Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The New Testament canon

I think it is axiomatic that Christians accept the Bible as the word of God.  If you don't accept the Bible as the word of God but still claim to be a Christian, you are some sort of hyphenated Christian.  I would call Episcopalians and Anglicans generally, post-Christians. Their adoration of homosexuals flies in the face of explicit Bible teachings in both the Old and New Testaments so they clearly do not accept the Bible as the word of God.

But what is meant by "word of God"?  Did God use the Bible writers as some sort of stenographers -- dictating precisely every word they wrote?  People who believe that are said to be "verbal inspiration" believers.  The verbal inspiration doctrine has great difficulties, however.  Take the account of what happened at Christ's tomb when his followers found his body no longer there. The four gospels give rather different accounts of what happened.

In Matthew 28 for instance, we read that when the two Marys approached the tomb, a glorious  angel came down and rolled away the stone.

In Mark 16 however we find that the stone had already been rolled away before they got there.  So they went into the tomb and met a young man sitting in it who told them Christ was risen.

And in Luke 24 we find that the women went into the tomb and were puzzled to find it empty.  But then two men in shining garments suddenly appeared beside them. And it was only after they had bowed to the men did the men tell them that Christ is risen.

And John 20 is different again.  This time it was just Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb and found it empty. This time nobody appeared to her so she ran away to tell some of the disciples.  So the disciples came to the tomb and examined its contents.  Then the disciples just went home.  But Mary stayed on.  And then two angels in white appeared and told her that Christ was risen

So we have four different accounts.  Was there one angel or two, for instance?  The accounts are not necessarily wrong.  They are about as consistent as what you get in court when different eye-witnesses to a crime are being examined.  So is God as scatterbrained as four human witnesses?  Surely not.  If he had dictated every word he would just have given the actual events, not what looks like a set of wobbly recollections.

So few Christians now believe in verbal inspiration.  They believe that the Bible writers wrote their own thoughts in their own way  but God was behind those thoughts, gently guiding them in the right direction.  

But then another problem arises.  How do we know who had God behind their thoughts?  There were many documents around in the early days which contained accounts of Christ's history and teachings.  Why did they all not make it into the New Testament?

The Roman Catholic church has an answer to that.  They say that the church made the pick.  They say that the church knew which document was divine and knocked back the others:  It was the church that assembled the NT.

That is not much of an answer however.  For a start, the church at that time was almost entirely located in the Greek-speaking cities of the Eastern Mediterranean lands.  Rome was a distant offshoot.  So the discussion about which documents were divine occurred in the Greek churches, not in Rome.  And the Greek Orthodox church does to this day with some justice regard itself as the lineal descendant of the original Christian church and say that authority about the canon belongs to them

Even if we accept the Roman claim, however, it just pushes the question back one step.  How did the church know which books were divine?  The only reasonable answer to that is that God influenced the minds of the men of the church to make the right decisions.

But if God was working through the minds of men, why did it have to be just one group of men?  Surely it could have been men anywhere in the Christian world and not merely a few big shots in Rome! So, broadly, the answer to the question of what formed the canon is a simple one from a Christian viewpoint:  If God inspired the writing of the various books, he could surely also see to it that the right ones were selected as holy!

Anne, the lady in my life is, like me, an ex-Christian and our Christian past is still influential with us both.  She doesn't like the apostle Paul's view of the place of women, however -- as in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11, for instance.  Being a born tease, however, I enjoy pointing out that according to the NT, women should be submissive to their men.  Anne is no feminist but she is a pretty independent lady so she doesn't like Paul at all and why is he in in the Bible anyhow?

I replied that if God inspired the Bible writings, surely he could also make sure that the right documents were included in it.  On hearing that she burst into peals of laughter.  I am not totally sure why but I think she saw the logic in it and realized that you could not arbitrarily exclude Paul from being a divine messenger.

So how do I think the books of the Bible were chosen?  I do actually lean to an explanation that would fit in with God's guidance.  The history of the matter is that there was a considerable debate in the early days about which books were new revelation -- and various collections were made which embodied particular people's view of what was divine.  But after a while a consensus did emerge.  And it was an inclusive consensus:  Enough books were included to keep most people happy.

So was God behind that consensus?  Since I am an atheist I think not but a Christian could reasonably think so.  What I think happened is that those books which made most sense and sounded good at the time gradually, amid debate, came to be generally accepted as holy.

With his background in Greek learning, Paul was quite a good theologian, he wrote very energetically, wrote very extensively and he explicitly claimed divine guidance -- so it would appear that the whole available corpus of his writing was included.

And in the nature of these things, a tradition developed which saw that early consensus as authoritative.


The Age of Communism Lives

The bodies demand accounting, apology, and repentance. We live in an era of appalling bad faith

It was twenty-five years ago, but it feels like yesterday. When seeing the images of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I cried with joy, took out my best bottle of French wine, left the television on, and listened to Beethoven’s Ninth over and over and over. If you didn’t live through it, know that there was nothing like it. What we need to be reminded of, however, are the stakes and what didn’t happen in the wake of the fall.

In addition to the tyranny, the torture, and the assault upon the human spirit, the slaughtered victims of communism were not the thousands of the Inquisition, not the thousands of Americans lynched, not even the six million dead from Nazi extermination. The best scholarship yields numbers that the soul must try to comprehend: scores and scores and scores of millions of individual human bodies, which is what makes the work of Lee Edwards in keeping alive in our minds the victims of communism so morally essential, so morally vital.

Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachev’s right hand man, who examined the archives for the last Soviet leader and who came away a deeply changed and heroic man, let us know that 60 million were slain in the Soviet Union alone. The Chinese author Jung Chang, who had access to scores of Mao Zedong’s collaborators and to the detailed Russian and local archives, reached the figure of 70 million Chinese lives snuffed out by Mao’s deliberate choices. If we count those dead of starvation from the communist ability and desire to experiment with human interaction in agriculture—20 million to 40 million in three years—we may add scores of millions more.

The communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, who was educated in France and taught his politics by French communist intellectuals, butchered one-fifth to one-fourth of the entire Cambodian population. That would be as if an American regime had murdered some 50 to 70 million of its people. In each and every communist regime, countless people were shot and died by deliberate exposure, starved and murdered in work camps and prisons meant to extract every last fiber of labor before they die. No cause ever in the history of all mankind has produced more slaughtered innocents and more orphans than communism. It was a system of production that surpassed all others in turning out the dead.

What should one have expected after the fall of the Berlin wall? What didn’t occur? Where were the celebrations and the accountings? Where was the recognition of the ineffable value of a truly limited government? Our schools, universities and media do not teach our children any differently now about the human consequences of liberty, of voluntary economic societies, and of limited government in the real world. Our children do not know in any domain what happened under communism. Those who depend on our media and our films do not know. We live without self-belief and without any moral understanding of the extraordinary place of America, of its values, of its liberty, and of those leaders who won the Cold War for the dignity and the benefit of humankind.

What might a sane and moral individual have expected? An anti-communist epiphany, a festival of celebration, a flowering of comparative scholarship, a full accounting of the communist reality—political, economic, moral, ecological, social and cultural—a revision of curriculum, a recognition of the ineffable value of those ideals for which we paid the fullest price? Where did any of this occur? Imagine if World War II had ended in a stalemate with a European Nazi empire from the Urals to the English Channel soon to be armed with nuclear weapons and in mortal contest with the United States in a peace kept only by deterrence. Would progressive children have sung, “All we are saying is give peace a chance” beneath symbols of unilateral disarmament? Would our intellectuals have mocked the phrase “evil empire”? What were the differences? Deaths? Camps? The desolation of the flesh and of the spirit? Solzhenitsyn had it exactly right about the Soviets, “No other regime on earth could compare with it either in the number of those it had done to death, in heartiness, in the range of its ambitions, in its thoroughgoing and unmitigated totalitarianism—no, not even the regime of its pupil, Hitler” (from the Gulag Archipelago). What would the celebration have been like if after two generations the swastika at last had fallen in place of the hammer and the sickle?

After all that we know, do our historians today teach their students any differently about the human consequences of free markets and the rule of law in a world of comparative phenomena? How breathtaking that we do not have an intellectual, moral and, above all, historical accounting of who was right and who was wrong, and why, in their analyses of communism. We live in an era of appalling bad faith. “You put private property ahead of people” remains a powerful anathema, as if in the light of all those lessons, private property were not absolutely essential to the well-being, dignity, liberty and lives of human beings in society, and as if profits were not the measure of the satisfaction of other people’s wants and desires. Indeed, it is precisely to avoid the revitalization of the principles of a voluntary society, limited government, and individual responsibility and liberty that our teachers, professors, information media, and filmmakers ignore the comparative inquiry that our time so urgently demands.

The communist holocaust, like the Nazi, should have brought forth a flowering of Western art, witness, sympathy, and an ocean of tears, and then a celebration at its downfall. Instead, it has called forth a glacier of indifference. Kids who in the 1960s hung portraits of Lenin, Mao, and Che on their college walls—the moral equivalent of having hung portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, or Horst Wessel in one’s dorm—came to teach our children about the moral superiority of their generation. Every historical textbook lingers on the crimes of Nazism—rightly so—seeks their root causes, draws a lesson from them, and everybody knows the number six million. By contrast, the same textbooks remain silent about the catastrophe of communism, everywhere it held or holds power. Ask any college freshman—try it if you don’t believe me— how many died under Stalin’s regime and they will answer even now, “Thousands? Tens of thousands?” It is the equivalent of believing that Hitler killed hundreds of Jews.

The scandal of such ignorance derives from an intellectual culture’s willful blindness to the catastrophe of its relative sympathies. Most of Europe has outlawed the neo-Nazis, but the French Communist Party from 1999 to 2002 was part of a ruling government. One may not fly the swastika, but one may hoist the hammer and sickle at official events. The denial of Hitler’s dead or the minimization of the Jewish Holocaust is literally a crime in most of Europe. The denial or minimization of communist crimes is an intellectual and political art form, and the fast track to a successful academic career. “Anti-fascist” is a term of honor; “anti-communist” is a term of ridicule and abuse.

The communist holocaust … has called forth a glacier of indifference.
As we meet, the Social Democratic Party and the anti-Euro party in Germany are negotiating to enter into a government in Thuringia that will be ruled by Die Linke, the heirs of the East German Communist Party, because no one remembers and, above all, no one teaches the lessons. For at least a generation, intellectual contempt for liberal society has been at the core of the humanities and the soft social sciences. This has accelerated, not changed, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as for the mea culpas, we await them in vain.

When Eisenhower heard that the German residents of a nearby town didn’t know about a death camp whose stench would have reached their nostrils, he marched them, well-dressed—it’s dramatic footage—through the rotting corpses and made them look at and help dispose of the dead. The mayor of Saxe-Gotha and his wife hanged themselves on their return.

We lack Eisenhower’s authority. Milan Kundera stated the moral reality with clarity: “What about those with good intentions?” he asked. “When Oedipus realized that he himself was the cause of their suffering,” he answered, “he put out his eyes and wandered blind away from Thebes—unable to stand the sight of the misfortunes he had wrought by not knowing.” Let the apologists for communism acknowledge the dead, bury the dead, and atone for the dead; otherwise, let them be forgiven only when they have put out their eyes and wandered blind away from Thebes. And let Western intellectuals learn the words of the poem Requiem, written during the Stalinist terror by Anna Akhmatova, the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century, “I will remember them always and everywhere. I will never forget them no matter what comes.”

The bodies demand accounting, apology, and repentance. Without such things, the age of communism lives. Without such things, there remains a Berlin Wall, of the mind and spirit, that has not fallen.



The Marine Hitchhikers

Early in 2012, Barack Obama promised that a U.S. military with a smaller budget would be an asset. “Our military will be leaner,” he said, “but the world must know — the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”

How’s that working out? Not so good. The U.S. Navy has shrunk so much that the Marines are looking at the possibility of using foreign vessels to deploy to Europe or Africa. Specifically, the Marines are communicating with Britain, Spain and Italy about the idea because so many of the ships the Navy does have are in the Pacific. According to former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, “Our Navy has gone from 568 ships when I was secretary of the Navy — and much more than that, actually, when I was commissioned — down to about in the 280s now.”

It’s little wonder that military support for this commander in chief is so low. Obama has the military busy with leftist social engineering and Don Quixote-type missions against the weather while its equipment is no longer up to the real tasks at hand.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, June 29, 2015

Circumventing SCOTUS

From "Dredd Scott" onwards, SCOTUS has almost always blown with the wind.  Its rulings reflect elite opinion of the time, not the actual text of the constitution.  So the huge fuss the Left and their media henchmen  have been making about homosexual marriage had a predictable result.  The Left-leaning justices would have been shunned by all their friends had they decided otherwise.

The shred of justification that they used for the decision is from the  first section  of the 14th Amendment: "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

But there is no protection that homosexual marriage confers.  There are some privileges connected with marriage but privileges are not protections.  And in any case, civil unions offered in many jurisdictions do  provide the same privileges as marriage.  So the judicial reasoning was aimed to produce a result, not to offer an honest interpretation.  Nothing new there.

If anything, though, the reasoning was less slippery than the reasoning behind the legalization of abortion in "Roe vs Wade".  The homosexual marriage ruling was just routine  dishonesty.

So there is no reason why the SCOTUS ruling should be respected.  If they can slip and slide around the matter so can others.  And there is an easy way for conservative State governments to do so. What I have in mind would be perfectly legal and proper -- though  it would provoke a banshee scream of rage from the Left.  How do I know that?  Because something similar was proposed in an  Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) a few year ago  -- and was greeted with horror by homosexuals.

Here is what you do:  Both homosexuals and heterosexuals get the same marriage certificate -- with just one difference:  The certificate received by heterosexuals is simply headed "Marriage Certificate" but the certificate received by homosexuals would be headed "Homosexual Marriage Certificate".  There is nothing in the SCOTUS judgement to prevent that as far as I can see.

The legal wording to be enacted by the State governments would be something along the following lines:  "To avoid confusion, all  official documentation issued in connection with same-sex  marriages shall clearly refer to the marriage as a "homosexual marriage".

No reasonable person could object to that but the Left are not reasonable so the uproar would be great.  The real and perverse goal behind the homosexual marriage issue -- which is to deny an obvious difference -- would be defeated.  The resultant uproar would undoubtedly send the matter back to SCOTUS eventually but even SCOTUS might be hard put to find something wrong with that wording.  They might cry "discrimination" but nothing has been withheld, denied or refused.

As a libertarian, of course, I don't care either way.  I think marriage should be a matter either of private contract or a religious sacrament.  I see no need for it to be licensed or in any way regulated by any government.  For most of human history it has been purely a religious matter, with only churches or other religious bodies keeping a record of it

And because of harsh divorce laws, many couples do not marry now anyway.  Your de facto wife is simply referred to as your "fiancee" and nobody thinks anything of it.  That is particularly so in Britain.  When women complain that men "won't commit", they can thank the feminists who have made the divorce laws so intimidating to men.  Stories of women winning big out of divorce appear in the papers almost daily so few men can be unaware of the dangers in marrying.  It will be amusing to see the same laws hitting  homosexual marriages.

And with the daily horrors being perpetrated by Muslim fanatics in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, surely there are more important matters for us to attend to.  Repeated vicious slaughter surely matters much more than what homosexuals do with their penises.  Homosexuality is certainly a matter of indifference to me.


Obamacare Critics React to SCOTUS Ruling: ‘Repeal and Replace’ the Law

Once again, the actual text of the law did not matter to SCOTUS.  Laws mean only what the elite say they do.  Americans are ruled not by laws but by an oligarchy

Republicans in Congress and a wide range of conservative advocacy groups reacted strongly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling on Thursday that said people may receieve federal subsidies to buy health insurance even though they did not enroll for coverage through a health exchange "established by the state," as the law stipulated.

Republicans and many conservatives expressed opposition to the court's ruling and said the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, should be repealed and replaced.

“Fortunately, Republicans have a plan to reverse this course by repealing and replacing Obamacare with reforms that put patients – not Washington – first,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to seek input on our legislative proposal – the Patient Care Act – and use every opportunity available to give both states and patients more freedom and flexibility.

“Today’s ruling failed to hold the Obama Administration responsible for its reckless execution of its own poorly-crafted law,” Hatch said. “The plain text of Obamacare authorizes subsidies only through state exchanges, not the federal exchange.

"While I'm disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling, it does not change the fact that Obamacare has been a dismal failure for millions of Americans who have lost the good health care that they liked, and are paying more for the plans that they have,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement.

“I will continue to stand with the American people who want this failed law repealed and replaced with patient-centered reforms that lower costs and get Washington bureaucrats out of our health care decisions," Scalise added.

“The law is fundamentally flawed, and the court’s decision does not change our resolve to repeal it and replace it with patient-centered solutions that will increase access to affordable healthcare for all Americans,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said in a statement.

“Now is the time to act - now is the time to keep our word to the American people,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said in a statement. “After 58 votes to repeal Obamacare in part or in whole, I call on our Republican leadership to use Reconciliation to put a full repeal of Obamacare on the President's desk.”

Conservative groups also quickly weighed in on the ruling.

“So long as Obamacare’s mandates and relentless regulations are left in place, there is no good outcome,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement. “The American people believe both subsidies and mandates are wrong, so it’s now up to Congress to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare, and Congress should continue to do so until there is a president who is willing to sign that repeal.”

“The Supreme Court ruling does not fix Obamacare,” Nina Owcharenko, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, said in a statement, adding that Obamacare is “unworkable, unaffordable and unpopular.

“The only fix to Obamacare is its repeal,” Owcharenko said.

"It is now incumbent upon Congress to put a stop to this poorly crafted law by repealing Obamacare in its entirety,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “Between ObamaCare delays, rising health costs, rationing, and broken promises, the American people are seeing first-hand the indelible flaws with this law.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addressed the high court’s decision on the Senate floor on Thursday, vowing to repeal Obamacare.



After More Money and 'Fixes,' VA Gets Worse

For veterans seeking care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, let’s just say that this year isn’t going to be any better than the last. Despite all of the promises from Barack Obama, Congress and unelected bureaucrats that the government would “fix” the problems with the VA, little to nothing has been done. Unless you count making things worse.

About a year ago, news broke that veterans were dying while on secret VA waiting lists. Obama promised that his administration would fix the problems. We were told by incoming VA Secretary Robert McDonald that “he would fire over 1,000 VA employees over the wait time scandal.” Yet the fixes and firings didn’t happen. Nope, we were lied to again.

Perhaps the VA simply needed more money to operate more efficiently. In keeping with the status quo for every government agency that is failing, Congress pumped $16.3 billion into the VA to give it some help — that after its budget nearly tripled between 2000 and 2012. How’d that all work out? Fast forward to today, and the results are pathetic. In fact it’s worse now than it was a year ago.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a new crisis. The number of veterans waiting one month or more for care is actually 50% higher than it was during last year’s problems, and the VA is also facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall.

To address this continuing crisis the VA is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and “significant moves” to close the budget shortfall. It’s also considering rationing Hepatitis C treatments, specifically for those who are in more advanced stages of illness or advanced dementia. How’s that for veteran care?

On a positive note, doctors and nurses within the VA have handled 2.7 million more appointments than in any previous year and sent an additional 900,000 patients to see physicians in the private sector. With these numbers, what’s the problem?

The VA has seen a massive increase in veterans seeking care, primarily aging Vietnam vets and those who have returned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With this increase in demand for care comes a need for more doctors and nurses to provide the treatment that our veterans deserve. But according to many experts there is a shortage of doctors and nurses. In addition there has also been an increase in the cost of drugs and medication, and the largest driver of costs has been from patients seeking medical attention from physicians in the private sector. Thanks, ObamaCare.

“Something has to give,” conceded VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “We can’t leave this as the status quo. We are not meeting the needs of veterans, and veterans are signaling that to us by coming in for additional care, and we can’t deliver as timely as we want to.”

Why not? The VA has more money and more people, yet we’re supposed to believe that still more money is the answer? No doubt most Americans would rather see their tax dollars go to fund the VA’s operations than to most any other federal project. But the problem isn’t the lack of money, it’s the ineptitude of bureaucrats who don’t know how to properly manage the money or personnel that they have.

As Mark Alexander suggested last year, perhaps Congress should consider another piece of legislation to improve services at the VA: Make the commander in chief and all of his cabinet level appointees get in line for VA medical services instead of the VIP medical treatment they now receive. Let’s add Congress to that list as well. Can anyone imagine our elected officials and their staff having to wait like veterans do for treatment? We doubt that this will happen anytime soon, but if it could, we bet there would likely be some significant, real changes to the VA.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare was passed to give all Americans access to medical care and is funded by taxpayers. Yet it is unaffordable, unsustainable and un-American. It’s certain that within a few years, as ObamaCare grows and takes deeper root, all Americans will be on waiting lists to receive care. There will be calls for reform, to pump more money and people into it. But these “reforms” won’t fix the problem, either — because the problem is federal bureaucrats who insist on spending more of our dollars to increase their power and take away freedom from individuals. Need proof? Just look at the VA.



Rev. Cruz: Obama Administration Runs on ‘Deception' – ‘They Have to Lie’

The Obama administration practices “deception” in “every area,” deceiving people into becoming dependent on big government, which turns people into “serfs” and “destroys the American dream,” said Rev. Rafael Cruz, who added that these leftist policies “do not work” and so liberals “have to lie” to advance their agenda.

“I think that deception is the way that this administration operates in every area,” said Rev. Cruz,  the director of Purifying Fire Ministries, during a June 22 radio interview on the Joyce Kaufman Show.

“Look how people have been deceived into becoming dependent upon the government and having the government telling them that they’re going to take care of them from the cradle to the grave,” he said.

“It has destroyed the American dream, destroyed these people’s lives, they no longer strive to better themselves and to provide for their family,” said the evangelical Christian pastor.

“So it is just, you have to realize the following: For Democrats to win, they have to lie because their policies do not work,” said Rev. Cruz. “Their policies have been a failure throughout history.”

“So if their policies of bigger government, more control, less freedom, more taxation, more regulations don’t work, they have to lie to the American people,” he said.  “And, unfortunately, we have many, many people in America have drank the Kool-Aid.”

Commenting further on the danger of dependence on the federal government, Rev. Cruz said, “I keep going back to how that destroys the American dream, that destroys the incentive for somebody to better themselves, and they become serfs of the government.”

“And that just makes them locked into a slavery relationship with the government,” he said.

The Joyce Kaufman Show is broadcast on 850WFTL, a major radio station in South Florida.

Rafael Cruz fought against the Communists in Cuba, was arrested there and tortured.  He fled the island in 1957 at age 18. He eventually settled in Texas and his Dallas-based church also operates Christian ministries in Mexico and Central America. His son, Ted Cruz, is the junior senator from Texas, a Republican, and the first Cuban-American to hold that office.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, June 28, 2015

Judicial Activism From Supreme Court on Marriage

Today is a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong: It should not have mandated all 50 states to redefine marriage.

This is judicial activism: nothing in the Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage, and the court imposed its judgment about a policy matter that should be decided by the American people and their elected representatives. The court got marriage and the Constitution wrong today just like they got abortion and the Constitution wrong 42 years ago with Roe v. Wade. Five unelected judges do not have the power to change the truth about marriage or the truth about the Constitution.

The court summarized its ruling in this way—which highlights that they have redefined marriage, substituting their own opinion for that of the citizens:

The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central mean­ing of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest

Manifest to five unelected judges that is. Not to the majority of American citizens who voted to define marriage correctly. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out in dissent:

If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

That’s exactly right. When it comes to the majority opinion, the Constitution “had nothing to do with it.”

We must work to restore the constitutional authority of citizens and their elected officials to make marriage policy that reflects the truth about marriage. We the people must explain what marriage is, why marriage matters, and why redefining marriage is bad for society.

For marriage policy to serve the common good it must reflect the truth that marriage unites a man and a woman as husband and wife so that children will have both a mother and a father. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father.

The government is not in the marriage business because it’s a sucker for adult romance. No, marriage isn’t just a private affair; marriage is a matter of public policy because marriage is society’s best way to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage acts as a powerful social norm that encourages men and women to commit to each other so they will take responsibility for any children that follow.

Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches the lie that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.



Business and professions will suffer as same-sex marriage arrives

The homosexual marriage movement has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism

I was a law student when I first learned of the consequences of not being politically correct concerning homosexuality. A former Miss America’s contract as the citrus growers’ brand-ambassador was allowed to lapse because she had successfully campaigned for the repeal of a pro-homosexual ordinance in Miami-Dade County. She was quoted as saying, “What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable, alternate way of life.” She was publicly humiliated -- "pied" [frozen out] on national television -- and her name -- Anita Bryant -- became synonymous with something called "homophobia" and "hate speech."

As a new Air Force judge advocate officer, my first court assignment was to represent the United States in an administrative discharge proceeding concerning a female service member. She was being kicked out of the service for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts. Even as an inexperienced young lawyer, I managed to prove that she had committed the requisite two homosexual acts. She was given a “general” discharge and sent back to the United States.

I don’t remember when thereafter I first noticed that there are only two instances in which “sex” occurs in the “ethics” rules for lawyers. Both are in the same, “anti-discrimination” provision: “A lawyer shall not willfully, in connection with an adjudicatory proceeding … manifest, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation towards any person involved in that proceeding in any capacity.”

There it was -- right there with the prohibition racial discrimination; a lawyer could not “manifest” any “bias or prejudice” based on “sexual orientation.” Hadn’t I done precisely that just a few years earlier? Hadn’t I done that on behalf of the United States government? And yet in that case, I hadn’t set out to prove that the female service-member was a homosexual. My task was limited to proving that she had engaged in homosexual conduct.

Then, suddenly, the issue of homosexual rights -- that is, not the right to be a homosexual -- but the right to openly engage in homosexual practices and be insulated from any push back from the rest of society -- was everywhere. Suddenly it had become a daily staple of bar journals and legal news sources.

I don’t remember when I first noticed that. Was it when California’s voters approved a referendum that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”? It must have been before then. It must have been as early as 1993 when I first noticed the enormous consequences of this new so-called right. That was the year Travis County, Texas legalized “domestic partnerships,” in order to attract business investment to Austin, the state capitol.

Not until the spring of 2015, however, did the consequences of this new “right” really begin to sink in for me. That’s when I knew that people who for years had thought that the emerging collection of special protections for homosexual behavior was, “no big deal,” were flat wrong. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence had signed a “religious freedom” bill. The backlash, in the name of homosexual rights, was ferocious with the now infamous threats and boycott of a small-town pizza joint whose owners had the temerity to volunteer that they would decline to cater a homosexual marriage celebration.

So, now we know that Anita Bryant was right -- at least partly so -- when she embarked on her doomed campaign nearly 40 years ago. Ms. Bryant primarily worried about children being confronted with a dangerous alternative way of life. Today, all opponents of special homosexual rights have cause to be worried about their very survival -- legal and economic. Anyone who opposes the new Manifesto of homosexuality and gender neutrality/gender identity is at risk.

Using statutes originally and primarily (if not exclusively) designed to protect blacks from discrimination, activist homosexuals have targeted bakers, photographers, and florists, seeking to force all of them to promote a “marriage” that they believe to be immoral. One day, such laws probably will be deployed against writers of articles like this one.

In Washington State, a judge ruled that a florist violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws when she referred a longtime customer to another florist for the wedding flowers for his homosexual marriage. In New York, a husband and wife shut the doors to their business hosting weddings on their family farm, after a court fined them $13,000 for refusing to host gay marriages in their home. In Colorado, a baker faced jail time and stopped baking wedding cakes entirely, after a court ruled that he discriminated against a gay couple when he refused to bake them a cake for their wedding. In Oregon, a court found similarly against another baker, and he may be forced to pay a homosexual couple up to $150,000 as penalty. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that a photographer violated the state’s anti-discrimination statutes by refusing to photograph a gay wedding. Newspapers likely will be forced to publish homosexual wedding announcements, in violation of their existing editorial control over what they publish.

Even pro-same sex marriage, libertarian John Stossel has said that the gay marriage movement “has moved from tolerance to totalitarianism.”

To homosexual activists and their political supporters, it matters not one whit that homosexuality is not consistent with Biblical sexual morality.

In this brave, new, homosexual-friendly world, every licensed professional would be required to embrace the new orthodoxy -- to bow down to the idol of “non-discrimination,” or be cast out of his profession. I was co-counsel on an amicus brief against same-sex marriage in the Obergefell case; the Texas Attorney General also filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Texas against same-sex marriage. Does that put us in violation of the ethics rule previously quoted?

Now the US Supreme Court has spoken, unless the states resist such a ruling, the legal system will be employed to squash resistance to the new order. Lawyers who oppose this not-so-brave new world will begin to lose their right to practice law for violation of the new so-called “ethics” of the profession. An Obama Department of Health and Human Services will push for all physicians who stand up for Christian morality to be stripped of their hospital privileges and medical licenses.

According to the advocates of homosexual marriage in the US Supreme Court, the right to a homosexual way of life is enshrined in the penumbras and emanations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection -- or is it Due Process -- or both. (Apparently, this even explains why the Civil War itself was fought.) In fact, this new right is said by these advocates to be so deeply embedded in the Constitution that it trumps the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it empowers government to run aspects of our lives that it has no business controlling.

The same people who first claimed only to only want tolerance of their behavior will allow no toleration for other views. Will a physician be forced to perform an artificial insemination for a lesbian couple? Will a lawyer be forced to take a case defending gay marriage? Lawyers are already losing their “traditional prerogative to exercise absolute discretion in the selection of clients....” Provisions designed to advance the homosexual agenda have been incorporated into many state legal ethics codes. In California, for example, it is unethical to “discriminat[e] on the basis of ... sexual orientation [in] employment ... or [client] representation....” [State Bar of California, Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 2-400B]. If you doubt this view of the future, read R. Beg, “License to Discriminate Revoked: How a Dentist Put Teeth In New York’s Anti-Discrimination Disciplinary Rule,” [64 Albany L. Rev. 154 (2000)].

I fear that the legal system has lost its way, and the case now decided by the US Supreme Court could well lay the groundwork for government to assume the sort of totalitarian powers required to force everyone to yield to what most of us hopefully still believe to be immoral.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, right-thinking people can and should not be afraid to assert their God-given rights. They should not -- must not – fail in their duty to teach Biblical sexual morality to their children despite state-sponsored interference. They should accept the challenge and obey their conscience -- even if that means refusing totalitarian orders to bow down at the altar of homosexuality. We did not seek this war, but if it comes, we must not shirk from it.



Unbelievable: Obama admin giving up detaining illegal aliens

This President has completely abandoned enforcing our immigration laws. What we are witnessing today in America is a complete disregard for the rule of law. The Courts have ordered the Obama administration to cease all of its amnesty provisions. They can’t hand out amnesty… they can’t hand out work permits to illegal aliens... You think that's a victory, right? Wrong.

They were building a whole bureaucracy to process these amnesty applications. But now, all of that is on hold. So what is the Obama administration doing? Completely disregarding the rest of the laws.

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would no longer detain illegal aliens in its detention facilities.  The Obama administration caught them and now the government is just going to release them. Seriously…

Why is the government freeing these illegal border crossers? Apparently, the conditions in these detention facilities have simply become "too squalid."

Illegal aliens have gotten a flat-screen television in every bedroom, classrooms where they attend tax-payer funded school, 24-hour access to food and water, and even baseball/soccer fields at their disposal.  This isn’t a prison… this is a resort!

These people broke our laws. They crossed our border illegally and were placed into these detention facilities awaiting trial. They weren’t thrown in jail, like they probably should have been, but rather sent to facilities where their every needs were met.

But that’s not good enough for the Left. No, these illegal aliens are now set to be released back into society as long as they “promise” that they will return for their court hearing. Utter madness.  The law means nothing anymore.

We’ve seen this policy carried out when the Obama administration released thousands of illegal alien convicted criminals last year. Now, it appears the policy is being applied to all illegal aliens.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has come out and said that “long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”

I agree. Instead of paying to hold these illegals in a detention center, how about we send them back to whatever country they came from?

But no, that is also impossible. The administration recently deported a woman and her child back to Guatemala and a Federal Appeals Judge actually intervened and ordered immigration officials to bring her back.

Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Even though the woman and child were on a plane back to Guatemala, the Judge ordered immigration agents to track her down and bring her back. If the administration couldn't stop the plane, the court ordered them to search Guatemala until they was found.

This is absolutely crazy! Once they’re released, they’re gone.

Congress has enabled this for far too long. Earlier this year, when presented with the opportunity to stop Obama’s amnesty programs and force the administration to enforce the law, Congress did nothing. Instead, they chose to let the courts hash it out.

After seeing the rulings these past few days, do you honestly believe that the Supreme Court will uphold our immigration law? These judges are bending over backwards and performing linguistic gymnastics to reinterpret the law and constitution to meet their political agenda.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)


Friday, June 26, 2015

Importing a Potential Epidemic

The dark truth about disease and Obama’s border lawlessness.

By now most Americans are familiar with the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to force-feed amnesty for illegals to a largely recalcitrant American public. The most egregious part of this effort occurred during last year’s border “surge” when the administration not only embraced the admittance of tens of thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) into our nation, but the purposeful and secret dispersal of them into all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. What Americans don’t know is that the Obama administration ignored Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that apply to legal immigrants and prevent the unvaccinated, or those with a “communicable disease of public health significance,” from entering the country. As a result, it is quite possible the outbreak of unknown diseases or those mostly eradicated in the U.S. for quite some time is no coincidence. The administration’s stance on the issue? A combination of silence, denial, or blame-shifting to the anti-vaxxer crowd.

We begin with last year’s outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a disease that paralyzed and killed American children. That in and of itself should have elicited a media firestorm, along with demands for establishing the origins of the outbreak beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet coverage was scant. Reporter Sharryl Attkisson revealed the disease was first identified in California in 1962, but that outbreaks had been relatively rare. She further noted the CDC “hasn’t suggested reasons for the current uptick or its origin.” Sundance at theconservativetreehouse.com attempted to correlate the outbreaks of the disease with the location of UAC shelters. And while part of his investigation was stymied by the reality that the administration kept many of those shelter locations secret, “there are significant numbers of them in both cities in which the current outbreak was first identified,” he explained.

Ultimately, it was the Daily Caller that reported the disease “was likely propelled through America by President Barack Obama’s decision to allow tens of thousands of Central Americans across the Texas border, according to a growing body of genetic and statistical evidence,” further noting “the epidemic included multiple strains of the virus, and that it appeared simultaneously in multiple independent locations.”

Nonetheless the CDC simply denied the link, despite the reality that the EV-D68 outbreak in 2014 infected at least 538 people in 47 states, even as a study published on the CDC’s own website reveals the disease “is one of the most rarely reported serotypes, with only 26 reports throughout the 36-year study period (1970 through 2006).”

Last July, the El Paso Times revealed that 89 illegals detained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM tested positive for tuberculosis. Officials were initially reluctant to tell the media because of the concern that it might spread fear. Last September at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, TX, five infants tested positive for the tuberculosis infection, with an additional 700 infants and 40 hospital workers potentially infected. All of them were exposed to the disease by an unnamed hospital employee. Again, most Americans are unaware the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines for school attendance by UACs, stating that such children cannot be excluded even if they fail to provide “requisite health or immunization information required of other students,” the memo stated. Last May, 28 people tested positive for TB at Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas.

All coincidental, or unrelated to illegal aliens? In Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three nations where most of last year’s border surge originated, the tuberculosis infection rate is nearly 10 times that of the United States.

In July of 2014, Former Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) wrote a letter to the CDC expressing concern about the “grave public health threats” posed by the influx of illegals, insisting that reports of illegal migrants “carrying deadly diseases … are particularly concerning.” The 30-year physician urged the agency to take immediate action to assess the risk and notify the public.

Unfortunately, the CDC is an agency with a credibility problem. Last year it bungled the handling of Ebola “index patient” Thomas Eric Duncan, resulting in two healthcare workers contracting the deadly disease. One of them was allowed to board an airliner despite calling the CDC several times to report early symptoms. This year a report compiled by 11 experts in biosafety, laboratory science and research, stated the CDC’s “laboratory safety training is inadequate” and the agency is “on the way to losing credibility.” Two incidents were highlighted. In May, avian bird flu samples were unintentionally mixed with the deadly H5N1 influenza strain and shipped to a USDA lab, and in June, dozens of employees risked exposure to anthrax because the agency did not follow proper sterilization protocols.

Thus when the CDC largely dismisses any connection between illegals and the surge of measles in 2014, (along with a 2015 pace on track to top it), one must remain skeptical, especially when the agency itself makes unprovable assumptions. “Although we aren’t sure exactly how this year’s outbreak began, we assume that someone got infected overseas, visited the Disneyland parks and spread the disease to others,” said Anne Schuchat, an assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. That statement is hardly reassuring from the same agency that declared measles had been “eliminated” in America — defined as the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area — by 2000.

Media defenders are quick to point out that Mexico and Central American countries largely responsible for the illegal influx have higher vaccination rates than the U.S.

But as Border Patrol veteran Chris Cabrera pointed out last August, many potentially diseased illegals are “slipping through the cracks” because he and his fellow agents have been overwhelmed by the onslaught. “This problem isn’t contained in the border areas. [They] are coming in here, they’re going north, and it’s going to affect the entire country,” he warned.

A Fox News report last July brings another element to the mix. At Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, doctors and nurses working there were threatened with arrest if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at that illegal refugee camp. Members of BCFS, a security force hired by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), likened themselves to Brown Shirts, and workers themselves were stripped of cellphones and other communication devices during their shifts. Anyone found with a phone was immediately terminated. Nonetheless, workers revealed camp children had measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat. “They’re going to crush the system,” warned a nurse who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “We can’t sustain this. They are overwhelming the system and I think it’s a travesty.”

Thus the obvious question arises: how many other facilities involved with illegals and dangerous diseases are operating under the same veil of secrecy and threats? Sadly in an Obama administration dedicated to an amnesty onslaught by any means necessary Americans may never learn the answer to that question. And the administration will be aided and abetted by a leftist media more than willing to label any attempt to establish causation between illegals and disease as fear mongering and/or xenophobic.

Regardless, reality intrudes. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is another disease being attributed to illegals. “The big picture here is that we are getting all these diseases brought into the United States by the ‘imported disease people’ from Latin America,” insists Dr. Lee Hieb, past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. “We don’t generally test for dengue fever, because until recently we have not had hordes of people coming into the United States from areas of the world like Latin America where dengue fever is endemic,” she added.

Dengue fever, as well as the equally grim affliction known as the chikungunya virus, are spread by mosquitos. It is believed both diseases are fueled by people who became ill while traveling abroad, as well as illegals who brought them into the country on clothing, baggage, liquids, and food. In September, 120,000 cases and 60 deaths attributed to dengue fever were declared in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the CDC warns it is only a matter of time before native mosquitos are impacted. Their “solution” for both afflictions since there are no vaccines for either? “Avoid mosquito bites,” their website advises.

In their piece on EV-D68, the Daily Caller pressed a number of government researchers, health experts and academics to provide data exonerating Obama administration officials with regard to the possible linkage between the disease and the influx of UACs. The DC noted that all of them “refused to comment, or else urged self-censorship,” because “it could spike existing public opposition” to the efforts of a pro-amnesty president and his party, as well as Republicans beholden to their Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Vally masters, who want cheap labor as much as Democrats want guaranteed votes. The website further noted Democrats could make life exceedingly difficult “for grant-dependent American scientists who discover politically damaging information.”

And once again, if such dynamics apply to EV-D68, it stands to reason they apply to the rest of the “politically inconvenient” diseases that could derail so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

As for the media, their behavior is nothing short of reprehensible. Putting aside the politicization of the issue reduced to the banal idea of right-wing nativism versus left-wing compassion, the notion that establishing the causation of any disease threatening the health and well-being of the American public would be scrupulously avoided because it might not accrue to pro-amnesty sensibilities reeks of ideological bankruptcy bordering on totalitarianism. Since when have the deaths and paralysis of children been met with a collective media shrug? Why has the CDC, the agency that should be leading the charge in this arena, been given a pass for a series of denials, best exemplified by Steve Oberste, chief of the CDC’s polio and picornavirus laboratory branch who insisted the agency was “unaware” of any UAC testing positive for EV-D68? How does “unaware” establish no link at all?

And why has there been no media pressure put on the Obama administration? It isn’t hard to figure out that the deliberate dispersal of illegals throughout the nation — a dispersal that included the policy of handing children to family members who might also be illegals — would make virtually impossible to establish causation or lack thereof, even as that dispersal has the potential for exponentially affecting more and more Americans exposed to dangerous diseases. “As the unaccompanied children continue to be transported to shelters around the country on commercial airlines and other forms of transportation, I have serious concerns that the diseases carried by these children may begin to spread too rapidly to control,” Gingrey stated in his letter to the CDC.

For the pro-amnesty proponents a potential epidemic — courtesy of diseases previously eradicated in the United States — is seemingly a reasonable price to pay in order to maintain an illegal immigration policy that puts the Border Patrol on pace to catch “an additional 39,000 unaccompanied children and about 53,000 members of families on the southern border this fiscal year,” the LA Times reports. And while that surge is smaller than the one last year, it is still “large enough to overwhelm shelters and courts.” And so it begins — all over again. When is enough enough?



Obama Gets Fast Track Authority For Trans-Pacific Partnership

Well, the fight is over. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or fast track authority, has passed the Senate by a 60-38 vote. Yesterday, it passed a critical cloture vote 60-37.  As promised by Republicans, a vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program aimed at helping displaced workers from increased, trade looks like it will pass both chambers. House Democrats voted against this provision, trying to use it as leverage to stop Obama from getting fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); a free trade agreement ten years in the making involving 11 other nations and 40 percent of the world’s GDP (via AP):

In a triumph of divided government, the Republican-controlled Congress passed major trade legislation Wednesday that was long-sought by President Barack Obama but vehemently opposed by most lawmakers in his party.

The measure to strengthen Obama's hand in global trade talks cleared the Senate on a vote of 60-38, and will go to the White House for his signature — less than two weeks after it was temporarily derailed in the House in an uprising of Democratic lawmakers.

A second bill, to renew an expiring program of federal aid for workers disadvantaged by imports, was on track to pass the Senate in short order. It would then go to the House, where a final vote was expected on Thursday.

"We have Republican majorities in Congress working closely with Democratic minorities in Congress to build bipartisan support for legislation that then arrives on the desk of a Democratic president," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. That's how policy should be made "in an era of divided government," he told reporters.

Despite what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last week regarding how there were not enough votes  for TAA, with TPA deal sealed, House Democrats have waved the white flag of surrender. They really don't have a reason to oppose it this time (via the Hill):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her caucus are lining up behind a worker aid proposal expected to hit the floor of the lower chamber Thursday, securing a key piece of President Obama's trade agenda and setting the stage for a legacy-building trade accord with Pacific Rim nations.

TAA was being used as a bargaining chip for TPA, and that's why we very much resisted," Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and a staunch fast-track critic, said Wednesday leaving a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the Capitol.

"But now TPA is going to become law, and so therefore we should really focus on what has always been the central issue, and that is what is in TPP."

Levin predicted "a vast majority" of House Democrats will back the TAA when it hits the floor, likely Thursday.

When TPA first came to the Senate floor, Senate Democrats blocked it. Senate Republicans then put forward a bill, lumping TAA and TPA together, and a customs enforcement bill aimed at dealing with currency manipulation. They would be voted on separately. When the Senate bill came to the House, Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the TAA provision, which prevented the bill–due to parliamentary differences–from being sent to Obama’s desk for his signature. Obama has said he will not sign off on TPA unless TAA is also guaranteed. Hence why House Democrats saw this as a bargaining chip.

After the first round, which ended in defeat, Republicans said TPA and TAA provisions would be voted on separately.  Republicans promised a prompt vote on TAA once TPA is settled. The House barely passed the TPA provision 218-208, with 28 pro-trade Democrats joining 190 Republicans in the backing the measure.  It then went onto the Senate, where it was finally passed today.

Now, the legislative fight (probably one of the most intense since Obamacare) over the mechanisms to bring TPP to Congress is over. Up next, the vote on the actual trade agreement.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, June 25, 2015

Losing Faith in American institutions

Last week a Gallup poll revealed that Americans have expressed a loss of confidence in virtually every major institution in the nation, including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks, big business, labor, the police and organized religion. "From a broad perspective, Americans' confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993,“ said a spokesman for the polling company.

Is anyone really surprised? Let’s begin with Congress. Right now it is run by the GOP, the party that was handed a massive victory in the 2014 election by an electorate disgusted with the status quo. So what did these stalwarts do? They embraced that status quo. They passed another debt-laden budget with full funding for the DHS, knowing full well Americans were outraged by that agency’s effort to continue phasing in amnesty for illegals, even in defiance of a court order by federal judge Andrew Hanen. They approved the nomination of Eric Holder clone Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General, knowing full well she would support that effort and maintain the Justice Department’s track record of fostering racial polarization. And right now they are in the midst of force-feeding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to an American public just beginning to grasp the idea that, while international trade might be beneficial to the nation, ceding our national sovereignty as part of the equation stinks on ice.

The presidency? It would take several columns to detail the failings of the petulant narcissist masquerading as the leader of the free world, but a recent quote by FBI Director James Comey should send a chill up every sentient American’s spine. "We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” Comey told a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in reference to ISIS. “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see.” In short our president has decided that taking the fight to ISIS on American soil is preferable his hollow promise to “degrade and destroy” these terrorist savages where they operate with impunity.

And let’s not forget Iran. While people were distracted by other news, Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear the administration has made a mockery of anything resembling American interests. Despite previous promises to the contrary, the bicycle crasher now insists the U.S. is “not fixated” on Iran accounting for its past efforts at nuclear weaponization. Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), put that unconscionable concession in perspective. “A comprehensive deal — that would include uranium enrichment — can only be reached if uncertainties over Iran’s military capability are credibly addressed,” he said. “That should be an unambiguous condition to achieving a final accord that is meaningful in safeguard terms.” In other words, you can’t know where the apocalyptic-minded Iranian mullahs are going if you don’t know where they’ve been. This concession is surrender-ism on steroids.

Let’s not forget the economy either. It’s going swell — give or take a negative first quarter GDP,  the 47 million Americans who now receive EBT/food stamps, the nearly 110 million Americans receiving government assistance of some kind, the 92,898,000 Americans out of the labor force, or the staggering reality that, for the past six years, more businesses are dying than being created.

The Supreme Court? Americans are still reaping the “benefits” of Chief Justice John Robert's decision to call the individual mandate a tax in order to legalize ObamaCare. And in the coming days, decisions in 11 cases remaining on the docket will be made. The most seismic cases include whether or not states can still write their own laws regarding marriage, or whether gay marriage will be made a one-size-fit- all mandate, much like Roe v. Wade; and whether ObamaCare subsidies will be maintained in states without their own exchanges, despite wording the in law that subsides can only be paid out on exchanges “established by the state.”

Those two decisions and others will go a long way towards restoring Americans' faith in the Court — or exacerbating their discontent with it.

Banks? While they remain beholden to a series of lousy government policies, especially with regard to mortgages, they also remain obnoxiously insouciant with regard to their retail customer concerns. “Banks are chasing the fast buck — and ‘gouging’ their retail customers with hefty new charges, overdraft fees and service cuts to pump up revenue losses due to less loan making, according to investigators,” the New York Post reports, even as many of those banks are “reporting record profits — despite a hostile regulatory environment and near-zero interest rates that crimp some traditional forms of banking.” The Post is refereeing to the Federal Reserve’s Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP), which is nothing less than a de facto tax on middle class American savers. Couple it with the infuriating reality that banks were saved by the very same American taxpayers they screwed — without anyone being prosecuted or forced to resign — and it’s little wonder why they continue to be held in contempt by millions of citizens.

Big business? What could be a better example of contempt for the American worker than Disney firing 250 employees — but only after forcing them to train their foreign replacements coming in on the H1-B visas championed by the Chamber of Commerce, the doyens of Silicon Valley and members of both political parities? Foreign workers who will work for less pay. And those are high-skill workers. Congress and the president are also determined to accommodate businesses employing millions of low-skill illegals, even as the administration has made it clear any effort to continue targeting firms that hire them must be coupled with “comprehensive immigration reform.” Comprehensive immigration reform that will depress wages for blue-collar Americans, unless one is willing to believe the current assertions that adding millions of these low-skill workers to an already under-employed American workforce will enhance those wages.

Since when has more of anything made an individual unit of that thing more valuable? If you answered never, you get an “A” in Econ 101.

Labor? This writer has no beef with organized labor — in the private sector. That’s because there’s an ultimate modifier of union demands known as bankruptcy. On the other hand, government unions are a scourge, from the legions of unaccountable educators who’ve destroyed what was once the best education system in the world, to the callous incompetents who allowed veterans to die and millions of Americans' personal info to be hacked with impunity. And in fairly short order, many Americans are going to learn firsthand what happens when union pension and health benefit obligations overwhelm states' abilities to pay for them. Detroit was nothing more than the tip of the iceberg. The states of Illinois, New Jersey, California and New York are fiscal time bombs waiting to explode. Since one can’t get blood from the proverbial stone, already-high taxes will skyrocket, services will be decimated, or some hideous combination of both will occur. As the saying goes, politicians lie, but mathematics is irrefutable.

Police? In an age of rampant cynicism, Americans' declining confidence in the nation’s police forces ranks right at the top of collective ungratefulness. Yes there are bad cops, but the concerted effort by Obama, his administration and its media allies to paint a distorted picture of “racist” and “abusive” police forces is unconscionable, one “hands up don’t shoot” discredited narrative after another.

Many Americans themselves embrace a damned if they do, damned if they don’t attitude towards the thin blue line, criticizing cops for both vigorous law enforcement, or the lack thereof. The latter has led to crime spikes in cities across the nation in an era where cops are forced to second guess every move they make — or don’t make. It’s easy to bash cops in leisure for decisions they make in split seconds. If truth be told, Americans owe a great deal of thanks to those willing to stand between them and anarchy, every hour of every day. Too bad so many Americans can sweep that reality under the rug.

Americans' discontent with organized religion is utterly unsurprising, yet it is important to separate the category into two distinct parts: religious institutions and people of faith. Religious institutions — exemplified by the series of stances championed by Pope Francis — have embraced a cornucopia of leftist beliefs including amnesty for illegals, man-made global warming, ever-expanding government and even ObamaCare. Meanwhile, people of faith have been subjected to a relentless campaign orchestrated by the same American Left determined to make their traditional beliefs synonymous with bigotry, homophobia and nativism.

Moreover, it doesn’t take genius to figure out the leftist dog whistles that have dominated secular culture for more than 50 years, including “if it feels good, do it,”  "there is no black and white, only shades of gray" and “God is dead” are far easier to embrace than religious dogma that teaches concepts such as delayed gratification, sexual restraint, frugality, shame, morality — and the “problematic” idea that there is a power greater than the self. In an age where it has never been easier to succumb to human nature’s reflexive urge to follow the path of least resistance, the “path less traveled” becomes a harder sell than at any other time in modern history.

Can confidence in the various institutions be restored? As I have said on many occasions, I believe Winston Churchill's quote remains apropos: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” I remain hopeful that we’re running out of alternatives to the right thing, and that some time soon, a majority of Americans will realize the leftist effort to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into their version of a socialist utopia is as historically “been there, done that” as it gets. There is a spark of divinity in each of us that transcends the insufferable puerility of the modern age. Its re-discovery cannot happen soon enough.



Hillary and History

There are no sure things in politics, but Hillary Clinton is the closest thing to a sure thing to become the Democrats' candidate for president in 2016.

This is one of the painful but inescapable signs of our time. There is nothing in her history that would qualify her for the presidency, and much that should disqualify her. What is even more painful is that none of that matters politically. Many people simply want “a woman” to be president, and Hillary is the best-known woman in politics, though by no means the best qualified.

What is Hillary’s history? In the most important job she has ever held — Secretary of State — American foreign policy has had one setback after another, punctuated by disasters.

U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

Fortunately, the Egyptian military has gotten rid of that country’s extremist government that was persecuting Christians, threatening Israel and aligning itself with our enemies. But that was in spite of American foreign policy.

In Europe, as in the Middle East, our foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was to undermine our friends and cater to our enemies.

The famous “reset” in our foreign policy with Russia began with the Obama administration reneging on a pre-existing American commitment to supply defensive technology to shield Poland and the Czech Republic from missile attacks. This left both countries vulnerable to pressures and threats from Russia – and left other countries elsewhere wondering how much they could rely on American promises.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Obama administration refused to let the Ukrainians have weapons with which to defend themselves. President Obama, like other presidents, has made his own foreign policy. But Hillary Clinton, like other Secretaries of State, had the option of resigning if she did not agree with it. In reality, she shared the same flawed vision of the world as Obama’s when they were both in the Senate.

Both of them opposed the military “surge” in Iraq, under General David Petraeus, that defeated the terrorists there. Even after the surge succeeded, Hillary Clinton was among those who fiercely denied initially that it had succeeded, and sought to discredit General Petraeus, though eventually the evidence of the surge’s success became undeniable, even among those who had opposed it.

The truly historic catastrophe of American foreign policy — not only failing to stop Iran from going nuclear, but making it more difficult for Israel to stop them — was also something that happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State.

What the administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended negotiations with Iran accomplished was to allow Iran time to multiply, bury and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel still had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

There are no offsetting foreign policy triumphs under Secretary of State Clinton. Syria, China and North Korea are other scenes of similar setbacks.

The fact that many people are still prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States, in times made incredibly dangerous by the foreign policy disasters on her watch as Secretary of State, raises painful questions about this country.

A President of the United States — any president — has the lives of more than 300 million Americans in his or her hands, and the future of Western civilization. If the debacles and disasters of the Obama administration have still not demonstrated the irresponsibility of choosing a president on the basis of demographic characteristics, it is hard to imagine what could.

With our enemies around the world arming while we are disarming, such self-indulgent choices for president can leave our children and grandchildren a future that will be grim, if not catastrophic.



SCOTUS and the Raisin Hope for Property Rights

Marvin Horne of Fresno, California, has been vindicated. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that if the Raisin Administrative Committee was going to take Horne’s raisins it needed to compensate the farmer. In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, Horne refused to give up his raisins to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the agency was fining him at the tune of $695,000. The committee is a New Deal-era program designed to control the supply of raisins so the prices remain artificially high. It would take a portion of farmers' grapes and either donate them to school lunch programs or sell them overseas. Farmers used to be compensated, but then the payout dwindled to nothing.

The Ninth Circuit Court originally ruled in favor of the administrative committee, saying the Constitution’s Taking Clause only covered real estate, but Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, ruled, “Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.”

This ruling comes 10 years after the bungled SCOTUS ruling in Kelo v. New London, which said the city of New London could take the home of Susette Kelo and give her property to a private developer. Currently, Kelo’s pink home is demolished and the lot stands empty. While the raisin ruling is a step in the right direction, it will take years before the government fully moves past Kelo and respects the property of the citizens.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, June 24, 2015

Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest

The research report below is unusual in favoring conservatives but we should not get too excited about it as the findings are based on students and highly educated respondents.  It may tell us nothing about the population at large.

The findings about "freewill" are however in accord with the greater belief in personal responsibility among conservatives.  Leftists rage and apportion blame while conservatives just get on with it. Conservatives are simply calmer

Findings from three separate studies link a person's political ideology and their self-control performance, with conservatives demonstrating greater self-control than liberals. The research led by Joshua John Clarkson, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of marketing, is published in this week's early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Two studies in the report involved tasks that were conducted among undergraduates at two Midwestern universities over the past year. The third study involved 135 people across the U.S. taking part in a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk service. In each study, Clarkson says participants who identified as politically conservative consistently showed greater attention regulation and task persistence -- hallmark indicators of self-control -- and that these effects were independent of participants' gender, race, age, education or income.

Study 1

At one Midwestern university, 147 undergraduates completed a modified Stroop task. Sitting in front of a computer screen, they were presented with a word that represented a color (red, blue, green, yellow), with the words presented on an incongruent background. For example, the word 'yellow' would appear on a blue background. The researchers examined how quickly participants would respond with the word, controlling for correctness. 'We found that those who identified as conservative were as correct as liberals, but they were performing the tasks faster. This finding suggests that conservatives might be better able to fixate their attention on a task,' says Clarkson.

Study 2

At a separate Midwestern university, 176 undergraduates performed the same Stroop task. Again, researchers found that as political conservatism increased, there was a faster response time as well as an increase in the belief of freewill. 'Both conservatives and liberals reported that they wanted to perform well, but again, conservatives were responding faster, and this faster response stemmed from their stronger belief in freewill. That is, conservatives' belief in their responsibility for their outcome contributed to their faster responding,' says Clarkson.

Study 3

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, 135 Americans participated in several seven-letter anagram self-control tasks. For each anagram, they were asked -- under a set of rules (e.g., words had to have at least three letters) -- to create as many English words as they could with the letters. Importantly, participants were told they could decide when they wanted to end the task. The researchers found that the conservatives spent more time on the task than the liberals.

However, the findings showed that conservatives outperformed liberals only when participants believed freewill has a beneficial impact on self-control. When participants believed freewill could undermine self-control, liberals outperformed conservatives.

'This finding is especially interesting because research to this point has focused only on the positive outcomes of believing in freewill,' says Clarkson. 'However, one could imagine a host of situations where knowing you are responsible for your actions could lead to frustration, anxiety and other negative emotions that could impair self-control. In these contexts, these findings would suggest liberals will demonstrate greater self-control.'

Clarkson explains how the research offers clear insight into the psyche of consumers. 'When marketers consider self-control, we tend to think of sticking to a diet or exercise regimen, not wandering off your grocery list or avoiding impulsive purchases. All of these behaviors exhibit elements of attention regulation and persistence. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to believing whether or not you can control your own behavior, and what we're finding is that conservatives are more likely to believe they can control their own behavior.'

SOURCE.  Journal article


Understanding Putin's  Russia

I don't entirely agree with the analysis below.  But it's part of the story

The Western media have done a poor job reporting on Russia. Cable news stations and print journalists have covered Putin’s wicked annexation of Crimea and military adventurism in eastern Ukraine, but rarely has their coverage tried to convey why Moscow has taken such aggressive steps in violation of international law.

To do so isn’t to justify Russia’s actions, but rather to establish a basis for predicting Russia’s behavior, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland. It might also help us to better assess Western responses, such as the G-7 leaders’ recent decision to continue their economic sanctions against the Putin regime.

Russia’s policies can be seen as attempts to create a security buffer against perceived Western build-up to its borders. Moscow has intimated, for example, that the CIA assisted in the ouster of Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine—a storyline that is consistent with the expansion of NATO in former Warsaw Pact countries after the end of the Cold War, despite President George H. W. Bush’s formal agreement to keep the Western military alliance out of what had been East Germany.

Another data point: George W. Bush promised to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO—regions that Russia considers to be within its geopolitical sphere of influence. Eland offers other examples, as well.

“Russia feels surrounded and vulnerable and thus succumbs easily to nationalist demagogues like Putin,” Eland writes. “However, in the future, perhaps the United States will be more understanding of the relatively weak Russia’s need for a geostrategic buffer zone in Eastern Europe as the more powerful China rises in East Asia and the Americans need an ally to balance it there.”



Bullet Train Is Slow-Speed Boondoggle

We have been keeping track, so to speak, of California’s vaunted “Bullet Train,” officially the state’s High-Speed Rail project. But as it turns out, “high speed” is something of a misnomer, as William Bigelow notes on Breitbart.

The first actual construction on the project is a viaduct over the Fresno River, nowhere near the Bay Area to Los Angeles route politicians used to sell the $69 billion project. This construction “will start three years after the date initially estimated by the rail authority.” The project faces financial obstacles, including “$2.2 billion in federal stimulus money that can only be used by the rail authority if it is spent before Sept. 30, 2017 on construction in the San Joaquin Valley. Any funds left unspent must be returned to the Federal Railroad Administration.” As taxpayers know, government agencies never leave funds unspent, and they will have to spend more.

As in Blazing Saddles, one thing stands in the way of the land they need: the rightful owners. As Bigelow observes, the state rail authority recently acknowledged legal possession “of only 257 of 1,079 properties that it requires for the first two construction sections.” The process has been so slow that actual construction has been delayed. And California High-Speed Rail Authority boss Jeff Morales admitted that this problem could bring about, yes, a “cost increase.” Morales is also on record that a high-speed rail line from the Bay Area to Los Angeles could have been built privately. That is something of a giveaway.

The bullet train is more about spending than transportation. California congressmen see it as a way to shore up their fortunes by spending money in their districts. That’s why the first stretch of the boondoggle is slated for the boondocks. The bullet train also gives politicians a way to expand government. So no surprise that the California High Speed Rail Authority serves as a soft landing spot for washed-up politicians such as board member Lynn Schenk, a former congresswoman and chief of staff for governor Gray Davis. California governor Jerry Brown, who appointed Schenk, sees the train as a legacy project, like the $25 billion tunnels he wants to build under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The bullet train, meanwhile, is supposed to be fully operational by 2028. California’s embattled taxpayers might ponder what high-tech advancements in transportation might occur before that time.



Western liberals: protecting ‘vulnerable’ murderers

Proponents of free, unbridled expression fight censorship on multiple fronts. Charlie Hebdo and others fight the hard censorship of the ‘murderer’s veto’. Others fight the softer censorship of radicalised political correctness and other attempts to ‘protect’ people from differing opinions. The two fronts of the battle may seem unconnected. But they are not. Soft censorship facilitates its violent brother.

A Pakistani student at the University of California, Berkeley, recently wrote an article for her school’s newspaper, entitled ‘On Leaving Islam’, explaining that she felt compelled to leave her faith because, despite trying, she could not reconcile her liberal beliefs with Islam’s often sexist and homophobic tenets. Although she is critical of Islam, she argues that writers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali are overly harsh, and that many of them promote unfair and negative stereotypes about Islam. Despite the moderate tone of the article, the author faced threats of violence, forcing the paper to remove the article for her protection.

One can’t help but wonder whether the New York Times contemplated praising this act of censorship and denouncing the article as ‘hate speech’.

Those who, under the guise of sensitivity and multiculturalism, blame the victims of Islamists because they ‘provoke’ their own slaughter, equate drawing pictures with mass murder and take issue, not with certain people’s ideas, but with their very right to air them in the first place, make those who wish death on those who offend them feel justified.

What is a jihadist to make of the pitiful authors who recently pulled out of a PEN gala in New York after PEN awarded Charlie Hebdo its Freedom of Expression Courage Award? Or of those who made excuses for the two men who shot up a provocative exhibition of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they hear ‘liberals’ apologising for their violence and criticising their victims, jihadists feel they’re in the right. If my opponents were wrong to say those things, I suppose it’s okay for me to silence them.

Challenging and ultimately changing one’s beliefs often requires moral courage. Those who denounced the Berkeley student’s act of courage only highlighted their own moral cowardice. And herein lies the great irony: the true victims of violent censorship are precisely those people who Western liberals often seek to protect.

Across the world, liberal Muslims, secularists, humanists, women and gays are the most common victims of Islamic radicalism. The inability of many Westerners to criticise militant Islam, so as to avoid being called ‘Islamophobic’, endangers the very existence of the persecuted minorities they often purport to protect.

Until Western liberals can summon the courage to denounce murderers, rather than sympathise with them; until they are unafraid to call out oppression wherever it exists – even if the oppressor is ‘underprivileged’; until they distance themselves from what one might call multicultural extremism; indeed, until they abandon such overzealous moral relativism and return to universal rights and values, Western liberals will never truly support the most vulnerable in our society.



‘People can’t lead full lives if they’re dependent on the state’

Over the past few years, the tired, old political duopoly of red vs blue has become increasingly coloured by yellow. No, I’m not talking about the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats and their shortlived foray into British government. Rather, I am talking about the revival and growth of libertarianism in US politics, often symbolised by a bright yellow ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag, which is increasingly visible on lawn flagpoles and bumper stickers across the US.

This rise of libertarianism, with some polls suggesting that as many as 15 to 20 per cent of Americans hold libertarian views, has prompted David Boaz, executive vice-president of the Cato Institute (a Washington DC-based think-tank), to revise and update his 1997 book Libertarianism: A Primer. The result, published this year under the title The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom, provides a comprehensive overview and introduction to libertarian thought.

Big government and the presidential race

‘It just makes your skin crawl to be a libertarian in this city’, Boaz tells me in his office in Washington DC, in reference to the fact that even a short walk in this town takes you past a myriad of government-department buildings and lobbyists’ offices. ‘They are all there to get a piece of the taxpayer’s money’, Boaz adds. These comments express an underlying theme for Boaz – Americans have allowed the government to get too big, from the county to the federal level. Now is the time, he says, for libertarians to push back.

Such is the extent of government regulation that, according to Boaz, the Code of Federal Regulations is over 175,000 pages long and comprises 238 volumes. Federal regulatory agencies now employ over 275,000 people (twice as many as in 1980) and regulation costs the US economy $1.75 trillion dollars annually in lost output.

Given how entrenched big government is, I wonder if dismantling these regulations will prove an impossible task. ‘It does seem like an overwhelming prospect’, says Boaz, ‘but in history, of course, we have dealt with such overwhelming prospects as ending slavery, and we managed to do that’. Boaz isn’t being flippant here. Rather, he is a keen believer in our ability to better our own lives and those of others. ‘We have in the space of a couple of centuries taken humanity from a state of back-breaking labour carried out from dawn to dusk, and short life expectancies, to incredible wealth, even for poor people in the West.’

This is true, and in this era of manifest misanthropy, Boaz is to be commended for focusing on the positive aspects of human development. He worries, however, that government regulation and pressure are stymieing our future potential: ‘Ideally, I would rather government was confined to protecting our rights.’

Little wonder, then, that throughout The Libertarian Mind Boaz argues that government should play a very restricted role in the management of society. As he is keen to stress: ‘In my book, I describe and advocate a libertarianism that is pretty radical, that the purpose of government is only to protect life, liberty and property and everything beyond that is unwarranted in a free society.’ But with government still growing (don’t mention Obamacare to Boaz), and the 2016 US presidential election just around the corner, I wonder what hope he sees for libertarianism in the upcoming political cycle, with it looking likely that either grandma-in-chief Hillary Clinton or a third Bush (Jeb) will take the helm. ‘A Bush-Clinton race ought to be the best opportunity the Libertarian Party ever had, not to win, but maybe to break through’, he says.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)