Friday, March 17, 2017


WHY IS ACADEME STRONGLY LEFTIST?

I have already written at length on that question but some new data have just come in from England that add some extra information. And it is based on very good sampling so has considerable authority. I present the findings in two excerpts below. As one might expect, there have been some furious but quite addled Leftist responses to this research. The author replies here and here

Academics are hugely Left-leaning.  Is it because they have higher IQs?

One explanation that has been put forward to explain the overrepresentation of individuals with left-wing and liberal views in academia is that they tend to have higher intelligence. The theory is that academic advancement requires very high intelligence, and since few individuals with right-wing and conservative views possess very high intelligence, such individuals are comparatively scarce within the academy (Solon 2014; Solon 2015; Charlton 2009; Gross 2013).

Several recent studies from the US, where the academy also has a sizable left-liberal skew, have concluded that intelligence does not contribute much to explaining the tilt (Gross & Fosse 2012; Gross 2013; Fosse et al. 2014). On the other hand, using a slightly different method, Carl (2015b) found that intelligence may account for more than fferent method, Carl (2015b) found that intelligence may account for more than half of the overrepresentation of socially liberal views, but may not account for any of the overrepresentation of economically left-wing views. His finding is consistent with evidence that cognitive ability is positively related to both socially liberal beliefs and at least some measures of economically right-wing beliefs (Carl 2015a).

Unfortunately, there do not appear to have been any surveys of British academics asking about specific policy issues, either economic (e.g., nationalisation of industry) or social (e.g., immigration). Only the distribution of party support among academics is available, which as noted above points to an overrepresentation of both left-wing views and liberal views.

To see whether intelligence contributes to explaining the left-liberal skew of party support among academics, I calculated the distribution of party support for individuals within the top 5% of IQ, using data from the Understanding Society survey. This is shown in Table 3, along with the distribution of party affiliation within the general population and among academics, also calculated from the Understanding Society data.



Note that the distribution within the general population differs from the outcome of the general election; this is probably due to the phrasing of the question posed in Understanding Society, to the sample being slightly unrepresentative, to the timing of the data collection, and to differential turnout by party.

However, what is of primary interest is the comparison between the figures for the general population and those for the top 5% of IQ, which were both calculated from the same data.

Conservative supporters are about as well represented within the top 5% of IQ as they are within the general population, Labour supporters are slightly underrepresented, UKIP supporters are underrepresented, Lib Dem supporters are overrepresented, and Green supporters are overrepresented. Overall, as Figure 2 illustrates, the distribution of left/right orientation within the top 5% of IQ is relatively similar to the distribution within the general population.

While intelligence may account for some of the underrepresentation of UKIP supporters among academics, and some of the overrepresentation of Green supporters (Deary et al. 2008), it cannot account for the substantial underrepresentation of Conservative supporters. To the extent that the Conservatives are a less socially conservative party than UKIP, the figures in Table 3 are consistent with Carl’s (2015b) finding that intelligence may contribute to explaining the underrepresentation of socially conservative views in American academia, but not necessarily the underrepresentation of economically right-wing views.

Somewhat surprising is the relative scarcity of Lib Dem supporters among academics, given their overrepresentation within the top 5% of IQ. This may be attributable to the fact that, as noted above, the Lib Dem party was until recently dominated by its classically liberal wing, which espoused comparatively more right-wing policies, which may not have been appealing to academics. On the other hand, it may simply be due to sampling error.

SOURCE

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If it's not a higher IQ that makes you an academic, is it a different personality?

The excerpt below if from the same study as excerpted above but does, I think, require some comment. The concept of "Openness to Experience" first became popular in the '80s.  But while the name was new, the concept was not.  The prior concept  of "sensation seeking" was very similar and was based on a very similar set of questions.  The major difference is that "Openness to Experience" sounds better than "sensation seeking".

As it happens I did a study of "sensation seeking" that appeared in 1984.  And my findings were similar to those below.  Leftists were sensation seekers.  But the "spin" I put on the findings was quite different.  I portrayed Leftists as emptyheaded seekers of novelty for novelty's sake.  I was able to justify that by pointing to something you would not expect:  That Leftists even sought the novelties provided by the consumer society.  Leftists normally mock the consumer society but they still like the novelties it provides.  So they REALLY like new things.

My data was both psychometrically valid and drawn from a random population sample so the findings were methodolgically very strong, stronger than most work in the field.

So I think I have succeeded in showing that Leftists are "neophiliacs" -- shallow, restless, discontented people who seek change and the new for its own sake. I know of no subsequent research which undermies that conclusion but would be delighted to hear of any that purports to do so

Such people are attracted to academe because academe is basically a novelty factory.  Research is designed to uncover new information and understanding about something and it is one's prowess in finding out new things that gets you published and thus advanced in your career.  Academics are always inventing new (and often stupid) theories about all sorts of things and trying to find or produce new data in support of such theories. It is a  great place for restless speculation about the world to come and the world that could be


Another explanation that has been put forward to explain the overrepresentation of individuals with left-wing and liberal views in academia is that they tend to score higher on the personality trait openness to experience (Duarte et al. 2014).

Openness to experience, or just openness, is one of the five traits postulated by the fivefactor model of personality. People high on openness are more artistic, creative and intellectually curious, and tend to prefer novelty and variety over familiarity and sameness. As a consequence, they may be predisposed toward intellectually stimulating careers, such as academia (McCrae 1996; Woessner & Kelly-Woessner 2009).

At the same time, evidence from a variety of countries indicates that individuals high on openness are more likely to support left-wing and liberal parties (Gerber et al. 2011; Schoen & Schumann 2007; Ackermann et al. 2016). However, to the author’s knowledge, no direct evidence that openness predicts left-liberal views within the right tail of intelligence—i.e., the sub-population from which academics are selected—has been presented in the scholarly literature.

To see whether openness contributes to explaining the left-liberal skew of party support among academics, I calculated the distribution of party support for individuals within the top 5% of IQ and the top 20% of openness, and for those within the top 5% of IQ and the bottom 20% of openness, using data from the Understanding Society survey. This is shown in Table 4, along with the distribution of party support among academics.

Within the top 5% of IQ, Labour supporters, Lib Dem supporters and Green supporters are all better represented within the top 20% of openness than within the bottom 20% of openness; by contrast, Conservative supporters are better represented within the bottom 20% of openness.

Unexpectedly, UKIP supporters are better represented within the top 20% of openness, but this is probably attributable to sampling error.

Overall, as Figure 3 illustrates, the distribution of left/right orientation within the top 5% of IQ and the top 20% of openness is much closer to the distribution among academics than is the distribution within the top 5% of IQ and the bottom 20% of openness.

Of course, the top and bottom quintiles of openness are somewhat arbitrary categories; they were chosen based on a trade-off between extremity of contrast and availability of observations.

To gauge the association between openness and party support more precisely, Table 5 displays estimates from linear probability models of support for major right-wing and left-wing parties within the top 5% of IQ. The estimates in the first and second columns imply that, for each one standard deviation increase in openness, the probability that an individual supports a major right-wing party, rather than any other party, decreases by 8–9 percentage points.

The estimates in the third and fourth columns imply that, for each one standard deviation increase in openness, the probability that an individual supports a major left-wing party, rather than any other party, increases  by 8 percentage points. Statistically controlling for the respondent’s age, gender and race does not appear to affect the estimates.

SOURCE

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MSNBC releases Trumps taxes on air and ends up looking stupid

Last night Rachel Maddow illegally released Trumps tax return from 2005 on her show. After a half a day worth of buildup, she arrogantly and excitedly revealed that Trump paid his taxes! Yes, that’s what she revealed. He pays his taxes just like the rest of us. In fact he paid close to forty million dollars in taxes.

After the show aired, the White House blasted MSNBC. The statement reads as follows: “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the statement said. “Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required.”

After revealing that he paid his taxes, they started fishing for negatives. Her guest who allegedly had the taxes left in his mailbox made the claim that Trump most likely leaked the taxes himself. Later Maddow who was clearly disappointed with the results again went after Trump for not releasing his taxes. Trump has made it clear that he has been advised not to because there is an audit being done on them.

To make things even funnier, people started investigating Democrats tax returns. They looked into those Democrats who have constantly attacked him for not releasing his taxes. Let me break this down.

In 2005 President Trump paid $5,310,616 in regular tax, $31,261,179 in Alternative Minimum tax and $1,887,596 in self employment tax. That’s $38,593,910 total putting him at a tax rate of 25.3%.

People in the national average with similar income pay about 22.5% in tax, putting Trump a few points above average. In 2015 Obama paid 18.7% in tax, Bernie Sanders paid 13.5%.

I can’t give you Nancy Pelosi’s tax rate because she REFUSES to release it. She said she will release them “if she runs for president”. Let’s hope that never happens.

At the end of the day, Trump paid more in taxes in 2005 than any of his Liberal critics have. I would like to believe that we have now ended another chapter in fake Liberal outrage, odds are we haven’t. They have attacked him from everything from how he eats his steak to how his staff members sit on couches. Strap in kids, it is going to be a long, wonderful and hilarious eight years.

SOURCE

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Those who live in glass houses ...



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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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Thursday, March 16, 2017



John 1:1 -- one more foray

I suppose I am a bit obsessed with the meaning of the first verse of the gospel of John.  I have written enough on it (e.g. here and here).  But it bugs me that a simplistic bit of translation has totally distorted the meaning of the passage.

In English Bibles, John 1:1 is normally translated as:  "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God".

But that's nuts.  How can you both BE god and be WITH god?  It's logically self-contradictory.  By saying you are WITH someone you imply that you are NOT that someone.  So what gives?  Was the holy apostle John talking nonsense?  He was not.  What he wrote in the original Greek of the New Testament was quite different from what we read in most English Bibles.

But I can't altogether blame the translators.  Translating it literally does make for ponderous English.  So why not do it the simple way?

To show you what I mean, here is the closest I can get to an exact translation:  "In a beginning was the word and the word was with the god and the word was of god-substance."  You see what I mean.  It sounds a bit weird.  Note "THE god".

As I mentioned recently, it all goes back to the way holy Jews long ago stopped referring to the name of their god -- which was YHWH ("Jehovah" in English).  So they referred to him by generic terms such as "Gods" or "Lord" ("elohim" or "adonay" in Hebrew).

YHWH tells us most emphatically that he is very proud of his name, wants it used reverently and wants it known worldwide that he is supreme.  See the Ten Commandments and Psalm 83:18.  He is so emphatic about it in Psalm 83:18 that even the King James Bible renders the name as "Jehovah" rather than with their usual practice of substituting "the LORD" for YHWH. So it is a huge irony that the worshippers of YHWH do exactly the opposite of what he clearly commands.

And that confusion carried on into New Testament times.  Because the Jewish god had no name, the New Testament writers couldn't identify their god very clearly either.  They referred to him as "the God" ("ho theos") -- which is how Greeks referred to the local god, whoever he may be.  In the ancient world there were lots of gods and it depended on where you were to find out which god you most likely worshipped.  So right from the beginning, John 1:1 was going to have some ambiguity

A non-Jewish speaker of Greek would have taken the text to be very vague indeed, amounting to a claim that a mysterious someone was with the local god of the writer at some beginning and that the mysterious someone was made out of the same stuff as the local god was.  And that is EXACTLY what it means.  We see more in it than that because we know its religious context

Most Christians go in for vagueness there too.  They see it as justification for their theological "Trinity" doctrine -- and that's as vague as it gets -- saying that Jesus and God are the same yet different -- which is also logically self-contradictory.

I note that even the latest Zondervan Study Bible (using the latest version of the NIV) concedes in its notes that the meaning of "with god" is, "The word is distinct from God the father and enjoys a personal relationship with him".   That is pretty right -- but how you get a Holy Trinity out of it is the mysterious part.

I am not going to start mentioning anarthrous predicates and  the fine points of the Greek grammar involved.  I have done that on several previous occasions.  Suffice it to say that my rendering of what the passage actually means now seems to be mainstream among textual scholars. See e.g. here.

And nor is it a modern translation.  Another Bible translation  is the old Geneva Bible, a translation even older than the KJV. It was the translation that the Pilgrim Fathers mainly used.  And in their footnotes they interpret the passage to mean that the Word was of "the selfsame essence or nature" as the creator, which is pretty fair.

Note:  I might in passing recommend the latest Zondervan study Bible.  It is a massive tome with huge amounts of information. It is a worthy successor to the old Companion Bible. They are going for $33.99 at the moment from Christian Book -- JR.

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Is This the End of 'Liberalism' in the USA?

Militant leftist extremists have taken over a large swath of the Left

Have you noticed how unhinged many liberals have become since Donald Trump won the presidency? Of course you have; you can’t miss something as extensive and crazy as Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Many leftists, perhaps most, reside moderately to the left of the political center; but we’ll focus here on the radicals who hang on by their fingernails to the left-most fringe of the political spectrum, about to slip off into undisputed madness.

These leftmost folks — let’s call ‘em what they are: militant leftist extremists — have disentangled themselves from the general rules of common courtesy and civility where some may properly disagree with the ideas of others in a polite and accepting manner. These radicals aren’t just disagreeable but are becoming more militant and demanding. They want not to persuade others to their ideas, but to force their acceptance.

Protesting is protected speech in the U.S., and we honor that right. But increasingly these militant leftist extremist protests turn to assault and destruction in their infantile temper tantrums, and then they have the gall to name-call and demonize the rest of us. Demonstrating the character of those radicals, a Trump golf course in California and his Washington hotel were recently vandalized. And if leftists think some group deserves special consideration and you don’t agree, you are called racist, misogynist, Nazi, fascist, immigrant-hater, etc.

And now, things are happening that are so bizarre as to be accurately described as deliberately dishonest. California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters actually said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” four days before the inauguration that Trump ought to be impeached. She implied that Trump received campaign information from Russia, such as the names he called Hillary Clinton and others, and therefore he should be impeached after he becomes president.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” David Wright attributed the timing of Trump’s U.S. Attorney purge to Fox News host Sean Hannity, noting the purge occurred one day after Hannity called for it on TV. These requested resignations are standard operating procedure when any new president is of a different political party than his predecessor. Bill Clinton and Janet Reno fired 93 attorneys compared to Trump’s 46. Any network news reporter worth his salt knows this. Yet somehow because Hannity mentioned it on his show shortly before it occurred, it was Hannity who “ordered” the action, and Trump wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Fake news anyone?

And it’s much worse than those examples. Some leftists have sunk to a level below mere opposition. It’s anti-Americanism — not the loyal opposition, but the disloyal political enemy. Among the more serious infractions is that appointees and holdovers from the previous administration apparently have leaked sensitive information to the media, which have eagerly reported these things, potentially breaking more laws and even committing treason.

While this behavior has been on the increase for a while, the election of Donald Trump has been like a dose of steroids, as if his election lifts the barriers to illegal and unethical behavior. People seem to have forgotten that, like him or not, Trump is the duly elected president, and while much of the opposition merely makes things more difficult for him, some of it puts the nation’s stability at risk.

Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, evaluates these changes in liberalism as follows: “The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos.”

Steele remembers how things were during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, “when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity,” and bemoans today’s leftist marches, which he described as “marked by incoherence and downright lunacy — hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism. All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?”

He continues, “Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all — liberal and conservative alike — know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face.” Reaching back into his own experiences, he notes, “I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.”

Calling current militant leftist extremists “an anachronism,” Steele goes on to explain that what we have today is not liberalism, but “moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism.” And he concludes with the post mortem: “Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.”

But that corruption can still win if it’s not thoroughly opposed and stopped in its tracks.

SOURCE

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Liberty Is Not for Wimps

By Walter E. Williams

Most Americans, whether liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, do not show much understanding or respect for the principles of personal liberty. We criticize our political leaders, but we must recognize that their behavior simply reflects the values of people who elected them to office. That means we are all to blame for greater governmental control over our lives and a decline in personal liberty. Let me outline some fundamental principles of liberty.

My initial premise is that each of us owns himself. I am my private property, and you are yours. If we accept the notion of self-ownership, then certain acts can be deemed moral or immoral. Murder, rape and theft are immoral because those acts violate private property. Most Americans accept that murder and rape are immoral, but we are ambivalent about theft. Theft can be defined as taking the rightful property of one American and giving it to another, to whom it does not belong. It is also theft to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another.

At least two-thirds of federal spending can be described as Congress' taking the rightful property of one American and giving it to another American, to whom it does not belong. So-called mandatory spending totaled $2.45 trillion in 2015. Thus, two-thirds of the federal budget goes toward Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food assistance, unemployment and other programs and benefits that fall into the category of taking from some and giving to others. To condemn legalized theft is not an argument against taxes to finance the constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government; we are all obligated to pay our share of those.

Many say that government spending guarantees one right or another. That's nonsense. True rights exist simultaneously among people. That means the exercise of a right by one person does not impose an obligation on another. In other words, my rights to speech and travel impose no obligations on another except those of noninterference. For Congress to guarantee a right to health care, food assistance or any other good or service whether a person can afford it or not does diminish someone else's rights — namely, their right to their earnings. Congress has no resources of its very own. If Congress gives one person something that he did not earn, it necessarily requires that Congress deprive somebody else of something that he did earn.

Another area in which there is contempt for liberty, most notably on many college campuses, is free speech. The true test of one's commitment to free speech does not come when he permits others to say things with which he agrees. Instead, the true test comes when one permits others to say things with which he disagrees. Colleges lead the nation in attacks on free speech. Some surveys report that over 50 percent of college students want restrictions on speech they find offensive. Many colleges have complied with their wishes through campus speech codes.

A very difficult liberty pill for many Americans to swallow is freedom of association. As with free speech, the true test for one's commitment to freedom of association does not come when one permits people to voluntarily associate in ways that he deems acceptable. The true test is when he permits people to associate in ways he deems offensive. If a golf club, fraternity or restaurant were not to admit me because I'm a black person, I would find it offensive, but it's every organization's right to associate freely. On the other hand, a public library, public utility or public university does not have a right to refuse me service, because I am a taxpayer.

The bottom line is that it takes a bold person to be for personal liberty, because you have to be able to cope with people saying things and engaging in voluntary acts that you deem offensive. Liberty is not for wimps.

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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017



The Leftmedia's Turf War

Mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post have an established track record for covering the news. Over the years they have secured their status in the eyes of much of the public as legitimate journalists. But for years they have stubbornly stuck with a crumbling fa├žade — that they’re reporting from a non-agenda driven, non-biased perspective. The MSM’s claim to objectivity in its reporting is time and again exposed as a farce.

The latest example comes from a complaint voiced by the Washington Post over the list of pool reporters chosen to cover Vice President Mike Pence. All the major mainstream media outlets were represented in the pool, as well as several Leftmedia organizations such as BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post, who share the Washington Post’s anti-conservative bias. But the inclusion of Fred Lucas, a reporter for the Heritage Foundation-owned Daily Signal, sparked howls of outrage. Oh, the humanity. The Post, which became practically unhinged in its anti-Trump coverage in the last year, essentially lumped the Signal in with what it said were “extremist or racist organizations.” Clearly, someone at the Post hasn’t actually been reading the Signal.

The growth of alternative news organizations, many openly holding unabashedly conservative perspectives, has long been eroding the monopoly the MSM used to hold. The MSM’s continued attempts to promote the lie of its “objective” reporting only serves to further reinforce Americans' distrust in the media — trust is at historic lows.

This latest incident exposes the Post as little more than a roaring paper tiger. The MSM is in a turf war that they’re losing, because they’ve embraced an agenda of journalistic activism rather than objectivity. Instead of engaging honestly with the fact that every organization expresses a particular bias to one degree or other, they have sought only to promote the notion that they are the only legitimate purveyors of truth. Through the use of strawman tactics and labeling prejudice the MSM seeks to discredit alternate news organizations' reporting rather than deal with the facts of the reporting.

Speaking of labeling, Harvard University has been circulating a list entitled “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources”. This list is made up of mostly conservative news and commentary sites, such as the Washington Examiner and the Washington Free Beacon. We at The Patriot Post have the distinguished “honor” of making the list as well. Maybe somebody missed the endorsement we received several years ago from Harvard Political Review.

SOURCE

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Replace DACA

During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to cancel the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy “on day one.” The president did not get around to DACA on his first day in office, and it’s now looking like President Trump may not get around to DACA at all.

Recent reports suggest that the White House has no imminent plans to touch the executive action granting temporary protection from deportation to more than 2 million illegal aliens.

President Obama’s DACA, issued in 2012 via memorandum, was a patently lawless use of executive power. After Congress (again) decided not to pass the DREAM Act, granting legal status to illegal immigrants who came here as children, the president abused his “pen and phone” to impose the law’s provisions unilaterally.

The administration risibly claimed that this was an exercise of “prosecutorial discretion,” implying that the government would be evaluating applications for deferred status on a case-by-case basis.

Unsurprisingly, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have reported otherwise; in fact, anyone who appears to be under the maximum deferral age — that is, any illegal immigrant who appears younger than 35 years old — is simply presumed to be eligible for DACA.

Under the policy, about 750,000 illegal aliens have been granted not only renewable, two-year deportation stays, but also work permits, Social Security numbers, access to the EITC welfare program, and driver’s licenses. Functionally, more than 2 million have been shielded from deportation for nearly five years.

President Trump’s sudden lack of interest in rolling back this gross executive overreach undoubtedly has to do with the prospect of political backlash over a very sympathetic segment of the illegal population. But there is no reason why these so-called DREAMers can’t be accommodated in a process that respects our system of government.

According to Politico, the Trump administration was accepting DACA applications following the inauguration at a rate of about 800 per day. (Politico estimated 140 new applications and 690 renewals daily, based on the most recent available data.)

The White House’s first step should be to stop issuing new DACA grants. The Trump administration shouldn’t be extending the reach of Obama’s lawless action.

The second step should be either to end renewals, allowing existing DACA permits to expire over the next two years, or to announce that renewals will be granted only until the end of this year. The point would be to phase out the current system and implement a new, lawful one via a bipartisan deal in Congress.

SOURCE

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A Conservative Approach To Health Reform

John C. Goodman

Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) says he can‘t support a health reform now being considered by the leadership in the House of Representatives. He predicts that many conservatives in Congress will agree with him.

So, what would he support? What should conservatives in general support when it comes to health care?

I believe there are three reforms that are consistent with individual empowerment and limited government: (1) a universal health refund that transfers all government tax and spending subsidies to ordinary citizens every year with no strings attached other than the requirement that it be used for health care, (2) a flexible health savings account so that money not spent this year can be saved tax free for future medical expenses and (3) protection for people who lose their insurance because of government policies.

Universal Health Refund. If we take all tax breaks used to subsidize health insurance in the work place, all of the funds currently spent under Obamacare and all of the federal dollars used to subsidize indigent care, it amounts to more than $2,000 per person for people not covered by a government insurance program. That’s more than $8,000 a year for a family of four. Let people take this money and shop in an unfettered market for health care and health insurance.

This approach would leave the total amount spent on health care roughly at the level where it is today. But it would minimize the role of government and maximize the role of individual choice and competition in the marketplace.

If this idea sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Last year Charles Murray, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argued that we should replace our entire welfare system with an annual gift that would amount to $13,000 for every adult. Many regard Murray’s idea as impractical. But applying the idea to health care has a well-established pedigree in conservative and Republican circles.

For well over a decade House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been a steadfast supporter of replacing current tax and spending subsidies for health care and health insurance with a universal tax credit. John McCain ran on this idea in the 2008 election. The legislative embodiment of McCain’s plan was the Patients Choice Act, which Ryan cosponsored in 2009 along with David Nunes (R– CA) in the House and Tom Coburn (R–OK) and Richard Burr (R–NC) in the Senate.

What about employer-sponsored insurance? Employers would be free to offer insurance to their employees just as they do today. The only thing that would change would be the way the federal government encourages insurance. Instead of excluding employer contributions from taxable income, employees would receive their annual health refund instead. To ease the transition and minimize problems, employers could be given a choice – stay in the current system or let their employees claim a health refund.

Also, employees who find their employer offer unattractive would be able to use their health refund to buy insurance in the individual market.

What about Medicaid? State governments should be encouraged to convert their enrollees to private insurance – which is personal and portable and gives people access to better care. They could do this by allowing their beneficiaries to combine the state’s share of Medicaid with the universal health refund to enroll in an employer plan or buy health insurance directly.

What about Obamacare taxes? Revenues raised under the Affordable Care Act would be returned to the people by means of the heath refund, along with all other federal tax and spending money. Remember, most of these revenues come from special interests who agreed to be taxed because they expected to profit from Obamacare – drug companies, insurance companies, big business, etc. But those who really want to see all these taxes go away won’t be disappointed. They are all going to vanish as part of tax reform.

A Flexible Health Savings Account. Ideally, this account should be a Roth Account that wraps around any third-party insurance plan. Unlike today’s highly regulated system, there would be no across-the-board deductible. People would be free to enroll in health plans which allow them to manage all their primary care dollars, without restriction. Health plans would also be able to make special deposits to the accounts of chronic patients who agree to manage their own care – especially where self-management of care is shown to be more effective than traditional doctor therapies. Patients would also be able to use their HSAs to pay the fees of concierge doctors, or providers in “direct-pay” arrangements.

Protection for People Who Lose Their Insurance Because of Government Policies. No one should be allowed to game the insurance system by remaining uninsured while healthy and then enrolling after they get sick for the same premiums healthy enrollees pay. Such people should face premiums that are actuarially fair. But many people today have insurance that is not personal or portable because of a tax law that subsidizes group insurance and penalizes individually owned insurance. That means that when they leave their job, after many years of paying premiums, they can face very high rates from a new carrier because of a health condition. Since government causes this problem, we must look to government to solve it.

People transitioning from the group market to the individual market should not be penalized because of a pre-existing condition. Risk pools and reinsurance are acceptable ways of minimizing the cost of the transition. However, no one should be able to game the system. Once in a plan, people should pay a full, actuarially fair price for any upgrade in coverage and they should receive a full, actuarially fair rebate for any downgrade.

Also, health plans should not be able to dump their sickest, most costly enrollees on other plans – as is happening in the race to the bottom in the Obamacare exchanges. Instead, the orginal plan must top up the premium to the new plan so that the latter receives a total revenue equal to the expected cost of care. This is a system I call “free market risk adjustment.”

The Way forward. The principles outlined here have been ignored in virtually every Republican health reform proposed in the past three years. The exception is a proposal by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). This proposal would provide a minimum amount of health insurance to almost everyone and it would give the private sector new tools to control costs. We have described it at Health Affairs.

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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Just Say 'Yes' To 4% Growth

Imagine if John F. Kennedy's advisors had told him in 1961, we will never put a man on the moon.  Or what if Ronald Reagan's advisors had assured the Gipper: the Cold War is unwinnable; we should sue for peace.  Actually many naysayers told JFK and Reagan exactly these things, but fortunately these president were visionaries. They asked: "Why not?"

Donald Trump seems to confront these nattering nabobs of negativism in the media and academia every time he announces a policy goal. You can't build a wall.  You can't keep out illegal immigrants.  You can't root out the waste in government.  You can't get Europe to pay more for its own defense. You can never balance the budget.  And on and on.

The one thing Washington is very good at is giving every excuse under the sun for why achievable things can't done.

Which brings me to the revolt of the chattering class against Donald Trump's goal of 4% growth and millions of new jobs when his economic plan is implemented.

The left and even some academics on the right laugh that this is a pipe dream.  CNN Money recently asked leading economists about Trump's promise and they found a strong consensus that "4% growth is impossible, or at least highly unlikely." Why?   They say there aren't enough workers with the retirement of the baby boomers and that automation means fewer jobs available. Productivity is apparantly tapped out.

Even the latest 3% growth goal that Trump's budget team has projected was ridiculed. "Experts" point to a widely cited 2016 San Francisco Fed study which argues that the "new normal" is 1.5% to 1.75% GDP growth — or less than half the post-World War II average pace of progress.  Economists are sounding as myopic as the legendary patent office official who once proclaimed that everything that will be invented has been invented.

So is achieving rapid growth in GDP now unachievable? In the 1960s, after the Kennedy tax cuts were implemented, the economy grew by 4% annually for about five years (1965-69 while  unemployment sank to record lows, and a gold-linked dollar held down inflation.

In the 1980s, following the Reagan tax cut, the economy from 1983-89 the economy expanded at annual clip by closer to 3.75%.  Back then economist Paul Samuelson, a Nobel prize winner, declared that if the Reagan agenda were to produce high growth in outcome and jobs with declining inflation it would be "a miracle."  The miracle happened.

So why not now?

It's worth noting that when Barack Obama unveiled his Keynesian stimulus plans, the White House projected 3% plus rates of growth nearly every year.  He never hit 3% growth in a single year.   I don't recall hearing the hoots of protest against his plans achieving "impossible" rates of growth.

One bogus argument for the new normal of slow growth is that the labor force growth necessary for high growth will not happen.  It is true that baby boomers are retiring at a pace of 10,000 a day.  But the notion that there isn't an available pool of workers to fill millions of new jobs from the tax cuts and deregulation is nonsense.  There are a record 95 million Americans out of the workforce today and a record low labor force participation rate.

Yes, many of these workers are over the age of 65 and retired  But the biggest reduction in workforce participation has been younger people.  Meanwhile many workers over the age of 50 have seen their jobs disappear and have resigned themselves to early retirement.  We know that including the millions of Americans who have given up looking for work or can't find a full-time job means an unemployment rate twice as high as officially reported.

We also know there are millions of Americans on disability or other welfare programs that aren't working. This isn't because there are more disabled people or that more people need government benefits like food stamps.  It is because the benefits are so much easier to get and thus welfare and disability have become costly substitutes for work. Put time limits and work requirements on these programs for employable adults and the labor force will accelerate quickly.

There are potentially tens of millions of workers who could and should be working, but aren't.  Also, we can and should fix our immigration system so many more engineers, scientists, and skilled workers can get visas to come to the U.S. and fill open jobs.

Then there is the issue of productivity.  Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer declared last year that slow growth in "capital investment and productivity" is the force that's "holding down growth."  No they aren't.  Investment has been low for the past decade because of liberal policies that punished capital investment.  Higher capital gains and dividend taxes, more onerous regulations, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, the massive increase in the national debt all have deterred investment.

The war against business under Obama hopefully will become a peace treaty with business under Trump.  We know that there are hundreds of energy projects ready to go — these are investments — that Trump should greenlight in the months ahead.

I'm of the belief that America is just entering a new stage of massive productivity gains as we enter the Digital Age Part Two.

Artificial intelligence and robotics could double or triple the productivity of American manufacturing.  New drugs, vaccines, medical devices, artificial limbs, and medical procedures from our biotech industry will cure or alleviate cancer, heart disease, MS, Alzheimers, and many other debilitating illnesses that sap productivity.

Then there are the automated autos and planes. These will reduce transportation shipping costs by 75% and 80% over the next two decades, leading to massive productivity gains for businesses.

In other words, we are entering a golden age of productivity with undreamed of advances. We will produce more and more output with fewer and fewer workers needed.

We get there mostly by getting the government out of the way.  Trump wants to do that. And if he does, 4% growth can and should be the new normal in America.

SOURCE

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Kellyanne Conway suggests even wider surveillance of Trump campaign

The White House is offering yet another wrinkle in its attempt to support President Trump’s allegation — unfounded, so far — that his campaign headquarters in Manhattan was wiretapped by the Obama administration. The latest comes from Trump’s senior counselor Kellyanne Conway.

She says the “surveillance” may be broader than even Trump suggested.

In a wide-ranging interview Sunday at her home in Alpine, where she lives with her husband — a possible nominee for U.S. solicitor general — and their four children, Conway, who managed Trump’s presidential campaign before taking the job as one of the president's closest advisers, suggested that the alleged monitoring of activities at Trump’s campaign headquarters at Trump Tower in Manhattan may have involved far more than wiretapping.

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway said as the Trump presidency marked its 50th day in office during the weekend. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.”

Conway went on to say that the monitoring could be done with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” adding: “We know this is a fact of modern life.”

Conway did not offer any evidence to back up her claim. But her remarks are significant — and potentially explosive — because they come amid a request by the House Intelligence Committee for the White House to turn over any evidence by Monday that the phones at Trump Tower were tapped as part of what the president claims to be a secret plot by the Obama administration to monitor his campaign.

The White House has not said whether it will provide any corroborative support to back up the president’s claim of the alleged wiretapping. The allegation came to light nine days ago when Trump wrote in an early-morning Twitter message that he “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”

Trump did not offer any evidence in his original Twitter message. And while criticism mounted in the following days that Trump may have overreached, neither he nor the White House provided any means to verify the claim. Indeed, the wiretapping claims have dominated much of the discourse in Washington, often overshadowing the president's attempt to promote changes in the Affordable Care Act and institute new immigration regulations.

Now comes Conway’s insinuation of a much broader surveillance plan against Trump. Her suggestion, while further stirring up the debate, appears to indicate that the White House does not plan to back down from Trump’s original Twitter claim in spite of strong assertions that it is not true from the U.S. intelligence community as well as from former president Barack Obama himself and members of his inner circle.

In the interview, Conway reiterated the request by the White House that the allegations of wiretapping  — and what she hinted might be other forms of surveillance — should be wrapped into a Congressional investigation into whether Russian intelligence operatives tried to influence the outcome of last November’s election.“What the president has asked is for the investigation into surveillance to be included into the ongoing intelligence investigations in the House and Senate,” she said.

The strategy of dueling inquiries — along with Conway’s suggestion of even broader surveillance by the Obama administration besides wiretapping — certainly complicates any investigation that involves Russia. But it may also confuse the issue.

While Conway seemed to call for a closer look into the so-far unfounded allegations of wiretapping by so-far unnamed members of the Obama administration, she also was dismissive of the extent and impact of the alleged Russian scheme. The Russian attempt to hack into computers within the Republican and Democratic campaign organizations is largely not disputed within the U.S. intelligence community.  What is disputed is whether the Russian scheme had any impact on the outcome of the election.

Conway’s remarks, however, may complicate the matter in other unforeseen ways.

She claimed in the interview that Democrats who called for a deeper investigation of the alleged Russian links – while also ignoring Trump’s claim of wiretapping by Obama — were really trying to undermine the Trump presidency. “The investigation is about a bunch of people who can’t believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election,” Conway said, her voice rising when asked about the possibility that Russian operatives may have helped to defeat Clinton and insure that Trump won.

“I was the campaign manager,” Conway added. “I was there every day and every night. I talked to people in Macomb County, Michigan, not in Moscow.”

She said that “this whole conspiracy” is a “waste of people’s oxygen, and air and resources and time when we could be helping those who are hungry, who need health care, who are in poverty, who need tax relief, entrepreneurs who want to get off the ground.”

In the interview, Conway addressed a variety of topics, including Trump’s efforts to assemble a coalition of support for his plan to revamp the Affordable Care Act, and her belief that Gov. Chris Christie may eventually join the Trump administration in some capacity, perhaps not for several more years, however. Conway even noted that Christie had come to her home recently to discuss his effort to improve services for drug addicts.

“The president likes Governor Christie a lot,” Conway said. “They talk all the time.”

But at various points, she continued to return to a seeming favorite topic — that Democratic critics of Trump are incapable of accepting the fact that he was able to defeat Hillary Clinton.

“They haven’t gotten over it,” Conway said, noting that she found many Democrats still working through “the stages of grief,” which range from anger to disbelief and, finally, acceptance of a loss.

“I know they’re not in acceptance,” Conway said. “That’s too bad for the country. The campaign is over. Now it’s time to govern.”

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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Monday, March 13, 2017



Useless old parasite uses words he does not understand

He's never had a proper job and thinks a communist style government would be a good idea. And he calls Trump detached from reality! And he seems totally clueless about what "authoritarian" means.  Trump is REDUCING intrusions by government into people's lives.  If he were an authoritarian he would be INCREASING such intrusions.  Sanders lives in a world of his own

Donald Trump has been branded a pathological liar in a scathing attack by Bernie Sanders, who has accused the President of undermining democracy.

The senator, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, said Trump lies 'all the time'.

During the extraordinary attack, Sanders called on Americans to resist the President's assault on the media, judiciary and election process.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Vermont senator said: 'Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.'

Sanders reached out to Republicans to help resist the President's authoritarianism, stating: 'It is incumbent upon them, in this moment in history, to stand up and say that what Trump is doing is not what the United States is about, it’s not what our constitution is about. They have got to join us in resistance.'

Widespread protests across America during the first days of Trump's presidency are indicative of a strong resistance movement, Sanders said.

He told The Guardian that a 'grassroots resistance' is the only way to defeat what he described as Trump's moves toward authoritarianism.

SOURCE

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House Republican Health Care Bill Misses the Mark

The key problem with the draft House health care bill is that it fails to correct the features of Obamacare that drove up health insurance costs. Instead, it mainly tweaks Obamacare’s financing and subsidy structure.

Basically, the bill focuses on protecting those who gained subsidized coverage through the law’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, while failing to correct Obamacare’s misguided insurance regulations that drove up premiums for Americans buying coverage without government subsidies.

That is both a policy problem and a political problem.

About 22 million individuals currently receive subsidized health coverage through the exchanges (8 million) and the Medicaid expansion (14 million). For them, Obamacare’s higher insurance costs are offset by the law’s subsidies.

However, that is not the case for another group of about 25 million Americans with unsubsidized individual-market coverage (10 million people) or small-employer plans (at least another 15 million people).

Those 25 million are the ones who most need relief from Obamacare, and have the strongest motivation to politically support repeal and replace. Their lived experience of Obamacare has basically been “all pain, no gain,” as they have been subjected to significant premium increases and coverage dislocations with no offsetting subsidies.

Unfortunately, the draft House bill provides no meaningful relief for that group that is most adversely affected by Obamacare and most supportive of repeal.

Instead, the draft bill leaves Obamacare’s costly insurance regulations in place, and attempts to offset those costs with even more subsidies—a variant of the same basic approach in Obamacare.

New Subsidy Program

In that regard, the draft bill’s new Patient and State Stability Fund is particularly problematic. That program would provide grants to states of up to a total of $100 billion over the nine years, 2018-2026.

There are a several significant problems with this new program.

First, it substitutes new funding for old Obamacare funding without adequately addressing the misguided Obamacare insurance market rules and subsidy design that made the exchanges a magnet for high-cost patients.

Those mistakes in Obamacare created an insupportable burden on the individual insurance market by concentrating expensive patients in only that small portion of the total market.

Second, like Obamacare, it doesn’t actually reduce premiums, but rather masks with subsidies the effects of Obamacare provisions that drove up premiums in the first place.

Third, it creates a new entitlement for states. Furthermore, without a resulting reduction in unsubsidized premium levels, future Congresses will likely face pressure from states and constituents to extend and expand the program.

The Medicaid Problem

The draft bill also fails to wind down the Medicaid expansion and may encourage states to add enrollees.

Under the Medicaid expansion, the federal government reimbursed states 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults, with federal support eventually declining to 90 percent.

Yet, states continue to receive significantly less federal assistance (50 percent to 75 percent, depending on the state) for covering the more vulnerable populations (such as poor children and the disabled) that the program was intended for. That policy was both inequitable and unaffordable.

The draft bill does not correct that inequity, but rather reduces the enhanced match rate from 95 percent to 80 percent. The better approach would be to allow states to immediately cap expansion population enrollment, while also setting federal reimbursement for any new expansion enrollees at normal state match rates.

Such changes would likely limit the addition of new individuals to the program, and also substantially reduce the size of the federal revenue loss that expansion states will incur when the program terminates. That is because a significant share of current enrollees can be expected to leave the program for other coverage during the transition period.

Unequitable Tax Treatment

Yet another policy mistake is the failure to take the first step toward providing more equitable tax treatment of health insurance.

The House version drops a proposed cap on the unlimited tax exclusion of employment-based health insurance contained in an earlier version, while retaining the so-called “Cadillac tax”—the 40 percent excise tax on so-called “high-cost plans”—and delaying its implementation until 2025.

Congress should kill that punitive excise tax and replace it with a cap.

While the Cadillac tax would force employers to alter the health benefit plans that they provide their workers, no such effect would result from the cap on the exclusion. It would simply limit the amount of employer health benefits that constitute pre-tax income to workers.

Such a change would make the tax treatment of employer-sponsored health benefits consistent with the tax treatment of other benefits offered by employers, such as retirement savings plans, group life insurance, and dependent care, to name three of the more common ones.

Workers would still be able to use after-tax income to purchase additional coverage, just as they can with other employer benefits, and the employer would still be able to offer a plan whose value exceeds the level of the cap on pre-tax funding.

What a cap on the tax exclusion would do is to encourage both employers and workers to rethink how much of total employee compensation should be devoted to health benefits.

While employers would still have total flexibility to design benefit plans that suit their own circumstances, a cap on the amount of pre-tax funding would encourage both employers and workers to re-evaluate the trade-off between higher health care spending and higher cash wages.

There are numerous other issues with the bill. For example, while allowing insurance companies to charge a markup of 30 percent for delayed enrollment can help address continuity of coverage issues, mandating that penalty is not the way to proceed.

This bill misses the mark primarily because it fails to correct the features of Obamacare that drove up health care costs. Congress should continue to focus on first repealing the failed policy of Obamacare and then act to offer patient-centered, market-based replacement reforms.

SOURCE

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Selling Federal Assets: The Best Way to End the U.S. Debt Crisis?

The $20 trillion national debt may be the biggest problem that lawmakers in Washington, DC, are unwilling to confront-perhaps because they fear that slashing the debt would require politically unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts that would get them voted out of office. The best solution to America's fiscal woes, however, may not entail those measures. According Independent Institute Research Director William F. Shughart II and Research Fellow Carl P. Close, the most promising approach to debt reduction is to raise revenue by selling federal assets, especially mineral rights to oil, natural gas, and coal deposits.

"The road to national solvency is paved with sales receipts from the U.S. government's vast property holdings, particularly its untapped treasure trove of energy deposits," Shughart and Close write in Liquidating Federal Assets: A Promising Tool for Ending the U.S. Debt Crisis. Using 2016 average prices, they estimate the value of the federal government's oil and natural gas deposits at about $55.6 trillion, or nearly 2.8 times the size of the U.S. national debt. "Whatever the precise value that the marketplace would set for deposit rights, it is clear that selling them would reap ample rewards for debt reduction," they write.

Federal asset liquidation could also gain broad political support-especially if it were designed to attract coalitions that would directly benefit. For evidence, Shughart and Close offer the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016. Signed into law by President Obama last December, the Act had support from homeless-assistance groups, which in 1987 were given the right of first refusal to purchase surplus federal buildings. "Just as homeless groups had material reasons to support the 2016 asset liquidation law, a broader coalition of interest groups could be formed and incentivized to support a bold initiative to sell a much larger portfolio of federal assets, including the rights to most oil, natural gas, and coal deposits on federal lands."

SOURCE

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Leftist judges ignore the law



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"Tapper" Obama



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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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Sunday, March 12, 2017



The origin of Genesis chapter 1

I have the greatest respect for Christians and I certainly don't like upsetting Christians but I am after all an atheist so sometimes I feel that I should treat the Bible in a purely scholarly way rather than as a source of religious truth.  It is an immensely important document so deserves all the scholarly examination it can get. And Genesis chapter 1 is one area where scholars find something very different from what Christians believe.  So I recommend at  this point that Christians read no further what I have to say here.

The need for Genesis chapter 1 arose from the fact that the ancient Israelites always used the Babylonian calendar, which divided the week into 7 days.  That calendar was so widespread from about 4,000 years ago that it would have been disruptive to use anything else.

So how did the Babylonian calendar arise?  It arose because the Babylonians were pretty keen astronomers, who closely observed the night sky.  And the big discovery they made was that most of the stars were fixed relative to one-another but five of them were not.  There were five "wandering" stars that kept moving around.  We know them as Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury and Venus.

We know that they are planets but the Babylonians had no inkling of that.  It seemed to them that entities that moved among the stars must be gods and you had better respect them accordingly.  But there were also two other bodies that moved about the sky:  The sun and the moon.

So some very holy Babylonian had the bright idea that each of these seven gods should be regularly worshipped in a seven day cycle, so that you kept all the Gods onside.  This was seen as a brilliant proposal in the ancient world and so we came to have a 7 day week. Each god got a bit of respect every 7 days.  And the sun was obviously the big chief so his day was especially holy.  And it still is.  Most people still go to church on Sun-day.

But the Israelites were a rather rebellious and cantankerous people (as their own prophets often said) so they refused to have their main religious observations on Sunday.  They chose Saturday instead -- to differentiate themselves from all the sun-worshippers around them.  The pagans made Sun-day the first day of the week so the Israelites worshipped on the 7th day of the week.  That was also Saturn's day but too bad about that. And Jews still worship on Saturday

The apostle Paul however didn't want to keep his followers separate from the heathens all about them.  He wanted to attract heathens into his version of religious truth.  So having your ceremonies on a different day from everybody else was an embarrassment to recent converts to Christianity.  So Paul told the early Christians that what they did was more important than when they did it so you can have your celebrations on any day you like.  So Christians gratefully went back to Sunday as their holiest day.  It meant that they did not stick out so much from the pagans all around them.  So Christians have gone back to a form of Sun worship.

But the Jews never did.  But that left them with a problem.  They vigorously rejected Sun worship so how come they used the 7 day  pagan calendar that the sun worshippers did?  They had to find some way of explaining their use of the 7 day calendar that did not go back to the Babylonian gods.

And Genesis chapter one was the answer.  There was already a perfectly good creation story in Genesis.  In our Bibles it starts from Genesis 2:4.  And we know it is the original start of the Bible because it uses the divine name YHVH ("Yod He Vau He" in Hebrew) all the time, as does the rest of the Old Testament.  Hebrew originally had no vowels so the original pronunciation of YHVH is a matter of debate but "Yahveh" with the "H" pronounced as in the German "Ach Laut" or the "ch" in the Scottish "loch") is most probable.  Englishmen can't say that, however.  Modern English has lost all its gutturals.  So in English we say "Jehovah".

But tacked on in front of the original brief creation story we now have a much more elaborate creation story that tells us that  the creation unfolded in 7 "days" or time periods.  Voila!  We now have a Jewish explanation for the use of a 7 day calendar!   It was the creator himself who divided the days into a 7 day cycle.  It was now nothing to do with Babylonian sun worship.  Problem solved.  The Babylonian explanation for a 7 days calendar had never been challenged before, though.  Everybody thought it was obvious.  But now there was an exception.  The pesky Jews had another story.

So how do we know that Genesis chapter 1 was written as a late bit of Israelite propaganda? Easy.  Genesis chapter 1 does NOT use the divine name.  One would expect the creation story to be full of the name of the Hebrew god but it is in fact not to be found there.  Instead of YHVH we find "elohim",  which is just the  name for gods generally.  It is however the plural form of "god" so could naively be translated as "gods" (the singular is "Eloah", which is where Arabs get "Allah from).  But it is common to use plurals as respectful forms of a word or name.  The Queen of England, for instance, always refers to herself on formal occasions as "we".  So the chapter 1 authors substituted a respectful form of "god" instead of the divine name.

So why is that significant?  Because avoidance of the divine name is a bit of Jewish pietism that arose some time around the 3rd century B.C.  In order not to use the divine name in vain, Pharisees and their like thought it safest not to use the name at all.  So they didn't.  And that usage was well ingrained by the time of Christ.  So the New Testament does not mention YHVH.  It uses "ho theos" (the god) instead, which is how the ancient Greeks referred to the local god being worshipped.

So chapter 1 clearly was written after use of YHVH became impious.  It is later than the rest of the Bible, which routinely uses YHVH.  And to this day, most Bible translations do not use YHVH where it occurs.  The King James Bible uses "the LORD" (in all caps) where YHVH occurs in the original.

So if they were textual scholars, Christians could well argue that Genesis 1 is not really a part of the Bible.  It is just a bit of Jewish propaganda.  Since the creation story of Genesis 1 is often an embarrassment, that could be useful.

It is probable that the 7 day creation story was not entirely original when it was tacked on to the front of the Bible long after the rest of the Bible had been written.  Tacking something new on like that would have been resisted by the priestly guardians of the text.  That there was careful guardianship  of the text is suggested by the similarity of the text of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea scrolls and the more modern Masoretic text (from about 800 AD).

So the 7 day creation story was likely a respected legend or oral tradition long before it was elaborated and written down for what we now know as Genesis chapter 1.

In support of that view is that we find the 7 day creation story stressed in the Exodus 20 version of the ten Commandments.  Exodus is undoubtedly canonical and uses YHVH quite a lot.  But could the mention in Exodus be an interpolation?  Could it too have been added in later?

Alas!  That is all too probable.  The version of the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 does NOT contain mention of a 7 day creation.  It commands a 7th day Sabbath only.  That is also true of the "expanded" version of the Commandments in Exodus 34 (See verse 21).

So there is no doubt that the 7 day creation story was added on long after the rest of the Old Testament was written -- JR.

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Trump-hater Democrats losing the battle for hearts and minds

By Ted Neville

I was a teenager in the '60s, and I was baffled by and conflicted about the Vietnam War.  On the one hand, I wanted to trust and support our political leaders, but on the other hand, I couldn't understand why our young men were dying on the other side of the planet.  I was on the fence.

The best thing to ever happen to the left was the Vietnam War.  It taught them how to organize, mobilize, protest, and resist.

But the worst thing to ever happen to the left also was the Vietnam War.  They learned the wrong lesson.  They thought they stopped the war by protesting it.  The truth is that they stopped the war by persuading fence-sitters like me to jump down off of the fence and support them in stopping a carnage that was more visible than any war in history.  Every time that I saw a protest on the news, I was encouraged and hopeful that the war might be stopped.  The protests gained support for the resistance.

On November 8, I couldn't decide which candidate was worse, so I didn't vote for either.  I was on the fence.  Now every time I see a protest, I recoil.  Now I am solidly on Team Trump.  I intend to vote for him in 2020.

These protests are repelling fence-sitters into jumping down on the other side of the fence.  The left must attract new supporters to come down on their side of the fence, not repel them onto the other side.  In the '60s they opposed sending young men to die pointlessly (as they claimed).  Today they oppose the results of an election.  It's apples and oranges.

Meanwhile, Soros is funding leftist efforts everywhere.  He is waiting for the right to overreact.  He is waiting for the next Kent State.  He needs martyrs.  As long as the right remains calm, conservatives will be victorious, and Trump will be re-elected. If the conservatives respond with violence, they will lose my support.  I hope they stay calm and allow the left to continue to be repellent.

SOURCE

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Ivanka Trump clothing sales smash record as liberal boycott backfires

Late last month, a liberal boycott of Trump wine hilariously backfired. Now it’s happening again with Ivanka Trump’s clothing line:

Ivanka Trump’s eponymous women’s fashion line is reporting record sales figures despite calls for a boycott and controversies surrounding President Trump.

“Since the beginning of February, they were some of the best performing weeks in the history of the brand,” Abigail Klem, the president of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand, tells Refinery29 in an interview published Tuesday. “For several different retailers Ivanka Trump was a top performer online, and in some of the categories it was the [brand’s] best performance ever.”
Isn’t this the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both discontinued selling Ivanka’s clothing and jewelry in-store and online in February. However, the boycott is the brainchild of liberal campaign Grab Your Wallet, which is urging shoppers to boycott retailers with any Ivanka or Donald Trump-branded products.

But the boycott’s not working:

According to the e-commerce aggregator Lyst, from January to February, Ivanka Trump sales increased 346 percent, Refinery29 writes.

Nevertheless, ethics councilors have reportedly advised the clothing company against using images of Ivanka in “new promotional, advertising, or marketing materials.”

They don’t need her image, anyway — liberals are selling her clothes for her.

SOURCE

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Trump administration hails job creation numbers on 50th day in White House

And and the labor force participation rate went up. The central Trump promise is already being delivered

On its 50th day in office, the Trump administration is claiming credit for better-than-expected jobs growth in the US economy.

Official February data shows 235,000 new jobs were generated during the month, helping to lower the national unemployment rate to 4.7 per cent.

Even allowing for the fact that February is a traditionally strong month for hiring, the figure for the first full month of President Donald Trump's term in office was higher than forecast and higher than the 180,000 job average for the preceding three months.

Weakness in the retail sector was more than offset by strong recruitment in manufacturing, construction and mining — sectors the President had always targeted in his pitch to voters.

Economists attribute an expectation of tax cuts and deregulation promised by Mr Trump, but not yet delivered, for a general rise in business sentiment measured over several indices, including stock markets.

SOURCE

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