Friday, March 18, 2016

Is Barack Obama a nice person when there isn't a camera around?

This question was asked on Quora and received generally favorable answers.  The answer below is fairly typical.  One cynical reply, however, is that when you are in the public eye, you HAVE TO behave well.  Contrary to that, there are quite a few stories of obnoxious private behavior about Hillary.  The media protect her, however

Jason Wells

During my tenure with the U.S. Secret Service, I was part of (then) Senator Barack Obama's protection detail from March 2007 until November 2008, on his election night.  I was chosen as part of a "round robin" detail where agents were selected at random from their field offices to spend time with a candidate on the campaign trail to keep him safe.  This protection detail is known as C.N.O.S. (Campaign Nominee Operation Section) and is basically the rotation that the U.S. Secret Service goes through during the Election season.  Sen. Obama was given protection unusually early due to the volume of threats that he was receiving.  The rotation consisted of being out on the road with him 24/7 for three week intervals, home for six weeks, and then back out again.  It was like this for 18 months.

I made it a point to remain unbiased in my political opinions when asked about Mr. Obama while on this assignment.  I also tend to judge others by how they treat me rather than how they expect to be treated.  I will say that, personally, I have differed on many of President Obama's stances in politics.  I do not support much of his political agenda.

With that stated.... Senator Obama, Mrs. Obama and their two daughters were always extremely cordial and appreciative for everything that we provided them.  They were engaging with us, asking us about our families and making sure that we were provided for.  On numerous occasions, Mr. Obama would ask me how my wife was doing (she was pregnant with our first child), and wished her the best.  I never, never saw him belittle another person, I never witnessed him do anything behind his wife's back.....

For all of my political differences with Barack Obama, I will be the first to say that he is a very decent man.

Please note, that was prior to his time in the Oval Office.  I have not interacted with him since then, but everyone who I worked with who was affiliated with him said that he had not changed.



Who is Obama really?
The email below has been doing the rounds since 2010 and surely has some interest.  It is curious that Snopes has addressed only one part of it:  Whether Obama did attend Columbia in his student days.  He clearly did.  Even one of my correspondents remembers him.  But there are many other points below.  We may get the answer when there is a President Trump

In a country where  we take notice of many, many facets of our  public figures' lives,  doesn't seem odd that there's so little we know  about our current  president, Barack Obama.

For example, we  know that Andrew Jackson 's wife smoked a corn cob pipe and was accused of adultery; Abe Lincoln never  went to school; Jack Kennedy wore a back brace; Harry  Truman played the piano.

As Americans, we  enjoy knowing details about our newsmakers, but none of us know one single humanizing fact about the  history of our own president.
We are all aware  of the lack of uncontestable birth records for  Obama; that document  managing has been spectacularly  successful.
There are however,  several additional oddities in Obama's history  that appear to be as  well managed as the birthing issue. There have been two Obama birth certificates produced and each is different and neither was produced by Obama.  Thereby keeping him clear of any later illegalities.  

One other  interesting thing...    There are no birth certificates of his daughters that can be found  ?
It's interesting  that no one who ever dated him has shown up.  The charisma that  caused women to be drawn to him so strongly during  his campaign,  certainly would in the normal course of events,   lead  some lady to come forward,  if only to garner some attention for herself.    We  all know about JFK's  magnetism, that McCain was no monk and quite a  few details about  Palin's courtship and even her athletic prowess,   Joe Biden's aneurisms  are no secret;  look at Cheney and Clinton, we all  know about their heart  problems. Certainly Wild Bill Clinton's  exploits before and during  his White House years, were well known.  That's  why it's so odd that  not one lady has stepped up and said, "He was  soooo shy..." or "What a  great dancer..."
It's virtually  impossible to know anything about this  fellow.
Who was the best  man at his wedding?      Start there.  Then check  groomsmen.
Then get the  footage of the graduation ceremony.     Has anyone talked  to the professors?   It  is odd that no one is bragging that they knew him or taught him or  lived with him.
When did he meet  Michele, and how?        Are there photos there?  Every president gives to  the public all their photos, etc. for their  library,  etc.    What has he  released?      And who in hell voted for him to be the  most popular man in  2010?        Doesn't this make you wonder?
Ever wonder why no  one ever came forward from President Obama's  past saying they knew  him, attended school with him, was his friend,  etc??

Not one person has  ever come forward from his past.  It certainly is  very, very strange...
This should be a  cause for great concern.    To those who voted for  him, you may have  elected an unqualified, inexperienced shadow man
As insignificant  as each of us might be, someone with whom we went  to school will  remember our name or face; someone will remember we  were the clown or the dork  or the brain or the quiet one or the bully or  something about  us.

George  Stephanopoulos of ABC News said the same thing during  the 2008 campaign.        He  questions why no one has acknowledged the president  was in their classroom or  ate in the same cafeteria or made impromptu  speeches on campus.    Stephanopoulos also was a classmate of Obama at  Columbia -- the class of 1984.  He says he never had a single class with  him.      
He is such a great  orator; why doesn't anyone in Obama's college  class remember him? Why  won't he allow Columbia to release his  records?
Nobody remembers  Obama at Columbia   University ...
Looking for  evidence of Obama's past,    Fox News contacted 400  Columbia University   students from the period when Obama claims to have  been there... but none  remembered him.      
Wayne Allyn Root  was, like Obama, a political science major at  Columbia who also graduated  in 1983.       In 2008, Root says of Obama, "I don't know  a   single person at  Columbia that knew him, and they all know me. I  don't have a classmate  who ever knew Barack Obama at Columbia ,  ever."
Nobody recalls  him. Root adds that he was also, like Obama, Class of  '83 Political Science,  and says, "You don't get more exact or closer  than that. Never met  him in my life, don't know anyone who ever met him.     At   the class reunion,  our 20th reunion five years ago, who was asked to  be the speaker of the  class?      Me.     No one ever heard of Barack!     And  five  years ago, nobody  even knew who he was. The guy who writes the  class   notes, who's kind  of the, as we say in New   York, 'the  macha' who knows everybody, has yet  to find a person, a human who ever met  him."
Obama's photograph  does not appear in the school's yearbook   and  Obama consistently  declines requests to talk about his years at Columbia, provide school  records, or provide the name of any former classmates  or friends while at  Columbia .

Some other  interesting questions:
Why was Obama's  law license inactivated in 2002?  It is said there  is no record of him ever taking the Bar  exam.
Why was Michelle's  law license inactivated by court order?  We understand that  was forced to avoid fraud charges.
The Social  Security number he uses now originated in Connecticut   where he is  reported  to have never lived.     And was originally registered to  another man    (Thomas Louis  Wood) from Connecticut , who died in Hawaii while on  vacation there.   As we all know  Social Security Numbers are only issued 'once, they  are not reused'

No wonder all his  records are sealed...      
 Somewhere, someone had  to know him in  school ... before he   reorganized   Chicago & burst  upon the Scene at the 2004 Democratic  Convention.

Clint Eastwood     said his Republican National Convention speech achieved exactly what he wanted it to. He then proceeded to label President Barack Obama a "hoax."...."President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,"

The larger question is, who orchestrated this hoax?   There has to be a sizable organization behind this.  Bill Ayers?


Trump Is Not A Liberal or Conservative, He’s A Pragmatist

Trump is a pragmatist. He sees a problem and understands it must be fixed. He doesn't see the problem as liberal or conservative, he sees it only as a problem. That is a quality that should be admired and applauded, not condemned. But I get ahead of myself.

Viewing problems from a liberal perspective has resulted in the creation of more problems, more entitlement programs, more victims, more government, more political correctness, and more attacks on the working class in all economic strata.

Viewing things according to the so-called Republican conservative perspective has brought continued spending, globalism to the detriment of American interests and wellbeing, denial of what the real problems are, weak, ineffective, milquetoast, leadership that amounts to Barney Fife Deputy Sheriff, appeasement oriented and afraid of its own shadow. In brief, it has brought liberal ideology with a pachyderm as a mascot juxtaposed to the ass of the Democrat Party.

Immigration isn't a Republican problem – it isn't a liberal problem – it is a problem that threatens the very fabric and infrastructure of America. It demands a pragmatic approach not an approach that is intended to appease one group or another.

The impending collapse of the economy isn't a liberal or
conservative problem, it is an American problem. That said, until it is viewed as a problem that demands a common sense approach to resolution, it will never be fixed because the Democrats and Republicans know only one way to fix things and the longevity of their impracticality has proven to have no lasting effect.

Successful businessmen like Donald Trump find ways to make things work, they do not promise to accommodate.

Trump uniquely understands that China’s manipulation of currency is not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It is a problem that threatens our financial stability and he understands the proper balance needed to fix it. Here again successful businessmen like Trump who have weathered the changing tides of economic reality understand what is necessary to make business work and they, unlike both sides of the political aisle, know that if something doesn't work, you don't continue trying to make it work hoping that at some point it will.

As a pragmatist Donald Trump hasn't made wild pie-in-the-sky promises of a cell phone in every pocket, free college tuition, and a $15 hour minimum wage for working the drive-through at a Carl’s Hamburgers.

I argue that America needs pragmatists because pragmatists see a problem and find ways to fix them. They do not see a problem and compound it by creating more problems.

You may not like Donald Trump, but I suspect that the reason people do not like him is because:

(1) he is antithetical to the “good old boy” method of brokering backroom deals that fatten the coffers of politicians;

(2) they are unaccustomed to hearing a candidate speak who is unencumbered by the financial shackles of those who own them vis-a`-vis donations;

(3) he is someone who is free of idiomatic political ideology; and

(4) he is someone who understands that it takes more than hollow promises and political correctness to make America great again.

I submit that a pragmatist might be just what America needs right now. And as I said earlier, a pragmatist sees a problem and understands that the solution to fix same is not about a party, but a willingness and boldness to get it done.

People are quick to confuse and despise confidence as arrogance, but that is common amongst those who have never accomplished anything in their lives, and who have always played it safe not willing to risk failure.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, March 17, 2016

The Left May Well Get Trump Nominated

Dennis Prager

This past Friday, a left-wing mob shut down a Donald Trump rally in Chicago. Most Americans viewing what happened saw it for what it was — another left-wing assault on the speech of those with whom they differ and on traditional American civility.

Not surprisingly, the media reporting has concentrated overwhelmingly on Trump for incendiary and inexcusable comments he has made at some of his other rallies that were disrupted by protesters. For example, he offered to pay any legal bills incurred by a man in the audience who sucker-punched a protester as he was being led out of a Trump rally.

Many have also noted the alleged assault by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of trying to grab Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields' arm. (I say “alleged” because I have watched the video of the alleged incident four times but could not ascertain what actually took place.)

For the record, I have been relentless in my criticisms of Donald Trump, both in print and on my radio show, preferring any other Republican candidate. Based on his past, I have not had any reason to trust him as a conservative or as a Republican, and he has exhibited serious character flaws.

Nevertheless, truth must trump opposition to Trump.

And the truth is that the left-wing attack on Trump’s Chicago rally had little, if anything, to do with what the incendiary comments Donald Trump has made about attacking protestors at his events. Leftist mobs attack and shut down events with which they differ as a matter of course. They do so regularly on American college campuses, where conservative speakers — on the rare occasion they are invited — are routinely shouted down by left-wing students (and sometimes faculty) or simply disinvited as a result of leftist pressure on the college administration.

A couple of weeks ago conservative writer and speaker Ben Shapiro was disinvited from California State University, Los Angeles. When he nevertheless showed up, 150 left-wing demonstrators blocked the entrance to the theater in which he was speaking, and sounded a fire alarm to further disrupt his speech.

In just the last year, left-wing students have violently taken over presidents' or deans' offices at Princeton, Virginia Commonwealth University, Dartmouth, Providence College, Harvard, Lewis & Clark College, Temple University and many others. Conservative speakers have either been disinvited or shouted down at Brandeis University, Brown University, the University of Michigan and myriad other campuses.

And leftists shout down virtually every pro-Israel speaker, including the Israeli ambassador to the United States, at every university to which they are invited to speak.

Yet the mainstream media simply ignore this left-wing thuggery — while reporting that the shutting down of a pro-Trump rally is all Trump’s fault for his comments encouraging roughing up protestors at his events.

That the left shuts down people with whom it differs is a rule in every leftist society. The left — not classical liberals, I hasten to note — is totalitarian by nature. In the 20th century, the century of totalitarianism, virtually every totalitarian regime in the world was a leftist regime. And the contemporary American university — run entirely by the left — is becoming a totalitarian state, where only left-wing ideas are tolerated.

Tens of millions of Americans look at what the left is doing to universities, and what it has done to the news and entertainment media, and see its contempt for the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. They see Donald Trump attacked by this left, and immediately assume that only Trump will take on, in the title words of Jonah Goldberg’s modern classic, “Liberal Fascism.”

And if these millions had any doubt that Trump alone will confront left-wing fascism, Trump’s opponents seemed to provide proof. Like the mainstream media, the three remaining Republican candidates for president — John Kasich, the most and Marco Rubio the least — blamed Trump for the left-wing hooligans more than they blamed the left. It is possible that in doing so Senators Cruz and Rubio and Governor Kasich effectively ended their campaigns and ensured the nomination of Trump as the Republican candidate for president. The combination of left-wing violence and the use of it by the other GOP candidates to wound Trump rather than label the left as the mortal threat to liberty that it is may clinch Trump’s nomination.

And if the left continues to violently disrupt Trump rallies, they — along with the total absence of condemnation by the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate — may well ensure that Donald Trump is elected president. Between the play-Fascism of Trump and the real Fascism of the left, most Americans will know which one to fear most.



Why socialists need capitalism: best explanation so far

By Oleg Atbashian

Have you heard of the shocking and terrifying diaper gap that is now dividing this nation? It is said to be so dire that the White House is urging immediate government assistance to buy baby diapers. Philosophically, this puts disposable plastic consumer products in the category of inalienable rights guaranteed by the government: among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Diapers.

When I lived in the USSR, our Soviet Constitution also guaranteed that our basic needs be provided to us by the caring socialist government. As a result, most basic items were in shortage, let alone such luxury items as coffee or toilet paper. Needless to say, we never even heard of disposable diapers. For our three children, we used pieces of cloth which we washed regularly. We didn't complain or feel disadvantaged because -- I repeat -- we had no idea there was such a thing as disposable diapers. Those only existed in the decadent West, where greedy corporations created such a product to boost their capitalist profits. But we were blocked from this information by the Iron Curtain, and what we didn't know couldn't hurt us.

Now I live in America, where the decadent capitalist diapers are about to become a basic "human right" guaranteed by the federal government.

About twenty years ago no one used cell phones because they hadn't yet been created by greedy capitalist corporations, who have since covered the planet with a network of cellular towers. Now free cell phones -- known as Obamaphones -- have become a "human right" guaranteed by the government.

Internet service didn't exist either, until greedy capitalist corporations surrounded the world with cables and satellites. Now Internet service has become a "human right" provided by the U.S. government to the needy.

Condoms, birth control pills, and other modern contraceptives also didn't exist until they were invented, researched, and mass-produced by greedy capitalist corporations. Now they have become a basic "human right" guaranteed and provided by the government.

Vaccines for Ebola and other exotic diseases didn't exist until they were developed by greedy capitalist corporations and almost immediately declared a "human right" for anyone in the Third World.

Healthcare with all its modern diagnostic equipment, appliances, treatments, and a vast array of pharmaceuticals, from Tylenol to Viagra, also didn't exist until greedy capitalist corporations...

And so on and so forth.

Capitalism just keeps churning out all these new products, which our increasingly socialist government then declares "human rights" and taxes these very producers in order to provide their products to the people for free.

Some call it harmonious coexistence, but there's a catch. The more the socialist government expands its functions by guaranteeing an ever expanding number of "human rights," the more it needs to tax capitalist producers, which undercuts their ability to develop, manufacture, and market new products. Once they reach a tipping point when capitalism is no longer viable, this will also end the propagation of "human rights" in the form of new goods and services.

Socialism conserves the stage in which the society existed at the time it was overtaken. Cubans still drive American cars from the 1950s, North Koreans still dress in the fashions of the same bygone era, and in the USSR I grew up in a government-owned house that was taken from the rich and given to the needy in 1920s and remained without indoor plumbing or running water and with ancient electrical wiring until it was condemned and demolished in 1986.

A planned economy is mostly focused оn providing the basic needs that have already been declared "human rights," and even then it struggles to keep up with the demand. The USSR had smart inventors and brilliant scientists, but the first personal computer was built in a Californian garage and not in a Siberian one -- because America had free enterprise and the USSR didn't. In the absence of free markets and competition, innovation becomes an almost insurmountable task. There is no time nor money for new products and services; that way it's also easier for the government to run the economy. And when the people don't know what they are missing, there's no reason to be unhappy.

That, however, works best when the rest of the world no longer has competing capitalist economies and no nation lives better than the rest. For example, if it weren't for capitalist America and Western Europe with their never ending innovation and higher living standards, it would have been a lot easier for Soviet citizens to remain content with their socialist government and thus the USSR would probably still exist.

But wouldn't it be great if the entire world lived like one socialist village -- even if it conserved some ancient technology -- and people wouldn't be missing any consumer products they knew nothing about anyway? Absolutely not -- and for a reason that is allegedly dear to every socialist in the West: environmental protection. Centrally planned economies of the Eastern Bloc, China, and other socialist states inevitably became some of the world's worst polluters.

On the one hand they were stuck with outdated technologies, and on the other they had no budgets for cleanup. Their grimy and polluting state-run factories had to meet their production quotas at any cost, for the glory of the Motherland -- even if it meant the destruction of the Motherland's environment and endangering the health of workers and local residents. Complaining to the state about the actions of the state would be pointless and often more dangerous than breathing bad air and drinking polluted water.

Having the entire world adhering to this model would have resulted in an environmental apocalypse and there would be no Greenpeace to bemoan it because that would mean economic sabotage and the activists would by default become enemies of the state.

Whatever innovations the Soviet planned economy introduced came from the West. The Soviet planners also learned from the West about the real cost of things in the modern world, since their own pricing mechanisms had been removed decades ago with the elimination of free markets.

Thus, socialists are better off with capitalism to invent new products that will be later declared "human rights," allowing expansion of government functions to new areas, as well as to generate wealth that pays for socialist programs. Likewise, socialists are better off having the rich to subsidize the creation and mass production of new goods and services, and later to pay taxes so that the government can provide these goods and services to others for free.

This leads us to the following conclusions, which socialists can't refute because it correlates with their own logic:

The longer socialists wait to take over the power, the more technologically advanced society they will get to conserve.
It is more beneficial for the people of all classes, including socialists, to delay the socialist revolution indefinitely.
To delay the socialist takeover is also better for the environment because only capitalism has the power of innovation and the resources to create less polluting technologies, materials, and alternative energy sources. To impose socialism right away would mean to put the planet at risk of never resolving the environmental problems we face today.
Since capitalism generates goods and services that socialists later designate as "human rights," it is also in the interest of human rights to keep capitalism around indefinitely.

Socialists often describe the world as if it has always been as it exists today, leaving out the dimension of time. But time is a major factor because the world has never been static -- and that includes nations, cultures, ethnicities, technologies, sciences, and popular perceptions, such as human rights. The main question that needs to be answered, therefore, is not as much who, where, and how -- but "when?"

For example, switching to socialism directly from feudalism would have conserved the society at an early stage, without the host of various "human rights" that were unheard of at the time. According to Marx, humanity needed to go through the stage of capitalism in order to develop the necessary wealth, technologies, and educated populations before the socialists could take over.

But how do we know when the time is right for such a takeover? According to Marx and Lenin, a revolutionary situation exists when the upper classes no longer can, and the lower classes no longer want, to preserve the system, plus there exists a strong revolutionary party that can organize the masses.

Such a party, or rather a conglomerate of radical leftist movements, already exists -- and it has been flexing its muscles in Ferguson, Baltimore, and most recently in Chicago, disrupting capitalist Donald Trump's voter rally. But the first two preconditions for a socialist revolution in America simply do not exist because this country has never had natural static classes, such as the capitalist oppressors ruling over the oppressed workers and peasants. American society has always been dynamic, with unprecedented rates of upward mobility.

Socialists have been trying to update the Marxist formula by redefining "capitalist oppressors" as "hetero-normative patriarchy" and "oppressed workers and peasants" as "sexual, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities," but all their efforts to artificially polarize and destabilize the system have failed to create a revolutionary situation, despite all the tangible damage they have done to the country and to the minds of the growing generation.

Showing the lack of delayed gratification, socialists chant, "When do we want it? Now!" But if they had taken over, for instance, in the 1960s, Americans would have never been able to enjoy such "human rights" as free Internet, free cell phones, or free disposable diapers. Americans would be living today the way we lived in the USSR around the 1980s. There would be no affordable personal computers, tablets, eBooks, iTunes, Google, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.

Now that all these capitalist wonders exist, is it finally time? What if we miss the next life-changing technological development that will happen in a year or two? What if it will be a new cheap and clean energy source that will make fossil fuels obsolete? What if it will become a new "human right" that will make all the previous "human rights" pale in comparison?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, March 16, 2016

The genetics of politics

For many years now I have been pointing to the extensive research findings that show a large genetic influence on one's political orientation.  Exactly how that works in detail at the genetic level is however speculative.  I have suggested that a parsimonious account of the matter might be that Leftists are born miserable and that they blame their miserableness not on themselves but on all the "wrongness" in society.

So a relatively recent research paper from some distinguished behavior geneticists is of some interest.  It is "Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies" and can be accessed  here or here. I reproduce a paragraph from the beginning of their "Discussion" section:

"In the first stage of our analysis we demonstrated that there are several substantively significant relationships between the personality traits and political ideology dimensions. Most notably, P is substantially correlated with conservative military and social attitudes, while Social Desirability is related to liberal social attitudes, and Neuroticism is related to liberal economic attitudes

That's not bad as a confirmation of my theory.  The P scale is designed to measure tough-mindedness and tough-minded people would be unlikely to succumb readily to misery.  So conservatives  are indeed tough-minded.

The Social Desirability scale is designed to measure approval seeking.  And Leftists are certainly approval seekers.  For some, approval seeking seems to be the main motive for being Leftist.  Leftists are constantly portraying themselves as all  heart and wishing only for the good of others -- pretty powerful as approval seeking.

The correlation with neuroticism is interesting.  The usual finding is that neuroticism is not politically polarized.  But the researchers above added a refinement.  They measured economic attitudes separately from other political attitudes.  And they found that people who are careless about the effects of economic policies -- which liberals are -- score highly on neuroticism.

So neuroticisn -- which consists of anxiety and excessive concern with one's own feelings -- leads to support for letting the government take control of everything.  Neurotics are so obsessive about their own feelings that they don't have the energy to think through the effects of economic policies and so prefer to leave it all to the government.  And neurotics are certainly miserable so all three findings above could be seen as support for my theory.

The authors of the article then go on to look at their data in more depth and in particular seek to trace the causal path behind the above correlations.  I have however never accepted that path analysis or any other statistical method can establish cause. I recently discussed that at some length in my comments on the causal claims  of Adolf Stips.  In brief, I take the mainstream view in analytical philosophy that the essential minimum that is needed to demonstrate cause is a demonstration of invariant temporal precedence and constant conjunction.  And no model can demonstrate that.

But a further paragraph was interesting:

"These analyses provide the backdrop for the more pivotal third and fourth sets of analyses: the examination of the relationship between personality traits and political attitudes. These analyses show that the majority of covariance between personality and attitudes was due to shared genetic variance while the relationship between the idiosyncratic environmental components of politics and personality was notably smaller.  Furthermore, the majority of genetic influence on attitudes was not explained by the genetic influence on personality traits. In total, the Cholesky analyses validate the possibility of an alternative relationship between personality traits and political attitudes, whereby a latent common genetic factor drives the development of both personality traits and political attitudes."

So genetics lie behind both personality and political attitudes but the relationships are complex and still not clear.  Complexity is of course routinely encountered in studies of behaviour genetics -- JR


Why are "clerks" treasonous?

Economic historian Martin Hutchinson looks at why the intelligentsia are mostly Leftist and suggests an economic solution to reining them in

Julien Benda’s “La Trahison des clercs” was an immensely influential book when it was published in 1927, and its central idea has passed into our language – that intellectuals are irrational about the society around them, and tend to follow destructive political ideas. In Benda’s book, the destructive ideas were those of interwar fascism, now they are much more likely to be of the extreme left, but the tendency remains. Since this tendency seems to be getting worse, it’s worth examining why it should be the case, and what should be done about it.

Intellectuals were not always treasonous and attracted to extreme political positions. In the seventeenth century, John Milton and John Bunyan were Cromwellians – leftists, though not extreme ones – but Andrew Marvell was middle of the road, Isaac Newton was a conservative Whig, and John Dryden, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Peter Heylyn and the Cavalier poets were right of center. In the following century, Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson were Tories, well to the right of the predominant Whig ideology.

This changed around the turn of the nineteenth century. Hardly anybody read Mary Wollstonecraft (1757-1797) until at least 150 years after her death, but fashionable Romantic poets such as George, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley made infantile leftism fashionable even as more conservative writers like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Southey, Walter Scott and Jane Austen were also flourishing. Later in the nineteenth century, Charles Dickens criticized the society of his time from a position far to the left of the consensus – and made an immense amount of money doing so.

The intellectuals grew more treasonous in the early twentieth century, with the Bloomsbury Group, who gloried in their treason. While the unproductive and ineffably tedious writers in that group have had less influence than they thought they would – who now reads E.M. Forster? – it also included one economist, John Maynard Keynes, attracted to the group because of its unconventional sexual antics and disdain for business, who has remained excessively influential.

Seventy years after his death, the IMF, set up under his aegis to remake the world economy, is still advocating Keynesian “stimulus” as the solution to the world’s economic problems, proposing global government money-wasting to address an unexpected decline in Chinese exports, even as most countries are struggling with record budget deficits and debts. Another acolyte Mark Carney, surely as Governor of the Bank of England the epitome of a Worthless Canadian Initiative, is still pushing the remedies of monetary and fiscal stimulus and continued membership of the rotting European Union, proving Keynes accurate at least in predicting that practical men, would continue to be “the slaves of some defunct economist.”

Nevertheless, in U.S. academia at least, the treason of intellectuals appears to have got worse in recent years. The “political correctness” epidemic attempts to stifle dissent to the hard-left campus orthodoxy, while the balance that was apparent among college faculties 40 or 50 years ago appears to have disappeared. Stories like the attempt at Western Washington University to ban the word “history” altogether because of its sexism are only the media tip of a very large and unpleasant iceberg.

There is thus a question to be answered here. Why are society’s incentives producing treasonous clerks, when in the seventeenth century they produced mostly loyal ones? What in modern society causes intellectuals, almost all of whom make very nice livings, to espouse economic and political beliefs that are antagonistic to their fellow educated professionals, and would if implemented destroy or at least severely damage the society they live in?

It is always worth looking first at market incentives; one can quite agree with intellectuals that they do not always form the principal motivation, while recognizing that even philosophers have to eat and most care deeply about how well they eat.

In the seventeenth century, intellectuals had two potential sources of support: the Anglican Church (of which Oxford and Cambridge were effectively offshoots) and rich patrons who funded intellectual activity because it interested them (as it did Charles II) or more often because it gave them social status. There was effectively no market for intellectual products – Milton sold the rights to Paradise Lost for a mere £10 – less than $5,000 in today’s money — and lived on the remnants of his father’s City fortune and his own earnings as a Commonwealth bureaucrat. Thus intellectuals had to please their bishop or their patron, both of whom were generally likely to support the established order. There were openings for dissent – John Locke wrote under the patronage of the radical Whig Earls of Shaftesbury– but there was no incentive to move outside the broad consensus of contemporary politics.

By the early 19th Century, it had become possible to support oneself through writing for publication – Johnson did it, though late in life he also got a £300 annual pension from George III. Conversely, the Church was no longer the conventional employer of intellectuals, although some remained in Holy Orders through the nineteenth century.

This had two effects. One was the obvious one that there was no longer any need to curry favor with the establishment. If you could find enough radical readers, or readers who would be attracted by an anti-establishment literary approach, there was nothing to stop you moving in that direction.

The other effect was more pernicious. Really successful authors like Dickens made very large amounts of money by catering to lowest common denominator taste, in Dickens’ time attracted by cloying sentimentality and hostility to the new forces that were changing society so rapidly. Intellectuals who lacked Dickens’ common touch discovered they could make only modest livings from their writing, but the rapidly expanding university system, no longer so closely linked to the Church, offered them an alternative route to middle class comfort. Thus they began to despise popular success, and devised an elite culture in literature, academic research, music and art that deliberately shut out the hoi polloi. The hoi polloi over the course of the twentieth century developed a popular culture that owed little if anything to intellectual high culture.

In the early nineteenth century Jane Austen, Walter Scott and Gioachino Rossini wrote and composed for the entire literate world at an extraordinarily high level, while supporting the conservative social and political order of their day (Rossini wrote Il Viaggio a Reims, one of his best operas, for the coronation of the absolutist Charles X.) Today there is little or no high culture that can be appreciated by those not wedded to the dominant intellectual leftism and hatred of our society, while popular culture is, to say the least, not of a Jane Austen/Rossini quality.

At this stage, most intellectuals have no chance of making more than a modest living by selling their intellectual product to the public. However, they have reliable sources of income from the universities and from government and foundation grants, themselves filtered through committees whose political orientation is strongly leftwards. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, campuses had a certain element of political diversity; today they are leftist monocultures, and are attempting to censor out inappropriate thought by the students as well as the faculty. The result is that every incentive for the young academic is to follow the prevailing academic ideology, far to the left though it is of the prevailing ideology in society as a whole. Not only are the colleges producing a treasonous clerisy, they are rapidly eliminating all among the clerisy who are not treasonous.

The principal solution to this problem is to eliminate the “non-profit” economic category. Colleges are providing a service – education – primarily in the private sector, and should be managed as profit-making enterprises, albeit of the long-term-oriented German/Japanese kind. The state gains a benefit from the colleges providing an effective education to the best and brightest. However, while at present it subsidizes the colleges by allowing them into a tax-favored “non-profit” sector, where the profit motive is suspect and cost control even more so, it would be more efficient for the state to provide an honorarium to the college in return for the education that college provides – which honorarium would naturally be greater for high-quality degrees in STEM subjects and would not be paid for students who did not graduate. Then the non-profit tax subsidies could be abolished (to the great benefit of the U.S. budget) and colleges could be left to provide their education on a profit-seeking basis.

Of course, if all colleges were for-profit, some of them would become scams, but over time the non-scams would profit by their superior reputation, as in any marketplace. Harvard would squeal at being turned into Trump University, but given Harvard’s intellectual output, Trump University has done very much less damage. Indeed, the pedagogic quality of some of Trump University’s courses, designed by the cognitive scientist Roger Schank, was surprisingly high; they were well suited to give the modest, highly practical required education to their target market.

This would force intellectuals into working for a living, producing enough valuable intellectual output that their profit-seeking employer continued to pay them. The screams of rage from the current clerisy if this were to be implemented would themselves be evidence of the need for it and the benefits from implementing it. Over time, the worst intellectual scamsters would be weeded out, while the remainder would find themselves competing in a marketplace, the best avenue to utility and happiness for any individual.

Treason, even of the clerisy, can be weeded out. All it takes is the political will to cut through the “non-profit” mythology and allow the disinfectant of the free market to operate.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with news from Britain about various themes


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, March 15, 2016

Leftist projection and inability to learn

The concept of "authoritarianism" as an explanation for conservatism has been like catnip to Leftist psychologists.  They cannot leave it alone.  It first arose among a group of Jewish Marxists in the late 1940s and was published in a 1950 book called "The authoritaian personality" under the lead authorship of a prominent Marxist theoretician, Theodor Wiesengrund, who usually used as his surname the stage name of his Spanish dancer mother -- Adorno.

The theory underlying it failed in all sorts of ways so it fell out of favour after the '60s, though it still got an occasional mention. For more on the Adorno work see here

In the first half of his first book in 1981, "Bob" Altemeyer gave a comprehensive summary of the problems with the Adorno theory and submitted that it had to be discarded.  He then went on to put forward a slightly different theory and measuring instrument of his own that rebooted the concept of authoritarianism as an explanation of conservative thinking.

That theory and its accompanying measuring instrument (the RWA scale) also soon ran aground, however.  Altemeyer himself admitted that scores on the RWA scale were just about as high among Leftist voters as Rightist voters -- which rather ruined it as an explanation of conservatism.  The death knell came when it was revealed that the highest scorers on the RWA scale were in fact former Russian Communists!  Right wing Communists??  For more on Altemeyer's confusions see here. Or more concisely here

So the RWA scale lost most of its interest after that, though it is still cautiously used on some occasions -- e.g here.

But, as I mentioned yesterday, Leftist psychologists did not give up.  A group of them including Karen Stenner, Stanley Feldman, Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler revived the old ideas and invented a new questionnaire to measure the concept.  And reading their "new" theory is like a trip back into the 1940's.  Conservatives are still said to be sad souls who live in a state of constant and unreasonable  fear.

The amusing thing is that there is some reality behind their theory.  The key word is "unreasonable".  How much fear is "unreasonable"?  Is all fear "unreasonable"?  Obviously not.  Fear is an important survival mechanism.  We would all be eaten by lions etc. without it.  And conservatives do fear the probable results of the hare-brained schemes put forward by Leftists.  Conservatives are nothing if not cautious but to the superficial thinkers of the Left, that caution seems like fear.  So from a conservative viewpoint Leftists are not fearful enough.  They do not fear the "unforeseen" and adverse side effects that invariably accompany any implementation of their schemes.

So, despite the laughable psychometric characteristics of their new measuring instrument, which I set out yesterday, they have in fact achieved some grasp of reality.  They have just not grasped that caution can be a good thing and have not thought deeply enough about the distinction, if any, between caution and fear.  So all their writings amount to little more than an adverse value judgment of things that are in fact probably desirable.

So why all the mental muddle from them?  Why does the old "authoritarianism" catnip keep them coming back to that dubious concept?  Why have they not learnt from its past failures?  Easy:  It's all Freudian projection.  They see their own faults in conservatives.  The people who REALLY ARE authoritarian are Leftists themselves.  Communist regimes are ALWAYS authoritarian and in democracies the constant advocates of more and more government control over everything are the Left.  The Left are the big government advocates, not conservatives.  What could be more authoritarian than Obama's aim to "fundamentally transform" America? It is the Left who trust in big brother while conservatives just want to be left alone.

But somehow Leftist psychologists are blind to all that.  They appear to know nothing about the currents of day-to-day politics.  They are the sad souls who are so out of touch with reality as to be pitiable.

UPDATE:  Much fun.  I sent a heads-up email to the four recent writers I mentioned above (Karen Stenner, Stanley Feldman, Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler) -- and I was copied in to the resultant emails between them.  And two of them said the same thing: How amusing it was to be described as Jewish Marxists.  I of course said no such thing.  I referred only to Adorno and his associates as Jewish Marxists -- since Adorno was a prominent Marxist theoretician and his book was sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. The AJC in fact hold the copyright to the book. So I had an encounter with typical Leftist dishonesty

So what we have is a classic example of Freudian avoidance/denial.  The authors above could not handle anything actually in the article so invented something not in the article to comment about.  It is such a classical example of a defence mechanism that it could well be used as a classroom example in a clinical course.

The same defence is behind the constant Leftist attempts to shut conservatives up.  Leftists just cannot handle the facts that conservatives constantly put to them so need to shut them out.  Leftists really are a sad lot.  It must be very uncomfortable to be so needy.


Obama Administration and UN Announce Global Police Force to Fight ‘Extremism’ In U.S.

A Fascist takeover?  A new group of Brownshirts?  So far it is just some sort of communication network with no police powers of its own.  But the cities in the network  DO have police powers so armed enforcement of its policies is still a lively possibility

On Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at the United Nations that her office would be working in several American cities to form what she called the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a law enforcement initiative that would encompass the globe.

This amounts to nothing less than the overriding of American laws, up to and including the United States Constitution, in favor of United Nations laws that would henceforth be implemented in the United States itself – without any consultation of Congress at all.

The United Nations is a sharia-compliant world body, and Obama, speaking there just days ago, insisted that “violent extremism” is not exclusive to Islam (which it is). Obama is redefining jihad terror to include everyone but the jihadists. So will the UN, driven largely by the sharia-enforcing Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the pro-Islamic post-American President Obama, use a “global police force” to crush counter-jihad forces?

After all, with Obama knowingly aiding al-Qaeda forces in Syria, how likely is it that he will use his “global police force” against actual Islamic jihadists? I suspect that instead, this global police force will be used to impose the blasphemy laws under the sharia (Islamic law), and to silence all criticism of Islam for the President who proclaimed that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

So if the local and municipal effort to counter the euphemistic and disingenuous “violent extremism” is inadequate and hasn’t developed “systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale,” the feds – and the UN – have to step in. Thus the groundwork is being laid for federal and international interference down to the local level. “The Strong Cities Network,” Lynch declared, “will serve as a vital tool to strengthen capacity-building and improve collaboration” – i.e., local dependence on federal and international authorities.

Remember, the DoJ presser says that the SCN will “address violent extremism in all its forms.” It also says that it will aid initiatives that are working toward “building social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism.” “Building social cohesion” is a euphemism for keeping peace between non-Muslim and Muslim communities – mostly by making sure that non-Muslims don’t complain too loudly about, much less work against, rapidly expanding Muslim populations and the Islamization of their communities.



To dismiss Trump as a bigoted buffoon is a 'YUGE' mistake... he's an elite-bashing hit with the workers

A view of Trump below from a British political guru, Steve Hilton

In all the years I worked for David Cameron, through all the party conferences, press briefings and campaign events, I don’t recall him asking me to put raw steaks on stage, accompanied by bottles of wine branded with his name.

But that bizarre spectacle took place this week in the US Presidential race, as Donald Trump hit back in the most direct possible way at those who had described some of his businesses as flops. With the great showman centre stage, talking about (and pointing to) his Trump Steaks, Trump Wine, Trump Water, Trump Magazine… it was like watching a shopping channel rather than a bid for the most powerful job in the world.

With performances like this you can see why so many people belittle Trump as a ‘joke’, a ‘buffoon’, or a ‘clown’. He’s an easy target for mockery: just watch some of the brilliant YouTube videos of Trump with a posh accent, or a cockney accent, made by the actor and voice artist Peter Serafinowicz.

But simply to dismiss Trump as a reality show entertainer with nothing of consequence to say would be to make a big mistake – sorry, a ‘YUGE’ mistake, as ‘the Donald’ himself would put it.

There were disturbing scenes of violence between Trump supporters and opponents in Chicago on Friday, causing the cancellation of a Trump rally; there’s no doubting he is a divisive figure. But he is also one who makes a real connection.

He is a much more serious, interesting and historically important political figure than his detractors allow. Trump is challenging not just some of the basic tenets of Republican ideas, but those of the Democrats too. The truth is, we live in a world that is run by bankers, bureaucrats and accountants. For decades, they have pushed a technocratic agenda that has been implemented by politicians of both Left and Right.

This agenda favours big business over small, fetishises globalisation, and is relaxed about immigration – regardless of the consequences for working people. As factories close, jobs disappear and wages fall, the response from the elite has been callous and inhuman: ‘This is the world we live in: suck it up and get with the programme.’

Well, people have had enough of being dismissed and patronised by the elite – who, by the way, do very nicely out of this technocratic agenda. Big businesses use their market dominance and unfair access to the levers of power to rip off consumers, exploit workers, and keep entrepreneurial competitors from challenging them. Globalisation is undoubtedly a force for good and has helped poor people in poor countries get richer. But the biggest rewards have gone to the already rich in the wealthiest parts of the world. And uncontrolled immigration gives them cheap labour for their businesses – not to mention an endless supply of nannies, housekeepers and gardeners.

Until Trump, no mainstream US politician had spoken up for working people in these terms. No one had challenged the technocratic agenda of the bankers, the bureaucrats and the accountants. That’s why so many people support Trump; and why he is politically important.

Of course, I understand that Trump’s rhetoric sometimes causes real offence. But he’s not a bigot or a racist or a madman: he’s just a political amateur who says the first thing that comes into his head. After years of slick, calculating, machine politicians, Trump’s rough and ready authenticity has real appeal.

This is not to say that I think he would make a good President, or that I’m supporting him – I’m not. But he has shone a spotlight on some of the biggest defects of American democracy, and his role in bringing about much-needed change could be more significant than that of his patronising and increasingly hysterical critics. That includes the most pernicious issue: money in politics. Britain has no reason to be complacent about corruption, whether it’s the revolving door between Westminster and Whitehall and the boardrooms of big businesses and their shadowy advisory firms; or the way trade union money on the Left or the financial sector on the Right dominate party fundraising.

But what goes on in America makes British corruption look like a picnic. In the US, wealthy individuals and corporations literally buy the political outcomes they want. A recent analysis showed that in a new law designed to regulate the banks, 70 lines out of 85 were actually written by banking giant Citigroup.

The measure was introduced by Congressman Kevin Yoder, who receives more money in campaign donations from the financial sector than any other member of Congress. The United States today is not in any meaningful sense of the word a democracy; it is a donocracy.

Traditionally, it has been Left-wing activists who decry the role of money in politics – although that hasn’t stopped Left-wing candidates such as Hillary Clinton from hoovering up corporate cash. But it’s refreshing – and significant – to see a Republican presidential candidate sound the alarm on America’s corrupt campaign financing system.

From the start of his run for president, Trump has attacked the devastating real world impact of dodgy donations. Why are drug prices so high, costing the American taxpayer billions in subsidies? Because, as Trump points out, the pharmaceutical companies ‘take care of’ the politicians who set the rules.

Why is there so much waste in defence procurement, with billions spent on equipment that military leaders don’t want and can’t use? Because the massive defence contractors, in Trump’s vivid phrase, are ‘bloodsuckers’ on government – along with the oil companies, the health insurance companies and other moneyed interests with an inside track.

When Trump describes traditional, establishment politicians such as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton as ‘puppets’ who are completely controlled by their donors, it strikes a chord – and, coming from a Republican, could just hasten the end of (or at least the moderation of) this corruption more than any number of worthy pamphlets from left-of-centre pressure groups.

In the end, Trump may not get to put his name on the White House as easily as he has on his buildings around the world – or his steaks, wine and private jet. But he has already made a powerful contribution to the political debate, and we should all be grateful to him for that.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, March 14, 2016

Trump’s voters aren’t authoritarians, new research says. So what are they?

By Eric Oliver (professor of political science at the University of Chicago) and  Wendy Rahn (professor of political science at the University of Minnesota)

I have commented recently on some pseudo-scientific research that claimed that Trump supporters are "authoritarian". The research relied on a measure of authoritarianism mostly attributed to Karen Stenner. I think I showed satisfactorily that the research concerned was absolute rubbish on several grounds -- but it has nonetheless got some press.

I am pleased to say therefore that I am not the only one to see that research as flawed.  The methodologically more cautious research below comes to very different conclusions.  Using a "Populism" questionnaire, they show that Trump supporters are the OPPOSITE of what the previous writers claim.  Far from being pro-authority, they are ANTI-authority.  They are  incipient libertarians.

I pointed out in my previous comments that this could happen.  The previous researchers used "forced choice" questions in their research and I have previously shown that doing that can lead to clearly wrong results -- results that are opposite to what more straightforward research reveals.  So that has now been confirmed as applicable in Trump research.

Perhaps because the latest researchers are political scientists, not psychologists,  they accept at face value the Stenner scale of alleged authoritarianism and use it in addition to their own "Populism" scale.  But they miss one important point:  The alleged scale of authoritarianism by Stenner probably isn't.  For a start, its internal reliability is disastrously low.  Where a coefficient alpha of .70 is normally required in a research instrument, the Stenner scale has shown alphas of less than .30.  In normal psychometric practice, that indicates that a scale does not measure ANYTHING.

I published long ago a perfectly straightforward scale of attitude to authority that WAS internally consistent and valid so there is no good reason to rely on the badly flawed Stenner insrument.  And there is also of course the Rigby & Rump (1979) instrument.

The Stenner scale is an inventory of child-rearing attitudes.  Whether such attitudes offer any substantial prediction of pro-authority attitudes is unknown.  I have been able to find no such evidence.  Leftists (Adorno, Lakoff etc.) have been asserting since the 1940s that certain child-rearing practices lead to authoritarianism but the evidence has not been kind to that claim. For instance:

1). Rigby & Rump (1981) found that respect for one's parents generalized to respect for other authorities only in early adolescence.  By late adolescence, the relationship had vanished entirely.  Since it is a central claim of both Lakoff and Adorno et al (1950) that a  generally pro-authority attitude is the outcome of parents insisting on respect for their own authority via  heavy discipline, this seems rather an important disconfirmatory finding, does it not?

2).  Elms & Milgram (1966.  See their "Results" section) found that it was rebellious rather than submissive children who came from strict parenting;

3). Baumrind (1983) found that children who had experienced firm parental control developed with better competencies than did children who had experienced less parental control;

4). Di Maria & Di Nuovo (1986) found that authoritative training and parental behaviour had very little influence in determining the dogmatic attitudes of children;

5).  Braungart & Braungart (1979) found that attitudes were most regimented in far-Left political groups;

6). Eisenberg-Berg & Mussen (1980) found that it was Leftists rather than conservatives who reported more conflict with their parents

7). Sidanius, Ekehammar & Brewer (1986) found that racism was unrelated to type of upbringing.

8).  Johnson, Hogan, Londerman, Callens and Rogolsky (1981), in a study of college students, found that ratings of "father" and "mother" loaded on a factor different from that loading "police" and "government".

9).  Lapsley, Harwell, Olson, Flannery and Quintana (1984) reported some correlation between ratings of "father" and ratings of "police" and "government" but no prediction at all from ratings of "mother".
10). Rigby et al (1987) were in the Lakoff camp in that they wanted to believe that attitude to authority generalized from parents to the world at large but from their Table 5 we can calculate that the average correlation between rebellion/submission to parents and attitudes to the Police and the law was less than .20.  That is negligible.

11). The twin studies  (Martin & Jardine, 1986; Eaves, Martin, Heath, Schieken, Silberg &  Corey, 1977; Eaves,  Martin,  Meyer & Corey, 1999; Bouchard, Segal,  Tellegen,  McGue, Keyes,  &  Krueger, 2003), show that the attitudes and personality of children are formed almost entirely by genetics, not by their childhood treatment.  Your Left/Right orientation is strongly genetically determined but little influenced  by your family environment.  The most striking of these findings is  the one by Eaves et al (1999)  showing that conservatism/Leftism is even more strongly genetically inherited than how tall you are.  But hard science like that will no doubt be totally lost on Leftists

12). Ray (1983) points out that the most widely used measure of authoritarian attitudes is just as prone  to generating high scores among Leftist voters as Rightist voters.

13).  Ray & Lovejoy (1990) and Lindgren (2003) have reported survey results showing that there is no such thing as a generalized attitude to authority anyway.  Conservatives might respect some authoritative institutions (such as the Army) but just try asking most U.S. conservatives at the moment what they think of the U.S. Supreme Court!

14). Ray & Najman (1987) showed in a general population survey that there was no overall relationhip between psychological disturbance and political orientation.

15. Krout (1937) showed that young Leftists saw their parents -- including mothers --as not favouring them and as having often nagged and ridiculed them.  And in consequence they did not want to be like their parents and seemed to have had very unhappy childhoods in general.

16. Peterson (1990) also found that it is conservatives who report the happiest childhoods.

Detailed citations for the above references are given here

So I would be most surprised if the childrearing attitude questions used in the Trump research did in fact have much to do with attitude to authority.

If the questions concerned tell us anything, they would appear to index old-fashioned values so the high scores on "authoritarianism" among Cruz supporters probably signify at most that Cruz supporters have more old-fashioned views about child-rearing. That could be due in part to the Hispanic element in support for Cruz.  Some polls have shown him getting around a third of the Latino vote

Rigby, K. & Rump, E.E. (1979) The generality of attitude to authority Human Relations 32, 469-487.

Watch out, the authoritarians are coming!

That’s been the alarm, after recent reports that scoring high in authoritarianism was the strongest predictor that someone would support Donald Trump. “Authoritarian” has some strongly negative connotations. So it’s no wonder that anti-Trump pundits from Nicholas Frankovich to David Brooks have been quick to repeat this finding. What better way to equate Trump with Hitler?

But in our research, we find no evidence that Trump supporters are any more “authoritarian” (at least by common measures) than those who like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Instead, Trump’s supporters are distinctive in another way: They are true populists.

What’s the difference between authoritarians and populists?

Authoritarianism and populism are easy to conflate, but they actually refer to very distinct tendencies.

Authoritarianism, as understood by political psychologists, refers to a set of personality traits that seek order, clarity and stability. Authoritarians have little tolerance for deviance. They’re highly obedient to strong leaders. They scapegoat outsiders and demand conformity to traditional norms.

Populism, on the other hand, is a type of political rhetoric that casts a virtuous “people” against nefarious elites and strident outsiders. Scholars measure populism in a variety of ways, but we focus on three central elements:

Belief that a few elites have absconded with the rightful sovereignty of the people;

Deep mistrust of any group that claims expertise;

Strong nationalist identity

Of course, authoritarians and populists can overlap and share dark tendencies toward nativism, racism and conspiracism. But they do have profoundly different perceptions of authority. Populists see themselves in opposition to elites of all kinds. Authoritarians see themselves as aligned with those in charge. This difference sets the candidates’ supporters apart.

This is evident in a national online survey of 1,044 adult citizens we conducted in the Friday through Thursday spanning Super Tuesday. For this analysis, we utilize four scales.

* Authoritarianism. As others have, we gauge this with a battery of items measuring preferences on child-rearing (such as whether it is better for children to have independence or respect for elders, curiosity or good manners, obedience or self-reliance).

* Anti-elitism. What separates populists from authoritarians is their alienation from political elites. We measure this with statements like “It doesn’t really matter who you vote for because the rich control both political parties,” “Politics usually boils down to a struggle between the people and the powerful” and “The system is stacked against people like me.”

* Mistrust of experts. Populists often fear not just political elites and billionaires, but anyone who claims expertise. We measure this with questions like “I’d rather put my trust in the wisdom of ordinary people than the opinions of experts and intellectuals” or “Ordinary people are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what’s true and what’s not.”

* American identity. Populists identify themselves as part of “the people,” a noble group that needs protecting. We measure this with questions like “I consider myself to be different than ordinary Americans” or “How important is being an American to your sense of self?”

In the figure, we depict the average factor scores for each of these scales by the candidate  respondents chose. The scales are constructed to be similar in range with the average score set to zero.

Two big points immediately leap out.

1. Trump voters are no more authoritarian than supporters of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

In fact, they score slightly lower on these scales than Cruz’s voters. Why? Partly, this is because scales measuring child-rearing correlate very highly with fundamentalist Christian beliefs. By these measures, most Republicans look like “authoritarians” because so many are conservative Christians who advocate strict child-rearing practices. This is also why Bernie Sanders’s supporters are so much less authoritarian than Hillary Clinton’s — “Berners” are much less religious than other Democrats.

2. What really differentiates Trump’s voters from the other Republicans is the populism.

Trump voters are the only ones to score consistently high on all three populist dimensions. Cruz and Rubio’s supporters, for example, don’t express high feelings of anti-elitism. In fact, on this scale, they are strongly anti-populist, identifying with authority rather than rejecting it.

Trump supporters share anti-elitism with only one other group: Sanders’s voters.

But where Trump is a populist, we would argue that Sanders is not. Despite the fact that Sanders often gets called a populist, his voters do not conform to the populist stereotype. They generally trust experts and do not identify strongly as Americans. A better way to describe them would be cosmopolitan socialists. They see the system as corrupted by economic elites. But they don’t trust ordinary Americans and show only light attachment to Americanism as an identity.

What does all this mean?

Granted, we don’t have a lot of other measures of authoritarianism, such as an attraction to strong leaders or intolerance of ambiguity. It may be that Trump’s supporters are more swayed by these traits than other Republicans.

But by the most commonly accepted measures, the voters who look most authoritarian are not those following Trump but those following Cruz. Not only do they score highest on the authoritarian scales, they also have that combination of populist elements correlated most strongly with authoritarianism. They are mistrustful of intellectuals and experts, highly nationalistic, yet strongly aligned with political and economic elites.

In other words, if the establishment is really afraid of authoritarianism, they should worry more about Cruz than Trump.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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, March 13, 2016

Has radicalism become fashionable?

The Australian Leftist writer, John Preston, below says that centrism is no longer the way to win elections.  He makes a reasonable case for radicalism instead -- but I think he is wrong.  I will say why at the foot of the article

The popularity of Corbyn and Sanders in the UK and US and the elections of Trudeau in Canada and Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza Party in Greece, and even the success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK, would appear to offer an alternative theory.

What appealed to UK Labor and the progressives amongst Canada’s voters, and is appealing to Democrats in the US, is strong leadership coupled with high idealism backed up with deliberately progressive rhetoric, if not actual policy.

The diminutive member for Islington North, Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, was universally written off by the UK Tories, the centrist Labour movement and the British press as being much too strongly rooted in his social-democratic roots to become a credible leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.

Corbyn’s philosophy is firmly based around poverty and social inequality. He advocates the re-nationalization of the railways and public utilities and has championed unilateral nuclear disarmament, free university tuition and an unashamedly green agenda of significantly increased renewable energy targets and the phasing out of the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.

An unabashed “socialist” in the traditional sense, Corbyn barely gained sufficient nominations from Labour MPs to secure a spot on the leadership ballot, but then rapidly rose to lead the polling for the leadership of the Party for the duration of the campaign and went on to achieve a resounding – some would say ‘landslide’ – victory securing nearly 60 per cent of first round voting.

After announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in April 2015, Bernie Sanders has made consistent and occasionally remarkable in-roads into an apparently unassailable lead by US political royal and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While at least as unlikely a candidate as his UK counterpart, the rise and rise of this self-confessed socialist, peace campaigner, former conscientious objector and avid critic of the moneyed classes in a notoriously pro-capitalist and conservative United States is remarkable.

In a February 2016 Huffington Post poll, Sanders’ is polling at 36.8 per cent in an aggregated poll of 29 polling organisations monitoring the 2016 National Democratic Primary. To be polling at nearly 37 per cent against an establishment candidate like Clinton (who is, admittedly, at 50.2 per cent) is nothing short of astonishing.

The net effect for Clinton has been a refocusing of her social justice rhetoric, with an increased emphasis on the very same policy positions that Sanders has been espousing. Following the struck match result in Iowa and the apparent 60 per cent to 40 per cent victory to Sanders in the New Hampshire Primary, income inequality and the minimum wage will inevitably feature in Clinton’s stump speeches in the lead up to the South Carolina primary, notwithstanding that she currently holds a pretty comfortable 63.2 per cent to 33.3 per cent lead according to the polls.

Justin Trudeau’s recent victory in Canada’s general elections delivered the largest-ever numerical increase in seats recorded for the Canadian Parliament. Trudeau took the Liberal Party of Canada from a lack-lustre third-position with 36 seats to a victory that saw the party secure nearly 40 per cent of the popular vote and 184 seats in a commanding mandate to form a comfortable majority government.

In the aftermath of the Paris tragedies of November 2015, Trudeau’s commentary was scrupulously measured and cautious, in stark contrast to comments by Hollande in France, Cameron in the UK or the more aggressive protagonists among Australia’s conservative political and media.

The 50/50 split by gender, reinforced by a multi-ethnic and multi-faith cabinet has led the 29th Canadian ministry to be dubbed one of the most diverse of any western democracy. Right out of the blocks, Trudeau’s ministry has begun work on shifting the taxation burden away from the middle class towards the rich, and significantly increasing the Syrian refugee intake to 25,000.

When questioned on the make-up of his cabinet, and in particular why there were 50 per cent women, Trudeau’s now famous reply was “because it’s 2015” – a statement clearly tilting at his progressive agenda.

While arguably more center-left than his UK and US brethren, Trudeau is a self-declared feminist, is resolutely pro-choice on abortion, supports the legalization of marijuana and is a champion of religious freedom.

Perhaps more pointedly, Trudeau’s foreign policy agenda revolves around peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and the reduction of Canadian troops in foreign (particularly Middle-Eastern) conflicts.

Trudeau is, by any measure, a long way from the hardline conservatism of his predecessor, Stephen Harper, and has been pejoratively labeled as: shaggy-haired; gaffe-prone; subject to depthless impetuosity; and, above all, a democratic-socialist in the bleeding-heart liberal mold.

The outstanding success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK general elections (notwithstanding the re-election of a conservative government) has made the SNP the third-largest political party by membership and overall representation in the UK House of Commons.

The party’s success as a social democratic party is built on much the same basis as Trudeau’s Liberals in Canada and Corbyn’s platform with UK Labour – the environment, social justice, progressive taxation, affordable social housing and an intriguing anti-nuclear stance (Scotland has four nuclear power stations and two nuclear-capable military bases (Clyde and Neptune) which provide significant employment opportunities for Scottish workers).

A potential (although not predicted) coalition of SNP and UK Labour would cause significant headaches for the UK’s Tories at the next UK general elections in May 2020.

In Greece, Tsipras’ Syriza party has had a more checkered but nonetheless revealing history. In reaction to crippling austerity measurements that Syriza claim were being imposed by Germany, Tsipras came to power with a modest 36 per cent of the vote.

In the snap election of September 2015, Syriza was returned on much the same margin despite the failure of Tsipras’ coalition government to achieve the progressive policy outcomes that it had originally sought a mandate for.

On the other side of the political divide, the inexplicable rise of real estate tycoon and reality television personality, Donald Trump, as the front-runner for the Republican (GOP) Presidential Nominations also challenges the centrism theory.

Trump (on 35.5 per cent) is comfortably ahead of his nearest rival, Ted Cruz (18.5 per cent), and is well ahead of the rest of the most ultra-conservative cadre of GOP candidates in United States history.

The increasing momentum of social-democratic movements and their counter-weights around the world makes a considered study of mass-appeal politics and policy in the Australian context a worthwhile exercise.

The rise and rise of Corbyn and Sanders from the left and Trump et al. from the right, suggests that more extreme policy, coupled with decisive leadership and populist policy is at least as likely a recipe for electoral success as the centrist line.

For the Australian Labor Party, rather than shying away from a progressive social democratic platform and strong, idealistic leadership, the strategists at Labor’s National Secretariat may need to offer an alternative to Dyrenfurth’s ‘more vanilla’ centrist mantra and give the electorate a real alternative to garner success at the ballot box in 2016.


As perhaps befits a conservative, I am more cynical than the writer above.  I believe that policy plays a secondary role in any election.  People elect a person, not a platform.  An attractive personality, like the Gipper, will win every time. And Tsipras (Greece) and Trudeau (Canada) are clearly attractive personalities.  Even Sanders is, in his way.  He at least conveys sincerity.  British Leftist, Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, is not an attractive personality and his popularity ratings are making the Conservative party very happy

And Trump most definitely fits the mould of a popular personality.  He has very little in the way of firm policies at all.  But what he says and the way he says it sounds good and cheering to a lot of people. People do like a strong leader and Trump oozes strength and confidence.  Tsipras and Trudeau also convey great confidence and self-assurance. And what did Mitt Romney convey?  Nothing.

And the rising star in Britain's Conservative party -- Boris Johnson, said in some polls to be the most popular man in England -- is nothing if not self-confident and is an attractive and cheerful personality generally.  So if Britain votes to leave the EU, he will most likely become Prime Minister overnight. Johnson is heading the "leave" vote while the present PM wants  Britain to stay in the EU.

The House of Commons has the power to change Prime Ministers at any time.  I am betting that a lot of Americans wish that Congress could toss Obama out.  In Britain, Parliament can do exactly that sort of thing. The supremacy of Parliament is a pretty good idea.  Britons fought a civil war to enshrine it.

Policies do matter but they are secondary in winning elections


No, BO, You Caused the Rise of Trump

Barack Obama held a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday where, standing in front of a Canadian flag, he denied that he caused the rise of Donald Trump. “What I’m not going to do is to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken,” Obama said. “And what’s interesting … there are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, who are troubled by the direction of their party. I think it is very important for them to reflect on what it is about the politics they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire, and to do some introspection. Because, ultimately, I want an effective Republican Party.”

Sure he does.

As I wrote just two weeks ago in The Trump Freight Train, despite his decidedly liberal “New York values” and the fact that his brilliantly timed and superbly calculated rhetoric is mostly fragrance and not substance, Trump’s appeal is sustained because that rhetoric affirms a broad spectrum of anger — anger that has been seeded by Obama’s unprecedented executive arrogance, and the failure of Republicans to counter his populist policies. So confused are some Republicans that they no longer can distinguish between “conservative” and “establishment” candidates.

Seven years of Obama’s repressive regime has fomented despair, delusion and division among the ranks of Republican voters – so much so that some are willing to take leave of their senses and join a cultish movement with a self-promoting charlatan as its head. History is replete with examples of such movements, and the tragic result – the suppression of Liberty. Most conservatives, many moderates and even some centrist Democrats are exhausted, and consequently, some will settle for anything other than what they perceive to be “status quo.”

The Obama effect was plain in 2010, giving rise to the most authentic grassroots movement in generations – the Tea Party. As a result, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House, retaking control in the biggest shift since 1948. They gained six seats in the Senate and the gains were wide and deep nationwide, as Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislative races, an all-time record. That gave Republicans control of a majority of state legislatures and 29 governorships. But, regrettably, establishment Republican leaders in the House excluded the new conservatives from leadership positions.

The fact is, Obama caused Donald Trump, and Obama, ever the political strategist, is using this opportunity to embarrass the Republican Party, hoping to shore up the general election for Hillary Clinton.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)