Friday, May 26, 2017

Muscular men less likely to support social and economic equality, study suggests

So conservatives are muscle-bound bullies?  That is what the authors would undoubtedly wish us to believe.  But as for proving it: Nice try but no cigar.  Their measurement of physical strength etc. was carefully done but their measurement of attitudes was naive.

They used two sets of questions ('scales') to measure attitudes.  The first was the Social Dominance Orientation scale principally associated with Jim Sidanius. It is rubbish, hopelessly multifactorial. So scores on it could mean many things or nothing.  See here for a detailed rundown of that scale.

The second scale is about redistribution of the wealth but I could find no answers to the things that psychometricians normally want to know about a scale:  Reliability, validity, internal consistency, factor loadings etc.  For present purposes however it suffices to assume that it was a well-constructed scale.

So the only findings of interest in the research are the correlations between the socialism scale and other variables. The academic journal article is "Is sociopolitical egalitarianism related to bodily and facial formidability in men?" and the research findings are in their Table 1. And we see there only a barely significant correlation of .19 between bodily formidability and support for redistribution.  That means that bodily formidability was only the most minor contributor to anti-socialist attitudes.

And when we note that the research was not conducted on any kind of representative sample but was based on an available group of students, we have to conclude that no generalizations from it at all can be justified.  The study proves nothing

Physically stronger men are less in favour of social and economic equality than weaker men, new research from Brunel University London indicates.

Dr Michael Price and colleagues assessed 171 men aged 18-40, collecting information on height, weight, waist size, flexed and relaxed muscle circumference, hand grip, and arm and chest strength.

They also surveyed participants on how often they go to the gym, their wealth, whether they support the redistribution of wealth, and whether they approve of the idea that some social groups should have dominance over others (‘social dominance orientation’).

As well as focusing on bodily signs of perceived dominance, the researchers also focused on facial appearance: they had groups of independent raters view participants’ faces and rate whether they saw the men as dominant and attractive. They also used software to analyse faces in terms of the masculinity of their shape.

Prior research has shown several aspects of face shape and appearance, such as height-to-width ratio, are linked to ability to compete for resources in the modern world.

The results showed a significant correlation between those with higher bodily formidability and the belief that some social groups should dominate others. These men were also much less likely to support redistribution of wealth.

But contrary to predictions, there was no correlation between being considered attractive, as measured by waist-to-chest ratio and various facial measures, and whether or not the men supported ‘social dominance orientation’ or redistribution.

The study showed that more muscular men were less egalitarian, and the number of hours actually spent in the gym was also linked to having less egalitarian socioeconomic beliefs.



Good policy favors the small property-owner


The Financial Times and the Economist have recently taken to issuing fatwas against the Trump Administration’s economic policy, indulging in repeated bouts of “Two Minutes Hate” against the man himself, combined with denunciations of “populism.” Yet “populism” is a term that covers a multitude of sins. In pandering to the prejudices of their journalists and readership, both publications have lost sight of the bedrock of sound economics: strengthening and furthering the interests of the small property-owner.

As I discussed a few months ago, the meaning of “liberalism” as defined and lauded in the FT and the Economist, has shifted in the last quarter-century. Immediately after the fall of Communism, when it appeared that history had indeed ended, a “Washington Consensus” grew up that relatively unfettered free markets worked best, and that policies should be set to give such markets as much play as possible.

The Washington Consensus was not truly liberal in the 19th Century sense; it failed in two respects. First, it was silent on the size of government, although it suggested that deregulation was optimal – hence the reforming governments of Central and Eastern Europe were not sufficiently slimmed down (except in a few countries like Estonia that went beyond the Consensus). Second, the Consensus paid insufficient attention to private property rights and the well-being of small property-owners, the bedrock of any capitalist system. Being determined by governments, international institutions and Establishment opinion-formers, the Washington Consensus was always too kind to the big battalions and the special interests, as well as to government itself.

After 2000, the Washington Consensus was attacked from two sides. From the emerging markets themselves, it was denounced as “neo-liberalism” as statists like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez rejected its market orientation. In this respect, it was unfortunate that the Consensus had been imposed during a period of low commodity prices, so that commodity-based emerging markets in Latin America derived little benefit from it, their populations growing even more impoverished. Conversely, when commodity prices rose after 2000, the benefit of the rise was received and wasted by thoroughly unpleasant statist regimes in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil.

The attack from emerging market leftists was perhaps to be expected. What was less forgivable was a movement in the world’s rich countries away from even the Washington Consensus version of free markets, beginning with the 2000-02 downturn and becoming more intense with the 2008 financial crisis. Balanced budgets were abandoned in favor of permanent Keynesian “stimulus,” while monetary policy prohibitions against central banks buying government bonds and against negative real interest rates were abandoned in an orgy of money printing.

Extraordinarily, the international institutions, the FT and the Economist, which would rightly have condemned such economic apostasy as recently as 1995, fell in completely with the new consensus and urged on the money-printers and budget-busters. What is more, instead of the mild support for free markets they had previously given, they instead favored an orgy of regulation, especially in finance and environmental areas, where they were seduced by the chimaera of global warming. Against all the evidence, they claimed that lack of regulation rather than misguided monetary policy and uncalled-for social engineering in the housing sector had been responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. Against all the evidence, they claimed that the planet was warming uncontrollably, so that infinite numbers of wasteful regulations and boondoggles must be imposed on the global economy to stop it.

Now the rise of Donald Trump and the British vote to leave the EU have led the usual suspects to condemn “populism” and to call for a return to the degraded leftist policy consensus they have been pushing since 2008. This is a clever piece of mis-labeling. Intellectually, one is inclined to reject anything called “populism,” remembering the half-baked socialism of the 1890s populists and the populist impulses behind such genuinely dangerous movements as Nazism. Yet when the new movement is examined closely, it bears only a modest resemblance to historic populism. Instead, it is mostly a long-overdue corrective to the follies of the Washington Consensus and its loathsome offspring, pushing us back much closer to true free-market capitalism.

Classical economics, as propounded by Adam Smith in 1776, depended on the individual, operating on a limited scale. By matching small-scale providers of goods with individual buyers, the market optimized the performance of the economy. By matching individual savings and resources with small-scale needs for capital, the resources of the economy were directed in an optimal direction. Smith was deeply suspicious, not only of government, but also of large scale enterprises like the East India Company; he regarded them as cesspits of corruption and resource misallocation.

Smith would also have been deeply suspicious of large investment institutions, had there been any in his time (even the Bank of England was tiny in the context of the overall economy.) He would have seen them as vulnerable to subornation of their officers by those seeking funding, and as very unlikely to allocate their capital optimally.

For Smith, therefore, the keys to a successful market economy were the small business and the small property owner. Capitalism could only work properly if their property rights were protected, and if they were given a fully equal chance against larger competitors on the playing field of the economy. Government’s principal function was to protect the rights of small investors and small businessmen against the politically well-connected.

The genesis of the Industrial Revolution showed the Adam Smith version of capitalism at its finest. Jean-Baptiste Say, visiting Britain in late 1814, was astonished at the prevalence of steam engines in the economy, each of them replacing the hard manual labor of a dozen or more workers. These new machines were mostly owned by businesses that were tiny in a modern context, with capital in the low thousands of pounds and under 100 employees.

Economic growth was further boosted after Say wrote by the profits to small savers, about 70% of GDP, from the rise in British government “Consols” in the decade after 1813, as peacetime capital market conditions were restored. (During the war, 3% Consols had been issued at a big discount, rather than issuing higher-interest bonds at par, so savers got a big capital gain when peace returned.) In real terms, given the deflation surrounding the 1819 return to the Gold Standard, savers who held on and reinvested income quadrupled their money in the decade 1813-23. This flood of new capital combined with technological innovation to produce a step-up in economic growth rates to levels never before seen, forming the self-sustaining “take-off” of the Industrial Revolution.

After Smith, technological progress seemed to make some of his prescriptions obsolete. While factories in Britain remained relatively small in the nineteenth century, in the United States over 1850-1950 giant corporate behemoths grew up. In the first three quarters of the twentieth century, giant investment institutions also increasingly came to dominate capital markets. When I went through business school in the 1970s, we were taught that the giant multi-divisional corporation was the most efficient form of capitalism and that funded final-salary pension schemes were becoming by far the most important players in the capital markets, dominating corporate governance.

Since 1990, undetected by the Washington Consensus believers, we have returned to a more Smithian economy. The behemoth corporations increasingly seem like dinosaurs, as their size and bureaucratic spread stifle innovation. Instead, new technology is produced in much younger and smaller companies, akin to the innovators of 1800-50. The big pension funds never came to dominate the capital markets, as final-salary pensions disappeared; instead, capital is provided mostly by wealthy individuals, often through small hedge funds and private equity funds, with institutional capital increasingly sidelined.

In such an environment. Adam Smith’s version of capitalism is again the model we should follow. The nexus of cozy arrangements between Wall Street, the corporate behemoths and the government must be broken up, to clear the way for new and more innovative companies and to restore Smith’s desired “level playing field.” Above all the private savers must be nurtured, not punished, which requires a revolution in both monetary and fiscal policy.

In monetary policy, interest rates must be raised well above the inflation rate, to provide decent real returns for savers and small capitalists. In fiscal policy, the government deficit, both visible and invisible through entitlements must be eliminated, to reduce the government’s drain on the economy. Taxes on capital must be slashed, in particular the death tax, which prevents the accumulation of wealth over multiple generations. Conversely the corporate tax, reducing which favors corporate behemoths over new and innovative businesses, can remain as it is, and must be applied on a worldwide basis so that the behemoths cannot simply evade tax by parking money offshore.

President Trump has not proposed an Adam Smithian capitalist economic program; his current proposals are an amalgam between his populism and traditional corporatist Republicanism. However, the focus of his policy, on the individual saver and small businessman, ignored by previous post-Reagan administrations both Republican and Democratic, is highly salutary. The pro-government pro-regulation quasi-Socialism of the Financial Times and the Economist is no longer a viable economic policy, and should be swept away in favor of a brighter populist future.



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)


Thursday, May 25, 2017

More genes linked to IQ

Because IQ is linked to so much else, psychometricians have long expected it to be polygenetic: Many genes have an input into it.  I have always favoured the view that a high IQ is simply one aspect of general biological good functioning.  The brain is just another organ of the body, after all. So if that is the case, the number of genes linked to IQ should be very large indeed.  So the work below is just a first step.

Various reports of this study distort its results --  with the NYT in the lead on that.  So let me answer them here:

The NYT says: "These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule".  That is exactly the opposite of what the study found.  I append the journal abstract below so readers can check for themselves.  The authors found that their 52 genes explained 5% of the variance in IQ.  That per cent of variance explained is about normal in psychological research and has been used to support many claims of causality.  And the 5% will rise as more genes are analysed.

Other reports misunderstood the links to Alzheimers and Schizophrenia.  The study found that people with high IQ genes had LESS Alzheimers and Schizophrenia, not more.  It is interesting, however, that high IQ genes are associated with autism.  As is well known, autistic people often have extreme mental abilities in some fields, so the finding is not too surprising.  Most high IQ people are not autistic, however.

I liked the finding that high IQ people are tall, thin and unlikely to smoke. I am an example of that.  I am 5'10", was very skinny in my early life and have never smoked. 5'10" is not that tall these days but when I was born 73 years ago it was. The average male height in Australia has increased 3" in the last 50 years.

Intelligence is one of the most investigated traits in humans, but so far, only a handful of genes have been associated with the trait.

Now, researchers have made a major advance in understanding the genetic underpinnings of intelligence, uncovering 52 genes for the trait, 40 of which are new discoveries.

In particular they found that many people with these genes are more likely to have other traits, including being tall, thin and unlikely to smoke.

Scientists hope the findings could provide new biological insights into brain function and understanding, and help to define the genetic component of IQ.

The findings also turned up a surprising connection between intelligence and autism that could one day help shed light on the condition's origins.

"For the first time, we were able to detect a substantial amount of genetic effects in IQ," said Danielle Posthuma, a researcher at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam, and the main architect of the study. "Our findings provide insight into the biological underpinnings of intelligence," she told AFP.

An international research team led by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam studied genetic data from over 78,000 individuals. The data included information on DNA genotypes and intelligence scores, which led the team to discover new genes and biological routes for intelligence.

Despite high heritability estimates of 45 per cent in childhood and 80 per cent in adulthood, until now, only a few genes had been associated with. But the new study uncovered 40 new genes, most of which are mainly expressed in brain tissue.

Professor Posthuma said: 'These results are very exciting as they provide very robust associations with intelligence. 'The genes we detect are involved in the regulation of cell development, and are specifically important in synapse formation, axon guidance and neuronal differentiation.

'These findings for the first time provide clear clues towards the underlying biological mechanisms of intelligence.'

The results showed that people with the genes were more likely to have high educational achievements, and were also likely to be taller, not to smoke, and to have autism spectrum disorder.

In contrast, people with the intelligence genes were less likely to have Alzheimer's disease, depressive symptoms, smoking history, schizophrenia, high body mass index, or obesity.

Dr Suzanne Sniekers, who also worked on the study, said: 'These genetic correlations shed light on common biological pathways for intelligence and other traits.

'Seven genes for intelligence are also associated with schizophrenia; nine genes also with body mass index, and four genes were also associated with obesity. 'These three traits show a negative correlation with intelligence.

'So, a variant of gene with a positive effect on intelligence, has a negative effect on schizophrenia, body mass index or obesity.'

The researchers stress that future studies will be needed to clarify the exact role of these genes in intelligence in order to gain a more complete picture of how genetic differences lead to differences in intelligence.

Professor Posthuma added: 'The current genetic results explain up to five per cent of the total variance in intelligence.

'Although this is quite a large amount of variance for a trait as intelligence, there is still a long road to go: given the high heritability of intelligence, many more genetic effects are expected to be important, and these can only be detected in even larger samples.'


Genome-wide association meta-analysis of 78,308 individuals identifies new loci and genes influencing human intelligence

Suzanne Sniekers et al.

Intelligence is associated with important economic and health-related life outcomes1. Despite intelligence having substantial heritability2 (0.54) and a confirmed polygenic nature, initial genetic studies were mostly underpowered3, 4, 5. Here we report a meta-analysis for intelligence of 78,308 individuals. We identify 336 associated SNPs (METAL P < 5 × 10−8) in 18 genomic loci, of which 15 are new. Around half of the SNPs are located inside a gene, implicating 22 genes, of which 11 are new findings. Gene-based analyses identified an additional 30 genes (MAGMA P < 2.73 × 10−6), of which all but one had not been implicated previously. We show that the identified genes are predominantly expressed in brain tissue, and pathway analysis indicates the involvement of genes regulating cell development (MAGMA competitive P = 3.5 × 10−6). Despite the well-known difference in twin-based heratiblity2 for intelligence in childhood (0.45) and adulthood (0.80), we show substantial genetic correlation (rg = 0.89, LD score regression P = 5.4 × 10−29). These findings provide new insight into the genetic architecture of intelligence.

Nature Genetics. (2017) doi:10.1038/ng.3869


Morally Challenged: Attitudes Liberals Promote Engender Behaviors They Deplore

Two fascinating Gallup polls have been released this month on the subject of morality. I will address the sexual issues that were surveyed.

Americans believe the following are morally acceptable: birth control (91%); divorce (73%); sex between an unmarried man and woman (69%); gay or lesbian relations (63%); having a baby outside of marriage (62%); abortion (43%); sex between teenagers (36%); pornography (36%); polygamy (17%); extramarital affairs (9%). These findings were posted May 11.

These percentages were never higher for birth control, divorce, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby out of wedlock, pornography, and polygamy. The one piece of good news is on abortion: 49 percent say it is morally wrong.

Findings from May 22 show that 81 percent of the public says the state of moral values is "only fair" or "poor." Is the state of moral values getting worse? According to 77 percent of the public, the answer is yes.

"Even liberals," Gallup says, "who seemingly should be pleased with the growing number of Americans who agree with their point of view on the morality of prominent social issues, are more likely to say things are getting worse than getting better."

There are a number of things going on here that command our attention.

Americans are increasingly non-judgmental about sexual relations between consenting adults, but they are not happy with the state of moral values. This paradox suggests that more Americans are morally challenged than ever before.

To cite one issue, it is one thing to say that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, quite another to say it is a good thing. There's the rub: Most Americans know someone who is in that situation and don't want to appear condemnatory, but they also recognize that this is not a good condition to be in, either for the mother or the child.

We need to be mature about this. If we want more of something, we offer rewards and incentives; if we want less, we employ negative sanctions and stigmatize. This is a sociological truism.

For example, we don't have a problem stigmatizing smokers, and as a result fewer are smoking today than was true a half century ago when smoking was socially acceptable. We want to reduce out-of-wedlock births, but we don't want to stigmatize the mother or the child (the father usually escapes sanctions). The result is we have a higher rate of out-of-wedlock births than we did a half century ago when such a condition was socially unacceptable.

It is our immaturity that accounts for our morally challenged condition. As long as we reject the stick of stigma to curb conditions that we deplore, there will be little progress in stemming them.

Liberals are the most morally confused of any segment of the population. They are delighted that their "tolerant" views on sexuality have caught on with most Americans, but they are nonetheless unhappy with the state of moral values.

They want to have it both ways—more liberal attitudes on sexuality and less moral problems—but they cannot. Not until they connect the dots and realize that the attitudes which they promote engender the behaviors  that they deplore, will progress be made. As usual, liberals get it wrong.



Exposing Obamacare’s Big Lie

In a recent op-ed at Forbes, Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman and co-author Linda Gorman take on the latest Big Lie put forth by advocates of Obamacare: the notion that repealing the 2010 health law would kill 24,000 to 43,000 people a year. The claim has been made by various pundits, but it comes from a few studies that have repeated a mistake first made in a medical journal article published almost 25 years ago, Goodman and Gorman explain.

The false equation of health coverage and health outcomes has a long pedigree. In 1993, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article that compared results from a survey in 1987 with those of a survey of the same people conducted in the early 1970s, and came to an ominous conclusion about the relationship between health coverage and death. The authors concluded that being uninsured raises the likelihood of death by 25 percent. But their inference was erroneous; they carelessly assumed that auto fatalities, suicides, and gun deaths resulted from the coverage status of the deceased. A 2002 report from the Institute of Medicine took the erroneous 25 percent rate and used it to calculate a new estimate of deaths-by-absence-of-coverage. A 2008 study by the Urban League made the same mistake, and so on.

In contrast, a careful estimate from the respected economists June and David O’Neill “concluded that uninsured people with lower incomes were only 3 percent more likely to die over a 14-year period than those with health insurance,” Goodman and Gorman writes. The uninsured in other income groups had no statistically significant greater chance of dying than the insured. “Later studies support this finding,” Goodman and Gorman write. The 2008 Oregon Health Experiment, for example, found no differences in common clinical health outcomes between low-income people who won access to Medicaid through a state lottery and those who did not.



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)


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump and Israel: Their enemies

The United States is sailing in uncharted waters today as the intelligence-security community wages an all-but-declared rebellion against President Donald Trump.

Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein’s decision on Wednesday to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating allegations of “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” is the latest and so far most significant development in this grave saga.

Who are the people seeking to unseat Trump? This week we learned that the powers at play are deeply familiar. Trump’s nameless opponents are some of Israel’s greatest antagonists in the US security establishment.

This reality was exposed this week with intelligence leaks related to Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. To understand what happened, let’s start with the facts that are undisputed about that meeting.

The main thing that is not in dispute is that during his meeting with Lavrov, Trump discussed Islamic State’s plan to blow up passenger flights with bombs hidden in laptop computers.

It’s hard to find fault with Trump’s actions. First of all, the ISIS plot has been public knowledge for several weeks.

Second, the Russians are enemies of ISIS. Moreover, Russia has a specific interest in diminishing ISIS’s capacity to harm civilian air traffic. In October 2015, ISIS terrorists in Egypt downed a Moscow-bound jetliner, killing all 254 people on board with a bomb smuggled on board in a soda can.

And now on to the issues that are in dispute.

Hours after the Trump-Lavrov meeting, The Washington Post reported that in sharing information about ISIS’s plans, Trump exposed intelligence sources and methods to Russia and in so doing, he imperiled ongoing intelligence operations carried out by a foreign government.

The next day, The New York Times reported that the sources and methods involved were Israeli. In sharing information about the ISIS plot with Lavrov, the media reported, Trump endangered Israel.

There are two problems with this narrative.

First, Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster insisted that there was no way that Trump could have exposed sources and methods, because he didn’t know where the information on the ISIS plot that he discussed with Lavrov originated.

Second, if McMaster’s version is true – and it’s hard to imagine that McMaster would effectively say that his boss is an ignoramus if it weren’t true – then the people who harmed Israel’s security were the leakers, not Trump.

Now who are these leakers? According to the Washington Post, the leakers are members of the US intelligence community and former members of the US intelligence community, (the latter, presumably were political appointees in senior intelligence positions during the Obama administration who resigned when Trump came into office).

Israel is no stranger to this sort of operation. Throughout the Obama administration, US officials illegally leaked top secret information about Israeli operations to the media.

In 2010, a senior defense source exposed the Stuxnet computer worm to the New York Times. Stuxnet was reportedly a cyber weapon developed jointly by the US and Israel. It was infiltrated into the computer system at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. It reportedly sabotaged a large quantity of centrifuges at the installation.

The revelation of Stuxnet’s existence and purpose ended the operation. Moreover, much of Iran’s significant cyber capabilities were reportedly developed by reverse engineering the Stuxnet.

Obama made his support for the leak clear three days before he left office. On January 17, 2017, Obama pardoned Marine Gen. James Cartwright for his role in illegally divulging the Stuxnet program to the Times.

In 2012, US officials told the media that Israel had struck targets in Syria. The leak, which was repeated several times in subsequent years, made it more dangerous for Israel to operate against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.

Also in 2012, ahead of the presidential election, US officials informed journalists that Israel was operating in air bases in Azerbaijan with the purpose of attacking Iran’s nuclear sites in air strikes originating from those bases.

Israel’s alleged plan to attack Iran was abruptly canceled.

In all of these cases, the goal of the leak was to harm Israel.

In contrast, the goal of this week’s leaks was to harm Trump. Israel was collateral damage.

The key point is that the leaks are coming from the same places in both cases.

All of them are members of the US intelligence community with exceedingly high security clearances. And all of them willingly committed felony offenses when they shared top secret information with reporters.

That is, all of them believe that it is perfectly all right to make political use of intelligence to advance a political goal. In the case of the anti-Israel leaks under Obama, their purpose was to prevent Israel from degrading Iran’s nuclear capacity and military power at a time that Obama was working to empower Iran at Israel’s expense.

In the case of the Trump-Lavrov leak, the purpose was to undermine Israel’s security as a means of harming Trump politically.

What happened to the US intelligence community? How did its members come to believe that they have the right to abuse the knowledge they gained as intelligence officers in order to advance a partisan agenda? As former CIA station chief Scott Uehlinger explained in an article published in March in The Hill, the Obama administration oversaw a program of deliberate politicization of the US intelligence community.

The first major step toward this end was initiated by then-US attorney general Eric Holder in August 2009.

Holder announced then that he intended to appoint a special counsel to investigate claims that CIA officers tortured terrorists while interrogating them.

The purpose of Holder’s announcement wasn’t to secure indictments. The points was to transform the CIA politically and culturally.

And it worked.

Shortly after Holder’s announcement, an exodus began of the CIA’s best operations officers. Men and women with years of experience operating in enemy territory resigned.

Uehlinger’s article related that during the Obama years, intelligence officers were required to abide by strict rules of political correctness.

In his words, “In this PC world, all diversity is embraced – except diversity of thought. Federal workers have been partisan for years, but combined with the rigid Obama PC mindset, it has created a Frankenstein of politicization that has never been seen before.”

Over the years, US intelligence officers at all levels have come to view themselves as soldiers in an army with its own agenda – which largely overlapped Obama’s.

Trump’s agenda on the other hand is viewed as anathema by members of this powerful group. Likewise, the notion of a strong Israel capable of defending its interests without American help and permission is more dangerous than the notion of Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

Given these convictions, it is no surprise that unnamed intelligence sources are leaking a tsunami of selective and deceptive intelligence against Trump and his advisers.

The sense of entitlement that prevails in the intelligence community was on prominent display in an astounding interview that Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, gave to MSNBS in early March.

Farkas, who resigned her position in late 2015 to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, admitted to her interviewer that the intelligence community was spying on Trump and his associates and that ahead of Obama’s departure from office, they were transferring massive amounts of intelligence information about Trump and his associates to Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill in order to ensure that those Democratic politicians would use the information gathered to harm Trump.

In her words, “The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff’s dealings with Russians… would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that information.”

Farkas then explained that the constant leaks of Trump’s actions to the media were part of the initiative that she had urged her counterparts to undertake.

And Farkas was proud of what her colleagues had done and were doing.

Two days after Farkas’s interview, Trump published his tweet accusing former president Barack Obama of spying on him.

Although the media and the intelligence community angrily and contemptuously denied Trump’s assertion, the fact is that both Farkas’s statement and information that became public both before and since Trump’s inauguration lends credence to his claim.

In the days ahead of the inauguration we learned that in the summer of 2016, Obama’s Justice Department conducted a criminal probe into suspicions that Trump’s senior aides had committed crimes in their dealings with Russian banks. Those suspicions, upon investigation, were dismissed. In other words, the criminal probe led nowhere.

Rather than drop the matter, Obama’s Justice Department decided to continue the probe but transform it into a national security investigation.

After a failed attempt in July 2016, in October 2016, a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court approved a Justice Department request to monitor the communications of Trump’s senior advisers. Since the subjects of the probe were working from Trump’s office and communicating with him by phone and email, the warrant requested – which the FISA court granted – also subjected Trump’s direct communications to incidental collection.

So from at least October 2016 through Trump’s inauguration, the US intelligence community was spying on Trump and his advisers, despite the fact that they were not suspected of committing any crimes.

This brings us back to this week’s Russia story which together with the media hysteria following Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, precipitated Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating the allegations that Trump and or his advisers acted unlawfully or in a manner that endangered the US in their dealings with Russia.

It is too early to judge how Mueller will conduct his investigation. But if the past is any guide, he is liable to keep the investigation going indefinitely, paralyzing Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy in relation to Russia and a host of other issues.

This then brings us to Trump and Israel – the twin targets of the US intelligence community’s felonious and injurious leaks.

The fact that Trump hass come to Israel now may be a bit of fortuitous timing. Given the stakes involved for Trump, for Israel and for US national security, perhaps Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can develop a method of fighting this cabal of faceless, lawless foes together.

How such a fight would look and what it would involve is not immediately apparent and anyways should never be openly discussed. But the fact is that working together, Israel and Trump may accomplish more than either can accomplish on their own. And with so much hanging in the balance, it makes sense to at least try.


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)


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When the mask comes off the evil that is Leftism: Stalin's heirs are among us

This happened in Houston when I was visiting.

It was the night after Donald Trump had won the general election, there were like I knew was going to happen be protests in the streets. I didn't mind people have a right to voice there opinion its in the constitution, what happened though was to far. The people who were protesting were blocking the streets at a generallyy busy time so there were some cars trying to go home from work and they had to go though the crowd. The people were yelling and waving signs normally when things went bad, a man around his late twenties was in his pickup trying to pass through the crowd. About half way someone yelled something “Hey, that dudes a Trump supporter!” he had a bumper sticker that said make America great again. The crowd turned and started approaching the car.

The people started banging on the windows calling him a racist and a bigot, then one guy started hitting his car with a bat. He dented his bumper and continued to hit it, then things got crazy they opened his door and pulled him out. That's when I noticed something, he was a veteran. He was wearing a camp jacket and had I'm pretty sure a Purple Heart on. They then began to beat him up, the veteran, who served his country. They didn't hit him with the bat or in the face but they were hurting him. That's when some guy. From. The side started yelling to stop.

The man was clearly a Chinese immigrant, he had a really strong accent. He started yelling saying his kids were trying to sleep or something, then somebody yelled from the mod “Go back to Beijing you yellow fuck!”. The bad part was that they were protesting racism and saying lets protect our veterans. They clearly didn't mean it, the man had crawled from his car and was getting away. The mod focused away from him and onto his car.

They bena to smash all the windows and dent it, then they started looting it. The guy didn't seem to have much money no it wasn't really an expensive car. The veteran who served his country, came back broke, and then was beaten up by people who said they wanted to “help” the country.

This shit pisses me off honestly, all these young brats think theyre the difference. That there the generation to stop war, poverty, racism. Yet they don't try to do shit, they think there helping by going on social media rants. This is not about politics, this is about our society.



Thanks to deregulation, Trump is starting to drain the swamp

Recent headlines out of Washington paint a depressing picture. Of course, this isn't anything new, just different names and reversed roles. However there is something different going on these days and Americans ought to look beyond the salacious headlines. If they do, they'll see swamp water beginning to swirl down the drain, as the Trump administration and Congress are making historic progress against decades of job-killing regulations.

The Code of Federal Regulations is currently well more than 175,000 pages long. To put that in perspective, if the pages in the CFR were laid out end-to-end, it would stretch nearly 25 miles. Just imagine how long it would take to read each page of legalese.

Since the 1930s, thousands of new rules and pages have been added to the Code of Federal Regulation from the annual Federal Registers. These documents contain all sorts of notices, rules, and other announcements from the endless list of three-letter agencies in the federal government, but the Federal Register is generally regarded as a good barometer for how busy regulators have been creating new rules to micromanage Americans' lives and businesses each year.

Last year, the Federal Register was a staggering 95,894 pages, the longest it has ever been. In fact, the Obama administration holds the record for the top four page counts and seven out of the top 10, with the remaining three belonging to President George W. Bush. In short, the pace of new regulations has been accelerating.

It is counterintuitive that as Americans live longer and safer lives the pace and number of regulations would increase, but I digress.

This year however, the change is dramatic. The Federal Register, which also includes notices of deregulation, currently stands at just more than 20,000 pages—putting it on track for 62,000 pages by year's end. While still a staggering amount of needless red tape, that page count stands in stark contrast to the historical trend.

The last time it was that low? Twenty-five years ago in 1992. We've had balanced budgets more recently than that!

The Trump administration and Congress are on an unprecedented, and sorely needed, deregulatory push. In five months, Congress has invoked the Congressional Review Act more than a dozen times to eliminate rules passed in the twilight of the Obama administration. The CRA had been used only once by all previous Congresses.

The Trump administration continues to do its part by freezing regulations, tying new rules to the elimination of existing ones, and ordering all agencies to take a good hard look at the stack of rules they've imposed on the American people and come up with a way to shorten and lighten it.

Of course, some are decrying these efforts as reckless. I'd challenge them to look at our founding documents. The Constitution makes clear that the power to legislate resides with Congress and the power to adjudicate rests with the courts. Yet we have dozens of agencies that have been acting like legislators, judges, juries, and executioners for decades with little to no oversight.

Look at the blighted cities of the Midwest and Appalachia, where once-thriving industries have been shuttered and millions of workers have been displaced not by the market, but by diktats from Washington.

Look to your imagination. Imagine what world-changing inventions, businesses, and entrepreneurs have never even had the chance because they simply couldn't afford to climb America's mountain of regulations while at the same time pursue their dreams and ideas.

Economic studies peg the cumulative cost of federal regulation alone at nearly $2 trillion every year. If the amount of money we spend complying with Washington's rules were its own national economy, it would be the ninth-largest economy in the world, just below India and above Russia. And none of this includes the forgone value of entrepreneurs, inventions, and businesses smothered before their inception.

There's still a long way to go. Congress needs to reassert its legislative authority and stop delegating so much power to the executive branch. Thousands of outdated, duplicative, and burdensome regulations still await review. However, for the first time in a long time, there is actual evidence to hope for beneficial change in Washington.



Here’s What Former Spooks Say About The ‘Damage Assessment’ On Trump’s Russia Disclosures

President Donald Trump is under fire for allegedly “leaking” classified information to the Russians, but former intelligence officials downplayed the damage caused by the president’s revelations in interviews with The Daily Caller News Foundation and other outlets.

The intelligence community will not conduct a damage assessment, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday, arguing, “Authorized or not, disclosures of classified intelligence are usually examined, [but] not this time.”

“I do not think you would do a damage assessment, certainly not for a president,” Joseph Wippl, a former CIA officer, told TheDCNF, “There would certainly never be a damage assessment if the president passed information like that.”

Under the provisions of the Intelligence Community Directive 732, when there is an “unauthorized disclosure or compromise of classified national intelligence,” a damage assessment to “evaluate actual or potential damage” should be conducted, but “the president has the ultimate classification authority,” former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz told TheDCNF. “There is nothing to assess here … This is not an unauthorized disclosure,” he added.

“I do not see what Trump gave as a leak,” Air Force Colonel James Waurishuk, a former senior intelligence officer, told TheDCNF. “That is part of a foreign policy capability and process to share information with other countries for whatever reason.”

He also suggested that another reason the intelligence community may not be carrying out reviews and damage assessments is that “there is no reason to do that because there was really no damage done.”

“The only damage assessments I know of is when there has been some kind of compromise for an operation,” he further explained.

TheDCNF reached out to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the CIA, but neither were willing to comment on whether or not a damage assessment is in the works. Three Democratic senators sent a letter Thursday to ODNI requesting a review or a damage assessment. Former intelligence officials, however, revealed that it would be unusual to conduct a damage assessment for presidential revelations.

Trump does appear to have either intentionally or unintentionally shared classified information with Russian officials, specifically the general nature of an ISIS plot and the town in which the plot originated. However, the media with the help of leakers, published not only the information the president divulged but additional sensitive information as well.

For instance, The New York Times revealed that the close ally which provided the information Trump shared is Israel. Multiple outlets exposed that the ISIS terror plot was one to bring down a commercial airliner with an advanced laptop bomb, and CBS News reported the weapons were built and tested at Mosul University.

The Washington Post, filled in by anonymous officials, was the first to claim that Trump “leaked” classified information.

The various media reports indicate that government officials revealed highly-classified information to the press — information that was then published for the world to see. Multiple media outlets revealed sensitive information while simultaneously criticizing the president for putting national security at risk.

“I think a lot of things are political these days,” Wippl offered as an explanation for the leaks to the media.

“The left is trying to hurt the president,” Fleitz said. “These people committed felonies. They must be identified and prosecuted,” he explained in a recent article, referring to the leakers in the government who are running to the press.

“It damages our national security interests when officials feel compelled to leak classified information in a misguided effort to protect it,” argued former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, “In this regard, the damage caused by leaks and the resulting media speculation may well be more damaging than the original disclosure by President Trump.”

There was a lot of shock and awe surrounding the president’s revelations, but disclosures of sensitive or classified information, for one reason or another, are quite common.

“A lot of things have been leaked in the past because it was politically expedient for us to do it,” explained Wippl. “I’ve never heard of a damage assessment being rendered on that.”

“The Obama administration couldn’t keep anything a secret,” Fleitz said, pointing to the outing of a CIA station chief to the press, the Stuxnet revelations, and the leaked details of the Osama bin Laden raids.

While it is unclear why Trump disclosed the information, when it comes to terror plots, there is a clear and justifiable reason to inform other countries, even our adversaries, of potential threats.

Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and the CIA and a four-star general, told ABC News recently that the U.S has “a responsibility to warn” foreign countries if there is a threat of “impending danger for someone else, even if we didn’t like the someone else.” He added that Trump’s action was not a crime because declassification authority “is totally within his purview.”

“When dealing with laptops that may be turned into bombs, we don’t want any airliner blown out of the sky. We don’t care if its a Syrian airliner or an Iranian airliner. There’s innocent people on board, and you do everything you can to keep that from happening,” said Waurishuk. “That’s why, perhaps, there is no need to do a damage report.”

“If the president felt moved to divulge this information to the Russians out of personal concern for the elevated threats to civil aviation globally, it should be acknowledged that this is a laudable objective,” Mowatt-Larssen explained. “The president’s hand would have been strengthened if he had relied on coordinated, carefully crafted language from the intelligence community that conveyed the urgency of the threat, while doing everything necessary to protect sources and methods.”



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)


Monday, May 22, 2017

Even in the West, Leftist hate is becoming very dangerous

Icelandic Leftist Poisons Robert Spencer/i>

Last Thursday, I gave a lecture on the jihad threat at the Grand Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland. Shortly thereafter, a young Icelandic Leftist registered his disapproval of what I said by poisoning me.

It happened after the event, when my security chief, the organizers of the event, and Jihad Watch writer Christine Williams, who had also been invited to speak, went with me to a local restaurant to celebrate the success of the evening.

At this crowded Reykjavik establishment, I was quickly recognized. A young Icelander called me by name, shook my hand, and said he was a big fan. Shortly after that, another citizen of that famously genteel and courteous land also called me by name, shook my hand, and said “F**k you.”

We took that marvelous Icelandic greeting as a cue to leave. But the damage had already been done. About fifteen minutes later, when I got back in my hotel room, I began to feel numbness in my face, hands, and feet. I began trembling and vomiting. My heart was racing dangerously. I spent the night in a Reykjavik hospital.

What had happened quickly became clear, and was soon confirmed by a hospital test: one of these local Icelanders who had approached me (probably the one who said he was a big fan, as he was much closer to me than the “F**k you” guy) had dropped drugs into my drink. I wasn’t and am not on any other medication, and so there wasn’t any other explanation of how these things had gotten into my bloodstream.

For several days thereafter I was ill, but I did get to Reykjavik’s police station and gave them a bigger case than they have seen in good awhile. The police official with whom I spoke took immediate steps to identify and locate the principal suspects and obtain the restaurant’s surveillance video.

Iceland is a small country. Everyone knows everyone else. And so as it happened, I was quickly able to discover the identity, phone number, and Facebook page of the primary suspect, the young man who claimed he was a “big fan.” I don’t intend to call him.  Icelandic police will be contacting him soon enough, if they haven’t done so already.

However, I did look at his Facebook page, and as I expected, I saw nothing that might indicate that he really was a “big fan” of my work, or that he held any views out of the mainstream -- which is, courtesy of Iceland’s political and media elites, dominated entirely by the Left.

The most likely scenario is that this young man, or whoever drugged me, heard that a notorious “racist” was coming to Reykjavik, by chance saw me in the restaurant, and decided to teach me a lesson with some of the illegal drugs that are as plentiful in Reykjavik as they are anywhere else.

I should have seen it coming. After all, my visit had triggered a firestorm of abuse in the Icelandic press, all based on American Leftist talking points. Every story about my visit had the same elements: the notice that the SPLC claims that I purvey “hate speech,” which is a subjective judgment used to shut down dissent from the establishment line; the fact that I am banned from Britain, with no mention of the key detail that I was banned for saying that Islam has doctrines of violence (which is like being banned for saying water is wet) and for the crime of supporting Israel; and the false claim that I incited the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik to kill (in reality, I’m no more responsible for Breivik’s murders than the Beatles are for Charles Manson’s). After the event, one article even featured a big photo of Breivik, but quoted nary a thing I said that evening.

Not a single Icelandic media outlet that ran a story about my coming or about the event itself contacted me for comment, much less for rebuttal to the charges they made against me. One TV station did air an interview with me in which the interviewer refused to believe that I did not feel responsible for the Breivik murders, and asked me about them again and again.

After the event, articles in the Icelandic press included quotes from the 50 protesters, but none included even a single quotation or description of anything we had actually said. None quoted any of the 500 brave Icelanders who braved the hatred of the politically correct elites to come to the Grand Hotel to hear me and Ms. Williams – a staggeringly large number in a country of 300,000 people.

It’s clear: jihad and Islamization are not subjects that Icelandic politicians and media opinion-makers want Icelanders to discuss. That’s all the more reason why it must be discussed.

But meanwhile, I learned my lesson. The lesson I learned was that media demonization of those who dissent from the Leftist line is direct incitement to violence. By portraying me and others who raise legitimate questions about jihad terror and Sharia oppression as racist, bigoted Islamophobes, without allowing us a fair hearing, the media in Iceland and elsewhere in the West is actively endangering those who dare to dissent. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Center for American Progress and the rest who devote so much money, time and attention to demonizing “Islamophobes” are painting huge targets on our backs.

Of course, they think they’re doing something noble. Not only does the Left fill those whom it brainwashes with hate, but it does so while portraying its enemies as the hatemongers, such that violent Leftists such as the young man who drugged me feel righteous even as they victimize and brutalize conservatives.

There is no doubt about it: I’m certain that whoever poisoned me in Iceland went away feeling happy over what he had done. If he told anyone what he did, I’m sure he was hailed as a hero. I’m also aware that many who read this will be thrilled at the fact that I became seriously ill. That in itself is a sign of how degenerate and evil the Left has become.

All over the West, as Leftist students riot and physically menace conservative speakers and Leftist spokesmen indulge in the most hysterical rhetoric to defame their foes, politicians cower in fear and decline to discuss these issues, only ensuring that the problems I identified when I spoke in Reykjavik will continue to grow in Iceland and elsewhere.

As they were rising to power in Germany, the Nazis indoctrinated their young followers with the same message: those who oppose us are evil. Those who brutalize them are doing a great thing. The Left’s demonization of its opponents today will lead to exactly the same thing. It already has for me, in beautiful Reykjavik.



Saudis pump $200bn into rust belt in new American alliance

This could be for real.  It would help the Saudis to reduce their stash of greenbacks

Saudi Arabia is offering President Trump investment in America’s decaying infrastructure and industry worth tens of billions of dollars as a sweetener for arms deals and better relations between the two countries.

Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and in effect the prime minister, made the offer during a visit to Washington this year, sources said. Mr Trump is hoping that the money will be invested in the “rust belt” states whose support helped to propel him to the White House.

Estimates of the sums involved range from $40 billion to $200 billion — in addition to current and future arms deals valued at $300 billion, which will be announced during Mr Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which starts today.



Trump: 'Walls Work. Just Ask Israel'

In a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Donald Trump issued a short direct answer to whether his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will be a positive step towards stopping the flow of drugs across the border - "Walls work. Just ask Israel."

Trump's response followed that of Santos, who said, "I believe that the best way to fight the drug trafficking is by collaborating."

"This is not a problem of Colombia only or a problem of the United States only. It's a world problem, and we have to all work together. We declared the war on drugs 40 years ago. The world declared war on drugs, and it's a war that had not been won, so we must be more effective and more efficient," Santos said.

Santos said the U.S. and Colombia must work together to fight drug trafficking. He said his country has already made great strides in this effort - destroying 22,000 laboratories in the Colombian jungles and seizing cocaine in transit.

"We have destroyed 22,000 laboratories  in the Colombian jungles, seizing the cocaine in the transit. We have seized record amounts of tons last year, and this year, we're doing even better than last year. So by working together, we can be much more effective, and that is a commitment we just made or ratified this afternoon," Santos said.

"That was a long and very diplomatic answer to your question," Trump said. "I will say a little bit shorter:  Walls work. Just ask Israel. They work. Believe me, they work, and we have no choice."



Chris Brand

Many readers here enjoyed the explosions of political incorrectnes that came once a week from Chris Brand.  Sadly, some months ago he had a major health crisis and has been in hospital  ever since.  Below is the latest bulletin on his health from Dr. Fang, his art-historian wife:

"After having stayed and 'offered much blood, toil, tears and sweat' in the Royal Infirmary for half a year, Chris has just moved in St Margarets Care Home, just near Mayfield which is 15 minutes' walk from our home. I have viewed so many nursing homes. This is the one that I immediately liked when I went in (feeling like 'love at the first sight'). The room he is staying is at the middle floor which catches plenty of sunshine. Through a large window, he could see children playing around in the nursery if looking out. The staff seems very kind, thoughtful, and attentive. It's a nice place for a respite.

So far, having had the peg tube's help for nearly two weeks, he is able to absorb good nutrition. I am glad to say that he now gains some weight and looks a little brighter (compare with the condition of recent months). Eating and drinking by mouth is not entirely forbidden. At least he can still have some degree of soft food and drinks (apparently, he dislikes the thickened drinks and calls it as 'mud'.). I have been told that his liver condition has improved and in one month's time, the consultant will discuss the possibility of the procedure "shrinking the TIPS" (reducing his confusion). We will wait and see....

Having been worried about Chris, I use spare time to continue writing my column articles every month and doing some book projects. Now I am listening to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and writing to you both. Content and emotional, I am happy in a way in which we are moving on to the next stage.

Since thinking Chris is now settled in nice surroundings (St Margarets') and knowing his birthday is coming (the 1st of June), I mentioned to his friend Henry (an economic historian who Paul has met) about the idea of throwing a party for Chris. Henry immediately reminded me of "Glorious June" (the battle in 1794 [during which the Royal Navy destroyed the navy of revolutionary France]) whereas I was thinking about a famous painting "Flaming June" (Frederic Leighton's)."

Flaming June


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)


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The debt

Under Obama, the quantity of U.S. dollars on issue grew exponentially. If all holders of dollars tried to spend them, however, the result would not be pretty. The quantity of goods and services available would remain largely unaltered but with trillions of dollars competing to buy them, the value of a dollar would fall dramatically -- as far as one cent in terms of today's purchasing power. Virtually all savings would be wiped out -- as has happened in many places in the past, Weimar Germany, modern Venezuela etc.

So the USA is essentially bankrupt. It cannot give value for what it owes. Fortunately, all that huge overhang of money is at present stashed in financial institutions and overseas debt, with China being a big holder of U.S. dollars, so the money is not being spent and the buying power of the dollars has remained fairly stable.

China, however saw some years ago what was happening and has taken steps to rid itself of its possibly worthless dollars. It resists taking in any new dollars and has gone on a worldwide spending spree to unload the dollars it already holds. It is buying up real estate, farmland and profitable companies worldwide. Basically the Chinese government encourages its companies and people to buy up anything overseas that moves and some things that don't.

What could happen, however, is that all that money locked away in banks and company reserves could start to be spent. Mr Trump has engendered a feeling of optimism in business and many businesses are going to feel encouraged enough to start expanding. And they will go to the banks and make good cases for borrowing. And the banks will see what looks like good uses for their money. They will see that they could start to earn interest on their otherwise unused money. So they will lend on the applications to them and business will get a big new pile of money in their hands. And what will business do with that pile of money? Spend it!

And then comes the crunch, a whole heap of new money will be added to the money already in circulation and that will greatly increase the demand for goods and services. But the available goods and services will not increase significantly so the only way anybody can now grab what is available will be to offer more money for it. Prices will soar and the buying power of everybody's dollar will drop. America will have roaring inflation and all that money you spent years saving will become near-worthless.  What you can buy today for $100.00 will in future cost you $1,000.00 or more. You will have been comprehensivey robbed of your savings. You will suddenly be poor.

What happens then is the question. What normally happens in response to roaring inflation is that the existing currency is scrapped and new money is issued. You might get one new dollar for a million old dollars. America will have walked away from its debts. The nation will be effectively bankrupt

Is that going to happen? I am not alone in expecting it. All the gold bugs expect it and I see that some wiseheads expect it soon. Below is an email just received:


Dear Reader,

I just got wind that the people in charge of "the Fed" are scrambling to keep America's money system alive...

According to my source, Fed members just wrapped up a special "behind-closed-doors" meeting to discuss one of the most dramatic changes to the U.S. dollar in the last 100 years.

A change that not only affects how we spend, save, and earn...

But that will also transform the very nature of "money" itself.

To uncover the story, I flew down to Aspen, Colorado to meet with NY Times Best-Selling author, currency expert and multi-millionaire speculator Doug Casey.

Casey is one of the most connected men in the financial world.

He was Bill Clinton's classmate at Georgetown... He's debated presidential candidates... He's met with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan... And he's also been invited by the leaders of twelve different countries to discuss monetary reform.

Some even credit Casey with introducing the concept of "economic citizenship," where individuals can become citizens of a country simply by making an investment.

In my interview with Casey, you'll hear his warning to Americans regarding the consequences of a new potential money plan by the Fed that could start in the next 6 months.

You'll also hear the four steps he's personally taking today to prepare himself and protect his savings.

To watch my exclusive interview with Casey, click here.


Bob Irish
Retirement Insider


How should the government handle the problem when it comes?

With close co-operation between Congress and the administration, the crisis could in fact be handled very constructively -- so should be handled while one party controls both the administration and the legislature, as it does at the moment.

The first step should be a total abolition of the old currency, meaning that debts owed in that currency cease to exist. People laboring under student debt, people who have borrowed big to buy a house and businesses labouring under huge borrowings would suddenly find themselves debt free and owing nobody anything. A great cry of joy would arise across the fruited plain.

Cities and states owing huge retirement benefits extorted by strong labor unions would also feel their budgets freed up for urgent roadworks etc. The retired unionists would have to get by with social security, like everybody else.

As soon as the old currency is abolished a new currency should be issued, called (say) "Federal Notes", abbreviated as "Feds". And the distribution of the new money could be used first and foremost to benefit the little guy. All dollar savings deposits in the banks could be transformed into deposits of Feds on a one-to-one basis up to a maximum of 5 million. That should keep 95% of the population happy immediately.

Businesses actually making things like cars and machinery could be given Feds to the value of 6 months of their turnover. Service business are not usually very capital intensive so could get the equivalent of one month's turnover. Their ongoing revenues should keep them going after that. Freed of debt, American business should roar ahead.

So who would be the losers? Basically China and Wall St. And I can't see many Americans crying over that. Wall Street is basically a parasitic tumor on American productivity anyway so would hopefully die out at that point. And China has its own currency so is in no way dependent on U.S. dollars.

It would all generate lots of uproar to be dealt with so everybody would be in agreement that such a disruption should never be repeated. People would agree that the cause of Obama's excess money issue should be addressed. And the cause is plain: The great expansion of the Federal bureaucracy under Obama. Obama spent three dollars for every two he raised in taxes. And he mostly spent it on useless bureaucrats whose main job was to hold America back in various ways.

So the bureaucracy would have to be drastically trimmed. And there is an easy way to do that. All Federal departments that overlap with State government departments could be abolished. There are extensive State departments dealing with the environment, healthcare, education etc so there is no need for Federal activity in such fields. In effect America would be re-Federalized, with most functions going to the States. And that is how America was during its great period of growth so nobody could plausibly say that that would not work. America would be returning to its healthy roots instead of becoming just another version of a corrupt and overweening European state.

And such a big shrinkage could enable useful Federal tax cuts. Company taxes and death taxes could be abolished, freeing up big constructive energies. The whole world would want to set up business in America, with the result that all those unemployed Federal bureaucrats could get jobs doing something useful.

So there would be something for just about everyone. Even the Democrats might like to see the worker liberated from his debts -- if they do really still care about the worker. And the Left worldwide has traditionally been hostile to Wall St.  Again, however, we could not rely on the Democrats for that. Big Wall St contributions to their campaign coffers seem to have "bought" just about all of them by now.


Trump presses more countries take back U.S. deportees in immigration success

Between cajoling, threats and actual punishments, Homeland Security has managed to drastically cut the number of countries that habitually refuse to take back immigrants whom the U.S. is trying to deport, officials said Tuesday, notching an early immigration success for President Trump.

The number of recalcitrant countries has dropped from 20 to 12 over the months since the presidential election, and some longtime offenders — including Iraq and Somalia — have earned their way off the naughty list. The list of countries is the shortest this decade.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials couldn’t immediately say how many people have been deported because of the changes, but Somalia has taken back 259 just seven months into the fiscal year. That is far more than the 198 it took back in all of 2016 and the 17 it took in 2015.

Marlen Pineiro, assistant director for removal operations at ICE, said the efforts began under the Obama administration but that Mr. Trump has created a determined focus at the Homeland Security and State departments, which are both involved in speeding up deportations.

“The wind being at our wings is really driving us forward,” she said.

In many cases, that means criminals who otherwise would have been released onto the streets are now being sent to their home countries.

Recalcitrant countries have long been among the serious issues that didn’t get much attention, though the consequences can be extreme. In one notorious case, Haiti refused to take back an illegal immigrant who had served time for attempted murder, and U.S. officials were forced to release him. He killed a young woman in Connecticut just months after his release.

Another illegal immigrant, Thong Vang, was released from prison in 2014 after serving time for rape convictions, and his home country of Laos refused to take him back. He was sent to a California prison last year and shot two guards, police said.

Armed with those kinds of cases, Mr. Trump made recalcitrant countries a part of his presidential campaign. He vowed to begin putting pressure on countries to take back their deportees.

One of his first executive orders instructed Homeland Security to take steps to pressure other countries, including potentially stopping the issuance of visas to governments that refuse to cooperate.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Mr. Trump and his Homeland Security Department should get most of the credit for the changes for ramping up pressure beyond the diplomatic “demarche” letters that the Obama administration used.

“On matters like this, the Trump administration is speaking not so softly and waving the sharp stick of visa sanctions,” she said. “That’s a lot more effective than apologetically delivered demarches.”

Still on the naughty list are Cuba and China — the two biggest offenders over the years. As of last year, the U.S. was trying to deport some 35,000 Cubans with criminal records. The number of criminal migrants awaiting deportation to China stood at 1,900.

Even there, progress is being made, Ms. Piniero said. After the Obama administration’s diplomatic outreach, Cuba signed a deal to begin taking back any new migrants — though it is still reluctant to eat into the backlog.

“They are accepting all the removals under the joint statement that have come in after Jan. 12,” Ms. Piniero said.

China remains a tougher situation, despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to advance relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We are working on China. We’re preparing our recommendations,” Ms. Piniero said.

Other countries still on the recalcitrant list are Burma, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, Iran, Laos, Morocco, South Sudan and Vietnam. Hong Kong was added into the list this month because its repatriation policy is controlled by China.

The countries that dropped off the list, in addition to Somalia and Iraq, were Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Iraq earned its way off the list after it promised better cooperation in the wake of Mr. Trump’s first extreme vetting executive order.



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