Friday, February 26, 2016

Clinton stirs up race hatred

Any problem blacks have is due to white racism, apparently

"I believe strongly that we have to deal with systemic racism, and systemic racism is found in our criminal justice system, it's found in housing, in job opportunities, in eduation," Hillary Clinton told a Democrat town hall in South Carolina Tuesday night.

"It's also cultural," she said. "And so there are barriers that people are encountering that I think we need to be honest about."

Clinton said one of those barriers is the refusal of some states to expand Medicaid: "In this state, your (Republican) governor, legislature wouldn't extend Medicaid, and so people can't get the health care that they deserve to have."

The exchange on race began when a black woman stood up and told Clinton, "Recently I started wearing my hair natural...and I've noticed a difference in the way some people address and look at me." She asked Clinton, "What do you intend to do to  help fix the broken racial relations in our nation?"

"Well, Kyla, first of all, thank you for being so candid and brave to stand up and say this about yourself, because I think it really helps to shine a spotlight on what are one of the many barriers that still stand in the way of people feeling like they can pursue their own dreams, they can be who they are, they can have the future that they want in our country," Clinton said.

Clinton talked about meeting with five "mothers of the movement" (black lives matter), "who have lost children to police actions and to random senseless gun violence."

"These are the bravest women," Clinton said. "And there's no doubt that in each case...there is a racial component to it.

"A young black teenager, 17 years old playing the music in his car too loud with a bunch of his friends, and white guy comes up and tells him to turn the music down. They exchange words, the man pulls out his gun and kills him.

"So, we have serious challenges, and I think it's important for people -- and particularly for white people, to be honest about those, and to recognize that our experiences may not equip us to understand what a lot of our African American fellow citizens go through every single day.

"So, for me, when I talk about breaking down all the barriers that stand in the way of people's ambitions and dreams, racism, along with economic issues, educational issues, and all the rest, have to be addressed. Otherwise, we are never going to be the nation we should be. We're never going to overcome our legacy -- dating back to slavery, segregation, Jim Crow.

"It is still, unfortunately, alive and well, and you've got places in this state where an African American baby has a higher rate of dying than you have in a lot of other places. The infant mortality rate can be compared to some third world poor countries, you know?

In this state, your governor, legislature wouldn't extend Medicaid, and so people can't get the health care that they deserve to have.

"So, I think there are a lot of barriers that we have to be honest about, and I think honesty and willingness to listen to each other, actually respect each other, would go a long way toward us rolling up our sleeves and dealing with a lot of these issues. And giving you the feeling that you have a right to wear your hair anyway you want to. That's your right.

"As somebody who has had, you know, a lot of different hairstyles...I say that from some personal experience."

Clinton said the "answer" is to "figure out how we're going to lift up the good practices, reform policing, provide more support so that force is a last resort, not a first choice, and that means helping to train police so that when they go out on the street -- I'm sure they're nervous and scared too."



Entrance poll: Strong desire for outsider drives Trump win in Nevada

A clear majority of those attending the Nevada caucuses want the next president to be from outside the political establishment, driving businessman Donald Trump to victory.

The 6 in 10 caucus-goers who said they prefer an outsider over someone with political experience was a higher percentage than in any other GOP primary or caucus so far, according to the entrance poll conducted for the Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

But in a silver lining for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, he earned majority support from those who'd rather have the next president be someone with political experience. That made him the first candidate to consolidate that support in any early primary or caucus state.

Among those arriving at Nevada's Republican caucuses Tuesday, nearly 6 in 10 said they are angry at the way the government is working, according to the entrance poll. Another third of caucus attendees said they are dissatisfied with the government.

That means Nevada caucus-goers were significantly angrier than Republicans in earlier primary and caucus states. Only about 4 in 10 of those participating in Iowa's caucuses or New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries said they were angry.

Trump was supported by about half of the angry Nevada caucus attendees. Among those who said they were merely dissatisfied, Trump held a somewhat smaller lead over Rubio, with Trump supported by about 4 in 10 and Rubio by about a third.

Nevada caucus-goers were also significantly more likely than those in earlier voting states to want a political outsider as the next president, and those who did overwhelmingly supported Trump. More than half of those wanting someone with political experience supported Rubio.

About 4 in 10 Nevada caucus-goers were born-again Christians, but they failed to give much of a bump to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has campaigned hard for their support. In fact, about 4 in 10 of them supported Trump. Even Rubio caught Cruz among that group, with about a quarter of evangelicals supporting each.

Cruz came closest to Trump among those calling themselves very conservative, who accounted for about 4 in 10 caucus-goers. But Trump was supported by half of those who said they were only somewhat conservative, and more than half of moderates.

Trump was supported by an overwhelming majority — nearly 9 in 10 — of those caring most about having a candidate who "tells it like it is" and by 6 in 10 who wanted a candidate who can bring change. Rubio was supported by about half those who cared most about electability.

Cruz was favored among those wanting someone who shares their values, but by a narrower margin — about 4 in 10 supported him, while about a quarter supported Rubio and 2 in 10 supported Trump.

About 3 in 10 said the quality that mattered most in choosing a candidate was someone who shared their values. That's slightly more than said they want a candidate who can win in November or who can bring change, each chosen by about a quarter of caucus attendees.

Caucus attendees were most likely to say the top issues facing the country are the economy or government spending, each listed by about 3 in 10. Immigration and terrorism were each chosen by slightly fewer — about 2 in 10.

Trump was supported by about 6 in 10 of those who said they care most about immigration



Win not confined to one or two demographics

Contrary to early Democrat claims.  He even got 45% of Latino Republicans

“Actually, I won everything,” Donald Trump said this week, after his victory in South Carolina and before his rout in Nevada. “I won short people, tall people. I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, okay educated, and practically not educated at all. I won the evangelicals big and I won the military.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner was, broadly speaking, correct. After his third consecutive victory, one that puts him on course to win the Republican nomination for the White House, it is less useful to ask who is voting for him than who isn’t.

The only state he didn’t win was Iowa, where he came second.

In New Hampshire; South Carolina; and, on Tuesday, Nevada, Trump did not just win resoundingly by leveraging one or two types of conservative voter. Entrance polls reveal he triumphed by drawing on a pool of voters as wide as it was deep.

Who are Trump supporters? Insofar as the Republican electorate goes, the answer, for the moment at least, seems to be everyone.



Why a Millennial like me appreciates the Reagan legacy

By Kent Kellar

I remember where I was when Ronald Reagan died almost twelve years ago. I was more ambivalent than sad to receive the news from the radio. I was born during the last twelve months of the Reagan’s term. The first president I remember was Bill Clinton, who my blue collar parents voted for. Why would I identify with someone I did not remember?

To tell you that, I first have to tell you how my family became conservative.

In the nineties, my parents eventually soured on the Clintons, shocked that these people were going to take over their healthcare. As a couple years went on, and scandals blossomed into impeachment hearings, the Howard house, like so much of Missouri, came to distrust Democrats. A couple years later, we awoke to see New York and the Pentagon on fire, and suddenly the President that was barely better than Al Gore became someone special to us; George W. Bush became someone we trusted as we were saddened and sobered by the realities of terrorism and war.

While I was still too young, the rest of my family voted for Bush in 2004. We weren’t conservative ideologues, but we knew America wouldn’t be in safe hands if it were left to John Kerry. In 2005, my dad gave us a treat, and added us to his XM radio package. At 17, while the news cycle was spinning, I turned on Sean Hannity to hear a different perspective on the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, when the media was attacking President Bush as if he personally caused the disaster.

I was hooked, as talk radio opened my world to a new perspective on what was going on around me. Sean Hannity was just the gateway drug. Mark Levin filled in for him that Christmas Eve, before Levin himself had been nationally syndicated, and suddenly I was listening to him every night online; he started out on just four stations. From there, I even started listening to Rush Limbaugh, finding that the reproach on talk radio was not valid, but a product of others’ disdain.reagan podium

These men, derided as entertainers, introduced me not only to my conservatism, but to the best President of their lifetime, Ronald Reagan. The first time I heard Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech was on the Mark Levin Show. Like the generation before me, I was blown away by his common sense, humor and belief in preserving American freedom, under assault by foreign ideas believed in both distant capitals, and our own. Without Mark Levin, and his belief in the Reagan legacy, I probably would not have heard it.

Ronald Reagan, as a public figure and as President, influenced these men in numerous ways, giving them the courage and confidence to devote their lives to a greater ideal, America. Not the America that the left caricatured as a horrible place, but the real America, where hard work pays off and success is attainable, not immoral.

I didn’t have to hide under my desk in Cold War era drills or live in fear of nuclear annihilation. I wasn’t drafted to stand guard against a communist invasion, or be sent to a warzone where communists were trying to subjugate the next country. More to my circumstance — I had articulate people on the radio to offer me an alternative to so many misguided interpretations of my surroundings, because the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that muzzled alternatives to liberal media was gone. I have President Reagan to thank for that.

In this election, so many of Millennials’ minds are held captive by socialism, the envious notion that was imported from Europe by the American left. In this time for choosing, the only way to break the bonds of their captivity is to show them that the freedom they crave is incompatible with a state that would manage their lives. In order to do that, they need to choose from bold colors, not pale pastels, to quote Reagan’s speech to Young Americans for Freedom in 1975.

To this day, none of my household supports left-wing candidates anymore. The ripple effect of the Reagan legacy matters. If it could change the course of my life, it could change the course of other millennials too.



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, February 25, 2016

Oh frabjous joy:  A psychological attack on Trump supporters!

Some PR guy has claimed that the big thing characterizing Trump supporters is authoritarianism.  Since I have had more papers on authoritarianism published in the academic journals than anyone else, I am in a good position to comment on this scurrilous attack on Trump supporters.

The article is: "The best predictor of Trump support isn't income, education, or age. It's authoritarianism" -- by Matthew MacWilliams.

Calling conservatives "authoritarian" is of course a very old Leftist slur -- tracing back to the writings of Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno and his friends in 1950.  The Adorno work has been pretty thoroughtly demolished but the accusation still pops up occasionally.

It's a tremendous example of projection that Leftists see conservatives as being authoritarian.  What could be more authoritarian than Communism or trying to "thoroughly transform" America?

Psychologists customarily measure authoritarianism in people by asking them a set of questions that allegedly indicate it. Exactly what questions MacWilliams asked he does not give but he does say that they were based on a set that have been going around for some time.

That set asks respondents to choose between paired items indicating preferences for child-rearing values. Respondents were asked to indicate which characteristic is more desirable: (1)  respect for elders or independence; (2) obedience or self-reliance; (3) good manners or curiosity.

So the questions are in fact about child-rearing.  They are not about attitude to authority or authoritarian behaviour.  It's possible that such attitudes about child rearing generalize to various authorities or types of authority but that is not shown.  It is an assertion, not a fact.

So what Mac found was simple:  Trump supporters tend to have old-fashioned views about child-rearing.  Who is to say that that is bad?  Are the permissively treated and drug-addled snowflakes of today better off than the children of yesteryear?  It would take a bold person to assert it, I think.

Even that finding does however have doubts hanging over it.  The set of questions is ipsatively scored:  They don't allow people to choose BOTH alternatives.  That can lead to very distorted findings.  I have written in the journals about such problems on several occasions -- e.g. here.  From a psychometric viewpoint, I would recommend that Mac's work be disregarded.


FBI Had a Way to Circumvent Farook's Passcode

This is of course a privacy issue and I would normally agree that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.  But with an out-of-control administration even the innocent have something to fear -- so I am in favour of hobbling their intrusions in all ways possible.  I certainly wouldn't buy a used car from them

Amidst the FBI’s demands that Apple create software to break the security the tech company engineered into the iPhone, the underreported fact is that the government bungled its initial attempts to access the cell phone the San Bernardino County Health Department gave to eventual terrorist Syed Farook. The first mistake was the county didn’t set up the phone so that it had administrative access over the device. If it had taken that preemptive step, investigators could have easily gathered everything the phone could provide.

The second mistake was hours after the shooting when San Bernardino, working with the FBI, reset the phone’s iCloud password, allowing investigators to see the data the phone was automatically backing up to a remote location on Apple’s servers. Problem was, the last time the phone updated to iCloud was on Oct. 19 — weeks before the Dec. 2 shooting. There was information still on the phone. Investigators [could have teased that information from the phone by turning on the phone’s automatic updates, going to a location frequented by Farook and the device would have automatically sent information to iCloud. Voilà! With the recent information in the cloud, then investigators could have reset Farook’s iCloud password. Instead, the government is trying to force Apple to destroy the security protocols it has built into its current devices because a series of government mistakes.



Victory as Senate Stops Obama

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's untimely death, thousands of activists reached out to their elected representatives to send a message: any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court would be unacceptable. It looks like the Senate Judiciary Committee got the message loud and clear:

    The Republican Senators in charge of the Judiciary Committee just made a bold announcement after a closed door meeting today: There will be NO confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!

    The meeting took place on the first full session day since Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13th.

    This is a crushing defeat for the Obama White House, as the President is hopeful to leave a legacy on the Supreme Court that could spend the next 20-40 years enacting his radical left-wing agenda...

Special thanks to President Obama, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden for providing the intellectual basis for conservatives to make this move.



Democrat Double Standards

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, the villany Democrats teach, Republicans will execute, and it shall go hard but they will better the instruction. It wasn’t so long ago that the power was flipped in the Senate.

George W. Bush controlled the White House and Democrats controlled the upper chamber from 2001 to 2003. Bush nominated 32 judges during that time. Not one of them even made it to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing. In 2005, Democrats — including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton — filibustered the nomination of Samuel Alito. That same quintet is now leading the chorus calling for the Republican-controlled Senate to do its “constitutional duties” and rubber stamp whomever Obama nominates.

When Bush had a year and six months left in his last term, Sen. Chuck Schumer said unless something extraordinary happened, the Senate shouldn’t approve any Bush nominee. Going back to the last few weeks of George H.W Bush’s administration, Biden said Bush shouldn’t nominate anyone until after the 1992 presidential election was completed — the same thing Republicans are saying to Obama. But now that he’s co-captain in the Oval Office, Biden conveniently insists, “Nearly a quarter century ago, in June 1992, I gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court. Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.”

When members of the current administration occupied seats in the Senate, its views on the Senate’s role in the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice was robust. After all, the Senate offers its consent and advice, per the Constitution. But the Democrats' interpretation of the Constitution changes with the political winds.



Conservative Victory in the Nation's Most Liberal State?

In a surprising recent poll, the lead candidate to replace ultra liberal Senator Barbara Boxer is....

Condoleeza Rice. As Breitbart notes:

    The leader in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in America’s most liberal state is… Republican Condoleezza Rice, according to a new Field Pollreleased Wednesday. Rice, the former Secretary of State and Stanford don, is backed by 49% of voters–ahead of Attorney General Kamala Harris, the liberal Democrat who was the first to declare. The poll, which sampled 972 likely voters in California, presented respondents with a list of 18 potential candidates and asked if they “would be inclined or not inclined to vote for that person,” with no limit on the number they could support.

Rice led among both male and female voters, and did well among Latino voters, though the top choice for Latinos remains former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Rice and Harris each polled 74% among their respective political parties.

    Rice has shown no political ambitions since leaving the Bush administration, though she spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention and is frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential contender. She is considered a moderate on many issues, including immigration, though she is disliked by the left for her relatively hawkish views on foreign policy.

Conservative activists have known this for quite some time, and there is a groundswell of support. Conservative Action Fund's Draft Condi collected thousands of signatures urging Condi to run. Theoretically, her candidacy would provide the GOP with the perfect opportunity to turn deep blue California purple.

Will she change her mind?



Here’s Why Insurance Premiums Are ‘High and Rising’ for Obamacare Enrollees

Rising health insurance premiums under Obamacare will continue to hit Americans this year, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

“High and rising premiums for private health insurance are a matter of concern for [Obamacare] enrollees. They also affect the federal budget, because the federal government subsidizes most premiums—directly or indirectly—at a cost of roughly $300 billion in fiscal year 2016,” the CBO said.

The nonpartisan agency and the staff of Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation projected that in 2016, “the average premium for an employment-based insurance plan will be about $6,400 for single coverage and about $15,500 for family coverage.”

By 2025, they predict, average premiums for employment-based coverage will cost about 60 percent more than this year under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Average premiums for individually purchased coverage aren’t expected to be as high, “mostly because nongroup coverage is less extensive and thus requires enrollees to make higher out-of-pocket payments when they receive care,” according to the Feb. 11 report.

The CBO, a nonpartisan agency, produces “independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the congressional budget process.”

“Notwithstanding the exemptions, the [individual] mandate significantly reduces average premiums … by encouraging healthier people to obtain insurance, which lowers average spending on health care among the insured population,” the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation found.

However, the report says Obamacare regulations still will “increase premiums noticeably in the nongroup market,” and those affected represent only a small fraction of the private insurance market.

A 2009 analysis by the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation found that regulations similar to those of the Affordable Care Act would increase nongroup premium costs by 27 percent to 30 percent this year, “although other provisions would have reduced premiums.”

“This was their stance in 2009 and little has changed, as we observe increased premiums in the [insurance] exchanges and rising deductibles in many types of insurance,” Drew Gonshorowski, a senior health policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

“The CBO again reaffirms that regulations within the [Affordable Care Act] drive up premiums,” Gonshorowski said.

The report also notes that the increase in premiums will cause employment-based insurance tax exemptions to cost more than $250 billion in fiscal year 2016 and about $40 billion for those who buy on Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.

Gonshorowski and Ed Haislmaier, Heritage’s senior research fellow in health policy, noted in a study that premiums jumped by 9 percent on average because of the health care law’s benefit mandates—which cover “essential health benefits” and “preventive services.”

If Congress eliminated the benefit mandates and requirements, the researchers estimated, “premiums for younger adults could be reduced by as much as 44 percent, and premiums for preretirement-age adults could decrease by about 7 percent.”



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, February 24, 2016

Peggy Noonan on the Left

It's a pretty good explanation for the Trump rebellion

There is something increasingly unappeasable in the left. This is something conservatives and others have come to fear, that progressives now accept no limits. We can’t just have court-ordered legalized abortion across the land, we have to have it up to the point of birth, and taxpayers have to pay for it. It’s not enough to win same-sex marriage, you’ve got to personally approve of it and if you publicly resist you’ll be ruined. It’s not enough that we have publicly funded contraceptives, the nuns have to provide them.

This unappeasable spirit always turns to the courts to have its way.

If progressives were wise they would step back, accept their victories, take a breath and turn to the idea of solidifying gains, of heroic patience, of being peaceable.

Don’t make them bake the cake. Don’t make them accept the progressive replacement for Scalia. Leave the nuns alone.

Progressives have no idea how fragile it all is. That’s why they feel free to be unappeasable. They don’t know what they’re grinding down.

They think America has endless give. But America is composed of humans, and they do not have endless give.

Isn’t that what we’re seeing this year in the political realm? That they don’t have endless give? And we’ll be seeing more of it.



The Rise of Intolerant Liberals

Why have liberals become so intolerant? They think nothing of denying someone as prominent as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from speaking on a college campus. They embrace activists who shut down speakers. They publicly shame people for the slightest deviation from liberal orthodoxy.

For them everything from science to the law is “settled” once they get into power. Progress is a one-way street. Their mindset is the very definition of closed-mindedness.

The easy answer would be “they are all bad people.” But frankly that’s a cop-out. Not all liberals are bad people, any more than all conservatives are angels. No doubt among the fevered minions of liberal activists there are people with, shall we say, psychological issues, but that doesn’t explain why so many otherwise reasonable people are so beholden to liberalism as an ideology.

The short answer is that it pays. A lot of people in and out of government benefit. Liberalism also makes people feel good. Whether you are politician dispensing government benefits or the citizen receiving them, liberalism hides the self-interest and sometimes even greed that motivate people.

But the devolution of liberalism into something now openly illiberal has causes far more complex than these familiar explanations provide.

For one thing, liberalism is no longer mainly about ideas. It is about power—as in who has it and who doesn’t. Believing they already know the answers to all questions, liberals view politics and governing as mopping up operations.

Academic research is about proving a point rather than discovering the truth. Science is treated as the private preserve of a certain ideology, not to mention a political weapon to justify preferred policy outcomes. Mistaking as they do their ideology for morality, they see no reason to shun the most cynical of political tactics to get their way. For them, the end justifies the means.

Second, liberalism today is not the liberalism of yesteryear. It’s not Franklin Roosevelt’s or John Kennedy’s liberalism. It’s not even the liberalism of Bill Clinton. It has become something much more radical. Bill Clinton talked about the “era of big government” being over.

Today, there is virtually no government program that liberals won’t embrace. Clinton had his Sister Souljah moment when he repudiated extremism in his party. Today liberals can’t get close enough to the “black lives matter” movement.

Third, liberals have surrendered to (some would say created) the nasty culture of intolerance that infuses our popular culture. To this extent, they are not at all different from some self-proclaimed right-wing people who do the same. But the difference is—or at least is supposed to be—that liberals profess to be the party of the open mind. They have become anything but.

Now that they control so many of our institutions—our universities, high-tech corporate board rooms, the entertainment industry, and increasingly even mainstream churches—they are closing the door behind them, making sure that no one, especially conservatives, will sneak in the back door.

Finally, liberalism has become hostile to open inquiry. Liberal intellectuals used to love open-ended debates because they thought they could win people over with their intelligence and wit. No more. Today’s liberal intellectuals are much more interested in stifling debates than having them. After all, who needs debates when all the big questions have been answered by their ideology? Liberals are no longer the scruffy radicals of Washington Square, but a tenured Mandarin class hotly competing for government research grants.

As I argue in my forthcoming book, “The Closing of the Liberal Mind,” to this Mandarin class:

    Knowledge, like human progress, must be created and managed by state policy, bureaucratized and forced on all people equally despite the infinite differences that exist between individual human beings. It is a sad state of affairs, especially for intellectuals who are expected to know better.

There’s an old saying, he who controls knowledge controls power. Liberals get this adage instinctively. They treat truth not as wisdom—as something to be discovered—but as a will to power to be imposed by law and governmental fiat.

In this quest for power, they have become masters at controlling not only knowledge, but popular culture. For example, when Americans watch entertainers like Jon Stewart, they don’t see an ideologue channeling liberal clichés. They see just a really funny guy. The ideology is completely buried. Young people respond in lockstep not because they were indoctrinated by some boring Maoist, but because they think the whole thing is great fun.

What we have here is nothing less than a new and highly attractive form of illiberalism—an illiberal liberalism, if you will. Intolerance is championed in the name of tolerance, closed-mindedness in the name of open-mindedness, and hatred in the name of compassion. It’s classic double-think, and the deception is precisely the danger. Americans don’t expect liberals to be authoritarian wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are not prepared to be on guard all the time because liberals are supposed to be the good guys—the guardians of freedom of speech and the like.

Alas, they are not. Just ask Condi Rice or anyone else who has been denied the opportunity to speak on an American campus.



Obama’s Visit to Cuba Betrays America’s Commitment to Freedom

When President Barack Obama arrives in Havana next month, he will be greeted by an old-school autocrat, hungry for resources to sustain his oppressive regime. His visit will do little to improve the lives of every day Cubans, but it will significantly strengthen the regime that rules them at gunpoint.

It is clear that human rights are not at the forefront of the administration’s Cuba policy, so this rapprochement will do little else besides lend unearned legitimacy to a murderous dictatorship.

No sitting U.S. president has set foot on Cuban soil since Calvin Coolidge visited the democratically elected Cuban President Gerardo Machado in 1928.

The reason: For over half a century, the island nation has been ruled by a military dictatorship born from a bloody revolution and preserved through foreign-subsidized repression.

Led by Raúl Castro, the Cuban regime has murdered, imprisoned, and silenced countless of its own citizens. Internationally, it has actively worked to undermine democracy in the Americas, using its puppet in Venezuela to incubate and spread the anti-democratic disease that ails most of the Western Hemisphere.

This cavalier behavior has compromised America’s stance abroad. Lending recognition to the Cuban regime betrays American values and sends the wrong message to both our allies and adversaries. His administration’s continued unilateral concessions have emboldened the regime and undermined the democratic efforts it oppresses. How can America justify crossing oceans in the defense of liberty if it chooses to ignore abuses occurring less than 90 miles away from our shores.

When asked about visiting Cuba in a December 2015 interview, Obama said he wished to meet with Cuba’s dissidents “who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba.”

However, considering his decision to stand with the regime, instead of the civil society it oppresses, this statement rings hollow.

Even if the president musters the courage to ask for such a meeting or to initiate a serious human rights discussion, his concessions have left the U.S. no real leverage to advocate for human rights. Raúl Castro has rightly judged Obama’s interest in the rapprochement to be more about his political legacy than the plight of the Cuban people. As it stands, the president will be another tourist in Havana. He will see and do only what he is allowed to and will leave the regime richer and stronger than when he landed.

Choosing to level with Castro in his own turf is Obama’s latest and most damaging concession yet. He has indeed charted a “new course” by reversing years of democratic efforts and returning to the old policies that enabled despots in the hemisphere. So far, the only accomplishment of the president’s radical Cuba policy has been the legitimization of the Castro regime, and it increasing looks like it will be the only one.



Trump Hits 50 Percent in Massachusetts

Before we know it, Tuesday's Nevada caucus will be over and all attention will head towards next week's Super Tuesday and the 12 states that will decide who their Republican nominee will be.  The states voting on March 1st will be Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

In the latest Emerson poll from Massachusetts, where 42 delegates are at stake, Trump is up by a very large margin; 50 percent to Trump, 16 to Marco Rubio, and 10 to Ted Cruz.

On a side note, the fact that future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and pitcher Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox have come out in support of Trump may have helped the Republican frontrunner with the Boston sports faithful.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about Muslim immigration and IQ


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, February 23, 2016

A plug for Ted Cruz

Below is a video by a Leftist saying what is bad about Ted Cruz.  It sounds like a list of reasons to vote for him to me.  It is however a good indicator of Leftist priorities.

The speaker is Robert Reich.  He was the Secretary of Labor for Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.

New York Times: Young Female Voters Not Warming to Hillary

    In the sun-drenched student center on the Pennsylvania State University campus here, a few days after Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont trounced Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary last week, Renee Tillman, Melanie Suarez and Kamryn Sandidge were picking at their lunchtime salads when they were asked if they considered themselves feminists.

    The three, all sophomores, shook their heads. “I couldn’t even tell you what a feminist is,” said Ms. Tillman, 19, who is African-American. She and her friends note that the nation already has a black president; they see themselves in a postgender world. As Ms. Sandidge, also African-American, said, “I don’t find gender that important.”

    A few tables away, Caela Camazine, a 19-year-old freshman, said she was “definitely” a feminist. Reproductive rights are her top priority, and the idea of a woman in the White House evokes her childhood dream of a career in medicine. It always bothered her, she said, when people referred to doctors as “he” or “him.”

    “Having a female president to me means opening the door for that pronoun to shift,” she said. Yet she plans to vote for a man: Mr. Sanders.

    It is as if Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, based partly on revealing the power of female voters, has instead revealed something else: a generational schism that threatens to undermine it. Mrs. Clinton lost the women’s vote in New Hampshire by 11 percentage points. Broken down by age, the results were even more striking: She led by 19 points among women 65 and older, but trailed by a huge margin, 59 points, among millennial voters, ages 18 to 29.

Gee, Hillary's people skills aren't serving her well when it comes to connecting to young people? Who'd have seen that coming?

You can almost forgive Hillary for being so off the mark here. Establishment Democrats truly believe that nothing has changed in the way of racial, ethnic, or gender equality in the last sixty years. In fact, their entire electoral strategy is pretty much based on convincing the voters that it's 1956. Young female voters who've had an African-American president since they were drinking juice boxes and watching Hannah Montana definitely aren't buying it.

Many think Bernie's appeal is in the constant promise of free stuff to a portion of the electorate too young to understand that's a lie, and much of it certainly is. However, the biggest difference between the Democratic front-runners is in level of authenticity.

Hillary has none.  Everything she says and does comes across with a calculation that doesn't appeal to the voters of the party that's goes after emotion and nothing else.

Bernie may be insanely wrong about everything, but one can easily tell that he believes in everything he's saying with every fiber of his being. In the battle between the judgmental grandma who trots out an octogenarian to slut shame young women into voting for her and the crazy uncle who keeps promising that this next birthday will be your best ever, the latter will win every time.

Another thing at play here is the fact that Hillary Clinton isn't a real feminist, or even an empowered woman. She's where she is solely because she rode the coattails of two extremely successful men who publicly embarrassed her, one personally and the other professionally. She's an old-school Democrat who views people as members of voting blocs and not individuals.

To her horror, young, free-thinking American women are, well, thinking freely.



Almost Half of US Residents Still Pay No Federal Income Tax

According to data published by the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau, 44.2 percent of U.S. residents paid no federal income tax in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available).

No doubt many of the non-payers would willingly pay income tax in exchange for the chance to work in a more dynamic economy that generated more and better jobs. But our labor market has been hobbled by government regulations, cronyism, government power grabs, a tax code nobody understands, and federal waste.

In 1962, the percentage of people who did not pay federal income taxes themselves and who were not claimed as dependents by someone who paid federal income taxes stood at 24.0 percent; it fell to 12.6 percent by 1969 before beginning a ragged and ultimately steady increase.

By 2000, the percentage was 34.1 percent; by 2009, it was 49.6 percent. The number dropped to 44.7 percent in 2011, and it has hovered around 44 percent ever since.

An astounding 33.67 percent of tax returns are filed only to claim benefits while not paying any income tax. That is up from 18.64 percent in 1990.

As President Ronald Reagan said on Jan, 20, 1981, in his inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

The federal government stands in the way of success for too many people. Establishing a limited federal government is as critical now as when Reagan said those words.



The Lure of Socialism

By Thomas Sowell

Many people of mature years are amazed at how many young people have voted for Senator Bernie Sanders, and are enthusiastic about the socialism he preaches.

Many of those older people have lived long enough to have seen socialism fail, time and again, in countries around the world. Venezuela, with all its rich oil resources, is currently on the verge of economic collapse, after its heady fling with socialism.

But, most of the young have missed all that, and their dumbed-down education is far more likely to present the inspiring rhetoric of socialism than to present its dismal track record.

Socialism is in fact a wonderful vision — a world of the imagination far better than any place anywhere in the real world, at any time over the thousands of years of recorded history. Even many conservatives would probably prefer to live in such a world, if they thought it was possible.

Who would not want to live in a world where college was free, along with many other things, and where government protected us from the shocks of life and guaranteed our happiness? It would be Disneyland for adults!

Free college of course has an appeal to the young, especially those who have never studied economics. But college cannot possibly be free. It would not be free even if there was no such thing as money.

Consider the costs of just one professor teaching just one course. He or she has probably spent more than 20 years being educated, from kindergarten to the Ph.D., before ending up standing in front of a class and trying to convey some of the knowledge picked up in all those years. That means being fed, clothed and housed all those years, along with other expenses.

All the people who grew the food, manufactured the clothing and built the housing used by this one professor, for at least two decades, had to be compensated for their efforts, or those efforts would not continue. And of course someone has to produce food, clothing and shelter for all the students in this one course, as well as books, computers and other requirements or amenities.

Add up all these costs — and multiply by a hundred or so — and you have a rough idea of what going to college costs. Whether these costs are paid by using money in a capitalist economy or by some other mechanism in a feudal economy, a socialist economy, or whatever, there are heavy costs to pay.

Moreover, under any economic system, those costs are either going to be paid or there are not going to be any colleges. Money is just an artificial device for getting real things done.

Those young people who understand this, whether clearly or vaguely, are not likely to be deterred from wanting socialism. Because what they really want is for somebody else to pay for their decision to go to college.

A market economy is one in which whoever makes a decision is the one who pays for that decision. It forces people to be sure that what they want to do is really worth what it is going to cost.

Even the existing subsidies of college have led many people to go to college who have very little interest in, or benefit from, going to college, except for enjoying the social scene while postponing adult responsibilities for a few years.

Whether judging by test results, by number of hours per week devoted to studying or by on-campus interviews, it is clear that today’s college students learn a lot less than college students once did. If college becomes "free," even more people can attend college without bothering to become educated and without acquiring any economically meaningful skills.

More fundamentally, making all sorts of other things "free" means more of those things being wasted as well. Even worse, it means putting more and more of the decisions that shape our lives into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats who control the purse strings.

Obamacare has given us a foretaste of what that means in reality, despite how wonderful it may sound in political rhetoric.

Worst of all, government giveaways polarize society into segments, each trying to get what it wants at somebody else’s expense, creating mutual bitterness that can tear a society apart. Some seem to blithely assume that "the rich" can be taxed to pay for what they want — as if "the rich" don’t see what is coming and take their wealth elsewhere.



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, February 22, 2016

Bureaucracy and canned tomatoes

I initially thought this story was too trivial to be worth mentioning but it is such an hilarious example of bureaucracy in action that I thought I should mention it after all.  The story concerns Australia but the lessons about bureaucracy are universal.

I first noticed the story because I do buy canned tomatoes.  I tip a can of them into my crockpot as the first step towards making a curry.  And I had noticed the odd price disparity between different brands.  The "Home" brand I buy from Woolworths costs me only 59c whereas other brands cost as much as $1.40 per can. And the 59c cans come all the way from Italy -- something I have mentioned before.

And the first sentence from the Fairfax news report below is misleading. The bureaucracy has indeed laboured mightily but the assertion that "The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over" is nonsense.  The duties recently imposed range between 4% and 8% and they will be levied on the wholesale price.  So say Woolworths buy my 59c can for 50c (it's probably less).  So Woolworths will now have to pay how much extra to put that can on their shelves?  4c.  So now I will have to pay about 65c for my tomatoes.  Why bother?  A 65c can of Italian tomatoes is still going to be hugely competitive with a $1.40 can of Australian-grown tomatoes.  I can't see the price rise influencing any purchasing decisions at all.

So how come the bureaucracy has laboured and brought forth a nullity? Because it is a rule-following organism. The duty imposed was a dumping duty -- meaning the Italians sell their product for export at a lower prices than they charge local Italian shopkeepers.  They do it because they still have some profit at the lower price and some profit is better than none.  It keeps their volumes and market share up.

And dumping duty is calculated according to strict rules.  You subtract the price to Australia from the price to Italy and express it as a percentage.  You then add that percentage to the Australian price in the form of an import duty.  So, as it happened, the Italian canners were selling us their tomatoes only a touch more cheaply than they charge Italian customers.  The export discount was minor so the dumping duty was minor.  A bureaucrat with a brain would have said "This is not worth bothering about".  But a bureaucrat is not paid to think.  He is paid to follow rules.  And our lot did exactly that.

But that is not the only absurdity.  The big market for tomatoes is for fresh tomatoes.  As little as 2% of Australian-grown tomatoes end up in cans.  So if Italian canned tomatoes took over completely, it would make no important difference to Australian tomato farming.  The growers would continue growing as before.  The main existing canners are owned by Coca Cola so sympathy for them is probably not large -- and they can lots of other fruit so their production lines would not be likely to lie idle.

So we see yet again why conservatives dislike bureaucracy and why Leftists love it.  Leftists hate the society they live in so much that imposing anything inefficient, costly and wasteful on their society seems great to them.

And it is bureaucracy that created the problem in the first place -- the EU bureaucracy.  EU farmers -- particularly French ones -- are prone to huge tantrums if they are not making enough money.  They blockade things, burn things and generally create havoc.  So to placate them, the EU bureaucracy pays them big subsidies.  That 50c can of tomatoes probably cost $1 to produce -- with the EU taxpayer supplying the other 50c

Ain't government wonderful?

The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over, with the federal government backing a decision to slap anti-dumping measures on two Italian giants that account for half of imported tinned tomatoes in Australia.

The Anti-Dumping Commission found exporters La Doria and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli guilty of dumping - selling product for less than they sell for in their own country - and causing "material damage" to the local industry.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the government would impose dumping duties on the two players: 8.4 per cent to Feger tomato products and 4.5 per cent to La Doria imports.

"This ruling will ensure that Australia's only canned tomato producer, SPC Ardmona, can now compete equally in Australian stores and supermarkets," he said.

The decision means all 105 canned tomato exporters from Italy will now be affected by dumping duties. An earlier ruling saw Feger and La Doria escape penalty for dumping.

With the price of a 400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes as low as 60 cents on shelves, consumers should expect overall prices to rise. A similar SPC tin is $1.40.

But Coca-Cola Amatil-owned SPC, which has suffered a loss of 40 per cent of volume and reduced profitability during its fight, urged consumers to consider "the quality, value, ethics and food miles" of Australian-grown products.

"This is a win for SPC and our growers, and for Australian industry, which faces daily pressure to compete with cheap imports and those cutting corners and putting slavery in a can," said SPC's managing director Reg Weine.


Mr Weine's "slavery in a can" remark refers to claims that Italian growers use poorly paid illegal immigrants from Muslim lands to do much of their harvesting.  They probably do. Americans would understand


This Government Agency Offends the Constitution and Needs to Be Eliminated

A little-known federal government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, imposes enormous costs on consumers and financial service providers through costly and unwarranted command-and-control regulation.

What’s more, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau runs afoul of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Thus, both economic and constitutional concerns indicate that it is time for Congress to abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and reallocate those of its functions that merit being retained to other existing federal regulatory agencies.

Creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a key feature of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which, as Heritage scholars have explained, represents a failed attempt to address the causes of the 2008 financial crisis (in fact, it makes future financial crises and bailouts more likely).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is given broad authority, through rulemaking and enforcement actions, “to implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law consistently for the purpose of ensuring that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services and that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.”

Despite these lofty goals, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has imposed high costs on the finance sector and consumers while reducing the choice of products and services—and thus competition and innovation within the consumer financial marketplace.

In enacting Dodd-Frank, Congress went out of its way to shield the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the normal forms of congressional oversight that hold government agencies accountable to the people’s elected representatives. Dodd-Frank allows the agency to obtain the budget it desires directly from the Federal Reserve Board, free from congressional appropriations oversight and budgetary review. That means Congress cannot effectively question Consumer Financial Protection Bureau policies.

Moreover, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is free from presidential oversight and from effective Federal Reserve Board management control. More than any other federal agency, it is a power unto itself, able to impose its regulatory will on individual Americans without political accountability.

This is at odds with the importance the Framers of the Constitution placed on effective congressional and executive oversight to the legitimacy of government action.

Specifically, in Federalist 58, James Madison explained that the congressional “power of the purse may … be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

Congress, however, cannot employ this “effectual weapon” with respect to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, since it does not appropriate funds for the agency and may not even review the bureau’s budget.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has praised this freedom from accountability to Congress, stating that its “funding outside the congressional appropriations process” ensures its “full independence” from Congress.

And in Federalist 72, Alexander Hamilton explained that with respect to the execution of the laws, the people look to the president to guide the “assistants or deputies … subject to his superintendence.”

Hamilton added in Federalist 70 that absent a clear chain of command, the public cannot “determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures ought really to fall.”

For that reason, as James Madison explained to the First Congress, the Constitution sought to ensure that “those who are employed in the execution of the law will be in their proper situation, and the chain of dependence be preserved; the lowest officers, the middle grade, and the highest, will depend, as they ought, on the president, and the president on the community.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau insulation from presidential control means that there is no “chain of dependence” linking the bureau to presidential oversight and no presidential “superintendence” of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau activities.

Despite the principled case for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s unconstitutionality, however, lawsuits challenging it are time-consuming, uncertain, and of questionable utility in reining in the bureau. The federal courts have been reluctant to invoke constitutional “first principles” to second-guess congressional decisions regarding agency structure and broad delegations of authority. Accordingly, congressional action is needed.

Specifically, Congress should identify the consumer protections currently assigned to the bureau. Given the broad sweep of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authority and the harm it has imposed through its regulatory actions, some of those responsibilities merit being eliminated or, if not, substantially curtailed.

Congress should repeal all Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-related statutory provisions and restore the authority of more constitutionally accountable federal agencies—the Federal Trade Commission and the traditional federal financial institution regulators —over consumer protection with respect to financial services.

Congress should review existing federal financial services regulatory statutes with an eye to eliminating programs that are excessively burdensome and harmful to the American economy and consider ways to harmonize the application of financial institution regulatory standards.

Also, as Heritage Foundation scholars have recommended, Congress should consider enacting additional regulatory reform legislation, such as requiring congressional approval of new major regulations issued by agencies (including financial services regulators) and subjecting “independent” agencies (including financial services agencies) to executive branch regulatory review.

Carried out appropriately, this legislative reform agenda would inure to the benefit of the American economy and further the cause of sound, constitutionally accountable government.


NOTE:  For the last week or so I have been doing a bit of work on my side-column. I think I have got it how I want it now so readers might find a few thoughts in it that are new.


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, February 21, 2016

1 Peter chapter 1:3-5

I went to a Presbyterian funeral on Friday and the text for the sermon was as above.   I should not have been surprised but I WAS rather surprised to note that the minister completely ignored what the text actually said.  He just saw in it what he wanted to see.  Here it is (RSV):

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"

The first sentence is an explicit contradiction of the pagan Mumbo-Jumbo known as the Trinity doctrine -- a doctrine accepted by most Christian churches, including Presbyterians.  The Trinity doctrine says Jesus is God and yet we have Peter plainly denying that -- in saying that God is the father of Jesus.   And yet the minister saw no issue in the text.  I will not grumble further about Trinity theology as I have done so often before (e.g. here and here).

And then there is the issue of who goes to heaven and when.  The minister was sure that the deceased was in heaven already but Peter spoke not of Christians going to heaven but rather of Christians having an inheritance which is "KEPT in heaven" and that actual salvation occurs "in the last time" -- the "last trump" (not Donald), as the Apostle Paul has it in 1 Corinthians 15:52 -- when the dead are raised at the second coming of Christ.  And the minister missed that issue too.  Does anybody actually LISTEN to what the Bible says these days?  A lot of clergy clearly do not.

I have carefully not identified the minister and his church as he is clearly just conforming to the traditions of his denomination and probably means well


The Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis

Steve Sailer notes that extensive restrictions on what social and biological scientists are allowed to think leads to only junk science being done.  He particularly concentrates on the problem of "data dredging" and rightly so.  It is a pernicious practice wide open to dishonesty  -- but there is an accepted remedy for it:  adoption of an experiment-wise error-rate approach.  That the remedy is rarely used is the real evidence of extensive unscientific "science"

With data becoming ever more abundant, this should be the golden age of the social sciences. And yet they seem to be suffering two mirror-image nervous breakdowns—the Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis.

Outright made-up-data fraud is hardly unknown in academia, but the double disasters have more to do with shortcomings in how contemporary researchers analyze relatively honest data. I suspect that the systemic failures stem more from researchers being allowed both too many and too few of that evocative (if actually rather dry) technical term: "degrees of freedom."

One cause of the Replication Crisis has been that analysts grant themselves excessive post hoc liberties to crunch the numbers however many ways it takes to find something—anything—that is "statistically significant" (which isn’t the same as actually significant) and thus qualifies as a paper for publish-or-perish purposes. Hence, social scientists seem to be coming up with a surplus of implausible junk science findings on trivial topics, such as "priming" (the contemporary version of subliminal advertising), which then routinely fail to replicate.

In contrast, in what I’ll dub the Repetition Crisis (a.k.a. the Explanation Crisis), academics hamstring the interest and usefulness of their findings by ruling out ahead of time any explanatory factors other than the same tiny number of politically correct concepts that were exhausted decades ago.

Why a Repetition Crisis? Dissident social psychologist Jonathan Haidt of NYU’s Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind, pointed out in a freewheeling interview with John Leo how the ever-growing list of sacred cows in American life restricts what social scientists can allow themselves to discover about important issues:

For many years now, there have been six sacred groups. You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans…and people with disabilities. So those are the six that have been there for a while. But now we have a seventh—Muslims.

One could argue that there are more sacred groups than seven, but Haidt’s next point was illuminating:

"Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group. This is a disaster for social science because social science is really hard to begin with. And now you have to try to explain social problems without saying anything that casts any blame on any member of a protected group. And not just moral blame, but causal blame. None of these groups can have done anything that led to their victimization or marginalization.

For example, in discussing crime or poverty, social scientists are allowed to imply that the dirt that white people live upon is inherently magic while the dirt under black people is obviously tragic. But anything smarter and more interesting could get them furiously denounced by angry know-nothing students (or Watsoned out of their jobs if they lack tenure). So it’s safest just to blame everything and anything on white people.

Still, as the generations roll by, that’s increasingly sounding like a senile conspiracy theory. In 2016, blaming white privilege for everything you don’t like isn’t quite as lame as blaming the Bavarian Illuminati, but the gap is closing.

As the range of acceptable insights narrows, boredom stalks the social sciences.  Haidt notes:

"Anthropology and sociology are the worst—those fields seem to be really hostile and rejecting toward people who aren’t devoted to social justice.

Today, for example, it seems astonishing that 60 years ago cultural anthropologists like Margaret Mead could be celebrities. The educated public now assumes that cultural anthropologists are pedantic and petulant, best avoided"

It’s not surprising, therefore, that many social scientists try to sidestep the Repetition Crisis by avoiding important issues in favor of marketing-research-like problems, which in turn worsens the Replication Crisis. (The central distinction between science and marketing research is that the latter doesn’t strive to discover permanent truths: That, say, Bill Cosby was good at advertising Jell-O Pudding Pops in 1979 is good enough for marketing research. If you want to know whether to hire Cosby in 2016, marketing researchers would be happy to take your money.)

One cause of the Replication Crisis is the social-science version of the Hollywood excuse "We’ll fix it in post." As postproduction computer-generated imagery has gotten cheaper, movie directors have become more likely to rationalize on-set flaws in dialogue, acting, or their own direction with the reassurance that the scene can always be salvaged in postproduction by computer wizardry.

Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell-ish experiments can be often rescued after the fact by comparing multiple effects across subdivisions of the sample. Because you need to achieve a single result that would happen only 5 percent of the time by chance, if you can crunch your data twenty different ways, you have a 50-50 shot at statistical significance. [aka "data dredging" -- JR]

One way to think of the Replication and Repetition Crises is as emanating from opposite abuses of degrees of freedom. That cool-sounding phrase from early-20th-century statistics has been adopted over the years by mechanical engineering, rocket science, and robotics, although its statistical definition—"the number of values in the final calculation of a statistic that are free to vary"—remains notoriously frustrating for statistics instructors to get across verbally.

The term "degrees of freedom" was popularized by Ronald A. Fisher in the 1920s based on a 1908 paper published under the pseudonym "Student" by a quality-control expert at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. William Sealy Gosset was among the first to think rigorously about how much a statistical analyst’s confidence in his own conclusions ought to be reduced by the limited sample sizes he was forced to work with.

An influential 2011 paper on the Replication Crisis by Joseph P. Simmons, Leif D. Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn offered the term "researcher degrees of freedom" as a critique of the growing ability of researchers to slice and dice their way to statistically significant but temporary or even nonexistent correlations:

    "The culprit is a construct we refer to as researcher degrees of freedom. In the course of collecting and analyzing data, researchers have many decisions to make: Should more data be collected? Should some observations be excluded? Which conditions should be combined and which ones compared? Which control variables should be considered? Should specific measures be combined or transformed or both?

    It is rare, and sometimes impractical, for researchers to make all these decisions beforehand. Rather, it is common (and accepted practice) for researchers to explore various analytic alternatives, to search for a combination that yields "statistical significance," and to then report only what "worked." The problem, of course, is that the likelihood of at least one (of many) analyses producing a falsely positive finding at the 5% level is necessarily greater than 5%". ["data dredging" again -- JR]

This term, "researcher degrees of freedom," is even more useful if we recognize that just as analysts can overfit models that therefore won’t be replicable, they can also underfit by not being allowed adequate intellectual degrees of freedom to offer "controversial" explanations, driving them into endless repetitions of aging mantras about racism and sexism. The issue for Student was that data were expensive while potential explanatory factors were cheap. Today, the mirror image often reigns: Data are readily available, but honest explanatory factors can cost you your job.

Too many researcher degrees of freedom permit trickery; but too few cause stupidity.



An Endorsement of Bernie

    Former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, held a four-hour long speech yesterday where he praised Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for his "revolutionary" and "socialist ideas for America" reports the Havana Times.

    The former Cuban leader gave an impressive four-hour long speech to a crowd of thousands gathered to hear the words of the retired leader, a rare feat these past months due to his dwindling health at age 89.

    "Comrades, I speak before you today because I feel energized by this new America that is being born in front of our eyes" he told the crowd. "Socialism is coming to America, and its name is Bernie Sanders, the new face of Socialism" he said to an exalted crowd.

Castro's continued existence is a testament to the notion that good people die young, and evil people live forever. Tragically, many Americans don't understand the horrors his regime visited upon the Cuban people, turning the island nation into a prison from which millions of people have tried to flee on anything that would float.

But dont' tell that to Bernie Sanders. The Woodstock era wackjob who would like you to believe that he supports a more benign form of socialism("Democratic Socialism") heaped praise on the Cuban mass murderer in 1985 when the United States was still engaged in the Cold War. As CNS News notes:

    "In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world," said Sanders.

    "All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society," he said.

    "You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect - they are certainly not - but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same," continued Sanders.

These are dangerous times in America, where idealistic young crowds seem to have no understanding of the horrors of global socialism.  Sanders can whitewash his past all he wants, but the fact remains: this is a man so obsessed with the notion of radical equality that he's willing to excuse the violence and repression of the Castro regime and those like it; a man who saw the Iron Curtain as a choice honeymoon location. Castro recognizes this temperament, and that's why he's as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. Americans who care deeply about their liberties should take note, and vote accordingly.



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)