Friday, January 16, 2015

Should we all live on beans?

There is a book called “The Blue Zones” which researched areas of the world that have an unusual concentration of centenarians (people reaching the age of 100).  Let me put up a brief summary of its conclusions before I comment:

    All long-lived people live on a high-carb, low-fat, plant-based diet

    All long-lived people eat a lot of vegetables, including greens.

    Whenever they can get it, long-lived populations eat a lot of fruit and it seems to contribute to their longevity

    When animal products are consumed, it’s occasionally and in small amounts only. But the 7th Day Adventist study also showed that vegans live longer than vegetarians or meat eaters, so the ideal is to avoid all animal products. If you do eat animal products, it shouldn’t be more than a few times a month (paleo eaters take note).

    All long-lived people had periods in their life when a lot less food was available and they had to survive on a very sparse, limited diet. For example, the centenarians in the book in Okinawa describe a time during World War II when they lived on sweet potatoes for three meals a day. When discussing the centenarians in Italy: “When their family was young, in the 1950s, they were very poor. They ate what they produced on their land — mostly bread, cheese and vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and most significantly, fava beans). Meat was at best a weekly affair, boiled on Sunday with pasta and roasted during the festivals.” This reinforces my concept of periodic fasting. Because we live in a society of such abundance, we have to force ourselves to go through periods of restrictions with periodic cleanses and fasting.

    All long-lived people live in a sunny, warm climate — but not necessarily tropical. They got plenty of vitamin D from natural sunshine. The warmer climate probably also contributes to less stress and a more relaxed lifestyle.

    All long-lived people consume beans in some form or another.

    Nuts appear to be good for health. The 7th Day Adventists who ate a small serving of nuts several times a week had about half the risk of heart disease of those who didn’t.

    The typical centenarian diet is very simple. If you analyze all these diets from long-lived people around the world, they essentially eat the same simple foods every day. It appears that you do not need a wide variety of foods in your diet to be healthy. Quality food over variety is more important. Also, rich foods like meat and cheese are reserved for special occasions, and eaten at the most a few times a month if at all.

    They did not constantly change their diet or jump on the latest superfood fad. They ate the same seasonal things every day of the year.


Those conclusions were derived from a study of just 5 populations -- and from a statistician's point of view a sample size of 5  is most unlikely to support accurate generalizations.

But let us accept that the generaliations are accurate and ask whether there are other factors that explain the findings.  One such stood out to me as I read it: Food shortage.  Note that  the groups above lived on very  little.  A sub-demand food intake  both increases longevity and reduces stature. It get you lots of long-lived short people  -- as in Japan, where the food supply was very sparse for most people up until about 1960.

The effect of food shortage on stature can be extreme -- as we see in North Korea today, where the average North Korean army recruit averages  out at around 4'6".  And in reverse we see that the young people of Japan today are much taller than their grandparents.  From memory the average has increased from about 5' to about 5'6"

So my theory that the long lives in the study groups are  attributable to food shortage is thus easily testable.  It follows from my theory that the individuals concerned will be very short.  That should be easily testable if the authors want to advance their claims.  I think there is a fair likelihood that they won't need to go back with tape-measures, however.  I think they will recollect themselves towering over their study populations.

The next question concerns the California Adventists.  They presumably had no food shortages, living in one of the great centers of agricultural productivity.  That may be so but the Adventists could be a special case for reasons other than their food.  They are also members of a very religious group and it has been observed that very religious people (also the Mormons, for instance) tend to live long and healthy lives -- presumably because both the religion itself and the community that usually comes with it de-stresses people.

But, again, let us assume that both food shortage and religion were  irrelevant to the findings above. We then come to the policy decision:  Is it worth it to live longer on a much less palatable diet than what we are used to?  I think there is not much doubt that the majority answer is a resounding: "No". I happen to like beans but that is certainly my answer


Revolutions Eat Their Parents

Left-wing revolution is one of history's biggest bait-and-switches. Both for the intellectuals who hanker for the grapeshot, and for the marginalized peoples who get concentration camps instead of the anti-capitalist utopia they were promised.

"Revolutions eat their children." This observation, by a journalist during the French Revolution, was only partly true. In reality, revolutions eat their parents. In particular, history’s left-wing revolutions eat the left-wing intellectuals who made them happen. By “left-wing” here I mean revolutions that explicitly aim to use government power to reshuffle society. To remake society so it matches whatever version of “justice” strikes its promoters as attractive.

Of course, in such reformist revolutions the eggheads are just an appetizer. History's reformist revolutions move straight on to the main course: the marginalized and minorities who were often the revolution's most passionate supporters to begin with.

The left-wing revolutions of the twentieth century have all followed this pattern: midwifed by utopian intellectuals, power is quickly seized by political entrepreneurs who play to the basest instincts of the common people. Even in the most “civilized” places, such as “anything goes” Weimar Germany or 1950s “playground of the stars” Cuba, these newly enthroned are happy to see those eggheads and their “perverted” friends interred, tortured, hung from the nearest lamp post.

The litany is depressing. Especially for any tenured radical drawing taxpayer money to cheer on the violence. Mao famously boasted of “burying 46,000 scholars alive” meaning he shipped them wholesale to concentration camps so they would shut up and die. Pol Pot’s radical communist movement famously executed intellectuals in the thousands, extending to anybody who wore glasses. Even the supposedly “cool” regimes like Fidel Castro set up concentration camps for homosexuals, while the Soviet Union illegalized homosexuality for over fifty years, outdoing by a mile that light-weight hater Putin.

Most ironically, given his campus stardom, radical hero Che Guevara gleefully and personally executed homosexuals, whom he detested, while helping set up Fidel's network of camps across the county to torture gays and effeminate men into renouncing their allegedly wicked perversions that were supposedly the product of morally corrosive capitalism.

Why do reformist revolutions enjoy executing both left-wing intellectuals and the very “vulnerable groups” so near to the leftist heart? Because power has its own logic. Because any government based on violence has to constantly watch its back. And that means it has to appeal to the basest instincts of the masses. If the masses hate gays, or Jews, or the eggheads, then the government will do what it's told, stuffing the Gulags with gays, Jews, and eggheads. What the basest people hate, omnipotent government hates.

Why are intellectuals so blind to this horrible pattern? Presumably, they hope this time is different and that the campus radicals and their pet politicians will hold on this time. If history is a guide, they will not. Instead, their revolution will get snatched from them by political entrepreneurs and turned into their worst nightmare: a revolution that is anti-intellectual, anti-gay, racist, and anti-Semitic. No matter how pure the birth of the revolution, history suggests this is what it will come to.

This gives no pleasure to point out. None of us want radical leftists hanging from lampposts, or executed in Che's office for his entertainment. What we do wish is that violence-promoting reformers would have a bit more respect for the fire they play with. For them to study a bit more history. To understand why it is, always and everywhere, so dangerous to ride the tiger of unlimited government.

The left thinks it can control the tiger of the masses unleashed. It cannot, and indeed it will be the first to hang. And that would be very sad for us all, left and right.



A Leftist-Islamic Alliance

The twin massacres in Paris were, according to the perpetrators themselves, payback for blasphemy. In other words, Islamists believe in the “right not to be offended.” If that sounds familiar, maybe it’s because the American left believes exactly the same thing.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) latest report reveals that of the 437 colleges and universities they surveyed, more than 55 percent maintain what FIRE refers to as “red light” restrictions on free speech. In 2012, FIRE president Greg Lukianoff offered examples of those “speech codes,” noting that they may consist of restricting speech that “feels offensive,” “demeaning,” that which will “discredit the student body” or any language deemed to be “abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar.”

And that’s just a small sampling of the official stances taken by colleges themselves. As revealed by Healther Mac Donald, "microaggressions,“ a laughably pathetic concept defined as "a form of unintended discrimination…depicted by the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination,” has become entrenched on college campuses as well. Thus one no longer has to make a conscious effort to offend. As long as someone else feels offended, it is more than enough to engender criticism, or as Mac Donald chronicles, the sacking of a 79-year-old UCLA college professor for creating “a toxic, unsafe and intellectually stifling environment at its current worse (sic)” in his classroom – according to a “Day of Action Statement” written by “Scholars of Color.”

Note that even the most rabid Islamists require some kind of overt blasphemy to instigate their murderous rampages. At campuses like UCLA, where the commitment to “social justice” conquers all, the thought police are out in full force. And they have more “ammo” to work with than just microaggressions. “White privilege," defined as "a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances,” is another hammer designed to induce guilt in the unsuspecting. Such privileges are defined (I kid you not) by such things as flesh-colored band-aids and pantyhose, and shampoos that “are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products,’” according to Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S., author of  "White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap.“

The effort pursued by both the Islamists and the American left is exactly the same: the deconstruction of Western culture and one of its bedrock principles, free expression.

Unfortunately, Western culture has demonstrated it is more than willing to go along for the ride, and nothing speaks to this more forcefully than open borders, coupled with the notion that we owe something to the 11 million people (or perhaps 20 or 30 million) that have ignored our immigration laws. Even more incredibly, our leftist-dominated ruling class continues down this road, even as the price of allowing millions of people more interested in preserving their own way of life rather than embracing a host nation’s culture is playing itself out in Europe at this very moment. And while one sympathizes with the current tribulations endured by the French, a daunting reality cannot be ignored:

They brought these atrocities upon themselves.

And not just with unrestrained immigration. In 2008, the European Union mandated religious hate-speech laws. France itself has laws against speech that "insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation.” Moreover, the very same Charlie Hebdo staff characterized as “courageous chroniclers” by French President Francois Hollande was the staff who had hate speech charges leveled at them in 2006-2007 by then-president Jacques Chirac. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” he said at the time. “Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility.”

How to reconcile the difference between free expression and the spirit of responsibility is impossible to know, but it is telling that, on this side of the Atlantic, the same leftists who embrace campus speech codes are the ones more than willing to embrace expressions such as “nativist,” “xenophobic,” bigoted,“ "racist,” “Islamophobic,” and a number of other equally gratuitous insults all of which are designed – irony notwithstanding – to suppress the speech of those who would disagree with the leftist agenda.

It is the same leftist agenda that tossed the melting pot mentality on the ash heap of history and replaced it with the multicultural-inspired notion that immigrants should “celebrate their differences,” rather than assimilate American customs, culture, traditions and language.

That’s exactly what occurred in France last week. Islamists embraced their jihadist culture, in all suppressive and murderous glory. And even worse, they were aided and abetted by one “courageous” media outlet after another, all of whom refused to print the offending cartoons altogether, or pixilated the insulting parts. And then, adding insult to injury, they proceeded to warn us about “seething" anti-immigrant feelings and a rise in Islamophobia, both of which feed  the "far-right nationalist parties.”

In other words, nationalism and the desire to protect the prevailing culture is a bad thing.

And so we will endure the alternative. In France, “law enforcement officers have been told to erase their social media presence and to carry their weapons at all times because terror sleeper cells have been activated over the last 24 hours in the country,” CNN reports. In America, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and her party’s ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, flatly stated that she believes terrorist cells are hiding in Europe and the U.S., waiting to be activated and carry out attacks similar to the ones that claimed 17 lives in France last week," reports the Washington Times.

Those would be terror cells undoubtedly inspired by the ongoing advances of ISIS and al Qaeda in the Middle East, the Boko Haram in Nigeria, and a host of other Islamic terrorist entities allowed to fester or flourish, lest terms like "overseas contingency operation,” “man-caused disaster,” “militants,” “insurgents,” “extremists,” “workplace violence,” etc., etc., are revealed for the utterly bankrupt frauds they truly are. And as long as the West continues to make politically correct war against this Islamist cancer, it will remain a source of inspiration for every wannabe jihadist-in-waiting – even as feckless Western leaders walk on politically correct eggshells to avoid making the direct connection between the two.

And perhaps no one speaks to that fecklessness better than our own president, who declined to attend the rally in Paris where more than 40 other heads of state, and 1.5 million people, convened to denounce the atrocities. Even Obama apologists such as NBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted the “stunning” nature of the snub, while the reliably leftist Ron Fournier insisted it was “mistake,” but not a “disgrace.”

More to the point, it was no accident. Obama has made it clear he disdains American exceptionalism and our nation’s role as the world’s last remaining superpower. And while apologists like Fournier insist it isn’t disgraceful that our president decided to watch NFL football instead of attending the rally, it is quite disgraceful when none of America’s top leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry or Attorney General Eric Holder – who was in Paris at the time – were there to represent our nation. Instead ambassador Jane Hartley, who raised more than $500,000 in campaign funds for Obama, was our highest ranking official on the scene.

In other words, Clint Eastwood was right on the money when he portrayed Obama as an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. And it is that empty chair America must endure for two more years, the one who will convene a Feb. 18 “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” that makes no mention whatsoever of Islamic extremism.

No doubt our president doesn’t want to say anything that might offend someone.



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.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are better looking  women conservatives?

The authors below are careful not to draw that conclusion but it is a reasonable inference from the findings reported.  We read below:  "But the women rated as more physically attractive by their peers were more likely to endorse values like conformity and tradition rather than values like self-direction and universalism".  That sounds like a pretty clear Left/Right split to me. The essence of conservatism is caution so that could well be perceived as being more conforming. Conservatives tend to be much more acceptant of the status quo than Leftists are and don't like to rock the boat.  The Leftist authors, of course, put quite a different spin on their results.  See particularly what they "suggest" in the last sentence of their journal abstract below.  Being unattracted by world government is apparently "self-promotion"!

Does being beautiful on the outside make you beautiful on the inside? Not necessarily, although attractive women are often thought to have more desirable personality traits in the eyes of strangers, new research shows.

In actuality, beautiful women might be more likely to have some less attractive values, favoring conformity and self-promotion over independence and tolerance, the study found.

Researchers from the Open University of Israel and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recruited 118 female students to serve as "targets" in the study. These women completed questionnaires to measure their values (such as tradition, self-direction, conformity and benevolence) and personality traits (such as extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism). The participants, whose average age was 29, were then video-recorded for about a minute as they entered a room and read a weather forecast while looking into the camera.

Another 118 participants served as judges. Forty percent of this group was male and each watched the video footage of a different target, chosen randomly, before evaluating that woman's values, traits and attractiveness.

If a target was judged as physically attractive, the researchers found she was also perceived to be agreeable, open to experience, extroverted, conscientious and emotionally stable — all socially desirable traits. The judges were also more likely to believe that more attractive women valued achievement compared with less attractive women.

"People are warned not to 'judge a book by its cover,' but they often do exactly that," the researchers wrote in their paper in the journal Psychological Science.

Meanwhile, the questionnaires that the targets filled out about themselves showed no correlations between these personality traits and their perceived attractiveness. But the women rated as more physically attractive by their peers were more likely to endorse values like conformity and tradition rather than values like self-direction and universalism, which is linked to tolerance and a concern for others, the researchers said.

"Thus, whereas people hold the 'what is beautiful is good' stereotype, our findings suggest that the beautiful strive for conformity rather than independence and for self-promotion rather than tolerance," wrote the authors, led by Lihi Segal-Caspi of the Open University.



Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, Revisited

Perceived and Reported Traits and Values of Attractive Women

By Lihi Segal-Caspi et al.


Research has documented a robust stereotype regarding personality attributes related to physical attractiveness (the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype). But do physically attractive women indeed possess particularly attractive inner attributes? Studying traits and values, we investigated two complementary questions: how perceived attractiveness relates to perceived personality, and how it relates to actual personality. First, 118 women reported their traits and values and were videotaped reading the weather forecast. Then, 118 judges rated the traits, values, and attractiveness of the women. As hypothesized, attractiveness correlated with attribution of desirable traits, but not with attribution of values. By contrast, attractiveness correlated with actual values, but not actual traits: Attractiveness correlated with tradition and conformity values (which were contrasted with self-direction values) and with self-enhancement values (which were contrasted with universalism values). Thus, despite the widely accepted “what is beautiful is good” stereotype, our findings suggest that the beautiful strive for conformity rather than independence and for self-promotion rather than tolerance.



In Denial About the Attack in France

When America was hit on 9/11, the world united around us. France just had its 9/11, and again the civilized world has come together, all except the United States. Where were America's leaders as the rest of the world united?

The reaction to Islamic terrorists killing 17 people in Paris in the name of their radical creed has been greeted with a very strange perceived need to deflect or just dismiss it in liberal political and media circles.

Most journalists tried to downplay or ignore Obama's failure to attend the huge Sunday "unity" rally in Paris, where 40 world leaders gathered in a show of support for France. While the New York tabloids mocked Obama, most national newspapers mentioned "World leaders link arms" and barely noticed the leader of the free world had stayed home to watch football games.

Even after the White House spokesman admitted it was an error for top American officials to skip the event, obviously in reaction to national and international outrage, still  some newspapers buried it inside their papers like it was no big deal.

There were other distressing signs of liberal deflection. CNN International anchor Christiane Amanpour called the terrorists mere "activists" in her reporting on the shootings at the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo: "On this day, these activists found their targets, and their targets were journalists."

Amanpour was quoting one of the dead cartoonists, who said, "When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it." Words matter, especially to journalists, and this was the wrong word. Activists write letters to the editor, join a community organization or protest, volunteer for a political campaign, man a phone bank.

Men who terrorize by slaughtering innocent men, women and children are terrorists.

Even during an outbreak of terrorism, some leftists deflect, putting bizarre political spins on the events at hand. Some continue to insist that the terrorism du jour is caused by Bush's war in Iraq, or any other response to 9/11, like the prisoners held at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

Or it's those Jews. It was amazing to listen to Jimmy Carter (who simply refuses to leave the world stage, even decades after the curtain fell) suggest the Jews and "the Palestinian problem" bore responsibility. BBC reporter Tim Willcox upbraided a Jewish woman saying Jews are being targeted in France, insisting to her that "many critics though of Israel's policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well." (He later apologized for a "poorly phrased question," which it wasn't. It was an inaccurately stated declaration.)

After the terrorist attack, liberal journalists worried about the "backlash" from the "far right" that opposes rapid immigration or the spread of aggressive Islam. On MSNBC, for example, Andrea Mitchell lectured the attacks would be "a challenge for France," a country "where immigration and the Muslim population has been under fire." The challenge is not to "react negatively and not to paint people with a broad brush."

The left also loves to smear Christians and Jews into the conversation about radical religion. On MSNBC, former Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates compared the mass murder in Paris to Jerry Falwell's lawsuit against the porno magazine Hustler. "This isn't just Islamic extremism. If you go back to the '80s, during the Reagan administration, when Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine for portraying him having, I believe it was drunken incest with his mother in an outhouse." How on Earth can you compare Falwell filing a lawsuit to the mass murder of 17 people in France?

The left passionately attempts to inflame the world against such slow-emerging, life-threatening crises as "catastrophic global warming" or fast-food menus without calorie counts. But when it comes to Islamic jihad, they seem oddly incapable of outrage or alarm. They just deflect or dismiss.



Open Letter To Muslim World

by Abdennour Bidar

"Dear Muslim world: I am one of your estranged sons, who views you from without and from afar—from France, where so many of your children live today. I look at you with the harsh eyes of a philosopher, nourished from infancy on tasawwuf (Sufism) and Western thought. I therefore look at you from my position of barzakh, from an isthmus between the two seas of the East and the West.

"And what do I see? What do I see better than others, precisely because I see you from afar, from a distance? I see you in a state of misery and suffering that saddens me to no end, but which makes my philosopher's judgment even harsher, because I see you in the process of birthing a monster that presumes to call itself the Islamic State, and which some prefer to call by a demon's name—Da'esh. But worst of all is that I see that you are losing yourself and your dignity, and wasting your time, in your refusal to recognize that this monster is born of you: of your irresoluteness, your contradictions, your being torn between past and present, and your perpetual inability to find your place in human civilization.

"What do you [Muslims] say when faced with this monster? You shout, 'That's not me!' 'That's not Islam!' You reject [the possibility] that this monster's crimes are committed in your name (#NotInMyName). You rebel against the monster's hijacking of your identity, and of course you are right to do so. It is essential that you proclaim to the world, loud and clear, that Islam condemns barbarity. But this is absolutely not enough! For you are taking refuge in your self-defense reflex, without realizing it, and above all without undertaking any self-criticism. You become indignant and are satisfied with that—but you are missing an historical opportunity to question yourself. Instead of taking responsibility for yourself, you accuse others, [saying]: 'You Westerners, and all you enemies of Islam, stop associating us with this monster! Terrorism is not Islam! The true Islam, the good Islam, doesn't mean war, it means peace!'"

"Oh my dear Muslim world, I hear the cry of rebellion rising within you, and I understand it. Yes, you are right: Like every one of the great sacred inspirations in the world, Islam has, throughout its history, created beauty, justice, meaning and good, and it has [been a source of] powerful enlightenment for humans on the mysterious path of existence... Here in the West, I fight, in all my books, [to make sure that] this wisdom of Islam and of all religions is not forgotten or despised. But because of my distance [from the Muslim world], I can see what you cannot... and this inspires me to ask: Why has this monster stolen your face? Why has this despicable monster chosen your face and not another? The truth is that behind this monster hides a huge problem, one you do not seem ready to confront. Yet in the end you will have to find the courage [to do so]...

"Where do the crimes of this so-called 'Islamic State' come from? I'll tell you, my friend, and it will not make you happy, but it is my duty as a philosopher [to tell you]. The root of this evil that today steals your face is within yourself; the monster emerged from within you. And other monsters, some even worse, will emerge as well, as long as you refuse to acknowledge your sickness and to finally tackle the root of this evil!

"Even Western intellectuals have difficulty seeing this. For the most part they have forgotten the power of religion—for good and for evil, over life and over death—to the extent that they tell me, 'No, the problem of the Muslim world is not Islam, not the religion, but rather politics, history, economics, etc.' They completely forget that religion may be the core of the reactor of human civilization, and that tomorrow the future of humanity will depend not only on a resolution to the financial crisis, but also, and much more essentially, on a resolution to the unprecedented spiritual crisis that is affecting all of mankind."

"Will we be able to come together, across the world, and face this fundamental challenge? The spiritual nature of man abhors a vacuum, and if it finds nothing new with which to fill the vacuum, tomorrow it will fill it with religions that are less and less adapted to the present, and which, like Islam today, will [also] begin producing monsters.

"I see in you, oh Muslim world, great forces ready to rise up and contribute to this global effort to find a spiritual life for the 21st century. Despite the severity of your sickness, you have within you a great multitude of men and women who are willing to reform Islam, to reinvent its genius beyond its historical forms, and to be part of the total renewal of the relationship that mankind once had with its gods. It is to all those who dream together of a spiritual revolution, both Muslims and non-Muslims, that I have addressed my books, and to whom I offer, with my philosopher's words, confidence in that which their hope glimpses."

"But these Muslim men and women who look to the future are not yet sufficiently numerous, nor is their word sufficiently powerful. All of them, whose clarity and courage I welcome, have plainly seen that it is the Muslim world's general state of profound sickness that explains the birth of terrorist monsters with names like Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra, AQIM, and Islamic State. They understand all too well that these are only the most visible symptoms of an immense diseased body, whose chronic maladies include the inability to establish sustainable democracies that recognize freedom of conscience vis-a-vis religious dogmas as a moral and political right; chronic difficulties in improving women's status...; the inability to sufficiently free political power from its control by religious authority; and the inability to promote respectful, tolerant and genuine recognition of religious pluralism and religious minorities."

"Could all this be the fault of the West? How much precious time will you lose, dear Muslim world, with this stupid accusation that you yourself no longer believe, and behind which you hide so that you can continue to lie to yourself?

"Particularly since the eighteenth century—it's past time you acknowledged it—you have been unable to meet the challenge of the West. You have childishly and embarrassingly sought refuge in the past, with the obscurantist Wahhabism regression that continues to wreak havoc almost everywhere within your borders—the Wahhabism that you spread from your holy places in Saudi Arabia like a cancer originating from your very heart. In other ways, you emulated the worst [aspects] of the West—with nationalism and a modernism that caricatures modernity. I refer here especially to the technological development, so inconsistent with the religious archaism, that makes your fabulously wealthy Gulf 'elite' mere willing victims of the global disease— the worship of the god Money.



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, January 14, 2015

An al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula Leader Claims the Paris Attacks on Twitter

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

The data below- a series of tweets by Bakhsaruf al-Danqulah (an AQAP leader active on Twitter)translated by me- seem to point to a growing probability of AQAP involvement behind the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices etc. in Paris.

While the media have reported that one of the attackers supposedly claimed to be loyal to the Islamic State, that could just be an attempt to mislead the media with the worst Western nightmare: namely, a supposed coming together of al-Qa’ida and IS to attack the West.

1. Many followers are asking about the link between al-Qa’ida and those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack. The link is direct and the operation was supervised by AQAP.

2. The operation was directed by AQAP’s leadership. And they chose these targets out of desire to avenge the insult to the Holy Prophet.

3. And in France in particular for its undisguised role in the war on Islam and oppressed peoples.

4. The operation is an implementation of the threat of Sheikh Osama bin Laden in which he warned the West of the consequence in the long run of affront to the sanctities of Muslims.

5. He said in his message to the West: “If there is no limit to your freedom of speech, your chests will become broadened targets for our actions.”

6. The organization delayed implementation of the operation for security reasons dependent on the operatives. And the operation has a number of messages for all Western states.

7. Infringing on Islam’s sanctities and protecting those who mock them will bear a very heavy price. And the consequence will be severe and terrible.

8. The crimes of the Western states- especially America, Britain and France- will be turned on their heads within their abodes.

9. The policy of striking the far enemy which has remained for al-Qa’ida under Zawahiri’s leadership will continue in the realization of its aims, until the West falls back on itself.

10. The policy of the mujahideen of al-Qa’ida’s media incitement, especially Inspire magazine, has produced splendid results in the defining of its aims and marshalling potential.

11. For one of the authors put his name and photo [i.e. that of the editor of Charlie Hebdo] as a dead or alive target for the mujahideen, so the Western states should expect evil consequences and ruins by God’s power.

He then concludes with a call for people to disseminate and translate his tweets.



How are Things in Kobani?

By Jonathan Spyer

The battle for the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani just entered its fourth month. It is now a fight for a heap of ruins. Four months of intense ground combat, involving tanks, mortars and RPGs as well as small arms, has reduced the city to rubble.

Nevertheless, Kobani matters. It is where the Syrian Kurds showed that with the right support, local fighters are capable of turning back the forces of the Islamic State.

Kobani also matters because as a result of the stand of the Kurdish YPG organization in the city, a potential reliable ally of the west in northern Syria has been identified. In the fight between rival successor entities over the ruins of Syria and Iraq, this is a relationship which deserves to be nurtured and developed.

I visited Kobani before the IS assault of the autumn. In March of last year, the enclave was under siege from four directions – the jihadis from south, east and west, and the Turkish authorities from the north. The Turks had a strange and ambiguous relationship with the ISIS jihadis. Sometimes the border gates would be opened to let them exit and enter. Wounded jihadis were treated in hospitals in Ceylanpinar across the border, with no questions asked.

Still, the Kurds were holding out. The positions near Tal Abyad to the east, and Jarabulus to the west, were well defended. In a place called Haj Ismail, I observed as the YPG responded swiftly and efficiently to the first signs of an ISIS attack.

Within the enclave, life was close to normal. There wasn’t a great deal of food. But the schools were operating, the hospitals were open. The Kurdish enclave had become a place of refuge for Syrian Arabs, too, seeking to flee the chaos of the fighting further west in Aleppo.

But the uneasy half-cold siege ended in September. The Islamic State, flush with new weaponry from the garrison in faraway Mosul, descended on the peaceful enclave. Their intention was to destroy it, so as to clear the way for their forces to move more easily between Raqqa province and Aleppo and Idleb.

They nearly succeeded. Despite the dogged defense of the YPG, the villages surrounding Kobani city began to fall. The civilian population was evacuated across the border. The YPG fighters prepared for a last stand within the city. What reversed the situation was the commencement of U.S. and coalition air attacks on the IS positions after October 6th. The air campaign evened out the YPG’s inferior weaponry, and the Kurds began to claw back control of the city.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Perwer Mohammed Ali, one of the Kurdish activists with whom I had worked back in March. Arrested by the Turks on leaving Kobani, Perwer made his way back to the enclave. I asked him about the current situation in the city.

“Right now its calm,” he told me. “The YPG control about 80% of the city. Daesh is still holding two neighborhoods – Kaniya Kurdan and Mikteleh. A couple of days ago, they tried to launch a counter attack. They had a tank with them, but they didn’t succeed.”

And are the coalition airstrikes helping?

“The coalition is good but we’d like them to target the tanks. IS has a bunch of them in Mikteleh.”

The liberation of Kobani seems near. The real task, says Perwer, will come afterwards. “Kobani is destroyed,” he told me, “so the big problem will be after the liberation.”

The liberation, nevertheless, seems imminent. When it comes, it will be testimony to the potency of U.S. air power, of course, but it will also be the result of the courage and determination of the fighters of the YPG.

The Middle East is the most dysfunctional political space on the planet. As has been amply demonstrated in recent days, ideas emanating from it and the bloody actions they inspire represent one of the most potent dangers to free societies anywhere.

The west cannot ignore the Middle East without abandoning it to anti-western forces. Engaging with the region, supporting allies, facing down dangers are all essential.

In the darkest days before the commencement of coalition bombing in Kobani, I sat in London with two leaders of the Kurdish PYD, the party that controls the Kurdish cantons in Syria. “Our situation,” they told me at that time, “is desperate.” The absence of even RPGs to deal with the IS armor seemed to presage doom.

Belatedly, Kobani was saved. The joint action of the U.S. Air Force and the YPG fighters who protected the town ought to be the start of a political relationship between the west and the Syrian Kurds. Dialogue with the PYD has begun. It should lead to a recognition of Kurdish national rights in both Syria and Iraq. In the ruins of these fragmented countries, there aren’t many reliable friends. There are some. The Kurds — in Syria as in Iraq — are chief among them. Their courage and their moderation deserve to be recognized and this recognition needs to be reflected in policy.



Fracking, Not Obamacare, Has Helped the Middle Class

Americans of all income levels would benefit from faster economic growth that raises wages. Unfortunately, wages are being held back by the very policies supported by those criticizing slow wage growth.

Liberals across the country supported the misnamed Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The law’s mandates have made health coverage more expensive for both individuals and businesses.

However, it has not made those businesses any more profitable, or their workers any more productive.

Economic theory predicts that when benefit costs rise, employers cut wages. Empirical research confirms this prediction. Ironically, some of the most rigorous evidence for offsetting wage cuts comes from Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who boasted the health law takes advantage of Americans’ “stupidity.”

As of Jan. 1, Obamacare requires employers to pay a stiff penalty for each full-time worker they do not offer expensive “qualifying” health coverage to. They owe no penalty for part-time employees without such coverage. This gives many businesses a strong incentive to cut hours below 30 a week — cutting their workers’ take home pay in the process.

Fortunately, workers’ living standards have jumped recently — for reasons most liberals oppose. New “fracking” technology now allows entrepreneurs to extract oil from previously inaccessible shale formations. And America has a lot of shale oil. As a result, domestic energy production has surged. North Dakota alone now produces 1.2 million barrels of oil a day.

Fracking has created tens of thousands of good jobs. It has also reduced global energy prices. Gas prices have fallen by more than $1.25 a gallon since July. These lower energy prices will boost household spending power by $900 a year.

All this has happened over the objections of a lot of those complaining about low wages. Many liberals want to curtail fracking. Gov. Andrew Cuomo just banned it in New York state. Major unions have called for moratoriums on fracking. Yet energy entrepreneurs have done far more to boost the middle class than the health care overhaul liberals championed.


White House: We "Erred" in Skipping Parisian Rally

As I wrote yesterday, major officials from the United States skipped out on the massive anti-terrorism unity rally in Paris. Today, the White House admitted that they "erred" in their decision to not send someone other than the American ambassador to the country.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted this afternoon that the United States should have sent someone with a higher profile. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden both had open schedules on Sunday, and while Attorney General Holder was in Paris at the time of the march, he was not present at the event. World leaders from more than 40 different nations were, however, at the march.

The decision to skip out on the rally has been criticized by many, from both the left and the right.



Netanyahu Implores Jews to Leave France, Come to Israel

Four Jews were murdered in Paris last week at a kosher grocery store. French President Francois Hollande summarily and emphatically declared it an “anti-Semitic” attack and urged all French citizens to spurn "racism and anti-Semitism” in all its forms. But Jews who have lived in France for their whole lives are again (and increasingly) questioning whether they should stay where they are, or uproot themselves to more tolerant and safer climates.

Tapping into these concerns, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly said over the weekend that all Jews in Europe are welcome -- and indeed belong -- in the Jewish State:

    "In a statement late on Saturday, Netanyahu said an Israeli governmental committee would convene in the coming week to find ways to boost Jewish immigration from France and other European countries "which are being hit by terrible anti-Semitism".

    "To all the Jews of France and to all the Jews of Europe, I wish to say: the State of Israel is not only the place to which you pray, the State of Israel is also your home," he said.

In an exclusive interview with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, however, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said if Jews were to emigrate en masse from France, as is rumored to happen, the nation would “be judged a failure”:

    The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens,” Valls told me. “To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.”

    Valls, a Socialist who is the son of Spanish immigrants, describes the threat of a Jewish exodus from France this way: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

In other words, French Jews aren’t merely a community of people who happen, by chance, to live in France; they are inherently French and therefore their exodus would foundationally change the country itself. Nevertheless, it is expected that as many as 10,000 (if not more) Jews could leave France for the Jewish State in 2015 alone:

    Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency promoting emigration to Israel, said his estimate for 2015 was 10,000 French immigrants, after 3,300 in 2013 and 7,000 last year.

    "It will probably be much more than 10,000," he told Reuters at a Jewish Agency meeting for French considering emigration. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann, at his side, said about 700 Jews had attended the session during the day.

That’s nowhere near the 100,000 feared by Prime Minister Valls -- but it’s not insignificant, either.

“If I were 30, I would get out of France,” a middle-aged Jewish Frenchman named "Laurent S" recently told AFP. He suggested that anti-Semitism was on the rise and thus Israel would be an ideal place for him to resettle. But his age, he implied, makes this option less-than-desirable.

Still, it seems likely others will in time heed his advice, especially if Jewish families continue to feel unsafe and under threat in Western democracies throughout Europe.



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, January 13, 2015

Why is Charlie Hebdo Assassination 100% Islam


Eric Holder, Other U.S. Leaders, Skip Unity Rally in Paris

More of Mr Obama's pro-Muslim foreign policy

Today, a large "Unity Rally" occurred in Paris to condemn the atrocities that occurred in the city earlier this week. The rally was attended by thousands, including French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Notably absent? Any major official from the United States, including Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for a terrorism summit.

From the New York Daily News:

"The U.S. did send Attorney General Eric Holder to attend a pre-march terrorism summit convened by French President Francois Hollande.

Holder, 63, joined with Hollande in condemning the recent Paris attacks in the strongest possible terms and said the U.S. will hold another terrorism summit in D.C. in February.

But his support apparently stopped there — because he wasn’t seen at the emotional “Je Suis Charlie” rally afterward that attracted 1.3 million. Across France, nearly 4 million people turned out in similar demonstrations.

As chanting spectators filled the Place de la Republique, the only U.S. dignitary present was the U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley.

Both the president and vice president reportedly had open schedules on Sunday."

While I know it isn't the responsibility of the United States to babysit the entire world, it is quite strange that there was effectively no U.S. presence at the largest rally in Parisian history. The United States has been the victim of attacks by Islamic extremists--our presence would have been entirely appropriate at the rally.



The Sword Is Mightier Than The Pen

The world is being rocked by a rash of “workplace violence,” though what the Administration believes the Koran has against workplaces remains unclear. Those who eschew the willful blindness of the cowardly and foolish see clearly that the Islamofascist freaks are running up the body count across the globe. The question is what, if anything, are we going to do about it?

Vigils are nice. People get together, hold candles, talk about solidarity and hug, and thereby reinforce the view that Western civilization has lost the intestinal fortitude that kept the jihadi hordes from overrunning Europe during the Middle Ages and that has kept a lid on these fanatics ever since. It’s nice to pick up a pen – as we will see, writing, persuasion and mockery are all vital supporting efforts in the counter-offensive in what Senator Lindsey Graham accurately told Hugh Hewitt is “a religious war.” But it’s necessary to pick up a rifle.

No, it’s not a religious war on our part, but it’s a flat out lie to say it’s not a religious war on theirs. And it is a war to the death. Given my druthers, all-in-all, I’d prefer that the jihadis do the dying.

The pen is not mightier than the sword, or more aptly, the M4 carbine, the 2000-pound JDAM bomb or the Hellfire missile. The way to win a war is to kill the enemy until he surrenders. That’s it. The Romans’ rules of engagement were simple: “Wipe them out.” Two thousand years later, Carthage still isn’t a threat, while a couple years after terrorists massacred four Americans, Benghazi still is.

All those people talking about “limited deployments” and “red lines” and “proportional use of force” – how’s their track record been so far? Iraq went from lost to won to lost again. They simply announced that we had won in Afghanistan, which was a big surprise to the Taliban. And today, you can’t even draw a cartoon in a major Western metropolis without worrying about some degenerate blowing your head off – to be followed by a gang of primarily leftist cultural kapos asking, “What do you expect would happen for saying things that offend people?”

The solution is victory. The West needs to choose to defeat them, not just put off the day when these sociopaths hoist their scuzzy little banners over our capitals. That means fighting, and fighting to win – not just fighting to ensure that the collapse of the next country happens on the next politician’s watch.

War is about killing, and we are not doing enough of it. This is not rocket science. You look at a map of Iraq and ISIS’s zone of influence and you see right where to put the infantry/armor divisions to close them off and wipe them out once and for all. But the West won’t do it. We want to pretend that a few sorties a day to pick off random gun trucks is a substitute for an overwhelming, ruthless attack to take ground and wipe out anyone we find on it who isn’t a friend or surrendering.

Nicking them at the margins is not enough, and our gutless, feckless unwillingness to take the fight to the enemy with our heavy firepower is no secret. They see our weakness. That just makes them stronger.

Hell, if we can’t man up and put our own boots back on the ground, there is a partial solution. As with most questions, our Constitution provides an answer. Maybe we should look to Article I, Section 8, and grant some letters of marque and reprisal. In the olden days, these fabulous documents allowed private ships the right to sail the high seas attacking their nation’s enemies. Maybe we should put a bounty on these ISIS creeps and let private enterprise go to town. Considering it takes a million bucks or more a year to keep a single U.S. soldier in the field over there, even at $100,000 a head – attached or otherwise – taxpayers would be getting a great deal.

Outraged? Offended? So now you’re smarter than James Madison?

Regardless of how we do it, killing vast numbers of jihadis and destroying everything around them is imperative. It not only decreases the raw numbers of fighters, but it dramatically decreases the number of people who want to help them, as doing so will rapidly become associated with getting killed.

The sword is the main effort, but it is not the only effort. The pen – the ideological offensive – is a key supporting effort that complements, but can never replace, the central role of massive, controlled violence.

There is our pen, an intellectual effort by the West to attack Islamofascism head-on. We need to stand up for our culture, not apologize for it. We need to mock the foolishness of jihadism and the delusions of its drooling, sexually inadequate adherents. We need to call it what it is – a savage, primitive, stupid perversion of Islam.

That leads to the second part of the pen/influencing effort, that of the Islamic world. While it is a lie to say that the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam, it is also untrue to say that all Islam supports the terrorists. All Muslims don’t believe in this jihadi idiocy. In fact, right now – as they have for years – decent, brave Muslims are fighting side by side with our troops against jihadi morons. To ignore that is not only a shameful betrayal of our allies but a foolish squandering of a valuable weapon against extremism.

And good Muslims are fighting back. We waited for years for reasonable, rational Muslim voices to make themselves heard, and it has happened. Egypt’s President al-Sisi – you know, the guy who screwed up President Obama’s plan to turn the most important country in the Middle East over to the Muslim Brotherhood – went in front of Islam’s most noted scholars and chewed them out. He called for a rethink and reexamination of Islam, pointing out that jihadi foolishness was turning the Muslim world into a pariah. That’s huge, but few know about it because of both the focus on the murders in Paris and the general cluelessness of our media.

So the pen remains a vital component of victory. But let’s not fool ourselves. We aren’t going to talk the jihadi punks who claim to love death out of their delusions. We need to treat them like Old Yeller – except when they get put out of our misery, no one’s going to cry.



Obama's $181 billion in executive actions are being passed on to consumers through higher prices

Consumers will pick up the tab for Obama's regulations

Americans already face a $1.8 trillion regulatory burden. These heavy costs are passed on by businesses to consumers, who spend almost a quarter of their annual income complying with regulations often approved executive-level agencies, which have effectively become the fourth branch of the federal government.

The regulatory burden Americans faced was further exacerbated in 2014, which President Barack Obama dubbed a "year of action," in which he would use his "pen and phone" to get around Congress to enact his agenda. Through executive fiat, the Obama administration proposed and finalized tens of thousands of new regulations last year, which, according to an analysis by Sam Batkins of American Action Forum, come with a $181.5 billion overall price tag.

"In 79,066 pages of regulation, Americans will feel higher energy bills, more expensive consumer goods, and fewer employment opportunities. The year was highlighted by EPA’s proposed 'Clean Power Plan” (CPP), which the administration admitted would raise electricity prices by more than six percent by 2020, not to mention the $8.8 billion price tag," writes Batkins. "Amazingly, the CPP was not the most expensive measure in 2014. EPA’s proposed ozone rule, which could force dozens of state and national parks into non-attainment, could impose $15 billion in costs."

"In terms of proposed and final net present value costs, regulators imposed $79 billion in final rule burdens, including deregulatory measures. For proposals, there were $102.5 billion in net present value costs; this total for proposed rules likely portends yet another $100 billion year in 2015," he notes. "Since 2010, President Obama’s regulators have published more than $100 billion in burdens every year."

While the EPA's economically destructive regulations received a lot of attention last year, the administration also issued new Dodd-Frank rules that, according to Batkins, "added $16.7 billion in total costs and more than 4.4 million paperwork burden hours." ObamaCare continues to be a regulatory nightmare, as well. The FDA's utterly pointless menu-labeling mandate, which was part of the Affordable Care Act, comes with a $1.6 billion price tag, though estimates elsewhere predict the cost will be significantly higher, and 2 million paperwork hours.

The administration published 39 rules that come with an annual cost of $100 million or more. These are the sort of rules that would require congressional approval under the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. Though this measure, which was supported by FreedomWorks, passed the House in August 2013, the Senate, then controlled by Democrats, refused to bring it up for a vote.

It's highly likely that the REINS Act will be reintroduced in the new Congress, and it should be one of its top priorities. The regulatory state has long been out of control, regardless of which party controls the executive branch, and it's high time Congress -- the, you know, actual lawmaking branch under our Constitution -- reasserts itself.



Still Lying About Hollywood's Communists

Ask anyone under 40 to identify Paul McCartney or "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and the odds are you'll get a blank look in return. Ask someone under 30 to describe the Soviet menace and you may well get the same response. The first one is harmless ignorance, and some might argue the second one is as well. After all, it's over and we won, right?

What's not harmless is a never-ending effort to glorify communist conspirators in Hollywood, like the forthcoming movie "Trumbo," starring "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston as blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Entertainment Weekly magazine spewed the usual leftist apologist narrative: "Trumbo — who had been a member of the Communist party during World War II when the Soviets were a major American ally — was punished for his principled stand for free speech and the Constitution."

These deluded people never stop shamelessly declaring that communists were the true libertarians and constitutionalists, no matter how ludicrous it sounds. That 100 million people died at the hands of the communists doesn't register.

Luckily, there's a new antidote to this film's message, a book called "Hollywood Traitors" by longtime Human Events editor Allan Ryskind. His father, screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, was ruined professionally by the post-blacklist backlash against industry conservatives. Trumbo, like many Stalin-era Communist Party members, was an agent of Stalin's dictatorship, and for several years a mouthpiece for Hitler during the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Trumbo has been glorified as a member of the "Hollywood Ten" who refused to tell the truth to the House Un-American Activities Committee about their Communist Party membership. But here's what Trumbo admitted later (and you can bet it won't be in the movie). He told author Bruce Cook in the 1970s that he joined the party in 1943, that some of his "very best friends" were Communists and that "I might as well have been a Communist 10 years earlier." He also says about joining the party: "I've never regretted it. As a matter of fact, it's possible to say I would have regretted not having done it."

Bruce Cook is a screenwriter on this new movie. Now how can Cook regurgitate the lame old concept of a Washington "witch hunt" when he's published Trumbo's own words triumphantly proclaiming he was very happily a communist?

Ryskind reports Trumbo not only supported Stalin (and Hitler when he was a Stalin ally), but he also supported North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung after the Korean War. In an unpublished movie script, he had the heroine proclaim that North Korea's invasion of the South was perfectly justifiable, for this is "Korea's fight for independence, just as we had to fight for our own independence in 1776."

Ryskind adds Trumbo even wrote a poem called "Korean Christmas" which made Christian Americans the murderers of Korean children: "Hear then, little had to be/ Poor consolation, yet it had to be/ The Christian ethic was at stake/ And western culture and the American Way/ And so, in the midst of pure and holy strife/ We had to take your little eastern life."

Does this sound like a man who was punished for his love of our constitutional rights? It sounds like a man who exploited our freedom and mocked the "American way" as murdering little children for Jesus and "Western culture." But some Hollywood die-hards dearly love that communist lie, and never stop lying.


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, January 12, 2015


Worldwide, the Left are critical of patriotism. They hate the world they live in and that includes their own country.  Most Americans, however, are very patriotic.  So Democrat politicians are very defensive about patriotism.  Like Leftists everywhere they are not patriotic but in America they dare not admit it.  "Are you questioning my patriotism?" Democrat politicians sometimes huff.  The correct answer to that would generally be:  "Yes".  But conservatives are usually too polite to say that.

In England, patriotism has been under elite attack for around a century but it still hangs on. Below is a very patriotic hymn from Britain which is still frequently sung.  Note that both the Queen and the  (Conservative) Prime Minister are present at the recent  performance below in the Royal Albert Hall..

The sentiments are definitely of the "my country right or wrong" sort, which is an uncommon view today.  The hymn was written around the time of WWI. One reason why that view no longer prevails is that such a defence was disallowed at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals immediately after WWII.  It was held that German soldiers had a duty to disobey immoral or unethical orders. Just because the orders came from your country's high command was not good enough justification for obeying them.  That disobedience to an order in the WWII German armed forces would get you promptly shot did not seem to be considered.

The Nuremberg rules are not however entirely blue sky.  The Israeli Defence Force has a "black flag" system.  If an officer gives a man what seems an inhumane order, the soldier is duty bound to report that and not to obey the order.  It seems to work -- but only because it is taught as part of their military law.

So these days loyalty to your country is mostly based on your country being in the right.  And given the chronic feelings of alienation among the Left, it is mainly a conservative virtue.

Leftists, Leftist psychologists particularly, do of course sometimes try to equate patriotism with racism but I carried out  an extensive and international research program on exactly that question in the '70s and 80's and found no association between the two attitudes among general populations samples.  I know of no subsequent research that has contradicted that.  See e.g. here and here and here

Patriotism is of course to be distinguished  from nationalism:  The feeling that your country has a right to dominate others. You can love your own country while also respecting that other people love theirs. Nationalism seems to have died with Hitler and Tojo's Japan.  We do however have a closely related problem: Religious supremacism from Muslims.  White and Bushido supremacism may be dead but religious supremacism is very much alive and kicking.  It too may eventually need nuclear weapons aimed at selected targets to kill it.

I myself don't much feel great loyalty to one country.  I am delighted to have been born and bred in the "Lucky country" but I think the Anglosphere generally has characteristics that I would fight for.  Whether I am in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Canada or the USA I feel I am largely among my own people -- people like me in many ways and whom I readily understand -- and that those people have a good balance in values and in what they collectively regard as important.

Just a small footnote: The name "Lucky country" for Australia, was intended as derogatory by Donald Horne, who invented it.  He thought Australia became well-off just out of luck.  Australia is however roughly at the centre of Anglospheric variation so by that criterion the whole Anglospere is lucky, which would be lucky indeed, considering their considerable differences in history and geographical location.  But that is nonsense. The Anglospheric countries are certainly good places to live -- witness the flood of migration toward them -- but they are good places to live because of the people who live in them  -- people who generally have respect for others, who are substantially honest, who tolerate diversity, who respect the rule of law and who are generally peaceful in nature.  We make our luck.


10 Outrageous Examples of Government Regulators Invading Our Lives

10. Federal Censorship Commission. The FCC began considering a petition to revoke the broadcast license of a Washington, D.C., radio station for using the name of the city’s football team, the Redskins. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler declared the moniker “offensive” and urged owner Dan Snyder to change it “voluntarily.” The agency has yet to rule on the petition.

9. April Fool’s Rule. The Volcker Rule prohibits banks from trading securities on their own accounts. The 1,000-page regulation crafted by five federal agencies over three years supposedly remedies one of the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. But there is no evidence to support that claim. That the rule took effect on April Fool’s Day is thus entirely appropriate.

8. The Environmental Protection Agency’s power grab. In its quest to replace cheap and reliable fossil fuels with costly and unreliable “renewables,” the EPA in June unveiled new restrictions on so-called greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. These hugely expensive regulations are all the more maddening for accomplishing virtually nothing to affect the climate or protect human health.

7. Uber regulation. The popular ride-sharing service Uber is changing the way Americans get around town. Its fleet of independent drivers offers an efficient alternative to traditional taxis. Yet Uber faces significant hurdles as local regulators try to stop its expansion, claiming that the service is “unfair” to the excessively regulated cab drivers. So far, though, Uber and its loyal customers have fought off those opposing competition, but many hurdles remain.

6. Choking Justice. Woe to any business disfavored by the Department of Justice. Under “Operation Chokepoint,” federal regulators have been leaning hard on banks to end ties with enterprises that the government doesn’t like, including payday lenders, firearms dealers and credit repair services. These businesses are perfectly legal, but the DOJ’s efforts to close them down are not.

5. Halting home financing. New regulations on mortgage financing took effect in January, compliments of Dodd-Frank. Virtually every aspect of financing a home – including mortgage options, eligibility standards, and even the structure and schedule of payments – is now governed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Alas, critics’ predictions about the restrictions are proving correct: Mortgage lending is running at its lowest level in 13 years, and 2014 will be the worst year for mortgage volume since 2000.

4. Force feeding calorie counts. Knowing the number of calories in various food products does not change our menu choices, several studies have shown. But in keeping with government’s insatiable appetite for control, the Food and Drug Administration in November finalized rules requiring calorie counts to be posted on restaurant menus, supermarket deli cases, vending machines and even in movie theater concessions. Compliance will require tens of millions of hours each year, which is sure to thin consumers’ wallets.

3. Forgetting free speech. In one of the worst public policy decisions in European history (and that’s saying a lot), the European Union ruled in May that links to embarrassing information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” must be scrubbed from the Internet. Thus, Google must take down that 1975 picture of you dancing in a leisure suit as well as reports on child pornography arrests that regulators deem “irrelevant.” This “right to be forgotten” is a massive violation of free expression in Europe. And it could get worse: The EU is considering applying this gag order worldwide.

2. Polluting the economy. Ozone levels have dropped significantly during the past three decades, reflecting the overall improvement in air quality. Nonetheless, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed more stringent ozone standards that would cost tens of billions of dollars, making it perhaps the most costly regulation ever imposed. (President Obama pulled a 2011 version for threatening the economy – just as the election neared.)

1. Regulating the Internet. The FCC proposed new rules to require Internet carriers to deliver all online content in a “neutral” fashion. Defining such neutrality is, of course, easier said than done, and doing so without harm to the Internet would be virtually impossible. President Obama recently upped the ante by urging regulators to impose 1930s-style public utility rules on the net. But the Internet is too important, and innovative, to be treated like the local water company.



Kill Subsidies to Big Sugar

Taking candy from a baby is easy. Taking sugar from a senator? Not so much. For decades, economists, free market think tanks, good-government advocates, newspaper columnists, and even the occasional elected official have decried the special treatment enjoyed by the American sugar industry.

Under current policies, U.S. sugarcane and sugar beet farmers receive minimum price guarantees regardless of market conditions. In addition, the federal government allots 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market to domestic producers, and it imposes quotas and tariffs on the 40 countries that are allowed to export sugar to America.

In 1993, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that such policies were costing U.S. consumers $1.4 billion a year because they resulted in "higher prices for domestic sugar." Twenty years later, the University of Michigan–Flint economist Mark J. Perry estimated that this annual cost had grown to $3 billion by 2012, and that consumers and U.S. sugar-using businesses had paid "more than twice the world price of sugar on average since 1982."

In other words, sugar producers are getting a sweet deal, while consumers are getting screwed.

Alas, it's not just the nation's 3,913 sugar beet farms and 666 sugarcane farms that crave the sugar program's artificially sweetened revenues. The program also persists because it offers a steady source of money to elected officials.

In a June 2014 report, Bryan Riley, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted that while sugar constitutes just 2 percent of the total value of U.S. crop production, the nation's sugar farmers account for 35 percent of the crop industry's total campaign contributions and 40 percent of its lobbying expenditures.

Over the years, major sugar companies such as American Crystal Sugar and Florida Crystals have donated millions of dollars to individual candidates and political action committees. According to, the industry as a whole has donated $41.7 million since 1990. Traditionally it has contributed more to Democrats than Republicans, but in the 2012 election cycle it split its contributions 50/50.

The industry's aggressive lobbying gets results. In 2008, for example, the U.S. sugar trade got somewhat less regulated, when provisions that were drafted as part of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement finally kicked in and gave Mexican producers the ability to import unlimited amounts of duty-free sugar to the U.S. In March 2014, however, the U.S. sugar industry accused Mexican producers of dumping their crops on the U.S. market—i.e., selling it for less than the cost of its production, or for less than its domestic price—and asked the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce to take corrective action.

In October, Commerce announced an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that will "prevent imports from being concentrated during certain times of the year, limit the amount of refined sugar that may enter the U.S. market, and establish minimum price mechanism to guard against undercutting or suppression of U.S. prices." So don't expect a price cut on Snickers bars any time soon.

Perhaps because the extra $3 billion we spend on sugar each year is amortized over a few hundred billion cans of soda and other sugar-laden treats, consumers don't seem to mind it much.

Greg BeatoAnd yet if we're truly in the midst of a "libertarian moment," when everyday Americans are supposedly fed up with politics as usual and corporate cronyism, how does sugar protectionism remain as American as apple pie? If there ever was a cause that might still inspire comity amongst the highly polarized populous, surely it's sugar.

Indeed, while 11 other countries consume more sugar per capita than the U.S. does, the average American still enjoys around 75 pounds of sugar a year. (This figure doesn't include high fructose corn syrup, zero-calorie artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose, or zero-calorie naturally derived sweeteners such as stevia.) Our appetite for the stuff cuts across all demographics: Whether you're a progressive elitist snapping up $5 Cronuts in Manhattan or a red-state value shopper buying club packs of Little Debbie Nutty Bars at Costco, you stand to gain from lower sugar prices.

Naturally, sugar farming lobbyists insist this isn't the case. "Sure, cheap subsidized foreign sugar might sound great," exclaims an American Sugar Alliance (ASA) promotional video that alludes to the fact that sugar farmers in Brazil, Mexico, and other countries benefit from their own homegrown subsidy programs. "But depending on others for food never works out as expected."

If we lose our strategic capacity to plant sugar crops, the video suggests, we'll compromise our food security, putting ourselves at the mercy of foreign sugar overlords able to increase prices when global supplies tighten. In October 2013, Tom Giovanetti, president of a Dallas-based research organization called the Institute for Policy Innovation, elaborated on this theme in an essay that argues against unilateral U.S. sugar subsidy disarmament. "Eventually," he concluded, "foreign producers would take advantage of a decimated U.S. domestic sugar industry and would raise prices on U.S. consumers."

But could Brazil—"the OPEC of sugar," according to the ASA—really jack up prices until even those club packs of Little Debbie bars become a rare delicacy only the 1 percent can afford?

"Why on earth wouldn't another producer come and try to take some market share if he sees a monopolist raking in the money?" asks Ike Brannon, formerly chief economist of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and now a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, in a May 2014 editorial that appeared in USA Today.

Indeed, in a U.S. market free of price supports, allotments, tariffs, and quotas, Brazil wouldn't just be competing with domestic producers for America's business. It'd be competing with the hundred other countries where sugar farming occurs. And as the American Sugar Alliance and various other sugar farming advocates have themselves pointed out, scores of additional countries are just as willing as Brazil or Mexico to subsidize their crops. So if one country even started flirting with the idea of raising prices to non-competitive levels, others would jump at the opportunity to gain a foothold in the large U.S. market by offering more attractive prices.

The truth is that America's food security would in no way be jeopardized by the loss of a domestic sugar industry. Even America's Ding Dongs security would remain intact. "Sugar is a global commodity, with hundreds of thousands of producers all over the world," Perry explains. "This weakens the possibility that one could ever have market power over the U.S. Also there are close substitutes for sugar, like high fructose corn syrup and honey, which further weakens the case that the U.S. could ever be at the mercy of one country, or even a small group of them."



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, January 11, 2015

More on the decline of Roman civilization

Read here both an essay by Ludwig von Mises and a reply by Sean Gabb.  I agree  with Gabb.

In my recent essay on the subject I attributed the decline of Roman civilization to Mediterranean piracy that arose in response to the destruction of central authority.  Von Mises attributes the decline to price control.

I think Mises has a point and there is of course no doubt that there were several sources of decay.  Gabb however sees price control as being at best only a small influence.  His reason is that the Roman state was generally ineffective at central control.  It could do major and important things like fight wars and suppress pirates (as Caesar did) but detailed social control was beyond it.  Price control never really bit, in other words.

Sean Gabb is a libertarian conservative -- as I am -- so is totally opposed to the destructive folly of government price control.  But we both prioritze facts over theory.

There is one way in which I don't go quite so far as Sean, however.  I doubt that taxes were unimportant.  I suspect that they did have substantial destructive impact.  But at this point in time, there is no possibility of certainty.

But please read both authors.  Both are very scholarly.  Mises is of course well known but Gabb is no lightweight.  He has even published a book recently that is partly in Latin.  I have a copy -- to my considerable delectation.  Between them, the two authors do round out our view of one of the most important episodes in human history.


The Real Islamic Threat

Two weeks after terrorists killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans in Benghazi in September 2012, Barack Obama announced to the UN, "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

The Religion of PeaceT took his advice Wednesday in Paris, as jihadis killed 12 people for daring to "slander the prophet of Islam."

Two of the victims were police officers (one of whom was wounded and then executed), and 10 were journalists (including the editor-in-chief) for the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which was firebombed in 2011 for printing cartoons of Muhammad. Charlie Hebdo recovered from that terrorism and published a few more cartoons skewering Muhammad and, more recently, the Islamic State. ISIL filled the terror vacuum in the Middle East after Obama claimed victory against al-Qaida ahead of his 2012 re-election bid.

Three masked men perpetrated the well-planned attack with Kalashnikov rifles and other small arms -- perhaps either a rocket or grenade launcher. They reportedly knocked on office doors asking by name for individuals who had created certain offensive cartoons. In a clip aired on French television, the attackers were recorded shouting, "We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad."

The men told the journalist they forced to let them in the building that they were from al-Qaida. Meanwhile, ISIL supporters praised the attack.

Not surprisingly, however, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest initially declined to call it terrorism: "[T]his is an act of violence that we certainly do condemn. And, you know, if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism then we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too." He also once again referred to Islam as a "Religion of PeaceT."

And the White House issued a statement condemning the attacks while not mentioning the words Islam, Muslim or jihad.

Former DNC Chief Howard Dean flat out denied Islam's culpability: "I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They're about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else's life. That's not what the Koran says. ... I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it's a cult."

Meanwhile, numerous media outlets cowered in fear, refusing to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, blurring them out if images were shown at all. By contrast, the Associated Press and other outlets had no problem showing the "piss Christ" "art" some years ago.

Not cowering, however, was cartoonist and Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed Wednesday. In 2012, he said, "I prefer to die standing than living on my knees."

The Obama administration clearly would rather kneel, or at least bow. Yes, Secretary of State John Kerry declared the murdered French journalists "martyrs for liberty," and said we "wield something that is far more powerful" than the weapons the jihadis used. But, again, it was his boss who said, "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

Ironically, in 2012, Obama was condemning an obscure Internet video defaming Muhammad, which his administration blamed ahead of the 2012 presidential election for the al-Qaida attack on Benghazi. Obama's campaign was built on having defeated al-Qaida. And not only did he criticize free speech, U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for ads in Pakistan condemning the video.

Not only will Obama not stand for such "slander," but he has been regularly releasing terrorist leaders from Gitmo, who historically just return to their deadly trade.

While there was much media handwringing about freedom of speech after North Korea compelled Sony to censor a satirical movie, the real threats to free speech are Islamist terrorists. For example, instead of firing off a nasty letter to the editor, the Paris jihadis brutally murdered Charlie Hebdo employees.

Also noteworthy is that the police who initially responded to the attack were, incredibly, unarmed and quickly fled. Indeed, given all the videos that were shot of this attack, it's too bad that Paris is a gun free zone -- instead of shooting videos, someone could have been returning fire.

Furthermore, the French have allowed this Islamist menace to fester in their country for years. In fact, one of the men was a known and convicted terrorist. Now they are paying the price, and make no mistake, this menace is also festering in our homeland. Islamists, like Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 14 people (including an unborn child) and wounded 30 others at Fort Hood, will continue to strike with increasing frequency. See also the attacks in Boston, Australia and Canada.

While the media refers to these deadly assaults as "lone wolf attacks," there are no such thing. Nor is there a "homegrown" Western threat. All these actors are part of an ideological Islamist web that is not Western. (Anyone for terrorist profiling?)



Mark Steyn: 'A Lot of People Will Retreat Even Further Into Self-Censorship'

Wednesday's terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris will make major Western newspapers even more fearful to say anything about Islam, conservative pundit Mark Steyn warned on Wednesday.
"I think one consequence of this is that a lot of people will retreat even further into self-censorship," Steyn told Fox News's Megyn Kelly.

In fact, several major newspapers on Wednesday, in reporting on the Paris attack, obscured the cartoon images of Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo.

"The New York Daily News won't even show -- and it dishonors the dead in Paris by not even showing properly the cartoons. They pixilated Mohammed out of it, so it looks like Mohammed is into the witness protection program, but they left the hook-nose Jew in, and that exactly gets to the double standard here.

"You can say anything you like about Christianity,  you can say anything you like about Judaism, but these guys -- everybody understand the message that if you say something about Islam, these guys will kill you.

"And we will be retreating into a lot more self-censorship if the pansified Western media doesn't man up and decide to disperse the risk. So they can't just kill one little small French satirical magazine, they've got to kill all of us."

Steyn noted that Charlie Hebdo was one of the few publications willing to reprint the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2006: "I'm proud to have written for the only Canadian magazine to publish those cartoons," Steyn added.

"And it's because The New York Times didn't, and Le Monde in Paris didn't and the London Times didn't, and all the other great newspapers of the world didn't, that they (Charlie Hebdo) were forced to bear a burden that should have been more widely dispersed."

The cartoons have become a news story, especially after people have been killed for them, Steyn said: "But the fact that major newspapers still didn't have the courage to show these cartoons after they became a news story, is why these brave men at Charlie Hebdo had to bear the burden almost single-handed."



7 Offensive Images The New York Times Wasn't Afraid to Publish

 Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, is defending his decision not to reprint any Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting Mohammad with an argument that might confuse Times readers. Today he told Politico: "We don't run things that are designed to gratuitously offend."

This dictum is confusing because it's false: On many occasions the paper of record has printed images that are "designed to gratuitously offend." Here are 7 examples; there are surely more.

1. The Times printed this anti-Semitic cartoon in 2010:


2. This racist Dr. Seuss drawing in 2011:

3. This anti-Semitic caricature in 2005:



California Just Started Another Insane Government Project

Talk about a trainwreck.  Today, California broke ground on another disastrous government-funded project: high-speed rail that will eventually go from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The project is estimated to cost $68 billion. The plan is that the private sector will ultimately invest around one-third of the total cost, but so far, there have been no takers.  And it's no wonder. It's hard to see how this project makes sense.

Backers say the train will be able to make the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under 2 hours, 40 minutes. However, according to a 2013 Reason Foundation study, it's likely the trip will ultimately take around four hours (and sometimes closer to five hours) for various reasons (for example, the high-speed train will share tracks with slower trains).

To put that into context, consider this: A flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles is about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Driving, if there isn't traffic, takes a little under six hours-more time than the train would take, but you also have a vehicle at the end of your trip. (Neither San Francisco nor Los Angeles are cities easy or convenient to navigate via public transit, although San Francisco certainly has more options than Los Angeles.)

So in other words, it's a $68 billion project to build a method of transit that combines the longer time of driving with the lack of convenience of flying (that is, arriving without a car).

And this is all assuming the full project is completed. Currently, the state has only $12.6 billion-from federal funding and a voter-approved bond measure-ready for the project.

The first steps will lead to tracks connecting Fresno and Bakersfield-two cities that have no public transportation other than buses. It's hard to see why a big market of people would be looking to take the high-speed train between these two places, which are already connected by highways and train.

Furthermore, it's possible that the high-speed rail train, rather than making a profit or breaking even, will lose even more money when operating. Remember, that $68 billion is just to build it.

From the 2013 Reason Foundation study:

Even if the system managed to equal European train ridership levels it would hit just 7.6 million rides a year. Thus, ridership in 2035 is likely to be 65 percent to 77 percent lower than currently projected.

As a result of these slower travel times, higher ticket costs and low ridership, California taxpayers should expect to pay an additional $124 million to $373 million a year to cover the train's operating costs and financial losses.

Heritage Foundation transportation analyst Emily Goff offers yet another possible snag: "It's typical for big-ticket infrastructure projects like this train to experience cost escalations-of gargantuan proportions. Cue Northern Virginia's defunct Arlington Streetcar and Washington Metro's Silver Line. We'll see any increases in the $68 billion cost reflected in more severe operating losses down the line."

California's struggling enough as is. Building a costly high-speed rail train with few obvious consumers is a mistake-and one that will likely cost taxpayers dearly.



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)