Friday, June 26, 2015

Importing a Potential Epidemic

The dark truth about disease and Obama’s border lawlessness.

By now most Americans are familiar with the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to force-feed amnesty for illegals to a largely recalcitrant American public. The most egregious part of this effort occurred during last year’s border “surge” when the administration not only embraced the admittance of tens of thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) into our nation, but the purposeful and secret dispersal of them into all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. What Americans don’t know is that the Obama administration ignored Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that apply to legal immigrants and prevent the unvaccinated, or those with a “communicable disease of public health significance,” from entering the country. As a result, it is quite possible the outbreak of unknown diseases or those mostly eradicated in the U.S. for quite some time is no coincidence. The administration’s stance on the issue? A combination of silence, denial, or blame-shifting to the anti-vaxxer crowd.

We begin with last year’s outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a disease that paralyzed and killed American children. That in and of itself should have elicited a media firestorm, along with demands for establishing the origins of the outbreak beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet coverage was scant. Reporter Sharryl Attkisson revealed the disease was first identified in California in 1962, but that outbreaks had been relatively rare. She further noted the CDC “hasn’t suggested reasons for the current uptick or its origin.” Sundance at attempted to correlate the outbreaks of the disease with the location of UAC shelters. And while part of his investigation was stymied by the reality that the administration kept many of those shelter locations secret, “there are significant numbers of them in both cities in which the current outbreak was first identified,” he explained.

Ultimately, it was the Daily Caller that reported the disease “was likely propelled through America by President Barack Obama’s decision to allow tens of thousands of Central Americans across the Texas border, according to a growing body of genetic and statistical evidence,” further noting “the epidemic included multiple strains of the virus, and that it appeared simultaneously in multiple independent locations.”

Nonetheless the CDC simply denied the link, despite the reality that the EV-D68 outbreak in 2014 infected at least 538 people in 47 states, even as a study published on the CDC’s own website reveals the disease “is one of the most rarely reported serotypes, with only 26 reports throughout the 36-year study period (1970 through 2006).”

Last July, the El Paso Times revealed that 89 illegals detained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM tested positive for tuberculosis. Officials were initially reluctant to tell the media because of the concern that it might spread fear. Last September at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, TX, five infants tested positive for the tuberculosis infection, with an additional 700 infants and 40 hospital workers potentially infected. All of them were exposed to the disease by an unnamed hospital employee. Again, most Americans are unaware the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines for school attendance by UACs, stating that such children cannot be excluded even if they fail to provide “requisite health or immunization information required of other students,” the memo stated. Last May, 28 people tested positive for TB at Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas.

All coincidental, or unrelated to illegal aliens? In Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three nations where most of last year’s border surge originated, the tuberculosis infection rate is nearly 10 times that of the United States.

In July of 2014, Former Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) wrote a letter to the CDC expressing concern about the “grave public health threats” posed by the influx of illegals, insisting that reports of illegal migrants “carrying deadly diseases … are particularly concerning.” The 30-year physician urged the agency to take immediate action to assess the risk and notify the public.

Unfortunately, the CDC is an agency with a credibility problem. Last year it bungled the handling of Ebola “index patient” Thomas Eric Duncan, resulting in two healthcare workers contracting the deadly disease. One of them was allowed to board an airliner despite calling the CDC several times to report early symptoms. This year a report compiled by 11 experts in biosafety, laboratory science and research, stated the CDC’s “laboratory safety training is inadequate” and the agency is “on the way to losing credibility.” Two incidents were highlighted. In May, avian bird flu samples were unintentionally mixed with the deadly H5N1 influenza strain and shipped to a USDA lab, and in June, dozens of employees risked exposure to anthrax because the agency did not follow proper sterilization protocols.

Thus when the CDC largely dismisses any connection between illegals and the surge of measles in 2014, (along with a 2015 pace on track to top it), one must remain skeptical, especially when the agency itself makes unprovable assumptions. “Although we aren’t sure exactly how this year’s outbreak began, we assume that someone got infected overseas, visited the Disneyland parks and spread the disease to others,” said Anne Schuchat, an assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. That statement is hardly reassuring from the same agency that declared measles had been “eliminated” in America — defined as the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area — by 2000.

Media defenders are quick to point out that Mexico and Central American countries largely responsible for the illegal influx have higher vaccination rates than the U.S.

But as Border Patrol veteran Chris Cabrera pointed out last August, many potentially diseased illegals are “slipping through the cracks” because he and his fellow agents have been overwhelmed by the onslaught. “This problem isn’t contained in the border areas. [They] are coming in here, they’re going north, and it’s going to affect the entire country,” he warned.

A Fox News report last July brings another element to the mix. At Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, doctors and nurses working there were threatened with arrest if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at that illegal refugee camp. Members of BCFS, a security force hired by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), likened themselves to Brown Shirts, and workers themselves were stripped of cellphones and other communication devices during their shifts. Anyone found with a phone was immediately terminated. Nonetheless, workers revealed camp children had measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat. “They’re going to crush the system,” warned a nurse who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “We can’t sustain this. They are overwhelming the system and I think it’s a travesty.”

Thus the obvious question arises: how many other facilities involved with illegals and dangerous diseases are operating under the same veil of secrecy and threats? Sadly in an Obama administration dedicated to an amnesty onslaught by any means necessary Americans may never learn the answer to that question. And the administration will be aided and abetted by a leftist media more than willing to label any attempt to establish causation between illegals and disease as fear mongering and/or xenophobic.

Regardless, reality intrudes. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is another disease being attributed to illegals. “The big picture here is that we are getting all these diseases brought into the United States by the ‘imported disease people’ from Latin America,” insists Dr. Lee Hieb, past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. “We don’t generally test for dengue fever, because until recently we have not had hordes of people coming into the United States from areas of the world like Latin America where dengue fever is endemic,” she added.

Dengue fever, as well as the equally grim affliction known as the chikungunya virus, are spread by mosquitos. It is believed both diseases are fueled by people who became ill while traveling abroad, as well as illegals who brought them into the country on clothing, baggage, liquids, and food. In September, 120,000 cases and 60 deaths attributed to dengue fever were declared in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the CDC warns it is only a matter of time before native mosquitos are impacted. Their “solution” for both afflictions since there are no vaccines for either? “Avoid mosquito bites,” their website advises.

In their piece on EV-D68, the Daily Caller pressed a number of government researchers, health experts and academics to provide data exonerating Obama administration officials with regard to the possible linkage between the disease and the influx of UACs. The DC noted that all of them “refused to comment, or else urged self-censorship,” because “it could spike existing public opposition” to the efforts of a pro-amnesty president and his party, as well as Republicans beholden to their Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Vally masters, who want cheap labor as much as Democrats want guaranteed votes. The website further noted Democrats could make life exceedingly difficult “for grant-dependent American scientists who discover politically damaging information.”

And once again, if such dynamics apply to EV-D68, it stands to reason they apply to the rest of the “politically inconvenient” diseases that could derail so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

As for the media, their behavior is nothing short of reprehensible. Putting aside the politicization of the issue reduced to the banal idea of right-wing nativism versus left-wing compassion, the notion that establishing the causation of any disease threatening the health and well-being of the American public would be scrupulously avoided because it might not accrue to pro-amnesty sensibilities reeks of ideological bankruptcy bordering on totalitarianism. Since when have the deaths and paralysis of children been met with a collective media shrug? Why has the CDC, the agency that should be leading the charge in this arena, been given a pass for a series of denials, best exemplified by Steve Oberste, chief of the CDC’s polio and picornavirus laboratory branch who insisted the agency was “unaware” of any UAC testing positive for EV-D68? How does “unaware” establish no link at all?

And why has there been no media pressure put on the Obama administration? It isn’t hard to figure out that the deliberate dispersal of illegals throughout the nation — a dispersal that included the policy of handing children to family members who might also be illegals — would make virtually impossible to establish causation or lack thereof, even as that dispersal has the potential for exponentially affecting more and more Americans exposed to dangerous diseases. “As the unaccompanied children continue to be transported to shelters around the country on commercial airlines and other forms of transportation, I have serious concerns that the diseases carried by these children may begin to spread too rapidly to control,” Gingrey stated in his letter to the CDC.

For the pro-amnesty proponents a potential epidemic — courtesy of diseases previously eradicated in the United States — is seemingly a reasonable price to pay in order to maintain an illegal immigration policy that puts the Border Patrol on pace to catch “an additional 39,000 unaccompanied children and about 53,000 members of families on the southern border this fiscal year,” the LA Times reports. And while that surge is smaller than the one last year, it is still “large enough to overwhelm shelters and courts.” And so it begins — all over again. When is enough enough?



Obama Gets Fast Track Authority For Trans-Pacific Partnership

Well, the fight is over. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or fast track authority, has passed the Senate by a 60-38 vote. Yesterday, it passed a critical cloture vote 60-37.  As promised by Republicans, a vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program aimed at helping displaced workers from increased, trade looks like it will pass both chambers. House Democrats voted against this provision, trying to use it as leverage to stop Obama from getting fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); a free trade agreement ten years in the making involving 11 other nations and 40 percent of the world’s GDP (via AP):

In a triumph of divided government, the Republican-controlled Congress passed major trade legislation Wednesday that was long-sought by President Barack Obama but vehemently opposed by most lawmakers in his party.

The measure to strengthen Obama's hand in global trade talks cleared the Senate on a vote of 60-38, and will go to the White House for his signature — less than two weeks after it was temporarily derailed in the House in an uprising of Democratic lawmakers.

A second bill, to renew an expiring program of federal aid for workers disadvantaged by imports, was on track to pass the Senate in short order. It would then go to the House, where a final vote was expected on Thursday.

"We have Republican majorities in Congress working closely with Democratic minorities in Congress to build bipartisan support for legislation that then arrives on the desk of a Democratic president," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. That's how policy should be made "in an era of divided government," he told reporters.

Despite what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last week regarding how there were not enough votes  for TAA, with TPA deal sealed, House Democrats have waved the white flag of surrender. They really don't have a reason to oppose it this time (via the Hill):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her caucus are lining up behind a worker aid proposal expected to hit the floor of the lower chamber Thursday, securing a key piece of President Obama's trade agenda and setting the stage for a legacy-building trade accord with Pacific Rim nations.

TAA was being used as a bargaining chip for TPA, and that's why we very much resisted," Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee and a staunch fast-track critic, said Wednesday leaving a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the Capitol.

"But now TPA is going to become law, and so therefore we should really focus on what has always been the central issue, and that is what is in TPP."

Levin predicted "a vast majority" of House Democrats will back the TAA when it hits the floor, likely Thursday.

When TPA first came to the Senate floor, Senate Democrats blocked it. Senate Republicans then put forward a bill, lumping TAA and TPA together, and a customs enforcement bill aimed at dealing with currency manipulation. They would be voted on separately. When the Senate bill came to the House, Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the TAA provision, which prevented the bill–due to parliamentary differences–from being sent to Obama’s desk for his signature. Obama has said he will not sign off on TPA unless TAA is also guaranteed. Hence why House Democrats saw this as a bargaining chip.

After the first round, which ended in defeat, Republicans said TPA and TAA provisions would be voted on separately.  Republicans promised a prompt vote on TAA once TPA is settled. The House barely passed the TPA provision 218-208, with 28 pro-trade Democrats joining 190 Republicans in the backing the measure.  It then went onto the Senate, where it was finally passed today.

Now, the legislative fight (probably one of the most intense since Obamacare) over the mechanisms to bring TPP to Congress is over. Up next, the vote on the actual trade agreement.



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, June 25, 2015

Losing Faith in American institutions

Last week a Gallup poll revealed that Americans have expressed a loss of confidence in virtually every major institution in the nation, including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks, big business, labor, the police and organized religion. "From a broad perspective, Americans' confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993,“ said a spokesman for the polling company.

Is anyone really surprised? Let’s begin with Congress. Right now it is run by the GOP, the party that was handed a massive victory in the 2014 election by an electorate disgusted with the status quo. So what did these stalwarts do? They embraced that status quo. They passed another debt-laden budget with full funding for the DHS, knowing full well Americans were outraged by that agency’s effort to continue phasing in amnesty for illegals, even in defiance of a court order by federal judge Andrew Hanen. They approved the nomination of Eric Holder clone Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General, knowing full well she would support that effort and maintain the Justice Department’s track record of fostering racial polarization. And right now they are in the midst of force-feeding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to an American public just beginning to grasp the idea that, while international trade might be beneficial to the nation, ceding our national sovereignty as part of the equation stinks on ice.

The presidency? It would take several columns to detail the failings of the petulant narcissist masquerading as the leader of the free world, but a recent quote by FBI Director James Comey should send a chill up every sentient American’s spine. "We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” Comey told a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in reference to ISIS. “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see.” In short our president has decided that taking the fight to ISIS on American soil is preferable his hollow promise to “degrade and destroy” these terrorist savages where they operate with impunity.

And let’s not forget Iran. While people were distracted by other news, Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear the administration has made a mockery of anything resembling American interests. Despite previous promises to the contrary, the bicycle crasher now insists the U.S. is “not fixated” on Iran accounting for its past efforts at nuclear weaponization. Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), put that unconscionable concession in perspective. “A comprehensive deal — that would include uranium enrichment — can only be reached if uncertainties over Iran’s military capability are credibly addressed,” he said. “That should be an unambiguous condition to achieving a final accord that is meaningful in safeguard terms.” In other words, you can’t know where the apocalyptic-minded Iranian mullahs are going if you don’t know where they’ve been. This concession is surrender-ism on steroids.

Let’s not forget the economy either. It’s going swell — give or take a negative first quarter GDP,  the 47 million Americans who now receive EBT/food stamps, the nearly 110 million Americans receiving government assistance of some kind, the 92,898,000 Americans out of the labor force, or the staggering reality that, for the past six years, more businesses are dying than being created.

The Supreme Court? Americans are still reaping the “benefits” of Chief Justice John Robert's decision to call the individual mandate a tax in order to legalize ObamaCare. And in the coming days, decisions in 11 cases remaining on the docket will be made. The most seismic cases include whether or not states can still write their own laws regarding marriage, or whether gay marriage will be made a one-size-fit- all mandate, much like Roe v. Wade; and whether ObamaCare subsidies will be maintained in states without their own exchanges, despite wording the in law that subsides can only be paid out on exchanges “established by the state.”

Those two decisions and others will go a long way towards restoring Americans' faith in the Court — or exacerbating their discontent with it.

Banks? While they remain beholden to a series of lousy government policies, especially with regard to mortgages, they also remain obnoxiously insouciant with regard to their retail customer concerns. “Banks are chasing the fast buck — and ‘gouging’ their retail customers with hefty new charges, overdraft fees and service cuts to pump up revenue losses due to less loan making, according to investigators,” the New York Post reports, even as many of those banks are “reporting record profits — despite a hostile regulatory environment and near-zero interest rates that crimp some traditional forms of banking.” The Post is refereeing to the Federal Reserve’s Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP), which is nothing less than a de facto tax on middle class American savers. Couple it with the infuriating reality that banks were saved by the very same American taxpayers they screwed — without anyone being prosecuted or forced to resign — and it’s little wonder why they continue to be held in contempt by millions of citizens.

Big business? What could be a better example of contempt for the American worker than Disney firing 250 employees — but only after forcing them to train their foreign replacements coming in on the H1-B visas championed by the Chamber of Commerce, the doyens of Silicon Valley and members of both political parities? Foreign workers who will work for less pay. And those are high-skill workers. Congress and the president are also determined to accommodate businesses employing millions of low-skill illegals, even as the administration has made it clear any effort to continue targeting firms that hire them must be coupled with “comprehensive immigration reform.” Comprehensive immigration reform that will depress wages for blue-collar Americans, unless one is willing to believe the current assertions that adding millions of these low-skill workers to an already under-employed American workforce will enhance those wages.

Since when has more of anything made an individual unit of that thing more valuable? If you answered never, you get an “A” in Econ 101.

Labor? This writer has no beef with organized labor — in the private sector. That’s because there’s an ultimate modifier of union demands known as bankruptcy. On the other hand, government unions are a scourge, from the legions of unaccountable educators who’ve destroyed what was once the best education system in the world, to the callous incompetents who allowed veterans to die and millions of Americans' personal info to be hacked with impunity. And in fairly short order, many Americans are going to learn firsthand what happens when union pension and health benefit obligations overwhelm states' abilities to pay for them. Detroit was nothing more than the tip of the iceberg. The states of Illinois, New Jersey, California and New York are fiscal time bombs waiting to explode. Since one can’t get blood from the proverbial stone, already-high taxes will skyrocket, services will be decimated, or some hideous combination of both will occur. As the saying goes, politicians lie, but mathematics is irrefutable.

Police? In an age of rampant cynicism, Americans' declining confidence in the nation’s police forces ranks right at the top of collective ungratefulness. Yes there are bad cops, but the concerted effort by Obama, his administration and its media allies to paint a distorted picture of “racist” and “abusive” police forces is unconscionable, one “hands up don’t shoot” discredited narrative after another.

Many Americans themselves embrace a damned if they do, damned if they don’t attitude towards the thin blue line, criticizing cops for both vigorous law enforcement, or the lack thereof. The latter has led to crime spikes in cities across the nation in an era where cops are forced to second guess every move they make — or don’t make. It’s easy to bash cops in leisure for decisions they make in split seconds. If truth be told, Americans owe a great deal of thanks to those willing to stand between them and anarchy, every hour of every day. Too bad so many Americans can sweep that reality under the rug.

Americans' discontent with organized religion is utterly unsurprising, yet it is important to separate the category into two distinct parts: religious institutions and people of faith. Religious institutions — exemplified by the series of stances championed by Pope Francis — have embraced a cornucopia of leftist beliefs including amnesty for illegals, man-made global warming, ever-expanding government and even ObamaCare. Meanwhile, people of faith have been subjected to a relentless campaign orchestrated by the same American Left determined to make their traditional beliefs synonymous with bigotry, homophobia and nativism.

Moreover, it doesn’t take genius to figure out the leftist dog whistles that have dominated secular culture for more than 50 years, including “if it feels good, do it,”  "there is no black and white, only shades of gray" and “God is dead” are far easier to embrace than religious dogma that teaches concepts such as delayed gratification, sexual restraint, frugality, shame, morality — and the “problematic” idea that there is a power greater than the self. In an age where it has never been easier to succumb to human nature’s reflexive urge to follow the path of least resistance, the “path less traveled” becomes a harder sell than at any other time in modern history.

Can confidence in the various institutions be restored? As I have said on many occasions, I believe Winston Churchill's quote remains apropos: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” I remain hopeful that we’re running out of alternatives to the right thing, and that some time soon, a majority of Americans will realize the leftist effort to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into their version of a socialist utopia is as historically “been there, done that” as it gets. There is a spark of divinity in each of us that transcends the insufferable puerility of the modern age. Its re-discovery cannot happen soon enough.



Hillary and History

There are no sure things in politics, but Hillary Clinton is the closest thing to a sure thing to become the Democrats' candidate for president in 2016.

This is one of the painful but inescapable signs of our time. There is nothing in her history that would qualify her for the presidency, and much that should disqualify her. What is even more painful is that none of that matters politically. Many people simply want “a woman” to be president, and Hillary is the best-known woman in politics, though by no means the best qualified.

What is Hillary’s history? In the most important job she has ever held — Secretary of State — American foreign policy has had one setback after another, punctuated by disasters.

U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

Fortunately, the Egyptian military has gotten rid of that country’s extremist government that was persecuting Christians, threatening Israel and aligning itself with our enemies. But that was in spite of American foreign policy.

In Europe, as in the Middle East, our foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was to undermine our friends and cater to our enemies.

The famous “reset” in our foreign policy with Russia began with the Obama administration reneging on a pre-existing American commitment to supply defensive technology to shield Poland and the Czech Republic from missile attacks. This left both countries vulnerable to pressures and threats from Russia – and left other countries elsewhere wondering how much they could rely on American promises.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Obama administration refused to let the Ukrainians have weapons with which to defend themselves. President Obama, like other presidents, has made his own foreign policy. But Hillary Clinton, like other Secretaries of State, had the option of resigning if she did not agree with it. In reality, she shared the same flawed vision of the world as Obama’s when they were both in the Senate.

Both of them opposed the military “surge” in Iraq, under General David Petraeus, that defeated the terrorists there. Even after the surge succeeded, Hillary Clinton was among those who fiercely denied initially that it had succeeded, and sought to discredit General Petraeus, though eventually the evidence of the surge’s success became undeniable, even among those who had opposed it.

The truly historic catastrophe of American foreign policy — not only failing to stop Iran from going nuclear, but making it more difficult for Israel to stop them — was also something that happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State.

What the administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended negotiations with Iran accomplished was to allow Iran time to multiply, bury and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel still had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

There are no offsetting foreign policy triumphs under Secretary of State Clinton. Syria, China and North Korea are other scenes of similar setbacks.

The fact that many people are still prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States, in times made incredibly dangerous by the foreign policy disasters on her watch as Secretary of State, raises painful questions about this country.

A President of the United States — any president — has the lives of more than 300 million Americans in his or her hands, and the future of Western civilization. If the debacles and disasters of the Obama administration have still not demonstrated the irresponsibility of choosing a president on the basis of demographic characteristics, it is hard to imagine what could.

With our enemies around the world arming while we are disarming, such self-indulgent choices for president can leave our children and grandchildren a future that will be grim, if not catastrophic.



SCOTUS and the Raisin Hope for Property Rights

Marvin Horne of Fresno, California, has been vindicated. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that if the Raisin Administrative Committee was going to take Horne’s raisins it needed to compensate the farmer. In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, Horne refused to give up his raisins to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the agency was fining him at the tune of $695,000. The committee is a New Deal-era program designed to control the supply of raisins so the prices remain artificially high. It would take a portion of farmers' grapes and either donate them to school lunch programs or sell them overseas. Farmers used to be compensated, but then the payout dwindled to nothing.

The Ninth Circuit Court originally ruled in favor of the administrative committee, saying the Constitution’s Taking Clause only covered real estate, but Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the majority opinion, ruled, “Government has a categorical duty to pay just compensation when it takes your car, just as when it takes your home.”

This ruling comes 10 years after the bungled SCOTUS ruling in Kelo v. New London, which said the city of New London could take the home of Susette Kelo and give her property to a private developer. Currently, Kelo’s pink home is demolished and the lot stands empty. While the raisin ruling is a step in the right direction, it will take years before the government fully moves past Kelo and respects the property of the citizens.



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, June 24, 2015

Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest

The research report below is unusual in favoring conservatives but we should not get too excited about it as the findings are based on students and highly educated respondents.  It may tell us nothing about the population at large.

The findings about "freewill" are however in accord with the greater belief in personal responsibility among conservatives.  Leftists rage and apportion blame while conservatives just get on with it. Conservatives are simply calmer

Findings from three separate studies link a person's political ideology and their self-control performance, with conservatives demonstrating greater self-control than liberals. The research led by Joshua John Clarkson, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of marketing, is published in this week's early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Two studies in the report involved tasks that were conducted among undergraduates at two Midwestern universities over the past year. The third study involved 135 people across the U.S. taking part in a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk service. In each study, Clarkson says participants who identified as politically conservative consistently showed greater attention regulation and task persistence -- hallmark indicators of self-control -- and that these effects were independent of participants' gender, race, age, education or income.

Study 1

At one Midwestern university, 147 undergraduates completed a modified Stroop task. Sitting in front of a computer screen, they were presented with a word that represented a color (red, blue, green, yellow), with the words presented on an incongruent background. For example, the word 'yellow' would appear on a blue background. The researchers examined how quickly participants would respond with the word, controlling for correctness. 'We found that those who identified as conservative were as correct as liberals, but they were performing the tasks faster. This finding suggests that conservatives might be better able to fixate their attention on a task,' says Clarkson.

Study 2

At a separate Midwestern university, 176 undergraduates performed the same Stroop task. Again, researchers found that as political conservatism increased, there was a faster response time as well as an increase in the belief of freewill. 'Both conservatives and liberals reported that they wanted to perform well, but again, conservatives were responding faster, and this faster response stemmed from their stronger belief in freewill. That is, conservatives' belief in their responsibility for their outcome contributed to their faster responding,' says Clarkson.

Study 3

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, 135 Americans participated in several seven-letter anagram self-control tasks. For each anagram, they were asked -- under a set of rules (e.g., words had to have at least three letters) -- to create as many English words as they could with the letters. Importantly, participants were told they could decide when they wanted to end the task. The researchers found that the conservatives spent more time on the task than the liberals.

However, the findings showed that conservatives outperformed liberals only when participants believed freewill has a beneficial impact on self-control. When participants believed freewill could undermine self-control, liberals outperformed conservatives.

'This finding is especially interesting because research to this point has focused only on the positive outcomes of believing in freewill,' says Clarkson. 'However, one could imagine a host of situations where knowing you are responsible for your actions could lead to frustration, anxiety and other negative emotions that could impair self-control. In these contexts, these findings would suggest liberals will demonstrate greater self-control.'

Clarkson explains how the research offers clear insight into the psyche of consumers. 'When marketers consider self-control, we tend to think of sticking to a diet or exercise regimen, not wandering off your grocery list or avoiding impulsive purchases. All of these behaviors exhibit elements of attention regulation and persistence. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to believing whether or not you can control your own behavior, and what we're finding is that conservatives are more likely to believe they can control their own behavior.'

SOURCE.  Journal article


Understanding Putin's  Russia

I don't entirely agree with the analysis below.  But it's part of the story

The Western media have done a poor job reporting on Russia. Cable news stations and print journalists have covered Putin’s wicked annexation of Crimea and military adventurism in eastern Ukraine, but rarely has their coverage tried to convey why Moscow has taken such aggressive steps in violation of international law.

To do so isn’t to justify Russia’s actions, but rather to establish a basis for predicting Russia’s behavior, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland. It might also help us to better assess Western responses, such as the G-7 leaders’ recent decision to continue their economic sanctions against the Putin regime.

Russia’s policies can be seen as attempts to create a security buffer against perceived Western build-up to its borders. Moscow has intimated, for example, that the CIA assisted in the ouster of Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine—a storyline that is consistent with the expansion of NATO in former Warsaw Pact countries after the end of the Cold War, despite President George H. W. Bush’s formal agreement to keep the Western military alliance out of what had been East Germany.

Another data point: George W. Bush promised to admit Ukraine and Georgia into NATO—regions that Russia considers to be within its geopolitical sphere of influence. Eland offers other examples, as well.

“Russia feels surrounded and vulnerable and thus succumbs easily to nationalist demagogues like Putin,” Eland writes. “However, in the future, perhaps the United States will be more understanding of the relatively weak Russia’s need for a geostrategic buffer zone in Eastern Europe as the more powerful China rises in East Asia and the Americans need an ally to balance it there.”



Bullet Train Is Slow-Speed Boondoggle

We have been keeping track, so to speak, of California’s vaunted “Bullet Train,” officially the state’s High-Speed Rail project. But as it turns out, “high speed” is something of a misnomer, as William Bigelow notes on Breitbart.

The first actual construction on the project is a viaduct over the Fresno River, nowhere near the Bay Area to Los Angeles route politicians used to sell the $69 billion project. This construction “will start three years after the date initially estimated by the rail authority.” The project faces financial obstacles, including “$2.2 billion in federal stimulus money that can only be used by the rail authority if it is spent before Sept. 30, 2017 on construction in the San Joaquin Valley. Any funds left unspent must be returned to the Federal Railroad Administration.” As taxpayers know, government agencies never leave funds unspent, and they will have to spend more.

As in Blazing Saddles, one thing stands in the way of the land they need: the rightful owners. As Bigelow observes, the state rail authority recently acknowledged legal possession “of only 257 of 1,079 properties that it requires for the first two construction sections.” The process has been so slow that actual construction has been delayed. And California High-Speed Rail Authority boss Jeff Morales admitted that this problem could bring about, yes, a “cost increase.” Morales is also on record that a high-speed rail line from the Bay Area to Los Angeles could have been built privately. That is something of a giveaway.

The bullet train is more about spending than transportation. California congressmen see it as a way to shore up their fortunes by spending money in their districts. That’s why the first stretch of the boondoggle is slated for the boondocks. The bullet train also gives politicians a way to expand government. So no surprise that the California High Speed Rail Authority serves as a soft landing spot for washed-up politicians such as board member Lynn Schenk, a former congresswoman and chief of staff for governor Gray Davis. California governor Jerry Brown, who appointed Schenk, sees the train as a legacy project, like the $25 billion tunnels he wants to build under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The bullet train, meanwhile, is supposed to be fully operational by 2028. California’s embattled taxpayers might ponder what high-tech advancements in transportation might occur before that time.



Western liberals: protecting ‘vulnerable’ murderers

Proponents of free, unbridled expression fight censorship on multiple fronts. Charlie Hebdo and others fight the hard censorship of the ‘murderer’s veto’. Others fight the softer censorship of radicalised political correctness and other attempts to ‘protect’ people from differing opinions. The two fronts of the battle may seem unconnected. But they are not. Soft censorship facilitates its violent brother.

A Pakistani student at the University of California, Berkeley, recently wrote an article for her school’s newspaper, entitled ‘On Leaving Islam’, explaining that she felt compelled to leave her faith because, despite trying, she could not reconcile her liberal beliefs with Islam’s often sexist and homophobic tenets. Although she is critical of Islam, she argues that writers such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali are overly harsh, and that many of them promote unfair and negative stereotypes about Islam. Despite the moderate tone of the article, the author faced threats of violence, forcing the paper to remove the article for her protection.

One can’t help but wonder whether the New York Times contemplated praising this act of censorship and denouncing the article as ‘hate speech’.

Those who, under the guise of sensitivity and multiculturalism, blame the victims of Islamists because they ‘provoke’ their own slaughter, equate drawing pictures with mass murder and take issue, not with certain people’s ideas, but with their very right to air them in the first place, make those who wish death on those who offend them feel justified.

What is a jihadist to make of the pitiful authors who recently pulled out of a PEN gala in New York after PEN awarded Charlie Hebdo its Freedom of Expression Courage Award? Or of those who made excuses for the two men who shot up a provocative exhibition of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they hear ‘liberals’ apologising for their violence and criticising their victims, jihadists feel they’re in the right. If my opponents were wrong to say those things, I suppose it’s okay for me to silence them.

Challenging and ultimately changing one’s beliefs often requires moral courage. Those who denounced the Berkeley student’s act of courage only highlighted their own moral cowardice. And herein lies the great irony: the true victims of violent censorship are precisely those people who Western liberals often seek to protect.

Across the world, liberal Muslims, secularists, humanists, women and gays are the most common victims of Islamic radicalism. The inability of many Westerners to criticise militant Islam, so as to avoid being called ‘Islamophobic’, endangers the very existence of the persecuted minorities they often purport to protect.

Until Western liberals can summon the courage to denounce murderers, rather than sympathise with them; until they are unafraid to call out oppression wherever it exists – even if the oppressor is ‘underprivileged’; until they distance themselves from what one might call multicultural extremism; indeed, until they abandon such overzealous moral relativism and return to universal rights and values, Western liberals will never truly support the most vulnerable in our society.



‘People can’t lead full lives if they’re dependent on the state’

Over the past few years, the tired, old political duopoly of red vs blue has become increasingly coloured by yellow. No, I’m not talking about the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats and their shortlived foray into British government. Rather, I am talking about the revival and growth of libertarianism in US politics, often symbolised by a bright yellow ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag, which is increasingly visible on lawn flagpoles and bumper stickers across the US.

This rise of libertarianism, with some polls suggesting that as many as 15 to 20 per cent of Americans hold libertarian views, has prompted David Boaz, executive vice-president of the Cato Institute (a Washington DC-based think-tank), to revise and update his 1997 book Libertarianism: A Primer. The result, published this year under the title The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom, provides a comprehensive overview and introduction to libertarian thought.

Big government and the presidential race

‘It just makes your skin crawl to be a libertarian in this city’, Boaz tells me in his office in Washington DC, in reference to the fact that even a short walk in this town takes you past a myriad of government-department buildings and lobbyists’ offices. ‘They are all there to get a piece of the taxpayer’s money’, Boaz adds. These comments express an underlying theme for Boaz – Americans have allowed the government to get too big, from the county to the federal level. Now is the time, he says, for libertarians to push back.

Such is the extent of government regulation that, according to Boaz, the Code of Federal Regulations is over 175,000 pages long and comprises 238 volumes. Federal regulatory agencies now employ over 275,000 people (twice as many as in 1980) and regulation costs the US economy $1.75 trillion dollars annually in lost output.

Given how entrenched big government is, I wonder if dismantling these regulations will prove an impossible task. ‘It does seem like an overwhelming prospect’, says Boaz, ‘but in history, of course, we have dealt with such overwhelming prospects as ending slavery, and we managed to do that’. Boaz isn’t being flippant here. Rather, he is a keen believer in our ability to better our own lives and those of others. ‘We have in the space of a couple of centuries taken humanity from a state of back-breaking labour carried out from dawn to dusk, and short life expectancies, to incredible wealth, even for poor people in the West.’

This is true, and in this era of manifest misanthropy, Boaz is to be commended for focusing on the positive aspects of human development. He worries, however, that government regulation and pressure are stymieing our future potential: ‘Ideally, I would rather government was confined to protecting our rights.’

Little wonder, then, that throughout The Libertarian Mind Boaz argues that government should play a very restricted role in the management of society. As he is keen to stress: ‘In my book, I describe and advocate a libertarianism that is pretty radical, that the purpose of government is only to protect life, liberty and property and everything beyond that is unwarranted in a free society.’ But with government still growing (don’t mention Obamacare to Boaz), and the 2016 US presidential election just around the corner, I wonder what hope he sees for libertarianism in the upcoming political cycle, with it looking likely that either grandma-in-chief Hillary Clinton or a third Bush (Jeb) will take the helm. ‘A Bush-Clinton race ought to be the best opportunity the Libertarian Party ever had, not to win, but maybe to break through’, he says.



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, June 23, 2015

Another mass attack by car; Ban all cars!

UK: A mother and her four children are fighting for their lives after being mowed down by a car 'doing 100mph' as they strolled to the park.

Five ambulances and an air ambulance rushed to Grove Lane in Handsworth, Birmingham, following the horrific collision at 12.05pm today.

Paramedics found a woman in her 30s, a four-year-old boy, a seven-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy had been hit by a grey Seat Leon.

Witnesses said the two youngest children were sent flying '20 to 30 metres down the road' due to the force of the impact as the family crossed the road.

Police have arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of dangerous driving.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said the youngsters were taken to Birmingham Childrens' Hospital, where their conditions are described as life-threatening.

He said: 'Crews arrived to find a car that had been in collision with a group of pedestrians.

'Five pedestrians were injured in the collision; a girl believed to be seven years old suffered serious head injuries and went into cardiac arrest at the scene. Advanced life support was carried out by medics.

'A boy, believed to be four years old, suffered serious head injuries and was resuscitated by medics at the scene after he stopped breathing for a short time.'

He added: 'A woman in her 30's suffered serious head and pelvic injuries in the crash. She received emergency treatment at the scene from medics and was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Major Trauma Unit for further emergency treatment.

'A girl, believed to be 12 years old, suffered serious head injuries and also back injuries. She also received emergency treatment at the scene by medics to stabilise her condition.



California:  Destroyed by Green/Left idiocy

by Victor Davis Hanson

I offer another chronicle, a 14-hour tour of the skeleton I once knew as California.

8:00 AM

I finally got around to retrieving the car seat that someone threw out in front of the vineyard near my mailbox. (Don’t try waiting dumpers out — as if it is not your responsibility to clean up California roadsides.)

An acquaintance had also emailed and reminded me that not far away there was a mound of used drip hose on the roadside. That mess proved to be quite large, maybe 1,000 feet of corroded and ripped up plastic hose. I suppose no scavenger thinks it can be recycled. I promise to haul it away this week. One must be prompt: even a small pile attracts dumpers like honey to bees. They are an ingenious and industrious lot (sort of like the cunning and work ethic of those who planted IEDs during the Iraq War). My cousin’s pile across the road has grown to Mt. Rushmore proportions. Do freelance dumpers make good money promising to take away their neighborhood’s mattresses and trash without paying the $20 or so county dumping fee? And does their success depend on fools like me, who are expected to keep roadsides tidy by cleaning up past trash to make room for future refuse?

9:00 AM

My relative has sold her 20 acres to a successful almond grower; that was the last parcel other than my own left of my great great grandmother’s farm. All that remains is the original house I live in and 40 acres. Almost all the small farming neighbors I grew up with — of Armenian, Punjabi, German, or Japanese descent — are long gone. Goodbye, diversity. And their children either sold the parcels and moved away (the poorer seem to head to the foothills, the middle class go out of state, the better off flee to the coast) or rent them out. Most of the surrounding countryside, piece-by-piece, is being reconstituted into vast almond groves. I plan to rent out mine next year for such conversion.

Almonds can net far more per acre than raisins and do not require much more water and require almost no labor. Tree fruit, given its expenses and risks, can lose your farm. The last vestiges of small, agrarian farming in these parts died sometime in the 1990s. Oddly, or perhaps predictably, the land to the naked eye looks better in the sense that the power of corporate capital and savvy scientific expertise has resulted in picture-perfect orchards. The old agrarian idea that 40 acres also grows a unique family, not just food, is — how do we say it? No longer operative?

10:00 AM

I drive on the 99 freeway past Kingsburg on the way to Visalia. It is a road-warrior maze of construction and detours. The construction hazards are of the sort that would earn any private contractor a lawsuit. (How do you sue Caltrans — and why is it that four or five men always seem to be standing around one who is working?) Only recently has the state decided to upgrade the fossilized two-lane 99 into an interstate freeway of three lanes. But the construction is slow and seemingly endless. Could we not have a simple state rule: “no high-speed rail corridors until the 101, 99, and I-5 are three-lane freeways, and the neglected Amtrak line achieves profitable ridership?” It is almost as if California answers back: “I am too bewildered by your premodern challenges, so I will take psychological refuge in my postmodern fantasies.”

12:00 Noon

I try to drive by the Reedley DMV on the way home to switch a car registration. Appointments take a long waiting period, but the line of the show-ups is still far out the door and well into the parking lot. I pass. The state announced that it was surprised that “unexpectedly” (the catch adverb of the Obama era) nearly 500,000 illegal aliens have already been processed with new driver’s licenses. The lines at the office suggest that many DMVs simply have transmogrified into illegal alien license-processing centers.

The last time I had visited the office, I noticed the customers were also dealing with fines, tickets, or fix-it citations as part of the process. I thought, how will they pay for all that, given that “living in the shadows” and ignoring summonses and threats is far easier than paying what the state wants? And then, presto, the governor just announced a wish that the poor should be given “ticket amnesty.” So much for Sacramento’s idea of fining California drivers into becoming a reliable revenue source for a broke state, given that it has affected far more drivers than the shrinking and hated middle class that could supposedly afford the new sky-high tickets.

It reminds me of Obamacare: after my accident last May, I had lots of procedures and hours in waiting rooms. I discovered something listening to the desk people deal with Obamacare signups: a vast number apparently have not regularly paid the monthly or quarterly premiums. An even larger group has no idea what a deductible is, or that it actually applies to themselves. And some had no notion of a copayment. The reality of all three sends many into a near frenzy, reminiscent of the idea that a driver’s license means keeping up with registration, smog rules, and paying outstanding warrants — until the state provides the expected amnesties.

2:00 PM

I’m at the local supermarket two miles away. Three observations: many of the shoppers seem to be here for the air conditioning (the forecast is for 105 degrees by 5 PM). No one in the Bay Area, whose green agenda has led to the highest power rates in the country, seems to have thought that all of California does not enjoy 65-75 degree coastal corridor weather. My latest PG&E bill reminds me to apply for income-adjusted reduced rates — if I qualify. I don’t, so keep the air conditioner off all day.

Obesity among the shoppers seems epidemic and no one is talking about it. It is striking how young the overweight are! Almost all our small towns now have new state/federal dialysis clinics. Is this not a state emergency? Cannot the state at least offer public health warnings to the immigrant community that while diabetes is alarming among the population at large, it is becoming epidemic among new arrivals from Latin America and Mexico?

Stories that 25 percent of all state hospital admittances suffer from high blood sugar levels circulate. I argue in a friendly way with a customer in line about the new “green” Coke. He claims it is diet, but tastes like regular Coke. I remind him that it is so only because the artificial sweetener has been energized by some cane sugar and it is not so diet after all. (He is buying eight six-packs in fear of shortages.)

I don’t understand the EBT system. How is it that customers ahead of me pull out not one, but often go through three or four cards before they cobble together enough plastic credit for the full tab? Where does one acquire multiple cards?

4:00 PM

I am talking ag pumps at home with some farmers. The water table here has gone from 40 feet in 2011 to 82 feet now — the result of four years of constant pumping combined with below-average rain and snow runoff, and the complete cut-off of contracted surface water from the Kings River watershed (don’t ask why). I lowered one 15-hp submersible to 100 feet (the well is only 160, which used to be called “deep” when the water table was 40 feet). “Lowering” means less water pumped, more energy costs, a waiting list for the pump people, and sky-high service charges. The renter promises to lower the other one, whose pump is pumping air, now well above the sinking water table. My house well is only 140 feet deep. I just lowered the pump to a 110-foot draw, and decided to get on the “waiting list” for a new domestic well. (Prices for drilling by the foot have increased fivefold, and are said to go up monthly).

If the drought continues, one will see two unimaginable things by next spring: thousands of abandoned older homes out in the countryside from Merced to Bakersfield, and tens of thousands of acres on the West Side (water table ca. 1,000 feet and dropping) will go fallow if they are row-crops. And if orchards and vineyards, a mass die-off will follow of trees and vines. (Note that Silicon Valley’s Crystal Springs reservoir on freeway 280 is “full.” No Bay Area green activist is arguing either that the deliveries through massive conduits should be stopped at the San Joaquin River to be diverted for fish restoration, or that the entire project is unnatural and a scar on Yosemite Park, warranting shutting down the huge transfer system in favor of recycling waste water for showers and gardens.)

5:00 PM

I’m on a PG&E off-peak rate schedule, so I’m waiting until evening to turn on the air conditioner. It is 104 degrees outside and 96 degrees inside the house. As a youth, we used a tiny window, inefficient air conditioner far more in the 1960s and 1970s than I ever do now with central air. Given power rates, the idea of a cool home in the valley is so 1970s.

6:00 PM

I take another walk around the farm. Good — no one has yet shot the majestic pair of red tail hawks yet, who greet me on their accustomed pole. But I do notice someone has forced open the cyclone fence around the neighbor’s vacant house. It was put up to stop the serial vandalizing. (What do you do after stealing copper wire? Go for the sheet rock? Pipes? Windows? Shingles?)

7:00 PM

A friend calls and mentions that local JCs had a spate of car vandalizations. This time targets are catalytic converters (for precious metal salvage?). I get the impression that today’s Gothic looter and Vandal is more ingenious than the state’s work force. Note the new California: the citizen is responsible for picking up trash or keeping a car running clean with a converter. The idea that a bankrupt state would create a task force to go after such thievery is absurd. I appreciate California logic: don’t dare suggest that massive new commitments to ensure social parity for millions of new arrivals through increased state legal, medical, criminal justice, and educational programs ever come at the expense of investments in roads, bridges, reservoirs, airports, or public facilities — or even the accustomed state services that one took for granted in 1970. To do so is nativist, racist, and xenophobic. What an illiberal state we’ve become.

8:00 PM

I’m on the upstairs balcony looking out over miles of lush countryside. It’s quite scenic, something in between verdant Tuscany and the aridness of Sicily. I can hear the ag pumps of the surrounding farms everywhere churning 24/7. In a normal year they would never be turned on, as river water irrigated the fields and recharged the water table.

Then come two sirens. Will the power go off? Quite often, someone after too much to drink goes airborne and hits a power pole on these rural roads. I got back inside in case things go dark to review the mail. The local irrigation district has not delivered water in four years (what do ditch tenders do when canals and ditches are empty?) and now wants a tax hike to keep up with increased expenses. In fact, half the mail seems to be drought information from various agencies. What was so awful about building just two or three one million acre-foot reservoirs, or raising Shasta Dam? We could begin today. When the taps at Facebook or the Google toilets go dry, will the state again invest in water storage?

10:00 PM

I turn on the local news and channel surf for 10 minutes. How well we take refuge in the absurd. This litany blares out: Bruce Jenner’s new sexual identity, the latest racial controversy, this time over the crashing of a private pool party and the police reaction, the Obama’s new stretch Air Force One jumbo jet, Marco Rubio’s one ticket every four years, Miley Cyrus’s bisexuality. I suppose if one cannot grasp, much less deal with, $19 trillion in debt, a foreign policy in shambles, the largest state in the union on the cusp of a disastrous drought, a Potemkin health care system, zero interest on passbook savings, and the end of all federal immigration law, then the trivial must become existential.

Goodnight, once great state…



Ripping off the kids: here's the difference between a Republican and a Democrat


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, June 22, 2015

Confiscate all cars.  More car control!  Toughen up car licensing! More car-free zones!

Mad Muslim uses a car to kill 3 and injure 34 in Austria.  Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a car.”

A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.

Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.

The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.

The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city's main square.

The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from 'psychosis' related to 'family problems'.

Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month.

The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism.

The busy square was hosting an event relating to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix which is being held 80km away, in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, in Steiermark.

The city council released a statement which read: 'At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.'

Provincial Governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said at least one of his injured victims is in a critical condition.

He added: 'We are shocked and dismayed... there is no explanation and no excuse for this attack.

'We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people.'

German-language website Krone reported that the man arrested by police is of Bosnian origin.


Apologies for the sarcasm in my heading and sub-heading above but the point is an important one.  I am of course deeply grieved at the senseless loss of life involved. As a great fan of Austro/Hungarian operetta, Austria is close to my heart


The REAL reason for gun massacres?

Another mass killing is followed by the usual thoughtless political and media responses. The last time I looked, the southern states of the USA contained plenty of people with white supremacist views, most of them armed.

Indeed, this has been so for more than a century. At the same time, the past few years have seen gun massacres in Britain  (Hungerford and Dunblane), Finland, Norway, Germany and Switzerland, and knife massacres in China, a police state where guns are genuinely difficult to obtain.

So it would seem that blaming these events on widespread gun ownership and white racialism doesn’t quite work. If all these events were properly investigated (and few are, because conventional wisdom closes the minds of investigators), my guess is that almost all of the killers would be found to have been taking legal or illegal mind-altering drugs.

Often, as in the case of James Holmes, the Colorado cinema shooter, the facts don’t emerge for many months. Or the authorities refuse to release the killer’s medical history, as they have done in the Sandy Hook case.

Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston murderer, was recently arrested for possession of Suboxone, a drug given to opioid abusers, and suspected of causing personality changes and violent outbursts. A student at his high school described him as a ‘pill-popper’.

It is the use of legal and illegal mind-altering drugs that has hugely increased in recent years. Gun ownership and racial bigotry haven’t. Please think about this.


Making drugs illegal promotes foolish use of them


Donald Trump Brings Levity to Presidential Race

Donald Trump would be a mere sideshow curiosity in the 2016 elections if it were not for his name recognition and entertainment factor. According to Real Clear Politics, Trump is polling higher than Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal.

But even if he’s fired in the end — and we hope he is — he will provide some much-needed humor. After Tuesday’s announcement, Politico pulled Trump’s 10 best lines. Notably, however, Politico missed the best one: “When did we beat Japan at anything?”

Well, there was that whole WWII thing in the Pacific…

But to put things in perspective, as absurd as the Trump vanity campaign is, he is far more qualified than Barack Obama was in 2009 — or today! For example, Obama put Joe Biden on his ticket. When Trump was asked who he wanted as a running mate, he replied, “I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah.”

Frankly, presidential elections could use a little levity. It’s been a long time since the last billionaire vanity campaign kept us amused, compliments of Ross Perot!


I don't entirely agree with the above.  I think it is defensive.  Trump seems to be more consistently conservative than anyone I can think of in the GOP


President Obama: Stay out of Entrepreneurship

As Ronald Reagan famously said, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.’” While champions of limited government are in favor of entrepreneurship, do we really want the federal government to decide on which companies to invest in? After President Obama’s announcement that the White House plans to invest in entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad, what should we expect? The Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition plans to raise $1 billion in private funding for entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad by 2017. At face value, this may seem like a fine idea – but this is actually very bad news.

Our government should not be in the position of picking winners and losers. Politicization inevitably plagues everything touched by government and political elites. The White House press release on the initiative states, “The United States is making empowering women and youth a central objective of its global entrepreneurship programs,” and at the White House event in which these initiatives were announced, President Obama stated, “At a time that we’re facing challenges that no country can meet by itself — lifting people out of poverty, combating climate change, preventing the spread of disease — helping social entrepreneurs mobilize and organize brings more people together to find solutions.” By these two statements alone, we can glimpse the political agendas this $1 billion in investments will be funding. Companies that promise to combat climate change will receive priority despite being the least promising in the marketplace (think: Solyndra), and preferential treatment will be given to women entrepreneurs even if their ideas and execution are significantly less valuable than those of their male competitors.

This kind of government interference in venture capital distorts the efficiency of the marketplace. Money that could be invested to fund another entrepreneurial project will now go where the government wants it – something we’ve seen wreak havoc in the past, like during the housing bubble or the current student loan crisis. Venture capital should go towards funding things that there is, or could be, a market demand for, not towards what politicians think will further their agenda. The government taking money that could otherwise be used as individuals and firms see fit and giving it to those who they decide deserve it is the kind of central planning that leads to economic bubbles and crashes, not innovation and progress.

The White House’s interest in entrepreneurship is troubling on a greater ideological and cultural level as well. The President’s impulse to become involved in entrepreneurship is evidence of a pervasive “you didn’t build that” mentality. Entrepreneurs have long been the most individualist of the American population, taking risks on their own visions in order to change the landscape of American life, and the government wants to stake a claim on those successes. The current administration would like to look at entrepreneurs, brave enough to forge their own path, and say, “where would they be without us?”

This attitude was recently exemplified by White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who said that more entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley need to work for the federal government, which, translated into reality, means she wants to turn innovators into bureaucrats. What Smith doesn’t understand is that entrepreneurs in private markets create positive change in the world – but put them in government, or involve the government in their work, and the best they can do is change nothing. The government becoming involved in entrepreneurship will not help bring about more entrepreneurship, but rather, manipulate entrepreneurs into doing what the government wants them to do.



Life without libraries would be unimaginably poorer

I understand the paen by Jeff Jacoby below.  My early life experience was similar.  But I think he is pissing into the wind.  Unforgiveable though it is, even university libraries these days are in fact throwing out books to make more room for computer terminals

I WAS A four-year-old in kindergarten the first time I remember reading in a library. The book was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, and I'm not sure which I found more captivating — the adventure of the hatchling that sets off to find its mother, or my own adventure of picking out a book from what seemed an endless array of enticing titles.

I was hooked early, on books and libraries both. To this day I can visualize precisely the shelves in the fiction section of my school's library, where I first discovered many of my favorite children's novels: The Twenty-One Balloons, Harriet the Spy, A Wrinkle in Time.

But the small library in my Cleveland-area day school was merely a gateway drug to the local public library a mile from my home. I spent innumerable hours there as a boy, addicted as much to the serendipitous pleasures of searching for a good book as to the satisfying relish of losing myself in its pages once I found one. My parents, raising five kids on a meager income, had little money to spare for buying books. But my library card was free, and I made heavy use of it.

The University Heights Library was my home away from home. Nothing was off-limits to a curious reader. From the Edward Eager magic books that fascinated me when I was little to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, which held a different fascination as I grew older, it was all available. All I had to do was choose.

I can't imagine life without libraries. And by "libraries" I mean actual books — ink on paper — to be borrowed and shared and read. I don't mean bookless digital-content centers like San Antonio's $2.3 million BiblioTech, an all-electronic reading venue that looks, in Time magazine's description "like an orange-hued Apple store" outfitted with 500 e-readers, 48 computers, and 20 iPads and laptops. I would never discourage reading in any format, but rows of iMacs do not a library make. The ability to browse goes to the essence of the library experience, along with the egalitarian access that puts books in plain sight of all comers.

Happily, that experience is alive and well. As British journalist Alex Johnson documents in a wonderful new volume, Improbable Libraries, even in the digital age readers yearn for printed books, and librarians go to amazing and creative lengths to supply them.

Johnson highlights libraries that have opened in airports, train stations, and hotels, the better to serve readers on the move in this hypermobile era. In Santiago, Chile, there are lending libraries in the subways: The Bibliometro system lends 440,000 books a year from 20 underground stations, and has effectively become the largest public library in the country. A global "tiny library" movement has blossomed in the form of honor-system book nooks on street corners, at bus stops, and even in front yards of private homes. In Great Britain, hundreds of iconic red telephone boxes, no longer needed, have been repurposed into mini-lending libraries.

Smartphones and tablets have grown ubiquitous, but reading on screens is not the same — and for many people, not nearly as satisfying — as reading in print. Clicking links on an electronic device is efficient, but it can't replace the tactile engagement of wandering the stacks, pulling a book from the shelf, reading the dust jacket, flipping through its pages.

"A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life," wrote Henry Ward Beecher. The hunger for books knows no boundary. In Laos, the Big Brother Mouse project uses elephants to carry books to remote villages for children to borrow and exchange. The Mongolian Children's Mobile Library, using camels, does the same thing in the Gobi desert. So does Luis Soriano's Biblioburro library in rural Colombia —with donkeys.

Life without books and libraries in which to discover them would be unimaginably poorer. Improbable Libraries makes that point beautifully. Then again, if you're anything like me, you've known it since you were four.


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)


Sunday, June 21, 2015

A white kills blacks!  BIG News!

Blacks killing whites is mostly only local news, if that.  No national attention to this event for instance

The attack is of course deplorable. The kid seems to have attacked some pretty decent people. But his words reveal that the kid was disturbed by the difficulties blacks pose for white society.  Apparently he somehow escaped the brainwashing which says that blacks must be treated like children who cannot be blamed for what they do -- "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -- as George Bush called it. In a country that claims equality before the law it is in fact amazing that so many accept one law for whites and another for blacks (e.g. so-called "affirmative action").  One wonders how long the brainwashing will retain its power.  If it loses its power we will see many like Dylann Roof.  Some basic details below

Dylann Roof, the man arrested after a shooting dead nine people in an historically black South Carolina church on Wednesday, wanted to start a civil war and bring back segregation, friends claim.

The 21-year-old is pictured on his Facebook profile wearing a jacket bearing flags from apartheid-era South Africa and what was once white-rule Rhodesia.

He also has a criminal record and in April received a gun for his 21st birthday.

'He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff,' his friend Christon Scriven told the New York Daily News. But, he said, 'He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.'

His roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News: 'He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.'

According to classmates, Roof is a frequent abuser of prescription drugs.

Court records from Lexington, North Carolina - where he has been living in a trailer park - reveal he was arrested twice this year on charges of trespassing and drug possession.

Roof attended ninth grade at White Knoll High during the 2008-09 school year and went there for the first half of the following academic year, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. The school system gave no reason for Roof's departure and said it had no record of him attending any other schools in the district.

According to CBS News, school records show that between fourth and ninth grade, Roof attended six different schools, and repeated the ninth grade.

A witness to Wednesday's massacre said Roof said before the shooting: 'I have to do it...You rape our women and you're taking over the country.'


He's precisely right about rape. In the latest available U.S. government figures (for 2008) there were over 16,000 rapes of white women by blacks and zero rapes of black women by whites.  See Table 42 here. Is he the only one to see a problem there?


Like clockwork, Democrats push for more gun control

What happened in Charleston, South Carolina is a tragedy in every sense of the word. The loss of life is always tragic.

But what is also tragic is how predictable Democrats have become. We’re barely even 48-hours removed and Democrats are already making a new push for gun control. It's just shameful.

Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Oh yes, blame the gun.  Well, let’s look at the facts, shall we?

We’re hearing today that the shooter may have actually purchased the gun himself at a gun store, which means that he passed a background check. The Left’s argument keeps unraveling. No amount of background checks would have stopped this.

This man didn’t use an assault weapon. He used a .45 caliber pistol. Not even close to one of Obama’s dreaded “assault weapons.”

The man didn’t use high capacity magazines. He killed 9 people by reloading five times. The Left’s narrative is that magazine bans save lives because they force a shooter to reload. A typical .45 pistol has a 7-8 round magazine.

He wasn’t allowed to bring the gun into the church. The church was, legally, a “gun-free zone.” Merely bringing the gun into the building was a crime.

All of these laws were broken. Yet today, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and all their cronies were out in force pushing for more gun control.

So what exactly is the President advocating when he says the shooter had “no trouble” getting a gun? If every gun control law on the books wasn’t enough to stop this, what does Obama think we should do?

Well, for one, the Democrats are moving forward with the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act of 2015.

This bill would force every single American to first get permission from local law enforcement before being allowed to purchase a handgun. Just a friendly reminder: the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that handgun ownership was an individual right protected by the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.

They have a system like this in New Jersey and a woman was just murdered on her own driveway after waiting 43 days for the state to give her permission to buy a gun.

Not ONE of Obama’s proposed gun control policies would have prevented this tragedy. But that hasn’t stopped the President from calling on Congress to ‘do something.’ And that something is to punish the rest of us.



Why the Liberals Can’t Get It

I am a big fan of John Hinderaker over at Powerline, and you can see why if you read one of his latest, this one about the Democrats' lack of any sort of coherent national security policy. Here is the essence of it:

    "Democrats are incapable of devising a coherent strategy for dealing with (our problems), and seemingly don't even try to do so. The charitable explanation is that they are incompetent. But perhaps it is because they aren't sure what their desired ends are. Do they want the U.S. to win? Do they want us to be powerful, prosperous, influential and successful? That is not a hard question for most Americans, but it is for leading Democrats like Obama and Clinton. If you don't know the answer to that question, then coming up with a strategy is tough. That, I suspect, is what we have seen for the last six or seven years".

It's the basic question about the Obama administration (Hinderaker however is focused on Hillary Clinton and her failed Libyan actions): Is the long list of foreign policy failures due to stupidity and incompetence, or to some sort of purposeful malevolence?

I think this question is invariably framed too narrowly. I think that we are dealing with the result of the collapse of an entire world view, and that collapse has left the Democrats without any guiding principles.  Their old templates, from class struggle to capitalist imperialism, no longer apply to the real world.  The most potent forces in play are those the left has never understood.  Religion above all.

They used to favor the poor countries, ergo they advocated foreign aid galore and all power to the UN.  Neither is working out.  They will never forgive us for winning the Cold War, thereby ending their utopian dream that the Soviet Union would truly become the successful incarnation of "real socialism."  And instead of class interest, most people pursue narrower goals, motivated by passions, like religion, which leftists believe archaic.  You know, redneck stuff like guns and bourbon.  Except that now, religion is the most dynamic force in the world, for good and for ill.  This frustrates and angers them, since, unable to make sense of the world, they can't craft policies that make sense.

The collapse of the old world view is not surprising.  Any decent cultural historian will tell you that world views collapse with striking frequency.  But our current leftists don't know this, because they are products of an educational system that doesn't teach history.  Obama is a great example of the ignorance that abounds, even in our "best" schools.   From his amazing claim that "Islam" brought printing to the Western world (it was the Chinese, who sold it to the Europeans, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East) to claims of Muslim "toleration," his ignorance of history has been demonstrated over and over again.

Instead of acquiring some real knowledge, he and his cohorts have been taught to blame us-the West, the capitalists, the Jews, above all, the United States-for the palpably alarming state of affairs in the world.  And blaming us, they embrace a seemingly simple solution to the world's problems:  rein us in, deprive us of the capacity to reshape the world, turn us into an unexceptional country, and work with nasty foreign leaders who, the leftists believe, have been wrongly branded as evil.  Hence Cuba.  Hence Iran.

If you can't tell your friends from your enemies, you end by adopting your enemies' view of the world.

Which brings me back to Hinderaker.  I think they have answers to his questions. Do they want us to win?  Certainly not.  Those who want us to win and to flourish are, in the oft-repeated words of the president and his acolytes, "on the wrong side of history."  As Ali Khamenei and Fidel Castro might put it.



The Lie Obama Keeps Repeating About the Poor in America

President Obama recently acknowledged what every sane person knows to be true: The best anti-poverty program is a job. Obama said this at a recent conference on poverty.

But he continues to repeat a falsehood over and over. This is the claim that the poor work just as hard as the rich do. Well, yes, many people in poor households heroically work very hard at low wages to take care of their families. No doubt about that. Yet the average poor family doesn’t work nearly as much as the rich families do. And that’s a key reason why these households are poor.

The most recent Census Bureau data on household incomes document the importance of work. Census sorts the households by income quintile, and we will label those in the highest quintile as “rich,” and those in the lowest quintile as “poor.” The average household in the top 20 percent of income have an average of almost exactly two full-time workers. The average poor family (bottom 20 percent) has just 0.4 workers. This means on average, roughly for every hour worked by those in a poor household, those in a rich household work five hours. The idea that the rich are idle bondholders who play golf or go to the spa every day while the poor toil isn’t accurate.

The finding that six out of 10 poor households have no one working at all is disturbing. Since they have no income from work, is it a surprise they are poor?

As for rich households, 75 percent have two or more workers. For the poor households, that percent is less than 5 percent.

Of course, hours worked doesn’t account for all or even most of the gap between rich and poor. But it does account for some of it. One of the more pernicious concepts is the notion of “dead-end jobs.” No, the surefire economic dead end is no job at all. There’s no climbing the economic ladder if you’re not even on the first rung.

Marriage is also a very good anti-poverty program. Married couples are almost five times more likely to be in the highest income quintile (33 percent) than in the lowest quintile (7 percent).

Without a father in the home, there is usually at most one full-time worker. Married couples are more economically successful for many reasons, not least of which is that they can and often do have two people working and bringing in a paycheck. So divorce and out-of-wedlock births have a lot to do with the income inequality. Budget expert Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute found that if marriage rates were as high today as they were in 1970, about 20 percent of child poverty would be gone. What is worrisome is that a record 47 percent of Americans aged 25 to 34 have never married.

What is to be learned from all of this income data? First, one of the best ways to reduce poverty is to get people in low-income households working—and hopefully 40 hours a week. By the way, one reason raising the minimum wage won’t help lower poverty much is that it will help far fewer than half of the poor who have no job at all. And if it destroys jobs at the bottom of the skills ladder, it may lead to fewer people working and exacerbate poverty.

This data also reinforces the case for strict work requirements for all welfare benefit programs. When welfare takes the place of work it actually contributes to long-term poverty. It isn’t cold-hearted to be in favor of work programs. It is providing a GPS system to help the poor find a way out of poverty.

Finally, getting married before having kids is a great way to avoid falling into the poverty trap.

Yes, there are way too many working poor in America, and that problem needs to be addressed by programs like the earned income tax credit that supplement low-income wages. But there are way too many non-working poor in America. That’s a problem liberals seem to want to do nothing about.



Texas to Take Back $1 Billion in Gold From the Fed

Texas no longer trusts our nation’s central bank to safely store its gold in New York City. For years, the Lone Star State has kept its $1 billion in gold in the hands of the Federal Reserve Bank, which has safeguarded the bullion of the U.S. government, foreign governments and other major organizations. But now, the state is setting up its own bullion depository and will soon withdraw its gold from Fed control.

“Today I signed HB 483 to provide a secure facility for the State of Texas, state agencies and Texas citizens to store gold bullion and other precious metals,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement June 12. “With the passage of this bill, the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.”

The move could be as simple as Texas stepping up and taking responsibility for its own assets, as well as providing a place for Texas citizens to store gold. Or, as CBS notes, it could be a step toward establishing a currency if Texas were to secede from the union. Regardless, it’s a Texas two-step toward greater autonomy.



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)