Friday, October 30, 2015

Is a grateful heart the mark of a conservative?

I think it is. Prayers of thanks are routine for Christians but I think it extends beyond Christians.

I was moved to that thought by the case of conservative Australian cartoonist  ZEG, who is a former member of the armed forces, a former policeman and a very conservative man.  Zeg (Steven Gunnell) undoubtedly has a grateful heart.  At age 48 he has discovered that he has a dangerous vascular formation in his brain that could kill him at any time.  And it is very nearly inoperable. It is probably as I write this that he is undergoing the risky surgery involved. He will probably survive but runs a big risk of being destroyed as a person.

So is Zeg bitter, angry and resentful?  Far from it.  I reproduce on AUSTRALIAN POLITICS the email he sent to people he knows before he went into hospital.  It is one long note of gratitude and thanks to his many friends.  I am proud to be among them. There are even some politicians he praises!

But what struck me particularly was this paragraph:

"Remember always that we inherited this great gift of freedom and democracy from the generations before us -- thus it is our responsibility, NAY,  our duty to ensure that the next and future generations inherit not only what we have now but an even better and more secure freedom"

Could any Leftist write that?  I can't see it.  They HATE what they have inherited.  That we feel a connection with our forefathers and an appreciation of what they worked -- often very hard -- to achieve is a large part of what makes us conservative.  We are connected to our past.  Leftists are not.  Or if they do feel a connection, they despise it.  What sad people!

And as Zeg says, in appreciating the blessings that we have been given through no work of our own, we feel an obligation at least to preserve it.  Most of us would rather just get on with our own lives rather than bothering with politics but, when there are so many twisted and relentless enemies of what is dear to us, we have to fight.

A great Christian song of gratitude and appreciation


Rand Paul on Socialism: ‘If You Don’t Listen … They Exterminate You’

 In an interview on “The Glenn Beck Program” on Monday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called socialism “the most anti-choice economic system,” where ultimately if you don’t listen, “they exterminate you.”

“It’s the most anti-choice economic system. If you don’t listen, they fine you. If you don’t pay the fine, they imprison you. If you will not listen, ultimately what has happened in history – and people get mad when I say this – but they exterminate you, and that’s what happened under Stalin,” said Paul.

During the first Democratic presidential primary debate in, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he would explain what democratic socialism is.

“You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Sanders during the debate.

“We're going to win, because first we're going to explain what democratic socialism is, and what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of one percent in this country own almost 90 percent--own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today--in a rigged economy--that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said at the time.

“Bernie Sanders is talking about the way capitalism is being done is immoral, and he can make a good case for it. The way the crony capitalists are in with the people in Washington, the way Washington is being run is immoral,” Beck said during his program on Monday.

“The problem though is Bernie complains about crony capitalism. He kind of gets it right, but he equates it with all of capitalism, and he actually promotes something called democratic socialism, and I’ve been trying to point out, because I’m on a lot of college campuses – we have a big following in college campuses – that there’s nothing sexy, and there’s nothing cool about socialism,” said Paul.

“What there is, is the implied force that goes along with taking away your choice. They tell you, you cannot make reindeer. You cannot make cars. You cannot sell water. Only the state tells you what you can do. It’s the most anti-choice economic system,” he said.

“If you don’t listen, they fine you. If you don’t pay the fine, they imprison you. If you will not listen, ultimately what has happened in history – and people get mad when I say this – but they exterminate you, and that’s what happened under Stalin,” Paul added.

“People say, oh, no, no, he wants democratic socialism. The problem is a majority can be just as bad as one single authoritarian, and that’s why we shouldn’t allow any of our rights to be subject to a majority,” he said.

“Our Founding Fathers understood that. They understood that your rights come from your creator, and no majority should be able to take them away from you,” Paul said.



Fear of blacks is not racist

Walter E. Williams explains that stereotypes have a "kernel of truth" -- as psychologists long ago pointed out.  See Allport, G. W. (1954). "The nature of prejudice". Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Hillary Clinton told a mixed audience, "I mean, if we're honest, for a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people, the sight of a young black man in a hoodie still evokes a twinge of fear" (

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of that observation, I'd like to ask a question. Would well-meaning, open-minded white people have a similar fear at the sight of an elderly black man using a walker and wearing a hoodie?

Whether we like it or not, easily observed physical characteristics — such as race, sex, height and age — convey information. That's because there is often a correlation between those characteristics and other characteristics not so easily observed. Say that you're a police commander faced with the task of finding vandals responsible for slashing car tires and smashing windows. How much of the city's resources would you expend investigating 60- to 70-year-old Chinese men? You probably wouldn't spend resources on any men in that age group. So who is responsible for your decision not to investigate 60- to 70-year-old Chinese men and other men of the same age? If you said it's the behavioral reputation of that demographic as a group, you'd be absolutely right.

When I had nearly completed my doctorate at UCLA, Mrs. Williams and I purchased a home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a high-end, exclusive suburb of Washington. Our house was on the corner, and motorists often tossed debris on our lawn adjacent to the street. A Saturday chore was to pick up the trash. One Saturday, an elderly white man offered, "When you're finished working here, can you come to work at my place?" I responded that I'd be busy putting the finishing touches on my doctoral dissertation and would not have the time. The man was embarrassed and apologized profusely.

The man took for granted, with a high degree of probability, that if one saw a black man picking up trash in Chevy Chase in 1971, he was a hired hand. The man's action may have been annoying, but it would be an error to classify it as racism.

When I was awarded a national fellowship at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in 1975, we moved to Palo Alto, California. I was determined to lose weight and shape up during my year at Hoover. I visited Stanford's basketball court. White guys argued with one another to have me on their team, but that was the last time. I could barely run up and down the court, much less do anything constructive upon arrival. They appeared angry with me. No doubt their displeasure was, "How dare you be a 6-foot-5-inch black guy and bad at basketball?!"

So who is responsible for such an expectation held by whites? If blacks didn't have a reputation for basketball excellence, I wouldn't have suffered the scorn. By the way, 10 months later and about 15 pounds lighter, I returned to the basketball court with my former excellence, dignity and racial pride.

So what are we to make of Clinton's observation? Who is responsible for "a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people" experiencing a "twinge of fear" at "the sight of a young black man in a hoodie"? Before coming up with your answer, know that in cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, black taxi drivers often avoid picking up young black males. A black female commissioner in Washington once warned cabdrivers against picking up "dangerous-looking" characters — for example, a "young black guy ... with (his) shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants, (and) unlaced tennis shoes." A black and Hispanic president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers told his drivers to "profile" their passengers. "The God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics," he said.

So we have black taxi drivers who get the same "twinge of fear" as Hillary Clinton's liberal white people. Who is responsible for creating that fear? I hope you won't say black taxi drivers and well-meaning white people.



Obama Tells Falsehoods About Israel, Retracts, Then Repeats Falsehoods

The top propaganda tactics the administration is using to demonize the Jewish State

After weeks of murderous Palestinian stabbing attacks upon innocent Israelis, how has the Obama Administration responded?

Although Israel has been killing or apprehending knife-wielding terrorists, while Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has been inciting and glorifying their acts of murder, the Administration presents both sides as morally equivalent, while insinuating or even asserting Israeli responsibility.

Obama officials have been doing this in five ways:

1. Condemning violence and incitement on both sides: Specifically condemning attacks on innocent Israelis, Secretary of State John Kerry nonetheless also called upon “all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm” and called for “leadership that condemns the tit-for-tat.” And State Department spokesman John Kirby explicitly stated, “we recognize that incitement can go both ways here.”

2. Refusing to identify or condemn PA incitement to violence: Despite disseminating falsehoods  about Palestinian terrorists being innocents murdered in cold blood by Israel and Muslim supremacist calls by Abbas for Muslims to block imaginary Israeli take-over and “desecration” of Muslim shrines with “their filthy feet,” Administration officials don’t allude to this, much less condemn it. Quite the contrary: State Department spokesman Mark Toner implied Israel isn’t upholding the status quo on Temple Mount, while Mr. Kirby explicitly endorsed this false Palestinian claim, saying, “certainly, the status quo has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.”

3. Refusing to identify which side is using terrorism: Secretary Kerry has spoken of “a revolving cycle,” while Mr. Toner has referred to the “recent wave of violence,” not Palestinian terrorism, and refused to “assign blame” for the attacks. So did Mr. Kirby (“this isn’t about affixing ... blame on either side”).

4. Accusing Israel of using excessive force in dealing with the knife-wielding terrorists: Mr. Kirby baldy stated that “we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force.”

5. Rationalizing the Arab violence as partly the product of Jews moving into or living in the West Bank: Secretary Kerry spoke of  a “massive increase in [Jewish] settlements over the course of the last years,” which is neither a warrant for murder nor even true: construction within Jewish communities in the West Bank has dropped during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-year tenure to its lowest point since the Rabin government.

When the Obama Administration nullifies and voids the meaning and worth of its original condemnation of attacks on Israelis with defamatory charges and moral equivalence, it exposes its hostility and bias against Israel.

It is also inflammatory –– if Kerry can assign blame for Arab terrorism on Jews building houses in the West Bank, why can’t Arabs?

It is also untenable: one cannot credibly condemn terrorist acts and then include under the rubric of restoring calm forbearing from lawful actions of self-defense taken in response to them.

Under consequent pressure to to clarify the U.S. position, White House spokesman Josh Earnest denied that Secretary Kerry assigned any specific blame for the recent tensions –– which, of course, he had. Mr. Kirby avowed that “we have never accused Israeli security forces with excessive force with respect to these terrorist attacks” –– which, of course, he had –– and recanted his false statement, saying, “I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif has been broken” –– which, of course, he did.

These disavowals and retractions are correct and necessary –– but do not dispose of the root problem of hostility and bias.

Recall, for example, Secretary Kerry last year publicly bolstered the Palestinian delegitimization campaign by suggesting that Israel could become an apartheid state and would be understandably the target of boycotts if negotiations then on foot failed. Kerry later retracted his words –– but the damage was done.

The Administration seems to be seeking the damaging effects of these subsequently triangulated statements. The clarifications are just sufficiently retractive to mollify critics, while nonetheless preserving the original, damaging impact.

In this instance, President Obama seems to think they retracted too much.

Accordingly, on October 16, he himself doubled down on the original misrepresentations uttered by his officials on October 13 and 14, but retracted on October 14 and 15,  saying, “We must try to get all people in Israel, and the West Bank” to oppose “random violence.” President Obama also urged both Messrs. Netanyahu and Abbas to tamp down rhetoric, and again called into question Israel’s maintenance of Jerusalem’s status quo.

As for Abbas’ incitement –– still not a word from him, nor from UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who has also doubled down on some of the earlier false charges in the UN Security Council.

The Obama Administration is telling falsehoods about Israel, retracting them and then restating them. When someone persists with falsehoods, even after admitting them to be untrue, he intends them to stick.



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, October 29, 2015

Olives from Spain and tomatoes from Italy:  Why?

Various people exhort us to read the label on the bottles and cans that we buy.  Greenies want us to be sure that the contents have not hurt any whales, food-freaks want us to be sure that no salt has ever come near it and patriots want us to avoid buying anything imported.

And I DO read labels, but for a quite different reason from the three above.  I like the information they contain about economics.  They don't actually mention economics but they still tell us various things about economies.

The labels that particularly interest me are on the El-cheapo cans  on the bottom shelves of supermarkets -- usually bearing some sort of "House" brand. And what they tell us about the world is quite amazing.  They tell us that CHINA FEEDS THE WORLD.  Not only do they make almost all of our electrical gadgets these days but they also feed us all to a significant extent.  "Product of China" is what you nearly always read in the small print on those "Home brand" bottles and cans.  Chinese groceries now populate the world.

People tend to sneer at such goods but for the many who prefer to keep their money for beer and cigarettes, China is a godsend.

So how come?  Doesn't China have its work cut out feeding its own 1.3 billion people?  It's those clever Chinese farmers.  They can make crops spring lushly out of even unpromising ground.  Let me give an historical example of that:

Two of my great grandfathers were in on the Palmer River goldrush.  The 19th century was a century of goldrushes as new lands were opened up -- and one of the goldfields was on the Palmer river in far-North Queensland, Australia.  And much gold was dug there by people from all over the world.  And Chinese miners were there too.

Some of the Chinese, however, realized that they could win more gold by using their farming skills.  The miners had to eat and bringing in food from South was very expensive.  So the Chinese market gardeners got more  gold from selling their produce than they ever would have got by mining.

BUT:  The soils on Cape York Peninsula (where the Palmer lies) are notoriously poor and shallow.  So what to do about that?  Easy: The Chinese gardeners went all around collecting people's shit -- the traditional fertilizer of China, India and lot of other places. Shit-collecting is real shit-work but it is amazing what people will do for gold. And shit is great fertilizer so the Chinese market gardens flourished.  You can still see patches of lushness where the Chinese gardens were as you travel through the area to this day.

So the Chinese are great farmers and much of China is fertile so they coax amazing amounts of food crops out of their farms. China is about the same size as CONUS, Australia and Canada (around 3 million square miles in all 4 cases) so they do actually have a lot to work with -- enough to feed their own 1.3 billion people plus feeding lots of us.

And you can learn all that by reading labels!

But sometimes you can get a surprise.  You pick up a cheap can and expect to see "China" somewhere on the label but in fact see the name of some European country.  Why would Europeans want to send their stuff half way around the world to Australia?  Easy: Because of the EU common agriculture policy, which is mostly aimed at propping up French peasant farmers but which affects the whole of the EU.

Europe's problem is one that makes Greenies say "nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah" when you tell them about it.  Now that fracking has put panic about oil running out to rest, the Greenies these days are constantly prophesying that we will run out of food (Global warming, you know).  European agricultural administrators must wish there was some truth in that because their problem is the opposite: Europe produces TOO MUCH food -- more food than they can sell.  They pay their farmers big  subsidies to produce all the excess food and then pay Australians and others to eat it. Insane of course but that's politics.  You wouldn't want to contend with angry French farmers either.

So when I recently picked up from my local supermarket a very cheap bottle of Manzanilla olives from Spain and some very cheap canned tomatoes from Italy it was because the EU was selling the stuff off at a fraction of its cost just to get rid of it.  In the old days they used to donate it all to Russia (They did!) but Russia feeds itself pretty well now that they have got rid of Communism

Still, I suppose it is good that the Chinese have some competition.  Pity the European taxpayer, though.  Interesting things, those labels, aren't they?

Incidentally, olive trees grow so well in Australia that in South Australia they are regarded as weeds!


I am pleased to report that I have at least some readers who know stuff.  One reader has asked how I square surplus olives with reports that this year's olive crop is way down due to unfavorable weather

In a way, the question answers itself.  The big jar of olives that I recently bought is NOT the product of this year's crop.  It has been known since ancient times how to store olives and I am sure that the EU people of today are really good at it. And in the way of these things, the EU bods would not sell off their stuff straight away.  They would wait until all hopes of a normal sale were gone.  So goodness knows when my olives came off the tree. They taste great anyway

Another thing that I believe to be true but have not researched is that olives grown for oil and olives grown for human consumption are different.  So a shortage of oil olives may not tell us much about the supply of eating olives.

For what it's worth, I NEVER these days buy ANY European olive oils -- not even the big green tins of "Olio Sasso.  Diretta importata dall Italia" that I remember from my childhood.  Italian and Spanish olive oil distributors have really blotted their copybooks with contaminant and substitution scandals so I now buy  Australian olive oil exclusively.  Australian olive oil is a Southern European product made with Northern European ethics. So there are pyramids of Spanish and Italian olive oil in my local supermarket but I bypass them all.


Obama's fundamental transformation of America is happening by way of unchecked immigration

Is Trump the only hope?

A column written by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) should be required reading for those appalled by the “fundamental transformation” of America. Their warning couldn’t be clearer. “America is about to break every known immigration record. And yet you are unlikely to hear a word about it,” they write. “The Census Bureau projects that the foreign-born share of the U.S. population will soon eclipse the highest levels ever documented, and will continue surging to new record highs each year to come.”

The numbers are daunting. As recently as the 1970s, fewer than one in 21 U.S. residents were foreign born. According to the Census Bureau, over the next eight years the number of foreign born residents will reach an all-time high, with a total of 51 million immigrants accounting for more than one in seven U.S. residents, or approximately 14.8% of the nation’s population.

And it won’t stop there. If current immigration policies remain in place, the bureau is projecting an immigrant population growth rate nearly four times faster than that of the native-born population. Thus, the foreign-born share of the population will reach 57 million, or 15.8% of the population in 2030, 65 million (17.1%) in 2040, and a whopping 78 million (18.8%) by 2060. By that year the nation’s total population will grow to 417 million, representing 108 million more people than we had in 2010. “This increase is roughly equivalent to adding the combined populations of California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts to the country,” the bureau explains.

Unfortunately, as more and more Americans are coming to realize, the ruling class in Washington, DC — more familiarly known as the entire Democrat Party and the Establishment wing of GOP — are embracing an unprecedented level of cooperation on this issue. In other words, Democrats are hard at work removing every obstacle to unassailable power, while Republicans are busy kowtowing to corporatist oligarchs looking to eviscerate middle class wages.

All while our reliably corrupt media sing the praises of “bipartisanship.”

“Consider the giant special interests clamoring for the passage of the Senate’s 2013 ‘gang of eight’ immigration bill: tech oligarchs represented by Mark Zuckerberg’s, open borders groups such as La Raza and the globalist class embodied by the billionaire-run Partnership for a New American Economy,” Sessions and Brat explain. “For these and countless other interest groups who helped write the bill, it delivered spectacularly: the tech giants would receive double the number of low-wage H-1B workers to substitute for Americans. La Raza would receive the further opening of America’s borders (while Democratic politicians gain more political power). And the billionaire lobby would receive the largest supply of visas for new low-skilled immigrants in our history, transferring wealth and bargaining power from workers to their employers.”

The inevitable implications? “This is not immigration reform,” they warn. “This is the dissolution of the nation state, of the principle that a government exists to serve its own people.”

That lack of reform includes last week’s failure by the Senate to pass the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act. It would have withheld federal funds from sanctuary cities in open defiance of federal immigration law, and imposed a mandatory-minimum five-year sentence on any illegal alien that is deported and then returns. That element of the statute was better known as “Kate’s Law,” named after Kathleen Steinle, who was murdered by Juan Francsico Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon who had been deported five times.

The vote was 54-45, with Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk voting against the measure, and Democrats Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in support. Thus, it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to break a Democrat filibuster and move forward. That would be the same 60 vote threshold ignored by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who invoked the “nuclear option” in 2013, reducing the threshold to a 51 vote majority, so he could pack the DC Circuit Court with Democrat judges. By contrast, the reliably feckless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has never seen fit to return the favor, making an utter mockery of the “stop Obama” mandate voters handed the GOP during the 2014 election. A mandate driven in large part by Obama’s lawless agenda aimed at flooding the labor market with illegal aliens.

It is an agenda utterly anathema to working class Americans. Brat and Sessions note that, following a large expansion of immigrants from 1880-1920, doubling the U.S. immigration population from seven million to 14 million, Congress passed a law to reduce the flow. Over the next 50 years, America’s foreign-born population shrank from 14 million to 9.6 million. “This period witnessed rapid wage growth,” the authors explained, one in which “the bottom 90 percent of wage earners saw an 82.5 percent increase in their wages.”

In 1965, led by the late Ted Kennedy, the floodgates were re-opened and a massive wave of primarily low-skill immigrants quadrupled the immigrant-born population from 10 million in 1970, to more than 42 million today.

The consequences? “The Congressional Research Service reports that during the 43 years between 1970 and 2013 — when the foreign-born population grew 325 percent — incomes for the bottom 90 percent of earners fell nearly 8 percent,” Sessions and Brat report.

Nonetheless, the entire Democrat Party is on board with eradicating American prosperity, because they would rather rule in a Third World hellhole than serve in an exceptional nation. They collaborate with the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who would triple the number of H-1B visas, while he remains willfully oblivious to Disney forcing 250 American IT workers to train their foreign replacements or forfeit their severance packages occurring in his own state, or Jeb Bush, who countenances different treatment for border-busters if their lawlessness is motivated by “an act of love” for their families.

“After nearly half a century of massive immigration it is time to turn our attention to our own residents,” Sessions and Brat advise. “It is time to help our own workers, families and communities—immigrant and U.S.-born—rise together into the middle class. We need an immigration policy that shows compassion for Americans.”

We need far more than that. America is at a crossroad. Either we take our nation back from those with a treasonous contempt for national sovereignty, or we disintegrate into an amalgamation of sub-groups beholden to a self-anointed cabal of corporatist and political masters.

Make no mistake: immigration, both illegal and legal, is the issue in next year’s election because it affects everything else of importance, including the economy, jobs, crime, health care, welfare, and national security. Those who wish to turn this nation into a de facto clearinghouse for the entire world must be sent packing. In short, it’s either them or us.



Walmart Wage Hikes Come With a Steep Price

After years of being the whipping boy of the Left, Walmart finally capitulated to both the market and the catcalls by agreeing to raise the minimum wage it pays its employees. Walmart workers received at least $9 per hour beginning this past April, and that will rise to $10 per hour starting next February. That decision, though, came with an ongoing cost, as 450 workers at Walmart's Arkansas headquarters were axed earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the company's bottom line is also hurting as the retailer warned its earnings per share could drop as much as 25% by the end of next year. Share prices have also declined 11% for the year. While the Left has put forth plenty of theories about how Walmart could afford to give its workers a raise, the reality isn't panning out as planned.

Wages are getting upward pressure from the overall retail market, so Walmart isn't alone in its dilemma. The Gap began the wage-raising trend last year, with Walmart and Target following a few months later. Retailers remain concerned about keeping employees as competition in their labor segment intensifies, but some have also adopted more automation and self-service options, shrinking the labor pool over what it may have been before the wage hikes.

Spending more on labor, though, makes profitability more difficult. Craig Rowley, a retail consultant, warned that "we are still in a slow-growth economy," adding, "when you take on an expense like raising wages, you've got to take less profit." Overall, it's predicted that retailers could spend as much as $4 billion trying to match Walmart and the others edging up to the $10 minimum wage. The solution will likely lie in cutting jobs and unprofitable locations, as legacy retailers JCPenney and Macy's have already done or still plan to do this year.

It's worth noting, though, that these companies are increasing pay without being forced by Uncle Sam. Earlier this year, a minimum wage hike pushed by Senator (and now presidential hopeful) Bernie Sanders failed in the Senate as Sanders tried to sneak it into a GOP budget resolution. Executive action by Barack Obama and some local and state legislatures, however, has increased the minimum wage in some areas with negative effects on job creation and retention when the raise was too steep.

Yet what's missing in this minimum wage debate is the question of value. In simple terms, is the employee bringing as much worth to the company as he's being paid? Minimum wage has always been considered a floor for beginning employees, with the experience and skills they gain increasing their worth to the employer. In return, the employer either increases their wages or risks losing those employees to a competitor. It's been the way of capitalism for decades - at least until economic conditions over the last 50 years hollowed out the center of the job market for men ages 25 to 54. From 1948 until 1972, more than 95% of that group was employed. That number has now fallen to near 88% under Obama.

Minimum wage or not, this drop in labor participation will have long-term detrimental effects, as skills either atrophy or are never acquired. There's a fine line in almost any business between being profitable or going bust - in Walmart's case, the margin runs just 3%. Changing market conditions will always affect its bottom line, but if Walmart is struggling, those rose-colored economic glasses through which the so-called experts see the world may need a new prescription.



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, October 28, 2015

Canada's Turn Left

It is not yet clear if the political sea change that has taken place in Canada will also be ideological. Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the 43-year old neophyte who has never held an executive post, the left-of-center Liberals have unseated Stephen Harper's Conservatives with an overwhelming parliamentary majority that no poll or commentator had predicted. They will have virtually a free hand to govern.

But there are two problems. One: the Canadians have not necessarily voted in these elections, dominated by character and personal issues, for a lot more government intervention. Two: Trudeau-who has promised to preserve a big chunk of Harper's legacy, including tax cuts, free-trade agreements and support for major oil-related projects, including the Keystone XL pipeline that has met with such resistance across the border-wants to have it both ways. His otherwise interventionist agenda is incompatible with Harper's legacy on fiscal policy, taxes and resource-related free enterprise.

Not that Harper was a free-market champion. His rhetoric was often much bolder than his actions, hampered by the fact that he had to govern with a minority in Parliament during the first half of his tenure-and that, in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, they were temporarily influenced by Keynesian fiscal ideas.

All in all, it is fair to credit Harper with bringing the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent, signing dozens of free trade agreements, including a major one with the European Union (none were perfect, because these types of arrangements never are), and maintaining a decorous restraint when the commodities-related downturn led to calls for massive government spending, particularly this year. (Canada has had five consecutive months of economic contraction.)

Trudeau says he will keep the corporate tax rate and the trade agreements, maintain support for the Keystone XL pipeline, and lower taxes for the middle class, a move that he will fund with a moderate tax hike affecting the richest 1 percent. In this, to some extent he keeps the recent Liberal tradition-Liberal Prime Ministers Jean Chr‚tien and Paul Martin also lowered the corporate tax rate. Except that his agenda hinges on a massive infrastructure-related spending plan that he calls an "investment" but which will entail an extra US$46 billion in government expenditure. He admits that this effort will generate a US$25 billion fiscal deficit during the first three years, but he promises to deliver a surplus in his fourth year.

It is easy to picture the deficit becoming structural, Trudeau's promises to keep most taxes rates where they are thrown out the window and, unless the prices of commodities pick up, the Keynesian stimulus expanding. I would not be surprised if he ended up pressuring the central bank to lend him a monetarist help. There is no telling where these policies end.

Trudeau is commendable on some social issues, including his proposal to legalize marijuana, and he seems prudent on foreign policy issues, but his view of the economy is riddled with contradictions. It is also unclear whether he will provide the leadership that will be necessary to overcome the pressure by many left-leaning members of his party who will want to scuttle part of the Harper legacy. (He has said, with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that he will let Parliament decide.)

Whether Canada makes real progress in the years ahead will depend to a large extent on whether Justin Trudeau decides to emulate his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who was infused with the big-government Zeitgeist of the 1970s, or to take Harper's legacy one step further down the path of liberalization.



A False Choice: Mass Deportations vs. Mass Legalization

 The debate over what to do about the illegal population has too often been framed by supporters of amnesty as a choice between mass amnesty and mass deportations. A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies challenges this false choice and presents a real-world alternative.

The report, by William W. Chip, an international attorney and a member of the Center's Board of Directors, divides the illegal population into three groups in order to understand the real choices we face: those who will return to their homelands voluntarily, those who will return reluctantly, and those who are legalized and allowed to remain.

Chip emphasizes that large numbers of illegal aliens return home on their own; many illegal immigrants "will voluntarily repatriate because they are homesick, cannot find a steady job, or have achieved their financial objectives." He cites an earlier Center study which found that "during the first 5.5 years of the Obama administration the illegal alien population would have declined by approximately 2.5 million, nearly 25 percent, had the president's truncated enforcement of our immigration laws not facilitated the arrival of an equal number."

The "reluctant returnees" are illegal aliens who wouldn't otherwise go home - usually because they have found the steady, gainful employment needed to put down roots - but who can be induced to do so by policies that make finding and keeping a job difficult. Rather than relying solely on the "hard-power" approach of deportations, Chip outlines an additional "soft-power" strategy. If Congress would pass the required legislation, this would involve universal use of E-Verify, the free online system already used to screen nearly half of new hires.

But in the absence of new legislation, a president could still pursue a soft-power strategy by instituting what Chip calls "G-Verify" (G standing for "government"). This would use information already in the possession of the Social Security Administration to bring about a steady reduction in the illegal workforce through measures targeting identity fraud, namely the use of false or stolen Social Security numbers to obtain employment. Chip writes "Because the G-Verify process would play out over a period of years, the great majority of unauthorized workers would have time to arrange their affairs in order to make an orderly return to their homelands."

View the entire report at:

The report notes that some 10 million legal aliens - tourists, students, workers - enter the U.S. every three weeks, while over the same period some 10 million leave when their permission to remain here expires. If the "reluctant" illegals were incentivized to return home over a period of several years, their departure would mount to a rounding error in this normal ebb and flow of alien arrivals and departures.

Via email from CIS


Thousands of Alien Felons Are Being Released from Prison. And Congressional Action Could Lead to Thousands More

The Center for Immigration Studies examines sentencing reform legislation now before Congress and finds provisions of concern that could lead to the release of dangerous criminal alien offenders.

The Obama administration has announced the pending release of 6,000 felons from federal prisons, of whom an estimated 2,000 are non-citizens. This is the first wave of releases; the total number of serious alien drug offenders released could exceed 13,000.

A bill under consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee, known as the "Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015," S.2123, proposes to go down the same path and shorten the sentences for repeat cross-border drug traffickers, manufacturers, and distributers caught in the future.

Dan Cadman, a Center fellow and author of the analysis, said, "It is beyond incomprehensible that Senate leaders would attempt to fast-track a sentencing reform bill painted with such a broad brush that tens of thousands of aliens will be released from federal penitentiaries with no assurance of prompt deportation - putting public safety at great risk."

View the entire article at:

The present bill affects sentences going forward, and also is retroactive in effect, which could make it easier for some alien offenders to challenge their deportation.

Equally concerning, it does not ensure that released alien prisoners will be detained while in deportation proceedings following their release. Since 2013, the administration has freed more than 76,000 convicted criminal aliens while in deportation proceedings, resulting in an uncounted toll of new crimes.

Several specific provisions will shorten the sentences of aliens who are repeat offenders convicted for trafficking illegal drugs into the United States from abroad, and for those caught serving as drug mules. In addition:

Courts will be required to seal juvenile offenders' records, including those

The bill shortens the sentence for those also charged with illegally possessing or using a firearm to effect the crime (often drug trafficking), from 25 down to 15 years.

"The immigration and public safety priorities of the Republican-led Senate will be apparent if this bill is rushed through like the Trans-Pacific trade and Iran sanctions bills, while Sen Vitter's solid anti-sanctuary bill, S.2146, languishes," said Cadman. "The tragic death of Kate Steinle and so many others seems to have already been forgotten."

Via email from CIS


The Cascading Collapse of Obamacare's COOPs

One piece of Obamacare is already collapsing: The COOPs (cooperative insurers) that the federal government propped up with loans to compete in exchanges. Many are now closing down under pressure from state insurance departments, as they are threatened with insolvency because they charge premiums in the Obamacare exchanges that do not cover costs.

The administration is desperate to stave off the day of reckoning, going so far as to insist the federal loans be categorized as "assets" (rather than liabilities) on the COOPs' balance sheets. Well, state insurance departments are having none of it. The story of Colorado's Obamacare COOP illustrates why these new insurers were willing to risk insolvency in the exchanges, despite insisting they were doing business prudentially.

Last Friday, Colorado's Division of Insurance ordered the state's Obamacare COOP not to offer policies in the state's Obamacare exchange next year. To show how quickly this COOP has fallen, I'll share three stories:

First, from November, here's the Colorado HealthOP's CEO bragging about her low premiums as Obamacare's second open season rolls out:

    "Colorado HealthOP chief executive Julia Hutchins said critics and competitors who say their aggressive pricing for the second open enrollment was an attempt to buy up market share have the wrong spin on things. The CO-OP is a fundamentally different approach, she said".     "We're a nonprofit. We're not trying to buy anything," Hutchins said. "We were created to serve everybody."

Second, after the end of the second open season, here she is explaining how her grabbing huge market share through low premiums is a good business practice:

    "Colorado HealthOP, one of 23 CO-OPs nationwide, reduced premiums on its middle-tier, or silver, plans by an average of 10 percent. Its customer count shot up from about 14,200 in late 2014 to about 75,000 this enrollment period.

    "We're right about where we projected we'd be," said HealthOP chief executive Julia Hutchins. "Growth is really important for stability. You really need a big pool to spread risk effectively."

Finally, here is Colorado HealthOP's press release, looking back in anger, in response to the regulator's decision last Friday:

    "This morning, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) announced that Colorado HealthOP will not be able to sell its plans on the Connect for Health Colorado marketplac

    Colorado HealthOP's closure is the latest in a series of CO-OP shut downs across the country, spurred by the federal government's failure to pay billions of dollars in promised funding."

So, the COOPs' business plans did not fail. It is the taxpayers who failed! The COOPs expected to be able to go back to Congress for unlimited bailouts. Too often, this is a credible strategy for businesses dependent on government. Unfortunately for the COOPs, the taxpayers chose to elect representatives who were not interested in continuing this game.



What the Obama Recovery REALLY Looks Like

With Hillary Clinton running as the heir to Barack Obama, it's worth examining his economic record. Turns out, it's not so hot:

    "Fifty-one percent of working Americans make less than $30,000 a year, new data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows.

    That’s $2,500 a month before taxes and just over the federal poverty level for a family of five. The new numbers come from the National Wage Index, which SSA updates each year based on reported wages subject to the federal income tax.

    In 2014, half of working Americans reported an income at or below $28,851 (the median wage), and 51 percent reported an income of less than $30,000. Forty percent are making less than $20,000. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be impoverished."

It's worth mentioning, because most of the press won't, that Bernie Sanders has been running against the Obama economic record for months, pointing frequently to stagnant wages and the unemployment rate. One would think that this would be newsworthy, but it's not.

Perhaps this is why political outsiders are dominating the election so far. As is usually the case, the American people are way ahead of the politicians. The conservative candidate who wants to win would do well to harp on how Obama's billions in stimulus spending have helped create eight years of stagnation and desperation.



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, October 27, 2015

Does Leftism promote social peace?

Throughout history, redistribution of wealth and income has been from the poor to the rich and many of those societies were quite stable -- with Tokugawa Japan being the outstanding example of that. So the idea that redistribution from the rich to the poor is needed to secure social peace lacks immediate plausibility.

Starting with the arch-conservative and deep-thinking Otto von Bismarck, however, the idea has grown that government welfare handouts to the poor are needed to prevent revolutions and social upheavals.  And Leftists have gladly latched onto that idea.

The idea that Leftists would promote social peace is however implausible at first glance.  How could the politics of rage promote any kind of peace?  And there are clear instances where Leftism has in fact promoted social conflict.  Communist revolutions are the pre-eminent example of that but the way the American Left has promoted rage among blacks by telling them constantly that their various disadvantages are due to white racism is another deplorable example.

And it seems clear that Leftists preachings about equality are  hostile.  Such preachings seem more motivated by a desire to tear down the rich rather than lift up the poor.  It is only capitalism that has in fact lifted up the poor.

For decades now I have been impressed by the provocative dictum of Leibnitz  to the effect that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Various improvements in all sorts of things since Leibnitz make it clear that he was wrong but the intended message that some good things have bad things as their precondition and that some bad things are needed to secure good things still resonates.

And I think that hate-motivated Leftist raging about inequality and injustice could be rather like that.  It could be doing us all some good, despite appearances.  Among the genuinely disadvantaged it must create the impression that someone is listening to them  and working on getting help to them. And the alternative to that could well be social unrest.  Traditional societies were able to keep the poor powerless because they controlled the means of communication.  That is no longer so. Communication is something of an epidemic in the age of the internet.  Muslims already use social media to organize their attacks so it is obvious that others could do likewise.

So I am rather inclined to think that Leftism may on balance be a good thing.  It may help preserve social peace. The task of conservatives is not then to shut them up, persecute them or remove them -- which is what Leftists try to do to conservatives.  No.  Our task is simply to do our best to thwart their brainless and destructive levelling policies. Let them preach but also let us block or unwind their ill-considered and impoverishing policies wherever we can -- JR.


Snapping of the American Mind

No, you haven’t lost your mind.  Yes, America has.

If someone just 20 years ago had said, for starters, that we’d someday elect an anti-American president who would intentionally flood our borders with millions of illegal immigrants and Islamist “refugees,” that we’d soon celebrate as “heroic” a former Olympic champion for mutilating his body and pretending to be a woman, that we’d have five extremist lawyers on the Supreme Court unconstitutionally force the radical redefinition of marriage to mollify people with same-sex fetishes – you might call that person crazy.

Well, crazy is the new normal. America has lost its mind. We’ve snapped. Anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear and a brain to think knows it.  But why? How did it happen? What exactly caused America’s moral GPS to send our nation headlong into oncoming traffic?  And can anything be done to fix it?

Maybe once in a generation are we so graced with a communicator like veteran journalist and best-selling author David Kupelian. His matchless ability to unpack the complicated issues of our day with simplistic precision is nothing short of genius, a gift from God he has shared once more in his latest book, “The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture.”

As I’ve said before, when David puts pen to paper, it “has the same effect on your brain that yawning has on your ears at high altitude. Things just suddenly pop with crystal clarity.” The closest comparison I can make to David Kupelian is author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. As a Lewis enthusiast of the first order, I don’t make that comparison lightly.

In, “The Snapping of the American Mind,” Kupelian one ups himself by exploring, in lucid detail, the root cause of our current age of lawlessness and moral anarchy. Yet, somehow, he manages to leave us filled with hope for American revival and renewal. “Snapping” is just the book America needs for a time such a time as this.

In it you will learn:

    How the left has succeeded in redefining not just “marriage,” but the rest of Americans’ core values, from “equality” to “justice” to “freedom”;

    Why America, unquestionably the least racist nation on earth, is now being portrayed as a deeply racist pariah state;

    Why the United States is intentionally being flooded with millions of needy, dependent, Third World immigrants;

    How a group that amputates healthy body parts and has a 41 percent attempted suicide rate is officially declared “normal,” yet new “research” suggests conservatives have malformed brains;

    Which of the two major U.S. political parties has a far higher incidence of mental illness;

    Why Americans today are more stressed-out, confused, conflicted and addicted than at any time in the nation’s history – and where this ominous trend is leading;

    And much, much more …

Kupelian, who is vice president and managing editor of WND and editor of Whistleblower magazine, authored two previous blockbuster bestsellers, “The Marketing of Evil” and its sequel, “How Evil Works.”

“The progressive left under Obama,” he writes of his new book, “is accomplishing much more than just enlarging government, redistributing wealth and de-Christianizing the culture. With its wild celebration of sexual anarchy, its intimidating culture of political correctness and its incomprehension of the fundamental sacredness of human life, it is also, whether intentionally or not, promoting widespread dependency, debauchery, family breakdown, crime, corruption, depression and addiction.”

“Surveying this growing chaos in American society,” notes the book’s summary, “Kupelian exposes both the utopian revolutionaries and their extraordinary methods that have turned America’s most cherished values literally upside down – to the point that madness is celebrated and normality demonized.”

In essence, “Snapping” untangles the modern-day manifestation of the timeless biblical truth found in Isaiah5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

But unlike the woeful occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Kupelian offers a substantive path forward – real hope and real change that will fundamentally repair what the “progressive” left has “fundamentally transformed.”

“I don’t give up hope,” said Kupelian on the radio show “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory. “I mean, you could say, if there’s no hope then what do you do? You go off, you drop out, you live for yourself, for your family, and you try to live a good life. No; too many people have fought and bled and died to help this country and to help strangers in foreign lands. There’s still half the country that has not had their mind snapped.”

Which half of the country maintains majority influence over the whole, may determine whether we have any future at all.



GOP Conservatives Are Here To Stay

The election of Paul Ryan as House speaker is a victory for conservatives -- but some say he is still not conservative enough

When Paul Ryan was drafted for Speaker, who held the real power in that dynamic? Not Ryan – he knew he couldn’t say ‘No” because he would catch the blame if everything went to hell. No, the guys with the real power were the dreaded conservatives – they were the ones whose bottoms were getting bussed.

Sure, there are only a few dozen in the Freedom Caucus, but today they are in the driver’s seat, forcing the caucus kicking and screaming to the right. They are the ones who pummeled the House GOP into transforming from the old status quo-reinforcing transactional paradigm based on trading earmarks into an ideological paradigm based on fighting the liberal agenda. The conservatives have won. We need to understand and accept that so we can move on to the next phase in our campaign to destroy progressivism and restore America.

The fact that conservatives have taken the reins away from the moderates makes people mad, mostly moderate people. Their problem is that we conservatives just won’t cooperate and compromise and lose. This insistence on actually doing conservative things freaks out the squares – “You mean, when you said you wanted to defund Obamacare, you guys were serious?”

Now, that’s not to say that many of us on the right are not also frustrated and annoyed at the hardcore conservatives. We are. Even I am occasionally, like when they won’t take “Yes” for an answer. Paul Ryan was saying “Yes” when he agreed to not push amnesty, to maintain the Hastert Rule, and to reform House procedures. In return, all Ryan wanted was to be allowed to spend more of his time with his kids than sucking face with donor class squishes and trading our principles for their cash. Oh no, Paul – don’t throw us in the briar patch.

Yeah, hardcore conservatives are a pain, but it’s a good hurt, like when your legs get sore after a run or your knuckles ache after punching a hippie.

Let’s face facts – without the hardcore conservatives, Paul Ryan would be happily wonking out as Ways and Means chairman instead of promising to give up about 90% of what we want. John Boehner would still be the Annoying Orange of GOP politics, clinking his highball glass in his secret conclaves with the same K Street jerks we want to see shuttering their expensive offices and wearing barrels as they ride out of D.C. in a caravan of battered U-Hauls.

The smart center right guys get this. They know how to make hard lemonade out of the hard right lemons of the Freedom Caucus. I negotiate for a living as a trial lawyer, and I understand that getting 80% of what my client wants on a given deal means I’m getting hi-fived and a bonus. And I love playing the “Craziest Guy in the Room” card. Sometimes, I even am that card. The CGITR strategy involves being the guy willing to pull a Samson and bring it all down on top of everyone – he’s perfectly happy to get smooshed in the collapse just as long as he takes you all with him. That’s the role of the hardcore conservatives who won’t settle for anything less than 110% of what they want. You can point to them, sigh, shake your head sadly, and say, “Gosh, you better give me 80% and then maybe – maybe – I can hold off these lunatics.”

All hail the conservatives who won’t compromise, who won’t buckle, who won’t let the go-along/get-along gang keep going along and getting along. After all, without the hardcore conservatives, the speaker issue would be moot. Pelosi would be in charge and busy helping Obama turn this country into Venezuela II: The Enfascisting.

There’s no turning back either. We are not returning to the days when the House GOP caucus was satisfied to be a bunch of gentlemanly losers happy to spend several terms spinning their wheels on the Potomac as the government grew and metastasized on their watch. Every election cycle, more of the old guard retires and more of the new breed comes on board. The tilt has happened. John Boehner left the speakership and the House for one reason and one reason only – to avoid a humiliating repudiation at the hands of the GOP caucus that a dozen cases of Jack Daniel’s couldn’t make him forget.

Boehner made no secret that he held conservatives in contempt. And for that the conservatives broke him. Maybe the media missed this essential truth, but that’s a lesson ambitious Republican politicians are all going to learn. The likes of David Brooks will wet their collective Dockers, but the Age of the Squish has come to an end. The RINOs are Cecil, the conservatives are the dentists, and the no one wants to the next head on the wall next to Eric Cantor and Sobby John’s.

This isn’t some phase the GOP is going to outgrow. We’re not afraid to demand that those who lead us be conservative. No dignified elder statesman with a track record of honorable defeat is going to talk some sense into us. We have no desire to utter the squish war cry of, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

Yeah, conservatives can be annoying. Hell, they often annoy me, and I’m so hardcore that I’d oppose replacing EBT cards with community gruel pots because I think that’s still too generous to deadbeat Democrat-voting losers. But people who actually believe in something often are annoying.

Here’s the reality. We conservatives have won. And as we exchange our place on the fringes of the party with the RINOs – when the squishes mutter that the GOP they knew is gone, they’re right – we are dealing with a whole new set of challenges. We conservatives now represent the GOP consensus, and power struggles we have seen are our growing pains.

We will get through them. We will prevail. We are the conservatives, and this House is now our house.


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, October 26, 2015

The war on sugar -- another example of how governments are incompetent, careless and can't be trusted

For decades, officialdom condemned fat and salt in our diets.  As contrary evidence piled up however, they have had to walk that back and the usual advice in 2015 is that LOW consumption of fat and salt is most likely to be harmful.

But control freaks have to have something to prove their wisdom by, apparently, so in the last year or two sugar has been made the big demon.  It's utter nonsense, of course.  These days sugar is in almost everything -- including fruit straight off the tree -- and we have all been consuming piles of it for decades. So are people dying like flies?  Far from it.  Lifespans have continued their upward rise.

And what about the effect on our waistlines?  There is no way increased weight can be clearly tied to sugar consumption.  To claim cause and effect is pure speculation.  There have been all sorts of lifestyle changes in recent years and the sheer cheapness of food these days is actually the most likely culprit for "obesity".  Within living memory it was a real worry for parents to put enough food on the table for their families, but big advances in agricultural practice, distribution (big supermarkets) and international trade have steadily brought real food prices down to the point where no-one in the developed world need go hungry. These days Oliver Twist can always have "More" if he wants it. And many people now DO want it.

After the about-face on fat and salt, I think that alone should make us cynical but there is also no good research backing up this latest fad.  There is research but it is all flaky. I spent many years as a health blogger so I know what the evidence against sugar is:  It is all either in vivo (rodent studies) or epidemiological.  But rodent studies generalize poorly to humans and you CANNOT infer cause from epidemiological studies. If you want to know what rubbish is spouted in the name of epidemiology, grab John Brignell's little book: The Epidemiologists: Have They Got Scares for You!

IT’S becoming a public enemy up there with the likes of fat, salt and smoking.

Now a much-anticipated report has put sugar barons on notice, recommending a 10-20 per cent “sugar tax” on soft drinks and moves to limit the marketing and promotion of sugary foods to children.

Public Health England’s document has been more than a year in the making and has slammed the food-friendly environment that has left the UK bulging at the seams.

“The whole food environment and culture has changed slowly over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now more places to buy and eat food which is, in real terms, cheaper, more convenient, served in bigger portion sizes and subject to more marketing and promotions than ever before,” it said, adding that the continually expanding swath of restaurants, cafes and fast-food means simple labelling laws aren’t enough.

The public health body is calling for a 10-20 per cent tax on sugary drinks which are the main single source of sugar for school-aged children. It also wants to see a crackdown on marketing and promotions that target children directly, better labelling an overhaul of public facilities and messages like the “five a day” campaign to ensure they are cutting through.

“It is likely that price increases on specific high sugar products like sugar sweetened drinks, such as through fiscal measures like a tax or levy, if set high enough, would reduce purchasing at least in the short term,” the report said.

Sugar is becoming in the latest battleground in the fight against global obesity following on from fat and salt. It’s estimated to make up 12-15 per cent of UK diets, much of which is disguised in sauces, mayonnaise, cereals or alcohol. The public health body wants it cut back to less than five per cent in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, to prevent a host of health problems from obesity to diabetes and dental decay which cost billions a year in healthcare.

But despite the high-profile support, the recommendations are unlikely to come into effect. A spokesman for UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would not support the idea. The British Soft Drinks Association director general Gavin Partington said they “recognise industry has a role to play in tackling obesity” but don’t believe it has had a significant impact.

Nutritionist Susie Burrell said she would “absolutely” love to see a “junk tax” introduced in Australia that goes beyond sugar to cover fast food, confectionary and soft drinks.

“Isolating sugar is failing to look at the complexity of nutrition and the way people eat. Portion size and fried foods are just as big an issue as sugar is,” she told “Any scheme that would generate revenue to be used in the treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease would be welcomed.”


UPDATE: In case it was unclear above, I was talking about the advice emanating from government bodies. Actions by governments have so far been muted. That is unlikely to last, however


Levin: 'Last Vestiges of Soviet Communism Are U.S. College Campuses'

During his Wednesday broadcast last week, nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin said that America’s college campuses are the last vestiges of Soviet Communism.

“The last vestiges of soviet communism are the college campuses in this country,” Levin said. “The amount of money they spend on facilities, on swimming pools, on tennis courts, you name it. Way over the top!”

Below is a transcript of Levin’s comments:

    “The Community Reinvestment Act, that’s government that’s too big to fail, destroyed our housing market, destroyed families all across this country. College tuition through the roof.

    “The last vestiges of Soviet communism are the college campuses in this country. The amount of money they spend on facilities, on swimming pools, on tennis courts, you name it. Way over the top! And these kids pay tuition, they can’t afford it, but they need a college education in many cases, they believe, to get into a profession.

    “And so they’re encouraged with low interest loans to take out these loans. They take out these loans. In the end they can’t afford them. They can’t get jobs because our borders are wide open. They can’t get jobs because we’re killing the golden goose, and they’re stuck. And the liberals have another idea, a magic wand, the liberal magic wand. No more debt, look at that, boom it’s all gone.

    “And not only that, you should go to college for free. Yeah, like the housing market, that was free, and it almost destroyed many of you out there. And now health care, right? That’s free, and you can’t afford that can you?  It’s through the roof.

    “Nothing’s free. And the bottom line is they don’t hit the so-called rich, a definition that changes repeatedly. They hit you, working people, people who make a modest income. You put some money away, maybe you can go on a vacation, maybe you can put some money away for a pension.

    “You’re the ones they’re hitting, because only you can pay for these programs in the end. The rich aren’t paying for Obamacare. You are. The rich aren’t paying for the war on poverty. You are. The rich aren’t paying for illegal immigrants. You are. The rich aren’t bailing out the banks through TARP. You are. And you pay for all of it.

    “These people are liars. How many more times are you going to accept what comes out of their mouths?

    “And there’s more. We’re supposed to hate the National Rifle Association, because it defends the Second Amendment.  And so the liberals create monsters. They create straw men. They create devils. So we’re supposed to hate the NRA, you know, like Haliburton, like oil companies, like anything they don’t control that dares to challenge them. Hate the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife when he was alive.”



From Britain: Another Leftist hypocrite

Seumas Milne is remembered for his comment on the assassination by Muslims of British soldier Lee Rigby in 2013.  Milne said it ‘wasn’t terrorism in the normal sense’, in an apparent attempt to minimize the crime.  Under new leader Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour party has moved much further to the Left than it was under Tony Blair

The stare of a fanatic who is sure he knows it all

Jeremy Corbyn's new 'Marxist-sympathising' spin doctor Seumas Milne sent his two children, now in their 20s, to a pair of elite grammar schools instead of a number of comprehensives which were closer to his London home.

Milne's children Patrick, 22, attended the Tiffin School in Kingston upon Thames, while his 25-year-old sister Anna went to Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston-upon-Thames.

The millionaire spin doctor has taken a leave of absence from The Guardian to become the Labour Party's executive director of strategy and communications.

Milne lives with his wife Cristina Montanari in 1992 and live in a £2 million Victorian house in Richmond.

According to The Telegraph, Milne, 57,  attended the £34,740-a-year Winchester College. His father, former BBC director-general Alasdair Milne died in 2013 leaving him one third of his £3.9 million estate.

Milne and his wife ignored four nearer comprehensive schools and instead sent their children to the Tiffin grammar schools some four miles away.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has been critical of Corbyn's leadership told Gordon Rayner of The Telegraph: 'Seumus Milne will clearly struggle to understand working people and I'm puzzled as to why Jeremy would have appointed him. 'I would have thought he would have chosen someone more down to earth and more in touch with real people.'

The appointment of a left-wing columnist as Labour's strategy and communications chief highlights a lack of 'professionalism' by Jeremy Corbyn, Lord Mandelson has said.

Lord Mandelson - a driving force behind reforms to the party in the 1980s and 1990s and at the heart of New Labour's spin operation - said he was unimpressed by Mr Corbyn's time at the helm since his surprise election.  'I don't think he's growing into the job at all, no,' the former cabinet minister said.

'I don't think he is showing any professionalism in his leadership of the Labour Party and you see from his appointment of his strategy and communications director Seumus Milne, whom I happen to know and like as it happens, but (is) completely unsuited to such a job.

'He has little connection with mainstream politics or mainstream media in the country and yet he's in charge of communications for the Labour Party. 'That doesn't sound very professional to me.'

The arch-Blairite has faced calls for his expulsion from the party for 'openly inciting insurrection' against Mr Corbyn, but he has insisted he is 'not going anywhere'.



Sanity Prevails: Teen Who Had Consensual Sex is Removed From Sex Offender Registry

Zach Anderson is a 20-year-old from Indiana who used the dating app Hot or Not when he was 19. On the app, he found an Michigan girl's profile, and they began talking. The girl said she was 17. They eventually met up and had sex. It turns out the girl lied, and she was actually 14, not 17. As the age of consent in Michigan is 16, the girl could not consent to sex. This meant that their encounter automatically made Anderson a felon and a sex offender--and despite please for leniency from both the girl and her mother, Anderson was sentenced to three months in prison and forced to spend the next 25 years on the Indiana and Michigan sex offender registries.

Obviously, this is insane. He did not rape a girl. He was lied to by someone who admits she deceived Anderson about her age. The law, unfortunately, didn't care that he was lied to. He was guilty, and he would be on a sex offender registry until he was 44 years old. Until, thankfully sanity prevailed and a judge re-sentenced Anderson to probation and removed him from the Michigan sex offender list. And yesterday, he was finally removed from Indiana's as well.

Thank goodness.

Anderson is not a sex offender. He was a 19-year-old who thought he was engaging in relations with a 17-year-old. He had no reason to believe his partner was lying about her age, and the encounter was completely consensual. This is not the actions of a criminal. It does not do society any good to put a person who has virtually no risk of harming anyone in the community on a list that will restrict where he can live and work. He is not a pervert, he is not a pedophile, and he is not a rapist. He should never have been put on the same list as someone who is a convicted rapist or child molester.

Cases like this are far too common. Something needs to be done before more lives are ruined for innocent mistakes.



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, October 25, 2015

Capitalism beats regulation

Capitalism started running before regulation could get its boots on

Stepping into the furor over eye-popping price spikes for old generic medicines, a maker of compounded drugs will begin selling $1 doses of Daraprim, whose price recently was jacked up to $750 per pill by Turing Pharmaceuticals.

San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., which mixes approved drug ingredients to fill individual patient prescriptions, said Thursday it will supply capsules containing Daraprim's active ingredients, pyrimethamine and leucovorin, for $99 for a 100-capsule bottle - or $1 per capsule.

The move to provide cheap alternatives to Daraprim is an attack on Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, who immediately rose the price of the drug by 5,000 per cent after his company acquired it last month.

The 3 1/2-year-old drug compounding firm also plans to start making inexpensive versions of other generic drugs whose prices have skyrocketed, Chief Executive Mark Baum told The Associated Press.

The high price of prescription medicines in the U.S. — from drugs for cancer and rare diseases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year down to once-cheap generic drugs now costing many times their old price — has become a hot issue in the 2016 presidential race.

News that Turing, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and other drugmakers have bought rights to old, cheap medicines that are the only treatment for serious diseases and then hiked prices severalfold has angered patients.

It's triggered government investigations, politicians' proposals to fight 'price gouging,' heavy media scrutiny and a big slump in biotech stock prices.

Imprimis, which primarily makes compounded drugs to treat cataracts and urological conditions, will work with health insurers and prescription benefit managers in each state to make its new capsules and other compounded generic medicines widely available, Baum said.

'We're geared up. We're ready to go as soon as the orders come in,' he said.

Compounded drugs are typically made to fill a doctor's prescription for an individual patient, sometimes because the mass-produced version is in short supply or completely unavailable and sometimes to allow for customized formulations or dosages.

Compounders don't need Food and Drug Administration approval to do that, unlike drugmakers making huge batches of drugs on complex production lines.

Baum said Imprimis will produce its pyrimethamine/leucovorin capsules, using bulk ingredients from manufacturing plants approved by the FDA, at its own facilities in Allen, Texas; Folcroft, Pennsylvania; Irvine, California, and Randolph, New Jersey.



Another Picture Gallery now up

I have picked out what I think are the best pictures off my blogs from the months of July to December last year.  There are some good cartoons among them that should not be missed.

You can access them HERE or HERE


Clinton, O’Malley Say Americans Are Their Enemies

The Leftist hatred of ordinary people is never far beneath the surface

In the days since last week’s debate between candidates for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, some commentators have suggested that Americans have seen enough, that no additional Democrat debates are necessary. In one respect, those commentators are right. In just a few seconds during the debate, the two candidates who harbor the most extreme views on guns showed why they shouldn’t be entrusted with our country’s highest elected office.

It happened when the candidates were asked, “which enemy are you most proud of?”

Of the five candidates onstage, the only supporter of the right to arms, former U.S. senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb—who had already answered a question about gun control by saying that people have the right to defend themselves—said that the enemy he was most proud to have had was the one who wounded him with a grenade during the Vietnam War. Webb didn’t elaborate, but he was referring to an occasion on which, as a Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant, he led an attack against a communist bunker system, an action for which he was awarded the Navy Cross “for extraordinary heroism.”

However, the other four candidates—gun control supporters one and all—reflexively associated the word “enemy” not with America’s overseas adversaries, but with other Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee tempered their answers, at least, Sanders saying only that “Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry . . . do not like me,” Chafee saying that the “the coal lobby” is a group he’s “at odds with.”

By stark contrast, however, Hillary Clinton and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, far and away the most extreme gun control supporters running for president, showed no such restraint. O’Malley said his enemy is the five million member “National Rifle Association.” Clinton went further, naming not only “the NRA,” but also the health insurance companies, the drug companies, Republicans, and only one group of people who are not Americans, “the Iranians.”

How things have changed. In 2004, during the keynote speech at the Democratic Party National Convention, then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama said, albeit with questionable sincerity, “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” In 2007, presidential candidate Obama claimed that he wanted to unify the country and break it out of what he called “ideological gridlock.”

Today, tempted with the opportunity to indulge herself in the deadly sin of hate before a national TV audience, the leading candidate for the same party’s presidential nomination did so without hesitation or remorse. She gleefully said that she considers tens of millions of Americans to be the “enemy.” She equated the NRA, American business interests, and Republicans with those whose signature chant is “Death to America.” And the party faithful in the debate hall cheered her with the same enthusiasm Obama’s “one America” speech received 11 years ago.

It was an ugly moment, but it shouldn’t define the character of our political disputes going forward. In deciding to whom to entrust the presidency of the United States between now and Election Day 2016, all Americans, regardless of viewpoint, should hold candidates to a standard higher than what Hillary Clinton appears capable of delivering.



Hillary's dishonesty never stops

Among the many issues standing between Hillary Clinton and the White House is what various media outlets have delicately labeled a “credibility problem.” Politico was more blunt in an August 27 article, asking, “Can Hillary overcome the ‘liar’ factor?” That piece went on to cite a Quinnipiac University poll, in which 61% of respondents indicated they did not believe Hillary was honest and trustworthy. Worse, when voters were asked the first word that came to mind about Clinton, the top three replies were (in order of popularity) “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” According to the article, “Overall, more than a third of poll respondents said their first thought about Clinton was some version of: She’s a liar. … [T]he striking reality is that, for Clinton, a lack of trust is the first thing many think of.”

Count us in on that.

Given that nothing characterizes Hillary Clinton in the American mind more than dishonesty, however, we would have thought that she could at least come up with something more original than the thoroughly discredited claim that “[f]orty percent of guns are sold at gun shows, online sales.” This is one of the main talking points to support closing the equally mythic “gun show loophole” through “universal” background checks.

The “40%” hogwash is of course legendary amongst gun control advocates, but it is also becoming an almost mandatory mantra for gun control supporters. None other than President Obama himself was called on it not once, but twice, by the same media fact-checker at the Washington Post. As is so often the case, however, the president’s followers and partisans immediately took up the argument, as if hoping the volume and repetition of their lies would obliterate the truth.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) took a turn in May. In September, former Maryland governor and current Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley joined the chorus when laying out his own expansive antigun platform. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continues to make the claim on his website (although he hedges slightly with the phrase “up to 40 percent”).

So Hillary’s adoption of the lie, if not inevitable, at least was not surprising. What is disappointing, however, is that even after the claim has been repeatedly debunked by “fact-checkers” within the antigun media, the worst the Washington Post could muster for Hillary last week is three out of four “Pinocchios.” “By any reasonable measure,” fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “Clinton’s claim that 40 percent of guns are sold at gun shows or over the Internet – and thus evade background checks through a loophole – does not stand up to scrutiny.”

On-the-ground experience also illustrates how off the mark research estimates can prove in real world settings.  When Colorado expanded its background check system to cover private transfers in 2013, the 40% claim was the baseline used by officials to estimate that an additional 420,000 annual checks would be conducted as a result of the expansion.  However, in the first year of implementation, only 13,600 such checks were required, amounting to merely 4% of the statewide total.  While some margin of error is usual in research estimation, we generally view being off by a magnitude of 10 to have missed the mark entirely.



Putin Forces Obama to Capitulate on Syria

By MIKE WHITNEY, a contributor to "Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion"

The Russian-led military coalition is badly beating Washington’s proxies in Syria which is why John Kerry is calling for a “Time Out”.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an emergency summit later in the week so that leaders from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan could discuss ways to avoid the “total destruction” of Syria. According to Kerry, “Everybody, including the Russians and the Iranians, have said there is no military solution, so we need to make an effort to find a political solution. This is a human catastrophe that now threatens the integrity of a whole group of countries around the region,” Kerry added.

Of course, it was never a “catastrophe” when the terrorists were destroying cities and villages across the country, uprooting half the population and transforming the once-unified and secure nation into an anarchic failed state. It only became a catastrophe when Vladimir Putin synchronized the Russian bombing campaign with allied forces on the ground who started wiping out hundreds of US-backed militants and recapturing critical cities across Western corridor. Now that the Russian airforce is pounding the living daylights out of jihadi ammo dumps, weapons depots and rebel strongholds, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is tightening their grip on Aleppo, and Hezbollah is inflicting heavy casualties on Jabhat al Nusra militants and other Al Qaida-linked vermin; Kerry’s decided it’s a catastrophe. Now that the momentum of the war has shifted in favor of Syrian president Bashar al Assad, Kerry wants a “Time out”.

Keep in mind, that Putin worked tirelessly throughout the summer months to try to bring the warring parties together (including Assad’s political opposition) to see if deal could be worked out to stabilize Syria and fight ISIS. But Washington wanted no part of any Russian-led coalition. Having exhausted all the possibilities for resolving the conflict through a broader consensus, Putin decided to get directly involved by committing the Russian airforce to lead the fight against the Sunni extremists and other anti-government forces that have been tearing the country apart and paving the way for Al Qaida-linked forces to take control of the Capital. Putin’s intervention stopped the emergence of a terrorist Caliphate in Damascus. He turned the tide in the four year-long war, and delivered a body-blow to Washington’s malign strategy. Now he’s going to finish the job.

Putin is not gullible enough to fall for Kerry’s stalling tactic. He’s going to kill or capture as many of the terrorists as possible and he’s not going to let Uncle Sam get in the way.

These terrorists–over 2,000 of who are from Chechnya–pose an existential threat to Russia, as does the US plan to use Islamic extremists to advance their foreign policy objectives. Putin takes the threat seriously. He knows that if Washington’s strategy succeeds in Syria, it will be used in Iran and then again in Russia. That’s why he’s decided to dump tons of money and resources into the project. That’s why his Generals have worked out all the details and come up with a rock-solid strategy for annihilating this clatter of juvenile delinquents and for restoring Syria’s sovereign borders. And that’s why he’s not going to be waved-away by the likes of mealy-mouth John Kerry. Putin is going to see this thing through to the bitter end. He’s not going to stop for anyone or anything. Winning in Syria is a matter of national security, Russia’s national security.....

The entire US political establishment supports the removal of Assad and the breaking up of Syria. Kerry’s sudden appeal for dialogue does not represent a fundamental change in the strategy. It’s merely an attempt to buy some time for US-backed mercenaries who are feeling the full-brunt of the Russia’s bombing campaign. Putin would be well-advised to ignore Kerry’s braying and continue to prosecute his war on terror until the job is done.



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)