Friday, December 30, 2016

A note about Quora and Ernest Adams

I spend a lot more time than I should reading Quora.  I particularly like its human interest stories.  But Quora is also very political, heavily weighted towards Leftism.  And perhaps the most obnoxious Leftist there is Ernest Adams, who has big tickets on himself.  He wrote the following on Nov. 26th:

There's something funny about conservatives' brains. Research is ongoing, but it seems that conservatives are less open to new experiences, have peculiar notions about sanctity and purity, value social uniformity over diversity, and group loyalty over individuality—sometimes even more than they value fairness. There's a deeply-seated unwillingness to empathize with those outside their tribe. Nobody yet knows what causes it. We can only hope that a cure can be found before it's too late

I was going to reply but Adams has closed off comments, funnily enough.  What I had prepared to comment was as follows:

There's something funny about Leftist brains. Research is ongoing, but it seems that Leftists are less open to new experiences, have peculiar notions about sanctity and purity, value social uniformity over diversity, and group loyalty over individuality—sometimes even more than they value truth. There's a deeply-seated unwillingness to empathize with those outside their tribe. Nobody yet knows what causes it. We can only hope that a cure can be found before it's too late

Both the Adams post and my reply are of course nothing more than expressions of opinion and, as such, have only the weight readers choose to give them.  I note however that the Left are very prone to psychological projection -- of seeing their own faults in others -- so my reconstruction has some plausibility.  What could be more projective that the constant Leftist claim that Trump and conservatives generally are "authoritarian" -- when it was Obama who declared the aim of "fundamentally transforming" America?  Very Leninist.
I am aware of the brain studies being alluded to by Adams -- mostly involving John Hibbing -- and have commented on them often.  Our understanding of the brain is still in its infancy so the claims made about politics and  brains are little more than pure speculation:  Certainly nothing to hang your hat on.  You can equally well interpret the studies as adverse to Leftists -- e.g. here. But you will wait a long time for Adams to acknowledge that.  Like most Leftist claims, his claims fall into a pit once you know the full story.


Trump needs no new legislation to impose immigration restrictions

After several terrorist incidents were carried out in the United States, Donald Trump was severely, criticized for suggesting that the U.S. should limit ​  or temporarily suspend the immigration of certain ethnic groups, nationalities, and even people of certain religions (Muslims).  The criticisms condemned such a suggestion as, among other things, being Un-American, dumb, stupid, reckless, dangerous and racist.

Known as the McCarran-Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 allows for the "Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by the President, whenever the President finds that the entry of aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.  The President may, by proclamation, and for such a period as he shall deem necessary,may suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose any restrictions on the entry of aliens he may deem to be appropriate."

And who do you suppose last utilized this process?  Why it was Democrat President Jimmy Carter, no less than 37 years ago, in 1979, to keep Iranians out of the United States.

Additionally, it is important to note that the ​  McCarran-Walter Act also requires that an "applicant for immigration must be of good moral character and in agreement with the principles of our Constitution."

Therefore, one could say that since the Quran forbids Muslims to swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, technically, ALL Muslims should be refused immigration to the USA.



The Newspapers Bully Sen. Sessions

When Congress returns in January, the Democrats will be gunning for several of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees. The left has already launched negative narratives on several, especially Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump's pick for attorney general. Not only are the left-wing news media giving oxygen to these vitriolic attacks but in some cases they are the very authors.

On the front page on Christmas Day, both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post published "profile" stories on Sessions obsessing over racial matters. The Times headline promised an exploration of his "thorny history on race."

Times reporter Del Quentin Wilber set the stage, saying: "As a boy, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III began each day before dawn, boarding a segregated bus to his all-white school. En route he and his classmates passed the bus ferrying black students in the opposite direction. The day ended when he sat down to dinner each night with his father, an avowed segregationist."

And just like that, Sessions has a racist past.

Wilber admitted, "By all accounts, Sessions has enjoyed lifelong friendships with African Americans, is respected by former black employees and has even earned recent praise from a top black state legislator." But even so — he just couldn't leave it there — "the conservative Republican's policy positions, decisions as a prosecutor and racially tinged comments have led many civil rights advocates to fear how he would enforce the nation's anti-discrimination laws."

Wilber allowed that Sessions wishes he had been a stronger advocate for black civil rights in his youth but "has not been able to shake questions about his views and positions on racial matters." Liberal newspapers will not cease raising the questions and concerns that they don't have for the senator's Democratic colleagues.

Take Rep. Keith Ellison, the far-left Muslim activist running to lead the Democratic Party. How many stories has the Times published since Election Day on Ellison's associations with radical Muslims and his militant positions against Israel? Zero. To beat a dead horse, just how concerned was the Times about the Ku Klux Klan membership of the late Sen. Robert Byrd?

The Washington Post headline was "For Jeff Sessions, history is inescapable." That's unintentionally hilarious. The Post has excelled in making Obama's personal history — drug use, buying a house with crook Tony Rezko, his 9/11 cheerleader pal Rev. Jeremiah Wright and so much more — completely escapable.

Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz wrote, "Sessions's long record in public life reveals a man who has hired African Americans for senior positions who speak highly of him, but" — here we go again — "who has been sharply criticized by civil rights groups for his positions on voting rights, same-sex marriage and gender equality."

So, to be pro-traditional marriage is to be anti-civil rights.

Liberal newspapers never admit that their favorite civil rights advocates are solidly on the left and oppose Republicans pretty much across the board. The National Rifle Association is not a civil rights group in their book. Religious-liberties litigators fighting the Obama administration are not civil rights activists. One must subscribe to the tenets of the left to be an advocate for civil rights.

Senators know Sessions and his record, including the bipartisan accomplishments. He worked with then-Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2003 to reduce assault inside prisons. He joined with Sen. Dick Durbin in 2009 to eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine. In 2011, he worked with Sen. Richard Blumenthal on a law to track down fugitive sex offenders.

On civil rights, Sessions has been praised by numerous black leaders. As the Times mentioned in passing, they include Alabama House Minority Leader Quinton Ross.

They tried a similar routine with John Ashcroft when he was nominated to lead the Justice Department 16 years ago. They tried to paint him as a racist for writing for a journal called the Southern Partisan. But eight Democrats crossed party lines to make it an easy confirmation vote. History is bound to repeat itself, but that won't stop these character assassins from trying.



A confident prediction

By Kent Kellar

I rarely make predictions, because life has a way of coming up with surprises that can change the landscape in a hurry. As you know, however, one prediction that I felt completely comfortable making several years ago was that Hillary Clinton would never become president of the United States.

Which brings me to my next 100% guaranteed prediction: Members of the Radical Left (as well as a significant percentage of what little is left of the so-called moderate left) will never, ever:

Self-reflect not only on why they were humiliated in the recent election, but why they repeatedly fail at their endless nefarious activities — e.g., people control masquerading as healthcare, the well-orchestrated politics of division, redistribution of wealth, and, of course, endless lying.

Stop hate-mongering, name-calling, lying, cheating, and blaming their opponents and others for their failures.

Let go of their hodge-podge of ugly, pain-causing, insane beliefs in socialism, institutionalized racism, manmade global warming, the urgency to address “LGBT” issues, and the pressing need to prevent as much oil drilling, fracking, and coal mining as possible, among other things.

Given all this, it’s both humorous, sick, and sad at the same time that TV pundits are now debating the big question: Will the Radical Left finally realize it has a problem and change both its strategy and its messaging? The answer is: absolutely not — 100% guaranteed. The troglodytes of the Radical Left not only are mentally ill, a majority of them are fundamentally rotten to the core and motivated by truly bad intentions.

Members of the Radical Left comprise an army of Lucifers who want elections overturned. They want the electoral college thrown out (unless they need it to win an election). They extol the virtues of employing violence to disrupt little things like the presidential inaugurations of their enemies (the latter known as “opponents” by normal people). They concoct wild tales about voter fraud (which they themselves are guilty of), and, above all, they are determined to silence any and all opposition to their crazy, malevolent, anti-freedom agenda.

Thus, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that seventy-six year Nancy Pelosi not only refused to be gracious, step down from her throne, and turn the reins of power over to a younger member of the Democratic Party who might be in a position to bring some badly needed new ideas to the Dirty Dems. In fact, she put an exclamation point on her determination to cling to power by saying, “I don’t think that people want a new direction.” To which I say, “Great! Please don’t change your direction!

The media’s obsession with asking if the Democratic Party is going to do some serious soul searching and change its messaging underscores yet again that they really don’t understand the determination of the Radical Left to force people to adopt its agenda. Most on the Radical Left are true believers who take seriously the illustrious Mr. Alinsky’s message to never back down, no matter how badly you appear to be defeated. If you’re caught red-handed lying, stealing, or cheating, don’t be embarrassed, don’t apologize, and don’t stop. On the contrary, push back harder!

Thus, the more defeats the Dirty Dems sustain, the more times they are caught colluding with their media propaganda arm to take down their enemies, the more times they are caught lying and committing crimes, the harder you can expect them to push toward the edge of the cliff. I tell you, these muttonheads are true warriors! Stupid, evil, suicidal warriors … but warriors nevertheless.

P.S. You may have been impressed with Obama’s stuttering and stammering through his final press conference Friday, sounding for all the world like a reasonable guy who wanted to bring Americans together (the same Americans he has worked so hard to drive apart the past eight years). Even I admit it was a convincing act — but I wasn’t fooled for a second. Throughout it, I kept saying to myself, “This guy is a world-class liar. He doesn’t mean a word he’s saying.”

Once DT is ensconced in the Oval Office, you will see the true Obama emerge, and the true Obama is much worse than the one you’ve watched try to destroy America over the past eight years. So, I urge you not to be fooled about what’s coming. The Dirty Dems are gearing up to do more of the same — only uglier, more frequently, more outrageous, and more destructive. And that, dear reader, is an unequivocal prediction.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Donald Trump disses the U.N. and appoints a man named Greenblatt to a foreign affairs position

LOL.  I don't have to guess what Mr Greenblatt's religious background is -- nor will the anti-Israel Left.  They will fume, though not perhaps loudly

DONALD Trump has branded the United Nations a club for people to “have a good time,” after the UN Security Council voted last week to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The president-elect wrote on Twitter that the world body has “such great potential,” but it has become “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”

On Friday, Mr Trump warned, “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,” referring to the day he takes office.

The decision by the Obama administration to abstain from Friday’s UN vote brushed aside Mr Trump’s demands that the US exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel’s leadership.

Jason Greenblatt, one of Mr Trump’s main advisers on US-Israel relations, has been named his special representative for international negotiations.

For two decades, Mr Greenblatt has worked for the Trump Organisation and currently serves as its executive vice president and chief legal officer.

In the statement, Mr Trump said that Mr Greenblatt “has a history of negotiating substantial, complex transactions on my behalf,” and has the expertise to “bring parties together and build consensus on difficult and sensitive topics.”



Can Trump Undo Obama's Last-Minute, Job-Killing Regulations?

It's been widely reported, both here and elsewhere, that President Obama is now engaged in a dramatic, last-minute regulatory binge that will require the efforts of both incoming President-elect Donald Trump and Congress to undo. What hasn't been reported is the cost: As Trump might say, it's yuuuge.

It's funny how such things as the actual costs of new rules get lost in the shuffle. But those costs are significant, and have created a major drag on the economy's growth. Today, estimates put the total federal regulatory cost to the economy at $2 trillion a year — or roughly 12% of the economy. At 80,000 pages and growing, the Federal Register, the government's regulatory bible, has become a bewildering maze of rules, requirements and impositions on business that require accountants and lawyers to maneuver through.

In recent days, Obama has unveiled five major "midnight" regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, a report from the American Action Forum  (AAF) shows. Alone, these new rules will cost about $5.1 billion a year and require at least 350,000 hours of paperwork from companies.

In addition, three other lesser rules will add an estimated $898 million to the regulatory tab, and another 146,000 hours of paperwork. The bottom line: These new rules that Obama is making the law of the land with little fanfare and no input from Congress will cost us $6 billion a year and nearly half a million hours of paperwork. We pay for these, by the way, not companies.

The impact of this kind of rule-making is cumulative. Since 2009, when Obama took office, the EPA and Interior have added $349 billion in regulatory costs. As the late, great Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen once supposedly joked, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money." That's where we are now.

As we reported in October, regulatory burdens now rank No. 2 among small-business concerns, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation's main small-business advocacy group. That's up from being ranked No. 5 just four years ago.

In an earlier study, the AAF said that since 2009, the Obama regulatory siege on business had brought 600 major new rules and over $813 billion in added costs. If Obama is concerned about the job losses, closed businesses, depressed communities and lost economic opportunities that his regulatory siege has wrought, he's shown no signs of it. Far from it. He's doubling down in the final days of his last term.

As we've stated many times before, this is a big reason why the economy has just hobbled along at a 2% growth rate, well below the long-term norm of 3%-plus. Businesses have been held back by regulations that cost far more than they benefit anyone.

Yet, several media outlets have suggested that these rules, once put in place, are basically in place for good. That's nonsense.

These rules are not laws, passed by Congress, though they are enforced like them. They can be changed. Under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, any rule put into effect can be rescinded within 60 legislative days by a majority vote of Congress. Key is that it's "legislative" days, not regular or business days. So basically, any new rule imposed since June can be taken off the books.



Tennessee — The Model for America

If America operated like our state, it would be fundamentally transformed for the better.

Tennessee, the 16th state admitted to the Union, is widely known by its nickname “The Volunteer State,” originating with its contribution of Patriots to the War of 1812 — and every contest for Liberty since. Tennessee’s official slogan is, “America at its best.”

Today, in many respects, Tennessee is a leading model for the rest of the nation. If America operated like our state, it would be fundamentally transformed by fiscal discipline, economic growth and competition. Those open market principles have been rejected by Democrat-controlled states, and the consequences are dire.

The Volunteer State has always had a carefully managed government due to its constitutional prohibition of an income tax and a requirement to balance the budget annually. But things began to change dramatically after the people of Tennessee declared it a right-to-work state.

In November 2008, the General Assembly began its departure from Democrat control. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans held the majority in both chambers of the TN General Assembly. Then, in 2010, Republican Bill Haslam easily won the open seat for governor and gained the benefit of a conservative super majority in the House and conservative majority in the Senate. Notably today, both U.S. Senate seats are held by Republicans and seven of the nine House seats are Republican.

It’s no coincidence that in 2010, The Patriot Post’s home state began its ascent to the top of the pack in everything from fiscal health and integrity to classroom reading scores, as both the legislative and executive branches of state government committed to results, not intentions. The agenda for Tennessee was clearly to create and cultivate an environment to promote new companies to start, existing businesses to expand and jobs to naturally occur by removing barriers such as regulations, taxes and legislation that favored one aspect of industry versus another.

Tennessee was and is open for business.

On its state Economic and Community Development webpage, awards and accolades of Tennessee include: + The Brookings Institution ranks the state No. 1 for advanced industry job growth + Ranked No. 1 for foreign direct investment (FDI) job commitments in 2015 according to the recently released 2016 Global Location Trends report + Southern Business and Development Magazine named Tennessee the 2016 State of the Year for Economic Development based on its project totals and the variety of the industry sectors + Business Facilities ranked Tennessee the No. 2 state in the nation for infrastructure according to the magazine’s 12th Annual Rankings Report. Tennessee was also ranked No. 4 for workforce training

Those four notables were just in the month of August 2016.

In June, placed Tennessee at No. 4 in a recent analysis of the 10 Best States for Retirement. In May, Tennessee was named the “Fourth Best State in the Country for Business” by Chief Executive magazine on its 2016 Best & Worst States citing measures that included tax and regulatory regime, quality of the workforce and quality of life. Back in December 2015, Tennessee received the “Best State to be a Taxpayer” recognition by WalletHub.

The stew of excellence in a state founded on agriculture and commerce, features some knock-out intrastate rankings for its business environment: + Overall Ranking: Tennessee #5 + Cooperative State Government: Tennessee #3 (tie) + Most Favorable Regulatory Environment: Tennessee #3

And for the state’s infrastructure and global access: + Overall Ranking: Tennessee #1 + Certified Sites/Shovel-Ready Program: Tennessee #1 + Competitive Utility Rates: Tennessee #1 + Energy Reliability / Smart Grid Deployment: Tennessee #2 (tie) + Highway Accessibility: Tennessee #3

Oh, yeah, and the need for a skilled workforce has become a priority to existing and prospective employers. With a focus on results in the classroom and a Tennessee-driven set of standards that empower local school districts, the state has been the fastest improving in the nation according to the “Nation’s Report Card” for the years 2011 through 2015.

At this point, all sorts numbers, statistics and details could be reviewed, but simply understand that the principles employed in Tennessee have been the fuel in the engine to reach success.

First, collaboration and agreement were necessary in these achievements. While there are 95 counties in the state, there are only four major metropolitan areas. The state government polar star is a commitment for regional development and a decision that all ships will rise on the rising tide of economic growth.

Second, a commitment to those First Principles of conservatism is abundantly evident over the last 6-10 years — to hold fast on a balanced budget of prioritized spending with the understanding and accountability that the government neither possesses its own revenue nor creates jobs. The money in Tennessee’s Treasury truly comes from the spending and transactions of Tennesseans, not from raiding paychecks. The job growth and attractiveness of this state is due to its hard-working people willing to engage in learning and skill refinement.

The elected state folks did their jobs to terminate the “Death” tax that hit a family at least twice with levies on property and to begin the elimination of the Hall Tax, a type of income tax that disproportionately impacts retirees and venture capital investors on earnings from investments. The state departments have met the challenge to tighten their budgets just as Tennessee families have had to tighten theirs in the squeeze of the Obama economy.

While there’s a safety net of services for those in need, Tennessee has adopted its own Medicaid health insurance program through a waiver to hold costs down and rejected the pressure to expand the program from the Obama administration through ObamaCare. Learning and remembering the lessons of 2005-2007 that just under 200,000 recipients had to be removed from the Medicaid program due to its explosive costs and invasion of other needed areas of spending such as education, the resolve has been to hold the line on state health insurance.

Back in April, Tennessee joined several other states to resume its work requirements for Food Stamps to incentivize able-bodied adults to actively seek employment, another contrast between those states governed by principles versus popular spending.

Tennessee and other Republican-controlled states understand that a malignantly obese government crowds out the vibrancy and innovation of the private sector. The conservative philosophy is that the economy performs best when citizens have money to spend, not when agencies and departments of government are employed and empowered. Tennessee understands it’s competing with other states for new and existing companies' commitments for investments and jobs, so taxing productivity and investment is, basically, stupid.

As taxes are being cut in Tennessee, the unemployment rate is at 4.1% and personal income is growing at about 5%. By the end of June, the State Treasury held $800 million more than the budget estimates from tax collections and, no, that one-time money won’t be spent on recurring expenditures — a perennial Demo-controlled state problem.

The reason Tennessee is a leader in America, along with other states that legislate to make the government smaller and more accountable, is pure logic if you believe in free enterprise and the power of human ingenuity and work.

America is at its best in Tennessee and other Republican states that value their people, opportunities to work and personal worth.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Barack Obama delivers last-minute hit to democracy

Barack Obama’s presidency is ending with a fine contempt for democracy as he exhibits every trait of hubris, arrogance and disregard for the messy business of elections and democratic mandates in his efforts to tie the hands of his successor on contentious policy that Obama was never willing to take to the electorate, or put before congress.

On two contentious issues — Israeli settlements and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic — Obama is taking ­actions directly against the spirit and practice of democracy by using bureaucratic and legal manoeuvres to try to put policy decisions beyond democratic ­revision. Obama chose to wait until after the presidential election to take these steps. Obama, with Hillary Clinton, was always the best advertisement for Donald Trump, even more so now, for Obama, at the extreme end of lame duckery, demonstrates a peerless elite disregard for democratic process and the messy and inconvenient business of elect­oral results.

It is Obama, not Trump, who pioneered American weakness and retreat from leadership.

Obama has been kind to America’s enemies, but he is a dangerous friend. America’s ­allies, in this case Israel, have been his chief victims. By abstaining, Obama allowed a resolution to go through the ­Security Council that the US had always previously vetoed. It is a one-sided and expansively worded condemnation of all ­Israeli ­settlements outside the lines of the state of Israel as it ­existed before the 1967 war.

On its face, the resolution makes no sense as the land the resolution chiefly concerns was never officially Palestinian land but, before 1967, belonged to ­Jordan. Israel has always ­accepted that the final status of this land must be worked out in negotiations and has made at least three serious offers to give more than 90 per cent of the land in question to a new Palestinian state.

In exchange, the Palestinian leadership must accept that this is an end of claims, must recognise the legitimacy of Israel, and must commit to its future security. The Palestinians have not been able to meet these conditions.

No one who lives in the real world thinks the Israel-Palestine dispute can be solved in today’s environment of a Middle East in flames.

Let’s be quite clear about this. Obama, with extreme irresponsibility, is licensing a new wave of global anti-Semitism. And he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Because of the blanket terms in which the UN resolution condemns Israel — simplistically equating every Israeli suburb in East Jerusalem with the most provocative and, in Israeli terms, ­illegal settlement outpost in Palestinian population centres in the West Bank — it will give massive encouragement and legitimacy to every international effort from the most toxic actors in the world to demonise Israel and to demonise Jews.

And to be reversed it will require another Security Council resolution, which Trump’s ­administration will no doubt move, but will be surely vetoed by Russia and China.

Obama’s contempt for democracy is equally evident in the Atlantic and Arctic oil drilling bans.

He has every right to prevent such drilling if he wishes, but he has chosen to do so under an ­ambiguously worded law that means that when Trump reverses Obama’s edict this will inevitably be challenged in court.

This is just the behaviour which brings democracy into contempt and fuels a backlash like that which propelled Trump to the presidency.

Obama cannot leave office a day too soon, though God alone knows what other harm he might accomplish before January 20.



Lame Duck Obama Sneaks Two Radicals Into Bureaucracy

President Barack Obama does not intend to go quietly into retirement.

Despite historical precedence, Obama named two Far Left radicals to six year terms on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Dego Adegbile received one of the sinecures on the strength of his defense of murderous cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, called the appointment a “kick in the teeth to the cops.” Sam Cabral, president of the International Union of Police Associations, called the appointment a “slap in the face to every law enforcement officer in this great nation” in a statement released Friday.

Pennsylvania’s Senator had more pointed reaction to Obama’s sneakplay:

    “Mr. Adegbile did not simply defend a client. He supervised an effort to lionize unrepentant cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, who cold-bloodedly murdered Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner 35 years ago,” Toomey’s statement read. “Mr. Adegbile supervised the effort to spread misinformation about the trial and evidence, fabricate claims of racism, malign Philly police, and organize rallies across the globe that portrayed this brutal cop-killer as the victim.”

    “A Democrat-led U.S. Senate evaluated the facts and agreed that Debo Adegbile is not fit to represent the American people as an enforcer of civil rights. This judgment included the votes of seven Democrats. I call on President Obama to adhere to the bipartisan judgment of the U.S. Senate and withdraw his appointment of Debo Adegbile to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,” the statement

The other radical now drawing a fat government paycheck thanks to President Obama is Catherine Lhamon.

    Catherine Lhamon orchestrated the Obama administration’s overhaul of Title IX, co-authored the “Dear Colleague” letter mandating transgender bathroom use in public schools, and also played a key role in the now-infamous Rolling Stone hoax. Her appointment is a similarly aggressive appointment for a president with just over a month left in office.

Generally speaking, President’s leave vacancies this close to the end of their term for the new President.  However, Obama could not pass up a chance to stick two Far Left apparatchiks in positions of power.



Congress Needs to Fix America's Broken Financial System

Whole forests have been cut down to print the books written about the financial crisis of 2007/8 and America’s response to it. Far fewer have been written on what’s wrong with the financial system now. Yet there’s a lot wrong with it. Despite historically low interest rates, banks aren’t lending to businesses or individuals, smaller and community banks have had to close or merge, low-income customers have seen free checking accounts disappear and their fees rise. The financial system is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose.

Most of the blame for this can be laid directly at the feet of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 supposedly to stop another financial crisis happening by reining in the big banks with regulatory compliance. Yet the effect of the law has been to strengthen the position of the Wall Street banks most at fault for the crisis, while punishing the Main Street banks who behaved responsibly (there are more details on how this came about in my 2015 paper, “How Dodd-Frank Harms Main Street”).

In addition, the Dodd-Frank law also created a powerful regulator with all the conditions necessary for it to go rogue, which it did quickly – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created with a powerful director who did not serve at the pleasure of the President, independence from Congressional oversight via funding, and with many of its decisions protected from judicial review. The Bureau’s exercise of the enormous power granted to it over the financial system finally led to a court case, PHH Corp. v CFPB, which found the Bureau not only to have acted outrageously towards the plaintiffs, but to have been structured unconstitutionally.

Congress needs to fix this system before another financial crisis hits. CEI’s scholars outline their suggestions for doing this in chapter 2 of our new Agenda for Congress. Our recommendations are:

*     Congress should pass the Financial CHOICE Act, in whole or in part, to fix the system by, for instance:

*     Allowing banks to swap a higher capital buffer for burdensome regulatory compliance

*     Make regulators accountable by reforming the Federal Reserve, CFPB, and other agencies

*     Provide a better resolution to the “Too Big to Fail” (TBTF) problem by replacing the counterproductive “orderly liquidation authority” of Dodd-Frank with a new chapter of the bankruptcy code.

*    Make the CFPB accountable. While the PHH case, if upheld, would make the CFPB Director directly responsible to the President, Congress needs to assert the power of the purse over the Bureau by making its funding part of the appropriations process.

*    Pass a series of reforms preventing regulatory overreach in financial services. These include:

        Protecting federalism by making sure that loans issued in one state cannot be considered usurious by another state.

        Create a system of optional federal charters for nonbank finance companies that would allow them to export interest rates to out-of-state consumers.

        Reforming the laws that enabled the Department of Justice to persecute financial companies whose activities they disapproved of in Operation Choke Point

        Repeal the Durbin Amendment that capped fees related to debit card use, which resulted in banks increasing other fees without the consumer getting any benefit in reduced store prices.

        Pass laws protecting innovation in financial technology – fintech. These laws would allow firms to seek more investment through crowdfunding platforms, allow more people to qualify as “accredited investors” who can invest in a wide range of enterprises, stop the Securities and Exchange Commission from regulating peer-to-peer loans as if they were securities, and protect digital currencies from overregulation.

        Finally fix the TBTF problem by restricting the power of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, phase out federal deposit insurance, and restrict regulators’ power to stop new banks from forming without adequate reason.

With these reforms, Congress will take the financial system off forced life support and allow it to start breathing freely again. The reforms will help unleash financial innovation and provide much-needed access to capital for businesses and individuals.




Something to make a numbskull kid think:  "The New York Police Department has stripped Sgt. Eliezer Pabon of five vacation days after an administrative trial found him guilty of using excessive force. Pabon shoved a handcuffed 14-year-old [black] boy through a store window after the boy mouthed off at him. The boy suffered a punctured lung and had to have glass removed from his heart.

Trumpstein?:  "President-elect Donald Trump was bombarded with antisemitic tweets from his social media followers shortly after he tweeted "Happy Hanukkah" alongside a picture of a menorah on the first night of the Jewish festival of lights. Some social media users were angered, claiming that they had voted for the Trump camp on the basis that he was a good Christian, and they "don't support satanic Jews," while others accused him of being a "sellout." The feed soon turned into a fight between those who support Trump and those who don't.

Babyface says Trump is an authoritarian:  "CNN and one of their main hacks Brain Stelter continue to prove that Donald Trump lives rent free in their egg heads. Stelter is now urging other media hacks to call Trump Authoritarian because he mocks ‘journalists’ and the liberal press.

Black suspects more at risk from black cops:  "Despite an intense national focus on high-profile police shootings involving white officers and black men, a new study shows that white officers are not statistically more likely to shoot and kill a black suspect. Among a sample of 2,699 fatal police killings between 2013 and 2015, the study found that the odds of a black suspect being killed by a black police officer were consistently greater than the odds of a black suspect getting killed by a white officer"


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Obama's latest attempt to sabotage Trump

The Obama administration said Thursday it is officially scrapping a post-9/11 requirement for immigrant men from predominantly Muslim countries to register with the federal government. The U.S. hasn't used the program since 2011, but a top immigration adviser to President-elect Donald Trump has spoken of renewing it.

The decision to end the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERs, comes amid growing international terror fears and Trump's suggestions that he could ban Muslim immigrants from the United States.  After a truck attack killed 12 in a Christmas market in Berlin this week, Trump told reporters, "You know my plans."

The program's elimination could make it more complicated for Trump's administration to launch its own registration system for Muslims.

Trump never publicly spoke about introducing such a program. But a close adviser, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said last month he was in favor of launching an updated system for all foreigners from "high-risk" areas.

Meeting Trump in New York, Kobach carried a document labeled "Department of Homeland Security Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days." It listed an NSEERS reboot as the top priority. Kobach helped draft the program while working at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.

The registration system started about a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, requiring men and boys from a variety of mostly Middle Eastern countries to register with the federal government upon their arrival in the United States. Such people already in the country had to register with immigration authorities inside the U.S.

Registration, which also applied to immigrants from North Korea, included fingerprints and photographs. People also were required to notify the government if they changed addresses.

The administration will publish its decision in the Federal Register on Friday. It had been widely derided by civil libertarians as an effort to profile people based on race and religion.

The program is "not only obsolete," said Neema Hakim, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department, "its use would divert limited personnel and resources from more effective measures."

After violence abroad, Trump schedules a meeting with his national security adviser

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the program since its inception, described it as a "failed counterterrorism tool and massive profiling program that didn't yield a single terrorism conviction in nearly a decade."

"With this action, the U.S. is on the right path to protect Muslim and Arab immigrants from discrimination," said Joanne Lin, the organization's senior legislative counsel.

The program never prohibited travel for men and boys from the more than 20 affected countries, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the Obama administration abandoned the system in April 2011, it said a newer data collection program would be sufficient to collect biometric information for all foreigners coming into the country. At the time, more than 80,000 foreigners were registered.



As socialism shattered Venezuela, the useful idiots applauded

Jeff Jacoby

WHEN THE COLD WAR ended 25 years ago, the Soviet Union vanished into the ash heap of history. That left the West's "useful idiots" — Lenin's term for the ideologues and toadies who could always be relied on to justify or praise whatever Moscow did — in search of other socialist thugs to fawn over. Many found a new heartthrob in Hugo Chavez, the anti-Yanqui rabble-rouser who was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, and in short order had transformed the country from a successful social democracy into a grim and corrupt autocracy.

An avowed Marxist and protégé of Fidel Castro, Chavez gradually seized control of every lever of state power in Venezuela. The constitution was rewritten to strip the legislature and judiciary of their independence, authorize censorship of the press, and allow Chavez to legislate by decree. Before long the government acquired a stranglehold over the economy, including the huge and profitable energy sector. (Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.)

With petrodollars pouring in, Chavez had free rein to put his statist prescriptions into effect. The so-called "Bolivarian revolution" over which he — and later his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro — presided, was an unfettered, real-world example of anticapitalist socialism in action. Venezuela since at least the 1970s had been Latin America's most affluent nation. Now it was a showpiece for command-and-control economics: price and currency controls, wealth redistribution, ramped-up government spending, expropriation of farmland, and the nationalization of private banks, mines, and oil companies.

And the useful idiots ate it up.

In a Salon piece titled "Hugo Chavez's economic miracle," David Sirota declared that the Venezuelan ruler, with his "full-throated advocacy of socialism," had "racked up an economic record that . . . American president[s] could only dream of achieving." The Guardian offered "Three cheers for Chavez." Moviemaker Oliver Stone filmed a documentary gushing over "the positive changes that have happened economically in all of South America" because of Venezuela's socialist government. And when Chavez died in 2013, Jimmy Carter extolled the strongman for "improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen."

In the real world, however, socialism has transformed Venezuela into a Third World dystopia.

Venezuela this Christmas is sunk in misery, as it was last Christmas, and the Christmas before that. Venezuelans, their economy wrecked by statism, face crippling shortages of everything from food and medicine to toilet paper and electricity. Violent crime is out of control. Shoppers are forced to stand in lines for hours outside drugstores and supermarkets — lines that routinely lead to empty shelves, or break down in fistfights, muggings, and mob looting. Last week the government deployed 3,000 troops to restore order after frantic rioters rampaged through shops and homes in the southeastern state of Bolivar.

In the beautiful country that used to boast the highest standard of living in Latin America, patients now die in hospitals for lack of basic health-care staples: soap, gloves, oxygen, drugs. In some medical wards, there isn't even water to wash the blood from operating tables.

Between 2012 and 2015, "the rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry", the New York Times reported in May. "The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period."

Socialism invariably kills and impoverishes. Gushing oil revenues amid a global energy boom could temporarily disguise the corrosion caused by a government takeover of market functions. But only temporarily. The Chavez/Maduro "Bolivarian revolution" has been economic poison, just like every other Marxist "revolution" from Lenin's Russia to Kim Il Sung's North Korea to the Castros' Cuba. By shredding property rights, dictating prices, and trying to control supply and demand, socialist regimes eventually make everything worse and virtually everyone poorer. Conversely, when governments protect free markets and allow buyers and sellers to interact freely, prosperity expands.

For three years in a row, Venezuela has ranked No. 1 on the Cato Institute's "misery index" which ranks each of the world's countries according to a formula that adds its unemployment, interest, and inflation rates, then subtracts its annual change in GDP per capita. With Venezuelan currency virtually worthless — hyperinflation this year is estimated at higher than 700 percent — residents have to resort to humiliating and pathetic workarounds. Reuters reported this month that Venezuelan women have been flocking across the border into Colombia and selling their hair in their desperation to earn some money with which to buy food, medicine, or diapers.

The government in Caracas, meanwhile, clings tightly to its socialist dogma, blaming the country's woes on Colombia's "mafia" or greedy businessmen. Ten days ago, government agents raided a toy distributor, confiscating nearly 4 million toys on the grounds that the company was planning to sell them at inflated prices. The regime says it will make the toys available at below-market prices to the poor — thereby ensuring that in Venezuela next Christmas, toys won't be available at any price. If nothing else, Venezuelan socialism has accomplished this much: It has transformed the Grinch from fiction into reality.



Congress should repeal ObamaCare using budget reconciliation

The recent election results reflect overwhelming unrest across the country, particularly about the broken state of healthcare. Americans have seen first-hand how ObamaCare fails to deliver on the lofty promises made by its namesake and his allies in Congress. Millions of Americans have faced canceled insurance plans, reduced access to health care providers, and double-digit premium increases over the course of its implementation.

Those lawmakers who vowed to oppose this failed health care law finally have an opportunity to put their campaign promises into action early next year. Working with President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans in the 115th Congress can finally repeal major parts of President Obama’s signature law using the budget reconciliation process, relieving Americans from its most burdensome mandates and costs.

Of course, few things are so simple in Washington. Despite the myriad positive provisions that will end up in any bill repealing elements of ObamaCare, some legislators on Capitol Hill may criticize the package for stopping short of full repeal, or for failing to include a replacement plan. Doing so risks passing up an unprecedented opportunity to protect millions of Americans from ObamaCare’s most onerous provisions.
In fact, the budget reconciliation process means lawmakers have their best chance yet at undoing negative elements of ObamaCare. The advantage to using the budget reconciliation process to repeal major provisions of the president’s health care law is that it will require only a simple majority in the Senate and House to move forward. It also cannot be filibustered, making it easier for Congress to send to the President's desk.

The disadvantage is that it may not be possible to repeal the law in its entirety. There’s difficulty in repealing the provisions in the law that do not have a direct budgetary impact, such as the insurance mandates requiring plans to offer a certain set of benefits dictated by bureaucrats in Washington.

Yet the opportunity to erase years of bad policy is too valuable to pass up. If complicated Senate precedents and procedure make repealing the entire healthcare law difficult, then lawmakers should aim to repeal what’s leftover through other legislative efforts. In tandem with pursuing reconciliation instructions that dismantle major provisions in ObamaCare, members of Congress should pursue standalone efforts to eradicate the health care law’s other failings. Passing legislation to stop the harmful insurance mandates and preventing the use of taxpayer dollars to bail out insurance companies are just some positive steps Congress can take to protect taxpayers and those in need of better health care options.  

The reconciliation package put together by Congress nearly two years ago provides a commendable baseline for the legislative package currently coming together. The 2015 legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress before getting vetoed by President Obama, repealed many of the most burdensome provisions in the president’s healthcare law, including parts that are so terrible that even many Democrats supported repealing them. Major provisions subject to repeal included the mandates on individuals and employers, the medical device tax, the tax on high cost employer-sponsored health plans and the ObamaCare Slush Fund. Congress should repeal these parts at the very least.

The reforms included in the reconciliation package currently taking shape represent significant steps to relieving the American people of many of ObamaCare’s most significant burdens. As members of a new Congress work together and reach out to President Trump to bring about change, they should continue a long-term push for broader, free-market, patient-centered health care reforms. They must not squander this latest opportunity to improve well-being for all Americans.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, December 26, 2016

Why the white working class votes against itself (?)

The little lady writing below is a reasonably good journalist.  She presents both sides of the argument pretty well. As a product of America's Left-dominated educational system, however. She lacks historical or academic context.  Leftists hate history because it falsifies so much of what they believe.  So they teach as little of it as possible.  So the kids hear all about Adolf Hitler and slavery but little else.

It would be very rare for them to hear of a flamboyant Jew who ran the British Empire at the peak of its influence, little more than a century ago.  A German socialist incinerated 6 million Jews.  The British Conservative party made a Jew their Prime Minister. See any significant difference there?  A Leftist probably wouldn't.  They just blot the whole thing out. Conservatives are racist, don't you know?

Why did the British Tories make a Jew their Prime Minister?  Because Benjamin Disraeli was a brilliant man. He was largely responsible for giving working class British people the vote.  Yes: It was a Conservative who did that, not a liberal. Why did Disraeli do that?  Because he saw the workers as "angels in marble": Good people behind a rough exterior.  And he thought that he as a sculptor could show the angels in those blocks of marble.

And how did he do that?  By stressing that the Conservative party stood for the welfare of the nation as a whole, not any sectional interest.  He made the Tories the party for all proud Britons.  He wanted to keep the "Great" in Great Britain.

And Disraeli succeeded.  For decades after that, about a quarter of the working class in both Britain and Australia voted for the Tories rather than the Labour party.

And that drove Leftist sociologists crazy.  They wrote books about it.  Why did workers not vote for THEIR party?  The Leftists had a theory but it was not a very deep explanation.  Their claim was that some workers were "deferential":  They looked up to their "betters" in the middle and upper classes.  And there was something in that.  But WHY were some workers deferential?  Because they were psychologically inadequate was the best answer the Left had for that but there was no attempt to prove it.

So I looked into it.  I was an active survey researcher and an experienced psychometrician at the time so I resolved to do a thorough job of looking into it. After much trial and error, I constructed a reliable and validated questionnaire to index social deference.  I then looked at who these blighted deferential people actually were, using several samples with good prospects for generalizability. I found:

 "that working-class conservatives are not a-typically deferential. Rather it is the working-class Labourites who are a-typically non-deferential.  In other words, both groups of upper-class people [Left and Right] also respect social position and expertise in the people they vote for. It is this effect which also accounts for the overall positive correlation between deference and self-assigned class. We do then have support for Parkin's account of deference as representing a normative cultural value from which working-class Labour voters are especially (but institutionally) insulated.

A slightly surprising finding is the low relationship between deference and authoritarianism. A similar low relationship was observed in the Meadowbank pre-test of the scale -- where the correlation was 0.109. It is quite clear then that deference cannot now be viewed as simply a particular instance of attitude to authority in the political field. It is a quite separate determinant of voting behaviour in its own right. Deferentials defer not because of their attitude to authority but because of their beliefs about the causes and efficacy of social position. They are not browbeaten people."

So there is your answer from psychometrically sophisticated  research findings, not from journalistic opinion or single-question surveys.  Generalizing that finding to Trump voters, we would have to say that his working class supporters were mainstream Americans in their outlook.  It is the workers who voted for Hillary who are isolated and alienated  -- which is roughly the opposite of the answer given below.  As Disraeli foresaw, the Trump-voting workers voted for the welfare of their nation as a whole, not for the many special interests that the Democrats were sponsoring.  They really did want to "Make America Great Again"

Why did all those Economically Anxious Trump voters reject policies that would have helped relieve their economic anxiety?

Maybe they believed any Big Government expansions would disproportionately go to the “wrong” kinds of people — that is, people unlike themselves.

Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss, particularly in traditionally blue strongholds, has led to lots of rumination about what the Democrats must do to reclaim their political territory. Smarter marketing, smoother organization, greater outreach and fresher faces are among the most commonly cited remedies.

But there seems to be universal agreement, at least among the Democratic politicians and strategists I’ve interviewed, that the party’s actual ideas are the right ones.

Democrats, they note, pushed for expansion of health-insurance subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans; investments in education and retraining; middle-class tax cuts; and a higher minimum wage. These are core, standard-of-living improving policies. They would do far more to help the economically precarious — including and especially white working-class voters — than Donald Trump’s top-heavy tax cuts and trade wars ever could.

Here’s the problem. These Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit.

Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese.

In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid.

“They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff.

In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.”

Participants in this focus group, held by the Institute for Family Studies, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices.

“That son of a b---- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s--- because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant.

In Wisconsin, rural whites are similarly eager to “stop the flow of resources to people who are undeserving,” says Katherine J. Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and author of “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.”

The people Cramer interviewed for her book often named a (white) welfare-receiving neighbor or relative as someone who belonged in that basket of undeservings — but also immigrants, minorities and inner-city elites who were allegedly siphoning off more government funds than they contributed.

More broadly, a recent YouGov/Huffington Post survey found that Trump voters are five times more likely to believe that “average Americans” have gotten less than they deserve in recent years than to believe that “blacks” have gotten less than they deserve. (African Americans don’t count as “average Americans,” apparently.)

None of this should be particularly surprising.

We’ve known for a long time, through the work of Martin Gilens, Suzanne Mettler and other social scientists, that Americans (A) generally associate government spending with undeserving, nonworking, nonwhite people; and (B) are really bad at recognizing when they personally benefit from government programs.

Hence those oblivious demands to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” and the tea partyers who get farm subsidies, and the widespread opposition to expanded transfer payments in word if not in deed.

Rhetoric this election cycle caricaturing our government as “rigged,” and anyone who pays into it as a chump, has only reinforced these misperceptions about who benefits from government programs and how much.

It’s no wonder then that Democrats’ emphasis on downwardly redistributive economic policies has been met with suspicion, even from those who would be on the receiving end of such redistribution. And likewise, it’s no wonder that Trump’s promises — to re-create millions of (technologically displaced) jobs and to punish all those non-self-sufficient moochers — seem much more enticing.

No American likes the idea of getting a “handout” — especially if they believe that handout is secretly being rerouted to their layabout neighbor anyway.



Democrats scorch Obama over UN vote condemning Israeli settlements

Congressional Democrats issued scathing statements aimed at the Obama administration over the US's abstention from a Friday UN Security Council vote demanding Israel stop building settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

Leading Democrats from both houses called out the UN as an inappropriate venue for rejuvenating the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. They objected to the Obama administration's departure from what they view as decades of established US policy of vetoing UN resolutions regarding Israeli settlements.

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said it was "extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding" that the Obama administration failed to veto the UN's vote.

Schumer called out the UN as a "fervently" anti-Israel body, since the days of "Zionism is racism."  "Whatever one’s views are on settlements, the UN is the wrong forum to settle these issues," Schumer said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called the US's abstention from the vote "unconscionable." "A two-state solution must be negotiated directly between the Israelis and Palestinians, and this resolution flies in the face of this necessity," Blumenthal said.

He also said support for Israel must remain "bipartisan," and that he'll work with colleagues on "both sides of the aisle" to advance "productive measures" that strengthen the US's relationship with Israel.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said that he would work to form a bipartisan coalition to "suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations."

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said that he was "deeply disappointed" that the Obama administration allowed such a "one-sided" resolution to pass.  "Actions like this will only take us further from the peace we all want to see," Wyden said.

And Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia said "one-sided resolutions" at the UN are counterproductive to the peace process and "achieving a two-state solution."  "I am dismayed that the administration departed from decades of U.S. policy by not vetoing the UN resolution regarding Israeli settlements," Warner said.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat from New York and the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was "very disappointed" by the US's "acquiescence to a one-sided, biased resolution at the United Nations Security Council."  "I have always believed that Israel can’t get a fair shake at the UN, and that is why Israel has relied on the United States to protect it from the anti-Israel tendencies of some UN Security Council members," Engel said.

Engel further said that the text of the resolution places the "blame" for the stalled peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians "entirely on Israel."



From my Twitter feed

Donald J. Trump: The so-called "A" list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!

PM of Israel: To all of our Christian friends around the world, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Martin Durkin: Wise old Walter Williams: "I don't trust experts. There is not a single major historical disaster that was caused by dumb people."


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, December 25, 2016


And may the wisdom of our Christian heritage guide you


Eat as much steak and sausage as you like

The study below is a little confusing. It was a large one, which allows for small effects, and it found that the amount of red meat you ate has no effect on your lifespan.  There did however seem to be a tiny advantage in replacing some red meat with vegetable protein

Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality

Mingyang Song et al.


Importance:  Defining what represents a macronutritionally balanced diet remains an open question and a high priority in nutrition research. Although the amount of protein may have specific effects, from a broader dietary perspective, the choice of protein sources will inevitably influence other components of diet and may be a critical determinant for the health outcome.

Objective:  To examine the associations of animal and plant protein intake with the risk for mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This prospective cohort study of US health care professionals included 131 342 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980 to end of follow-up on June 1, 2012) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 to end of follow-up on January 31, 2012). Animal and plant protein intake was assessed by regularly updated validated food frequency questionnaires. Data were analyzed from June 20, 2014, to January 18, 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

Results:  Of the 131 342 participants, 85 013 were women (64.7%) and 46 329 were men (35.3%) (mean [SD] age, 49 [9] years). The median protein intake, as assessed by percentage of energy, was 14% for animal protein (5th-95th percentile, 9%-22%) and 4% for plant protein (5th-95th percentile, 2%-6%). After adjusting for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, animal protein intake was not associated with all-cause mortality (HR, 1.02 per 10% energy increment; 95% CI, 0.98-1.05; P for trend = .33) but was associated with higher cardiovascular mortality (HR, 1.08 per 10% energy increment; 95% CI, 1.01-1.16; P for trend = .04). Plant protein was associated with lower all-cause mortality (HR, 0.90 per 3% energy increment; 95% CI, 0.86-0.95; P for trend < .001) and cardiovascular mortality (HR, 0.88 per 3% energy increment; 95% CI, 0.80-0.97; P for trend = .007). These associations were confined to participants with at least 1 unhealthy lifestyle factor based on smoking, heavy alcohol intake, overweight or obesity, and physical inactivity, but not evident among those without any of these risk factors. Replacing animal protein of various origins with plant protein was associated with lower mortality. In particular, the HRs for all-cause mortality were 0.66 (95% CI, 0.59-0.75) when 3% of energy from plant protein was substituted for an equivalent amount of protein from processed red meat, 0.88 (95% CI, 0.84-0.92) from unprocessed red meat, and 0.81 (95% CI, 0.75-0.88) from egg.

Conclusions and Relevance:  High animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.

JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1453-1463. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182


Live by executive action, die by executive action

Whatever can be done with executive action can be undone by executive action. That was one of the messages outgoing President Barack Obama had for his successor, President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with NPR, where Obama said, correctly, that "If he wants to reverse some of those rules, that's part of the democratic process. That's, you know, why I tell people to vote — because it turns out elections mean something."

So, suddenly, upon assuming office, Trump could start immediately rescinding controversial executive actions, whether Obama's executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children, or his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

In total, Obama has issued 260 executive orders. Those could all be rescinded on day one, as there is no legal requirement they be retained.

There's also a bevy of regulations, including the 2009 Carbon Endangerment Finding by the Environmental Protection Agency and its corollaries, the new and existing power plant rules, that constituted the agency's expansive war on coal electricity.

There are labor regulations, including the overtime pay rule or the persuader rule.

There was the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that conditioned the receipt of community development block grants on municipalities making changes to local zoning along racial and income guidelines.

Those could be rescinded by the agencies that issued them, through the process under the Administrative Procedures Act, which could take a couple of years. Best to get started right away.

There is also the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives Congress the power to roll back with simple majorities regulations within 60 legislative days of being implemented. That goes back to June, and according to the Heritage Foundation, includes "many dozens of major rules [that] could be vulnerable to a CRA challenge. These include, among others: Rules under the Dodd–Frank financial regulation law, Sick leave for federal contractors, Offshore drilling rules, and Energy mandates for home appliances."

It would also include a bevy of midnight regulations now being implemented at lightning speed, said to cost $6 billion.

Then there is Obama's executive action to indefinitely seal off much of the outer continental shelf in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from oil and gas drilling. Obama officials are bragging that this is one action that cannot be undone by executive action, although there is a clear process under the law for issuing new offshore drilling leases.

But even if an attempt to undo Obama's action to block drilling via executive action got caught up in federal court, Congress could always just defund it or pass new legislation repealing the provision he invoked.

Speaking of which, Congress could always defund, or prohibit the use of funds to implement regulations and any other executive action. So, where all else fails — if for example litigants manage to preserve certain regulations and other actions via federal court mandates — there is always the budget and the power of the purse where Congress can intervene.

With that in mind, Congress could act preemptively, and defund what it can in the April continuing resolution, particularly controversial items the left is likely to sue over, to strengthen the President's hand.

A lot can be done to undo Obama's legacy, and Trump will be in the driver's seat. Ironically, not so much action is required by Congress. Which, really, is Obama's fault, since he relied on executive action so much during his tenure.

If Trump washes away Obama's legacy, ending implementation of a scores of Obama executive orders, actions and regulations, they will be wiped away like a dry erase board—and Obama will have nobody to blame but himself for acting unilaterally to begin with.



Israel asked Trump to intervene on UN vote

Israel asked US President-elect Donald Trump to apply pressure to avert UN approval of a resolution demanding an end to settlement building after it learned the Obama administration intended to allow the measure to pass, a senior Israeli official told Reuters.

Israeli officials contacted Trump's transition team at a "high level" after failing to persuade US officials to veto the Security Council draft resolution and asked him to intervene, the official said on Thursday. Two Western officials said that President Barack Obama had intended to abstain from the vote.

Trump then sent a tweet urging a US veto and spoke by phone to Egypt's president, who abruptly ordered his country's delegation to postpone the vote scheduled for Thursday on the resolution they had sponsored.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Obama, believes the United States had long planned the council vote in coordination with the Palestinians and intended to use it to "ambush" Israel on the thorny settlements issue, the official said.

"It was a violation of a core commitment to protect Israel at the UN," the official said.

Israel had warned the Obama administration they would reach out to Trump if Washington decided to go ahead with the abstention, and Netanyahu's aides did so when they realised the United States set on this course, the official said.

The Israeli government appreciated Trump's efforts, the official said. Members of Netanyahu's right-wing government have increasingly warmed to Trump, who has made a controversial promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Relations between Obama and Netanyahu were severely strained over the US.-backed Iran nuclear deal.

With the clock ticking down on Obama's tenure, Israel remains concerned that the resolution condemning Jewish settlements could still go ahead with another sponsoring country - with continued US support - before the president leaves office on January 20, the official said.


UPDATE:  The resolution was put forward again on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it.  Obama ordered the USA to abstain, allowing the resolution to pass.  His hostile attitude to Israel was never in doubt but this was a blatant demonstration of it:  A parting shot of hate.

New Zealand seems simply to have been out of the loop.  They live a long way away, I guess.  They said they wanted to promote the peace process -- which is by now thoroughly dead, through no fault of Israel


Ken Burns: Student of History—or Left-Wing Gasbag?

Executive Summary

Ken Burns is known as a PBS documentary creator, but he is actually a significant cog in the left-wing propaganda machine.

His taxpayer supported PBS documentaries are shown in public schools across the U.S., presented to students as unvarnished fact. But are they?

Burns claims he displays neutrality in his work, but in 2008 he produced the introductory video for Senator Ted Kennedy's Democratic National Convention speech, described by Politico as presenting Kennedy "as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port." When Burns endorsed Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency he compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.

Burns sneers at the U.S., mentioning "our spurious sovereignty." He omits the long racist history of Democrat politicians in his documentary "Congress," not once identifying a pro-slavery congressman or senator as a Democrat. He omits the anti-abortion views of Susan B. Anthony in his feminism documentary since that did not fit the left-wing ideology he was pushing.

Burns' productions are riddled with errors. His documentary about boxer Jack Johnson, "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson" would be more fittingly titled "Unforgivable Lack of Familiarity with his Subject." His "Baseball" series includes errors such as film of a player supposedly pitching in a World Series who did not play for either team.

In his June, 2016, Stanford University commencement speech attacking candidate Donald Trump, Burns hit all the obligatory left-wing mantras: "As a student of history, I recognize this type...the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas blogging

No promises but I think I will be blogging pretty much as usual right through the Christmas period.  Saturday is my Sabbath so, as usual, I won't be blogging then. I do however put something up every day on A WESTERN HEART so that will continue

The aluminium scare

I hold no brief for aluminium. Claims that molecules from aluminium pots and pans leak into food go back a long way so I have never liked aluminium cooking utensils. I have mostly used cast-iron, enamel and steel utensils instead. But the study below has been hyped and I wish to inject a note of caution.  

The main cautions concern the sample, its selection, its size  and the variability of the results.

Regarding the latter, I quote from the Results section of the paper:  "Aluminium was found in all 144 tissues and its concentration ranged from 0.01 to 35.65 μg/g dry wt."  That is a pretty big variation. It does not sound like a uniform process.

And the form of Alzheimers was a rare one.  Does it generalize to other forms?  Is the rarity due to something that also encourages aluminium concentrations? Might not more common forms of Alzheimers be less infested by aluminium?

And the sample is an available one, not a random one so its generalizability is inherently unknown.

And the sample size is risible.  You can get all sorts of odd and unreplicable results with such a small sample.

Finally, an important question is how many users of aluminium pots and pans have lived to a ripe old age?  Hundreds of millions, I would think.  Do we balance 12 cases supporting a conclusion agains millions not supporting it?

I accept that I may be wrong but my conclusion is that aluminium is unlikely to harm you

Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease

Ambreen Mirzaa et al.

The genetic predispositions which describe a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease can be considered as cornerstones of the amyloid cascade hypothesis. Essentially they place the expression and metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein as the main tenet of disease aetiology. However, we do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and environmental factors may yet be shown to contribute towards its onset and progression. One such environmental factor is human exposure to aluminium and aluminium has been shown to be present in brain tissue in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. We have made the first ever measurements of aluminium in brain tissue from 12 donors diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s disease. The concentrations of aluminium were extremely high, for example, there were values in excess of 10 μg/g tissue dry wt. in 5 of the 12 individuals. Overall, the concentrations were higher than all previous measurements of brain aluminium except cases of known aluminium-induced encephalopathy. We have supported our quantitative analyses using a novel method of aluminium-selective fluorescence microscopy to visualise aluminium in all lobes of every brain investigated. The unique quantitative data and the stunning images of aluminium in familial Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue raise the spectre of aluminium’s role in this devastating disease.

Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology Volume 40, March 2017, Pages 30–36.


Who are really the stupid ones?

Some comments from a fellow blogger:

As hard as it might believe, I can be a pompous ass on occasions.  I had a friend who used to remind me of this, by very gently (and sometimes not so gently), reminding me: "I love it when you talk down to me", or "I love it when you talk to me as if I don't have a brain in my head."

Bill Clinton needs such a friend in constant attendance, it would seem, as of late.

Bill is at it again, reminding the deplorables that they are in fact deplorable and ignorant.  And, saying that Donald Trump got votes by exploiting our anger,  by taking advantage of our stupidity.

To my mind, this is simply saying the reverse, that Hillary Clinton had the God-given ability to make us so angry that we stayed away from her in droves.  After all, how smart do you have to be to antagonize the people you want to vote for you?

Ah, Bill.  Best to keep your mouth shut;  and, to stop calling people stupid because they did not vote for your dumpy wife.


Close Them Down!

John Stossel

Donald Trump is appointing good people -- Andy Puzder, for example, Trump's nominee for labor secretary.

When Puzder took over Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, they were deep in debt. Four years later, they were profitable. I bet his 70,000 workers are happy about that.

"What did you do that your predecessor didn't?" I asked Puzder. His answer sounded a little like Trump.

"They were entrenched. ... My second memo as CEO was: Next person that answers a question with 'because we've always done it that way' will be fired."

Sounds ruthless. No wonder he opposes the minimum wage! But wait: He got his start scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.

"Minimum wage, dollar an hour... I learned about customer service, about inventory. That was a good start, a good step on that ladder."

Puzder painted houses and mowed lawns as a teenager, jobs that today's minimum wage and employment regulations sometimes make illegal. People think those rules are compassionate, but not Puzder.

"I have a 16-year-old son, and I really love him," he told me, but "there's no way in the world I'd pay that kid $12 an hour to do something. We're losing a generation of people because we've eliminated jobs that those people normally filled. How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream? How good could you be at scooping ice cream? It's just not a job where you could compensate somebody like that."

The media hate businessmen who say things like that. A Washington Post headline: "Ayn Rand acolyte Donald Trump stacks his cabinet with fellow objectivists." This is absurd. Trump likes capitalism, but he's no objectivist. Objectivists have firm principles.

The Post article smears Puzder as a cruel Ayn Rand fan who "wants to automate fast-food jobs." But Puzder doesn't want to automate. He just states an obvious truth: A higher minimum wage leads employers to replace some workers with machines. Fast-food companies were already installing touch screens. A $15 minimum wage speeds that process.

If reporters were actually compassionate, they would oppose the endless regulations they routinely champion. People can't gain the experience needed to earn higher wages if they aren't allowed to be hired in the first place.

"We have restaurants in 33 countries and 45 states," says Puzder, describing how hard it is to get permits to open restaurants. "In Texas, it's 60 days. In LA, it takes 280. I can open a restaurant faster in Siberia than I can in California."

Remember when it was Russia that opposed capitalism?

"The permitting is ridiculous," says Puzder. "They make us put in stoplights and curb cuts and plant trees two blocks away. Everybody on the planet wants input. You've got to get approvals from the city, the county, the state, satisfy federal regulatory requirements."

As a result, "You can't grow, can't build restaurants, can't build a new Wal-Mart, that new office building if you can't use the land, if you can't get through the regulatory process."

Trump nominating someone who sees that problem is encouraging. I hope he surrounds himself with other people who love free markets, not just power.

Another possibly good Trump appointee is Linda McMahon, his nominee to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon almost defeated Connecticut's clueless socialist Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race. She calls herself a fiscal conservative, so I wish she'd won.

But I hesitate to support her, since I once sued her and her husband for allegedly telling one of their giant actors to beat me up because I pointed out that WWF wresting is fake. Really. Google "Stossel wrestler" and you'll see what I mean.

But my main objection to both nominations is that we don't need either agency! The SBA is wasteful cronyism. Federal bureaucrats have no clue which small businesses deserve funding.

Likewise, workers don't need a Department of Labor to set one-size-fits-all labor policies. Let competition set the rules. Employers and workers will make the choices and contracts that work best for each of them.

I hope Andy Puzder and Linda McMahon take over the SBA and Labor Department, then immediately shut them down.



Bored CBS Knocks Trump’s Cabinet Picks for Their Wealth

No mention that installing people who are already rich greatly reduces any temptation to corruption

With seemingly nothing else better to report with regards to U.S. politics Tuesday, CBS Evening News chose to whine about how President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet is comprised of millionaires and billionaires. “He's nearly finished with his cabinet, and outside national security, the billionaire president has surrounded himself with billionaires,” remarked Anchor Scott Pelley leading into Julianna Goldman’s report.

“As he traveled the cross the country on his thank you tour, President-Elect Donald Trump touted his choices for his cabinet and inner circle, a team historians say is the richest in U.S. history,” Goldman reported, as if it was somehow tainting Trump’s presidency.

“How rich? CBS news estimates seven of Mr. Trump's picks are worth a combined $11.5 billion,” she exclaimed, before rattling off the net worth of Trump’s selections:

Betsy DeVos, nominated for secretary of education, comes from a family worth more than $5 billion. Linda McMahon, picked small-business administrator, has family wealth worth $ 1.2 billion. And Vincent Viola, Mr. Trump's choice for army secretary, is worth $1.77 billion… Steve Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s Treasury pick, has been estimated to be worth as much as $655 million.

Goldman leaned on Senator, and failed presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders to slam Trump. She played clips of Sanders on CBS’s Face the Nation where he chided Trump for their wealth and claimed he could not properly fight the political establishment with them on board. “Critics, like Senator Bernie Sanders, say Mr. Trump's choices fly in the face of his populist campaign message,” she argued.

The CBS reporter seemed to try to dismiss the idea that these wealthy people could care about the poor, “[Steve Mnuchin] and Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross, worth $2.5 billion, recently said they were attuned to the plight of working Americans.” She then played a clip of Ross discussing how all jobs are not created equal, the set up painted the comments as somehow out of touch.

Wrapping up her report she noted that cabinet members do tend to be rich, but touted former presidents, saying, “Neither President Obama nor President George W. Bush had a single billionaire in their first cabinet.”

The left’s demonization of success and wealth originates from a false belief that the rich became so through underhanded and unethical means, especially those who associate with the right. It’s an extension of the belief expressed by President Barack Obama that “you didn’t build that.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)