Friday, September 04, 2015

Do conservatives have better self-control?

The research below says that they do and it may be true -- but the study claiming that has rightly been criticized as overgeneralized. See here.

What the study did was rather typical of laboratory psychology. An effect was examined in an extremely limited context and the resulting finding made the basis of vast generalizations.  This study used the Stroop test -- which asks people to name color words that are printed on coloured blocks.  The word "green" might be printed on a red block, for instance.  When people are asked to name the word, the clash of color and meaning does of course slow people down. And conservatives were less slowed down than liberals.

So what does it mean?  It's most incautious to guess.  Saying that it measures something as general as self-control is a pretty wild speculation that could only be supported by much further research.  It IS related to brain function but our understanding of brain function is still in its infancy so that tells us little.  It is however ipso facto a measure of mental speed and measures of mental speed have repeatedly been shown to correlate well with IQ.  So, unsurprisingly, some studies have found that Stroop performance correlates highly with both IQ and academic performance.  And various types of mental illness lead to very poor Stroop performance.

So does this have any implications for conservatives?  I think it has a most interesting implication in fact.  It shows that conservatives have greater academic potential than liberals.  Conservatives are not generally keen on academe as a career, seeing it as poorly paid, among other things, but they do actually have more potential for it.

And that surprises me least of all. I had a double career. Like a good conservative, I made good money in business while also doing a heap of published academic research. And throughout my social science research career, I was rather dumbfounded by the poor quality of the psychological research by others that I encountered.  A very common fault was exactly the one mentioned above:  Overgeneralization.  Some effect would be demonstrated in the laboratory and vast claims made about what it meant.  The whole research field of mental rigidity is an example of that.  My papers  in that area can be read here.

The amusing outcome of that was that I had a lot of critiques published in the journals -- critiques in which I tore somebody else's research to shreds.  Journal editors HATE publishing critiques because it shows that their reviewing processes have fallen down.  But the points I made were so obviously right that I did in fact get about 50% of my critiques published! See here.

And almost all psychological researchers are Leftist so what I was critiquing was Leftist psychology.  So my experiences is certainly that Leftists make very poor academics.  And the recent revelations about the poor replicability of psychological research results is also a straw in the wind.  The Stroop test is right. Journal abstract below:

The self-control consequences of political ideology

Joshua J. Clarkson et al.


Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Moreover, this relationship is shown to stem from varying beliefs in freewill; specifically, the association between political ideology and self-control is mediated by differences in the extent to which belief in freewill is endorsed, is independent of task performance or motivation, and is reversed when freewill is perceived to impede (rather than enhance) self-control. Collectively, these findings offer insight into the self-control consequences of political ideology by detailing conditions under which conservatives and liberals are better suited to engage in self-control and outlining the role of freewill beliefs in determining these conditions.

PNAS vol. 112 no. 27, 8250–8253


Trump's Trump

By G. Murphy Donovan

Donald Trump is a piece of work even by New York standards: tall, white, loud, brash, entrepreneurial, successful, rich, ruthlessly candid, well-dressed, and fond of heterosexual women. He has married at least three delicious ladies in fact. Trump has five children and seven grandchildren. Indeed, his progeny are well above average too, smartly groomed, photogenic, and successful to boot.

As far as we know, Donald does not have any tattoos, piercings, unpaid taxes, or under-aged bimbo interns. He is not a drunk or a junkie either. Trump projects and enterprises probably employ more folks than the NYC school system -- or the United Nations.

You could say that Trump is living the life, not the life of Riley, but more like Daddy Warbucks with a comb over. “The Donald,” as one ex-wife calls him, is not just living the American dream. Trump is the dream -- and proud of it.

You could do worse than think of Trump as upwardly mobile blue collar. He is the grandson of immigrants and the product of Long island, a Queens household, and a Bronx education. The Donald survived the Jesuits of Fordham University for two years before migrating to finish his baccalaureate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

When readers of the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books speak of “the city”, they are not talking about the Queens or the Bronx.  Growing and schooling in the blue-collar boroughs gives Trump a curb level perspective, something seldom found in Manhattan. Or as any “D” Train alumnus might put it, Trump has “a pretty good Bravo Sierra detector.”

So what’s not to like about Donald Trump? He doesn’t just stay in four-star hotels; he builds them. He doesn’t just own luxury condominiums; he makes them. He doesn’t just own historic buildings; he restores them. He doesn’t just eat at the best restaurants; ke creates them. He just doesn’t belong to the best country clubs; he builds those, too.

And Donald Trump, unlike the Manhattan/Washington fantasy Press and every Beltway political pimp, doesn’t just pay lip service to a bigger and better economy, he creates micro-economies every day.

The only thing we don’t know about Donald Trump is why he would like to immigrate to the District of Columbia.

In any case, the merits of entrepreneurs like Trump might best be defined by the character or motives of his critics. Trump detractors are for the most part “B” list politicians, ambulance chasers, and a left-leaning Press corps that lionizes the likes of Nina Totenberg, Dan Rather, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell, and Brian Williams.

If the truth were told, most of Trump’s critics are jealous, envious of his wealth -e- and they loath his candor.  Donald might also be hated for what he is not. Trump is not a lawyer, nor is he a career politician who lives on the taxpayer dime. Trump is paying for his own campaign. Bernie, Barack, McCain, and Kerry could take enterprise lessons from a chap like Trump.

Unlike most government barnacles, Trump can walk and chew gum at the same time. He knows how to close a deal and build something. He is a net creator, not consumer, of a kind of wealth that provides “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for Americans -- real jobs not feather merchants.

Today, Trump has nothing left to prove. Yet, success has allowed him the rarest of public privileges, an electoral pulpit and the courage to speak his mind. Alas, truth is not necessarily a political asset in a socialized democracy.

Indeed, the erstwhile presidential candidate stepped on his crank recently by suggesting that Mexico, already exporting dangerous drugs, cheap tomatoes, and even cheaper labor, was also exporting violent felons to the US.

Truth hurts! Trump’s rude candor is underwritten by nearly half a million illegal felons in American jails. Coincidently, events have conspired to support Trump’s take on Mexican dystopia with the El Chapo Guzman jailbreak and the murder of Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Sanchez.

Senor Sanchez sported a lengthy criminal record and had been deported on four previous occasions. San Francisco, a “sanctuary” city, failed to honor existing warrants and released Sanchez from jail just before he blew Kathy Steinle away

As serendipity would have it, Trump then went to Phoenix on 12 July and gave a stem winder to a sell-out crowd on the subject of illegal immigration. Senator John McCain was not pleased to have The Donald on Arizona’s front lawn and intemperately called Trump supporters “crazies.” Trump returned fire saying that McCain was no hero.

Here again Trump cut to the quick, pointing out that no one qualifies as a hero because he was shot down or captured. Indeed, being a hostage in North Vietnam is not necessarily heroic either. McCain is thought by some to be a heroic because he refused to accept an early release.

In fact, the Hanoi parole offer was a ruse, a Hobson’s choice, designed to embarrass McCain and his father at CINCPAC.

If McCain took the parole and abandoned his fellow POWs, he would have shamed his father and been ostracized by shipmates. Indeed, had John McCain not been the son and grandson of famous nd victorious, Pacific Command flag officers, no one would have noticed him then or now.

Few of the demagogues who have come to John McCain’s defense could name any of the 600 Vietnam-era POWs other than McCain. McCain is famous today because he, like John Kerry, has parlayed a very average Vietnam military service into a three-decade political sinecure.

We know of 50,000 Vietnam veterans that might be more deserving than John McCain. Unfortunately, they died in a war that generals couldn’t win and politicians couldn’t abide. A body bag seldom gets to play the “hero.”

McCain is no political hero either.

He is famously ambiguous on domestic issues like immigration. He is also a Johnny-come-lately to Veterans Administration rot, which has metastasized as long as McCain has been in office. On foreign policy, McCain is a Victoria Nuland era crackpot, supporting East European coups, playing cold warrior, and posturing with neo-Nazis in Kiev. McCain pecks at Putin too because the Senate, like the Obama crew, hasn’t a clue about genuine threats like the ISIS jihad or the latest Islam bomb.

To date, Trump has run a clever campaign. He is chumming, throwing red meat and blood into campaign waters and all the usual suspects are in a feeding frenzy. McCain, the Press, the Left, and the Republican establishment all have something to say about “the Donald.” It is truly amazing how cleverly Trump manages to manipulate the establishment.

If you are trying to sell an idea or a candidacy, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Who knows where the Trump campaign goes? For the moment, he has scored direct hits on Mexico and McCain. With El Capo on the loose again, every time a toilet flushes in Sinaloa, Mexican garbage is likely spill out in Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that the Left Coast could survive without cheap labor, pistileros, meth, coke, heroin, or weed. Necrotic immigration and its byproducts are ready made targets for a gunslinger like Trump.

Trump is no bigot. He probably employs more Latinos and Blacks than Enrique Peña Nieto or Barack Obama. In his own way, Donald Trump is both immigrant and POW, a refugee from Queens and still a prisoner of Wharton. The Donald is The Dude, the guy with babes and a role of Benjamins that would choke a shark. He is the wildly successful capitalist that some of us love to hate.

Before democratic socialism, success and effectiveness were measures of merit. It doesn’t take much insight to compare Trump’s various enterprises with federal programs. Public education, banking oversight, public housing slums, poverty doles, veterans fiascos, Internal Revenue hijinks, and even some Defense Department procurement programs are consensus failures. The F-35 “Lightning” fighter is an illustration, arguably the most expensive single DOD boondoggle in history. Pentagon progressives seldom win a catfight these days, but they still spend like sailors.

If and when Trump fails, he is out of business.

In Trump’s world, failure has consequences.  In contrast, Washington rewards failure with better funding. Indeed, generational program failure is now a kind of perverse incentive for Beltway politicians and apparatchiks to throw good money after failed programs.

The difference between Trump and McCain should be obvious to any fair observer; Trump has done something with his talents. McCain, in contrast, is coasting on a military myth and resting on the laurels of Senatorial tenure.

Any way you look at it, Donald Trump is good for national politics, good for democracy, good for America, and especially good for candor. If nothing else, The Donald may help Republicans to pull their heads out of that place where the sun seldom shines.



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, September 03, 2015

The Left Sees Only White Evil

By Dennis Prager

In the past week, two television reporters in Roanoke, Va. — Alison Parker and Adam Ward — were murdered by a black man who hated whites, and a white police officer in Houston — Darren Goforth — was murdered by a black man. Neither crime has been labeled a hate crime. And no mainstream media reporting of the murders attributes either to race-based hate.

For the mainstream media, the Roanoke murders were committed by “a disgruntled former employee,” and regarding the Houston policeman, the media report that, in the words of The New York Times, “a motive for the shooting remained unclear.”

The disregard of anti-white hatred as the motive for blacks who murder whites even when the murder is obviously racially motivated comes from the same people who denied that the Islamist Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was religiously motivated. These people — all on the left — have an agenda: to deny black racism and Islamist-based violence whenever possible. Only white police and other white violence against non-whites is clearly racist — even when not.

Thus, President Barack Obama convened a “White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” rather than a “White House Summit on Countering Islamist Violence.” Though the summit was convened the month following the Islamist massacre of the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris, the words “Islam,” “Muslim” and “Islamist” did not once appear in the White House’s 1,668-word fact sheet on the summit. The Obama administration went so far as to label Hasan’s murders of his fellow soldiers “workplace violence.”

So, too, the mainstream media depicted the black murderer of eight white people at a Connecticut beer warehouse in 2010 as a man who had been angered by white racism, not as the white-hater he was. Under the headline “Troubles Preceded Connecticut Workplace Killing,” a New York Times article reported: “He might also have had cause to be angry: He had complained to his girlfriend of being racially harassed at work, the woman’s mother said, and lamented that his grievances had gone unaddressed.”

And a Washington Post headline read: “Beer warehouse shooter long complained of racism.”

The fact was that the man was fired for stealing beer from his workplace, and there was a video of him doing so.

The left denies black racism in another way. When a white racist murdered nine blacks in a Charleston, S.C., church this past June, the left and the media correctly stressed the murderer’s racism. Indeed, whenever blacks are killed by whites — which, it is worth noting, is many times less likely than a white being murdered by a black — and especially by white police officers, the left attributes the killings to racism. But when blacks kill whites, the left attributes the killings to guns. This is all reinforced by the left’s position that only whites can be racist, because only the powerful can be racist, and whites have all the power.

Parker’s grieving and enraged parents provide an example of this thinking. They have entirely ignored the racism of their daughter’s murderer and concentrated exclusively on the issue of gun control.

How tragic that the Parkers would not channel their grief and rage into a different campaign, one that actually addresses the reason for their daughter’s murder and might prevent future murders: a campaign against the fomenting of anti-white hatred among black Americans.

After a lifetime of studying and writing about evil, I have come up with an equation that explains most of it. Coincidentally, the equation actually spells the word. The equation is Evil = Victimhood + Lies. Or E=V+L.

Either victimhood or lies is enough to produce great evil. Together, they constitute the components of ultimate evil.

The left has been supplying both victimhood and lies to black America. The lies are that America is a racist society — as the president of the United States himself has said, racism is “still part of (America’s) DNA” — that the greatest problem facing young blacks is racism, and that white (and even black) police routinely kill blacks for no reason other than racism. One of the best examples of this lie is the left’s use of the word “Ferguson” as an example of white police killing innocent young black men. The extensive investigation into what actually happened in Ferguson (by both local authorities and the U.S. Department of Justice led by then-Attorney General Eric Holder) revealed no such thing. Yet even Obama continues to use the term “Ferguson” as an exemplar of police racism.

Those lies in turn produce the anger-inducing victimhood that pervades too much of black life. Just this past weekend at the Minneapolis State Fair, a “Black Lives Matter” group chanted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.”

Some blacks — as in Houston this past weekend and in Louisiana two weeks earlier when a black man murdered another white policeman — are taking this message literally and randomly murdering police officers. And some other blacks just want to kill whites, whether or not they are police. Such is the power of victimhood and lies.

There is a lot of blood on the left’s hands. And there will be more.



Jeb represents an America that has lost its bearings  -- and its spine

By Thomas Sowell

Even those of us who are not supporters of either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush can learn something by comparing how each of these men handled people who tried to disrupt their question-and-answer period after a speech.

After Bush’s speech, hecklers from a group called “Black Lives Matter” caused Bush to simply leave the scene. When Trump opened his question-and-answer period by pointing to someone in the audience who had a question, a Hispanic immigration activist who had not been called on simply stood up and started haranguing.

Trump told the activist to sit down because someone else had been called on. But the harangue continued, until a security guard escorted the disrupter out of the room. And Jeb Bush later criticized Trump for having the disrupter removed!

What kind of president would someone make who caves in to those who act as if what they want automatically overrides other people’s rights — that the rules don’t apply to them?

Trump later allowed the disrupter back in, and answered his questions. Whether Trump’s answers were good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant to the larger issue of rules that apply to everyone. That was not enough to make “The Donald” a good candidate to become President of the United States. He is not. But these revealing incidents raise painful questions about electing Jeb Bush to be leader of the free world. The Republican establishment needs to understand why someone with all Trump’s faults could attract so many people who are sick of the approach that Jeb Bush represents.

No small part of the internal degeneration of American society has been a result of supposedly responsible officials caving in to whatever group is currently in vogue, and allowing them to trample on everyone else’s rights.

Some officials allow “the homeless” to urinate and defecate in public, right on the streets, or let organized hooligans who claim to represent “the 99 percent against the one percent” block traffic and keep neighborhoods awake with their noise through the night. Politicians who exempt from the law certain groups who have been chosen as mascots undermine the basis for a decent society — which everybody, from every group, deserves.

Even those who happen to be in vogue for the moment can lose big time when the vogue changes, as vogues do.

Back in the 1920s, when there was international outrage on the political left over the trial of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to British leftist Harold Laski, pointing out that the trials of black defendants were far worse, but nobody seemed to care about that.

“I cannot but ask myself why this so much greater interest in red than black,” he said.

The vogue has changed since then — and it can change again, when some other group comes along that catches the fancy of the trend-setters, and sways politicians who go along to get along.

The goal of “the rule of law and not of men” has increasingly been abandoned in favor of government picking winners and losers. Too many in the media and in academia do the same.

Time and again, we have seen false charges of rape set off instant lynch mob reactions in the media and academia, regardless of how many previous false charges of rape have later been exposed as hoaxes.

The problem is not with the particular choices made as to whose interests are to override other people’s interests, but that picking winners and losers, in defiance of facts, is choosing a path that demoralizes a society, and leads to either a war of each against all or to a backlash of repression and revenge.

The recent televised murder of two media people by a black man who said that he wanted a “race war” was one sign of the madness of our times. Nobody who knows anything about the history of race wars, anywhere in the world, can expect anything good to come out of it. Unspeakable horrors have been the norm.

It is a long way from a couple of disruptive incidents on the political campaign trail to a race war. But these small incidents are just symptoms of larger and worse things that have already happened in America, when the rules have been routinely waived for some.

We do not need to risk still worse consequences if we get yet another President of the United States who acts as if it is just a question of whose ox is gored.



Race: Obama is part of the problem

Deputy Darren Goforth was gunned down at a Harris County, Texas, gas station Friday evening when he stopped to fill up his squad car. He was 47, and he leaves behind a wife and two young children. The execution-style murder appeared unprovoked, though there is an unmistakable angle of racism and anti-cop hatred.

Security footage shows the murderer, who is black, come up behind and shoot 15 rounds into Goforth, who is white. Law enforcement has a theory to why the killer did it. In a press conference, an obviously emotional Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman pinned the blame for this murder on the angry rhetoric surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests. “This rhetoric has gotten out of control,” Hickman said. “We’ve heard ‘black lives matter,’ ‘all lives matter.’ Well, cops' lives matter, too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and just say ‘lives matter’?”

To be sure, blacks aren’t the only ones killing law enforcement personnel. A deranged white man in Louisiana brutally murdered a state patrol officer last weekend. Fourteen officers were killed in August by perpetrators of different races.

Barack Obama condemned the “completely unacceptable” targeting of police officers as “an affront to civilized society,” and he promised to “continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day.” Yet he has also driven some of the anti-police sentiment with his irresponsible rhetoric.

Late last year, after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder launched the 21st Century Policing Task Force, which Mark Alexander labeled “a $265 million charade based on the underlying assumption that cops generally have racial biases.”

They claimed their goal is an “honest conversation” about disparate treatment of blacks by law enforcement. “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem,” Obama said then. “And it’s my job as president to help solve it.”

After reading the Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, it’s hard to conclude there isn’t a real problem in at least that police department, and likely many others. Police are human, after all. But, as Alexander also noted, “This ‘problem’ of ‘not being treated equally’ is Obamaspeak for ‘cops are racists.’” It’s far too broad a brush.

To further illustrate those assumptions, Obama said, “A combination of bad training [and] departments that really are not trying to root out biases, or tolerate sloppy police work; a combination in some cases of folks just not knowing any better, and, in a lot of cases, subconscious fear of folks who look different — all of this contributes to a national problem that’s going to require a national solution.”

So while it’s appropriate and welcome for Obama to express outrage at Goforth’s murder, it’s a stark contrast to his previous rhetoric.

Indeed, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke blasted Obama, saying, “I’m disgusted there’s been no sense of urgency by the president of the United States over these cop killings. Look, he breathed life into this anti-cop sentiment, this cop hatred, and he stands by as it goes on. He went out and visited a federal prison, for heaven’s sake — federal prisoners and he pardoned 46 of them.”

That said, it goes too far to lay the blame for these murders squarely on Obama’s shoulders. Each cop killer is responsible for his own actions. To argue differently falls into the same line of thinking that causes leftists to blame Sarah Palin’s Facebook page for the lunatic who killed six near Tucson and wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords, or the race-baiting hoards that blamed a flag for the Charleston murders.

But there’s an unmistakable thread of racial hate being fomented among blacks by the nation’s first black president — a man whose election was supposed to herald a new age of racial harmony. Instead, our cities are suffering race riots reminiscent of the 1960s and tension between blacks and law enforcement is at a boiling point. A deranged and angry black homosexual just murdered two white journalists on live TV last week because he followed through on hateful racist sentiment.

For some blacks in the “Black Lives Matter” movement, this is about revenge — revenge for real oppression like slavery and Jim Crow but also every perceived slight or different outcome.

Just two weeks before Goforth was murdered, armed Black Panthers shouted, “We will start creeping up on you in the darkness” — exactly what Goforth’s killer did. Another Black Lives Matter rally featured protesters chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” An LA “life coach” tweeted after Goforth’s murder “this is what justice looks like.” We can only hope such abhorrent ideas are held by a tiny minority.



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, September 02, 2015

Milwaukee Sheriff: Obama ‘Started This War on Police’

In response to the execution-style murder of  Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, who was shot multiple times at a gas station in Cypress, Texas, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. strongly criticized what he called the “black lies matter” movement and stressed that President Barack Obama himself had “started this war on police.”

On Fox’s “Justice With Judge Jeanine” on Aug. 29, the host asked Sheriff Clarke,  “Is it open season on law enforcement in this country?”

Sheriff Clarke said,  “Judge, I am too pissed off tonight to be diplomatic about what’s going on and I’m not going to stick my head in the sand about it.”

“I said last December that war had been declared on the American police officer led by some high profile people, one of them coming out of the White House, and one coming out of the United States Department of Justice,” said Clarke.

“And it’s open season right now,” he said.  “There’s no doubt about it. Anytime a law enforcement officer is killed, a little bit of every police officer in America dies along with them.”

Later in the interview, Judge Jeanine asked, “Finally, sheriff, the national rhetoric that’s going on. You say that people need to push back and we need, when we see things on Facebook and social media. You know, the truth is, people can say and do what they want. This is America. But, without leadership, there isn’t going to be any different reaction. More people seem to be emboldened by this kind of thing.”

Sheriff Clarke said,  “Right, and that’s why I said that the president of the United States started this war on police.”

“Look, and I know what you mean, judge, by that, but it’s not absolute,” said the sheriff.  “You can’t say anything you want in the United States of America: you cannot threaten people’s lives, you can’t call for the killing of people like we’re seeing from some of these things.”

“That is not First Amendment protected,” said Clarke.  “That is filth, that is slime, and there are some law enforcement implications that can be dealt with at the Department of Justice and with state attorney’s offices across the United States.”

“I love the First Amendment,” he continued.  “I love freedom of speech. You are not free to threaten my life or anybody else’s.”

Deputy Darren Goforth was killed on Friday, Aug. 28, while he was pumping gas into his car at a gas station.  The killer walked up from behind and shot Goforth multiple times in the back.

Shannon J. Miles, 30, was arrested on Aug. 29 and charged with capital murder in the death of Goforth.  Several Texas law enforcement officials have called the murder a “cold-blooded assassination.”



Obama Tries To Use Courts To Skew Votes Towards Democrats

 The recently concluded federal trial over North Carolina’s election rules proved one thing beyond a reasonable doubt: The Obama administration and its partisan, big-money, racial-interest-group allies will stop at nothing to win elections. And using the courts to change election rules is a key part of their strategy.

That was clearly evident in the federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. The plaintiffs, including the Justice Department, challenged a number of election reforms implemented in 2013 that were designed to reduce the cost and complexity of running elections and make it harder to commit voter fraud.

The administration pushed a novel legal argument. In its telling, if a change in election rules might statistically affect blacks more than whites, it constitutes illegal discrimination. For example, if 98 percent of whites have a voter ID but only 97.5 percent of blacks have one, then requiring voters to present ID violates federal law. Never mind the fact that getting an ID is free, easy, and open to everyone without regard to race. And never mind if a policy change is in line with the rules of many other states, or if it’s explicitly sanctioned by federal law. The mere act of changing the law in the wrong direction is discriminatory.

In other words, the Obama administration would turn the Voting Rights Act into a one-way ratchet to help Democrats. The court refused to go along.



The New U.S. Business Model: ObamaCorps

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) handed down a decision last week that could remake a vast swath of the economy. Where have we heard that before with this administration? The rule essentially took nine million American workers employed by just under 800,000 franchise businesses and moved their employment from the direct supervision of the franchisee to the big-brand parent company. To paraphrase Joe Biden’s comments when ObamaCare was signed, this is a big freaking deal.

The Democrat-controlled NRLB, Barack Obama’s instrument for decisions and rulings benefiting labor unions — involving issues such as collective bargaining and the minimum wage, just to name two — could potentially destroy the franchise business model. How? The NLRB blurred the lines of “direct and immediate” control over employees of franchises, meaning the corporation now has more control than the franchise.

The partisan vote, supported only by Democrats in the majority on the NRLB, undermines the current responsibility of the franchise owner as the business owner and employer that hires, fires, pays employees, determines promotions, raises and benefits offered. As always, the Obama administration aims to make everything part of a centrally controlled process dominated by the government.

In effect, the NLRB’s ruling has turned business entrepreneurs who have risked capital, hired staff and sacrificed for earnings as franchise owners into middle managers to oversee employees on the payroll of the big corporation.

In the era of economic failure caused by the too-big-to-fails, Obama’s union thugs, who are federally tasked with representing worker rights as an agency, have only turned the large corporate entities into larger corporate entities.

Franchises are contracts to what are functionally small business owners, through which corporations can leverage the scale of purchasing, advertising and brand development to local businesses that agree to maintain product and service standards regarding quality and pricing. Otherwise, the franchise owner controls the business. A prime example: 90% of McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, and those franchises employ 1.5 million of McDonald’s 1.9 million employees. Other large brands using the franchise model include food-industry giants such as Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s, and service industry corporations like Hampton Inns, Hilton Hotel brands, Great Clips hair salons, Liberty Tax Service and Save-A-Lot Foods.

But as Beth Milito, senior legal counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, explains, “If … corporations are suddenly responsible for the franchise employees, they’ll be forced to exert more control over the franchisees.” In fact, she adds, they might even “eliminate the franchise model entirely and take direct control over the locations.”

Ironically, the first black president has made it tougher for minorities, who, according to The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk, are “almost 50% more likely” to own franchised businesses versus non-franchised businesses. So much for empowering minority-owned businesses in the Obama economy.

So why is the NRLB forcing employers to abdicate their business processes to the Giant Corporation model?

You already know. Large employers make easier targets for labor unions to win unionization. Soon, there could be the Ronald McDonald Teamsters, the Great Clips Scissorworkers, and the United Brotherhood of Hilton Garden Inn Employees. The “protections” offered by labor unions are documented and proven: The mediocre and worst employees are protected and any who work hard carry the load of the former. Many union members are good workers, but there are some very rotten apples in the bunch, too (like this New Jersey teacher who gets to keep his $90,000 job despite being tardy more than a hundred times). And above all, Big Labor is a critical Democrat constituency.

Union membership is at historical lows, especially outside the confines of government, with only 7.4 million workers in private-sector unions in 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But those who fear competition and personal accountability in the workplace are using their favorite vehicle — tyrannical government — to create a situation inviting thuggery organized labor.

Obama has successfully socialized America’s health care — ObamaCare; provided cell phones as part of welfare — ObamaPhones; created new controls for the Internet — ObamaNet; is working to force neighborhoods to build low-income housing run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — ObamaHoods. Why would this tyrant not move to destroy the free market system and effective business models through organized labor’s oppression and government-controlled prices and wages with ObamaCorps? He’s got a country to fundamentally transform, after all.



Water water everywhere but not enough to drink -- in corrupt California

California borders the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world, so desalination is a no-brainer for the Golden State. But as Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee shows, government is not exactly eager to slake the parched state’s thirst.

The San Diego County Water Authority is building a desalination plant near Carlsbad. The company in charge of the project, Poseidon Resources, is planning another at Huntington Beach in Orange County. As Walters notes, “Last week, a scientific panel gave a positive nod to the state Coastal Commission for Poseidon’s plan to draw in seawater, which has been a sticking point in its permit application. There was no particular reason why it should have been, other than that some folks in the environmental community reflexively oppose any project to increase California’s water supply, even in the midst of a historic drought.”

San Diego County has an elected government and so does the city of Carlsbad. But the desalination plant must bend the knee to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) an unelected body that overrides the elected governments of coastal counties and cities on land use and property rights issues. The CCC started as a temporary body during the first reign of Jerry Brown, and in typical style the state made it permanent. Headed and staffed by regulatory zealots, the CCC combines Stalinist-style regulation with Mafia-style corruption. In the 1990s, Commissioner Mark Nathanson served prison time for shaking down celebrities for bribes.

A scientific panel may have given the CCC the nod for seawater induction, but that is no guarantee the CCC will approve further plans. It does not need to face the voters, and it now has power to levy fines directly. Worse, the CCC serves the interest of those who, as Walters says, oppose “any” project to increase the state’s water supply.

Governor Jerry Brown wants to drill two massive tunnels under the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta at an estimated cost of $25 billion. If the governor supports the southern California desalination plants, Walters explains, “he would be undercutting the tunnel project, which he clearly sees as completing the State Water Project his father began and adding to his own political legacy.” San Diego County’s desalinated water, meanwhile, will cost $2,000 an acre-foot, but as Walters observes, that is scarcely a half-cent per gallon. Therefore, “It makes a lot of sense – perhaps more sense than spending billions of dollars on a couple of pipes that won’t increase supply.”



Study delivers bleak verdict on validity of psychology experiment results

Psychs are around 95% Leftist so a lack of care about the truth was to be expected

Of 100 studies published in top-ranking journals in 2008, 75% of social psychology experiments and half of cognitive studies failed the replication test

A major investigation into scores of claims made in psychology research journals has delivered a bleak verdict on the state of the science.

An international team of experts repeated 100 experiments published in top psychology journals and found that they could reproduce only 36% of original findings.

The study, which saw 270 scientists repeat experiments on five continents, was launched by psychologists in the US in response to rising concerns over the reliability of psychology research.

“There is no doubt that I would have loved for the effects to be more reproducible,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology who led the study at the University of Virgina. “I am disappointed, in the sense that I think we can do better.”

“The key caution that an average reader should take away is any one study is not going to be the last word,” he added. “Science is a process of uncertainty reduction, and no one study is almost ever a definitive result on its own.”

All of the experiments the scientists repeated appeared in top ranking journals in 2008 and fell into two broad categories, namely cognitive and social psychology. Cognitive psychology is concerned with basic operations of the mind, and studies tend to look at areas such as perception, attention and memory. Social psychology looks at more social issues, such as self esteem, identity, prejudice and how people interact.

In the investigation, a whopping 75% of the social psychology experiments were not replicated, meaning that the originally reported findings vanished when other scientists repeated the experiments. Half of the cognitive psychology studies failed the same test. Details are published in the journal Science.

Even when scientists could replicate original findings, the sizes of the effects they found were on average half as big as reported first time around. That could be due to scientists leaving out data that undermined their hypotheses, and by journals accepting only the strongest claims for publication.

John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said.



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, September 01, 2015

More on the Birthright Citizenship issue

Only Donald Trump could get everyone talking about the arcane intricacies of the 14th Amendment.

After Trump announced his intention to review birthright citizenship to curtail the “anchor baby” problem, a fiery debate has erupted as to whether it was both morally and constitutionally right to do such a thing.

Considering The Donald’s involvement, it’s no surprise some of the most vociferous arguments against the billionaire populist’s proposal have come from the right.

The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski declared that there is “nothing more conservative than birthright citizenship.” The desire to eliminate it is thoroughly “un-conservative,” in Tracinski’s opinion, and would be a gross violation of the Constitution if enacted.

John Yoo, former Bush administration Department of Justice lawyer and the man who authored the legal justification for enhanced interrogation, argued in National Review that eliminating citizenship for the children of illegals would undermine the very nature of the Constitution. Employing conservative-friendly “living Constitution vs. Constitution’s text” rhetoric, Yoo makes the case for why the 14th Amendment is just fine the way it is and how only “nativist Democrats” would want to change the fabric of the Constitution.

And this argument comes from the guy who “discovered” justification for enhanced interrogation in our country’s premier legal document.

Tracinski and Yoo aren’t the only voices on the right up in arms over the idea of changing America’s laws overseeing citizenship. The Wall Street Journal, Reason, Commentary, a plentiful number of Fox News personalities and every conservative columnist published by The Washington Post are also incensed by the proposal and attack it as an affront to American values.

Even though the majority of conservative commentators seems to be supporting giving the children of illegal immigrants citizenship, the vast majority of right-leaning voters is not on the same page.

According to a 2011 Rasmussen poll, nearly two-thirds of likely American voters are opposed to giving automatic citizenship to so-called anchor babies. That number included 83 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of self-professed moderates.

It’s no wonder then that several GOP candidates followed up Trump’s announcement with their own promises to reform America’s citizenship laws — with the notable exceptions of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But why then is there such a major disconnect between the conservative establishment and its followers on this issue?

Because, as The Donald’s strong poll numbers are also showcasing, the two sides may be motivated by different principles. On the conservative establishment side are those who stand for the traditional precepts of classical liberalism above all else; on the grassroots side are those who stand for “America First” above all else.

Ben Domenech made the best analysis of this divide in his widely shared Federalist essay, “Are Republicans For Freedom Or White Identity Politics?” While the title should give away which side Domenech places himself on, the commentator says the party is being torn apart by these diverging ideologies.

The Federalist publisher claims the GOP has always been the party of classical liberalism, but that the passions unleashed by Trump and his supporters represents a dangerous threat to that Republican heritage. It also pushes the party in line with trends in Europe — a continent that no longer has serious old-school liberal parties anymore, while having plenty of successful nationalist fronts.

As Domenech notes, the rise of these apparently “dangerous” parties is due to the failures of the established political class, which is the same reason why Trump is so popular right now among disaffected American voters.

While the author likes to characterize the present Republican civil war as one between freedom and “white identity politics,” a more accurate way to describe it as classical liberalism versus nationalism.

It’s very possible for both of these political attachments to share the same party roof and for most of its history, the GOP has housed both ideological traits. However, on issues like birthright citizenship, you can see these two persuasions battling it out and ending up with irreconcilable differences.

Wanting to give anchor babies automatic citizenship solely on the basis of a divided Supreme Court decision that concerned the child of legal immigrants strikes many conservative voters as absurd. To them, this attitude values abstract principles over common sense.

It’s also absurd for a movement that prides itself on publicly opposing other Supreme Court decisions to accept a single one from 1898 as an unamendable legal commandment.

But to the right-wing supporters of automatic birth citizenship, that’s an acceptable cost for cherishing classical liberalism.

It’s not surprising that there is so much acrimony between those who show any sympathy for Trump’s candidacy and the many conservative pundits who loathe everything about the mogul. You can see the fighting at any given hour on Twitter.

That animosity and the sense that Trump’s campaign jeopardizes Republican chances in the general elections has prompted a few consultants to call for the “cleansing” of the billionaire’s supporters. Considering he is polling with at least a quarter of Republican support, that call amounts to a wish for electoral suicide.

But even without the attempted purging, the division will still be there if Republican and conservative leaders don’t try to meet their base halfway — particularly on anchor babies.

On an issue that has wide-ranging support among the American public, Republican legislators should respond to the call and resolve the anchor baby problem. If it takes an amendment to fix, so be it.

And contrary to the views of some conservative critics, revising birthright citizenship would not undermine our nation’s founding principles.

Furthermore, support for citizenship reform would go a long way towards mending the fences with alienated conservatives.

But if the establishment would prefer to stick with the interests of illegal immigrants over the interests of their own voters, then they can expect the party’s bloody civil war to escalate into a conflict that could doom the GOP’s future.



States Approving Huge Premium Increases for medical insurance

“My expectation is that [rate increases] come in significantly lower than what’s being requested,” Barack Obama told a Nashville audience last month. After all, he promised ObamaCare would bend the cost curve down, right? And that it would save the typical family $2,500 a year in premiums, right? Wrong. So much for that.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak “answered [that question] on Friday by greenlighting the full 36.3% increase sought by the biggest health plan in the state, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She said the insurer demonstrated the hefty increase for 2016 was needed to cover higher-than-expected claims from sick people who signed up for individual policies in the first two years of the Affordable Care Act.” So, Madam Commissioner, you’re telling us the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly, uh, Affordable?

So far, Tennessee’s rate increase is the highest approved this year, but two other states — North Carolina and Maryland — exceeded 30%, and half a dozen more were in double digits. Others, like Minnesota (seeking a whopping 54% hike), are yet to be determined. And lest anyone think higher premiums were paying for better coverage, most insurance carriers are also increasing deductibles and copays. Our own plan here in our humble shop now offers this wonderful trifecta of higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher copays. So we pay more up front, we pay more before we can receive care, and then we pay more when insurance finally does kick in. Remind us again how great ObamaCare is…



The fish oil religion takes a hit

There are a number of beliefs in medical science that are highly resistant to disconfirmation.  The magic power of fish oil is one such religion.  So the findings below will barely shake the faith

Fish oil supplements are taken by millions of people to keep their wits sharp as they age.  But doubts have emerged as to whether the capsules actually do anything to slow mental decline.  A study of 4,000 people found no evidence omega-3 supplements helps people maintain their brain power.

Scientists tracked the patients for five years, finding that the whole group declined at roughly the same rate, no matter whether they had taken the supplements.


Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lutein/Zeaxanthin, or Other Nutrient Supplementation on Cognitive Function

Emily Y. Chew et al


Importance:  Observational data have suggested that high dietary intake of saturated fat and low intake of vegetables may be associated with increased risk of Alzheimer disease.

Objective:  To test the effects of oral supplementation with nutrients on cognitive function.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  In a double-masked randomized clinical trial (the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 [AREDS2]), retinal specialists in 82 US academic and community medical centers enrolled and observed participants who were at risk for developing late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from October 2006 to December 2012. In addition to annual eye examinations, several validated cognitive function tests were administered via telephone by trained personnel at baseline and every 2 years during the 5-year study.

Interventions:  Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) (1 g) and/or lutein (10 mg)/zeaxanthin (2 mg) vs placebo were tested in a factorial design. All participants were also given varying combinations of vitamins C, E, beta carotene, and zinc.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The main outcome was the yearly change in composite scores determined from a battery of cognitive function tests from baseline. The analyses, which were adjusted for baseline age, sex, race, history of hypertension, education, cognitive score, and depression score, evaluated the differences in the composite score between the treated vs untreated groups. The composite score provided an overall score for the battery, ranging from −22 to 17, with higher scores representing better function.

Results:  A total of 89% (3741/4203) of AREDS2 participants consented to the ancillary cognitive function study and 93.6% (3501/3741) underwent cognitive function testing. The mean (SD) age of the participants was 72.7 (7.7) years and 57.5% were women. There were no statistically significant differences in change of scores for participants randomized to receive supplements vs those who were not. The yearly change in the composite cognitive function score was −0.19 (99% CI, −0.25 to −0.13) for participants randomized to receive LCPUFAs vs −0.18 (99% CI, −0.24 to −0.12) for those randomized to no LCPUFAs (difference in yearly change, −0.03 [99% CI, −0.20 to 0.13]; P = .63). Similarly, the yearly change in the composite cognitive function score was −0.18 (99% CI, −0.24 to −0.11) for participants randomized to receive lutein/zeaxanthin vs −0.19 (99% CI, −0.25 to −0.13) for those randomized to not receive lutein/zeaxanthin (difference in yearly change, 0.03 [99% CI, −0.14 to 0.19]; P = .66). Analyses were also conducted to assess for potential interactions between LCPUFAs and lutein/zeaxanthin and none were found to be significant.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among older persons with AMD, oral supplementation with LCPUFAs or lutein/zeaxanthin had no statistically significant effect on cognitive function.

JAMA. 2015;314(8):791-801. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.9677

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 31, 2015

America's race war hotting up

Once again, a white is killed because he is white

A serial criminal has been arrested in connection with the 'senseless' and 'cold-blooded' killing of a sheriff's deputy who was shot dead during a gas station ambush.

Darren Goforth, a 47-year-old father of two, was pumping fuel into his patrol car at a Chevron station Friday night when a man crept up behind him and opened fire.

Shannon J Miles, 30, who has a long criminal record which includes firearms offences, was arrested on Friday night and has been charged with capital murder. He is being held in Harris County Jail and is expected to be arraigned on Monday.

After Goforth fell to the ground, the suspect allegedly kept firing bullets into his body in what colleagues described as a 'cold-blooded and cowardly' execution.

No definitive motive has been put forward for the killing - but Harris County sheriff Ron Hickman pointed the finger at the Black Lives Matter protest group for their 'out of control rhetoric' against law enforcement.

In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Hickman said that the group had 'ramped up' public sentiment against officers like Goforth, helping create the conditions for the attack.

He said: 'We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter - well, cops' lives matter too. Why don't we just drop the qualifier and say "lives matter".'



Anchor Babies: A new big issue for Republicans

America is still a welcoming country for immigrants, but the sentiment for pulling up the welcome mat is gaining steam. Failure to secure our borders, lax enforcement of immigration laws by a federal government that therefore tacitly encourages border crossing and overstay of visas, the perception that illegal aliens are sponging off the welfare system, and immigrants' growing lack of assimilation has angered millions of Americans.

Enter Donald Trump, who has made immigration a key part of his platform. His latest vow is to get illegal immigrants “out of there day one … out so fast your head will spin.” With his corresponding surge in the political polls, the national conversation on the topic has shifted focus to the phrase “anchor babies.” It’s the term describing the effect of birthright citizenship, which itself is based on a faulty interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment when applied to children born to those here illegally.

The number of those who have come to the United States to give birth is increasing. While the Pew Hispanic Center says four out of five children of illegal aliens were born in this country, it’s now estimated that one out of 10 American births overall would fall under the description “anchor babies.” Most are the offspring of illegal immigrants who understand current deportation policy gives them a “get out of jail free” card once the child is born — along with a claim to our generous public treasury. But some anchor babies are born to “birth tourists” who arrive weeks before birth and do so specifically in order to have an American passport holder in the family to make securing their own visas easier.

It’s no secret that the Republican Party has factions on both sides of the immigration debate. Many of the other 16 presidential hopefuls align more or less with the hardline stance Trump has taken, yet it was immigration moderate Jeb Bush who became a lightning rod for Democrat criticism for using the term “anchor baby.”

In typical Jeb fashion, he tried to walk it back, saying, “What I’m talking about is the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts — frankly, it’s more related to Asian people — coming into our country, having children in that organized effort, taking advantage of that noble concept which is birthright citizenship.”

Needless to say, that muddled attempt at clarity didn’t work, and Democrats stuck to their marching orders.

“The ‘anchor baby’ narrative is politics at its worst,” wailed Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the all-Democrat Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in a Washington Post op-ed. It serves “mostly as a Republican dog-whistle,” she added, “tapping into an implicit racial sentiment that suggests children of color are less than fully American or they’re just a vehicle for gaming the system.”

Bush had no support from Asians, either. Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said, “All that is accomplished through talk of anchor-babies — be they from Latin America, Asia, Europe, or Africa — is to use xenophobic fears to further isolate immigrants. It’s time for our country to return to a substantive discussion on immigration.”

But shouldn’t a “substantive discussion” on immigration include more than identity politics? Birthright citizenship is a legitimate topic for consideration, yet Democrats never fail to blow their own dog whistle by crying “RACIST!” at anyone who broaches the subject. Rule of Law is essential to a free country, but Democrats (and too many Republicans) are more interested in craven pandering.

Like him or not, one can’t deny Donald Trump’s impact on the 2016 campaign, which is largely the result of his willingness to raise issues that establishment Republicans would rather sweep under the rug. At least some Americans are listening now.



Mark Levin: Federal Government Is ‘Stealing From Unborn Babies’

Popular radio show host Mark Levin says when it comes to out of control entitlement spending, the federal government is “stealing from unborn babies.”

“Future generations don’t vote, they don’t exist yet so they keep stealing from them,” Levin explains to The Daily Signal. “They keep robbing from them which means they are going to have limited liberty, they’re going to have limited opportunity, limited wealth creation and we’re spending it all today … we are stealing from unborn babies.”

Levin details the problem in his new book, “Plunder and Deceit: Big Government’s Exploitation of Young People and the Future.” While Levin has written books before about the woes of a massive federal bureaucracy, this new venture aims directly at the younger generation and the impact it will have on them, especially when it comes to federal spending on entitlements.

“My concern is that your children and my children are going to be left holding the bag and there will be no way out.”

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

Levin points out how the two Social Security trust funds used to pay out benefits essentially have no money in them, filled with a bunch of IOU notes.

“I don’t even think people who receive these benefits know what’s going on. Many of them don’t know that the money doesn’t exist. All that money that they paid into the system, there is no system. That money was taken and it was spent the second it was taken on other government projects and other government programs.”

Levin says he’s sick and tired of establishment politicians talking about the need to reform entitlement spending. He says there are always plenty of proposals out there but President Barack Obama and GOP leadership don’t want to touch them.

“If we don’t start discussing them then those who claim to defend these programs, they’re the ones who are going to be responsible for their collapse.”



The unsinkable "anti-oxidant" religion takes some big hits

Vitamins are good for us. We have grown up with this as a basic fact of health. That's why it seems like common sense to take supplements and to use creams with vitamins C and E to keep our skin looking young.

These vitamins have gained renown for working as antioxidants. Supplement-makers promise that antioxidants protect the cells that make up our skin and internal organs from being damaged by free radicals - molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, which can also be inhaled from polluted air and cigarettes. They claim that this damage is a significant cause of ageing.

However, disturbing evidence is emerging that shows antioxidant supplements are not only often unnecessary, they may also do more harm than good.

New studies reveal that taking supplementary vitamins C and E can switch off the body's ability to protect itself against disease and damage - increasing our danger of premature death. These two vitamins may even prevent us benefiting from exercise.

Vitamins C and E are key to the multi-million-pound anti-ageing beauty industry, which markets them as a magical 'elixir of youth'. But a new investigation has reported that they can instead make skin age faster.

It has been thought that free radicals can break down our cells' protective membranes and damage the DNA inside. This in turn may make the cells age faster, as well as increasing the risk of cancerous mutations developing.

However, the California-based Buck Institute for Research on Ageing this month published work suggesting that free radicals are essential for skin healing and healthy regeneration in people under 50.

When the scientists bred mice with excess free radicals, they expected to see their skin wrinkle prematurely. But instead the opposite happened: their skin quality improved.

Dr Michael Velarde, the study's lead author, says that while scientists previously believed free radicals to be harmful to skin, it seems that nature has harnessed their powers to 'optimise skin health' - though the precise workings of the process are not yet understood.

It is only once we pass the age of 50 that our cells' energy stores get depleted and wear out, and the free radicals' benefit ebbs away, the researchers said. So women under 50 who use vitamins C and E to keep their skin young may actually be making it age faster.

It is just one of the latest studies to show that we should stop treating free radicals as the 'enemy'.

They may pose a challenge to our cell health, but it appears that our cells need to be challenged in order to remain robust. It's rather like they need regular workouts in the gym in order to stay buff.

Michael Ristow, a professor of energy metabolism at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has found that our bodies create free radicals when we exercise intensely. This prompts our bodies to mount better defences against those free radicals, effectively strengthening our cellular defences and making our mitochondria - the tiny powerhouses that generate the energy within our cells, which we need to survive - work harder.

In 2009, Professor Ristow reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that if we take antioxidant vitamins, the strengthening system is blocked and fails to work. Meanwhile, in June, research reported to the American Diabetes Association warned that giving vitamin C and E supplements to diabetic patients could increase their risk of dying prematurely.

Kumar Sharma, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who led the study, believes this is because diabetic patients' mitochondria tend to underperform. Therefore, they suffer particularly badly if their cells are not stimulated into behaving energetically by free radicals. In turn, vital organs can become extremely susceptible to damage.

Professor Sharma adds there is another danger; regular physical exertion can improve the control of insulin in diabetics, but they fail to get any benefit from their exercise if they take vitamins C and E.

A further worry is evidence suggesting that antioxidant pills may actually make our bodies age faster - making vitamins C and E a shortcut to an early grave.

We should use this information to ask ourselves whether or not we should continue to eat vitamins and nutritional supplements as if they were sweets

There are also concerns that high doses of vitamin E can significantly raise the risk of cancer. Last year, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle warned that men should not take high doses of the vitamin because it increases their risk of developing prostate cancer by up to a fifth.

Now, evidence is emerging that may help to explain what is going on. Researchers at McGill University in Canada, writing in the journal Cell, say that free radicals can make our cells live longer by altering a mechanism called apoptosis - a process in which damaged cells are instructed to commit suicide when necessary, for example to avoid becoming cancerous when their DNA has mutated, or to kill off viruses that have invaded the cell.

The scientists have found from laboratory tests that free radicals can stimulate this 'suicide mechanism' to do something completely different in healthy cells - to bolster their defences and increase their lifespan.

Importantly, the concerns centre around taking antioxidants in supplements rather than through diet. Antioxidants are found in foods, but in much lower amounts than in supplements, and experts agree these have a protective effect. Foods also provide a variety of antioxidants that work together in tandem - rather than giving an unnaturally high dose of one vitamin.

Nevertheless, manufacturers of cosmetics, foods and supplements are continuing to make grand claims about 'health-enhancing', 'age-defying' benefits of antioxidant vitamins in man-made products.

But be aware these benefits are far from proven.



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 30, 2015

Obama's Injustice Dept

They were determined to get convictions against New Orleans Cops -- by fair means AND foul.  The convictions they got have now been voided because of the egregious prosecutorial misbehaviour.  There is no respect for either law or justice in the Obama administration

As we've previously observed, the Obama jihad to fundamentally transform America's police, spearheaded by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, proceeds from the premise that police departments are corrupt institutions, beset by a culture of racism and law-breaking. This week, after a federal appeals court's exposé of a breathtaking prosecutorial conspiracy to deprive indicted cops of their civil rights, and then cover it up, it is again time to ask: Which is the corrupt institution beset by a culture of racism and law-breaking - the nation's police, or the Justice Department, which presumes to tame them?

To remember how we got here: Under the stewardship of Eric Holder, and now Loretta Lynch, Justice pounces on every tragedy that Al Sharpton's shock troops mau-mau into a racial crisis. Inevitably, the racism angle melts away under the spotlight of investigation, but that does not stop DOJ. Exploiting the intimidating power of its bottomless budget - out of which the Republican-controlled Congress has not sliced a thin dime - Justice extorts municipalities with the threat of prosecutions and costly civil suits until they say "Uncle," agreeing to adopt Obama-compliant policing. (Recall that in 1997, when former terrorist Bill Ayers penned a polemic that likened the American justice system to South Africa under apartheid, then-state senator Obama blurbed it as ";a searing and timely account.")

Predictably, the result is police paralysis, a condition Heather Mac Donald diagnoses as the ";Ferguson effect." It has led to rising crime across the nation, particularly in municipalities that have signed consent decrees (i.e., that have surrendered on the Civil Rights Division's terms). The principal victims are minority communities that bear the brunt of law enforcement's retreat.

Into this setting drops an explosive ruling by the U.S. Court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It has upheld the reversal of civil-rights convictions against five New Orleans police officers. The court's painstaking opinion concludes that, despite the severity of the charges, the district judge properly threw out the convictions because of Justice Department corruption so shocking that "words like ‘incredible' and ‘novel' and ‘unprecedented' were no longer enough" to describe it.

The case arose a decade ago, from what the court describes as "the anarchy following Hurricane Katrina." After a report of shots being fired at New Orleans police on the Danziger Bridge, additional cops were rushed to the scene. In the chaos, police shot and killed two men who turned out to be unarmed (one, developmentally disabled). Four other civilians were wounded. All of the victims were black. Though four of the seven officers eventually charged are black or Hispanic (the other three are white), Sharpton's "National Action Network" quickly labeled the incident "a racial tragedy."

The Justice Department took over the case against the police after Louisiana state prosecutors botched it into a mistrial. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans (USAO) filed a 25-count indictment alleging serious civil-rights and firearms felonies. There were also obstruction-of-justice charges, to which several officers admitted in guilty pleas.

A tense, racially charged atmosphere enveloped the case, no small thanks to self-styled community activists who sought to condemn not just the defendants but the entire New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). This modus operandi has become all too familiar: When the facts of a case debunk the libel that racism motivated police action - either because some of the cops involved are black or because the evidence proves cops were responding to aggression rather than instigating it - the Left reverts to its theory that racism is institutionally endemic. Even unwitting minority cops act on racist assumptions, we are told, because police culture is to blame.

In New Orleans, this campaign played out in the media, including widely read blogs. It turned out that a prodigious agitator was Sal Perricone, a high-ranking prosecutor in the USAO. As the appellate court recounts, even before the Justice Department filed its indictment, Perricone, using assumed names, began posting commentary on, the website of the Times-Picayune, that "castigated the defendants and their lawyers and repeatedly chastised the NOPD as a fish ‘rotten from the head down.'";

This is serious prosecutorial malfeasance. All lawyers who are members of a court's bar have an obligation to promote the integrity of the court's proceedings - including to ensure that cases are decided by the application of law to facts proved in court, not by inflaming juries with mob passions. Prosecutors, moreover, have a higher ethical obligation to safeguard the rights of the accused - to ensure that even those who deserve to be convicted are afforded a fair trial with their lawful rights respected.

In New Orleans, Perricone's disgraceful conduct was not uncovered until after the defendants were convicted in July 2011, following a two-week trial. Naturally, they moved for a new trial, arguing that the assiduous campaign had poisoned public opinion, and thus the jury pool, against them.

Initially, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, who had presided over the trial and harshly sentenced the convicted officers, was skeptical of this defense claim. After all, district U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, flanked by his first assistant, Jan Mann, had assured him at a post-trial hearing of the "Gospel truth" that no one else in the USAO knew about, much less encouraged, their colleague Perricone's smear campaign. Plus, as a show of good faith, Letten assigned Ms. Mann - who was also chief of the office's criminal division, the supervisor of all prosecutions - to conduct a vigorous internal investigation designed to assuage the court's concerns.

After this probe, Mann solemnly represented to Judge Engelardt that Perricone was the sole culprit. Except it turned out he wasn't.

Mann's investigation was full of holes and screamingly obvious leads that were not followed. Judge Engelhardt became increasingly alarmed that it didn't add up. He asked more questions, and was troubled by the Justice Department's evasive responses. Finally, there came a grudging, stunning admission: Mann, too, had been in on the anti-police smear campaign. Blogging under a pseudonym, she too had posted attacks on the NOPD, ratcheting up public pressure for guilty verdicts and encouraging other bloggers to belittle the defense being offered by the cops' lawyers. It emerged that Mann's husband, Jim, another supervisory prosecutor in the USAO, was the best friend of her accomplice, Perricone.

These revelations left the judge aghast. He persisted, demanding to know how widespread the anti-cop agitation had been . . . and whether Main Justice in Washington, which typically has hands-on involvement in civil-rights prosecutions, had been complicit.

Engelhardt found he was asking the same questions multiple times, while the Justice Department's answers - when there were answers - seemed ever dodgier. Finally, one detail became so clear it could be concealed no longer: Karla Dobinski, a longtime veteran of Holder's Civil Rights Division in Main Justice, had also posted inflammatory commentary under an assumed name - or, I should say, at least one assumed name. As the Fifth Circuit relates, "Dobinski is disturbingly vague . . . about how many other people in her department were aware of her commenting and whether ‘Dipsos' was her only moniker.";

What is apparent is that revelation of Dobinski's complicity in the smear campaign was late coming, owing to the Justice Department's wagon-circling. What is appalling is that Dobinsky was involved in the case as part of a DOJ "taint team" - the prosecutors specifically assigned to protect the civil rights of the indicted defendants. And what is contemptible is the signature pattern of Obama-administration lawlessness and obstruction.

The appeals court reports that the government's internal probe "simply refused to follow up" on indications of press leaks by officials knowledgeable about the investigation. And you'll be shocked, shocked to hear that the Obama Justice Department somehow managed to "lose" data from key Internet portals for the years 2010 and 2011. The Fifth Circuit found that this purge meant Judge Engelhardt's "attempt to discover other online prosecutorial misconduct was . . . undermined.";

Despite these defiant impediments, the judge pried enough information to learn that at least one defendant had been coerced into pleading guilty, while defense witnesses had been intimidated and threatened with prosecution - inducing them to refuse to testify on behalf of the police. Furthermore, the appellate court found that sentences to which prosecutors agreed in plea deals were "shockingly disparate" from what they sought for those who went to trial - a telltale sign that the Justice Department may have abused its charging discretion to camouflage weaknesses in its case or improprieties in its methods.

In September 2013, in a scathing and meticulous 129-page ruling, Judge Engelhardt acknowledged that the remedy of vacating convictions over prosecutorial misconduct is extraordinary and rarely invoked. But it was a small price to pay in this case, he opined, to safeguard the criminal-justice system from Justice Department conduct he described variously as "bizarre," "appalling" and "grotesque." Now, after studying this shameful episode for nearly two years, the Fifth Circuit has concurred.

So what has become of the prosecutors at the center of this sordid affair - at least the few who have been identified? Perricone resigned shortly after he was found out. Letten, having indignantly told the court and the public that the sole culprit was Perricone, later stepped down. The Fifth Circuit tartly observes that "both Jan Mann and her husband Jim retired with their panoply of federal benefits intact" - and, evidently, with no prospect of being prosecuted for obstruction of justice.

And what of "Dipsos" herself, Karla Dobinski, the Justice Department lawyer at the center of the corrupt scheme to gut the civil rights of police officers? She is still merrily on the job in the Civil Rights Division, having received nothing but a lip-service reprimand. She perseveres in the fundamental transformation mission, schooling America's cops in the Obama administration's rather different practice of "law enforcement."



Costly Regulations Will Reduce Your Retirement Options

The Department of Labor is pushing a new regulation that will limit consumer choice when it comes to retirement savings, and like everything the government does, it’s going to wind up costing you a lot of money.

The rule would impose greater regulations on brokers of retirement accounts such as 401ks and IRAs, to whom people turn for investment advice. Why are stricter rules needed? The proposed rule claims it’s because people generally cannot “prudently manage retirement assets on their own” and therefore the government has to come in and do it for them.

This profoundly condescending attitude is typical of big government regulators. The common man is too dim-witted to function on his own, so he must be controlled. It’s the same sort of reasoning that led to the increased regulations on what kinds of plans insurance companies could offer under the Affordable Care Act, a fact which led John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to dub the rule, “Obamacare for your IRA.”

Many managers of retirement accounts receive what are essentially advertising payments from mutual funds, some of which they then recommend to their customers. Current law already requires that they disclose these payments as conflicts of interest, but the proposal concludes that, “Disclosure alone has proven ineffective” and calls for stricter regulations. The assumption here is that brokers are deliberately sacrificing their clients’ interests by recommending inferior funds. But such a practice would be professional suicide in a competitive market, when customers who are shortchanged can easily flee to the competition.

In fact, these payments allow brokers to charge their customers lower fees, making a service available to Americans who might not otherwise be able to pay for them. Stopping these payments through regulation would drive up prices significantly, not to mention the economic harm that would come from fewer people being able to afford investment advice.

What’s more, a new report from the Financial Services Institute found that the proposed rule will cost taxpayers $3.9 billion – nearly 20 times the estimate used by the Department of Labor. This cost is only for initial implementation of the rule, and doesn’t take into account ongoing compliance costs, or the costs associated with less access to investment advice.

The most frightening thing about the proposed rule, beyond its effect on retirement brokers and their clients, is that it has the potential to lead to direct regulation of retirement plans, preventing certain types of less conventional investments through 401ks or IRAs. The customer who wants to put retirement funds into precious metals or real estate may soon find such investments “unapproved” by the government. This would make the fund custodians liable for losses resulting from the choices of their clients. It’s hard to imagine any custodian being eager to offer such an option, with the knowledge that he will be on the hook if it goes south.

The kind of paternalism that holds that Americans are too stupid to make their own investment choices without government approval ultimately leads to higher costs and fewer options for investors, and a total loss of wealth across the economy. The administration knows this, which is why the Department of Labor dramatically understated the cost of the rule. Having failed to legislate effectively, the Obama administration is now trying to use regulations to advance its agenda. But you can’t regulate your way to prosperity. What you can do is get government out of the way and let people choose how to manage their investments without interference from paternalists who think they know better.



These Are The Words Used To Describe Hillary Clinton

 The top three words voters think of to describe Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are "liar," "dishonest," and "untrustworthy," according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released Thursday.

Clinton does have some positive word association. The next few words on the list are "experience" and "strong." But others include "crook," "untruthful," "criminal" and "deceitful."

Clinton continues to struggle on the issue of trust given the ongoing scandal involving her use of personal email, and her decision to erase thousands of emails that she insists were private and personal, and not work-related.

According to the poll, 61 percent of voters say Clinton is not trustworthy, while 54 percent of voters say the same of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.



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