Friday, December 04, 2015

Some long overdue sense about the Jihadis from a leading politician

Britain last night had a big debate in parliament on whether to join the bombing raids on ISIS in Syria. The debate did not split on party lines, unusually for Britain.  A majority of Tories and a minority of Leftists voted for the raids, giving a big majority in favour.  The highlight of the debates was a forceful speech from Leftist Hilary Benn, shadow foreign secretary and son of the prominent far-Leftist "Tony" Benn, now deceased.  And the speech may  have been the first time ever that a prominent Leftist politician has recognized what Obama and other Leftists still refuse to acknowledge:  That the Muslim Jihadis are Fascists. 

Benn was referring only to ISIS but it is a start. One should note that ISIS is not alone in bloodthirstiness and hostility. Al-Queda, the Taliban and Boko Haram are other examples of murderous  Muslim groups.  An excerpt from the speech:

    "Mr Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the house. As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility, one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road.

    And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight and all of the people we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy – the means by which we will make our decision tonight – in contempt.

    And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated and it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists were just one part of the international brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It’s why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice and my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria and that is why I ask my colleagues to vote in favour of this motion tonight"


His emphasis that the Islamofascists need to be treated like the Fascists of the past: defeated, not tolerated or appeased, is particularly welcome


Distrust in Government at Historic Highs Under Obama

Back in 2008, candidate Barack Obama boasted, “Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Back then, much of America was swooning over the charismatic, hopeful rhetoric of an inexperienced senator from Illinois. Obama, having clinched the Democrat Party nomination for president, spoke the words above to throngs of cheering, weeping supporters, who sincerely believed this community organizer with no prior executive experience would completely change the face of politics for decades to come.

Alas, the Progressive Pied Piper, the great Obamessiah, has been exposed as a naked emperor.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found Americans' trust in government is at “historic lows,” with an anemic 19% saying they trust government to do the right thing always or most of the time (11% for Republican/leaning, and 26% for Democrats/leaning). The fact that barely a quarter of Democrats trust government is shocking, considering their standard-bearer, Obama, has had virtually free reign to do as he pleased for the last seven years. How is it that Obama has managed to implement nearly everything he wanted from the progressives' wish list, yet trust in government has decreased?

The answer, of course, is that the larger and more powerful government grows, the more inept, sluggardly and corrupt it becomes. Businesses that are run inefficiently shutter. Yet government, never punished for its failures, has no natural incentive to improve (indeed, the biggest failures are usually rewarded with more power and more money). It becomes a breeding ground for slothful public “servants” and petty tyrants.

It was another Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, who became the first president to openly denigrate the Constitution as an anachronism, insufficient for the times, and who preached against the Separation of Powers doctrine that limited the ability of the executive to enact his agenda without obstruction. Indeed, in his book, “Constitutional Government in the United States,” Wilson declared no theoretical limitations to the presidency beyond the capacity of the man holding the office: “The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit.”

Wilson’s philosophy took root in the Democrat Party and the size and scope of the federal government exploded, primarily through the New Deal and Great Society programs, and in the unchecked growth of the fourth branch of government — the bureaucracy and the regulatory apparatus.

So how has that worked out for America?

One has only to look at the to-do list in Obama’s lofty speech to judge the scope of the failure. ObamaCare, which was supposed to bring health care to every American and “bend the cost curve down,” has instead kicked millions of Americans off of private health insurance plans they liked and into the ObamaCare exchanges and Medicare. More than half of the ObamaCare exchanges have now gone bankrupt, and the number of doctors refusing to accept Medicare patients has skyrocketed, leaving many with health insurance on paper, but no access to doctors, even as they now pay significantly more for health care.

Then there’s the federal student loan industry, which was supposed to make college more affordable. Instead, college tuition costs have increased rapidly, leaving millions of college students with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and no prospects for jobs with which to pay off those debts. Ironically, the dimwitted denizens of Dreamworld, the ones suffering from government’s ineptitude, are demanding more government as the solution.

Continuing down the list of Obama’s utopian promises, we certainly have not seen “good jobs for the jobless,” with the workforce participation rate lower now than at any time since the malaise of the Carter era. Obama has added tens of millions of Americans to the welfare and food stamp rolls, and the percentage of long-term unemployed has stayed stubbornly high.

Likewise, America learned the painful lesson that unilaterally disarming is not the same thing as ending a war, as Obama sits idly by and watches as the Middle East burns and the Islamic State is decidedly not “contained.” Sadly, as horrific as its campaign of evil has been, it pales in comparison to the danger we now face at the looming prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran flush with cash, courtesy of the prevaricator in chief. How to explain the lunacy of the so-called Leader of the Free World, who believes a conference on global warming can defeat terrorists when those Islamofascists envision their reign of murder will usher in the coming of the Islamic messiah?

As bad as this is, it only scratches the surface of the fecklessness and corruption of the Obama administration, which includes the Obama Justice Department running guns to Mexican drug cartels, the IRS targeting Obama’s political opponents, the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi, and the deaths of many battalions worth of beloved veterans after the VA Hospital system let them languish for months without treatment. Then there is the EPA dumping millions of gallons of toxic sludge into Colorado’s Animas River after being warned of the danger, even as the same EPA uses regulatory law as a bludgeon against businesses and private citizens. The list is virtually endless.

Obama laments the distrust of American citizens for their government (while still predicting a Democrat successor), but that distrust is well-deserved, and both parties are to blame. He complains that everything has become politicized, but how can it not be when the federal government impacts every aspect of our lives? If this distrust leads to Americans to demand the federal government be limited to its functions under the Article I, Section 8 enumerated powers, we will finally see power back where it belongs — in the hands of the people.



Deadly D.C.: The Land of No Consequences

In life and leadership, accountability means consequences for bad behavior.

In Washington, accountability means yet another congressional meeting about another government scandal perpetrated by tax-subsidized corruptocrats who get away with murder.


This week, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will hold the 999,999th oversight hearing (give or take a few) on the VA's homicidal, no-fault culture. "In the wake of the biggest scandal in VA history, in which 110 VA medical facilities maintained secret lists to hide long waits for care," the panel notes, "the department has successfully fired just three low-level employees for manipulating wait times. Not a single VA senior executive has been successfully fired for doing the same."

Have you forgotten? President Obama, who proclaimed himself "madder than hell" when the scandal first broke, apparently can no longer be bothered to care as he gallivants around the planet fretting about climate change.

How about some climate change at the toxic VA?

The department in charge of providing care to those who served our country in uniform stuck hundreds of thousands of vets on waiting lists to nowhere. The exact VA scandal death toll remains unknown because of the perpetually crappy state of data entry and management that long predated the latest bureaucratic abominations under the Obama administration.

We do know that in Phoenix alone, an estimated 40 veterans died waiting for care as VA officials cooked the books and cashed in. Former Phoenix VA hospital Director Sharon Helman was one of the few officials finally dismissed for misconduct. But like countless other VA crooks, she was awarded (and allowed to keep) more than $8,000 in publicly funded bonus pay plus a 2 percent pay raise after submitting a self-assessment in which she bragged: "I drove tremendous improvement in primary-care access."

The VA bonus bonanza — which fueled the records-doctoring scandal — showered $142 million on executives, managers and employees in 2014 alone, according to a devastating USA Today analysis last week. The year before, the VA doled out nearly $400,000 in bonuses to hospital officials as veterans fought to be seen and treated.

"Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the country last year. They received $300 to $900 each," investigators found. "Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw the over-prescription of opiates to veterans — one of whom died."

In St. Paul, Minn., VA benefits office director Kimberly Graves raked in nearly $9,000 in 2014 bonus pay. The VA inspector general determined that she abused her power to transfer to a new position and collected nearly $130,000 to move. Graves refused to testify at a House hearing earlier this month about job-manipulation charges, as did accountability-evading VA exec Diana Rubens of Philadelphia.

The tight-lipped fish rots from the head down, of course. Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned last spring, refused to turn over records related to bonus decisions to a judge.

No consequences for evading judicial orders. But he's still collecting his six-figure, gold-plated government pension.

About the only thing the VA has proved efficient and effective at these days is retaliating against the brave watchdogs who exposed their craven supervisors. It's been two months since Office of Special Counsel head Carolyn Lerner blasted the systemic witch hunts against whistleblowers to President Obama in an open letter. After highlighting a "pattern of deficient patient care at VA facilities nationwide," she discovered a flood of chilling cases in which the agency "attempted to fire or suspend whistleblowers for minor indiscretions and, often, for activity directly related to the employee's whistleblowing."

In 2015 alone, the OSC has received over 2,000 cases from VA employees seeking protection from retaliation for whistleblowing.

Where's the White House? Too preoccupied with restricting the powers of federal inspectors general to investigate wrongdoing within the Obama administration's agencies from A to VA to Z.

These feckless, reckless officials in the top echelons of power will continue to jeopardize and sacrifice innocent lives as long as they suffer no risks to their own privileged, protected livelihoods. They deserve a change of climate all right — from the rarefied air of the Beltway to an enclosed habitat behind bars.



Obama Proves He's the Greatest Windbag in the World

At a time when he has degraded America’s standing as a super power, Barack Obama still sees himself as a super president. How super? During the opening remarks at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris Monday, Obama spoke for 14 minutes, delivering his full, prepared speech.

Problem was, every other leader — 150 world leaders in all, including the likes of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping — kept their remarks to the three-minute time limit. But Obama forged ahead, ignoring the beeps every few seconds reminding him to wrap it up.

Surely his staff received the memo that every other leader in the world would speak for three minutes. “Barack Obama has gotten so used to breaking rules here in America, he just can’t help himself,” Gary Bauer wrote. “Not even when he is in other nations.”

Indeed, it wasn’t the only communication blunder Mr. Hope ‘n’ Change™ made in the hours after touching down in Paris. As commentator Charles Hurt noted, Obama stumbled through a press conference peppering the reporters with about 330 ‘um’s, 'uh’s and 'ahh’s and countless sentence fragments. Thus goes America’s “great orator.” And to think this summit lasts for 12 days.



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, December 03, 2015

The Real Lesson of the Paris Attacks

They hate us all

by Douglas Murray

When the truth is revealed, it can be not merely unpleasant but often accidental. There have been several striking examples of this since the massacre in Paris earlier this month. In the days immediately after the attack, The Times of London interviewed residents of Paris. Referring to the latest attacks, one 46-year old resident also referred back to the attacks in January on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. "Every Parisian has been touched by these attacks," she said, referring to the latest attacks. "Before it was just the Jews, the writers or cartoonists."

If "just the Jews" was an unfortunate way of putting it, it was no less unfortunate than the reaction of America's top diplomat. Days after the latest Paris atrocity, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said:

"There's something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of -- not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they're really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate."

To the extent these comments have been noticed, they have been ridiculed. It is what lies revealed beneath the statement that deserves our attention.

The true problem with the line that it used to be "just the Jews, the writers or cartoonists," is not that it is offensive or inelegant or any of the other words that are now used to shut down a discussion -- though all these things it may be. The problem is that it suggests that people were not paying attention during those earlier attacks. It suggests a belief that the terrorism in January was a different order of terrorism -- call it "understandable terrorism" -- rather than part of a continuum of terrorism that now reached its logical endpoint, as "impossible-to-understand terrorism" -- because "Jews, writers or cartoonists" were missing.

What if the terrorists had been targeting "just Americans," or "just diplomats" -- would that be "understandable terrorism" in Kerry's thinking? That it used to be "Jews, writers or cartoonists" is precisely what made the attacks on everybody else inevitable. The only surprise should be our own surprise.

After the January attacks in Paris, there were large marches through the center of Paris, and the phrase, "Je Suis Charlie," for a moment, seemed to be the hashtag or profile picture of everybody on social media. But, of course, almost nobody was Charlie, because apart from a lot of people dwelling on Twitter and Facebook under various virtual noms de guerre, very few people were keen to republish any cartoon of Mohammed or make new Mohammed cartoons of their own.

Sadly, a few months after the attacks, the remaining staff members at Charlie Hebdo announced that they were not going to draw Mohammed any more. No one could blame them: as well as losing most of their colleagues, it must have been exhausting to be among the only people still exercising a right that everyone else was just pretending to defend on Twitter. Despite all the "Je Suis Charlie" signs, it turned out very few people were Charlie. In the end, even Charlie was not Charlie.

The "Je Suis Juif" signs were never likely to catch on as much as the "Je Suis Charlie" signs, nor be followed up on even as much as they were. Did everyone on the streets of Paris take to wearing a skullcap or Star of David? No -- no more than they would have walked through any of the streets with reproductions of the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's image of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

A lot of people said they were "Jews," but they were not willing to put themselves in the same line of fire as Jews -- just as a lot of people said they were "Charlie," while not actually being interested in landing on the same Islamist hit-lists as Charlie.

The latest attacks in Paris were, indeed, targeted at absolutely everybody. In that, there should be a lesson of a kind. The lesson should remind us that in a free society, no one can wholly dodge the bullets of these particular fanatics. In the conflict that faces us now, there is no opt-out if you happen to be "lucky" enough not to be Jewish. There is no opt-out if you happen to think that people should not draw or publish opinions that are anything other than 100% agreeable to 100% of the people, 100% of the time.

Because one day, you will be targeted for being at a restaurant or a concert, or for having the "decadent" temerity to attend a football match. That this has not yet sunk in to the public imagination is one thing. That it has still not permeated the understanding of the heads of the world's only superpower is quite another.

A month after January's terror attacks in Paris, there was a less-remembered terrorist attack on a free speech event in the U.S., and then on a synagogue in Copenhagen. I asked one of the organizers of the targeted free speech event what she would say to the people who claimed, "You know you might have brought this upon yourselves. You don't have to keep publishing cartoons or defending other peoples' right to publish cartoons, and you know how much the Islamists hate it." Her reply was characteristically succinct: "If we should stop drawing cartoons, should we also stop having synagogues? Should they be converted into something else? Should we ask the Jewish people to leave?"

The problem was that too few people listened to such voices, or too few people fully understood the import of what those voices were saying. They were saying what the dead journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo had also been saying: If you give up this right, next, you will lose every other right. Much of the world may only have been just bragging or emoting in saying, "Je Suis Charlie" or "Je Suis Juif." But it turns out not to matter: the terrorists of ISIS think we are all cartoonists and Jews anyway.

So here we are, at the end of what should be one of the world's sharpest and most painful learning curves in recent history. At the end of this curve, we ought finally to be living with the realization we might have acquired earlier: that since we cannot live with ISIS and other ISIS-like groups, we had better live without them. We had therefore better do whatever it takes to speed up an end of our choosing before they speed up an end of their choosing.





"This just doesn’t happen in other countries???

Maybe we should give Barack Obama a break. He's a had a bad year. The economy stinks, Obamacare is in shambles, and Americans haven't budged on the issue he believes threatens us more than anything- climate change. To borrow a term from Obama's favorite game, maybe we should give him a mulligan. After all, it has to be impossible for someone who would say something this stupid to ascend to the presidency, right? right??!

President Obama held a news conference in Paris, where he was asked about the recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I mean, I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries,” Mr. Sensitivity said in a city that just witnessed horrific mass shooting at the hands of ISIS that left 130 people dead.

He added that the U.S. devotes “enormous resources” in preventing terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Of course, that’s a mutual interest we share with our allies. The president added, “We have the power to do more to prevent what is just a regular process of gun homicides.”

Obama's speech is the silliest thing to come out of France since Sartre, and showcases a profound disconnect from the goings on of the world around him. Even the most radical left-wing, vile, anti-American members of the French press had to be scratching their heads. As many of us have long suspected, Obama's malignant narcissism totally clouds his ability to comprehend objective reality.



The Orwellian present


When Regulations Are More Trouble Than They're Worth

And some constructive suggestions for cutting them back

While the recent Republican debates have sparked lively discussions of tax and spending problems, many candidates have also highlighted the economic drag of regulation. This is important: Regulations have an annual cost of more than $1 trillion and have a significant impact on investment, innovation and economic growth. Rather than shackling the economy with new ones, Washington should conduct a comprehensive review of the regulatory burden with an eye towards eliminating redundant and obsolete mandates.

So what do the candidates propose to do? All have called for cuts in regulation and ensuring that the benefits exceed their costs. Many White House contenders have also insisted on the elimination of various agencies in an attempt to reduce the influence of the bureaucracy and its regulators–Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, if elected, he would get rid of the IRS and the Department of Education, among others. (Cruz is pushing for a federal hiring freeze as well.) And there have been demands for the repeal of onerous regulations issued by President Barack Obama, from Obamacare to a host of new EPA rules.

More consensus: The REINS Act should be passed. This legislation would require agencies to submit all economically significant regulations to Congress for an up or down vote before they can be enforced. Currently, Congress can take credit for passing sweeping and feel-good sounding legislation such as the Clean Air Act while bearing no blame for the regulatory nightmare that ensues. The REINS Act forces these elected officials, rather than unelected civil servants, to take responsibility for their outcomes.

Some of the candidates have moved beyond generalities to more specific solutions. One option championed by Marco Rubio is the creation of a regulatory budget. By essentially setting a cap for the costs of each agency’s regulations, this would address the new layers of rules piled on year after year without any sense of their cumulative effects.

If an agency bumps up against the cap, it must find cuts before it can issue new regulations. This creates two important incentives. First, new regulations must be carefully evaluated in terms of cost before they are put in place. This would force agencies to find the least cost approach to regulation as well as more narrowly focus their regulatory efforts. Second, and just as important, a regulatory budget provides an incentive to prune outdated and unnecessary rules from the books. Rubio has introduced a version of this in the Senate and Cruz signed on as a co-sponsor.

Jeb Bush is also a supporter of a regulatory budget, as well as a tougher executive order for regulatory oversight. Currently, regulatory review is carried out under Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” introduced by Barack Obama shortly after taking office. Bush wants to issue his own executive order to tighten the standards of review in three particular ways. First, it must be demonstrated the benefits of any regulation exceed its costs. Second, it must be demonstrated that state-based solutions are not available to address the issue at hand, a clear effort to devolve regulatory activity down to the state level. And, third, Bush wants to implement a retrospective review of new regulations where major rules can be reviewed within eight years of enactment to determine their economic impact.

John Kasich has endorsed a regulatory freeze, a move akin to the first President Bush’s regulatory moratorium. This would allow an assessment of current regulations to more prudently move forward with reform. In an attempt to shut down “midnight regulations” issued by the outgoing Obama administration, Bush is also calling for a regulatory freeze that would delay implementation of any regulations until they are approved by agency heads nominated by him.

It is promising to see candidates tackling the mundane issue of regulatory reform. While there is no silver bullet to reining in the regulatory state, several candidates have put forth thoughtful agendas for reform. Regulatory cuts, budgets and freezes can all play a role. But, ultimately, what is required is a commitment from the president and his appointees to curb the agencies they are leading—a significant challenge for those seeking the White House.



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, December 02, 2015

All immigrants are not the same

The simple truth in my heading above seems to escape the ideologically committed libertarian mind of writer Abigail Hall.  Below she writes that America should appreciate ALL immigrants.  And there is an element of truth in that.  America was for a long time very fortunate in how well all its immigrants settled in and made positive contributions to the national life.  

But that run of luck is now at an end.  Many migrants from Muslim lands, Hispanic America and Africa do NOT settle in and become like older Americans. Instead they are to varying extents hostile and parasitic sub-populations.  America's Muslim population in particular are a breeding ground for terrorism. Not all Muslims are terrorists but by providing a support system in America for their foul religion, they encourage the few foolish young men and women among them who do exactly what their holy book commands:  Attack non-Muslims.  So we have had things like the Fort Hood shootings.  America could very easily and advantageously do without its Muslims

We should be thankful for immigrants. That’s the theme of the latest op-ed from Independent Institute Research Fellow Abigail R. Hall, published on Thanksgiving in the Orange County Register. “I’m grateful for those who come here legally and for those who come here illegally,” she writes.

Hall argues that immigrant workers create several benefits. They foster job creation—with each immigrant producing about 1.2 new jobs, according to a recent study by Indiana University. They boost economic growth—such as by increasing the degree of specialization in the labor force. And immigrants reduce poverty—not only their own, but also in their country of origin when they send money to family members back home. “These remittances substantially benefit their poor families, in many cases providing more money and opportunities than foreign aid,” Hall writes.

“So when we gather with family and friends to give thanks for all we have, remember those who have recently arrived in our country,” Hall continues. “Immigrants boost our economy, create jobs and reduce poverty around the world. I’m glad they’re here.”




The remorseless laws of economics are cutting it to pieces.

Until the 19th century, the Chinese practiced a method of torture called lingchi. Better known as “death by a thousand cuts” it involved slicing small pieces of flesh from a victim’s body, one by one, so that death was both protracted and utterly excruciating. This is what the realities of economics are doing to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The authors of health care “reform” believed they could ignore the dismal science. The laws of economics have rewarded this hubris by ruthlessly inflicting fact after agonizing fact on Obamacare. And, like all lingchi victims, it will eventually succumb.

Moreover, this is becoming obvious to all but the most obtuse of the law’s apologists. In fact, it has been conceded by strongholds of Obamacare supporters like the Washington Post, the New York Times, and even the Huffington Post. The latter publication, for example, carried a column late last week titled, “Why Obamacare Will Fail.” And, as surprising as it was to find such an article in this notorious purveyor of White House propaganda, it was even more so to discover that its author, Dan Karr, doesn’t blame some dark Republican plot: “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fail for business reasons.”

This reality was dramatically illustrated when UnitedHealth, one of the most important providers of coverage through Obamacare’s “marketplaces,” announced last Thursday that it “has pulled back on its marketing efforts for individual exchange products in 2016” and is mulling whether “it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.” The company expects a $425 million reduction in earnings for the Fourth Quarter of 2015 due to its participation in Obamacare. In other words, the law’s economic incentives are so perverse that even a behemoth like UnitedHealth can’t overcome them.

The problem is that “reform” distorts the market by burying both insurers and the insured beneath a mountain of mandates. Probably the worst is Obamacare’s benefit mandate. Most health plans must now include 10 “minimum essential” benefits—whether customers want them or not. This mandate has inevitably caused the cost of providing coverage to skyrocket. The only way a company like UnitedHealth can keep premiums under some modicum of control is to offer plans with very high deductibles. Meanwhile, the law’s individual mandate has utterly failed as an incentive for healthy individuals to purchase insurance.

This has led to a “lose-lose” situation for insurers and for patients. In an article titled, “Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless,” the New York Times reports, “In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more.” In 2016, the penalty for failing to buy insurance is $695 or 2.5 percent of one’s household income. This means that for most individuals, particularly the young and healthy, the penalty will be considerably less than the out-of-pocket cost required by most health insurance plans.

Thus, many healthy individuals are declining to buy insurance, which means that insurers are stuck with patients who are sicker, on average, than would be the case if the law did not also impose a mandate requiring them to accept all applicants. When an insurer reaches the point at which the patient portfolio foisted on it by Obamacare forces it to pay out more in claims than it collects in premiums, it will abandon that market. This is an economic fact of life ignored by the authors of the “reform” law and why other insurers will follow UnitedHealth’s example, leaving fewer choices and higher costs for more patients.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the latest Gallup survey shows the number of Americans who disapprove of Obamacare increasing. What is worse, it is even less popular with the uninsured than with any other group: “Individuals who say they have no insurance tilt heavily toward disapproval of the healthcare law.” In fact, only 30 percent of the uninsured approve of the law. And this is unlikely to improve during the current enrollment period. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Many people signing up for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act face higher premiums, fewer doctors and skimpier coverage.”

The tragic irony associated with “higher premiums” and “fewer doctors” is that this is precisely the opposite of what most Americans wanted from health care reform to begin with. A Gallup survey done in the summer of 2009, as the reform debate was heating up, revealed that control of rapidly increasing health care costs and better access to care were the public’s highest priorities. And it isn’t hard to guess which a majority considered the most crucial: “When asked which of the two is the more important goal, the public says, by 52% to 42%, that controlling costs is more crucial than expanding coverage.”

At that time, conservatives and libertarians said this goal could only be achieved with an unfettered market in which Americans could purchase any sort of coverage they wished from insurance companies that were free to sell a wide range of coverage across state lines. But this kind of freedom was anathema to the Democrats who controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. They believed they were smarter than the market and created a grotesque morass of mandates intensely disliked by insurers, patients, and care providers. And, dumbest of all, they ignored the laws of economics.

But the penalties for ignoring those laws are draconian indeed. If you increase the cost of doing business for insurers, they’ll raise premiums and deductibles. If you make it impossible for them to make a profit selling coverage through exchanges, they’ll pull out. If you make coverage too expensive, people won’t buy it. If that coverage pays doctors less than it costs to treat a patient, doctors won’t treat them. If you pass a law that ignores such realities, it will be subjected to fact after brutal fact until it finally dies.


To understand France's jihadis, look at where they came from


Eurocrats rarely see Molenbeek, the Brussels commune that has become the focus of police investigations following the Paris abominations - except, occasionally, from the windows of their chauffeured limousines. A canal separates Molenbeek from the monstrous EU buildings of the Schuman quarter; but the two districts are divided by much more than a stretch of gray water.

Brussels is home to two types of immigrants. First, there are those (like me) who are in some way connected to the EU or to its ancillary industries: lobbying, journalism, PR. Then there are the large Turkish and North African populations, connected to their ancestral countries by the satellite dishes through which they watch TV from "home." The two worlds rarely meet, except when an EU official gets into a taxi, or perhaps hires a head-scarfed cleaner.

Few Bruxellois are surprised that Molenbeek is the epicenter of the Paris plot. It's not a uniquely poor district, at least not by comparison with the tower-blocked banlieus - the suburbs that ring some French cities. Molenbeek is run-down, jobless and listless rather than seething. Its local council has a reputation for uselessness. The commune has been under the control of the Left for as long as anyone can remember, and councilmen rely lazily on Muslim votes. But it would be idiotic to argue that growing up in a down-at-heel, dull, vaguely corrupt borough somehow puts young men on the path to mass murder.

Alienation is a common enough phenomenon among second-generation immigrants, pulled between their countries of birth and the sunlit lands of their grandparents' stories. Sometimes, the sense of dislocation becomes a clinical condition: Schizophrenia is eight times more common among second-generation Dutch immigrants than in the general population.

Still, a sense of mild dislocation doesn't normally push people into political violence. Something else is happening.

I think it has to do with the way that patriotism has been derided and traduced by Europe's intellectual elites. If you want newcomers to assimilate into your society, you have to give them something into which to assimilate. You have to project a sense of pride, of common purpose, of self-belief.

This is perhaps especially difficult in Belgium. There is no Belgian language, no Belgian culture, precious little Belgian history. The country is divided between French and Dutch-speakers and subsists, as the saying goes, only in its monarchy and its football team.

The last Belgian election was won by a party that favors Flemish self-rule, and French and Dutch-speaking populations are, in consequence, identifying less with the national institutions, more with their own communities. But where does this leave, say, a Moroccan-origin boy from Molenbeek? What is there for him to be join?

Think of the experience that boy will have had in his adolescence. His every interaction with the Belgian state will have taught him to despise it. If he got any history at all in school, it will have been presented to him as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. When he hears politicians on TV, they are unthinkingly blaming every ill in the world on Western meddling. It's hardly an inducement to integrate, is it?

Americans are very good at assimilating newcomers. They go in for loud displays of national pride - flags in the yard and bunting on Independence Day and stirring songs - that strike some Euro-snobs as vulgar, but that make it easy for settlers to want to belong.

In the EU, by contrast, the ruling doctrine is that patriotism is a dangerous force, and that the nation-state is on its last legs. Eurocrats dream of making the 12-star flag a common post-national symbol, just as they have already replaced national passports with an EU version. "Europe - Your Country," says the sign at the Commission building.

In every age and nation, some young men are attracted by the sheer certainty of political violence. Once, they joined the Red Brigades or the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Now, for similar reasons, they are drawn to the latest terrorist group that glamorizes destruction.

Part of our response must be security-based. We need to be prepared to deploy proportionate force, whether at home or overseas.

Ultimately, though, the best way to defeat a bad idea is with a better idea. There is surely no more squalid idea than that propagated by the death-cult calling itself Islamic State. And there is no finer idea than the freedom that defines Western societies. Let's not be shy about saying so.



Police Take More Property from People than Burglars

Most readers of The Beacon are probably familiar with the rise in civil asset forfeiture, which gives police the power to seize property they claim was used in criminal activity, often without accusing the property owner of a crime. They don’t have to. It’s up to property owners to prove they are innocent to get their property back.

Martin Armstrong posts on his blog that in 2014 property taken through civil asset forfeiture exceeded the value of property taken by burglars. This article analyzes that claim in more detail, and it appears that the statistics Armstrong uses actually undercount the losses from civil asset forfeiture. For one thing, he only looks at civil asset forfeitures by the federal government.

It is unsettling to think that the property of Americans is more at risk from being confiscated by police than being stolen by burglars.



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, December 01, 2015

Leftist moral blindness rolls on at Australian Leftist webzine

Lissa Johnson, the tame psychologist at "New Matilda", ignores most of the facts in her latest essay.  Someone has criticized her writing without getting to the heart of what she gets wrong so she gives a rather supercilious reply.  I excerpt the introduction to it below.  The last paragraph below encapsulates what she refuses to see and it doesn't get better from there on.  She deplores the Islamist attacks in Paris but adds:

"Our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples"

Get it?  American attacks ON terrorists are as bad as attacks BY terrorists!

To adapt a saying by Mao, terrorists are fish that swim in the sea of the people so they are hard to kill without killing bystanders.  But we have to kill them before they kill others.  And the solution to that dilemma adopted by the American forces has been a very consistent one.  The Obama administration has been most careful in vetoing strikes where there is a likelihood of civilian casualties involved.  On some accounts two out of three target requests from the military are turned down.

The information available to U.S. military planners is of course not always perfect so some civilian casualties do occur.  The only way of totally avoiding civilian casualties would be to do nothing and let the terrorists continue on in their murderous ways. I guess that's what Lissa Johnson wants.

And American caution is not a recent development, the "JAGs" were regularly a great problem for American military men on the ground in Afghanistan.  Has Lissa ever heard of the JAGs?  If so, she promptly forgot it.  JAG stands for the Judge Advocate General's Corps, a branch of the U.S. military that aims to keep the actions of U.S. troops ethical and legal.  And in JAG guidelines, killing civilians is NOT legal. So in Afghanistan they refused many targeting requests on terrorists because it was not totally clear that they were terrorists -- sometimes leading to loss of life among American troops.

So our Lissa sees no difference between the actions of an armed force that goes out of its way to AVOID civilian casualties and an armed group who deliberately aim to INFLICT civilian casualties. Can there be bigger ethical blindness that that?  I can't see it.  She is not so much a disgrace as a pathetic Leftist fraud

I have recently been asked by news website the Tasmanian Times to respond to an article by freelance journalist Shane Humpherys, critiquing my analysis of the psychology behind the tragic Paris attacks.

Given that replying offers the opportunity of a case study in the psychology of systemic violence, and the metaphorical head-kicking that can come from challenging the status quo, I thought it was worthwhile providing a response.

My initial article outlined the shared psychological foundations – and human cost – of all intergroup violence, state-sanctioned or not. One main point was that victims of Western violence are just as human, just as dead or injured, and their families just as bereaved as victims of terrorist attacks.

I argued that if the Paris attacks are to be an attack on all humanity, then our grief must be grief for all humanity, and all innocent victims, including victims of our own collective violence. I cited civilians killed and injured by US drone attacks in Yemen as examples.



Dems’ focus on income inequality is misguided

A new survey from Politico finds what many of us already suspected. Whereas the primary policy issue for Republicans is creating economic growth, Democrats have a rather different set of priorities. Of Democrats surveyed, 81 percent said that income inequality was “the most important economic issue” as far as presidential politics go.

The left has always been driven by a misguided egalitarian streak. The nagging feeling that someone, somewhere, might be better off than someone else is an nettlesome irritant they just can’t shake, despite the fact that almost all plans to correct the alleged problem depend on gross violations of liberty that would be unacceptable to anyone who values freedom.

To see why inequality complaints are overblown, we can turn to philosopher Robert Nozick’s important work on justice and the role government, Anarchy, State, & Utopia. Nozick engages in a thought experiment, supposing an initial allocation of resources across a society that is entirely just. Of course, this means different things to different people, but for now let’s assume a completely egalitarian distribution.

Once this distribution is set, we can allow people to engage in free, voluntary transactions. Some people will choose to give a portion of their money to talented entertainers, athletes, and business owners who provide them with goods and services they value, thereby increasing the incomes of these entrepreneurs and creating inequality. Now, since the initial distribution was just, and since there is no injustice in allowing people to spend their money as they choose, how can anyone claim that income inequality is inherently unjust?

Of course, in the real world, we have to contend with things like theft, fraud, and artificial barriers to success, but taken together these factors explain a relatively small fraction of America’s income inequality. There’s nothing inherently wrong with an uneven distribution of wealth, as long voluntary action is the principal cause.

democrat vs republican

Now to be fair, it’s reasonable to be concerned about those policies that give special advantage to one group while creating roadblocks to success for others. I’ve written extensively about corporate cronyism, such as the Export-Import Bank, occupational licensing requirements, and regulatory burdens on new business models. All of these policies exacerbate income inequality by using government to help the powerful and hinder the weak. There is certainly injustice here, and it is absolutely something that needs to be addressed.

But removing the regulatory barriers to success is not what the left means when they say they want to tackle income inequality. In fact, the Democratic Party openly endorses most of these programs, despite their effect on income disparities.

Focusing on inequality as a major policy variable leads to perverse actions. As Margaret Thatcher observed, many would rather keep everyone from achieving success rather than let some succeed more than others. “He would rather the poor were poorer,” she said of a colleague bemoaning inequality, “provided the rich were less rich. That is the liberal policy.”

Economic growth, on the other hand, is the rising tide that lifts all boats. The poorest 10 percent of Americans today are vastly more wealthy, in absolute terms, than they were a century ago, and this is vastly more important than their relative wealth compared to other people. Absolute wealth determines whether you can feed your family, secure, housing, transportation, and clothing. It determines your entire standard of living. Relative wealth has little impact on your daily life, except perhaps, how jealous you are of your neighbors.

Of course, if you really can’t get the notion that income inequality is bad out of your head, you can take solace in the fact that, if you look at global wealth and don’t restrict your focus to a single country, it has been falling for the last 20 years. Hooray, or something.



More Burnt Offerings on the Altar of Multiculturalism

Diana West wrote the following 11 years ago. It is eerily fitting today.  Nothing has been learnt

Only one faith on Earth may be more messianic than Islam: multiculturalism. Without it -- without its fanatics who believe all civilizations are the same -- the engine that projects Islam into the unprotected heart of Western civilization would stall and fail. It's as simple as that.

To live among the believers -- the multiculturalists -- is to watch the assault, the jihad, take place un-repulsed by our suicidal societies. These societies are not doomed to submit; rather, they are eager to do so in the name of a masochistic brand of tolerance that, short of drastic measures, is surely terminal.

I'm not talking about our soldiers, policemen, rescue workers and, now, even train conductors, who bravely and steadfastly risk their lives for civilization abroad and at home. Instead, I'm thinking about who we are as a society at this somewhat advanced stage of war.

It is a strange, tentative civilization we have become, with leaders who strut their promises of "no surrender" even as they flinch at identifying the foe. Four years past 9/11, we continue to shadow-box "terror," even as we go on about "an ideology of hate." It's a script that smacks of sci-fi fantasy more than realpolitik. But our grim reality is no summer blockbuster, and there's no special-effects-enhanced plot twist that is going to thwart "terror" or "hate" in the London Underground anymore than it did on the roof of the World Trade Center. Or in the Bali nightclub. Or on the first day of school in Beslan. Or in any disco, city bus or shopping mall in Israel.

Body bags, burn masks and prosthetics are no better protections than make-believe. But these are our weapons, according to the powers that be. These, and an array of high-tech scopes and scanners designed to identify retinas and fingerprints, to detect explosives and metals -- ultimately, I presume, as we whisk through the automatic supermarket door.

How strange, though, that even as we devise new ways to see inside ourselves to our most elemental components, we also prevent ourselves from looking full-face at the danger to our way of life posed by Islam.

Notice I didn't say "radical Islam." Or "Islamists." Or "Islamofascists." Or "Islamonazis." I've tried out such terms in the past, but quickly came to find them artificial and confusing, and maybe purposefully so, because in their imprecision I think they allow us all to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islam -- the religious force that shrinks freedom even as it "moderately" enables or "extremistly" advances jihad -- with the West.

Am I right? Who's to say? The very topic of Islamization -- for that is what is at hand, and very soon in Europe -- is verboten.  A leaked British report prepared for Prime Minister Tony Blair last year warned even against "expressions of concern about Islamic fundamentalism" (another one of those amorphous terms) because "many perfectly moderate Muslims follow strict adherence to traditional Islamic teachings and are likely to perceive such expressions as a negative comment on their own approach to their faith."

Much better to watch subterranean tunnels fill with charred body parts in silence. As the London Times' Simon Jenkins wrote, "The sane response to urban terrorism is to regard it as an avoidable accident."

In not discussing the roots of terror in Islam itself, in not learning about them, the multicultural clergy that shepherds our elites prevents us from having to do anything about them. This is key, because any serious action -- stopping immigration from jihad-sponsoring nations, shutting down mosques that preach violence and expelling their imams, just for starters -- means to renounce the multicultural creed. In the West, that's the greatest apostasy.

And while the penalty is not death -- as it is for leaving Islam under Islamic law -- the existential crisis is to be avoided at all costs. Including extinction.

This is the lesson of the atrocities in London [or Paris or Israel or Copenhagen or Ft. Hood or Australia or ...]  It's unlikely that the 21st century will remember that this new Western crossroads for global jihad was once the home of Churchill, Piccadilly and Sherlock Holmes.

Then again, who will notice? The BBC has retroactively purged its online bombing coverage of the word "terrorist"; the spokesman for the London police commissioner has declared that "Islam and terrorism simply don't go together"; and within sight of a forensics team sifting through rubble, an Anglican priest urged his flock, as The Guardian reported, to "rejoice in the capital's rich diversity of cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and faiths."

Just don't, he said, "name them as Muslims." Their faith renewed, Londoners soldier on.



4 simple sentences

Here are the 10,535 pages of Obama Care condensed to 4 simple sentences..  As crazy as it sounds, every last word is absolutely TRUE!

1. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured.

2. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured.

3. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured.

4. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, so it will be ‘free-of-charge’ to them.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is called "redistribution of wealth", AKA Socialism

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on events from a British perspective.


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, November 30, 2015

More on what lies behind the Left/Right divide

Among psychologists, the most interesting answer to the above question is that given by John Hibbing.  He might be called the "rockstar" of the debate. He attracts attention because he goes down to the physiological and brain-science level for his evidence and conclusions.  He says that what you believe is a product of what you are.  He does not stress it but "what you are" is genetically determined.  So he is looking for inherited physiological differences between Leftists and conservatives.

And he has made some progress.  He has put people through a number of experimental tasks and found that the reactions he observes to the tasks  do indeed differ as between the two ideological groups.  He describes his findings as showing that "disgust sensitivity" is the key variable.  Conservatives are more easily disgusted.  Most generally, they have a "negativity bias", according to Hibbing.  And last year he put up a big paper summarizing the evidence for his view.  It is "Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in  political ideology"

I have long argued that Left/Right differences are largely inborn so my critique of Hibbing is not to contest his findings but to question the "spin" he puts on them.  You can find a pretty good summary of his experiments here and I think it is easy to see that what Hibbing calls "negativity bias" could just as well be described as caution -- and caution has long been said to be the essence of conservatism.  So Hibbing has confirmed some old wisdom rather than telling us anything new.

Hibbing's big article was published in an open review journal so critiques of it keep multiplying.  One such  critique that I have noted recently was "Not so simple: The multidimensional nature and diverse origins of political ideology" by Stanley Feldman and Leonie Huddy.  They make two points that I think are pretty right:

They say that "negativity bias" is characteristic of neurotics and that all the studies show that conservatives are not particularly neurotic.  I observed that in my research too.  So that is a bit of a stake in the heart for Hibbing.  His "spin" on his results has undone him.  If he had simply described conservatives as cautious, that criticism could not so easily be levelled at him.

Their second point is that there is no single Left-Right dimension.  Economic conservatism and social conservatism are quite different. So Feldman & Huddy conclude that Hibbing's work is pretty useless because he has mixed up two different things.  And it is indeed true that those two types of attitudes are very distinct factorially.  I noted that in one of my papers long ago.

So they are right but I am prepared to defend Hibbing on that one.  Although there are  two  distinctly different types of conservative attitude,  they are not totally different.  As I found, they do correlate, albeit weakly.  And that is why the "big tent" of the GOP succeeds.  The two types of conservative do find some things in common, a respect for the individual, mainly.

And as we see in "Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits", Hibbing uses the Wilson scale in his research, which is primarily a measure of social conservatism. And I have shown elsewhere that social conservatism is the big one for separating people.  Economic conservatism is arguably more important to our future but it doesn't get the blood boiling like social issues do: Abortion, homosexuality, religion, tradition etc.

So Hibbing may not be measuring overall conservatism but he is measuring social conservatism and that is the most central sort of conservatism.  So I would summarize his findings as showing that social conservatives are instinctively more cautious than others.  And I see no problem with that.

Hibbing uses "Negativity" rather than "caution" to describe conservatives because he wants to rubbish conservatives (though he says he does not).  "Negative" sounds a lot sadder than "cautious".  But in so doing he lands himself in trouble.  I have noted the Feldman & Huddy comment on that but there is in fact a bigger vat of boiling oil he falls into:

As is noted here, who are the "negative" people when it comes to global warming?  Warmists are almost entirely Leftists but it is they who are vastly negative about the climate and our future.  They predict imminent catastrophe -- while conservatives are mostly just amused by the scare. Conservatives say in  summary that: "global warming is not a crisis, the likely benefits of man-made global warming exceed the likely costs, and mankind is not the scourge on Earth that liberals make us out to be"

And again, referring to conservatives simply as cautious would not enable that criticism.  Warmists do say that they are the cautious ones but to swallow the arrant nonsense that is global warming would have to be a height of incautiousness.  Conservatives just look at the evidence and see that there is no need for caution in the matter.  Here's a graph of the amount of global warming we have had in the last 18 years  -- none:

So two cheers for Hibbing.  He has drawn attention to the biological basis of ideology but he should stop stretching the implications of his findings in a Leftist direction.  He just makes a fool of himself with that stretch.  He was pretty reasonable -- even humble -- in a 2012 paper.  He should try more of that.


The liberal problem with reality again


Save us!


Hillary Clinton’s million little lies

TO HEAR Hillary Clinton tell it, she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest — even though she was already six-years-old when he made his famous ascent.

On a visit to war-torn Bosnia in 1996, she claimed she and her entourage landed under sniper fire and had to run “with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base” — although videos of her arrival show her waltzing serenely across the tarmac, waving to the crowd.

She blamed the 2012 attack on American diplomatic and intelligence-gathering installations in Benghazi on “a disgusting video” when she knew almost from the first moment that it was a jihadist assault that took the lives of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya.

No wonder the late William Safire, writing in The New York Times in 1996, at the height of the Whitewater investigation, called her a “congenital liar”.

Said Safire: “She is in the longtime habit of lying; and she has never been called to account for lying herself or in suborning lying in her aides and friends”.

Baron Munchausen has nothing on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now comes the recycling this month of another Clinton tall tale: That shortly before her 1975 marriage to Bill Clinton, she decided in a fit of patriotic fervour and dedication to “public service” to stroll into a recruiter’s office in Arkansas and join the Marine Corps.

It’s an anecdote she trots out to charm military audiences, whether it’s a group on Capitol Hill in 1994, or, most recently, to veterans in Derry, New Hampshire.

“He looks at me and goes, ‘Um, how old are you,’ ” Clinton recalled at the event on November 10. “I said, ‘Well, I’m 26. I will be 27.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that is kind of old for us.’ And then he says to me, and this is what gets me, ‘Maybe the dogs will take you,’ meaning the Army,” she added.

Yeah, right. Never mind that the term is “dogface,” used to refer to the Army infantry. And never mind as well that, given the tenor of the times, the Marines or any other service would have taken young Ms. Rodham in a heartbeat, especially given their need for lawyers.

Like so many carefully parsed Clintonian statements, Hillary’s Leatherneck fantasy is either unverifiable or dependent upon how it’s phrased.

When confronted with the obvious discrepancy in her “Edmund Hillary” story, she characteristically shifted the blame to her mother, Dorothy, saying the fable was something her mother told her.

But let’s assume for a moment that, unlike Clinton’s other whoppers, this story is actually, in some sense, true.

What are the odds that, in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam, the anti-war Wellesley graduate, who’d written her college senior thesis on “community organiser” Saul Alinsky, had a snazzy Yale Law degree, and who was already envisioning a career in state and national politics alongside Bill (then a candidate for Arkansas lawyer general), would do such a thing — and actually mean it?

I’m betting zero.

A far more likely explanation is that Hillary entered the Marine recruiting office — if she did — not out of any desire to “serve her country”, but as an agent provocateur, determined to show that the Marines were a bunch of bigoted sexist, ageist pigs in order to fuel her sense of outrage.

This explanation is given credence by one of Hillary’s Fayetteville, Arkansas, friends at the time, Ann Henry, who said that Hillary was interested in probing the way the military treated women candidates.

“I can remember discussing it, but I cannot give you the details of when and what was said,” Henry told a reporter.

“Hillary would go and do things just to test it out, and I can totally see her doing that just to see what the reaction was.”

Given the mood of the time, and the vituperative nastiness of the left regarding all things military, it would have been just like the self-aggrandising Hillary Rodham to try and manufacture a controversy where there was none, to make herself look good.

And now she allegedly recasts the story as a legitimate desire to join the military, to show her dedication to public service. Is the story true? And if it is true, were her motives as described?

What difference does it make!

The late Christopher Hitchens titled his memoir of the Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky circus No One Left to Lie To, but even someone as perceptive as Hitch couldn’t foresee that the Clintons, like cockroaches and the Kardashians, would always be with us, forever playing the same shell game on the American people and laughing as we fall for it.

That would be the same Clintons (combined current net worth: $140 million) who were “dead broke” when they left the White House.



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, November 29, 2015

Another Leftist attempt to deny the obvious

They do a lot of that.  They need to

That liberals are the ones who find society all wrong and want to change it is definitional of liberalism.  So that suggests that liberals are the unhappy people.  Would you want to change the world about you if you were happy with it?  And that little bit of logic gets repeatedly confirmed by the survey data.  Republican voters (for instance) always report greater levels of happiness than do Democrat voters

But that has begun to get under the skin of some Leftist psychologists.  In their wisdom they think conservatives are the misfits and liberals are the regular guys.  So how can misfits be happier?  There are several possible answers to that and some Leftist pychologists have tested some of the answers.  Their preferred hypothesis is that conservatives are not telling the truth about how happy they are.  And they have research evidence to prove it.  But do they?

There is a much reprinted article by Tom Jacobs which summarizes some of that research.  It's longish so I am not going to reproduce it but I do want to look at the detail behind it.  Have they in fact proved anything?  We will see.

I will take the "evidence" for Tom's claims one by one.

The first study quoted by Tom was by Cara MacInnis and Michael Busseri of Brock University.  It actually concludes that "Extreme Right Wingers" were happier than others.  So how it supports Tom's  claims is puzzling.  Whether it does or not, however, hardly matters.  It was based on two totally invalid questionnaires.  The RWA scale gets roughly the same level of endorsement among voters of the Left and Right. Right-wing Leftists?  If that were not odd enough, the high scorers in Russia tend to be Communists.  Right wing Communists??  So scores on that set of questions tell you nothing certain that I can think of. It is just a bit of academic nonsense.

They also used another invalid scale called the SDO, but I have said enough about that piece of junk elsewhere. In short, the research was so ill-conceived that it proved nothing

The second study by Sean P. Wojcik et al. seems to be the main one for Tom.

Their Study 1:  Even Wojcik et al agree that the results of that study are ambiguous but that is the least of their problems.  The main problem is the tiny size of the effects observed.  A correlation of .1 explains .01% percent of the common variance between the two variables.  Combine that with the fact that the sample was of visitors to an internet site and you have a big problem indeed.  You have to have really strong correlations among such an unrepresentative sample for it to be of interest.  So again, the study proved nothing. The tiny correlation was statistically significant but that just reflects the large sample size -- N = 1433.

Their Study II was of greater interest. They did a content analysis of speeches by Congresscritters.  But again they found little.  I quote:

"Greater conservatism was associated with a small but significant decrease in positive affect word use (b = –0.16, P <0.001). Conservatism was not significantly associated with the use of negative affect words, joviality-related words, or sadness-related words".

So of the 4 relationships they examined only one was significant and it was again very low.  But again, that may not be the big problem of the study.  Content analysis can very easily be biased and strong precautions have to be taken against that. Wojcik et al list no such precautions.  So again no firm conclusions can be drawn from the work.

But they include another highly inferential piece of research in their Study II.  They analysed the smiles of Congresscritters!  Again, however, the correlations were tiny.  I quote:

"We observed only marginally significant differences in the intensity of smiling behavior in the muscles lifting the corners of the mouth (AU12: b= –0.10, P=0.096), but conservatism predicted significantly less intense facial action in the muscles around the eyes that indicate genuine happiness"

So again, their findings were negligible.  And, in the circumstances, we have to ask whether inferences drawn from eye muscle movement tell us much anyway. Eye muscle movements might tell us something in a gross sort of way but where the differences are very slight, do they tell us anything at all? Thinking in terms of Venn diagrams, the tiny overlap indicated by a .10 correlation could be entirely outside the overlap between eye-movements and happiness -- and thus tell you nothing about happiness.

And I liked this bit of modesty about their results:

"Of course, elected political leaders are not representative of liberal and conservative individuals more generally, and it is unclear how well speech and facial expressions occurring within the confines of Capitol Hill reflect similar happiness-related  behaviors  in  less  overtly  political contexts"


Their Study III also raises questions. I quote:

"We analyzed the statuses of individuals who subscribed to (“followed”) the official Twitter pages of either the Democratic or Republican Party, excluding those following both, under the assumption that users who followed one party exclusively were likely to share that party’s political views"

I suppose I can pass that as a reasonable assumption but it again raises sampling problems.  I don't think we have yet got to the point where the man in the street uses Twitter -- so the representativeness of the sample would appear to be deficient, thus limiting or even vitiating generalizations from it.

But leave that aside.  They  found:

"Republican Party subscribers’ updates were significantly less likely to contain positive emotion words, joviality words, and happy emoticons, and significantly more likely to contain negative emotion words"

This time they reported their statistics in terms of odds ratios rather than correlations.  But again the findings were utterly trivial. An odds-ratio has to be of 2.0 or above to be taken seriously and none of theirs were. Most were in fact below .1. In other words, their findings basically indicated "No effect".

Is my view of what is required of odds ratios just my opinion?  Not at all.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."  Odds ratios and relative risk are not exactly the same but with weak effects such as we have here they are much the same.

Their Study IV was another study of photographs. They found that:

"smiles were marginally more intense among employees at ideologically liberal organizations"

And "marginally" was the word again.

And that's it!  There's your proof that liberals really are happier. Generalizations based on extremely weak effects and highly indirect measures of happiness.

And none of the studies examined general population samples. There was no sampling at all, in fact. There was no attempt at representative sampling of conservatives or liberals at any point.  And without representative sampling of a group, you cannot make generalizations about that group.  So the study proves nothing.  Its reliance on crinkles in the corner of people's eyes is rather hilarious in fact.  You couldn't make it up

Tom Jacobs does quote one extra study but gives no name for it, no authors for it nor any link or journal citation for it.  My Google searches for it were in vain.  Did he just make it up?  Who knows? We have seen that Liberals do get desperate for confirmation of their beliefs.