Friday, May 08, 2015

Black Lives Matter

But to liberals black lives matter only when the lives are taken by white police

By Walter E. Williams

Before we examine the issue of police shootings of blacks, I would like to start the conversation with another question. Here it is: If a person chooses to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train, who is responsible for his being run over? And if many people meet their maker this way, what would you recommend as the best way to reduce such deaths? Would you focus most of your efforts on train engineers, or would you counsel people not to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train?

In principle, the answer to these questions might help with the issue of police shootings in general and particularly those of blacks. First, the Ferguson, Missouri, case: Having robbed a liquor store, the person is walking in the middle of the street and blocking traffic. A police officer tells the person to get out of the street. What would you suggest the person do? Would you suggest that he ignore the police officer's instructions, push the officer as he attempts to get out of his vehicle and afterward attempt to take the officer's pistol?

In the case of the New York City death of Eric Garner, what would you recommend? A person is illegally selling cigarettes. The police try to effect an arrest. What would you recommend that the person do? As the police try to take the person into custody, would you advise the person to swat away the arms of the arresting officer, to tell the officer "Don't touch me!" and to continue resisting arrest?

What about the shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer? If an officer makes a traffic stop, would you advise that the driver flee so as to avoid arrest?

Let me be clear: I am justifying neither the behavior of police officers nor the deadly outcomes of their confrontations with these three black men. Similarly, I would not justify the behavior of a train engineer or the outcome a person experiences standing on the train tracks in the face of an oncoming train. I would counsel a person not to stand on railroad tracks in the face of an oncoming train.

Similarly, the advice that I would give to anyone of any race in dealing with police is: Follow the officer's instructions. Do not resist arrest or attempt to flee. Do not assault the police officer or try to disarm him. Had this advice been taken, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott would be alive today.

Criminal activity is a major problem in many black communities. That means many black citizens will have some kind of contact with police officers, either as victims of crime or as criminals. One of the true tragedies is that black politicians, preachers and civil rights advocates give massive support to criminals such as Brown, Garner and Scott. How much support do we see for the overwhelmingly law-abiding members of the black community preyed upon by criminals?

The average American has no idea of the day-to-day threats and fears encountered by the law-abiding majority in black neighborhoods on account of thugs. In addition to giving threats and instilling fears, criminals have turned many black communities into economic wastelands where there is a lack of services that most Americans take for granted, such as supermarkets, other shops and even home delivery. Black residents must bear the expense of having to go out of their neighborhoods to shop or shop at high-cost mom and pop stores.

The protest chant that black lives matter appears to mean that black lives matter only if they are taken at the hands of white police officers.



Race, Politics and Lies

By Thomas Sowell

Among the many painful ironies in the current racial turmoil is that communities scattered across the country were disrupted by riots and looting because of the demonstrable lie that Michael Brown was shot in the back by a white policeman in Missouri

Totally ignored was the fact that a black policeman in Alabama fatally shot an unarmed white teenager, and was cleared of any charges, at about the same time that a white policeman was cleared of charges in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

In a world where the truth means so little, and headstrong preconceptions seem to be all that matter, what hope is there for rational words or rational behavior, much less mutual understanding across racial lines?

When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as the most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of “us against them” that was more popular.

That vision is nowhere more clearly expressed than in attempts to automatically depict whatever social problems exist in ghetto communities as being caused by the sins or negligence of whites, whether racism in general or a “legacy of slavery” in particular. Like most emotionally powerful visions, it is seldom, if ever, subjected to the test of evidence.

The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.

Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s.

You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.

We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact — for those who still have some respect for facts — black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Murder rates among black males were going down — repeat, DOWN — during the much lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.

Such trends are not unique to blacks, nor even to the United States. The welfare state has led to remarkably similar trends among the white underclass in England over the same period. Just read “Life at the Bottom,” by Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician who worked in a hospital in a white slum neighborhood.

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state — and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves.

One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter, more than the prevailing social visions or political empires built on those visions.



Hillary Clinton goes all in on immigration; pledges to outdo Obama

Hillary Clinton held a Cinco de Mayo event with illegal immigrants in Nevada Tuesday — "an especially appropriate day for us to be having this conversation" — in which she promised to go farther than President Obama in using executive authority to confer legal status on illegal immigrants, and to ultimately to award them U.S. citizenship. No matter what Republicans might offer to illegal immigrants in terms of legal status, Clinton said, she will offer more.

Changing the immigration system will be a top priority should she become president, Clinton said. "We can't wait any longer. We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship."

Clinton made clear she would go beyond any Republican, be it Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or any other, in conferring benefits on currently illegal immigrants. "This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side," she said. "Make no mistakes — today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status."

As for Obama's unilateral executive action, Clinton said she will defend what has already been done and then add action of her own. "I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country," she said.

"I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put Dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people, like many parents of Dreamers, and others, with deep ties and contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay, and I will fight for them."

"I want to do everything we can to defend the president's executive orders," Clinton said at another point. "Because I think they were certainly within his authority, constitutionally, legally, they were based on precedent that I certainly believe is adequate. And then still try to go further and deal with some of these other issues, like the re-unification of families that were here and that have been split up."

A number of words were missing from Clinton's discussion of immigration. She did not say "border," for example, or "visa" or "E-Verify" or "workplace." The notion of enforcing the nation's immigration laws as they currently exist was not on the table.

Clinton has not always been quite so expansive on the subject of immigration. For much of 2014, as the nation debated Obama's threatened unilateral executive action, Clinton stayed out of the conversation, not committing one way or the other. In the summer of 2014, when there was a flood of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants across the southeastern border, Clinton advocated sending most of them back to their home countries.

"They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults in their families are…" Clinton said at the time. "But I think all of them who can be, should be reunited with their families."

During her 2008 run for president, Clinton famously opposed issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

That's all in the past. Now, Clinton is again running for president, and with Hispanic votes to be won, she is vowing she will not be outbid when it comes to the subject of immigration.



The IRS Goes to Court

The agency suggests it can discriminate for 270 days. Judges gasp

It isn’t every day that judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declare themselves “shocked.” But that happened on Monday when an animated three-judge panel eviscerated the IRS and Justice Department during oral argument in a case alleging the agency delayed the tax-exempt application of a pro-Israel group due to its policy views.

In December 2009, Pennsylvania-based Z Street applied for 501(c)(3) status to pursue its pro-Israel educational mission. In July 2010, when the group called to check on what was taking so long, an IRS agent said that auditors had been instructed to give special attention to groups connected with Israel, and that they had sent some of those applications to a special IRS unit for additional review.

Z Street sued the IRS for viewpoint discrimination (Z Street v. Koskinen), and in May 2014 a federal district judge rejected the IRS’s motion to dismiss. The IRS appealed, a maneuver that halted discovery that could prove to be highly embarrassing. Justice says Z Street’s case should be dismissed because the Anti-Injunction Act bars litigation about “the assessment or collection of tax.” Problem is, Z Street isn’t suing for its tax-exempt status. It’s suing on grounds that the IRS can’t discriminate based on point of view.

The three judges—Chief Judge Merrick Garland,David Tatel and David Sentelle—were incredulous. You say they want a tax exemption, but that’s not the complaint, Judge Sentelle admonished government lawyer Teresa McLaughlin: “They are not in court seeking to restrain the assessment or collection of a tax, they are in court seeking a constitutionally fair process.”

The suit should also be foreclosed, the government argued, because under Section 7428(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code groups may sue to obtain their tax-exempt status if no action has been taken for 270 days, and that should be an alternative to Z Street’s approach.

“You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” Judge Garland said. “Imagine the IRS announces today a policy that says as follows: No application by a Jewish group or an African-American group will be considered until one day short of the period under the statute . . . Is it your view that that cannot be challenged?”

The judges also asked why the government had buried the key precedent in a footnote in its brief. In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, the Supreme Court decided that the language of the Anti-Injunction Act did not preclude cases like Z Street’s. In a previous case before the D.C. Circuit, Judge Garland noted, the court also “rejected” the exact arguments the government was making, “so in a way we have already decided every issue before us today, against you.”

Poor Ms. McLaughlin was sent to argue the indefensible so the IRS can delay discovery until the waning days of the Obama Administration. “If I were you, I would go back and ask your superiors whether they want us to represent that the government’s position in this case is that the government is free to unconstitutionally discriminate against its citizens for 270 days,” said Judge Garland.

Ms. McLaughlin replied, “Well, I will take that back.” The Beltway media may be bored, but the IRS scandal is a long way from over.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Some fun

Today is fun day for poking holes in popular health myths.  My pervasive skepticism is getting a lot of support at the moment.  All the research reports below are from "JAMA Internal Medicine", a most prestigious medical journal

Wow!  How the statin worm has turned!

The cholesterol fanatics were until very recently so evangelical about statins that they were urging for them to be put into the water supply.  Just the title of the article below would have been unthinkable two years ago.  There are a few of us who have been saying for years what a deadly hoax the statin craze was but we were like climate skeptics against global warming:  The whole establishment was against us. The conclusion below?  Even very ill people were on balance better off WITHOUT statins.

The whole point of the article is something that is still sometimes denied:  The often severe side effects of statins and the severe impact of those side effects on the patient's quality of life (QOL).  A lot of apparent Alzheimer's cases have been in reality sufferers from statin side-effects

Safety and Benefit of Discontinuing Statin Therapy in the Setting of Advanced, Life-Limiting Illness: A Randomized Clinical Trial

By Jean S. Kutner et al.


Importance:  For patients with limited prognosis, some medication risks may outweigh the benefits, particularly when benefits take years to accrue; statins are one example. Data are lacking regarding the risks and benefits of discontinuing statin therapy for patients with limited life expectancy.

Objective:  To evaluate the safety, clinical, and cost impact of discontinuing statin medications for patients in the palliative care setting.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This was a multicenter, parallel-group, unblinded, pragmatic clinical trial. Eligibility included adults with an estimated life expectancy of between 1 month and 1 year, statin therapy for 3 months or more for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, recent deterioration in functional status, and no recent active cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomized to either discontinue or continue statin therapy and were monitored monthly for up to 1 year. The study was conducted from June 3, 2011, to May 2, 2013. All analyses were performed using an intent-to-treat approach.

Interventions:  Statin therapy was withdrawn from eligible patients who were randomized to the discontinuation group. Patients in the continuation group continued to receive statins.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Outcomes included death within 60 days (primary outcome), survival, cardiovascular events, performance status, quality of life (QOL), symptoms, number of nonstatin medications, and cost savings.

Results:  A total of 381 patients were enrolled; 189 of these were randomized to discontinue statins, and 192 were randomized to continue therapy. Mean (SD) age was 74.1 (11.6) years, 22.0% of the participants were cognitively impaired, and 48.8% had cancer. The proportion of participants in the discontinuation vs continuation groups who died within 60 days was not significantly different (23.8% vs 20.3%; 90% CI, −3.5% to 10.5%; P = .36) and did not meet the noninferiority end point. Total QOL was better for the group discontinuing statin therapy (mean McGill QOL score, 7.11 vs 6.85; P = .04). Few participants experienced cardiovascular events (13 in the discontinuation group vs 11 in the continuation group). Mean cost savings were $3.37 per day and $716 per patient.

Conclusions and Relevance:  This pragmatic trial suggests that stopping statin medication therapy is safe and may be associated with benefits including improved QOL, use of fewer nonstatin medications, and a corresponding reduction in medication costs. Thoughtful patient-provider discussions regarding the uncertain benefit and potential decrement in QOL associated with statin continuation in this setting are warranted.



Hurrah for peanuts! (Goober nuts; ground nuts)

"Prospective Evaluation of the Association of Nut/Peanut Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality" by Luu, Blot et al. (Yes. They are real names) reports that you live longer if you eat more peanuts. The study was methodologically strong but the effects were trifling -- rather like saying that if you eat a lot of peanuts you will live longer by one week. With the large sample sizes, the effects were statistically significant but they were not significant in any other way.  Eat as few or as many peanuts as you like.  I guess that's good news for people with peanut allergies.

A jarring note about this study is that the journal editor (Mitchell H. Katz) put up a note that showed no awareness at all of how small the effect size was.  He claimed it as a great health recommendation for peanuts.  Amazing.  I guess medical researchers have got used to reporting trifling effects.


Vegetarians have healthier bottoms

We read:  "Vegetarian diets are associated with an overall lower incidence of colorectal cancers. Pescovegetarians in particular have a much lower risk compared with nonvegetarians. If such associations are causal, they may be important for primary prevention of colorectal cancers."

How splendid to see in the medical literature for once that proper caution:  "If such associations are causal".  The study is worth noting for that alone.  The effects noted were however very small so it's not worth going vegetarian in order to dodge bowel cancer.


An apple a day does NOT keep the doctor away

Sad news for apple growers, I guess.  "Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits" reports:  "Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications".  The data were derived from a large and well-sampled subject pool so the findings are pretty conclusive, at least for the USA.


I have kept the best 'til last

"Responses of Specialist Societies to Evidence for Reversal of Practice" is worthwhile just for the title.  Medical backflips are so common that they can now be studied as a subject of interest by themselves. The authors found that specialists were quick to adopt poorly founded practices and slow to let them go.

It's a good lesson in always questioning authority.  Authorities are often wrong.  The questioning has to be reasonable, however.  An insistence on seeing the evidence is what is needed.  If you don't know much about statistics but want to read articles in medical journal, just remember the official rule of thumb:  Hazard ratios of less than 2.00 are not sound evidence.  The hazard ratios in the studies mentioned above were all MUCH weaker than that.  None of them even rose as high as 1.00.  Amazing.


Baltimore:  Local grocers Under Fire for Supporting National Guard

When the National Guard was trying to tame the situation in Baltimore earlier this week, Whole Foods and Five Guys decided to show appreciation for their efforts by providing free food. Good deed, right?

Not according to leftists. Salon’s Joanna Rothkopf reported, “All Baltimore City public schools were closed on Tuesday in response to violent protests breaking out across the city in response to Freddie Gray’s death. About 84 percent of students in city’s public schools receive free or reduced-price lunches, according to the school district’s website. The closings mean that these students were unable to access these lunches, and churches and community centers have been scrambling to fill the gap. That’s why it was so shocking to hear that Whole Foods and Five Guys had taken the initiative to provide free food for National Guard soldiers instead of for thousands of high-need children.”

The reaction forced Whole Foods to remove a social media posting thanking the Guard for their work along with a photograph of the food. The local grocery told ABC News, “We removed the post because it did not accurately reflect all our local stores are doing to feed people across this city, especially children. Again, we love our community, and will continue to support our city in the days to come, as we always do, and extend our heartfelt sympathy to those affected.”

Is there anything the Leftmedia won’t do if it involves slandering our troops?



Parade of Tax Cheats Just Happens to Be Led by Democrats

The average taxpayer finally logged enough work hours and made enough money just a few days ago to completely pay the burden of taxes on Tax Freedom Day, calculated by the non-partisan Tax Foundation to be April 24 this year. For 114 days, the average working American had their wealth confiscated to fund the various forms of government. That average taxpayer label, however, doesn’t seem to apply to a growing number of Democrats who are tax cheats or delinquent in paying their “fair share.”

The parade of hypocritical miscreants includes the mouthy and condescending race-baiter “Reverend” Al Sharpton. He is among those trumpeting advice on “race relations,” and he’s quite effective in extorting major corporations. He also happens to owe more than $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens.

“Shakedown” Sharpton fits much better than a title usually reserved for men of God, as this racial reverend gets paid to withhold his two minutes of hate against corporate giants like Sony, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, General Motors, Honda, McDonald’s, Walmart, Pepsi and the list goes on.

But race bait isn’t his only specialty; class warfare is a familiar tune, as well. “Makers versus takers! [Republicans] give tax cuts and loopholes to the rich and act like it’s acceptable,” he declared in one disgusting spew. Of course, he wants more money taken from workers to fund abled-bodied welfare rots in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

Joining Shakedown Sharpton is fellow MSNBC talkinghead Melissa Harris-Perry, perhaps remembered best as the Tampon-earring-wearing angry female who showed her support of the urine-and-feces-throwing pro-abortion crowd protesting in the Texas Capitol in summer 2013. We can now add the moniker “tax cheat” to her résumé. In April of this year, the IRS filed a $70,000 tax lien against Harris-Perry and her husband.

“Paying into the collective pot is part of our duty as citizens,” Harris-Perry once declared from her soapbox. “I don’t get to opt out of paying taxes.” That doesn’t mean she didn’t try.

Two more MSNBC talkinghead tax delinquents are Touré Neblett and Joy Reid. Touré owes the U.S. government $59,000 and Reid owes $5,000.

“Regressive taxation & tax-avoidance … has fueled inequality more than hard work,” Touré tweeted in just one among many tirades blasting the GOP for not taxing the wealthy more.

And leading the parade of tax cheats is none other than George Soros, global billionaire and primary source of wealth for hard-Left causes.

It seems Soros has been taking “legal” advantage, according to his tax attorney James Sitrick, of a deferral. Defending his employer and propagator of fascism, Sitrick declared that if Soros “couldn’t legally do it, he wouldn’t do it!”

So how much does Soros, friend of Obama and every other wealth-redistributing leftist, owe in taxes?

After Congress closed a hedge fund loophole in 2008, the 84-year-old billionaire is expected to pay an estimated $6.7 billion on deferred income amassed through his hedge fund, Soros Management Fund, by 2017.

Yep, one of the largest donors to those whose philosophy is that of Karl Marx — “from each according to his ability to his need” — kept from the taxman almost $7 billion of his “fair share.” Legal? Probably. Hypocritical? Definitely. Soros, Democrats and leftist TV talkingheads screech for more government spending with law-abiding, average workers footing the bill.

Words can’t adequately capture the level of hypocrisy consistently on display from Big Government statists who want to grow dependents rather than individuals who stand on their own. Just during the tenure of Barack Obama and his Hope ‘n’ Change™ cult, the levels of recipients of welfare, food stamps, unemployment and disability insurance have all risen to historical highs.

Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist famed for psychoanalysis, nailed the progressives who run the Democrat Party in this observation: “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.”

Leftists have no belief beyond those that increase their hordes of mindless followers. Their actions prove the policies put into place are to create a class of dependents who are to be controlled while exempting themselves from oppression.



Liberal spin


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

"Free Trade" agreement is just another Leftist con: It increases restrictions, not freedom

The U.S. Congress is being asked to give President Barack Obama full "fast track" negotiating authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership, supposedly a free trade agreement with 11 other mostly wealthy Pacific nations. Yet when you examine the Wiki-leaked version of TPP which is all we have, it is far more notable for the draconian intellectual property provisions than for any truly significant easing of trade barriers. I would argue that such tight intellectual property rights are an historic aberration, incompatible with a truly free market, so that TPP would overall raise barriers against free market exchange rather than lowering them. If it is to be economically beneficial, TPP needs a truly free-market negotiator at the U.S. end – which means it should wait until 2017.

Like all regional trade treaties, TPP is in principle an unsatisfactory substitute for the real thing, which is a truly global free trade agreement along the lines of the moribund Doha round, hanging fire since 2001. Regional treaties allow countries to raise non-tariff barriers against non-members and erect innumerable incompatible international product standards which form barriers to truly free world trade. In TPP's case there are some genuine advances, such as opening up Japanese agriculture (if that indeed happens). However trade among the TPP partners is mostly free with low tariff barriers already, since several of the TPP members already have free trade agreements with the United States.

Even for proponents of the TPP such as the U.S. Congressional Research Service, its projected benefits for the United States are concentrated entirely in services, and relate largely to intellectual property. While the CRS in a March 2015 study expected net benefits for the U.S. of $36 billion annually, it expected manufacturing industries to lose $44 billion annually and agriculture/mining merely to break even in spite of projected Japanese market opening. The entire benefit, $79 billion annually, was expected to come in the service sector. Interestingly, TPP was expected to have a net negative effect of 0.6% on U.S. median wages by 2025.

While the U.S. financial services sector expects considerable benefits from further trade opening to TPP countries, those benefits are not strictly within TPP, being negotiated separately. Thus the great benefit of TPP, the entire point to its existence as far as U.S. interests are concerned, comes in the intellectual property area. Here the treaty takes the provisions of the United States' 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and imposes them (or in some cases, more draconian versions of them) on other TPP members. This extends copyrights to life plus 70 years for individual owners and either 95 or 120 years for corporate owners. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, TPP would also place additional liabilities on Internet intermediaries, escalate protections for digital locks, enact a "three-step test" language putting restrictions on fair use and adopt criminal sanctions even for non-commercial copyright infringement.

Some of those provisions may be modified in the final TPP agreement, and the technical arguments for others are complex. Nevertheless it is clear that TPP represents a tightening of copyright law and extension of patent law even beyond the expansive current U.S. practice.  As such, it's worth reminding ourselves of how copyright and patent law can be abused to restrict free markets and build crony capitalist monopolies.



Baltimore and The blindness of the Ivory Tower

In the May 1 edition of the Washington Post, an opinion article by overly-credentialed professor of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton Danielle Allen, “Why the dispossessed riot,” calls for “sloughing off” the current understanding of what freedom means and embracing a new, more enlightened “democratic one.” Stripped of all the academic jargon and tortured philosophic constructions, Allen comes down solidly in favor of a secular, government-centric, authoritarian understanding of “freedom” that would make Huxley and Orwell knowingly wince.

Allen attempts to explain and justify the riots in Baltimore as the outward expression of an alienation from the political system, a normal reaction to what she refers to as domination — quoting extensively from Princeton University professor Philip Pettit — not just by the police but by a system in which the disenfranchised have no ability to impact any decisions affecting their lives.

“To have freedom from domination requires more than just protection of the basic liberty to choose your religion, political party, associations and employment,” Allen writes, adding “it also requires an equal share of control over the institutions — the laws, policies, procedures…”

This same theory has been echoed by an army of apologists for the looters and rioters, be they in Baltimore or Ferguson or the next city to flare up. Yet Allen never stops to consider how it is the rioters came to be so dispossessed in the first place.

There are two points to consider, however, before swallowing the Allen explanation. First, our nation was not founded and does not rest on “government.” From the beginning, the radical nature of the American Revolution was that each individual was free and “endowed by their Creator” to live their lives as they felt best. Each person possessed in themselves the absolute right and power to govern themselves. Allen disagrees totally. In her book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, she stated, “human equality requires that each of us have access to the single most important tool available for securing our happiness: government.”

Government, for Allen, is the omnipotent presence from which all bounty flows. Her understanding of the relationship of the individual to government is 100 percent opposite to what the Founders meant and what most Americans believe. In her view, each person is subservient to government; government is not the servant of the people. She further rejects the warning of the tyranny of the majority. Under her model, equality in determining the rules, government, gives everyone a “stake” and that is enough to justify the imposition of the will of the majority on everyone.

Second, Allen contends that respect for the rule of law can only really be embraced if her “democratic” view of civic engagement is allowed to take root and flourish. But having now entered into an era where the constitutional rule of law is treated with open disdain by the White House and the bureaucracy — with a president who proclaims, “Where Congress won’t act, I will” — we already see the dangerous and destructive impact. How such a view can lead to the very domination warned against from the government.

Allen and her allies and friends should consider another small piece of history in thinking how to proceed. In the first years of the Jamestown settlement, a quasi-communist system was established. Everyone was guaranteed a share of the food that was produced, and there was a general agreement of equal sharing of all goods. In those early years, the settlement came close to starving to death. The entire colony came very near extinction. The following years, the elders took a different approach. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. Each person was responsible for themselves and their family. No communal anything. The result, of course, was soon a settlement that grew and prospered.

Happiness, spiritual or material, does not come from government. Government takes; it does not create. Civil society — what we call social capital — as embodied in volunteer organizations, churches and places of worship, community involvement and self-help associations, these are the building blocks of a successful community. That is the true civic virtue. Government has nothing to do with it and cannot stop it if the people commit.

So the issue of riots and depressed communities will not be addressed by looking for a scapegoat, or blaming one group of people whom you secretly envy, or desperately looking for someone to constantly pet your ego through self-esteem exercises. The solutions will be found in each individual finding that inner strength to live free and take the responsibility for their actions, both the good and the bad, and contributing voluntarily to the betterment of the community.

This does not require a redefinition of our understanding of freedom to some collectivist theory from the Ivory Tower. It merely asks each of us to do the difficult thing of living as free, adult men and women, without looking for excuses, or handouts, or dodges. By eliminating dependency.

A possibility even Allen’s quoted Philip Pettit reluctantly acknowledged in his 1999 book, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government,  when he wrote, “Suppose it is established that state welfare encourages dependency among welfare recipients… and that such dependency undermines the capacity of recipients to achieve non-domination. That would have important implications for the way in which welfare… ought to be made available… and would push [government] towards minimalist policies.”

To not see that 50 years of social experimentation has left the intended beneficiaries far worse off than they were — now dependent, dispossessed, and powerless — is intentional blindness, a blindness so severe only Ivy League deep-thinkers could accomplish it.



Baltimore Riots Result in Tremendous Economic Loss

 Rioters poured into the streets of Baltimore early this week in “protest,” injuring around a hundred officers, destroying businesses and looting. Sadly, many of these victims won’t see justice. Business shutdowns and property damage have resulted in tremendous economic loss. Wednesday’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards was the first one played in Major League Baseball history where all the fans were locked out. The Left assails conservatives for ostensibly not caring about the plight of impoverished minorities, yet this week’s rioters were on a mission to inflict exceptional economic damage — and they did.

The 1992 Los Angeles riots are estimated to have cost $3.8 billion over a decade, and some believe the Baltimore riots will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. A #JusticeForFreddieGray protest is planned for this afternoon. If participants truly want to make a difference, they will call for an end to the thuggish behavior victimizing an untold number of innocent people. If Gray truly is innocent, engaging in criminal behavior — what they’re supposedly protesting against — is no way to honor his life.



The Lying Game

Will the next presidential election be won by a lie?

Truth has long since been replaced by “narratives” on the American Left. Rather than discuss genuine issues and objective facts, progressives prefer to make up a politically effective story. It doesn’t matter whether the story is false, as long as it sways the public’s emotions and wins the day. The ends justify the means.

This “lying game” strategy often shows up in politically sensitive scientific debates. In honor of Earth Week, let’s look at one of the patron saints of environmentalism, Rachel Carson. Carson wanted to eliminate DDT, the most effective pesticide for fighting one of the greatest plagues faced by humanity, malaria, because it was weakening the shells of bird’s eggs. So Carson falsified data to convince the public that DDT was carcinogenic. Carson brought about a global ban on DDT, probably saving a few birds, but at the cost of allowing malaria to blind or kill millions of people in the Third World. Carson may not have set out to kill people, but only Mao, Stalin and Hitler are responsible for more deaths during the twentieth century. Yet instead of condemning her, we name schools after her.

Another false environmentalist narrative is the global warming hoax. A few decades back, environmentalist “scientists” started devising computer models that predicted manmade calamity — Manhattan submerged by rising Atlantic waters — within, oh, 10 or 15 years ago. Turns out the models were rigged, the data were falsified, and in fact there has been no measurable warming for nearly 20 years. Most troubling of all, the lying scientists colluded to ruin the careers of honest scientists who tried to tell the truth.

Many other examples could be cited, ranging from the war on fracking to the fetus being just a “clump of cells” to denying the abortion/breast cancer link to the sexual revolution itself, which was triggered by the fraudulent research of Alfred Kinsey. In fact, it’s difficult to come up with a progressive scientific cause that isn’t founded on lies.

It’s in politics, however, that the lying game reaches its fullest bloom. The Michael Brown narrative, hyped by the media and exploited by race hustlers to infuriate black voters, turned out to be a lie. Likewise the supposed campus rape epidemic, in which gang rapes by fraternity boys and lacrosse players turned out to be figments of feminists' imagination. Over the past few years, there has been a series of highly publicized incidents in which instances of victimization turned out to have been committed by the victims themselves.

The American Left has come to condone and accept untruth as an appropriate way to conduct their affairs. They are abetted by a media that actively covers up their scandals, while exaggerating the faults of their opposition.

Often, the liberal media use euphemisms to put their spin on events. A case in point is CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill of the Huffington Post urging viewers on Monday night to view the mass violence in Baltimore as “not a riot” but “uprisings” of African-Americans who have been “dying in the streets for months, years, decades, centuries” because of “police terrorism.” Later, he added incongruently, “I think we should be strategic in how we riot.”

Political campaigns have always been infested by lies, but in recent years entire campaigns have been founded on artfully crafted lies. We’ve witnessed candidate after candidate campaign on, and often win on, deliberate lies about their backgrounds, their values, and what they plan to do in office. In the minds of these candidates, the ends — political power — justify the means.

A preacher recently observed in a sermon about lying that “accepting the notion that the ends justify the means leads to a climate where lying becomes the norm.” According to sociologist Robert Nisbet, “What sociologists are prone to call social disintegration is really nothing more than the spectacle of a rising number of individuals playing fast and loose with other individuals in relationships of trust and responsibility.” Our culture’s embrace of lying indicates moral breakdown on a profound level, in which people have begun to satisfy their selfish impulses without regard for the consequences inflicted on others.

Can any society hang together in such an amoral climate?

In the next election, America needs to choose a leader of integrity who can be trusted to stand against our nation’s moral decline and social disintegration.

The Bible warns us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2) In 2016, will Americans choose a righteous leader, or will we be seduced by a liar spinning a false narrative? If we allow ourselves to be seduced again, we can expect our groaning to continue for at least four more years.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The history behind Mr. Putin gives a dire warning of what might come

As readers of my blogs will mostly be aware, I am an inveterate  skeptic. I don't believe in God, Karl Marx, global warming or the evils of dietary fat, sugar and salt -- and much else besides. So it should be no surprise that I also look skeptically at the current Western evaluation of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I think the demonization of him is about as well founded as the demonization of carbon dioxide or dietary salt. The demonization is politically convenient for Western leaders -- it is cheap heroics -- but is based on little more than a kneejerk reaction to Russia. Russia has been villainous in the past so treating it as villainous now is plausible.

I see Vladimir Vladimirovich as simply a traditional Russian leader doing what any Russian leader would do and I aim to prove that right now. Proving anything from history is a shaky enterprise but I think this one is pretty clear.

Russian leaders have always had the sort of protective attitude towards all Russians that British and American leaders also once had towards their citizens. There was a time when an American or a Briton abroad who got into trouble could rely on his government going in to bat for him. National diplomatic power would be exercised on behalf of just one individual. If there is a big enough public outcry it can still happen today but it is rare. Western leaders these days don't seem to have much feeling for their own people once those people are outside their national boundaries.

But Vladimir Vladimirovich does. And Vladimir Vladimirovich is very popular in Russia because of that -- because Russians generally feel that way. Russians see themselves as a unique people without any of the Western hangups about "racism". They feel that Russians everywhere are part of a whole that they are proud to belong to. A feeling of connectedness with others is very important to human beings generally and Russians tend to feel that connectedness with all Russians.

That is all pretty well known but let me now prove it from history. How did WWI start?

As I think most people know, it started from Austria's reaction to the assassination of its archduke. In shako and whiskers below:

Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by a Slavic nationalist -- so Austria invaded Serbia to teach those pesky Slavs a lesson. But what was that about Slavic nationalism? The southern Slavs at the time were split up into a number of nationalities but a lot of Slavs were unhappy about that. They wanted what they got many years later -- a unified nation of the southern Slavs -- Yugoslavia.

But where were the Northern Slavs while all this was going on? They were mostly in Russia. Russians are Slavs too. And Russians shared those pan-Slavic feelings. They saw themselves as the big brother to the oppressed little Southern Slavs. So when Austria invaded Serbia, Russian diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Slavs ramped up. Russia used all its diplomatic power on behalf of the Serbs. But it did no good. Austrian democracy at the time was a shambles, the Austrian Kaiser was very old and Austria was effectively ruled by the generals of the Austrian armed forces.

And the Austrian army was large, modern and well-equipped*. Austria generally at the time was large, modern and well-equipped. The Austrian army even had provision for Jewish soldiers to get kosher food and any other religious articles they required.

So the Austrian generals had no fear of Russia. As it has almost always been, the Russian army was primitive, ill-equipped and badly led. Russia has always had the same sort of difficulty in finding good generals that the British have. The last really capable British general was the first Duke of Marlborough, a guy by the name of John Churchill, ancestor of another Churchill we know about. Austrians, by contrast are Germans, and Germany sprouts good generals like other armies sprout defeats.

And the Austrians knew all that. Everybody knew what a shambles the Russian army was. The Russian navy had been wiped out by the Japanese just a few years before so respect for Russian military prowess was at a low ebb. So how did the Austrians respond to the Russian diplomatic pleas on behalf of the Serbs? They ignored Russia.  But Russians HATE being ignored** and the Tsar felt that  the honor of all Russia had been insulted -- so he declared war on Austria. And the dominoes leading to a truly awful war began to fall ....

That MUST be a warning for modern times. Vladimir Vladimirovich is doing what the Tsar would have done. Wherever Russians outside Russia are getting a hard time, Vladimir Vladimirovich steps in to help then. That was true of the Russian enclaves in Georgia, it was true of Crimea and, in a quiet way it is true of Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Vladimirovich has shown prudent restraint so far in not marching his troops into Eastern Ukraine because the Ukrainian Russians are pretty feisty lot and are doing a pretty good job on their own behalf.

But what about the Baltic States? There are significant Russian populations there too. If the West puts too much pressure on Vladimir Vladimirovich, he could well decide to invade there. He might well feel that he has nothing to lose. There would be NO public support in the West for a war with Russia so all Western leaders could do in response would be to rattle their lips.

Sanctions combined with low oil prices have put Russia under considerable economic pressure so Vladimir Vladimirovich might well feel that a nice little war in the Baltic would distract his people's attention from that. The West might try to deploy air power to oppose Vladimir Vladimirovich but nine tenths of the planes in the Luftwaffe are not fit to fly and America's F35 is not yet battle-ready -- so Russia would deal with that very easily.  It would be a welcome and triumphant exercise.

Western leaders should be engaging Vladimir Vladimirovich, not antagonizing him. Sanctions against Russia are perilously like shooting an Austrian archduke. Those who believe in prayer should be praying that Vladimir Vladimirovich's restraint continues.  Once war starts, you never know where it will lead.  The Austrians didn't.


* Footnotes: The regiments of the Austrian army were of uneven quality but that was true of most armies at the time.  The Austrian generals would have been aware of the poor performance of British troops in the Boer war around 10 years previously.  To defeat a few Dutch farmers on that occasion, the British had to resort to terror attacks on the civilian population.  It was from that war that we have the term "concentration camp".  The British concentration camps killed off Dutch women and children by the thousands.  Hitler admired British propaganda.  You can see why.

** Russians STILL hate being ignored.  That is why Vladimir Vladimirovich sends his majestic old TU-95 nuclear bombers on flights that skirt Western airspace.  He knows the panic that induces and enjoys it.  It keeps Russia in the forefront of Western minds.


It’s Not About Hillary’s Scandals: It’s Her Ideas

Republicans haven’t laid a glove on Hillary Clinton yet, because, to paraphrase James Carville, Mrs. Clinton’s longtime chief apologist, "It’s not about Hillary’s scandals: It’s her ideas stupid!"

To defeat Hillary Clinton Republicans should be challenging and campaigning against her policies – yet they remain fixated on attacking her at what may be her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.

Yes, the mindboggling revelations about the venality, conflicts of interest and prima facie illegal conduct by Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State set forth in Peter Schweizer’s new book “Clinton Cash” would have driven any Republican from the presidential race and straight into an interview room at their local U.S. Attorney’s office.

There would have been a stampede of donors disavowing such a Republican candidate and a legion of elected officials and others withdrawing their endorsements, while the conservative pundit class would have demanded the candidate’s head on a platter.

But Democrats do not think like Republicans.

As far as we can tell the revelations in “Clinton Cash” have cost Hillary only the support of a few obscure Democratic-leaning donors, while 28 of 44 sitting Democratic Senators, including the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Member, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have now endorsed her.

Likewise, 60 out of 188 Democratic House members have announced they back Mrs. Clinton and none have withdrawn their endorsements in the wake of the revelations in Schweizer’s book.

Establishment Republicans can’t grasp that while the Clintons and their team are terrible at crisis avoidance, they wrote the book on how to weather a scandal – it’s what they do every day, and they do it better than anyone.

Bill Clinton was on the verge of an expected victory in New Hampshire, when his campaign faced the biggest media feeding frenzy of the 1992 presidential campaign cycle. As The Washington Post put it ever so delicately, “allegations arose of an extramarital affair with Arkansas state employee and cabaret singer Gennifer Flowers.”

Clinton faced down the press with a series of boldfaced lies and went on to defeat incumbent establishment Republican President George H.W. Bush whose acknowledged heroism in World War II and veneer of old fashioned New England Protestant rectitude gained him not a single vote he didn’t already have.

The reason Bush lost was not a shortage of Clinton scandal – it was a failure to draw a clear conservative contrast with what the election of Bill Clinton might mean; “giving” Americans health care, more taxes, more spending – in short the policies that promptly handed control of Congress over to Republicans in the very next election.

The Republican establishment, who remain fixated on Hillary Clinton’s scandals, seem immune to history.

They just can’t grasp that scandalmongering isn’t going to defeat Hillary Clinton. Scandals are a part of the Clinton package that has already been accepted by Hillary’s base in the Democratic Party and they will be old news to general election voters when they come around to making a decision in November 2016.

Does that means Republicans should ignore the scandals – no, of course not.

But it does mean that Republicans must stop treating them like a silver bullet and start telling voters what the election of Hillary Clinton would mean, and drawing a sharp and clear contrast between conservative policies and those far-Left policies upon which Hillary Clinton is already campaigning.

First, and most importantly, Republicans ought to be asking if voters really want the third term of the disastrous Obama presidency.

Mrs. Clinton supports Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Those who have expressed fear for the future of constitutional government under Obama ought to be in abject terror at the thought of Hillary Clinton with unfetter executive power. Yet the Republican establishment has not made the use of executive power an issue, no doubt because they secretly support the amnesty for illegal aliens that Obama’s use of executive power has achieved.

Mrs. Clinton is also a firm believer in manmade global warming or “climate change” saying, “The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say; sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc.”

This would appear to lead her to support any number of policies that would wreak further havoc on the U.S. economy, particularly in coal country and the coal-dependent Midwest. But the Republican establishment hasn’t said a word against Clinton in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio – key presidential election states where her policies would send thousands, if not millions, to the unemployment lines and drive up electricity prices for those who did still have jobs.

Finally, Hillary Clinton has firmly embraced the far-Left social agenda on same-sex marriage, abortion and the purging of religious belief from the public square. The delegates to the 2012 Democratic Convention who booed mention of God and purged religious references from the Democratic Party Platform are the core of Mrs. Clinton’s base.

These far-Left secular liberals are so far out of sync with majority opinion in America it’s as if they were on another planet.

Yet the Republican establishment has failed to stand for religious liberty and against liberal bigotry against believers every time it has been put to the test. In Indiana and Arkansas, establishment Republican Governors, including Indiana’s Mike Pence who some conservatives saw as a potential presidential candidate, quickly caved when challenged by the secular-Left on state religious freedom legislation.

These are just three of many areas where Republicans have given Hillary Clinton a pass on her truly radical ideas and policies – and instead played to her strongest point – the ability to weather a crisis.

Republicans never win the big national elections unless they draw a clear contrast between the conservative worldview and the liberal Democratic worldview. And when they run content-free campaigns or worse yet, campaign as Democrats-lite, they almost always lose.

Unfortunately, as things stand right now the Republican establishment is stuck on talking about Mrs. Clinton’s scandals, rather than drawing a clear conservative contrast between her far-Left progressive worldview and the conservative worldview. Perhaps this is because on all too many issues they, and their preferred candidate Jeb Bush, have embraced policies that are strikingly similar to Mrs. Clinton’s.

Republicans hungry for victory in 2016 should take history as their guide and recognize that scandalmongering while running a Hillary-lite candidate is sure to put the real thing in the White House.



4th Amendment protections are needed as never before

Today, with the unprecedented level of attacks on religious liberty, free speech, and free markets, Americans need the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded.

Government bureaucrats are today’s massive and politically unaccountable police state. Local police officers are required to obtain warrants from judges for searches and seizures unless there are emergency circumstances or “plain-view” violations of the law. New Deal legislation and FDR’s Constitution-bending court, however, ignored the Fourth Amendment, and gave federal agencies the power to bypass judges and the requirement of “probable cause” by unilaterally issuing their own “administrative subpoenas.”

These “judge-less” warrants are institutionalized violations of the Fourth Amendment, and give government bureaucrats immense power to threaten, bully, and intimidate American citizens and businesses. This results in bureaucrats making law by coerced “consent decrees,” bypassing our guarantee of “republican” government.

Judge-less administrative warrants let unaccountable government bureaucrats violate nearly everything in which we conservatives believe: property rights, religious liberty, the constitutional separation of powers, the rule of law over government.


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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Monday, May 04, 2015

Are Leftists neophiliacs?

Neophilia -- love of the new -- has popped up as a concept on a number of occasions but it mostly seems to occur in a marketing context. Buyers of Apple products (iPhones, iPads etc.) are often branded as neophiliacs, for instance.  Apple has made big money out of it, as new Apple products seem to come out all the time and the neophiliac has to have the latest at all times so lines up for every new release.

Since my cellphone is an old push-button one that I bought for $50 some years ago and which has no touch facilities at all, I would appear not to be a neophiliac. I have certainly not contributed to the vast profits of the Apple corporation.

Marketing is, however, only one context in which neophilia has been seen. Wikipedia gives a useful definition based on the "cult" writings of the quite eccentric Robert Anton Wilson, who popularized the term. It is as follows:

"Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change

A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine

A tendency to become bored quickly with old things

A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty

A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.

A neophile is distinct from a revolutionary in that anyone might become a revolutionary if pushed far enough by the reigning authorities or social norms, whereas neophiles are revolutionaries by nature. Their intellectual abhorrence of tradition and repetition usually bemoans a deeper emotional need for constant novelty and change."

Wilson was not however the first to use the term.  Christopher  Booker attempted to summarize the '60s in a 1969 book called "The neophiliacs".  One summary of the book:

"Around the mid-1950s, on a wave of technological advances, Western civilisation moved into a period of prosperity dwarfing anything that had ever gone before. How golden was this age of affluence? How did it come to spawn a legend? The Fifties and Sixties are said to have witnessed sexual, artistic and scientific revolutions, the explosion of youth culture, the creation of a classless society. The New Aristocrats were pop singers, clothes designers, actors and actresses, film-makers, photographers, artists, writers, models and restaurateurs. Christopher Booker disentangles fantasy and reality, the ephemeral from the enduring. He charts the rise and fall of a collective dream."

And concepts related to neophilia have appeared rather a lot in personality psychology: Sensation-seeking, experience-seeking, openness, tolerance of ambiguity etc.

The most explicit focus on the concept in psychology would appear to be in the work of Robert Cloninger.  Of his work we read:

"It's within this context that the personality dimension of novelty-seeking first emerged.  In a recent New York Times interview (link is external), Cloninger argues that the quality of novelty-seeking can be one of the brightest spots on our personality horizon.  A number of years ago, he identified novelty-seeking as one of four basic "temperaments," meaning that it is an automatic emotional response that primes us to seek out new experiences.  The other three temperaments are harm avoidance (aversion to risk), reward dependence (being sensitive to social situations and reinforcement), and persistence (ability to persist in pursuit of a goal).  Cloninger believes that these temperaments are largely inherited, meaning that they are built into our biological makeup.  Some of us are programmed to embrace the new; others to run as far away from it as possible."

And the work of Jerome Kagan deserves a mention.  Of that we read:

"Largely thanks to technological advances, biologically informed research on temperament is providing the best insights into neophilia. In his classic research on boldness and shyness, Jerome Kagan, a psychologist at Harvard University, exposed infants and small children to mildly stressful forms of novelty -- noise, sour tastes, unfamiliar objects or people -- while he monitored their behavioral and physiological responses. He found that certain fearless tots, most of them boys, clearly warranted the label of “bold.” Their physiological markers are a very low heart rate and a more active left brain. Their active, spontaneous behavior and zestful, bring-it-on attitude toward new things bespeaks the instinctive energy and drive that Freud called “libido.”"

Amid all that interest in the concept it seems to me quite strange that its political relevance rarely seems to be explored.  Why? Leftists presumably find the concept gets uncomfortably close to the bone and most psychologists are Leftist.  Being an inveterate breaker of Leftist taboos, however, I HAVE researched the subject. And I found that, among the general population, Leftists tend to be both sensation seekers generally and even experience seekers -- i.e. lovers of new consumer products.  If they ever hear of the latter finding (They'll try not to) they will surely be rather embarrassed, given their frequent condemnation of "consumerism" etc.

But I don't think my research was really needed.  Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.  The reason I have put up various excerpts above is to make plain what I think stands out like dog's balls (with apologies for the army expression). Descriptions of neophiliacs could very well be descriptions of Leftists.

So, Yes.  Many Leftists are neophiliacs.  They want change for change's sake.  Mr Obama's 2008 campaign had a very obvious appeal in that regard.  He made "change" his theme and offered the absurd but obviously exciting promises that he would make the oceans recede and the planet "heal"

So while the defining characteristic of a Leftist is great dissatisfaction with the status quo, the reason for the dissatisfaction is not always the same. Most Leftists seem to be angry about some aspect of the status quo but the neophiliac is simply bored by it.  Whatever the motive, however, sweeping change is advocated.  And Obama certainly delivered that, with Obamacare being merely the most obvious example of big and sudden change.

Interestingly, the Italian Fascism of Mussolini was to a considerable degree similarly motivated.  He drew heavily on and largely incorporated the "Futurist" movement of the early 20th century.  Futurists were very clearly neophiliacs. Of the Italian Futurists we read:

'We shall sing the love of danger, energy and boldness!" the Futurist Manifesto shouted from the rooftops in 1909. "We declare that the world's splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. There is no more beauty except in strife, no masterpiece without aggressiveness, a violent onslaught upon the unknown forces, to force them to bow to the will of man ... "We wish to glorify war -- the only hygiene of the world -- militarism, patriotism, the destructive arm of the anarchist, the beautiful ideas that kill!"

Much more at the link.  Clearly, excitement is what the Futurists craved.  Many Leftists of today seem to crave the same.  Since modern-day Leftism is a form of Fascism, that is not exactly surprising.

And for young people at least, Nazism seems to have been largely  motivated by a hunger for change and excitement and consequent hatred of the status quo. This is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:

"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. Modern day Leftists sure are in good company.


An Important Lesson from the Baltimore Riots

If you’ve been watching the Baltimore riots over the past few days, one thing should be perfectly clear: when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

You watched as countless businesses and homes were burned while the police line stayed put a few hundred yards back. Rumor has it that the mayor ordered the police to stand down.

Which begs the question: who can you trust to protect yourself in an emergency?

The answer is you and you alone. We all saw the news reports of Baltimore residents protecting their property with machetes and shotguns. Those were the buildings that were passed over by the mobs.

But in liberal states like Maryland, citizens are being disarmed and prevented from arming at record pace. One of our readers tried to by defensive ammunition at a Walmart and he was greeted by a sign reading,

“Due to the ongoing State of Emergency, ammo will not be available for sale.”

Can you imagine trying to buy a gun/ammunition to protect yourself only to be turned away? Meanwhile, the police are being told to stand down and your neighborhood is literally being destroyed right before your eyes.

This isn’t unique to Baltimore… it can happen anywhere in this country. Yet the most populous liberal states in this country won’t allow citizens to defend themselves!

The Second Amendment was written so that citizens could protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. If the Founders were alive today, they would have expected law-abiding Baltimore residents to be armed to defend their communities.

But many weren’t and as a result, their homes and businesses burned.

Yet, Maryland isn’t alone. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia all make it next to impossible for civilians to defend themselves at home and in public. More than 20% of the American people live within these gun control states.

But even in Conservative states like Louisiana, police are trained to seize civilians’ weapons when emergencies strike. Just look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina… Instead of protecting the people, the police and National Guard went door-to-door confiscating firearms and leaving residents to fend for themselves.

Today, six in ten Americans agree that owning a firearm makes you safer. Yet all across this country, there are laws on the books that prevent citizens from being able to protect themselves.

These laws are unconstitutional. The only problem is that Barack Obama has packed the courts with liberal activist judges that uphold these abhorrent laws.

Liberal states won't let citizens defend themselves and when push comes to shove, they won't let the police protect the citizens either.



Revealed: Obama’s Plan to Transform the Country

This blows the lid off of the entire amnesty movement within the Obama administration.

For years, we’ve known that the President’s amnesty agenda was nothing but an attempt to pad voter rolls with Democrat voters. Until now, we never had the proof.

The Department of Homeland Security is calling it the “Task Force on New Americans.” The goal? Get 9 million resident aliens their American citizenship in time to vote by the 2016 election.

This is nothing but a liberal attempt to desperately hold onto power for as long as possible.

We all knew that amnesty was just the beginning. The Left sees every foreigner who enters this country as a potential Democrat voter. And now, they are trying to get as many of these alien residents naturalized as possible naturalized before the 2016 election!

Here’s what’s even worse: of the 20 states with the highest populations of green card holders, 14 of them are holding Senate elections in 2016. Seven of them are incumbent Republican Senators. These include battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Add in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and it is clear why DHS is pushing so hard to get as many “New Americans” as possible naturalized before 2016. A couple hundred thousand new Democrats in Ohio and Florida means it's game over for the Republicans.

Let’s be clear. That is exactly what is happening. Whistleblowers have called attention to the fact that DHS funds are being redirected to make this liberal pipe dream a reality.

Congress didn’t appropriate money for this. The Department of Homeland Security is just making it up as they go along.

If we don’t put a stop to this now, then it is over. It’s one thing for people to naturally go through the process of getting their citizenship. It is an entirely different situation to have the Federal government pushing the issue with an election year deadline.

If you don’t fight back against this one, then be prepared to lose on every other issue you care about. Abortion, gun control… you name it. It’s all on the chopping block if the Obama administration is allowed to naturalize 9 million new voters.

We’re a nation of immigrants, there’s no debating that at all. But never before has the Federal government played politics to this scale with naturalization to achieve a political objective.

As I said, this is it. Nine million new voters in these swing states in such a short time frame would irreversibly swing the tides.

This fight is the gateway to all other policy fights. We need to win this one first before we can secure any others.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Allah Akhbar

A suicide bomber was shot dead by Israeli forces; Muslims took up his body and started protesting. These Dumbos did not know that that suicide belt was still tied to the bomber body they were carrying..


A Site for Soros Lies

If you think the media uses credible and honest sources to report the news, think again. You’d be surprised at how many “mainstream” outlets rely on a left-wing advocacy organization funded in part by liberal billionaire George Soros. The organization is called RightWingWatch and tracks the statements of conservative politicians and leaders for the sole purpose of feeding distorted — and sometimes even fabricated — versions to their allies in the media.

Now, it’s no surprise that press who are outright hostile to conservative views like Huffington Post rely on RightWingWatch’s propaganda, but it is shocking that that this kind of truth-optional reporting is utilized (and therefore legitimized) by mainstream networks like CBS, Politico, and others.

The most obvious example came last Sunday, when I joined “Face the Nation” to talk about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the redefinition of marriage. Before the show, RightWingWatch invented another headline — this time about a recent radio interview with Jan Mickelson. In it, they claim I called for the impeachment of any justices who rule for same-sex “marriage.”

As usual, the site intentionally took the statement out of context and twisted the meaning to further its agenda. And while conservatives like me are used to these tactics, nothing prepared me for hearing those same distortions repeated back to me by CBS’s Bob Schieffer. “Did you really say that justices who come down on the side of gays on this should be impeached?” he asked. “No, I didn’t,” I replied. “Because there are reports to that effect,” Bob explained. What he didn’t explain on air was that the “reports” were from the Soros-funded RightWingWatch.

Obviously, the mainstream media has long been the megaphone of the Left, but they have still managed, for the most part, to stay away from blatant equivocation. If you actually listen to my clip on Mickelson’s show, it’s obvious that what the extremists at RightWingWatch are claiming is patently false. Jan starts out by comparing the marriage case with Roe v. Wade, which conservative politicians insist they’ll overturn through court appointments. In 40 years, that hasn’t happened. Suggesting the way for Congress to put action to their words, Jan moves into “court-stripping” saying, “Congress could say, that was a ridiculous decision we’re nullifying it and if you try it again we are impeaching your sorry kiesters.”

I responded to his assertion that politicians have done little to address abortion by saying, “I don’t disagree with you. I think you are absolutely right, I think the life issue has been used as a political gambit…” My agreement with him (you can listen to the audio here) is not even about the court — but rather on how the GOP has used the life issue for electoral gain. That’s significantly different from RightWingWatch’s claim that I’m calling for the impeachment of justices who support redefining marriage. The site clearly and intentionally misrepresented what I said — as they’ve done countless times to me and other conservatives — to further their own narrative.

And this isn’t the first time Soros’s crew has outright lied about the impeachment issue. Recently, they led with this headline: “Ben Carson: Congress should oust judges who rule for marriage equality,” when in reality Carson stated that Congress had the right to “reprimand and remove” judges — not that they should do so. This is a significant shift in journalism — one that has the potential not only to severely discredit the media industry, but also further marginalize and silence conservatives. It’s time to stand up and say, “enough!”

District Distract: House Cracks Down on D.C. Extremism

The House and Senate don’t just live in D.C., they oversee it. For members of the local city council, that’s been difficult to swallow, especially when the District is intent on passing outrageous anti-freedom laws. Rarely does Congress flex the muscle that the Constitution gives them over D.C., but in the case of the city’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, the GOP majority didn’t have a choice.

As we’ve explained before, the RHNDA is the brainchild of far-Left extremists, who believe that pro-life groups like FRC should have to hire abortion activists in the name of “fairness.” Under this bill, FRC and our allies in D.C. would be punished for refusing to employ individuals with opposing viewpoints. Our good friends Congressmen Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Bill Flores (R-Texas) saw this for the attack on religious liberty that it is and introduced a resolution of disapproval, H.J. Res. 43. As our own Travis Weber explained, “We can’t exist if our purpose is to advocate for a pro-life position, and we’re living under a regime which is telling us you can’t structure yourself as an organization and hire people to advocate for those issues. It’s very controlling and it brings to mind an oppressive government monitoring of groups' purposes.”

After pressure from the Republican Study Committee and the House Freedom Caucus, the bill passed out of the Rules Committee [Wednesday] and is headed for a floor vote [by Friday]. Rep. Flores understands the stakes. “This is not about one city, but rather about preserving the First Amendment right to religious liberty for all Americans.” Thanks to his leadership, Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and others, the city of D.C. will finally hear from the House that this overreach won’t be tolerated.



No, Riots Are Not a 'Legitimate Political Strategy'

Reading the liberal media, you’d think the Baltimore rioters are the reincarnation of Lexington and Concord’s minutemen, bravely facing tyrants to defend their freedom. Well, Paul Revere might disagree. Somehow, ruining businesses and running off with condoms doesn’t quite equate to Patrick Henry’s speech “Give me Liberty or give me death.”

But the Left wants America to think it does.

A particularly absurd Salon headline this week reads, “Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.” The author’s argument is that non-violence is “a tactic, not a philosophy” and that black communities are struggling against “premeditated economic exploitation.” Riots are simply “reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.”

According to Fordham University sociology professor Heather Gautney, “Riots like the ones we are seeing in Baltimore … should be viewed as rational responses to injustice. Riots highlight the injustice and violence that’s prevalent in impoverished neighborhoods in this country.”

And BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer writes, “Violence — as harmful and self-destructive as it is — sometimes works.” Serwer claims that, for 80 years, the “recipe for urban riots” has been largely the same: “(a)n impoverished and politically disempowered black population refused full American citizenship, a heavy-handed and overwhelmingly white police force, a generous amount of neglect, and frequently, the loss of black life at the hands of the police.”

But is portraying lawless violence as a justified and effective quest for justice accurate?

A closer look at the facts says, “No.”

For starters, as Acton Institute Senior Editor Joe Carter points out, far from empowering black communities, urban riots leave lingering damage. In 2004, The National Bureau of Economic Research published research on riots that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and Carter notes the research found not only a decline in the median black family income in riot-impacted cities but also declines in male employment rates and in the median value of black-owned property.

And as for “premeditated economic exploitation” and political disempowerment justifying violence, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson notes that even during the era of Jim Crow laws, when institutionalized racism was both legal and praised, black crime was “relatively low” — no riots as a “legitimate political strategy ” then. And since Johnson’s infamous War on Poverty was launched, Peterson adds, there has been a “massive wealth transfer to black Americans in the form of welfare and other handouts.” Certainly, a case can be made for economic exploitation, but the indictment would be against those intent on keeping black voters dependent on the government for handouts.

Is violence, then, justified, or is it simply being used as an escape from tackling problems with resolution — not simply retribution — in mind? Just as profanity is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop a compelling vocabulary, so violence is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop compelling arguments.

And there is inarguably a need for compelling arguments. While America has made exceptional strides toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal of judging others based not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, racism has sadly not yet breathed its last in America.

Yet, even amid racism, King himself held firmly his belief “that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.” He continued, “I’ve been searching for a long time for an alternative to riots on one hand and timid supplication for justice on the other and I think that alternative is found in militant massive non-violence.”

When the colonists took up arms and declared independence from Great Britain, they had for 10 years prior sought reconciliation with the Crown and resorted to arms only when their repeated attempts at peace were disregarded. And in the Declaration of Independence, they set forth clearly their justifications for rejecting injustice.

In presenting a dignified argument against racism, Dr. King did the same. And in so doing, he made incredible strides forward for black Americans.

Tragically, the violence of lawless rioters is doing nothing to continue Dr. King’s work and much to undercut it.

Far from elevating violence to a level of rational discourse, endorsing riots as legitimate political strategy diminishes the quality of discourse and demeans the ability of Americans — black and white — to confront injustice not with stones and arson but with truth, which alone has the power to bring justice.



Why does the USA still belong to this insane organization?

The U.N. Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) executive board has adopted two resolutions condemning Israel for activities at locations whose religious significance for Jews goes back thousands of years.

A UNESCO spokesman confirmed that the board did so “by consensus” after a subsidiary commission dealing with external relations voted last week to recommend their passage. The only countries to vote against the two resolutions were the United States, Germany and the Czech Republic in the one case, and the U.S. alone in the other.

UNESCO in 2011 became the first U.N. agency to admit “Palestine,” a step that resulted in a loss of U.S. funding. Until then, American taxpayers accounted for 22 percent of the Paris-based agency’s operating budget.

In a series of recommendations to executive board, the external relations commission sided with Palestinian claims to a site in Hebron and a site in Bethlehem.

It also deplored a decision by the Israeli government not to comply with an earlier UNESCO directive to remove the two sites from an Israel national heritage list.

The Hebron site is the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial place of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The site in Bethlehem in the traditional burial site of Rachel, Jacob’s wife. Hebron was also the capital of the kingdom of Israel for seven years before King David moved his seat to Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago, as recorded in 2 Samuel 5.

Hebron and Bethlehem both fall within the area claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. A resolution adopted by the UNESCO board reaffirmed an earlier stance that the sites “are an integral part of Palestine.”

When Israel first included the two sites on a register of 150 national heritage sites in 2010 – a move which it insisted did nothing to change the status quo on the ground – the State Department called the move “provocative” and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned it could spark a “religious war.”

The Cave of the Patriarchs is divided into Jewish and Muslim sections, with a mosque at the site named for Abraham (Ibrahim). Muslims also revere biblical figures, in line with the Islamic precept that major figures, from Adam to Jesus, were Muslim prophets.

Among other things the UNESCO resolution condemned Israel for building private roads for the use of Jewish residents of nearby settlements, and for a visit last January by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to what it called “the illegal settlement in the historic center” of the town. It called on “Israel, the Occupying Power, to prevent such visits.”

Other provisions in the two resolutions criticized “continuous Israeli violations, abuses, works and excavations” in and around Jerusalem’s Old City – location of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, and the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third most revered location in Islam.

The Temple Mount has been under overall Israeli control since 1967, although an Islamic trust administers the site. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the area.

One of the UNESCO resolutions accused Israeli authorities of “the targeting of civilians including religious figures, sheikhs, and priests” and for allowing intrusions into the mosque area by armed forces as well as “religious extremists groups.”

The text was silent on sporadic Arab rioting that occurs on and around the Temple Mount, but it did deplore “the large number of arrests and injuries” in the area at the hands of Israeli forces.

The two Israel-focused resolutions made up a prominent part of the commission’s report to the executive board. The only other resolutions relating to specific country situations dealt with threats to cultural heritage in Crimea and Iraq.

UNESCO’s admission of “Palestine” in late 2011 triggered a U.S. funding cutoff mandated by a 1990 law barring financial support for “the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.”

The move cost UNESCO more than one-fifth of its operating budget, sparking a financial crisis for the agency.



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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)