Friday, May 16, 2014

HSAs -- an initiative from the George Bush years -- are reining in health costs while Obamacare is increasing them

Last quarter, spending on health care grew an astounding 9.9%. That’s the biggest percent change in healthcare spending since 1980.

What’s the reason? Many people blame it on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more popularly known as Obamacare.

But this assessment contrasts markedly with the picture the president painted for us only a few months back when he said that “health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.” He and members of his administration attributed that to the ACA.

So which view is correct? Probably neither. It’s too soon for Obamacare to have resulted in a big boost in spending. And the previous slowdown was underway over a decade.

Over the longer period, what does track the slowdown very closely are three other developments: the growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the growth of Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), and the general trend toward higher deductibles. All three changes mean that patients are paying more medical bills out of their own pockets. And that has produced profound changes — both on the demand and the supply side of the market.

HSA plans have a high deductible, in the range of $2,000 to $6,000 a year or more. High deductible plans have lower premiums, and the premium savings help fund the HSA, which pays for health care costs below the deductible. These amounts roll over tax free from year to year and are available for future health care or other expenses in retirement.

The opportunity to have an HSA plan was created by legislation in 2003. Participation in HSAs has been growing by double digits every year since then. They grew by 22% in 2012, with total HSA assets soaring to nearly $15.5 billion. There has been parallel growth in HRA plans, a similar arrangement commonly offered by large employers. Today, close to 30 million Americans are covered by consumer-directed health plans.

In fact, enrollment in consumer-driven health plans probably now exceeds enrollment in HMOs. The 2013 annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey reported that one-fifth of all workers are now enrolled in these plans, up from 8% in 2008. And as individual accounts have grown, national health spending growth slowed.

What about Obamacare? Over the past three years almost all the significant features of the new legislation have increased, rather than reduced, health costs — providing risk pool insurance to the uninsurable, forcing private plans to cover more benefits, and adding such extras to Medicare as free “wellness exams” and closing the prescription drug “donut hole.” Serious people expect Obamacare to increase costs even more in future years. Medicare’s actuaries project that Obamacare will add $625 billion to total health care spending over the next decade. The RAND Corporation predicts that Obamacare will increase health insurance costs by almost $2,000 by 2016.

HSA accounts give people the opportunity to manage some of their own health care dollars. And when people are spending their own money in the medical marketplace, they are usually more careful shoppers than when they are spending money that comes from a third-party payer — an employer, an insurance company, or government. That is why a 2012 Rand Corporation study found that people in HSA plans spend 21% less on average on health care in the first year.

The emergence of so many people paying for care with their own money is also changing the supply side of the market. Nationally, 1,300 walk-in clinics post their prices and provide timely care. Free-standing emergency-care clinics and Doc-in-the-Box outlets have now arisen to complement them. The first mail-order prescription drug organization,, was also driven by cash patients saving time and money. Walmart now offers $4 generic drugs financed by cash, not costly insurance. Phone and email consultation services are another development.

HSAs are advantageous for vulnerable populations, particularly the sick and the poor. Because they have complete control over their HSA funds, the sick become empowered consumers in the medical marketplace. Because they can pay for care themselves out of their HSA account, the poor have ready access to a wide range of providers.

HSAs and their incentives have proven very effective in controlling costs in the real world. Total HSA costs have run about 25% less than costs for traditional health insurance. Annual cost increases for HSA/high-deductible plans have run more than 50% less than conventional health care coverage, sometimes with zero premium increases.

As HSAs and similar plans have soared in the private market, health-spending growth has plummeted. That reflects the success of market competition and incentives.



The Raw-Milk Crackdown on the Most Peaceful among Us

A Mother Speaks in Defense of an Amish Farmer, Her Trusted Supplier

When even the Amish are subject to aggressive raids by federal agents, you know the law has run amok. These communities of individuals, known for their peaceful and modest lifestyles, have found themselves criminalized for the unthinkable act of selling fresh, unprocessed milk to people who travel from afar for the precious commodity.

As blogger Liz Reitzig of Nourishing Liberty explains in this video for the Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund, this battle has become personal to her. She was one of the customers who sought raw milk for her children, only to see agents target the Amish farmer she frequented.

Fortunately, with peaceful noncompliance so widespread and no noticeable medical problems — not to mention legal consumption throughout Europe — pressure has been building for a change. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) has introduced legislation to do away with this prohibition nonsense, “to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference.”

As someone who grew up on organic, raw milk — thanks to our house cow and the labor of my father — I can confidently attest to its value. However, as Reitzig explains, “you don’t need to drink raw milk to support others’ right to peacefully procure the foods of their choice, from the producer of their choice.”



Economic Freedom Versus Big Government

Do you think there would be more jobs, less poverty and higher real incomes if government was 60 percent or 18 percent of gross domestic product? Fortunately, a global economic-growth experiment has been underway for more than a half-century. Some countries have opted for the big-government model, others for the small-government model. Based on the data, the small-government crowd wins.

Periodically, as new data becomes available, I revisit the topic of how big or small government should be. Many on the left in the United States want a big government like they have in France, which they think will be fairer and provide better services. There are success metrics, such as real per-capita incomes, economic growth, job-creation rates and life expectancy to give us a good indication of what works and does not work.

The accompanying table gives us recent data about how well 10 rich countries are doing. Outside of small oil-rich economies, such as Qatar and Norway, and a few small financial centers, the four richest real and diverse economies are Singapore, Switzerland, the United States and Hong Kong (which is not a country, but a special economic and political zone of China).

Fifty years ago, Singapore and Hong Kong were very poor Asian city-states, without natural resources. Yet now, their millions of citizens enjoy the highest living standards and life spans on the planet — Singapore being No. 3 and Hong Kong No. 4 in terms of longevity. They did not achieve success from foreign aid or by government spending (which is well under 20 percent of GDP in both places). They achieved this by having a great deal of economic freedom — Hong Kong being No. 1 and Singapore at No. 2 out of the 159 countries ranked.

Other countries that are not yet as rich as Singapore and Hong Kong but that have opted for the smaller government model, such as Taiwan and South Korea, and developing countries, such as Chile, have been growing more rapidly than their more statist competitors — which results in the vast majority of their citizens having a much higher quality of life.

According to the World Bank, Switzerland now has a higher GDP per capita, both in nominal terms and in purchasing power parity (PPP), than the United States. France and Switzerland are neighbors, and France has many more natural resources than Switzerland, as well as numerous ports, of which Switzerland has none. Yet, the Swiss have a per-capita income one-third larger than the French, and an unemployment rate one-third of the French.

What the French have that the Swiss do not is big government (65 percent larger as a percentage of GDP). By virtually any positive measure of well-being, the Swiss are well ahead of the French, including life expectancy. Whereas the French pride themselves on having a high-tax, high-spending government with extensive regulations, the Swiss have a constitutional spending cap. Unlike most, the Swiss government is not getting larger as a percentage of GDP.

It is worth remembering that the rich, big-government countries became rich before they instituted their big-government welfare states — and they have been slipping in the rankings ever since.

As can be seen in the table, rising per-capita incomes, economic growth and low levels of unemployment are more often associated with smaller, not larger, government and economic freedom.

Numerous studies show that as government grows as a percentage of GDP (above about 25 percent), economic growth and job creation slow, not rise. The same thing is true at the state level in America. The big-spending states, such as California, Illinois and New York, are losing population and economic share to lower-tax and lower-spending states, such as Texas and Florida (neither of which has a state income tax).

None of this is rocket science and has been well known to serious economic scholars for decades. The facts are routinely ignored, though, by those in the political class who have a vested interest in the power of big government.



More tyranny from local government

I live in Rudd's Trailer Park on Jefferson Davis Highway in south Richmond. It has been a trailer park for over 50 years. Many of the older trailers here are not very nice, but the owners who live in them have made them livable. For reasons that aren't clear, the City of Richmond seems to be determined to shut this place down and displace the residents.

A large number of Hispanic people live here, many with young children. The children are beautiful and well-behaved. My experience is that they are friendly, polite and respectful. The parents often have trouble speaking English, but the children are fluent. There are a few African-Americans and a good number of older white people, many of whom are not in good health. None of these people are wealthy, but they do own their own trailer and perhaps a vehicle. Many of the vehicles are worth as much or more than the trailers.

Should the City close down Rudd's Trailer Park, there will be little notice given and because it can cost $2,000 or more to move a trailer, many people may have to abandon their trailers. In some cases, it might cost more to move the trailer than the trailer is worth - if a place can be found to move it to. Either way, this is quite a hardship to people who are already struggling to get by and may have health and family issues to deal with also.

The City contends that many of the trailers in the park have code violations, and this may be true. The City generally demands that code violations be dealt within 30 days. Sometimes extensions are granted, but this is up to the City's discretion. These code enforcement inspections have taken place before, but this time the City seems more determined to shut down the trailer park rather than promote public safety.

For example, some trailers don't have working furnaces or baseboard heating. The City insists there must be working heat in these trailers within 30 days - as if heat will be needed in May. Systems can cost hundreds of dollars, yet the City feels it can't extend this requirement. The City also claims that the electrical pedestals for each trailer, housing the Virginia Power meter, are all defective and must be replaced or repaired immediately, or else all power will be cut off. Yet, these electrical pedestals have never been a problem in past inspections and the meter readers for Virginia Power apparently haven't had any issues with them.

This time the code enforcement dragnet included what amounted to warrantless searches, with police present, of the trailers to inspect inside for various code violations. Apparently, no violation was too trivial to write up. A huge stack of letters went out to residents with copies going to the the manager of the trailer park. The residents, some of which are baffled by the entire process, and the manager of the park have been overwhelmed by the entire ordeal. City inspectors have even told residents that the park will be shut down, so they didn't have to comply or even pay rent.

The way the code enforcement inspections have been handled combined with the behavior of the City workers makes it impossible not to wonder what is behind all this. The City has increased the assessment of the land in recent years to twice what the property is worth, according to an actual appraisal made by an independent professional appraiser. When confronted with this appraisal, the City refused to budge on the assessment. There have also been claims that the trailer park is a high crime area, but I can attest that there is little crime here and what crime occurs is often committed by non-residents that come in and steal. Compared to RRHA public housing murder zones, the park is rather tranquil.

One thing is certain, the City of Richmond isn't concerned about the welfare of the residents of the park and they aren't acting in good faith. While the park may not please the anyone's sense of aesthetics, and there may indeed be some code violations or safety hazards. Threats of displacing dozens of families for failure to immediately install furnaces in May or install new electric pedestals that already seem to meet the approval of Virginia Power is a rather radical way to help the residents, which is what they initially claimed to be doing. Perhaps this about some kind of land grab. Maybe this is about racism against Hispanics. Maybe it's about overzealous bureaucrats. It sure doesn't seem to be about helping people that are struggling to get by in the first place.



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, May 15, 2014

Will the great resveratrol myth finally die?

I no longer update my Health blog so I thought I might put up here occasionally any major news on the health front.  And the report below is a dambuster.  Faith in resveratrol has suffused the medical literature for at least the past 5 years.  Even experienced medical professionals who should know better have started to take resevertrol supplements in order to extend their lives.  There has been previous evidence that resveratrol is beneficial  -- but to mice only.  So maybe the very direct test on humans  below will finally break the dam

 Claims about the healthy and life-extending properties of a much-hyped ingredient in red wine and chocolate are unfounded, research suggests.

The antioxidant resveratrol, found in dark chocolate, red wine and berries, has no significant impact on lifespan, heart disease or cancer, say scientists.

It cannot explain the "French Paradox" - the low incidence of heart disease suffered by people in France despite a diet laden with cholesterol and saturated fat, they believe. Other as-yet unidentified plant compounds might be conferring health benefits associated with their diet, according to the study.  [Rubbish! Cholesterol and fats are NOT bad for you.  See the article following -- JR]

Lead researcher Professor Richard Semba, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said there was a lot of hype about the health benefits of resveratrol but that wasn't backed up in the study.

"The thinking was that certain foods are good for you because they contain resveratrol. We didn't find that at all."

Belief in the health-giving properties of resveratrol has led to a plethora of supplements containing the compound and the promotion of diets based on boosting its consumption.

Previous research has shown that resveratrol has an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve the health and lifespan of mice. At the molecular level it mimics the effects of calorie restriction, which is known to lengthen the lives of some animals but not humans.

Some preliminary evidence also suggests that the compound could help prevent cancer and reduce the stiffness of arteries in older women. But there is little real-world data to support links between resveratrol intake and improved human health, the researchers point out.

The new research involved 783 Italians aged 65 and over who were participants in the Ageing in the Chianti Region study from 1998 to 2009.

Regular urine tests were carried out to look for breakdown products of resveratrol and see if their levels were associated with reduced cancer, heart disease and death rates.

None of those taking part were taking resveratrol supplements, so they had to obtain the compound from their diet. The volunteers came from two villages in Tuscany where few people use supplements and the consumption of red wine is a part of life.

During the nine-year follow-up period, 268 (34.3 per cent) of participants died and 27.2 per cent of those free of heart disease at the start of the study developed the condition.

Of the 734 men and women who had no signs of cancer at enrolment, 4.6 per cent were later diagnosed with the disease.

No significant association was seen between urine resveratrol levels and the likelihood of participants developing heart disease or cancer, dying, or bearing markers of chronic inflammation.

Despite the negative result, wine buffs and lovers of dark chocolate should not lose heart, say the scientists whose findings appear in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

"It's just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs," Professor Semba said. "These are complex foods and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol."


Touching that they still have faith in other miracle ingredients yet to be found in plants -- JR



Some examples of other medical myths that have recently died.  Orthodox dietary teachings have been going down like ninepins lately

The headline looks like a hoax– "saturated fat does not cause heart disease" – but it’s real. This news is more than just another example of changing health guidelines; it’s a cautionary tale about trusting the scientific consensus.

For more than 50 years, the best scientific minds in America assured us that saturated fat was the enemy. Animal fat, we were instructed, was the chief culprit in causing obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Throughout my adult life, I have conscientiously followed the guidelines dispensed by the health arbiters of our age. Trusting utterly in the scientific research of the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I accepted the nearly universal wisdom of the medical and nutritional experts.

Boy, did I accept. I practically banned red meat from my diet for decades. Butter? Only on special occasions. Cream? Do they still make it? Lean chicken, turkey and fish, combined with complex carbohydrates and, of course, lots of fruits and vegetables were the ticket, I was certain, to the best odds of avoiding heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When the Atkins diet craze swept the country, I shook my head sadly, half expecting my friends who indulged in it to keel over from heart attacks.

Now, the Annals of Internal Medicine declares that beef, butter and cream do not cause heart disease. Women whose total cholesterol levels are high live longer than those with lower levels.

This is not just reminiscent of Woody Allen’s 1973 movie “Sleeper” – it’s nearly word for word. In the future, Allen joked, wheat germ and organic honey would kill you but “deep fat, cream pies and steak” would be regarded as health-enhancing.

How could the experts have been so wrong for so long?

Nina Teicholz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, notes that “there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.”

It seems that the founding father of the saturated fat theory was a sloppy researcher. In the 1950s, Ancel Benjamin Keys studied men in the U.S., Japan and Europe and concluded that poor diet caused heart disease and other pathologies. He examined farmers living in Crete, Teicholz writes, but studied them during Lent, when they had given up meat and cheese for religious reasons. Still, Keys was apparently charismatic and convincing, and while subsequent research was mixed on the question of fats, cholesterol and disease, the whole nutritional/governmental blob had become too committed to the low-fat orthodoxy to turn back easily.

From the initial anathematizing of eggs, dairy and fat, the experts have been slowly walking it all back. First, eggs were removed from the evil list. Next, we were told dietary cholesterol actually didn’t seem to be correlated with blood cholesterol at all. Then the experts explained that some fats weren’t bad, and wait, that olive oil was positively good for you. And so on. Today we’ve nearly arrived at Allen’s future. A breakfast of eggs and bacon is, according to the newest understanding, no worse for you than oatmeal. (Though sugar remains forbidden.)

Arguably, the health establishment’s embrace of the wrong ideas about nutrition have made the U.S. fatter and sicker than we might otherwise have been. We’ve increased our consumption of carbohydrates by 25 percent since the 1970s, which may be the reason that Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic levels. The switch to vegetable oil from butter and lard may have increased rates of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

The moral of this story is not to ignore science but to stay skeptical. The scientific method remains the best way yet devised to ascertain truth. But the scientific establishment is hardly immune to politics, fads, bias and self-interest. Bad science is endemic. As The Economist magazine noted in October, “half of all published research cannot be replicated … and that may be optimistic.”

Our experience with nutrition science over the past half-century should arm us with doubt about climate science, too. The point is not to ignore scientific data but to treat all studies, models and predictions with a degree of skepticism. Don’t accept the argument from authority: That the entire medical establishment endorsed the war on saturated fat did not make it true.



Swedish Newspaper Works with Far-Left Group to 'Out' Right-Wing Commenters

Sweden has always had strong Fascist tendencies

Journalists from one of Sweden's biggest newspapers have used information fed to them by a far-left group to identify the email addresses and names of anonymous right-wing online commenters in a disturbing public "outing."

People who were found to have made comments which the Swedish political class call "far right" were confronted by journalists from Expressen at their homes and workplaces, sometimes with television cameras rolling, and questioned about their opinions.

This form of "Spanish inquisition" of personal opinions was defended to Breitbart by Thomas Mattsson, editor of Expressen: "All the people who had written the comments, such as questioning the Holocaust, were given the opportunity to answer to our questions about this before we published."

Reporters were dispatched across Sweden "to track down those who used hate sites."

According to an article in the Swedish news website The Local, and forwarded to Breitbart News by Mattsson, the identification of the commenters was made by the Researchgruppen, an organisation with links to the far left, which traced 6,200 accounts through the forum platform Disqus.

The Researchgruppen forced a leading member of the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration, anti-EU party which is showing five percent support in the latest Eurowatch opinion poll for the European Parliament elections later this month, to resign last December after allegedly "insulting and xenophobic" online messages were traced to her.

Ten other members of the party were forced to resign as well.

According to The Local: "Researchgruppen is widely reported to have links to far-left organisations, including AFA – an organisation which advocates violence to achieve its political goals."

Thomas Mattsson, editor of Expressen, insists his newspaper’s exposés are not about "individuals who wish to be anonymous in immigration debates, but those who are diligently spreading xenophobia."

"Expressen didn't break any laws, nor did our staff in any way act improperly."

However, an examination of the comments which the newspaper insists are criminal "hets mot folkgrupp" (hate speech) show them to be what most English lawyers would call "vulgar abuse" and most British people would recognise as pub bravado.

For example, a Sweden Democrat official was forced to resign when commenting on teenage asylum seekers who were on hunger strike: "I hope they starve." Another was forced to resign after calling for a relaxation of weapons legislation so "ethnic Swedes" could arm themselves. Another called immigrants "parasites."

Mattson defended his journalists' behaviour: "There has been no 'intimidating.' What was done was that a number of people who mass-distributed racism was interviewed by journalists, by phone or in person. This is what we do every day, there was nothing special in that sense."

He presented the Swedish mainstream media as being the source of truth which must combat unregulated online sites: "The hate sites focus on immigration and run stories which are so-to-say 50 per cent true, but they very often to not give the readers the full truth."

"By that, they are contrasting established news media and claim to be telling the 'truth.' And by doing so, they create a gap in knowledge in the society given that people who visits the hate sites might think that they offer a different perspective and they are also led to believe that general newspapers, TV and radio don´t want to tell what is really going on…less educated and not so informed people must be given the opportunity to find real information," by which he meant newspapers such as Expressen.

Markus Uvell, president of the Swedish free market libertarian think-tank Timbro said:

"The exposure of the identities of the people expressing racist ideas was another milestone in Swedish media's intrusion of privacy. The ideas expressed were indeed horrible, but even people with horrible ideas have the right to privacy online. Some of the comments are probably illegal under the Swedish hate speech act, others not. Regardless, this does not justify a intrusion of privacy by a tabloid."




Most of them will re-offend.  So America's families will pay for this.  ALL illegal immigrants who are apprehended should subsequently be deported

An internal Department of Homeland Security document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies, a limited immigration group, and shared with Breitbart News Monday revealed that last year ICE released 36,007 criminal immigrants who had nearly 88,000 convictions.

The document further broke down the crimes and number of convictions – including 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions, and 1,075 aggravated assault convictions.

“Obama administration officials want the American people to think these individuals were guilty of minor, petty offenses,” Lamar Smith said. “But the convictions tell a chilling story. Among those released were criminal immigrants convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping, drunk driving, and aggravated assault.”



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, May 14, 2014

Confessions of a Public Defender

Still liberal after all these years

Michael Smith

I am a public defender in a large southern metropolitan area. Fewer than ten percent of the people in the area I serve are black but over 90 per cent of my clients are black. The remaining ten percent are mainly Hispanics but there are a few whites.

I have no explanation for why this is, but crime has racial patterns. Hispanics usually commit two kinds of crime: sexual assault on children and driving under the influence. Blacks commit many violent crimes but very few sex crimes. The handful of whites I see commit all kinds of crimes. In my many years as a public defender I have represented only three Asians, and one was half black.

As a young lawyer, I believed the official story that blacks are law abiding, intelligent, family-oriented people, but are so poor they must turn to crime to survive. Actual black behavior was a shock to me.

The media invariably sugarcoat black behavior. Even the news reports of the very crimes I dealt with in court were slanted. Television news intentionally leaves out unflattering facts about the accused, and sometimes omits names that are obviously black. All this rocked my liberal, tolerant beliefs, but it took me years to set aside my illusions and accept the reality of what I see every day. I have now served thousands of blacks and their families, protecting their rights and defending them in court. What follow are my observations.

Although blacks are only a small percentage of our community, the courthouse is filled with them: the halls and gallery benches are overflowing with black defendants, families, and crime victims. Most whites with business in court arrive quietly, dress appropriately, and keep their heads down. They get in and get out–if they can–as fast as they can. For blacks, the courthouse is like a carnival. They all seem to know each other: hundreds and hundreds each day, gossiping, laughing loudly, waving, and crowding the halls.

When I am appointed to represent a client I introduce myself and explain that I am his lawyer. I explain the court process and my role in it, and I ask the client some basic questions about himself. At this stage, I can tell with great accuracy how people will react. Hispanics are extremely polite and deferential. An Hispanic will never call me by my first name and will answer my questions directly and with appropriate respect for my position. Whites are similarly respectful.

A black man will never call me Mr. Smith; I am always “Mike.” It is not unusual for a 19-year-old black to refer to me as “dog.” A black may mumble complaints about everything I say, and roll his eyes when I politely interrupt so I can continue with my explanation. Also, everything I say to blacks must be at about the third-grade level. If I slip and use adult language, they get angry because they think I am flaunting my superiority.

At the early stages of a case, I explain the process to my clients. I often do not yet have the information in the police reports. Blacks are unable to understand that I do not yet have answers to all of their questions, but that I will by a certain date. They live in the here and the now and are unable to wait for anything. Usually, by the second meeting with the client I have most of the police reports and understand their case.

Public Defender

Unlike people of other races, blacks never see their lawyer as someone who is there to help them. I am a part of the system against which they are waging war. They often explode with anger at me and are quick to blame me for anything that goes wrong in their case.

Black men often try to trip me up and challenge my knowledge of the law or the facts of the case. I appreciate sincere questions about the elements of the offense or the sentencing guidelines, but blacks ask questions to test me. Unfortunately, they are almost always wrong in their reading, or understanding, of the law, and this can cause friction. I may repeatedly explain the law, and provide copies of the statute showing, for example, why my client must serve six years if convicted, but he continues to believe that a hand-written note from his “cellie” is controlling law.

The risks of trial

The Constitution allows a defendant to make three crucial decisions in his case. He decides whether to plea guilty or not guilty. He decides whether to have a bench trial or a jury trial. He decides whether he will testify or whether he will remain silent. A client who insists on testifying is almost always making a terrible mistake, but I cannot stop him.

Most blacks are unable to speak English well. They cannot conjugate verbs. They have a poor grasp of verb tenses. They have a limited vocabulary. They cannot speak without swearing. They often become hostile on the stand. Many, when they testify, show a complete lack of empathy and are unable to conceal a morality based on the satisfaction of immediate, base needs. This is a disaster, especially in a jury trial. Most jurors are white, and are appalled by the demeanor of uneducated, criminal blacks.

Prosecutors are delighted when a black defendant takes the stand. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. However, the defense usually gets to cross-examine the black victim, who is likely to make just as bad an impression on the stand as the defendant. This is an invaluable gift to the defense, because jurors may not convict a defendant—even if they think he is guilty—if they dislike the victim even more than they dislike the defendant.
Black witnesses can also sway the jury.

Jeantel Rachel: Blacks often make bad witnesses.

Most criminal cases do not go to trial. Often the evidence against the accused is overwhelming, and the chances of conviction are high. The defendant is better off with a plea bargain: pleading guilty to a lesser charge and getting a lighter sentence.

The decision to plea to a lesser charge turns on the strength of the evidence. When blacks ask the ultimate question—”Will we win at trial?”—I tell them I cannot know, but I then describe the strengths and weaknesses of our case. The weaknesses are usually obvious: There are five eyewitnesses against you. Or, you made a confession to both the detective and your grandmother. They found you in possession of a pink cell phone with a case that has rhinestones spelling the name of the victim of the robbery. There is a video of the murderer wearing the same shirt you were wearing when you were arrested, which has the words “In Da Houz” on the back, not to mention you have the same “RIP Pookie 7/4/12” tattoo on your neck as the man in the video. Etc.

If you tell a black man that the evidence is very harmful to his case, he will blame you. “You ain’t workin’ fo’ me.” “It like you workin’ with da State.” Every public defender hears this. The more you try to explain the evidence to a black man, the angrier he gets. It is my firm belief many black are unable to discuss the evidence against them rationally because they cannot view things from the perspective of others. They simply cannot understand how the facts in the case will appear to a jury.


This inability to see things from someone else’s perspective helps explain why there are so many black criminals. They do not understand the pain they are inflicting on others. One of my robbery clients is a good example. He and two co-defendants walked into a small store run by two young women. All three men were wearing masks. They drew handguns and ordered the women into a back room. One man beat a girl with his gun. The second man stood over the second girl while the third man emptied the cash register. All of this was on video.

My client was the one who beat the girl. When he asked me, “What are our chances at trial?” I said, “Not so good.” He immediately got angry, raised his voice, and accused me of working with the prosecution. I asked him how he thought a jury would react to the video. “They don’t care,” he said. I told him the jury would probably feel deeply sympathetic towards these two women and would be angry at him because of how he treated them. I asked him whether he felt bad for the women he had beaten and terrorized. He told me what I suspected—what too many blacks say about the suffering of others: “What do I care? She ain’t me. She ain’t kin. Don’t even know her.”


No fathers

As a public defender, I have learned many things about people. One is that defendants do not have fathers. If a black even knows the name of his father, he knows of him only as a shadowy person with whom he has absolutely no ties. When a client is sentenced, I often beg for mercy on the grounds that the defendant did not have a father and never had a chance in life. I have often tracked down the man’s father–in jail–and have brought him to the sentencing hearing to testify that he never knew his son and never lifted a finger to help him. Often, this is the first time my client has ever met his father. These meetings are utterly unemotional.


Many black defendants don’t even have mothers who care about them. Many are raised by grandmothers after the state removes the children from an incompetent teenaged mother. Many of these mothers and grandmothers are mentally unstable, and are completely disconnected from the realities they face in court and in life. A 47-year-old grandmother will deny that her grandson has gang ties even though his forehead is tattooed with a gang sign or slogan. When I point this out in as kind and understanding way as I can, she screams at me. When black women start screaming, they invoke the name of Jesus and shout swear words in the same breath.

Black women have great faith in God, but they have a twisted understanding of His role. They do not pray for strength or courage. They pray for results: the satisfaction of immediate needs. One of my clients was a black woman who prayed in a circle with her accomplices for God’s protection from the police before they would set out to commit a robbery.

The mothers and grandmothers pray in the hallways–not for justice, but for acquittal. When I explain that the evidence that their beloved child murdered the shop keeper is overwhelming, and that he should accept the very fair plea bargain I have negotiated, they will tell me that he is going to trial and will “ride with the Lord.” They tell me they speak to God every day and He assures them that the young man will be acquitted.


The mothers and grandmothers do not seem to be able to imagine and understand the consequences of going to trial and losing. Some–and this is a shocking reality it took me a long time to grasp–don’t really care what happens to the client, but want to make it look as though they care. This means pounding their chests in righteous indignation, and insisting on going to trial despite terrible evidence. They refuse to listen to the one person–me–who has the knowledge to make the best recommendation. These people soon lose interest in the case, and stop showing up after about the third or fourth court date. It is then easier for me to convince the client to act in his own best interests and accept a plea agreement.

Part of the problem is that underclass black women begin having babies at age 15. They continue to have babies, with different black men, until they have had five or six. These women do not go to school. They do not work. They are not ashamed to live on public money. They plan their entire lives around the expectation that they will always get free money and never have to work. I do not see this among whites, Hispanics, or any other people.

The black men who become my clients also do not work. They get social security disability payments for a mental defect or for a vague and invisible physical ailment. They do not pay for anything: not for housing (Grandma lives on welfare and he lives with her), not for food (Grandma and the baby-momma share with him), and not for child support. When I learn that my 19-year-old defendant does not work or go to school, I ask, “What do you do all day?” He smiles. “You know, just chill.” These men live in a culture with no expectations, no demands, and no shame.

If you tell a black to dress properly for trial, and don’t give specific instructions, he will arrive in wildly inappropriate clothes. I represented a woman who was on trial for drugs; she wore a baseball cap with a marijuana leaf embroidered on it. I represented a man who wore a shirt that read “rules are for suckers” to his probation hearing. Our office provides suits, shirts, ties, and dresses for clients to wear for jury trials. Often, it takes a whole team of lawyers to persuade a black to wear a shirt and tie instead of gang colors.


From time to time the media report that although blacks are 12 percent of the population they are 40 percent of the prison population. This is supposed to be an outrage that results from unfair treatment by the criminal justice system. What the media only hint at is another staggering reality: recidivism. Black men are arrested and convicted over and over. It is typical for a black man to have five felony convictions before the age of 30. This kind of record is rare among whites and Hispanics, and probably even rarer among Asians.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

At one time our office was looking for a motto that defined our philosophy. Someone joked that it should be: “Doesn’t everyone deserve an eleventh chance?”

I am a liberal. I believe that those of us who are able to produce abundance have a moral duty to provide basic food, shelter, and medical care for those who cannot care for themselves. I believe we have this duty even to those who can care for themselves but don’t. This world view requires compassion and a willingness to act on it.

My experience has taught me that we live in a nation in which a jury is more likely to convict a black defendant who has committed a crime against a white. Even the dullest of blacks know this. There would be a lot more black-on-white crime if this were not the case.

However, my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.

I do not know the solution to this problem. I do know that it is wrong to deceive the public. Whatever solutions we seek should be based on the truth rather than what we would prefer was the truth. As for myself, I will continue do my duty to protect the rights of all who need me.



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, May 13, 2014

I Checked My Privilege, And It’s Doing Just Fine

Liberals have a new word for what normal people call “success.” They call it “privilege,” as if a happy, prosperous life is the result of some magic process related to where your great-great-great-grandfather came from.

It’s the latest leftist argument tactic, which means it is a tactic designed to prevent any argument and to beat you into rhetorical submission. Conservatives, don’t play their game.

It’s easy to see that this notion that accomplishment comes not from hard work but from some mysterious force, operating out there in the ether, is essential to liberal thought. To excuse the dole-devouring layabouts who form so much of the Democrat voting base, it is critical that they undermine the achievements of those who support themselves. We can’t have the American people thinking that hard work leads to success; people might start asking why liberal constituencies don’t just work harder instead of demanding more money from those who actually produce something.

This “Check your privilege” meme is the newest trump card du jour on college campuses and in other domains of progressive tyranny. It morphed into existence from the “You racist!” wolf-cry that is now so discredited that it produces little but snickers even among liberal fellow travelers. After all, if everyone is racist – and to the progressives, everyone is except themselves – then no one is really racist. And it’s kind of hard to take seriously being called “racist” by adherents of a political party that made a KKK kleagle its Senate majority leader.

So how do we deal with this idiocy?

The proper response to the privilege gambit is laughter. The super-serious zealots of progressivism hate being laughed at, but there’s really no other appropriate response outside of a stream of obscenities. The privilege game is designed to circumvent arguments based on reason and facts and evidence, so the way to win it is to defeat it on its own terms.

Call: “Check your privilege!”

Response: “What you call ‘privilege’ is just me being better than you.”

They won’t like it. It will make them angry. Good. Because tactics like “Check your privilege” are designed to make us angry, to put us off-balance, to baffle us and suck us down into a rabbit hole of leftist jargon and progressive stupidity.

Don’t follow them. Mock them. Accuse them of adhering to a transphobic cisnormative paradigm and start shrieking “Hate crime!”

Don’t worry about not making sense. They’re college students. They are used to not understanding what people smarter than they are tell them.

Respectful argument should be reserved for those who respect the concept of argument. The sulky sophomores who babble about privilege do not. They only understand power. And we give them power when we give their nonsense the respect we would give a coherent argument.

They deserve only laughter. And to laugh at them, we simply need to refuse to be intimidated.

The plain fact is that what they understand to be “privilege” is really just what regular people understand is a “consequence.” It is a consequence of hard work, of delaying gratification and of sacrifice. No one came and bestowed this country upon us. We built it. Some of us died doing so. If we have privilege, it was earned at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg and Normandy. It’s not a function of skin tone or the number of vowels in your name; it’s a function of character.

Unlike them, many of us have lived overseas, and often in rather bullet-rich environs. Our life experience consists of more than reading Herbert Marcuse and showing solidarity with oppressed Guatemalan banana pickers by boycotting Chiquita. What we have today in this country is not anything to be ashamed of or to apologize for, but to be proud of.

Their poisonous notion of privilege is really just another way for liberals to pick winners and losers based not upon who has won or lost in the real world, but upon who is useful and not useful to the progressive project at any given moment.

This is why you see young people descended from Holocaust survivors tagged as bearers of “privilege” when their tattooed, emaciated grand-parents landed here with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Others who grew up in luxury get to bear the label of “unprivileged” because ten generations ago some relative came from a particular continent.

It’s idiocy. It’s immoral. We need to say so. For too long we’ve put up with this silliness.

What’s particularly amusing when you push back on these clowns is that they are so surprised to experience resistance to their petty fascism. Many of them, being the special snowflakes that they are, have never had anyone express to them the notion that they might be wrong. University administrators are too terrified of these whiny pipsqueaks to correct them. Certainly their helicopter parents never did – Gaia forbid that their little psyches be harmed by confronting them with their foolishness.

For too long we conservatives have played nicely, being good sports about being slandered and returning respect when offered contempt. It didn’t work. It’s time to try something new. And that something new is not taking guff from some 20 year-old gender studies major with a stupid tribal tatt, a sense of entitlement and a big mouth.

What they say is privilege is what we say is a reward for doing more with our lives than waiting for Uncle Sucker to refill our EBT cards. “Privilege” is a result of not being a human sloth, of not doing drugs, of not having kids we can’t afford them, and of not living our lives as a practical exercise in chaos theory.

Check my privilege? I just did, and it’s doing great. If you want some privilege too, maybe you ought to get your sorry behind a job.


Logically, "check your privilege" is just an "ad hominem" argument.  It is also a descendant of Marx's view that your class position makes your thoughts more or less trustworthy


The income inequality chart the media never show you

When economists talk about income inequality, what exactly do they mean by “income?” Usually they are talking about market income, which is, as described in an enlightening new Minneapolis Fed paper, “wages, salaries, business and farm income, interest, dividends, rents and private transfers (such as alimony and child support), of all household members.”

Then you have disposable income, which includes market income but also adds in “all government transfers (such as Social Security, unemployment insurance and welfare) and subtracts tax liabilities. This is a measure of resources actually available to household members for spending.”

Turns out that when you are analyzing income inequality trends, it makes a great deal of difference whether you are using market income or disposable income, the latter of which gives a better feel for actual purchasing power. The above chart looks at inequality — as defined by the income ratio of the 95th percentile vs. the 50th percentile — using both income measures. From the Minneapolis Fed economist Fabrizio Perri:

    The blue line in Figure 1 shows that since the early 1980s, there has been a sharp increase in market income inequality at the top. That is to say, market income for the high part of the U.S. household distribution (the 95) has been growing much faster than market income for the middle (the 50).

    Less well-known are the dynamics of disposable income at the top, depicted by the red line in Figure 1. This line shows that over the 1980-96 period, disposable income inequality and market income inequality tracked quite closely.

    After 1996, however, the two series started diverging:Market income inequality kept increasing at a steady pace, but disposable income inequality remained roughly flat. Indeed, over 1996-2012, market income of the top grew a total of 8 percent, while market income of the middle actually fell a total of 3 percent. Over the same period, however, disposable income of the top and the median displayed more similar growth rates of 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

    This all suggests that despite increasing inequality in market income since the early 1980s, substantial government redistribution beginning in the mid-1990s, through taxes and transfers, has kept inequality levels in disposable household income quite stable. Interestingly, a big part of this redistribution appears to have taken place exactly during the Great Recession. Figure 1 displays this in the gap between the blue and the red lines; the market-disposable gap begins to open up in 2007 and has stayed at historical highs ever since.

    Moreover, the data suggest that although inequality at the top in market income is currently at its historical high, inequality in disposable income has actually been flat or slightly falling over the past 15 years. This is because government redistribution between the top and the middle (the distance between the blue and the red lines) is also at its historical high.

One way, perhaps, to look at this data is that government redistribution has been offsetting a failure by the US education system to more broadly prepare a workforce for a labor market demanding greater skills.



Choke Point

 The latest in a long tradition of government programs designed to criminalize private behavior and harass nonconformists, minorities, the poor and those with unpopular opinions and pastimes is Operation Choke Point, which started in March of last year but has only recently come to light due to a few high-profile effects.  Jason Oxman of the Electronic Transactions Association explained it thus:

"…the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are…[pursuing] disfavored – but legal – categories of merchants by targeting our nation’s payments systems…as more details of the program become public, more concerns are raised.  The “chokepoint” in this operation is the nation’s payments infrastructure…Federal law enforcers are targeting merchant categories like payday lenders, ammunition and tobacco sales, and telemarketers – but not merely by pursuing those merchants directly.  Rather, Operation Chokepoint is flooding payments companies that provide processing service to those industries with subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other burdensome and costly legal demands.  The theory…has superficial logic: increase the legal and compliance costs of serving certain disfavored merchant categories, and payments companies will simply stop providing service to such merchants.  And it’s working…Thus far, payday lenders have been the most frequent target…what category will be next and who makes that decision?"

The next big target, predictably, was sex work:  under government pressure, Chase Bank has been closing down the accounts of anyone with any connection to porn, and though Paypal is very tight-lipped about it, there seems little doubt that the same program was the reason that it suddenly and without warning threatened to cut the crowdfunding platform Patreon off entirely due to “adult content” on the site.  Lest you think this is going to stop with sex work, I call your attention to this list of businesses the FDIC considers “high risk”; many of these are already being targeted, so the rest won’t be far behind:

Ammunition Sales

Cable Box De-scramblers

Coin Dealers

Credit Card Schemes

Credit Repair Services

Dating Services

Debt Consolidation Scams

Drug Paraphernalia

Escort Services

Firearms Sales

Fireworks Sales

Get Rich Products

Government Grants

Home-Based Charities

Life-Time Guarantees

Life-Time Memberships
Lottery Sales

Mailing Lists/Personal Info

Money Transfer Networks

On-line Gambling

PayDay Loans

Pharmaceutical Sales

Ponzi Schemes


Pyramid-Type Sales

Racist Materials

Surveillance Equipment


Tobacco Sales

Travel Clubs

Operation Choke PointWhile some of these (such as get-rich and Ponzi schemes) are undoubtedly sketchy and others (credit repair, debt consolidation) have strong potential to be, some of the others (escort services, gambling) are on the list due to a high chargeback rate, while others (gun & ammunition, drugs & tobacco) are purely political targets.  But whatever the reason, the government’s growing tendency to force private entities to act as arms of the fascist state is incredibly alarming, not merely to those who care about human rights and individual liberty, but even to bankers:

"The Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” is…being pushed far beyond its stated objective…and is having potentially devastating impact on lawful check cashing and small loan businesses.  This in turn will cut off tens of millions of people from much needed access to money to meet emergency needs…No matter what your personal view [of targeted industries]…Operation Choke Point should be both alarming and repugnant.  It is a direct assault on the democratic system and free-market economy that have made the United States the most powerful and prosperous nation in world history.  Without color of law and based on a political agenda, unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Justice are coordinating with some bank regulators to deny essential banking services to companies engaged in lawful business activities.  Bankers operating under the yoke of an oppressive regulatory regime are being cowed into compliance.  If lawful payday lenders and check cashers can be driven out of the banking system because someone in the government doesn’t like them or what they do, what lawful businesses are next?…"

Note that two of the articles I’ve quoted here ask the sensible question, “Who will be targeted next?”  As I’ve pointed out many times, campaigns of persecution always start out with unpopular entities (in this case payday lenders and sex workers), but absolutely never stop there.  Paypal would have shut down all of Patreon because some of its clients produced erotic art; by the same token, what’s to stop Operation Choke Point from attacking convenience stores for selling tobacco, liquor, lottery tickets and men’s magazines?  There are always useful idiots who will support tyranny against things they don’t like (such as guns, tobacco or porn), and are20000 Leagues Under the Sea then shocked when the same legal tools are used against things they do like (such as birth control).  For now, legal-but-disfavored businesses can turn to bitcoin and offshore payment processing.  But while the DoJ is currently satisfied with mere financial harassment, it wouldn’t be hard for its prosecutors to invent spurious charges using vague statutes (“conspiracy”, “wire fraud” and “money laundering” are very handy that way) to persecute targeted businesses which keep going despite the government’s attempts to stifle them.  I can’t say where it will all end, but I can say this: it won’t stop on its own.  The institutions behind it must be hacked apart, before they strangle us all.



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, May 12, 2014

Leftist values

They just LOVE Islam. Both are religions of hate


Revive conservatism in the GOP

Richard Viguerie

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a packed house at the Heritage Foundation about my new book TAKEOVER. If you want to watch the speech on C-SPAN’s Book TV here is the link.

But if you don’t want to watch the speech I’ll cut straight to the chase and give you the highlight here, because I think they are so important to keep in mind as we get into the next few weeks of Republican Primary elections, starting with North Carolina next Tuesday.

Senator Jim DeMint was my 1st choice for President in 2008 and 2012.  I knew Jim DeMint was going to be President. I just didn’t realize it would be President of the Heritage Foundation.

The Heritage Foundation, the conservative movement, and America are fortunate indeed to have Jim DeMint as Heritage’s leader.  Jim DeMint has been the de facto leader of conservatives for many years.

And as our leader, Jim has understood something that that has escaped most conservatives. Conservatives have been losing ground to the Left for the last 100 years.

And during the last 100 years, the entire Democratic Party and most Republican leaders have become unhinged from the Constitution.  Why?

Conservatives, the most important political battle in America is not between Republicans and Democrats. America’s most important political battle is for control of the Republican Party.

For decades conservatives have had their political guns pointed at the wrong targets.  Our main opponents are not Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama.  The people who are keeping limited-government, constitutional conservatives from governing America are big-government Republicans with names like Karl Rove, George Bush 41 and 43, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander.

And this war didn’t start with the arrival of the Tea Party in 2009 or Ronald Reagan’s election as President in 1980.  It started in 1912, 102 years ago, when Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican Party, ran a 3rd party ticket and split the Republican vote allowing the Democrat progressive Woodrow Wilson to become President with less than 42% of the vote. By the way, Teddy Roosevelt is one of big-government Karl Rove’s favorite Presidents.

Sometimes the Big-Government Republican looks like Teddy Roosevelt, Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Jerry Ford, Bob Dole, John McCain or Mitt Romney.

And TAKEOVER is the only book that describes the past, present and possible future of the 102-year GOP Civil War.  I have included a detailed plan in my book which gives conservatives a road map to take over the Republican Party and govern America by 2017.

Conservatives are like the Biblical Jews who had to wander in the desert for 40 years until that generation of failed, flawed leaders had passed from the scene.  Conservatives are not going to get to the political promised land until we replace this generation of failed, flawed, big-government Republicans with limited-government, constitutional conservatives.

The establishment media and big-government Republicans have done a good job of blaming conservatives for Republican losses.

But the opposite is the truth.  The voters consistently reject big-government, content-free Republicans.

In the last fifty years, the Republicans have had only four big election victories.  In those four big Republican Party victories, the face of the opposition to the Democrats that the voters saw was not big-government Republicans.  It was limited-government, smaller government, lower taxes, less government spending, balanced budget, traditional value candidates.

The voters were presented a clear choice – two very different world views.

These four big Republican victories were: 1980 Reagan’s election as president; 1984 Reagan’s re-election; 1994 the Contract with America, the Gingrich-led revolution; and the Tea Party election of 2010.

In 2006 the Republicans lost the Congress and the White House in 2008, in my opinion, having nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or Barack Obama, but everything to do with the failed, immoral, corrupt leadership of the Establishment Republicans Denny Hastert, Bill Frist, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, Karl Rove, and George W. Bush.

However, just a few years later in 2010, the voters turned around and gave Republicans their biggest Congressional election in 75-80 years.  But in 2010, these big-government Republicans such as Rove and Bush were nowhere to be seen.

The face of the opposition to the Democrats was the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, and the voters liked that and gave the Republican Party a big victory.

So that’s why I paraphrase James Carville, who in 1992 famously said over and over, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  And, in 2014 I say to conservatives, “It’s the primaries, stupid.”

We can all see a wave building that is likely to sweep a lot of Democrats out of office.

But if all that happens is more politicians in the mold of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell are elected, conservatives will have wasted the opportunity of a lifetime, and we may have missed our last chance to return America to a limited-government, constitutional conservative republic.

In the primaries, conservatives must unite and support the most electable, principled, limited-government conservative running.  We must oppose all establishment, big-government Republicans whether they are incumbents or insurgents.

Incumbent, big-government Republicans that have principled, limited-government candidates opposing them include: Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, Thad Cochran, Pat Roberts, and Lindsey Graham.

Most states’ filing deadlines have not passed. So if a principled, limited-government conservative hasn’t filed for every race on the 2014 November ballot, we should be organizing an effort to find that candidate. Perhaps you’re the candidate you’ve been waiting for.

By the way, that very weekend, Republican leaders Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy were at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island meeting with the Main Street Partnership, who are meeting to strategize and raise money to, in the words of the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, “Crush them everywhere.”

Remember to chart the future, you must study the past.  And TAKEOVER is the only book that explains why conservatives have mostly been losing for the last 102 years, and then gives you a clear road map for future success.

In my opinion, we’re just a few short years from taking over the Republican Party and governing America.



Close the Export-Import Bank, Fount of Corporate Welfare

Nothing brings out the well-tailored lobbyists in Washington quite like a threat to corporate welfare. With the Export-Import Bank’s legal authorization set to run out this year, the Chamber of Commerce recently led a Big Business march on Capitol Hill to protect what is known as Boeing’s Bank.

Over the last eight decades ExIm has provided over a half trillion dollars in credit, mostly to corporate titans.  Congress should close the Bank.

The agency was created in 1934 to underwrite trade with the Soviet Union.  The agency uses its ability to borrow at government rates to provide loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and loan insurance.

ExIm is not free, as claimed.  Recently made self-financing, the agency has returned $1.6 billion to the Treasury since 2008.

However, economists Jason Delisle and Christopher Papagianis warned that the Bank’s “profits are almost surely an accounting illusion” because “the government’s official accounting rules effectively force budget analysts to understate the cost of loan programs like those managed by the Ex-Im Bank.”  In particular, the price of market risk is not included.  Delisle and Papagianis figured ExIm’s real price to exceed $200 million annually.  

Economist John H. Boyd took another approach, explaining:  “For an economic profit—that is, a real benefit to taxpayers—Eximbank’s income must exceed its recorded expenses plus its owners’ opportunity cost, a payment to taxpayers for investing their funds in this agency rather than somewhere else.”  He figured the Bank’s real cost at between $521 million and $653 million in 1980. Given the recent explosion in Bank lending the corresponding expense today could be much higher.

The Bank claims to create jobs.  No doubt, Exim financing makes some deals work.  But others die because ExIm diverts credit from firms without agency backing.

Economists Heywood Fleisig and Catharine Hill figured that channeling resources to exports reduces “domestic investment, consumption, or government expenditure.”  Thus, they explained, while export subsidies will increase employment in export firms, they will do so “at the expense of employment elsewhere.”

JayEtta Hecker, Associate Director of the then-Government Accounting Office, testified before the Senate: “government export finance assistance programs may largely shift production among sectors within the economy rather than raise the overall level of employment in the economy.  Hence, the jobs figure that the Eximbank reports may not represent net job gains.”

ExIm also sells itself as necessary to promote trade.  Bank president Fred Hochberg told a recent gaggle of supporters:  “we want to be the wind in your sales,” pushing U.S. exports. But exports should not an end in themselves irrespective of cost.

The Bank supports only about two percent worth of exports, barely a blip in a $17 trillion economy.  Moreover, ExIm often subsidizes competitors of American companies.  For instance, two-thirds of the Bank’s loan guarantees last year backed Boeing sales to rivals of U.S. airlines.

The Bank contends that it corrects market failures. Thus, explained the agency in its 2012 annual report: “When the availability of credit from commercial lenders is restricted or the cost is prohibitive, Ex-Im Bank can provide the financing assistance that U.S. exporters need.”

However, international financial markets are sophisticated.  And the Bank is busiest in Asia, Europe, and North America, not Africa and Latin America, where the risks are greater.

Moreover, it’s impossible to know just how many of the deals currently financed by American taxpayers wouldn’t go through absent the subsidy.  Everyone involved in the transaction—borrower, banker, exporter, bureaucrat—has an incentive to claim ExIm played a vital role.

The agency claims to support all businesses, including small ones.  However, candidate Barack Obama got it right in 2008 when he described the Bank as “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”  The most heavily subsidized industries in 2012 were aircraft and avionics, followed by oil and gas, power generation, and agribusiness.

The most money always goes to Big Business.  Boeing alone typically accounts for more than 40 percent of the Bank’s credit activities. Corporate behemoths General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Dow Chemical, Bechtel, John Deere, and Caterpillar regularly join Boeing at the federal trough.  Veronique De Rugy of the Mercatus Center figured that the top ten recipients collect 75 percent of ExIm’s benefits.  Financial institutions and foreign governments also enjoy bountiful subsidies.

Finally, ExIm’s warns that if the U.S. government doesn't provide cheap credit, American companies will lose out to foreign firms subsidized by their governments.  In this way the Bank claims “to help level the playing field to support U.S. companies.”

However, less than half of ExIm credit typically is even directed in this way, let alone proven necessary.  Moreover, the fact that other governments are willing to hurt their peoples by channeling credit away from worthier firms in the marketplace in favor of politically well-connected exporters is no reason for America to do the same.

A better way to help promote trade would be to strengthen the economy generally.  Lower and rationalize business taxes.  Cut and streamline regulation.  Reduce tariffs, especially on widely used imports, such as steel.  Discourage frivolous litigation.  Stop subsidizing the defense of prosperous, populous trade competitors.

Anyone on Capitol Hill who believes in free markets and limited government should oppose the agency’s reauthorization.  Let exporters pay to generate their own profits.



Conservatives Victorious; Boehner Finally Establishes Benghazi Select Committee

Thanks to conservative pressure and the revelations contained in documents obtained by Judicial Watch, House Speaker John Boehner issued the following announcement:

"House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is announcing today in Washington, D.C., that he intends for the House to vote to create a new select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. He released the following statement:

“Americans learned this week that the Obama Administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the People's House.  These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen.  In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.

“The administration's withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built.  And it forces us to ask the question, what else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people?

“The House committees that have been investigating this attack have done extraordinary work, using their subpoena power, holding dozens of hearings, and conducting hundreds of interviews.  Without this work we would not know much that we do today.  But it’s clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight.  This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level.  I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.

“Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice.  It’s time that change.”

Top Republicans say that the infamous White House Benghazi talking point emails should have been released to Congress months ago. Boehner signaled those concerns prompted him to rethink the need for a select committee.



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, May 11, 2014

How “The Smart and Clever” Jon Stewart was Made a Donkey by Fidel Castro’s Agents

Cuba was once a rich country  -- before Castro

Jon Stewart’s snark-fest against Fox News this week over Benghazi finally prompted a rebuttal (of sorts) from Greta Van Susteren: “Note to Jon Stewart (who I think is smart and clever …but like the rest of us, not always right…but a comedian has, of course, way more latitude – we in the media should get it right.)”

This “latitude,” however, should not allow Jon Stewart to disseminate propaganda from Castro’s KGB-founded and mentored intelligence services uncontested. “I LOVE this book!” Jon Stewart gushed upon greeting author TJ English who a few years ago was publicizing his book titled "How the Mob Owned Cuba, and Lost it to the Revolution," on The Daily Show.

“This is the TRUE story of Cuba!” continued the Peabody award winner (for meritorious public service) barely containing himself. “A fascinating book!” hailed Stewart.

Unknown to “The Smartest guy in the Comedy Central Room” Stewart, the primary source for English’s book-- cited no fewer than 72 times in quotes and footnotes-- is an intelligence apparatchik of Castro’s totalitarian regime named Enrique Cirules.

In fact, Senor Cirules is an official of Cuba’s “La Casa de las Americas” agency that publishes and promotes the Castro regime’s propaganda in books and articles under the guise of “art.” In 1983 a high ranking Cuban Intelligence officer named Jesus Perez Mendez defected to the U.S. and spilled his guts to the FBI. Among his spillings we encounter the following: "The Cuban DGI (Directorio General de Inteligencia, Castro's KGB-trained Secret service) controls Casa de las Americas.”

“We were hoping to have Senor Perez-Mendes on tonight to contribute his views on the veracity of your book’s claims, Mr English,” would have been a properly snarky Stewart introduction to English. “But were thwarted upon discovering that he lives under FBI protection for fear of being assassinated by the KGB-trained folks who hosted you in Cuba and collaborated with you in writing the book!”

“Mr English, in your book’s acknowledgements you describe this Castroite apparatchik Enrique Cirules as a “Cuban author," the properly snarky and Peabody-winning Stewart might have continued. “Wouldn’t this be like describing Julius Streicher as “a German author," and Ilya Ehrenburg as "a Russian author?"

Instead, minutes into the interview and in response to another Godfather-ite cliché by the smug TJ English, Stewart-- this winner of the Television Critics Association award for “Outstanding Achievement in News and Information,"-- gushed: "WOW! So the Mob actually built Cuba's economy! So it was actually worse than shown in Godfather II!"

I know, I know, the “the Mob ran pre-Castro Cuba” meme is so entrenched into the worldwide media/Hollywood/academia Cuba narrative that perhaps we shouldn’t single out Jon Stewart as a Castro dupe when so many other Castro dupes parrot the same propaganda every time Cuba hits the news cycle. Take a Boston Globe editorial just this week:

“Cubans… are also aware that the United States doesn’t have clean hands in Cuba. Under the thuggish reign of US-backed Fulgencio Batista, American sugar plantations exploited laborers and stoked racial anger through segregation; the US mafia, having been dislodged from American cities by the crusading Kefauver committee, took over much of Havana, operating gambling rackets, drug rings, and prostitution.”

Please be informed, Jon Stewart and Boston Globe: better sources on pre-Castro Cuba than Godfather II actually exist.

In 1955 Cuba contained a grand total of three gambling casinos, the biggest was at the Tropicana and featured ten gambling tables and thirty slot machines, the Hotel Nacional, featured seven roulette wheels and twenty-one slot machines. “By contrast, in 1955 the single Riviera Casino in Las Vegas featured twenty tables and one hundred and sixteen slot machines. This means that in 1955: one Las Vegas Casino had more gambling action than all of Cuba.

Also interesting: according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Commission the typical tourist spends five days in their city and spends an average of $580 ($75 in 1957 dollars) on gambling, the main motive for 90 per cent of visitors. Well, throughout the 1950's Cuba averaged 180,000 tourists a year.Let's assume ALL those tourists —men, women, adolescents, children—did nothing in Cuba but gamble, and at the Las Vegas' rate.Well, this would mean an extremely generous total of $13 and a half million for Cuba's gambling industry annually. But in 1957 Cuba's Gross Domestic product was $2.7 billion, and Cuba's foreign receipts were $752 million. How could the beneficiaries of that miniscule fraction of Cuba's income “take over” one of the wealthiest, most modern and economically diverse cities in the Western hemisphere?

Here’s another snark-opportunity for Jon Stewart’s writers in case they again host T.J. English: “Mr English, your book claims that: "Every Monday at noon, a bagman for mobster Meyer Lansky delivered a satchel filled with $1.28 million in cash that was to be delivered to Batista.”

“So Mr English, are you claiming that Mob chief Meyer Lansky was slipping Batista MORE every week than the COMBINED annual GROSS from EVERY casino in Cuba, including those unaffiliated with Meyer Lansky?”

Also interesting: In 1953 more Cubans vacationed in the U.S. than Americans vacationed in Cuba. How could the wretched and brutalized residents of that plundered and impoverished nation, (as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Hollywood, NPR, Jon Stewart, etc. depict it) have possibly pulled that off?

In fact, in 1958 the year prior to Castro’s U.S.-backed takeover of Cuba…

“But wait-a-minute Humberto?!” you say. “The media, Hollywood and our professors all swear up and down that Batista was backed by the U.S., who bitterly and violently opposed Castro?!”

Well, here’s the U.S. ambassador to Cuba from 1957-59 Earl T. Smith testifying to the U.S. Senate in 1960: “various agencies of the United States directly and indirectly brought Fidel Castro into power.”

And here’s the CIA’s Caribbean desk chief from 1957-60 Robert Reynolds, another knowledgeable party to the issue, you might think: “Me and my staff were all Fidelistas.”

In fact, during that horrible period for Cubans ( as depicted by Godfather II and Jon Stewart) not only did most Cubans voluntarily remain in Cuba despite open doors both from Cuba and into the U.S.—but the island’s standard of living and booming and diverse economy attracted immigrants from both Europe and the U.S.

During this period people (from nearby Haiti and Jamaica) often jumped on rafts trying to enter Cuba.



Preparing for War, Keeping Peace

Exactly a century ago, the leading lights of Europe seemed to believe that war was impossible. One of the era’s most successful books, “The Great Illusion” by journalist Norman Angell, asserted that trade, not violence, was the way of the future.

He was wrong, but not completely wrong.

Yes, in 1914 the Western world mobilized in August. World War I killed some 15 million people, and would be followed by World War II and a series of skirmishes during the Cold War. More than 100 million people were killed in conflicts during the 20th century.

Ian Morris, a professor at Stanford, noted recently in The Washington Post, about 2 percent of the planet’s population died violently in that century. Compare that to the Stone Age, when roughly 20 percent of a much smaller population died violently. Modern humans are living much longer, safer, more productive lives. Why?

Morris attributes this overall decline to the formation of nation-states. Beginning in the 1600s, “Europeans exported unprecedented amounts of violence around the world. The consequences were terrible; and yet they created the largest societies yet seen, driving rates of violent death lower than ever before,” he writes.

Such successful governments included the United States. It was powerful enough to civil rights and protect property rights, so citizens could own the fruits of their labor, yet limited enough in size and scope to encourage private innovation.

The planet enjoyed its first period of peaceful growth because of Great Britain, Morris argues. “Its wealth came from exporting goods and services, [so] it used its financial and naval muscle to deter rivals from threatening the international order.” When the age of British dominance finally ended during World War II, the United States stepped up to fill London’s role of maintaining global order. “Like its predecessor, the United States oversaw a huge expansion of trade, intimidated other countries into not making wars that would disturb the world order, and drove rates of violent death even lower,” Morris writes.

But in an unsettling way, 2014 looks a bit like 1914. For example, the global intelligentsia seem to think they’ve banished war. They’ve certainly banished most war-spending, which -- ironically – as history has shown, leads to more war.

The United States is the only developed economy that invests 4 percent of GDP in defense. After the U.K. at 2.5 percent and France at 2.3 percent, things go downhill quickly, with Germany at less than 2 percent and Japan less than 1 percent. Still-developing China spends 2 percent.

It’s a positive that the developed world is comfortable trusting the U.S. military. And it’s a positive that the developed world thinks it has put war behind it. But in his book, “Civilization and Its Enemies,” Lee Harris points to what he calls an unsettling paradox. “The more the spirit of commerce triumphs, the closer mankind comes to dispensing with war, the nearer we approach the end of history, the greater are the rewards to those who decide to return to the path of war,” he writes.

Witness Russia in Crimea and, potentially, the whole of Ukraine. And should the Russians decide to go another few steps, consider the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Latvia. It’s in a tough neighborhood, right up against Russia. But it has almost no military; only 6,000 active troops and 11,000 reservists, financed by less than 1 percent of its GDP. It’s counting on NATO to protect it.

Whether NATO, which really means the U.S., will be there is the big question.

Perceptions matter. “Rogue states will behave more roguishly if they doubt America’s will to stop them,” The Economist points out. And, “In a world full of bluffers, the ruthless will rule,” as Harris writes.

There’s no reason the 21st century can’t be even more peaceful and profitable than the 20th was. American leadership, though will be key.



Screening Immigrants for Fraud: A Tale of Two Enforcements

The press release from the Department of Homeland Security was supposed to be good news. Their agents had broken up a plot to fraudulently bring workers to America.

But if you looked a little deeper, as I did, I found that a couple of U.S.-based crooks had created a totally fraudulent university, and had, for years, been using the phony institution to bring a total of 24 illegal aliens to the United States. No one in our government noticed that the place simply did not exist!

Time and again decision-making employees in the Departments of State, Labor, and Homeland Security had rubber-stamped applications that allowed the aliens to enter the country. And in each and every case, all three of the agencies had erred. Since this happened 24 times and (24 x 3 = 72) that produced a box score of: United States, 0 hits and 72 errors.

Sometimes our government notices such white-collar crime, but all too often it does not; and usually, when it does, it’s years and years between the time of the violation and the corrective action.

Contrast the multiple errors in the U.S. case to what happened in the United Kingdom recently. British authorities learned that five illegal aliens (all men) from Pakistan were about to have fraudulent marriages with five legal residents (all women) that would give the Pakistanis instant legal status.

The Home Office agents swooped down on the group wedding, stopped it before it happened, and deported at least four of the five illegals. Score: United Kingdom: 5 hits, and 0 errors.

Clearly the U.K. won that one!

These, of course, are anecdotes but after decades of studying immigration policy, mostly in the U.S., but often overseas, I can say that these scores are pretty typical of the levels of interior immigration enforcement in the two nations.

Our Border Patrol does a pretty good job of discouraging one kind of illegal immigration—that of “entering without inspection.” But when it comes to rooting out people in the nation illegally, most of whom had arrived earlier with tourist visas, the Brits are much better than we are.

Let’s look at the two cases in more depth.

The Phony University. There is a temporary worker program in the U.S. called H-1B (for the provision in the immigration law). An alien needs to have a college degree to qualify, and to have a U.S. employer who can convince the U.S. Department of Labor that such a worker is needed in the U.S. economy (something Labor agrees to far too often.) Though there is a numerical limit on the program generally, there is none for H-1Bs coming to the U.S. to work at a university. There are other (mild) restrictions; work as a nurse does not qualify for an H-1B visa, though Homeland Security is currently chipping away at this restriction.

Meanwhile, there are nursing homes that are eager to hire foreign nurses at bargain rates.

Two bright crooks in the Denver area decided to create Adam University; they got formal papers from the relaxed folks in Colorado’s Department of Education, but never opened the institution. They were probably playing on the fact that there is an Adams State University.

Then they made use of the demand for low-paid nurses; the fact that nurses could not get H-1B visas; the parallel facts that professors of nursing could get those visas; and that many Filipino nurses wanted to work in the U.S. The crooks then processed the H-1B visas, got the nurses to the States, and told them that they would get work, but not at the wages shown on the Labor Department applications; if they objected, they were told they would be deported, so most of them accepted the low-paid jobs, and kept paying bribes to the promoters to prevent deportation.

All of this could have been avoided if on one of the 72 times the applications were reviewed someone did something as simple as to check Adam University against the list of nursing schools, or operative universities. It never happened.

The Phony Marriages. The Home Office (the government unit that handles immigration) apparently has worked out arrangements with wedding license agencies, to inform them of questionable applications. Further, wedding licenses appear, in the U.K., to state the time and the place of the forthcoming marriage.

In this case the U.K. investigators knew all about the planned “marriages” and were pro-active.

I have been paying close attention to immigration-fraud- weddings in the U.S. for several years and have never heard of a similar, alert move by our agents.

Both nations suffer from illegal immigration but the Brits are simply more motivated to do something about it than our officials. It’s as simple as that.



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)