Friday, September 19, 2014

An unsympathetic view of America

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

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

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

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

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

Got that?

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

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

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


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

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


I think we all know this guy


TWO medical backflips in one day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Eric Holder’s Treating Conservatives Like Terrorists!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the DOJ’s own manuals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Spread of Rocky Mountain Jihad

Michelle Malkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Census: Real Household Income Peaked in 20th Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Huh: Anti-Gun Billionaire Buys a Nazi Tank

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

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

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

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

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

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

You just can't make this stuff up.



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

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


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Real Sickness At The Heart Of American Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Will The Swiss Vote to Get Their Gold Back?

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The anti-salt craze is dying

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

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

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

So it was LOW salt levels that killed you!

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

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

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

Helene Lelong et al


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

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

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

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

Am J Hypertens (2014)

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

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

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

James J. DiNicolantonio et al.

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

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

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


The Great Wall of Credit: Lessons From Chinese Housing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A Society Sickened by Welfare

America can no longer afford the current level of government largesse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


Monday, September 15, 2014

Indoctrination by ESPN

Preaching Fascist "control" over people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Yahoo was threatened with heavy fines by US government over metadata

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Obama Reshapes Appellate Bench

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

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

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

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



Obama Administration Stops Prosecuting Illegal Aliens!

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Well said

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

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

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

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

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



Worth thinking about


Study shows conservatives are happier than liberals

This is a common finding -- JR

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

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

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

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

SOURCE Journal abstract follows:

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

Okulicz-Kozaryn A, Holmes O, Avery DR.


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

J Appl Psychol. 2014 Aug 25

Frightened Turtles


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Founders weren't.



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