Sunday, February 28, 2010

A nasty memory of bigoted Leftism among American academics

My career as a social science researcher was not a difficult one. As a conservative, I had to write at a much higher standard than if I had been a common or garden variety Leftist but I could do that so 200+ of my articles got published in the academic journals.

One episode from the '90s, however, I still remember with displeasure. In the early '90s the editor of Sociology & Social Research was David Heer -- a sociologist who was basically interested in the facts of the matter rather than pushing an ideological wheelbarrow. He was located then and still seems to be at USC.

And I did at one stage submit a paper to him for publication in S. & S.R. which he accepted for publication. He seems however to have been too mild for the frantic Leftists in USC sociology and got pushed out of the journal editorship shortly thereafter.

And his successor at the journal -- Marcus Felson -- did something almost unheard of in academe: He "unaccepted" my paper. It was apparently too conservative for him, though he gave some other quite specious reason for rejecting it. He seemed to be a young man in a hurry so I appealed the matter to his Department Head at the time: Paul Bohannan. Bohannan was unmoved. So I appealed to the university President. But he was unmoved too.

The paper eventually appeared in another journal so Heer was vindicated and Felson was shown up as the nasty piece of work that he is. Without blowing the dust off some very old files (which makes me sneeze) I cannot remember for certain which paper it was but I am pretty sure that it is this one. I submitted the paper to S. & S.R. because it dealt with a matter originally raised in that journal.

I did write a scornful letter to Bohannan when the paper finally appeared in print. Felson I regarded as beneath contempt.


Low IQ among criminals

This study is from Australia but the same is generally true worldwide

ALMOST half the young people in NSW juvenile detention centres have an intellectual or borderline intellectual disability, a new study shows, and half have parents who have been in jail. "The kids in custody are some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in NSW," Peter Muir, the chief executive of the Department of Juvenile Justice, said yesterday.

The Young People in Custody Health Survey shows 28 per cent of the girls in detention centres have been admitted to a mental hospital and 43 per cent have harmed themselves at some time in their lives. More than 65 per cent of the young people have regularly used drugs in the year before coming into custody and almost all have used alcohol regularly. The numbers in juvenile detention increased by 52 per cent between 2004-5 and 2008-9, from a daily average of 280 to 427.

The Minister for Juvenile Justice, Graham West, commissioned the first review of the system in 17 years.

Mr Muir told a juvenile justice conference this week that the public wanted something done about juvenile crime but understanding who the offenders were could lead to a better outcome. "There are other ways to meet community concerns that don't involve custody," he told the Herald.

Rigorous testing found 13.5 per cent had an IQ of less than 70, which signifies an intellectual disability. A further 32 per cent had an IQ between 70 and 79, considered borderline. Only 9 per cent of the general population scores under 79. Mr Muir said intellectual disability might have contributed to the increased numbers of juveniles detained for bail breaches.



A Leftist rot in the body politic

Leftists believe only in themselves -- and it shows. Too bad about anybody else

American politics, particularly in the big-government, ever-more-insolvent blue states, are increasingly driven by scandal. We are witnessing a meltdown of the political class in states where the growth of government has, even in weakened economies, offered bountiful opportunities for living well off the public purse. Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have all had to force corrupt governors from office in recent years. But now New York is sprinting ahead in the scandal sweepstakes. If extraordinary front-page editorials in today's New York Daily News and New York Post calling for the resignation of David Paterson are any measure, the Empire State is headed for its third governor in three years.

That isn't to say that Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut haven't put up a good fight. A recent string of scandals helped defeat New Jersey governor John Corzine at the polls and forced Connecticut senator Chris Dodd to drop his reelection bid. In Illinois, Barack Obama's path to the presidency was paved by two scandals against would-be opponents that opened the door to the Senate for him. The governor whom Obama twice supported for office, Rod Blagojevich, has been impeached, in part for trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, while the man who bought the seat, Roland Burris, has been forced to step aside come November. Alexi Giannoulias--Obama's buddy, heir to the Broadway Bank, and the Democratic nominee for the Obama-Burris seat--is involved in his own troubles. His family's once-thriving bank made loans to the mob-associated Michael "Jaws" Giorango, who was convicted of running gambling and prostitution operations, and to Tony Rezko, a fixer with close ties to both Obama and Blagojevich. It seems unfair not to give Scott Lee Cohen, briefly this year's nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor, a passing mention. Cohen, a pawnbroker who self-financed his runaway victory despite being unable to pay child support to his ex-wife, dropped out of the race after accusations came to light that he had held a knife to the throat of one of his girlfriends, a prostitute.

And then there's Obama's hometown of Chicago, where he racked up an enormous majority in the Democratic Party presidential primary that was crucial to his early lead over Hillary Clinton in the popular vote count. A new study from the Better Government Association notes that in the past 36 years, "31 sitting or former Chicago aldermen have been convicted of corruption or other crimes."

Illinois and New Jersey are probably the only two states where corruption has burrowed so deeply as to involve the public medical schools. In Illinois, until recently, you could buy admission to the state's medical school. In New Jersey, thanks to the patronage of Senator Robert Menendez of Hudson County--a man elected to the U.S. Senate despite being caught on tape engaging in a shakedown--until last year you could buy the presidency of the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Shocking? Not when you remember why former New Jersey senator Robert "the Torch" Torricelli was forced to drop out of his 2002 campaign for reelection: he had accepted gifts from David Chang, a lobbyist of sorts for nuclear North Korea. New Jersey law clearly states that in the final 51 days of a campaign, a candidate, no matter how badly tarnished, can't be replaced by a substitute. Never mind: Torricelli's fellow Democrats on the New Jersey Supreme Court shredded the law and allowed him to be re! placed by fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg, a former U.S. senator who went on to win the election. Lautenberg, whose accomplishments as senator are less than noteworthy, was one of the 60 votes that allowed President Obama to push his health-care proposals.

But for all this, New York doesn't need to take a backseat to Illinois and New Jersey. In the past few years, Joe Bruno, the Republican temporary president of the New York State Senate, and Democrat Alan Hevesi, the New York State comptroller, have been forced to step down and then convicted of taking bribes. Meanwhile, the inventory of state legislators and New York City Council members caught up in shenanigans is too long to list, though Hiram Monserrate is worthy of special mention. Monserrate, who has enjoyed close ties with the Scientologists, helped paralyze the State Senate for two months this past summer while he switched back and forth between the parties, looking to buy himself the best possible deal. Earlier, he had assaulted a lady friend with a piece of broken glass. When that case finally came before the bar of justice, Monserrate, an embarrassment even in Albany, was rebuked by the courts and expelled from the Senate.

Now, Charlie Rangel--New York State's ranking member in the U.S. Congress and the chair of the House's powerful, tax-writing Committee on Ways and Means--has been given a slap on the wrist by his fellow Democrats on the House Ethics Committee for taking lobbyist money for a junket to the Caribbean. Rangel, who is far better at raising other people's taxes than at paying his own, also recently discovered that his taxable net worth was roughly $1.5 million more than he had previously stated.

But when all is said and done, top billing in this debauched political floor show goes to the governorship of New York. Two years ago, Eliot Spitzer, anointed by The New Republic as a liberal messiah--this was in the pre-Obama days--had a brief rocky stretch as governor after he was caught using the state police to try to gather incriminating evidence about political rival Joe Bruno. But it was his patronage of a brothel that brought down this self-proclaimed supporter of women's rights.

The state police and the abuse of women play a similarly prominent role in the current scandal involving Spitzer's successor, David Paterson. One of Paterson's first acts after his predecessor's fall from grace was to admit his own extramarital affairs, including with staff members, and past drug use. He also demanded that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo investigate the state police, claiming that it had a special unit to collect information on public figures. Cuomo's investigation, released last year, unearthed no such unit, but it did find political interference by state police higher-ups, including an attempt to lessen the impact of a domestic-violence report involving a Republican congressman.

Now, in the middle of a budget crisis, Paterson has been caught in a new disgrace in which, like Spitzer, he's apparently put the state police to personal use. One of his closest aides, David Johnson, had by all accounts physically intimidated a girlfriend who went to court to receive an order of protection against him. But before she was to testify in court, she was visited by state police superintendent Harry Corbitt. She never testified. Key political allies have now called on Paterson to end his reelection campaign. Even more ominously, some political figures, including Congresswoman Nita Lowey, are now saying publicly what they've been discussing privately: that it's time for the inept Paterson, who's been largely ignored by the state's spendthrift legislature, to step down from office. A resignation by the floundering Paterson would turn the governorship over to his unelected lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, who no longer seems to be in regular contact with Paterson.

Ravitch owes his office to a dubious ruling by New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals. It was a decision, like that in the Torricelli case, that directly contradicted the state's constitution, which made no provision for appointing a lieutenant governor should the post become vacant. The constitution does provide that in such a case, the president of the State Senate "shall perform all the duties of the lieutenant governor." But as they eyed the chaos in the Senate--where Joe Bruno had been forced to resign as president, and where a collection of parochial pols, including the ineffable Monserrate, were running the show--the majority of the justices decided that the letter of the law needed to be ignored. (This may turn out for the best. As temporary president of the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith would have been next in the line of succession to the governorship, if not for the court's legitimating Ravitch's appointment. If Smith had become gover! nor, he too would have been mired in scandal, having played a key role in the rigged bidding process that handed a lucrative state contract to run casinos to a group of which he was a partner.)

Paterson's appointment of Ravitch as lieutenant governor may be recorded as his best decision. The widely respected 75-year-old Ravitch, who played a key role in New York City's 1975 fiscal crisis, has no political ambitions, and he has the intelligence and integrity, despite a predilection for new taxes, to stabilize the ship of state for the time being. In fact, it is the presence of Ravitch in the lieutenant governorship that makes it possible to call for Paterson's immediate resignation.

In both New York and Illinois, there is a close connection between fiscal irresponsibility and political malfeasance. Both states are in marked decline; both are essentially one-party polities run by Democrats (although the Republicans, when in office, have engaged in their fair share of corruption). In both cases, a largely unaccountable political class left unchecked by a decreasingly engaged electorate has, buffered by the rhetoric of compassion, gone into business for itself. Big government may not be good for the economy or for the citizens, but it been very good for a political class that has thrived on state spending despite the growing risk of getting hauled off to the hoosegow. In New York and Illinois, oversized government seems immune to reform; scandals have led only to new scandals.

In the absence of functioning political and fiscal systems, excessive spending in New York and Illinois, like that in famously corrupt Greece and Spain, can probably be restrained only by the bond market. But by the time that happens, we can expect each of these semi-sovereign entities to be in for a long stretch of hard times.




I see that Time magazine has picked up on the study that I critiqued yesterday: "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent". The "Time" article is surprisingly good and even points to evidence contradicting the headline claim. A small point, though: The author says that Leftists are more open to experience but the reference he gives for that shows nothing of the sort. The claim is however an old favourite of Leftist psychologists. My last look at the academic literature on the question is here. I conclude that, as psychologists usually define it, there is no political polarization on openness to experience. Leftists are however sensation-seekers. That might seem like a fine distinction but it is not if you look at how psychologists use the various terms concerned. The "openness to experience" claim is a way of saying that conservatives are rigid and narrow-minded whereas the sensation-seeking finding implies that Leftists like novelty for the sake of novelty.

Turnaround at British car company -- under Indian ownership: "After years in the red, Jaguar Land Rover has achieved a $60 million profit for the final quarter of 2009. The company, now Britain’s largest car industry employer, said that its return to the black had come amid a recovering market in luxury cars, backed by its own well-received new models. An amalgam of two of Britain’s most famous motoring marques, the company, which employs a staff of 14,500, was bought by India’s Tata Motors from Ford, of America, for $2.3 billion in the summer of 2008. Tata said that volumes in the last three months of 2009 had increased by 28 per cent compared with the period between July and September, big rises being recorded in North America, Europe and China. Land Rover was up 34 per cent after positive customer reaction to new vehicles, while the XF helped Jaguar to rise by 11.5 per cent. Despite latest sales data that shows Land Rover’s global sales more than tripled in January from the same month last year to 13,295 and that Jaguar sales more than doubled to 2,974 over the same period, there is more cost-cutting to come."

California is a greater risk than Greece: "Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes. Mr Dimon told investors at the Wall Street bank's annual meeting that "there could be contagion" if a state the size of California, the biggest of the United States, had problems making debt repayments. "Greece itself would not be an issue for this company, nor would any other country," said Mr Dimon. "We don't really foresee the European Union coming apart." The senior banker said that JP Morgan Chase and other US rivals are largely immune from the European debt crisis, as the risks have largely been hedged. California however poses more of a risk, given the state's $20bn budget deficit, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce. Earlier this week, the state's legislature passed bills that will cut the deficit by $2.8bn through budget cuts and other measures. However the former Hollywood film star turned politician is looking for $8.9bn of cuts over the next 16 months, and is also hoping for as much as $7bn of handouts from the federal government."

Don’t Count on Printing Press, Bernanke Warns Congress: "With uncharacteristic bluntness, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Congress on Wednesday that the United States could soon face a debt crisis like the one in Greece, and declared that the central bank will not help legislators by printing money to pay for the ballooning federal debt. Recent events in Europe, where Greece and other nations with large, unsustainable deficits like the United States are having increasing trouble selling their debt to investors, show that the U.S. is vulnerable to a sudden reversal of fortunes that would force taxpayers to pay higher interest rates on the debt, Mr. Bernanke said. "It's not something that is 10 years away. It affects the markets currently," he told the House Financial Services Committee. "It is possible that bond markets will become worried about the sustainability [of yearly deficits over $1 trillion], and we may find ourselves facing higher interest rates even today."

Another Democratic incumbent trailing in the polls: "Add New Mexico to the list of states (Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota) where polling has shown Democratic incumbents behind Republican challengers. The Democratic polling firm PPP shows New Mexico 2nd district Democrat Harry Teague trailing Republican Steve Pearce by a 43%-41% margin. That’s insignificant statistically but, in my view, significant politically, because incumbents usually do not trail challengers and can usually be expected to top 50% in polling; after all, every House member has won an election less than two years before the poll was taken. Teague carried the 2nd district 56%-44% 15 months ago. There’s a mitigating factor here: Pearce was the incumbent in this district from 2002 to 2008, and in the Democratic year of 2006 won reelection by a 59%-40% margin against a low-spending Democrat. In 2008 he ran for the Senate and lost 61%-39% to Democrat Tom Udall, and in that contest failed to carry the 2nd district.


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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