Friday, June 13, 2014

The habitual dishonesty of the Left is a huge political problem

When they hear something confidently asserted, most people tend to accept that as true until they have evidence to the contrary.  The Left are kept afloat by that tendency.  The facts are against almost every conceivable Leftist proposition.  So loudly deceiving people about the facts is essential to the Left.

A very common deceptive tactic is a very old and very effective  one:  Accusing your opponents of what are in fact your own faults  -- what Freud called "projection".

Nowhere is this a more persuasive strategy than in the constant accusations that conservatives are "racist".  That is such a big lie and is asserted so often that many people undoubtedly believe it.

A knowledge of the relevant history immediately demolishes that assertion but Leftist control of the educational system ensures that almost no-one gets to know that history.  That Hitler was a socialist, that one of Britain's most notable Prime Ministers was both a Jew and the head of the British CONSERVATIVE party are both obvious and large signs that the Leftist accusations are false.  British Conservatives made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime minister.  40 years later,  German socialists immolated 6 million Jews.  So who is the antisemite?  Who is the racist?

Here is another interesting piece of history.  In 1905 the sitting British government lost power in a general election to the opposition.  The main cause of its loss was that it was too sympathetic to (legal) Chinese immigration.  Ask any Leftist which party it was that lost the election and they would undoubtedly nominate a Left-leaning party.  It was in fact the Conservative government of Arthur Balfour.

It is true that it was Chinese immigration to South Africa that was the issue but Britain had just fought a long and costly war to assert that South Africa was British territory and public opinion did see the issue as concerning British territory.

And anyone who has read the correspondence between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (I have) will be aware of the many racial aspersions cast by both those Leftist icons

For a time modern-day conservatives defended themselves from false Leftist attacks by saying that talking about different races and racial characteristics was not at all the same as advocating genocide and did not imply support for genocide.  But in recent years, conservatives seem to have become cowed.  They avoid all mention of race in fear of Leftist attack.

The truth will never come out that way.  And it needs to come out.  For example, the lie that all races are equal in all things is very damaging.  Leftists are absolutely firm that the black/white "gap" in educational achievement is NOT due to any inherent differences between the two groups.  They are sure that it is transient and changeable and rack their brains for ways to change it.  But it never does change, no matter what the best brains in Leftism have been able to come up with.

So the inevitable outcome of that is that black under-achievement must not be intrinsic to them but must be due to "whitey":  Whitey oppresses and discriminates against blacks, allegedly.  And a more poisonous claim than that would be hard to imagine.  Blacks tend to believe it and it makes them very hostile towards whites.  So we have all the  black-on-white attacks and killings that the press does its  best to hush up.  Many innocent whites are injured and killed because of that great Leftist lie.

Anybody who was familiar with the last 100 years of research into IQ would see that the black-white educational gap is exactly what you would expect from the black-white IQ gap and that nothing will eradicate it -- but Leftists assert that "all men are equal" so cannot accept that.

It may be that all men are equal in the sight of God but divine optometrical defects are not scientifically testable.  IQ is.

But I despair of the truth ever becoming widely known now that conservatives have given up defending it.  America will continue to stagger on under destructive public policies supported only by Leftist lies.


Beware a Beneficent Government

The president is an ardent progressive. This dastardly philosophy of government was brought into the American mainstream 100 years ago by a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, and a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. Its guiding principle is the belief that government -- not individuals -- is the chief engine of human progress. If that means government tearing down rich persons to help poor persons, if that means the massive redistribution of wealth, if it means federal regulation of every conceivable occupation or productive endeavor, if it means fighting an unjust war, progressives are for it.

Before the progressives, the dominant political thinkers in America were Madisonians. James Madison, who kept the notes at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 -- notes that eventually formed much of the language of the Constitution -- made clear what the purposes of the Constitution were: to prescribe discrete areas of human endeavor in which the new federal government could legislate; to set forth open-ended areas of human behavior in which no government could legislate; and to leave the remaining areas of governmental endeavor in the hands of the states. The areas delegated to the federal government are only 17 in number and generally are referred to as federal powers. The areas in which no government may regulate are infinite and generally are referred to as natural rights.

The progressives have turned this philosophy on its head. TR and Wilson believed that the federal government could regulate any behavior, right any wrong, tax any event and curtail any freedom, subject only to the express prohibitions in the Constitution itself. This view of American government not only contradicts Madison, but it also contradicts the language of the Constitution itself, particularly the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which state in writing what Madison said many times throughout his life.

President Obama, most congressional Democrats and many congressional Republicans are ardent progressives. They view Congress as a general legislature with no limits to its powers -- and they mean no limits. For example, in an area clearly beyond congressional reach, such as in-state highway speed limits, the progressives found a way to extend their reach. They offered money to the states to repave their highways, with the condition that the states adhere to federally prescribed speed limits (only South Dakota declined). Once the courts gave their imprimatur to this assault on the Constitution, the feds realized that by spending taxpayer dollars -- by bribing the states -- they could extend their regulatory tentacles to any extra-constitutional area they chose.

Progressivism's adherents finance the government by borrowing or by heavily taxing only the rich, both of which are sold as being painless to most voters. Yet, the former merely delays the due date of bills until tomorrow for goodies consumed today; the latter takes cash out of the free market today, where it could contribute to growth and jobs tomorrow, and puts it into the hands of the mindset that runs the Post Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Progressives hate the states because they can be laboratories of less government. They love central government and all of its creations, such as the cash-printing Federal Reserve, the wealth-stealing progressive income tax, and the concept of a federal safety net for all persons. None of this, except the income tax (which Wilson promised would not exceed 3 percent of adjusted gross income), is authorized by the Constitution.

Yet today, we are witnessing a government that is beyond ideologically progressive. Does Obama understand that progressive ideas have consequences and that governmental behavior often has unintended consequences? It would appear not, as his long train of incompetence and indifference, grounded in progressive thought, keeps picking up speed. It is crushing human freedom, destroying human wealth and even taking human lives.

Under his presidency, the government saddled us all with a three-sizes-fits-all version of compulsory health care (which caused more than five million persons to lose their coverage and their doctors); it has been spying on all Americans all the time (and we sleepily permit it to do so); it allowed our ambassador in Libya to be murdered (after it destroyed the lawful government there); it told illegal aliens they need not worry about deportation (and thus encouraged the immigration of hundreds of thousands more -- even unaccompanied children -- to our shores); it neglected veterans to the point of death in government hospitals (demonstrating conclusively that the feds cannot deliver health care); it released assets material to terrorist organizations into the theater of war in the Middle East (ostensibly in a prisoner swap to save a weird military bird who once embraced his captors); it has claimed the power to kill Americans it views as a threat to others and yet too troublesome to arrest and bring to trial (all the while claiming it has a secret reading of the Constitution and American law that somehow justifies this); and it has added $6 trillion to government debt (with no plans to repay it).

What's going on? The modern presidency is blinded by a conceit that says it can do no wrong. This is partially the result of the passage of power from the states to the feds and from Congress to the president and partially the fault of a president who relishes telling us all how to live. In Obama's hands, all this power produces the vast unhappiness and government recklessness we now see every day.

The same Madison whom Obama rejects warned 200 years ago against the Obama mindset: "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."



The Top 8 Consequences of Cantor's Defeat

On Tuesday night, one of the most stunning upsets in Congressional primary history took place, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) losing his primary to economics professor Dave Brat. Brat campaigned on the platform that Cantor was a backer of amnesty legislation; heavy conservative media coverage of the thousands of illegal immigrant youths pouring across our inundated southern border contributed to a sense of urgency.

So Cantor is out.

And the landscape has radically shifted, both for the Republican Party, and for the 2014 election. Here are the biggest ramifications of Cantor’s defeat.

Boehner Is Likely Done. The writing has been on the wall for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ever since a failed House insurgency in the aftermath of a coup attempt against his speakership in January 2013. Boehner had been under fire ever since his sequestration deal with President Obama in 2011; his “fiscal cliff” deal with President Obama at the end of 2012 only drove further pressure. Boehner’s repeated attempts to covertly push amnesty legislation have lost him his base. And the departure of many of his top allies in Congress leaves him vulnerable this year. Cantor’s ties to Boehner may signal that a successful insurgency is on the way. Aides are telling the National Journal, “We’re absolutely stunned. Honestly, we really can’t believe it.”

The “Young Guns” Are Firing Blanks. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Cantor were considered the so-called “young guns” in the House, preparing to take over leadership from Boehner and company whenever he stepped down. Ryan and Cantor have been vocal about their desire for immigration reform legislation this year. Cantor is now gone. And Ryan’s position as a leader is in serious jeopardy.

The Death of the Tea Party Was Greatly Exaggerated. After the 2012 election cycle, pundits and the chattering class deemed the Tea Party dead. After the last round of primaries, in which Tea Party groups backed incumbents in many races and lost against incumbents in others – ignoring the victory of Ben Sasse in Nebraska, which the media did – the Tea Party had been relegated to the dustbin of media history. Not so much.

The Conservative Media Has Firepower. Without the power of Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Breitbart News, and others in the new media, the consistent and steady push for amnesty in the House would have gone largely unremarked upon. Instead, it has become a national issue, firing up the base. Ousting a powerful figure like Cantor is not easy. It takes a major movement to do so. That major movement came as a result of scrutiny from conservatives in the media.

The Corporatists -- Including the US Chamber of Commerce -- Took a Major Hit. The major business interests within the Republican Party, including the Chamber of Commerce, have been heavy backers of amnesty in Congress. They just got outclassed by an on-the-ground grassroots force. The split between those two groups paves the way for an all-out brawl between the corporatist Republican establishment and the Tea Party capitalists come 2016.

Establishment Candidates Are In For a Rough 2016 Ride. In 2012, Texas Governor Rick Perry saw his candidacy end on the question of immigration. In 2016, Perry will be in the mix again, as will Jeb Bush. Both are perceived as soft on immigration by the base. The establishment Republican Party is significantly warmer to such candidates than the grassroots are. It’ll be cash vs. activism in 2016. In Cantor’s district, activism just won a stunning victory.

Democrats Will Shift the 2014 Narrative to Immigration. With the conservative base fired up about immigration, President Obama and the Democrats will seize on Cantor’s defeat to once again swerve to the “Tea Party as anti-immigrant extremist” narrative. The goal: to avoid talking about Obamacare and split the Republican Party. It won’t work. The Cantor defeat is the death knell for the immigration reform caucus in the GOP, at least for this cycle, and that means that the party will be more, not less unified.

Barack Obama Will Use This As An Excuse for Executive Action -- After The Election. Obama has been threatening executive action for years on immigration. And he has the power to blanket amnesty millions, as I’ve written before in this space. But now Obama believes he may have a ray of hope in campaigning on immigration. That will delay any executive action beyond the election. He’d rather campaign on the basis that he needs a compliant Congress on immigration than act unilaterally prior to the election and have to answer questions about abuse of power.

This is a stunning night for the GOP. And just as in 2010, the establishment and its donors have no idea just what to do about it. The answer should be: unify.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 12, 2014

The statin craze is slowly unwinding

Statins (atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor)) are supposed to lower blood lipids and thus prevent heart attacks.  For currently healthy people however their benefits are dubious and the side-effects can be severe.  The side-effects can mimic Alzheimers so the recent upsurge in Alzheimers could be entirely due to the fashion of handing out statins like peanuts

Millions of healthy Britons are about to be given statins needlessly and exposed to debilitating side effects which include muscle pain and diabetes, leading doctors warn.

They say NHS proposals to radically increase the uptake of the drugs are a ‘public health disaster’ that will cause harm to many patients.

The group – which includes cardiologists, and senior GPs – is urging the government and the NHS drugs watchdog NICE to halt the plans. They also claim that eight of the 12-strong panel of experts who are drawing up the guidelines have financial links to drugs firms making statins – which stand to make a profit.

About seven million patients in Britain take statins to lower the cholesterol in their blood to prevent heart attacks and strokes. They are predominantly given to over-65s who have been diagnosed with heart disease or have a high risk of developing it based on their family history or lifestyle.

But in February, NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – published draft guidance advising GPs to prescribe statins to anyone with a 10 per cent risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next decade. It claims this could save many lives at a minimum cost to the NHS as the drugs cost as little as 10p each.

Experts say this would lead to the drugs being given to between five and ten million additional patients.

NICE will publish its final guidelines next month.

But the group of doctors say there is no evidence that giving statins to healthy people increases their life expectancy.

On the contrary, they point to evidence showing they increased the risk of diabetes in middle-aged women by 48 per cent and cause fatigue and muscle pain.

The group also accuse NICE of looking only at evidence about benefits and possible side effects of statins that have been provided by drugs firms, which could be biased.

The leading doctors also argue that rather than prescribing statins, the NHS should be encouraging patients to lose weight and take more exercise.

In a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NICE, they wrote: ‘The consequences of not withdrawing this guidance are worrying: harm to many patients over many years, and the loss of public and professional faith in NICE as an independent assessor.

‘Public interests need always to be put before other interests, particularly pharma [the drugs industry].’

Professor Simon Capewell,  professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool,  one of the doctors against the move, said: ‘The statin recommendations are deeply worrying,  condemning all middle-aged adults to lifelong medications of questionable value.’

Dr Malcolm Kendrick,  a GP  and member of the BMA General Practitioners sub-committee, who is also a member of the group said: ‘Who knew that millions of people  in the UK now suffer from statin  deficiency syndrome? Mass statination is a triumph of statistics over common sense.

‘Treating millions at a cost of billions based on data we are not allowed to see is an example of the corporatisation of medicine and will result in a public health disaster.’

And Dr David Newman, director of clinical research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said: ‘For most people at low risk  of cardiovascular disease, a statin will give them diabetes as often as it will prevent a non-fatal heart attack.’

In response, Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: ‘Cardiovascular disease maims and kills people through coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and stroke. Together, these kill one in three of us. Our proposals are intended to prevent many lives being destroyed.’



Libertarians Versus Conservatives

John Stossel

Both libertarians and conservatives want to keep America safe. We differ on how best to do that. Most libertarians believe our attempts to create or support democracy around the world have made us new enemies, and done harm as well as good. We want less military spending.

Some conservatives respond to that by calling us isolationists, but we're not. I want to participate in the world; I just don't want to run it. I'm glad Americans trade with other countries -- trade both goods and people. It's great we sell foreigners our music, movies, ideas, etc. And through dealing with them, we also learn from what they do best.

On my TV show this week, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will tell me why my libertarian skepticism about the importance of a "strong military presence" is "completely irrelevant to foreign policy decision-making."

Bolton thinks it's dangerous and provocative for America to appear militarily weak. He supported the Iraq War and says that if Iran were close to getting nuclear weapons, the U.S should attack. "I will go to my grave trying to prevent every new country we can find from getting nuclear weapons," because if they do, "it's going to be a very dangerous world."

He criticizes Presidents Barack Obama's and George W. Bush's failed attempts at negotiation with Iran, "negotiation based on the delusion from the get-go that Iran was ever serious about potentially giving up its nuclear weapon program."

That kind of talk makes Bolton sound like a hard-headed realist. Who wants to be naive like Bush or Obama? But hawks like Bolton ignore parts of reality, too.

They are quick and correct to point out the danger of Iran going nuclear. They are not as quick to talk about the fact that Iran has a population three times the size of Iraq's -- and the Iraq War wasn't as smooth or short as then-Vice President Dick Cheney and others assured us it would be.

If it's realistic to acknowledge that America has dangerous enemies, it's also realistic to acknowledge that going to war is not always worth the loss of money and lives, and that it makes new enemies. War, like most government plans, tends not to work out as well as planners hoped.

I asked Bolton if he thought the Vietnam War was a good intervention. "Obviously, the way it played out, it was not," he said, but, "it's always easy after the fact to second-guess."

Bolton also acknowledges that the Iraq War did not go well, but then adds, "Where mistakes were made was after the military campaign." The U.S. was unprepared for the civil war that broke out. The U.S. also failed to turn utilities and other state-run companies in Iraq over to the private sector, maintaining poorly run monopolies on energy production and other essential services, often squandering billions of dollars.

It might be seen as a harsh lesson in the importance of planning for the aftermath of toppling a bad regime. But we libertarians wonder: Why assume government will do better next time?

Occasionally government acknowledges mistakes in domestic policy -- but that doesn't mean it then becomes more efficient. It usually just spends more to try, and fail, to fix the problem. It's the nature of government. Politicians don't face the competitive incentives that force other people to make hard decisions.

Candidate Obama garnered support by criticizing Bush for costing money and lives through a protracted stay in Iraq. But that didn't stop Obama from putting more money and troops into Afghanistan.

In his first term alone, Obama spent about three times as much in Afghanistan as Bush did in two terms. Did we win hearts and minds? I don't think so. The Taliban may still retake the country.

Our military should be used for defense, not to police the world.



A new tea party victory in VA -- for economist Dave Brat

Eric Cantor Loses Primary to Unheralded, Under-funded Tea Party Challenger

Wasserman calls it the "biggest House upset" he's ever seen. Elections expert Sean Trende pronounces himself speechless. Team Cantor is likely as stunned as anyone else:

One recent poll showed a potential tightening of the race, but with Cantor still ahead by double digits. And yet...the sitting House Majority Leader got blown out in a race everyone expected him to win comfortably.

Here's why:

    "Brat has exposed discontent with Cantor in the solidly Republican, suburban Richmond 7th Congressional District by attacking the lawmaker on his votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, as well as his support for some immigration reforms. At a May meeting of Republican activists in the district, Cantor was booed, and an ally he campaigned for was ousted as the local party chairman in favor of a tea party favorite"


Dave says:

Fellow Virginians,

I want to thank you for taking the time to learn more about our campaign to provide the Seventh Congressional District with the true conservative representation it deserves.

We face real challenges in our nation, and we will never overcome them by maintaining the status quo. Together, it is time to fight for real, conservative, free market change. Our Republican Creed needs to become our Republican Plan. (Learn more about Dave’s commitment to the Republican Creed)

As a life long Republican and economist, I know how to get our economy back on track, get our citizens back to work, restore our credit rating, and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren. I am committed to being a servant-leader as our Founders intended, and I look forward to the opportunity to fight for you in Washington.

I hope that you take this opportunity to learn as much about me, where I stand, and what kind of congressman I will be, and I encourage you to contact our campaign with any questions or to get involved in working to make our country a better place.

Together, we can accomplish great things, and I have faith that the conservative grassroots will overcome the money that big business and Establishment Republicans will devote to distorting our true free market, conservative principles.



Military Bases: Obama's New Illegal Alien Dumping Grounds

Michelle Malkin

A source tipped me off last week to a curious occurrence: It seems that two planeloads of illegal aliens were recently shipped to Massachusetts. The first reportedly landed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford. According to my tipster, approximately 160 illegal immigrants arrived on that flight and stayed nearly a week before being transferred to a Department of Homeland Security site and then released.

The second flight reportedly was diverted from Hanscom to Boston's Logan Airport this past weekend. I am told that both Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials were on hand. I reached out to Hanscom AFB for confirmation, but did not receive a call back by my deadline.

Question: How many other military bases are stealthily being used to redistribute, house, process and release illegal border crossers?

What we do know for sure is that the Obama administration already has converted several other military bases across the country into outposts for tens of thousands of illegal aliens from Central and South America.

San Antonio's Lackland Air Force Base opened its doors as an illegal immigrant camp last month. Port Hueneme Naval Base in Ventura County, Calif., will shelter nearly 600 illegal border-crossing children and teens. The Fort Sill Army post in Lawton, Okla., was ordered on Friday to take in 1,200 illegal aliens despite the objections of GOP Gov. Mary Fallin, who blasted the White House, saying, "The Obama administration continues to fail in its duty to protect our borders and continues to promote policies that encourage, rather than discourage, illegal immigration."

A makeshift detention center in Nogales, Ariz., is being used as the central clearing station for the latest illegal alien surge. The deluge is a threat to national security, public safety and public health -- not to mention a slap in the face to the law-abiding men and women in uniform on those bases and a kick in the teeth to law-abiding people around the world patiently waiting for approval of their visas.

Meanwhile, a law enforcement source in Texas tells me this week that countless illegal aliens are being released into the general public despite testing positive for tuberculosis. "The feds are putting them on public transportation to God knows where," he said.

Another source, working in the border patrol in south Texas, tells me: "Our station, along with every other station, is flooded with women and small children. One lady yesterday had a baby as young as 8 months. And they're coming over with pink eye and scabies. So getting them medically cleared becomes a priority. They'll be here for almost a week, so we provide them with formula and diapers. We have a catering service contracted to feed them because it's too many for us to feed on our own. And of course, they end up being released because every family housing facility is full. They're supposed to show up for immigration court at a later date, but they don't."

As I've said for two decades, illegal alien amnesties guarantee two things: more illegal immigration and more Democratic voters. Now we have a White House forcing U.S. military bases to provide interminable benefits and services to illegal aliens for political gain, while said White House evades responsibility for allowing military veterans to die waiting for the most basic of medical services.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 11, 2014

The Prisoner Swap Deal

Obama's actions are a guide to his intentions

Thomas Sowell

People are arguing about what the United States got out of the deal that swapped five top level terrorist leaders for one American soldier who was, at best, absent from his post in a war zone. Soldiers who served in the same unit with him call him a deserter. The key to this deal, however, is less likely to be what the United States got out of the deal than it is about what Barack Obama got out of the deal. If nothing else, it instantly got the veterans' hospitals scandals off the front pages of newspapers and pushed these scandals aside on television news programs.

It was a clear winner for Barack Obama. And that may be all that matters to Barack Obama.

People who are questioning the president's competence seem not to want to believe that any President of the United States would knowingly damage this country's interests.

One of the problems of many fundamentally decent people is that they find it hard to understand people who are not fundamentally decent, or whose moral compass points in a different direction from theirs.

Many people who are painfully disappointed with President Obama have no real reason to be. The man's whole previous history, from childhood on, was shaped by a whole series of people, beginning with his mother, whose vision of America was very much like that of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church Barack Obama belonged to for 20 long years.

Obama is not a stupid man. There is no way that he could have sat in that church all that time without knowing how Jeremiah Wright hated America, and how his vision of the world was one in which "white folks' greed runs a world in need."

Even if the Reverend Wright had been the only such person in Barack Obama's life -- and he was not -- it should have been enough to keep him out of the White House.

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a good rule in a court of law, which has the power to deprive a defendant of liberty or life. But it is mindless and dangerous nonsense to apply that standard outside that context -- especially when choosing a President of the United States, who holds in his hands the liberty and lives of millions of Americans.

People who are disappointed with Barack Obama have no right to be. It is they whom others have a right to be disappointed with. Instead of taking their role as citizens seriously, they chose to vote on the basis of racial symbolism, glib rhetoric and wishful thinking.

Moreover, many are already talking about choosing the next President of the United States on the basis of demographic symbolism -- to have "the first woman president." And if she is elected on that basis, will any criticism of what she does in the White House be denounced as based on anti-woman bias, as criticisms of President Obama have been repeatedly denounced as racism?

And what if we have the first Hispanic president or the first Jewish president? Will any criticism of their actions in the White House be silenced by accusations of prejudice?

We may yet become the first nation to die from a terminal case of frivolity. Other great nations in history have been threatened by barbarians at the gates. We may be the first to be threatened by self-indulgent silliness inside the gates.

As for Barack Obama, you cannot judge any President's competence by the results of his policies, without first knowing what he was trying to achieve.

Many wise and decent people assume automatically that President Obama was trying to serve the interests of America. From that standpoint, he has failed abysmally, both at home and abroad. And that should legitimately call his competence into question.

But what if his vision of the world is one in which the wealth and power of those at the top, whether at home or internationally, are deeply resented, and have been throughout his life, under the tutelage of a whole series of resenters? And what if his goal is to redress that imbalance?

Who can say that he has failed, when the fundamental institutions of this country have been successfully and perhaps irretrievably undermined, and when the positions of America and its allies on the world stage have been similarly, and even more dangerously, undermined around the world?



Obama has Frenchified America

Government attempts to jumpstart the economy, changes to the way the country creates energy, high unemployment, massive tax increases on the “wealthy” – the headlines in France sound eerily similar to ours. Maybe we should learn the lesson they’re providing across the Pond.

When it comes to exporting goods, both France and the United States are power players in the world. America leads the pack, and France comes in 10th place, according to the CIA World Factbook. Yet both leaders in the world economy play the same heavy-handed economic game inside their borders. For example, the CIA Factbook says France “maintain[s] social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that mitigate economic inequality.”

Overall, the results of France’s policies were predictable:

Taxes – Last year, France went after the “rich” with a vengeance that would make Robespierre proud. Implementing the 75% “millionaire tax” slammed France’s entrepreneurs supposedly as a way to help shrink the growing budget deficit and boost the economy. The reverse happened. The tax raised about half its expected revenue, and the economy stalled. Even French Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted, “Too much tax kills tax.” In the U.S., Obama’s massive tax hike on the wealthy is doing the same thing.

Unemployment – While the U.S. headline unemployment stubbornly stays above 6%, France finds itself dealing with 10% unemployment. For some reason, this is good news in the country. But the government there isn’t done yet. Paris wants to spend 500 million Euros, about $681.95 million, to subsidize youth who are “lacking professional qualifications,” a.k.a. unqualified. What happens when the subsidies run out? More subsidies, probably. Meanwhile, high unemployment has brought other problems, like:

Flight into Germany – Some Frenchmen with the language skills commute into Germany, where the unemployment rate is about 4%, because it’s easier to get a job there. Bloomberg reports Germany pulls in French workers because of its labor rules. About 10 years ago, Germany limited unemployment benefits, discouraged people from retiring early and improved the job-search process. In response, Germans filled the workplace.

France, on the other hand, has a 3,200-page labor rulebook that regulates the workplace, chilling the nation’s competitiveness.

Draconian energy agendas – In the U.S. new EPA regulations designed to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to cripple the economy. But it’s for the greater good, leftists argue, because it will save the earth from a hot and watery end. In France, they already have an energy source free of greenhouse gases – nuclear power. However, the French government in all its authoritarian wisdom decided the atom was bad and decreed the nation needs to cut back on all that nuclear production, something that will … drumroll, please … cripple the economy.

With the socialist nation and the birthplace of freedom both running parallel tracks economically, it comes as no surprise that both economies have stalled. In the first quarter, America’s economy shrank 1% (blamed on the bad weather of all things) while France’s economy flatlined at 0%.

Both countries should look for a lesson in free market economics from a place the U.S. bought from France: Louisiana.

Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, wrote an opinion piece in The Daily Signal that showed a different way of running the economy. “But in Louisiana,” Jindal wrote, “we’ve tried to show that there is a better way – one that leads to quality jobs and robust economic growth. While Obama raised federal taxes by more than $1 trillion, we passed the largest income tax cut in state history. As a Democratic Congress rammed through trillions in new spending for ObamaCare, we cut the state budget by 26 percent. And even as the EPA proposes new regulations that could decimate critical portions of our energy sector, we’ve worked to create a more predictable legal environment for energy companies in the state.”

And the results are clear. According to Jindal, Louisiana has the lowest unemployment south of the Mason-Dixon line and an economy growing 50% faster than the national average.

While it may take a new administration for our nation to turn once again to laissez-faire economics, state and local governments can still fight for economic Liberty in their jurisdictions.



Mother Russia isolated?

Not while Vladimir Vladimirovich is massively popular there

Russians refer to "Mr. Putin" only if they are being very formal. The respectful form of address is Vladimir Vladimirovich

Last month in addressing West Point graduates, Barack Obama declared that his policies have succeeded in isolating Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away,” Obama claimed. “Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions.”

That condemnation may have pulled the proposed G-8 summit out of Russia, creating a hastily rescheduled G-7 summit in Brussels. But French President Francois Hollande welcomed Putin to a D-Day commemoration, leading to an awkward exchange there between Obama and Putin where our commander in chief pleaded with the Russian president to “work immediately with the government in Kiev to reduce tensions,” or face deeper isolation. One step in that direction would be for Russia to recognize last month’s election of incoming Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Yet it’s not clear that our allies are on board with isolating Russia over Ukraine. France is considering selling Mistral cruisers to Russia, while British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel slated private meetings with Putin around the G-7 summit.

Meanwhile, on the Ukraine front, two outposts were overrun by Russian separatist irregulars, with Ukrainian soldiers trying to hold on to one of those outposts forced to withdraw when they ran out of ammunition after a 10-hour struggle.

In response, the White House finally agreed to send Ukraine long-delayed military supplies such as body armor, communications equipment and night-vision goggles – but no ammunition. It’s the latest in an increasing flow of “non-lethal” aid to the Ukrainians, which was delayed to avoid “upsetting relations with Moscow” and “de-escalate the crisis.” Profiles in courage right there.

Not only is Putin playing the West like a fiddle as he gauges its lack of serious action on Ukraine as a sign of weakness, he also taunted likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

Looks like we need a little more than a “reset” button.



Income Gap Wider in Left-leaning States

Raise taxes on the rich, increase the minimum wage, expand government benefits – this is the liberal recipe for success when it comes to shrinking the income inequality gap. According to recent studies, however, we see the divide between the rich and poor is generally wider in states that vote predominately for the Democratic Party.

Stephen Moore, chief economist at The Heritage Foundation, and Richard Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Blue-State Path to Inequality: States That Emphasize Redistribution Above Growth Have A Wider Gap Between Lower And Higher Incomes.” Moore and Vedder look at a statistical dispersion called the Gini coefficient to show the income distribution of each state. The higher the Gini ratio, the more inequality is present.

The results reveal that red states tend to have a more thriving middle class when compared with blue states:

According to 2012 Census Bureau data (the latest available figures), the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest measure of income inequality of all the states; Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, Hawaii and New Hampshire have the lowest Gini coefficients. The three places that are most unequal—Washington, D.C., New York and Connecticut—are dominated by liberal policies and politicians. Four of the five states with the lowest Gini coefficients—Wyoming, Alaska, Utah and New Hampshire—are generally red states.

In regard to income tax, the same rings true. For example, California has the highest income tax rate in the country at 13.3% while Texas is one of the few states with no income tax at all. California has a Gini coefficient of .482 and a poverty rate at 25.8%. Texas has a lower Gini coefficient of .477 and a much lower poverty rate at 20.5%.

What about minimum wage? We have recently seen places like Seattle push through laws to raise the minimum wage to as much as $15/hour, more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25. Again, the data shows that the 19 states with higher-than-federal minimum wages have higher income inequality overall.

The same goes for government benefits. The Cato Institute’s most recent analysis of the total level of welfare benefits by state in “Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off: 2013” shows that altogether, the higher the welfare benefits are, the higher the Gini coefficient is.

As Moore and Vedder contend, "When politicians get fixated on closing income gaps rather than creating an overall climate conducive to prosperity, middle- and lower-income groups suffer most and income inequality rises." Perhaps keeping taxes low and encouraging business would promote more fairness than these progressive ideologies.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 10, 2014

Nationalism is Leftist

These days nobody much talks about nationalism any more.  Old Adolf is thought to have given it a bad name.  But it is essential to understand what nationalism is if we are to understand 20th century history.  So how do we define it?  And how do we define Leftism?

 The essential feature of all Leftism is the desire to stop other people from doing various things they want to do and make them do various things that they do not want to do (via taxation, regulation, mass murder etc.) When (on October 30, 2008) Obama spoke of his intention to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography. He was talking about transforming what American people can and must do. So that is the first and perhaps the most important thing about Leftism: It is intrinsically authoritarian.  Ideally, it would militarize society (which was Hegel's ideal).  It subjugates the individual to the wishes of a Leftist elite.

Nationalism is not so easy.  How do we separate it from patriotism?  Both involve strong feelings of support for ones own country  -- even a willingness to die for one's own country.  I submit that the essential difference is that the patriot wishes only to defend his own country while the nationalist wants to see his country dominate other countries.

On that definition, the Nazis and the Italian Fascists of WWII were nationalists but Britain was not.  Britain already had an empire so had no wish for another one.

But what about WWI?  Feelings that their nation could conquer all comers were rife among all the main combatants of WWI.  And historians generally agree in seeing nationalism as the major psychological motive behind WWI.

So WWI could be seen as proof that nationalism is not Leftist.  The workers of the various countries generally fell in line behind their national leaders, even though many had Leftist convictions.  Leftism was completely out of the picture in WWI.  WWI was not motivated by a desire for social change.

But from another viewpoint, Nationalism is as Leftist as they come.  Nationalism regards the  group as hugely more important than the individual and the nationalist is happy about the huge degree of regimentation that war imposes.  Nationalism is a Leftist dream.  So nationalism is about international change as distinct from social change in one country.  So the yen for change is still there.  Nationalism is just a different brand of Leftism. It is Leftism on a broader canvas.

 I should add here a small refinement of my definitions so far:   Nationalism can mean two quite different things: 1). A desire of a people for independent existence as a nation -- as in 19th century German nationalism or 20th Scottish nationalism; 2). When the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. It is meaning 2 that I am concerned with here. And all the examples of that which I can think of, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism.

And even patriotism often gets a bad name these days.  The Left pretend to see nationalism in it.  So they equate patriots with Nazis. So again it is important to be clear about the difference between the two.  If you do not advocate world conquest by your country, you are not a nationalist or a Nazi.

It's interesting that Leftists have gone from being fervent nationalists (with JFK being the last squeak of it in the USA) to people who decry it -- but that is typical of the turnaround that the Left did after WWII.  Because Hitler was such a monumental failure they have had to dissociate themselves from all of his doctrines.  They are back to seeking change in one country

And I don't think I should leave the subject before noting that the first successful nationalist of the 20th century was American.  TR was not only behind America's temporary acquisition of an empire (in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico etc) and a great glorifier of war but was also the founder of America's "Progressive" party.  -- JR.


Why People Don’t Trust That Speech Restrictions Will Be Applied Fairly to Both Sides

The largest hearing room the Senate has in the Hart Building was standing-room only on Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee held its hearing on the resolution proposed by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would amend the First Amendment and give Congress unlimited, plenary power to restrict political speech and political activity.

In a historic and unprecedented event, both majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared as the first two witnesses.  They had starkly different presentations, with Reid complaining about so-called “dark money” and corporations and special interests “meddling” in congressional races.  He clearly doesn’t like the fact that Americans have the ability to criticize him and his policies.

McConnell went back to first principles, talking about the First Amendment and the fundamental importance of protecting political speech, as did Floyd Abrams, the well-known First Amendment lawyer who won the historic New York Times Co. v. Sullivan case.....

What was most interesting was something that happened before the hearing started that shows just how dangerous it would be to give Congress the power Udall, Reid and 39 other Democratic senators are seeking (there are 41 cosponsors of this resolution) and how they don’t believe the rules should apply to them.  I was standing in line outside the hearing room waiting to get in and get a seat.  There was a sign prominently taped to the wall where we were all standing that warned attendees of all of the things not allowed in the hearing room, like standing, shouting, applauding, and most importantly, “no signs.”

I was at the head of the line when a large cart loaded with boxes came down the hallway, accompanied by six or seven individuals, many holding protest signs like “Restore the First Amendment – Get Oil Money out of Elections” and “Big $$ out of Politics.”  The boxes had prominently pasted on their side the names of liberal advocacy groups and PACs including People for the American Way, the Daily Kos, Public Citizen, Wolf PAC,, the Coffee Party, and Common Cause.  The boxes were apparently full of petitions supporting Udall’s censorship amendment.  As the cart headed into the hearing room with the protest signs held high, I reminded the Democratic committee staffer supervising entry that these individuals were violating the posted rules about no signs and no protests.  She just ignored me and looked away.

About thirty photographers and reporters facing the entry started snapping pictures of the advocacy group representatives the moment they came in as the cart was trundled up to the front of the hearing room.  Several of the advocacy representatives went to sit down, but not before standing up with their signs held high and posing for more photos from the media.

I have no doubt that if I had attempted to walk into the hearing room with signs protesting this amendment, as opposed to supporting it, I would have been stopped by the committee staffer, and if I had persisted, she would have called over the Capitol policeman who was also standing at the entrance studiously not seeing the liberal protestors violating the posted rules.

It is true that Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned the attendees after the hearing started about no sign waiving or protests and one individual was eventually ejected; however, Leahy only did that after the cameras were turned on for anyone watching the hearing on the committee website.  It was his committee staff who, after all, allowed their supporters to come in early with their protest signs and helped to stage-manage protests prior to the start of the hearing for the benefit of the photographers in the hearing room.  You can see one of those photos here – notice there are no staffers or Capitol Police hurrying over to eject the CodePink demonstrators from the hearing room.

So it seems that some Democratic senators want to amend the Constitution so that the American people give them the power to set the rules for raising and spending money on political campaigns and independent expenditures that speak in support of, or opposition to, candidates.  However, at the very hearing at which this amendment was introduced, some of these senators were prepared to apply the Senate’s own rules to only one side of the debate.  Not something that inspires confidence that any such rules on political activity and political speech would ever be enforced in a nonpartisan, unbiased, and objective manner.



Liberal corruption in Massachusetts

GREGORY SULLIVAN is appalled.  The former Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been studying House Bill 4111, the legislation authorizing a $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The bill, which sailed through the House of Representatives last week on a 130-19 vote, would empower the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority not only to enlarge its already enormous convention facility in South Boston by 60 percent, but to select a hotel company to build and operate a 1,000- to 1,200-room hotel on land owned by Massport across the street.

With 37 years of Beacon Hill experience under his belt — 17 as a state representative and 20 in the inspector general's office — there isn't much about legislative sausage-making and fishy public dealing that is likely to get past Sullivan. He was the IG who uncovered the irregularities that eventually led to the conviction of House Speaker Sal DiMasi. Now he plies his skills as research director for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank that has long kept an eye on the state's convention-center politics and policymaking.

As Sullivan drilled down into the legislation, he says, "I just cringed." He sees the makings of a "classic sweetheart deal," one that will effectively allow the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority "to basically pick whomever they want" to put up the hotel and reap public subsidies that could be worth upward of $100 million. Yet nowhere in the bill or in the detailed Request for Qualifications already issued by the authority is there any stipulation that the hotel contract be awarded to the qualified developer who comes in with the lowest subsidy bid. Nor is there any indication of how the authority intends to assess the proposals it receives.

The gold standard in government procurement is upfront transparency, Sullivan says. "You announce in advance exactly how applications will be scored — for example, 30 percent of a bid's ranking might be based on experience, 30 percent on management acumen, and 40 percent on the proposed project financing." As inspector general, he was always impressed by the professionalism of the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance — the government agency primarily responsible for the construction and management of major state buildings. But the bill approved by the House requires the convention center authority merely to "consult" with the agency, which "shall otherwise have no jurisdiction over the BCEC expansion project."

That isn't the only way in which the legislation goes out of its way to minimize outside scrutiny of the project. The bill would establish a sweeping new exemption from the state's Public Records Law and open-meeting rules for any "commercial or financial information regarding the operation of any business" that signs a contract with the convention center authority. This is an alarming level of secrecy, and Sullivan considers the Convention Center Authority's rationalization — that it's necessary to shelter companies' private trade secrets — specious.

Existing freedom-of-information rules already allow for exclusion of proprietary secrets. If other state agencies can contract with private vendors without needing a Cone of Silence to shield the process from public oversight, the MCCA should be able to as well. Its unwillingness to do so doesn't pass Sullivan's smell test. "Here's what this means," he says. "If anybody wants to see the critical financial information underlying these very large contracts, forget it: You're never going to get that chance."

As originally written, the bill would even have gone even farther, exempting MCCA officials from state conflict-of-interest laws in connection with the convention center expansion. Sullivan applauds Representative Brian Dempsey, the Haverhill Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, for stripping that item from the bill.

There are other red flags. The legislation would add security guards to the state's "prevailing wage" law, a fresh taxpayer ripoff. It opens the door to diverting all hotel room-tax revenues collected statewide — most of which now go to the state's general fund — to securing the $1.1 billion in convention-center bonds, if doing so would "increase the [bonds'] marketability."

Look around the country, says the former inspector general, and you can see "a trail of wreckage" behind similar subsidized-hotel and -expansion deals. In city after city, "the downside risk is dumped on the taxpayers." Now Beacon Hill is poised to follow suit. And Sullivan, long accustomed to keeping watch over the public purse, is once again crying foul.



How Obama survives: Ideology trumps objectivity in the media

Many Americans wonder why Barack Obama so consistently executes policies that are so damaging and so antithetical to American interests and, given his record of foreign policy defeats and humiliations and failures at home, how he can still survive in office.

I have previously explained why, but it bears repeating.

The Obama Administration is a collection of inexperienced, emotionally immature far-left ideologues, whose "the ends justify the means" mentality permits them to tell any lie, violate any law and even indifferently risk lives as long as it serves their political objectives.

Obama survives because American journalism has, as it did for Joseph Stalin, sacrificed its professional integrity to protect a sentimental investment in an ideology.

In her book "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character," Diana West vividly dissects the role of journalists as protectors and facilitators of the Soviet Union and communism.

According to former true-believer turned anti-Communist Eugene Lyons, author of "Assignment in Utopia" (1937) and "The Red Decade" (1941, self-censorship and media bias are like a set of adolescent anxieties: the need to belong and the fear of being rejected in the social circles of Moscow and Washington, DC.

Like a committed fellow traveler of communism, an Obama acolyte becomes a dedicated apologist, where an ideology, once internalized, acts on conscience and reason, and also initiates a survival instinct.

Today's cries of "racist," are similar to the terms "McCarthyism" and "Red-baiting" used in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, all designed to denote a taboo, requiring an immediate cessation of debate to prevent exposure of the truth. Thus the job of the journalist becomes little more than finding and transmitting the "desirable" information and denouncing anyone who challenges that orthodoxy as purveyors of political profanity.

West describes the extent to which Orwell's "Newspeak" had its birth in the pages of the free press as much as in the totalitarian censor's office.

The seminal event in Soviet crime and Western turpitude was the very first successful implementation of the "Big Lie," the concerted assault on truth to deny the Soviet-engineered Famine in the Ukraine from which millions died.

Not only did Western journalists capitulate to a totalitarian machine, but they conspired to undermine the veracity of one man, one lone truth teller, twenty-seven-year-old Gareth Jones, a brilliant, Russian-speaking, Welsh journalist who, after extensively debriefing his journalistic colleagues in Moscow and completing a secret trek through the starving areas of the USSR, brought the famine into the light.

Leading the charge to discredit Jones, an eyewitness to the famine, was none other than Stalin apologist-in-chief, Walter Duranty, who, in his March 31, 1933 New York Times article "Russians Hungry, but Not Starving,", wrote:

"There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition."

As Jones noted in his response:

"censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement. Hence they give ‘famine' the polite name of ‘food shortage,' and ‘starving to death' is softened down to read as ‘widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.'"

Just as journalists then could not bring themselves to accept the truth about Stalin, so too journalists today prevaricate about Obama.


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, 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, June 09, 2014

Why being FAT can be good for you: A controversial book by a top doctor claims being overweight can help you fight disease - and even live longer

The "war on obesity" is a major political theme.  What if its very basis  -- the unhealthiness of obesity  -- is wrong?

Consider the various bits of advice doled out by so-called medical experts in the past 100 years or so and you’ll realise how often there has been a complete about-turn when it comes to the validity of a certain fact, claim, or practice.

At one time or another, scientists deemed it acceptable to use X-rays to measure shoe size, recommended baby formula over breast milk, and even endorsed cigarette smoking.

Looking back, it seems incredible that we were ever misled in this way and yet I believe that we are currently subject to one of the greatest misconceptions of all — the belief that obesity is necessarily bad for us.

Our modern culture has duped us into thinking excess body fat should be burned away at all costs.

But, as a cardiologist who has been in practice for nearly three decades and written more than 800 medical publications, including two text books, I am here to tell you that fatness has been sorely misunderstood.

Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that, just as a glass of wine a day has been proven to impart health benefits, so body fat in the right amount can be exactly what we need to live long and healthy lives.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that people of ‘normal’ weight start embracing cream buns and piling on the pounds.

But if you are already carrying extra fat, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you maintain a certain level of fitness (and I don’t mean being able to run a six-minute mile or committing to an exercise regimen on a par with an Olympic athlete’s).

For the millions of people categorised as overweight or mildly obese by the most commonly used standard today — the body mass index, or BMI — the good news is that achieving optimal health may mean staying exactly where you are in terms of weight.

That’s right: you don’t have to set your sights on getting your BMI down to ‘normal’, defined by the World Health Organisation as between 18.5 and 25.

You may, in fact, be much better off sustaining a BMI of between 25 and 30 — ‘overweight’ in WHO terms — or even slightly above, venturing into the realm of the mildly ‘obese’ (BMI above 30).

This advice holds true for people who want to prevent chronic illness and those already living with it, but it was those in the latter category who first inspired my research into this subject more than a decade ago.

Day in, day out I care for heart patients in Louisiana, the most obese state in the U.S.. And, like other colleagues in the cardiology profession, I began noticing that patients who are on the chubby side often live longer after diagnosis with heart disease than do their thinner counterparts.

We call this idea that fat can protect you from an early death the ‘obesity paradox’ and to say that it has ruffled a few feathers in my field is an understatement.

As I began to publish research papers on this phenomenon, I faced a tidal wave of ingrained ideology. Even veteran scientists and respected journal reviewers were reluctant to entertain new thinking about fat, but the science has since spoken for itself.

Over the past few years, a multitude of studies around the globe have not only confirmed the existence of the obesity paradox but demonstrated that it also applies to a host of chronic ailments in addition to those related to the heart, including diabetes, cancer and kidney disease.

We often attribute excess weight to an increased likelihood that these conditions will be worsened or aggravated as a result, but the evidence proves otherwise: people who have been diagnosed with any of these ailments fare better in the long run if they are overweight or even mildly obese than if they are normal weight.

One explanation is that when the body is bearing the weight of a chronic disease, it requires more energy than usual so it makes sense that extra fuel in the form of body fat is helpful.

But it’s also well documented that fat tissue and fatty molecules circulating in the blood help reduce some of the harmful effects in serious illnesses — so the more body fat you have, the more ammunition you have in your arsenal.

As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge to conventional medical wisdom, other research has suggested that being fatter can be of benefit not just to those who are chronically ill, but to the population as a whole.

In 2005, the scientific community poured particular scorn on a paper published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by epidemiologist Katherine Flegal.

This involved an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a long-term study into the health and diet of 33,000 Americans. Ranging from two-month-old babies to people aged 75, the subjects are chosen to give a representative snapshot of health and diet across the USA.

For years, we thought that an optimal BMI for the general population was around 23, but Flegal’s research turned all that on its head. As you would expect, she found that the biggest risks of death lay at the extreme edges of the BMI spectrum — being either underweight (below 18.5) or severely obese (above 35).

But remarkably, those classified as mildly obese were at no greater risk of dying prematurely than their normal-weight counterparts.

And, more extraordinary still, those who were overweight were actually at a slightly reduced risk of dying compared to those in the normal weight range.

Flash forward a few years and Dr Flegal decided to confirm the NHANES results further by reviewing 97 similar studies from across the world, encompassing a staggering 2.9 million people.

Time and again they arrived at the same conclusion, the combined statistics revealing that those who are overweight have a six per cent lower risk of dying than people of normal weight.

Of course, none of this is to deny the well-documented relationship between obesity and myriad illnesses. To be clear about this, being obese or overweight poses a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

In fact, it’s estimated that every third person born in 2000 will have type 2 diabetes as an adult. And according to the American Heart Association, 70 per cent of diagnosed heart disease cases are linked directly to obesity.

Many argue that, should we fail to stop the obesity epidemic, we will soon lose serious ground on extending our life expectancy.

But there is a difference between being a little fat and being morbidly obese. And faced with evidence that the ideal BMI is somewhere between 25 and 30, the scientific community has been forced to rethink its definitions and try to explain why being ‘plus size’ can be to our benefit in certain circumstances.

One answer is that fat cells are not all created equal and their different characteristics mean that, while some types of fat feed illness and dysfunction, others are harmless and can even prevent disease.

For example, belly fat releases fatty acids and inflammatory compounds into the body, leading to higher bad cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.

But it’s a very different story for fat that’s stored in the lower-body areas. Researchers at Oxford University found that this traps the potentially harmful fatty acids that can travel through the bloodstream (and to the heart).

So, while we might despise our ‘thunder thighs’ and ‘saddlebags’, they could actually be good for us in helping reduce the risk of diabetes and coronary disease.

Such thinking challenges the ideas that prevailed when I started at medical school in the late 1970s.

We believed then that fat cells were primarily biological storage bins for excess calories.

But today we know they are much more than that. Almost every week the scientific literature unveils another function for the humble fat cell. Did you know, for example, that two-thirds of the brain is composed of fat (and, incidentally, one-fifth of it by weight is composed of cholesterol)?

As well as helping us think, fat cells bolster immunity. In the early stages of their development, they devour invading germs and bacteria, which is why people who diet to extremes tend to become sick more often.

Fat cells also generate many important hormones, including those which, if under-produced, can leave us vulnerable to an array of diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, major depression and inflammatory bowel disease.

Another important molecule produced by fat cells is nitric oxide, which governs both the growth of our hair and, believe it or not, blood flow to the male organs during arousal.

I could go on about the various molecules pumped out of fat cells but you get the picture: fat tissue is very active in our body and part  of our essential tool kit for health and longevity.

This helps to explain why BMI is a terribly unsophisticated and unreliable measure for evaluating the health of individuals.

Based on a simple formula which involves dividing the square of your weight by the square of your height, it does not distinguish between muscle and bone, let alone between different kinds of fat. Nor can it take account of individuals with what’s known as ‘metabolically healthy obesity’. That expression may seem a contradiction in terms.

It may be common knowledge that a high BMI is associated with a greater risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but more than half of ‘overweight’ and more than a third of ‘obese’ people are perfectly healthy from a metabolic standpoint.

In other words, they don’t have raised blood pressure, high cholesterol, or show any of the typical red flags we attribute to the carrying of extra weight. Yet those same metabolic abnormalities are found in almost a quarter of ‘normal’ weight people.

The obvious explanation is that weight isn’t the issue when it comes to determining whether we have such abnormalities. Far more important are factors like nutrition and fitness.

The importance of what we eat was most recently highlighted by one clinical trial which revealed how adopting a Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular risk — regardless of how much weight subjects had lost.

As for fitness, there is substantial evidence that this is so protective that it essentially cancels out the adverse impact of traditional risk factors, including being overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

This is borne out by studies which have tracked many physically fit ‘obese’ individuals (those, for example, who’d have no difficulty climbing up several flights of stairs or walking a mile or two at a decent pace) and discovered that they have lower incidence of heart disease and death from any cause than do sedentary people of ‘normal’ weight.

Clearly, the fitter you are, the less your weight matters and I believe the term ‘obesity’ needs to be redefined.

A fit person with a BMI of 28 (‘overweight’) could easily outlive a thinner person who has a BMI of 22 (‘normal weight’) but is unfit. And yet it’s these ‘full figured’ people — who are not necessarily in danger of dying early — who are relentlessly censured by society and penalised by insurers, not to mention being targeted by the multi-billion-pound diet industry.

In a perfect world, BMI would reflect other variables, including fitness levels, genetics and biomarkers of metabolic health such as blood glucose. Until then, I worry about doctors who push weight loss on their patients, based purely on the BMI scale.

They have good intentions but the message people may hear is they should lose weight at whatever cost, via extreme diets and controlling weight through eating habits alone.

This can be downright damaging, leading to people becoming what some experts call TOFI — thin outside, fat inside. While they might look good, their abdominal organs can be coated in visceral fat which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Rather than tirelessly encourage weight loss and focus on the numbers on the weighing scales or BMI index, we should promote cardio metabolic fitness and urge people of all sizes to think about their health in terms of how well they eat and exercise.



Gamers are more educated, more social: study

Admittedly, citing data may not help fight the perception that gamers are nerds. But the results of a new study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by noted social researcher Neil Howe (aka the man credited with coining the term "millennial") offer an entirely new picture of the gaming community. The study suggests that gamers actually tend to be more social, more successful and more educated than the non-gaming population.

The study, released on Thursday by Mr Howe's LifeCourse Associates consulting firm, surveyed more than 1000 people via the internet about their gaming habits and then pulled some basic demographic information. For purposes of this study, a "gamer" was defined as anyone who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days. Approximately 63 per cent of those surveyed fit that definition.

According to the study, gamers are more likely to be living with other people such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the statement, "My friends are the most important thing in my life." About 57 per cent of gamers said they agree with that statement, as compared to 35 per cent.

The study also found that gamers are split more evenly by gender than they have been in the past, with 52 per cent of video game players surveyed identifying as male and 48 per cent as female. A 2004 survey from the Entertainment Software Association estimated that 40 per cent of gamers were female.

Gamers are also slightly more likely to be employed full-time – 42 per cent for gamers, versus 39 per cent for non-gamers – which undoubtedly comes in handy when trying to figure out how to financially support a gaming hobby.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 08, 2014

Conservatives are From Mars, Leftists are From Venus

Below is one version of a plausible theory that pops up every now and again.  Both Left and Right have their versions of it.  The risible Lakoff has the best known Leftist version of it.

Plausible though it is however, it is demonstrably wrong.  If Leftists were feminine in their approach and appeal, then they should surely get a big vote from women.  But they do not.  At most national elections, the female vote splits roughly equally between Left and Right.  Single women tend to vote for a husband substitute (on the Left) while married women resent taxes taking away money that they would rather spend on their families. Overall the two groups of women cancel one-another out.

So WHY is the theory wrong?  Simple.  It takes Leftist claims about themselves at face value.  Leftists claim to be motivated by caring and compassion so the theory takes that as given.  But Leftists are chronic liars and twisters of the truth so to accept their own evaluation of themselves is close to moronic.  The true nature of Leftists is revealed whenever they get untrammelled power  -- as triumphant Communist movements do.  When that happens  they reveal themselves to be hate-filled totalitarians and mass murderers.  Judge them by what they do, not by what they say.  Do you really think that Harry Reid would be kind and motherly if he became leader of the Soviet Socialist States of the USA?  The Koch  brothers would certainly be dead 5 minutes later.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Leftists cannot hide totally their hateful intentions.  Everything they enact tends to be destructive to the larger society -- from Obama's attempt to hike electricity prices via the EPA to the hike in medical costs engendered by Obamacare.  So some people -- including women -- do ignore the fine words and reject the Left because of their destructive deeds

How angels arrange their affairs is unknown. We humans have only two approaches to the puzzles and battles of life: The first is from Mars and the second is from Venus.

It is Martian to confront a problem with blunt speech and unsparing honesty, and yet to welcome unsparing bluntness in return. It is Martian to attack the enemy at the strongest point of the line, and yet to treat a fallen foe with courtesy. It is Martian to command without backtalk, and to obey without complaint. The Mars approach is most useful when confronting problems that require courage, force, majesty, dispassionate intellect. Results matter; intentions don’t.

It is Venusian to negotiate around problems so as not to provoke a clash of wills. Venus seeks compromise, makes sacrifices and expects sympathy in return. Speech is indirect, diplomatic, because feelings are delicate, easily bruised. Venus avoids ultimatums, and uses speech to seek out secret motives. A Venusian does not call adversaries enemies, but patients, meant to be healed of their ignorance and fear.

The Venusian approach is never used between equals. The seductress beguiles and cajoles a man like breaking a horse, because he is too strong for her, and so she is indirect. Contrariwise, the mother does not want to bark commands at the child. She wants him to learn to volunteer without being asked. The mother molds his character as he will one day be child no more. Her thought is long-term. She wants to teach the child to fish, not feed him a fish. Failure is insignificant if the child’s motives were pure. (Because, after all, children do not lose wars when they fail, or cause economic depressions or the downfall of nations.)

Martians rule by formal law, law carved in stone, law enforced by policemen and hangmen. Mars likes Robert’s Rules of Order.

Venusians rule by social cues and peer pressure to establish pecking orders, bestow honors, snub pariahs, sooth social friction, set roles and expectations.

But peer pressure only works in artificial, civilized, non-productive situations, not a factory where someone counts the profits and losses, not a ball game where someone keeps score, not a war where someone pins ribbons on chests and someone else plants red poppies on graves.

The Martian approach is to do your job as agreed and to go home after, and what you do on your own time is no man’s damn business but yours. The Venusian is concerned with hearts and minds not with tasks and results, so Venus follows you home. She embraces the world.

When left to themselves in their own sphere — not interfering with results-oriented work — not only is the Venusians’ approach healthy, it is useful because it is a peacekeeping function.

Now, everyone reading these words knows exactly which sex is the direct one, suited by nature for war and confrontation; everyone knows which sex is the indirect one, suited by nature for domestic matters and diplomacy. It is a sign of our times that this obvious truth known to all is considered something obviously never to be admitted in public. This generation is as delicate of feeling and as prone to hysteria as matrons of the Victorian Age. In both cases, the hysterics faint at the merest mention of sex.

The two sexes I am discussing here are not male and female, but conservative and leftist.

Specifically, a conservative is one who deals with politics as if it were within the sphere of Mars. A leftist is one who deals with all of life, political as well as personal, as if it were within the sphere of Venus.

Consider each point mentioned above. Political Correctness attempts to soften hard truths and spare delicate feelings. Reason is too masculine and confrontational. Instead of overcoming a rational argument, the leftist merely ascribes a vile motive to the person speaking, and making him an unperson, a pariah, someone we pretend not to be able to hear. Leftists don’t expect to be punched in the face when they lie. Their weapon is gossip and slander, rumor and hysteria, smothering your viewpoint rather than refuting it

Likewise, there are no equals in the leftwing universe. The Nanny-state is condescending. Our worries about national debts or Jihadist threats are dismissed with a maternal tongue-cluck, tut-tut, and we are placated with welfare benefits like chocolate cookies.

When the leftist encounters rebuke, the emotional reaction is not one of a defeated knight shaking hands with his honorable vanquisher, but one of a woman scorned or a woman in mourning, of whose like hell hath no fury. It is the hate of a weak and effete inferior, a scalding hatred. Read Marx. He is from Venus. Adam Smith is from Mars.

Because the Venusian approach works through custom, leftists are lawless. They think everything should be an exception.

Because Venusians regard all rivalry as curable cases of ignorance and fear, they don’t argue rival viewpoints (that is too confrontational) they just declare the science to be settled and the debate to be over, and you to be a fearful dunce.

Because motherhood overlooks no detail of a slow-witted child’s upbringing, the leftist regulates the water volume in your toilet. They follow you home. The right pesters your life from sun to sun, but the pestering left is never done.

All these Venusian qualities are admirable (nay, they are adorable!) when kept in their proper orbit. Imagine a wall called civilization, which consists of coolheaded and hardhearted men willing to work terrible evil on evildoers lurking like wolves without the walls. Within is a domestic garden called convention, where the women raising children may be as softhearted and hotheaded as they wish so long as they do not erode the wall.

Both fail at the other’s task. A Martian will fail if he tries to command the garden of convention by force. The garden of convention must be ruled indirectly, voluntarily, because it is a matter of opinion, learning and character. Force destroys opinion, smothers learning and prevents character growth.

Likewise, Venusians will fail most horribly when they try to man the wall of politics, and take up the sword of law or the pike of war in their soft and feminine hands. The battlefield or factory floor is not a place for feelings, but results. Enemies are not spoiled children to be chided or placated, but slain. Compromise and simpering sacrifice are counterproductive here, because business rivals and bloodthirsty foes will merely exploit any sign of weakness and call you a fool.

Both fail at the other’s task, but both do not quit. Martians are results oriented. When they see their results in the garden are counterproductive, they stop their meddling and return to their duties on the wall.

But when Venusians fail, they redouble their efforts. They do not see their results are counterproductive because they act on faith and do not care about results. When their counterproductive efforts create a bigger problem in the realm of Mars, ruining factories, trampling rights or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, the Venusians conclude the bigger problem needs more Venus.

To put it charitably, the Venusians are not very analytical. But they are like a sobbing wife of a convict, the wife who never stops believing in him.

So the Venusian continues to negotiate and surrender with deaf and stubborn reality as if with a deaf and stubborn husband, thinking that if she makes just one sacrifice more, reality will relent. Alas, reality is from Mars.

When the world is healthy, Mars rules Venus because reality establishes the bounds and laws of the wall of civilization, within which the garden of convention is free to play.

But when Venus rules Mars, the world is demented.



Once again what Obama says is opposed by what he does

Following Tony Blair, he has learned to hijack conservative language while doing liberal deeds

Speaking at a commencement ceremony at West Point military academy last week, President Barack Obama delivered a rousing defence of US ‘exceptionalism.’

Responding to critics who accuse his administration of dithering over the Syrian Civil War and conceding the upper hand in Ukraine to President Vladimir Putin, Obama was unequivocal: ‘America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.’

Although other administration officials have echoed the president’s clarion call for ongoing US global leadership, the West Point address highlighted the disconnect between Obama’s foreign policy fantasies and the hard facts of Russian and Chinese Realpolitik.

Obama insists that ‘American leadership’ can guarantee peace and security, and yet it has proven largely impotent in the face of Russia’s support for the brutal Assad regime, annexation of Crimea, and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

Similarly, in the context of a possible reduction in the size of the US army to pre-World War II levels and more than 10% per annum growth in the Chinese military budget, Obama’s celebration of unrivalled ‘American strength’ rings hollow.

Rhetorically, Washington might remain ready to uphold the liberal world order of international law, democratic norms, and human rights.

However, in Syria, Ukraine, East Asia and elsewhere, America appears unwilling to shoulder the costs of enforcing the rules-based international system.

Instead, the United States is poised to become what Robert Kagan, one of the US secretary of state’s advisors, calls ‘a more normal kind of nation, more attuned to its own needs and less to those of the wider world.’

Of course, a US ‘return to normalcy’ might be a positive development. As Cato Institute Senior Fellow Ted Galen Carpenter has argued, there are potential advantages--fewer foreign entanglements and a reduced fiscal burden--if the United States redefines its national interests in narrower terms.

But if Obama accepts the rationale for more modest statecraft and therefore refuses to expend blood and treasure to protect the liberal world order, then he must also reconcile the American people and Washington’s allies and partners to a less grandiose vision of the US role in global affairs.

At West Point, the president did just the opposite.



Poverty Up 30.5% for Americans 18 to 64 Since LBJ Declared War on Poverty

 The percentage of 18- to 64-year olds who live below the poverty level has increased 30.5% since 1966, two years after Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We have declared unconditional war on poverty. Our objective is total victory. I believe that 30 years from now Americans will look back upon these 1960s as the time of the great American Breakthrough toward the victory of prosperity over poverty,” said then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

According to a House Budget Committee Report, the federal government spent $799 billion on 92 programs to combat poverty: $100 billion on food aid; $200 billion spent on cash aid; $90 billion on education and job training; $300 billion on health care; and $50 billion on housing, in fiscal year 2012 alone.  (See War on Poverty Report.pdf)

According to the Census, there were 26,497,000, or 13.7% of 18-  to 64-year olds, living below the poverty level in 2012. In 1966, the same age group reported 10.5% -- 11,007,000 people out of 105,241,000 --  living below the poverty level.

This means that since 1966 the percentage of 18- to 64-year olds living in poverty has increased 30.5% -- from 10.5% to 13.7%. The Census did not report data for this age group in years 1965 and 1964.

When looking at all ages, the House Budget Committee Report shows that, since 1965, the poverty rate decreased from 17.3%  to 15%.  (See  War on Poverty Report.pdf)

“The incidence of poverty rates varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. Under the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2012 if its pre-tax cash income for the year was below $23,492,” according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled, Poverty in the United States: 2012.

“The Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds form the basis for statistical estimates of poverty in the United States,” says the CRS report.  “The thresholds reflect crude estimates of the amount of money individuals or families, of various size and composition, need per year to purchase a basket of goods and services deemed as “minimally adequate,” according to the living standards of the early 1960s.”

“Persons are considered poor, for statistical purposes, if their family’s countable money income is below its corresponding poverty threshold,” CRS states.



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