Tuesday, February 19, 2019



Gross hypocrisy and Leftist bias in Wikipedia: Altemeyer

Revised and updated

I put up some information on the Wikipedia page for Bob Altemeyer.  Altemeyer is a particularly witless Leftist psychologist who made large and derogatory claims  about conservatives that he later had to retract.  But there was nothing on his Wikipedia page about that retraction.  So I put up a brief account of that.  What I put up was wholly scholarly and fully referenced -- just what Wikipedia says it wants.  But criticism of Leftists is not allowed of course, so my contribution was deleted after only a few days.

I imagine that they will find some quibble to justify their deletion of my entry but I am pretty sure that the outcome would have been different had I praised brainless Bob. Anyway, after a couple of run-ins with them, I have no confidence in being able to navigate my way onto Wikipedia again -- so I am putting up below what I originally submitted to Wikipedia. Altemeyer is an unusual name so a Google search on that name should still find my comments, whether the Wikipedians like it or not:

The centerpiece of Altemeyer's research is a questionnaire he designed called the Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale. If you get a high score on it you are allegedly revealed as a Right-Wing Authoritarian. A major problem with the RWA scale is revealed, however, when we find that it identifies the Communists of the old Soviet Union as right-wing.  But if they are right-wing who is left wing? 

His confusion arises from his apparent  definition of conservatism as "opposed to change".  That definition is however politically naive.  Conservatives from Burke onward have never been opposed to change as such but rather opposed to changes desired and enacted by Leftists.  Is Donald Trump opposed to change? The current Left/Right polarity is between conservatives who want less government control and Leftists who want more of that.  Altemeyer seems to be unaware of that so his work has no current political relevance.

In detail: The decline and fall of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe enabled use of his RWA ("Right Wing Authoritarianism") scale there. Studies in the East such as those by Altemeyer & Kamenshikov (1991), McFarland, Ageyev and Abalakina-Paap (1992) and Hamilton, Sanders & McKearney (1995) showed that high RWA scores were associated with support for Communism!! So an alleged "Rightist" scale went from being Rightist to being a predictor of Leftism! If you took it at face-value, it showed Communists were Rightists!

After that, Altemeyer more or less gave up his original claim and engaged in a bit of historical revisionism. He said (Altemeyer, 1996, p. 218) that when he "began talking about right-wing authoritarianism, I was (brazenly) inventing a new sense, a social psychological sense that denotes submission to the perceived established authorities in one's life". It is true that he did originally define what he was measuring in something like that way (in detail, he defined it as a combination of three elements: submissiveness to established authority, adherence to social conventions and general aggressiveness) but what was new, unusual or "brazen" about such a conceptualization defies imagination. The concept of submission to established authority was, for instance, part of the old Adorno et al (1950) work. What WAS brazen was Altemeyer's claim that what he was measuring was characteristic of the political Right. But it is precisely the "Right-wing" claim that he now seems to have dropped and the RWA scale is now said to measure simply submission to authority. See:

    Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.

    Altemeyer, R. (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Altemeyer, R. & Kamenshikov, A. (1991) Impressions of American and Soviet behaviour: RWA changes in a mirror. South African J. Psychology 21, 255-260.

    Hamilton, V. L., Sanders, J., & McKearney, S. J. (1995). Orientations toward authority in an authoritarian state: Moscow in 1990. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 356-365

    McFarland, S. G., Ageyev, V. S., & Abalakina-Paap, M. A. (1992). Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 1004-1010

MORE

What I said above was designed to be acceptable encyclopedic writing but I can go further than that.  I can offer a more extended critique of Altemeyer's work.  And continued critique would seem to be needed.  The RWA scale is still widely used in psychological research and generally seems to be used without any awareness of the invalidity of the instrument.  It is still commonly paraded as a measure of something right-wing, which it clearly is not.  So I think a more extended consideration of what it measures is called-for.

In the beginning

In one sense, what it measures is perfectly clear;  It measures the old 1950 Adorno  conception of authoritarianism -- in which Marxist theoretician Theodor  Adorno and his friends claimed to have discovered a "new anthropological type": The authoritarian.  Authoritarians were conservative, racist, both dominant and submissive, rigid in their thinking, "intolerant of ambiguity",  and a product of bad relationships with their father. The authoritarian was just a maladjusted psychological mess generally. Adorno did not claim that all conservatives were authoritarian but it became generally assumed that they were. Leftists just loved the idea.

It was clear early on -- even to Altemeyer -- that the F scale which the Adorno team devised to measure their conception of authoritarianism was fatally flawed.  But that did not dent the great appeal that the Adorno theory had for Leftists.  And Altemeyer was one who drank the Kool-Aid.  He swallowed the Adorno theory hook, line and sinker.  His project was to devise a better measure of the concept rather than to question the concept.  The RWA scale was his replacement for the old F scale

But it was very much like the F scale.  Its items consisted of aggressively worded versions of popular sayings from the past.  Pflaum (1964) had shown that you could create a parallel form of the F scale by gathering together sayings that had been popular during the pre-war "Progressive" era.  Progressive ideas dominated American life throughout the first half of the 20th century so ideas that were popular at that time were also progressive or at least compatible with progressivism.

The Progressive era

But what were progressive ideas?  The ideas do not sound progressive now.  The great hero of the progressive era was Teddy Roosevelt.  He even founded his own "progressive" party (often referred to as the "Bull Moose" party).

So what did TR believe in? He believed in battleships (he built lots of them) and that war is a purifying force for a nation.  He had many ideas that sound "Right wing" these days, largely because modern-day progressives tend to reject them. See here and here for a fuller account of the American "Progressive" era.

And Adorno, Pflaum and Altemeyer all created collections of the old Progressive ideas and proudly presented them as being both authoritarian and "Right-wing".  That conservatives had been in opposition throughout almost the whole of the Progressive era was ignored.  The wars of conquest (Cuba, the Philippines etc) waged under the aegis of TR were met with conservative isolationism.  And the big government ideas of FDR were solidly opposed by conservatives of the day.

After WWII

So in the immediate post-war era we had the strange spectacle of pre-war Leftist ideas being presented as conservative. And most Leftists bit the bullet.  Pre-war Progressive ideas had been shared by another prominent socialist of the pre-war period, Adolf Hitler, so it was urgent to distance post-war Leftists from his ideas.  And what better way to do that than to try to pin such ideas onto conservatives?  In 1950 all Leftists would have been be aware that Hitlers ideas had also largely been their own until recently  but Leftists can pivot on a dime when it suits them so Leftist psychologists did just that.

So it is true that the RWA scale statements do reflect authoritarianism -- but it is the authoritarianism of the pre-war Left.  Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian.  In Mr Obama's famous words, Leftists aim to "fundamentally transform" their society.  And it was not the geography or topography of America that  Obama was talking about.  It was the American people.  He wanted to make them do things that they would not normally do (like pay more in taxes) and to stop them from doing things that they would normally do (like mock homosexuals).  Whether or not you agree with the desirability of his program, the point is that it was inescapably authoritarian.  It aimed to dictate behavior.  Conservatives do have some authoritarian impulses at times (restricting abortion etc) but Leftism is authoritarian root and branch.  Telling other people what to do and making them do it is the whole of their program.

Looking inside the black box

So what do conservatives do when confronted with RWA statements?  Because of the old fashioned content of the items they may agree with some of them.  Conservatives tend to have some respect for things of the past.  But that agreement will not be politically relevant. That they can see something in the old ideas will not tell you anything about their likely choices on the current political scene. The old ideas are not at issue so will not influence current choices.

Leftists, on the other hand, will tend to reject most of the statements as something they now disagree with -- but  will rightly see them as not of current political relevance now so will not relate them to current political choices. Their attitude to the old items will not influence their currtent choices.  So neither their agreement nor disagreement with the statements will predict their current political choices. And it doesn't.  The scale is an exercise in political irrelevance.

So from both sides of politics you will have agreement with the statements that is not of current relevance -- and that shows in the fact that conservatives and Leftists are not demarcated by agreement with the scale items.  It  explains why big scorers on the RWA scale are just as likely to be on the Left as on the Right.  It is just not a scale of current political relevance.   Some of the items may touch on what are still current issues but the aggressive way they are expressed will not be supported by either conservatives or Leftists -- e.g. items supporting oppression of homosexuals would be generally rejected by both sides.

So the RWA scale measures an old-fashioned form of LEFTISM but not anything of current political relevance. Which is why the scale does not correlate with current political preferences in (for example) American Presidential elections.  A lot of high scorers would have voted for Mr. Obama.

And it also explains why high RWA scorers in Russia today tend to be members or former members of the Communist party.  In Russia today, Communism IS old-fashioned Leftism

Reference:

Pflaum, J. (1964) Development and evaluation of equivalent forms of the F scale. "Psychol. Reports" 15, 663-669. 

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The left should focus on lifting poor people up, not tearing rich people down

But they get their buzz out of hating the rich

Today’s progressives love touting themselves as champions of the working class. And to them, there’s no better way of doing so than through their anti-rich rhetoric.

Take the response to former Starbucks CEO and billionaire Howard Schultz announcing he was considering running for US president in 2020.

There are many criticisms to be made of Schultz’s pitch. He has tried to present himself as a relatable ‘self-made’ man. But it’s likely most Americans would relate more to the barista behind a Starbucks counter than the self-described ‘rags to riches’ former CEO of the company.

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have also suggested that Schultz running as a centrist independent would actually help Trump.

But progressive lawmakers, some of whom are millionaires themselves, have chosen to hit out at Schultz’s personal wealth.

Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren attacked the billionaire for thinking he could ‘buy the presidency’. She is worth $4.7million, making her the 69th wealthiest person in Congress according to Roll Call.

However you feel about Schultz’s potential candidacy, his wealth is beside the point. But this line of attack reveals that many progressives have become myopically obsessed with the super wealthy recently.

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently agreed to the notion that a system allowing billionaires to exist is ‘immoral’. This comes shortly after her proposal to raise the marginal tax rate on incomes over $10million to between 60 and 70 per cent.

Warren has been pushing similar ideas. She wants to create an annual tax on the ultra-wealthy, with a two per cent tax on those making $50million or more and up to three per cent on billionaires.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is also back in the game, introducing a bill that would tax estates of those who inherit more than $3.5million and reinstate the 77 per cent estate-tax rate on wealth over $1 billion.

These progressive superstars constantly talk up the corruption of the one per cent. But this only helps to hide the fact that most of the policies they are pushing for would actually hurt working Americans.

The popular idea of a Green New Deal, which aims to fight the growing threat of climate change by investing in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, would no doubt kill thousands of jobs in the fossil-fuel industry. Those blue-collar jobs, which are already scarce, often define the community they serve and would be gone forever if the plan was ever implemented.

The ones pushing for these radical climate-change policies often deflect the concerns over lost jobs with claims that cleaner, more environmentally friendly jobs would be right there waiting for workers. Little do they see how dispensable that makes many of the affected blue-collar workers feel.

The idea of tuition-free college is another favourite proposal of progressives.

They claim it would give everyone an equal opportunity to get a university education. But they fail to recognise other pathways to success, particularly in the skilled trades, which are often more economically beneficial in the long run.

Progressive politicians’ focus on free college only really makes sense when you consider that their supporters are more likely to be found on a university campus than in a manufacturing plant.

The estimated cost of Sanders’ original free-college plan was about $47 billion a year, to be paid for by a speculation tax, also known as a ‘Robin Hood tax’, which would place a levy on every stock, bond or derivative sold in the US.

But, amid the push to tax the rich to fund preposterous entitlement programmes, you barely hear any ideas from progressives like childcare tax credits or paid sick leave. Nor do you see many progressives fighting for workers to be able to collectively bargain.

They are pushing policies that would bring down the rich instead of policies that would improve life for working-class Americans.

In the end, it is only elite progressives who have this obsessive wealth complex. Struggling Americans aren’t sitting around every day thinking about how much they despise the one per cent. They’re too busy trying to pay bills, pay back loans, and put food on the table.

SOURCE 

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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)

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Monday, February 18, 2019



The authoritarian Left is rampant

They are on the attack all over America

The Secular Coalition for Arizona has been triggered.

The offense is so great that the group has launched a national media campaign to parrot the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “hate group” smear of Alliance Defending Freedom. They want to censor and blacklist ADF and people like you who share the belief that free speech and religious freedom must be protected.

What set them off? An Arizona state license plate that simply says, “In God We Trust.”

No, this is not a joke. The State of Arizona offers the opportunity for organizations to create license plates that express their viewpoints and then offer those specialty license plates for purchase through the DMV. A portion of those private funds are donated to the organization that designed the plate, and the rest goes to the state.

Through this program, Alliance Defending Freedom created a license plate that affirms the First Amendment and reads “In God We Trust.” This license plate is listed among more than 60 other plate designs offered for purchase.
 
No one is required to purchase a specialty license plate, and no tax dollars go to the organizations that have created the specialty plates.

Arizona has every right to offer this opportunity, just as the Secular Coalition for Arizona has every right to create its own license plate featuring its own viewpoint if it wants to.

But that is not what the Secular Coalition for Arizona chose to do.

Activists have ramped up attacks on freedom of speech. They’re willing to use the power of the government to silence views they disagree with—to silence you. This must stop.

Should special interest groups like the SPLC get to decide if your views are acceptable?

The Secular Coalition for Arizona thinks so. They’ve worked with some state legislators to propose a bill that demands the immediate repeal of the “In God We Trust” license plate to stop ADF from receiving money from the purchases of that plate.

But a bill like that could have disastrous consequences for freedom of speech.

After all, have you ever seen a license plate that supports veterans or wounded warriors? What if a pacifist took offense? Should we be forced to silence every viewpoint that anyone in the world might be offended by?

Where would it end?

This is what happens when activists try to use the government to shut down and silence speech it disagrees with. And it’s happening across America.

New York City is censoring private conversations that therapists have with adult patients who come to them for help to address unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion over gender identity.

The American Humanist Association is trying to destroy a WWI veterans memorial in Maryland known as the Bladensburg Peace Cross simply because it is in the shape of a cross.

Non-profit adoption providers are being threatened and forced to stop helping place kids with a loving family for operating consistently with their faith-based missions.

Conservative commentators are being barred from speaking on public university campuses—and attacked and threatened when they do.

These are just a few examples of attempts to handcuff freedom of speech and silence people of faith. But we don’t have to stand idly by while our freedoms are stripped away.

We can defend our right to speak freely and consistently with our faith without fear of government punishment.

If the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Secular Coalition for Arizona disagree with us, that’s fine. They have the freedom to do so.

But trying to shut down our speech—or ban someone from being able to purchase a license plate—isn’t the answer. That’s not how free speech works in this country.

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for everyone. It’s not up to the government or activist groups to determine whose speech is acceptable.

But this is what the SPLC is known for. Time and again it targets and seeks to destroy any groups or individuals it disagrees with by labeling them “haters.”

And yet, the SPLC has been widely and resoundingly discredited by investigative journalists, charity networking organizations, and commentators because they are activist, partisan, and unreliable. It’s been sued many times for spreading falsehoods about various groups – most often religious and conservative groups. The SPLC even recently paid $3.375 million and issued a public apology to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit by Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, whom the SPLC falsely labeled an anti-Muslim extremist!

On the other hand, ADF is one of the nation’s most successful and respected advocates at the U.S. Supreme Court. With God’s blessing and your prayers and support, we’ve won nine cases at the high court since 2011.

Via email from ADF info@adflegal.org

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Kamala Harris Caught In Another Lie: Claims She Got High / Listened to Snoop and Tupac in College… 10 Yrs. Before They Launched Their Careers

She has a good chance of becoming the next Democrat Presidential candidate.  That brown skin is a real aphrodisiac to the Left.  So this matters

Democrat Kamala Harris told “The Breakfast Club” she used to get high and smoke joints.

But as Jerry Dunleavy noted, Kamala Harris was in college 10 years before Tupac and Snoop hit the scene. So… She’s lying.

Kamala graduated from college in the 80’s. Snoop & Tupac didn’t release their first albums til the 90’s. This is basic rap history.

SOURCE 

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Democrat foot-shooting

According to the Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll, President Donald Trump’s approval rating reached 52% this week. No doubt part of this high-water mark was engendered by his inspirational State of the Union Address. Yet just as likely, it’s because he represents a stark contrast to a Democrat Party engaged in an unprecedented race to the bottom of the socialist/Marxist barrel.

We begin with anti-Semitism. As far back as their 2012 national convention, Democrats heartily booed making Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Since then, their contemptible connections with rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan remain ongoing, including the latest revelation that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) wrote a column for the Final Call, an official publication of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Tlaib’s colleague, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), was forced by party leaders to issue an apology for the age-old anti-Semitic smear about Jewish influence and money affecting foreign policy. And in a first for Democrats, both women are supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Congratulations!

Abortion on demand is another topic where Democrats have finally clarified their position — in contemptible terms. In New York, legislators cheered a bill that eliminated most restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks, allows midwives and nurse practitioners to perform the procedure, and ends criminal charges for harming children in the womb. “I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow,” gushed Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo’s “bright light” shone brighter in Virginia, where State Delegate Kathy Tran (D) testified in favor of her own legislation permitting abortions “through the third trimester,” which “goes up to 40 weeks,” she declared. Unbelievably, Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam upped the ante. “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered,” he stated. “The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

A discussion about post-birth abortion? In the real world, that’s called murder. Among Democrats? A “woman’s right to choose.”

Even some Democrats knew Northam went too far. Thus, with a lot of help from other party loyalists, more familiarly known as the mainstream media, Northam became the face — make that the blackface — of a coordinated campaign designed to change the conversation from infanticide to racism.

Unfortunately for Democrats, their entire identity-politics agenda became the center of attention. It turned out Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he also donned blackface at a party in 1980, despite issuing a statement calling for Northam to step down, while Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was accused by two women of sexual assault and rape, respectively. Fairfax’s reaction to the assault allegation? “F—k that b—ch.”

These stalwarts are joined by Elizabeth Warren who, despite repeated denials that she used faux Native American bona fides to advance her career, wrote “American Indian” on her 1986 registration card for the Texas legal bar. Warren also implied there may be other equally “clarifying” documents in existence.

Racism? #MeToo demands to unquestionably believe the victim of sexual-assault allegations, irrespective of proof? Going as far back in the past as necessary to impugn someone’s reputation? Cultural appropriation? As of now, every one of these Democrats have made it clear they intend to reject their party’s “ethos of enlightenment” and persevere. The very same ethos their party and the media inflicted on Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Democrats need an identity-politics intervention,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board insists. “Having unleashed race, gender, sexual orientation and class as the defining issues of American politics, these furies are now consuming their authors. Where’s Barack Obama when Democrats need him?”

Barack Obama? The Cambridge police “acted stupidly” Obama? The “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon” Obama? The “slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ” Obama? The same Obama who attended Rev. Jeremiah “God damn America” Wright’s church for 20 years? How about the Obama who championed Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell, credited with pioneering “critical race theory,” which maintains America’s legal system is inherently biased against blacks and other minorities?

Barack Obama did as much as any president in the history of the nation to advance the odious idea that America is inherently flawed and requires “fundamental transformation.” And Democrats have not only embraced that agenda, they have doubled down on it.

And they’re still doing it. As part of the deal to avert a government shutdown, Democrats demanded and apparently received a total of 40,520 ICE detention beds, representing a 17% reduction from current levels, and far short of Trump’s request for 52,000. That ICE has released tens of thousands of convicted criminal aliens awaiting the outcome of their deportation proceedings — including murderers, those convicted of sexual and aggravated assault, kidnapping and drunk driving? According to former ICE Director Tom Homan, the agency is currently detaining 47,000 criminal aliens.

Are Americans ready for 6,480 more of them to hit the streets so Democrats and their spineless GOP collaborators can cut a deal to keep the government open? Will they tire of a Democrat Party that prioritizes the needs of illegal aliens over those of American citizens?

On Monday, 37-year-old Joseph Alcoff was bought to court to face charges that include aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. He was allegedly part of an antifa mob that attacked two Hispanic Marines last November. He was also an organizer for Smash Racism DC, a group that took to heart the “push back” and “get up in the face” intimidation tactics championed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Sen. Cory “Spartacus” Booker (D-NJ), respectively, when they massed outside Tucker Carlson’s home in an effort to intimidate the Fox News host.

Why bring up the trials and tribulations of an alleged thug? Because according to Fox News, Alcoff was “a well-connected, aspiring political player in Washington who may have even had a hand in key policy proposals” advanced by Democrats. All while he remained “an Antifa leader in Washington.”

Finally, we must address the terminally addled Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal. Aside from the economy-wrecking efforts and the jackboot level of government control it represents, two things stand out: Only a nation with a thoroughly compromised education system could produce legions of people ignorant enough to believe this could actually work; and nearly every Democrat 2020 presidential contender supports it — all its pernicious nonsense notwithstanding.

“Trump in 2020 might have controversially slurred his future Democratic rival as a socialist, radical late-term abortion advocate, open borders chauvinist, a Medicare destroyer who wished to make it free for everyone, or wacko environmentalist intent on banning gas and diesel engines,” writes Victor Davis Hanson. “Now he won’t have to smear anyone: the Democrats have largely done that to themselves.”

It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

SOURCE 

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Amazon Pulls NYC HQ2 — Cuomo Blames Ocasio-Cortez

A state already reeling from tax revenue loss misses out on at least 25,000 new jobs.

The speculation turned out to be authentic. On Thursday, Amazon officially reneged on its New York City headquarters. The rumor that it would do so first appeared last Friday in The Washington Post, which disclosed that “Amazon.com is reconsidering its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a new campus in New York City.” The Post elaborated, “The project … faces withering criticism from some elected officials and advocacy groups appalled at the prospect of giving giant subsidies to the world’s most valuable company, led by its richest man.” A man who, by the way, owns The Washington Post.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” Amazon announced yesterday. Why? “A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

One of those politicians is actually Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who crowed about having “defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, already battling a revenue shortfall in the state, isn’t happy. He complained, “A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community — which poll after poll showed overwhelmingly supported bringing Amazon to Long Island City — the state’s economic future and the best interests of the people of this state.” He didn’t name Ocasio-Cortez, but the Millennial heartthrob was clearly one of his prime targets.

The second headquarters was to be split between Queens, New York, and the DC suburb of Crystal City, Virginia — a determination that our Thomas Gallatin previously reported was cronyistic from the get-go. “In the end, the reasoning behind this decision is obvious: direct access to the levers of financial and political power in two high-profile leftist enclaves,” wrote Gallatin. “Instead of locating the new headquarters in the most business-friendly states and environments, Amazon chose leftist power centers knowing that the company will be able to seamlessly pass on any higher costs to consumers. And the tax benefits to Amazon work out to almost $50,000 per job created. Cronyism at its finest.”

In this regard, Amazon’s backtracking is good. It’s one thing if a neighborhood decides it doesn’t want a huge corporate HQ in its backyard, but Amazon had no other choice given the prevailing political headwinds.

According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, “We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” The truth is New York City should not have been a finalist, especially when superior suitors were fiercely vying to be selected. Amazon says, “We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time.” Regardless, it has an opportunity to make a better business decision than it did back in November.

As the Washington Examiner saliently puts it, “In the end, the termination of this deal is a win for everyone. The socialists get to crow about keeping their neighborhoods poor. New York’s taxpayers don’t have to pay Jeff Bezos exorbitant sums to do business in their state. And Amazon, having learned its lesson about dealing with socialists, might benefit as well if, instead of seeking special handouts, it seeks in the future to create jobs in low-tax states with right-to-work protections and a friendly-but-fair business climate for everyone.”

SOURCE 

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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)

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Sunday, February 17, 2019



A simple solution to solve legislative gridlock

Remove some of the powers that nationally unelected political party leaders now have

John Droz, Jr.

Which citizens voted to give Nancy Pelosi the power to shut down our government? None. And yet there she is, able to close down numerous government services, with just the power of her intransigence.

We need to look at a simplified legislative example to understand the problem and the solution. To properly grasp this situation, it’s important to understand that essentially all legislation originates from specialized legislative committees.

Let’s say that Republicans introduce a bill (H.R. 54321) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Let’s also say that Democrat Representative Jones decides that supporting 54321would be in the best interest of his constituents and the country as a whole.

The fly in the ointment here is that in this case the House Democrat Leader has decided that Democrats should oppose 54321. Now Representative Jones is in a bind.

If he chooses to vote for 54321, the House Democrat Leader could ensure that he suffers severe political penalties. (If Speaker Pelosi has enough votes anyway and Mr. Jones will be in a tough reelection fight next year, she may cut him some slack and let him “vote his conscience” – and her long-term political best interests.)

What potential penalties could Rep Jones suffer if he goes against the wishes of the Speaker? He could be stripped of any committee leadership positions he has, or lose his seniority on a committee. He could be bumped from a committee membership that he values. Any bills he introduces could go nowhere.

So his choice is: a) do what is in the best interest of his constituents and the country regarding 54321; or b) do what is in his own best political interests (and that of Ms. Pelosi). Unfortunately, the current system we have assures that “b” will almost always be the choice made.

In a nutshell, this is why there is gridlock – because legislators often vote in lockstep as a political party block, rather than what is in the best interest of their constituents and country!

The concern here is that not a single citizen voted for anyone to be the House Democrat Leader (or Republican Leader, as all of this applies to both parties, and in the Senate). As such, why does this nationally un-elected person have the power to control the destiny of our entire country?

The easy solution to fix this undemocratic and unreasonable situation is to remove some of the power these nationally unelected political party leaders have. Here are two simple examples that would have a profoundly beneficial impact:

1) remove their power to appoint legislators to committees, and

2) remove their power to appoint chairpersons to committees.

Once those unwarranted powers were removed, these party leaders would have a much smaller cudgel to browbeat their party members into lockstep submission. Instead, legislators would be much more inclined to vote for what was best for their constituents and the country. Democrat Representative Jones could support Republican bill 54321without fear of major political reprisals from his party leadership.

Isn’t that more like the way the legislature should work in a truly democratic republic?

The details of how committees would be assigned could be worked out to be fair and non-political. For example, the majority party would still have the majority of members on committees. Let’s say that there are nine Democrat committee positions on a certain House committee. Any Democrat representatives who are interested would submit their names – and the nine members would be determined by a lottery (NOT the whims of the House Democrat Leader).

To keep everyone from submitting his or her name to every committee, each representative would be limited to volunteering for a set number of committees (perhaps six). To award longer term members for their extended service, any representatives with more than two terms could have their names entered twice in the lottery for each committees they were interested in.

Once House or Senate committee members are chosen, it will be up to the majority committee members (NOT the party Leader) to elect a chairperson from their party group.

By the way, there would still be a House (and Senate) party Leader. Their jobs would be to be: a) a spokesperson regarding their party’s official position on various matters; b) an educator of their caucus members as to the pros and cons of any legislative matter; and c) a negotiator with the Executive Branch.

In addition to extracting their committee power, item “b” is a key difference, for it changes party leaders from being dictators to being educators. That would be a major improvement over the current system – and would unquestionably lead to less political gridlock.

That, in turn, would be an extraordinary improvement, helping to ensure that legislators act more responsibly — as well as in the interest of their constituents and the country.

After this major problem is resolved, some of the other powers of theses party leaders should also be examined and possibly changed: such as the power to keep bills from being voted on.

One final point is worth noting.

None of this was as important in the not-so-distant past – 75, 50 perhaps even 25 years ago. Back then, legislators and legislative sessions were not full-time, 365-days-a-year affairs. Legislators actually had real jobs during much of the year. They did not believe they weren’t doing their job if they weren’t enacting more laws – which didn’t as often mean writing broad, often ambiguous legislation, and then turning that legislation over to regulatory agency bureaucrats to interpret, implement and enforce.

They did not seek to control more and more aspects of our lives – culminating in legislation that would put federal bureaucrats in charge of our energy, economy, buildings, jobs and living standards.

And not very many years ago, our political parties were not controlled – or at least constantly pressured into submission and obedience – by noisy members of Congress and tax-exempt activist groups that are determined to radically, fundamentally and completely transform the United States into a country governed not by We the People but by a small cadre of legislators, regulators and judges.

But that is what we face today. That is why reforms like these are essential.

Via email from Paul Driessen pdriessen@cox.net

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Trump Signs Funding Bill, Declares Emergency to Secure Border

The bill falls far short of the border spending Trump demanded, so he will now carry out his threat

In a Rose Garden ceremony this morning, President Donald Trump signed an omnibus spending deal that includes $1.35 billion for the construction of a border barrier. He also said he’s signed the order declaring a national emergency to tap into as much as another $8 billion in funding for the border barrier. This announcement set off Democrats and some Republicans in voicing their objections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) warned, “A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well. So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.” Pelosi then pointed to one of the Democrats long-running hobby horses and said, “Let’s talk about … the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? … But a Democratic president can do that.” Except we have a little thing called the Second Amendment…

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voiced constitutional concerns over Trump’s decision, stating, “We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution. Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact tactic to impose the Green New Deal.” But Rubio did note that he would await further details of Trump’s emergency declaration before determining whether he’d support it.

Regarding the subject of national emergencies, it’s important to note that the National Emergencies Act of 1976 was passed primarily as a means of keeping better track of the emergency powers granted to the president and determining which declarations were still in effect. Essentially, the authority to declare a national emergency grants the president special temporary power to deal with a crisis directly related to foreign threats that arise against American interests both domestic and abroad. There are currently 31 active national emergencies, the oldest being Jimmy Carter’s sanctions against the Iranian government.

In declaring a national emergency, Trump can point back to his repeated calls to Congress to act on the growing illegal-immigration crisis that has contributed to the drug-related deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and the murders of many others, costs American taxpayers billions annually in welfare services provided to illegal aliens, and hurts American workers by flooding the labor force with low-skilled illegal workers. Trump has worked to paint Democrats into a corner on this issue, demonstrating that they have no desire to protect American citizens first and foremost, which is their constitutional duty.

Recall that Democrats didn’t voice any objections when Barack Obama overreached his executive authority some 76 times, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) notes, and yet when Trump seeks to use his rightful executive authority to enforce the nation’s laws, Democrats (and a few Republicans) squeal about constitutional overreach.

While we would certainly have preferred to see Congress act to provide the full funding for the construction of a more secure border barrier and increased border security, Trump’s emergency declaration is well within his constitutional authority. However, there is no question that this battle will soon move to the courts.

SOURCE 

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MAGA: Quality of Life and Optimism Soaring to New Heights

Trump called the U.S. economy "the envy of the world." A lot more Americans are agreeing.

In his State of the Union Address last week, President Donald trump heralded the “thriving” U.S. economy, which he called “the envy of the world.” Some have called the president’s characterization of the economy hyperbole, but there’s a plethora of evidence proving he’s right: The economy is changing Americans’ quality of life and stimulating confidence.

The IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index is one metric that backs the president. The index has been tabulated for 17 years now, and it “asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months,” as explained by Investor’s Business Daily. The full-span average is 56.2. By that measure, Barack Obama’s 53.7 rating was subpar. But the index balloons to 59.3 halfway through Trump’s first term. The most interesting variable is independents. According to IBD, “Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It’s averaging 58.8 under Trump.”

This segues nicely into Gallup polling regarding Americans’ confidence. Gallup reports that “Americans’ optimism about their personal finances has climbed to levels not seen in more than 16 years, with 69% now saying they expect to be financially better off ‘at this time next year.’” This percentage is bested only by the 71% registered in March 1998. Moreover, “Fifty percent say they are better off today than they were a year ago.”

Clearly, the Trump economy isn’t limp like it was under Obama. And that’s due to a combination of heavy deregulation, impressive job creation, and tax reform. Amazingly, Democrats are trying to spin all of these — but especially tax reform — as detrimental. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris even asserted, “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”

Fortunately, most Americans are rejecting this snake oil because they understand more take-home pay as a result of less tax withholding means a lesser refund come tax filing. And their quality of life and optimism are the better for it.

SOURCE 

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Hey, Democrats, I've lived in a socialist country with income 'equality' and it was miserable

Maria Elvira Salazar, daughter of Cuban political refugees, warns Democrats 'drank the Kool Aid' on socialism. Former Republican House candidate Maria Elvira Salazar says Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have no idea what they are advocating for.

The Democratic Party’s lurch to socialism led to a presidential rebuke at the State of the Union on Tuesday night. From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s call for “Medicare-for-all,” to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal of a “Green New Deal,” to Democratic presidential hopefuls’ hankering for stiff tax hikes, prominent members of the Democratic Party seem unwilling to miss any opportunity to advocate for greater government control of the economy.

Yet as Democrats justify grandiose proposals by decrying income inequality, many of us who immigrated to the United States from socialist countries see great irony. After all, unending income equality is what drove us to leave our native lands in the first place.

My family left post-Mao Communist China in the mid-1980s precisely because there was so much equality to go around. As a child, I lived in Guangzhou, the third largest city in China. Everyone in my city was equal in having no running hot water, no modern toilet facilities, no refrigerator, no washer, no dryer, and no color television.

Imagine a world without Whole Foods, Safeway and Walmart, or the plethora of products stocked on their shelves. Imagine no Vitamin Water, no Gatorade, no Starbucks, no Panera Bread, no candy bars and no sea salt potato chips. Now imagine instead being allotted food stamps from the government, indicating how much your family can eat.

There was abundant equality in the dearth of economic opportunities as well. The state told us where to live, where to work, what to buy, and for how much. Worse yet, my fellow citizens who lived in the countryside were even more impoverished.

When the state runs the economy and its citizens’ lives, there will be plenty of equality in scarcity, poverty and hopelessness.

After decades of totalitarian rule and grand socialist experiments, China had a meager per capita GDP of less than $200 in 1980. By comparison, America’s was $12,500 that year.

Around that time, China decided enough misery was enough. It embarked on historic economic reforms and opened up the country to the world. Liberalization introduced market prices, allowed for the return to household farming from collectivization, created Special Economic Zones in coastal areas that attracted foreign investment and promoted exports, exposed state-owned factory production to profit incentives, and opened up the market to private firms and entities.

As China began to dismantle bits and pieces of its command economy, Chinese citizens came face to face with the liberating effects of what the market made possible. There were many firsts.

For the first time, we could buy goods on the open market rather than using food stamps. For the first time, we could open up businesses instead of being confined to lifetime, government-assigned employment.

For the first time, we could have possessions that we had not seen before – clothing that was not gray and drab, electronics that exposed us to brand new images and music, goods that we coveted without even knowing it.

In the end, even Communist China did not want the kind of economic equality that existed during my childhood. Hence, the country opened up its economy, implemented bold reforms, and adopted capitalism, even though it retained many communist characteristics.

Over the past 40 years, China became the second largest economy in the world.

However, don’t for a minute forget the lesson that still applies: When the state runs the economy and its citizens’ lives, there will be plenty of equality in scarcity, poverty and hopelessness.

Today, this is a lesson that prominent Democrats seem eager to forget. Less than 30 years after the former Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged victorious from the Cold War, Americans increasingly find it necessary to debate the shortcomings and evils of socialism all over again.

It was left up to President Trump to declare on Tuesday night: “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

It is crazy that the leader of the free world had to state this. It is crazier still that he will have to deliver an even more robust defense of democratic capitalism in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Hopefully, the Democrats’ vision of economic equality will not prevail.

SOURCE 

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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)

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Friday, February 15, 2019



Imagine no freedom, it's easy if you try

Everyone is talking about the Green New Deal, and how it would end domestic airline travel, the internal combustion engine, fossil fuel usage, most electricity generation and even ban cow flatulence.

You have groups guessing what the cost of the Green New Deal would be in terms of dollars on an annual basis coming up with figures in the trillions of dollars.

To everyone seeking to normalize this Green New Deal, please just shut up.

The Green New Deal is the baring of teeth by the new American communist.  A new breed unleashed that we have seen to the streets attacking people attending Trump rallies, screaming at teenagers wearing Make America Great Again hats, shouting down and rioting against conservative speakers on college campuses.

Here is the truth.  Socialism and communism are evil.

Putting a shroud of legitimacy and normalcy to the destruction of the American ideal is being a Menshevik in a Bolshevik Revolution, you cannot moderate the blood lust of those who seek to enslave you by trying to come up with common ground or discuss alternatives to meet their needs.  The revolution demands immediate payment.

So, let's stop talking about the symptoms which the New Green Deal represents and actually begin to dissect the disease that is collectivism.

First definitionally the only difference between socialism and communism is if you voluntarily surrender your freedom and wealth or have it confiscated.  Either alternative ultimately comes from the coercive power of the gun and are based upon the premise that those who have attained wealth used ill-gotten means to get it.  As a result, they have no moral authority to keep it from those from whom it presumably was stolen.

In socialism and communism, individual rights are not derived from God and guaranteed by the Constitution, instead everything you have and can expect comes from the good will of the government. It is no mistake that John Lennon's socialist anthem, "Imagine" starts with the following words:

"Imagine there's no heaven,
"It's easy if you try.
"No hell below us,
"Above us, only sky.
"Imagine all the people living for today."

In order to achieve a kingdom ruled by man unfettered by morality or rules, you have to nix a sovereign God from the equation.  If there is no God, then all rights are nothing more than those that the government chooses to allow you to have, and the only protections that exist are those which they grant.  The only question is who gets to be the one holding the keys over everyone else's life.

For the other "Imagine" songwriter, Yoko Ono, the dream continues as a lyrical assault on nations, religion, and possessions ending with the following two verses:

"Imagine no possessions,
"I wonder if you can.
"No need for greed or hunger,
"A brotherhood of man.

"Imagine all the people,
"Sharing all the world."

"You may say that I'm a dreamer,
"But I'm not the only one.
"I hope someday you'll join us,
"And the world will live as one."

It makes one wonder if Ono has given up 100 percent of her songwriter royalties to the song to the government as a show of solidarity for the dream.

And here is what they don't say, in order for the world to "live as one" with no possessions, someone is going to have to take all the stuff and hold it collectively for the common good.

In order for there to be stuff to take and most importantly eat in the future, someone is going to have to do the hard work to produce it.  Someone is going to have to figure out how to produce it, and someone is going to have to get it from where it is produced to where the brotherhood is living.  And then someone is going to have to distribute it being certain that everyone gets the same amount of gruel.

Socialism and communism are a recipe for scarcity as those who choose to not work are entitled to the same rewards as those who choose to work.  Soon, the numbers of those inspired to bust their backs plowing a field are few and far between and the state has to compel people to do necessary tasks all for the good of the common man. The result is effectively slavery, where the worker receives nothing more than the roof over their head, the clothing on their back and enough food to fuel his or her next day's work.

Medical, architecture and engineering schools are empty as those who would have been STEM professionals choose less rigorous pursuits or no pursuit at all.  Medicines become scarce because there is no one to invent or manufacture them because there is no reward for finding the disease curing needle in the haystack.

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but to me socialism and communism are a nightmare of hopeless poverty as the masses serve their overseers under threat of the whip or worse.

When contrasted with the overwhelming wealth that capitalism has spread throughout the world. The rebellion here in America is particularly ironic as anyone who wishes to have a job can find one.  A place where politics is accessible and a seat in Congress can even be won by a bartender with social media savvy. A place where energy is abundant, inflation is low, wages are up and renewed hope is stirring.

The collectivists will never understand that capitalism works because it isn't driven by macro-decisions from Washington, D.C. as much as it is by a series of millions of individual decisions in the market place. When politicians take their thumbs off the scales, those individual decisions are likely to be rational ones based upon the needs of each person, and this leads to an overall market place that picks winners and losers based upon merit as opposed to political favor.

Ultimately, capitalism is the individuals freedom of choice to not only buy pizza or a hamburger, but a choice of dozen or more different competing pizzas.  Each pizza maker vying for customers based upon a balance of price, convenience, quality, taste and sales panache.

And in the end, not everyone has to eat pepperoni, but instead there are choices upon choices.  These choices are not because someone in government demanded pizza choice, but instead because the market demanded it.

Over the months ahead, Americans for Limited Government will be exploring the subject of why capitalism works, and why individual rights matter in order to help meet the challenges of the 21st century.  I hope that you will join us on this exploration as we seek to educate those who are na‹ve to the evils of socialism and communism. Imagine the counter-cultural revolution that the truth can unleash.

SOURCE 

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Walls Work: 9th Circuit Court Sides With Trump On San Diego Border Wall

President Trump on Monday notched a rare victory in the California-based federal appeals court by winning a dispute over the construction of certain barriers along small stretches of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Hill reports,

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling that sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit challenging its authority to waive environmental and public participation laws to expedite the border construction projects.

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has broad authority under the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to construct wall “prototypes,” replace 14 miles of primary fencing near San Diego and replace similar fencing along a three-mile strip close to Calexico, Calif.

A coalition of environmental groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, challenged the authority of DHS to waive dozens of laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to make it easier to build the border infrastructure. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) also filed suit.

Steven Stafford, a Justice Department spokesman, said Monday that Congress has given the executive branch significant authority to build physical barriers on the U.S. border.

“Today the court has affirmed that authority, and that is a victory for the Trump administration, for the rule of law, and above all, for our border security,” he said in a statement to The Hill.

The appeals court decision narrows the path for environmental groups to launch legal challenges to Trump’s high-profile push for expanding border barriers, including his campaign promise to build a wall along much of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Congress has ceded its authority to Trump, who has swept aside fundamental public safety and environmental laws to build walls that won’t work,” Brian Segee, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney, said after Monday’s ruling. “This lawlessness is destroying irreplaceable ecosystems and militarizing communities.”

The Supreme Court in December declined to hear the groups’ attempt to bring the case directly to the high court after losing initially in the district court. The groups warned the justices that the environmental impact of the projects authorized by the waivers would be substantial.

“The border walls are within, or in close proximity to, the habitats of rare animal and plant species including the burrowing owl, Quino checkerspot butterfly, Tecate cypress, snowy plover, two species of fairy shrimp, and the Otay Mesa mint,” they said in their petition to the Supreme Court.

A similar coalition is challenging a related legal waiver for border barriers in Texas. The proposed structures would cut through various protected areas, including the National Butterfly Center.

Environmentalists have argued that border barriers are disastrous for ecosystems and wildlife since they disrupt habitats, breeding grounds and migration paths.

SOURCE 

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Walls along four Customs and Border Protection sectors—El Paso; San Diego, California; and Tucson and Yuma, Arizona—have reduced illegal immigration “by at least 90 percent.”

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.” That pithy observation is attributed to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Senate from 1977 to 2001. The final two years of Moynihan’s stint in the Senate overlapped the first two years of that of his fellow New York Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer.

President Donald Trump, at a rally set for Monday night on the border in El Paso, Texas, should remind Schumer of Moynihan’s maxim in their fight over the need for more walls and fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border to help stem the flood tide of illegal immigration.

Schumer and his House counterpart, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are entitled to their opinions about Trump’s proposed border wall, but they aren’t entitled to their own facts.

In their rebuttal to the president’s Jan. 9 nationally televised address outlining the need for a border barrier and his request for $5.7 billion in funding for them, both described the proposed wall as “ineffective”—Pelosi once and Schumer twice.

In her rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams didn’t echo Schumer and Pelosi’s “ineffective” claim, but she advanced an argument that was equally fallacious.

“America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls,” Abrams said, disingenuously omitting the key adjective in this debate, “illegal.”

Insisting that walls are “ineffective” over and over again doesn’t make it true. The facts on the ground—both in the U.S. and around the world—not only don’t support that opinion, they decisively refute it.

Walls along four Customs and Border Protection sectors—El Paso; San Diego, California; and Tucson and Yuma, Arizona—have reduced illegal immigration “by at least 90 percent,” according to the Republican National Committee’s Borderfacts.com page.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner recently cited figures from the Center for Immigration Studies showing that before construction of border barriers in Yuma, the Border Patrol apprehended 138,438 illegal immigrants in 2005, compared with 26,244 last year. While not 90 percent, that’s still a dramatic drop.

The comparable before-and-after figures for the San Diego sector, according to the Border Patrol, were more than 565,581 in 1992 and 26,086 in 2017—a 95 percent reduction.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported last May that “[s]ince the start of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, at least 800 miles of fences have been erected by Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Slovenia, and others.”

Do Schumer and Pelosi know something all these other countries don’t? Not according to Hungary, which said that fencing on its border with Serbia helped reduce illegal immigration by nearly 100 percent since 2015, according to the USA Today report.

Israel’s fencing along its borders with the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as with Egypt and Jordan, has likewise all but eliminated illegal immigration and terrorist attacks. (The Jewish state announced Feb. 3 that it was beginning construction of an additional 40 miles of 20-foot-high, state-of-the-art fencing.)

“Walls should not be controversial,” Trump said Jan. 25, when he called Pelosi’s bluff and agreed to reopen the government for three weeks so bipartisan negotiations on border security could proceed. “Every Border Patrol agent I’ve talked to has told me that walls work. It’s just common sense.”

But for Schumer and Pelosi, a crass political calculus trumps (pun intended) common sense.

Their only real reason now for opposing a wall that both previously supported—and with far more funding for it then than what’s on the table today—is to deny the president a win on border security.

“We’ve seen that walls can and will be tunneled under, cut through, or scaled,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, another California Democrat, echoing the Pelosi-Schumer line, referring to walls as “archaic solutions” to a “modern problem.”

But as one of Trump’s presidential predecessors, John Adams, observed, “Facts are stubborn things,” and Aguilar isn’t entitled to his own facts, either, because in the absence of a wall, it isn’t necessary for illegal immigrants to tunnel under or scale it.

More walls and fences of the sort Trump envisions would discourage many would-be illegal immigrants—especially women and children, who would be unable to scale them—from even attempting to migrate here from Central America in the first place.

At a bare minimum, walls significantly slow down would-be illegal immigrants who attempt to climb over or tunnel under them, making it much easier for the Border Patrol to catch them than if there were no such obstacles.

The concept of the path of least resistance suggests that additional walls would funnel would-be border crossers to areas where there are none. The need for fewer Border Patrol agents in walled areas would then enable the agents to be redeployed to where they are more urgently needed.

“Our Border Patrol tells us they need physical barriers to help them do their job … strategically placed where traffic is highest,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

That’s a keen grasp of what should by now be obvious, but even if Schumer and Pelosi don’t want to believe Trump that walls are effective, they should heed the Border Patrol agents who are the boots on the ground.

Those agents know better than either Schumer or Pelosi what works and what’s needed for them to do their jobs, and they have said repeatedly that walls are a must.

Even the head of the Border Patrol during the Obama administration has said that walls “absolutely work.”

“I cannot think of a legitimate argument why anyone would not support the wall as part of a multilayered border security issue,” Mark Morgan said on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program on Jan. 7.

“Why aren’t we listening to the experts and the people who do it every day?” he asked. “I don’t understand that.”

The president should have had a group of uniformed Border Patrol agents as his guests in the House gallery during Tuesday night’s address.

He could have turned around to Pelosi, sitting behind him, and pointed them out when he said of the wall: “It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.”

It really is no more complicated than that.

SOURCE 

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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, February 14, 2019


Your gummed-up arteries won't kill you

Which is pretty surprising.  The study was a limited one but the fact that hardened arteries are not necessarily fatal is certainly interesting.  The study was  an exporation of the fact that exercise fanatics do themselves harm in some ways. One of the ways is that they get hardening of the arteries.  So did those damaged arteries kill them?  Not in this study they didn't.  So if you do have hardening of the arteries you may now be able to sleep a bit better at night

Association of All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality With High Levels of Physical Activity and Concurrent Coronary Artery Calcification

Laura F. DeFina et al.

Question  Is the presence of high levels of coronary artery calcification in the setting of very high levels of physical activity, for example, as typically practiced by masters marathon runners, associated with increased mortality?

Abstract

Importance:  Few data are available to guide clinical recommendations for individuals with high levels of physical activity in the presence of clinically significant coronary artery calcification (CAC).

Objective:  To assess the association among high levels of physical activity, prevalent CAC, and subsequent mortality risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study is a prospective observational study of patients from the Cooper Clinic, a preventive medicine facility. The present study included participants seen from January 13, 1998, through December 30, 2013, with mortality follow-up through December 31, 2014. A total of 21?758 generally healthy men without prevalent cardiovascular disease (CVD) were included if they reported their physical activity level and underwent CAC scanning. Data were analyzed from September 26, 2017, through May 2, 2018.

Exposures:  Self-reported physical activity was categorized into at least 3000 (n?=?1561), 1500 to 2999 (n?=?3750), and less than 1500 (n?=?16 447) metabolic equivalent of task (MET)-minutes/week (min/wk). The CAC scores were categorized into at least 100 (n?=?5314) and less than 100 (n?=?16 444) Agatston units (AU).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  All-cause and CVD mortality collected from the National Death Index Plus.

Results:  Among the 21 758 male participants, baseline mean (SD) age was 51.7?(8.4) years. Men with at least 3000 MET-min/wk were more likely to have prevalent CAC of at least 100 AU (relative risk, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.20) compared with those accumulating less physical activity. In the group with physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk and CAC of at least 100 AU, mean (SD) CAC level was 807 (1120) AU. After a mean (SD) follow-up of 10.4 (4.3) years, 759 all-cause and 180 CVD deaths occurred, including 40 all-cause and 10 CVD deaths among those with physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk. Men with CAC of less than 100 AU and physical activity of at least 3000 MET-min/wk were about half as likely to die compared with men with less than 1500 MET-min/wk (hazard ratio [HR], 0.52; 95% CI, 0.29-0.91). In the group with CAC of at least 100 AU, men with at least 3000 MET-min/wk did not have a significant increase in all-cause mortality (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.52-1.15) when compared with men with physical activity of less than 1500 MET-min/wk. In the least active men, those with CAC of at least 100 AU were twice as likely to die of CVD compared with those with CAC of less than 100 AU (HR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.34-2.78).

Conclusions and Relevance:  This study suggests there is evidence that high levels of physical activity (?3000 MET-min/wk) are associated with prevalent CAC but are not associated with increased all-cause or CVD mortality after a decade of follow-up, even in the presence of clinically significant CAC levels.

SOURCE 

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Dems reacted to Trump's economic achievements with stone faces and eye rolls - Will they ever grow up?

I've never seen a group of Washington lawmakers visibly upset to hear that America is back at work. But Tuesday night, I watched in genuine confusion and disappointment as Democrats scowled, eye-rolled, head-shook, and grumbled at President Trump's economic remarks during the State of the Union address.

Particularly striking were the dozens of Democratic women newly-elected to the House and Senate, donning white outfits to "unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century." So-called progressives love a good symbolic gesture.

President Trump took a big victory lap on the economy, and it was well-deserved. Since Trump took office, more than 5 million jobs have been created, including 600,000 manufacturing jobs. There were 304,000 new jobs created in January 2019 alone. Unemployment is at the lowest rate in almost half a century.

These numbers were met by Democrats with stone faces and eye rolls.

President Trump's pro-growth policies have raised the standard of living for real people and families. Nearly 5 million Americans have left the food stamp program since President Trump took office, with African-American and Hispanic-American poverty rates reaching record lows in 2017 at 21.2 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively.

This year's State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

This progress was met by Democrats with side comments and head shakes.

There are plenty of other economic victories worth bragging about in President Trump's first term. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeded 3 percent over the last four quarters and began the year at 3.4 percent. For the first time in 65 years, the U.S. has become a net exporter of energy.

The "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" will save American households an average of $1,200 per year on their taxes. Businesses across the country will benefit from Trump eliminating 22 regulations for every new one created in 2017, and 12 regulations for every new one created in 2018.

If the economic victories of the last two years were accomplished by President Obama, without a doubt, these Democratic eye rolls would have been applause lines, and likely standing ovations.

This year's State of the Union address presented House Democrats with a choice. They can come to the table and govern like grown-ups, or they can continue to divide and destroy. They can root for Donald Trump to lose, or they can root for the American economy to win.

President Trump finally broke the ice with the "Women in White" when he mentioned there are more women in the workforce and serving in Congress than ever before.

Apparently, the only jobs the rising generation of Democrats believe are worth applauding for are their own.

SOURCE 

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Democrats continue pushing huge voting `reform' bill. Chip Roy says it reeks of swamp

Fortunately it is just another reality-deprived Leftist fantasy.  How do they think they will get it pass the Republican Senate, let alone Presidemt Trump?

House Democrats continued pushing their far-reaching voting reform bill during an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing Wednesday while Republican committee members said the legislation would only perpetuate the Washington, D.C., swamp.

The nearly 600-page "For The People Act," also known as House Resolution 1, contains numerous proposals including restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their prison sentences, same-day voter registration and a public matching system for small-donor campaign contributions.

"One question that I would be asking as we look into all this is why are we so divided as a nation? I would suggest to you in significant part it is because we try to govern from Washington 320 to 330 million people with solutions here from the swamp, in direct contradiction to the very republic our founders gave us," Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy said during the hearing Wednesday.

"Now we want to extend into every aspect of every issue of voting, issues that are supposed to be left to the states, so that the people in the states can decide who they want to send to Washington," Roy continued. "We would undermine the very structure and the core of this government further if we pursue this path down HR1."

HR1 was introduced on Jan. 3, and two committees have held hearings on it already, with another hearing by a House Ways and Means subcommittee set for Thursday. It's not expected to pass the House until February is over.

HR1 likely won't get much further than that. The Senate is not expected to look at the bill at all because Republicans consider it a "power grab," in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, reported Roll Call.

HR1 was introduced by Democratic Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who has said it will "strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people by making it easier, not harder, to vote, ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring that public officials actually serve the public."

Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the committee's ranking member, questioned Democrats' motive in drafting the bill during Wednesday's hearing.

"There's much that can be done to improve the functioning of transparency and effectiveness in the federal government," he said. "However, this 571-page bill reads more like a wish list for the Democratic Party than an honest attempt at reform. I fear this legislation is a sign our friends in the majority want to play games, engage in political theater to start this Congress, rather than use this time to work constructively to find solutions for hardworking Americans that sent us here."

HR1 could take reforms that some states have implemented and make them nationwide, and that's what concerned the Republicans at the hearing. For example, Florida voters restored voting rights to nearly 1.5 million convicted felons in a referendum in November.

SOURCE 

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Fact-Checking the Leftmedia

Media outlets already don't separate news from opinion, and "fact-checkers" are the worst offenders.

One of the primary responsibilities of the news media in our republic is to keep elected officials honest - to investigate and expose malfeasance and corruption and shine the light of truth on those who would abuse their power and betray the public trust. To carry out this charge, though, journalists need to be nonpartisan and dispassionate of everything except the welfare of the citizenry. They also need to be informed, curious, and willing to go the extra mile for the truth.

Our modern news media has failed spectacularly in this regard.

There is debate about why the media today is one of the most distrusted establishments in America. Some blame the corporatization of the news media. Others fault academia for churning out brainwashed leftist mouthpieces disguised as journalists. Everyone seems to blame social media to some degree.

Whatever the cause, and all the above reasons surely play some role, today's news media has proven itself to be out of synch with the needs of the American public and totally incapable of doing the job the public expects. To be sure, there are some individual reporters and some news outlets that are doing good, or at least better, journalistic work. Unfortunately, these are too few and far between to save the downward spiral of American journalism as an institution.

The liberal bent of the news media was an open secret for decades, becoming more pronounced in the 1990s when acolytes of Bill and Hillary Clinton repeatedly turned a blind eye to his sexual indiscretions and their downright illegal dealings. The sheer leftward tilt of the media grew worse, to the point that Barack Obama was treated like a leftist messiah in the news while his "scandal free" administration committed untold numerous unconstitutional actions.

Now that Donald Trump is president, the news media has completely, and in some cases admittedly, jettisoned any pretense of impartiality. Over the last 15 years, we've seen the rise of "fact-checkers," stand-alone websites or bureaus within existing news outlets that "check" statements made by public figures for falsehoods. They've gone into hyperdrive with Trump.

But these fact-checking sites are a complete fraud. Many of those that claim to be independent are backed by Leftmedia organizations, and for some reason, rarely seem to get around to fact-checking statements made by Democrats. When they do, Democrats mysteriously rank higher with the truth in their view. Gee, who'd have thunk it?

Rest assured that Trump's State of the Union Address was given the full "fact-check" treatment. The problem that the Leftmedia had to get around was that Trump gave a good speech that was well received by the overwhelming majority of the public. It was also relatively free of Trump's typical hyperbole and misleading details. Media propagandists had to find new ways to bend the outcome to their will.

Trump was attacked by Politico for claiming that one in three women, or 33%, are sexually assaulted while trying to come to the U.S. illegally. The actual figure was 31%. The New York Times claimed that Trump's statement that illegal border crossings presented an urgent national crisis was false because illegal border crossings have decreased. This basically means that because the Times does not agree with Trump's assessment of the situation, then he is "wrong." NPR also went out of its way to state that Trump's praise of the high number of women in Congress was thanks to Democrats, not Trump or the Republicans. Trump never took credit for the fact; NPR just wanted to make sure that the public was aware of it.

The media's long and twisted lists of fact-checks of Trump's speech did not sway public opinion. That's supposed to be the job of opinion columnists, not reporters. But with major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, it's virtually impossible these days to tell what's an op-ed and what's supposed to be news.

Today's news media doesn't much care about that, though. Outlets are so eager to print stories that demean Trump and anyone who supports him that they will publish anything. Corroborating facts, confirming statements, and using reliable sources are techniques for squares in today's world. The media repeatedly pushes stories with great fanfare that soon die quiet deaths because they were nothingburgers that didn't hold up to greater scrutiny.

Michael Cohen's lie to Congress about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow? Nope. That man who was stalking Stormy Daniels? Zilch. All those women that Brett Kavanaugh supposedly assaulted in college? Nada.

But the headlines took hold in the public consciousness, even if they had to later be retracted. Well, retraction and correction is another journalistic tool that went the way of the typewriter. Nowadays, the media just stops talking about screw ups and hopes that they go away.

Fortunately, things might be changing. Parents of the unjustly maligned Covington students are preparing a major lawsuit against media outlets and celebrities who made horrible accusations against Nicholas Sandmann and his fellow classmates. The parents are also accusing Google and Facebook of playing a role in the defamation of their children.

Social-media outlets have tried to steer clear of being considered news organizations, claiming that they merely share information from point to point. While they sure don't mind censoring that information to make sure only leftist points of view get good play, they don't want to be legally responsible for the content they spread. So far, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms have been able to have it both ways.

The media claims repeatedly that it's under attack by Trump, but the trouble started long before he entered the Oval Office. Things started going downhill when news outlets stopped caring about the truth and started focusing on results - the chief result being supporting the leftist agenda. Any dangers that the media faces today are of its own making.

SOURCE 

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FUN QUOTE

Wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. And radio operates exactly the same way. The only difference is that there is no cat.

_ Albert Einstein (explaining radio)

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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)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Does the "Far Right" exist?

The so-called "Far Right" have Leftist beliefs

A video has just gone up in which I talk about the nature of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism was my major topic of study during my academic career.  I was at one stage in the video asked about the extreme Right and The answer that I gave is that it doesn't exist.  I thought I should explain that surprising statement more.

The Left are certain sure that the extreme Right exists.  If you listen to them, you would conclude that the Left is surrounded by Far Rightists. Just about everyone who disgrees with them is either of the "Far Right" or is a "White supremacist".

When I was first called a white supremacist many years ago, I was simply puzzled by that.  I had said nothing that expressed any belief in white supremacy so why was I being called that? I eventually realized, however, that it was simply a form of abuse with no real meaning -- a bit like SoB.

I in fact am and have long been a Northeast Asian supremacist.  I am a psychometrician so know the evidence that the people of N.E. Asia (China, Korea, Japan) are on average about half a standard deviation (which is a lot) smarter than people of European ancestry.  And given the very wide range of effects that IQ has, the N.E. Asians will by the end of this century be supreme in lots of ways.  China is within sight of that already.

But Leftism comes in various flavours with some being clearly more extreme than others so why is that not also true of conservatives? But can you be extreme about not doing things? How can not doing things be extreme? That seems almost self-contradictory. But there is one way conservatives can be and are extreme. You can be extreme about governments not doing things. And that is libertarianism -- rejection of just about everything that governments do. They think that all governments should do only a tiny fraction of what they currently do. So insofar as conservatives are ever extreme they are libertarians, which is the diametric opposite of authoritarianism.

The most loved and most influential conservative leader of the 20th century knew what conservatism was about, of course. He said: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism..... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom". And if Ronald Reagan did not know what conservatism was all about, who would?

When the Left use the term "Far Right", they are implicitly accepting the great lie that Nazism was in some sense Rightist, despite the fact that the Nazis called themselves socialists.  That big lie has in fact been the most durable bit of disinformation to come out of Sovetskaya Rossiya.  And is has been durable because postwar Leftists worldwide seized on it with gladsome hearts. So, to Leftists, "Far Right" means Nazi-like or at least racist.  And almost any mention of race or a natural community will get you called "Far Right".

So the 2017 events in Charlottesville, Virginia, gave a lot of Leftists erections:  There at last were some self-declared Rightists displaying KKK and Nazi symbols. But the KKK and the Nazis of history were Leftists so the extremists among the Charlotteville demonstrators were Leftists!  They were not Leftists in the modern sense but their views had their origin on the Left.

Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian.  As Mr Obama said to great cheers from his supporters, Leftists aim to "fundamentally transform" the society they live in.  But the rationales Leftists  use to justify their authoritarianism change over time. So the authoritarian nature of the KKK and the Nazis was part and parcel of their Leftism.  And the authoritarianism of all forms of Leftism is what conservatives oppose.

So why was the Charlottesville rally arranged under the banner of "Unite the Right"?  Before I address that, howeever, I think we initially need to make clear who was at that rally.

The great majority were Southerners who objected to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the great Southern hero who did NOT own slaves.  The Southerners were there in memory of their struggle for independence against Yankee Fascism. And they could have remembered with some bitterness the treatment the South got even after the war during "Reconstruction" -- which was very authoritarian and corrupt. There were however a quite small number of KKK and neo-Nazi supporters also among the Southerners  and the media did their best to keep their cameras focused on them. So why did those few old fashioned Leftists regard themselves as Rightists?

I will now make a small detour to explain that.  I am an instinctive libertarian so in the 60s I was already interested in what later became the main focus of my psychological research:  Authoritarianism.  So I made a point of getting to know actual Communists and Nazis.  My findings about Nazism were sufficiently interesting to gain publication in Jewish journals.  See here  and here.  So I actually know both sides of the Charlottesville confrontation rather well.  The guys I got to know were from a different time and place but the events of Charlottesville seemed very familiar to me.  And the neo-Nazi guys I knew called themselves "The Right" too.

So why did they do that?  Modern-day Leftists oppose all forms of racial and group discussion but "The Right" did NOT see any discussions about groups or races as impermissible. They in fact thought it was obvious that there are important racial differences. They were antisemitic but that also put them at odds with today's official Leftism. So they concluded that they, as opponents of Leftism, must be Rightists.

But they were not. I pointed out to them on a few occasions that Hitler described himself as a socialist so what did they make of that? They said that he was saying we should all pull together to get things done -- which is indeed what Leftists from Hitler and Mussolini to Hillary Clinton have also said. Clinton ran for President in the last election under the slogan "Stronger Together". She even wrote a book under that title. Leftists want everyone to jump when they say jump. And the whole point of the Roman Fasces was again strength in unity. So the neo-Nazis really were Leftists but didn't know it.

That may seem absurd but the entire American Left seems absurd at the moment so there is ample room for confusion about what Leftists stand for.  What they stand for can change very rapidly.  Senator Obama opposed homosexual marriage rather eloquently but President Obama endorsed it.  Was he any less Leftist for that? Leftism can be very changeable.  What it is today can be very different tomorrow.  They all want to change the society they live in but that is the only uniformity.

And Hitler's form of Leftism -- eugenics etc -- was widely shared by Leftists throughout the world in the 1930s -- and by the American Left in particular. Hitler in fact got some of his ideas from American eugenicists. See here and here and here

And the Nazi belief that there are were some significant racial differences has once again emerged among modern Leftists. The Nazis and their ilk were heavily focused on whites and so are modern Leftists. There is much talk of white evil and white privilege -- and dead white males have to be erased from memory of course. It's as racist as can be but the modern Left has become totally suffused with hate so as long as you are doing a good job of hating you are pretty much OK. Conservatives are generally not interested in race. They just wish the Left would shut up talking about it. Leftists are obsessed with group identity. Conservatives are not.

And antisemitism is once again rife on the Left -- usually under the shallow pretence of Anti-Zionism but sometimes rather openly among the British Left. Leftists have been antisemitic ever since Karl Marx, who despised Jews even though he was one. Being antisemitic is no bar to "The Right" being in fact Leftist.

So the neo-Nazis are just behind the times.  They are old-fashioned Leftists, not modern Leftists.  "The Right" or "Far Right" as Leftists conceive it does not exist. All conservatives and all extreme conservatives are diametrically opposed to authoritarianism/Leftism both old and new.

I say more about neo-Nazis here and here -- JR

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Trump's approval rating among likely voters soars to his best in 23 MONTHS at 52 per cent after State of the Union address

Donald Trump's job approval rating among likely U.S. voters hit 52 per cent on Monday in a daily tracking poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, the polling organization he uses most frequently to promote himself.

That number is his highest since March 6, 2017, less than seven weeks after he took office. It has been even longer since Trump's 'strongly approve' and 'strongly disapprove' numbers weren't under water. They were even at 39 per cent on Monday.

Overall, 47 per cent of likely voters disapprove of Trump's Oval Office performance. That's a low water mark since November 2, 2018.

Monday's numbers came from surveys conducted during the three weekdays following the president's State of the Union address.  It's not unusual for presidents to get a polling 'bump' after the high-profile annual address.

Trump could use the groundswell now more than ever: A Friday deadline looms for the White House and congressional Democrats to hash out a budget deal to avoid a second government shutdown.

Asked what Monday's numbers mean, a senior Democratic House aide confided on background: 'I don't know yet if it's horrible, but it sure isn't good.'

The White House, however, seemed pleased. Trump himself tweeted an image of this story at the top of The Drudge Report, an influential news aggregation website.

SOURCE 

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Government (-driven) shutdowns have human consequences

Too many government regulators burden and shut down private sector businesses and jobs

Paul Driessen

Many observers praised President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech. Some said it was his best ever and even as one of the best SOTU speeches in history. It celebrated the nation’s progress, extolled its opportunities and sought bipartisan unity. A CBS poll found that 30% of Democrats, 82% of Independents and 97% of Republicans gave the speech positive reviews.

As has become customary, the President invited several guests to join him in the House gallery, including two elderly Jews: Herman Zeitchik, who landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, and Joshua Kaufman, whom Corporal Zeitchik helped liberate from the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945.

Members of Congress also invited guests. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), invited an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who had been featured in a local newspaper article about Virginia leaders and organizations that tried to help federal workers during the recent shutdown.

Families like this “are committed to public service and just want to serve their country. They shouldn’t be held hostage by the President during a government shutdown,” Mr. Connolly said. “We all recognize the importance of border security, but I’m disappointed to see the suffering of federal employees and their families being used for political gain,” the EPA employee added.

These are understandable sentiments. Government shutdowns certainly have human consequences.

However, even though Mr. Trump “took ownership” of the recent 35-day federal shutdown, to suggest that intransigent Democrats had no responsibility for it or the consequences is disingenuous to the core. So is any suggestion that Dems and fed workers weren’t using the suffering for their own political gain.

In the same vein, community efforts to help federal workers and families were certainly commendable. But federal employees quickly receive back pay for their missed paychecks. Yet I saw no stories about similar efforts to assist families of outside contractors who were also laid off – or private sector businesses and employees affected during the shutdown – none of whom will ever get any back pay.

Moreover, Team Trump took many steps to minimize fallout from the shutdown. By contrast, many Obama agencies did all they could to maximize the fallout, pain and economic dislocations during the 16-day 2013 government shutdown. To cite just one of many examples, the Obama National Park Service closed its access road to Virginia’s privately owned Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park amid the farm’s normally busiest month, costing it tens of thousands in revenues and leaving employees to suffer.

Many citizens also take issue with assertions that federal employees are committed to public service. Our military men and women and their families certainly are. They leave their families behind for months on end, repeatedly put their lives on the line, and too often die or return with life-altering injuries.

By contrast, most other federal employees have comfortable, low-stress, high-pay jobs. Nearly 92,000 of them make more than the governor in states where they work, the watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com points out. Too many of them use their positions to devise, impose, enforce and justify heavy-handed policies and regulations that burden or even shut down private sector businesses, kill jobs, and hammer families and communities – to drive Deep State agendas, often for limited or no benefits.

Those government shutdowns and human consequences receive little “mainstream media” attention. They were especially egregious and far-reaching during the Obama years, and yet generated few or no efforts by VA-MD-DC area leaders and communities to help workers and families whose jobs were impacted or eliminated and lives upended by ill-conceived, incompetent or even deliberate Deep State actions.

Winnipeg, Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy regularly quotes Lao Tzu, who said: “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.” Sadly, urged onward by liberal activists and politicians, today’s U.S. government is cooking the American fish into inedible leather.

Candidate Obama promised to “bankrupt” coal mining and coal-fired electricity generating companies, and thus the families, businesses and communities that depended on them. His EPA made good on that promise, by issuing a pseudo-scientific finding that the plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide we exhale somehow “endangers” human health and the future of our planet – then using that finding and equally dubious particulate (soot) rules to justify regulations that eliminated numerous jobs. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also promised to “put a lot of coal workers and coal companies out of business.”

Tens of thousands of jobs were eliminated in Kentucky, West Virginia and other coal-reliant states, because of the Obama EPA’s war on coal and a switch to natural gas that was driven by that war, abundant and inexpensive gas produced by fracking, and attacks on utility companies financed by Michael Bloomberg and others. Retraining programs helped a few Appalachian miners find new work raising bees and making candles, lip balm and other wax products, for much lower wages.

New “renewable” energy jobs were also created, though generally not in areas where coal jobs were lost. And the number of jobs required to generate expensive, intermittent electricity from wind and solar facilities – versus cheap, reliable power from coal and gas – is simply unsustainable. In fact, producing the same amount of electricity requires one coal worker, two natural gas workers … 12 wind industry employees or 79 solar workers. Major environmental impacts from wind and solar are also ignored.

These same Obama era policies and external factors combined to threaten the demise of the Kayenta Coal Mine and Navajo Generating Station in that impoverished, high-unemployment area. Some 750 people, mostly Native Americans, work there when the facilities are operating at full tilt. The tribe also receives lease rental payments, royalties and revenues from selling the electricity. The Navajo and Hopi tribes are now trying to keep the operations going on their own, because closure is “unacceptable.”

EPA officials were also in charge of the bungled operation that unleashed a toxic flashflood from Colorado’s Gold King Mine in 2015. EPA and its media allies quickly whitewashed the disaster.

In a dress rehearsal for Bob Mueller’s jackbooted arrest of Roger Stone, 30 heavily armed SWAT team agents from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stormed into the Gibson Guitars factory in 2011, held employees at gunpoint, intimidated and interrogated them, hauled off $500,000 worth of wood and guitars – and warned the company not to touch any guitars that were left behind.

All that for the “crime” of allegedly not having proper paperwork for an exotic endangered wood. Both incidents involved more armed federal agents than were sent to take out Osama Bin Laden!

And who can forget the Russia/Ukraine-instigated FISA warrants? Or the IRS targeting, harassing, stonewalling and effectively silencing conservative political groups that might have made reelection slightly more difficult for President Obama and congressional Democrats?

Not surprisingly, not an iota of accountability was ever exacted on any perpetrators of any of these or multiple other “public service” misdeeds or abuses of power.

Far too often, it seems that federal government employees and their congressional, media and activist allies don’t really care very much about people who live beyond the boundaries of that 39,000-acre plat of land along the Potomac River. That’s what sets Donald Trump apart from Washington politicians, and why he was elected. Unfortunately, many state and local officials are guilty of similar offenses.

Too many government workers across the board seek to control virtually every aspect of our lives: from our energy, lives and living standards … to the cars we can drive and straws we can use with our beverages.

It’s nice that Gerry Connolly cares deeply about Deep State workers whose votes keep him in office. But it would be better if all elected officials and unelected government employees cared more about the American workers, families, businesses and communities that their policies, laws, regulations and enforcement actions too often affect so negatively, too often for so little benefit. Lao Tzu would agree.

Via email

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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)

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