Saturday, June 28, 2014

WWI:  Parallels today

By Anatole Kaletsky

Why does the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand — the event that lit the fuse of World War One 100 years ago Saturday — still resonate so powerfully? Virtually nobody believes World War Three will be triggered by recent the military conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq or the China seas, yet many factors today mirror those that led to the catastrophe in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

The pace of globalization was almost as dramatic and confusing in 1914 as it is today. Fear of random terrorism was also widespread — the black-hatted anarchist clutching a fizzing bomb was a cartoon cliché then just as the Islamic jihadist is today. Yet the crucial parallel may be the complacent certainty that economic interdependence and prosperity had made war inconceivable — at least in Europe.

A 1910 best-selling book, The Great Illusion, used economic arguments to demonstrate that territorial conquest had become unprofitable, and therefore global capitalism had removed the risk of major wars. This view, broadly analogous to the modern factoid that there has never been a war between two countries with a MacDonald’s outlet, became so well established that, less than a year before the Great War broke out, the Economist reassured its readers with an editorial titled “War Becomes Impossible in Civilized World.”

“The powerful bonds of commercial interest between ourselves and Germany,” the Economist insisted, “have been immensely strengthened in recent years … removing Germany from the list of our possible foes.”

The real “Great Illusion,” of course, turned out to be the idea that economic self-interest made wars obsolete. Yet a variant of this naïve materialism has returned. It underlies, for example, the Western foreign policy that presents economic sanctions on Russia or Iran as a substitute for political compromise or military intervention.

The truth, as the world discovered in 1914 and is re-discovering today in Ukraine, the Middle East and the China seas, is that economic interests are swept aside once the genie of nationalist or religious militarism is released. As I pointed out in this column, Russia has in past conflicts withstood economic losses unimaginable to politicians and diplomats in the Western world — and the same is true of Iran and China. Thus the U.S. strategy of “escalating economic costs” cannot be expected to achieve major geopolitical objectives, such as preserving Ukraine’s borders or Japan’s uninhabited islands. Either territory must be open to renegotiation or the West must be prepared to fight to protect the “sanctity” of borders, which shows the really unsettling parallels with the world of 1914.

Though historians continue to debate World War One’s proximate causes, two key destabilizing features of early 20th-century geopolitics created the necessary conditions for the sudden spiral into all-consuming conflict: the rise and fall of great powers, and the over-zealous observance of mutual-defense treaties. These features are now returning to destabilize geopolitics a century later.

The great power rotation of 1914 saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in decline with Germany ascendant. Meanwhile, Britain, with France and Russia as junior partners, sought to maintain dominance in Europe. But their money, military resources and political perseverance were running out.

Today, Russia is a declining power and China is rising, while the United States is trying to maintain the 20th-century balance of power, with Europe and Japan as junior partners. Under these conditions, both rising and declining powers often conflict with nations currently in control.

The rising powers want to extend their territory or correct perceived historic wrongs. They challenge the status quo — as China is doing in its neighboring seas. The declining powers, meanwhile, want to prevent territorial erosion and avoid diplomatic humiliations. Countries like Russia today or Austria-Hungary in 1914 clash with the dominant powers presiding over what seems to them a natural and inevitable decline. The United States and Europe see no reason why Russia should object to the enlargement of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But to Russia this looks like territorial aggression and encirclement by hostile forces.

 Rising and declining powers naturally tend to unite against the status quo leaders. In 1914, for example, Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire did this against France, Britain and Russia; today it is logical for China and Russia to collaborate against the United States, the European Union and Japan.

This logic has been reinforced recently by the Obama administration’s odd decision to re-emphasize its support for Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in their territorial disputes with China, at the same time as it confronts Russia in Ukraine.

Which brings me to the clearest lesson from 1914: the pernicious nexus of treaties and alliances that commit great powers to fight on behalf of other countries. This turned localized conflicts into regional or global wars — and did so with terrifying speed and unpredictability.

The obvious examples today are NATO and the U.S.-Japanese mutual defense treaty, which in theory commit the United States to launch wars against Russia or China if they encroached on disputed territories in Eastern Europe or the East China Sea. Could such treaties act as a hair-trigger for global war, as in 1914?

Consider this statement by General Sir Richard Shirreff, formerly NATO’s second most senior military officer at a debate about Russia: “Everyone surely agrees that we would be ready to go to war to defend Britain’s borders. Well, as a NATO member, Britain’s borders are now in Latvia.”

It may seem almost impossible that Washington would go to war against Beijing to defend some uninhabited Japanese islands. Or against Moscow over some decrepit mining towns in Donbas, if Ukraine ever joined NATO. In early 1914, though, it seemed almost impossible that Britain and France would go to war with Germany to defend Russia against Austria-Hungary over a dispute with Serbia.

Yet by June 28, war moved straight from impossible to inevitable — without ever passing through improbable. Four years later, 10 million people had died.


A very sad centenary

The immediate trigger for WWI was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.  That was exactly 100 years ago.

So what caused that dreadful war?  The conventional answer -- some remnant of wartime propaganda  -- is GERMANY.  Yet the actual first declaration of war was by Austria

The murderous Princip was a Serbian terrorist who shot both the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife as they travelled in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia.  As a result, Austria declared war on Serbia.

When the German Kaiser heard of the shootings he expressed the opinion that there was no need for Austria to go to war.  But Austria declared war before he could make his views known.  So it was not the German Kaiser who was a "warmonger".

The Austro/Serbian war would have remained a local Yugoslav conflict except for the NEXT thing that happened.  The Russian Tsar had fatherly feelings towards Serbia so HE declared war on Austria.  So it was Russia that started the ball rolling.  Once Russia had declared war, the German Kaiser had to declare war pursuant to his treaty with Austria.  Then the French declared war with Germany pursuant to their treaty with Russia and it was all on.

So it seems to me that the Russian Tsar was the guilty party in starting that war.

As regards the nature of that war, however, it was the Japanese who were to blame.  At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan was already a respected military power and their destruction of the Russian navy in 2005 cemented that reputation throughout Europe.

And the Japanese strategy in land warfare was to soften up the enemy positions with artillery fire and then send troops charging against the enemy positions in "suicidal" attacks.  But the Japanese were generally up against inferior and less motivated troops so their charges generally succeeded.   This was perceived by Westerners as an example of what bravery, martial spirit and heroism could achieve.  They admired it greatly.   So they adopted the same strategy for themselves in WWI.  But in WWI they were up against tougher opposition so the "heroic" tactics were just slaughter that achieved very little other than exhausting both sides.

It was only when fresh troops arrived from America that the end of the war came.

We can only mourn that terrible conflict and the stupidity that made it so terrible

I always  think of Gavrilo Princip's deed as a prime example of why one should not do evil deeds in a good cause.  Leftists routinely excuse evil or oppressive deeds on the grounds that they are in a good cause.  "You've got to break eggs to make omelettes", they say.  Stalin thought that killing all the rich peasants would fix all Russia's problems.  In fact it just produced big food shortages.  Gavrilo Princip thought that shooting the Archduke would get a better deal for Serbs.  In fact it brought on the death of the 10 million or so people who died in WWI. -- JR

UPDATE:  I have had some expressions of skepticism about the role I ascribed to Japan.  More on that here.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Evading censorship

Evading Leftist censorship can be a real problem.  Conservative internet sites will often be blocked in businesses, libraries, colleges and government departments.  And this site is one that sometimes falls victim to that.  Most readers of this bloig have long ago found ways around such blocks -- mostly by logging on only at home -- but there can be problems with some ISPs even there.  And some conservatives are poor --  particularly among the sick and elderly -- so depend on public facilities such as libraries for their internet access.  So they are sometimes  blocked.

And then there is the bamboo curtain.  Chinese censorship is erratic but it does often block this blog to readers in China.  I have, however, only a few readers there so it is no big deal and I think they have all found routes around the bamboo curtain anyway.

So what all that has been leading up to is a reminder of the ways I endeavour to provide routes around censorship of my blogs.  My contribution is to put up "mirrors" of my blogs on sites that are not known to be subject to blocking.  A mirror of this blog is, for instance, to be found here or here.  I update it about once a week.  I update it more often if I am having trouble with blogspot.

Mirrors for Greenie Watch are here or here
Mirrors for Tongue Tied are here or here
Mirrors for Political Correctness Watch are here or here
For various reasons, however, the hosting services for my blog mirrors change from time to time so as a "One stop shop" for finding out where all the mirrors are at any given time see here  or here.

Some links above may be a bit slow-loading.


America's border inundated with almost 50,000 child migrants

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters - some as young as three - have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents. And the American authorities are struggling to cope

The shocking images captured young faces pressed blankly up against thick glass panes and hundreds of children huddled under aluminium-foil blankets on concrete floors behind chain fences and barbed wire.

The pictures were filmed not in Third World refugee camps but in US border patrol stations where authorities have been overwhelmed by an unparalleled wave of unaccompanied children pouring across the frontier.

These were the scenes from tours of crowded holding centres in South Texas and Arizona after the media was given access for the first time to the facilities since the surge reached what President Barack Obama described as an "urgent humanitarian situation".

In the last eight months 47,017 youngsters, some as young as three, have been apprehended crossing from Mexico without their parents, up 92 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Nearly 10,000 were caught last month alone and the number is on track to hit 130,000 by the end of the year.

Three quarters are from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, and most entered through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, a state which has run out of facilities to hold them.

Thousands are now being flown by US authorities to military bases in Oklahoma and California, and a barren warehouse in Nogales, Arizona.

The US government has blamed an epidemic of gang violence in the Central American countries for the influx.

Some Republicans have countered that Mr Obama's decision in 2012 to defer deportation of adults who arrived in the US illegally as children has contributed to the crisis by bolstering hopes of an amnesty for undocumented minors.

But arguably the greatest impact has been erroneous rumours spreading in Central America that minors arriving alone would be granted "permits" to stay in the US – when in reality they are issued with "permisios" (notices) to appear in deportation hearings.

As the crisis deepened, Mr Obama spoke on Thursday with Enrique Pena Nieto, his Mexican counterpart, about a strategy to tackle the flood.

Barbara Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, included up to $2.28 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to feed and shelter the estimated 130,000 minors expected to arrive in the coming year.

And Joe Biden, the vice president, added a stop in Guatemala on Friday to a scheduled Latin America trip to meet Central American leaders for talks on the dilemma.

"We're approaching this issue with a shared recognition that the current situation is not sustainable," Mr Biden told Guatemalan President Otto Perez at a joint press appearance.

"It is unacceptable. And we have a shared responsibility to take significant steps to address this issue."

Democrats sought to re-frame the deepening crisis as one of refugees rather than immigration.  "Let's be clear: This is not an immigration crisis," said Sen Bob Menendez during a press conference to unveil a package of new proposals for addressing the crisis. "This is a humanitarian and refugee crisis.  "It's being caused in large measure by thousands in Central America who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying, than stay and die for sure."

As politicians argued, Father Heyman Vazquez, who runs a migrant shelter in Mexico, described the harsh realities on the ground. "I remember a little boy of nine-years-old and I asked if he was going to go meet someone (in the US), and he told me 'No, I'm just going hand myself over because I hear they help kids'," he said.

John McCain, a Republican senator for Arizona, has called for the deployment of 1,500 extra border agents to deter illegal immigrants and said the influx "deserves the attention of all of us".

He added: "There has to be some kind of organised effort that is bringing them here. The average five or-six-year-old doesn't just randomly decide to leave home one day."

With no sign that the surge is easing, federal officials have been putting the children on military bases until they can be united with family members in the US or put through the straining deportation process.

But even as the causes of the influx are debated, the human faces of the crisis had been largely hidden from public sight.

After visiting a makeshift shelter in Nogales, Arizona, Tony Benegas, the Honduran honorary consul, said "it breaks my heart" to see "hundreds of kids laying in these cages, and they're wired, and sleeping on plastic containers".

Arturo Garino, the mayor of Nogales, who was eventually allowed access to the site, told The Telegraph that he had seen 1,000 children – about a quarter of them aged under 12 and some as young as three.

"I talked to some of the kids and everybody's trying to get to the promised land, which is the United States of America.

"Some of them are very young, three-or-four-years-old. There are no grown-ups there, it's unbelievable.

"These are just children. I can't understand how they traveled 1,500 miles from Central America to the Mexican border. I know there is poverty and persecution but a lot of people die on this trip, it's very, very dangerous.

"Our government needs to ask questions of the countries in Central America to find out what's happening over there."

Mr Garino said conditions inside the warehouse had improved, that doctors and vaccinations were available, and separate catering areas have been set up for boys and girls. Some of the children were playing with frisbees when he visited.

He said children were being kept there for between three and five days before being sent on to one of the military bases being readied to take them in Oklahoma and California.

After arriving, the children enter a legal process in which they are either deported to their home countries, or released to the care of relatives already in the US.

Mr Benegas said he believed the vast majority had relatives with some form of legal status in the US.

Campaign groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a complaint with the US government alleging that a total of 116 of the migrant children, aged from five to 17, had suffered abuse at the hands of Customs and Border Protection agents, including sexual assault and beatings, denial of medical care, and not being given enough food and water.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman refuted the allegations. "In the face of overwhelming numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the border in South Texas, US Border Patrol agents have taken extraordinary measures to care for these children while in custody and to maintain security in overcrowded facilities," he said.

The controversy about the influx has in recent days stretched far beyond the border – as far afield, indeed, as a small town in southern Virginia.

Desperate for extra accommodation to cope with the surge, the federal government had signed a lease to house 500 children in an empty college in Lawrenceville. But the authorities were forced to put the plan on hold after a backlash by locals in the town of 1,400

"I was just shocked," said Brian Roberts, the local sheriff. "The way this process has been handled puts more fear in our eyes, because it's been shoved down our throat.

"Five hundred kids unaccounted for – illegal alien children in my little sleepy town – I just don't think it's the right fit for this community."



That Cuyahoga River fire thing

Tim Worstall

It's amazing how often the received wisdom about past events turns out to be completely and entirely wrong. For example, in the US, the story of the Cuyahoga river catching fire in 1969 is seen as hving been the spark (sorry) that led  to the Clean Water Act and thus the cleaning up of america's rivers. You know the sort of thing, brave Federal bureaucrats saving us all from filthy capitalism.

But the truly interesting thig is that this river fire wasn't by any means the first one in the US: actually, it was the last. And that photograph of it isn't even of that 1969 fire: it's of one on the same river 15 years earlier.

Fires were costly and dangerous, so action was taken long before the federal government got involved. In Cleveland, efforts had been made to reduce the fire threat on and off in the first part of the 20th century, but by the time of the 1952 fire — a major conflagration — local civic and business leaders had had enough, and they stepped up their efforts. This not only reduced the fire threat, but also sparked other efforts to improve the river’s health in the 1960s. In 1968, Cleveland voters approved a $100 million bond issue to finance river cleanup efforts, including sewer system improvements, debris removal, and stormwater overflow controls.

By comparison, in 1968 the federal government only spent $180 million nationwide on water quality and pollution control efforts and was still mostly concerned with ensuring navigability of waterways, even at the expense of maintaining water quality.

Against the backdrop of slow but deliberate local action, the 1969 fire was a reminder of how things had been, and reinforced the need for continued progress.

This rather reminds me of our own dear Clean Air Act in the UK. There most certainly was a 1956 act. But air quality has been improving in London since 1500 according to Bjorn Lomborg. And there's no real difference in the rate of improvement before or after the 1956 act.



Federal judge: US no-fly list violates Constitution

The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.

"The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," Brown wrote in her 65-page ruling.

"Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiffs inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown said.

The decision hands a major victory to the 13 plaintiffs - four of them veterans of the U.S. military - who deny they have links to terrorism and say they only learned of their no-fly status when they arrived at an airport and were blocked from boarding a flight.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought suit against the policy in 2010, argues that secrecy surrounding the list and lack of any reasonable opportunity for plaintiffs to fight their placement on it violates their clients' constitutional rights to due process.



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 26, 2014

What Liberals Want

In the superb, Tony-winning Best Play All the Way - now at Broadway's Neil Simon Theater - Tony-winning Best Actor Bryan Cranston brilliantly portrays President Lyndon Baines Johnson. In this comedy-drama tour de force, LBJ works furiously to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, later, launches the War on Poverty.

While a nearly three-hour play necessarily misses a few things, All the Way seems to epitomize Great Society liberalism: Fight discrimination, fund social programs, shower, repeat. As for the general public, if you want to eat lunch, heat your home, or watch baseball, knock yourself out; Washington has fatter fish to fry.

LBJ likely would be appalled, however, with the scope of modern liberalism. Far beyond even his expansive definition of Big Government, Obama and his ilk try to choreograph every step of American life. There seems to be no detail too minute nor any activity too obscure to avoid what today's liberals crave more than anything else: control.

"Control over the economy. Control over our health care. Control over the government. Control over our lives," Terrence Scanlon, president of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C., recently wrote. "That's what drives their every move in politics and in public policy. They'll settle for nothing less than total control over virtually everything in this country."

Modern liberalism has little to do with sticking up for the little guy or comforting the poor. It's all about telling people what to do - around the clock. Amplifying the efforts of the often busybody Bush administration, Obama has replaced Uncle Sam with a giant millipede whose spindly limbs reach everywhere. Each aspect of American life, regardless of size, and each spot on the map, regardless of distance, has become fair game for Washington's intrusion - usually in the most costly and high-handed fashion possible.

The recently released Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions is to red tape what trailers are to motion pictures. Every six months, via this document, 55 different federal departments, agencies, and boards preview their coming attractions. The Energy Department, for instance, is producing 80 new rules, such as: "Energy Conservation Standards for Wine Chillers," "Energy Efficiency Standards for Automatic Commercial Ice Makers," and "Test Procedures for Ceiling Fans."

The 182 regulations in the Commerce Department's pipeline include "Fishing Vessel Capital Construction Fund Procedures," "Pacific Coast Whiting Fishery for 2014," and "Red Snapper Allocation."

The Environmental Protection Agency is developing 132 new regulations, including "Rulemaking on the Definition of Solid Waste."

"The distinctive look of San Francisco street signs goes back farther than just about any of us," Victoria Nguyen wrote in SF Bay. That beautiful city has plenty to offer, including its big, tough, manly street names. They appear on signs with bold, strong, black capital letters on a white background. POWELL. MASON. SUTTER. TAYLOR. JONES. UNION. HYDE. These signs are sui generis, which makes them worth visiting San Francisco to savor.

But hurry, because Obama and his Washington know-it-alls are stamping them out, along with others across America, all the way to New York City.

These locally designed and revered signs are being replaced with thin, wimpy, effeminate ones in caps and lower case; the confident SACRAMENTO is becoming the timid Sacramento. As one website reader lamented: "Looks like Anywhere, USA. Another SF tradition gone with the wind."

Even worse, despite federal claims to the contrary, these new signs are harder to read at a distance, largely because the new letters are so small. So, what, really is the point of this exercise?

The U.S. Department of Transportation's 816-page, 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires cities to spend their own taxpayers' dollars not on teachers, cops, and firefighters but on Washington's deadly dull signs, all produced in a boring and generic font called Clearview.

 "Our street signs have worked perfectly well for 100 years or more," Milwaukee alderman Bob Donovan told USA Today. "I think it's just the federal government run amok. If they don't have far more important things to deal with, they're not doing their job."

The EPA dislikes the wood-burning stoves that heat some 12 million U.S. homes. So it is requiring that new stoves be 80 percent cleaner, a truly fanciful objective. If you live in a rural area - far from the natural-gas grid - good luck warming your house, especially since propane nearly has doubled in price, thanks to the brutal winter.

A group of parents in Plymouth, Mich., raised some $15,000 in private money and built a new set of bleachers for the local high school's boys' baseball field. The new, stadium-style seats offered comfort and improved sightlines.

 "Foul!" yelled the umpires at the U.S. Department of Education. This new, privately financed structure violated Title IX, they complained, since the girls' softball field had no such renovations. So did Washington's bleachercrats demand similar benches for the girls' diamond? Incredibly, the feds ordered the school to yank out the new seats overlooking the boys' field.

"The world is divided into two groups," Fox News host Tucker Carlson remarked on Fox & Friends. "One group looks at the situation and says, ‘Let's improve the girls' field. Let's make it as nice as the boys' field.'  The other group says, ‘Let's destroy the boys' field.' This is a metaphor for how this administration operates. They want to bring equality to the country. Rather than making the poor richer, they make the rich poorer." Carlson added: "It's like, ‘You've got a broken leg, then I'm going to break my leg. Now we're equal.'"

Brewers and ranchers have had a lovely arrangement for decades. The fermented grains that make beer happen settle in barrels once the good stuff gets poured off. Rather than dump this residue, they sell it to cattle farmers. The cows love this brewing byproduct. It fills their multiple bellies and likely gets them buzzed, to boot.

This symbiosis is just too much for the Food and Drug Administration, which is mulling new ways to force brewers to clean their spent grain before delivering it as livestock feed. The unproven risk that something might go wrong is just way more than what the feds can tolerate. So new regulations threaten to hike costs and frustrate those who bring us suds and steaks.

Likewise, the FDA has decided that, after centuries of doing so safely, artisanal cheese makers no longer can be trusted to use wood planks to age cheese. The Dairy and Egg Branch of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition fears that the wood planks might let bacteria multiply. Of course, there are good bacteria, without which digestion would be impossible. Some cheeses produce such benign bacteria, which make them delicious. Try explaining that to the FDA's germophobomaniacs. Maybe they should fret instead about hospital infections, which kill some 103,000 Americans annually. Wood-aged cheese cannot claim such a death toll.

First lady Michelle Obama's effort to police government-school cafeterias is backfiring badly. Local-school administrators are pinned down by federal rules that govern caloric intake, whole-grain content, and whether "vegetable subgroups" are "dark green, red/orange," or just "starchy." Consequently, unimpressed kids dump unappetizing food by the ton.

The Chicago Tribune quoted a suburban parent exasperated by Washington's micromismanagement of what kids eat in Wheeling, Ill. - 727 miles away from the White House. Said George Marquez: "The government can't control everything."

Alas, Obama & Co. are working feverishly to prove George Marquez wrong.

Rather than focus on a few, core, constitutionally authorized functions (e.g., national security, a justice system, easing interstate commerce, and protecting individual liberty), Team Obama and too many in Washington, D.C., are beyond hyperactive in living our lives for us. It's a wonder that the feds let anyone visit the bathroom unsupervised. (Not so fast! Washington controls even the water capacity of toilets.) Paradoxically, the more that Big Government attempts, the less it actually accomplishes.

Americans must tell the federal government to back off - big time.

Open defiance of such federal idiocy likely will grow more widespread, as well it should. So, if the immeasurably wise in Washington mandate the removal of perfectly fine school bleachers or wood cheese-aging planks, then federal agents can show up and personally pry them out of commission. The victims of such federal abuse, in turn, should invite the news media to chronicle this boneheadedness and educate the American people on how their tax dollars are being put to such idiotic misuse.

Perhaps if the feds actually had to perform this tomfoolery publicly, rather than merely order it, they might stop from sheer exhaustion.



The Left’s Assault on Food Freedom

Meet the food police.

The prohibitionists are at it again. With Michael Bloomberg no longer around to impose his values on hapless New Yorkers, I suppose it was inevitable that someone would take up his mantle as Nutritionist-in-Chief. Granted, Michelle Obama has tried her darnedest, waging a relentless war on fat people ever since her husband took office. But when it comes right down to it, First Ladies aren’t allowed to make laws. That power is vested in Congress, so it will ultimately take a congressman—or woman—to ruin fun and flavor for the nation at large.

Enter Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut congresswoman who thinks what we eat and drink is her business. This enterprising Democrat has taken it upon herself to draft legislation levying an additional excise tax on sodas and other sugary drinks, which she describes as doing “serious damage” to our health.

Where to begin?

First of all, the government—federal or otherwise—has absolutely no business interfering in the consumption choices of individual citizens. No one is laboring under the idea that massive amount of sticky sugar water is great for you, but there are plenty of people who consume soft drinks in moderation without damaging their health in the slightest. By now, everyone understands the tradeoffs they are making when they drink soda instead of water, and they should be free to make those tradeoffs without the meddling hand of government interfering, just as they should be free to consume alcohol, or tobacco, or any other legal substance.

But health is the new religion of the left, the one thing for which it is worth sacrificing all freedoms. The progressive mindset holds that no one should be allowed to damage their own health, and if it takes taxes, fines, penalties, or even jail to keep them in line, so be it. It’s the same pattern of medieval inquisitions, where ensuring salvation for heretics was considered so important that a little torture was a small price to pay. Thankfully, the church has since embraced free will and individual choice, but progressives have been more than happy to fill the paternalistic vacuum by substituting bodily health for God.

Legislation like this is one of the many reasons so many of us feared and resisted a state takeover of health insurance markets a la ObamaCare. When everyone is responsible for everyone else’s health care, collective health becomes everyone’s business. If I have to foot the bill for your obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, I have an incentive to become bossy with respect to your eating habits. That’s why a market in which everyone pays his own way is essential if we want a free society that preserves individual choice.

The irony here is that the policies pushed by Rep. DeLauro and her Democratic colleagues are partially responsible for the problems she claims to want to solve.

“When a two-liter cola is 99 cents and blueberries are over three dollars,” said DeLauro, “something has gone very wrong.”

Why does such a price differential exist, I wonder? Part of it is because government subsidizes corn, from which the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup is made. Soda used to be made with good old fashioned, nutritious, delicious cane sugar, before lawmakers decided to artificially lower the price of corn disproportionately as a favor to agriculture lobbies.

Then there’s the violently elitist, anti-science push to regulate GMOs (repeatedly shown to be absolutely harmless, while resulting in more food at a lower cost) and advocate for organic produce, which is much costlier than conventional agriculture.

Embracing modern agriculture techniques could bring the price of those blueberries down and make for a healthier America, but Democrats would rather punish consumers instead for not adhering to their personal opinions of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

The tax code, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, exists for one purpose, and one purpose only: to raise revenue to finance the essential functions of government. It should never be used to try to manipulate citizens into behaving as politicians think they ought to behave. It is not the place of lawmakers to impose their personal values on the rest of us, nor to strip away our choice of what to consume in a free, legal market.



Omission Control

John Stossel

Reporter Sharyl Attkisson's story sounds familiar to me: A major network got tired of her reports criticizing government. She no longer works there.

The CBS correspondent reported on Fast and Furious, the shifting explanation for the Benghazi, Libya, attacks and the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website.

"But as time went on, it was harder to get stories on," she says.

"There are people who simply would rather just avoid the headache of going after powers that be because of the pushback that comes with it, which has become very organized and well-financed," she says on my TV show this week.

I left ABC for similar reasons. When I began consumer reporting, I assumed advertisers would censor me, since sponsors who paid my bosses wouldn't want criticism. But never in 30 years was a story killed because of advertiser pressure. Not once.

I hear that's changed since, and big advertisers, such as car dealers, do persuade news directors to kill stories.

"I do a lot of reporting on corporate interests and so on, so there's pressure from that end," says Attkisson, but "there's a competing pressure on the ideological end." Right. Ideology affects more stories than "corporate interests." My ABC bosses leaned left. They liked stories about weird external threats from which government can swoop in to rescue you.

They are much less fond of complex stories in which problems are solved subtly by the dynamism of the free market. The invisible hand, after all, is invisible. It works its magic in a million places and makes adjustments every minute. That's hard for reporters to see -- especially when they're not looking for it.

Often, when it comes to news that happens slowly, the media get it utterly wrong. I suspect we get it wrong now about things like global warming, genetically modified foods, almost any story related to science or statistics, or, heck, basic math. Math threatens many reporters.

Combine all that with the news proverb "If it bleeds, it leads," and you get some very misleading, scary reporting.

That's why it's good that there's a new media organization called Retro Report that reveals media hype of the past.

It archives stories like the purported "crack babies" epidemic, Tawana Brawley's being "attacked by six white men," the rise of "super-predator" teenagers, and other disasters that didn't happen -- but did have big effects on public policy, as politicians rushed to fight the imaginary menaces.



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 25, 2014

Leftist America -- another view

Whether or not it was always so, America today is undoubtedly dominated by the Left.  As I tediously point out at times, the Pilgrim Fathers were such fanatical communists that only the imminent threat of their group being wiped out by starvation budged them from it.  And their "progressive" descendants are not much better.  They are certainly just as solidly convinced of their own righteousness and the correctness of their own ideas. They have ditched God but their personalities endure

So anything the Left disapprove of today, from race-awareness to  dislike of homosexuality to Christianity gets heavily condemned and censored at least -- and may even get the "offender" kicked out of his or her job.  And conservative politicians certainly get an infinitely harder time in the media than liberal politicians do.  Any criticism of Obama is "racism" but you can call George Bush a Nazi all you like.

The Left are people with no real morality or ethics at all so you can expect no mercy from them. If you bother them in any way, they will knock you down in any way they can -- even if you are one of a "minority" whom they claim to help. They lack the power to do what Stalin did -- wipe out 20 million "class enemies" -- but they do whatever damage they can

But readers have been divided over my claim that America has always been Left-dominated.  That is partly because the Left changes its tune whenever convenience suits so the Leftism of the past is not as visible from today's perspective.  One has to be clear on what basic Leftism is for the Leftism of the past to become obvious.  In one short sentence, Leftism is an anger-driven hunger for sweeping change.

Another misunderstanding is that I was claiming that America was more Leftist than some other places.  I was not. I am quite happy to acknowledge that Leftism is far more dominant in various other countries.  That does not diminish its overriding influence in America, however.

I should also add that I have no quarrel with the splendid ideals enunciated at the time of independence and which are still held dear by many Americans today.  I just don't think they have ever had much influence on actual policy.  They have mainly received lip service only.

I put up yesterday one of the emails that opposed my claims so I think it is only fair to put up another email that was broadly in agreement with me.  Thomas Anger, who blogs here writes as follows:

"I don't agree that America has always been leftist because I don't buy into abstractions like "America." There are and have been individual Americans of many political persuasions, most of them confused and contradictory.

That said, as an enlightened libertarian (i.e., Burkean conservative) I do agree with your characterization of the motives of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For example, a latter-day romantic, Timothy Sandefur (author of The Conscience of the Constitution), asserted that "The American founders held that people are inherently free—that is, no person has a basic entitlement to dictate how other people may lead their lives." I responded:

"Did they, really? All of them, including the slave owners? Or did they simply want to relocate the seat of power from London to the various State capitals, where local preferences (including anti-libertarian ones) could prevail? Wasn't that what the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were all about? The Constitution simply moved some of the power toward the national capital, mainly for the conduct of foreign policy and trade. Despite that, the Constitution was a "States' rights" document, and remained that way until the ratification of Amendment XIV, from which much anti-libertarian mischief has emanated."

Later, I wrote:

"Why can't you [Sandefur] just admit that the Declaration of Independence was a p.r. piece, penned (in the main) by a slave-owner and subscribed to by various and sundry elites who (understandably) resented their treatment at the hands of a far-away sovereign and Parliament? You're trying to make more of the Declaration -- laudable as its sentiments are -- than should be made of it."

In sum, the War of Independence isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And there's no doubt that liberty suffered in the long run as a result of the North's victory in the Civil War. But, in my view, those historical missteps have little to do with "left" (or "right") and much to do with human venality and power-lust, which are found in persons of all political persuasions.

The genius of the Constitution was that it provided mechanisms for curbing the anti-libertarian effects of venality and power-lust. The tragedy of the Constitution is that those mechanisms have been destroyed. If you were to say that Americans have gradually lost their liberty through successive and cumulative violations of the Constitution, I would agree with you.

And if you were to say that Americans are the captives of a leftist state, and are likely to remain so, I would agree with you.

In any event, I have been and will remain a faithful reader of Dissecting Leftism, which provides a valuable service in exposing the left's anti-libertarian motives and actions."


Hell is Other Americans

It is some time since I recycled a post from Gagdad Bob so I am delighted to find him still in full spate.  I reproduce his latest below.  He is a whimsical writer but he has got the Left pretty much down to a "T".  A small caution:  His usage of the word "pneumatic" gives no allegiance to Mr Dunlop's splendid invention.  Bob must know some Greek.  The Greek "pneuma" can be translated as "spirit" and Bob uses "pneumatic" to mean something like "spiritual"

To be conservative is, among other things, to follow the evidence where it leads. It should be the very opposite of ideological pneumapathologies, which superimpose secondary realities on the first and expect reality to fall into line. But reality always has the last word, which is why leftism is bound to fail.

To be American is to love freedom (including free markets), limited constitutional government, and rule of law; and to respect the individual, private property, and natural law more generally.

How about the purpose of education, especially in the context of the principles outlined above? In order to be capable of self-rule, one must be capable of ruling oneself. In other words, before you presume to dominate others, might you not want to be capable of dominating yourself? Just a thought.

Only such a minimally mature person is in a position to influence "the public toward responsible freedom and limited government by the state" (Moore). Conversely, people who are incapable of self rule are precisely those who will support an ever-expanding (and anti-American) state to control and dominate them.

This is seen in its extreme form in the African American demographic, which is responsible for such a disproportionate percentage of crime, while at the same time, provide such disproportional support for the criminal enterprise known as government (in its un- and anti-American forms).

Why does this happen? One obvious reason is the absence of fathers. The father is a necessary source of order in the male soul, so we shouldn't be surprised by the cultural disorder that results from their widespread absence. One cannot simply wish away the father principle just because the father is physically absent, any more than one can wish away God, aggression, or sexuality. Rather, they simply return in disguised and transformed ways.

Thus, the void created by the absence of black fathers is filled by the prison system. The welfare state is overall a form of feminine fascism, but the prison system is its masculine consort. One hand swaddles, indulges, and forgives, while the other hand persecutes and punishes.

The IRS is not a proper masculine entity, since it is so sneaky, unprincipled, and arbitrary. Rather, it is more like the female enforcer. It is either Big Mama Lois Lerner or this creepy pervert. Whatever it is, it has no honor, no courage, no virtue. Imagine putting citizens through such hell, but scurrying for the nearest rathole at the first hint of accountability.

I don't really like the term "self-domination." True, success in life is predicated on an element of will directed toward the self, especially in the early phases of growth (which is true of any endeavor, from sport to music to writing). However, this should be preparatory to integration, otherwise one is at permanent war with oneself.

Which one is, or at least one must always have a strong military presence so as to pacify mind parasites and other internal saboteurs and pneumatic troublemakers. Weakness is provocative, whether in geopolitics, national governance, or intra-personal harmony.

Obama is a curious combination of weakness before enemies and hostility toward decent Americans, with predictable consequences. On the political plane he is repeating the pattern of a weak or absent father and a domineering, flaky, arbitrary, and crazy-making mother, with no appeal to reason or law or consistency. I suppose he wants to inflict his hellish childhood on the rest of us -- a hell that was papered over by the indulgence of racial preference and low expectations in general.

Back to integration. One thing we want to integrate is the mother and father principle, but that is difficult to do if you never experienced them. We also want to integrate adult and child, knowledge and wisdom, body and soul, and other complementarities. Moore writes of the "integrated person, in whom the head, heart, and spirit, the rational, affective and spiritual, are educated and developed."

Which is precisely what public schools do not do, because integrated citizens would be fatal to the leftist project.

Rather, statism simultaneously relies upon and creates the atomized, shriveled, and disordered souls who are its primary constituents and clients. There is no defensible or articulate "idea" at the heart of leftism, which is why it cannot be defeated on the cognitive plane. Reagan knew this about communism. Why argue with a communist? Rather, just kick him in the nuts.

Can you imagine tying to have a rational conversation with Harry Reid? The problem there is that you can't kick a eunuch in the nuts. Nor can you shame a leftist, since they are always shielded by their intrinsic moral superiority.

As we have suggested before, leftism is a conspiracy between the overeducated and the uneducable, the policies of the former driving the latter into such hopeless dysfunction that then becomes the pretext for ever-expanding and intrusive rule by the overeducated.

Who are these overeducated? Probably 75% of the people who have attended college, since colleges have had to so drastically reduce their standards so as to accommodate those hordes of uneducable. As a result, getting a PhD in the liberal arts is easier than it used to be to graduate high school. But since these people are credentialed beyond their intellectual station and have no real-world skills, they really have only two career options to exercise their uselessness: education or government. Or maybe journalism, which combines the worst of each.

Which is how we end up being ruled by ungovernable savages and educated by indoctrinated mediocrities.

"The problem in our Progressive (not Libertarian) Age is this: those at the center of the Pew scatterplots are not a class of temperate philosophers. Rather, they’re the politically disengaged and ideologically inconsistent. This is perhaps the part of the American citizenry least suited for popular government—one that acts politically, if and when it acts politically, primarily from impulse and passion. Ideational ignorance and material need are its calling cards, often mixed with a bit of sanctimony for being above the political fray. This combination makes it the group most susceptible to the demagogue and the one least willing to do the hard work (thinking) necessary to cast a responsible vote."



The Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

It is a line I have used to open speeches on the lecture circuit for years and it never fails to get a laugh: "I'm happy to be here tonight from Washington, D.C., where the only politicians with convictions are in prison."

That's only partially true. Democrats have convictions. They know what to do with power when they get it and how to isolate, even punish, any member of their party who dares to take a different position on an issue. Republicans seem to constantly react to the policies of Democrats or slam each other instead of making a case for the superiority of their ideas. It doesn't help Republicans that they lack the Democrats' uniformity.

President Obama's approval ratings continue to plummet while polls showing that voters think the country is on the "wrong track" seem to be on the rise. Republicans should focus less on scandals and policy failures and begin promoting a positive, inspirational and motivational message that reminds Americans of who we are, where we came from and what we can be again. Rather than settle for a Democratic nanny state, Republicans should feature in their speeches, political ads and conversations the virtues of liberty and the benefits and personal satisfaction that come from the power within each of us to make decisions that can improve any life far better than government.

Telling America's story might inspire a younger generation to reach back and consider the values that sustained this nation in the face of numerous challenges. Good history is worth repeating.

Cynics might say it is too late, that government has grown too big and there are far too many dependent on it to turn the country around and embrace liberty and personal responsibility. What the country needs is the political equivalent of a Rev. Billy Graham to rally the nation. A spiritual revival would be even better, but that's for a Higher Authority to direct.

Americans should never have to "settle," even in the midst of a failed presidency, as this one is by any objective standard. Americans have always believed we can do things better than other nations and we have proved it in the past.

inspiration-motivation-perspiration, rather than the envy-entitlement-greed culture in which we are now immersed. "We can do better," said John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign. Indeed we can. Indeed we must.

As I write in my book "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America," we didn't just crawl out of a cave; we don't have to discover fire or invent the wheel. We have a history of problems that were solved, challenges met and innovation encouraged and rewarded. Why do we continue to conduct political discourse that sounds like stale sitcom dialog and lob the same rehearsed and focus-grouped sound bites at each other to no effect? Why not try something old that worked?

Given their party's deplorable state of disunion and the country's fixation on self, a Republican "revivalist" will have to sell his or her platform based on self-interest, featuring men and women who have overcome by making right choices, if we can still define "right" in a country that increasingly considers all choices equal.

Republicans should promise that if voters allow them to regain control of all three branches of government, an outside auditor will be named to go through the federal government, recommending to Congress which agencies can be reduced in size or even eliminated. Congress would require itself to accept the auditor's findings, as with the Defense Base Realignment and Closing Commission, which has been charged with increasing the Defense Department's efficiency by the realignment and closure of unnecessary U.S. military installations.

This will be a challenge for Republicans. We'll soon know if they can meet it and, more importantly, whether voters will respond to such a message. The time may be right for someone with real convictions and the courage to state them, regardless of what polls say.

Meanwhile, God save us from popular opinion and from politicians whose only convictions come in a courtroom.



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 24, 2014

Has America always been Leftist?

As I anticipated, my claim that America has always been Leftist  provoked some of my patriotic readers.  Some even insulted me by telling me that I am a pacifist.  I was in fact in my youth (in the Vietnam era!) a Sergeant in the Australian Army, so I am no pacifist.  That dull  document above is my discharge certificate.

What I oppose is not war but wars fought primarily to empower elites and I think both of America's civil wars fall into that category.  They were not necessary wars in any sense.

But I did learn something very important from my critics.  It was vividly brought home to me how impressive fine words are to most people.  When even patriotic American conservatives can be taken in by them, it shows why Leftists have so much influence. Leftists are nothing but fine words.  To me fine words are only provisionally important.  They have to be backed up by deeds and it is the deeds that matter.

An excellent example of how fine words impress even conservatives  is the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.  It is full of fine words and noble sentiments.  Most political documents are.  Stalin's Soviet constitution also was a high-minded document proclaiming all sorts of rights for Soviet citizens  -- rights which were denied in fact.

So once you look past the grand generalizations of the Declaration's introduction and get to the nitty gritty of what the Yankee grandees really wanted fixed, you see that it is very mundane, if not ignoble.  What was really bothering them was restrictions on their powers to legislate.  They wanted more laws, not less!   Very Leftist.

And from THAT starting point you can see why the war was fought and for whose benefit.  The grandees concerned had a lot of influence and were good at fine talk so they could muster an army -- and they did.  And who benefited from the war?  Was it the poor farmers and tradesmen who died as foot-soldiers in it?  No way!  It was the grandees who started the war.  They emerged with exactly what they wanted:  More power.

I am sorry if that account sounds offensive to people who still believe the original propaganda, but if you ignore the fancy talk and just look at the facts, that is what happened.

I reproduce the most articulate of the objections I have received,  I will add some further comments at the foot of it.  As you see, it is a reasoned letter, not the mere foaming and abusive anger we get from Leftists:

I'm not here to express any kind of anger over your posting, but I will confess a great deal of surprise. You appear to be using the same intellectually dishonest method liberals commonly employ in that you present a great deal of material that is technically factual, but so bereft of context that it presents a completely distorted picture. For example:

"As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists.  They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally.  If that's not communism, nothing is."

They forbad private ownership because the most modern economic theory of the time they knew theorized that this would improve output and standard of living. They tested the theory. The leader recorded the results, saw the problems, and instituted free market reforms. These are not the actions of "fanatical communists." As we have seen in other countries, "fanatical communists" don't care about how many are starving. They stick to the theory despite the facts or cost.

"That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired.  Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside."

I assume that you mean independence and abolition of slavery. Quite true. It is far less obvious how well Australia may have fared on independence had they been of equal value to the empire financially and had America not set the precedent that the British could be thrown out.

As for slavery, I am delighted that Australia came to the same conclusions about slavery as other Western type countries without the need for violence on a national level, though I still hold that slavery was only part of the issue.

Anyway, I hope you are justifiably thankful to Christianity, since it was the only religion/movement that united peoples in the nations to abolish slavery. The atheists, Muslims, and other groups were quite content with the status quo as far as slavery was concerned, at least to the extent that none of them were going to put up serious opposition to it.

"So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists?"

A more accurate question might be "So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of Europeans?" I think the answer is a society that eventually comes to reflect the type of society that these Europeans set up, which is where we are heading. I note in some of your blog entries that Australia, though better in some instances, has hardly been immune. My theory, unprovable of course, is that most of the types that really tended towards socialism stayed in Europe for a long time. It was the hearty and adventurous that risked life and limb to have opportunity in a new land. Later, as it became safer and more affluent, the parasitic class began to immigrate in mass. So it goes.

"Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke.  It was pro-liberty for the elite only."

From the Declaration: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

In religious circles, I would say that you were "straining out a gnat" to "swallow a camel." Don't misunderstand me: I am making no excuse or justification for how imperfectly the priniciples played out or were implemented. But the goal, the ideal, was there, and it was liberty.

Your takes on the causes behind the US entry into the world wars is interesting. It is also dripping with pacifist venom. I'll not bother to address such simplistic assertions here. If you would like to discuss the matter separately sometime, feel free to contact me. I will only say that history is full of examples of what becomes of nations that avoid war at all cost. The French were a great example in the run-up to WWII.

"So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields?  Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives? It's simple.  America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years."

A gross over-simplification as an attempt explanation. I would ignore it entirely, but for one phrase:  "America is a huge beneficiary of the fact"

The "fact" is couched in language to make it seem that America won some kind of international lottery, or randomly drew a good card from some deck in a politics game. America had what the men who met and debated and formed the Constitution chose. While not perfect, it was far from random.

"And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom.  Australia is third.  Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes."

That is the present. The past tells a much different story. Contrary to your assertion that "Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous" what began its existence as a group of colonies, damaged by internal war and strife, rose in a remarkably short period of time to become the economic world leader. In short order, much older European countries were sending their economists to see how we were "doing it" so that they could share in the prosperity.

Is America in decline? Undoubtedly. Quite sad for me, because I am a patriot, and I see no end to that decline in sight. It's not just a matter of policies and politics, you see, but a matter of faith. While we embraced a Christian identity in our nation, we rose. It was a flawed, imperfect rise, probably because it was a flaw, imperfect Christianity, made of nothing but flawed, imperfect people. Yet while we held to our faith on a national scale, we improved. It may or may not have occurred to you that most of the countries with the best record on civil rights have strong Christian heritages. Those values are in decline now. As a result, so is liberty and prosperity. I accept that, with sadness.

But to try to make the case that the United States was founded or organized in a lingering way on what we consider modern leftist principles doesn't pass the smell check. In a time when monarchy and class systems held iron grip, it led the way real equality, or at least the best that was available.

I've studied my history enough to know that the best of the founding fathers and patriots were flawed. I don't have a problem with that. As a Christian, I understand that all people are flawed. I do my best to honor the good, and accept the bad, the same as I do with people today.

I find it interesting and ironic that at the end of your essay, you speak of honoring the people of America but not national myths. It's ironic because you spend most of your time trying to dispel the myths by pointing out just how horrible the people are. That's a course that seems pretty self defeating to me. To my way of thinking, the only part of American history truly deserving full honor is the documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They state their purpose with wisdom and clarity. Their is no dishonesty in them. The documents, in themselves, never fail. It is only we, as men, who fail to live up to them. And that is why we need them: So that we will constantly have something better than we can ever be to live up to.

You'll not lose me as reader, JR, at least not over this. But I don't think it's your best work. I don't really think it's that good at all. And we'll both survive that opinion.

I hope your weekend is going well. Take care.

If only all disagreements could be stated so civilly!  But you can see that he has been taken in by the fine words.  He believes in them.  I doubt that many of America's leaders ever have, however.  Maybe Ronnie Reagan out of them all.

I will add comments in something of reverse order:

He asks why America did so well economically in the 19th century.  He seems unaware that Europe  -- even Russia to some extent -- also had massive economic gains in the second half of the 19th century.  America ended up with a much bigger economy than anyone but that simply reflects the fact that the 19th century was when America began to seriously exploit its huge natural resources.  America not only had huge quantities of gold, iron, coal and other minerals but it also had the biggest resource of all  -- seemingly  unlimited tracts of fertile land that could be used for farming or raising edible animals.  And that vast food production was the key to the big population increase at that time.  America could simply feed more people.  The starving of Eastern Europe and Ireland flocked to it.

And that explanation in terms of natural resources is backed up by the two nations who entered the 20th century with living standards as high as or higher than America.  They were Australia and Argentina.  Both of those also benefited from huge, freshly exploited natural resources.  And I can't help myself from remarking about why one of those fell off the perch and one didn't.  Australia is still a great place to live;  Not so much Argentina.  Why?

I know why but to say why breaches America's biggest and fiercest taboo.  But I will breach it carefully anyway.  Argentina is 50/50 Spanish and Italian whereas Australians and Americans are predominantly of British and Northern European ancestry.  And that difference matters.  OK:  I have said enough of that.

My critic also thought that I was too glib about WWI.  I was certainly brief.  But I was dismissive of America's role in that war not because I am a pacifist or a Leftist but because I think American meddling in that war did incredible harm.  Wilson dressed up his intervention in the usual high flown talk but let us look at the results.

Before Wilson sent his troops over, the combatants had virtually fought one-another to a standstill.  General Ludendorff had been advancing almost up until that point but the men he lost in doing so had exhausted Germany.  There is no doubt that some sort of draw would have been declared at some stage and both sides would have gone home devastated but intact and with honour bright.  That was how the previous Franco/German conflict ended up in 1872.

But thanks to Wilson that did not happen.  Germany was defeated, torn apart, degraded, impoverished, and humiliated.  And who benefited from that?  Who fed on that until it gave him enormous influence in Germany?  It was Adolf Hitler.  There would have been no Hitler in power had the old German empire endured.  I could go into more detail on that but I see Wilson's do-gooder meddling as the prize example of allegedly noble intentions having disastrous consequences.  There would have been no WWII except for Democrat President Woodrow Wilson.

I have probably said enough for today -- JR


The Establishment’s Conspiracy to Silence Conservatives Could Destroy Our Country

The establishment – defined less by party than by power – is using every weapon it has to shut you up, to marginalize you, and to beat you into submission. In the short term it may work. In the long term it promises disaster.

The key to any democratic republic is legitimacy. If the system allows a full and fair airing of different views before a decision is made, groups that lose the debate will accept the decision. You are disappointed if the other side won fair and square. But you are furious if the other side cheated.

And all the other side does today is cheat. Worse, it does so with a mindless cynicism, having discovered that if other elements of the establishment play along – like a mainstream media that refuses to perform its accountability function – then there are no immediate consequences. Over time, this risks of alienating nearly half of our citizens.

Sometimes the establishment cheats subtly. It can take the form of mockery, like when the President tried to belittle into silence the millions of Americans who doubt the climate change scam for believing that if the globe was really warming then the globe would actually be getting warmer.

Don’t think it’s only the leftist establishmentarians doing it. John Boehner felt secure enough to mock the majority of his own party for daring to have doubts about the wisdom of importing 30 million new Democrat voters. Shut up and stop being crybabies, chided the famously tan crybaby.

They love to deploy baseless slanders to figuratively ball-gag you and drive you out of the debate. Hate the idea of fascist college campus kangaroo courts run by academic Red Guards who, when examining the fallout of some beer-fueled hook-up, always presume the guilt of the drunken sophomore who has the penis and the victimhood of the drunken sophomore who doesn’t? Well, you must support rape!

Sometimes the establishment cheats blatantly. The administration simply ordered a couple dozen changes to Obamacare in direct violation of the statute. It doesn’t even pretend to follow our immigration laws.

And there’s no accountability. Facilitating the transfer of guns to Mexican drug gangs? No biggie. Four dead Americans in Benghazi? Fake scandal. Using the IRS to harass political opponents? Hell, the establishment thinks that’s a good thing. The Democrats supposed to be overseeing the IRS actually apologized to the IRS.

Now, is it a really great idea to tell about half the population that they are simply not entitled to seek redress of their grievances through the law? Any ideas from, say, American history about what can happen when you abandon the rule of law?

 Thuggery can work for a little while, but eventually people get fed up. Conservatives are actively marginalized, socially and politically, but is it realistic to think we will simply throw in the towel and obey? Destroying our political norms won’t silence the establishment’s foes; it will radicalize them.

Is that what you establishment types want? What goes around comes around – hard. Europe’s elite’s similar disenfranchisement strategy is giving rise to nontraditional parties, both sensible ones like UKIP and scary ones like Greece’s Golden Dawn. When you make a conscious decision to deprive people of their voices, you may not like who they choose to speak for them.


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 23, 2014


I have been having massive problems over the last two days with getting my posts up. seems to have been overloaded.  With patience I did get everything up but in case I have even bigger problems later today, I may throw in the towel.  So if there is nothing here when it should be blame not me.  If I do give up, I will post what would have gone up here on my mirror site

America has always been Leftist

Up until fairly recently, I had always accepted fairly  uncritically the orthodox view of American history.  But as an amateur historian I do have the pesky habit of going back to the original documents behind history.  So a couple of months ago, I actually read through the Declaration of Independence.  What I read there shocked me.  It was an entirely different document from the orthodox account of it.

It has taken me a while to integrate that finding into a broader view but I think I can now present a view of American history that makes much more sense of both America's past and her present.

I was greatly helped in forming a new view by the abhorence I have always felt towards America's two civil wars (Independence and North/South).  As a former member of Australia's armed forces, I am no pacifist but I do feel that wars should be a last resort -- and that applied to neither of America's civil wars.  That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired.  Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside.

But to begin at the beginning:  As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists.  They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally.  If that's not communism, nothing is.  They were such fanatics that a third of them had to starve to death before they decided that communism wasn't such a good idea and went back to the way things had always been done in stodgy old England.

So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists?  What we should expect is exactly what we actually got, I submit.

But before I get to that, let me  ensure complete clarity about what the core of Leftism is.  The content of Leftism changes from time to time.  Before WWII, Leftists world wide were energetic champions of eugenics, for instance.  Leftists now abhor it.  So what is constant in Leftism?  Anger.  Leftists in all eras are so dissatisfied with the society in which they live that they want sweeping changes to it. And they thirst for power to achieve that.  That is Leftism.

So we come back to the Declaration of Independence.  There are a variety of things in it but the centerpiece of it is the complaint that, in good communist style, the New Englanders wanted to pass lots of laws to control their fellow man but the king kept obstructing or disallowing such laws.  Whether by intent or neglect, the king was the libertarian obstructing the control freaks.  And it was over that that the Yankees went to war.  Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke.  It was pro-liberty for the elite only.  Joe Stalin call your office.

And, in case anyone is not aware of it, the resultant war was at heart a war of the Yankees versus the rest.  New York was firmly on the side of the king, for instance. It was a civil war which Yankee determination won, at the cost of 25,000 Yankee deaths.  But deaths in war never worry Leftists. Change is the thing. So the Yankee hatred of the British-dominated status quo burnt all other considerations.

And Andrew Jackson, founder of the modern Democratic party, certainly wrought big changes in the territory under his control  in the 1830s -- clearing out  American Indians and driving them to the then-far-West:  Ethnic cleansing.

And then we come to the real horror:  The North/South war.  "Only" half a million men died there.  And for what?  EVERY other country on earth abolished slavery without the need for a war.  Does that not tell us something?  It should.  In his famous letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln himself admitted that slavery was not the main issue.  The issue was the dominance of central government.  V.I. Lenin call your office.  Lincoln didn't call it "dominance of central government", of course.  He called it "the union" but the result is the same.

And just about everythinng Lincoln did was without a shred of constitional justification and in fact breached the constitution.  Hitler at least had the grace to get an "enabling act" passed by the German parliament.  Lincoln just marched on regardless. He destroyed the liberty of the press (there goes your first amendment) and locked up thousands of war opponents (there goes your 4th amendment).  But most centrally, Lincoln's whole enterprise was a defiance of the basic American constitutional dispensation that the states are sovereign, not the federal government.  Lincoln turned that on its head.  The feds now became the main source of power and authority.  There is no doubt that Lincoln talked a good talk.  He even used to persuade me once.  But his deeds reek of Fascism.

A good example of the large gap between his deeds and words is that masterpiece of propaganda, the Gettysburg address.  Goebbels admired it for good reason.  In case anybody hasn't noticed, Lincoln claimed that his war was to ensure "government of the people, by the people, for the people" -- which was exactly what he had just denied to the South!  Only Yankees are people, apparently.  Hitler thought certain groups weren't people too.

And then we have two world wars.  WWI had nothing to do with America but power-mad Democrat President Wilson got America into it any way.  He had such fun influencing the eventual re-arrangement of Europe.

And FDR was worse if anything.  He subjected Japan to crippling sanctions until an attack on America seemed the only way forward to them. Anything else would have been an intolerable loss of "face".  So FDR got his war.  For political purposes he once declared "I hate war" but some at least of his biographers believe that he pined for the publicity and power that a war would give him.

But what about the era of US/Soviet rivalry?  Was America Leftist then?  It was.  Top-rate taxes were enormous, for instance.  But the USSR was even more Leftist.  The Russian peasants who fought for its creation were even angrier -- for good reason -- than the Yankee grandees of George III's time, so the changes in Russia were very sweeping indeed.   And Leftists are very hostile people  -- even to followers of other brands of Leftism.  Note the icepick in the head that Leon Trotsky got from Joe Stalin.

I could go on but does the dominance of political correctness in America today now seem surprising?  It is not.  It is just another of the many forms of Leftism that America has produced and will continue to produce.  And, unfortunately, the rest of the world has followed America, as it often does.  As goes California so goes the whole world eventually.

So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields?  Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives?

It's simple.  America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years.  So if you get a bungling legislature in power  you soon get the opportunity to boot them out.  Britain, by contrast, has to wait five years to get rid of an incompetent or destructive government.

And Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous.  So many Americans have their knees under government desks that the productive element of the population is much reduced  -- with the result that quite a few countries have per head incomes higher than America.  According to the CIA, there are 13 countries with higher PPP incomes per head than America.  Be that as it may, however, America is by any measure only one of a peleton of high income countries, not the leader.

And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom.  Australia is third.  Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes.

It is true that America is not exceptionally Leftist by world standards  -- though Mr Obama is working on that  -- but that just shows that there have always been angry people, and some groups   -- e.g. Russian peasants and British miners -- have been even more angry than New Englanders.

I guess that this post will lose me quite a few readers among American patriots but is being patriotic to a historical hoax   really wise?   America has many fine people.  Be loyal to them, not national myths --  JR


Presbyterian Church USA: Some of Our Best Friends Are Jews

I would normally put up the post below on  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH but I like it so much that I am putting it up here.  Given my own Presbyterian background, hostility to Israel among Presbyterians always galls me greatly


Completing another lap in its race to irrelevance, the Presbyterian Church USA (one of dozens of Presbyterian denominations in the U.S.) has voted to divest itself from three corporations it perceives as helpful to the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands.

Mind you, this vote merely broadcasts the church’s yearning for peace. The measure, approved by a narrow margin (310-303), also called for interfaith dialogue, a two-state solution and positive investment alternatives for the $21 million which the church had invested in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.

The divestment resolution, fabricated by a 65-member committee, also reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist — which is simply going too far, in the eyes of the Palestinians with whom the church empathizes.

Jesus, whom these Presbyterians profess to follow, invested much of his preaching against hypocrites in the organized religion of His day. This action by His purported disciples would have the Master declaiming, “You brood of vipers. You whitewashed tombs” — and perhaps, “You’ve got HOW MUCH MONEY invested in just three companies!?”

Heath Rada, the church’s moderator, who was leading the proceedings, said immediately after the electronic vote count was posted, “In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers.”

No, I suppose their lack of love for the Jews is expressed in other, more substantive, ways than this symbolic portfolio shuffling. The only thing missing from Mr. Rada’s statement is the obligatory “Some of our best friends are Jews.”

Mr. Rada, the church’s moderator, said at a news conference after the vote, “I don’t believe you could talk to a single commissioner and have any of them say they were doing this as an anti-Jewish issue.

Certainly not. No commissioner would say that…even if she felt it, she wouldn’t say it.

The leader of the Presbyterian Church USA then moves from insincerity and hypocrisy to moral equivalency.

“I think there is a lot of emotion about the unjust treatment on the part of the Israeli government toward the Palestinians, but there is equal upset,” he said, about “terrorist activity that has been undertaken by the Palestinians.”

“Equal upset”?

Mr. Rada, would you prefer that I move into your neighborhood and build houses — all the while employing your family members at wages three times what your own people would pay? Or would you prefer that I send my teenage son strapped with a bomb to do the chicken dance at your daughter’s wedding reception?

There is “a lot of emotion” but not a lot of wisdom among your convention delegates — or rather, among the slightly more than half who voted for this pathetic, posturing, pandering resolution.



Behind the "Redskins" controversy

This week the American people were taught a valuable lesson – never underestimate the willingness of white progressives to be offended on behalf of people who aren’t and to impose their will on those who didn’t ask for it. (What tribe do you suspect these protesters are from?) The U.S. Trade and Patent Office canceled trademarks held by the Washington Redskins because they determined the trademark, issued by the same government that just voided them, was for an offensive term. This decision will be appealed, and Redskins owner Dan Snyder probably will win.

But this case was never about the trademark, it was about publicity for the progressives’ word police to apply pressure on Snyder to change a name they don’t want to exist. They don’t really give a damn, mind you – Snyder is just a convenient high-profile target in their attempt to control our language. If you control the language – what words can be used (Redskins) or their definitions (marriage) – it makes it that much easier to control the people.

This latest charge is being led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who took to the floor of the Senate to attack the name and lie about the ramifications of the ruling. Reid said anyone could now start printing their own Redskins merchandise and profit from it, which is a flat-out lie. The common law trademark remains in place no matter what the government does. Harry Reid, a lawmaker and lawyer, was openly advising people they could freely break the law.

But Reid is no fool. He’s quite deliberate in his deception. Whenever he slanders private citizens, such as the Koch brothers, or advises people to break the law he does so on the Senate floor, where he, thanks to the speech and debate clause of the Constitution, enjoys full immunity from any ramifications resulting from anything he says. Any basement silkscreener arrested for making counterfeit Redskins merchandise on the advice of the senate majority leader won’t be able to touch him.

Reid knows this, but he’s counting on most people not to, so as to harm Snyder’s bottom line.

It’s ironic Democrats, who call investigations into the IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the VA and any other Obama administration scandal you can think of a distraction and waste of valuable time, but they have plenty of time to write letters, give speeches and lead the charge against a sports team’s mascot.

But even more ironic is that Democrats can, with a straight face, claim to be leading this charge in the name of cultural sensitivity to Native Americans. Democrats in every state of the union have an annual fundraising dinner called the Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinner. The Jefferson is Thomas Jefferson, and if progressive college professors taught us anything it’s that Jefferson was a slave owner. But, in the pantheon of progressive sensitivities, he’s a saint compared to Andrew Jackson.

Jackson, a lifelong military man and Democrat, was responsible for untold thousands of Native American deaths. Jackson oversaw the Trail of Tears, where lands were forcibly taken from tribes and they were marched west, many to their deaths. When the Supreme Court ruled the removal of the Cherokee Nation unlawful, Jackson simply ignored them, saying of Chief Justice John Marshall’s ruling, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

The Supreme Court has no army, the president does. Jackson simply ignored the ruling and removed the Cherokee anyway.

What’s more offensive: a sports team nickname people have to have explained to them why it’s offensive, or celebrating a genocidal, power-mad narcissist who ignored the Constitution and imposed his will on people? Every year, the Democrats celebrate and fundraise off the genocidal, power-mad narcissist.



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)