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12 July, 2016
When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism: And how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between the two
JONATHAN HAIDT below is, as usual, the soul of moderation below and I agree with much of his analysis. He makes a point few Leftists make: That "racists" are not usually objecting to the race or skin color of another group but rather to things that go with that race or skin color. So he sees most ascriptions of "racism" to non-Leftists as missing the point. It is an avoidance of the real issues.
Where I think Haidt goes wrong is in his trust of the work of Karen Stenner and her odd concept of "authoritarianism". The scale she uses to measure that concept may not measure anything at all. For a start, its internal reliability is disastrously low. Where a coefficient alpha of .70 is normally required in a research instrument, the Stenner scale has shown alphas of less than .30. In normal psychometric practice, that indicates that a scale does not measure ANYTHING.
But that is not the only fault of the Stenner intrument. The questions they used to assess authoritarianism were "forced-choice" questions. A typical question was:
"Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?".
The option you chose was supposed to indicate whether you are authoritarian or not. But what if you thought that BOTH attributes are important? What if you wanted a kid who was BOTH considerate AND well-behaved? The form of the question prevents you from saying that. So the answers given might not well represent what the person actually thinks.
So is that naive form of question construction actually misleading? It is. If the people don't like the choices they are offered, what is likely to happen is that a "Donkey vote" effect will result: If the choices in a forced-choice scale are labelled "a" and "b", the Donkey voter will, at the extreme, simply tick all the "a"s. And I showed in my own survey research years ago that forced choice questions can push the results in a direction more or less opposite to what occurs with more straightforward questions
So Stenner's "findings" do not show what she thinks they do. If her findings show anything at all, it may arise from the fact that she in fact asks about child-rearing attitudes in her scale of "authoritarianism". But scales measuring child-rearing attitudes correlate very highly with fundamentalist Christian beliefs. By Stenner's measures, most Republicans look like “authoritarians” because so many are conservative Christians who advocate strict child-rearing practices. This is also why Bernie Sanders’s supporters are so much less "authoritarian" than Hillary Clinton’s — “Berners” are much less religious than other Democrats.
So I respectfully suggest to Prof. Haidt that the "authoritarians" he talks about may in fact just be Christians. That surely requires a re-think. Although Leftists customarily assume the opposite, I list here 16 studies -- with references -- that show that child rearing attitudes and experiences do NOT predict authoritarianism.
So I think Haidt is right in saying that conservatives have good and rational reasons for objecting to mass immigration of incompatible people.
Curiously, however, he looks at the psychology of conservatives only. When it comes to the internationalists he eschews any psychological enquiry at all. He gives sociological reasons only to explain why internationalists think what they do. Although he is a psychologist, he makes no attempt to look into their minds.
But their behaviour reveals clearly what is in their minds. They are very hostile and angry people, as Yancey documents in his book. And the thing they hate most is their own society. They want to "fundamentally transform" it, in Mr Obama's words. And what better way to attack the existing society than to bring into it large numbers of people who will disrupt it in various ways? The very lax attitude to immigration during the Blair regime in Britain was eventually admitted to be a conscious attack on British "complacency". The big immigration problems both the UK and the USA have at the moment are entirely traceable to the haters of the Left.
Finally, let me suggest that it is fitting that the first decisive break with the internationalists, Brexit, should have come from Britain. Britain has much to be proud of and no other country retains and displays her national traditions so opulently and to such popular acclaim. See below for one sketch of it:
What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23 Brexit vote, many on the Left have the sense that something dangerous and ugly is spreading: right-wing populism, seen as the Zika virus of politics. Something has gotten into “those people” that makes them vote in ways that seem—to their critics—likely to harm their own material interests, at least if their leaders follow through in implementing isolationist policies that slow economic growth.
Most analyses published since the Brexit vote focus on economic factors and some version of the “left behind” thesis—globalization has raised prosperity all over the world, with the striking exception of the working classes in Western societies. These less educated members of the richest countries lost access to well-paid but relatively low-skilled jobs, which were shipped overseas or given to immigrants willing to work for less. In communities where wages have stagnated or declined, the ever-rising opulence, rents, and confidence of London and other super-cities has bred resentment.
A smaller set of analyses, particularly in the United States, has focused on the psychological trait of authoritarianism to explain why these populist movements are often so hostile to immigration, and why they usually have an outright racist fringe.
Globalization and authoritarianism are both essential parts of the story, but in this essay I will put them together in a new way. I’ll tell a story with four chapters that begins by endorsing the distinction made by the intellectual historian Michael Lind, and other commentators, between globalists and nationalists—these are good descriptions of the two teams of combatants emerging in so many Western nations. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, pointed to the same dividing line last December when she portrayed the battle in France as one between “globalists” and “patriots.”
But rather than focusing on the nationalists as the people who need to be explained by experts, I’ll begin the story with the globalists. I’ll show how globalization and rising prosperity have changed the values and behavior of the urban elite, leading them to talk and act in ways that unwittingly activate authoritarian tendencies in a subset of the nationalists. I’ll show why immigration has been so central in nearly all right-wing populist movements. It’s not just the spark, it’s the explosive material, and those who dismiss anti-immigrant sentiment as mere racism have missed several important aspects of moral psychology related to the general human need to live in a stable and coherent moral order. Once moral psychology is brought into the story and added on to the economic and authoritarianism explanations, it becomes possible to offer some advice for reducing the intensity of the recent wave of conflicts.
Chapter One: The Rise of the Globalists
As nations grow prosperous, their values change in predictable ways. The most detailed longitudinal research on these changes comes from the World Values Survey, which asks representative samples of people in dozens of countries about their values and beliefs. The WVS has now collected and published data in six “waves” since the early 1980s; the most recent survey included sixty countries. Nearly all of the countries are now far wealthier than they were in the 1980s, and many made a transition from communism to capitalism and from dictatorship to democracy in the interim. How did these momentous changes affect their values?
Each country has followed a unique trajectory, but if we zoom out far enough some general trends emerge from the WVS data. Countries seem to move in two directions, along two axes: first, as they industrialize, they move away from “traditional values” in which religion, ritual, and deference to authorities are important, and toward “secular rational” values that are more open to change, progress, and social engineering based on rational considerations. Second, as they grow wealthier and more citizens move into the service sector, nations move away from “survival values” emphasizing the economic and physical security found in one’s family, tribe, and other parochial groups, toward “self-expression” or “emancipative values” that emphasize individual rights and protections—not just for oneself, but as a matter of principle, for everyone. Here is a summary of those changes from the introduction to Christian Welzel’s enlightening book Freedom Rising:
…fading existential pressures [i.e., threats and challenges to survival] open people’s minds, making them prioritize freedom over security, autonomy over authority, diversity over uniformity, and creativity over discipline. By the same token, persistent existential pressures keep people’s minds closed, in which case they emphasize the opposite priorities…the existentially relieved state of mind is the source of tolerance and solidarity beyond one’s in-group; the existentially stressed state of mind is the source of discrimination and hostility against out-groups.
Democratic capitalism—in societies with good rule of law and non-corrupt institutions—has generated steady increases in living standards and existential security for many decades now. As societies become more prosperous and safe, they generally become more open and tolerant. Combined with vastly greater access to the food, movies, and consumer products of other cultures brought to us by globalization and the internet, this openness leads almost inevitably to the rise of a cosmopolitan attitude, usually most visible in the young urban elite. Local ties weaken, parochialism becomes a dirty word, and people begin to think of their fellow human beings as fellow “citizens of the world” (to quote candidate Barack Obama in Berlin in 2008). The word “cosmopolitan” comes from Greek roots meaning, literally, “citizen of the world.” Cosmopolitans embrace diversity and welcome immigration, often turning those topics into litmus tests for moral respectability.
For example, in 2012, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a speech that included the phrase, “British jobs for British workers.” The phrase provoked anger and scorn from many of Brown’s colleagues in the Labour party. In an essay in Prospect, David Goodhart described the scene at a British center-left social event a few days after Brown’s remark:
The people around me entered a bidding war to express their outrage at Brown’s slogan which was finally triumphantly closed by one who declared, to general approval, that it was “racism, pure and simple.” I remember thinking afterwards how odd the conversation would have sounded to most other people in this country. Gordon Brown’s phrase may have been clumsy and cynical but he didn’t actually say British jobs for white British workers. In most other places in the world today, and indeed probably in Britain itself until about 25 years ago, such a statement about a job preference for national citizens would have seemed so banal as to be hardly worth uttering. Now the language of liberal universalism has ruled it beyond the pale.
The shift that Goodhart notes among the Left-leaning British elite is related to the shift toward “emancipative” values described by Welzel. Parochialism is bad and universalism is good. Goodhart quotes George Monbiot, a leading figure of the British Left:
Internationalism…tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington…. Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How…do you distinguish it from racism?
Monbiot’s claim that patriotism is indistinguishable from racism illustrates the universalism that has characterized elements of the globalist Left in many Western nations for several decades. John Lennon wrote the globalist anthem in 1971. After asking us to imagine that there’s no heaven, and before asking us to imagine no possessions, Lennon asks us to:
"Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be one"
This is a vision of heaven for multicultural globalists. But it’s naiveté, sacrilege, and treason for nationalists.
Chapter Two: Globalists and Nationalists Grow Further Apart on Immigration
Nationalists see patriotism as a virtue; they think their country and its culture are unique and worth preserving. This is a real moral commitment, not a pose to cover up racist bigotry. Some nationalists do believe that their country is better than all others, and some nationalisms are plainly illiberal and overtly racist. But as many defenders of patriotism have pointed out, you love your spouse because she or he is yours, not because you think your spouse is superior to all others. Nationalists feel a bond with their country, and they believe that this bond imposes moral obligations both ways: Citizens have a duty to love and serve their country, and governments are duty bound to protect their own people. Governments should place their citizens interests above the interests of people in other countries.
There is nothing necessarily racist or base about this arrangement or social contract. Having a shared sense of identity, norms, and history generally promotes trust. Having no such shared sense leads to the condition that the sociologist Émile Durkheim described as “anomie” or normlessness. Societies with high trust, or high social capital, produce many beneficial outcomes for their citizens: lower crime rates, lower transaction costs for businesses, higher levels of prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity, among others. A liberal nationalist can reasonably argue that the debate over immigration policy in Europe is not a case of what is moral versus what is base, but a case of two clashing moral visions, incommensurate (à la Isaiah Berlin). The trick, from this point of view, is figuring out how to balance reasonable concerns about the integrity of one’s own community with the obligation to welcome strangers, particularly strangers in dire need.
So how have nationalists and globalists responded to the European immigration crisis? For the past year or two we’ve all seen shocking images of refugees washing up alive and dead on European beaches, marching in long lines across south eastern Europe, scaling fences, filling train stations, and hiding and dying in trucks and train tunnels. If you’re a European globalist, you were probably thrilled in August 2015 when Angela Merkel announced Germany’s open-door policy to refugees and asylum seekers. There are millions of people in need, and (according to some globalists) national borders are arbitrary and immoral.
But the globalists are concentrated in the capital cities, commercial hubs, and university towns—the places that are furthest along on the values shift found in the World Values Survey data. Figure 1 shows this geographic disjunction in the UK, using data collected in 2014. Positive sentiment toward immigrants is plotted on the Y axis, and desire for Britain to leave the EU on the X axis. Residents of Inner London are extreme outliers on both dimensions when compared to other cities and regions of the UK, and even when compared to residents of outer London.
But if you are a European nationalist, watching the nightly news may have felt like watching the spread of the Zika virus, moving steadily northward from the chaos zones of southwest Asia and north Africa. Only a few right-wing nationalist leaders tried to stop it, such as Victor Orban in Hungary. The globalist elite seemed to be cheering the human tidal wave onward, welcoming it into the heart of Europe, and then demanding that every country accept and resettle a large number of refugees.
And these demands, epicentered in Brussels, came after decades of debate in which nationalists had been arguing that Europe has already been too open and had already taken in so many Muslim immigrants that the cultures and traditions of European societies were threatened. Long before the flow of Syrian asylum seekers arrived in Europe there were initiatives to ban minarets in Switzerland and burkas in France. There were riots in Arab neighborhoods of Paris and Marseilles, and attacks on Jews and synagogues throughout Europe. There were hidden terrorist cells that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 in the United States, attacks on trains and buses in Madrid and London, and the slaughter of the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris.
By the summer of 2015 the nationalist side was already at the boiling point, shouting “enough is enough, close the tap,” when the globalists proclaimed, “let us open the floodgates, it’s the compassionate thing to do, and if you oppose us you are a racist.” Might that not provoke even fairly reasonable people to rage? Might that not make many of them more receptive to arguments, ideas, and political parties that lean toward the illiberal side of nationalism and that were considered taboo just a few years earlier?
Chapter Three: Muslim Immigration Triggers the Authoritarian Alarm
Nationalists in Europe have been objecting to mass immigration for decades, so the gigantic surge of asylum seekers in 2015 was bound to increase their anger and their support for right-wing nationalist parties. Globalists tend to explain these reactions as “racism, pure and simple,” or as the small-minded small-town selfishness of people who don’t want to lose either jobs or benefits to foreigners.
Racism is clearly evident in some of the things that some nationalists say in interviews, chant at soccer matches, or write on the Internet with the protection of anonymity. But “racism” is a shallow term when used as an explanation. It asserts that there are some people who just don’t like anyone different from themselves—particularly if they have darker skin. They have no valid reason for this dislike; they just dislike difference, and that’s all we need to know to understand their rage.
But that is not all we need to know. On closer inspection, racism usually turns out to be deeply bound up with moral concerns. (I use the term “moral” here in a purely descriptive sense to mean concerns that seem—for the people we are discussing—to be matters of good and evil; I am not saying that racism is in fact morally good or morally correct.) People don’t hate others just because they have darker skin or differently shaped noses; they hate people whom they perceive as having values that are incompatible with their own, or who (they believe) engage in behaviors they find abhorrent, or whom they perceive to be a threat to something they hold dear. These moral concerns may be out of touch with reality, and they are routinely amplified by demagogues. But if we want to understand the recent rise of right-wing populist movements, then “racism” can’t be the stopping point; it must be the beginning of the inquiry.
Among the most important guides in this inquiry is the political scientist Karen Stenner. In 2005 Stenner published a book called The Authoritarian Dynamic, an academic work full of graphs, descriptions of regression analyses, and discussions of scholarly disputes over the nature of authoritarianism. (It therefore has not had a wide readership.) Her core finding is that authoritarianism is not a stable personality trait. It is rather a psychological predisposition to become intolerant when the person perceives a certain kind of threat. It’s as though some people have a button on their foreheads, and when the button is pushed, they suddenly become intensely focused on defending their in-group, kicking out foreigners and non-conformists, and stamping out dissent within the group. At those times they are more attracted to strongmen and the use of force. At other times, when they perceive no such threat, they are not unusually intolerant. So the key is to understand what pushes that button.
The answer, Stenner suggests, is what she calls “normative threat,” which basically means a threat to the integrity of the moral order (as they perceive it). It is the perception that “we” are coming apart:
"The experience or perception of disobedience to group authorities or authorities unworthy of respect, nonconformity to group norms or norms proving questionable, lack of consensus in group values and beliefs and, in general, diversity and freedom ‘run amok’ should activate the predisposition and increase the manifestation of these characteristic attitudes and behaviors"
So authoritarians are not being selfish. They are not trying to protect their wallets or even their families. They are trying to protect their group or society. Some authoritarians see their race or bloodline as the thing to be protected, and these people make up the deeply racist subset of right-wing populist movements, including the fringe that is sometimes attracted to neo-Nazism. They would not even accept immigrants who fully assimilated to the culture. But more typically, in modern Europe and America, it is the nation and its culture that nationalists want to preserve.
Stenner identifies authoritarians in her many studies by the degree to which they endorse a few items about the most important values children should learn at home, for example, “obedience” (vs. “independence” and “tolerance and respect for other people”). She then describes a series of studies she did using a variety of methods and cross-national datasets. In one set of experiments she asked Americans to read fabricated news stories about how their nation is changing. When they read that Americans are changing in ways that make them more similar to each other, authoritarians were no more racist and intolerant than others.
But when Stenner gave them a news story suggesting that Americans are becoming more morally diverse, the button got pushed, the “authoritarian dynamic” kicked in, and they became more racist and intolerant. For example, “maintaining order in the nation” became a higher national priority while “protecting freedom of speech” became a lower priority. They became more critical of homosexuality, abortion, and divorce.
One of Stenner’s most helpful contributions is her finding that authoritarians are psychologically distinct from “status quo conservatives” who are the more prototypical conservatives—cautious about radical change. Status quo conservatives compose the long and distinguished lineage from Edmund Burke’s prescient reflections and fears about the early years of the French revolution through William F. Buckley’s statement that his conservative magazine National Review would “stand athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”
Status quo conservatives are not natural allies of authoritarians, who often favor radical change and are willing to take big risks to implement untested policies. This is why so many Republicans—and nearly all conservative intellectuals—oppose Donald Trump; he is simply not a conservative by the test of temperament or values. But status quo conservatives can be drawn into alliance with authoritarians when they perceive that progressives have subverted the country’s traditions and identity so badly that dramatic political actions (such as Brexit, or banning Muslim immigration to the United States) are seen as the only remaining way of yelling “Stop!” Brexit can seem less radical than the prospect of absorption into the “ever closer union” of the EU.
So now we can see why immigration—particularly the recent surge in Muslim immigration from Syria—has caused such powerfully polarized reactions in so many European countries, and even in the United States where the number of Muslim immigrants is low. Muslim Middle Eastern immigrants are seen by nationalists as posing a far greater threat of terrorism than are immigrants from any other region or religion. But Stenner invites us to look past the security threat and examine the normative threat. Islam asks adherents to live in ways that can make assimilation into secular egalitarian Western societies more difficult compared to other groups. (The same can be said for Orthodox Jews, and Stenner’s authoritarian dynamic can help explain why we are seeing a resurgence of right-wing anti-Semitism in the United States.)
Muslims don’t just observe different customs in their private lives; they often request and receive accommodations in law and policy from their host countries, particularly in matters related to gender. Some of the most pitched battles of recent decades in France and other European countries have been fought over the veiling and covering of women, and the related need for privacy and gender segregation. For example, some public swimming pools in Sweden now offer times of day when only women are allowed to swim. This runs contrary to strong Swedish values regarding gender equality and non-differentiation.
So whether you are a status quo conservative concerned about rapid change or an authoritarian who is hypersensitive to normative threat, high levels of Muslim immigration into your Western nation are likely to threaten your core moral concerns.
But as soon as you speak up to voice those concerns, globalists will scorn you as a racist and a rube. When the globalists—even those who run the center-right parties in your country—come down on you like that, where can you turn? The answer, increasingly, is to the far right-wing nationalist parties in Europe, and to Donald Trump, who just engineered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party in America.
The Authoritarian Dynamic was published in 2005 and the word “Muslim” occurs just six times (in contrast to 100 appearances of the word “black”). But Stenner’s book offers a kind of Rosetta stone for interpreting the rise of right-wing populism and its focus on Muslims in 2016. Stenner notes that her theory “explains the kind of intolerance that seems to ‘come out of nowhere,’ that can spring up in tolerant and intolerant cultures alike, producing sudden changes in behavior that cannot be accounted for by slowly changing cultural traditions.”
She contrasts her theory with those who see an unstoppable tide of history moving away from traditions and “toward greater respect for individual freedom and difference,” and who expect people to continue evolving “into more perfect liberal democratic citizens.“ She does not say which theorists she has in mind, but Welzel and his World Values Survey collaborators, as well as Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, seem to be likely candidates. Stenner does not share the optimism of those theorists about the future of Western liberal democracies. She acknowledges the general trends toward tolerance, but she predicts that these very trends create conditions that hyper-activate authoritarians and produce a powerful backlash. She offered this prophecy:
"[T]he increasing license allowed by those evolving cultures generates the very conditions guaranteed to goad latent authoritarians to sudden and intense, perhaps violent, and almost certainly unexpected, expressions of intolerance. Likewise, then, if intolerance is more a product of individual psychology than of cultural norms…we get a different vision of the future, and a different understanding of whose problem this is and will be, than if intolerance is an almost accidental by-product of simple attachment to tradition. The kind of intolerance that springs from aberrant individual psychology, rather than the disinterested absorption of pervasive cultural norms, is bound to be more passionate and irrational, less predictable, less amenable to persuasion, and more aggravated than educated by the cultural promotion of tolerance"
Writing in 2004, Stenner predicted that “intolerance is not a thing of the past, it is very much a thing of the future.”
Chapter Four: What Now?
The upshot of all this is that the answer to the question we began with—What on Earth is going on?—cannot be found just by looking at the nationalists and pointing to their economic conditions and the racism that some of them do indeed display.
One must first look at the globalists, and at how their changing values may drive many of their fellow citizens to support right-wing political leaders. In particular, globalists often support high levels of immigration and reductions in national sovereignty; they tend to see transnational entities such as the European Union as being morally superior to nation-states; and they vilify the nationalists and their patriotism as “racism pure and simple.” These actions press the “normative threat” button in the minds of those who are predisposed to authoritarianism, and these actions can drive status quo conservatives to join authoritarians in fighting back against the globalists and their universalistic projects.
If this argument is correct, then it leads to a clear set of policy prescriptions for globalists. First and foremost: Think carefully about the way your country handles immigration and try to manage it in a way that is less likely to provoke an authoritarian reaction. Pay attention to three key variables: the percentage of foreign-born residents at any given time, the degree of moral difference of each incoming group, and the degree of assimilation being achieved by each group’s children.
Legal immigration from morally different cultures is not problematic even with low levels of assimilation if the numbers are kept low; small ethnic enclaves are not a normative threat to any sizable body politic. Moderate levels of immigration by morally different ethnic groups are fine, too, as long as the immigrants are seen as successfully assimilating to the host culture. When immigrants seem eager to embrace the language, values, and customs of their new land, it affirms nationalists’ sense of pride that their nation is good, valuable, and attractive to foreigners. But whenever a country has historically high levels of immigration, from countries with very different moralities, and without a strong and successful assimilationist program, it is virtually certain that there will be an authoritarian counter-reaction, and you can expect many status quo conservatives to support it.
Stenner ends The Authoritarian Dynamic with some specific and constructive advice:
"[A]ll the available evidence indicates that exposure to difference, talking about difference, and applauding difference—the hallmarks of liberal democracy—are the surest ways to aggravate those who are innately intolerant, and to guarantee the increased expression of their predispositions in manifestly intolerant attitudes and behaviors. Paradoxically, then, it would seem that we can best limit intolerance of difference by parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness….
Ultimately, nothing inspires greater tolerance from the intolerant than an abundance of common and unifying beliefs, practices, rituals, institutions, and processes. And regrettably, nothing is more certain to provoke increased expression of their latent predispositions than the likes of “multicultural education,” bilingual policies, and nonassimilation"
If Stenner is correct, then her work has profound implications, not just for America, which was the focus of her book, but perhaps even more so for Europe. Donald Tusk, the current president of the European Council, recently gave a speech to a conclave of center-right Christian Democratic leaders (who, as members of the educated elite, are still generally globalists). Painfully aware of the new authoritarian supremacy in his native Poland, he chastised himself and his colleagues for pushing a “utopia of Europe without nation-states.” This, he said, has caused the recent Euroskeptic backlash: “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our Euro-enthusiasm.”
Democracy requires letting ordinary citizens speak. The majority spoke in Britain on June 23, and majorities of similar mien may soon make themselves heard in other European countries, and possibly in the United States in November. The year 2016 will likely be remembered as a major turning point in the trajectory of Western democracies. Those who truly want to understand what is happening should carefully consider the complex interplay of globalization, immigration, and changing values.
If the story I have told here is correct, then the globalists could easily speak, act, and legislate in ways that drain passions and votes away from nationalist parties, but this would require some deep rethinking about the value of national identities and cohesive moral communities. It would require abandoning the multicultural approach to immigration and embracing assimilation.
The great question for Western nations after 2016 may be this: How do we reap the gains of global cooperation in trade, culture, education, human rights, and environmental protection while respecting—rather than diluting or crushing—the world’s many local, national, and other “parochial” identities, each with its own traditions and moral order? In what kind of world can globalists and nationalists live together in peace?
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11 July, 2016
The conclusions from the study below are borderline insane
Orthodoxy must be defended by hook or crook, I guess. The study below not only showed tiny effects but achieved those effects only by throwing out four fifths of the data. Using extreme quintiles for your analyis is a confession that there are no actual effects in the data as a whole. The only statistically defensible conclusion from the results below is to eat as much fatty food as you like, because it will have no effect on your health either way
Association of Specific Dietary Fats With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
Dong D. Wang et al.
Previous studies have shown distinct associations between specific dietary fat and cardiovascular disease. However, evidence on specific dietary fat and mortality remains limited and inconsistent.
To examine the associations of specific dietary fats with total and cause-specific mortality in 2 large ongoing cohort studies.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cohort study investigated 83?349 women from the Nurses' Health Study (July 1, 1980, to June 30, 2012) and 42?884 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (February 1, 1986, to January 31, 2012) who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and types 1 and 2 diabetes at baseline. Dietary fat intake was assessed at baseline and updated every 2 to 4 years. Information on mortality was obtained from systematic searches of the vital records of states and the National Death Index, supplemented by reports from family members or postal authorities. Data were analyzed from September 18, 2014, to March 27, 2016.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Total and cause-specific mortality.
During 3?439?954 person-years of follow-up, 33?304 deaths were documented. After adjustment for known and suspected risk factors, dietary total fat compared with total carbohydrates was inversely associated with total mortality (hazard ratio [HR] comparing extreme quintiles, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.81-0.88; P?
Conclusions and Relevance
Different types of dietary fats have divergent associations with total and cause-specific mortality. These findings support current dietary recommendations to replace saturated fat and trans-fat with unsaturated fats.
Recent shootings: Donald Trump blames Barack Obama for race divide
Obama has repeatedly taken the side of black criminals and blamed the police. No wonder blacks are angry. They have no reason to doubt him. Obama and his ilk PROVOKE black anger.
Donald Trump attacked President Obama yesterday, saying that America's first black president had only worsened racial tensions. "Our nation has become too divided," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said after five white police officers were shot dead by a black gunman in Dallas.
Mr Trump, who has repeatedly been accused of "dog-whistle" politics, added: "Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn't the American Dream we all want for our children."
As the presidential campaign was interrupted by a mass shooting for the second time in less than a month, Mr Obama called for calm after a three-day spasm of racial violence.
The president had reprimanded police on Thursday after video footage emerged of the deaths of Philando Castile, who was shot by an officer in Minnesota on Wednesday, and Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot dead by police in Louisiana on Tuesday.
Mr Obama said: "There's a big chunk of our citizenry that feels as if, because of the colour of their skin, they are not being treated the same, and that hurts."
Even as the president was speaking, Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old black man, was preparing to unleash hell on the streets of Dallas.
Johnson shot a dozen police on Thursday night, five fatally, at what had been a peaceful protest march against the deaths of Mr Castile and Mr Sterling. Hours later Mr Obama found himself making yet another set of remarks after a mass shooting. At a Nato summit in Warsaw, he said that all Americans "stand united with Dallas".
Both Mr Trump and Hillary Clinton called off campaign events yesterday. Mr Trump had planned to address Hispanics in Florida but instead issued a statement calling the Dallas shootings "a co-ordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe".
He said that the deaths of Mr Castile and Mr Sterling were a reminder of "how much more needs to be done" to restore public confidence in the police.
After a mass shooting claimed 49 lives at an Orlando nightclub last month Mrs Clinton put calls for controls on assault rifles at the heart of her campaign. Mr Trump retaliated by alleging that she would scrap the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
The likelihood of progress on gun control is small. A tweet sent by Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman, signalled how charged the atmosphere has become.
"This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you," he wrote after the Dallas attack.
Mr Walsh deleted the post but stood by the sentiment. "There's a war against our cops in this country, and I think Obama has fed that war and Black Lives Matter has fed that war," he said.
The post-Brexit ugliness of the left: Report from Britain
Money-obsessed and anti-working class – the liberal left has revealed its ugly side
Those on the liberal left have always prided themselves on being more caring and compassionate than conservatives. People on the right, they insist, are narrow-minded and selfish, beholden to vested interests. They only care about money and themselves. They are bad people.
This is one of the most persistent myths of modern times. I’ve never believed it. Selfishness transcends politics. Those on the left are just as given as conservatives to self-interest, bigotry and dislike of people different to themselves. And, my word, over the past couple of weeks, following Britain’s vote to leave the UK, haven’t we seen just how. The illusion of the liberal-left’s inherent and exclusive capacity for compassion has truly been exploded.
Consider the recent March for Europe in London, to demand that the will of the people be revoked and that corporate-backed oligarchy be restored. Rich, metropolitan types have shamelessly complained about the result because their holidays in Europe will henceforth become more expensive. They fear for their second homes in Tuscany and the south of France. People have been saying this openly. The burghers of north London fear they might no longer get dirt-cheap nannies and au pairs from Eastern Europe. They fret about the staff on the sainted NHS, staff trained at the expense of poorer countries who we in the UK have since hired on the cheap. Corporate types fear for the future of immigrant workers, those magnificently exploited souls who live six to a room on three-month contracts being paid a minimum wage or less. Such outrageous displays of greed haven’t been witnessed since the heady days of Thatcherism.
Consider, too, the ceaseless insults hurled at the stupid, poor white people who voted to leave the EU. These are folk who struggle to maintain a first home, let alone a second – people who can barely afford to go on holiday at all. These are the fishermen, from Aberdeen to Hull to Ramsgate to Hastings to Cornwall, whose livelihoods have been devastated by the EU – the same fishermen taunted by Bob Geldof and his champagne-swilling chums. These are the people living in Peterborough and Boston who can’t get doctor’s appointments or find school places for their children because hospitals and schools are overwhelmed.
These are people whose small businesses have been ruined by Operation Stack in Kent, whereby lorries clog up the roads for miles, the result of Schengen Area free movement that has led to the mayhem in Calais. Consider those people in Wales who faced the daily, humiliating reminder that their economy was dependent on hand-outs from the EU. Consider, too, all these English people in Dover and Folkestone who know Poles and Latvians, not as cheap domestic staff but as neighbours, parents of their children’s schoolfriends, as equals. All these people slandered as vermin and racists.
The metropolitan left sneered at them from their secluded London villages or their homes in rural Derbyshire. Cloistered writers and academics seem oblivious to the negative effects of the EU, not least because none has experienced first-hand the adverse effects of EU policy. No newspaper editor has opted for a cut-price, cutting-edge columnist from Romania. As for people working in the building trade, in decorating, in plumbing, I can introduce you to many who have been undercut or seen their businesses go under. There are countless here in Kent who have left costly and crowded London for that reason. If you have a house, a mortgage and children to look after, you simply can’t live as a footloose twentysomething singleton with no responsibilities.
I’m not sure how much the liberal-left realise just how repellent their brattish behaviour has been. But this has been coming for some time. Ever since the libertine cultural revolution of the 1960s, Labour and the orthodox left in the Western world have been in a long process of abandoning the working class, withdrawing into identity politics, rights for the self, for affirmation of the self. Hence, so-called progressives now care above all for their image as ‘good people’. Virtue signalling is the epitome of the new faux-compassionate, egocentric left.
Hence the needy rhetoric about ‘the world hating us’ for leaving the EU, the exhortations to ‘hug an immigrant’ or wear safety pins to boast of one’s non-racist credentials. Everything’s about ‘me’. The liberal-left couldn’t understand why people would vote in the name of abstract principles such as ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ or ‘self-determination’, because they view everything in terms of their own money and their own public image.
There was a time when it was Tories who sneered at the poor, who deplored them as stupid and feckless. This was in the loadsamoney era of the 1980s, during which the market ruled and we were beholden to the whims of capitalists and the sainted market. There was even a time, many years ago, when the left spoke of principles, of democracy and liberty. How the roles have been reversed. How strange that it’s mostly conservatives who now talk in abstractions, and it’s the left that obsesses about the markets and worry about the FTSE 100, about their own money. They oppose democracy. They hate the poor and the old. They are despicable.
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10 July, 2016
Those pesky genetics again
Genetics affects choice of academic subjects as well as achievement
Kaili Rimfeld et al.
We have previously shown that individual differences in educational achievement are highly heritable throughout compulsory education. After completing compulsory education at age 16, students in England can choose to continue to study for two years (A-levels) in preparation for applying to university and they can freely choose which subjects to study. Here, for the first time, we show that choosing to do A-levels and the choice of subjects show substantial genetic influence, as does performance after two years studying the chosen subjects. Using a UK-representative sample of 6584 twin pairs, heritability estimates were 44% for choosing to do A-levels and 52–80% for choice of subject. Achievement after two years was also highly heritable (35–76%). The findings that DNA differences substantially affect differences in appetites as well as aptitudes suggest a genetic way of thinking about education in which individuals actively create their own educational experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.
Hillary was "Not Put Under Oath" and the Interview by the FBI was "Not Recorded"
By Capt Joseph R. John
Federal Prosecutor, Law Enforcement Officer, and most clear thinking law abiding citizens throughout the nation are concerned with the FBI Director’s decision to decision to summarily acquit Hillary Clinton. FBI Director James Comey stated that Hillary Clinton sent and received Secret, Top Secret, and Compartmented messages on her unclassified private E-mail server, and went on to say “we believe that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial E-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account.” The FBI Director also stated that Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” (another way of saying “grossly negligent”) in handling and transmitting very sensitive classified information.
Hillary violated US Federal Laws, violated National Security Statues, and put the National Security of the United States at risk; some of her staff handling the server and the messages didn’t have proper security clearances Many of the 24 million Americans who served in the US Armed Forces and handled classified messages, would have been prosecuted if they illegally destroyed 30,000 messages, and transmitted & received 110 messages containing clearly marked classified information, from an unclassified server.
Hillary’s actions demonstrated “gross negligence”; “gross negligence” is a “felony.” Over a 4 year period, Hillary Clinton repeatedly violated federal statues governing the handling of over 100 Secret, Top Secret, and compartmented messages. The FBI could have easily met the standard to prosecute Hillary for her “negligence” in handling Secret, Top Secret, and Compartmented messages
The central flaw in the acquittal of Hillary was “Intent”. Intent “does not” matter in US Federal Laws governing the handling of classified material. Thousands of Americans have been prosecuted for “mishandling” classified material—never having had “Intent.”
The FBI Director’s findings revealed the Hillary Clinton misled the American people over and over again. Director Comey contradicted Hillary repeated statements on national TV when she said, she never transmitted or received classified messages on the unclassified server in the basement of her home.
This final decision in the Case of Hillary Clinton, brings into question the manner in which this case was resolved, brings into questions the judgment of the FBI Director; and demonstrated to the American people that in the Obama administration there is “Not Equal Justice Under Law” because thousands of Americans have been convicted and sent to prison for doing much less than Hillary Clinton did.
A cautious FBI Director should have impaneled a Grand Jury, then he should have referred the findings of the investigation to the Grand Jury. Violation of the Federal Statues should have been considered by the Grand Jury, and the FBI Director should have announced the Grand Jury’s decision to the American people.
The decision by Director Comey to summarily acquit Hillary for her actions over a 4 year period in illegally destroying 30,000 messages, while transmitting and receiving over 110 messages containing clearly marked classified information, on an unclassified server in her home, was a miscarriage of justice that “Violated the Rule of Law.” Director Comey’s summarily acquittal of Hillary Clinton damaged the fine reputation of the FBI.
Conservative critics Need To Suck It Up And Vote For Trump
I know why he’s terrible. I’ve written about it at length.
But the Hillary Clinton charade of July 5th – a date that shall live in infamy – and the subsequent rubbing of normal Americans’ noses in the heap of droppings progressives have piled upon the rule of law make plain that there is something much more important at stake here than fussy distaste over Trump’s aesthetic failings and his myriad misjudgments.
The short-sighted liberal elite, aided and abetted by its media catamites, are using our Constitution as toilet paper. One thing matters. One thing only. That is restoring the rule of law, because without it the coastal femboys and hectoring harridans of the left will keep pushing and prodding and provoking until they, to their shock, find normal Americans pushing back. They are worse than stupid – they are unwise, thinking they are simply playing fun games oppressing and abusing those they see as lessers when, in reality, they are playing with fire.
One thing matters. One thing only. That is restoring the rule of law, and only a Trump presidency can do that.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their cabal have demonstrated that there is no one they cannot corrupt, or at least whose integrity they can’t twist and deform. John Roberts, James Comey – all we heard about was their lofty integrity right up until the moment they shoved their shivs in our collective kidney. We can’t rely on the honor of individuals. We need to return to a paradigm where the interests of factions work to check and balance each other.
If elected, how will Hillary Clinton ever be held accountable? Can you conceive of a scenario where the Democrats, or their media, judicial and bureaucratic allies ever stand up in opposition to anything she does, no matter how venal, how corrupt, how fascist? Name the Democrat who stood up in the wake of Comey’s honor flush and said, “This is wrong!”
There will be no check or balance on Hillary Clinton. Not the Congress (D or R), not the courts, not the media, not the bureaucrats. None. This Alinksyite corruptocrat, her second-rate mind twisted with hatred toward normal Americans, will reign unchallenged. She has already sought the power to jail those who criticize her; reversing Citizens United would only be the first step in an unopposed quest to eliminate all legitimate means of dissent, to bar all legitimate means of opposition. Which, of course, would leave only illegitimate means – something she is too dense and ignorant of normal Americans to imagine is possible.
Which leaves Donald Trump as the only alternative, not merely because he is less awful than Hillary Clinton – leprosy is less awful than Hillary Clinton – but because the election of a tacky jerk like Donald Trump is the only thing that could ever motivate the elite to rediscover checks and balances upon executive power.
Think of it. A Congress that finally finds a spine in the face of the president. And that’s not just Democrats – even the posing goofs on the Republican side of the aisle would be falling over themselves to take a whack at the orange executive. What court would shrug and defer to El Presidente Little Digits? Even the mainstream media would rediscover the curiosity about West Wing wrongdoing that disappeared back in January 2009. Imagine their delight to once again be able to preen and strut while babbling about how they speak truth to power instead of groveling and bussing the rear of their White House master.
America will have never seen checking and balancing like President Trump would experience. And that is exactly, precisely what America must have right now.
Hillary Clinton will roll into office unhindered and unaccountable. We know what Clintons do when there is oversight; any sane person should shudder at the thought of them not merely unaccountable, but actively abetted by the entire elite. If you want to tear this country apart – not figuratively, not metaphorically, but with the real violence and bloodshed she will blunder into provoking – then hand that aspiring pants-suited Chavez wannabe the keys to the Oval Office.
That’s the choice. There’s no white knight riding in to snag the nomination away from the guy who won it fair and square. It’s Trump or Hillary. Sorry, that’s your choice, and making no choice is a choice for her.
I get that you detest Trump. So do I. But you can stop sending me tweets about the latest faux outrage. “Trump loves Saddam Hussein and has insulted all our vets and blah blah blah!” Get some damn perspective.
I know you’ve invested a lot of your personal credibility in refusing to support him, and you will absolutely have to endure a lot of graceless gloating by his jerkier acolytes if you walk it back. I endure plenty from Trump haters. Apparently I’m a fake conservative and hate America and blah blah blah. But walk it back you must.
This isn’t about how awful Trump is; it’s about how awful Hillary will be without any constraints whatsoever.
Only one thing matters. One thing only. That is restoring the rule of law. And only a Trump presidency has any hope of doing that.
Is popcorn good for you? What about pizza, orange juice or sushi? Or frozen yogurt, pork chops or quinoa?
Which foods are healthy? In principle, it’s a simple question, and a person who wishes to eat more healthily should reasonably expect to know which foods to choose at the supermarket and which to avoid. Unfortunately, the answer is anything but simple.
The Food and Drug Administration recently agreed to review its standards for what foods can be called “healthy,” a move that highlights how much of our nutritional knowledge has changed in recent years — and how much remains unknown.
With the Morning Consult, a media and polling firm, the New York Times surveyed hundreds of nutritionists — members of the American Society for Nutrition — asking them whether they thought certain food items (about 50) were healthy. The Morning Consult also surveyed a representative sample of the American electorate, asking the same thing.
The results suggest a surprising diversity of opinion, even among experts. Yes, some foods, like kale, apples and oatmeal, are considered “healthy” by nearly everyone. And some, like soda, french fries and chocolate chip cookies, are not. But in between, some foods appear to benefit from a positive public perception, while others befuddle the public and experts alike. (We’re looking at you, butter.)
“Twenty years ago, I think we knew about 10 percent of what we need to know” about nutrition, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “And now we know about 40 or 50 percent.”
Of the 52 common foods that the Times asked experts and the public to rate, none had a wider gap than granola bars. More than 70 percent of ordinary Americans we surveyed described them as healthy, but fewer than a third of nutritional experts did. A similar gap existed for granola, which less than half of nutritionists we surveyed described as healthy.
Several of the foods considered more healthful by everyday Americans than by experts — including frozen yogurt, SlimFast shakes and granola bars — have something in common: They can contain a lot of added sugar. In May, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new template for nutrition labels, and one priority was to clearly distinguish between sugars that naturally occur in food and sugars that are added later to heighten flavors.
On the other end of the spectrum, several foods received a seal of approval from our expert panel but left nonexperts uncertain. Most surprising was the reaction to quinoa, a “superfood” grain so often praised as healthful that it has become the subject of satire.
In addition, tofu, sushi, hummus, wine, and shrimp were all rated as significantly more healthful by nutritionists than by the public. Why? One reason may be that many of them are new foods in the mainstream American diet.
Others may reflect mixed messages in news coverage of the healthfulness of foods. Shrimp was long maligned for its high rate of dietary cholesterol, though recent guidelines have changed. And public messages about the healthfulness of alcohol are conflicting: While moderate drinking appears to have some health benefits, more consumption can obviously have real health costs.
Several of the most controversial foods — including steak, cheddar, whole milk and pork chops — tend to have a lot of fat. And fat is a topic few experts can agree on. Years ago, the nutritional consensus was that fat, and particularly the saturated fat found in dairy and red meat was bad for the heart. Newer studies are less clear, and many of the fights among nutritionists tend to be about the right amount of protein and fat in a healthy diet.
The uncertainty about these foods, as expressed both by experts and ordinary Americans, reflects the haziness of the nutritional evidence about them.
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8 July, 2016
Life was BETTER under Saddam Hussein: Iraqis say
Of course it was. At least there was peace then. You could buy bread with ease and not have your house blown up. It's the same story throughout the Middle East these days and it is surely evidence that democracy does not take root there. For nearly all of human history, people have been ruled by tyrants -- usually called kings or emperors -- and people have evolved ways of thinking and feeling that suit that. As all the studies show, politics is highly heritable genetically, so that should be no surprise.
It is only the people of Northern Europe (including Britain and its derivative societies) who appear to have democratic instincts and it is indeed a deep instinct. ALL of North Western Europe has a long history of irrepressible democracy. Episodes of tyranny such as Cromwell and Hitler have been very short-lived.
And, as far as I know, there has never been a pure democracy anywhere, though Switzerland and Iceland come close. The normal Northern European arrangement has been a king plus a parliament of some kind. And some kings -- such as Sweden's Gustavus Adolphus -- ruled with very little to check their power. So it has been a long struggle, even for the Northern European nations, to assert fully their democratic instincts. And it is a battle far from over, with powerful elites still determined to control the masses as far as they can.
Democracy did appear in Southern Europe for a time -- in the shape of Athens and Rome -- but they were very limited democracies with only a minority allowed to vote and they did not in any case last.
But what about Russia? They are as Northern as can be and look just like other Northern Europeans. Yet they are hardly known for democracy. One needs to know a little about Russia's different history to understand what happened there. From the 13th to the 15th century Russia was under the control of the Mongol khanates, which permitted no democratic input from Russians. They were as imperial as can be. And that was a critical period in Russian development.
So by the time the Khans ebbed away, Russians were well inured to tyranny. And the kings of Muscovy used that to commence and continue territorial expansion -- an amazing expansion that took centuries but which ended up with Russia spreading right across the Eurasian continent, as it does to this day. Americans talk about how the West was won -- but the East that Russians won was at least four times bigger than the American West. And that program of unending expansion continued into the 20th century with the takeover of the Baltic countries etc. So Russia has long been a country at war and wartime politics everywhere tend to permit a greater degree of tyranny than would otherwise be permitted.
But hey! Wait a minute! What about Japan? There was nothing democratic about the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meji restoration was not democratic either. Yet Japan today is impeccably democratic. Does that not show that you don't have to have democratic genes? It does not. What it shows is that the key personality trait underlying democracy is consideration of others. Japanese are VERY considerate of one-another. Those Japanese wearing surgical masks on the street and in lecture halls are doing so in order not to give their cold or flu to others.
And the Northern Europeans who had to battle unforgiving winters needed to be respecting of others too. The climate was such a deadly enemy that you could afford to have no other enemies. They did of course have enemies among outsiders but in their own societies, enmity had to be avoided -- by everyone considering one-another
So forcing democracy on the Middle Easterners, with their vast contempt for one another -- think ISIS -- was a deadly mistake
Iraqis whose lives were destroyed by the 2003 invasion of their country today accused Tony Blair and George Bush of being the architects of their downfall - and called them 'the devil'.
The former Prime Minister's reputation lies in tatters after today's Chilcot's damning report into the Iraq debacle found he toppled tyrant Saddam Hussein with no firm evidence he had weapons of mass destruction.
And today people on the streets of Erbil in northern Iraq celebrated as the report finally tore apart the so-called flawed invasion that killed 179 British troops and their countrymen and women.
'They removed Saddam Hussein, but they didn't think about the consequences of doing so,' said shopkeeper Selman Hussein.
The businessman, who briefly fled to Europe and lived in Belgium, said Mr Blair had been irresponsible when he claimed he could not have known how difficult the post-invasion situation would be.
In the report emails from the ex-Labour PM to then US-president George Bush showed unwavering loyalty as he was determined to take military action to topple Saddam.
"Under Saddam we were happier, it was much better. Now, it is Sunni-Shiite and Kurds. Everybody is fighting, now there are bombs everyday. Before we had a strong president. His name was Saddam" -- Selman Hussein, shopkeeper
But the shopkeeper went on: 'They did not plan for the future. We are now living in a destroyed country, Tony Blair did not make anything good for Iraq,' he said.
'Under Saddam we were happier, it was much better. Now, it is Sunni-Shiite and Kurds. Everybody is fighting, now there are bombs everyday. Before we had a strong president. His name was Saddam,' he said.
Selman, also believes Mr Blair twisted intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam to justify the war that led to the deaths of 179 British soldiers and left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead. 'He said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. What weapons? They lied,' he added.
Iraq's Christian community, who have be persecuted heavily in post Saddam, agree with Chilcott's findings that Blair should have more fully explored alternatives to military action that cost lives.
'They did not plan for the future. They just invaded and then destroyed this country,' Albert, 36, a Christian from Baghdad told MailOnline. 'Tony Blair and George Bush they destroyed this country, they are the devil,' he added.
Albert now works in Erbil because he is unable to go back to Baghdad, added: 'I have only one thing I want to ask those who invaded Iraq: If they can manage to repair this country back to they way it was before, I will forgive them, but until then I will not.'
Those Christians who held high positions under Saddam's ruling Ba'ath Party look back fondly on their country under his dictatorship. 'Before 2003 it was safe, in Saddam's time it was good, now there is no security,' Albert, who was too frightened to give his surname, explained.
'Before I could drive from Basra to Baghdad to Mosul. Now that is impossible,' he added.
But Iraq is not entirely hostile to the humbled PM, who today said he expressed more sorrow, regret, and apology than we may ever know or can believe in a grovelling apology to the report's findings.
For those in the Kurdish community said life without the tyrant Saddam, who is believed to have murdered up to 280,000 of their people during the repression of the 1991 rebellion, is better.
'At the beginning we were happy. The American and the British came to liberate us from Saddam, and we thought the new situation would be much better,' Doctor, Mathum Falluh stated.
But Mathum, 68, a university lecturer, from Sulaymaniyah, still said his country was better before the 2003 invasion.
'It has become a 100 per cent worse than before Saddam was gone, because of the killing, slaughtering [and] murdering now,' he said.
The father-of-four said the invasion has led to the political breakup of Iraq, which has created a violent vacuum in fighting for power.
'People like me thought Britain and the US came to save us. But, they supported a bad leader in Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki when they supported him a Prime Minister,' he said.
Writing at National Review, historian Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the Clinton prosecution that wasn't. It's a great look at what our country has become- a place where there's one set of rules for the powerful, and one set of rules for the rest of us:
In Merced or Dayton, if an insurance agent, eager to help his wife facing indictment, barged into a restaurant where the local DA is known to lunch, he would almost certainly be told to get the hell out.
But among the Washington elite, the scenario is apparently quite different. The two parties, in supposedly serendipitous fashion, just happen to touch down at the same time on the Phoenix corporate tarmac, with their private planes pulling up nose to nose. Then the attorney general of the United States and her husband, in secrecy enforced by federal security details, welcome the ex-president onto her government plane. Afterward, and only when caught, the prosecutor and the husband of the person under investigation assure the world that they talked about everything except Hillary Clinton’s possible indictment, Loretta Lynch’s past appointment by Bill Clinton and likely judicial future, or the general quandary of 2016.
There has been a lot of talk since Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump of the corrosive power and influence of the “elite” and the “establishment.” But to quote Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid, “Who are those guys?”
In the case of the ancient Romans or of the traditional British ruling classes, land, birth, education, money, government service, and cultural notoriety were among the ingredients that made one an establishmentarian. But our modern American elite is a bit different.
Residence, either in the Boston–Washington, D.C., or the San Francisco–Los Angeles corridor, often is a requisite. Celebrity and public exposure count — e.g., access to traditional television outlets (as opposed to hoi polloi Internet blogging). So does education — again, most often a coastal-corridor thing: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, etc.
Hanson's whole piece is great, and worth the read(here). The Founders built a nation of laws, not men, where a system of checks and balances would hold governemnt accountable to the people. They never envisioned today's post New Deal system, a system that exists to enrich and empower a class of corporate and political consultants and disconnected academics, all of whom operate with little or no accountability in service of a massively bloated regulatory administrative state.
Will the American public take a lesson from British voters and reconsider their official commitments to European allies—namely, U.S. participation in NATO? Whatever the impulses behind Donald Trump’s call for pulling out of various military alliances, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland the time is ripe for rethinking Pax Americana.
Part of the justification for a U.S. withdrawal from NATO is financial. “The United States accounts for three-quarters of the defense spending of NATO countries, and it is very unlikely that those allies—all much closer to zones of conflict than is the United States—will be defending the superpower rather than vice versa,” Eland writes. The same is true with respect to America’s allies in East Asia: the U.S. foots most of the bill but gets little if anything in return—not even open markets for U.S. trade and investment.
An even greater justification for reducing military commitments involves the alleged purpose of the alliances: national security. The United States is surrounded by two oceans and two friendly nations, and enjoys the world’s largest defensive capability. Yet military entanglements in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East risk drawing the United States into armed conflicts large and small. The U.S. government’s alliances threaten America’s financial soundness and national security. “Perhaps an Amerexit from them is in order,” Eland concludes.
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7 July, 2016
Agricultural subsidies are bad for your pocket but are they also bad for your health?
Agricultural subsidies are the despair of libertarians and economists worldwide. When politics gets into farming, vast idiocies arise -- often ending in governments paying farmers not to farm at all. And the subsidies come out of the taxpayer's pocket so one would hope that some benefit comes to someone other than the farmer with his hand out. It's hard to see it. And now we see a possible indication that the produce that subsidies encourage is actually bad for your health. The study is far from conclusive due to a lack of controls and the mechanism is unclear but it should create some doubts
The U.S. government spends billions of dollars each year on subsidies to farmers, but consuming too much food made from those subsidized farm products can boost people's risk for heart disease, researchers say.
The more people eat of foods made with subsidized commodities, the more likely they are to be obese, have abnormal cholesterol and high blood sugar, according to a report in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Current federal agricultural subsidies help finance the production of corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy and livestock, which are often converted into refined grains, high-fat and high-sodium processed foods, and high-calorie juices and soft drinks (sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup), the authors write.
“We know that eating too many of these foods can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Karen R. Siegel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
But the subsidies help keep the prices of those products down, making them more affordable.
“Among the justifications for the 1973 U.S. Farm Bill was to assure consumers a plentiful supply of food at reasonable prices,” Siegel told Reuters Health by email. “Subsidized food commodities are foods made from federally funded crops to ensure the American population has an adequate supply of food, thus they tend to be non-perishable, or storable, e.g., corn, wheat, rice, to reduce the risk of spoiling.”
The researchers used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey responses obtained from more than 10,000 adults between 2001 and 2006. Each person reported everything they had eaten in one 24-hour period.
The researchers gave each individual a “subsidy score” based on the percentage of their total calories than had come from subsidized foods.
At the same time, participants had their body mass index, abdominal fat, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels measured.
On average, people were getting about 56 percent of their calories from subsidized food commodities. When the total group was divided into four smaller groups based on their subsidy score, those with the highest scores were more likely to be obese, have a larger waist circumference, more C-reactive protein, more “bad” cholesterol and higher blood sugar than those in the lowest subsidy score, as reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study itself can't prove that a diet higher in subsidized foods causes poor health, Siegel said. But foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium are known to increase the risk for chronic health problems, particularly when paired with other factors such as smoking and inactivity, she added.
U.S. dietary guidelines recommend emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, Siegel said.
The government subsidies were a strategy to support rural communities and to manage hunger in the 1970s, said Raj Patel of the University of Texas at Austin, who wrote a commentary on Siegel’s report.
But “we rarely buy these foods raw,” Patel told Reuters Health by email. “These commodities are grown to be processed.”
In days leading up to the UK’s historic June 23 vote to leave the European Union, almost every single opinion poll had the Remain side winning.
Populus gave Remain a 55 to 45 percent lead. YouGov gave Remain a 51 to 49 percent edge. Ipsos Mori had it at 49 to 46 percent with 1 percent undecided.
Yet when referendum day came, it was Leave which had the distinct advantage, winning 52 to 48 percent — stunning prediction markets and pollsters alike, who were left to wonder what had just gone wrong.
The usual variety of explanations, like greater than expected turnout in Leave areas or less than expected turnout in Remain areas, or sampling error have been offered.
But perhaps a significant percent of people polled lied to the pollsters about their true intentions, or simply those who were intent on voting Leave were more likely to opt out of the poll.
Which after a year of a media and political establishment barrage against the Leave campaign as racist, xenophobic, and the like, and they would crash the economy and send the UK into a depression. Significantly, supporters of Leave were even blamed for the assassination of an MP in the closing days of the campaign.
None of it happened to be true. But who wants to be called a racist for not wanting open borders or unbridled trade policies that ship jobs overseas? Or crashing the economy? Or worse, blamed for the murder of members of Parliament?
A similar situation could be emerging across the pond in the U.S., where Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton in national and statewide polls.
Here, the media and political establishment here consistently characterize Donald Trump as racist and xenophobic, and portray his supporters as violent — even as Trump supporters are being assaulted by protesters on television. They are told Trump’s trade and immigration policies will kill the U.S. economy and those who support them are economically illiterate.
Maybe Trump supporters are less likely to want to be identified. Not necessarily out of shame, but out of fear of being physically bloodied or damaged professionally. Perhaps that is being reflected in the polls.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage told CNBC on June 28 that is exactly what happened in the UK with the Brexit polls failing to predict the final outcome, and may be what is happening in the U.S., too. “There’s kind of this consensus that has made people feel slightly embarrassed, ashamed to be patriotic, to believe we should control immigration, and so when pollsters ring them they tend to shy away a little bit,” Farage suggested.
He may be on to something. Consider just how wrong the polls were in Republican presidential primary when it was still competitive a few months ago. The Real Clear Politics average of polls in Indiana had Trump at 43 percent to 32 percent. Instead, Trump got 54 percent of the vote.
In Pennsylvania polls said Donald Trump up 48 percent to 27 percent. Instead, he won 58 percent to 22 percent.
In Maryland, the average had Trump up 47 percent to 26 percent. Instead, he won 56 percent to 23 percent.
In Connecticut, the polls said Trump was at 54 percent, but then he over performed again at 59 percent.
In Rhode Island, the polls had Trump at 52 percent. Wrong again, he came in at 65 percent.
In Delaware, the polls said 55 percent. Voters said 63 percent.
In New York, the polls had said Trump would get 53 percent, but instead he hit 60 percent there.
Trump beat the poll estimates by up to 13 points in some states when election day finally came around. Simply incredible.
So perhaps Trump supporters are keeping quiet, and that is what is consistently turning up in the polls. You may not see their bumper stickers or lawn signs. Perhaps they don’t want their windows smashed. But they intend to vote for him all the same.
In Pittsburgh on June 28 Trump told voters, including disaffected labor Democrats, that “America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer. The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known. But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America, to promoting development in other nations. We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable. Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.”
Trump added, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to declare our economic independence once again.”
We’ll know soon enough if a silent majority follows Trump’s call and puts him in the White House. Trump is running a Brexitonian style campaign of restoring U.S. sovereignty, stopping illegal immigration and securing better trade agreements. It is this pitch that Trump hopes will transcend traditional party loyalties, and throw off the conventional calculations that typically predict the final outcome of presidential elections.
But one cannot deny that 2016 is already shaping up to be a year that defies the expectations of the political and media establishment — all over the world.
The only people who have a clear idea of which way things are actually going are voters — and they might not be cooperating with pollsters.
Think Hillary Clinton has this in the bag? Ask outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron if he still believes the polls.
If today's revelation that the FBI won't recommend the prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite the admission that she was "extremely careless," more information suggests that the fix was in from the getgo. The Obama State Department has done everything in its power to avoid turning over documents related to Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State. Per the AP:
Just five months before the presidential election, the State Department is under fire in courtrooms over its delays in turning over government files related to Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.
In one case, the agency warned it needed a 27-month delay, until October 2018, to turn over emails from Clinton's former aides, and the judge in another case, a lawsuit by The Associated Press, wondered aloud whether the State Department might be deliberately delaying until after the election.
"We're now reaching a point where there's mounting frustration that this is a project where the State Department may be running out the clock," said U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon. The judge said he was considering imposing penalties on the agency if it failed to meet the next set of deadlines he orders. Leon wondered aloud at one point whether he might impose penalties for again failing to deliver records on time. He mused about "a fine on a daily basis" or "incarceration."
"I can't send the marshals, obviously, out to bring in the documents, at least they wouldn't know where to go, probably," Leon said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials have said they are committed to public transparency, vowing that the State Department will improve its practices under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Last year, after an inspector general's audit harshly critical of the agency, Kerry appointed a "transparency coordinator," Janice Jacobs, and said the agency would "fundamentally improve our ability to respond to requests for our records."
But in three separate court hearings last week, officials acknowledged that their records searches were hobbled by errors and new delays and said they need far more time to produce Clinton records. In other cases where the agency has already reached legal agreements with news organizations and political groups, the final delivery of thousands of records will not come until months after the November election — far too late to give voters an opportunity to analyze the performance of Clinton and her aides.
The delays loom even in the wake of FBI Director James Comey's announcement Tuesday that he has decided not to refer criminal charges to the Justice Department in Clinton's use of her personal computer server and private email accounts to conduct government business when she was secretary of state. Comey criticized Clinton's use of the private system and "careless" handling of classified materials, and also said the State Department was "generally lacking" in its handling of sensitive records.
It's not uncommon for government agencies to be extremely delayed when it comes to producing infromation, but this is ridiculous. It is clear that the Obama Administration has gone above and beyond to use the justice system to protect the presumptive nominee and prosecute her enemies. Expect more of the same if Crooked Hillary is victorious in November.
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6 July, 2016
Trump’s Muslim Ban Gains Support
When an ISIS-supporting Muslim named Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando on June 12, Donald Trump reminded Americans that he is still the only political candidate to support a pause in the massive flow of Muslims entering the United States. Trump made his proposal last December after another ISIS-supporting Muslim massacred 14 people at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
Trump said his Muslim ban would be temporary. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses,” he said, “our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad.”
Trump’s reasonable, commonsense proposal was immediately condemned or disavowed by other presidential candidates in both parties. Even Senator Ted Cruz said he disagreed with it, though he didn’t say why.
Now that Cruz has returned to his “day job” as U.S. Senator from Texas, he recently co-authored a new report with Senator Jeff Sessions that provides powerful support for Trump’s position. The report issued June 22 shows that the overwhelming majority of convicted terrorists came into our country as immigrants or refugees from Muslim countries.
Cruz and Sessions were able to determine the birthplace of 451 of the 580 individuals who were convicted of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2001. Some 380 of the 451, or 84 percent of these terrorists, were foreign born – and most of them came from Muslim-majority countries such Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of the 71 terrorists who were born here, most were children of immigrants or refugees from Muslim countries, although the Senators could not report the exact number because the Obama administration refused to provide that information. Despite four official letters from the U.S. Senators on August 12, December 3, January 11, and June 14 to the appropriate agencies of the U.S. government, Obama’s appointees have refused to answer questions about the immigration status of the 580 persons convicted of terrorism in the United States since 9/11.
Coming six months after San Bernardino, the Orlando massacre entitled Donald Trump to say “I told you so” and he did so in a powerful speech on June 13. “We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year,” Trump said. “Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.”
Trump was right to include the children of immigrants as part of the immigration problem. The Orlando shooter Mateen was born in the United States, but a witness said he referred to Afghanistan as “my country.”
Besides Orlando, other mass killings have been perpetrated by the U.S.-born children of Muslim immigrants or individuals who were brought here as children by their Muslim parents. Examples include one of the San Bernardino killers; the Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan; the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013; and the man who killed four active-duty Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga in 2015.
Don’t overlook the Muslims who entered the United States on the pretext of marriage, such as the Pakistani woman named Malik who helped her husband commit the San Bernardino massacre. The Orlando shooter’s first wife, his second wife, and his second wife’s first husband were all Muslims who never should have been allowed to come here.
In an interview, Trump said “there’s no real assimilation” by Muslim immigrants, even in the “second and third generation.” A liberal website called Politifact tried to refute that statement by citing a telephone survey of Muslims who said they wanted to become American, but the interviews were conducted in “Arabic, Farsi and Urdu” – hardly evidence of assimilation.
Other countries have recently experienced terrorist massacres directed or inspired by the Islamic State, including 130 murdered in Paris; 32 in Brussels; 45 at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey; 28 at a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and, most recently, 200 in Baghdad, Iraq. Obviously we can’t prevent atrocities in other countries, but we can and should prevent potential terrorists from coming here.
Obama, however, is doing just the opposite. He has admitted over 5,000 so-called refugees from Syria this fiscal year and scattered them to 167 communities in 39 states. More than 99 percent of the Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims, and only 8 individuals identified themselves as Christian. The Obama “surge” of Syrian refugees is on track to reach 10,000 by September, even though FBI Director James Comey told Congress last year that there’s no way to vet them adequately.
Most Syrians lack the skills to support themselves without government assistance, and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation calculates that 10,000 refugees will cost federal, state and local taxpayers some $6.5 billion over their lifetime. If that’s not bad enough, Hillary Clinton has vowed to increase the number of Syrian refugees to 65,000.
You Owe Them Nothing - Not Respect, Not Loyalty, Not Obedience
Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. It is high time to declare our personal independence from any remnant of obligation to those who have spit upon the rule of law. We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience.
Think about it. If you are out driving at 3 a.m., do you stop at a stop sign when there’s no one coming? Of course you do. You don’t need a cop to be there to make you stop. You do it voluntarily because this is America and America is a country where obeying the law is the right thing to do because the law was justly made and is justly applied. Or it used to be.
The law mattered. It applied equally to everyone. We demanded that it did, all of us – politicians, the media, and regular citizens. Oh, there were mistakes and miscarriages of justice but they weren’t common and they weren’t celebrated – they were universally reviled. And, more importantly, they weren’t part and parcel of the ideology of one particular party. There was once a time where you could imagine a Democrat scandal where the media actually called for the head of the Democrat instead of deploying to cover it up.
People assumed that the law mattered, that the same rules applied to everyone. That duly enacted laws would be enforced equally until repealed. That the Constitution set the foundation and that its guarantees would be honored even if we disliked the result in a particular case. But that’s not our country today.
The idea of the rule of law today is a lie. There is no law. There is no justice. There are only lies.
Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.
The attorney general secretly canoodles with the husband of the subject of criminal investigation by her own department and the president, the enforcer of our laws, shrugs. The media, the challenger of the powerful, smirks. They rub our noses in their contempt for the law. And by doing so, demonstrate their contempt for us.
Only power matters, and Hillary stands ready to accumulate more power on their behalf so their oaths, their alleged principles, their duty to the country – all of it goes out the window. But it’s much worse than just one scandal that seems not to scandalize anyone in the elite. Just read the Declaration of Independence – it’s almost like those dead white Christian male proto-NRA members foresaw and cataloged the myriad oppressions of liberalism’s current junior varsity tyranny.
There is one law for them, and another for us. Sanctuary cities? Obama’s immigration orders? If you conservatives can play by the rules and pass your laws, then we liberals will just not enforce them. You don’t get the benefit of the laws you like. We get the benefit of the ones we do, though. Not you. Too bad, rubes.
So if you are still obeying the law when you don’t absolutely have to, when there isn’t some government enforcer with a gun lurking right there to make you, aren’t you kind of a sucker?
Don’t you feel foolish, like you’re the only one who didn’t get the memo that it’s every man/woman/non-binary entity for his/her/its self?
Who is standing against this? Not the judges. The Constitution? Meh. Why should their personal agendas be constrained by some sort of foundational document? Judges find rights that don’t appear in the text and gut ones that do. Just ask a married gay guy in Los Angeles who can’t carry a concealed weapons to protect himself from [OMITTED] radicals.
The politicians won’t stand against this. The Democrats support allowing the government to jail people for criticizing politicians and clamor to take away citizens’ rights merely because some government flunky has put their name on a list. Their “minority report” on Benghazi is an attack on Trump, and to them the idea of congressional oversight of a Democrat official whose incompetence put four Americans in the ground is not merely illegitimate; it’s a joke.
Is the media standing against this, those sainted watchdogs protecting us from the powerful? Don’t make me laugh.
What do these moral abortions have in common? Short term political gain over principle. These people are so used to the good life that a society’s reflexive reliance on the principle of the rule of law brings that they think they can undermine it with impunity. Oh it’s no big deal if we do this, they reason. Everyone else will keep playing by the rules, right? Everything will be fine even as we score in the short term.
The Romans had principles for a while. Then they got tempted to abandon principle for – wait for it – short term political gain. Then they got Caesar. Then the emperors. Then the barbarians. And then the Dark Ages. But hey, we’re much smarter and more sophisticated than the Romans, who were so dumb they didn’t even know that gender is a matter of choice. Our civilization is permanent and indestructible – it’s not like we are threatened by barbarians who want to come massacre us.
Oh, wait. The last words of some of these people to their radical Muslim killers before they are beheaded will be, “Please remember me as not being Islamaphobic! And sorry about the Crusades!”
There used to be a social contract requiring that our government treat us all equally within the scope of the Constitution and defend us, and in return we would recognize the legitimacy of its laws and defend it when in need. But that contract has been breached. We are not all equal before the law. Our constitutional rights are not being upheld. We are not being defended – hell, we normals get blamed every time some Seventh Century savage goes on a kill spree. Yet we’re still supposed to keep going along as if everything is cool, obeying the law, subsidizing the elite with our taxes, taking their abuse. We’ve been evicted by the landlord but he still wants us to pay him rent.
Now it seems we actually have a new social contract – do what we say and don’t resist, and in return we’ll abuse you, lie about you, take your money, and look down upon you in contempt. What a bargain!
It’s not a social contract anymore – American society today is a suicide pact we never agreed to and yet we’re expected to go first.
I say “No.” We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience. Nothing.
We make it easy for them by going along. We make it simple by defaulting to the old rules. But there are no rules anymore, certainly none that morally bind us once we are outside the presence of some government worker with a gun to force our compliance. There is only will and power and we must rediscover our own. If there is no cop sitting right there, then there is nothing to make you stop at that stop sign tonight.
They don’t realize that by rejecting the rule of law, they have set us free. We are independent. We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience. But with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we will still mutually pledge those who have earned our loyalty with their adherence to the rule of law, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
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4 July, 2016
Australia has just had a version of the Trump revolt or the Brexit revolt
Australian politics is traditionally dominated by the two major parties, with few independents. In last Saturday's election, however, neither of the two main parties had a clear win. The big win was a big increase in the number of independents. For either major party to govern, it will have to woo at least some of the independents
The leaders of both major parties had nothing fresh to offer and stood for business as usual. Both offered only the same old tired elitist consensus about most things that has recently come under challenge in the U.S., Britain and Europe.
Trump in America, Brexit in Britain, the rise of Marine Le Pen in France and the crumbling of Frau Dr. Merkel in Germany all say the same thing: People are sick of the same old politically correct consensus and want no more of it. So Australia's independents too now represent a rejection of business as usual
Brexit for America
Should we give Washington still more power over our lives – or “Take back control”
Independence Day weekend is a perfect time to reflect on personal freedoms and responsibilities.
The Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence were about overbearing, despotic kings. Brexit, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, was much about overbearing bureaucrats in Brussels.
This year’s US elections likewise center on gaining a new measure of freedom from an authoritarian, unaccountable Executive Branch in Washington. Like Brexit, they are also about We the People actually having a role in a democracy, a voice in how much power government will have over our lives. The Brexit motto is fast becoming the driving force in 2016 politics: “Take back control!”
Today’s ruling elites do not govern from positions of land ownership or birth, but from assertions of greater education, expertise and wisdom than supposedly possessed by citizens at large. These ruling classes increasingly control our lands, the energy and minerals beneath them, and the lives, livelihoods and living standards of those beyond the DC Beltway. People are getting fed up.
A Financial Times headline just days after the Brexit vote read “Clinton wary of populist contagion.” She should be.
The very notion that people might vote to loosen the shackles of intrusive government is anathema to her. Like President Obama, Hillary Clinton shares the mindset that democracy is fine if angry liberals can be mobilized to elect an activist, wealth-redistributionist president to “fundamentally transform” America. It’s unsettling and intolerable if conservatives mobilize to unelect this agenda.
Mrs. Clinton and her increasingly far-left party rightly worry that voters have had a bellyful of liberal-progressive policies that have rolled back economic growth, job creation, and incomes for poor, working class and minority families; unleashed waves of illegal immigration; and imposed massive cultural changes on our communities and military. And yet, right after the Brexit vote, Mrs. Clinton said:
“Our first task has to be to make sure the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working class families here in America.” Talk about being insulated from reality.
Possible impacts from Britain’s exit from the EU are hardly the issue. America’s concern is the certain harm to working classes inflicted by Mr. Obama’s policies – which Ms. Hillary promises to redouble if elected. Her comment to West Virginia’s coal country electorate underscores her insensitive disdain.
“I’m going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs,” she informed them. And she won’t stop there.
Germany, Britain and Poland are finally awakening to the ways exorbitant prices for subsidized, unreliable wind and solar electricity are hammering their poor and middle class families, destroying their international competitiveness, and driving their steel, auto, ceramics and other industries out of business. But Mrs. Clinton has also vowed to regulate hydraulic fracturing into oblivion, and ban mining and drilling on federally controlled lands that represent 30-85% of all real estate in Alaska and America’s western states. Her rabid environmentalist base wants to rid these areas of ranching and grazing, as well.
The economic impacts will roll through states and communities like successive tsunamis. Mrs. Clinton, her media and intellectual supporters, and ruling elites will likely respond as they always do.
“What difference at this point does it make?” she ranted at lawmakers who dared to question her lies and incompetence in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his heroic security team in Benghazi.
“Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We didn’t,” the then-First Lady contemptuously responded to suggestions that she and President Clinton mishandled financial reports on their Whitewater land deals. She gave the same dismissive answer to “impertinent” questions about her improper State Department email server.
“Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, & supported,” she tweeted in 2015. But if they’re victims of her husband’s sexual predations, she labels them “trailer trash,” like Gennifer Flowers, or slimes and pressures them to shut up, like Juanita Broaddrick and other women.
Like Mr. Obama and other elites, she surrounds herself with armed security details – and then demands more gun control when unarmed or disarmed Americans are murdered in Orlando, San Bernardino or Fort Hood … while scrubbing press releases and cell phone transcripts of any mention of Islamist motives.
The Obama Justice Department prosecuted ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell over a watch and meeting arrangements. (An 8-0 Supreme Court decision threw out the conviction.) But the DOJ was silent about Secretary of State Clinton appointing Rajiv Fernando to the International Security Advisory Board, giving him access to ultra-sensitive intelligence – when his only apparent “qualification” was raising millions of dollars for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, donating hundreds of thousands to the Clinton Foundation, and giving tens of thousands to Hillary PACs.
The extensive quid-pro-quo of $200,000 Bill and Hill speeches and special deals for Wall Street, Saudi and other supplicants – swelling Clinton Foundation coffers – has received similar DOJ inattention.
Obama, Clinton and other Democrat kids go to pricey, private prep schools – while they oppose funding for charter schools that give poor and minority kids a chance to escape inner city life. They demand full integration of middle-income neighborhoods, but live in segregated, gated communities.
Those who dare question government diktats gets targeted or audited by the IRS, or even find armed SWAT teams bursting through their doors.
Legal immigrants face slow, expensive processing – while illegals from Latin America receive healthcare and education, live in sanctuary cities, and rarely get deported for crimes. 99% of Syrian refugees arriving under the latest Obama decree are Muslims, even as Christians are being exterminated in Syria and Iraq.
More and more, it seems, our government does whatever it decides the times demand – even when it means stifling innovation, growth, jobs and incomes for everyone except bureaucrats and crony corporatist friends, whose decisions, arrangements, perks and pensions are sacrosanct.
“As president, I can do whatever I want,” President Obama has said. If it was meant as a joke, few are laughing. On June 30, total government debt hit a record $19.4 trillion, a jump of nearly $98 billion from the day before. Our kids and their future generations will pay the price.
Elites impose healthcare, climate change, red-ink and transgender agendas – and then go apoplectic over Donald Trump’s controversial remarks. There is a “clear consensus” among intellectual, political and media elites that Donald Trump is “ill-suited to be president,” we repeatedly hear.
By contrast, Mrs. Clinton offers the “calm, steady, experienced leadership” we need in these uncertain times. Such as what we’ve seen on Benghazi, emails, energy, economics and sexual assault?
Ronald Reagan once asked, “If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”
Indeed, who in government has the wisdom, knowledge or right to govern the rest of us, especially with the iron fist they increasingly employ – and with no transparency or accountability?
We gained independence from Britain over far less serious Abuses and Usurpations. Let’s hope we can at least have an angry populace election in 2016. And if Mr. Trump can formulate, articulate and implement sound, practical, job-creating, economy-stimulating policies – and enough voters can unite around him and those policies – America might get its own Brexit from tyrannical centralized, leftist government.
How Government Cronies Redefined the Catfish
An industry clamored for more regulation—because it had a financial interest in doing so.
Cronyism is the ugly marriage between special interest groups and politicians, which results in an abuse of the government's power to grant special privileges to a few winners—for example, unfairly preventing competition or doling out subsidies and bailouts at the expense of taxpayers. Though cronyism is always outrageous, the way cronies go about achieving their goals is sometimes oddly funny. Case in point: the government's changing the definition of catfish to classify the fish as—wait for it—meat, not seafood.
As Patrick Mustain reports in Scientific American, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., included an amendment in the 2008 farm bill designating catfish as a "species amenable to" the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which "requires appointment of inspectors to examine and inspect all meat food products prepared for commerce." The 2014 farm bill made this silly amendment official.
As a result, from now on, catfish and a few other species of fish will be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service rather than by the Food and Drug Administration's seafood inspection program. All other seafood will continue to be inspected by the FDA.
Does it really matter who inspects what fish? Yes, because the cost to develop the new program will be $14 million and the ongoing annual cost during the transition phase will be $2.5 million. The USDA's inspections are also much more burdensome and frequent than the FDA's.
Is that extra scrutiny necessary because catfish carry a high risk of causing food poisoning? Nope. Advocates for the rules will point to recent USDA "discoveries" of chemical residue in catfish, but that finding doesn't hold water. In May 2012, the Government Accountability Office noted that the USDA catfish program "would cause duplication and inefficient use of resources" because "as many as three agencies—FDA, FSIS, and (the National Marine Fisheries Service)—could inspect facilities that process both catfish and other types of seafood." That's insane because in 2013, the GAO also found that catfish are a low-risk food and that safety wouldn't be enhanced by switching inspections from the FDA to the USDA.
A look at who is behind this rule tells you all you need to know about how misguided it is. During the public comment sessions, the domestic catfish farming industry was very vocal about the need for more regulations and oversight of their business. This seems odd because it's not often that one hears of an industry clamoring for more regulations—that is, of course, unless it has a financial interest in doing so.
For years, domestic catfish producers were getting hammered by competition coming from China and Vietnam. Those same catfish farmers understood that unlike the FDA inspection program, the USDA inspection program has a separate "equivalency" test for imports, which adds a layer of regulations only on imports and could take countries years to implement. In the meantime, they'd be completely barred from the U.S. market. Domestic catfish farmers love that. Also, 94 percent of U.S. farm-raised catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, hence the interest of Sen. Cochran to push this misguided regulation on catfish.
Unfortunately, there are many losers in this scenario. First, the reduced competition faced by catfish farmers guarantees that the price for the fish (or should I say meat?) will go up. Second, catfish processors are on the losing side of the USDA inspection rule because most of them process other seafood—and now they'll have to comply with the USDA rules and the FDA rules. Third, taxpayers will have to foot an expensive bill for a duplicative rule that will achieve little except artificially boosting the profits of a few domestic catfish farmers. Finally, non-catfish industries will suffer as a result of the trade retaliation against this catfish protectionism.
There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel. As Heritage Action for America's Dan Holler recently told me, "the choice between consumers and well-connected parochial special interests should not be difficult for Republican leaders. With a presidential signature likely and a clear majority of House Republicans in support of overturning the ... rule, now is the time to act." But will they?
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4 July, 2016
On America's Independence Day, the push for independence in countries on the other side of the Atlantic is to be admired and applauded
After Brexit, the People’s Spring Is Inevitable
A cogent essay below by the popular Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front party in France, a party critical of immigration and the EU
IF there’s one thing that chafes French pride, it’s seeing the British steal the limelight. But in the face of real courage, even the proudest French person can only tip his hat and bow. The decision that the people of Britain have just made was indeed an act of courage — the courage of a people who embrace their freedom.
Brexit won out, defeating all forecasts. Britain decided to cast off from the European Union and reclaim its independence among the world’s nations. It had been said that the election would hinge solely on economic matters; the British, however, were more insightful in understanding the real issue than commentators like to admit.
British voters understood that behind prognostications about the pound’s exchange rate and behind the debates of financial experts, only one question, at once simple and fundamental, was being asked: Do we want an undemocratic authority ruling our lives, or would we rather regain control over our destiny? Brexit is, above all, a political issue. It’s about the free choice of a people deciding to govern itself. Even when it is touted by all the propaganda in the world, a cage remains a cage, and a cage is unbearable to a human being in love with freedom.
The European Union has become a prison of peoples. Each of the 28 countries that constitute it has slowly lost its democratic prerogatives to commissions and councils with no popular mandate. Every nation in the union has had to apply laws it did not want for itself. Member nations no longer determine their own budgets. They are called upon to open their borders against their will.
Countries in the eurozone face an even less enviable situation. In the name of ideology, different economies are forced to adopt the same currency, even if doing so bleeds them dry. It’s a modern version of the Procrustean bed, and the people no longer have a say.
And what about the European Parliament? It’s democratic in appearance only, because it’s based on a lie: the pretense that there is a homogeneous European people, and that a Polish member of the European Parliament has the legitimacy to make law for the Spanish. We have tried to deny the existence of sovereign nations. It’s only natural that they would not allow being denied.
Brexit wasn’t the European people’s first cry of revolt. In 2005, France and the Netherlands held referendums about the proposed European Union constitution. In both countries, opposition was massive, and other governments decided on the spot to halt the experiment for fear the contagion might spread. A few years later, the European Union constitution was forced on the people of Europe anyway, under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty. In 2008, Ireland, also by way of referendum, refused to apply that treaty. And once again, a popular decision was brushed aside.
When in 2015 Greece decided by referendum to reject Brussels’ austerity plans, the European Union’s antidemocratic response took no one by surprise: To deny the people’s will had become a habit. In a flash of honesty, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, unabashedly declared, “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
Brexit may not have been the first cry of hope, but it may be the people’s first real victory. The British have presented the union with a dilemma it will have a hard time getting out of. Either it allows Britain to sail away quietly and thus runs the risk of setting a precedent: The political and economic success of a country that left the European Union would be clear evidence of the union’s noxiousness. Or, like a sore loser, the union makes the British pay for their departure by every means possible and thus exposes the tyrannical nature of its power. Common sense points toward the former option. I have a feeling Brussels will choose the latter.
One thing is certain: Britain’s departure from the European Union will not make the union more democratic. The hierarchical structure of its supranational institutions will want to reinforce itself: Like all dying ideologies, the union knows only how to forge blindly ahead. The roles are already cast — Germany will lead the way, and France will obligingly tag along.
Here is a sign: President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain take their lead directly from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, without running through Brussels. A quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” now has a clear answer: Call Berlin.
So the people of Europe have but one alternative left: to remain bound hand-and-foot to a union that betrays national interests and popular sovereignty and that throws our countries wide open to massive immigration and arrogant finance, or to reclaim their freedom by voting.
Calls for referendums are ringing throughout the Continent. I myself have suggested to Mr. Hollande that one such public consultation be held in France. He did not fail to turn me down. More and more, the destiny of the European Union resembles the destiny of the Soviet Union, which died from its own contradictions.
The People’s Spring is now inevitable! The only question left to ask is whether Europe is ready to rid itself of its illusions, or if the return to reason will come with suffering. I made my decision a long time ago: I chose France. I chose sovereign nations. I chose freedom.
Following the Brexit, Europe may witness even more plebiscites against the undemocratic European Union throughout the continent.
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations and more redistributive taxes.
But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business.
The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity.
On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania.
Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform.
In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract.
The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention.
Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights.
No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays.
Many Americans were bewildered by the logic. It’s reasonable to conclude that the shooter was conflicted over his religion’s strict prohibitions about his lifestyle — and especially the American brand of tolerance as exemplified by the nightclub. Mateen’s immigrant father from Afghanistan is a crude homophobe who had praised the murderous Taliban. Mateen somehow had cleared all background checks and on at least two occasions had been interviewed and dismissed by the FBI.
In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection.
Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun.
In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant.
The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh.
America’s version of the British antidote to elite hypocrisy is the buffoonish populist Donald Trump. Like the architects of Brexit, he arose not from what he was for, but what he said he was against.
There’s no question illegal immigration is a thorn in the side of those Americans who are interested in fairness and Rule of Law. Many millions are offended at the thought of people circumventing the system while those who go about it the right way are played for suckers by a government that has made the legal process more time-consuming and expensive. And that’s not to mention the cost and other crime involved.
Discussions of building a wall for border security and ending “birthright” citizenship for non-citizens, though, have much less meaning when it’s clear that those currently in charge of law enforcement have little interest in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, particularly the tide that flows across our southern border. (As many as half of illegal immigrants are illegal because they have overstayed their legal permission to be here, but we have at least some idea of who they are since they have paperwork on file — not that anyone is rushing to address this issue, either.)
Yet while we have a president who would rather wield a pen and a phone than wait on Congress to hash out common-sense immigration policy, his approach was given a default rebuke by a split Supreme Court last week, as the justices chose not to overturn a lower court decision which said that Barack Obama’s approach was not a constitutional one.
Picking and choosing which laws to enforce or ignore is of course no way to maintain Rule of Law, but it’s Obama’s preferred style.
Meanwhile, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defiantly told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, illegal immigrants are “here and they’re not going anywhere.” And as long as the issue remains alive it can be used to score political points, as Mark Alexander wrote in the wake of the 2014 election.
But there’s an argument, proffered by Andrew McCarthy at National Review and seconded by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, that the most effective way to deal with illegal immigration is simple: “attrition through enforcement.” We have the laws on the books already — after all, they’re not called “illegal aliens” for nothing — so the impediment to success is a lack of willingness to uphold the law. It may create a lot of headaches for certain businesses and the pro-amnesty national Chamber of Commerce, but McCarthy and Krikorian argue that limiting the opportunities for undocumented workers would likely convince them to return home.
Further, McCarthy makes the case that the matter is not one of national security, but law enforcement. “The distinction is important because, while national security threats must be defeated, law enforcement problems are managed,” writes McCarthy. “We don’t expect to wipe them out. We figure out how many offenders there are and what resources we have to address them, and we deploy the resources in a manner that gives us the biggest bang for the buck.”
Yet the most immediate issue for law enforcement is the danger of being overmatched at the border by organized crime, which has exploited our lax border security and enforcement and found a willing market for their illicit activities. Is that “here and not going anywhere,” too?
We can argue whether the damage from amnesty 30 years ago is too great, as two more generations of illegal immigrants have impatiently waited for their own “permiso.” But letting them know that there won’t be a second round of amnesty, that the law is the law, and that it will be enforced appropriately would do as much to solve the problem as any wall would.
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3 July, 2016
“What would you do? Just let people die?”
“Well then, what would you do? Just let people die?” Those words were thrown at me the first time I debated a national healthcare program for America, way back in the 1990s. Through all the years since then, I have been hearing some version of them at regular intervals.
During the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), that question was the ultimate resort of anyone arguing in favor of the law: whatever its problems, it was better than letting tens of thousands of Americans die each year.
There are a couple of shaky assumptions underlying the question. The first is that health insurance does a great deal to increase health and reduce mortality. This seems obvious enough, but it’s surprisingly hard to tease out of the data.
For example, the creation of Medicare, which vastly expanded utilization of health care, seems to have produced no measurable impact on mortality among the elderly in its first 10 years of existence. There is ample evidence that health insurance protects people from financial risk — which isn’t surprising, because that’s what insurance is for. The evidence that it protects people from premature death is less compelling.
Of course, the financial risk is a real problem — a health-related financial disaster can be devastating for families that go through it. But even if we also assume that there are real, and large, health benefits from providing insurance to people, that still wouldn’t mean that the ACA was better than nothing. This is the fallacious syllogism that led America into the Iraq War:
1. Something must be done.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, this must be done.
And thus we got a bloated, complicated law that still isn’t quite working as planned. Fewer people are insured than projected, the insurance is less generous than be expected, the exchanges are in financial trouble, the federal back end to pay insurers still hasn’t been built.
Worst of all, we’ve locked in most of the features that people hated about the old system: the lack of transparency, the endless battles with insurers over what is covered and what isn’t, the feeling that you are captive to behemoth government and corporate bureaucracies that are more interested in the numbers on their spreadsheets than in what you want out of your health care.
I do think that something should have been done. But not this something. What we should have done is created a system that focused on protecting people from the risk we know they face — catastrophic medical bills — and that sought to preserve the best of the American system rather than the worst — that is, to preserve our endless talent for innovation through markets rather than our decidedly lesser talent for creating and managing massive regulatory bureaucracies.
Government as the Insurer of Last Resort
How could a government program have freed up markets to innovate? Simple: by getting the government to do something it already does decently well, which is to function as the insurer of last resort. Deposit insurance, pioneered by the United States, has basically halted bank runs. Pension benefit guarantees have made sure seniors don’t end up in penury. (The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation could be better financed, but that doesn’t mean the idea itself is bad.) FEMA essentially functions as an insurer of last resort for people struck by natural disasters.
These programs introduce a certain amount of moral hazard, as people take more risks and underinsure themselves in the expectation that the government will pick up the tab. But when you look at the devastation these programs have mitigated, it is hard to call them anything but an overwhelming success.
How would a similar program work for health care? The government would pick up 100 percent of the tab for health care over a certain percentage of adjusted gross income — the number would have to be negotiated through the political process, but I have suggested between 15 and 20 percent.
There could be special treatment for people living at or near the poverty line, and for people who have medical bills that exceed the set percentage of their income for five years in a row, so that the poor and people with chronic illness are not disadvantaged by the system.
In exchange, we would get rid of the tax deduction for employer-sponsored health insurance, and all the other government health insurance programs, with the exception of the military’s system, which for obvious reasons does need to be run by the government.
People would be free to insure the gap if they wanted, and such insurance would be relatively cheap, because the insurers would see their losses strictly limited. Or people could choose to save money in a tax-deductible health savings account to cover the eventual likelihood of a serious medical problem.
Advantages of the Insurer-of-Last-Resort Alternative
Of course, anyone proposing an alternative to the ACA, or to the previous status quo, has to be able to say why the alternative is better. In this case, there are three answers to that challenge. First of all, it is dead simple, and the simpler a government program is, the better it works. The ideal government program can be explained to a third grader on a postcard, and this one comes close.
The second reason this is better is that it protects people from actual catastrophic costs better than the existing system, while also being more progressive. Warren Buffett will get nothing out of the system; someone with very little income will have all medical bills paid. No one will have to worry about being slapped with an unpayable bill if, say, an anesthesiologist turns out to be out of network.
But the third and most important reason this alternative is better is that it introduces a key element that has gone missing from health care since third-party payers started to take responsibility for the bills: transparent prices, and consumers who make decisions based on them.
Milton Friedman famously divided spending into four categories, which P. J. O’Rourke summarized thus:
1. You spend your money on yourself. You’re motivated to get the thing you want most at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.
2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.
3. You spend other people’s money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.
4. You spend other people’s money on other people. And in this case, who gives a [damn]?
The first category is what produces market efficiency. Unfortunately, almost no one in the system does that. Instead, we have insurers spending their money on someone else, consumers spending someone else’s money on themselves, and the government spending other people’s money on someone else. No one gets what he or she wants, vast oceans of times are wasted fighting over what to buy, and it all costs too much.
Of course, some things are too expensive to get price discipline from this system: organ transplants, very early preemies, many forms of cancer. But there’s little price discipline in those areas now, so we wouldn’t be any worse off. Meanwhile, lots of areas, from hospital beds to the details of knee surgery, would for the first time in decades be subject to the decisions of consumers who care both about getting what they need and about how much they’re spending.
I spent years uninsured in my twenties, and remarkably, I got the best health care of my life, because doctors stopped performing tests and procedures “just in case” and thought hard about what was necessary. I was obviously taking an enormous financial risk, and the government can usefully mitigate that. But I was also an empowered consumer rather than a number in our vast healthcare bureaucracy. A better future for American health care would be one where more people are uninsured and fewer of them are at risk.
What happens when the rule of men supplants Rule of Law? In the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole, you end up with a Court decision that strikes a severe blow to those who seek to protect the lives of the unborn. The most significant abortion decision in a quarter century is also yet another reminder of the Court’s importance this November.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 to strike down a Texas law in its entirety over two particular requirements. First, abortionists had to have admitting privileges to a local hospital. Second, clinics had to meet surgical standards. Both provisions in Texas law were enacted to protect mothers and the lives of unborn children.
Justice Alito noted, “The law was one of many enacted by states in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal, in which a physician who ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia was convicted for the first degree murder of three infants who were born alive and for the manslaughter of a patient.”
And National Review adds, “Whole Women’s Health, which operates facilities in four Texas cities, was disciplined repeatedly by the state for offenses ranging from failing to have licensed nursing staff at the facility (2007) to illegally dumping medical waste (2011) to using rusty equipment (2014). In 2013, it was cited on 13 different safety-code violations.”
In addition to ensuring that qualified doctors were the only doctors allowed to perform abortion procedures, the Texas abortion law would also have reduced the number of clinics from 42 to 10. The state government had essentially decided that the other 32 locations were unsuitable for medical procedures. Again, Texas was trying to protect mothers and unborn children.
But SCOTUS decided that the restrictions in Texas posed an “undue burden” on a woman’s supposed constitutional right to have unrestricted access an abortion. Aren’t abortion supporters supposed to be worried about “safe” abortions?
Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion, while Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Clarence Thomas dissented. Even a living Antonin Scalia wouldn’t have saved this one.
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” argued Breyer’s majority opinion. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.”
Following the decision, Obama crowed, “I am pleased to see the Supreme Court protect women’s rights and health today. These restrictions harm women’s health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman’s reproductive freedom.”
And of course Hillary Clinton chimed in, “This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”
Did you catch all of this nonsense? The Texas law violates the Federal Constitution it imposed an unconstitutional obstacle and women’s basic rights won’t be punished.
Exactly which Constitution are these people reading? To be abundantly clear, there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that secures or provides a woman’s ability to take the life of her unborn child. Period.
Writing in a blistering dissent, Justice Thomas maintained that the majority’s decision “ignores compelling evidence that Texas' law imposes no unconstitutional burden.” Thomas also objected that the decision “perpetuates the Court’s habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights — especially the putative right to abortion.”
He went further, writing, “The Court has simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution. But our Constitution renounces the notion that some constitutional rights are more equal than others. A plaintiff either possesses the constitutional right he is asserting, or not — and if not, the judiciary has no business creating ad hoc exceptions so that others can assert rights that seem especially important to vindicate. A law either infringes a constitutional right, or not; there is no room for the judiciary to invent tolerable degrees of encroachment.”
There is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and rights to free speech, due process and private property, among others. Statists go out of their way to impose restrictions and regulations on those rights. But in this case, the black-robed despots declared that Texas cannot impose regulations or restrictions on a right that previous justices created out of thin air.
The majority opinion also addressed the argument that new regulations from Texas would prevent misconduct. Breyer wrote, “[T]here is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior. Determined wrongdoers, already ignoring existing statutes and safety measures, are unlikely to be convinced to adopt safe practices by a new overlay of regulations.”
If that is the case for abortion, then why doesn’t the Court consistently apply the same reasoning to restrictions on the right to own firearms, or due process, or religion?
Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision is a severe blow for Texas and those across America who fight for life. And the decision will most likely open up new cases against other states that have passed similar measures. Conservatives in Texas lost this battle, but the war is far from being over. The next battle is the presidential election, which will decide who nominates the next justice(s). Don’t underestimate the importance of the future composition of the courts.
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1 July, 2016
A cogent challege to minimum wage orthodoxy
As a former High School economics teacher, I understand well the conventional arguments against a government-mandated rise in the minimum wage. I have in fact put up on this blog a number of articles arguing against the practice. Ron Unz has however put up below a series of arguments suggesting BENEFITS of a higher minimum wage and rejecting the arguments against it.
The key point for me was his demonstration that most minimum wage jobs are in the personal service economy, where they cannot usually be substituted or mechanized. And since there is a big demand for such services, users of such services would just have to bite the bullet and pay the higher price that such services would then require. It's worth reading his argument on that below.
It is of course possible that some marginal businesses in highly competitive markets might not be able to square the circle. Higher wages would force them out of business. But the point is that the services they provide would still be in demand, so someone else would supply that service, perhaps using a business model that is more efficient.
The way Amazon has driven many bookshops out of business is a good example. You can still buy as many books as you like but the provision of those books is now enabled by highly efficient warehousing, a myriad of people packing the goods and a big increase in jobs for delivery drivers.
But what about the dumb clucks who are incapable of providing a service useful enough to justify a higher minimum wage? For a start, most dumb clucks cannot provide a useful service right now, and subsist on welfare payments. So we are talking about a quite narrow slice of the labour market. And with higher prices for services having become the norm, their efforts might still be worth the income that higher prices bring in.
But they could also be helped by a measure not mentioned by Unz but which I, in my libertarian way, have been advocating for some time. I think that anyone who has been unemployed for some time -- e.g. two years -- should be exempt from minimum wage laws. You would then have a class of "exempt" workers who would be in some demand to do tasks that would not otherwise be worth doing. They would get some income and some is better than none -- JR
With Americans still trapped in the fifth year of our Great Recession, and median personal income having been essentially stagnant for forty years, perhaps we should finally admit that decades of economic policies have largely failed.
The last two years of our supposed recovery have seen American growth rates averaging well under 2 percent. Although our media often pays greater attention to the recent gains in stock market and asset prices, such paltry growth means that many of the millions of jobs lost in 2008 and 2009 will never be regained, and the broadest measures of American unemployment and underemployment will remain stuck in the vicinity of 15%. Meanwhile, an astonishing 93% of the total increase in income during the recovery period has been captured by the top one percent of earners, who now hold almost as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent of our society. This polarized situation does not bode well for our future, and unless broader social trends in jobs and incomes soon improve, dark days surely lie ahead.
If we seek to create jobs and raise incomes for ordinary Americans, we should consider what sorts of jobs and incomes these might be. Since economists and policy analysts tend to have advanced degrees and many leading journalists these days are Ivy League alumni, their employment perceptions may often diverge from reality. So let us review the official government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as discussed by Prof. Jack Metzgar of Chicago’s Center for Working-Class Studies and brought to my attention in an excellent column by the late Alexander Cockburn. Metzgar writes:
The BLS’s three largest occupational categories by themselves accounted for more than one-third of the workforce in 2010 (49 million jobs), and they will make an outsized contribution to the new jobs projected for 2020. They are:
Office and administrative support occupations (median wage of $30,710)
Sales and related occupations ($24,370)
Food preparation and serving occupations ($18,770)
Other occupations projected to provide the largest number of new jobs in the next decade include child care workers ($19,300), personal care aides ($19,640), home health aides ($20,560), janitors and cleaners ($22,210), teacher assistants ($23,220), non-construction laborers ($23,460), security guards ($23,920), and construction laborers ($29,280).
Although our bipartisan elites regularly suggest higher education as the best elixir for what ails our economy and its workers, few of these job categories seem logical careers for individuals who have devoted four years of their life to the study of History, Psychology, or Business Education, often at considerable expense. Nor would we expect the increased production of such degrees, presumably at lower-tier or for-profit colleges, to have much positive impact on the wages or working conditions of janitors or security guards.
Consider that only 20% of current jobs require even a bachelors’ degree. More than 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have graduated college, so this implies that one-third or more of today’s college graduates are over-educated for their current employment, perhaps conforming to the stereotype of the college psychology major working at Starbucks or McDonalds.
Furthermore, this employment situation will change only gradually over the next decade, according to BLS projections. Millions of jobs in our “knowledge economy” do currently require a post-graduate degree, and the numbers are growing rapidly; but even by 2020, these will constitute less than 5% of the total, while around 70% of all jobs will still require merely a high school diploma.
Education may be valuable for other reasons, but it does not seem to hold the answer to our jobs and incomes problem.
If additional education is a dead end, other partisan nostrums appear equally doubtful. Large cuts in government taxation or regulation are unlikely to benefit the average sales clerk or waitress. And the favored progressive proposal of a huge new government stimulus package has absolutely no chance of getting through Congress; but even if it did, few of the funds would flow to the low-paid private sector service workers catalogued above, and any broader social gains would rely upon a secondary boost in economic activity produced by putting extra government dollars into private pockets.
So how might we possibly raise the wages of American workers who fill this huge roster of underpaid and lesser-skilled positions, holding jobs which are almost entirely concentrated in the private service sector?
Perhaps the most effective means of raising their wages is simply to raise their wages.
Consider the impact of a large increase in the federal minimum wage, perhaps to $10 or more likely $12 per hour.
The generally low-end jobs catalogued above are entirely in the non-tradable service sector; they could not be outsourced to even lower-paid foreigners in Bangalore or Manila. Perhaps there might be some incentive for further automation, but the nature of the jobs in question – focused on personal interactions requiring human skills – are exactly those least open to mechanical replacement. Just consider the difficulty and expense of automating the job of a home health care aide, child care worker, or bartender.
With direct replacement via outsourcing or automation unlikely, employers responding to a higher minimum wage would be faced with the choice of either increasing the wages of their lowest paid workers by perhaps a couple of dollars per hour, or eliminating their jobs. There would likely be some job loss, but given the simultaneous rise in labor costs among all competitors and the localized market for these services, the logical business response would be to raise prices by a few percent to help cover increased costs while also trimming current profit margins. Perhaps consumers would pay 3 percent more for Wal-Mart goods or an extra dime for a McDonald’s hamburger, but most of the jobs would still exist and the price changes would be small compared to typical fluctuations due to commodity and energy prices, international exchange rates, or Chinese production costs.
The resulting one-time inflationary spike would slightly raise living expenses for everyone in our society, but the immediate 20% or 30% boost in the take-home pay of many millions of America’s lowest income workers would make it easy for them to absorb these small costs, while the impact upon the middle or upper classes would be totally negligible. An increase in the hourly minimum wage from the current federal level of $7.25 to (say) $12.00 might also have secondary, smaller ripple effects, boosting wages currently above that level as well.
A minimum wage in this range is hardly absurd or extreme. In 2012 dollars, the American minimum wage was over $10 in 1968 during our peak of postwar prosperity and full employment. The average minimum wage in Canadian provinces is currently well over $10 per hour, the national figure for France is more than $12, and Australia has the remarkable combination of a minimum wage of nearly $16.50 together with 5 percent unemployment.
Even a large increase in the minimum wage would have very little impact on America’s international competitiveness since almost everyone employed in our surviving manufacturing export sector – whether in unionized Seattle or non-union South Carolina – already earns far above the current minimum wage. The same is also true for government workers, resulting in negligible increased cost to taxpayers.
Leaving aside the obvious gains in financial and personal well-being for the lower strata of America’s working class, there would also be a large economic multiplier effect, boosting general business activity in our weak economy. America’s working poor tend to spend almost every dollar they earn, often even sinking into temporary debt on a monthly basis. Raising the annual income of each such wage-earner couple by eight or ten thousand dollars would immediately send those same dollars flowing into the regular consumer economy, boosting sales and general economic activity. In effect, the proposal represents an enormous government stimulus package, but one targeting the working-poor and funded entirely by the private sector.
Ironically, it is likely that major elements of the private sector would be perfectly happy with this arrangement. For example, despite their low-wage and anti-worker reputation, Wal-Mart’s top executives lobbied Congress in 2005 for an increase in the minimum wage, concerned that their working-class customer base was growing too impoverished to shop at their stores. Wal-Mart might never be willing to raise its wages in isolation, but if a higher minimum wage forces all competitors to do the same, then prices can also be raised to help make up the difference, while the large rise in disposable consumer income would greatly increase sales.
Although the direct financial benefits to working-class Americans and our economy as a whole are the primary justifications for the proposal, there are a number of subsidiary benefits as well, ranging across both economic and non-economic areas.
First, the net dollar transfers through the labor market in this proposal would generally be from higher to lower income strata, and lower-income individuals tend to pay a much larger fraction of their income in payroll and sales taxes. Thus, a large boost in working-class wages would obviously have a very positive impact on the financial health of Social Security, Medicare and other government programs funded directly from the paycheck. Meanwhile, increased sales tax collections would improve the dismal fiscal picture for state and local governments, and the public school systems they finance.
Furthermore, as large portions of the working-poor became much less poor, the payout of the existing Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be sharply reduced. Although popular among politicians, the EITC is a classic example of economic special interests privatizing profits while socializing costs: employers receive the full benefits of their low-wage workforce while a substantial fraction of the wage expense is pushed onto the taxpayers. Private companies should fund their own payrolls rather than rely upon substantial government subsidies, which produce major distortions in market signals.
Even on the highly contentious and seemingly unrelated issue of immigration, a large rise in the minimum wage might have a strongly positive impact. During the last decade or two, American immigration has been running at historically high levels, with the overwhelming majority of these immigrants being drawn here by hopes of employment. This vast influx of eager workers has naturally strengthened the position of Capital at the expense of Labor, and much of the stagnation or decline in working-class wages has probably been a result, since this sector has been in greatest direct competition with lower-skilled immigrants.
Not only would a large rise in the minimum wage reverse many years of this economic “race to the bottom,” but it would impact immigration itself, even without changes in government enforcement policy. One of the few sectors likely to be devastated by a much higher minimum wage would be the sweatshops and other very low wage or marginal businesses which tend to disproportionably employ new immigrants, especially illegal ones. Sweatshops and similar industries have no legitimate place in a developed economy, and their elimination would reduce the sort of lowest-rung job openings continually drawing impoverished new immigrants. Meanwhile, those immigrants who have already been here some time, learned English, and established a solid employment record would be kept on at higher wages, reaping the same major benefits as non-immigrant Americans within the ranks of the working-poor.
Finally, one of the more unexpected benefits of a large rise in the minimum wage would follow from a total reversal of bipartisan conventional wisdom. Whereas our elites regularly tell us that an increase in higher education might have the benefit of raising American wages, I would instead argue that a sharp rise in ordinary wages would have the benefit of reducing higher education, whose growth increasingly resembles that of an unsustainable bubble.
Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment in postsecondary institutions increased 37 percent, compared to just 11 percent during the previous decade, with the recent increase being almost three times that of the growth of the underlying population of 18- to 24-year-olds. Indeed, relative enrollment growth for older students – 25 and above – was far greater than for students in the younger, more traditional ages. Furthermore, “Business” has overwhelmingly become the most popular undergraduate major, attracting nearly as many students as the combined total of the next three categories – Social Sciences and History, Health Sciences, and Education.
If rapidly growing numbers of individuals, especially those many years past their high school graduation, are now attending college and majoring in Business, they are probably not doing so purely out of love of learning and a desire for broadening their intellectual horizons. Instead, they have presumably accepted the pronouncements of authority figures that higher education will benefit them economically. Put in harsher terms, they may believe that a college degree is their best hope of avoiding a life of permanent poverty trapped in the ranks of the working-poor.
Although there is a clear mismatch between the requirements of America’s projected jobs and the benefits of a college education, this notion of “college or poverty” may not be entirely mistaken. A recent college graduate is almost 20 percentage points more likely to have a job than a person of the same age with only a high school degree. As a competitive signaling device, a 4-year degree may help someone land an office job as an administrative assistant rather than one as a fast-food server. But this is costly to the individual and to society.
Even leaving aside the absurdity of young people spending years of their lives studying business theory or psychology to obtain jobs which traditionally went to high school graduates, the financial cost is enormous. A generation or more ago, expenses at solid state institutions and similar colleges were fairly low, and could mostly be financed by small grants, parental savings, and part-time student jobs. But educational costs have increased 133% above inflation over the last thirty years, and the government-subsidized college-loan industry has grown in parallel. Last year, the total volume of outstanding student-loan debt passed the trillion dollar mark, now exceeding either credit-card or auto loan debt.
Two-thirds of recent college graduates borrowed to finance their education, and their average debt is over $23,000, while the load for those who pursue graduate or professional degrees can easily exceed the hundred thousand dollar mark. These debts are exempt from bankruptcy discharge, and unless graduates quickly find high-paying jobs – not easy in an economy with very high youthful unemployment – the required payments may remain larger than the combined total of their federal, state, and local taxes. This privatized “education tax” may become a permanent, terrible burden, pushing any plans for marriage, family, and home purchase into the distant future. Barely half of 18- to 24-year-olds are currently employed, the lowest level in over sixty years, so we should not be surprised that a quarter of all student-loan payers are currently delinquent. Without the possibility of bankruptcy to clear their load, permanent debt-peonage for a substantial fraction of the next generation seems a very real possibility.
The aggressive marketing tactics of for-profit colleges and the student loan industry have disturbing parallels with the sub-prime lenders who played a destructive role in the Housing Bubble. Our national elites gave strong public support to the goal of universal home-ownership. Families were warned that if they did not stretch their income and their credit to buy a house at the inflated prices being offered, they would be permanently priced out of the market and condemned to second-class economic citizenship. Today, very similar warnings are made about the failure to invest in a college education, and this is backed by the aggressive advertising and sales tactics of the lucrative and well-connected for-profit sectors of the Higher Education-Industrial Complex, such as University of Phoenix and Kaplan Schools.
The lax lending standards and regulatory policies supporting greater homeownership were a major factor in our catastrophic financial collapse, in which the average family has now lost 40% of its net worth and many millions of Americans are on the edge of foreclosure, bankruptcy, and destitution. Nearly everyone lost, while a tiny handful of individuals and companies made vast, unearned fortunes from facilitating the growth of the bubble or later betting upon its collapse. A similar outcome in higher education seems quite likely.
Now consider the impact of a sharp rise in the minimum wage, sufficient to remove the taint of poverty overhanging so many of our lower-tier jobs. Those academically-oriented students who plan to pursue challenging college majors in engineering, computer software, or other STEM fields would be completely unaffected by a rise in pay for home health aides, nor would there be any impact on the college plans of those seeking to broaden their horizons with serious academic study in literature, history, or philosophy.
But for those millions who regard postsecondary education as merely a way of punching their ticket with a “business” degree and thereby gaining a shot at a middle class income, the calculus would be different: four years of academic work, four years of foregone income, and many tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees would be weighed against earning a reasonable living straight out of high school or with a form of shorter vocational training like an apprenticeship. Certainly in the past, when well-paid factory jobs were plentiful, a large fraction of students made the latter choice, and seldom regretted it.
Meanwhile, if college enrollments were reduced to those who actually wanted or needed a college education, supply and demand would begin deflating our Higher Education Bubble, forcing a sharp drop in ever-escalating educational costs. Since government loans and subsidies would be targeted at a much smaller pool of students, they could be made more generous, reducing the debt burden on those who do still seek a degree.
Public policy experts sometimes glorify complexity, proposing intricate, interlocking systems aimed at a desired result. But such structures are only as strong as their weakest link, and a proposal too complex to fully understand is also too complex to fix. Our government has sought to ensure a decent living for American workers through an enormous array of income subsidies, public benefits, training programs, and educational loans; at this point, many of these components have accumulated powerful and parasitic side-beneficiaries while leaving the working class behind.
Since this vast and leaky conglomeration has failed at its intended goal, perhaps we should just try raising wages instead.
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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.
As a good academic, I first define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.
So the essential feature of Leftism is that they think they have the right to tell other people what to do
The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them
Leftists are the disgruntled folk. They see things in the world that are not ideal and conclude therefore that they have the right to change those things by force. Conservative explanations of why things are not ideal -- and never can be -- fall on deaf ears
Let's start with some thought-provoking graphics
Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit
The difference in practice
The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality
Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today
The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.
R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason
Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale
So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story
We conservatives have the facts on our side, which is why Leftists never want to debate us and do their best to shut us up. It's very revealing the way they go to great lengths to suppress conservative speech at universities. Universities should be where the best and brightest Leftists are to be found but even they cannot stand the intellectual challenge that conservatism poses for them. It is clearly a great threat to them. If what we say were ridiculous or wrong, they would grab every opportunity to let us know it.
A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested
Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.
A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds
In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive
Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism
Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?
And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama
That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"
Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out
Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility
Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.
If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.
The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that
Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it
Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.
Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech
Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Leftists don't understand that -- which is a major factor behind their simplistic thinking. They just never see the trade-offs. But implementing any Leftist idea will hit us all with the trade-offs
"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often their theories fail badly.
Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.
Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves
Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"
In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"
Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong
Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.
A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.
What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.
Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.
Seminal Leftist philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel said something that certainly applies to his fellow Leftists: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history". And he captured the Left in this saying too: "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself".
"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals
Funny how to the Leftist intelligentsia poor blacks are 'oppressed' and poor whites are 'trash'. Racism, anyone?
MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)
Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate
Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”
Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists
The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.
Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):
Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House
Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".
Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."
The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.
Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.
It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.
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.
Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”
The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.
“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.” ? Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty
The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."
Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion
A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.
The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges
It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell
Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal
"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell
Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."
"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann
Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."
It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.
American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.
The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant
The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational
Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.
The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage
Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth
The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?
The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration
"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)
A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy
"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson
"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell
Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)
The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters
Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.
Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783
Some useful definitions:
If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed. If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone. If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him. If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down. If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!) If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts
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"
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
The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.
Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt
A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.
"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)
Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.
A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev
I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful
The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel
Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.
Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.
"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises
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.
The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload
A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here
Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16
Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.
Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."
Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable
Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary
How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes
Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"
"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"
The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"
"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"
Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean
It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier
If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.
3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):
"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)
"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"
During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out
"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." --?Arthur Schopenhauer
JEWS AND ISRAEL
The Bible is an Israeli book
To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities
My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3
"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)
Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder
To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.
I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.
Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen
If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!
And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!
Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.
I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.
The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned
Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death
"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.
Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being
Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel
Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.
Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.
If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.
Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?
The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"
UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.
I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.
I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)
The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it
Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia
Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain
Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.
IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.
I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.
I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.
I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address
Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.
"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit
It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.
"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation
A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.
As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows
Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry
My academic background
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here
I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.
Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide
Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals
As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway
I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.
COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.
You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way
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)
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: