Friday, August 07, 2015

IQ as a symptom of general biological fitness again

People with poor thinking skills may be at higher risk of heart attack or stroke, a study has shown. Scientists made the discovery after monitoring the progress of almost 4,000 individuals with an average age of 75 for three years.

At the start of the study, participants had their high-level thinking skills evaluated by tests and were graded accordingly.

Those in the lowest test score group were 85% more likely to have a heart attack and 51% more likely to have a stroke than members of the highest group.

Lead researcher Dr Behnam Sabayan, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: 'These results show that heart and brain function are more closely related than appearances would suggest.  'While these results might not have immediate clinical translation, they emphasise that assessment of cognitive function should be part of the evaluation of future cardiovascular risk.'

Dr Sabayan added: 'Performance on tests of thinking and memory are a measure of brain health. Lower scores on thinking tests indicate worse brain functioning.

'Worse brain functioning in particular in executive function could reflect disease of the brain vascular supply, which in turn would predict, as it did, a higher likelihood of stroke.

'And, since blood vessel disease in the brain is closely related to blood vessel disease in the heart, that's why low test scores also predicted a greater risk of heart attacks.



Hero who defied Stalin's 'useful idiots' (who still exist on the British Left) to expose true horrors of Communism

Not long after the collapse of Communism — an event he had long predicted — historian Robert Conquest was preparing a new edition of his masterpiece The Great Terror, which charted the horror of life under Soviet dictator Stalin.

When his publishers asked him for a new title, Conquest’s friend, the novelist Kingsley Amis, had the perfect answer. ‘How about I Told You So, You F****** Fools?’ he suggested.

Those words would make a fine epitaph for a man whose intellectual honesty and moral courage placed him among the greatest writers of the last century. And while very few historians can genuinely claim to have changed the world, Robert Conquest, who has died at the age of 98, did.

In 1968, when Worcestershire-born Conquest first published his ground-breaking account of Stalin’s atrocities, the world was a very different place.  Back then, the Soviet Union appeared in rude health and the old men in Moscow ruled an empire based on fear.

It is easy now to forget just how terrifying the Cold War seemed. Across the Western world, many doubted Communism could be defeated without unleashing nuclear Armageddon.

What is more, many Western intellectuals — from Marxists such as Communist historian Eric Hobsbawm and his friend Ralph Miliband (father of Ed and David, a political theorist at the London School of Economics, a devout follower of Marx and an unswerving believer in revolutionary socialism) to woolly, well-meaning Lefties in universities across the country — were quick to defend the regime whenever it was criticised.

Lenin and Stalin, these ‘useful idiots’ claimed, had been much misunderstood.

It was Conquest, more than any other writer of his generation, who did most to expose this deceitful drivel.

At a time when intellectual fashion was on the Left, he had the guts to lay out, in devastating detail, the truth about the blood-soaked Soviet experiment.

On Stalin’s orders, secret police had ripped millions of men and women from their homes, locked them in dank cells without light, food or water, tore out their fingernails, beat them black and blue, and finally dispatched them with a bullet in the back of the head.

At the peak of the Great Terror in the late Thirties, they were murdering 300,000 people a year — all for the crime of not being true Stalinist believers.

In one mass grave in Butovo, Moscow, Stalin’s secret police buried the bodies of 20,000 murdered political prisoners in less than 12 months.

Another in Bykivnia, Ukraine, holds the bodies of an estimated 200,000 people, victims not merely of Stalin’s paranoia, but of a crazed ideological cult that sacrificed men, women and children in the name of Marxism.

‘Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or 20 years time?’ Stalin once remarked, gazing at a list of people to be shot. ‘No one.’  But he was wrong. Robert Conquest did. And he knew what he was talking about as he had once been a man of the Left.

Born in Great Malvern to an American father and British mother in 1917, he had been a Communist at Oxford University in the Thirties, when many bright young men were seduced by Stalin’s false utopia.

But unlike some contemporaries, such as the so-called Cambridge Spies, Conquest saw Communism for what it was. As a British intelligence officer in Bulgaria during World War II, he was horrified by the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which the local Soviet-backed Communists seized power.

Working for the Foreign Office in the Fifties, Conquest poured out a stream of papers telling the truth about the horrors in Eastern Europe. When an American liberal academic accused him of ‘black propaganda’, Conquest simply asked him to identify a single distortion. There were none.

It was Conquest’s close attention to detail that made his expose of Communism so devastating. The Great Terror was based on hundreds of accounts by Soviet dissidents and work camp inmates. He showed that life under Stalin’s regime had been even worse than outsiders suspected.

After assuming supreme power in the late Twenties, the pockmarked Georgian dictator unleashed a reign of terror that almost defied belief.

From the state-sponsored famine in Ukraine in the early Thirties to the execution of huge numbers of ordinary people later, Conquest showed Stalin’s regime was built on the deaths of at least 20 million.

But even that does not include the tortured men, the raped women, the brutalised children, the broken minds, the hopes and happiness sacrificed to the demented cult of Marxist-Leninism.

In Ukraine, the enforced collectivisation of farms left millions starving. While Stalin’s torturers ate lavish meals, desperate peasants lived on grass, frogs, dogs and cats. Some parents, on the brink of death, threw their children onto passing trains in the hope that strangers might adopt and feed them. Others, almost incredibly, were driven to kill and eat their own children to survive.

Even decades later, the Soviet state sent dissidents to toil in Siberian work camps in sub-zero temperatures. Writers and artists who questioned the Communist system were proclaimed mad and thrown into lunatic asylums.

In the camps, thousands froze to death overnight. Women were regularly gang-raped; one inmate recalled that at her camp in the Kolyma region, the guards would line up, 12 to each woman.

‘When it was over, the dead women were dragged away by their feet; the survivors were doused with water from buckets and revived,’ she wrote. ‘ Then the lines formed again.’

Reading all this, Left-wing critics, not surprisingly, were outraged. Many simply refused to believe it. But Conquest stuck to his guns, and among the wider public, his book was a sensation.

Even today, The Great Terror is a chilling read and an unforgettable record of the bloody consequences of ideological utopianism. It is hard to read about the starving children in Ukraine or about the ordinary men and women frozen and tortured in the Siberian camps without a shudder of horror.

Some of Conquest’s critics on the Left insisted Stalin had been an aberration, and that his predecessor, Lenin, had really been much cuddlier. But Conquest showed this was nonsense.

Lenin, he argued, was the real father of the Stalinist genocide. It was he who had called for the extermination of the middle classes, who had first unleashed the Red Terror and who had first turned vast swathes of Europe and Asia into blood-soaked killing grounds.

Conquest composed a limerick that encapsulated his point: ‘There was a great Marxist called Lenin/ Who did two or three million men in./ That’s a lot to have done in,/ But where he did one in,/ That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.’

The Right treated Conquest as a hero, and Margaret Thatcher rewarded him with champagne for helping with her speeches.

To many British Leftists in the Sixties and Seventies, though, his name was mud.

But as his friend Kingsley Amis had so pithily observed, he was right and they were wrong.

In 1990, with the Communist regime collapsing in chaos, Conquest was asked to Moscow for a conference and Russian academics lined up to shake his hand.

The KGB even invited him to inspect their chilling headquarters, the Lubyanka, while the newly opened Soviet archives showed that far from exaggerating the Communist death toll, he had, if anything, underestimated it.

‘It was extraordinarily nice to have lived to see it all, to have been vindicated completely,’ Conquest said wryly.

Many of his critics, however, never really abandoned their discredited views. Indeed, the tradition of blaming the West for the world’s ills, and bending over backwards to appease dictators, extremists and terrorists, has never gone away.

More than any other writer of his generation, Robert Conquest drew the line between freedom and repression, good and evil. And although the man himself has been taken from us, his qualities of intellectual honesty and moral candour are more precious today than ever.



Levin: Obama ‘Seeks to Cut the Connection from One Generation to the Next’

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin, while discussing his new book, Plunder and Deceit, on his July 31 broadcast, said that President Obama “seeks to cut the connection from one generation to the next.”

“That’s why Obama will talk endlessly about the Confederate flag and not say one word about the harvesting of human parts,” said Mark Levin.

Here’s a transcript of what Levin said:

“This is the civil society that I’m defining. A harmony of virtuous interests, informed by tried and true traditions, customs, values, and institutions, cultivated within families and the larger community, preserves and improves the human condition, one individual at a time, one generation to the next. It’s true.

“So when you hear Barack Obama say, in essence, anything that’s older than 50 years, of course, except for Marxism -- except, apparently, for the Crusades -- anything that’s older than 50 years isn’t to be paid attention to, he means it.

“He seeks to cut the connection from one generation to the next, from one age to the next! Everything that we’ve learned, everything that we’ve experienced, everything that we’ve created is in turmoil, is in doubt, is in question, to empower him and his surrogates, so these despotic ideologues can advance their agenda -- having wiped America clean of its heritage.

“That’s why Obama will talk endlessly about the Confederate flag and not say one word about the harvesting of human parts. It’s not in his political interests to say anything about the harvesting about human parts.”



Another ethically deficient Leftist: The President of the University of Oklahoma

Grabbing other people's property comes naturally to Leftists

Democrats may face another Confederate flag-like problem in the state of Oklahoma as former governor David Boren (D) continues to fight to keep stolen Nazi artwork from the family that is acknowledged to have had it stolen by Hitler’s thugs.

The Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma doesn’t deny that they possess and exhibit a donated painting that was stolen from the Jewish claimants. Instead, Boren’s representatives play a legal game of arguing that the victims did not claim the art in time, and besides it was given in good faith to the University’s museum anyway.

Will he, as President of the University, continue paying lawyers in a fight to keep the piece which the school received for free?

Will he, as President of the University, set a good example for the student body by doing the right thing, or will he cling to loopholes and deny a Holocaust survivor her property?

It’s time for Democrats to walk the walk, and for David Boren that means returning his stolen Nazi art back to its rightful owner.



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, August 06, 2015

Arrogant, Incompetent, Criminal Government

In last week's column defending Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) Establishment Republican takedown, I further explained Americans were also disgusted with a status quo in Washington, DC, that has given us de facto one party government. It is that status quo, along with an equal amount of public contempt directed at a corrupt media — so elitist and out-of-touch they don’t realize every time they bash Trump they add another fan to his side — that promises to make the 2016 presidential campaign anything but ordinary.

It’s time to throw another log on that populist fire. Because if there’s something about government that enrages people more than the insufferable arrogance of that ruling class, it would be the gargantuan level of incompetence accompanying that arrogance that infests virtually every government department at every level. And if there is one primary culprit fueling that arrogant incompetence, unaccountability goes right to the top of the list.

In short, we have a unionized, federal workforce chock full of no-account hacks.

The poster child for such unaccountability is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A report provided to the Huffington Post by Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, and a past whistleblower who had previously testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, reveals that such unaccountability has produced deadly results. As of April 2015, there were 847,822 veterans listed as waiting to be enrolled in VA health care. While they were waiting, 238,657 of those veterans died before being enrolled.

The VA’s fallback excuses? The number may represent people who had died years ago (which the VA has no way of knowing because it has no mechanism to purge the list of dead applicants), some vets may have never completed the application but remain listed anyway, and because the data are “decades old,” vets may have found other insurance, insisted VA spokeswoman Walinda West.

Or not. Davis disputed West on every point.

Remember when Congress was “outraged” by this scandal? Remember when we were promised they would do something about it, as in cleaning house, when this kind of nonsense was first bought to the public’s attention? Anyone still remember the devastating report produced by former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) detailing “waiting list cover-ups and uneven care reflective of a much larger culture within the VA, where administrators manipulate both data and employees to give an appearance that all is well?” A report that was released more than a year ago?

So, how’s that “house cleaning” going? In February, current VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who replaced Eric Shinseki following his “resignation,” told NBC he had fired 900 people since he took the job, including 60 “who have manipulated wait times.” Unfortunately for McDonald, in late April New York Times reporter Dave Phillips revealed that a VA internal document shows the number of terminated employees is a tad lower — as in three.

It gets worse. “The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal,” Phillips wrote. “One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.” And the one person who was unambiguously axed was Sharon Helman, director of VA facility in Phoenix, the location that first brought this scandal to the nation’s attention. Removed for manipulating the wait times? Nope. Terminated for receiving “inappropriate gifts,” according to the department.

Seriously now, do you feel like you’re one of the “bosses” of government employees?

I don’t know about you, but every boss I worked for made more money than his employees. What about “our” employees? A 2012 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study revealed federal employees earned an average of 16 percent more in total compensation, meaning pay and benefits, than workers in private sector companies. And a Heritage Foundation study reveals they work three hours less per week and approximately one month less per year than private sector workers.

But they work really hard, right? At the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a top level employee was discovered by investigators to have watched porn two to six hours a day while at work — since 2010. And despite the reality those investigators found 7,000 porno files on his computer — and even caught him in the act of watching it — he was still on the payroll as of March 2015. That’s because government workers have a civil service protection system known as the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) that ostensibly prevents them from getting fired for political reasons, and gives employees the right to appeal any termination.

That appeal process can take as long as two years.

Remember the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal in 2012, involving $822,000 of taxpayer funds spent on a lavish blowout in Vegas that included high-end meals and plenty of entertainment? The two managers fired for that abuse got their jobs back when the MSPB reversed the decision. The appeals board was nice enough to admit that extravagance has “no place in government,” but insisted the GSA failed to prove the two managers “knew or had reason to know of these ill-advised planning and purchasing decisions.” Not only were they ordered to be reinstated, they were given back pay plus interest. The organizer of the event? Allowed to retire, presumably with his pension and benefits intact.

Just before they left for summer recess, the House passed the VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994), a bill that would give the VA the ability to fire or demote an employee based on misconduct or performance, and greatly compress the appeals process timeline. Obama promised to veto it, if it reached his desk. The Senior Executives Association (SEA), a “tax exempt, non-profit corporation representing the interests of career federal executives and committed to effective, efficient and productive leadership in government” (read protectionism), was equally aghast. “HR 1994 represents a series of unnecessary legislative ‘fixes’ to a system that already provides the VA and every other federal agency the power to fully address performance and conduct problems in its workforce,” it said in a statement. “The system that exists today is fair and reasonable, but may not be used to its greatest potential. Congress should not pass another mean spirited piece of legislation designed to promote more anti-public worker sentiment and further demoralize the federal workforce.”

No one is more demoralized about the state of our federal workforce than the American public.

Beth Moten, the legislative and political director of the American Federation of Government Employees, added insult to injury. “Under H.R. 1994, every whistleblower, along with every other VA employee, would become at-will employees,” Moten wrote. “Without due process rights no VA employee who wishes to keep his or her job will ever feel safe blowing the whistle in the workplace or at the Congressional witness table.”

The bet is here is the overwhelming majority of Americans would like nothing better than a government chock full of “at will” employees — as in people who could be held directly responsible for their behavior.

Instead we have a system chock full of protectionism that breeds incompetence. It also breeds unabashed lying. Remember when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) computer hacks were first revealed? We were initially told that 4.2 million Americans had their Social Security numbers and other sensitive information stolen. That’s because Obama administration officials avoided disclosing the true severity of the breach by defining it as two separate breaches — and revealing only the smaller one. The two breaches combined? We now know that 25 million Americans data were hacked.

Incompetence and lying also breeds potentially criminal arrogance. Remember when the IRS told us Lois Lerner’s emails were irretrievably destroyed? We now know that even the backup tapes were destroyed by the “Media Management Midnight Unit” located in Martinsburg, W. VA. And they were destroyed after an agency-wide preservation order and a congressional subpoena were issued. We also know Lerner’s hard drive was physically damaged. Moreover, both the IRS commissioner and Department of Justice of attorneys have been threatened with contempt of court charges by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who characterized the excuses for their refusal to turnover ordered documentation as "indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd.“

And then there’s the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency so intent on facilitating Obama’s illegal amnesty agenda, its name is rapidly becoming an oxymoron. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen was incensed that DHS officials continued to implement that agenda after he ordered a halt to it.

I could go on (and on and on) but you get the picture. From the lowest workers on the unionized civil service food chain, to the highest echelons of political appointees, a deep-rooted culture of incompetence and corruption has made it virtually impossible for government to function fairly and efficiently. And because most government employees are shielded by layers of protection, they couldn’t care less. Never before in the history of this nation has there been a greater divide between a self-serving federal leviathan and millions of Americans who are closer to feeling like slaves than the "bosses”.

“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Ronald Reagan reminded us during his inaugural address in 1981. Nothing’s changed since then, with one exception: It’s gotten far worse



Creating a Case for Conservatism

Being conservative in a politically correct culture has never been easy. Whether you’re a politician trying to explain a controversial sound-bite, or a voter attempting to defend your stance on a hot-button issue to co-workers, you either grow a thick skin — or learn to keep quiet.

Sadly, you get used to having your motives impugned by people who assume that no one could possibly believe what you believe. You must have some ulterior motive, right? Say, for example, we need less regulation, and you’ll be accused of shilling for some corporation. Call for more defense spending, and you’re a warmonger.

It’s an old trick, clearly designed to save the accuser from having to marshal any actual evidence for his position. But it usually works. Everyone retreats to their corners, leaving us with poorly thought-out policies that wind up helping no one.

Small wonder, then, that the phrase “compassionate conservative” entered the political lexicon at one point. The defensive character of that label is understandable, but think about it: It only resonates if you assume that conservatives lack compassion in the first place.

Yes, some of them do (you find flawed human beings on both sides of the aisle), but only the most superficial analysis could conclude that conservatism attracts only those who don’t care about their fellow citizens. In fact — irony alert — conservative solutions often spring from a genuine desire to help people.

Take welfare reform. If you criticize a huge government program that hands out checks with virtually no strings attached, opponents say you must hate the poor. On the contrary: If you care about your fellow man, you know that turning him into a passive welfare recipient robs him of his dignity and often dooms his children to a soul-deadening cycle of poverty. Making sure that welfare is a true hand-up and not a hand-out is, in fact, the true compassionate stance.

The problem is that many conservatives fail to frame the issues this way. As American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks points out in his new book, “The Conservative Heart,” we need a new approach.

“The only way to set things right is for conservatives to show we care and offer a new vision for the country,” he writes. “This new vision must be guided by the optimism of opportunity. It must declare peace on a prudent, reliable safety net for those who truly need it. It must harness the tools of private entrepreneurship, acknowledge the profound value of hard work, and echo the moral clarity of the Good Samaritan.”

Mr. Brooks introduces us to people who illustrate all too well what happens when government policies run amok. Take Jestina Clayton. When she moved to Utah from Sierra Leone, she decided to pursue her piece of the American Dream by starting an African hair-braiding business for children adopted from her native land.

Jestina had been braiding hair since she was five, and the business was soon providing a steady paycheck. Then someone told her that it was illegal to do such work without a cosmetology license which would take 2,000 hours of classes and cost $16,000. And all for something she already knew how to do.

It took a lot of work and a successful lawsuit for Jestina to get her happy ending. (A federal judge ruled that such a requirement, which far exceeded the ones for many other professions, was unreasonable.) But as Mr. Brooks notes, she’s one of the lucky ones.

“Millions of Americans without her drive, grit — and the help of a law firm — have little hope to rise in America,” he writes. “Currently, all they are offered are promises that the government will stick it more to the rich through higher taxes and greater redistribution. But this will never help a poor American climb out of poverty, find a better job, and get a good education — let alone start a business.”

As conservatives, we know that our policies help provide opportunity for all. But we can never assume others know that. It’s time to take “heart” — and make sure they do.



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, August 05, 2015

Taking vitamin D supplements is useless

It is going to upset a lot of people but that is the latest finding -- below

How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Deborah Grady, MD, MPH


There is ongoing controversy regarding the definition of vitamin D insufficiency and the optimal treatment goal: should treatment aim to maintain a serum vitamin D level above 20 ng/mL or above 30 ng/mL? We found the randomized clinical trial by Hansen et al1 informative because it enrolled women with low vitamin D levels and tested both a lower-dose treatment to maintain vitamin D levels greater than 20 ng/mL and a higher-dose treatment to maintain levels greater than 30 ng/mL. After 1 year of treatment, randomization to a higher dose of cholecalciferol resulted in slightly better fractional excretion of calcium compared with low-dose cholecalciferol or placebo, but these differences are not clinically meaningful. Of more clinical importance, neither dose of cholecalciferol improved bone density, strength, muscle mass, functional status, or fall rate. It is possible that treatment beyond 1 year would result in better outcomes, but these data provide no support for use of higher-dose cholecalciferol replacement therapy or indeed any dose of cholecalciferol compared with placebo.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 03, 2015


Why Obama and Hillary Must Stop Donald Trump at All Costs

(Including even more vote-rigging than usual?)

By Wayne Allyn Root

Someone is getting very nervous. Obama. Valerie Jarrett. Eric Holder. Hillary Clinton. Jon Corzine…to name just a few. And I know why.

I wrote a book entitled, “The Murder of the Middle Class” about the unholy conspiracy between big government, big business and big media. They all benefit by the billions from this partnership and it’s in all of their interests to protect one another. It’s one for all, and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich. Everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies.

But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. I’ve never seen them this outraged…this vicious…this motivated…this coordinated. NEVER in all my years in politics, have I seen anything like the way the mad dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

When white extremist David Dukes ran for Governor of Louisiana even he wasn’t treated with this kind of outrage, vitriol and disrespect. When a known fraud, scam artist and tax cheat like Al Sharpton ran for President, I never saw anything remotely close to this. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened like never before.

Why? Because David Duke was never going to win. Al Sharpton was never going to win. Ron Paul was never going to win. Ross Perot was never going to win as a third party candidate. None of those candidates had the billion dollars it takes to win the presidency. But Donald Trump can self fund that amount tomorrow…and still have another billion left over to pour into the last two week stretch run before election day.

No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business and political elite understand that Donald Trump is no joke and could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It’s no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy Donald. No this is a coordinated conspiracy led by President Barack Obama himself. Obama himself is making the phone calls and giving the orders- the ultimate intimidator who plays by the rules of Chicago thug politics.

Why is this so important to Obama? Because most of the other politicians are part of the “old boys club.” They talk big, but in the end they won’t change a thing. Why? Because they are all beholden to big money donors. They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, multi-national corporations like Big Pharma or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock stock and barrel by foreigners- like George Soros owns Obama, or foreign governments own Hillary with their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But one man- and only one man- isn’t beholden to anyone. One man doesn’t need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Autoworkers, or the Teachers Union, or the SEIU, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slavemasters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why Boehner and McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama? Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet they’ve never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal Executive Action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

Well first, I’d guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs…or secretly gay…or stealing taxpayer money…the NSA knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money, from his own bank account. Trust me- the NSA, SEC, IRS and all the other 3-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They know everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called “racists.” So they are scared to ever criticize Obama, or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth, why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a “good boy” you’ve got a $5 million dollar per year lobbying job waiting.

The big money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose…they win.  But Donald Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice cozy relationship between big government, big media and big business. All the rules are out the window if Donald wins the presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides. But not Donald.

Remember Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama’s birth certificate. He questioned Obama’s college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university.

Now he’s doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do- question our relationship with Mexico …question why the border is wide open…questioning why no wall has been built across the border…questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests…questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes yet are not deported…questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Donald Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick? Good question.

I’m certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michele Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare web sites. By the way that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare’s architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. He will ask if Obama himself committed fraud when he said, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”

Trump will investigate Obama’s widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama’s college records.

Trump will prosecute Hillary Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover-up Benghazi before the election.

How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election.

Obama, the multi-national corporations and the media need to stop this. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Donald could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump’s election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Donald would dare to prosecute. Donald Trump will not hesitate. Once Donald gets in and gets a look at “the cooked books” and Obama’s records, the game is over. The gig is up. The goose is cooked.

Eric Holder could wind up in prison. Valerie Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Jon Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Hillary Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails …or accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State …or for “misplacing” $6 billion as head of State Department …or for lying about Benghazi.

The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison. Obamacare will be defunded and dismantled. The Obama Crime Family will be prosecuted for crimes against the American people. And Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters.

Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved…just for fun. That will all happen on Trump’s first day in the White House.

Who knows what Donald will do on day #2?

That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump. That’s why we must all support Donald. This may be our only shot at saving America, uncovering the crimes committed against our nation and prosecuting all of those involved.



The Left Should Listen to Camille Paglia

Paglia is a self-described “dissident feminist,” after all — a creature of the Left who has found a niche criticizing her own side.

“Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!” Paglia told Salon in a three-part interview. “Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!”

Here are a few issues where Paglia punches a hole in the Left’s ideology.

When it comes to feminism, Paglia predicts that Hillary Clinton faces an old problem: Monica Lewinsky. The former first lady was complicit in her husband’s actions, going so far as to attack the people criticizing her playboy husband. That will not bode well with 20-something feminists.

“Monica got nothing out of it. Bill Clinton used her. Hillary was away or inattentive, and he used Monica in the White House — and in the suite of the Oval Office, of all places. … Hillary has a lot to answer for, because she took an antagonistic and demeaning position toward her husband’s accusers. So it’s hard for me to understand how the generation of Lena Dunham would or could tolerate the actual facts of Hillary’s history.”

Furthermore, she said: “The horrible truth is that the feminist establishment in the U.S. … did in fact apply a double standard to Bill Clinton’s behavior because he was a Democrat. The Democratic president and administration supported abortion rights, and therefore it didn’t matter what his personal behavior was.”

Paglia is pro-abortion. She supports Planned Parenthood, but she was disgusted by the Leftmedia’s groupthink silence on the story.  “It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional. The liberal major media were trying to bury the story by ignoring it.

Now I am a former member of Planned Parenthood and a strong supporter of unconstrained reproductive rights. But I was horrified and disgusted by those videos and immediately felt there were serious breaches of medical ethics in the conduct of Planned Parenthood officials.”

As for the Left’s aversion to religion, simply worshiping skepticism and treating most religions as cartoons of what they really are, the Left’s monoculture doesn’t hold a candle to the beliefs that have developed over thousands of years of human experience.

“I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society.”

What would become of the Democrat Party if its members took Paglia’s thoughts to heart? The current Democrat Party, with its arguments against the exercise of religion when it comes to same-sex marriage, or its arguments against the First Amendment when the issue of super PACs arises, is no friend of Liberty of any kind.



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, August 04, 2015

Salt: killer or scapegoat?

"New Scientist" is fighting a rearguard action to reduce salt in our diet, despite a lot of evidence that salt does no harm.  I reproduce the key passages below.  I will add my comments following that

In 2009, cardiologist Francesco Cappuccio of the University of Warwick, UK, pooled all the data and found a strong relationship between a salty diet and cardiovascular disease (BMJ, vol 339, p b4567).

 Another way is to intervene directly in people's diets - take two groups of people, get one of them to eat less salt for a while and see what the outcome is. These trials take more work than observational studies but several have been done. The biggest managed to get thousands of people to cut down on salt by about 2 grams a day for up to four years and saw a 25 per cent fall in cardiovascular disease (BMJ, vol 334, p 885).

 Or you can look at whole countries, taking the before-and-after approach. Fifty years ago northern Japan had one of the world's biggest appetites for salt - an average of 18 grams a day per person - and shockingly high numbers of strokes. The government implemented a salt reduction programme and by the late 1960s average salt consumption had fallen by 4 grams a day and stroke deaths were down by 80 per cent.  Finland, another salt-guzzling nation, achieved similar gains in the 1970s.

However, the evidence is not always so clear. In July the Salt Institute was presented with its biggest PR coup for years when the Cochrane Collaboration, an internationally renowned body dedicated to assessing medical evidence, published a long-awaited study on salt and cardiovascular disease. As is usual for Cochrane, the study was a "meta-analysis", pooling the results of all the best-designed randomised controlled trials that have been done, the highest standard of proof in medicine.

Seven trials met the quality criteria, with over 6000 subjects in total. The analysis did show that people who cut back on salt have slightly lower blood pressure and are less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes. But, crucially, the effect on deaths wasn't big enough to be statistically significant. The Cochrane team could not rule out the possibility that the reductions had happened by chance.

The research was published simultaneously by Cochrane and the American Journal of Hypertension (vol 24, p 843), whose editor-in-chief Michael Alderman is a long-time critic of salt reduction. In an accompanying editorial (vol 24, p 854), Alderman, who was once a paid consultant for the Salt Institute, repeated his oft-stated claims that there is not enough evidence for salt reduction. Sensing a story, many newspapers ran with his line.

 Is Alderman correct? Not surprisingly, MacGregor thinks not. For one thing, he claims the Cochrane study is flawed. When he reanalysed the same data in a slightly different way, he found a reduction that was statistically significant (The Lancet, vol 378, p 380). Alderman criticises this as "salami epidemiology", but even in the original analysis the link between salt and death rates only just slipped below statistical significance. Far from casting doubt on salt reduction, some argued that the findings supported it.

The Cochrane report wasn't the end of it. Last month Alderman's journal published a further meta-analysis purporting to show that salt reduction could actually be harmful (doi:10.1038/ajh.2011.210). It concluded that while cutting salt lowered blood pressure, blood levels of certain hormones and lipids were increased, which could theoretically raise cardiovascular risk.

But many of the studies included in the analysis lasted just a few days and involved big salt reductions. MacGregor accepts that sudden and steep salt reduction can lead to counterproductive hormonal changes, but says that modest reductions, say from 8 to 6 grams, do not. "There's no evidence whatsoever that a modest reduction does any harm," he says.

 Even the chief author of the Cochrane study, statistician Rod Taylor at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, agrees with MacGregor that the findings lend further support to salt reduction. "Our results do not mean that asking people to reduce their intake of salt is not a good thing," he says. "We have much stronger evidence for salt than we do for fat, for the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables or losing weight," argues MacGregor.


Most of the studies  that found harm from salt were epidemiological and what such studies show is always contestable.   Let me illustrate:  The authors above use Japan to argue for salt reduction.  I can use Japan in exactly the opposite way.  Even after the various anti-salt campaigns, the Japanese are still huge salt consumers.  If ever you have tasted Japan's favourite sauce -- soy sauce -- you will know why.  It's almost solid salt.  Yet Japan is renowned for it multitude of centenarians and long life generally.  So, on that evidence, heavy salt consumption is clearly not harmful and may be beneficial.

So in that context the Cochrane study is all-important.   It filtered out the most contestable findings and zeroed in on the findings that are least contestable.   And that study showed no statistically sigificant harm from salt ingestion.

"New Scientist" acknowledges that but argues that a different analysis of the Cochrane data DOES produce statistical significance.  But to argue that way fails to understand what statistical significance does.  It compares a given result with what would happen by chance alone.  And if a result is on the borderline of conventional significance -- whether a bit above or a bit below -- hardly matters for policy decisions.  In any case, the effect is tiny.

If there were any kind of robust effect going on, statistical significance would hardly be worth calculating.   So the key thing that Cochrane showed was not the statistical  significance or otherwise of the result but rather that any effect from salt consumption was TINY -- and hence not worth bothering with.

And since anecdotes tend to be more persuasive than statistics, let me report that I have always put PLENTY of salt on my food  -- and yet my blood pressure is within the accepted safe range.  My blood pressure was up a bit once but I started doing a walk around the block most evenings and that fixed my blood pressure.  If you are worried about your blood pressure do some light exercise.  Exercise matters far more to your blood pressure than any trivial effect of salt. UPDATE: There's an article here which confirms the significant benefit of light exercise.

A final comment:  I liked the last sentence in the excerpts above:

"We have much stronger evidence for salt than we do for fat, for the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables or losing weight," argues MacGregor."

That rightly shows that all the other food fads are even more poorly founded.  LOL.

Further reading:  A big European study showed that LOW salt in your blood is most likely to lead to heart attacks.  See JAMA. 2011;305(17):1777-1785.  More here and here and here for similar findings.  Salt is harmless but a deficiency of it is not.  We need it.  See also here


FOIA reveals unions assisted Labor Dept. with absurd regulations

By Richard McCarty

For decades, companions who sit with the elderly and infirm have been exempt from overtime and the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2013, Obama’s Department of Labor issued new regulations determining which companions would continue to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime. These new regulations exceeded what Congress had intended when it passed the legislation, and the regulations were so complex that young and healthy people would have struggled to determine who was exempt, much less the elderly and infirm.

Just how bad were the new regulations? Companions would have been limited in how many times they could help an elderly person change their clothes. Companions would have been unable to use a vacuum cleaner if an infirm person were to create a safety hazard by spilling food on the floor. Companions would have been unable to prepare food for anyone other than the elderly person they were caring for, and any food that they did prepare would have had to have been consumed in their presence. If these rules weren’t exactly followed, then the new regulations would have required the companion to be paid more.

Because Medicare and Medicaid pay for the vast majority of the care provided by companions, it could be expected that the costs for those programs — which are already increasing rapidly — would rise even more quickly. Furthermore, it’s quite likely that some elderly or infirm people would be unable to pay their portion of costs for companion care. And it’s quite likely that some sick people would have had to suffer alone or with a reduction in needed care. Perhaps they would have had to remain in soiled clothes for hours or have missed a meal thanks to these regulations.

And who helped the Labor Department with planning for these absurd rules? Unions — the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Americans for Limited Government, the U.S. Department of Labor turned over a stack of documents showing how these unions are colluding with the Department on this subject.

On January 9, 2014, a senior SEIU staffer emailed a 60-page memo on large home care programs likely to be affected by the new companionship regulation to a list of senior Department of Labor officials and other union officials from SEIU and AFSCME. Also included was a 10-page chart summarizing the memo.

Carol Golubock (SEIU’s Policy Director) addressed this email to Laura McClintock (Associate Deputy Secretary of Labor), Michael Artz (AFSCME’s Associate General Counsel), Sally Tyler (AFSCME’s Senior Health Policy Analyst), Mary Beth Maxwell (then-Deputy Chief of Staff at the Labor Department), Patricia Smith (Solicitor for the Department of Labor), Malvina Ford (sic) (Senior Policy Advisor for the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division), Jennifer Brand (Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards), Ryan Griffin (an attorney with James & Hoffman, who was working on an FLSA case against McDonalds around this time period), Laura Fortman (Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division), and Elizabeth Royal (SEIU’s Senior Policy Coordinator).

It appears that this information had been requested by one or more of the recipients: SEIU’s Golubock wrote, “I didn’t imagine it would take us this long to get you this mapping of large home care programs likely to be impacted by the new companionship rule, but gathering and checking the information took much longer than we had anticipated… Thank you all for your patience and hope this proves to be helpful.”

Shortly before guidance on the new companionship regulation was issued, Golubock set up a meeting to discuss the issue with an employee in the Office of the Secretary of Labor. On March 5, 2014, Golubock emailed the following to Mary Beth Maxwell (who took over as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy that month): “Are we on for Friday? To discuss companionship rule?” Maxwell responded, “Yes!” less than a half-hour later.

So complex were the regulations that the Obama Administration announced that it wouldn’t bother to enforce them for the first six months after they were to take effect. Fortunately, the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the regulations. However, the case is now on appeal, and final resolution of the issue will not happen for some time.



Donald Trump and the Fed-Up Crowd

Watching Trump’s rise, America’s middle class “fed-up crowd” is enjoying the comeuppance of an elite that never pays for the ramifications of its own ideology

by Victor Davis Hanson

Donald Trump — a former liberal and benefactor of Democrats — is still surging. But his loud New York lingo, popular put-downs of obnoxious reporters and trashing of the D.C. establishment are symptoms, not the catalyst, of the growing popular outrage of lots of angry Americans who are fed up.

The fed-up crowd likes the payback of watching blood sport in an arena where niceties just don’t apply anymore. At least for a while longer, they enjoy the smug getting their comeuppance, as an uncouth, bullheaded Trump charges about, snorting and spearing liberal pieties and more sober and judicious Republicans at random.

Perhaps they don’t see the abjectly crude Trump as any more crude that Barack Obama calmly in academic tones assuring Americans that they all could keep their doctors and health plans when he knew that was simply untrue or announcing to the nation that his own grandmother was a “typical white person” or advising supporters to “get in their face.”  They see Trump as no more vindictive that Harry Reid lying about Mitt Romney’s tax returns (and then bragging that such a lie helped defeat him), or a Sen. Barbara Boxer publicly attac­­king the single, non-parental status of then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And they certainly don’t see Trump as uncouth as an Al Sharpton — former presidential candidate, chief advisor on matters of race to Barack Obama, and current TV news show host. Trump’s crass bombast is enjoyed by the fed-up crowd as the proper antidote to the even greater bombast of the Left, who created Trump’s latest manifestations.

The conservative base is tired of illegal immigration. Their furor peaked with the horrific killing of Kate Steinle by a seven-time convicted felon and five-time deported illegal alien.  They are baffled that one apparently exempt and privileged ethnic group can arbitrarily decide to ignore federal law. They are irate that they are lectured about their supposed racism from an open-borders movement predicated on La Raza-like ethnic chauvinism. They do not want to hear about nativism from a lobby that so often at rallies waves the flag of the country that none of the protestors seems to wish to return to, a country whose authoritarianism is romanticized as much as their host country is faulted for its magnanimity. Call this what you will, but emotion over neglecting federal law is much less worrisome than cool calculation over violating it.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


Monday, August 03, 2015

What social and medical science has to say about Obama's push to "desegregate" white suburbs

In their constant determination to go against the grain of what they see in the society around them, Leftists have long argued that contact  between people of different races is a good thing.  They started that ball rolling not long after WWII, when it emerged that black/white contact in the American military during WWII had fostered some inter-racial friendships, even though the forces were at that time largely segregated racially.  That the military is not much like society at large and that war is not peace were  "overlooked".

So the "contact hypothesis" was born and thrived for many years in social science writing.  As early as 1974, however, I was arguing in the academic literature that the converse is true: The more you see of other races, the less you like them.  Nothing I wrote in the research literature on the subject had any influence, however.  It took Robert Putnam to blow the nonsense out of the water.

Putnam was a well-credentialled Leftist whose early illustrations of declining "social capital" in the USA had attracted a lot of interest.  In that work he showed how social interactions outside  the home had shrivelled up since the '60s.  People were "hunkering down" and "bowling alone".  People were increasing less trustful of their environment and reluctant to set foot outside their own front door.

He proposed several reasons for this effect but omitted the obvious one:  The "liberation" of blacks accomplished by the Civil Rights Act and the destruction of racial segregation that took place in the '60s.  Whatever else it did, Jim Crow kept blacks significantly subdued and, in particular, not dangerous to whites.  A black man getting "uppity" could in some cases end up hanging from a tree in those days.  The incidence of violence among groups of sub-Saharan Africans is uniformly high at all times and in all nations so there was still a high level of crime among blacks in the Jim Crow era but it was almost entirely black-on-black, as, indeed, it still largely is.

I am not of course defending Jim Crow or advocating a return to it.  I am simply being a good social scientist and noting that, after it abolition, life became more dangerous for whites.  And it was because the world outside was more dangerous that white Americans, in particular, became more hesitant about setting foot outside their front door, particularly at night.  They watched TV instead.

Eventually, however, Putnam felt he had to address the racial facts that kept bobbing up in his data.  After years of hesitation,  he dropped his bombshell: The more ethnic diversity there was in a community, the less was the social interaction and co-operation.  It was when you had black neighbors that you stayed at home as much as you could.  So much for the contact hypothesis!

So "diversity" brings on social isolation.  But social isolation is a very bad thing.  Ever since the work of sociologist Durkheim in the late 19th century, researchers have known that alienation from those around you has serious psychiatric consequences.  It is, for instance, a major cause of suicide.

And if social isolation is troublesome to us in advanced societies, it is even more troublesome in less sophisticated societies.  Australian Aborigines are, for instance, compulsively social.  They have a strong need for the physical company of others of their kind. Put one in isolation in jail and he will do his level best to kill himself.  An erring Aboriginal can be "sung" to death by his tribe.  The singing consists of the men of the tribe sitting down together and chanting disapproval of the person for hours on end.  The target of such chanting will simply die.

So from the literature of both anthropology and sociology, we know that social isolation is bad for your health  -- bad to the point of being fatal.  I was pleased therefore to see the article from the medical literature below which confirms how fatal social isolation can be.  It's no wonder so many Americans avoid "diversity" by "white flight" and it's very threatening that Obama is trying to "diversify" existing white suburbs.

So an obscure article in a medical journal has great relevance to a current "hot" political issue.  Under the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), announced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently, Obama wants to plop down "affordable" housing in the middle of better-off communities. In conjunction with Putnam's findings, the article below would suggest that more white  suicides will result if he succeeds. Leftism can be fatal in all sorts of ways -- large and small.

Association Between Social Integration and Suicide Among Women in the United States

By Alexander C. Tsai, MD et al.


Importance:  Suicide is one of the top 10 leading causes of mortality among middle-aged women. Most work in the field emphasizes the psychiatric, psychological, or biological determinants of suicide.

Objective:  To estimate the association between social integration and suicide.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Nurses’ Health Study, an ongoing nationwide prospective cohort study of nurses in the United States. Beginning in 1992, a population-based sample of 72 607 nurses 46 to 71 years of age were surveyed about their social relationships. The vital status of study participants was ascertained through June 1, 2010.

Exposures:  Social integration was measured with a 7-item index that included marital status, social network size, frequency of contact with social ties, and participation in religious or other social groups.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary outcome of interest was suicide, defined as deaths classified using the codes E950 to E959 from the International Classification of Diseases, Eighth Revision.

Results:  During more than 1.2 million person-years of follow-up (1992-2010), there were 43 suicide events. The incidence of suicide decreased with increasing social integration. In a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression model, the relative hazard of suicide was lowest among participants in the highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.23 [95% CI, 0.09-0.58]) and second-highest category of social integration (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.26 [95% CI, 0.09-0.74]). Increasing or consistently high levels of social integration were associated with a lower risk of suicide. These findings were robust to sensitivity analyses that accounted for poor mental health and serious physical illness.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Women who were socially well integrated had a more than 3-fold lower risk for suicide over 18 years of follow-up.



The IRS Is Still Targeting Conservatives!

The political targeting of Americans violates our most basic rights.


In a stunning abuse of power, the IRS has been targeting the donors to conservative political organizations for audits, according to a report by the Washington Free Beacon. The documents released via a Freedom of Information Act request as part of an investigation by Judicial Watch show that the agency specifically singled out individuals who gave to groups with words and phrases like "tea party" in their name for audits.

This is a continuation of the scandal that began in 2013, in which the agency targeted the groups themselves. At that time, Lois Lerner took most of the heat for the targeting, with officials claiming it was an isolated incident that didn't go any higher up. Clearly, that was not the case.

The fact that this sort of thing goes on in our government is an outrageous assault on our most basic liberties. America was founded on the idea that we should be free to express our political opinions without the government punishing us for them. This was an important distinction to draw from previous autocracies, where dissent from the ruling class could land you an indefinite stay in cold, dark cell. It has not yet gotten that bad in America, but the idea of using government power to to intimidate, bully, and harass those of us who think that the government has grown too large and oppressive, apart from proving our point, should offend any American who values the freedom of expression guaranteed by our Constitution.

This scandal has been brewing for two years now, and still nothing meaningful has been done. Lois Lerner no longer works at the IRS, true, but a low level official falling on her sword to protect her superiors is no longer an acceptable solution. We have to send a message that this sort of corruption will no longer be tolerated in the land of the free.

The IRS has spent much of the last two years attacking conservative non-profit groups. Apart from the continuing targeting scandal, there was also a proposed regulation that would have effectively destroyed the ability of non-profits to conduct political organizing. The IRS is supposed to do one thing - collect revenue, not serve as an attack dog for the Democrats against any and all political opposition.

The IRS continues to justify its status as the most hated of all government agencies.



Mayor de Blasio Calls off Uber Cap Bill

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” -Milton Friedman

New York City, NYC- Capitalists and customers throughout the country are celebrating a major free market victory as news that progressive NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he will not continue to push a city council bill that would have placed a cap on the number of Uber drivers allowed to operate in the city. The news coming from the Mayor's office came in several days after Uber general manager, Josh Mohrer, publicly announced that he wanted to hold a live streaming debate between himself and de Blasio in order to discuss the bill for the public at large to witness; in addition to Mohrer's challenge, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who recently called Uber “one of the great inventions of this new economy”, which struck a more political blow to de Blasio, seeing how Cuomo has always supported the populist progressive mayor in the past. There are four key points to understand about this whole situation:

Lessons from de Blasio's war on Uber:

1) If de Blasio, the unions, and the NYC city council had their way, Uber would have in fact had a monopoly on the entire app based ridesharing industry in the city. As mentioned in an episode of the Young Voices podcast with contributors Jared Meyer and Daniel Pryor, they pointed out how Uber (which already holds a 90% market share in the app based ridesharing market in NYC) would essentially come out of this battle as the ultimate winner in terms of consumer accessibility, since other ridesharing app businesses such as Lyft have not moved into the city. By continuing to fight the bill like they did, Uber sent a loud and clear message to the Taxi unions (who pushed for the driver cap bill) by stating that free and open competition for the betterment of both businesses and consumers, was more important than crony capitalism trying to use the heavy hand of regulation to erase competitors from the market.

2) The progressive war on the "sharing economy" should at this point begin to bring awareness to the young voting population of millennial voters who are typically swayed by Democrats. As I mentioned in a previous article regarding progressive 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's recent economics speech:

"An all-out political assault on these services is a strange move for the Democrat; according to Breitbart writer Joel Pollak, this decision in her platform may in fact "surprise millennial consumers, whose loyalty to the Democratic Party has largely been blind, and who have presumed that the party of government shared their love for technology."

A look overseas gives us all a glimpse into the state's negative intervention into the "sharing economy"; the French government in June declared an all out ban on Uber operations in the country. BBC picked up on the initial story and reported that:

"French taxi drivers have blocked the roads to Paris airports and the main ring road around the city in a protest against Uber, a US taxi app. The drivers set up blockades and burned tires as part of a nationwide strike. Some cars were overturned and others had their windows smashed with bats."

3) Technological innovation, job opportunities, and consumer happiness, are finally becoming talking points for many Americans across the land, as this whole Uber debacle has shown many politically apathetic citizens what can happen in markets that are not bogged down by red tape, regulation and corporate interests. As FreedomWorks research analyst Logan Albright points out simply, yet strongly:

"Mobile apps are providing services that benefit consumers, workers, and communities. Don’t let regulators drive them out of business in order to protect favored monopolies."

4) Last but not least, free market advocates must be listening in for buzzwords that indicate hidden motives for new regulation. In de Blasio's op-ed in the New York Daily News discussing his stance on the city council Uber driver cap bill, he continually tried to use environmental issues in order to mask the real issue at play:

"We need to find a way to manage the huge increase in new vehicles to keep our streets moving, protect air quality and make sure our buses and other vehicles can also get around…”

"The city is focused on making our transportation more sustainable by improving access to ride-sharing, investing in low-carbon and multi-modal options like walking and biking, and reducing dependency on private fossil fuel vehicles."

When hearing politicians talk about the green agenda , people should always ask, are they using real science, or just trying to push their own bias? since the green policies pushed by Democrats in the past several decades have been used over and over again to kill jobs and economic growth .

All in all, this whole situation wasn't simply about Uber, its about the constant struggle between free, individual enterprise, and government control forced by the influence of special interests



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, August 02, 2015

Avoiding that pesky evolutionary thinking

The Left are deeply uncomfortable with evolutionary thinking.  It explains too much for their liking.  That men and women have evolved to have inborn differences that reflect their role vis a vis children flies in the face their feminist creed that there are no differences between men and women -- for instance.

So the blindness to evolution that we see below is no accident.  "New Scientist" has always been Left-leaning and their fervour for global warming shows that to be still undimmed.  The claim that the high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium is plausible at first sight but neglects the obvious.  And the plausibilty fades fast when you look at ALL the evidence -- something Leftists chronically avoid.  See the last sentence in the article below.

So what is the obvious factor that the writer below is blind to?  That those who were infected in subsequent plagues were almost all the descendants of those who did  not die the first time around.  Those who did not die the first time around had some factor or factors in their makeup that made them resistant to yersinia pestis -- and it is they who survived to reproduce and pass on their resistance.  Pure natural selection at work.  Fewer people died the second and third times around because they had inherited resistance.  They survived because they were the descendants of survivors.  Obvious to anyone but a Leftist.  Leftist thinking rots your brain

The secret of plague’s death toll is out. The high mortality rate seen during the Black Death in the 14th century may have been the result of poor general health rather than the strength of the bacterium.

The Black Death killed about 60 per cent of Europe’s population. That’s surprising as recent plague outbreaks weren’t as devastating.

“There is a huge difference in mortality rates,” says Sharon DeWitte at the University of South Carolina, even though 14th century and 20th century plagues were caused by the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and its genetics were similar in both outbreaks.

DeWitte believes that the high mortality rate in the 14th century may have been the result of a general decline in health. She examined skeletons in London cemeteries from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries and found that more adults under the age of 35 were buried in the 13th century.

This suggests that people were dying younger before the Black Death arrived – probably because of famine and an increase in disease burden from other pathogens.

“Together with historical data, the picture that emerges is that the population was not doing well,” says DeWitte.

But Samuel Cohn, a historian from the University of Glasgow, UK, is not convinced.

“The wealthy were also dying in great numbers during the first outbreak of the Black Death [1347-51],” he says, noting that it is unlikely that they were in poor health.



Could Trump Win?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The American political class has failed the country, and should be fired. That is the clearest message from the summer surge of Bernie Sanders and the remarkable rise of Donald Trump.

Sanders' candidacy can trace it roots back to the 19th-century populist party of Mary Elizabeth Lease who declaimed:

"Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master."

"Raise less corn and more hell!" Mary admonished the farmers of Kansas.

William Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination in 1896 by denouncing the gold standard beloved of the hard money men of his day: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Sanders is in that tradition, if not in that league as an orator. His followers, largely white, $50,000-a-year folks with college degrees, call to mind more the followers of George McGovern than Jennings Bryan.

Yet the stagnation of workers' wages as the billionaire boys club admits new members, and the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs under trade deals done for the Davos-Doha crowd, has created a blazing issue of economic inequality that propels the Sanders campaign.

Between his issues and Trump's there is overlap. Both denounce the trade deals that deindustrialized America and shipped millions of jobs off to Mexico, Asia and China. But Trump has connected to an even more powerful current.

That is the issue of uncontrolled and illegal immigration, the sense America's borders are undefended, that untold millions of lawbreakers are in our country, and more are coming. While most come to work, they are taking American jobs and consuming tax dollars, and too many come to rob, rape, murder and make a living selling drugs.

Moreover, the politicians who have talked about this for decades are a pack of phonies who have done little to secure the border.

Trump boasts that he will get the job done, as he gets done all other jobs he has undertaken. And his poll ratings are one measure of how far out of touch the Republican establishment is with the Republican heartland.

When Trump ridicules his rivals as Lilliputians and mocks the celebrity media, the Republican base cheers and laughs with him.

He is boastful, brash, defiant, unapologetic, loves campaigning, and is putting on a great show with his Trump planes and 100-foot-long stretch limos. "Every man a king but no man wears a crown," said Huey Long. "I'm gonna make America great again," says Donald.

Compared to Trump, all the other candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, are boring. He makes politics entertaining, fun.

Trump also benefits from the perception that his rivals and the press want him out of the race and are desperately seizing upon any gaffe to drive him out. The piling on, the abandonment of Trump by the corporate elite, may have cost him a lot of money. But it also brought him support he would not otherwise have had.

For no group of Americans has been called more names than the base of the GOP. The attacks that caused the establishment to wash its hands of Trump as an embarrassment brought the base to his defense.

But can Trump win?

If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals. For if Trump is running at 18 or 20 percent nationally then, among Republicans, it is hard to see how two rivals beat him.

For Trump not to be in the hunt as the New Hampshire primary opens, his campaign will have to implode, as Gary Hart's did in 1987, and Bill Clinton's almost did in 1992.

Thus, in the next six months, Trump will have to commit some truly egregious blunder that costs him his present following. Or the dirt divers of the media and "oppo research" arms of the other campaigns will have to come up with some high-yield IEDs.

Presidential primaries are minefields for the incautious, and Trump is not a cautious man. And it is difficult to see how, in a two-man race against the favorite of the Republican establishment, he could win enough primaries, caucuses and delegates to capture 50 percent of the convention votes.

For almost all of the candidates who will have dropped out by then will have endorsed the last man standing against Trump. And should Trump be nominated, his candidacy would make Barry Goldwater look like the great uniter of the GOP.

Still, who expected Donald Trump to be in the catbird seat in the GOP nomination run before the first presidential debate? And even his TV antagonists cannot deny he has been great for ratings.



Pantsuit on Fire — Hillary’s Busted, but Is She Caught?

Could it be? Could the downfall of the Clinton Crime Family, a political machine that makes Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall corruption of the late 19th century look like a middle school 4-H club, finally be near?

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Hillary Clinton said of her secret servers in March. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

But last week, I. Charles McCullough, inspector general of the intelligence community, contacted the FBI about a “potential compromise of classified information” through Clinton’s email. The IG found four instances where Clinton handled information labeled “secret” — classified information that he noted should “never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.” And that was out of a sample size of just 40 emails. Imagine what he’ll find in the rest of the 30,000 emails she didn’t already destroy.

In March, the nation discovered that Clinton used a personally owned email server housed in her New York residence to conduct official business on behalf of the State Department. At long last, after five months of curtailed information and growing controversy, it appears Hillary and Bill’s habits of disregarding the law might catch up with them. At least we hope so.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, “Other senior officials have faced criminal charges for misusing classified information. Former CIA Director David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor this year for disclosing classified information to his mistress, while Clinton-era National Security Adviser Sandy Berger copped a misdemeanor plea in 2005 for walking off with classified documents from the National Archives.” Or how about the sailor facing prison for taking photos of a U.S. submarine?

Could the same be in store for Hillary? Following the sputtering start of her campaign, investigatory hearings, and enough versions of events surrounding her email use to rival Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors, have the Clintons finally been exposed as the corrupt, self-serving political hacks they are?

Throughout months of investigations, serving up whoppers seems like standard operations for Team Hillary:

The notion that the NY home-based server was to eliminate redundancy has been proven false.

Hillary’s assertion to have “fully complied” with the strenuous requirements of the State Department and intelligence community is embarrassingly laughable.

Her claim to have “turned over all” of her emails is a lie.

She also possessed multiple email addresses linked to the server, not just one singular account as originally stated — another lie.

This latest revelation may prove impossible for the American public and the loyal media presstitutes to ignore. But the lie followed the Clintons' standard buffet-style approach to the truth: Pick and choose what you like; omit the rest. The inspector general announced some of the emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now.”


Hillary has been proven a liar. But in addition to her dishonesty, she also stands as a manipulative tyrant with incredibly poor judgment, one who believes in distinct Rules and Laws for Thee but Not for Me. And now the voting public, tired of the swill served out of DC, is rejecting her toxic brew.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in June to survey Hillary’s trustworthiness, revealed that “Clinton’s numbers have dropped among voters in the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. She has lost ground in the horserace and on key questions about her honesty and leadership.”

Tim Malloy, another assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, put it more succinctly: “Hillary Clinton’s numbers on honesty and trust may border on abysmal.”

Not only that, but she trails three GOP candidates in three key swing states. It’s early, so take that for what you will.

These negative polling numbers, with up to 62% of respondents questioning Clinton’s honesty, came several weeks prior to the newest twist in her email scandal. If only we had a Department of Justice rather than a nest of political legal activism, these wrongdoings would result in criminal charges and not just falling poll numbers.

Hillary dismissed the whole story, saying, “[T]here have been a lot of inaccuracies” in the news. You don’t say. She then suggested, “Maybe the heat is getting to everybody.” Let’s hope she does feel the heat.



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)