Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The insidious metaphor of trade as 'war'

Jeff Jacoby below is correct in what he says but he fails to take account of Trump's objective in restricting imports.  Trump has repeatedly made clear that he does not want his restrictions to be permanent.  Permanent restrictions would be very damaging, as Jeff says.

What Trump is doing is dealing himself some very powerful bargaining chips, with the aim of getting other countries to reduce their trade-distorting arrangements which penalize American firms.  And he has had considerable success with that. The EU has now come to the party.

And note that it was in negotiating with the EU that Trump offered a complete free trade deal.  The bureaucrats of the EU reacted to that with horror but that was not Trump's fault.  Trump is the free trader.

OUR CIVIC AND political discourse is replete with metaphors.

We avoid having to swallow a bitter pill by instead kicking the can down the road. Desperate candidates throw a Hail Mary pass. Sensitive souls learn that if they can't take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. A good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

Sometimes metaphors are used to express a political idea with verve, as when our nation of assimilating immigrants is dubbed a melting pot, or when John Roberts said his job on the Supreme Court would be to call balls and strikes. But metaphors are also invoked for more than style. A deft metaphor advances an argument — sometimes a highly dubious argument. To say the poor should get a larger slice of the pie is to imply that wealth is limited and someone should redistribute it. If American officials speak of pressing the Russia reset button, their message is that better relations with Moscow are primarily a matter of American will. Insist that illegal immigrants must go to the back of the line and you are contending that they had a legal option but chose to ignore it.

Of all the arguments we advance by metaphor, perhaps none is as potent as war. When Lyndon Johnson, unveiling an array of programs to assist the poor, declared a War on Poverty, he was telling the nation that it had no higher priority. When Jimmy Carter told the nation that curtailing energy use was the moral equivalent of war, his implicit argument was that American independence was at stake.

Consider another war metaphor — one employed so matter-of-factly that it has indelibly shaped public thinking: trade war.

Talk of trade wars is hardly new, but under Donald Trump, trade-war rhetoric has become ubiquitous. In speeches and on social media, he repeatedly approaches trade in terms suited to a grim international conflict — a struggle for dominance among nations in which there must be winners and losers.

"When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," Trump tweeted in March. Last month he put it even more sharply: "When you're almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can't lose a Trade War! The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade."

For centuries, economists have pointed out the destructive folly of tariffs and other trade barriers. Tirelessly they explain that a trade deficit is not a defeat, just as a shopper's "deficit" with a department store is not a defeat. They implore policymakers to see that trade restrictions always impose more costs on a country's economy than any benefits they generate. They highlight the ways in which protectionist tariffs make many consumers poorer in order to make a handful of producers richer — and how even the intended beneficiaries often end up worse off.

But data and common sense are no match for the seductive metaphor of trade as warfare.

Many Americans will say they favor free trade, but then add the caveat that it must be "fair trade" as well. They feel the tug of national resentment when the president demands: "Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $817 Billion on Trade last year. No weakness!" They may not share Trump's confidence that trade wars are "easy to win," but they agree that other countries' protectionist measures are a form of belligerence that cannot just be ignored.

The evidence is piling up that the impact of Trump's retaliatory trade penalties has been falling hardest not on foreigners, but on Americans. Yet when the president indignantly declares that America is being victimized by its trading partners, much of the nation nonetheless nods approvingly. In a new survey, the Pew Research Center found that while 49 percent of respondents thought higher tariffs would be damaging, fully 40 percent said they would do more good than harm.

All of this comes from thinking of trade as metaphorical warfare — as an economic struggle pitting nation against nation.

That's a great fallacy. Nations don't trade with each other. We speak as if they do out of habit and convenience, but it's not true. The United States and Canada are not competing firms. America doesn't buy steel from China, and China doesn't buy soybeans from America. Rather, hundreds of individual American companies choose to buy steel from Chinese mills and fabricators, and hundreds of Chinese-owned firms make deals to buy soybeans from far-flung American growers. Unlike wars, which really are fought by nation against nation, international trade occurs among countless sellers and buyers, all acting independently in their own best interest.

Tariffs don't punish countries. They punish innumerable consumers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, farmers, manufacturers — the myriad discrete actors whose choices and preferences are the true substance of international trade. To those individuals, national trade deficits and surpluses are irrelevant. They aren't competing — they're cooperating. Buyers and sellers aren't in conflict with each other, let alone with each other's countries.

On the contrary: By doing business together, traders create wealth and connections, knitting the world together in mutual interest, making the planet more harmonious.

Trade war is an insidious term. The metaphor notwithstanding, trade isn't war. It's peace.



Trump threatens to shut down government over border security

There are more retiring Democrat than GOP senators at the next election so this could be a ploy to keep the senators in Washington and thus prevent them from campaigning in their home states

Trump has threatened he will be willing to shut down the government if Democrats refuse to vote for changes he seeks to make to the US immigration system, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” the president tweeted.

“Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! “We need great people coming into our Country!”

Mr Trump returned to the idea of shutting down the government over the border wall just days after meeting at the White House with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the fall legislative agenda.

Mr McConnell, asked about a shutdown last week during a Kentucky radio interview, said it was not going to happen. He did acknowledge, however, that the border funding issue was unlikely to be resolved before the November midterm elections.

Mr Trump campaigned on the promise of building a border wall to deter illegal immigration and making Mexico pay for it. Mexico has refused. Congress has given the president some wall funding but not as much as he has requested.

Mr Trump also wants changes to legal immigration, including scrapping a visa lottery program. In addition, he wants to end the practice of releasing immigrants caught entering the country illegally on the condition that they show up for court hearings.

The president has also demanded that the US shift to an immigration system that’s based more on merit and less on family ties.

Democrats and some Republicans have objected to some of the changes Mr Trump seeks. The federal budget year ends on September 30, and politicians will spend much of August in their states campaigning for re-election in November.

The House is now in a five-week recess, returning after Labour Day. The Senate remains in session and is set to take a one-week break the week of August 6, then returning for the rest of the month.

Both chambers will have a short window of working days to approve a spending bill before government funding expires.

Mr Trump would be taking a political risk if he does, in fact, allow most government functions to lapse on October 1 — the first day of the new budget year — roughly a month before the November 6 elections, when Republican control of both the House and Senate is at stake.

House Republicans released a spending bill this month that provides $US5 billion next year to build Mr Trump’s wall, a major boost.

Democrats have long opposed financing Mr Trump’s wall but lack the votes by themselves to block House approval of that amount. However, they do have the strength to derail legislation in the closely divided Senate.

Without naming a figure, Mr Trump said in April that he would “have no choice” but to force a government shutdown this fall if he doesn’t get the border security money he wants.

The $US5 billion is well above the $US1.6 billion in the Senate version of the bill, which would finance the Homeland Security Department.



Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker Host Bible Event Against Trump Supreme Court Pick

On Tuesday, three prominent senators — all likely 2020 presidential candidates — joined the Rev. Dr. William Barber in opposing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. At the event, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) quoted the Bible in their attacks against Kavanaugh. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not quote the Bible, but joined with Barber, who did.

"Corporations have won 62 percent of the cases they've been in whenever they are up against workers, shareholders, people who represent the public interest," Warren declared at the press conference Tuesday afternoon. She argued that allowing Kavanaugh to join the Supreme Court would violate Matthew 25, Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats.

"It is not enough to have a good heart ... we are called to act," Warren declared. She argued that Kavanaugh's opponents are "on the moral side of history."

Sanders immediately seized on his favorite topic, the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC (2010), which ruled that for legal purposes "corporations" — people coming together in groups — are also "people" and have First Amendment rights. The case ruled that individuals can pay to promote a film expressing political speech, a basic principle that liberals claim allows billionaires to "buy elections."

"People are outraged that billionaires are buying elections," Sanders declared. "Do you know that that is a direct result of the Citizens Untied decision?" He suggested that Kavanaugh's confirmation would be a moral stain on America.

Booker agreed, declaring that conservatives are "trying to roll back civil rights, the protections against discrimination. This has nothing to do with politics, this has to do with who we are as moral beings. There is no neutral. ... You are either complicit in evil or you are fighting against it."

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, a longtime liberal activist, warned that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, "We could be facing the most regressive Supreme Court since Jim Crow. There must be a moral fight to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court."

Warren, Booker, and Barber misused or twisted four Bible passages to fight Kavanaugh's confirmation.

1. Matthew 25.

Warren quoted Matthew 25, when Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus said the Son of Man will separate the good (sheep) from the evil (goats).

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me,'" Jesus said (Matthew 25:34-36).

He suggested that the righteous will ask when they did all these things, and He will answer "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

This command to love and serve "the least of these" is extremely important in Christianity, but Warren warped it. She suggested that Matthew 25 isn't just a command to love and serve the poor directly, but to oppose a Supreme Court that would rule in favor of corporations rather than people.

Warren is dead wrong in her application of this verse. The Supreme Court's job isn't just to protect "people" against "corporations" — it's to apply the law justly and equitably. Sometimes an organized group of people — a "corporation" in legal terms — will be in the right, while someone Warren thinks of as an underdog will be in the wrong. In those cases, the Supreme Court should rule against the underdog.

Warren's complaint that the Court has favored corporations 62 percent of the time reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about justice that the Bible does not sanction. The Bible rightly condemns when the powerful abuse their power to oppress the poor, but it does not condemn the just ruler who punishes a lawbreaker (Romans 13) or sides with the powerful when the powerful are in the right.

The Court's job is not to twist the law to always favor the underdog. If it did so, that would be unjust.

2. Isaiah 10.

Rev. Barber turned to Isaiah 10 to condemn Kavanaugh.

"The scriptures are clear that when it comes to public policy, 'Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor and women and children of their rights,'" Barber declared, paraphrasing Isaiah 10:1-2. "The scripture is clear that a nation must make sure that its laws lift the hungry, the hopeless, the poor, the sick, the naked, and the least of these, and the stranger."

Notice the sleight of hand. Barber quoted Isaiah 10 and then melded it with Matthew 25 to suggest the law needs to favor "the least of these," to "lift" them.

This is nonsense. The Bible is clear that Christians must care for the poor and the least of these, but it nowhere says that the law must "lift" the poor out of poverty.

In Isaiah 10, God is condemning lawmakers who rob the poor — He is not commanding laws to make the poor richer. It is injustice to steal wages from a poor man who has just earned them, but that does not make it justice to give money to a man just because he is poor. Indeed, that would violate the principle that "if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

3. Psalm 23.

In his remarks, Sen. Booker quoted one line of Psalm 23, the famous psalm that begins, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Booker quoted verse 4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Or rather, Booker quoted the first phrase. Here's his tortured reasoning on this passage:

There’s a saying from one of the Abrahamic faiths in a psalm saying, "Yea though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death." We are walking through the valley of the shadow of death but that doesn’t say, "though I sit in the valley of the shadow of death." It doesn’t say that I’m watching on the sidelines of the valley of the shadow of death, it says I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I am taking agency, that I am going to make it through this crisis.

Booker twisted a psalm about God's providence in the midst of despair — "your rod and your staff, they comfort me" — and turned it into an exhortation to "walk" rather than "sit" or "watch on the sidelines" in a moral battle. God's providence in the psalm does suggest that "I am going to make it through this crisis," but the psalm is not meant as a call to action. Indeed, the psalm says God "makes me lie down in green pastures" and sets a "table before me"...

Booker has taken one of the deepest and most comforting psalms and twisted it into a banal call to action. This was so dumb and ridiculous, I couldn't help but laugh.

4. Numbers 13-14.

Booker did draw something of the right conclusion from another passage, however. He summarized Numbers 13-14, saying, "Moses sent people into the promised land — 12 folks to view what was going on, and ten of them came back saying, 'We can't meet this challenge.'"

"Joshua and Caleb saw something different," Booker declared. "Joshua and Caleb refused to surrender to fear, they refused to surrender to cynicism. We need the Joshua spirit right now. We need the Caleb spirit right now."

Joshua and Caleb did indeed trust in God to do what He promised and bring the Jews into the promised land, and their courage is to be emulated today. However, Booker suggested that opposing Kavanaugh is akin to making America a promised land — an extremely tenuous application.

In the end, these liberals are fighting tooth and nail against a judge who will remain faithful to the text and original intent of the Constitution, rather than twisting it to support a liberal agenda — as these very Democrats twisted the Bible. Here's hoping American see through the rhetoric.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, July 30, 2018

Stupid logic about genes in the BMJ

All British medical journals have a distinct Leftist bias so the conclusion below was  predictable.  Leftists hate any evidence that genes cause anything so the claim below that genes  do not influence social class was to be expected.

Their basic leap of logic is that individual genes have only a narrow mode of action so they cannot cause anything as complex as social class.  That's logic?  Its like saying that tires can't by themselves make a car move so tires are irrelevant to cars.

The universal conclusion of those who study the relationships between genes and traits is that any one trait is polygenetic.  Just as a car needs a lot of bits to make it go, so any trait needs a particular underlying SET of genes for it to manifest itself.

And as Charles Murray showed decades ago, social class is strongly determined by IQ. High IQ people tend to get rich and low IQ people usually stay poor.  And IQ IS heavily genetically determined, so the paper below is just counter-factual rubbish aimed at drawing a particular do-gooder conclusion

Genetics and social class

N A Holtzman


Objective: To assess claims that genes are a major determinant of social class.

Design: Using genetic epidemiological principles, five claims on the role of genes in determining social class are examined: (1) traits that run in families are usually inherited; (2) complex traits can be explained by alleles at a single gene locus; (3) complex traits are transmitted intact from one generation to the next; (4) natural selection explains social advantage. (5) Heritability estimates provide a valid estimate of the importance of genes in explaining complex human traits or behaviour.

Results: (1) Traits that run in families can result from environmental exposures that differ by social class. (2) The protein encoded by any single gene has too narrow a range of biological activity to explain traits as complex as social status. (3) Because alleles at different gene loci are transmitted independently, genetic inheritance cannot explain why offspring display the same complex traits as their parents. (4) The propagation of mutations that might result in a selective advantage takes much longer than the time for which any social class has achieved or maintained dominance. (5) Heritability measures are accurate only when environment is maintained constant. This is impossible in evaluating human traits.

Conclusions: The roots of social class differences do not lie in our genes. Consequently, genetics cannot be used as a justification for maintaining a ruling class, limiting procreation among the poor, or minimising social support programmes.



Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say

Senior figures in the Turnbull Government have told the ABC they believe the United States is prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear capability, perhaps as early as next month, and that Australia is poised to help identify possible targets.

But another senior source, in security, emphasises there is a difference between providing intelligence and "active targeting"
It comes amid intense sabre-rattling by US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

The ABC has been told secretive Australian defence facilities would likely play a role in identifying targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies.

But a senior security source emphasised there was a big difference between providing accurate intelligence and analysis on Iran's facilities and being part of a "kinetic" mission.

"Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike," the source said.

"Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting."

The top-secret Pine Gap joint defence facility in the Northern Territory is considered crucial among the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence partners — the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — for its role in directing American spy satellites.

Analysts from the little-known spy agency Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation would also be expected to play a part.

Canada would be unlikely to play a role in any military action in Iran, nor would the smallest Five Eyes security partner New Zealand, sources said.

Any US-led strike on Iranian targets would be fraught for a region bristling with tensions. Israel would have reason to be anxious about retaliation, given Iran rejects Israel's right to exist.

That said, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April invoked the so-called "Begin Doctrine" that calls on the Jewish state to ensure nations hostile to Israel be prevented from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

"Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons," Mr Netanyahu said.



We should denounce folly

Modern society suffers when tolerance is given to fools.  We too often give them the power and prestige they demand

James E. Smith, Ph.D.                                                                   

An old adage says we should “gladly suffer fools.” The opposing view is that we should “stop doing stupid.” Either way, the key concern is the direct impact that not confronting stupid or shortsighted actions has on morale and the long-term effectiveness of any decision-making/leadership process.

Whether it is managing people, business processes, visionary leadership or important innovation efforts, the need to mitigate stupid, wasteful directives, interjections and interruptions has become an essential requirement if we are to grow socially and economically.

A primary reason we as a species have been so successful is our ability to take advantage of acquired knowledge in making decisions and solving problems. These abilities also allow us to aggressively protect ourselves from the varied and changing environments we choose to live in, amidst the diverse personalities that we are expected to live and work with.

In other words, we have the ability to successfully teach, mentor, lead and manage as required to precipitate the next great something. This becomes a clear necessity in staying ahead of the problems that prior generations created in solving even earlier problems. It also seems to be a primary characteristic for any advancing technological society, where the notion of simply stepping off the progress merry-go-round in favor of “an earlier, simpler time” will lead only to frustration and a train to Emerald City.

And yet many seem to have an apparently endless willingness to allow, or at least tolerate, acts of stupidity. This is certainly not a new problem. Each generation has had to deal with the few, but noisy and persistent, actors who make life and progress just a little harder to navigate. But unlike in the past, when we may have had the luxury to argue trivial points ad nauseam with little consequence, the accelerating rate of our social and technological development means we can no longer tolerate these delays.

Consider how our society often indulges foolishness by individuals or groups acting out of ignorance or petulance. These people expect to continue getting away with their interference, obstruction, stupidity and obnoxious behavior because they think they are entitled, above reproach or simply smarter than the rest of society, or they have ensconced themselves high up in the hierarchical or governmental pecking order.

Many people who fit this description actually begin as foolish, but appeal to the mercy of their associates or subordinates, learn what is needed, and use the group’s combined skill set to move the process forward. This preferred path eventually removes the party from the “stupid group.” (Your own past experiences can judge what percentage of the population chooses this option.)

Others, however, ignore reality and micro-manage whatever capabilities, skill sets and authorities they have been given or assigned – and often request more time and resources to advance their beliefs, agendas and ignorance. Ultimately, if they fail to accomplish their goals, they find ways to blame everything and everyone around them for their failure. If they plead their case well enough, they may even be rewarded with a promotion and even greater responsibilities that they can’t or won’t handle in the future.

This latter situation is clearly too prevalent in our society at all levels of corporate America, and, of course, within the government: local, state and federal. It is also prevalent in our social programs and the very activities we subject ourselves and our children to. In many of these cases, people get fed up and walk out, while others feel compelled by societal, employment and governance rules and expectations to put up with it all.

It is clear to a growing number of us that we as a society have sat too long letting people who have perfected the art of stupid continue to add ever increasing levels of nonsense to our already busy lives, through accident, oversight, ignorance, laziness, personal gain, or just plain self-entitlement.

Letting “stupid” continue, with no relief or recourse, is affecting our home, social and work environment, our creative and innovative talents, and the governance we expect and subject ourselves to.

We shouldn’t have a problem with ignorant people who are willing to learn and to do the best they can. The problem is with those who are unwilling to learn, or to develop new skill sets but still expect to be allowed by silent assent to do as they please. Even worse are the growing numbers of people who expect to succeed by virtue of their imperious demands and loud, obnoxious, even threatening behavior.

Non-reaction on our part has perpetuated growing levels of such behavior on their part, and an increasing degree of hopelessness and complacency on the part of decent, reasonable people. That has an additional downside.

Failure to respond and act in response to stupid or bad behavior breeds greater incompetence, as equally or more incompetent people are recruited at all management and leadership levels, to ensure that “stupid” isn’t exposed or jeopardized. More importantly, we also get a lowered performance bar, reducing or even removing challenges and the need for excellence. This result makes us all stupid.

Clearly, stupid has been around since little Jimmy decided to poke the sleeping bear with a stick.

I do believe, though, that we as a population have increasingly (and incorrectly) decided that it is just plain easier to let things continue as they are. We have become a nation of people who are too busy to get involved; too indoctrinated into believing the current state of affairs was mandated on high; or too intimidated by loud, menacing street mobs to question their wisdom or asserted “will of the people.”

These will eventually become more opportunities for well-deserved Darwin Awards to weed out the worst practitioners of stupid (or worse) behavior.

I don’t believe today’s “middle America” had any real input into the present situation, though it may be complicit through its silence. But I get an uneasy feeling that what is being pontificated, decided and decreed is being listened to and accepted by too many people who are either clueless, apathetic or feeling obligated by self-imposed, job-related or socially pressured expectations to just sit there and take it.

I also believe a growing percentage of those same folks simply don’t notice or acknowledge what they read or hear about, or even witness with their own eyes. So why do we continue down this path?

I don’t have an answer. Maybe we just need a few people with the courage and presence of mind to speak out, step forward and refuse to take it anymore. It may require a groundswell from the general population to get noticed. But that is unlikely to happen without a few brave people taking a stand.

All I know is, a lot of individuals in this world are still plugged-in and aware enough to know things are not right, or not right enough.

We all see and call things wrong at times, or frequently. However, if we haven’t made a few mistakes, we probably haven’t done anything good either, or we are still in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.

Making well-reasoned decisions – and standing up to bullies, oppression and intolerance – are hallmarks of our nation’s success story. Our continued success, and even survival, depends on this continuing. It seems to me it’s time for each one of us to identify and challenge a small piece of the human foolishness around us, and work to improve the situation, by demanding that the perpetrators “Stop Doing Stupid!”

 Via email


We're racist towards robots, too, study finds

All this shows is that Africans have made the colour brown a danger sign

Have you ever wondered why you rarely see a brown or black robot?
A couple of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Canterbury University in New Zealand were having trouble finding any — why were all the robots white?

It led them to investigate whether people ascribe race to robots, and if this changed their behaviour towards them. What they discovered was that humans carry their racial biases over to robots.

"If you ask anybody, 'Are you racist?' of course they will say no," said Dr Christoph Bartneck, one of the study's authors and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Instead, the researchers adapted a research tool called the "shooter bias" paradigm.

This is where the participants are asked to play the role of a police officer.

They are then shown images of people and they have to decide whether to shoot at the person or not.

In the original study, participants were shown images of people who were either white or black, armed or unarmed.

In this study, participants were also shown robots with two "skin" colours.

"What we observed is that the exact same bias observed with humans can also be observed with robots," Professor Bartneck told RN Drive. "People changed their behaviour towards brown robots in comparison to white robots."

Professor Bartneck said the race of the participant did not play a role.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, July 29, 2018

Study concludes Conservatives are more likely to live meaningful lives

No surprise.  Leftists spend all their time whining about how unfair the world is

According to a recent University of California study, conservatives tend to find more purpose and meaning in their lives.

Published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal last month and led by lead researcher David Newman, a doctoral candidate at USC Dornsife’s Mind and Society Center, the study was in itself an examination of five other studies.

Newman’s team specifically examined the feelings of purpose and meaning that 50,000 participants across 16 countries had reported over a 40-year span.

What his team found was that being conservative more often than not correlated with being driven by a purpose in life and experiencing a sense of meaning. Newman warned though that the results of his study should not be misused to issue automatic judgments of others.

“It doesn’t mean that every conservative finds a lot of meaning in their life and that every liberal is depressed,” he said.

He also noted that other factors play a role as well: “These factors range from various personal characteristics such as how religious someone is to situational influences such as one’s current mood.”

True, but the results do suggest that conservatives are more likely to find meaning in their lives. Why, though, might this be? Listen to the following segment of Fox News’ “The Greg Gutfeld Show” to hear some possible reasons:

George Murdoch, also known as the wrestler Tyrus, said something interesting toward the end of the clip.

“If you watch or skim through … any liberal TV show or news program, it’s Armageddon. It’s horrible. It’s like misery’s in your house and there’s a little guy breaking your ankles. They’re all sad,” he said.

“They’re just miserable, and we’re like, ‘We won, we’re making money, I’m pop-locking it home.’ It’s a good time if you’re working hard and paying your bills and stuff. And if you’re not, you’re miserable. I’m not saying all Democrats don’t work, but I’m just saying there’s a certain group of them who prefer things done for them, and they’re pretty upset right now.”

He had a valid point, but not in regard to the left’s reaction to President Donald Trump’s election. Trump just stepped into office a year ago, and since the study covers a 40-year span, he’s ultimately irrelevant to the study’s results.

But what Tyrus said later about Democrats preferring “things done for them” hit the nail on the head. Conservatives find joy and meaning in working hard, fulfilling their obligations, taking care of their families and, in some cases, adhering to a religious faith. And while not every liberal is a welfare-consuming secularists, many leftists do readily subscribe to attitudes of victimhood and entitlement.

Recall that it’s the left that tries to drum up support among women, minorities and the youth by encouraging them to adopt a victim mentality and offering them freebies like free tuition, free healthcare, free housing, free meals.

The problem is that it’s by earning the fruits of one’s labor that people find meaning. When people instead get everything handed to them, there’s no sense of accomplishment, no pride from a job well done. There’s just an empty pit devoid of purpose and meaning.

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Some Trump ideas worth stealing

A tribute to Trump's cleverness from Boston liberal Alex Beam

What is Trump doing that the next president will want to emulate? If you answer, “Nothing!” you are wrong. There is plenty to learn, even from this train wreck of a presidency.

* The tweets. These work, undeniably. No future president will be expected to tweet day and night about his favorite sycophantic TV show, or routinely misspell words of over three syllables. But these mini-press releases pack a lot of power, and Trump has successfully weaponized them.

I followed the Obama White House Twitter feed and it was mainly anodyne junk, e.g., “Watch @POTUS and @FLOTUS welcome Singapore PM @leehsienlong and Mrs. Lee for tonight’s State Dinner.” I can see the next president hiring some with-it 28-year-old to keep the Twitter feed spicy, unboring, and engaged.

* The rolling pardons. Yes, this is cheap sensationalism, but it’s cheap sensationalism that works. The tawdry spectacle of rich crumbums lining up at the White House door to suborn the outgoing president (See Bill Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich via Eric Holder) in the final days of an administration is disgusting.

Trump has changed the rules. There is a lot of room for creativity here, and Trump’s posthumous pardon of boxer Jack Johnson opened an interesting door. We know history is rich with miscarriages of justice directed against Native Americans for defending their lands and against African-Americans for all manners of imagined crimes.

You could combine long-overdue restorative justice with a headline-grabbing pardon for (convicted felon) Martha Stewart. Now we’re raising a big tent!

* In-office campaign rallies. Trump isn’t the first president to hold campaign-style events early in his tenure — Obama and George W. Bush held similar pep rallies — but “he’s just more upfront about it,” as The Washington Post observed last year. Unlike his predecessors, Trump filed papers to create his reelection campaign committee on the day of his inauguration.

Why pretend? Trump is better at campaigning than governing, and his canned events outside of Washington get plenty of coverage. That lesson won’t be lost on his successors.

What else? Trump has annoyed the Obama fan base by undoing some of his predecessor’s most ambitious executive orders, e.g. Trump’s radical rollback, by almost 2 million acres, of two national monuments created by his Democratic predecessors.

The lesson? Live by extra-legislative fiat, die by extra-legislative fiat. To paraphrase Matthew 19:6, what one president hath put together, another president can easily rend asunder.

Trump has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and some of them are worth copying.



Americans have constitutional right to carry guns in public for self-defense, appeals court rules

Americans must have a constitutional right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, delivering a major legal victory to gun-rights supporters.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Hawaii’s law severely restricting carrying of firearms to homes and businesses “eviscerates a core Second Amendment right.”

In an opinion that covers the breadth of thought from Geoffrey Chaucer to the country’s founders, Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, who wrote the majority opinion in the 2-1 ruling, said that while the government can limit concealed carry, it cannot ban weapons outside the home altogether — so public open-carry must be allowed.

Judge O’Scannlain said there’s little doubt the framers of the Second Amendment were comfortable with Americans openly carrying weapons for self defense, and until the Constitution is changed, that remains the standard.

“For better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense,” the judge wrote.

The case could be appealed to the full 9th Circuit, frequently cited as the most liberal appeals court in the country,



Show your support for ICE

Some have defined a fanatic as “One who can’t change his opinion and won’t change the subject.” (It is often attributed to Winston Churchill, though the truth appears to be more complicated.) By that definition, I am a fanatic when it comes to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency—aka: “ICE.”

As most readers likely know, across the Left there is a greater and greater clamouring to abolish ICE entirely. Just last month Socialist darling Bernie Sanders would not go on the record as saying ICE should go the way of the Works Progress Administration, but with an eye on the 2020 Presidential race, he has since caved. [Bernie Abolishes His Opposition to "Abolish Ice", by Ethan Epstein, The Weekly Standard, July 17, 2018.] Remember that in 2015 (as in three years ago) he called Open-Borders “a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States… It would make everybody in America poorer—you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that…” .

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris, California’s freshman senator and another strong contender for 2020, has been flip-flopping and equivocating like crazy. In March she said:

Should ICE exist? Well, certainly. When we’re talking about people who’ve committed serious and violent crimes–you know... I’m a prosecutor. I believe there need to be serious, severe and swift consequences when people commit serious and violent crimes…and certainly if they are undocumented, they should be deported if they commit those serious and violent offenses. So, yes, ICE has a purpose. ICE has a role. ICE should exist. But let’s not abuse the power.

[Dem Senator Kamala Harris Slammed for Defending the Existence of ICE (VIDEO), by Colin Kalmbacher, Law and Crime, March 10, 2018.]

But that did not go over well with the new Socialist wing of the Democratic Party, and boy did they let her know. Come June, she was more prepared to say the right thing:

I think there’s no question that we’ve got to critically re-examine ICE, and its role, and the way that it is being administered, and the work it is doing. And we need to probably think about starting from scratch.

[Kamala Harris Says Congress Needs To Change ICE, Perhaps ‘Start From Scratch’, by Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post, June 25, 2018.]

Nevertheless, much of the Left is now unimpressed with this, because Harris did not use the word “abolish.” They are still hammering at the Senator for not going far enough [Kamala Harris Wants You To Know She's Definitely Not Calling For Abolishing ICE, by Molly Hensley-Clancy and Lissandra Villa, BuzzFeed News, July 3, 2018.]

It will be interesting to see how this all-but-official-presidential candidate “evolves” on the issue between now and when the Democratic nomination process really gets going.

Like me, the anti-ICE radicals of the Left are fanatics—they will not change their minds, and they are not going to change the subject. That is a good thing. I hope they continue to talk about this as frequently as possible, as their position is completely insane.

As even Sen. Harris pointed out in her first response, ICE targets the worst of the worst, and does great work. Patriots, politicians and pundits alike, need to be highlighting this as regularly as ICE announces each great action they take.

Let’s take a look at some of the monsters ICE has recently played a role in apprehending, arresting, convicting, and/or deporting:

  • A Brazilian national arrested for rape and assault and battery. He had been previously deported. (Details here.)

  • Charles Cooper, a Liberian former bodyguard to President Charles Taylor, the notorious and murderous despot who once campaigned for public office under the slogan, "He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him." (Details here.)

  • “A Mexican national with multiple criminal convictions for inflicting corporal injury on his spouse, three convictions for driving under the influence, three convictions for driving without a license, giving false information to a peace officer, and carrying a loaded firearm in a public place.” Along with 39 other criminal aliens in New York. (Details here.)

  • 35 “darknet” vendors. Some of items seized included, “333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kilograms of Xanax, more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher; five vehicles that were purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity; more than $3.6 million in U.S. currency and gold bars; 15 pill presses, which are used to create illegal synthetic opioids…” and “$400,000 in U.S. currency, 140 kilograms of suspected marijuana and an additional 10 kilograms of suspected marijuana vape cartridges, 12 kilograms of suspected Xanax pills, over half a kilogram of suspected ecstasy, four pill presses, mixers, and pill press parts, over a dozen kilograms of various powders, packaging materials, and paraphernalia... three loaded shotguns, including a tactical double-barreled shotgun loaded with 14 shells, and over 50 shotgun shells, as well as significant quantities of narcotics, packaging materials, and paraphernalia including a money-counting machine.” (Details here.)

  • Around 50 drug dealers in Chicago. This one sweep netted, “more than three kilograms of heroin, more than a kilogram of cocaine, and more than 230 grams of fentanyl.” (Details here.)

  • 24 MS-13 members in Maryland. The two dozen men are alleged to have, “murdered five individuals in Frederick, Anne Arundel, and Montgomery Counties, dismembering three of the victims. In addition, the defendants allegedly conspired to murder eight individuals, maiming and assaulting one of the individuals with a machete, shooting one individual in the head, and kidnapping and threatening another individual with a firearm to extract payment for extortion.” (Details here.)

  • Isaias Estrada-Morales, a Puerto Rican child pornographer. (Details here.)

  • Dorviro Rocha-Ribeiro, a Brazilian wanted by Interpol for murder who had already been deported from America once before. (Details here.)

  • Eight MS-13 members in Texas. All have been indicted for, “racketeering conspiracy; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; and using, carrying and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.” (Details here.)

  • Enrique Rodriguez, member of the charmingly-named street gang Barrio Azteca (“Aztec Neighborhood”), who was smuggling drugs into America for Mexico’s Juarez Cartel. He was not a smuggler of benign marijuana either, in total he brought in “about 1,000 pounds of heroin and 1,000 pounds of cocaine.” (Details here.)

  • Jesus Briseno and Elias Serrano, two American citizens who were caught smuggling illegal aliens into the country. Between the two of them, their prior convictions include: aggravated stalking, kidnapping, possessing a deadly weapon and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute; escape from custody, possessing marijuana, assault/causing injury to family member, and driving while intoxicated. (Details here.)

  • 37 criminal aliens in New Jersey. Most of them had prior criminal records for drunk driving and various kinds of assault. (Details here.)

  • Ramon Raudel Campos Murillo, an MS-13 member and sex trafficker. (Details here.)

  • Majd Al Helwani, a Syrian national who lied, “about being a U.S. citizen so he could buy a shotgun from a local sporting goods store.” (Details here.)

  • 132 criminal aliens in the Washington, DC area. Some of the more repulsive of the 132 included:

    • An El Salvadoran national identified as a high-ranking MS-13 member.

    • A Bolivian national who has four prior convictions for rape and intercourse with a victim under thirteen.

    • A Peruvian national previously convicted for battery and failure to register as a sex offender.

    • A Mongolian national previously convicted for driving under the influence and forgery.

    • An El Salvadoran national who is currently facing criminal charges for felony strangulation.

    • A Honduran national and illegal re-entrant with an outstanding warrant for two counts of felony rape, two counts of felony sodomy, and two counts of felony sexual abuse.

    • A Philippine national previously convicted of felony possession of a firearm with a controlled substance.

    • A Guatemalan national previously convicted for consensual sexual intercourse with a child.

    • An El Salvadoran national who is the subject of a U.S. Marshals federal arrest warrant for felony assault with a deadly weapon.

    • A Jamaican national previously convicted of forgery.(Details here.)

    •                                                ICE is nice white background
      So, why would figures who bill themselves as champions of poor, ordinary, and working Americans want to abolish an agency that puts away criminals who are most likely to prey on our most vulnerable citizens? It is a question worth pondering.

      In the meantime, you can show your support for ICE, and help VDARE.com do the same, by making a donation today, and getting yourself an “ICE is Nice” or “Abolish Open Borders” sticker.

      Via email


      Another Trump win over critics

      The United States hit its highest economic growth rate in roughly four years on Friday — something many economists predicted would never happen.

      Gross domestic product (GDP) grew to a 4.1-percent rate in the second quarter of 2018, compared to just 2.8 percent in the second quarter of 2017.

      Meanwhile, CNN ran a headline in October of 2016 claiming, “Donald Trump promises 4-percent growth, but economists say no way,” and the Los Angeles Times ran a column with an even more dire prediction — that Trump was “dreaming” to think he could hit a 3-percent growth rate.

      “An aging population and stagnant productivity could put Donald Trump’s goal of 3.5-percent economic growth out of reach,” the Wall Street Journal similarly wrote in December of 2016.

      Businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban predicted that the markets would tank if Trump were elected president in 2016.

      And, of course, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the economy would fare quite poorly under her 2016 opponent.

      “Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy,” Clinton said during the election.



      For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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)


      Friday, July 27, 2018

      Trump is taking US down the path to tyranny (?)

      I rather like reading the writings of Leftist intellectual Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.  He always sounds so calm and rational.  But he is director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University so you know that he is also gullible and good at self deception.  But he always puts up a plausible case for whatever he is pushing.  He would probably convince most people who don't know the facts he leaves out.  In true Leftist style he only tells half the story and runs very close to outright lies by what he leaves out.

      I could challenge almost every sentence of what he writes below but I have no desire to clean out the Augean stables so will offer just a few comments on the first few paragraphs of his latest essay below.

      How does he know that "Trump holds the grandiose belief that only he should rule America"?  Does Sachs have a mind-reading machine?Is Sachs talking about the man who vowed to use his "pen and phone" to circumvent Congress?  No.  That was King Obama.  Trump by contrast has been punctilious in wiping out regulations that tended to circumvent Congress.  Trump is in fact very respectful of Congress.

      Next we hear that Trump is good at keeping confidential the substance of sensitive negotiations?  That is bad?

      The next big laugh is that "Trump abrogated the Iran nuclear deal despite its unanimous support by the UN Security Council".  The Security Council?  How relevant is that?  What about Congress?  Congress did not ratify the so-called treaty so once again Trump is siding with Congress.

      The next bit of Sachs deception is an outright lie:  "Trump used executive authority without Congressional mandate to impose a travel ban on several Muslim-majority states".  Congress HAD given Presidents that power years ago, a power that Obama used among others.

      OK.  One last bit of nonsense and I am done.  "Trump changed the status quo regarding Jerusalem against the will of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly."  Once again Sachs quotes the United Nations instead of Congress. Trump was in fact simply obeying a law passed by Congress.  Once again Trump went along with Congress rather than defying it.  Sachs is talking a quite  amazing heap of manure. It just keeps pouring out.  He has got the truth exactly backwards. There is no truth in him. (John 8:44)

      The United States was born in a revolt against the tyranny of King George III. The Constitution was designed to prevent tyranny through a system of checks and balances, but in President Trump's America, those safeguards are failing.

      Donald Trump holds the grandiose belief that only he should rule America. Unchecked by cowed or complicit Republicans in Congress, Trump invokes executive authority to alter policies and practices long established by law and treaty.

      Days after his summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, no one knows what the two autocrats agreed to, or even talked about -- not the President's top aides, nor the Pentagon, nor security establishment or Congress, never mind the rest of us. And in the midst of the ensuing uproar, Trump has invited Putin to Washington, without telling his top intelligence official and no doubt most other key aides and officials.

      The list of one-man actions grows rapidly. Trump is single-handedly imposing hundreds of billions of dollars of tariffs -- that is, taxes -- on imported goods from key US allies and China, without any explicit or implicit Congressional backing.

      Trump abrogated the Iran nuclear deal despite its unanimous support by the UN Security Council. Trump is in the process of imposing new and severe sanctions against Iran, including the cutoff of all of Iran's oil exports, against the international agreement with Iran and with no vote of Congress, presumably to try to topple the Iranian regime.

      Not surprisingly, and perhaps as intended, Trump's drumbeat of belligerency triggered an ominous warning from Iran, and now an escalation from Trump, casting the increasingly ominous confrontation with Iran as yet another one-man Trump show.

      Trump used executive authority without Congressional mandate to impose a travel ban on several Muslim-majority states; to announce the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement despite treaty-bound US obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and to change the status quo regarding Jerusalem against the will of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly. Trump extended the stay of US troops in Syria without oversight or approval by Congress.



      Another win!  Trump trumps the EU

      President Trump struck a trade deal Wednesday with the European Union, reaping significant concessions as top E.U. officials moved to avoid an escalating tariff war with the U.S., according to early reports.

      The deal involved the E.U. importing more U.S. soybeans, lowering industrial tariffs and working on an agreement to import more liquified natural gas (LNG) from America, according to a Dow Jones report.

      The deal followed a high-stakes meeting between Mr. Trump and E.U. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

      The two leaders faced off over escalating dispute over tariffs and trade barriers that block U.S. goods. The big dispute is over cars, with Mr. Trump threatening massive tariffs on if for the E.U. didn’t lower high tariffs on cars.

      Expectations of the announced deal, with reporters summoned to the Rose Garden for an announcement, sent the stock market soaring. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed more than 170 points after being down about 50 points early in the afternoon.



      Ignore Media’s Trump Hysteria, Look at ‘Remarkable’ Things He’s Actually Done

      With the intensity with which those on the left despise President Donald Trump and his policies, and the constant barrage of negative news coverage about the president since he took office, you would think the country is on the verge of chaos.

      If that were the case, can somebody explain why the stock market has surged roughly 41 percent from the night Trump won the presidential election to today?

      After all, anyone with even a casual knowledge of the markets knows they are extremely sensitive to signs of uncertainty and turmoil. If we hear all of this noise from the media and Democrats about how the country is divided, facing an uncertain future and every other doomsday prediction, why isn’t Wall Street paying attention?

      Because Wall Street looks at things in a different light than most individuals. Money is not a Republican or Democratic asset. Who the president is doesn’t trigger unrealistic emotions — either for or against.

      Kevin O’Leary, noted investor and one of the stars of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” says when you cut through all of the noise surrounding Trump’s presidency, he’s doing some “remarkable” things to help businesses, specifically the cutting of regulations.

      “I would say on a policy basis, I’m going to have to give it an 8 1/2 out of 10 so far,” O’Leary told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton of the Trump administration’s performance to date.

      “The reduction of regulations has been remarkable in how it has accelerated small business,” he said. “These things are quietly being changed, and I really — I credit the administration for doing this. They’re making it easier to run a small business in pretty well every state I’m involved in. So that’s working.”

      In an Op-Ed O’Leary penned for The Hill.com, he heaped more praise on the administration and said the markets are very confident in the president’s economic plans.

      Part of that confidence, O’Leary said, is based on looking at the facts of what Trump is doing in terms of fundamental business policies, not the emotions social issues generate.

      “Trump is like no president before him: not good, not bad, but different,” O’Leary wrote. “Want to manage through the turmoil? Here is a better strategy. Ignore the noise and watch the policy.”

      O’Leary credits Trump with putting in place competent economic managers such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Director Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. O’Leary says deregulation and tax reforms are already a done deal, and trade is the next item on the agenda.

      “Their message is clear: They are going to keep ratcheting up tariffs until the eurozone and China come to the table,” O’Leary said. “They care about the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asian trade protocol, too, but these have been pushed to the back burner while they focus on the big dogs, China and Europe.”

      The president is receiving steady criticism for his tough stances on trade, but if his policies were really that bad, the markets would reflect that, O’Leary said.

      “So why has the market not corrected, and why have many stocks continued to hit all-time historic highs?” he asked. “Because the potential to equalize tariffs has such tremendous economic upside for the U.S. economy, investors are willing to put up with pain even if the chance of success is only 50 percent or less.”

      And the markets are willing to put up with a lot of pain if the payoff is worth it, O’Leary said.

      “The markets know this is not going to happen overnight, but the upside is so enticing that it is willing to wait,” he said.

      O’Leary said that rather than judge a president or other politicians based on whether they have an “R” or “D” after their name, those in the business world know it’s best to look at the steak, and not the sizzle.

      “My best advice in these extraordinary times? Tune out the circus and focus on the policy that actually gets implemented,” O’Leary said.

      It’s hard for critics of the president to tune out the circus when it seems to have taken up permanent residence in their heads. But you can bet there are some hardcore liberals who are embarrassed to admit just how nice their 401k statements have looked since Trump took office.



      Liberal war on work

      Once upon a time, work for welfare was a pretty accepted notion. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed a strict workfare bill that was so popular, it helped him get re-elected. A Brookings Institute study by welfare scholar Ron Haskins proved those reforms moved more than half of those on welfare (mostly young single moms) into the workforce, and millions eventually gained economic self-sufficiency.

      If ever there were a public policy triumph, this was it.

      During Barack Obama’s first term, those reforms were pretty much eviscerated. The recession was so deep the poverty lobby argued that there were no jobs for the welfare recipients to fill. Moreover, enrollment in the non-work requirement welfare programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid, disability and housing assistance, exploded.

      Even as the unemployment rate fell, food stamps, Medicaid and disability enrollment remained at near-record highs. Is it a coincidence that during the Obama presidency, as welfare ballooned, workforce participation rates for those in the prime working ages fell dramatically?

      The panoply of more than 20 welfare programs has become a substitute, not a supplement, for work. A Cato Institute studies showed that the full package of federal and state welfare benefits could deliver a family with more than $30,000 of benefits — tax and work-free. Why work?

      Earlier this year, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration tried to add a fairly modest work provision for able-bodied adults in the food stamps financing bill. Democrats en masse voted against the bill to stop workfare. This was more sad evidence that the “new Democrats” of the 1990s have vanished from the landscape.

      Some Democrats have equated workfare to a form of “slavery.” By the way, the hard left made these same kind of over-the-top accusations in the mid-1990s about the Clinton work requirements, predicting “blood in the streets” if the bill passed. There was no blood in the streets.

      The latest chapter in this story comes in the form of a new study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report which finds that only about one in five able-bodied recipients of food stamps and Medicaid work full time. This is scandalous given that today jobs are plentiful and in most states employers are begging for workers.

      “These low employment rates of non-disabled working-age recipients” the CEA report concludes, “suggest that legislative changes requiring them to work and supporting their transition into the laborforce for Food Stamps and Medicaid would have positive effects on work participation and self-sufficiency.”

      Liberals have denounced the CEA report by regurgitating the same discredited arguments used in 1996 that millions of Americans will lose their benefits and poverty rates will soar. Jared Bernstein, a former Obama economist, wrote that the proposal shows that Republicans care more about rich donors than poor people. The Daily Kos headline shouted that Republicans have replaced the War on Poverty with a “war on poor people.”

      The left says that pretty much everyone on welfare who can be working is working. Raise your hand if you believe this. Incidentally, the work requirement for food stamps that Republicans are pushing would only apply to about one-in-five on welfare. My view is that just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t contribute. This is like saying a girl can’t throw a football. Nearly every town in America needs Uber drivers and I’ve often been picked up by “disabled” drivers.

      What I don’t get is why the left is so knee-jerk opposed to work. The CEA report makes a very valid point that there are “pecuniary and non-pecuniary gains” when people get off welfare and into work. There is dignity and pride in a job well done and earning a paycheck.

      Not so in the moral and financial dead end of a welfare check. The left’s latest idea to end poverty is to give every American a guaranteed family income. Mr. Trump wants to give everyone a job. The Democrats want to give the poor a fish. Mr. Trump wants to teach people to fish so they can eat for a lifetime. I suspect the American public is solidly behind Mr. Trump in this public policy fight and Republicans would be wise to double down on work requirements to convert welfare into a hand up, not a hand-out.



      CA: Rearmed Pillage People Ride Again

       Back in 1990, Gilbert Hyatt invented the first single-chip microprocessor, which earned him a lot of money, so he moved to Nevada, which has no state income tax. California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB) claimed Hyatt lied about his residency, and that he owed millions in state income taxes.

      Despite a 2008 ruling in his favor by a Nevada court, FTB snoops kept after the inventor. By the time his case arrived at California’s Board of Equalization last August, the FTB was claiming that interest had run up Hyatt’s tab to $55 million. Trouble was, a 3-2 vote by California’s Board of Equalization determined that Gilbert Hyatt was indeed a Nevada resident when state tax collectors said he lied about his residency.

      So the BOE waived $5.7 million in fraud penalties and $5.7 million in taxes from 1992, That left Gilbert Hyatt with a 1991 tax bill of $1.9 million, including interest, a far cry from $55 million. California’s pillage people didn’t like it and are now deploying in new uniforms.

      Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature gutted the BOE and empowered the Office of Tax Appeals, a new state agency. As Dan Walters of CALmatters reports, “the FTB is now trying to persuade the new agency to reopen the residency case.” So Hyatt, who turns 81 this year, may be in store for more harassment on top of the many years he already endured. And he may not be the only target. As Walters also notes, in June the U.S. Supreme Court “granted the FTB’s petition to decide whether Hyatt’s successful harassment case in Nevada courts is valid.”

      New federal tax law limits the deductibility of California’s state income tax, highest in the nation. Many will surely flee to low-tax states and Nevada’s ruling in favor of Hyatt shows they will be welcome. That displeases California’s rearmed pillage people, not exactly a gang of good losers. How this all shakes out for the tax refugees and Mr. Hyatt is uncertain, but for taxpayers some realities are clear.

      Creating an innovative product people want to buy can earn an inventor lots of money. Those who want to keep most of the money they earn are not displaying greed. Greed is what motivates politicians to punish the productive with the nation’s highest taxes. Greed is what motivates state agencies to waste millions of dollars pursuing revenues to which they are not entitled. As California’s militant Franchise Tax Board and Office of Tax Appeals confirm, government greed is truly fathomless.



      For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, July 26, 2018

      Trump runs North Korea playbook in feud with Iran

      The interpretation of Trump's warning to Iran below is pretty right but it misses out another element of the equation. Trump is indeed trying to terrorize Iran verbally, just as he initially did with the Norks but that is only half of his strategy.  With the Norks, Trump piled on the pressure by being nice to President Xi and thus getting China to pressure the Norks.  China seems to have cut off most of North Korea's oil supply, for instance.  So Mr Kim HAD to cave.

      And what has Trump just done before heavying Iran? Made nice with President Putin.  So he has confidence that Putin won't come to the rescue of Iran.  Russia has in the past given some assistance to Iran: Their nuclear reactor, for instance.  So Trump's strategy is as good as anything in
      Vom Kriege by Clausewitz. He has both launched a frontal attack on Iran and cut off their retreat.

      It's possible that the whole Helsinki show was in order to clear the decks: To ensure that Putin would stay neutral in any conflict with Iran. With Obama's nuclear deal with Iran now off the table, Trump had to do something to "solve" Iran and this may be his opening move

      The White House blamed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday for provoking warlike threats from President Trump, as the administration sought to step up economic and political pressure on Iran in a campaign similar to the strategy that brought North Korea to the nuclear bargaining table.

      Gearing up to implement tough economic sanctions on an Iranian economy that is already faltering, Mr. Trump and his top advisers also have made it clear to Iran’s leaders in the past two days that the U.S. will no longer sit back quietly in the face of Tehran’s typical “death to America” rhetoric and other threats.

      In a tweet shortly before midnight Sunday, Mr. Trump issued an all-caps warning directly to Mr. Rouhani: “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

      It was reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s “fire and fury” warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last summer.

      Mr. Trump fired this online shot across the bow after the Iranian leader declared in Tehran, “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

      Liberals accused Mr. Trump of attempting to pivot away from negative media coverage of his summit last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin by threatening war against another longtime U.S. adversary in the Middle East.

      “President Trump’s belligerent tweet is another alarming warning sign that he’s blundering toward war with Iran,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat and co-author of a 2015 law that gave Congress the right to review the Iranian nuclear deal before congressional sanctions could be lifted. “The prospect of President Trump starting a catastrophic war should concern us all, and we must be vigilant in stopping it.”

      White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump has been tougher on Iran than President Obama since the beginning of his presidency and that his latest comments were consistent with his approach to Tehran, which included pulling out of the nuclear deal last spring.

      “The president’s responding to Iran, and he’s not going to allow them to continue to make threats against America,” Mrs. Sanders said. “If anybody is inciting anything, look no further than to Iran.”

      Asked by reporters Monday afternoon whether he had any concerns about provoking tensions with Iran, Mr. Trump replied, “None at all.”

      Mr. Rouhani scoffed at Mr. Trump’s threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway. Washington later eased its stance, saying it might grant sanction waivers to some allies.

      In reaction to Iran’s threats, the U.S. military has renewed its pledge to secure free flow of oil from the strait. However, at least as of last week, the Pentagon said those Iranian threats had not led the U.S. military to reposition or add to forces in the Middle East.

      “We haven’t adjusted our force posture in response to any of those statements. And I don’t think that’s warranted. I wouldn’t recommend that,” John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, told a security forum in Colorado on Friday.

      James Jay Carafano, a national security specialist at The Heritage Foundation, said the president was expressing himself to Tehran “in a uniquely Trumpian manner.”

      “No one should doubt the U.S. resolve to protect its interests,” Mr. Carafano said. “The president was not afraid to use force in Syria. Clearly, he would do so here, but only if provoked on the ground — he is not going to be cowed or impressed by threats from Tehran. On the other hand, he is not going to be reckless in the use of force, but I imagine if the Iranians thought about trying something, the tweet was a reminder they won’t get away with it.”

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is bitterly opposed to Iran, praised Mr. Trump’s “strong stance.” Germany said threats of war were “never helpful.”

      With popular discontent over Iran’s faltering economy and sliding currency, and the prospect of tough new U.S. sanctions, Iran’s leaders have called for unity.

      The Iranian rial plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar on the unofficial market on Monday amid fears of military confrontation between Iran and the United States. The dollar was being offered for as much as 92,000 rials, compared with about 75,000 last week.

      While Washington prepares to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the nuclear deal, Iran’s faction-ridden religious and political elites have closed ranks against Mr. Trump’s hawkish approach.

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration will never stop calling out Iran for its human rights abuses, religious persecution and fomenting of terrorism.

      “Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the regime’s authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses,” Mr. Pompeo said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California. “And the United States under President Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you.”



      The Greatest Hysteria in American History

      You and I are living through the greatest mass hysteria in American history. For many Americans, the McCarthy era held that dubious distinction, but what is happening now is incomparably worse.

      For one thing, any hysteria that existed then was directed against the greatest evil in the world at the time: communism. Then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee notwithstanding, there really were Americans in important positions who supported communist regimes enslaving their populations and committing mass murder. McCarthy was on to something.

      In contrast, the country is choking on hysteria over the extremely unlikely possibility — for which there is still no evidence — that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, and the absurdity that President Trump works for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

      For another, the mainstream media did not support McCarthy. Most in the media were highly critical of McCarthy. Today, the mainstream media are not the voices of caution. They are the creators of the hysteria. There have been conspiracy theories throughout American history (e.g. Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t kill President John F. Kennedy alone; the moon landing never happened). But this is the first time the media have created and promoted a conspiracy. Not surprisingly, they have dropped any pretense of objective reporting in the process.

      And while some Americans were unfairly labeled communists during the McCarthy era, countless Democratic politicians and leaders in news and entertainment have called members of the Trump administration and the tens of millions of Americans who support the president fascists, white supremacists, haters, xenophobes, and even Nazis.

      MSNBC contributor Jill Wine-Banks said of the Trump-Putin Helsinki press conference: “It’s just as serious to me as the Cuban Missile Crisis in terms of an attack, or the 9/11 attack. … [Trump’s] performance today will live in infamy as much as the Pearl Harbor attack or Kristallnacht.”

      Former communist, Obama operative, and CIA Director John Brennan tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

      The constant invoking of the Holocaust, the Nazis, and now Kristallnacht (the unofficial beginning of the Holocaust, a night in 1938 when German Jews were beaten to death, synagogues were burned, and Jewish shops were destroyed) only minimizes the evils of Nazism and the Holocaust. A young American who, having gone to a typical university, probably knows nothing about the Nazis and the Holocaust will now think Nazism and the Holocaust were 20th-century expressions of Trump and American conservatism.

      All this hysteria is built on next to nothing. At its core, it is an attempt to undo the 2016 election. The mainstream media refuse to accept that Hillary Clinton lost. They said she would win — handily. They predicted a landslide. How could they have possibly gotten it so wrong? Their answer is they didn’t; Trump and Putin stole it.

      If truth mattered to the media, their ongoing narrative would be: “Democrats and the Left still do not accept Trump victory.”

      If truth mattered to the media, every American would know Trump has been harder on Russia than former President Barack Obama was. Every American would be reminded that Obama reassured Putin’s right-hand man, then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, that he wouldn’t be too tough on Russia. Thinking his mic was off, he whispered into Medvedev’s ear: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

      If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that Obama sent Army meals to Ukraine and Trump has sent anti-tank missiles and other arms to repel the Russians.

      If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that Obama watched Syria burn and Russia come to dominate that country, while Trump has bombed Syrian military installations, including one where Russians were killed.

      If truth mattered to the media, every American would be reminded that it is Trump who has weakened Russia’s ally Iran, while Obama immeasurably strengthened it.

      Instead the media scream “treason,” “impeachment,” and the like 24/7; Hollywood stars curse the president; others curse his daughter or the first lady (one of the most regal in American history) and show President Trump in various death poses. Meanwhile, leftist mobs shout at administration officials and Republican members of Congress while they eat in restaurants, shop in stores, and sleep in their homes.

      If you vote Democrat this November, you are voting for hysteria, lies, socialism, and even the cheapening of the Holocaust.

      But more than anything, a vote for Democrats in November is a vote for hysteria — the greatest and darkest in American history.



      Trump offers help to farmers hit by escalating China trade war

      This is a big signal to say that Trump is sticking to his guns in getting tariffs against American goods removed or reduced

      As President Donald Trump embarks on a multistate tour through parts of the country hit heavily by trade battles, his administration said Tuesday it will direct $12 billion to farmers whose harvests have been hurt by tariffs.

      But the idea faced immediate criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

      Responding to farm groups and the Republican discontent, administration officials said they have been working since April on a short-term plan to shore up slipping prices for soybeans, pork and other crops hit with retaliatory tariffs from China.

      Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described the programs as "a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in.”

      But the idea drew sharp and immediate criticism from some Republicans on Capitol Hill, who described it as "welfare" for one sector of the economy affected by the tit-for-tat raising of trade barriers that has been ushered in by Trump.

      "This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. "The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war."

      Perdue described the measures, which do not require congressional approval, as a one-time, short-term effort to give Trump more leverage to negotiate an end to trade disputes with China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and others.

      The USDA-led programs, Perdue said, would include direct payments to farmers, government purchase of crops to be distributed to food banks and attempts to build new export markets to replace those imposing retaliatory tariffs.

      Producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs would benefit from the direct payments, USDA officials said. Fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk could be purchased for distribution to food-aid programs.

      The plan to stabilize farmers, some of whom have watched prices tumble amid the trade disputes, is a recognition that Trump’s tariffs are having a short-term impact on the agriculture sector heading into the midterm elections and also that there is no clear end in sight to escalating barriers.

      Trump spoke at a VFW convention and attended a fundraiser in Missouri on Tuesday, and he is set to visit Iowa and Illinois later this week.

      In a tweet before leaving the White House on Tuesday, the president said that "Tariffs are the greatest!" and reiterated his argument that current trade policy disadvantages U.S. farmers and manufacturers. Speaking to veterans in Kansas City, Missouri, the president urged farmers to "just be a little patient."

      "The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary," Trump said of the trade disputes.

      Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the USDA programs would give Trump more leverage to negotiate with other countries.

      Though he declined to say whether he supports the policy, Hoeven predicted it would make "darn clear to the people we’re negotiating with that we intend to get better trade deals."

      Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who chairs the Agriculture Committee, was also noncommittal about the measures.

      “Well I think it’s obvious that in farm country there’s a lot of concern," Roberts said. "Those are the folks who brought the president home, and obviously if you’re adding up that kind of situation, why it would impact that.”

      Other Republicans were more critical.



      Mexican President Delivers Incredible Letter to Trump, Promises a ‘New Stage’ Leftists Will Hate

      Those on the left who have been furious with President Donald Trump’s stance on illegal immigration and border security now have another country’s leader to scorn.

      And it’s not one you would expect. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, president-elect of Mexico, released a seven-page letter that he sent to Trump earlier this month in which he outlined how he hopes the two countries can work together to improve security at their border and discourage migration from Mexico.

      “There will be many changes,” he promised in the letter. “And in this new atmosphere of progress with well-being, I’m sure we can reach agreements to confront together the migration phenomenon as well as the problem of border insecurity.”

      Marcelo Ebrard, the president-elect’s proposed foreign minister, read a copy of the letter at a news conference with Lopez Obrador Sunday that said the incoming administration’s aim is to “start a new chapter in the relationship between Mexico and the United States, based on mutual respect.”

      Lopez Obrador takes office Dec. 1. He’s already spoken by phone with Trump and met with some U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to begin opening lines of communication between the U.S. and his administration.



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