Friday, July 08, 2016



Life was BETTER under Saddam Hussein: Iraqis say

Of course it was. At least there was peace then. You could buy bread with ease and not have your house blown up.  It's the same story throughout the Middle East these days and it is surely evidence that democracy does not take root there.  For nearly all of human history, people have been ruled by tyrants -- usually called kings or emperors -- and people have evolved ways of thinking and feeling that suit that.  As all the studies show, politics is highly heritable genetically, so that should be no surprise.

It is only the people of Northern Europe (including Britain and its derivative societies) who appear to have democratic instincts and it is indeed a deep instinct.  ALL of North Western Europe has a long history of irrepressible democracy.  Episodes of tyranny such as Cromwell and Hitler have been very short-lived.

And, as far as I know, there has never been a pure democracy anywhere, though Switzerland and Iceland come close.  The normal Northern European arrangement has been a king plus a parliament of some kind.  And some kings -- such as Sweden's Gustavus Adolphus -- ruled with very little to check their power.  So it has been a long struggle, even for the Northern European nations, to assert fully their democratic instincts.  And it is a battle far from over, with powerful elites still determined to control the masses as far as they can.

Democracy did appear in Southern Europe for a time -- in the shape of Athens and Rome -- but they were very limited democracies with only a minority allowed to vote and they did not in any case last.

But what about Russia?  They are as Northern as can be and look just like other Northern Europeans.  Yet they are hardly known for democracy.  One needs to know a little about Russia's different  history to understand what happened there.  From the 13th to the 15th century Russia was under the control of the Mongol khanates, which permitted no democratic input from Russians.  They were as imperial as can be.  And that was a critical period in Russian development.

So by the time the Khans ebbed away, Russians were well inured to tyranny. And the kings of Muscovy used that to commence and continue territorial expansion -- an amazing expansion that took centuries but which ended up with Russia spreading right across the Eurasian continent, as it does to this day. Americans talk about how the West was won -- but the East that Russians won was at least four times bigger than the American West. And that program of unending expansion continued into the 20th century with the takeover of the Baltic countries etc. So Russia has long been a country at war and wartime politics everywhere tend to permit a greater degree of tyranny than would otherwise be permitted.

But hey!  Wait a minute!  What about Japan?  There was nothing democratic about the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meji restoration was not democratic either.  Yet Japan today is impeccably democratic.  Does that not show that you don't have to have democratic genes?  It does not.  What it shows is that the key personality trait underlying democracy is consideration of others.  Japanese are VERY considerate of one-another.  Those Japanese wearing surgical masks on the street and in lecture halls are doing so in order not to give their cold or flu to others.

And the Northern Europeans who had to battle unforgiving winters needed to be respecting of others too.  The climate was such a deadly enemy that you could afford to have no other enemies. They did of course have enemies among outsiders but in their own societies, enmity had to be avoided -- by everyone considering one-another

So forcing democracy on the Middle Easterners, with their vast contempt for one another  -- think ISIS -- was a deadly mistake


Iraqis whose lives were destroyed by the 2003 invasion of their country today accused Tony Blair and George Bush of being the architects of their downfall - and called them 'the devil'.

The former Prime Minister's reputation lies in tatters after today's Chilcot's damning report into the Iraq debacle found he toppled tyrant Saddam Hussein with no firm evidence he had weapons of mass destruction.

And today people on the streets of Erbil in northern Iraq celebrated as the report finally tore apart the so-called flawed invasion that killed 179 British troops and their countrymen and women.

'They removed Saddam Hussein, but they didn't think about the consequences of doing so,' said shopkeeper Selman Hussein.

The businessman, who briefly fled to Europe and lived in Belgium, said Mr Blair had been irresponsible when he claimed he could not have known how difficult the post-invasion situation would be.

In the report emails from the ex-Labour PM to then US-president George Bush showed unwavering loyalty as he was determined to take military action to topple Saddam.

"Under Saddam we were happier, it was much better. Now, it is Sunni-Shiite and Kurds. Everybody is fighting, now there are bombs everyday. Before we had a strong president. His name was Saddam" -- Selman Hussein, shopkeeper

But the shopkeeper went on:  'They did not plan for the future. We are now living in a destroyed country, Tony Blair did not make anything good for Iraq,' he said.

'Under Saddam we were happier, it was much better. Now, it is Sunni-Shiite and Kurds. Everybody is fighting, now there are bombs everyday. Before we had a strong president. His name was Saddam,' he said.

Selman, also believes Mr Blair twisted intelligence about the threat posed by Saddam to justify the war that led to the deaths of 179 British soldiers and left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead.  'He said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. What weapons? They lied,' he added.

Iraq's Christian community, who have be persecuted heavily in post Saddam, agree with Chilcott's findings that Blair should have more fully explored alternatives to military action that cost lives.

'They did not plan for the future. They just invaded and then destroyed this country,' Albert, 36, a Christian from Baghdad told MailOnline.  'Tony Blair and George Bush they destroyed this country, they are the devil,' he added.

Albert now works in Erbil because he is unable to go back to Baghdad, added: 'I have only one thing I want to ask those who invaded Iraq: If they can manage to repair this country back to they way it was before, I will forgive them, but until then I will not.'

Those Christians who held high positions under Saddam's ruling Ba'ath Party look back fondly on their country under his dictatorship. 'Before 2003 it was safe, in Saddam's time it was good, now there is no security,' Albert, who was too frightened to give his surname, explained.

'Before I could drive from Basra to Baghdad to Mosul. Now that is impossible,' he added.

But Iraq is not entirely hostile to the humbled PM, who today said he expressed more sorrow, regret, and apology than we may ever know or can believe in a grovelling apology to the report's findings.

For those in the Kurdish community said life without the tyrant Saddam, who is believed to have murdered up to 280,000 of their people during the repression of the 1991 rebellion, is better.

'At the beginning we were happy. The American and the British came to liberate us from Saddam, and we thought the new situation would be much better,' Doctor, Mathum Falluh stated.

But Mathum, 68, a university lecturer, from Sulaymaniyah, still said his country was better before the 2003 invasion.

'It has become a 100 per cent worse than before Saddam was gone, because of the killing, slaughtering [and] murdering now,' he said.

The father-of-four said the invasion has led to the political breakup of Iraq, which has created a violent vacuum in fighting for power.

'People like me thought Britain and the US came to save us. But, they supported a bad leader in Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki when they supported him a Prime Minister,' he said.

SOURCE

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How The Elites Have A Monopoly On Political Power

Writing at National Review, historian Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the Clinton prosecution that wasn't. It's a great look at what our country has become- a place where there's one set of rules for the powerful, and one set of rules for the rest of us:

In Merced or Dayton, if an insurance agent, eager to help his wife facing indictment, barged into a restaurant where the local DA is known to lunch, he would almost certainly be told to get the hell out.

But among the Washington elite, the scenario is apparently quite different. The two parties, in supposedly serendipitous fashion, just happen to touch down at the same time on the Phoenix corporate tarmac, with their private planes pulling up nose to nose. Then the attorney general of the United States and her husband, in secrecy enforced by federal security details, welcome the ex-president onto her government plane. Afterward, and only when caught, the prosecutor and the husband of the person under investigation assure the world that they talked about everything except Hillary Clinton’s possible indictment, Loretta Lynch’s past appointment by Bill Clinton and likely judicial future, or the general quandary of 2016.

There has been a lot of talk since Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump of the corrosive power and influence of the “elite” and the “establishment.” But to quote Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid, “Who are those guys?”

In the case of the ancient Romans or of the traditional British ruling classes, land, birth, education, money, government service, and cultural notoriety were among the ingredients that made one an establishmentarian. But our modern American elite is a bit different.

Residence, either in the Boston–Washington, D.C., or the San Francisco–Los Angeles corridor, often is a requisite. Celebrity and public exposure count — e.g., access to traditional television outlets (as opposed to hoi polloi Internet blogging). So does education — again, most often a coastal-corridor thing: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford, etc.
Hanson's whole piece is great, and worth the read(here). The Founders built a nation of laws, not men, where a system of checks and balances would hold governemnt accountable to the people. They never envisioned today's post New Deal system, a system that exists to enrich and empower a class of corporate and political consultants and disconnected academics, all of whom operate with little or no accountability in service of a massively bloated regulatory administrative state.

SOURCE

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Time for U.S. to Exit Entangling Alliances

Will the American public take a lesson from British voters and reconsider their official commitments to European allies—namely, U.S. participation in NATO? Whatever the impulses behind Donald Trump’s call for pulling out of various military alliances, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland the time is ripe for rethinking Pax Americana.

Part of the justification for a U.S. withdrawal from NATO is financial. “The United States accounts for three-quarters of the defense spending of NATO countries, and it is very unlikely that those allies—all much closer to zones of conflict than is the United States—will be defending the superpower rather than vice versa,” Eland writes. The same is true with respect to America’s allies in East Asia: the U.S. foots most of the bill but gets little if anything in return—not even open markets for U.S. trade and investment.

An even greater justification for reducing military commitments involves the alleged purpose of the alliances: national security. The United States is surrounded by two oceans and two friendly nations, and enjoys the world’s largest defensive capability. Yet military entanglements in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East risk drawing the United States into armed conflicts large and small. The U.S. government’s alliances threaten America’s financial soundness and national security. “Perhaps an Amerexit from them is in order,” Eland concludes.

SOURCE

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Wrong policies have consequences



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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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)

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Thursday, July 07, 2016


Agricultural subsidies are bad for your pocket but are they also bad for your health?

Agricultural subsidies are the despair of libertarians and economists worldwide.  When politics gets into farming, vast idiocies arise -- often ending in governments paying farmers not to farm at all. And the subsidies come out of the taxpayer's pocket so one would hope that some benefit comes to someone other than the farmer with his hand out.  It's hard to see it.  And now we see a possible indication that the produce that subsidies encourage is actually bad for your health.  The study is far from conclusive due to a lack of controls and the mechanism is unclear but it should create some doubts

The U.S. government spends billions of dollars each year on subsidies to farmers, but consuming too much food made from those subsidized farm products can boost people's risk for heart disease, researchers say.

The more people eat of foods made with subsidized commodities, the more likely they are to be obese, have abnormal cholesterol and high blood sugar, according to a report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Current federal agricultural subsidies help finance the production of corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy and livestock, which are often converted into refined grains, high-fat and high-sodium processed foods, and high-calorie juices and soft drinks (sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup), the authors write.

“We know that eating too many of these foods can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Karen R. Siegel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But the subsidies help keep the prices of those products down, making them more affordable.

“Among the justifications for the 1973 U.S. Farm Bill was to assure consumers a plentiful supply of food at reasonable prices,” Siegel told Reuters Health by email. “Subsidized food commodities are foods made from federally funded crops to ensure the American population has an adequate supply of food, thus they tend to be non-perishable, or storable, e.g., corn, wheat, rice, to reduce the risk of spoiling.”

The researchers used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey responses obtained from more than 10,000 adults between 2001 and 2006. Each person reported everything they had eaten in one 24-hour period.

The researchers gave each individual a “subsidy score” based on the percentage of their total calories than had come from subsidized foods.

At the same time, participants had their body mass index, abdominal fat, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels measured.

On average, people were getting about 56 percent of their calories from subsidized food commodities. When the total group was divided into four smaller groups based on their subsidy score, those with the highest scores were more likely to be obese, have a larger waist circumference, more C-reactive protein, more “bad” cholesterol and higher blood sugar than those in the lowest subsidy score, as reported in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study itself can't prove that a diet higher in subsidized foods causes poor health, Siegel said. But foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium are known to increase the risk for chronic health problems, particularly when paired with other factors such as smoking and inactivity, she added.

U.S. dietary guidelines recommend emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, Siegel said.

The government subsidies were a strategy to support rural communities and to manage hunger in the 1970s, said Raj Patel of the University of Texas at Austin, who wrote a commentary on Siegel’s report.

But “we rarely buy these foods raw,” Patel told Reuters Health by email. “These commodities are grown to be processed.”

SOURCE

The journal article is Association of Higher Consumption of Foods Derived From Subsidized Commodities With Adverse Cardiometabolic Risk Among US Adults

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Are polls understating Donald Trump’s support?

In days leading up to the UK’s historic June 23 vote to leave the European Union, almost every single opinion poll had the Remain side winning.

Populus gave Remain a 55 to 45 percent lead. YouGov gave Remain a 51 to 49 percent edge. Ipsos Mori had it at 49 to 46 percent with 1 percent undecided.

Yet when referendum day came, it was Leave which had the distinct advantage, winning 52 to 48 percent — stunning prediction markets and pollsters alike, who were left to wonder what had just gone wrong.

The usual variety of explanations, like greater than expected turnout in Leave areas or less than expected turnout in Remain areas, or sampling error have been offered.

But perhaps a significant percent of people polled lied to the pollsters about their true intentions, or simply those who were intent on voting Leave were more likely to opt out of the poll.

Which after a year of a media and political establishment barrage against the Leave campaign as racist, xenophobic, and the like, and they would crash the economy and send the UK into a depression. Significantly, supporters of Leave were even blamed for the assassination of an MP in the closing days of the campaign.

None of it happened to be true. But who wants to be called a racist for not wanting open borders or unbridled trade policies that ship jobs overseas? Or crashing the economy? Or worse, blamed for the murder of members of Parliament?

A similar situation could be emerging across the pond in the U.S., where Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton in national and statewide polls.

Here, the media and political establishment here consistently characterize Donald Trump as racist and xenophobic, and portray his supporters as violent — even as Trump supporters are being assaulted by protesters on television. They are told Trump’s trade and immigration policies will kill the U.S. economy and those who support them are economically illiterate.

Sound familiar?

Maybe Trump supporters are less likely to want to be identified. Not necessarily out of shame, but out of fear of being physically bloodied or damaged professionally. Perhaps that is being reflected in the polls.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage told CNBC on June 28 that is exactly what happened in the UK with the Brexit polls failing to predict the final outcome, and may be what is happening in the U.S., too. “There’s kind of this consensus that has made people feel slightly embarrassed, ashamed to be patriotic, to believe we should control immigration, and so when pollsters ring them they tend to shy away a little bit,” Farage suggested.

He may be on to something. Consider just how wrong the polls were in Republican presidential primary when it was still competitive a few months ago. The Real Clear Politics average of polls in Indiana had Trump at 43 percent to 32 percent. Instead, Trump got 54 percent of the vote.

In Pennsylvania polls said Donald Trump up 48 percent to 27 percent. Instead, he won 58 percent to 22 percent.

In Maryland, the average had Trump up 47 percent to 26 percent. Instead, he won 56 percent to 23 percent.

In Connecticut, the polls said Trump was at 54 percent, but then he over performed again at 59 percent.

In Rhode Island, the polls had Trump at 52 percent. Wrong again, he came in at 65 percent.

In Delaware, the polls said 55 percent. Voters said 63 percent.

In New York, the polls had said Trump would get 53 percent, but instead he hit 60 percent there.

Trump beat the poll estimates by up to 13 points in some states when election day finally came around. Simply incredible.

So perhaps Trump supporters are keeping quiet, and that is what is consistently turning up in the polls. You may not see their bumper stickers or lawn signs. Perhaps they don’t want their windows smashed. But they intend to vote for him all the same.

In Pittsburgh on June 28 Trump told voters, including disaffected labor Democrats, that “America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer. The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known. But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America, to promoting development in other nations. We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable. Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.”

Trump added, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to declare our economic independence once again.”

We’ll know soon enough if a silent majority follows Trump’s call and puts him in the White House. Trump is running a Brexitonian style campaign of restoring U.S. sovereignty, stopping illegal immigration and securing better trade agreements. It is this pitch that Trump hopes will transcend traditional party loyalties, and throw off the conventional calculations that typically predict the final outcome of presidential elections.

But one cannot deny that 2016 is already shaping up to be a year that defies the expectations of the political and media establishment — all over the world.

The only people who have a clear idea of which way things are actually going are voters — and they might not be cooperating with pollsters.

Think Hillary Clinton has this in the bag? Ask outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron if he still believes the polls.

SOURCE

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More Proof that the Fix is in for Crooked Hillary

If today's revelation that the FBI won't recommend the prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite the admission that she was "extremely careless," more information suggests that the fix was in from the getgo. The Obama State Department has done everything in its power to avoid turning over documents related to Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State. Per the AP:

Just five months before the presidential election, the State Department is under fire in courtrooms over its delays in turning over government files related to Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

In one case, the agency warned it needed a 27-month delay, until October 2018, to turn over emails from Clinton's former aides, and the judge in another case, a lawsuit by The Associated Press, wondered aloud whether the State Department might be deliberately delaying until after the election.

"We're now reaching a point where there's mounting frustration that this is a project where the State Department may be running out the clock," said U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon. The judge said he was considering imposing penalties on the agency if it failed to meet the next set of deadlines he orders. Leon wondered aloud at one point whether he might impose penalties for again failing to deliver records on time. He mused about "a fine on a daily basis" or "incarceration."

"I can't send the marshals, obviously, out to bring in the documents, at least they wouldn't know where to go, probably," Leon said.

Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials have said they are committed to public transparency, vowing that the State Department will improve its practices under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Last year, after an inspector general's audit harshly critical of the agency, Kerry appointed a "transparency coordinator," Janice Jacobs, and said the agency would "fundamentally improve our ability to respond to requests for our records."

But in three separate court hearings last week, officials acknowledged that their records searches were hobbled by errors and new delays and said they need far more time to produce Clinton records. In other cases where the agency has already reached legal agreements with news organizations and political groups, the final delivery of thousands of records will not come until months after the November election — far too late to give voters an opportunity to analyze the performance of Clinton and her aides.

The delays loom even in the wake of FBI Director James Comey's announcement Tuesday that he has decided not to refer criminal charges to the Justice Department in Clinton's use of her personal computer server and private email accounts to conduct government business when she was secretary of state. Comey criticized Clinton's use of the private system and "careless" handling of classified materials, and also said the State Department was "generally lacking" in its handling of sensitive records.

It's not uncommon for government agencies to be extremely delayed when it comes to producing infromation, but this is ridiculous. It is clear that the Obama Administration has gone above and beyond to use the justice system to protect the presumptive nominee and prosecute her enemies. Expect more of the same if Crooked Hillary is victorious in November.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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)

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Trump’s Muslim Ban Gains Support

When an ISIS-supporting Muslim named Omar Mateen massacred 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando on June 12, Donald Trump reminded Americans that he is still the only political candidate to support a pause in the massive flow of Muslims entering the United States.  Trump made his proposal last December after another ISIS-supporting Muslim massacred 14 people at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

Trump said his Muslim ban would be temporary.  “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses,” he said, “our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad.”

Trump’s reasonable, commonsense proposal was immediately condemned or disavowed by other presidential candidates in both parties.  Even Senator Ted Cruz said he disagreed with it, though he didn’t say why.

Now that Cruz has returned to his “day job” as U.S. Senator from Texas, he recently co-authored a new report with Senator Jeff Sessions that provides powerful support for Trump’s position.  The report issued June 22 shows that the overwhelming majority of convicted terrorists came into our country as immigrants or refugees from Muslim countries.

Cruz and Sessions were able to determine the birthplace of 451 of the 580 individuals who were convicted of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2001.  Some 380 of the 451, or 84 percent of these terrorists, were foreign born – and most of them came from Muslim-majority countries such Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the 71 terrorists who were born here, most were children of immigrants or refugees from Muslim countries, although the Senators could not report the exact number because the Obama administration refused to provide that information.  Despite four official letters from the U.S. Senators on August 12, December 3, January 11, and June 14 to the appropriate agencies of the U.S. government, Obama’s appointees have refused to answer questions about the immigration status of the 580 persons convicted of terrorism in the United States since 9/11.

Coming six months after San Bernardino, the Orlando massacre entitled Donald Trump to say “I told you so” and he did so in a powerful speech on June 13.  “We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year,” Trump said.  “Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.”

Trump was right to include the children of immigrants as part of the immigration problem.  The Orlando shooter Mateen was born in the United States, but a witness said he referred to Afghanistan as “my country.”

Besides Orlando, other mass killings have been perpetrated by the U.S.-born children of Muslim immigrants or individuals who were brought here as children by their Muslim parents.  Examples include one of the San Bernardino killers; the Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan; the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013; and the man who killed four active-duty Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga in 2015.

Don’t overlook the Muslims who entered the United States on the pretext of marriage, such as the Pakistani woman named Malik who helped her husband commit the San Bernardino massacre.  The Orlando shooter’s first wife, his second wife, and his second wife’s first husband were all Muslims who never should have been allowed to come here.

In an interview, Trump said “there’s no real assimilation” by Muslim immigrants, even in the “second and third generation.”   A liberal website called Politifact tried to refute that statement by citing a telephone survey of Muslims who said they wanted to become American, but the interviews were conducted in “Arabic, Farsi and Urdu” – hardly evidence of assimilation.

Other countries have recently experienced terrorist massacres directed or inspired by the Islamic State, including 130 murdered in Paris; 32 in Brussels; 45 at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey; 28 at a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and, most recently, 200 in Baghdad, Iraq.  Obviously we can’t prevent atrocities in other countries, but we can and should prevent potential terrorists from coming here.

Obama, however, is doing just the opposite.  He has admitted over 5,000 so-called refugees from Syria this fiscal year and scattered them to 167 communities in 39 states.  More than 99 percent of the Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims, and only 8 individuals identified themselves as Christian.  The Obama “surge” of Syrian refugees is on track to reach 10,000 by September, even though FBI Director James Comey told Congress last year that there’s no way to vet them adequately.

Most Syrians lack the skills to support themselves without government assistance, and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation calculates that 10,000 refugees will cost federal, state and local taxpayers some $6.5 billion over their lifetime.  If that’s not bad enough, Hillary Clinton has vowed to increase the number of Syrian refugees to 65,000.

SOURCE

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You Owe Them Nothing - Not Respect, Not Loyalty, Not Obedience

Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. It is high time to declare our personal independence from any remnant of obligation to those who have spit upon the rule of law. We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience.

Think about it. If you are out driving at 3 a.m., do you stop at a stop sign when there’s no one coming? Of course you do. You don’t need a cop to be there to make you stop. You do it voluntarily because this is America and America is a country where obeying the law is the right thing to do because the law was justly made and is justly applied. Or it used to be.

The law mattered. It applied equally to everyone. We demanded that it did, all of us – politicians, the media, and regular citizens. Oh, there were mistakes and miscarriages of justice but they weren’t common and they weren’t celebrated – they were universally reviled. And, more importantly, they weren’t part and parcel of the ideology of one particular party. There was once a time where you could imagine a Democrat scandal where the media actually called for the head of the Democrat instead of deploying to cover it up.

People assumed that the law mattered, that the same rules applied to everyone. That duly enacted laws would be enforced equally until repealed. That the Constitution set the foundation and that its guarantees would be honored even if we disliked the result in a particular case. But that’s not our country today.

The idea of the rule of law today is a lie. There is no law. There is no justice. There are only lies.

Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.

The attorney general secretly canoodles with the husband of the subject of criminal investigation by her own department and the president, the enforcer of our laws, shrugs. The media, the challenger of the powerful, smirks. They rub our noses in their contempt for the law. And by doing so, demonstrate their contempt for us.

Only power matters, and Hillary stands ready to accumulate more power on their behalf so their oaths, their alleged principles, their duty to the country – all of it goes out the window. But it’s much worse than just one scandal that seems not to scandalize anyone in the elite. Just read the Declaration of Independence – it’s almost like those dead white Christian male proto-NRA members foresaw and cataloged the myriad oppressions of liberalism’s current junior varsity tyranny.

There is one law for them, and another for us. Sanctuary cities? Obama’s immigration orders? If you conservatives can play by the rules and pass your laws, then we liberals will just not enforce them. You don’t get the benefit of the laws you like. We get the benefit of the ones we do, though. Not you. Too bad, rubes.

So if you are still obeying the law when you don’t absolutely have to, when there isn’t some government enforcer with a gun lurking right there to make you, aren’t you kind of a sucker?

Don’t you feel foolish, like you’re the only one who didn’t get the memo that it’s every man/woman/non-binary entity for his/her/its self?

Who is standing against this? Not the judges. The Constitution? Meh. Why should their personal agendas be constrained by some sort of foundational document? Judges find rights that don’t appear in the text and gut ones that do. Just ask a married gay guy in Los Angeles who can’t carry a concealed weapons to protect himself from [OMITTED] radicals.

The politicians won’t stand against this. The Democrats support allowing the government to jail people for criticizing politicians and clamor to take away citizens’ rights merely because some government flunky has put their name on a list. Their “minority report” on Benghazi is an attack on Trump, and to them the idea of congressional oversight of a Democrat official whose incompetence put four Americans in the ground is not merely illegitimate; it’s a joke.

Is the media standing against this, those sainted watchdogs protecting us from the powerful? Don’t make me laugh.

What do these moral abortions have in common? Short term political gain over principle. These people are so used to the good life that a society’s reflexive reliance on the principle of the rule of law brings that they think they can undermine it with impunity. Oh it’s no big deal if we do this, they reason. Everyone else will keep playing by the rules, right? Everything will be fine even as we score in the short term.

The Romans had principles for a while. Then they got tempted to abandon principle for – wait for it – short term political gain. Then they got Caesar. Then the emperors. Then the barbarians. And then the Dark Ages. But hey, we’re much smarter and more sophisticated than the Romans, who were so dumb they didn’t even know that gender is a matter of choice. Our civilization is permanent and indestructible – it’s not like we are threatened by barbarians who want to come massacre us.

Oh, wait. The last words of some of these people to their radical Muslim killers before they are beheaded will be, “Please remember me as not being Islamaphobic! And sorry about the Crusades!”

There used to be a social contract requiring that our government treat us all equally within the scope of the Constitution and defend us, and in return we would recognize the legitimacy of its laws and defend it when in need. But that contract has been breached. We are not all equal before the law. Our constitutional rights are not being upheld. We are not being defended – hell, we normals get blamed every time some Seventh Century savage goes on a kill spree. Yet we’re still supposed to keep going along as if everything is cool, obeying the law, subsidizing the elite with our taxes, taking their abuse. We’ve been evicted by the landlord but he still wants us to pay him rent.

Now it seems we actually have a new social contract – do what we say and don’t resist, and in return we’ll abuse you, lie about you, take your money, and look down upon you in contempt. What a bargain!

It’s not a social contract anymore – American society today is a suicide pact we never agreed to and yet we’re expected to go first.

I say “No.”  We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience. Nothing.

We make it easy for them by going along. We make it simple by defaulting to the old rules. But there are no rules anymore, certainly none that morally bind us once we are outside the presence of some government worker with a gun to force our compliance. There is only will and power and we must rediscover our own. If there is no cop sitting right there, then there is nothing to make you stop at that stop sign tonight.

They don’t realize that by rejecting the rule of law, they have set us free. We are independent. We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience. But with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we will still mutually pledge those who have earned our loyalty with their adherence to the rule of law, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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)

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Australia has just had a version of the Trump revolt or the Brexit revolt

Australian politics is traditionally dominated by the two major parties, with few independents.  In last Saturday's election, however, neither of the two main parties had a clear win.  The big win was a big increase in the number of independents.  For either major party to govern, it will have to woo at least some of the independents

The leaders of both major parties had nothing fresh to offer and stood for business as usual.  Both offered only the same old tired elitist consensus about most things that has recently come under challenge in the U.S., Britain and Europe.

Trump in America, Brexit in Britain, the rise of Marine Le Pen in France and the crumbling of Frau Dr. Merkel in Germany all say the same thing:  People are sick of the same old politically correct consensus and  want no more of it. So Australia's independents too now represent a rejection of business as usual

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Brexit for America

Should we give Washington still more power over our lives – or “Take back control”

Paul Driessen

Independence Day weekend is a perfect time to reflect on personal freedoms and responsibilities.

The Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence were about overbearing, despotic kings. Brexit, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, was much about overbearing bureaucrats in Brussels.

This year’s US elections likewise center on gaining a new measure of freedom from an authoritarian, unaccountable Executive Branch in Washington. Like Brexit, they are also about We the People actually having a role in a democracy, a voice in how much power government will have over our lives. The Brexit motto is fast becoming the driving force in 2016 politics: “Take back control!”

Today’s ruling elites do not govern from positions of land ownership or birth, but from assertions of greater education, expertise and wisdom than supposedly possessed by citizens at large. These ruling classes increasingly control our lands, the energy and minerals beneath them, and the lives, livelihoods and living standards of those beyond the DC Beltway. People are getting fed up.

A Financial Times headline just days after the Brexit vote read “Clinton wary of populist contagion.” She should be.

The very notion that people might vote to loosen the shackles of intrusive government is anathema to her. Like President Obama, Hillary Clinton shares the mindset that democracy is fine if angry liberals can be mobilized to elect an activist, wealth-redistributionist president to “fundamentally transform” America. It’s unsettling and intolerable if conservatives mobilize to unelect this agenda.

Mrs. Clinton and her increasingly far-left party rightly worry that voters have had a bellyful of liberal-progressive policies that have rolled back economic growth, job creation, and incomes for poor, working class and minority families; unleashed waves of illegal immigration; and imposed massive cultural changes on our communities and military. And yet, right after the Brexit vote, Mrs. Clinton said:

“Our first task has to be to make sure the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working class families here in America.” Talk about being insulated from reality.

Possible impacts from Britain’s exit from the EU are hardly the issue. America’s concern is the certain harm to working classes inflicted by Mr. Obama’s policies – which Ms. Hillary promises to redouble if elected. Her comment to West Virginia’s coal country electorate underscores her insensitive disdain.

“I’m going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs,” she informed them. And she won’t stop there.

Germany, Britain and Poland are finally awakening to the ways exorbitant prices for subsidized, unreliable wind and solar electricity are hammering their poor and middle class families, destroying their international competitiveness, and driving their steel, auto, ceramics and other industries out of business. But Mrs. Clinton has also vowed to regulate hydraulic fracturing into oblivion, and ban mining and drilling on federally controlled lands that represent 30-85% of all real estate in Alaska and America’s western states. Her rabid environmentalist base wants to rid these areas of ranching and grazing, as well.

The economic impacts will roll through states and communities like successive tsunamis. Mrs. Clinton, her media and intellectual supporters, and ruling elites will likely respond as they always do.

“What difference at this point does it make?” she ranted at lawmakers who dared to question her lies and incompetence in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his heroic security team in Benghazi.

“Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We didn’t,” the then-First Lady contemptuously responded to suggestions that she and President Clinton mishandled financial reports on their Whitewater land deals. She gave the same dismissive answer to “impertinent” questions about her improper State Department email server.

“Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, & supported,” she tweeted in 2015. But if they’re victims of her husband’s sexual predations, she labels them “trailer trash,” like Gennifer Flowers, or slimes and pressures them to shut up, like Juanita Broaddrick and other women.

Like Mr. Obama and other elites, she surrounds herself with armed security details – and then demands more gun control when unarmed or disarmed Americans are murdered in Orlando, San Bernardino or Fort Hood … while scrubbing press releases and cell phone transcripts of any mention of Islamist motives.

The Obama Justice Department prosecuted ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell over a watch and meeting arrangements. (An 8-0 Supreme Court decision threw out the conviction.) But the DOJ was silent about Secretary of State Clinton appointing Rajiv Fernando to the International Security Advisory Board, giving him access to ultra-sensitive intelligence – when his only apparent “qualification” was raising millions of dollars for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, donating hundreds of thousands to the Clinton Foundation, and giving tens of thousands to Hillary PACs.

The extensive quid-pro-quo of $200,000 Bill and Hill speeches and special deals for Wall Street, Saudi and other supplicants – swelling Clinton Foundation coffers – has received similar DOJ inattention.

Obama, Clinton and other Democrat kids go to pricey, private prep schools – while they oppose funding for charter schools that give poor and minority kids a chance to escape inner city life. They demand full integration of middle-income neighborhoods, but live in segregated, gated communities.

Those who dare question government diktats gets targeted or audited by the IRS, or even find armed SWAT teams bursting through their doors.

Legal immigrants face slow, expensive processing – while illegals from Latin America receive healthcare and education, live in sanctuary cities, and rarely get deported for crimes. 99% of Syrian refugees arriving under the latest Obama decree are Muslims, even as Christians are being exterminated in Syria and Iraq.

More and more, it seems, our government does whatever it decides the times demand – even when it means stifling innovation, growth, jobs and incomes for everyone except bureaucrats and crony corporatist friends, whose decisions, arrangements, perks and pensions are sacrosanct.

“As president, I can do whatever I want,” President Obama has said. If it was meant as a joke, few are laughing. On June 30, total government debt hit a record $19.4 trillion, a jump of nearly $98 billion from the day before. Our kids and their future generations will pay the price.

Elites impose healthcare, climate change, red-ink and transgender agendas – and then go apoplectic over Donald Trump’s controversial remarks. There is a “clear consensus” among intellectual, political and media elites that Donald Trump is “ill-suited to be president,” we repeatedly hear.

By contrast, Mrs. Clinton offers the “calm, steady, experienced leadership” we need in these uncertain times. Such as what we’ve seen on Benghazi, emails, energy, economics and sexual assault?

Ronald Reagan once asked, “If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

Indeed, who in government has the wisdom, knowledge or right to govern the rest of us, especially with the iron fist they increasingly employ – and with no transparency or accountability?

We gained independence from Britain over far less serious Abuses and Usurpations. Let’s hope we can at least have an angry populace election in 2016. And if Mr. Trump can formulate, articulate and implement sound, practical, job-creating, economy-stimulating policies – and enough voters can unite around him and those policies – America might get its own Brexit from tyrannical centralized, leftist government.

Via email

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How Government Cronies Redefined the Catfish

An industry clamored for more regulation—because it had a financial interest in doing so.

Cronyism is the ugly marriage between special interest groups and politicians, which results in an abuse of the government's power to grant special privileges to a few winners—for example, unfairly preventing competition or doling out subsidies and bailouts at the expense of taxpayers. Though cronyism is always outrageous, the way cronies go about achieving their goals is sometimes oddly funny. Case in point: the government's changing the definition of catfish to classify the fish as—wait for it—meat, not seafood.

As Patrick Mustain reports in Scientific American, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., included an amendment in the 2008 farm bill designating catfish as a "species amenable to" the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which "requires appointment of inspectors to examine and inspect all meat food products prepared for commerce." The 2014 farm bill made this silly amendment official.

As a result, from now on, catfish and a few other species of fish will be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service rather than by the Food and Drug Administration's seafood inspection program. All other seafood will continue to be inspected by the FDA.

Does it really matter who inspects what fish? Yes, because the cost to develop the new program will be $14 million and the ongoing annual cost during the transition phase will be $2.5 million. The USDA's inspections are also much more burdensome and frequent than the FDA's.

Is that extra scrutiny necessary because catfish carry a high risk of causing food poisoning? Nope. Advocates for the rules will point to recent USDA "discoveries" of chemical residue in catfish, but that finding doesn't hold water. In May 2012, the Government Accountability Office noted that the USDA catfish program "would cause duplication and inefficient use of resources" because "as many as three agencies—FDA, FSIS, and (the National Marine Fisheries Service)—could inspect facilities that process both catfish and other types of seafood." That's insane because in 2013, the GAO also found that catfish are a low-risk food and that safety wouldn't be enhanced by switching inspections from the FDA to the USDA.

A look at who is behind this rule tells you all you need to know about how misguided it is. During the public comment sessions, the domestic catfish farming industry was very vocal about the need for more regulations and oversight of their business. This seems odd because it's not often that one hears of an industry clamoring for more regulations—that is, of course, unless it has a financial interest in doing so.

For years, domestic catfish producers were getting hammered by competition coming from China and Vietnam. Those same catfish farmers understood that unlike the FDA inspection program, the USDA inspection program has a separate "equivalency" test for imports, which adds a layer of regulations only on imports and could take countries years to implement. In the meantime, they'd be completely barred from the U.S. market. Domestic catfish farmers love that. Also, 94 percent of U.S. farm-raised catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, hence the interest of Sen. Cochran to push this misguided regulation on catfish.

Unfortunately, there are many losers in this scenario. First, the reduced competition faced by catfish farmers guarantees that the price for the fish (or should I say meat?) will go up. Second, catfish processors are on the losing side of the USDA inspection rule because most of them process other seafood—and now they'll have to comply with the USDA rules and the FDA rules. Third, taxpayers will have to foot an expensive bill for a duplicative rule that will achieve little except artificially boosting the profits of a few domestic catfish farmers. Finally, non-catfish industries will suffer as a result of the trade retaliation against this catfish protectionism.

There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel. As Heritage Action for America's Dan Holler recently told me, "the choice between consumers and well-connected parochial special interests should not be difficult for Republican leaders. With a presidential signature likely and a clear majority of House Republicans in support of overturning the ... rule, now is the time to act." But will they?

SOURCE

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up --  covering news from Japan, Austria and Britain

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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)

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Monday, July 04, 2016


On America's Independence Day, the push for independence in countries on the other side of the Atlantic is to be admired and applauded

After Brexit, the People’s Spring Is Inevitable

A cogent essay below by the popular Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front party in France, a party critical of immigration and the EU

IF there’s one thing that chafes French pride, it’s seeing the British steal the limelight. But in the face of real courage, even the proudest French person can only tip his hat and bow. The decision that the people of Britain have just made was indeed an act of courage — the courage of a people who embrace their freedom.

Brexit won out, defeating all forecasts. Britain decided to cast off from the European Union and reclaim its independence among the world’s nations. It had been said that the election would hinge solely on economic matters; the British, however, were more insightful in understanding the real issue than commentators like to admit.

British voters understood that behind prognostications about the pound’s exchange rate and behind the debates of financial experts, only one question, at once simple and fundamental, was being asked: Do we want an undemocratic authority ruling our lives, or would we rather regain control over our destiny? Brexit is, above all, a political issue. It’s about the free choice of a people deciding to govern itself. Even when it is touted by all the propaganda in the world, a cage remains a cage, and a cage is unbearable to a human being in love with freedom.

The European Union has become a prison of peoples. Each of the 28 countries that constitute it has slowly lost its democratic prerogatives to commissions and councils with no popular mandate. Every nation in the union has had to apply laws it did not want for itself. Member nations no longer determine their own budgets. They are called upon to open their borders against their will.

Countries in the eurozone face an even less enviable situation. In the name of ideology, different economies are forced to adopt the same currency, even if doing so bleeds them dry. It’s a modern version of the Procrustean bed, and the people no longer have a say.

And what about the European Parliament? It’s democratic in appearance only, because it’s based on a lie: the pretense that there is a homogeneous European people, and that a Polish member of the European Parliament has the legitimacy to make law for the Spanish. We have tried to deny the existence of sovereign nations. It’s only natural that they would not allow being denied.

Brexit wasn’t the European people’s first cry of revolt. In 2005, France and the Netherlands held referendums about the proposed European Union constitution. In both countries, opposition was massive, and other governments decided on the spot to halt the experiment for fear the contagion might spread. A few years later, the European Union constitution was forced on the people of Europe anyway, under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty. In 2008, Ireland, also by way of referendum, refused to apply that treaty. And once again, a popular decision was brushed aside.

When in 2015 Greece decided by referendum to reject Brussels’ austerity plans, the European Union’s antidemocratic response took no one by surprise: To deny the people’s will had become a habit. In a flash of honesty, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, unabashedly declared, “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

Brexit may not have been the first cry of hope, but it may be the people’s first real victory. The British have presented the union with a dilemma it will have a hard time getting out of. Either it allows Britain to sail away quietly and thus runs the risk of setting a precedent: The political and economic success of a country that left the European Union would be clear evidence of the union’s noxiousness. Or, like a sore loser, the union makes the British pay for their departure by every means possible and thus exposes the tyrannical nature of its power. Common sense points toward the former option. I have a feeling Brussels will choose the latter.

One thing is certain: Britain’s departure from the European Union will not make the union more democratic. The hierarchical structure of its supranational institutions will want to reinforce itself: Like all dying ideologies, the union knows only how to forge blindly ahead. The roles are already cast — Germany will lead the way, and France will obligingly tag along.

Here is a sign: President Fran├žois Hollande of France, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain take their lead directly from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, without running through Brussels. A quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” now has a clear answer: Call Berlin.

So the people of Europe have but one alternative left: to remain bound hand-and-foot to a union that betrays national interests and popular sovereignty and that throws our countries wide open to massive immigration and arrogant finance, or to reclaim their freedom by voting.

Calls for referendums are ringing throughout the Continent. I myself have suggested to Mr. Hollande that one such public consultation be held in France. He did not fail to turn me down. More and more, the destiny of the European Union resembles the destiny of the Soviet Union, which died from its own contradictions.

The People’s Spring is now inevitable! The only question left to ask is whether Europe is ready to rid itself of its illusions, or if the return to reason will come with suffering. I made my decision a long time ago: I chose France. I chose sovereign nations. I chose freedom.

SOURCE

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Dr. Frankenstein Elites Created Populist Monsters

Following the Brexit, Europe may witness even more plebiscites against the undemocratic European Union throughout the continent.

The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations and more redistributive taxes.

But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business.

The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity.

On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania.

Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform.

In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract.

The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention.

Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights.

No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays.

Many Americans were bewildered by the logic. It’s reasonable to conclude that the shooter was conflicted over his religion’s strict prohibitions about his lifestyle — and especially the American brand of tolerance as exemplified by the nightclub. Mateen’s immigrant father from Afghanistan is a crude homophobe who had praised the murderous Taliban. Mateen somehow had cleared all background checks and on at least two occasions had been interviewed and dismissed by the FBI.

In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection.

Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun.

In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant.

The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh.

America’s version of the British antidote to elite hypocrisy is the buffoonish populist Donald Trump. Like the architects of Brexit, he arose not from what he was for, but what he said he was against.

SOURCE

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Which Immigration Laws Do They Want to Enforce?

There’s no question illegal immigration is a thorn in the side of those Americans who are interested in fairness and Rule of Law. Many millions are offended at the thought of people circumventing the system while those who go about it the right way are played for suckers by a government that has made the legal process more time-consuming and expensive. And that’s not to mention the cost and other crime involved.

Discussions of building a wall for border security and ending “birthright” citizenship for non-citizens, though, have much less meaning when it’s clear that those currently in charge of law enforcement have little interest in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, particularly the tide that flows across our southern border. (As many as half of illegal immigrants are illegal because they have overstayed their legal permission to be here, but we have at least some idea of who they are since they have paperwork on file — not that anyone is rushing to address this issue, either.)

Yet while we have a president who would rather wield a pen and a phone than wait on Congress to hash out common-sense immigration policy, his approach was given a default rebuke by a split Supreme Court last week, as the justices chose not to overturn a lower court decision which said that Barack Obama’s approach was not a constitutional one.

Picking and choosing which laws to enforce or ignore is of course no way to maintain Rule of Law, but it’s Obama’s preferred style.

Meanwhile, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defiantly told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, illegal immigrants are “here and they’re not going anywhere.” And as long as the issue remains alive it can be used to score political points, as Mark Alexander wrote in the wake of the 2014 election.

But there’s an argument, proffered by Andrew McCarthy at National Review and seconded by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, that the most effective way to deal with illegal immigration is simple: “attrition through enforcement.” We have the laws on the books already — after all, they’re not called “illegal aliens” for nothing — so the impediment to success is a lack of willingness to uphold the law. It may create a lot of headaches for certain businesses and the pro-amnesty national Chamber of Commerce, but McCarthy and Krikorian argue that limiting the opportunities for undocumented workers would likely convince them to return home.

Further, McCarthy makes the case that the matter is not one of national security, but law enforcement. “The distinction is important because, while national security threats must be defeated, law enforcement problems are managed,” writes McCarthy. “We don’t expect to wipe them out. We figure out how many offenders there are and what resources we have to address them, and we deploy the resources in a manner that gives us the biggest bang for the buck.”

Yet the most immediate issue for law enforcement is the danger of being overmatched at the border by organized crime, which has exploited our lax border security and enforcement and found a willing market for their illicit activities. Is that “here and not going anywhere,” too?

We can argue whether the damage from amnesty 30 years ago is too great, as two more generations of illegal immigrants have impatiently waited for their own “permiso.” But letting them know that there won’t be a second round of amnesty, that the law is the law, and that it will be enforced appropriately would do as much to solve the problem as any wall would.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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)

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Sunday, July 03, 2016



“What would you do? Just let people die?”

Megan McArdle

“Well then, what would you do? Just let people die?”  Those words were thrown at me the first time I debated a national healthcare program for America, way back in the 1990s. Through all the years since then, I have been hearing some version of them at regular intervals.

During the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), that question was the ultimate resort of anyone arguing in favor of the law: whatever its problems, it was better than letting tens of thousands of Americans die each year.

There are a couple of shaky assumptions underlying the question. The first is that health insurance does a great deal to increase health and reduce mortality. This seems obvious enough, but it’s surprisingly hard to tease out of the data.

For example, the creation of Medicare, which vastly expanded utilization of health care, seems to have produced no measurable impact on mortality among the elderly in its first 10 years of existence. There is ample evidence that health insurance protects people from financial risk — which isn’t surprising, because that’s what insurance is for. The evidence that it protects people from premature death is less compelling.

Of course, the financial risk is a real problem — a health-related financial disaster can be devastating for families that go through it. But even if we also assume that there are real, and large, health benefits from providing insurance to people, that still wouldn’t mean that the ACA was better than nothing. This is the fallacious syllogism that led America into the Iraq War:

1. Something must be done.

2. This is something.

3. Therefore, this must be done.

And thus we got a bloated, complicated law that still isn’t quite working as planned. Fewer people are insured than projected, the insurance is less generous than be expected, the exchanges are in financial trouble, the federal back end to pay insurers still hasn’t been built.

Worst of all, we’ve locked in most of the features that people hated about the old system: the lack of transparency, the endless battles with insurers over what is covered and what isn’t, the feeling that you are captive to behemoth government and corporate bureaucracies that are more interested in the numbers on their spreadsheets than in what you want out of your health care.

I do think that something should have been done. But not this something. What we should have done is created a system that focused on protecting people from the risk we know they face — catastrophic medical bills — and that sought to preserve the best of the American system rather than the worst — that is, to preserve our endless talent for innovation through markets rather than our decidedly lesser talent for creating and managing massive regulatory bureaucracies.

Government as the Insurer of Last Resort

How could a government program have freed up markets to innovate? Simple: by getting the government to do something it already does decently well, which is to function as the insurer of last resort. Deposit insurance, pioneered by the United States, has basically halted bank runs. Pension benefit guarantees have made sure seniors don’t end up in penury. (The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation could be better financed, but that doesn’t mean the idea itself is bad.) FEMA essentially functions as an insurer of last resort for people struck by natural disasters.

These programs introduce a certain amount of moral hazard, as people take more risks and underinsure themselves in the expectation that the government will pick up the tab. But when you look at the devastation these programs have mitigated, it is hard to call them anything but an overwhelming success.

How would a similar program work for health care? The government would pick up 100 percent of the tab for health care over a certain percentage of adjusted gross income — the number would have to be negotiated through the political process, but I have suggested between 15 and 20 percent.

There could be special treatment for people living at or near the poverty line, and for people who have medical bills that exceed the set percentage of their income for five years in a row, so that the poor and people with chronic illness are not disadvantaged by the system.

In exchange, we would get rid of the tax deduction for employer-sponsored health insurance, and all the other government health insurance programs, with the exception of the military’s system, which for obvious reasons does need to be run by the government.

People would be free to insure the gap if they wanted, and such insurance would be relatively cheap, because the insurers would see their losses strictly limited. Or people could choose to save money in a tax-deductible health savings account to cover the eventual likelihood of a serious medical problem.

Advantages of the Insurer-of-Last-Resort Alternative

Of course, anyone proposing an alternative to the ACA, or to the previous status quo, has to be able to say why the alternative is better. In this case, there are three answers to that challenge. First of all, it is dead simple, and the simpler a government program is, the better it works. The ideal government program can be explained to a third grader on a postcard, and this one comes close.

The second reason this is better is that it protects people from actual catastrophic costs better than the existing system, while also being more progressive. Warren Buffett will get nothing out of the system; someone with very little income will have all medical bills paid. No one will have to worry about being slapped with an unpayable bill if, say, an anesthesiologist turns out to be out of network.

But the third and most important reason this alternative is better is that it introduces a key element that has gone missing from health care since third-party payers started to take responsibility for the bills: transparent prices, and consumers who make decisions based on them.

Milton Friedman famously divided spending into four categories, which P. J. O’Rourke summarized thus:

1. You spend your money on yourself. You’re motivated to get the thing you want most at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you’re less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3. You spend other people’s money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4. You spend other people’s money on other people. And in this case, who gives a [damn]?

The first category is what produces market efficiency. Unfortunately, almost no one in the system does that. Instead, we have insurers spending their money on someone else, consumers spending someone else’s money on themselves, and the government spending other people’s money on someone else. No one gets what he or she wants, vast oceans of times are wasted fighting over what to buy, and it all costs too much.

Of course, some things are too expensive to get price discipline from this system: organ transplants, very early preemies, many forms of cancer. But there’s little price discipline in those areas now, so we wouldn’t be any worse off. Meanwhile, lots of areas, from hospital beds to the details of knee surgery, would for the first time in decades be subject to the decisions of consumers who care both about getting what they need and about how much they’re spending.

Conclusion

I spent years uninsured in my twenties, and remarkably, I got the best health care of my life, because doctors stopped performing tests and procedures “just in case” and thought hard about what was necessary. I was obviously taking an enormous financial risk, and the government can usefully mitigate that. But I was also an empowered consumer rather than a number in our vast healthcare bureaucracy. A better future for American health care would be one where more people are uninsured and fewer of them are at risk.

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SCOTUS: Some Rights Are More Equal Than Others

What happens when the rule of men supplants Rule of Law? In the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole, you end up with a Court decision that strikes a severe blow to those who seek to protect the lives of the unborn. The most significant abortion decision in a quarter century is also yet another reminder of the Court’s importance this November.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 to strike down a Texas law in its entirety over two particular requirements. First, abortionists had to have admitting privileges to a local hospital. Second, clinics had to meet surgical standards. Both provisions in Texas law were enacted to protect mothers and the lives of unborn children.

Justice Alito noted, “The law was one of many enacted by states in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal, in which a physician who ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia was convicted for the first degree murder of three infants who were born alive and for the manslaughter of a patient.”

And National Review adds, “Whole Women’s Health, which operates facilities in four Texas cities, was disciplined repeatedly by the state for offenses ranging from failing to have licensed nursing staff at the facility (2007) to illegally dumping medical waste (2011) to using rusty equipment (2014). In 2013, it was cited on 13 different safety-code violations.”

In addition to ensuring that qualified doctors were the only doctors allowed to perform abortion procedures, the Texas abortion law would also have reduced the number of clinics from 42 to 10. The state government had essentially decided that the other 32 locations were unsuitable for medical procedures. Again, Texas was trying to protect mothers and unborn children.

But SCOTUS decided that the restrictions in Texas posed an “undue burden” on a woman’s supposed constitutional right to have unrestricted access an abortion. Aren’t abortion supporters supposed to be worried about “safe” abortions?

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion, while Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Clarence Thomas dissented. Even a living Antonin Scalia wouldn’t have saved this one.

“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” argued Breyer’s majority opinion. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.”

Following the decision, Obama crowed, “I am pleased to see the Supreme Court protect women’s rights and health today. These restrictions harm women’s health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman’s reproductive freedom.”

And of course Hillary Clinton chimed in, “This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”

Did you catch all of this nonsense? The Texas law violates the Federal Constitution it imposed an unconstitutional obstacle and women’s basic rights won’t be punished.

Exactly which Constitution are these people reading? To be abundantly clear, there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that secures or provides a woman’s ability to take the life of her unborn child. Period.

Writing in a blistering dissent, Justice Thomas maintained that the majority’s decision “ignores compelling evidence that Texas' law imposes no unconstitutional burden.” Thomas also objected that the decision “perpetuates the Court’s habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights — especially the putative right to abortion.”

He went further, writing, “The Court has simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution. But our Constitution renounces the notion that some constitutional rights are more equal than others. A plaintiff either possesses the constitutional right he is asserting, or not — and if not, the judiciary has no business creating ad hoc exceptions so that others can assert rights that seem especially important to vindicate. A law either infringes a constitutional right, or not; there is no room for the judiciary to invent tolerable degrees of encroachment.”

There is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and rights to free speech, due process and private property, among others. Statists go out of their way to impose restrictions and regulations on those rights. But in this case, the black-robed despots declared that Texas cannot impose regulations or restrictions on a right that previous justices created out of thin air.

The majority opinion also addressed the argument that new regulations from Texas would prevent misconduct. Breyer wrote, “[T]here is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior. Determined wrongdoers, already ignoring existing statutes and safety measures, are unlikely to be convinced to adopt safe practices by a new overlay of regulations.”

If that is the case for abortion, then why doesn’t the Court consistently apply the same reasoning to restrictions on the right to own firearms, or due process, or religion?

Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision is a severe blow for Texas and those across America who fight for life. And the decision will most likely open up new cases against other states that have passed similar measures. Conservatives in Texas lost this battle, but the war is far from being over. The next battle is the presidential election, which will decide who nominates the next justice(s). Don’t underestimate the importance of the future composition of the courts.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

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