Friday, October 18, 2013

When two tribes go to war

The article below by an Australian  Leftist has some correspondence with reality.  Left and Right do seem to some extent to exist in separate universes.  The author does not know why, however.  I think the answer is obvious.  I think that the separation exists because the Left has a reflex of closing its ears to anything it does not want to hear.  They do that because their beliefs are so easily open to challenge.  They cannot AFFORD to listen.  Reality is against them.  They have to invent a fictional mental world where, for instance, "all men are equal", despite the perfectly obvious fact that all men are different.  All men are (allegedly) equal only in the sight of God -- and Leftists don't generally believe in him/her.

Global warming is a good example of reality denial too.  It is agreed on both sides of the divide that the total amount of warming over the last 150 years has been less than one degree Celsius.  Why is such a triviality worth notice?  Leftists never say.  Global warming scientists theorize that the warming might suddenly leap but that is mere prophecy  -- and we know how successful prophecies generally are.

Conservatives, on the other hand spend most of their time in politics discussing and refuting Leftist arguments.  Read almost anything on, for instance, and it will be discussing and refuting Leftist arguments and policies with appeals to the facts -- anything but ignoring them.  By contrast, the fact that Leftists do NOT generally address conservative arguments is what makes them seem alien to conservatives.  It makes them seem alien to rationality.  Leftists very often mock conservative arguments in a superficial and cherrypicked way but that is a far cry from seriously working through them and honestly addressing ALL the relevant facts -- JR

My parents don't know anyone who would vote for the ALP [Leftist party] or Greens.

My friendship and cultural circles don't know anyone who would vote for the Coalition [conservatives].

Both view those without their voting intentions as highly strange, suspicious and people to fear. The opportunities, and the desire, for conversation are non-existent.

In mainstream political discourse we talk about 'Left' and 'Right', or 'progressive' and 'conservative', as political groups, hanging on to antiquated notions of consistent political ideas, but in fact it is becoming increasingly evident that these are now simply cultural groups.

We can broadly describe a culture as the behaviours and beliefs of a particular group of people. These behaviours and beliefs compound themselves as they are continually practiced. Large distinctions in cultures occur when groups are isolated and not exposed to any different influences or practices.

Both of these cultural groups are what could best be described as 'subscription packages'; with a checklist of positions to hold in order gain membership.

For the 'Left' we have positions that fall under the umbrella of socially liberal and economically interventionist. For the 'Right' it is the binary opposite: socially conservative and economically liberal. Regardless of the outcomes they produce these are the standpoints of the tribe.

These coalitions of ideas feel consistent because everyone in the group continually reiterates them. The beliefs of the group are reinforced by the group's beliefs. With an added constant suspicion of outsiders, any attempt to influence their positions is vigorously resisted.

The internet was meant to be the great conversation, the space where difference would converge and enlightenment would prevail. Yet it instead seems to be forming into information ghettos, where these 'Left' and 'Right' groups inhabit spaces exclusive to one another. Increasingly this is even becoming the way that we consume our mainstream news.

While news outlets have always had perspectives and agendas, we are now experiencing what is best described as the 'Foxification' of news. It is a model that preaches solely to the converted and strokes and manipulates their biases. In the US we have seen Fox's tribal rival MSNBC adopt this model for the 'progressive' cultural group with similar success.

In Australia this is mimicked in a less extreme, but still significant, fashion by the News Ltd/Fairfax divide.

As a result public debate has now become an endless game of Pong, where these two cultural groups simply expel rhetoric into public space to be rejected by the other. The suspicion between the two cultural groups is so strong, that if one iterates a position then the other simply claims the opposite must be the truth.

Persuasive arguments aren't worth communicating because there is little intention of them being considered. Greater comprehension or even conversion are not motives. The objective is solely about expressing one's outrage at topic du jour.

This kind of rhetoric is designed solely to consolidate one's position within the pack. It is a combination of conformity to the group and a desire to increase your power within it. The louder you yell, the more impassioned your indignity, the more removed you are from the other reviled group.

Social media plays an important role in highlighting this phenomenon. There is the obvious echo-chamber of following only those who are members of your tribe.

However, there is also the interesting device of changing a Facebook profile picture to indicate a voting intention, or using a Twibbon to demonstrate support for a cause. These are not intended to be a persuasive arguments, in fact there is no argument at all. The audience is their peers, an indication that you above reproach with your adherence to the team.

This firm adherence to the group is expected of each member of the group, and anyone who would stray will not be tolerated.

Former ALP President and prominent Indigenous Australian Warren Mundine is a good current example of this. It is believed that he is 'selling out' by working with the new conservative government on indigenous issues. Instead it is expected that he get in the trenches and throw solution-less grenades at them. The conflict between the two tribes takes priority over any potential positive results. Conflict is the oxygen that they need to survive.

Conspicuous free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs insistence on choosing warriors like Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen to speak at their events indicates that their intentions are combative, and not persuasive.

No other organisation looking to attract sympathisers would go anywhere near such polarising figures. These are hostile acts, roadblocks to conversation that entrench mindsets and make finding consensus increasingly difficult.

During the election campaign I had to explain to my mother that Kevin Rudd's use of the phrase "working families" was an attempt to talk to her. As a member of a family that worked she was offended that someone not from her tribe would use a term that described her in his vision.

It was an indication of the depth of this cultural divide.

I'm not naïve enough to believe that differing political allegiances have ever simply been disagreements in the approach to problem solving. Yet the idea that we view our opposing group in this political culture as actively nefarious is highly detrimental to any problems being solved.



Longing to be a Victim

John Stossel

These days, being seen as a victim can be useful. You immediately claim the moral high ground. Some people want to help you. Lawyers and politicians brag that they force others to help you.

This turns some people into whiners with little sense of responsibility.

Joe Biden's niece was arrested recently for throwing a punch at a cop. The New York Post says she's addicted to alcohol and pills, but rather than take responsibility for her actions, she blamed them on the "pressure she faces" because her uncle is vice president.

Give me a break. America was founded by people who were the opposite of victims, by people with grit. Overcoming obstacles is the route to prosperity -- and happiness, too.

I had to overcome stuttering to work as a TV reporter. Had today's disability laws existed when I began work, would I have overcome my stuttering problem? Maybe not. I might have demanded my employer "accommodate" my disability by providing me a job that didn't demand being on-air.

Now that the laws exist, it's no coincidence that more Americans say they are disabled.

Tad DeHaven of the Cato Institute writes that this is part of a disability-industrial complex : collusion between specialty law firms, doctors vouching for applicants with dubious claims and federal administrative law judges awarding benefits.

It changes the way people calculate their options.

Despite improved medical care and the workforce's dramatic shift from physical to mental labor, the number of Americans claiming disability keeps growing. You start to feel like a sucker if you're not one of them.

On my TV show, DeHaven said today even poor parents "try to get their kids on psychotropic medications in hopes of qualifying for a check that goes to Dad and Mom."

Since the 80s, there has been a 300 percent increase in disability claims for hard-to-prove illnesses like back pain, stress and other "non-exertional restrictions." Over the past two decades, the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits grew from 4 million to 11 million.

"It's like any other government program," says DeHaven. "You start off with good intentions and then it becomes something that it was never supposed to be."

We all want to help the genuinely disabled, but a wide range of subjective ailments are affected by attitude. Labeling people victims, telling them they need help, teaches some to think like victims. Social scientists call that "learned helplessness."

Private charities are pretty good at separating real victims from malingerers. But government is not. Its one-size-fits-all rules encourage people to act like victims.

Whether people have real physical ailments or just see the economic deck stacked against them, the most damaging thing say to them is: Give up. You can't make it on your own. Wait for help.

Pessimism changes what we think is possible. It shrinks our horizons.

We in the media keep an eye out for people who are victimized. Sometimes that's a valuable service. But it often means looking for victims when they really aren't there. This makes reporters feel like heroes -- noble sentries protecting the powerless.

Even the newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, who sure seems like a winner by conventional standards, was portrayed as a victim in many news stories. Since she's the first Miss America of Indian descent, some trolls on Twitter made racist remarks.

But skeptical writer Gavin McInnes did a little digging. He found those racist Twitter users were almost certainly just irresponsible little kids. One of the media's most quoted tweets, "You look like a terrorist," was sent by a Twitter user with zero followers.

If millions of people are familiar with that remark now -- and some Americans grow up a little bit more frightened that they will be victimized -- it will be largely because media hyped racism rather than because of the handful of racists themselves.

America is full of success stories. But if we obsess over stories about victimhood, that is what we'll get.



Obamacare: Sticker Shock Hits Obama's Home Town

Ballooning premiums leading to huge deductibles.  And for many medical problems, huge deductibles mean ZERO insurance cover.  You have to be rich to afford Obamacare -- JR

This law is harmful and damaging for reasons far beyond the shocking incompetence of its launch:

(1) While we're on the topic of the online exchange meltdown, you'll likely be interested in the Washington Examiner's report that the Obama administration only entertained one contract to build the now-infamous federal exchange website. Several years and nearly $100,000,000.00 later, Obama's no-bid contract has produced a complete mess. Lest you'd forgotten, liberals railed against no-bid contracts during the Bush years, muttering endlessly about Dick Cheney and Halliburton, for instance. Barack Obama pledged to reform the government procurement process; like many Obama promises, it has gone unfulfilled. The result is the monument to government ineptitude known as

(2) CNN estimates that a paltry 117,000 Americans have enrolled in Obamacare so far -- a statistic that may or may not suffer from the duplication issue that's plagued the suppressed-then-leaked federal numbers. In individual states, things continue to go badly. In most states, enrollment data is incomplete or unavailable.

(3) Hospitals are shedding staff, and insurers are still pulling out of markets, both phenomena will exacerbate consumers' "access shock" in places like California and New Hampshire.

(4) In Massachusetts -- the state-level laboratory for Obamacare -- an acute doctor shortage is becoming more severe, raising access concerns. Obamacare expands this issue on a national scale.

(5) The San Francisco Chronicle has discovered a brilliant method of lowering one's healthcare costs under the new law: Earn less money. To come out ahead under this scheme, individuals or families would have to reduce their income to the point that it dips below the maximum threshold for government assistance. What a message that sends. Work less, earn less, get more from Uncle Sam hard-working taxpayers.

(6) Finally, and importantly, we're witnessing more premium shock for average people. We wrote about Obamacare's terrible consequences for a disabled mother of a young child on Friday; now the Chicago Tribune introduces America to some additional victims of the president's "Affordable" Care Act:

"Adam Weldzius, a nurse practitioner, considers himself better informed than most when it comes to the inner workings of health insurance. But even he wasn’t prepared for the pocketbook hit he’ll face next year under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. If the 33-year-old single father wants the same level of coverage next year as what he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly premium of $233 will more than double. If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, the Carpentersville resident is looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700, a more than threefold increase from $3,500 today. “I believe everybody should be able to have health insurance, but at the same time, I’m being penalized. And for what?” said Weldzius...

A Tribune analysis shows that 21 of the 22 lowest-priced plansoffered on the Illinois health insurance exchange for Cook Countyhave annual deductibles of more than $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for family coverage. Those deductibles, which represent the out-of-pocket money consumers must spend on health care before most insurance benefits kick in, are higher than what many consumers expected or may be able to stomach, benefit experts said."

Premium shock is only one part of the puzzle. Out-of-pocket sticker shock is just as pernicious, and just as unaffordable for many working families.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some data on education, religiosity, ideology, and science comprehension

I have lifted the article below from a Leftist source holus bolus. It is of the genre that tries to find something psychologically wrong with conservatives and religious people  -- a long quest going back at least to 1950 which is yet to turn up anything convincing.  So it is pleasing that the guy below finds nothing discreditable to conservatives and religious people either.  He seems to be an honest Leftist

Because the "asymmetry thesis" just won't leave me alone, I decided it would be sort of interesting to see what the relationship was between a "science comprehension" scale I've been developing and political outlooks.

The "science comprehension" measure is a composite of 11 items from the National Science Foundation's "Science Indicators" battery, the standard measure of "science literacy" used in public opinion studies (including comparative ones), plus a 10 items from an extended version of the Cognitive Reflection Test, which is normally considered the best measure of the disposition to engage in conscious, effortful information processing ("System 2") as opposed to intuitive, heuristic processing ("System 1").  

The items scale well together (α= 0.81) and can be understood to measure a disposition that combines substantive science knowledge with a disposition to use critical reasoning skills of the sort necessary to make valid inferences from observation. We used a version of a scale like this--one combining the NSF science literacy battery with numeracy--in our study of how science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization over climate change and nuclear power.

Although the scale is designed to (and does) measure a science-comprehension aptitude that doesn't reduce simply to level of education, one would expect it to correlate reasonably strongly with education and it does (r = 0.36, p < .01). The practical significance of the impact education makes to science comprehension so measured can be grasped pretty readily, I think, when the performance of those who have and who haven't graduated from college is graphically displayed in a pair of overlaid histograms:

The respondents, btw, consisted of a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults recruited to participate in a study of vaccine risk perceptions that was administered this summer (the data from that are coming soon!).

Both science literacy and CRT have been shown to correlate negatively with religiosity. And there is, in turns out, a modest negative correlation (r = -0.26, p < 0.01) between the composite science comprehension measure and a religiosity scale formed by aggregating church attendance, frequency of prayer, and self-reported "importance of God" in the respondents' lives.

I frankly don't think that that's a very big deal. There are plenty of highly religious folks who have a high science comprehension score, and plenty of secular ones who don't.  When it comes to conflict over decision-relevant science, it is likely to be more instructive to consider how religiosity and science comprehension interact, something I've explored previously.

Now, what about politics?

Proponents of the "asymmetry thesis" tend to emphasize the existence of a negative correlation between conservative political outlooks and various self-report measures of cognitive style--ones that feature items such as  "thinking is not my idea of fun" & "the notion of thinking abstractly is appealing to me." 

These sorts of self-report measures predict vulnerability to one or another reasoning bias less powerfully than CRT and numeracy, and my sense is that they are falling out of favor in cognitive psychology. 

In my paper, Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection, I found that the Cogntive Reflection Test did not meaningfully correlate with left-right political outlooks.

In this dataset, I found that there is a small correlation (r = -0.05, p = 0.03) between the science comprehension measure and a left-right political outlook measure, Conservrepub, which aggregates liberal-conservative ideology and party self-identification. The sign of the correlation indicates that science comprehension decreases as political outlooks move in the rightward direction--i.e., the more "liberal" and "Democrat," the more science comprehending.

Do you think this helps explain conflicts over climate change or other forms of decision-relevant science? I don't.

But if you do, then maybe you'll find this interesting.  The dataset happened to have an item in it that asked respondents if they considered themselves "part of the Tea Party movement." Nineteen percent said yes.

It turns out that there is about as strong a correlation between scores on the science comprehension scale and identifying with the Tea Party as there is between scores on the science comprehension scale and Conservrepub.  

Except that it has the opposite sign: that is, identifying with the Tea Party correlates positively (r = 0.05, p = 0.05) with scores on the science comprehension measure:

Again, the relationship is trivially small, and can't possibly be contributing in any way to the ferocious conflicts over decision-relevant science that we are experiencing.

I've got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I'd be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don't know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.  All my impressions come from watching cable tv -- & I don't watch Fox News very often -- and reading the "paper" (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).  

I'm a little embarrassed, but mainly I'm just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments--all very negative-- of what I understand the "Tea Party movement" to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.

I'll now be much less surprised, too, if it turns out that someone I meet at, say, the Museum of Science in Boston, or the Chabot Space and Science Museum in Oakland, or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is part of the 20% (geez-- I must know some of them) who would answer "yes" when asked if he or she identifies with the Tea Party.  If the person is there, then it will almost certainly be the case that that he or she & I will agree on how cool the stuff is at the museum, even if we don't agree about many other matters of consequence.

Next time I collect data, too, I won't be surprised at all if the correlations between science comprehension and political ideology or identification with the Tea Party movement disappear or flip their signs.  These effects are trivially small, & if I sample 2000+ people it's pretty likely any discrepancy I see will be "statistically significant"--which has precious little to do with "practically significant."



Big Insurance: Obamacare’s Wealthiest Lobby and Largest Beneficiary

One of the country’s top lobbyists for Obamacare is now pushing to end the law’s tax on health insurance premiums. This doesn’t represent a change of heart, however. It merely shows her commitment to advocating on behalf of the insurance industry. Karen Ignagni, the CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, spearheaded efforts for health reform to include mandates and government subsidies—the net effect of which is to line the pockets of insurance executives. Already, Obamacare has done wonders for the stock prices of the leading insurance companies, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan notes in an op-ed published in the Orange County Register and many other McClatchy newspapers.

In the two-plus years since President Obama signed his signature healthcare legislation into law, Aetna’s stock price has risen by one third, UnitedHealth’s has increased by 65 percent, and Humana’s has jumped more than three-fourths. “It pays to be one of the few sellers of a product the government is going to force everyone to buy and provides subsides to help them do it,” McQuillan writes.

Although the insurance industry is campaigning to eliminate a tax on insurance premiums, Ignangi’s group has actively supported efforts to enroll consumers in the new healthcare exchanges, via its contribution of seed money to Enroll America. This may be good for the insurance industry, but it’s bad news for consumers, McQuillan argues. “Americans would be better served by a patient-driven system of privately purchased, affordable and portable health insurance with health savings accounts and payment assistance for the poor,” he writes. “Tax breaks would go to individuals, not employers. This would put more buying power in the hands of patients seeking the best health care at the lowest price.”



The People v. K Street: The Obamacare Battle

(K street is where most congressional lobbyists have their offices)

The K Street vultures are out in force.

With both the continuing resolution and debt ceiling extension legislation pending, the tassel loafer lobbying crowd has descended on Capitol Hill with Obamacare fixes and other wish lists to be crammed into any final resolution.

Big Labor wants changes in the way reinsurance is taxed under Obamacare, and suddenly the Senate Democrats have this “important” reform in the still mysterious “compromise” they are fashioning.

Medical device manufacturers like General Electric have never liked the tax imposed on their products through the Obamacare law arguing that it will drive production of the devices oversees and will stifle new life enhancing research.  House Republicans included the elimination of this tax in one of their offers to end the partial government shut down.  Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats reportedly have not included the medical device tax into their legislation, leaving it as a bargaining chip.

The debt ceiling debate is perhaps even worse as every special interest that gets a dime from the federal government is being heard in lawmakers offices asking for “relief” from the sequester that has driven down real dollar discretionary federal spending much to the horror of those who thrive on it.

This almost shark like feeding frenzy trying to get goodies into these two must-pass pieces of legislation is as predictable as the rising sun, and it is why the battle to shrink the size and scope of government seems like a one step forward, two steps back proposition.

Growers of government spending have a financial vested interest in hiring former appropriators, congressional best friends, former staff of key legislators and Administration hacks to ensure that they get their piece of the big government pie.  Each has a “legitimate” need that is worth borrowing money to achieve, and they are pressing all their buttons to get their client’s desires funded, or lower the taxes imposed on their products.

These hordes of special interest lobbyists from business, labor, environmental groups, and a myriad of others dwarf the inside the beltway voices demanding less government and that a disastrous law like Obamacare be stopped.

Ironically, the very health insurance lobby that the left demonizes as being against the law, has already adapted and is most likely one of the behind the scenes voices for the status quo.

Harry and Louise have been long retired as the industry cut deals to ensure their survival under Obamacare.

The next few days are going to be filled with Members of Congress and the Administration gaining carve outs for their preferred constituencies in exchange for their votes.

This is the Washington, D.C. that the people reject, where you have to pass legislation to know what is in it.

Now is the time for House Republicans should stand firm, expose these special deals and demand that Obamacare be defunded or delayed in its entirety.

Obamacare is broken and everyone knows it.  But unlike a vehicle with a bad water pump that can easily be repaired, Obamacare is fraught with design flaws that are beyond repair.

It would be almost criminal to allow it to go forward, while allowing the politically connected protection from the law while the rest of America is forced to deal with it.

So far, House Republicans and nineteen Republican Senators can tell their constituents that they are doing everything in their power to stop this train wreck from impacting their family’s health care.

Perhaps it is time for those Americans to say thank you.  While the easy path is to help your lobbyist buddies and get accolades in the New York Times for your trouble, the hard one is to keep fighting for stopping the law.

The people always say in polling that they want legislators who will fight for what is right, elected officials who stand with them over the powerful special interests.

Today America has this group of legislators and they are being excoriated from all sides for standing up for the people.

The people need to stand up and thank those who are fighting Obamacare against all odds now, or forever hold your peace.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Green-Shirted Thugs

In post–World War I Italy, the rise of fascism in that country was marked by Benito Mussolini’s thugs, who made a point of visually distinguishing themselves by wearing black shirts as they engaged in intimidating tactics against Mussolini’s political opposition. Germany’s Adolph Hitler liked that idea so much that he copied it for his political militants—only there, the choice of shirt color was brown.

In the United States, green shirts are the preferred uniform color of the National Park Service.

Public Domain Image: NPS Law Enforcement Graduating Class #88 at Southwestern Community College (Part of the North Carolina Community College System, a statewide organization of public, two-year, postsecondary educational institutions)

The park service’s enforcement arm, a graduating class of which is pictured above, has been pretty busy during the partial government shutdown. But not in a good way. Ed Morrissey explains how they’ve made the transition to becoming “Obama’s Private Army”:

The United States established the Civil Service 142 years ago, in response to the massive corruption that followed from the previous “spoils system” in Washington DC. Prior to that, all federal employees served at the pleasure of the President, and jobs got handed out to those who boosted the fortunes of the party in power.

The result was rampant abuses of power, payoffs and kickbacks, and unaccountable performances at the federal level. It took nearly 40 years to transform the federal workforce into an independent and professional corps, and almost 70 years before Congress formally forbade civil-service workers from conducting political activities, through the Hatch Act of 1939.

Seventy-four years later, the civil-service system has been exposed as a failure – at least in this administration. Instead of an independent workforce of professionals who implement federal regulation in an even-handed and competent manner, we have returned to the era of partisan retribution and politically-motivated malevolence.

Basically, President Obama’s politically appointed administrators have given the park service’s employees very politically motivated marching orders, which they’re acting to carry out:

The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.

“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Morrissey describes what making life more difficult for people has meant:

When the shutdown went into effect last week, NPS reacted not by going off the job or closing national parks alone, but by actively blocking access to areas normally accessible 24/7 without impediment. That included putting up signs and guards at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, despite the fact that (a) the memorial was built with private funds, and (b) there are no gates or barriers under normal conditions at the memorial – nor at the Lincoln Memorial, nor at the Martin Luther King Memorial, both of which were similarly shut down by the National Parks Service.

When people simply moved the barricades to access the memorials, the supposedly shut down NPS arrived on scene to wire them together. When people gathered anyway, the US Park Police arrived on horseback to disperse them. Stephen Hayes asked an NPS spokesperson who ordered these actions, and was told that the Office of Management and Budget – a White House agency – ordered them to barricade the memorials.

It gets even worse than that. Unknown at the time but reported this week, the National Parks Service chased down a group of senior citizens at Yellowstone National Park when the shutdown commenced on October 1st. After informing the busload of tourists, some of whom were tourists from other countries, that the park was no longer accessible, the rangers locked them into a closed hotel for several hours with armed guards posted at the exits. When finally allowed to get back on the bus and leave Yellowstone, rangers stopped the tourists from pausing to take pictures, chasing after them for “recreating.”

Fox News has a video interview with one witness to the Yellowstone park closure who personally experienced the heavy-handed police state tactics used by the National Park Service’s enforcers.

In one case, the political masters of the National Park Service have even attempted to close down the public’s access to the ocean. All in pursuit of President’s Obama’s goal to make the partial shutdown of the federal government as painful as possible to regular Americans.

And the list of abuses just goes on, including the closure of parks that don’t have to be closed...

In light of these abuses of power, a good question to ask is why have such people been allowed to have so much authority over regular Americans that they can deny them access to the nation’s natural treasures at their political whimsy?

The only correct answer is that they shouldn’t. The best answer we have to address that situation is to turn the management and operation of the nation’s national parks over to the people, through the private sector. It’s a model that has been proven to work, provided only that the forces of political intimidation are denied the power to disrupt them.

And that should start with a massive reform of the National Park Service.



Park Service Paramilitaries

The government has King John’s idea of public lands

By Mark Steyn

If a government shuts down in the forest and nobody hears it, that’s the sound of liberty dying. The so-called shutdown is, as noted last week, mostly baloney: Eighty-three percent of the supposedly defunded government is carrying on as usual, impervious to whatever restraints the people’s representatives might wish to impose, and the 800,000 soi-disant “non-essential” workers have been assured that, as soon as the government is once again lawfully funded, they will be paid in full for all the days they’ve had at home.

But the one place where a full-scale shutdown is being enforced is in America’s alleged “National Park Service,” a term of art that covers everything from canyons and glaciers to war memorials and historic taverns. The NPS has spent the last two weeks behaving as the paramilitary wing of the DNC, expending more resources in trying to close down open-air, unfenced areas than it would normally do in keeping them open. It began with the war memorials on the National Mall — that’s to say, stone monuments on pieces of grass under blue sky. It’s the equivalent of my New Hampshire town government shutting down and deciding therefore to ring the Civil War statue on the village common with yellow police tape and barricades.

Still, the NPS could at least argue that these monuments were within their jurisdiction — although they shouldn’t be. Not content with that, the NPS shock troops then moved on to insisting that privately run sites such as the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and privately owned sites such as Mount Vernon were also required to shut. When the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway declined to comply with the government’s order to close (an entirely illegal order, by the way), the “shut down” Park Service sent armed agents and vehicles to blockade the hotel’s driveway.

Even then, the problem with a lot of America’s scenic wonders is that, although they sit on National Park Service land, they’re visible from some distance. So, in South Dakota, having closed Mount Rushmore the NPS storm troopers additionally attempted to close the view of Mount Rushmore — that’s to say a stretch of the highway, where the shoulder widens and you can pull over and admire the stony visages of America’s presidents. Maybe it’s time to blow up Washington, Jefferson & Co. and replace them with a giant, granite sign rising into the heavens bearing the chiseled inscription “DON’T EVEN THINK OF PARKING DOWN THERE.”

But perhaps the most extraordinary story to emerge from the NPS is that of the tour group of foreign seniors whose bus was trapped in Yellowstone Park on the day the shutdown began. They were pulled over photographing a herd of bison when an armed ranger informed them, with the insouciant ad-hoc unilateral lawmaking to which the armed bureaucrat is distressingly prone, that taking photographs counts as illegal “recreation.” “Sir, you are recreating,” the ranger informed the tour guide. And we can’t have that, can we?

They were ordered back to the Old Faithful Inn, next to the geyser of the same name, but forbidden to leave said inn to look at said geyser. Armed rangers were posted at the doors, and, just in case one of the wily Japanese or Aussies managed to outwit his captors by escaping through one of the inn’s air ducts and down to the geyser, a fleet of NPS SUVs showed up every hour and a half throughout the day, ten minutes before Old Faithful was due to blow, to surround the geyser and additionally ensure that any of America’s foreign visitors trying to photograph the impressive natural phenomenon from a second-floor hotel window would still wind up with a picture full of government officials.

The following morning the bus made the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the park boundary but was prevented from using any of the bathrooms en route, including at a private dude ranch whose owner was threatened with the loss of his license if he allowed any tourist to use the facilities.

At the same time as the National Park Service was holding legal foreign visitors under house arrest, it was also allowing illegal immigrants to hold a rally on the supposedly closed National Mall. At this bipartisan amnesty bash, the Democrat House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to “thank the president for enabling us to gather here” and Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also expressed his gratitude to the administration for “allowing us to be here.”

Is this for real? It’s not King Barack’s land; it’s supposed to be the people’s land, and his most groveling and unworthy subjects shouldn’t require a dispensation by His Benign Majesty to set foot on it. It is disturbing how easily large numbers of Americans lapse into a neo-monarchical prostration that few subjects of actual monarchies would be comfortable with these days. But then in actual monarchies the king takes a more generous view of “public lands.” Two years after Magna Carta, in 1217, King Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, which despite various amendments and replacement statutes remained in force in Britain for some three-quarters of a millennium, until the early Seventies.

If Magna Carta is a landmark in its concept of individual rights, the Forest Charter played an equivalent role in advancing the concept of the commons, the public space. Repealing various restrictions by his predecessors, Henry III opened the royal forests to the freemen of England, granted extensive grazing and hunting rights, and eliminated the somewhat severe penalty of death for taking the king’s venison. The NPS have not yet fried anyone for taking King Barack’s deer, but it is somewhat sobering to reflect that an English peasant enjoyed more freedom on the sovereign’s land in the 13th century than a freeborn American does on “the people’s land” in the 21st century.

And we’re talking about a lot more acreage: Forty percent of the state of California is supposedly federal land, and thus officially closed to the people of the state. The geyser stasi of the National Park Service have in effect repealed the Charter of the Forest. President Obama and his enforcers have the same concept of the royal forest that King John did. The government does not own this land; the Park Service are merely the janitorial staff of “we the people” (to revive an obsolescent concept). No harm will befall the rocks and rivers by posting a sign at the entrance saying “No park ranger on duty during government shutdown. Proceed beyond this point at your own risk.” And, at the urban monuments, you don’t even need that: It is disturbing that minor state officials even presume to have the right to prevent the citizenry walking past the Vietnam Wall.

I wonder what those Japanese and Australian tourists prevented from photographing bison or admiring a geyser make of U.S. claims to be “the land of the free.” When a government shutdown falls in the forest, Americans should listen very carefully. The government is telling you something profound and important about how it understands the power relationship between them and you.

The National Park Service should be out of the business of urban landmarks, and the vast majority of our “national” parks should be returned to the states. After the usurpation of the people’s sovereignty this month, the next president might usefully propose a new Charter of the Forest.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013



Keep Jesus Out of Your Socialism

Michael Youssef

The headline of the full-page ad asks, "What Would Jesus Cut?—A budget is a moral document." The text continues, "Our faith tells us that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor."

The ad was produced by Sojourners, a self-described "evangelical" organization whose slogan is "Faith in Action for Social Justice." The ad was signed by Sojourners president Jim Wallis and more than two dozen Religious Left pastors, theologians, and activists. They urge our legislators to ask themselves, "What would Jesus cut?" from the federal budget.

How would you answer that question? My answer would be, "It's a nonsense question. Your premise is faulty. Your priorities are not His priorities."

Jesus had many opportunities to confront the Roman government about its spending priorities. It was, after all, one of the most brutal regimes in history. If the question "What would Jesus cut?" has any biblical relevance, we should be able to cite instances where Jesus lectured the Roman oppressors the same way the Religious Left lectures America.

Just compare ancient Rome with America today. Rome sent its armies out to conquer; America sends its soldiers out to liberate. Rome demanded tribute from other nations; America sends aid and emergency relief around the world. Rome enslaved nations; America rebuilds nations.

If the federal budget is a "moral document," what does it say about America? It suggests to me that America may be the most moral nation on earth! Name one other country that has spent $15 billion fighting AIDS in Africa. Name one other country that has provided more disaster relief, that has built more schools and water treatment plants, that has supplied more food aid around the world, that has sent more doctors, teachers, and technical advisers to developing nations.

Even America's military budget—much of which is being spent to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan—reflects the basic compassion and unselfishness of the American people. Clearly, America hardly deserves any scolding from the Sojourners soapbox.

Did Jesus ever lecture the Roman Empire about its budget priorities? In Matthew 8, when the Roman centurion approached Jesus in Capernaum, our Lord could have said, "How dare you, a Roman warmonger, come to Me asking favors? Change your priorities! Tell your bosses in Rome to stop buying chariots and start funding welfare programs!" But Jesus didn't lecture the centurion. He said, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith!"

In Matthew 22, when the Pharisees asked if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, the Lord could have thundered against Caesar's misplaced budget priorities. Instead, He said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

In John 18, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect, a friend of Caesar. Why didn't He give Pilate an earful about the injustice of Roman rule? If ever there was a time for Jesus to "speak truth to power" and become the "social justice Messiah," that was it!

But Jesus didn't preach the social gospel to Pontius Pilate. Oh, he spoke truth to power, all right. He delivered a profound message to Pontius Pilate—and to you and me: "My kingdom is not of this world."

Now, I'm not saying that Christians are never called to confront their government. God bless Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church for standing against Nazi genocide. But that's not the situation here.

And I'm not saying there isn't a social and compassionate dimension to the Christian gospel. There certainly is! Jesus had great compassion for the poor.

He preached in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." He sent word to John the Baptist, "The deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Jesus presented the obligation to help the poor as an individual responsibility, a Kingdom responsibility—not the duty of the secular government.

Both the religious and secular Left in America seem to want government to replace the church in ministering to the poor and needy. One of Barack Obama's first proposals as president was a plan to slash tax deductions for charitable donations by high-income taxpayers. President Obama reasoned that a tax deduction "shouldn't be a determining factor as to whether you're giving that hundred dollars to the homeless shelter." Maybe so—but since private charities do so much good for the poor, why eliminate incentives for charitable giving? Could it be that liberals see private charities as competing with the big government welfare state?

In Romans 13, Paul tells us that we pay our taxes and support the government so that we will have a just, orderly society in which law-abiding citizens are protected from wrongdoers. But the responsibility for mercy and compassion belongs to the church—not the government.

What would Jesus cut? When He stood before the Roman Empire, He didn't suggest cuts. He received cuts. His flesh was cut by Roman nails and a Roman spear. He was bruised for our transgressions, and with His cuts we are healed. That's the gospel of Jesus Christ.



Honesty and Trust

By Walter E. Williams

Dishonesty, lying and cheating are not treated with the right amount of opprobrium in today's society. To gain an appreciation for the significance of honesty and trust, consider what our day-to-day lives would be like if we couldn't trust anyone.

When we purchase a bottle of 100 pills from our pharmacist, how many of us bother to count the pills? We pull in to a gasoline station and pay $35 for 10 gallons of gasoline. How do we know for sure whether we in fact received 10 gallons instead of 9 3/4? You pay $7 for a 1-pound package of filet mignon. Do you ever independently verify that you in fact received 1 pound? In each of those cases, and thousands more, we simply trust the seller.

There are thousands of cases in which the seller trusts the buyer. Having worked 40 hours, I trust that George Mason University, my employer, will pay me. People place an order with their stockbroker to purchase 100 shares of AT&T stock, and the stockbroker trusts that he'll be paid. Companies purchase 5 tons of aluminum with payment due 30 days later.

Examples of honesty and trust abound, but imagine the cost and inconvenience if we couldn't trust anyone. We would have to lug around measuring instruments to make sure that it was in fact 10 gallons of gas and 1 pound of steak that we purchased. Imagine the hassle of having to count out the number of pills in a bottle. If we couldn't trust, we'd have to bear the costly burden of writing contracts instead of relying on a buyer's or a seller's word. We'd have to bear the monitoring costs to ensure compliance in the simplest of transactions. It's safe to say that whatever undermines honesty and trust raises the costs of transactions, reduces the value of exchange and makes us poorer.

Honesty and trust come into play in ways that few of us even contemplate. In my neighborhood, workers for FedEx, UPS and other delivery companies routinely leave packages that contain valuable merchandise on the doorstep if no one answers the door.
The local supermarket leaves plants, fertilizer and other home and garden items outdoors overnight unattended. What's more, the supermarket displays loads of merchandise at entryways and exits. In neighborhoods where there's less honesty, deliverymen leaving merchandise on doorsteps and stores leaving merchandise outdoors unattended or at entryways and exits would be equivalent to economic suicide.

Dishonesty is costly. Delivery companies cannot leave packages when the customer is not home. The company must bear the costs of making return trips, or the customer has to bear the costs of going to pick up the package. If a supermarket places merchandise outside, it must bear the costs of hiring an attendant - plus retrieve the merchandise at the close of business; that's if it can risk having merchandise outdoors in the first place.

Honesty affects stores such as supermarkets in another way. A supermarket manager's goal is to maximize the rate of merchandise turnover per square foot of leased space. When theft is relatively low, the manager can use all of the space he leases, including outdoor and entryway space, thereby raising his profit potential. That opportunity is denied to supermarkets in localities where there's less honesty. That in turn means a higher cost of doing business, which translates into higher prices, less profit and fewer customer amenities.

Crime, distrust and dishonesty impose huge losses that go beyond those suffered directly. Much of the cost of crime and dishonesty is borne by people who can least afford it - poor people. It's poor people who have fewer choices and pay higher prices or must bear the transportation costs of going to suburban malls to shop. It's poor people in high-crime neighborhoods who are refused pizza delivery and taxi pickups.

The fact that honesty and trust are so vital should make us rethink just how much tolerance we should have for criminals and dishonest people.



The Nobel peace prize  -- discredited again

Comment by Larry Pickering, an Australian conservative cartoonist

No person has ever been more deserving of a peace prize than little Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai. The world shed a tear as she bravely recovered from the Taliban’s cowardly attempts to kill her and her dream that little Pakistani girls might be educated.

She also gave the Norwegian Nobel Committee of academics one last chance at legitimacy, but again they blew it.

Oh well, we can't expect too much, after all, the Nobel Committee did see fit to award a Nobel Peace Prize to one of the world’s most notorious terrorists, Yasser Arafat. Arafat pioneered the art of suicide bombings and murdered thousands

Amid charges of bribery and corruption the Nobel Committee has awarded many prizes of dubious merit. A laureate among them was Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, who famously claimed HIV/AIDS was developed by Western scientists specifically to depopulate Africa.

Another recipient, Linus Pauling, won multiple Nobels. He blazed a trail as one of the world’s leading chemists working on chemical weapons projects for the U.S. military.

The list is long... but one is my favourite: Failed rock star and three-time Nobel nominated, Bob Geldof. He was awarded the Nobel Man of Peace for his “feed the world” campaign.   But Geldof caused many hundreds of thousands to starve to death. Please explain, you demand?

Okay you have heard it before, it goes like this: “Please don’t give me a fish, teach me how to fish.” But teaching starving people how to catch or grow food wasn’t in Geldof’s self-promotion manual.

All creatures, including indigenous humans, breed in marginal areas when conditions allow. Some animals can even prolong gestation until conditions improve.

Australia’s kangaroos have learnt to survive the most severe of droughts and are masters of this technique.

They have figured out how to lactate an embryo at the same time as carry a joey in the pouch and another in the uterus. The whole regenerating process can be slowed to a stop during droughts and booted back up when food is plentiful.

Bob Geldoff, in pursuit of propping up his failed rock star career, and armed with $150 million in donations, fed the world. But only once! Yes… just once!

It gave him notoriety and a lucrative job as a presenter on cable television, but it killed a million innocent children. How did this happen?

Simply because when artificial conditions are imposed on a people who have adapted to extreme drought conditions over millennia, they breed according to what is available to eat. A starving mother will have no milk.

An inevitable higher birth rate will occur when food is freely available. And in this case, it was Geldof’s artificial food. And what about the next cyclical drought? Of course it arrives, but where is Bob Geldoff now?

Well, Bob is swanning around the world describing his wondrous philanthropic nature to paying audiences while starving parents describe the great meal they once had to their starving children.A starving nation cannot be fed just once!

“Get rich, get famous, and get laid,” was Bob’s stated ambition. It was a costly one, but not to him.

The Poms gave him a knighthood so now we need to call him Sir Robert Geldof.

I wonder what the starving children would call him, if they understood what he had done to them. I would just like 15 minutes in a locked room with him.

Never mind little Malala darling, if you were my daughter I would cry with pride... you will be rewarded in far better ways than with a discredited Nobel Prize.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, October 14, 2013

David Horowitz analyses the Left:

There are four defining features of the left, which distinguish it as a movement of individuals who approach politics quite differently from pragmatically-minded conservatives.

The first of these features is their alienation from country: If you ask progressives about their patriotic feeling, they will tell you that they don’t think of themselves first as Americans but as “citizens of the world.” That even has a Harvard imprimatur. They are, in fact, so profoundly alienated from their country as to be in some sense foreigners to it. They are hostile to its history and to its core values, which they see as reflections of a society that has been guilty of racism and oppression on an epic scale. And they are fundamentally opposed to its constitutional arrangements which the framers specifically designed to thwart what they deemed “wicked projects” to redistribute income and share individual wealth.

This is perhaps the hardest feature of their progressive adversaries for conservatives to comprehend. It is difficult to imagine that people as privileged by America’s generosity as Barack Obama and his entourage of despoilers should be so alienated from their country as to feel themselves in it but not of it. And there is no more shocking example of this than Benghazi. No matter what your politics, or what solutions you propose to the problems that confront this nation, ask yourself this: Could you have done what Barack Obama did that night? Could you as commander-in-chief abandon three Americans fighting for their lives under your command? These men had served their country for more than a decade. For seven hours they cried out for help from their government, but you refused to give it.

How, as a fellow American, could Obama have just left these men to die? No one with an ounce of patriotic feeling could. But he did. Even Alexei Kosygin, the Soviet premier of a Communist dictatorship, maintained contact with his astronaut as he burned up in space. But not our president. When the attack on our embassy in Benghazi began, he hung up the phone and went to bed, and then on to a fundraiser with Beyonce and Jay-Z in Las Vegas in the morning. This, with four Americans including our ambassador dead.

As a nation we are now confronted by mortal enemies in Iran and Syria, in Hizbollah and Hamas – enemies who have openly declared that we are the devil’s party and should be erased from the face of the earth. How could an American president deliberately set out to appease such enemies? How in the face of such threats could he reduce our country to an international laughing stock, no longer respected by our friends, no longer feared by our foes? How could he be so cavalier about having failed so miserably to have defended his country’s security and uphold its honor? How could an American commander-in-chief then put himself in a position to be snubbed by the Iranian Hitlerites, which is what they are, and which is what Obama did? How could he snub our Israeli allies and at the same time grovel before our Islamic enemies? But he did. How could he create a vacuum in the Middle East allowing Russia to become the new regional power? How could he make himself an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, which slaughters Christians, and promises the extermination of the Jews and spawns terrorist armies like al-Qaeda and Hamas?

The answer to all these questions is that Obama doesn’t identify with our country. He sees himself as a “citizen of the world,” and a redresser of grievances for the suffering he imagines America has inflicted on our adversaries, including Hitlerite Iran.

The second feature of the progressive left that is key to understanding it is its instinctive, practiced, and indispensable dishonesty. As I previously noted, the Communists in the circles I frequented in my youth never identified themselves as Communists but always as “progressives” and “Jeffersonian democrats” (which is the last thing they were). When I was a young man and Stalin was alive, the goal of the Communist Party U.S.A. was a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and a “Soviet America.” But under Stalin’s inspiration the official slogan of the Communist Party was “Peace, Jobs, and Democracy.”

The lesson? People on the left may be delusional but they are not stupid. They know what they can say and get away with, and what they can’t. Barack Obama is a born and bred member of the left and not coincidentally is the most brazen and compulsive liar ever to occupy the American White House. What other politician could have successfully explained away the fact that two of his closest political confidantes over a twenty-year period were an anti-American racist, Jeremiah Wright and an anti-American terrorist William Ayers?

There is a marked difference between the radicals of the Sixties and the radical movement Obama is part of. In the Sixties, as radicals we said what we thought and blurted out what we wanted. We wanted a revolution, and we wanted it now. It was actually very decent of us to warn others as to what we intended. But because we blurted out our goal, we didn’t get very far. Americans were onto us. Those who remained on the left when the Sixties were over, learned from their experience. They learned to lie. The strategy of the lie is progressives’ new gospel. It is what the progressive bible — Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals — is all about. Alinsky is the acknowledged political mentor to Obama and Hillary, to the service and teacher unions, and to the progressive rank and file. Alinsky understood the mistake Sixties’ radicals had made. His message to this generation is easily summed up: Don’t telegraph your goals; infiltrate their institutions and subvert them; moral principles are disposable fictions; the end justifies the means; and never forget that your political goal is always power.

An SDS radical wrote in the Sixties: “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” The Alinsky version is this: The issue is never the issue; the issue is always power: How to wring power out of the democratic process, how turn the process into an instrument of progressive control. How to use it to fundamentally transform the United States of America — which is exactly what Barack Obama warned he would do on the eve of his election.

The chosen legislative instrument to begin this transformation was Obamacare. It was presented as an act of charity, a plan to cover the uninsured. That was the “issue” as they presented it. But the actual goal of Obamacare’s socialist sponsors was a “single payer system” – government healthcare — which would put the state in control of the lives of every American, man, woman and child. That is the reason that none of the promises made about Obamacare was true, beginning with his campaign lie that Obamacare government health care was not a program he would support. Obamacare will not cover 30 million uninsured Americans, as Obama and the Democrats said it would; Obamacare will not lower costs, as they promised it would; Obamacare will deprive many Americans of their doctors and healthcare plans, as they assured everyone it would not; Obamacare is a new tax, as they swore it wouldn’t be. All these promises Obama and the Democrats made were false because they were only a camouflage for their real goal actual goal, which was universal control.

A third feature of progressives that defines their politics is that they regard the past, which is real, with contempt, and are focused exclusively on a future, which is imaginary.

To understand why this is important, think of progressives as a species of religious fundamentalists planning a redemption. Like fundamentalists they look at the world as fallen – a place corrupted by racism, sexism and class division. But the truly religious understand that we are the source of corruption and that redemption is only possible through the work of a Divinity. In contrast, progressives see themselves as the redeemers, which is why they are so dangerous. Because they regard those who oppose them as the eternally damned. Progressives are on a mission to create the kingdom of heaven on earth by redistributing income and using the state to enforce politically correct attitudes and practices in everyone’s life. They want to control what you do, and who you are, and even what you eat. For your own good, of course.

The fact that they see themselves as saving the world – or “saving the planet” as they would prefer — results in a fourth key characteristic of their politics, which is that they regard politics as a religious war. This explains why they are so rude and nasty when you disagree with them or resist their panaceas (and of course if they had the power, the punishments would be more severe); that is why the politics of personal destruction is their favorite variety, why they are verbal assassins and go directly for the jugular, and why they think nothing of destroying the reputations of their opponents and burying them permanently. And that is why they can perform their character assassinations without regrets – or did I miss Obama’s  apology to Romney for accusing him of killing a woman with cancer during the campaign? Why apologize when you did it for the good of a world transforming cause?

To sum this up: Progressives see themselves as an army of the saints, and their opponents as the party of Satan; and that will justify almost anything you can get away with.

If you want to fight the left you have to fight fire with fire. That means first and foremost you have to hold them to account for hurting the people they are pretending to help. Whose opportunities are going to be wrecked by Obamacare? Health care taxes will go up for those who pay taxes – the middle class — while their incomes will go down. Already Obamacare is cutting the workweek to 30 hours. Whose pocket books do you think that is hitting?

They claim conservatives are conducting a war against minorities; we need to throw the truth back in their faces. We need to tell the people that progressives are the principal oppressors and exploiters of minorities and the poor in this country. Progressives control the inner cities, which are teeming with the nation’s minorities and poor; and they run the broken public school systems that have become dumping grounds for those who cannot afford a private education.

The city of Milwaukee has been run by liberals and progressives without interruption for more than 100 years. What is the consequence of this progressive rule? Milwaukee’s median household income is forty percent below the rest of the country. The black unemployment rate is 27%, three times the national average for everyone. Milwaukee’s population is majority black and Hispanic, and 30% of it lives below the poverty line. A third of Milwaukee’s public school children drop out before they graduate; those who do are barely literate. That’s what progressive policies achieve. Don’t let them forget it.

Conservatives need to put the human disasters of progressive policies in front of people every chance they get. We need to confront progressives with the misery they have created in America’s bankrupt cities, Detroit and Chicago, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, St. Louis, and the nation’s capital, and every city they have controlled for 25, 50 and 100 years, without interruption.

Conservatives need to talk less to the voters’ heads and more to their hearts. Government debt is not just an accountant’s nightmare. Debt is a form of economic slavery. If you add up all the taxes Americans pay — federal, state, local, income, sales — Americans already work half the year for government rather than for themselves. Like Obamacare and the political use of the I.R.S., debt is a threat to individual freedom.

Freedom is what our cause is about not just fiscal responsibility. Fiscal responsibility has no emotional appeal except to people who already understand what it means. Fiscal responsibility is a means to an end. The end is freedom, and that is what inspires commitment and sacrifice and the passion necessary to win. Because it speaks to the heart.

Conservatives need to speak up as champions of the little guys, the underdogs, whose lives are being steadily constricted – made less free — by the ongoing destruction of a system that once afforded more opportunity for more people than any other in the history of the world. Conservatives need to speak up for the young whose future horizons are being rapidly diminished as the trillion dollar Obama deficits pile higher and higher. Conservatives need to speak for all Americans whose security under Obama has been degraded to the most dangerous levels since the end of the Cold War.

This is the threat we face, and the sooner we grapple with it the greater our chances to survive it. The most important battle in the world today is not being waged in the Middle East but here at home in the United States. If we lose this battle, everything is lost. But if we will take the measure of the enemies of freedom and prepare ourselves to fight them, we have a better than even chance to win.



Breaking the censorship

For the past six months, there has been a steady drip of bad news for Obamacare, but you wouldn't know it if you watched only the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks. Here are just a few of the Obamacare stories they've downplayed or completely censored:

A study released by the Society of Actuaries predicts that costs will shoot up an average of 32 percent by 2017 for insurers serving the individual health care market.

Economists, business owners, and employees all report that Obamacare is shrinking the number of full-time jobs as they are being replaced by less stable, lower-paying part-time jobs.

A Quinnipiac University poll shows two-thirds of self-identified Democrats expect the law will either hurt them or have no benefit.
Aside from one random report by NBC, not one of these trouble spots for Obamacare has been mentioned on ABC, CBS, or NBC's evening news or their morning show broadcasts.

Earlier this summer, when Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat and chief architect of the law, opined that Obamacare will be a "train wreck," it took nearly two weeks before any major network acknowledged the senator's dire prediction.

And even when PBS's News Hour featured a story about President Obama's efforts to defend his health care law amid increasing public skepticism, those on the show conveniently failed to mention the harsh criticism of the law from three prominent labor union leaders and an increasing number of Democrat congressmen. This censorship has to stop.

The fact is, the liberal media helped usher Obamacare into law, which makes them very reluctant to report any story that might undermine its success and ultimately damage their credibility. But the Media Research Center won't let them get away with it.

SOURCE (Email)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Park Service removes handles from water fountains

Pure Obama hate and vindictiveness.  This is nothing to do with money.  There is an alien mind behind this  -- certainly not the mind of a President who loves his people

driking-fountain-recyclingIn what can only be described as an act of spite, National Park Service rangers removed the handles from all sources of drinking water along several popular scenic bicycle and jogging paths.

The paths, running from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal will be closed at Cumberland, Maryland, and in an apparent effort to make it more difficult for the athletes, handles have been removed from all the well pumps along the way, according to the Cumberland Times-News.

This is just the latest example of outrageous conduct committed by the National Park Service since the government shutdown, all apparently in an effort to make Americans feel the pain.



The real voting fraud


Is our system broken?

By Rick Manning

Many Americans look at what is happening in Washington, D.C. and ask two simple questions, “Is our system broken, and why can’t these politicians just get along?”

In fact, these are two of the most frequent questions I get when doing radio interviews across the nation, particularly during the call-in portion.

As tough as it is to believe, the system is not actually broken when the Congress is fighting with itself and with the President, in fact, that is exactly the outcome our founding fathers intended when they built it.

There is supposed to be tension between the House and the Senate, and there is definitely supposed to be fighting between Congress and the Executive Branch.

The House of Representatives was given the constitutional responsibility of being where all spending bills must originate.  The Founders wanted the body closest to the people, who faced election every two years, to hold the purse strings of government.   The same House was proportionally elected whereby each Member represented approximately the same number of people, with every state guaranteed at least one House Member.

Until 1913, Senators were appointed by their respective state legislatures, two to a state in staggered six-year terms.  This insulation from the voters was designed to create the ultimate insiders club, to serve as an offset to the constant political demands in the House.

The Senate was also set up to defend parochial state interests as individual senators’ power was directly tied to the desires of the politicians in their home states.  Additionally, one of the great constitutional compromises was to protect the small states’ interests from being overrun by the large ones by offsetting the proportional representation in the House by giving each state equal representation in the Senate.

Just as the House has primary responsibility on money and tax issues, the Senate has sole responsibility in serving as a check on the Executive Branch through the ratification of treaties and the confirmation of political appointments among other powers.

American history is replete with examples of massive, almost heroic long-time congressional battles that somehow lose their passion in the stale retelling in school books.

Tensions leading up to the American Civil War were so high, that in 1856, a member of the South Carolina delegation to the House of Representatives physically beat a Massachusetts senator rendering him unconscious in the wake of a particularly blistering speech attacking aspects of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

A few years earlier, House Speaker Henry Clay gained the moniker, the Great Compromiser, due to his fashioning of a congressional deal between diametrically opposed members of Congress that brought America back from the brink of the inevitable war that was fought out a decade later in places like Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Vicksburg.

Over the course of time, Congress has been divided over issues like whether the paper currency created to fund the Civil War should be maintained or if the country should return to strictly using gold and silver for its money, how to reintegrate the southern states into the union after the war, whether to enter what is now known as World War I, and many others.

Since the 1970s, there have been seventeen other government shutdowns due to disputes that caused parts of the government to not be funded on time.  And some of these were over what, looking back, were petty issues.

There are those who speak about the good ole days when President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neil had such a good relationship back in the 1980s.  They forget that Tip O’Neil shut down the government on twelve different occasions using the power of the purse.  O’Neil even went so far as to shut it down because he did not like that the Fairness Doctrine had been allowed to expire.

In fact, the abnormality of the past forty years is that the government has not faced a shutdown since 1995.

Our nation’s history is shaped by the great battles that have taken place not just by soldiers on foreign and domestic fields, but in the halls of Congress.  The very soul of our nation’s future is determined through these arguments, which oftentimes get ugly.  They are not for the faint of heart, but they are worth fighting.

Finding a solution when both sides know that the decision creates a tipping point from which there is no return is not possible until one side determines that the battle is no longer worth waging — telling itself that they will return to it again one day, a day that never comes.

Democrats view Obamacare as the culmination of a fifty year fight to have government take over the nation’s health care system.  A fight that has incrementally changed the way Americans receive health care with a quantum shift — pushed over the edge without the aid of a single Republican vote.

Republicans view Obamacare as the final destruction of the private health care system that will inevitably lead to socialized medicine.  A system that is intended to drive doctors out of private practice and into big corporate health entities, where government decides who gets what health care and at what cost, and ultimately the people suffer due to doctor shortages and substandard service.

But at its core, Republicans in Congress believe that government has no business being in the health care business and Democrats desperately want government to control and run it.

Those irreconcilable differences should lead to great debates, shutdowns and a real national discussion over the direction our nation is taking.

Is our national system of government broken?  No, it is working exactly as it should.



Americans Don't Want A Shutdown and They Don't Want Obamacare

It was not a good week for progressives. Democrats thought they’d be sitting in the catbird seat during a government shutdown, but their own arrogance, World War II veterans, children with cancer and their own words have cost them what they were sure would be a easy victory.

Conceptually, progressives had hoped a government shutting down would send ripples of panic throughout the country, putting pressure on Republicans to give in to their demands. It didn’t. The vast majority of Americans who don’t work for the government, went about their lives as if nothing had happened.

Having learned from the sequestration battle, progressives knew the shutdown needed visible effects, not just theoretical ones. With the closing of public tours of the White House as their guide (and still in place, therefore unavailable to them now), Democrats closed open-air national monuments that are routinely open and unstaffed 24/7, 365 days per year.

The reason they did this is obvious – so media around the world would broadcast tourists upset their vacation plans were ruined by mean Republicans. What actually happened reinforced the old joke: If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.

While tourists were upset, the real story happened at the World War II Memorial. Members of the Greatest Generation weren’t going to let some flimsy gates stand in the way of them paying tribute to their fallen brothers. Nearly 70 years after storming barricades erected by other governments, they again stormed ones erected by their own.

Progressives tried to reinforce the barricades, but the next day they were stormed again.

Attempting to deny veterans in their 80s and 90s their last chance to visit a memorial to themselves, coupled with the threat of arrest, was too much for progressives and they caved. Veterans flown to Washington on “Honor Flights” will be allowed to visit, marking yet another victory for the brave men and women who defeated the forces they battled long ago.

A Park Service ranger told the Washington Times what we’d all suspected: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Speaking of disgusting, the second PR disaster for progressives this week was committed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and it’s even more telling of their nature.

During the gun control debate, progressives repeated the mantra “If it only saves one child’s life, we have an obligation to act.” This child was theoretical, and would be “saved” only in the abstract from some future potential event that could, might, maybe happen. It was a weak argument then, but the “logic” behind it was turned on them.

Dana Bash of CNN asked Reid, who personally had refused to allow a vote on a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health that includes clinical trials for cancer treatment for children, why not just allow a vote on that to help those children?

Reid’s answer was as heartless as it was unsurprising. He said, “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.”

Reid tried to explain away this callous response as a gaffe; that of course he cares about children with cancer. But it was no gaffe. He didn’t just say, “Why would we want to do that?” he equated those children with people who to that point had had two days off of work, saying, “They have a few problems of their own.” Bed sores and “video game thumb” do not equal terminal cancer.

And remember, you don’t participate in clinical trials on a whim. You do so because it’s your last resort. These children are dying. Conventional treatment hasn’t worked, and this is their last hope. Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats are denying that last hope out of obstinacy.

The monument strategy didn’t work. Maybe a body count, especially one with children, will.

If that sounds harsh it’s only because it is. Individuals never have mattered to progressives; they are about the collective. Individuals are replaceable, interchangeable and expendable to progressives. Not those in power, naturally, but the faceless masses and “great unwashed.” History tells this tale clearly.

Under the “progressive” umbrella are fascism, socialism and communism, differing only by a few degrees. The early 20th century infighting between these groups was over which was the standard bearer and which would lead under the progressive banner – and not over ideological differences. And no political philosophy had a higher body count in the last 100 years than the progressive movement.

Hundreds of millions were slaughtered or sacrificed for “the greater good” of the progressive Utopia. What’s a few more kids?

Reid hasn’t backed down on this. He’s still denying those children their last hope, but he’s exposed now. If children die while he’s obstructing their care, he and his fellow progressives in politics and the media will try to spin their deaths as Republicans’ fault. The truth is different, but he’s fine with that. To put it more bluntly: Harry Reid doesn’t WANT children to die of cancer, but he can live with it if it advances the cause.

This was no “gaffe,” this was accidental truth-telling from an unprepared politician so comfortable in the knowledge that the media would have his back that he was thrown by a simple question he should have been prepared for.

On Friday, an Obama administration official was quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying, “We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”

This has been the progressive way since its inception – the agenda is what matters, not the individual.

Imagine this: If progressives are willing to obstruct World War II veterans visiting their memorial, if they’re willing to refuse funding for children with cancer to avoid something as simple as a one-year delay in Obamacare or having to live under it themselves, what won’t they do? Remember, they’re taking over all of health care, slowly but surely. If they get it, what’s to stop them from blocking funding for any health care for anyone to get their next dream program in place?

Once you cede power to the government, you aren’t likely to get it back. A political movement willing to sacrifice children to the cause, a political philosophy with hundreds of millions of bodies behind it, will think nothing about adding a few more to the pile.



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