillary Clinton was once a committed leftist. She moved toward the center for entirely mercenary reasons. But by the time she got there, the tide of her party receded leftward leaving her on a lonely atoll with her pile of Wall Street lucre. John Kerry was the most liberal (or progressive) member of the senate in 2004, and he was his party’s nominee for president. In 2008, the same could be said about Obama and, well, you know how that story goes.

The best way to get the measure and value of ideological distinctions is to see what the ideologues are willing to fight for, in public, at some reputational risk. On the right today, those metrics are on full display. Not so on the left. Everyone gets along, all oars pull in the same direction. And what disagreements there are – between liberals and leftists or liberals and progressives – they’re overwhelmingly about tactics or insufficient zeal toward “common goals” and they are kept to a dull roar. I’m all for drawing the distinctions Charles wants to draw, but they only become meaningful when liberals and leftists are willing to admit them.

SOURCE

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Veterans Will Suffer Another Scandal As Long As Bureaucracy Runs Their Health Care

by David Hogberg, Ph.D.

The Federal Office of Special Counsel recently revealed that a mental patient at the Veterans Affairs facility in Brockton, Massachusetts, had to wait eight years before he received a psychiatric evaluation.1 This was while he spent those eight years actually living at the VA facility!

This story is curious in light of Phillip Longman's explanation for the VA wait-times scandal. Longman is the author of the book Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours that is partially to blame for the scandal.2

Longman claims the scandal isn't due to any problem stemming from the VA but from failure by Congress to spend enough money on the VA facilities with the most need. He states that the scandal...

...results from large migrations of aging veterans from the Rust Belt and California to lower-cost retirement centers in the Sun Belt. And this flow, combined with more liberal eligibility standards that allow more Vietnam vets to receive VA treatment for such chronic conditions as ischemic heart disease and Parkinson's, means that in some of these areas, such as Phoenix, VA capacity is indeed under significant strain.3

He argues that the standard of a maximum 14-day wait for seeing patients that the VA is supposed to meet might make sense in areas such as New England, but "trying to do the same in Phoenix and in a handful of other Sun Belt retirement meccas is not workable without Congress ponying up for building more capacity there."

However, Brockton is not in the Sun Belt. Indeed, neither are many of the VA facilities that have had problems with wait-times.

The states that are generally considered to comprise the Sun Belt include Alabama, Arizona, California (Southern), Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. But even using a more expansive definition that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah doesn't lend support to Longman's argument.

For example, the VA's Access Audit cleared a number of facilities of wrongdoing. But pages 38-40 of the audit list 81 facilities that require "further review." Forty-one of those facilities are in the Sun Belt, while the other 40 are not.4

A review of Government Accountability Office and VA Office of the Inspector General reports that examine wait times shows a similar pattern. Examining reports from 2000-2014 that contained wait-time data on specific locales reveals 21 in the Sun Belt and 22 located elsewhere.5

In short, the evidence shows that the problem is one that infects the entire VA system regardless of geography. Factors inherent in the VA cause wait-times and not lack of money or migration patterns.

Yet, Best Care Anywhere suggests that this wasn't supposed to happen. Longman gives much of the credit for the great strides the VA supposedly made in improving care during the 1990s to its Undersecretary of Health, Ken Kizer. One of Kizer's reforms was pushing...

...budget and policy making authority away from the [Veterans Health Administration] central headquarters in Washington. As part of this decentralization plan, he created a series of twenty-two regional administrative districts... Decentralization, combined with the VHA's state-of-the-art information systems... meant that it became possible to hold regional administrators accountable for a wide range of performance measures.6

The administrative districts — called Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) — now number 23. According to the VA's Access Audit, 20 VISNs contained VA facilities that needed "further review." So, why were the administrators of the VISNs unable to stop wait times from proliferating?

Bureaucracies behave in certain ways regardless of how they are structured. Even if authority is dispersed, as it is in the VA, the administrators are still only accountable to Congress and the Administration since that is who provides their funding. If Congress and the Administration believe that the VA provides great health care — as many of them did due to the influence of Longman's book7 — then they're less inclined to worry about wait times at the VA, if they hear about them at all. Administrators won't address concerns that Congress and the Administration don't have.

Another problem with bureaucracies is they don't get their funding from the people who are seeking their services. In the private sector, those people are generally called "customers," although in the health care sector they are usually referred to as "patients." If customers have to wait too long to receive a service from "Business A," they will take their money to businesses that offer shorter wait times. Business A will see its revenues decline and either have to shape up or go under. Like most bureaucracies, the VA has no such "feedback loop" since the people seeking their services aren't the same ones paying for them. In short, there is no financial consequence for poor customer service.

Finally, most government employees have a greater incentive to cheat, since most have civil service protections that make it exceedingly difficult to fire them. In the case of the VA, many employees manipulated wait-times data so that their facilities appeared to meet the 14-day waiting standard. When employees have goals they can't meet and not meeting them means they don't receive promotions, raises and bonuses, the incentive to manipulate the data is much higher when they can't be fired. We'd like all people to be honest, even those who have civil service protection, but the odds are on honesty going down the drain when there are few consequences for dishonesty. Thus, it's little wonder VA employees created false data on wait times.

While the proponents of the VA having the best care anywhere would like to believe that the wait-time scandal is limited to a specific geographic location, the data indicates otherwise. Rather, the scandal is the result of the incentives faced by bureaucrats. Given the nature of bureaucracies, those incentives won't change, meaning that future veterans will suffer from wait-times as well.

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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3 July, 2014

Why are conservative talk shows so popular and liberal talk shows a failure?

Telling other people what to do is the very essence of Leftism

Ken Fishkin

For years, I listened to Limbaugh on my way to work, and to "Air America" on my way from work, specifically so I could 'compare and contrast'. In my opinion, the popularity difference is because they relate to their audience differently.

Julia Sweeney has a great line that "listening to NPR is like listening to your mother telling you to clean your room".
We have a gas crisis? It would help if you used mass transit more
We have an education crisis? It would help if you read to your kids more

We have a health care crisis? If you exercised more and ate better, we wouldn't have such a demand on the system. Coming up next: 3 ways you can add kale to your daily diet.

Country isn't doing what we want? If you were more sensitive to their history, you'd understand why. Let's have a 15 minute drill-down, shall we...?

The typical framing of the typical problem is about what you can/should do to help things get better.

On the other hand, if you listen to Limbaugh, you (the listener) are never at fault. You are perfect. You are the heart of America. The problem is them - those liberals, foreigners, feminists, etc., fools at best and traitors at worst, who are screwing things up and preventing the great life you deserve.

We have a gas crisis? They refuse to let us drill and use nuclear.
We have an education crisis? They have a bias against private schools

We have a health care crisis? No we don't! They just say this as an excuse for Big Government. Coming up next: an ad for Ruth's Chris Steak house.

Country isn't doing what we want? If they didn't make us act like such wimps we'd be respected and feared!

The Limbaugh approach is much more popular. In my opinion it's not so much the details of the liberal vs. conservative policies, it's that the one nags you while the other exalts you.

SOURCE

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Economic Freedom

A couple of years ago, President Barack Obama, speaking on the economy, told an audience in Osawatomie, Kansas: "'The market will take care of everything,' they tell us. ... But here's the problem: It doesn't work. It has never worked. ... I mean, understand, it's not as if we haven't tried this theory."

To believe what the president and many others say about the market's not working requires that one be grossly uninformed or dishonest.

The key features of a free market system are private property rights and private ownership of the means of production. In addition, there's a large measure of peaceable voluntary exchange. By contrast, communist systems feature severely limited private property rights and government ownership or control of the means of production.

There has never been a purely free market economic system, just as there has never been a purely communist system. However, we can rank economies and see whether ones that are closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum are better or worse than ones that are closer to the communist end. Let's try it.

First, list countries according to whether they are closer to the free market or the communist end of the economic spectrum. Then rank countries according to per capita gross domestic product. Finally, rank countries according to Freedom House's "Freedom in the World" report. People who live in countries closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum not only have far greater income than people who live in countries toward the communist end but also enjoy far greater human rights protections.

According to the 2012 "Economic Freedom of the World" report — by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson and Joshua Hall — nations ranking in the top quartile with regard to economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of $37,691 in 2010, compared with $5,188 for those in the bottom quartile. In the freest nations, the average income of the poorest 10 percent of their populations was $11,382. In the least free nations, it was $1,209.

Remarkably, the average income of the poorest 10 percent in the economically freer nations is more than twice the average income of those in the least free nations.

Free market benefits aren't only measured in dollars and cents. Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the freest nations and 61.6 years in the least free. Political and civil liberties are considerably greater in the economically free nations than in un-free nations.

Leftists might argue that the free market doesn't help the poor. That argument can't even pass the smell test. Imagine that you are an unborn spirit and God condemned you to a life of poverty but gave you a choice of the country in which to be poor. Which country would you choose? To help with your choice, here are facts provided by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in their report "Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor" (9/13/2011, http://tinyurl.com/448flj8).

Eighty percent of American poor households have air conditioning. Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France and the U.K. Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry because they could not afford food. The bottom line is that there is little or no material poverty in the U.S.

At the time of our nation's birth, we were poor, but we established an institutional structure of free markets and limited government and became rich. Those riches were achieved long before today's unwieldy government. Our having a free market and limited government more than anything else explains our wealth. Most of our major problems are a result of government.

We Americans should recognize that unfettered government and crony capitalism, not unfettered markets, are the cause of our current economic problems and why the U.S. has sunk to the rank of 17th in the 2013 "Economic Freedom of the World" report.

SOURCE






Border Patrol Agent: ‘If the Administration Says This Isn’t Amnesty, Don’t Believe Them’



Albert Spratte, the sergeant-at-arms of the National Border Patrol Council, Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, said the Obama administration is largely to blame for waves of illegal immigrants that have been flooding the Southwest U.S. border since February, saying the government opened the door for the crisis by making it “clear they’re not going to deport people.”

Spratte, who was speaking with CNSNews.com as a representative of the union, further said “we don’t have control of the border,” and if the Obama administration claims it is not in effect giving amnesty to the illegals, then “don’t believe them.”

Also, by allowing so many young illegal aliens to be released into this country, “the U.S. government has become a part of the smuggling business,” he said.

“This is Washington’s problem to fix. This administration has made it pretty clear they’re not going to deport people, with things like the DREAM Act and all that,” Spratte told CNSNews.com during an interview on June 22 in McAllen, Texas, currently the busiest zone of the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It used to be that if you got caught, we sent you back. Now we don’t do that,” he said. “The people in Central America, they’ve heard we aren’t sending people back. Word’s gotten around. When these people come up to us and turn themselves over, that’s what they tell us. So we’ve created a suction now.”

“Even if the administration says this isn’t amnesty, don’t believe them,” Spratte added.

President Obama recently praised 10 illegal immigrants, which the administration dubbed “Champions of Change,” during a June 17 event at the White House. The immigrants, including six Latinos, are beneficiaries of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, in which an illegal alien who came to the United States as a child can apply for a two-year deportation deferment with an option to renew at the end of that term.

Spratte called the event a “slap in the face” to the U.S. Border Patrol’s efforts, as the agency struggles under an ever-increasing wave of immigrants crossing the Rio Grande daily.

“That event, where he honored those illegal immigrants, that was like a slap in the face,” he said.

“We’ve always had people come in, but now it’s exploded,” Spratte said. “A lot of them are kids, many of them unaccompanied. We’re good at our job, which is catching people, but we’re too busy babysitting.”

“It’s like you’re stuck in a nightmare and you can’t get out,” he said.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 181,000 illegal immigrants have crossed the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border since last October 2013. More than 52,000 of these were unaccompanied minors, a 99 percent increase from the same time period in fiscal year 2013.

“The American people need to know it’s worse than they think,” Spratte said. “No one wants to say that because it means we don’t have control of the border. And we don’t.”

Spratte also said allowing minors to cross the border without fear of deportation causes more problems than just overcrowding.

“There are kids who come over with adults claiming to be their parents, and then we find out later that they aren’t,” Spratte explained, saying that without documentation, there’s no way for border patrol agents to verify anyone’s claim of parentage.

After processing, most children and family units are held at a border patrol station for sometimes more than a week, well past the typical one-to-three day detainment period, Spratte said. Some are transferred to holding facilities in other states such as Arizona, where most family units are then released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after being given a “notice to appear” in court – dubbed permisos by Latinos.

Spratte said he doubts most illegal immigrants will make their court date after being released.

“You know they’re not going to show up,” Spratte said. “Of course, they’re not. Why would they, when they can just disappear and stay?”

Spratte said simply releasing illegal immigrants into the larger fabric of the country is dangerous not only for America, but for the child immigrants, especially when U.S. Border Patrol and ICE are unable to verify most of their stories before they are released.

“There’s no way of knowing how many just disappear, or go into the sex trade,” Spratte said. “The U.S. government has become a part of the smuggling business.”

Spratte also said anyone under 18 years old is treated as a minor, even if they have known gang associations. There is no way of knowing a person’s criminal history from his country of origin, so there is no telling who has been allowed to cross, he explained.

“We’ve had older adults posing as teens,” he said. “I’ll be standing there like, ‘I know you’re not 17, you look older than that.’ But without documentation, I can’t prove that. I have to treat that person as a minor.”

By law, U.S. Border Patrol is required to turn unaccompanied minors over to the Department of Health and Human Services after no more than 72 hours. But with such an overloaded system and no place to house the masses, Border Patrol stations have been turned into massive, overcrowded detention facilities.

The McAllen Station, which stands in the busiest zone of the Rio Grande Valley Sector, is authorized to detain only 380 people at a time, according to one border patrol agent. The facility is currently housing more than 1,100, he added, with men, women and children packed into a converted bus depot that serves as a makeshift shelter.

“You’ve got people crammed in a sally port all together with porta potties on either side, and you’ll see just a mass of bodies and space blankets,” Spratte said. “The sick people are separated by yellow crime scene tape, and that’s all. If we were a jail, we’d have been shut down.”

Having to transport, process and monitor so many people at one time also opens the door for smugglers to transport for drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, across the border without detection, Spratte said.

“The majority of agents believe more narcotics are getting away because we’re too busy dealing with this crisis,” he said. “And we know al Qaida has talked about bringing things like small pox across the border, so what are we not catching? We don’t know.”

Disease is also becoming a problem, Spratte said, citing cases of polio, scabies, leprosy and even rabies that have been reported.

“Chicken pox, small pox, H1N1, who knows,” Spratte said.

“The American people don’t realize how bad this is, but they’re going to when it becomes a problem where they live,” he said. “These people are being sent into other places in the U.S., so these diseases could end up in your backyard.”

“At a minimum, family units should be sent back,” Spratte said. “What you do with unaccompanied kids may be different, but adults with kids should be sent back.”

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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2 July, 2014

50 Years of Mischief: The Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act

July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the most famous Civil Rights Act in U.S history. Passed after the longest debate in congressional history, the Civil Rights Act (CRA) promised to secure justice for all regardless of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. As I wrote in Race and Liberty: The Essential Reader, the law “was understood to mean ‘colorblindness’ by nearly every observer at the time.” The plain meaning of the act might be summed up as: “Nondiscrimination. Period.”

Supporters of the Civil Rights Act did everything in their power to make the language plain, clear and strong: one key clause stated:

“Nothing contained in this title shall be interpreted to require any employer . . . to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . .”

A chief sponsor of the law, Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), rejected the “bugaboo” of preferences or quotas by stating “If the senator [opposing the act] can find . . . any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there.”

In 1964, opponents predicted that a governmental push for racial outcomes was bound to occur, regardless of the plain language of the act. After all, the principle of a government limited by respect for individual liberty had always been flouted by those in power—including segregationist opponents of the law who now acted “shocked! shocked!” that the government might treat individuals differently based on race. This was sheer hypocrisy coming from those who defended racial discrimination by state governments.

Yet, hypocrisy aside, fifty years experience has shown that the CRA did lead, almost immediately, to the bureaucratic creation of racial categories (“check boxes”) used to further discriminatory treatment by a government seeking pre-determined outcomes in hiring, college admissions, contracting, voting, and much more. Attacking real or perceived private inequalities with governmental power, policymakers forgot that discrimination by government—however well-intentioned—is worse than private discrimination. Mindful of this distinction, those filing a brief in the Brown v. Board case (1954), stated that “segregation is unconstitutional because invoking ‘the full coercive power of government” . . . it acts as no other force can to extend inequality. . . .” Ten years later, bureaucrats rushed ahead with piecemeal social engineering, unmindful of this key distinction and in direct contradiction of the Civil Rights Act. How could the broad colorblind consensus of July 1964 dissipate so quickly?

Perhaps it was because the act seemed to augur swift change in social and economic relations—perhaps too swift in too short a time. Thus, that bright moment of multiracial harmony went up in the smoke of riot-torn cities and ever-more radical assertions by minority activists that “[their] groups were more equal than others”—so it must be, they argued, to make up for the past when “some groups (native-born whites, men) were “more equal.” Two wrongs would make it all right.

By the 1970s, the trashing of the CRA’s plain meaning surfaced from the shadows of bureaucracies as both the Republican and Democratic parties committed themselves to “affirmative discrimination,” the famous phrase coined by Nathan Glazer to describe the government’s policy to encourage—indeed, mandate in some cases—preferential treatment for “protected classes [groups]” at the expense of individuals who fell outside those classes. By 2014, advocating colorblind law left a person open to the charge of “colorblind racism”—the trendy and yet apt academic-speak that still makes politicians of all stripes hesitant to advocate “Nondiscrimination. Period.” We are a long way from July 2, 1964 when that meaning was oh-so-clear.

Fifty years is enough time to conclude: on the one hand, the Civil Rights Act was partial fulfillment of the guarantee to equal protection under the law. Dismantling the vestiges of state-sponsored discrimination was right, proper and long overdue. Ridding the nation of Jim Crow laws was a notable achievement.

On the other hand, two sections of the law limited freedom of association and economic freedom, as if reducing these forms of freedom were necessary to the goal shared by most Americans: rule of law regardless of group status. Nullifying segregation laws was consistent with the 14th amendment’s notion that individuals were guaranteed equal protection of the law. Segregation statutes had forced private actors—including nondiscriminatory whites—to carry out the group-based discrimination favored by politicians beholden to the prejudices of voters. The CRA changed the rules: private actors were now forced to practice nondiscrimination. The law prohibited individuals from discriminating in private employment or “public accommodations” (businesses open to the public, including retail stores, hotels, etc.). Even so, the measure of nondiscrimination was the individual. An establishment could turn away an individual for reasons not related to race, color, creed and refuse. An employer could refuse to hire an individual based on his or her individual merits but not group status.

In practice, we now know, bureaucrats, policymakers, politicians, and judges betrayed the individualistic principle of nondiscrimination embodied in the CRA. Soon enough, private actors (along with state universities, government agencies, and so on) were forced to practice “good” discrimination, forgetting the lesson of several centuries: every discrimination—segregation, immigration restriction, American Indian policy, and even the internment of Japanese-Americans—was touted as in the public interest and good for all, including the groups targeted (internees were made “safe” from law-breaking whites in California!). Ignoring this history, post-1964, bureaucrats, judges and American presidents marched ahead with “goals,” “quotas” and other preferential deviations from nondiscrimination. They offered many justifications: using statistics to “prove” discrimination existed without bothering with due process (so time-consuming!); or appeasing rioters who set American cities on fire during the “long hot summers” of the 1960s.

Seeking votes was another motive for politicians pledging to “do something” for groups arbitrarily defined as such after passage of the CRA. The CRA did not list any groups by name. Regardless of race, color, creed, etc. there was to be no discrimination. Period. Categories such as “Negro (later Black, African American),” Mexican and Puerto Rican (later Spanish Speaking, Spanish-surnamed, and lastly Hispanic) came after the fact. This process of “check boxing” America began in 1964-1965 when bureaucrats in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (established by the CRA), Department of Labor, and Small Business Administration created racial categories for use on government-issued forms. Armed with racial check boxes, bureaucrats, judges and politicians designed policies and programs treating individuals differently based on their group status—the very thing the Civil Rights Act plainly prohibited.

Dividing America into racial blocs was a reversal of the civil rights movement’s commitment to colorblind law and individualism. Frederick Douglass rejected racial labels and believed “that there is no division of races. God Almighty made but one race.” Justice John Marshall Harlan, the sole dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), stated that legally speaking “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Colorblindness was the guiding principle of the civil rights activism that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The individual, not the group, was due equal protection of the law.

The color-blind individualism of Douglass and Harlan echoed in the twentieth century. The writer Rose Wilder Lane wrote “God does not make races or classes but individual persons...” Likewise, author Zora Neal Hurston believed “the word ‘race’ is a loose classification of physical characteristics. It tells us nothing about the insides of people.”

Even the NAACP—now a champion of “group rights”—fought all classification by race. In 1961, NAACP attorney Robert Carter stated

“[C]olor designations on birth certificates, marriage licenses and the like can serve no useful purpose whatsoever. If we are prepared to accept the basic postulate of our society—that race or color is an irrelevance—then contentions that race and color statistics are of social science value become sheer sophistical rationalization.”

This NAACP viewpoint persisted beyond passage of the Civil Rights Act. In 1965, hearing that the federal government might revive racial categories on employment forms, NAACP spokesman Clarence Mitchell stated “’the minute you put race on a civil service form . . . you have opened the door to discrimination.’” Mitchell feared the use of racial categories would “put us back fifty years.” Two years later, in a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn laws prohibiting racial intermarriage, the NAACP stated: “Classification by race based upon non-existent racial traits does not serve any valid legislative purpose. . . [and is] in contradiction to the American conception of equality.” It is tragic that today’s group-minded NAACP has forgotten what it once advocated so fiercely.

Douglass, Harlan, and the NAACP were not naïve. They knew racism existed and spent tremendous energy fighting it. Furthermore, they knew we will never live in a completely color-blind world. Individuals will always discriminate in good ways or bad. But separating individuals into racial groups is an absurd effort to make the world over. Absurd because it uses the greatest instrument of racial injustice known to man—government—to purportedly eliminate discrimination by engaging in it. Three centuries of state-sponsored discrimination at all levels taught the framers of the Civil Rights Act that there is no good discrimination, regardless of how finely slaveholders, segregationists, and putative progressives dress it up.

The Civil Rights Act was not a perfect law—no law is perfect–but it did embody two principles of the long civil rights movement: First, the individual (not the group) is the measure of justice. Secondly, nondiscrimination is mandatory for the government and worth pursuing in our private lives. If policymakers had enforced the Civil Rights Act in good faith, time might have eroded the tendency to view others as members of a group, rather than as individuals.

After fifty years, racial engineering shows no sign of abating. The new racialists believe in nondiscrimination “except” in the case of “protected groups” they created on government forms. Deviation from the plain meaning of the Civil Rights Act was necessary, they argued, to prevent riots, satisfy voters, or make implementation of the act more “efficient.” Lately, “diversity” has been added to the reasons for continued discrimination.

None of these reasons satisfy the human yearning for fair treatment at the hand of government. Generations of civil rights activists fought for that treatment. Some died for it. They would be appalled at the twisting of the Civil Rights Act to mean its opposite.

Now is the time to remind all Americans: there is no “exception” clause in the Civil Rights Act: “Nondiscrimination, except in the case of riots, elections, bureaucratic expediency, or the pursuit of ‘diversity’” does not appear in the language of the law.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “the act means what it says and says what it means.”

Let us restore the Civil Rights Act to its original meaning, even if it is one state at a time.

SOURCE

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Family Research Council: ‘Today Is a Day for Women to Celebrate’

Leftists outside the Court building chanted "birth control is not my boss's business" -- and yet they insist their boss pay for their birth control. The marvels of liberal "logic."

“Today is a day for women to celebrate,” said Cathy Ruse, senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Center, calling the high court ruling, “one of the most significant religious freedom victories from the court in a decade.”

As CNSNews.com reported, the Supreme Court decided Monday that “the government failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing access to free birth control.”

If the government wanted women to have free birth control, it could pay for contraception coverage itself, Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a concurring opinion.

“What the court said is that basically, the Obama administration overreached again. This is a heavy hand of government, and the government went too far. It’s a good day for freedom and a good day for freedom of conscience,” Ruse said.

“Now I want to say something about women, because the political left likes to use the HHS mandate as a cynical war of words. They like to say if you’re for the mandate, you’re for women. If you’re against the mandate, you’re against the women. I’m here as a woman to tell you some interesting facts about women and the mandate,” she said.

“Besides the cheap political rhetoric, who is taking the time and the trouble and the money to go to court to file lawsuits to stop the mandate? Women – women who run non-profits, like Little Sisters of the Poor and other women, but also businesswomen who run family businesses,” said Ruse.

“Today is a great day for businesswomen who run family businesses,” she said, noting that “a third of the plaintiffs in these cases are women in business.”

Ruse said women on the bench are against the contraception mandate.

“If you actually look, what you will find is that the vast majority of women judges who have looked at the mandate are against it. They’ve ruled against it time and time and time again - far outpacing women on the bench who rule for the mandate. So what do women judges in America think about the mandate? They’re against it,” she said.

“And finally, when you look at a public opinion, don’t watch the news. Look at public opinion, the real public opinion! What do women think – the average American woman think – about this mandate? Well they don’t like it,” Ruse added.

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 July, 2014

Some jargon and a triumph of capitalism

Jargon can be obscurantist at times but can also be useful. Most trades and occupations have their own jargon as a quick means of communication. I have been involved with quite a few trades and occupations in my life so am pretty jargon-loaded. I try to keep it within its own context, however.

An example of jargon occurred recently when I saw a carpenter about to throw out something that had some bolts and nuts in it. I checked that he really was throwing the nut out and he said he was. I then unscrewed the nut, took one second's look at it and said: "That's a three eight whitworth". In reply he agreed that the nut was worth keeping.

So what had I said? What had my bit of jargon conveyed? To answer that fully you need to know about Joe Whitworth. Whitworth was an engineer in mid-19th century Britain. One of the things he did was make bolts and nuts (he made a good sniper rifle too). And his bolts and nuts were very good. People found them to be stronger and more accurate. So after a while people wanted to buy Whitworth bolts and nuts only. So all makers of bolts and nuts had to convert to "Whitworth standard" if they wanted to stay in the business. And they did. No government devised the Whitworth standard and no government made people use it but the standard became fixed and a fixed standard was found very useful. And until other nations caught on it gave British machine-makers an advantage. The French were amazed at how quickly Britain could build gunboats for the Crimean war, for instance.

And America caught on too. The American "National Coarse" standard is only a slightly modified version of the Whitworth specifications. You can usually use NC and Whitworth bolts and nuts interchangeably (Yes. I know about the pesky half-inch size).

But then it gets even more interesting. Because a Whitworth thread is coarse it is very strong but it is also a bit wobbly for some precision purposes. So a fine thread was also needed. Alas! Mr Whitworth did not bother with that. So it fell to others to devise fine threads. And by that time the clammy hand of government was felt. Governments took it upon themselves to set the standards. And in true government form they messed it up. The British fine standard (BSF) and the American fine standard (SAE) are quite different. No interchangeability any more. A big part of the advantage of standardizion was lost.

So, to get back to my original story, I was telling the tradesman that the thread in the nut was coarse (Whitworth standard) and that the diameter of the bolt taken by the nut was three eighths of an inch. I could tell that measurement by eye, as most people in the engineering trades could.

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A small silver lining to Thad Cochran's crooked victory in Mississippi

TEA PARTY insurgent Chris McDaniel came tantalizingly close to knocking off Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi's Republican primary runoff last week, but a surge in black voter turnout saved the six-term incumbent's bacon. Cochran's election to a seventh term in November now seems a foregone conclusion, and boy, are a lot of conservatives mad.

"There is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats," McDaniel fumed on election night, slamming Cochran and the GOP establishment for "once again reaching across the aisle [and] abandoning the conservative movement."

But whatever else Cochran's victory meant, his "reaching across the aisle" made his victory a noteworthy instance of something that supposedly doesn't and can't happen even in today's Mississippi: A white GOP politician sought support among Democrats, and particularly black Democrats. And far from being politically powerless, they tipped the election.

Under Mississippi's open-primary rules, anyone who hadn't already voted in the Democratic primary could vote in the Republican runoff. The Cochran camp openly solicited crossover support, as John Hayward wrote in Human Events, "through a combination of race-baiting attacks on McDaniel, and touting his ability to make government larger and bring home more goodies from Washington." National Review called it a "Two-Faced Victory": In majority black neighborhoods, Cochran's ads and mailers played up his support for historically black colleges and food stamps. In predominantly white districts, other pamphlets highlighted his support for the National Rifle Association and his opposition to abortion and Obamacare.

What especially outraged many conservatives was a flyer circulated in largely black precincts bearing the ominous heading "The Tea Party intends to prevent blacks from voting on Tuesday." It urged voters to re-elect Cochran in order to prevent a "return to the bygone era of intimidating black Mississippians from voting." No one is surprised when Democrats play the race card that way, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience, but for the Republican establishment to do so was "really reprehensible."

It was reprehensible. But really: Who over the age of 11 is surprised when incumbents resort to reprehensible tactics to beat back a challenger? Or when voting blocs and politicians who normally wouldn't give each other a second glance across a crowded room choose to snuggle up as bedfellows in order to maintain the power, perks, and pork that they value most? The NAACP's most recent civil rights "report card" gives Cochran an F, but that didn't stop black voters from turning out in force. "With Cochran, we know what we've got, and we like what we've got," the president of the NAACP's Jackson branch announced.

Somehow all the voter intimidation that the Tea Party was accused of plotting never materialized. On the eve of the election, The New York Times fretted that McDaniel's campaign was bent on "Scaring Away Black Voters in Mississippi." But black voters weren't scared. There was no reason they should be. This isn't June 1964, when volunteers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were murdered by the Klan for trying to register black citizens to vote. It is June 2014, when at the faintest whiff of voting-rights discrimination a battalion of civil rights attorneys is ready to march into federal court.

The Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on the Voting Rights Act triggered hysterical fearmongering. But as the Mississippi results confirm, black voting rights in America are in no danger at all.

When the Supreme Court last year struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, critics warned frantically that minority voting rights were in mortal peril. Congressman John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said the court had "put a dagger in the heart" of what the civil rights movement had achieved. The ruling was "as lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott," wailed The Atlantic. From the hue and cry, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the court had pronounced Jim Crow-era literacy tests and poll taxes constitutional after all, and advised black voters to forget about ever flexing their electoral muscles again.

Well, don't tell that to McDaniel, who was confident that his bid to knock Cochran off the November ballot had gone from "the improbable to the unstoppable." Instead it was McDaniel who got knocked off. Cochran's appeal to black voters may not have been honorable. It certainly wasn't conservative. But it was indubitably effective: In the 24 Mississippi counties with black majorities, turnout soared by an average of 40 percent from the primary to the runoff. One of the most senior members of the state's Republican establishment just won the fight of his career. What turned the tide was the exercise by black citizens of their right to vote — a right that is no longer endangered anywhere in America, not even in Mississippi.

SOURCE

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There’s only one meaningful metric that will determine ObamaCare’s future

Since the end of the initial open enrollment period, there has been a marked rise in the frequency of a certain type of argument – an argument which I hear with regularity inside the Acela corridor, but almost never outside of it. The argument goes something like this: regardless of the political toxicity of Obamacare, it is here to stay, and the laws opponents and Congressional Republicans need to wake up to that fact, or else.

The “or else” could be anything, and is essentially interchangeable. The most common prediction is of electoral doom; less so are predictions of revolutionary protests in the streets, turning to violence in defense of their Medicaid benefits, or losing broad swathes of traditionally red states in the Senate contests this year, or most recently, a prediction that Republicans will lose 90 percent of women voters in 2016. And yes, I’ve heard all of these and more in recent weeks.

This argument has a milder version which is repeated in the more sensible press. These observers concede that yes, Obamacare is still very unpopular, and yes, premiums are still going up, and yes, it’s signed up fewer uninsured than we expected and even those newly insured are barely favorable of it… but still, they insist, talk of repeal and replace is just politicians irresponsibly playing to the more radical elements of their conservative base. Forget the polls – Obamacare is here to stay.

I think this is a mistaken view of the political realities at play here. Perhaps this is driven by the drumbeat of “good news, everyone” which has been put forward by supporters of the law. But in an era when wonks are so plentiful, data journalists fall fully ripened from the trees, and explainers flower with the glorious frequency of endless summer, it’s easy to lose sight of the simplicity of factors which will determine whether policies maintain their permanence or are dramatically reformed.

It’s a mistake to assume there is a magic number, a point of uninsured who gained insurance, a statistic of Medicaid signups, or a percentage of average premium increases which will mark the point where Obamacare is safe from Republican assault. The average American voter and policymaker is not watching these factors – they are aware of Obamacare’s performance primarily through how it impacts their livelihoods, costs, and constituents. The opponents of the law are far louder and more motivated than its supporters. And that is very unlikely to change any time soon.

This is why I do not understand the assumptions of inevitability on the part of the law’s supporters. The Republican Party has put the repeal of President Obama’s signature law at the center of its agenda for years. It has taken repeal vote after repeal vote and made pledge after pledge. As a matter of partisan priority, there is nothing greater. And one more year of Obamacare will not change that.

Every single feasible candidate for the 2016 Republican nomination will loudly declare their support for repealing the law. Most will also offer a policy replacement, culled from the various technocratic and free market think tanks or from the legislation currently introduced in Congress. Whoever Republicans choose as their nominee, their favored replacement will become the de facto alternative Republican plan which party leaders and elected officials will all be expected to defend. And should the Republican candidate win, it is inconceivable that they will not have run on making the replacement of Obamacare a top priority for the first 100 days in office.

Republicans are not going to back off their efforts for repeal. It is a top priority for their national base, for their donors, and for their constituents. If Republicans have the Senate, it becomes that much easier – but even without it, the margin will be narrow, and the possibility for dealmaking outranks the likelihood that every single Democratic Senator will toe the line and pass on the opportunity to help remake health policy as they see fit. And while the election of Hillary Clinton or another Democrat would prevent this circumstance and protect Obamacare from assault, assuming that such an election is inevitable is really what you’re saying when you say Obamacare is here to stay.

The political legacy of Obamacare and the 2012 election is a vindication of monopartisan governance. Great domestic policies are no longer achieved via bipartisan give and take or the leadership of careful compromisers – they are rammed through with the support of your party and your base when you have the power to do so. I fully expect to see Republicans attempt to do that should they retake the White House.

So what are we to do in the time until November 2016? Well, in the meantime, we can discuss the other factors and outcomes of this policy in the ways they impact America’s insurers, hospitals, drugmakers, and industries. But we should not lose sight of the fact that it is this political outcome, and this outcome alone, which will determine whether Obamacare survives or not. It’s just not that complicated.

SOURCE

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Harry Reid and Senate Dems Refuse To Actually Legislate

With Democrats scared that they're going to lose the Senate in the November 2014 elections, they've been very hesitant to actually legislate. Doing so would require some of their members to actually take a position on some important issues, and in response to that, they're just grinding everything to a halt.

Well, more than usual.

The Associated Press actually delves into the issue. There's nothing wrong with refusing to legislate - a government that isn't doing anything is a government that isn't doing any bad things - but Democrats often blame Republicans for "blocking legislation."

Here's the AP report:

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now is requiring an elusive 60-vote supermajority to deal with amendments to spending bills, instead of the usual simple majority, a step that makes it much more difficult to put politically sensitive matters into contention. This was a flip from his approach to Obama administration nominees, when he decided most could be moved ahead with a straight majority instead of the 60 votes needed before."

It's not just Harry Reid stopping action on the floor of the Senate. Even in the committee process, Democrats are halting action:

"In the Appropriations Committee, long accustomed to a freewheeling process, chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has held up action on three spending bills, apparently to head off politically difficult votes on changes to the divisive health care law as well as potential losses to Republicans on amendments such as McConnell's on the coal industry."

While the AP describes this as a new trend, this is pretty par for the course in the Obama era. Harry Reid hasn't allowed Republicans so much as a hint of a say in the legislative process in the Senate. That's just how President Obama likes it, as well.

As the AP writes, the top Democrats that they're trying to protect are Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), and Mary Landrieu (Louisiana). All three of them are considered some of the most vulnerable Dems this November.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE 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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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


MYTH BUSTING:


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course



R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

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

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



IN BRIEF:

The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

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

"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.

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

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.

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


BLOGS OCCASIONALLY UPDATED:

"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Recipes"
"Some memoirs"
"Paralipomena"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
OF INTEREST (2)
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
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/