Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to all who come by here

A few things below but I am not sure if I will be posting anything tomorrow.  I will not be posting on any of my other blogs today.


The Busybody Left

By Thomas Sowell

The political left has been trying to run other people’s lives for centuries. So we should not be surprised to see the Obama administration now trying to force neighborhoods across America to have the mix of people the government wants them to have.

There are not enough poor people living in middle class neighborhoods to suit the political left. Not enough blacks in white neighborhoods. Not enough Hispanics here, not enough Asians there.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant the federal government the power to dictate such things. But places that do not mix and match people the way Washington wants them to can lose all sorts of federal money they currently receive under numerous programs.

Handing out vast amounts of the taxpayers' money is the way the federal government has expanded its power far beyond the powers granted by the Constitution — thereby limiting the freedom of individuals, localities and states. Washington is essentially buying up our freedom with our own money, taken in taxes.

What makes this latest political crusade so ridiculous and so dangerous is that people have never been mixed and matched at random, either in the United States or in other countries around the world, or in any period of history.

We can see blacks and whites living in different neighborhoods, but many people who look the same to the naked eye also sort themselves out. Moreover, neither blacks nor whites are living at random within their own respective neighborhoods.

The upscale neighborhood called Sugar Hill in Harlem, where I delivered groceries as a teenager, was very different from the neighborhood where I lived in a tenement.

White neighborhoods also sorted themselves out. A man who grew up in Chicago said, “Tell me a man’s last name and I will tell you where he lives.” Studies of ethnic concentrations in Chicago have backed up his claim.

Back when the Lower East Side of New York was a predominantly Jewish area during the era of mass immigration from Europe, Hungarian Jews lived clustered together in a different part of the Lower East Side from where Polish Jews or Romanian Jews lived. And German Jews lived uptown.

It was the same story in Italian neighborhoods. Immigrants from Rome were not scattered at random among immigrants from Naples or Sicily. Moreover, this was not peculiar to New York.

The same clustering of people from particular parts of Italy could be found in cities across the United States, as well as in Italian communities in Buenos Aires, Toronto, Sydney and other places around the world.

The very same pattern could be found among Germans, Chinese, Lebanese and other peoples living in other countries. People of different ages, different incomes or different lifestyles likewise tend to sort themselves out.

Nevertheless the busybody left has launched a political crusade to make communities across America present a tableau that matches the preconceptions of their betters.

Nor are the true believers deterred by the failures and counterproductive consequences of their previous social crusades, such as busing children to distant schools to mix and match them with children from different racial, economic or social backgrounds.

The theory was that this would improve the education of all — through the magic of “diversity” — and promote greater understanding among different races and classes. In practice, however, compulsory busing of children to mix and match them produced more racial polarization and more educational problems.

Undaunted by reality, the left moved on to try something similar in the housing markets, by placing low-income housing projects in middle class neighborhoods and by giving housing subsidies to individual low-income families to go live in neighborhoods where they could not afford to live otherwise.

The counterproductive consequences of these efforts in the housing markets have only spurred on the busybodies of the left to try harder to force people to live their lives according to the preconceptions of the left, rather than according to their own direct personal experiences and preferences.



Are Republicans dying off?

In 2004, Republican popular vote totals for president peaked — at 62,040,610 votes for George W. Bush. They have been down ever since.  59,948,323 votes were cast for John McCain in 2008. And 60,933,500 votes were cast for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Meaning, in the past decade, Republicans have proven unable to expand their voting coalition.

While many analyses will often focus on candidate selection or issue selection by the party, offering a range reasons, usually ideological but also applying to the candidates of themselves, of being too moderate or too conservative.

But what if there is a different reason, a more obvious truth for the shrinking Republican electorate?

Perhaps the reason fewer people are voting Republican is simply because there are fewer Republicans who are still alive.

The Greatest Generation, which weathered the Great Depression and then fought and won World War II, is all but gone. In 2004, there were still more than 4 million surviving World War II veterans, according to the National World War II Museum. By 2012, that number had shrunk to little more than a million. By 2016, it will be far less than a million.Approaching_Omaha

If you include their spouses at roughly the same count, bringing the total to about 8 or 9 million, that means in the past 2 election cycles, more than 6 million have died. By 2016, nearly all of them will have died.

According to research by Gallup, what was left of the Greatest Generation was roughly split politically and ideologically as recently as 2013 — 47 percent Republican or lean-Republican versus 46 percent Democrat or lean-Democrat. There, the death rate would have hurt each party roughly equally.

As for the Silent Generation — those born in between the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers — it is 50 percent to 43 percent in favor of Republicans, including leaners. As that generation now dies off, it will disproportionately hurt Republicans.

In the meantime, their replacements in the voting age population at the younger end of the spectrum, have unquestionably skewed Democrat. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, register 53 percent are Democrat or lean-Democrat compared to 35 percent who are Republican or lean-Republican.

As for Baby Boomers, they are roughly split, 46 percent to 44 percent in favor of Democrats, including leaners.

Meaning, quite literally, the Republican Party is dying off, and unless something changes rather quickly, the GOP may never have as many votes as it does right now.

That is the stage, and at least explains what has taken place in 2008 and 2012.

But what looks like perhaps an insurmountable demographic decline could actually represent an enormous opportunity in disguise for the GOP. The three keys will undoubtedly be: 1) Maximizing turnout of the remaining Silent Generation by emphasizing that 2016 is their last stand; 2) Skewing Baby Boomers towards Republican as they now retire and worry about the future they are leaving their children; and 3) Somewhat neutralizing the advantage among Millennials as they enter their full-time careers and whose concerns are now shifting away from social issues to economic concerns.

Add to that an overarching emphasis on security issues in the wake of Paris and San Bernardino, including high anxiety over immigration and terrorism, as well as economic issues including immigration, trade, globalization, and jobs. Voters, particularly Republican voters, see a nation in decline.

Suddenly, then, it is easy to see why the two current Republican frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have excelled. Both have taken a hard line on immigration, and neither supported granting fast track trade authority Barack Obama. What you find is a Republican electorate that is receptive to a working class populist message that is also tough on security that has confounded the political establishment.

Now, how will that message reflect back into the general election remains to be seen. But some signals could be coming from Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who just last month was mocking Republican concerns over Syrian refugees but now, in the wake of San Bernardino, is praising efforts in Congress to increase FBI scrutiny of the refugees coming from the Syria and Iraq war.

“The United States has to take a close look at our visa programs, and I am glad this administration and Congress are stepping up scrutiny in the wake of San Bernardino,” Clinton told a crowd of her supporters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on Dec. 15.

What polls is Clinton looking at to suggest she needs to triangulate on immigration and visas — before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary have even begun? It is notable that Clinton is watching her right flank. That might mean events are reshaping the political landscape faster than politicians can respond.

Meaning there could in-roads for Republicans to not only political independents, where the usual battle for the middle occurs in the general election, but also to Democrats, who might be afraid their party cannot keep them safe.

What is clear is that in order to succeed, Republicans need to replace their ranks by building on the base they have, and the current political earthquake on security might be what it takes to shake up the current electorate and put voters on the table nobody thought could be moved just two months ago.



Economic Tinkering Has Unforeseeable Ripple Effect

One policy change can have far reaching effects on the economy.


The environmentalist left is always eager to talk about the fragility of natural ecosystems. Even slight alterations, they argue, can have huge ripple effects and unintended consequences. Thus, we’re forced to suffer through mosquito bites every summer instead of eradicating that godless species as we should have years ago. Still, the point about the interconnected nature of natural systems is not without merit, and there is such system that is routinely disrupted without adequate regard for the consequences. That system is the economy.

The folly of government planners is that they think they can change one variable in the economy without throwing the whole system out of whack. The desire to tinker with a law here, a regulation there, overlooks the fact that these changes create a different set of incentives, which consumers and producers respond to by altering their behavior. The results of this are often impossible to predict, and rarely desirable.

A good example comes from the health care sector. The Affordable Care Act sought to reduce prices and increase coverage by enacting specific regulations on insurance companies and mandates on consumers. The web of incentives it created is far too complex to go into fully, but by now it’s pretty clear that the law has not worked as intended. People aren’t complying with the mandates, the price of coverage has gone up, which in turn has driven insurance co-ops out of business, and caused some insurers to pull out of the exchanges.

Now, the government is running up against its own ripple effects, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking to block several hospital mergers that are occurring as the result of the Affordable Care Act. The FTC argues that these hospital mergers reduce competition and increase prices for consumers, and that therefore the mergers should be blocked. It sounds reasonable. We all know that competition makes things cheaper and better. However, in this case things are not as simple as they appear.

ObamaCare is making medicine more expensive and harder to provide, as well as encouraging cooperation and integration of hospital systems. It has therefore become more difficult for smaller hospitals to survive on their own, and these mergers are a way to comply with the ACA’s mandates while allowing larger institutions to absorb some of the costs.

Are hospital mergers a good thing? Well, probably not, but given the current regulatory and legal framework, it may be the best of a series of bad options. What if the FTC succeeds in block mergers only to confront a wave of hospital closures? It’s hard to see how that would make consumers any better off. On the other hand, without ObamaCare’s mandates, it’s unlikely that such mergers would have been necessary in the first place.

When government intervenes in one part of the economy, it creates problems elsewhere; when it tries to address those problems, still more spring forth like so many heads on a hydra. In fact, the majority of these problems would solve themselves if government would simply stay out of the way, but I’m not holding my breath for them to learn this lesson any time soon.


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)


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where has all the new money gone?

A great puzzle for economists is that Obama has issued vast quantities of new money to pay for his administration's extravagance without the expected downside: roaring inflation. All of history tells us that printing more and more money makes prices skyrocket.  So how come price rises have mostly been modest?

The answer has to lie with what economists call the velocity of circulation.  And that is put forward in the article below.  Roughly translated into layman's terms, it says that both companies and individuals are saving more and tending to spend it on big things rather than a lot of little things when they do spend.  So that reduces demand, which keeps prices down.  The writer below also suggests a major reason why people and companies are keeping their hands in their pockets: Government regulation of almost anything that moves

Velocity is an indicator that buyers and sellers agree on a price, that the price is "right" and not an outlier. That's why you see a stock move on high volume "confirming" the move, because it means the prices wasn't "right" at the previous level, while more people agree the new price is fair.

If prices are allowed to go where they need to without pressure and manipulation, you will always have velocity, as the most buyers and sellers will always agree at some price. Because this is true, low velocity cannot happen in a free market. Which means the only reason for low velocity (in this or the previous Depressions) is that someone has somehow managed to get an edge that prevents them from selling, from liquidating, at the true price, i.e. the one the buyers will agree to.

This has another corollary, that the measure of velocity on the Fed's own chart is the measure of the level of unnatural price manipulation on the market. We can watch this aggregate indicator of their failure in real time, by the Fed's own hand, and we can know the manipulation is ending when it rises.

So yes, the Fed, the governments, the insiders can manipulate to their heart's content, as they've been doing, but that unnatural pressure goes somewhere. And the pressure diverts into velocity.

As we saw in the Great Depression, or the Roman Empire, velocity can stagnate for 10, 20, or 1,000 years until the manipulation ends, property rights are restored, and we have a free market.

History has shown that may be a bargain they're willing to make, but it won't do the rest of us a lot of good."



Why The Donald trumps the opposition

The clueless attacks on Trump have fuelled his campaign

Donald Trump emerged from the pack of Republicans seeking the party’s nomination in June, after gaining notoriety for calling Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’. Pundits largely dismissed Trump as a celebrity blowhard, and his support was deemed a fad – the ‘Summer of Trump’. But, six months later, Trump is still on top of the field. With his call for a ‘total and complete shutdown’ on Muslims entering the US, Democrats and Republicans alike now see something much darker in Trump and routinely refer to him as a fascist. This Nazi, they now fear, has a real chance of going all the way to the White House.

Writing off Trump at first was complacent, and revealed how most commentators had assumed that American politics could never be open to an outsider like Trump – even at a time when trust in politicians is at a low-point. But the latest panicked outbursts over Trump also fail to come to terms with him.

While nearly everyone rushed off to denounce Trump as ‘un-American’ for his anti-Muslim immigration proposal, they didn’t stop to consider just how ridiculous that proposal is. As Trump later explained, his cunning plan amounts to asking would-be immigrants ‘Are you a Muslim?’. It was more ‘Springtime for Hitler’ than Final Solution.

Yet, as foolish as Trump can be, he has shown the capacity to play members of the establishment for even bigger fools. He certainly knows how to get a rise out of them, to his benefit. The timing of his anti-Muslim announcement was not accidental. Just the day before, President Obama had given a lacklustre speech about the terrorist threat, which did little to allay the fears of those who were on-edge following the San Bernardino attack. Trump seized on that disconnect and quickly whipped up a ‘policy’ that he knew would grab headlines. Sure enough, politicos and the media were duly outraged, Trump dominated the news, and his polling numbers got a nice bump upwards.

But it seems the US political establishment is highly selective in who and what it considers worthy of outrage and denunciation. Before Trump’s latest pronouncement, two other Republican candidates – Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz – had said that the US should limit Syrian refugees to those who are Christian. And Obama, in his Oval Office speech, called for tightening visa rules for people wishing to enter from certain countries – ones with predominantly Muslim populations. None of those schemes led to the kind of uproar Trump received for his.

When Trump proclaims that he will act unilaterally (say, to build a wall along the border with Mexico) and not let a ‘pathetically weak’ Congress get in his way, freaked-out onlookers hear a dictator-in-waiting. But I wonder where he got such notions. Could it be from Obama, who, in 2011, said: ‘We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.’ As Jonathan Turley points out, Obama has expanded presidential authority and has overridden Congress in areas from ‘healthcare to immigration to the environment’. Democrats cheered these moves, but now don’t like the thought of someone like Trump having such powers.

The obsession with Trump, the close monitoring of his every utterance, has reached the point that his political and media foes have – ironically – become important generators of support for him. Every time they tell Trump ‘you can’t say that’, he says it. Every time they demand an apology from Trump, he doubles down on it. Just by defying the strictures of political correctness, and not caving when challenged, Trump can look authoritative and daring.

The bipartisan frenzy over Trump backfires on the political establishment in other ways. As we’ve seen in the backlash to Trump’s suggested ban on Muslim immigration, the response has not been ‘here’s why Trump is wrong’; it has been ‘Trump is unacceptable’, ‘un-American’, a ‘fascist’. Opponents want to banish Trump and his supporters from polite society, rather than tackle the arguments that they raise. It is not unreasonable for Trump’s supporters to express concerns about terrorism and immigration, among other issues. But, too often, establishment figures fail to take these concerns seriously and provide counter-arguments. Worried about Islamic terrorism? You’re an Islamophobe. Worried about immigration? You’re a bigot.

Indeed, the denigration of Trump supporters is one of the ugliest aspects of the anti-Trump hysteria. As it became known that a core part of Trump’s support comes from those without a college education, some began to use that fact to dismiss his voters as ‘uneducated’, ‘low-information’ or just moronic. Trump fans are portrayed as excessively anxious about terrorism, irrationally so, and thus susceptible to being duped by a demagogue like Trump. But who is more fearful: Trump supporters or those who are freaking out over the possibility that more people will jump on Trump’s bandwagon?

Those core Trump supporters who are disparaged as the ‘uneducated’ are what we used to call the working class. Sections of the working class have been alienated from the political process in recent years. In the 2012 election, many white workers without a college education abstained rather than voting for Obama or Mitt Romney. Now that it appears that Trump has them engaged in politics, the establishment parties have only themselves to blame for ignoring them for so long.

Trump's broadsides against political correctness and his emphasis on national security are clearly in response to Obama and the Democrats. And his complaints about weak, ineffectual and dishonest politicians are levelled against both parties. Trump has been on the offensive against the entire political establishment, slowly tearing down the old order. He has exposed a cross-party political elite whose instinct is to try to crush him, rather than make its own positive case for the future.



Senator Marco Rubio Largely Responsible For Obamacare “Death Blow”

If you have been paying attention to the news about Obamacare recently you know that things aren’t going well. In fact, the entire program is on the verge of total collapse as the poorly crafted “Affordable Care Act” has entered into what many are calling a “death spiral”.

There are many reasons why Obamacare is failing and many could see this tragic end coming the moment that the Democrats rammed the bill through Congress without any Republican support and without even reading it themselves.

It appears now that one of the primary reasons that many state exchanges are going bankrupt is that a Republican senator added a provision in the bill that made it extremeley difficult for the government to ask for more taxpayer money once they blew through what they had.

That senator? 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Marco Rubio.  From Hot Air via The Hill:

"Two years ago, Marco Rubio won a fight during the budget battles to include a requirement for HHS to maintain budget neutrality in its risk-corridor programs. Rubio had pushed back against this program for months, claiming — as it happens, accurately — that it was a back-door bailout of the insurance companies that had cooperated in the effort to pass ObamaCare. Instead of allowing HHS to dip into general funds for risk-corridor payments, Rubio’s rider restricted those payouts to funds collected from taxes on insurers.

The move forced HHS to cut expected risk corridor payments to pennies on the dollar, and prompted the closure of more than half of the co-ops launched by HHS to provide supposedly low-cost coverage. Now that United Healthcare has signaled that it may cut its losses and get out of the ObamaCare market, The Hill credits Rubio with starting the death spiral many predicted when Democrats first passed ObamaCare in March 2010:

The risk corridors program was designed to be a temporary stopgap against high insurance claims during the first three years of the new federal program.

If an insurer had more expenses than it planned, the federal government would cover the remaining balance using cash collected from companies that paid out fewer claims than expected.

The program was almost certain to need extra money in the first few years, when there were fewer healthier customers signing up. But Rubio’s provision in 2014 severely limited any new spending by requiring the program to become budget neutral.

The damaging effects of the budget-neutral requirement became clear in October.  The Obama administration disclosed it could only afford to pay 13 cents of every dollar owed to the insurance companies — after insurers had already locked in their rates for the upcoming year. …

Within weeks, about a dozen start-up insurers known as CO-OPs announced they’d be shutting their doors, in most cases because they lacked the cash flow to stay solvent. And at least two other insurers — WinHealth Partners in Wyoming and Moda Health in Washington — pulled out of the exchanges.

This news is being reported at a perfect time for Marco Rubio who will surely gain some extra popularity for this move especially from some conservatives who identify him as a big government Republican.

As expected, Obamacare quickly ran out of money, and instead of having a blank check like they usually do, the process started to fall apart.  The Democrats put us in this precarious position by pushing through a disastrous bill and now we are all going to be left picking up the pieces.  Thanks to Marco, it looks like Republicans were able to make a positive difference in moving away from this debacle and on to a healthcare system that actually makes sense."

Sounds like a solid small government move to me. Good for Marco.



How Much Would Obamacare Repeal Save Americans?

Repealing Obamacare isn't just good for consumers, but it could save the taxpayers a big chunk of change. As Townhall reports:

    While liberals mock Republicans for their several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they overlook the fact that these conservatives may actually be doing so out of hopes of fixing our economy. The Senate’s latest anti-Obamacare bill for instance, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which passed on December 3, would help take a big chunk out of our deficit, the Congressional Budget Office reports.

    According to the CBO, repealing ObamaCare's subsidies and Medicaid expansion would cut federal spending by almost $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. And getting rid of its myriad tax hikes would reduce tax revenues by $1.1 trillion, resulting in $281 billion decrease in projected deficits over the next decade.

    In total, the deficit reduction has the potential to rise to $474 billion, mainly because the economic growth would boost revenue, Investor's Business Daily explains.

    Hm. Maybe those Republicans aren’t so crazy after all?

Obamacare is a disaster that's been so overshadowed by a slew of other disasters that professional pollsters have forgotten about it. But as many have pointed out, it could be the dark horse that sinks Hillary Clinton. The American people should hope so.



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 23, 2015

Large and small, the media almost all bow before an agenda set by the Left:  A report from the front

By Nicholas Stix

I'd come to New York City from West Germany in 1985, planning to become a millionaire philosopher. That hadn't quite panned out.

In 1990, while employed as a full-time social worker, I also produced the first of three issues of A Different Drummer, a political literary magazine I conceived of during grad school, and used its title as a stepping stone into New York City journalism.
New York Newsday was by far the most radical leftwing paper in town, but it was also the only one that actively solicited and published submissions from local nobodies for its "Urban I" op-ed feature. To borrow from Chicago pol Abner Mikva, I was the ultimate "nobody nobody sent."

When in March 1990, NYN published my essay about working as a foster-care caseworker with racist, violent, black parents, my boss (of a new job - not as a foster caretaker) immediately canned me and, I found out later, resolved to blacklist me.
I kept sending in submissions, all "on spec," i.e., with no obligation on the paper's part, and in early 1991, NYN published another, a quintessentially Jewish New York piece about an encounter with an obnoxious, black panhandler, "Beggars Can be Schmoozers."

In the piece, I echo my old grad school logic professor, Michael Levin, who argued that since 25% of black men ages 20-29 were convicted felons then under the supervision of the criminal justice system (in jail, prison, or on probation or parole), one was justified in crossing the street to avoid them.

In response, NYN published a sophomoric essay by a black, CUNY Baruch College sophomore who suffered from toxically high self-esteem. He smugly lectured Levin that the black man he avoided on the street was a potential friend.

NYN stifled my reply and all my best pitches were suddenly DOA. Op-ed editor Ken Emerson would respond, "No light's going off, Nick."

I managed to get in one more piece with NYN, but only by pulling a string. My big sister was friends with another NYN op-ed editor, Annette Fuentes, and through her, it published my essay on the "death sentence" the media had levied on my Brooklyn community, Bensonhurst, ostensibly due to the 1989 murder of black teenager Yusuf Hawkins, but actually because of the MSM's murderous hatred of working-class whites.

NYN promoted the essay on its table of contents inside the cover, but welshed on paying me my $150 fee.

They had pirated New York's most popular columnist, Jimmy Breslin, away from the Daily News in 1988, by giving him $400,000 per year ($835,690 today), and were in the process of losing $100 million from 1985-1995 ($189 million in 2015 dollars). But they were making a point of cheating a freelancer out of $150.

Never underestimate the role of pettiness in human affairs.

After months of chasing after my fee, I got my $150 only by suing the paper in Small Claims Court.

NYN's attractive, tall, blond, gentile lawyer denied that I'd been blacklisted, and invited me to submit again.

Which I did. But not as Nicholas Stix.

I got an old friend from grad school to let me use him as a front-you know, the way those poor, genocidal, Communist millionaires like Dalton Trumbo had done during the 1950s?

I used my buddy's address and telephone number. And who was I? Nicholas Stix had a working-class, staccato, Jewish New York, intellectual voice that was so distinctive that a lawyer I'd never met recognized me over the phone from having heard me on a radio call-in show. By contrast, "Mark Rust" was an upper-middle-class homosexual with a diffident (no lisp), slow, low voice. (I was an old amateur stage actor.)

My ("Rust's") essay, "We Don't Need Another Hero," about a racial turf battle between black Rev. Calvin O. Butts in Harlem and rappers, was typical of my work in those days.

Ken Emerson told "Rust" over the telephone, "Wonderful, wonderful essay!"

And so, I became a man of multiple identities.
In the late 1990s, while an adjunct lecturer at my alma mater, the City University of New York system, I wrote a series of whistle-blowing essays on CUNY for the New York Post and Daily News as "Robert Berman," a name I'd come up with when I'd gotten caught shoplifting in Waldbaum's when I was 13, so the manager wouldn't reach my mom. I came to work to find a stack of photocopied essays attacking me.

At The Weekly Standard, William Kristol published an essay of mine on the destruction of standards at CUNY's City College, and commissioned an exposé on remedial college ed. The manuscript didn't even mention IQ, but the cowardly Kristol got cold feet, and backed out of publishing it. After I reminded his deputy that the work was not on spec, she remembered to cut me a "kill fee" check.

Anne Neal at ACTA, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, asked "Berman," to write a report on reforming CUNY. She got a 10,000-word report that she neither published, nor so much as acknowledged.

Several years ago, I sent a pseudonymous letter to my local community paper about violent black kids attending my son's predominantly white elementary school. The editor immediately wrote back, asserting that the letter was "too racist" and had to be re-written (i.e., ruined), saying "I think I know who you are"-I'm sure he did!-and demanding that I appear in his office with photo ID, before he'd even consider running my letter.

Journalism is so bad in America because it's dominated by the anti-white Left, while the alleged Right is made up of hollow men. On top of that, as a West German said to me of mainstream journalism over 30 years ago, "Das ist ja alles Beziehungen." ("It's all connections.")

NYN went out of business 20 years ago, the Daily News veered radically to the left in the 2000s, and the once fearless Post has been trimming its sails in recent years. The "Overton Window" is so narrow that, front or no front, I can't write in New York City anymore.

Thankfully for me and my babies, who like to eat, there's, which I discovered for myself in 2000, and have read ever since. Editor-Publisher Peter Brimelow has been publishing my work for over 11 years. I don't have to call up Peter using a fake voice or fake name, or triangulate so much in my writing that my point is completely lost.

The only problem is that he wants me to write ever-shorter manuscripts. (You'll talk to him, right? Something like, "You have to publish longer articles by Nicholas Stix!")
as generously as possible. I thank you-and your posterity will, too.
Via email


The Lonely Yardstick

"There are three yardsticks by which the nations of the world are measured," someone once said, "One for Dictatorships, one for Democracies and one for Israel."

The last one is not only the loneliest yardstick, it also seems to be the busiest.

Why is Israel judged in a category all of its own by so many both from within and from without the country? Moreover, why is it judged so harshly, and on issues to which most Dictatorships and some Democracies do not devotedly adhere themselves, as Israel is expected to do?

I doubt there is anyone who would claim that Israel is a dictatorship and would be able to bring forth proof of that. There is plenty of evidence that it is not.

On the other hand, I doubt that there is anyone who would be able to provide evidence that Israel was not founded on the principles and pillars of Democracy, and operates according to them on a daily basis. Perhaps it is not the ideal of democracies but it unquestionably aspires to reach it. It certainly is expected to be the ideal based on the harsh manner in which the world responds to its efforts to survive as a sovereign nation.

What is it that makes Israel so different in the eyes of the world? Why is it that the world feels a greater and more pressing need to put Israel under the most gigantically magnifying microscope, and monitor each and every one of its moves?

The answer, in my opinion, rests on its very rare and unique Jewish Democratic essence.

Israel is a strange breed in the eyes of the world. It is a kind of an experiment on the timeline of history, a close to seventy - years - old experiment.

Arabism and the Western World which seems to be intoxicated by its venom, seem to be sitting there watching and following very closely the experiment called "Israel, the Jewish State." Not only does it seem to examine each and every one of its actions, responses and maneuvers, but Dr. Kadar and I honestly believe that it is probably hoping and praying that this experiment fails. Moreover, they seem to do all they can to ensure that it will never succeed.  Why?

We both believe that the world is jealous. It is envious of the Jews and the Jewish State on a few planes.  It is perplexed by the sight of the rebirth of a sovereign state that was able, in a relatively short period, and after an ensanguined history of its people, to overcome and cope with, thrive and flourish in a reality very few other nations were ever faced with, let alone overcame. It is baffled, lost and mystified by the face of a nation that has defied all odds and all efforts by the many people who toiled hard to erase its traces, remove it from the family of nations and turn it into a mere page, or at the most, a chapter in the history of mankind. Israel is the mirror that reflects the failure of the world, a constant reminder of its own inadequacies.  And who wants to be reminded of their shortcomings?

As matters look from where we stand, it seems that the lonely yardstick will remain the loneliest and the busiest for a long time. We, the Jews, do not intend to give up, so the world it seems will have to contend with the experiment called "Israel" for many years to come.



Privatize the Marriage Market

By Abigail Hall

December is one of the most popular months to get engaged. It seems that every time I get on social media, one of my girlfriends is posting a photo of her left hand and new engagement ring. After getting engaged, and even before, many couples have already combined their lives. They share bills, checking accounts, other financial and life decisions, and live together.

Depending on where they live, that could make them criminals.

Yes, you read that correctly. In some states, like Florida, such couples could be fined $500 or spend 60 days in jail. Why? They are living together before they’re married. Under current Florida statutes, more than half a million people in the state could be convicted for the crime of “living in sin.”

To be clear, I’ve never heard of this law actually being enforced and I doubt confessing one’s living situation will cause any trouble. Given the fact that some two-thirds of American couples walking down the isle live together before marriage, many are calling for the law to be removed from the books. Other states have recently repealed their mandates against premarital cohabitation and a bill in Florida has passed in the Senate.

State lawmakers have pointed out that Florida is one of only three states (with Mississippi and Michigan) that still outlaws living together before marriage. They say such a law will have a negative impact on the state’s image. Moreover, the law does not apply to same-sex couples, making it discriminatory against heterosexual couples. While the law against premarital cohabitation in Florida may seem trivial, it is indicative of a larger problem. That is, why is the government involved in marriage at all?

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Many throughout the country celebrated marriage equality among heterosexual and homosexual couples. Others decried the ruling as an unwarranted, counterproductive, immoral, and foolish nationalization of marriage (see here, here, and here) and erosion of American social fabric. Once again I ask, why is the government involved in marriage in the first place? Last time I checked, my husband and I married each other. Same-sex couples are getting married to their partners. At what point did we and other Americans consent to enter into three-way marriages between our partners, the state, and ourselves?

There is no need for the government in marriage. A variety of people have made this argument, suggesting that state-sanctioned marriage does nothing but create problems. Having the state sanction marriages does nothing more than invite government expansion and intrusion into our private lives. Colin Jones pointed out in The Independent Review almost ten years, it’s the fact that marriages have to be state-sanctioned that gave rise to the same-sex marriage controversy.

There is no reason why marriage shouldn’t be completely privatized. If we can contract for things like cars, life insurance, wills, power of attorney, and a house, why can’t couples come up with their own marriage contract? Are individuals not in the best position to understand their personal needs? Why is the state setting the terms of marriages and not the couples involved?

Many argue against such ideas from religious standpoints. This argument is invalid. If marriage is privatized, this doesn’t mean that churches have to recognize marriages with which they don’t agree. In fact, it implies the opposite. If a church doesn’t want to recognize a privately contracted same-sex marriage, polygamous marriage, a marriage between formerly divorced persons, etc., they would not be legally compelled. They can recognize marriages that align with their institution’s rules.

Others argue that privatizing marriage would be problematic because of state benefits. Under the current regime, marriage has implications for taxes, and legal and medical decisions, among other things. The problem with this, however, isn’t the idea of privatized marriage, but government benefits. It’s confusing two disparate problems.

The couples getting engaged this month will spend the coming months making big decisions about their weddings. On the “to-do” will be getting a marriage license. They’ll spend time and money to have Uncle Sam say they’re a legitimate couple.

Maybe by the time their children decide to get married they won’t have to get the state to sanction their relationship, or maybe they’ll decide to buck the system all together. After all, I guess their parents have set some kind of an example–you know, as cohabitating outlaws.



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 22, 2015

Praise of Trump from the Left

It is sometimes forgotten that American conservatives were traditionally isolationist.  Trump hasn't forgotten.  And that appeals to some on the Left too -- JR

Yes, Trump plays a bully boy as he appeals to populist (good) – as well as nativist, xenophobic and racist (bad) – sentiments. The bad need to be meaningfully addressed and engaged rather than dismissed by self-styled sophisticates, noses raised. The good should be recognized and encouraged.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Focusing on the negative aspects of his campaign has blinded many people to what’s good in it – and I don’t mean good like “Oh, the Democrat can beat this guy!” I mean good like it’s good that some important issues – like the militarized role of the U.S. in the world – are getting aired.

Trump is appealing to nativist sentiments – as Pat Buchanan did in the 1992 campaign – but along with Buchanan’s “America First” arguments came a distrust of imperial adventures. Similarly, Trump recently said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity. … The Middle East is a total disaster under her.”

Now, I think that’s pretty accurate, though U.S. policy in my view may be more Machiavellian than stupid, but the remark is a breath of fresh air on the national stage. So, at times, Trump is a truth-teller, including when he says politicians sell themselves to rich donors and when he calls out “free-trade” deals for costing American workers their middle-class jobs.

But the mainstream meme about Trump is that he’s a total liar. The New York Times recently purported to grade the veracity of presidential candidates. By the Times’ accounting, Trump was off the scales lying. But I never saw anyone fact-check his assertion about former Secretary Clinton’s record of bringing bloody chaos to Libya, Syria and other Mideast countries. That’s not an argument that establishment media wants to have.

Of course, a few sentences after Trump’s comment about Clinton’s death toll, he turned to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the CIA station in Benghazi, causing Salon to dismiss him as embracing “conspiracies,” which is all that many people will hear, not the fuller context.

Shouldn’t someone who at times articulates truly inconvenient truths be credited for breaking “politically correct” taboos, such as acknowledging the obvious disasters of U.S. interventionism across the Mideast? Trump speaks such truths, as he did during the Las Vegas debate about U.S. wars:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.”

Frankly, that is a stronger critique of military spending than we’ve heard from Sen. Bernie Sanders of late. But Trump’s — or Sen. Rand Paul’s — remarks about U.S. policies of “regime change” and bombings are often ignored. It’s more convenient to focus on U.S. kindness in letting a few thousand refugees in than to examine how millions of displaced people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali and other countries lost their homes as a result of U.S. government policies.

A Long-Ignored Constitution

Some critics say Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants is unconstitutional (although that argument is debatable as a matter of law regardless of what one thinks of the morality and practicality of his idea).

But there’s also the question of how frequently recent presidents have violated the Constitution in recent years with hardly a peep from the mainstream media. News flash: the sitting Democratic president has bombed seven countries without a declaration of war. We’ve effectively flushed the Constitution down the toilet. Does that justify violating it more? No. But the pretend moral outrage on this score is hollow.

And there’s some logic to the nativist Muslim bashing. It’s obviously wrong on many levels, but it’s understandable given the skewed information the public is given. Since virtually no one on the national stage is seriously and systematically criticizing U.S. policy in the Middle East, such as the multiple U.S. “regime change” invasions and the longstanding U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel, it makes sense to say that we’ve got to change something and that something is separating from Muslims.

Some sophisticates also slammed Trump for acting in the Las Vegas debate like he didn’t know what the nuclear triad is (the Cold War-era strategy of delivering nuclear bombs by land-based missiles, strategic bombers and submarine launches).

Well, I have no idea if he knows what the nuclear triad is or if he was just acting that way. But I’m rather glad he didn’t adopt the administration’s position of saying it’s a good idea to spend a trillion dollars to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal so we can efficiently threaten the planet for another generation.

People may recall that for all the rhetoric from President Barack Obama about ending nuclear weapons, it was President Ronald Reagan, after all his bluster about the Evil Empire and basing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, who almost rose to the occasion when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev proposed eliminating nuclear arsenals.

For today’s mainstream journalists, it’s just easier to go with the flow and hate Trump, as all the major media outlets want us to do. After all, much of our political culture lives off hate. Apparently hate is what gets people to do what you want them to do. So you scare them by building up villainous bogeymen, such as Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin.

People were so encouraged to hate Hussein that many backed the disastrous invasion of Iraq. They were propagandized into hating Assad so much that U.S. policy helped give rise to ISIS. Putin has been transformed into such a comic-book villain that people who should know better talk casually about shooting down Russian planes and seeking “regime change” in Moscow.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the supposedly “reasonable” Republican “moderate,” says “it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose.” Who cares about risking nuclear war? Don’t we all just hate Putin?

Now, many Americans – Republicans and Democrats alike – are demonizing Trump. Whatever he says is put in the most negative context with no expectation of balance. He has become the focus of hate, hate, hate. He’s a black-hatted, black-hearted villain. But why can’t we just view people for who they are, seeing both the good and bad in them?

Asking Why the Hate

Trump calls for a cutoff of immigration of Muslims “until we can figure out what the hell is going on” — which, given our political culture’s seeming propensity of never figuring out much of anything might be forever, but the comment actually raises a serious question: why are people in the Mideast angry at U.S. policy?

Says Trump: “There’s tremendous hatred [among Muslims toward the United States]. Where it comes from, I don’t know.” But Trump — unlike virtually anyone else with a megaphone — is actually raising the issue about why there’s so much resentment against the U.S. in the Mideast.

Virtually the only other person on the national stage stating such things is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, though his articulations have also been uneven and have been a pale copy of what his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has said.

Of course, what should be said is: If we don’t know “what the hell is going on!” — then maybe we should stop bombing. But that doesn’t get processed because the general public lives under the illusion that Barack Obama is a pacifistic patsy. The reality is that Obama has been bombing more countries than any president since World War II – by his own count seven – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

Half of what Trump says may be borderline deranged and false. But he also says true things — and critically, important things that no one else with any media or political access is saying.

At this week’s Las Vegas debate, Trump said: “When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.”

Granted, Trump’s comment was mangled and imprecise – he may have been referring to President George W. Bush’s extraordinary decision to let rich Saudis, including bin Laden family members, onto the first civilian planes allowed back into the air after 9/11 so they could avoid intensive FBI questioning and possible hostility from the American people – but Trump’s remark raises the legitimate question of Saudi Arabia’s relation to 9/11.

Yes, Trump says he’ll bomb the hell out of Syria, as does virtually every other Republican candidate. (Sen. Ted Cruz wants to see if “sand can glow in the dark,” phrasing usually associated with nuclear war.) But Obama’s already is bombing Syria and Iraq albeit without much media fanfare. So people think it’s not happening and thus believe that Obama’s passivity is the problem.

What Americans are right in sensing is that President Obama, former President Bush and the rest of the Establishment are playing endless geopolitical games and keeping them in the dark. As citizens in what is supposed to be a democratic Republic, they’re right to be sick of it. Many of the people supporting or sympathizing with Trump seem to sense that he may be the only one ready to tip over the furniture and make a fuss.



Whitewashing Chappaquiddick

There’s an old saying attributed to Russians who endured the travails of Soviet totalitarianism: "The future is known — it’s always bright — but the past keeps changing." According to Hollywood Reporter, Apex Entertainment is producing a feature movie entitled "Chappaquiddick," a film whose utterly twisted rationale is revealed by Producer Mark Ciardi: "I’ve done a lot of true life stories, many sports stories, but this one had a deep impact on this country. Everyone has an idea of what happened on Chappaquiddick, and this strings together the events in a compelling and emotional way. You’ll see what [Senator Ted Kennedy] had to go through."

What Kennedy had to go through? How about what Mary Jo Kopechne had to go through?

Hollywood may wish to engage in another Orwellian effort stringing together events in a "compelling and emotional way," but pesky facts are indisputable: After a drunken Kennedy drove his car off Dike Bridge into Poucha Pond, the man who would become the "Lion of the Senate" extricated himself and left the 28-year-old Kopechne to drown.

According to Edgartown search-and-rescue head John Farrar, who reached the scene the next morning, Kopechne’s corpse was positioned in a way that indicated she was searching for pockets of air. Farrar believes she lived for two hours after the crash. In other words, if Kennedy had merely knocked on the door of the nearest house — only yards away — and summoned that rescue squad, Kopechne might have survived. Not that anything Farrar said became part of the public record. "I was told outright by the D.A.’s office that I would not be allowed to testify on how long Kopechne was alive in the car," he told People magazine in July 1989. "They were not interested in the least in anything that would hurt Ted Kennedy."

After leaving the scene, the rest of Kennedy’s "ordeal" consisted of walking back to the party he attended — and trying to get his cousin, Joe Gargan, to say that it was Gargan driving the car. Gargan refused, but insisted that they return to the scene and attempt to rescue Kopechne. When that proved unsuccessful, Ted went back to his hotel room, where he tried to set up an alibi with the hotel clerk. After that he went to bed without notifying authorities until after 8 a.m. the next day.

Kopechne was buried only a day after she died, and a petition by a district attorney to exhume her body was denied by a judge, making it impossible to determine the exact cause of her death. Ultimately, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing injury. Judge James Boyle suspended the minimum sentence requirement of two months' imprisonment, citing Kennedy’s "unblemished record." That would be an unblemished crime record: Ted was suspended from Harvard for cheating and was arrested four times for traffic violations as a law student in Virginia. Moreover, proving he remained a person of "integrity" going forward, he and former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd shared in a "sandwich" with a distraught La Brasserie waitress in 1985. We’ll spare you the details in keeping with our standards as a family publication.

Chappaquiddick occurred in 1969. Nonetheless, the liberal voters of Massachusetts kept re-electing Teddy, who remained a senator until his death in 2009, 40 years later. Adding insult to injury, Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a place where America buries its war heroes.

Kennedy biographer and former New York Times reporter Adam Clymer sums up the liberal mindset regarding Ted’s sordid life, insisting his "achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne." Liberal blogger Melissa Lafsky did Clymer one better, grotesquely speculating that because of Kennedy’s "life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded," maybe Kopechne would have felt her own death was "worth it." Author Joyce Carol Oates was equally despicable in the effort to find the right balance between Kopechne’s death and Kennedy’s subsequent career, asking, "If one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?"

In a world uncontaminated by a bankrupt political ideology, one would think Obama is lying, Clymer, Lafsky and Oates are sickos who think a young woman’s life is a "reasonable" tradeoff for a privileged politician’s lifelong liberalism, and that Ted got away with murder — figuratively and literally.

But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where substantial numbers of Americans learn "history" by watching Oliver Stone’s and Michael Moore’s revisionist movies in all their propagandistic glory. According to Hollywood Reporter, "Chappaquiddick" is a "political thriller that chronicles the true story of what is described as the seven most dramatic days of Kennedy’s life. On the eve of the moon landing, Senator Kennedy becomes entangled in a tragic car accident that results in the death of former Robert Kennedy campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne. The senator struggles to follow his own moral compass and simultaneously protect his family’s legacy, all while simply trying to keep his own political ambitions alive."

"Entangled?" Apparently, the car drove itself into Poucha Pond. And no doubt Teddy struggled to follow his own moral compass, give or take a "waitress sandwich" — or his alleged attempt to treasonously enlist the Soviet Communists to unseat President Ronald Reagan in 1984, an utterly unsuccessful plot that was discovered in 1991, when USSR archives were declassified by Boris Yeltsin.

On several occasions, comedian Dennis Miller has asserted that Hillary Clinton will be our next president — because she best exemplifies what America has become. If she does, perhaps it’s because the only thing leftists are better at than airbrushing the contemptible career of a dead Democrat is airbrushing the contemptible career of a living one. And maybe in the midst of next year’s presidential campaign, another leftist hack channeling Lafsky or Oates will assure us that Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens would have felt that dying in Benghazi was "worth it" in return for Clinton’s ascension to the Oval Office.

When it comes to progressive historical revisionism, the sky — or the bottom of a bottomless pit — is the limit.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mainly about Muslims and political correctness


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, December 21, 2015

This should kill off the Statin religion (but it won't, of course)

There have been many anecdotal reports of statins adversely affecting mental functioning, to the point where the upsurge of Alzheimer's in recent decades could be nothing more than an effect of widespread statin use.

Scientists, however, rightly pooh-pooh anecdotal reports unless they are backed up by survey or other evidence.  So a recent study (below) is of great interest.  And its findings are striking. Where epidemiological reports in the medical literature characteristically make a big deal out of tiny odds ratios -- with ratios just above one being typical -- the odds ratio for the effect of statins is 4.4!  A very strong result by epidemiological standards.  So statins definitely can and do wreck your memory. The critics of statins are resoundingly vindicated.

The authors below don't want to believe their results, of course, so clutch for comfort their finding that ALL lipid lowering drugs -- not just statins -- wreck your memory. Quite how that is a comfort quite eludes me, however.  I would have thought that the finding shows that we NEED our lipids in our brains and that ANY attempt to lower them is destructive.  And statin critics have often made that point. There is of course a LOT of cholesterol in  our brains. It belongs there.

So we might ask what good is something that protects your heart but wrecks your brain?  But the reality is even worse than that.  A recent very comprehensive study found that statins did not even protect your heart. You were just as likely to die of heart failure with or without them.  Here are the statistics:

Statins reduced the numbers of patients experiencing non-fatal HF hospitalization (1344/66 238 vs. 1498/66 330; RR 0.90, 95% confidence interval, CI 0.84–0.97) and the composite HF outcome (1234/57 734 vs. 1344/57 836; RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.85–0.99) but not HF death (213/57 734 vs. 220/57 836; RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.80–1.17).

And since statins have an acknowledged muscle-weakening effect and the heart is one big muscle, the use of statins to treat the heart was always deeply paradoxical!  Words rarely fail me but that went close.

Clearly, the prescribing of statins to the general public should cease forthwith.

Statin Therapy and Risk of Acute Memory Impairment

Brian L. Strom et al.


Importance:  Reports on the association between statins and memory impairment are inconsistent.

Objective:  To assess whether statin users show acute decline in memory compared with nonusers and with users of nonstatin lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs).

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Using The Health Improvement Network database during January 13, 1987, through December 16, 2013, a retrospective cohort study compared 482 543 statin users with 2 control groups: 482 543 matched nonusers of any LLDs and all 26 484 users of nonstatin LLDs. A case-crossover study of 68 028 patients with incident acute memory loss evaluated exposure to statins during the period immediately before the outcome vs 3 earlier periods. Analysis was conducted from July 7, 2013, through January 15, 2015.

Results:  When compared with matched nonusers of any LLDs (using odds ratio [95% CI]), a strong association was present between first exposure to statins and incident acute memory loss diagnosed within 30 days immediately following exposure (fully adjusted, 4.40; 3.01-6.41). This association was not reproduced in the comparison of statins vs nonstatin LLDs (fully adjusted, 1.03; 0.63-1.66) but was also present when comparing nonstatin LLDs with matched nonuser controls (adjusted, 3.60; 1.34-9.70). The case-crossover analysis showed little association.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Both statin and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with acute memory loss in the first 30 days following exposure in users compared with nonusers but not when compared with each other. Thus, either all LLDs cause acute memory loss regardless of drug class or the association is the result of detection bias rather than a causal association.



What, Exactly, Is a Fascist?

I have written on this at some length (e.g. here and here) but the notes below by Stephen Moore are an excellent update -- JR

It’s hard to find a self-respecting liberal these days who doesn’t denounce Donald Trump as “a fascist.” If you Google “fascist,” the first thing that pops up on the screen is a photo of Trump.

University professors, Democratic pundits and members of the media who don’t call him a fascist resort to over-the-top, sneering terms like “racist,” “repellent” and even “Nazi.” After Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration, here are a few of the choice words from those tolerant people on the left:

“He is running for President as a fascist demagogue,” said Martin O'Malley, Democratic presidential candidate.

“Trump wants to literally write racism into our law books,” said Huma Abedin, aide to Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

“It is … entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist,” said Ben Smith, editor-in-chief, BuzzFeed.

“America’s modern Mussolini,” said Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.

“Trump is a proto-fascist, rather than an actual fascist. He has many ideas that are fascistic in nature,” wrote Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst.

At the end of this sneering commentary, Bergen launched into a fascinating tutorial on what a fascist is. Here are several key characteristics of a fascist leader according to CNN:

    “The superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason.”

    “The belief of one group that it is the victim, justifying any action.”

    “The need for authority by natural leaders (always male) culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny.”

Wait a minute. What modern politician best fits this description? Could it be Barack Obama, the Messiah, the chosen one, the man who holds political rallies with gothic columns in giant amphitheaters, who enters the stage as if he were a Greek god? Obama is the greatest demagogue of modern times, who convinced the vast electorate that they are “victims” and that the key to happiness and prosperity is to take from the rich: people, he says, who have way more wealth than they could possibly need.

Obama’s whole political success rests on identity politics — on persuading blacks, Hispanics, Jews, women, the disabled, gays, students, the poor and immigrants that they are victims of a vast American government conspiracy against them.

As for belief in the “superiority” of the leader’s powers “over reason,” Barack Obama, omnipotent, tells his followers that he has the capability of “healing the planet,” changing the earth’s weather pattern and stopping oceans from rising. He is promising miracles that require people to suspend all reason and believe that he can achieve the equivalent of Moses parting the oceans.

So just who is the “proto-fascist,” really?

“Liberal fascism,” as my friend Jonah Goldberg has aptly pointed out in his book of the same title, is the “collaboration of government, church, unions and interest groups to expand government. It is simply the liberal impulse for controlling the lives of others.” It is the religion of the left.

Ironically, the left intelligentsia that is accusing Trump of fascism are many of the same people in Hollywood who just made a movie celebrating the communists and fascists of the 1950s within their ranks — and portraying them sympathetically as blackballed victims rather than subversive supporters of the butchers who killed millions of Jews, blacks, gays, Christians and dissidents.

Many of the communists in Hollywood, not least of all Trumbo, the new movie’s hero, were avid supporters of Stalin and even remained so after his genocidal purges were well-documented. Even the Russians themselves have repudiated the savagery of Stalin — but not the American left.

So what really is fascism? The left, simplistically, has redefined the term to mean when massive numbers of voters support a conservative cause supported by the right and opposed by the left. If you oppose racial quotas or gun control, you are a fascist. If you support traditional marriage, you are a fascist. If you want to cut welfare benefits, you are a fascist. If you support Donald Trump, you are a fascist. By this definition liberals can’t be fascists because they are on a righteous cause.

But the real definition of a fascist is a leader who wants to use governmental power to suppress rights of individuals. It is the partnership of government and private industry for the “collective good.” Corporate cronyism is a classic form of fascism, which would include programs such as the Export Import Bank.

Fascism, communism, socialism, Nazism, progressivism are all just variations on this same theme. These “isms” all feed on the subjugation of freedom.

The left might want to engage in some introspection and ask why so many millions of Americans — many of whom enthusiastically voted for Obama — now agree with Trump. Are these suddenly terrible people? Have they been duped by a charismatic leader? More likely the answer is that an ever-shrinking number of Americans trust Obama to keep the dangerous Muslims out. People want, above all right now, to keep their families safe, and since Obama has no interest in real and effective terrorist screening, many Americans believe it’s best to keep them all out for now.

If middle-class American voters are so economically marginalized and so afraid, angry and distrustful of Washington that millions would throw their support behind a man routinely denounced as a dangerous Nazi/fascist, maybe the left might want to ask: Who made things so bad that it has come to this? Without Barack Obama’s full slate of failures and his eight years of polarizing politics, there could be no Donald Trump.



What's REALLY bothering Americans?

By Jonah Goldberg

"We have people across this country who are scared to death," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared loudly at this week’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Virtually the entire debate was based upon this premise. Which is understandable. Since the bloody Islamist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, terrorism has shot up as the chief concern for most Americans, particularly Republican voters.

"For most of 2015, the country’s mood, and thus the presidential election, was defined by anger and the unevenness of the economic recovery," pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates explained upon the release of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. "Now that has abruptly changed to fear."

Only 34 percent approve of President Obama’s handling of the Islamic State, according to the poll, and more Americans are worried about terrorism than at any time since the aftermath of 9/11.

This abrupt change in the climate explains why Hillary Clinton is suddenly talking much tougher about terrorism and why the president is keen to get some good national security photo ops in before he leaves for vacation.

But I can’t shake the sense that the polls, politicians and my fellow pundits are mistaking a symptom for the disease.

We live in an anxious age. That anxiety runs like a river beneath the political landscape. Different news events tap into that river and release a geyser of outrage and fear. Right now, mostly on the right, it’s terrorism, but before that it was Mexicans illegally sneaking into our country. Sometime before that, there was the freak-out over Ebola and the administration’s aloofness about it.

One common explanation for the anxious age we are in is that the economy is undergoing a profound transformation that is leaving a lot of people on the sidelines. It seems obvious to me there’s a lot of merit to this explanation.

But I don’t think that economics explains everything. Seventy percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Many of those people are doing just fine economically.

No, I think the missing piece of the puzzle is the fact that Americans — on the left and the right — think that the folks running the country have an agenda different from theirs. The left has a much richer vocabulary for such claims, given its ancient obsessions with greed and economic determinism. They see big corporations and the so-called "1 percent" pulling strings behind the scenes. (Watch literally any Bernie Sanders speech on YouTube to learn more.) Paranoia about the influence of big money in politics has inspired the Democratic front-runner to make revising the First Amendment a top priority.

But while there are a great many people on the right who also complain about crony capitalism and special interests, such concerns don’t get to the heart of the anxiety, at least not for conservatives.

Let’s go back to where we started. Christie says, "We have people across this country who are scared to death." No doubt that’s true. But for a great many of them, I suspect, the fear is not so much a fear of the Islamic State but a fear that our own government, starting with the president, just doesn’t take terrorism seriously. We now know he was very late in taking the Islamic State seriously.

I suspect most conservatives think that if America marshaled the sufficient will to defeat the Islamic State, we’d make short work of it. Obama has no interest in such an undertaking. He reserves his passion for attacking Republicans or pushing his other priorities, such as climate change, which persistently remains a very, very low priority for most Americans.

But the president himself is a symptom. The whole system seems to have lost its mind. That there’s even a debate about whether security officials should be allowed to look at the social media posts of immigrants is a sign that our bureaucrats have such open minds their brains have fallen out. We should have seen this coming five years ago, when we learned that Obama told the new head of NASA to make one of his top priorities outreach to the Muslim world.

Terrorism is a big concern, but this sense that the political system is unresponsive, unaccountable and operating on its own self-interested ideological agenda is bigger. It is the ur-complaint that explains everything from enduring outrage over the lies that greased Obamacare’s passage to fury over illegal immigration, disgust over corruption at the IRS and VA, the immortality of the Ex-Im Bank and countless other outrages du jour.

The failure of credible politicians to address this anxiety created an opportunity for Donald Trump. At least he’s willing to say Washington is stupid.



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, December 20, 2015

Psychologists discover the truth of an old conservative saying

The saying is "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged last night". It is of no certain origin but is often attributed to Irving Kristol or some other NYC neoconservative -- though it is also attributed to Frank Rizzo, who rose from police chief to Mayor of Philadelphia.  The point is of course the notoriously poor reality contact of liberals. Most of what they believe is at variance with reality, with "all men are equal" being the most obvious example plus global warming and most of feminism being other examples. Here's that pesky graph of the satellite temperature record again:

And the wisdom of the "mugged" saying was shown in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when attitudes among American adults were shown to have shifted Rightward after the attacks.  The attacks may be said to have "mugged" America, at least temporarily.

A new article (below) extends the finding to Britain -- concerning the time in 2005 when Britain had its big attack by Muslim terrorists. And the interesting thing this time is that it was ONLY liberals who changed their attitudes.  By 2005, British conservatives had learned from the 9/11 attacks and more or less expected what happened in Britain.  But liberals were caught by surprise.  They had NOT learned from 9/11.  So the attitude change was among British liberals only.

Amusing that the authors below describe heightened caution about Muslims as "prejudice".  I would have thought that it was POSTjudice -- evidence of learning, not evidence of hostility

Liberals' attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants became more like those of conservatives following the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, new research shows. Data from two nationally representative surveys of British citizens revealed that feelings of national loyalty increased and endorsement of equality decreased among political liberals following the terrorist attack.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Terrorist attacks on major international capital cities such as Paris, Ankara, or London are rare and dramatic events that undoubtedly shape public and political opinion. But whose attitudes do they affect most, and in what way?

"Our findings show that terrorism shifts public attitudes towards greater loyalty to the in-group, less concern with fairness, and greater prejudice against Muslims and immigrants, but it seems that this effect is stronger on those who are politically left-leaning than those who are right-leaning," explain psychological scientists from the Center for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent.

"The overall impact is to create a climate in which it may be harder to promote or sustain intergroup tolerance, inclusiveness and trust," says Julie Van de Vyver of the University of Kent, one of the authors on the study.

Research from psychological science has shown that people often adopt ideological belief systems that reduce their feelings of threat. Based on these findings, the research team hypothesized that the bombings would cause liberals to shift moral perspectives in favor of protecting the in-group, akin to the values typically reported by political conservatives. They speculated that this shift would ultimately lead to an increase in prejudice toward the out-group among liberals.

Historic survey evidence gathered by two of the study authors, Diane Houston and Dominic Abrams, provided the research team with real-world insight. The researchers analyzed newly available data from two nationally representative surveys, administered about 6 weeks before and 1 month after the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. The bombings, which occurred on public transport, led to the deaths of 52 people and injury of 770 people. The bombings were part of an Al Qaeda attack carried out by three British-born Muslims from immigrant families and one Jamaican convert to Islam.

In the two surveys, participants rated their agreement with statements that represented four moral foundations: in-group loyalty (i.e., "I feel loyal to Britain despite any faults it may have"), authority-respect (i.e., "I think people should follow rules at all times, even when no one is watching"), harm-care (i.e., "I want everyone to be treated justly, even people I do not know. It is important to me to protect the weak in society), and fairness-reciprocity (i.e., "There should be equality for all groups in Britain").

Participants also rated their agreement with statements about attitudes toward Muslims (e.g., "Britain would lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Britain") and immigrants (e.g., "Government spends too much money assisting immigrants").

As expected, attitudes towards Muslims and toward immigrants were more negative following the attacks than before, but only among liberals; conservatives' views stayed relatively constant. Thus, liberals' attitudes seemed to shift toward those of conservatives following the bombings.

This increased prejudice was accounted for by changes in liberals' moral foundations. Specifically, liberals showed an increase in in-group loyalty and a decrease in fairness, and these shifts accounted for their negative attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants.

The results show that people's moral perspectives aren't necessarily constant - they can change according to the immediate context.

"An important challenge following dramatic terrorist attacks is to know how to engage with public perceptions and attitudes, for example to prevent an upsurge in prejudice and its effects," says Abrams.

"For people working to tackle prejudice, it is important to be aware that terror events may have different effects on the attitudes of people who start from different political orientations," the researchers write.

Based on these findings, the researchers argue that terrorist attacks may ultimately lead conservatives to consolidate their existing priorities, making them resistant to change; at the same time, such attacks may prompt a shift in liberals' priorities toward more prejudiced attitudes.

This shift in attitudes may be reflected in the UK parliament's recent decision, following the November attacks in Paris, to approve bombing missions in Syria—a reversal of its decision in 2013. The researchers note that the greatest change in voting occurred among Labour Members of Parliament, who fall on the left end of the political spectrum; they showed a 20% increase in support for the bombing missions from 2013 to 2015.



Even Vlad likes The Donald

Note that Russians drink tea.  That's teacup in the pic

After staring down months of opposition and criticism, U.S. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has finally received a rare piece of ringing, unequivocal support.

Unfortunately, it comes from the provocative and confrontational Russian president Vladimir Putin.  Today Putin offered his thoughts on the Republican party nomination for the White House, and offered nothing but praise for the billionaire businessman.

He said: 'He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented. He is the absolute leader of the presidential race.'

Putin went on to describe him as 'flamboyant', and claiming Trump wants to move to a 'deeper level' of relations with Russia, added: 'How can we not welcome it? Of course we welcome it.'

Putin went on to state Russia is ready to improve ties with the U.S. and work with whomever is elected its next president.



The Donald replies

Donald Trump hesitated on Friday to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegations the Kremlin has killed high-profile journalists critical of the leader, saying "our country does plenty of killing also."

During an interview with MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Trump expanded upon his welcoming of praise from Putin, remarking that "when people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia."

Co-host Joe Scarborough then asked Trump what he thought about the number of high-profile murders of journalists who have been critical of Putin. "He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know unlike what we have in this country," Trump responded.

Scarborough pressed Trump again on the issue.

"Well I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe," Trump said. "So, you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on, a lot of stupidity."

Asked then, whether he would condemn Putin's hostility toward journalists, Trump said, "Oh sure, absolutely."



Trump: ‘We Have To Be Much Tougher’ on Families of Terrorists

My comments at the foot of this report -- JR

 Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump reiterated his previous assertion that he would "go after the wives" and family members of terrorists.

 "We have to be much tougher" on terrorists’ families, Trump said when asked about his previous statement during the fifth GOP presidential debate held in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"Recently Donald Trump mentioned that we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law. So my question is: How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?" Georgia Tech student Josh Jacob asked on Facebook.

Trump replied: "We have to be much tougher, we have to be much stronger than we've been. We have people that know what’s going on. You take a look at just the attack in [San Bernardino] California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on. They saw pipe bombs sitting all over the floor, they saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

"When you have the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, families, girlfriends – and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia. They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.

"I would be very, very firm with families. And frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives. But they do care, believe it or not, about their families' lives."

But Trump’s position on targeting the families of terrorists was challenged by both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

"This is another example of [Trump’s] lack of seriousness," Bush responded. "Look, this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us, and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS. But the idea that that is a solution to this is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this."

 "If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize there is something called the Geneva Convention that we would have to pull out of," Paul also pointed out. "It would defy every norm."

"So they can kill us but we can’t kill them?" Trump asked.


Yes.  I think the point is that Muslims have set the example.  If they keep attacking innocent men, women and children, that gives us a warrant to do the same to them if that is helpful to  our self-defence.  The Geneva convention was set up because all sides realized that what they did to others could be done to them in retaliation. The signatories were protecting themselves in signing it.  But if Muslims don't obey the Geneva convention, they put themselves outside it and cannot expect it to protect them.  "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". (Galatians 6:7) -- JR


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)