Friday, January 15, 2016

The case for isolationism

Isolationism was the traditional stance of American conservatives.  America was led into WWI, Korea and Vietnam by Democrat Presidents, even though America had not been attacked. And it has long been held that FDR provoked an attack from Japan in order to take America into WWII.  Conservatives held that America should go to war only if America had been directly attacked -- which explains the invasion of Iraq under GWB.   Economic historian Martin Hutchinson draws on history to make a case below for a revival of isolationism

Saudi Arabia and Iran lurched into a dangerous situation last week, with Saudi Arabia executing a Shia cleric and Iranian militants the attacking the Saudi embassy, which has now been closed. The United States is inevitably involved, with troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet it's difficult to see what vital U.S. interests are at stake, now that fracking has made the country more or less independent of the Middle East as a source of energy. Isolationism is used as a term of abuse in U.S. politics, but may well represent the best way of protecting U.S. interests in a difficult world.

The term "isolationism" got a bad reputation in U.S. politics in 1939-41, when those fearing another world war failed to take a stand against the threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Once war came, the isolationists' reputation was destroyed, as was that of the British "appeasers" who had similarly attempted to keep the country out of the coming inferno in 1936-39. Yet the stance of both isolationists and appeasers was at least arguable, and the mess of the late 1930s was a unique one, caused by huge policy errors in previous decades.

The century of Pax Britannica showed examples in both directions on the question of isolationism. At one extreme, Robert, Lord Salisbury, late in the century, coined the term "splendid isolation" and used it to describe a policy in which Britain had no strong attachments on the Continent of Europe, and acted purely defensively to defend its gigantic empire. Since the country also pursued a policy of unilateral free trade, its isolationism was at the same time internationalist; there were no tariff or other barriers cutting off Imperial markets from foreign competition, or favoring British goods.

Britain's abandonment of Salisbury's isolation proved fatal. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, quite strongly pro-British but an unstable personality, feared above all else the encirclement of Germany by her enemies. The 1907 Triple Entente, by which Britain aligned with France and Russia and held secret (from the British Cabinet, but not from the Kaiser, whose spies were typically efficient) military conversations on how to resist a German attack on France, convinced the Kaiser and the belligerent German military brass that encirclement was happening and that Germany should act before Russian strength was built up. Hence the disaster of 1914.

At the other extreme, Henry, Lord Palmerston in 1850 propounded the principle of "Civis Romanus sum" by which "As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say "Civis Romanus sum," so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong." In practice, the manic interventionism to which this policy would have led was rejected by the House of Lords at the time and was scaled back by Palmerston himself in 1863-64, when he failed to protect Denmark's Schleswig-Holstein against the advances of the powerful Prussia.

The originators of the two streams of British 19th Century foreign policy were Robert, Lord Castlereagh and George Canning, in the years after 1815. Castlereagh sought to preserve good relations with the major powers and to intervene only on a multilateral basis, when the good order of Europe was threatened, and then only to prop up existing regimes (under the principles of the 1820 Troppau Protocol.) Canning went to the other extreme; he dissolved Castlereagh's relations with the major "autocratic" powers of Europe and meddled in liberation movements in South America and Greece, seeking to impose British ideas of free institutions on polities that lacked the preconditions for them.

Turning from this discussion of the 19th century to the problems of the 21st, it is immediately clear that the United States is not currently in anything like as strong an economic, political or moral position as was Palmerston's Britain for a few short years around 1850. In the 1990s, when the U.S. economy was at its peak of innovation and success, it enjoyed the same global position as did Britain's economy in the peak years of the Industrial Revolution around 1850, when its industrial output, built up by innovation and successful policies in the years since 1815, was many times that of its competitors. Morally also, the U.S. in the 1990s like Britain in 1850 enjoyed the prestige of victory in a global war (albeit a "cold" one). Further, as with Britain in 1850 it appeared that rival powers were both generally friendly and much more limited than itself in geopolitical potential.

Today, the U.S. economic, political and military position is much closer to the declining and threatened global position that Britain occupied in the 1890s under Salisbury. Industrial supremacy, so effortless in the U.S. in 1999 and in Britain in 1850, has been threatened by poor subsequent policies (unilateral free trade in Victorian Britain, over-regulation and both monetary and fiscal folly in today's U.S.) New economic and geopolitical rivals have sprung up or turned more hostile: Germany, Russia and the United States for 1890s Britain; China, Russia, India and ISIS for today's U.S.

Just as Palmerston himself discovered after 1860 that unlimited interventionism was too expensive and indeed reckless a strategy for the no longer invincible Britain to follow, so today the United States is reassessing its foreign policy in the light of new threats and diminished power. It is no longer possible to follow the "Civis Romanus Sum" approach, in which like George Canning's Britain and George W. Bush's U.S., the country plunged into difficult situations worldwide under the na‹ve belief that insults to British/U.S. interests should always be avenged, while British or U.S. values and political structures could easily be imposed on different cultures.

Instead an approach like Salisbury's is much more appropriate. Under this approach, the U.S. would remain in isolation, splendid or otherwise, avoiding as far as possible all military entanglements and with no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, preserving its moderate strength and economic power while other countries perhaps dissipate theirs in fruitless adventures. The difficulty in Salisbury's isolation is that it was not permanent and it gave Britain a false sense of security while the country persisted with unilateral free trade and its power, economic and otherwise, steadily diminished even as events like the Diamond Jubilee regatta proclaimed its supremacy to the world. Eventually, when Britain was faced with its first real military test in the Boer War, its decline became evident to its competitors. British policymakers' chosen solution to this problem, the Triple Entente, was disastrous, but after the Boer War even if Salisbury had lived Britain would have been very vulnerable to an attack by a combination of its competitors.

For Britain, the correct policy after Salisbury came to power in 1885 would have been that proposed by Joseph Chamberlain in 1903 and finally implemented by his son Neville in 1932: one of Imperial Preference, in which a modest common tariff among Britain's Empire and Dominions would have provided a modest blockade against tariff-protected foreign imports and a large enough market for British heavy industry to achieve economies of scale to achieve optimal economies of scale. By such a means, Britain's relative industrial decline could have been reversed and its strength preserved for the challenges of the 20th Century.

Similarly for the United States today a policy of isolation must thus be combined with a rectification of the economic mistakes that have caused U.S. economic power to diminish so sadly since the 1990s. The jungle of over-regulation, which has reduced U.S. productivity growth from 2.8% per annum in 1948-73 to 0.6% in 2011-15, must be slashed back with the most draconian of machetes, or preferably torched. The fiscal deficits must be eliminated; they have caused U.S. public debt to soar and its financial position to become vulnerable to any rise in interest rates. Immigration, both legal and illegal, must be reduced to a level which the economy can easily absorb, and skewed towards the higher-skill labor that adds value to the economy. Above all, the insane policy of negative real interest rates must be reversed, so that U.S. savings can once again recover, the country's elderly have a sufficiency to retire on, its young people be weaned off state welfare and loan schemes, and its small businesses capitalized as they should be with accumulated private savings.

Salisbury recognized in 1885 that Britain's relative power had diminished sufficiently so that, while the country's military strength should be rebuilt after the depredations of Gladstonian economy, it could no longer afford to intervene, whether to promote British values or otherwise. Had he possessed the political power to rebuild Britain's economic strength at the same time (he was dependent on the free-trading votes of the Liberal Unionists), his successors might not have felt forced to enter into fatally entangling alliances with other powers.

Similarly, a wise U.S. administration will disentangle itself from the Middle East (in which the energy self-sufficient U.S. has no vital interests) and will rectify its economic errors to rebuild its power. Otherwise, within the next decade or so it will find itself so economically and militarily enfeebled that it will feel forced to enter into an entangling alliance - at which point a new and even more devastating 1914 will most likely be only a few years away.

Isolation may not be splendid, but it is sometimes necessary. The U.S. no longer has the strength to pursue an interventionist policy effectively, and should learn from its own 21st Century follies and Britain's 19th Cen



Potential for new border crisis prompted immigrant raids

Clinton Opposes Obama's Immigration Policies

A spike in families and children arriving at the US southern border from Central America has prompted fears of another crisis like the one that dominated national news during the summer of 2014. That could roil an already tumultuous presidential race, giving more momentum to Republican front-runner Donald Trump while creating problems for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

The number of Central American families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the border this fall more than doubled from the year before, according to the most recent figures. The numbers could go even higher beginning in February and early spring, when arrivals traditionally increase, potentially eclipsing the levels that produced the 2014 crisis.

Such concerns helped prompt the Department of Homeland Security, with the close involvement of the White House, to initiate crackdowns on migrants in several states over the holidays, picking up 121 people for deportation. In some instances, people were detained during surprise early morning home raids that have infuriated the president's Democratic allies.

Clinton broke with Obama on the issue at an Iowa forum Monday night, calling for an end to the raids that she said "have sown fear and division in immigrant communities across the country."

"We have laws and we must be guided by those laws, but we shouldn't have armed federal officers showing up at people's homes, taking women and children out of their beds in the middle of the night," she said in a statement.

Such images remain vivid to policymakers, and avoiding a repeat is a priority. This time it would come in the middle of a presidential campaign where immigration is already a fraught topic, with Trump insisting he would deport everyone here illegally while senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida exchange barbs about who has the stronger record on this issue.

And officials defend the controversial raids, which have been denounced by the other Democratic presidential candidates in addition to Clinton while drawing praise from Trump, who also took credit for them. Although Democrats question whether such crackdowns will deter desperate women and children, White House officials said the tactics are in line with new deportation policies outlined by the Obama administration that prioritize criminals and recent arrivals. All those targeted had arrived after 2014 and had exhausted their legal options.

"Our desire to make clear that individuals should not embark on the dangerous journey from Central America to the Southwest border, that's a case that we've tried to tell in a variety of ways," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

"It was only after individuals had exhausted the legal remedies available to them . . . was a decision made to remove them," he said.

Several of the detention raids were conducted in Georgia, and stories are circulating about immigration officials banging on doors and rounding up families.

"People are very confused; they don't know what's going on," Nicholls said. "We are not happy with Obama."

Obama himself had pleased many Latinos by issuing executive actions in 2014 sparing millions from deportation, though that plan is now being challenged in court. It was a turnaround after he was labeled "deporter-in-chief" earlier in his administration for presiding over record removals, seen as an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to win over Republicans to enact comprehensive immigration legislation.



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, January 14, 2016

Satirical site debunks

I have over the years had various gripes with the Leftward lean of (e.g. here and   here and   here and   here).  They do a useful job of debunking myths, hoaxes and legends but they are far too quick to brand something favorable to conservatives as either false or undetermined.  They even have their own contemptuous word for a sentimental story favorable to conservatives.  They call it a "glurge".

So I was delighted to read the latest from The People's Cube -- a well-known satirical site run by Oleg Atbashian, a former Soviet citizen. And with that background it is easy to understand that Oleg skewers Leftism savagely.  I read most of his posts and have occasionally quoted them.

The gist of his latest is that Snopes have apparently taken some of his posts seriously.  Although his posts are perfectly transparent (they would not be good satire otherwise) they fooled the humorless Leftists running Snopes!  Talk about being hoist with your own petard!  Snopes did however eventually  wake up but continued their debunking of Oleg's "dangerous" humor.  For a while they gave the People's Cube as the source of the story but now they give no source at all.  The whole thing has tickled Oleg's funnybone and below is an excerpt fom his latest post in which he half-seriously lists his gripes with Snopes:

Snopes falsely described us as "a clickbait web site known for spreading malware," which is slanderous misinformation.

While our satire was clearly a response to Zakaria's asinine article gloating over the premature deaths of white males, which we extrapolated to the extermination of white females through Jihad, rape, and sex slavery, the Snopes's "debunking" omits this point entirely, stating only that "There was nothing to the report" and that "it was just another fake news item that apparently originated with a clickbait web site known for spreading malware."

At the very bottom of the page, however, the Snopes article is tagged as "satire" and "The People's Cube," while none of these words appear in the body of the article, which is what most people will read. Thus, Snopes was well aware that this was satire and who the author was, but it knowingly withheld this information from its readers, which is called "intentional misleading."

For a self-described fact-checking website that claims to be "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation," such biased, slanderous, and intentionally misleading misinformation constitutes malpractice, as it violates public trust.

In addition to being unprofessional, slanderous, and misleading, this under-debunking was also plain stupid: if you want to lie about something, at least make sure you flush the evidence and wash your hands afterwards.

The author of the article is listed as one Jeff Zarronandia, "an American author and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for numismatics in 2006 and was one of four finalists for the prize in 2008. He was also the winner of the Distinguished Conflagration Award of the American Society of Muleskinners for 2005."

While this is obviously an attempt at a joke, this joker seems to deny the right to a joke to others. Besides, the very idea of listing made-up prizes, awards, and societies as his credentials on a fact-checking resource surpasses unprofessionalism and approaches imbecility. Perhaps Snopes should do some fact-checking on its authors before it attempts fact-checking satirical fiction.



Donald Trump’s big tent

The GOP should stop fooling itself. Trump is reaching more than just undereducated, angry white men

Republicans explain away their unwelcome poll-leader by dismissing his supporters as a loud but narrow network of angry white men and celebrity chasers.

It’s not true. A POLITICO review of private and public polling data and interviews with GOP pollsters shows a coalition that certainly begins with conservative, blue-collar men now extends to pro-choice Republicans, independents and even registered Democrats unnerved, primarily, by illegal immigration.

Indeed, the uncomfortable truth, for the pundits and fellow Republicans who turned their noses up at Trump, is that his appeal has spread over seven months so far beyond a rabble-rousing, anti-establishment rump to encompass the very elements of the American electorate the GOP has been eager to reach. And while it’s no majority, it’s a bigger group than anything the rest of the fragmented Republican field has galvanized.

“His coalition is not all angry working white males,” said Adrian Gray, a Republican pollster. “It’s all stripes. It’s a pretty big coalition. And among other demographics where he’s doing worse, he’s still leading or in the top two.”

Certainly, non-college-educated men have formed his base. Every one of 10 recent Iowa, New Hampshire, and national polls of Republicans shows Trump with more male support than female support and significantly more support from non-college graduates than those with degrees.

Trump’s robust performance with this group, however, has deflected attention from the breadth of his coalition. Though Trump has less support with women and educated men, he’s still at or near the top of the GOP field in those categories. And, exposing the depth of the GOP establishment’s misunderstanding of Trump’s support network, his coalition includes far-right conservatives as well as people who hardly register on Republican radar.

Trump’s supporters skewed significantly against the GOP grain on abortion, for instance, in an internal poll of Iowa caucus-goers conducted for a rival presidential contender last summer. Respondents who identified themselves as “pro-choice” were three times more likely than “pro-life” voters to support Trump, according to a Republican strategist with knowledge of the survey.

One large dataset shows Trump excelling above all with voters who call themselves Republicans even though they aren’t officially registered as Republicans.

Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm founded by veterans of President Barack Obama’s campaigns, built a model based on over 11,000 phone interviews with self-identified Republicans in 2015, part of a wider polling project. The data, first reported by The New York Times, shows Trump getting the support of 29 percent of registered Republicans but 36 percent of registered independents and 43 percent of registered Democrats, who in some states can still participate in GOP primaries.

The Civis data projects Trump’s support by congressional district, showing that Trump is especially strong in the rare pockets of the country where Obama performed worse while winning the 2008 presidential election than John Kerry did while losing in 2004, according to a POLITICO analysis.

In the Civis’ model, Trump runs ahead of his 33-percent national average in 30 of the 40 districts where Kerry matched or exceeded Obama’s performance, even though Obama ran about 5 points ahead of Kerry nationally.

Those districts are largely contained in a band running through Appalachia, from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, and then across the Deep South to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Once Democratic strongholds, voters there have sloughed off the party in recent decades — a trend that accelerated rapidly under Obama. Now, Trump is giving a voice to some of their protectionist concerns about immigration and trade.

“Essentially, the old base of the Democratic Party, non-college whites in the Midwest and Appalachia, have been cut loose and are floating like an iceberg in the middle of the electorate,” said one Republican strategist supporting another presidential candidate. “And they’ve glommed onto the Republicans because it’s a two-party system. But they have no affection for the Republican Party as an institution.”

Now, they form a key piece of the Trump puzzle.

The pro-Trump crowd’s varied background is matched by equally diverse reasons for supporting him. But even though it has faded in intensity as an issue since Trump burst on the political scene this summer with an incendiary announcement speech, immigration is still driving a core base of voters into Trump’s camp.

In WBUR’s most recent poll of the New Hampshire primary, Trump’s favorability numbers jumped from 46 percent overall to 62 percent among those who said that illegal immigration posed a “major threat” to “you and people you know.” While 27 percent of all respondents said they plan to vote for Trump in New Hampshire’s February primary, his support rose to 35 percent among the GOP voters most concerned about immigration.

In Iowa, where Cruz has caught or even surpassed Trump in many recent Republican caucus polls, Trump still maintained a double-digit lead over Cruz among “immigration voters” in the most recent Quinnipiac University survey there. Among everyone in the poll, though, the two were essentially tied (28 percent for Cruz to 27 percent for Trump).

“There’s a segment of the population, white working middle-aged men, that has felt three big changes in America — globalization, technology, and demographics — that are changing everything we do on a daily basis,” said Gray. “In a lot of ways, this group has felt left behind by each of those.”

But “even people above the median income feel insecure, sometimes financially insecure because of these changes,” Gray continued. “That’s what builds the coalition beyond low-income and downscale.”

Trump also runs particularly well with people looking for a “strong leader.” While Cruz dominated among Quinnipiac poll respondents in Iowa who wanted a candidate who “shares your values,” Trump got 40 percent of those looking for a strong leader. Fox News’ most recent Iowa poll showed Trump getting 39 percent of those voters, too.

Focus groups of GOP voters help explain how and why. One such exercise, conducted by Data Targeting, a GOP consulting firm in Florida, recently interviewed a uniformly downcast group of Republicans about the direction of the country and its government. Two gave replies of “stagnant” when asked to describe it. Other replies included “mess,” “weak,” and “bought.”

The focus group illustrated how some typical political responses to government dysfunction have lost currency, opening a door into the presidential campaign that Trump barged through. When one participant said, “Democrats and Republicans need to work together,” another immediately replied, “That’s my worst nightmare!” “They’re all puppets,” another participant chimed in.

“Nearly every candidate running on the Republican side has made an effort to present themselves as not of Washington,” said Jim Hobart, a Republican pollster. “No one has a more credible message on that than Donald Trump. When he says it, it’s really true. It’s tough to out-anti-Washington Donald Trump.”

This makes for an uncomfortable truth for the GOP. But there’s enough discomfort to go around. For Trump’s camp, it’s unclear just how many of his supporters will actually cast a ballot for him — or anyone else — when caucuses and primaries finally begin next month.

Almost uniformly, GOP political professionals have discounted Trump’s chances of turning the full measure of his support into actual primary and caucus votes, and later delegates to the Republican National Convention. Public polls, they argue, are vastly oversampling nonvoters caught up in the mania surrounding Trump, distorting the picture of a more traditional Republican electorate that does not back him as heavily.

“It’s one thing to have support from people in all these different groups,” said Mark Stephenson, a Republican data and analytics expert who was the chief data officer on Scott Walker’s presidential campaign. “It really is another thing to turn them into a Trump voter, or especially a Trump caucus-goer, on election night.”

Trump’s most natural supporters are some of the people most disillusioned with politics. In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the Pew Research Center asked a broad group of Americans to rate their financial security on a sliding scale. As whites fall from the highest levels of financial security to the lowest levels, their support for Republican candidates plummeted from 51 percent to 21 percent. (Democrats’ support stayed constant around one-third.)

The remainder shifted almost fully into the “other/not sure” category, rather than moving into the Democratic column. Nearly all said they did not plan to vote that year. Trump’s candidacy may have activated a group of them, but converting them into voters remains difficult.

Meanwhile, the Civis Analytics data showing Trump at his strongest with registered voters who are not registered Republicans won’t be a barrier in every state primary, but it is a real obstacle nevertheless, starting in the first caucus state of Iowa. Only a small number of first-time participants usually join every four years, though Trump’s campaign is aiming to drive a generation of first-time caucus-goers and GOP primary voters into the process starting this February.

In a recent survey conducted for a different presidential campaign, Trump still ran ahead of Ted Cruz in Iowa — but only among voters who both could caucus in 2016 and have never actually shown up to one before. Past Republican caucus-goers, on the other hand, gave Cruz a solid first-place finish. One reason Trump’s polling lead in New Hampshire has proven more durable is that the state has an open primary system, instead of Iowa’s closed (and complicated) caucus.

Trump has been overcoming supposedly insurmountable obstacles since his presidential campaign began. But now that he has amassed these supporters, converting them from Trump fans into Trump voters may be the biggest one yet.



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, January 13, 2016

Fascism in America

Mussolini prophesied that the 20th century would be the century of Fascism -- and libertarians believe that came true.  Fascism was just a Leftist sect and modern-day Leftists have put a straitjacket on what Americans can and must do that is very reminiscent of what Mussolini did.  And the picture above symbolizes that.  It is of course a picture of the platform in the House of Representatives from which Obama will give his State of the Union address imminently.

Note that there are Roman Fasces (bundles of rods) on either side of the picture.  Mussolini too used that symbolism, which is why his political party came to be called the Fascist party.  Obama is as Fascist as any democratic leader today in his endeavour to rule like a king so it is very fitting that he will deliver his speech between two Fasces.

Background on Italian and American Fascism here and here.


Uproar on Trump’s Muslim ban; silence on Abbas’s Jewish ban

A major uproar exploded across the political scene recently when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Conversely, there has been a remarkable, deafening silence on the official position proclaimed by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas: “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”

“Israeli,” of course, means “Jew.” Abbas has no problem with Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship living in a Palestinian state. This is purely a racist policy aimed at ensuring the absence of Jews, because they are Jews. And Abbas is in power; Trump is not, so Abbas’s statement has real meaning.

This Palestinian policy has been reiterated by senior figures like PA top negotiator Saeb Erakat (who recently refused to address a New York conference unless the flag of Israel, the country he claims to recognize and with which he asserts in English a desire to live in peace, was removed).

It has also been reiterated by former PA ‘prime minister’ Ahmad Qurei; PLO ambassador Maen Areikat; and putative moderate academic Sari Nusseibeh, who even went so far as to explicitly urge that Jews be ethnically cleansed from the eastern half of Jerusalem.

Many, ourselves included, think Trump’s suggestion to exclude any and all Muslims from coming to America excessive and ill-conceived. For all that, some proportion is in order. Trump was speaking of a major security threat and was proposing an explicitly temporary measure (“until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”).

After all, the refugees pouring out of Syria pose a national security problem.

According to FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the minority of Islamic State hardened jihadists and ISIS supporters among them are largely undetectable.

Unlike Trump’s proposal, this Palestinian policy is not proposed as a temporary measure. Nor is it about responding to security threats. It’s about excluding Jews, about a future state of Palestine being judenrein.

In short, the PA policy is one of unadulterated Jew-hatred.

The same glaring anti-Israel contradiction emerges in other guises. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated during his 2015 election campaign that a Palestinian state couldn’t be created under current conditions, the international outcry, including from President Barack Obama, was loud and relentless.

Compare that to Obama’s reaction in March 2014, when Abbas told Obama that he will neither accept Israel as a Jewish state, nor conclude a comprehensive peace if it means signing an ‘end of claims’ clause. How did Obama react? He praised Abbas for having “consistently renounced violence... consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security.”

Or again, compare that to this past September, when Abbas told the UN that the Oslo Accords were dead. There was no sputtering of outrage, no dressing-down from Obama, no threat to curtail US aid to the PA. There was none again this week, when the State Department was informed of PA pensions to Jew-murdering terrorists and their families. Rather, it ignored this, saying that the need to “calm current tensions” somehow required leaving open the PLO’s Washington office, even as the PA is funding and promoting the murder of Jews.

Compare too, the international silence over Abbas’ incitement of the recent wave of Palestinian violence and terror attacks in Israel.

Abbas not only falsely alleged that Jews were conducting a “fierce attack … against al-Aksa Mosque,” but also urged Palestinians to prevent Jews visiting Judaism’s holiest, site, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, saying “The al-Aksa [Mosque] is ours ... and [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet ... We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem ... blood spilled for Allah.”

Last week, Abbas described the daily onslaught of stabbings, car-rammings and other murders, claiming the lives of 24 Jews, as “justified popular unrest.”

Had Abbas’ words, suitably adjusted, been uttered by an Israeli leader, newspapers around the world would carry detailed reports on their front pages; parliaments around the world would vote to condemn him and the society that tolerated such words; human rights organizations would organize petitions and rallies condemning Israel; international leaders would issue statements of condemnation and the United Nations would surely be called into special session to consider formally condemning Israel in the harshest terms.

Today, however, we rail on Trump’s temporary immigration proposals while ignoring the vilest anti-Semitic hate speech and Muslim supremacism of the PA, which receives over $500 million annually from the US tax-payer.

Such is the combination of indifference and acquiescence to Jew-hatred and fear of offending Muslims in which we debate vital matters. Presumably, we will still be arguing in this vein when terrorists strike next, here and in Israel.



MY! How the worm turns!

I have been saying statins do more harm than good for many years -- in the face of official denials. Below is another recent report in support of that. What will it take for the government position to crumble?  Your government will NOT protect you!

Statins, which are designed to help protect people from heart failure, can actually increase the risk of a heart attack according to a new study.

Researchers say the drugs, which are taken by around 12 million patients in the UK, are more likely to cause calcium deposits in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Statins were developed to lower cholesterol, but they also block a molecule needed to produce vitamin K, which prevents calcification of the arteries.

The author of the report, published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, says there is 'no evidence to support people taking statins', which opponents say also cause other health issues including skeletal weakness and muscle pain.

Professor Harumi Okuyama, of Nagoya City University, Japan, told the Sunday Express:'We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure.'

Similarly, Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist based in Texas who is co-author of the study, said: 'These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.'

However, there is plenty of support for statins within the medical profession and the drugs are considered to generally lower cholesterol levels by 25 to 35 per cent.

The medications Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and other statins have been the standard treatment for lowering cholesterol for more than 20 years.  Those pills work by curbing the production of cholesterol in the liver.

Statins have also long been recommended for people who already have heart disease and have been credited with helping to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A spokesman for MHRA, the Government drug regulator, said: 'The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients.'

Last year, NHS watchdog NICE encouraged GPs to prescribe the cholesterol-busting drugs to anyone with a 10 per cent chance of having a heart attack.  That change has resulted in 17million adults - nearly all people over the age of 40 - now being eligible to take the drugs.



N.Y. Restaurant Owners Plead for Mercy as Gov. Cuomo Tightens Screws on Wages

More than 100 restaurant owners in the state of New York are begging Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) not to force them to pay their waiters and waitresses $15 an hour. But it’s doubtful he heard them over the roar of union workers at rallies Jan. 4 supporting Cuomo’s call for a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, can see the $15 an hour wage coming, but she’s hoping for a five-year moratorium for people who make their livings on tips.

She said her organization’s members would be crushed by a $15 an hour wage mandate, on top of the 50 percent increase in wages for what are known as "tipped workers" that went into effect the last day of December 2015.

The cash wage for tipped employees was raised from $5.00 to $7.50 on Dec. 31.

“The industry needs time to adjust to this dramatic increase,” Fleischut said.

She warned that if Cuomo follows the Dec. 31 raise with a mandate to double wages for tipped workers, the same people Cuomo says he wants to help are going to lose their jobs.

Fleischut said restaurant owners were already looking for ways to cut back because of the Dec. 31 wage edict, like telling customers they no longer need tip servers to replacing wait staff with tablets at every table.

“It’s hard to imagine any business giving half of their labor force a 50 percent raise overnight, but that’s the reality the hospitality industry is facing at the moment,” said Fleischut. "Any further increase will just exacerbate these problems.”

American Action Forum economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Ben Gitis believe job losses in New York’s restaurants could be just the beginning of a boomerang nightmare of unintended consequences.

They warned the state of New York could lose as least 200,000 jobs if a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage is imposed. Other economists warn the state could see close to 600,000 people thrown out of work.

But none of those scenarios is playing into Cuomo’s thinking.



Obama should look in mirror on gun enforcement

"If Obama's contention is that he is merely enforcing the law as written with his so-called executive action on firearms, and that he believes doing so can prevent more shootings, then Obama must be admitting that his apparent failure to enforce existing law makes him culpable for gun-related murders. Of course, Obama should enforce existing laws. He's the President after all.

"Unfortunately, Obama's record is of declining enforcement actions against illegal firearm dealers with only his Justice Department only generating about 200 convictions a year of illegal unlicensed gun sales. There is no loophole that prevents federal law enforcement officials from going after illegal unlicensed gun trafficking, otherwise, there would not be any convictions at all. Obama should urge the Department of Justice to aggressively investigate and prosecute real gun trafficking crimes involving real criminals and stop the politicized rhetoric against law-abiding gun owners.

"What is even more distressing is that while Obama blames law-abiding gun owners for violence, he hypocritically is releasing tens of thousands of felons from federal prisons, increasing the risk of repeated crimes. It would seem that with his tepid prosecution record and his felon release program that all Obama needs to do to find out who's at fault is look in the mirror."



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, January 12, 2016

Notes on a Phenomenon

by Mark Steyn

On Tuesday night, my daughter and her friends went down to Claremont, New Hampshire to see Donald Trump in action. She and her chums range from the not terribly political to those with the usual enthusiasms of youth, so they went mainly because Trump's a hot ticket, and we don't get a lot of those in the Granite State. Her only other candidate encounter this season was at the North Haverhill Fair last summer when Lindsey Graham pounced outside the 4-H barn, no doubt with an eye to recruiting her for one of his "rotating first ladies".

At any rate, after hearing my daughter's account of the night, my sons said they wanted to see Trump, too. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic, having wasted far too much of my time in New Hampshire on campaign events, going all the way back to the oxymoronic "Dole rallies" of 1996. But they persisted. So we checked out the schedule and discovered that he was due to be in Bernie Sanders' socialist fortress of Vermont on Thursday. Which is how we wound up crossing the Connecticut River and traversing the Green Mountain State, and eventually found ourselves in an unusually lively Burlington. Herewith, a few notes on what I saw:

~THE VENUE: When was the last time a GOP presidential candidate held (in the frantic run-up to Iowa and New Hampshire) an event in Vermont? Every fourth January, Republican campaigns are focused on the first caucus and the first primary states, as Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Huckabee, Fiorina et al are right now. But in fact the Green Mountain primary is on March 1st, and its delegates count as much as any other state's. In recent cycles, the American electoral system has diminished and degraded itself by retreating into turnout-model reductionism and seriously competing only over a handful of purple states. Even if he's only doing it as a massive head-fake, Trump understands the importance of symbolism: By going into Berniestan, he's saying he's going for every voter and he's happy to play down the other guy's half of the field.

~THE PROTESTS: On the closed block of Main Street outside the Flynn Theatre there was something of a carnival atmosphere. On the south side the thousands of Trump supporters snaked down the sidewalk and round the corner. On the north side the hundreds of protesters waved the usual signs: "DUMP TRUMP", "TRUMPISM IS FASCISM", "TRUMP: AMERICAN IDIOT", etc. Marginally more inventive were "TRUMP IS THE REAL TERRORIST" and the elliptical "TRUMP - THE OTHER WHITE MEAT". My older boy ran into high-school pals who were variously there to attend the rally and there to protest it. The media like to play up the anti-Trump demonstrations, but even this works to his benefit, since they come almost exclusively from the leaden clichés of college-debt social justice. For a six-year bachelor's degree in orientation studies, you'd think these fellows could work up something other than chants that were stale back when Pete Seeger was wondering where all the flowers went. A couple of straggle-bearded hipster dweebs wandered around waving "NO BORDER" signs, which would be a tougher sell in, say, downtown Cologne. A bossy girl of vaguely sapphic mien led us all in a "Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!" chant, which is pretty funny on a street that's 99.99999999999 per cent white. If black lives matter that much, you'd think they could have bussed one in. As enthusiasm faltered, she segued deftly into "Don't give in to racist fear! Immigrants are welcome here!" I must say, as an immigrant myself, I've never found Vermont that welcoming, but perhaps I'm insufficiently exotic for their tastes.

There were a few ill advised ventures into wit. The local toupée salesman wandered around with a big sign recommending Trump try his range of non-flyaway wigs and weaves: This would have been a cuter joke six months ago, but this far in felt a bit like a bad rug, forced and awkward. Still, he was a pleasant chap, so we all pretended to be amused. The guy from the "Vermont Comedy Club" passed out free tickets inviting us to "Comb Over To A Real Show!" for "Trumprov" - a night of Trump improv comedy he'd scheduled to compete with the main event.

~THE MUSIC: In Claremont, my daughter had been bewildered by the songs played beforehand: a loop of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera and Cats alternating with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" and "Rocket Man", occasionally punctuated by the Beatles' "Hey, Jude"... Listening to the same tape in Burlington, it occurred to me the unifying feature might be that they're all tenants of Trump's at Trump Tower (I know Andrew is, and Sir Elt), or it might just be that British pop stars are more easygoing about being associated with Republican candidates. You'll recall that Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes told Bob Dole to quit using his version of "I'm A Soul Man" ("I'm A Dole Man") and Heart did the same re Sarah Palin and "Barracuda". Evidently, Andrew Lloyd Webber is more relaxed about the title song of Phantom, and certainly its descending haunted-house organ motif is unlike any other warm-up music for a presidential nominee: "The Phantom of the Op-e-ra is here ...inside your mind!" Very true.

~THE ESTABLISHMENT: The reserved seating at the front of these events is usually held for the big donors. Trump has no donors, so there are no money guys who've paid for access hogging the best seats. Instead, they were taken by folks who'd been backing him the longest. One couple were there because they were tootling along with a Trump sticker on the back of the car (something of a rare sight in Vermont) and at the stop sign an appreciative campaign staffer behind had leaped out and offered them VIP tickets. The only real VIP in the seats was a former finalist at "The Apprentice" whom Trump had asked along.

That said, while the donor class continues to hurl bazillion-dollar checks at Mike Murphy's "Right-to-Risibility" Bush campaign, at the state level of the GOP establishment Trump is not without supporters: He was introduced on stage by Deb Billado, the Chittenden County chair for the Vermont Republican Party (Chittenden is the state's most populous county - and the most Ben & Jerrified), and prowling the aisles you could spot the occasional New Hampshire state rep. So if, as some of the dottier rumors suggest, the Republican establishment is planning to run third-party if Trump gets the nomination, it's not clear how much of the state apparatus they'll be taking with them. "If Trump were the nominee, the GOP would cease to be," declares Michael Gerson. The state legislators and volunteers present on Thursday would disagree.

~BACKSTAGE: I did check out the action backstage, and I'll say this: It was unlike any other candidate event I've been to. By comparison with, say, presidential campaigns such as Lamar Alexander's or Orrin Hatch's, Trump is very lightly staffed, and entirely unmanaged. Twenty minutes before the event, backstage is usually a whirl of activity with minions pretending to look busy and frantically tippy-tapping away on their phones over some vital matter or other. Deputy speechwriters and assistant campaign managers bustle about saying things like, "Mike's seen the Egyptian Prime Minister's response to the Secretary of State, so we're working on a sentence to add to the nuclear-proliferation section." There's none of that around Trump. He's meandering around back there shooting the breeze, posing for pics, totally relaxed - and so are his press secretary and campaign manager, too. If you've seen any of those inside-the-campaign movies, from Robert Redford in The Candidate to George Clooney in Ides of March, it looks all wrong: There's far too few people, and there's none of the fake busyness.

And then the announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Donald J Trump..."

~THE SHOW: He's very good at this. Very good. On the same day as Trump's speech, Peter Shumlin, the colorless dullard serving as Vermont's governor, came to the State House in Montpelier to deliver his "State of the State" address. He required two prompters so he could do the Obama swivel-head like a guy with good seats at Wimbledon following the world's slowest centre-court rally. Two prompters! In the Vermont legislature! And for the same old generic boilerplate you forget as soon as you've heard it.

Trump has no prompters. He walks out, pulls a couple of pieces of folded paper from his pocket, and then starts talking. Somewhere in there is the germ of a stump speech, but it would bore him to do the same poll-tested focus-grouped thing night after night, so he basically riffs on whatever's on his mind. This can lead to some odd juxtapositions: One minute he's talking about the Iran deal, the next he detours into how Macy's stock is in the toilet since they dumped Trump ties. But in a strange way it all hangs together: It's both a political speech, and a simultaneous running commentary on his own campaign.

It's also hilarious. I've seen no end of really mediocre shows at the Flynn in the last quarter-century, and I would have to account this the best night's entertainment I've had there with the exception of the great jazz singer Dianne Reeves a few years back. He's way funnier than half the stand-up acts I've seen at the Juste pour rires comedy festival a couple of hours north in Montreal. And I can guarantee that he was funnier than any of the guys trying their hand at Trump Improv night at the Vermont Comedy Club a couple of blocks away. He has a natural comic timing.

Just to be non-partisan about this, the other day I was listening to Obama's gun-control photo-op at the White House, and he thanked Gabby Giffords, by explaining that her husband Mark's brother is an astronaut in outer space and he'd called just before Mark's last meeting at the White House but, not wishing to disturb the President, Mark didn't pick up. "Which made me feel kind of bad," said the President. "That's a long-distance call." As I was driving along, I remember thinking how brilliantly Obama delivered that line. He's not usually generous to others and he's too thin-skinned to be self-deprecating with respect to himself, but, when he wants to get laughs, he knows how to do it. Trump's is a different style: He's looser, and more freewheeling. He's not like Jeb - he doesn't need writers, and scripted lines; he has a natural instinct for where the comedy lies. He has a zest for the comedy of life.

To be sure, some of the gags can be a little - what's the word? - mean-spirited. The performance was interrupted by knots of protesters. "Throw 'em out!" barked Trump, after the first chants broke out. The second time it happened, he watched one of the security guys carefully picking up the heckler's coat. "Confiscate their coats," deadpanned Trump. "It's ten below zero outside." Third time it happened, he extended his coat riff: "We'll mail them back to them in a couple of weeks." On MSNBC, they apparently had a discussion on how Trump could be so outrageous as to demand the confiscation of private property. But in showbusiness this is what is known as a "joke". And in the theatre it lands: everyone's laughing and having a ball.

That's the point. I think it would help if every member of the pundit class had to attend a Trump rally before cranking out the usual shtick about how he's tapping into what Jeb called "angst and anger". Yes, Trump supporters are indignant (and right to be) about the bipartisan cartel's erasure of the southern border and their preference for unskilled Third World labor over their own citizenry, but "anger" is not the defining quality of a Trump night out. The candidate is clearly having the time of his life, and that's infectious, which is why his supporters are having a good time, too. Had Mitt campaigned like this, he'd be president. But he had no ability to connect with voters. Nor does Jeb ("I've been endorsed by another 27 has-beens") Bush.

~THE HORSE RACE: Trump always talks about the polls - or "the ratings", as he calls them. For example, he suggested it was time for Rand Paul to get out because his ratings are "horrible". Pundits complain that Trump spends time in his speeches scoffing at his rivals' numbers rather than laying out his ten-point plan for capital-gains tax reform. But these same pundits go on cable TV shows where the same polls are pored over in great detail - Carson's down five in Iowa, Christie's up three in New Hampshire. So presumably the media feel this horse-race stuff is of interest to their general audience. In that case, why shouldn't it be of interest to people so into it that they've spent all day lining up in freezing temperatures to see their preferred candidate? And Trump is funnier on the horse-race stuff than most of the professional analysts: He'd noticed in one poll that George Pataki had been at zero, but then he saw that next to the "0" was the "less than" symbol ("<"), and he wondered how that was even possible, even for George Pataki. That's a very endearing feature of his act: He's done Miss Universe and "The Apprentice" and he understands that the conventions of the nominating system are more ridiculous than either.

~MESSAGE DISCIPLINE: In fairness, he is (or was) actually competing against Pataki, and still is (just about) against Rand Paul. But he also did a couple of minutes on Martin O'Malley. He'd been talking about the crowds he's been getting, and he'd said that when he goes back home his wife asks him how the speech went and whether anyone was there. Because the cameras stay directly focused on him and never show the audience. And he thought at first this was because they were fixed and hammered into place - until a protester starts yelling and then suddenly the cameras are twisting around like pretzels, no matter what corner of the room they're in. Anyway, at some point, he mused on a Martin O'Malley rally at which apparently only one person showed up. So O'Malley talked with him one on one for an hour, and at the end a reporter asked the guy whether he would be supporting O'Malley. And the fellow said no.

And we all laughed, as did Trump.

Now, short of the mullahs nuking Hillary in Chappaqua and the following day Kim Jong-Un nuking Bernie in Burlington, there is no conceivable scenario in which Trump will be facing off against Martin O'Malley. So talking about him is a complete waste of time - and Karl Rove says that campaigning is all about the efficient use of the dwindling amount of time you have this close to Iowa and New Hampshire. So doing ten minutes of knee-slappers on Martin O'Malley is ten minutes you could have used to talk about Social Security reform that you'll never get back.

Maybe Rove is right. But as a practical matter it's led to the stilted robotic artificiality of the eternally on-message candidate - which is one of the things that normal people hate about politics. And Trump's messages are so clear that he doesn't have to "stay on" them. People get them instantly: On Thursday he did a little bit of audience participation. "Who's going to pay for the wall?" And everyone yelled back, "Mexico!" He may appear to be totally undisciplined, yet everyone's got the message. Likewise, his line on an end to Muslim immigration "until we can figure out what the hell's going on" is actually a subtle and very artfully poised way of putting it that generates huge applause. Trump has such a natural talent for "message" that it frees up plenty of time to do ten minutes of Martin O'Malley shtick.

~AUTHENTICITY: Traditionally in American politics the way you connect with voters is to pretend you're just as big a broken-down loser as they are. One recalls Lamar Alexander and his team flying in to Manchester, New Hampshire and just before touchdown changing out of their Brooks Brothers suits and button-down shirts into suspiciously pressed and unstained plaid. In this cycle, it's been John Kasich doing his slickly produced, soft-focus "son of a mailman" ads. So much presidential politicking is now complete bollocks, as rote and meaningless as English panto or Chinese opera conventions. Trump doesn't bother with any of that. Halfway through, he detoured into an aside about how he was now having to go around in an armored car, and how many rounds it could take before the window disintegrated, and how the security guys shove you in and let the reinforced door slam you in the ass. And the thing's ugly as hell. "If I win," sighed Trump, "I'll never ride in a Rolls-Royce ever again." And all around me guys who drive Chevy Silverados and women who drive Honda Civics roared with laughter. Usually, a candidate claims, like Clinton, to feel our pain, but, just for a moment there, we felt Trump's.

What is "authenticity" in contemporary politics? Is it a man who parlayed a routine Congressional career into a lucrative gig at Lehman Brothers presenting himself as the son of a mailman? Or is it a billionaire with a supermodel wife dropping the pretense that he's no different from you stump-toothed losers in the rusting double-wides? Trump's lack of pandering extends to America, too. He doesn't do the this-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-history-of-countries shtick that Mitt did last time round. He isn't promising, like Marco Rubio, a "second American century". His pitch is that the American dream is dead - which, for many Americans, it is. In 1980, Jimmy Carter's "malaise" was an aberration - a half-decade blip in three decades of post-war US prosperity that had enabled Americans with high school educations to lead middle-class lives in a three-bedroom house on a nice-sized lot in an agreeable neighborhood. In 2015, for many Americans, "malaise" is not a blip, but a permanent feature of life that has squeezed them out of the middle class. They're not in the mood for bromides about second American centuries: They'd like what's left of their own lifespan to be less worse.

That's the other quality on display: at certain points - for example, when Trump started talking about "beautiful Kate in San Francisco" being killed by an illegal immigrant - I turned around and saw men and women tearing up.

~IDEOLOGY: Is Trump "conservative"? Peggy Noonan:

Mr. Trump's supporters don't care if he's classically conservative. Doctrinal purity is not the story this year.

If the national GOP is a vehicle for ensuring that John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have a car and driver and a Gulf emir-sized retinue, then it's very effective. If it's a vehicle for advancing conservative principles, then it's a rusted-up lemon on cinder blocks. At an event with Newt Gingrich about a decade ago, one of my neighbors asked why the Republicans were so ineffectual. Newt said it was because they're still getting used to being the majority party. Somebody responded, "So the Iraqis are supposed to get the hang of self-government after six months, but the Republican Party still can't manage it after ten years?"

For many conservative voters, 2014 was the GOP's last chance, and they blew it. For those conservative voters whose priority is immigration, 2016 is America's last chance, and Trump's the only reason anyone's even talking about that.

~IT'S CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA: One of the loudest cheers came from another diversion in the midst of China trade talk or whatever: a pledge that under a Trump Administration people would be saying "Merry Christmas!" again. At a certain level it seems an odd thing to be talking about on January 7th, but in a broader sense it resonates because people understand that at the municipal, school and county level the culture wars never stop. Christmas concerts become "winter" and "holiday" concerts. Department stores issue elaborate instructions on approved seasonal greetings. School districts declare the American flag culturally insensitive. "Cinco de Mayo" is a wonderfully diverse and inclusive way of celebrating the Mexican contribution to America, but nobody thinks of marking "Victoria Day" to help Canadians feel welcome. Powerline's John Hinderaker has a note on whether or not Trump is aware that he can't sign an executive order abolishing gun-free zones in American schoolhouses. Yes, he knows that. But he also knows that using the bully pulpit to push back against the remorseless one-way cultural warfare of the left is one of the most powerful tools a president has - and one that, for example, President Bush chose not to use, to disastrous effect.

~THE DIFFERENCE: Trump has already demonstrated that he knows how to change the conversation. Peggy Noonan:

He changed the debate on illegal immigration. He said he'd build a wall and close the border and as the months passed and his competitors saw his surge, they too were suddenly, clearly, aggressively for ending illegal immigration.

At least until they can see him off, and get back to talking about "comprehensive reform" and bringing people "out of the shadows" and how family values "don't stop at the Rio Grande". But until then Trump has so dramatically moved the needle on this subject that in The New York Times Thomas L Friedman is now calling for "controlling low-skilled immigration".

He moved the meter on the "war on women", too. Mrs Clinton pulled out the card, and Trump flung it right back in her face with her sleazy sociopath of a husband's four decades of abuse against vulnerable women. Hillary's now backed off.

On Thursday, because of Obama, gun control was in the news. Trump's pushing back on that, too:

You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That's bait.

~THE WINNOWING: It's assumed by the GOP establishment that once the field narrows Trump will bump up against his natural ceiling. I think the opposite is true. Trump has essentially sat out these stupid ten-man TV debates and then resumed his rise once they're over. If it came down to a four- or three- or two-man race, the man I saw on Thursday night would be a formidable debate opponent. And I don't doubt he could hold his own against Hillary.

~THE END: What can stop Trump? The establishment want him gone, and are pinning their hopes on an alleged lack of precinct captains in the fiendishly difficult caucus state of Iowa. If that doesn't work, they're building a southern firewall. Peggy Noonan again:

In Virginia the state Republican Party wants a so-called loyalty oath in the March 1 presidential primary. Virginia is an open-primary state—any registered voter can vote in either primary—but the GOP apparently wants to discourage independents and Democrats from voting for Mr. Trump. So they've decided voters should sign a statement of affiliation with the GOP before they get to cast a ballot. This is so idiotic it's almost unbelievable. When Democrats and independents want to vote in your primary you should be happy. Politics is a game of addition! You want headlines that say "Massive GOP Turnout." You don't greet first-time voters with an oath but with cookies, ginger ale and balloons.

So, for all the post-2012 talk about outreach to Hispanics and gays, in the end the GOP would rather have the old, safe, depressed-turnout model than a bunch of first-time Republican voters coming in and monkeying about with their racket.

The headline in Friday's local paper read: "BURLINGTON TRUMPED". That's what his fans liked. In the liberal heart of a liberal state, the supporters streaming out of the Flynn Theatre, waving genially to the social-justice doofuses across the way, couldn't recall a night like it. Not in Vermont. In New Hampshire, sure. In South Carolina. But not in Vermont. It felt good to be taking it to the other side's turf. And they'd like a lot more of it between now and November.



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, January 11, 2016

Leftist hate and self-righteousness observed

To the man I sat next to on my way in to Boston:

When I boarded the commuter rail, you were already in the midst of a spirited phone conversation and didn’t seem to care about how loud you were talking. You were talking with someone about the Paris train attack and the growing epidemic of gun violence in America.

You spoke about the “murderous NRA” and “bloodthirsty gun nuts” who were causing our schools to “run red with blood.” You spoke profanely of the Republicans who opposed President Obama’s call for “sensible gun control,” and you lamented the number of “inbred redneck politicians” who have “infiltrated Capitol Hill.”

I found myself amazed at the irony of the situation. While you were spewing your venom, I sat quietly next to you with my National Rifle Association membership card in my wallet and my 9mm pistol in its holster. You were only 12 inches away from my legally owned semiautomatic pistol. I suppose I didn’t look like the “bloodthirsty gun nut” you thought I should be. It apparently didn’t register to you that I could so cleverly disguise myself by wearing a fleece coat, Patriots hat, and khakis.

So, to the angry liberal who sat next to me on the commuter rail: I don’t hate you. I don’t have any ill feelings toward you. I don’t wish to do you harm. And I don’t regret sitting next to you. On the contrary; I feel bad for you. It must hurt carrying that much hate inside of you.

You obviously have strong opinions about this hot topic. So, let me say this as plainly as I can: If a bad guy with a gun had decided to walk onto that train and start shooting people, I would have been prepared and able to use my gun to defend my own life and the lives of everyone else on that train, including yours. Although you may hate me, a gun owner, I would risk my life for you.

Opinions and ideologies make a pretty thin shield against the bullets of a madman. Your liberal self-righteousness and ignorance may have made you feel superior and comfortable, but during that 40-minute train ride to Boston, my gun kept you safe.



"Erosion", undermining Israel through lies and deception

REVIEW of a short and clear book aimed at the reclamation of the good name of the Jewish state

The year 2016 seems as though it will be more of the same, only more so.

Massacres, murders and mayhem in the West, massacres, murders and chaos in Syria, kidnappings in Africa, Shiite-Sunni violence (hopefully not the bomb), stabbings and shootings in Israel – and no one, except the Zionist Jews are able to see that there is a straight line leading from Islam to Islamists to Islamic terror in all of the above.

The world insists on separating Israel from the rest of the terror that is trying to destroy anyone who is deemed an infidel. That has happened because years of well funded Arab propaganda laced with a good dose of hereditary anti-Semitism have convinced people that there is "a reason, a rationale," as  US Foreign Secretary John Kerry egregiously explained after the Paris massacre, for killing Jews.

It wasn't always like that vis a vis the world and Israel, but worldwide support for Israel has eroded to the point where it is acceptable to talk about the disappearance of the Jewish state, a state voted into being by the United Nations, as if that is not such a terrible thing.  Delegitimization now poses an ominous threat and, as Per Ahlmark delineated: "In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who sought to make the world Judenrein, free of Jews, but today the most dangerous anti-Semites are those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, free of a Jewish state."

Thus, the new anti-Semitism differs from the old in that it is directed against the country of the Jews instead of against only individual Jews or communities – and has added new excuses for hate to its malevolent litany.

Since the world has not yet realized that the war against Israel's existence is part of the Islamic  war to conquer the world, with many believing the anti-Israel canards instead, it is important to gain tools to fight this new anti-Semitism.

How does one do this?  Professor Alex Grobman, whose advanced degrees in Contemporary Jewish History were earned at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, feels, correctly, that a good part of the solution lies in combating ignorance, by knowing the answers to the lies propagated about the Jewish State.

His book, "Erosion, Undermining Israel through Lies and Deception" is an easily read work of less than 100 pages (the thoroughly researched footnotes make it 115 pages altogether) that puts paid to the most serious of those lies. The book's title is an apt one – the early Zionists reclaimed a land whose soil had eroded for thousands of years, and now their progeny must reclaim Zionism's good name, eroded by clever propaganda machines.

Reading "Erosion" is important for giving informed self-confidence to those committed to the state of Israel, for giving them thoroughly backed-up answers to false accusations, but even more for those Jews and non-Jews who don't even realize that they are being fed lies.

The pro-Palestinian propaganda all sounds so plausible – and it works because most Westerners do not believe that someone will knowingly tell a lie, a big lie of historical magnitude or significance.  But that is just what the anti-Zionists (read anti-Semites), do. Witness the Palestinian Authority textbooks that claim that Israel rejected the UN Partition Plan. Today, who, except for historically conscious Zionists, remembers that Israel accepted that 2-state plan that created an impossibly small Jewish state and the Arabs rejected it out of hand? And if the books are not changed, that lie will be accepted as fact in another few years.

Ruth Wisse, as the writer quotes, has observed that even without that ill-fated partition plan, pre-1967 Israel had only 8000 square  miles and is the only homeland for the Jewish people.  That land's population is already 20.6 % Arab. The ratio of lands in Arab hands to that of Israel is 640:1. Why do the Arabs think they merit more, she asks? And why are the Arab conquests which resulted in that ratio forgotten, as they portray themselves as victims and Israel as the oppressor, Prof. Grobman adds.

And why does the world not realize that the war against Israel's existence, lies and all, is part of the Islamic  war to conquer the world?

The impetus for turning lies into "facts" is fueled by anti-Semitism, and its success has given rise to that new anti Semitism that transcends social systems, borders, ethnic groups and political affiliation.

British publicist Melanie Phillips said it succinctly: Israel inspires an obsessional hatred of a type and scale that is directed at no other country.

"Erosion" analyzes the facets of that obsession. It shows the reader clearly how double standards are applied when dealing with Israel and the rest of the world, a fact not realized by most observers who do not have comparisons at hand.

It draws the demarcation line on the far side of which criticism of Israel's actions is not true criticism, but unacceptable anti-Semitism.

The book leads to awareness of how cyberspace makes it easy to spread lies, to bring the crazies out of the closet and keep their messages of hate online.

The reader learns about the methods by which this is done, such as the "War of Analogy", Defense Minister Yaalon's term for comparing Israel to all that is reprehensible in history and human behavior, and how to combat these baseless lies. Especially spurious is the comparison to Nazis – and the ridiculous accusation of apartheid in a state where you have as much chance of being treated by an Arab doctor as by a Jewish one.

It tells about London's role in harboring anti-Israeli organizations, about how terrorist acts are far from random and about the civil rights masquerade, today's excuse for hating Jews.

The reader will understand what BDS, the third attempt to destroy Israel when wars and terror did not do the job, is really about.

And he will learn the truth about specific charges against Israel: The history of the water issue, a commodity scarce in this area of the world,  used as a weapon turned against Israel when the truth is exactly the opposite; the idea behind targeted killings of terrorists carried out by Israel, automatically condemned when they are actually the way to avoid civilian casualties; the rationale that built the security fence and checkpoints and their place in the context of world defense systems.

Readers of "Erosion" will find that the hour or two it takes to read this book will enrich their ability to defend Israel – to themselves and others  - immeasurably. And then they can look for the writers other books. I suggest starting with "BDS: the movement to destroy Israel", a discriminatory practice that the EU, chillingly aping Nazi Germany, has so recently embraced.



Cruz's Iowa Success Endangers Corn Lobby

Children of the corn?

Could the corn lobby’s stranglehold on political rhetoric be cracking? With just weeks until the Iowa caucuses, presidential candidate Ted Cruz is leading the field, polling at 31%. He’s also an aggressive critic of the ethanol mandate. Known as the Renewable Fuel Standard; the mandate requires a massive amount of ethanol be used in the nation’s gas supply, and it sends a very lucrative stream of money flowing to corn producers. And Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of the stuff.

Thus, Cruz’s lead has given the corn lobby a bit of heartburn. As the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney wrote, “If Cruz wins Iowa, especially if he wins big, it will confirm that the subsidies and mandates for ethanol are very important only to a sliver of the population (largely the lobbyists and executives of the giant agribusinesses that receive the lion’s share of the benefit). … If the ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, then the federal ethanol mandate is not long for this world.”

At the beginning of this presidential race, we saw the power the corn lobby had. In March, former candidate Scott Walker hired Liz Mair as a communications consultant but fired her hours later after the Iowa GOP machine skewered her because she wrote several tweets disparaging Iowa and how it hamstrung national policy. Reading between the lines, she was clearly referencing subsidies for ethanol. Meanwhile, the great ethanol boondoggle is an inefficient waste of food and natural resources all in the pursuit of corny science.

Update: “The RFS is scheduled to expire in 2022,” Cruz said in Cherokee, Iowa. “When I said we should phase it out, I said it should be a five-year phase out. A phase-out from 2017 to 2022 is a five-year phaseout.”



Last Year, Murder Spiked in Liberal Cities

The nation’s largest cities and bastions of liberal government are supposed to be the cities on the hills, the shining examples of how compassionately the Left can govern, right? But the crime statistics coming out of places like Washington, DC, Baltimore and Chicago tell a different story.

While overall crime is down, homicides across the nation spiked in 2015. For example, 344 homicides occurred in Baltimore last year. Most of these crimes were black-on-black crime committed with firearms and, as Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw notes, most of these crimes happened after the Freddie Gray incident.

In Chicago, police are shooting fewer people, but that comes as Chicago residents are shooting each other more, as about 3,000 people were shot in the Windy City in 2015. As with many questions of crime statistics, the story behind the numbers is murkier than a blanket assessment that the protests over policing have had a chilling effect over the ability for law enforcement to do its job.

2015 saw the rise of a heroin epidemic and gangs jumped into the emerging black market, for example. While liberals worry about greenways and clean energy, they forget the basics of governance. Primarily, government’s foremost task is providing general safety. And the bottom line is that guns aren’t the problem; leftist policies are.



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, January 10, 2016

Is there an inverse relationship between caution and emotionality?

I think it stands to reason that there is.  Emotion can easily make you throw caution to the winds and you need to be pretty  level-headed to be cautious.  Caution is about thinking ahead and weighing up the possibilities. And that requires cool reflection.  You cannot reasonably do that in the heat of emotions

And that explains something basic about the Left-Right divide.  Conservatives have always characterized themselves as cautious -- as wary of rushing into things -- whereas Leftists are clearly in the grip of strong emotions and throw caution to the winds.  I think we can show that Leftist beliefs and policies make no rational sense but they do make emotional sense. An example of emotionality that any conservative blogger will be familiar with is the choleric rage that Leftists hurl at him or her in the form of emails and online comments.  By contrast, conservatives are less emotional and are thus able to provide an anchor of rationality to public discourse.

The Leftist obsession over equality can only be called a passion.  Equality between different people has never happened, cannot happen and will not happen.  But a push for equality pervades Leftist thinking and policy.  And Leftist are prepared to break heads to achieve their aim of equality. From the French revolution to Soviet Russia and Maoist China they slaughtered millions in support of the deeply felt need for equality that they obviously felt.

Soviet Russia was in fact grossly elitist. Only the Nomenklatura had access to living standards that were normal in the West.  The rest of the population lived very restricted lives with abysmal accommodation and very limited choice of food and clothing.  Even mass murder could not carve a path to equality.  But Russian Leftists were prepared to go to that length to achieve it.

And global warming is another belief that can only be explained by an emotional commitment.  The correlation between global temperature and CO2 levels has repeatedly been shown to be zilch yet Leftists still believe that CO2 causes warming.

And, of course, conservatives are often amazed by the way in which no presentation of facts can budge the beliefs of a Leftist.  You can't reason with emotions.  A Leftist's beliefs serve his emotional needs so a presentation of facts that challenge that belief is met with anger rather than interest.  So the conservative habit of opposing Leftist beliefs with facts is futile.  In doing that, one is challenging deeply felt emotional needs.  The Leftist NEEDS to believe the crazy things he does in order to legitimate deeds and policies that he NEEDS to carry out.

What the emotions are will of course be variable.  Many Leftist voters are presumably genuinely compassionate people who are so deeply moved by what they see as evils in the world about them that they will vote for ANY policy that purports to ameliorate the evil concerned.

Leftist leaders, on the other hand, may start out that way but because of their greater involvement with the issues concerned will either become wiser and swing Right (as Churchill and Reagan did) or will become bitter and angry at the impossibility of great change in the world's existing arrangements -- and will conclude that no progress towards the Good is possible until the whole existing system is smashed -- which is what drove the French and Russian revolutions.  The Leftist becomes so frustrated at the impossibility of bringing about his dream world that he comes to hate the existing world and to be angry at those who enable or defend it.

So I predict that if a good measure of emotionality can be devised it will be shown to differentiate the Left and Right well. Conservatives will be shown to have milder emotions that enable them to think things through while Leftists will be shown to be emotion dominated.  And I am sure that there are degrees of both orientations and that both extremes are maladaptive.  I have met  Right-leaning people who are so emotionally insensitive that  they are social misfits.  And I have met very emotional Leftists who are a neurotic mess.

Self-report measures of emotionality

There are of course some existing self-report measures of emotionality but self-report measures of politically-relevant variables cannot withstand the characteristic Leftist talent for defensiveness, particularly the defences of compartmentalization and denial.  Leftists are largely incapable of admitting anything dismal or adverse in their thinking.  They usually cannot admit their anger and the bleak thoughts it inspires.

I found just that in my many years of research into attitudes to authority.  I have probably done more published research on that than anyone else alive or dead.  A liking for authority is definitional of Leftism, with Communist countries being the indubitable example of that.  But even in Western countries it is Leftists who are the big advocates of more and more government control over practically everything we do.  They need central power to bring about the changes they want.

Their latest craze is to cut off all reliable sources of electricity in the name of their global warming fantasy.  But no-one in the modern world would voluntarily leave themselves without a reliable source of electricity. So the big problem for Leftists is that, left to themselves, people don't behave in the way that Leftists dream of. So they must be FORCED to do as the Leftist wants.

And only a very strong central government can achieve that.  Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian.  Mr Obama's declaration on February 16, 2008, that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America was nothing if not authoritarian. And what could be more authoritarian than one of the more intelligible utterances of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the founder of European Leftism and  guru to Karl Marx? Hegel said:  "All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State."

And, just judging by what they advocate, a Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not

So in questionnaires about attitude to authority Leftists should show a distinct tendency to approve of authority, even a love of it.  But they don't. I repeatedly found in my surveys that Leftists were no more likely to approve of authority than were conservatives. And the reason for that is plain.  Authoritarianism has a bad name.  Everyone knows about Communist brutality. So putting yourself anywhere in that league is resisted.  If they are to have any credibility or popularity at all, Leftists have a desperate need to dissociate themselves from authoritarianism.  So any liking for big authority has to be denied.

The denial is so strong and so fundamental that even social desirability indexes don't pick it up. Leftists genuinely believe that they are good people and don't think they are faking anything in claiming that. The evil side of their wishes is brushed aside into a compartment that they don't enter. They don't confront the viciousness of which they are capable. They desperately need to think well of themselves, as T.S. Eliot observed long ago. My hypothesis can only reasonably be tested neurologically

There does seem to be real progress in an understanding of the brain so it's possible that my neurological theory above will one day be confirmed. I think I have shown that it explains a lot


This is the charming Far-Leftist that Britain nearly got as Prime Minister

The charmer is Ed Miliband.  His father was Ralph Miliband  -- a Polish Jewish expert on Karl Marx -- and Ed did not fall far from the tree.  Ed is the former leader of the British Labour Party -- who was routed at the last British general election. Lucky Britain



Trump speaks simple sense on guns

Donald Trump wasn't going to wait until Barack Obama's charade of a 2nd Amendment townhall was over to challenge the President's radical anti-gun policy and the worst inclinations of the authoritarian left:

    "As President Obama was at a CNN town hall meeting discussing his passion for gun control, Donald Trump vowed to end gun-free zones.

    The billionaire presidential candidate was hosting a campaign rally in Burlington, Vermont at the same time as Obama’s televised meeting, juxtaposing the two events.

    Perhaps it was no mistake then that Trump chose to talk about gun control at the end of his speech.

    “I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools — you have to — and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed. My first day – there’s no more gun free zones,” Trump told supporters as they cheered wildly"

    Trump pointed out that gun-free zones were dangerous because they attracted people considering a mass shooting.

    “You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko?” Trump asked. “That’s bait.”

    He lamented that soldiers were killed by terrorists in a military recruitment center and at a military base because they were not allowed to have weapons – even though they were trained to use firearms.

This is common sense to most Americans outside of the Beltway and the coasts. Good for Trump for understanding.



Confirmed: Obama Let Terrorist Refugees into the Country!

Yesterday, two Middle Eastern refugees were arrested here in the United States on terrorism charges.

Remember when the Left said that there weren’t ever any refugees in the United States arrested for terrorism? We just had two in one day.

And they weren’t connected, mind you. One arrest was made Sacramento, CA and the other was made in Houston, TX. These were two separate lone wolf incidents.

These men came into the country as refugees, underwent “rigorous” background checks according to the President, and then turned to jihad. The fact that we caught them is a miracle.

In the coming week, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have promised a vote on a bill to block Middle Eastern refugees from entering the country until full background checks are guaranteed. The President says that the system is good enough and he’s ok with terrorists slipping through.

This is madness!

Both of the men arrested are Palestinians who were born in Iraq. One of them came to the United States in 2009 and the other in 2012.

They were here for years. One agent working on the case has come out and said that their arrest has saved countless lives.

This isn’t about racism. This isn’t about sticking it to a certain group of people and spitefully keeping them out.

Listen… at the end of the day, before you go to bed, you lock your front door. Is it because you hate everyone on the outside? Of course not. You lock your doors because you love everyone on the inside.

We, as a country, need to lock our door and only open it when we know exactly who is trying to get in.

How many more terrorist refugees are already here? How many are concealing themselves and are currently in the application process?

We have said it from the beginning, that even allowing one terrorist to slip through would be a complete failure. Well, the FBI just arrested two in one day.

The American SAFE Act passed Congress with a veto-proof majority earlier in the year. It is up to you and every other patriotic American to hold Congress’ feet to the fire and force members in both parties to vote for this bill!

They passed the bill once already. Demand that Congress halt refugee entries until the Obama administration certifies the background checks!

The Director of the FBI has admitted that the background check system is incomplete and that they cannot fully weed out terrorists. You can’t just pick up the phone and ask the Syrian government for records. There is a civil war ravaging the country. The arrests in Houston and Sacramento prove that terrorists slip through.

We’re just starting to learn of the brutality facing many European communities after letting in unlimited numbers of unvetted refugees. Groups of Arab men roam the streets mugging and sexually assaulting their victims. That is what Obama plans on bringing here.

The fact of the matter is that Obama is moving forward anyway, knowing that he is allowing terrorists into the US anyway, all in the name of political correctness. It isn’t a lot to ask that we verify the identities and intentions of people we let into this country. But Obama won’t delay. He’s on a mission to bring as many of them here as possible and he doesn’t care how many terrorists slip through.



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)