Friday, May 06, 2016

Will Trump hatred Confirm Obama's Radical Supreme Court Nominee!

Major Conservative organizations and media outlets are right now beginning their push to force Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Their argument: They believe Garland is a better nominee than anyone Trump or Clinton/Sanders would nominate to fill Justice Scalia’s seat.

Let me set this argument straight.

Over his career, Merrick Garland had four chances to vote against the 2nd Amendment and he took every single one of them.

In 2000, Merrick Garland voted to reinterpret the law and allow the Federal government to keep a database of American gun owners. The law explicitly states that no registry can be maintained, but Garland voted to allow the database as long as it was called an “audit log” and not a registry…

In 2005, Garland voted against rehearing Seegars v. Gonzales, meaning that he believes the 2nd Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.

That same year, another panel of judges reached a different decision and determined that Americans do have the right to own a firearm. Garland tried desperately to rehear and overturn that ruling. He failed and that case would go on to be reaffirmed by the Supreme Court with Scalia's Heller decision.

In 2012, Merrick Garland voted to give the government the power to prosecute someone for possessing an automatic weapon even if the defendant had no idea the firearm was fully-automatic.

The only reason that you and I are allowed to purchase, own, and carry firearms is the fact that Justice Scalia wrote the 5-4 Heller opinion affirming that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right.

If Merrick Garland is confirmed, he will undo this ruling and dismantle the Second Amendment. That is a fact!

I understand that emotions are high right now. Whether you supported Trump or Cruz or Kasich, it’s going to take time to create party unity.

That’s not what this emails is about, though. This email is about stopping the powers-that-be from making a terrible error.

Nothing has changed from yesterday. Confirming Merrick Garland would be a grave mistake. It would mean the end of the 2nd Amendment and, most likely, a rewriting of the 1st Amendment as well to give Government control over our political speech.

This can’t be allowed to happen, folks.

Whether you are planning on voting for Trump or not, nothing has changed to make Merrick Garland palatable.

Up until now, we have been able to stop this nomination from going through by holding Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley’s feet to the fire. They alone have the power to move this nomination forward and with your help, we’ve bombarded them with hundreds of thousands of faxes saying “Don’t You Dare!”

But over the past few weeks, the Democrats found a chink in the armor. They have discovered a parliamentary maneuver to bypass the GOP leadership entirely. Harry Reid is about to file a Motion to Discharge.

Like a Discharge Petition in the House of Representatives, this is a parliamentary maneuver that can bypass regular order and force a vote on Obama’s nominee.

Once this vote is held, it will take just a handful of RINOs to vote with the Democrats to push the nominee through.

We have identified at least 16 Republican Senators who are open to voting for Obama’s nominee.  That number will grow now that conservatives are pressuring them to hold a vote.

Don’t let Congress surrender to Obama’s anti-gun nominee! FaxBlast and force Congress to shoot down any attempt to confirm Obama’s radical Supreme Court nominee!

This is not a joke. It’s not an exaggeration. Democrats are forcing a vote and there is more than enough RINO support to get Obama’s nominee onto the bench.

If that happens, we will see the Supreme Court overturn every conservative 5-4 decision from the past decade.

Overturning Heller and giving the government the power to abolish your individual right to own and carry a gun;

Overturning Citizens United and giving the government the power to punish you for speaking out politically during an election year;

Overturning Burwell v Hobby Lobby and giving the Federal government the power to force business owners to violate their religious conscience.

The list goes on and on and on…

Don’t let Republicans cave on this. FaxBlast and demand that they hold the line and stop the RINOs from giving in to Obama’s radical anti-gun Supreme Court nominee!



Quit whining about Trump

Many Republicans are bemoaning the populist ascendancy of front-runner Donald Trump as if it were the end to the republic itself; that we are somehow entering a new age which is the equivalent of the runaway mobs with their guillotines during the French Revolution. Surely tyranny will follow.

What a bunch of nonsense.

Here is a clue for those just waking up to the political phenomena that we are witnessing: Don't blame Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or even Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.). Blame those in the Washington political establishment who refused to stand up to President Obama's destroying what remained of the rule of law under the Constitution. Blame those who accepted the premise that allowing the federalization of our nation's schools (at all levels) was acceptable and could be managed.

We are in post-constitutional government. This is not a good thing, but it is objectively true. Congress has ceded all of its authority to the executive branch. The Supreme Court has ruled in King v. Burwell, with a GOP nominee agreeing, that the actual words in legislation don't matter, and can be reinterpreted however the executive branch decides suits its purpose. The GOP in Congress continues to give lip service to things like executive amnesty and concern about the borders while funding Obama's every move. The GOP in Congress pretends to want to stand up to Iran while giving Obama's Iran deal an OK through the original Corker bill.

Congress, the branch of the government that was supposed to be the closest the people, is on life support for all intents and purposes — and has been for years. And with it, the consent of the governed has effectively been eviscerated.

After the disappointments of the 2010 and 2014 Republican congressional landslides, the people understand this, and that is why they are now flocking to a Trump whom they see as their last, best hope of staving off the forces of darkness that are destroying the nation. They don't care about the Constitution per se; we have allowed Americans to graduate from high school without having any appreciation for its genius. They don't care about free-market theories; they have seen their jobs outsourced with big corporations and big government rigging the system against them. And they don't care about speeches at the border; they want someone whom they believe has the strength to tell everyone to go pound sand and send the illegal immigrants back to wherever they came from.

The appeal of Trump is an expression of democracy and representative government, not a rejection or end to it. He is representing his supporters by offering them a voice they have lacked — and he's doing a better job at it than any of his competitors.

The fact that Trump has no identifiable ideology beyond doing what is in America's best interest, as he sees it, is a refreshing change from the politicians offered since President Reagan, and that is why so many people gravitate to him.

I voted for Cruz. But I certainly am sentient enough to understand why the American people have had enough of the business as usual, and have gone with someone who scares the enemies of this country so much that they are already violently protesting him.

And into this mix, we have the GOP Congress blithely proceeding as if nothing has changed, studiously avoiding anything resembling a fight for the future of the nation in the hopes that their meek acquiescence will be rewarded because the other guys are nuts.

Any questions why Trump is swamping everyone in the Republican primaries? If GOP politicians are looking for someone to blame, they merely need to look in the mirror to find their quarry. It was their own failure to properly represent their own constituents that created a rich environment for an outsider like Trump to succeed.

The emergence of Trump is not the end of democracy; it is affirmation that, in fact, democracy in America — if not the constitutional rule of law — is alive and well. Stop whining.



Don't Underestimate Trump's Support

Such is the state of discontent among voters that Trump is now all but the presumptive Republican nominee after trouncing Ted Cruz in Indiana Tuesday. Cruz and John Kasich quit the race, leaving Trump with no opposition and about 200 more delegates to win. That says a lot about the failed establishment and the state of our country after eight years of Barack Obama.

So, in one of the great ironies of our generation, a billionaire casino mogul and narcissistic philanderer will now head the party of social conservatism. And yet the lesson is clear: Don’t underestimate Trump’s support in the general election.

Some in the commentariat are understandably angry that voters rejected principled conservatism in favor of a crass blowhard they believe will simply blow up Washington. For the record, writes National Review’s Kevin Williamson, “Americans and Republicans, remember: You asked for this. Given the choice between a dozen solid conservatives and one Clinton-supporting con artist and game-show host, you chose the con artist. You chose him freely. Nobody made you do it.”

Williamson isn’t wrong and he’s far from alone among conservative thinkers and writers, but bitterness isn’t helpful, even if Trump supporters can be extraordinarily nasty in chastising us nonbelievers. Bitterness won’t convert a single Trump supporter, nor, arguably, at this point should it. With the primary battle now effectively behind us, the focus turns to the general election and Hillary Clinton. (Or Joe Biden — more on that from Mark Alexander later today.) Like it or not, either a Democrat or a Republican will be our next president.

The more charitable way to view this election cycle is that Trump established unshakeable support from those who looked at the crowded field of more standard Republicans and essentially said:

Why would we want more of the same? We lost with moderate squishes like Dole, McCain and Romney, and Bush was a disaster, so why not try something completely different? Instead of rebuilding the rest of the world — or apologizing to it — why not make America great again?
Trump benefited from three primary factors that we’ve outlined before: The Obama effect, the large fratricidal field of contenders (who spent most of their resources attacking not Trump but each other), and unceasing Leftmedia attention. Mainly, Trump’s supporters (like the rest of us) are just tired of watching yahoos in Washington trash our country.

Having warned against underestimating Trump’s chances in the general election, he faces a daunting task. He trails badly in the polls, and is even more widely disliked than Clinton (no small feat). As of today, the RealClearPolitics average shows Clinton up by 6.5%. And the same Leftmedia that propelled him to the nomination will now eviscerate him in service to the Democrat National Committee, possibly driving his poll numbers even lower.

More important than national polls, however, there’s this little thing the Founders created called the Electoral College. To reach the White House, a candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes. Unfortunately for Republicans, the current map gives a distinct advantage to Democrats.

Assuming Clinton wins Florida given her large lead in the polls there, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza breaks down the math: “If Clinton wins the 19 states (and D.C.) that every Democratic nominee has won from 1992 to 2012, she has 242 electoral votes. Add Florida’s 29 and you get 271. Game over.”

For Republicans, the math isn’t so good. Using the same time frame as his standard, Cillizza says, “There are 13 states that have gone for the GOP presidential nominee in each of the last six elections. But they only total 102 electorate votes. That means the eventual nominee has to find, at least, 168 more electoral votes to get to 270. Which is a hell of a lot harder than finding 28 electoral votes.”

November is a political lifetime away, and a lot will happen between now and then. Will Clinton be indicted for mishandling classified information? Will Trump lose the lawsuit against Trump University? Will two badly fractured parties unite behind their respective nominees?

Republican primary voters have made their choice. We think it was a poor one, but we also don’t underestimate Trump’s ability to overcome all the negatives and, against all odds, win in November.



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, May 05, 2016

Prison for Goldman Sachs executives?

Finance is full of gray areas, and getting fuller of them. Over-expansive monetary policy, pursued in the U.S. since 1995 and with fanaticism since 2008, makes those gray areas blacker, larger and more dangerous. This is not some new discovery; the Cantillon Effect, discovered by Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon (1680s-1734) after the failure of the 1716-20 Mississippi Scheme, postulated that expansionary monetary policy constitutes a transfer of money away from old money to new, encouraging financial wrong-doing and worsening wealth inequality. The evil effect of funny money is as clear now as it was in 1720, and Goldman Sachs in its funny-money incarnation is merely today’s equivalent of the get-rich-quick brokers jostling each other on the Rue Quincampoix.

One gray area in finance is insider trading, the one financial crime which the SEC prosecutes with fanaticism, throwing quite small malefactors into jail for lengthy terms. In many senses, insider trading, which was not illegal in Britain until 1980, is a victimless crime. Only very infrequently are the losers from insider trading activities aware of any losses; they have bought securities freely based on the knowledge available to them at the time.

In any case, there are more valuable forms of insider information than advance knowledge of the next quarter’s earnings or an upcoming takeover. The entire specialist system on the New York Stock Exchange relied for its profitability on knowledge of the order flow in the stocks concerned, which the specialist needed to do his job, but which also gave him a major informational advantage over those who came to him to execute trades. Being a specialist was a very profitable business, and it’s difficult to imagine a non-machine stock exchange without specialists or jobbers with inside information of the order flow, which of course they trade on.

Trading desks that have a substantial market share in foreign exchange, bonds and other financial instruments similarly have “inside” information superior to that of their clients, and make money therefrom. That was why the derivatives market grew so rapidly; it was only moderately beneficial to end users, and probably a net detriment to portfolio investors, but it provided a huge stream of income to the brokerage community, because it gave them more opportunities for trading on insider knowledge. Similarly, “fast trading” rests for its profitability on knowing the market order flow a millisecond or two before your competitors; again, this is insider information, and trading on it should on a strict reading of the regulations be illegal and, by SEC precedents, punished with jail sentences.

There are many other gray areas in finance, most of which are highly profitable to the brokerage community. The barrier between gray and white is basically represented by the phrase “caveat emptor,” requiring participants to be vigilant against scams and rip-offs; that between gray and black is formed by transactions that can reasonably be characterized as outright fraud.

The $5 billion Goldman settlement in January related to Goldman Sachs sales of subprime mortgage packages to investors in 2006, on which it appears that Goldman’s own investigations had determined that some of the mortgages were very likely fraudulent, a fact not disclosed in the offering documents. That appears to me to cross the line from gray to black in the world of investment banking. If Goldman knew the statements they were making to investors about the mortgages were untrue, they had a duty to amend those statements, otherwise the offering document would have been fraudulent.

I write here as a journalist with only the sketchiest knowledge of the various transactions involved; it’s possible there were extenuating circumstances. However, if in fact the offering documents relating to the securities offered were inaccurate, and Goldman, the issuing bank, knew them to be so, then the transaction was fraudulent. At that point it crosses the line from grey to black. A $5 billion fine, the cost of which falls on the Goldman Sachs shareholders of 2016, not on those of 2006, and not on the executives who carried out the transactions and only to a limited extent on Goldman Sachs top management, is not the appropriate punishment. For fraud, involving large financial sums, prison sentences are the appropriate punishment, as are doled out for the much less economically heinous crimes involving insider trading.

Similarly, the “Abacus” transaction, in which the junior Goldman trader “Fabulous Fab” Tourre arranged to defraud German banks on a set of mortgage collateralized debt obligations in the interest of another Goldman client, involved only civil penalties, again paid primarily by Goldman Sachs shareholders. Fraud is a serious criminal offense, allowing which makes the capitalist system impossible to operate. Criminal penalties, probably including imprisonment, should have been imposed both on Tourre and on those up his chain of command who authorized and encouraged him to carry out the offense. Regulatory bureaucrats who get jollies and bonuses for extracting large amounts of money from Wall Street banks are imposing penalties that, being paid by shareholders, are no deterrent at all to the senior management of the institutions involved.

There are several other substantial examples of Goldman Sachs malfeasance, where proper ethical controls should have blown a whistle and where legal penalties should have been imposed on the executives involved and their superiors. The 2.8 billion euros loan to Greece in 2001 disguised as a cross-currency swap, thereby allowing Greece to evade the Maastricht Criteria for euro membership, has cost both the Greek people and the whole world hundreds of billions of dollars. Imprisonment should have followed, both for the Greek officials responsible for the transaction and for the Goldman Sachs executives who enabled it. Also the $300 million fee on a $3 billion bond issue for 1MDB, a public sector entity of an A-rated sovereign credit, was direct robbery of the Malaysian people and should again have resulted in jail for all concerned.

It is very clear that Wall Street investment banking is a business where the regulators need to force some prison sentences from time to time, with job losses right up the chain of command, in order to shove the business back towards the white side of gray. In the case of Goldman Sachs, this deterrent effect has been altogether missed – CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein is still, extraordinarily, in the job he assumed in May 2006. There were not even any huge losses inflicted on Goldman Sachs during the crisis, because the $13 billion of credit losses which Goldman incurred on its AIG credit default swaps (most of which represented profits from betting against the market in which they were simultaneously issuing securities to investors) when the AIG CDS business failed were bailed out by the $185 billion provided to AIG by taxpayers.

The real difficulty is that investment banking needs to clean up its act, returning its ethical standards to those of 40 years ago and reducing the remuneration of investment bankers, especially on the trading desk, to more manageable levels, thereby raising the profitability of the business to a level that more properly reflects the risks involved. Probably there also needs to be some substantial downsizing of the investment banking business, and exit of overcapitalized firms like Barclays and Deutsche Bank that are no good at it. At the same time, as in Britain, the regulators need to “ring fence” deposits that are acquired using the FDIC $100,000 guarantee to which Goldman Sachs as a bank is now entitled. If Goldman wants to use that guarantee to attract deposits and go into the credit card business, they are welcome to try, but should do so in an entity entirely separate from the gambling casino that is their trading desk.

Investment banking used to be an economically useful business with high ethical standards and modest but comfortable returns. It needs to get back to that, losing most of the casino, losing the excessive remuneration and above all losing the tendency to defraud clients, which is not an economically useful occupation.



Collectivism: America’s Greatest Disease

Men vs. Women;  Heterosexuals vs. Homosexuals; Theists vs. Atheists; Blacks vs. Whites.

What do these battles have in common? They are all predicated on the belief that you can judge the character of each individual based upon a collectivized label. Clearly not all men are the same, and neither are all women, but that doesn’t stop politicians and pundits from acting as if they can apply a singular lifestyle prescription to each individual based upon their gender. The ‘I know what’s best for you’ mentality of both liberals and conservatives has driven the American people to form tribes based around hollow perceptions of mass identity. Feminists believe that women should aspire to rise to the highest levels of business. Reactionary anti-feminists argue that the ‘natural’ place for women is in the home. The truth of the matter is that these generalized examinations of the nature of women are based on the false idea that human beings are bound to a certain role based upon collective identity.

Humanity is full of variation. It is a crime to stifle that variation in the pursuit of political power. American politics is a game of force. Whomever controls the government can force everyone to adapt to their personal value system. The easiest way to obtain the power of force is to collectivize. Our mob rule political system has driven us to abandon our individuality in pursuit of a shred of our values. That is in fact all that is left once the game is over. When we subscribe to tribalism in government, we abandon all hope for a free society. After all, the foundation of freedom is individual liberty. People should be free to decide what is best for them. They should not be forced into a role prescribed by the government or society. They shouldn’t be left with just a shred of the life that they wish to pursue.

Most of the tribalist battles that we see forced upon us are nothing but distractions. So many of the social conflicts in American society are the result of meaningless labels devised to sell books, amass power, and keep us all in tidy cages. Sheryl Sandberg thinks women should ‘lean in’. Suzanne Venker thinks men should be the providers. I think both should mind their own business. Of course, minding one’s own business never sold many books.

White, black, believer, and atheist. Sure, these words have meaning, but from a social standpoint they don’t carry nearly as much weight as we have convinced ourselves. When you pierce the heart of society, you will find that there are only two labels which truly matter: individualist or collectivist. You have a choice to decide whether you want to define your life and be an individual, or whether you want to subscribe to a prepackaged role and join a mindless collective.

Shared interests are fine, and forming clubs can be a very healthy activity. However, when we begin to focus entirely on the collective rather than the individuals within society, we begin to lose focus on reality. Remember, someone may be an atheist but that doesn’t mean that they are waging a war of Christmas, and someone may wave a Confederate flag but that doesn’t mean they hate blacks. There is nothing wrong with being an atheist or owning a Confederate flag, it is however wrong to force others to subscribe to your identity. The difference between individualism and collectivism is the difference between flying a Confederate flag in your front yard, and forcing your neighbor to fly one as well. It’s time to move beyond collectivism in American society and focus on the only thing that matters: the individual.



The eating of humble pie is about to begin

British PM  should 'reach out and apologise' to Donald Trump, his adviser says

David Cameron should apologise for his description of Donald Trump as "divisive, stupid and wrong", according to an adviser to the US presidential hopeful.

George Papadopoulos said it would be "wise" for the Prime Minister to "reach out in a more positive manner" to the Republican front-runner.

Mr Cameron was trenchant in his criticism of Mr Trump last December, when Parliament debated a petition to ban him from the UK over his call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".

The PM told the House of Commons he opposed a travel ban on Mr Trump, but added: "I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong. If he came to visit our country I think he would unite us all against him."

Mr Papadopoulos, an adviser to the property tycoon and reality TV star, told The Times: "First we need an invitation. Of course if the United Kingdom extended an invitation it would be a tremendous show of unity and a wonderful spectacle.

"That invitation has not yet been extended ... but if it is it would be received in a positive way."

Asked if Mr Trump would forgive Mr Cameron's comments, Mr Papadopoulos told the newspaper: "I can't speak directly for him but it would seem that if Prime Minister Cameron is serious about reaching out, not only to Mr Trump's advisers but to the man himself, an apology or some sort of retraction should happen.

"To see Mr Cameron come out as the most vocal opponent was uncalled for. Considering that we believe that the UK-US relationship should be a cornerstone, not just of Nato policy but elsewhere, it would be wise for him to reach out in a more positive manner to Mr 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)


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Trump may seem Crazy but he has Sensible Foreign Policy Views

Despite Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s reality show candidacy, his recent foreign policy speech put forth a realistic view of the world and a largely credible foreign policy to deal with it. Continuing his poke at the political establishment, the maverick candidate proposed a viable alternative to the bi-partisan foreign policy consensus, which uses unneeded and profligate military interventions overseas as the primary U.S. foreign policy tool.

As opposed to the interventionist, neo-conservatism of the Bush administration and the equally meddling liberal hawkishness of Hillary Clinton, Trump got back to basics and let Americans citizens know that his foreign policy would safeguard American national interests first—not those of foreign countries, including providing for their security while they freeload.

He laudably said that military intervention would be used only as a last resort, after diplomacy and economic sanctions were used—and even the latter would be used sparingly.

Rather than using military power in a vain attempt to export democracy by force into foreign countries that are unreceptive to it, as the United States did in Iraq and Libya, Trump said that the United States should promote its values through leading by example. This policy is smarter because democracy better takes root when people in a country accept it willingly rather than having it shoved down their throats at gunpoint. In only four out of 18 attempts since 1900 has the forcible U.S. export of democracy succeeded.

Echoing the more traditional, less interventionist, and much more effective U.S. foreign policy that was the norm before the Cold War began, and which has been long forgotten, Trump said that the United States would “not go in search of enemies.” This restrained foreign policy served the United States well from its birth in the late 1700s to 1947—when it began to police the world—because the country has been gifted geographically to be far away from the world’s conflict zones.

To make his case for a more restrained U.S. foreign policy, Trump convincingly noted the twin foreign policy disasters of the Bush and Obama administrations in trying to export democracy using military power and nation building—in Iraq and Libya—that have instead caused chaos in the Middle East and allowed the terror group ISIS to fill the vacuum. He noted that he had opposed Bush’s Iraq War from the start, because the invasion would destabilize the Middle East and strengthen the Islamist regime in Iran, both of which occurred.

Although Trump has been excessively critical of China in trade and economic matters, he expressed a desire to work with that country if it worked with the United States. The United States should try to have better relations with a nuclear-armed nation that is rising in economic and military power and political influence. As for Russia, he saw a common interest in fighting Islamist terrorism and believes that the United States and Russia could ease their strained relations. In both cases, he wants to seek common ground, correctly saying that neither country needed to be a U.S. adversary. One needn’t fully trust these two nuclear-weapon states or agree with their domestic political systems to appreciate their need for a security buffer zone in their respective regions and the need to work with them on specific issues when it is in U.S. national interest to do so.

Finally, Trump realizes a central problem in U.S. foreign policy: U.S. resources have been overextended in policing the world and providing for the defense of wealthy allies that need to do more for their own security. He threatened that if these countries didn’t do more, the United States should let them defend themselves. Trump realizes that unless the United States threatens to do less, these allies will never increase spending on their own defense. Also, he recognizes something that much of the U.S. foreign policy elite gives short shrift—long-term U.S. security requires more emphasis on the health of the American economy.

Despite Trump’s usual campaign bluster, his foreign policy views are largely well argued and based on knowledge of and stark admission of numerous past instances of excessive and failed military meddling overseas.



Peggy Noonan on The Donald (excerpt)

In my continuing quest to define aspects of Mr. Trump’s rise, to my own satisfaction, I offer what was said this week in a talk with a small group of political activists, all of whom back him. One was about to begin approaching various powerful and influential Republicans who did not support him, and make the case. I told her I’d been thinking that maybe Mr. Trump’s appeal is simple: What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him, is that he is on America’s side.

And that comes as a great relief to them, because they believe that for 16 years Presidents Bush and Obama were largely about ideologies. They seemed not so much on America’s side as on the side of abstract notions about justice and the needs of the world. Mr. Obama’s ideological notions are leftist, and indeed he is a hero of the international left. He is about international climate-change agreements, and leftist views of gender, race and income equality. Mr. Bush’s White House was driven by a different ideology — neoconservatism, democratizing, nation building, defeating evil in the world, privatizing Social Security. But it was all ideology.

Then Mr. Trump comes and in his statements radiate the idea that he’s not at all interested in ideology, only in making America great again — through border security and tough trade policy, etc. He’s saying he’s on America’s side, period.

And because people are so happy to hear this after 16 years, because it seems right to them, they give him a pass on his lack of experience in elective office and the daily realities of national politics. They accept him even though he is a casino developer and brander who became famous on reality TV.

They forgive it all. Not only because they’re tired of bad policy but because they’re tired of ideology.

You could see this aspect of Trumpism — I’m about America, end of story — in his much-discussed foreign-policy speech this week. I have found pretty much everything said about it to be true

He certainly jumbles up the categories. Bobby Knight, introducing him at a rally in Evansville, Ind., on Thursday, said that Mr. Trump is not a Republican or a Democrat. The crowd seemed to like that a lot.

Those conservative writers and thinkers who have for nine months warned the base that Mr. Trump is not a conservative should consider the idea that a large portion of the Republican base no longer sees itself as conservative, at least as that term has been defined the past 15 years by Washington writers and thinkers.



The Wall Street Journal Duped!

Am I the only one who noticed this thing? I was away on vacation and unable to post when this came to my attention. Please help me to embarrass the WSJ- Send this out and post it anywhere you can!

The cover of last Friday’s Wall Street Journal had this ridiculous example of Islamic Fauxtographic Journalism:

This is another classic example of Islamic “fauxtography”. The picture is so obviously staged that I feel embarrassed for the photo editor who selected it. To imagine that a toddler could be pulled out of the wreckage alive is fanciful enough but, okay, miracles do happen. But look again. How could the grimy “rescue worker” possibly have dug the baby out of the rubble. The kid doesn’t have a spot on his clean white tee shirt and socks. And don’t tell me that the dust on the rescue worker is light colored and wouldn’t show, I’ve raised six kids and I know that a white tee shirt shows everything! That kid’s mother must have known he would be starring in the latest promo shots for the Jihad and put him in a brand new outfit. Anyway, the child’s pants are dark blue and nothing shows there either. That’s without even asking, "how could he have escaped being trapped by all that falling masonry with nary a nick or cut on his big, round, pink head?

The truth is, there is a well documented and very sad history of this kind of “journalism” albeit most has been directed at vilifying Israel and the US. Pallywood and fauxtography have a long history. I’ve written about it before by PBS here .  Perhaps the most infamous example was the filming of the non-death of Mohammed al Durah that was exploited to touch off the emotional reaction that fed into the first intefada. It includes some of the most pathetic ruses ever swallowed by a media hungry for images and emotions. My favorite (I wrote about it here) was the Iraqi woman who was photographed during the battle for Sadr City holding up two bullets that she claimed an American soldier fired at her home. Unfortunately for her, and the media stooges who reprinted the picture, the bullets she brandished were live rounds, still shiny and unfired in there brass cartridges. So what did he do, lady, throw them at you?

The whole thing would be funny were it not so dangerous. Western media pipeline this stuff all the time - right from the cesspools of Jihadi propaganda to the living rooms of The West- no filter at all. Until stuff like this gets identified and ridiculed, it will keep on twisting the public debate and anesthetizing the survival instincts of our culture.

If you had no other clue to the falsity of the picture of the "rescue", all you had to do was look at its provenance. Agence France, by way of a Jihadi photographer- Just like much of the propaganda from the middle east (including the al Durah affair by Charles Enderlin), funneled through French media by Arab/Islamic photographerss on the ground... Oh, by the way, the bullet lady came by way of Agence France too.


You have to be clever to lie convincingly and Arabs are dim bulbs -- as the above shows


Florida Hotel Firm Gives Workers Amazing, Low-Cost Healthcare

Rosen Hotels & Resorts is best known for putting up tourists at its seven hotels in central Florida, but the hospitality company deserves to become even better known for its remarkable health plan: It covers almost everything for its 2,724 employees, yet it spends about 40 percent less per worker than the national average. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman, the hotel’s achievement is due to the singular vision of its president and founder, Harris Rosen.

Although Rosen manages to provide comprehensive coverage and keep down costs at the same time, what’s especially remarkable are the health benefits the company’s policies have delivered: 93 to 95 percent of enrollees follow through on getting their prescriptions refilled, compared to only 25 to 30 percent nationwide; its employees’ cancellation rate for medical appointments is almost one-tenth the national average; and when Rosen’s workers require hospital stays, they require an average of two fewer days than non-employee patients using the same facilities. On top of all this, Rosen’s employees tend to be older and have poorer health than the general population.

What’s the “secret” to Rosen’s success? Three components seem especially important: Rosen health director Kenneth Aldridge closely monitors employees’ medical test results and quickly phones those at risk for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, encouraging them to stay on top of their treatments. Rosen also makes sure that workers can easily get to a treatment facility, via its 12,000 square foot medical center. In addition, the company’s hiring policy precludes smokers and conducts random drug tests to ensure compliance. “What Rosen does is obviously doable – in a company with fewer than 3,000 employees, in a reasonably concentrated geographic area,” Goodman writes. “Can other employers do the same? I don’t know. But if they find time to get to Orlando, Harris Rosen will give them an earful of his thoughts.”



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, May 03, 2016

The Surprising Weakness of Invincible Institutions

Richard Fernandez (of "Belmont Club" fame) is always an interesting thinker and he makes a case below for expecting all tyrannies to collapse under their own weight eventually -- including the tyranny of America's Leftist-led bureaucratic state.  He gives various examples of it happening rather suddenly and unexpectedly but omits the very best example of that -- perhaps because he thinks we know all that already.  I am referring to the quite sudden implosion of the Soviet state.  What always seemed to be a powerful and solid entity suddenly just melted down.  

The unanswered question, however, is how long it will take for a tyranny to crumble. The Soviet beast blighted people's lives for 70 years and the personal dictatorships of Tito in Yugoslavia, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal lasted for the lifetimes of the tyrants concerned.

Just an excerpt below as the article is rather long

Winston Churchill memorably predicted the end of the German East Asia Squadron when it slipped out of Tsing-tao harbor under Admiral Maximilian von Spee. "He was a cut flower in a vase, fair to see yet bound to die."  Winston knew that the Spee's s squadron however imposing and bravely led had no means of support.  Sooner or later it would come to grief, which it duly did.

The same calculation must apply to the giant bureaucracies that pretend to rule the world.  At first glance there is nothing seemingly more formidable than the interlocking shield wall of public institutions and public sector unions. One writer argued that JFK was "the real killer of Laquan McDonald" because he first authorized public employee unions and "police unions make it impossible to get rid of bad-apple cops".  Camelot had created a Frankenstein monster able to run roughshod over everything.

Yet it's a monster which just can't seem to do much.  For example the Washington Metro, the pride of the nation's capital, is collapsing.  Once "it was a rail system of the future. Then, reality set in."  Perhaps the most telling indicator of fundamental weakness is the public pension crisis.  A study by the Hoover Institution covering 97% of all state and local governments found that politicians have little or no ability to meet their pension promises.

Most state and local governments in the United States offer retirement benefits to their employees in the form of guaranteed pensions. To fund these promises, the governments contribute taxpayer money to public systems. Even under states’ own disclosures and optimistic assumptions about future investment returns, assets in the pension systems will be insufficient to pay for the pensions of current public employees and retirees. Taxpayer resources will eventually have to make up the difference. ... In aggregate, the 564 state and local systems in the United States covered in this study reported $1.191 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities (net pension liabilities) under GASB 67 in FY 2014. ...

What is in fact going on is that the governments are borrowing from workers and promising to repay that debt when they retire.

How do bureaucracies get so big they can't pay themselves? Assertions that it "can't possible happen" are refuted by history in instances ranging from Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, which turned thousands of clergy starving into the streets to recent examples like the collapse of Soviet pensions or the debasement of the Greek pension system.

In each of these cases the impossible happened, just as it's happening in Venezuela, where Joel Hirst describes the collapse of a whole system. "I never expected to witness the slow suicide of a country, a civilization. I suppose nobody does."



Venezuela is the socialist object lesson of our generation

Venezuela’s largest bill, the 100-bolivar note, today barely pays for a loose cigarette at a street kiosk.

Even a year ago when we were there, when the worst of the inflation hadn’t yet kicked in, we had to take wads of cash in duffle bags just to buy lunch. Preparing for a day’s shopping felt like doing a drug deal as you counted out dozens or even hundreds of notes just to buy a jacket or shirt.

It breaks my heart to know that this is an entirely man-made tragedy, with desperate people turning to crime, prostitution, violence, and dying of preventable disease and if something doesn’t change soon, malnutrition.

I spoke on the lessons of what I saw in Venezuela at last years Australian Libertarian Society conference, and said then that it was only a matter of time before there would be blood in the streets. The locals we spoke to told us they expected open warfare and blood running the gutters before the next presidential elections. On the current trajectory, they’re not far wrong.

The military are bought-and-paid-for Chavistas, now loyal to President Maduro, and they’ve shown already their willingness to use deadly force against anyone guilty of protesting against the government. The people are disarmed, apart from the drug traffickers and the like, and so when the pay cheques to the military stop, and that will have to happen soon given that the government can’t even afford to keep printing money… then those guns will be used by the military to take food, money, and whatever else they want from the disarmed public.

Watch and learn. Socialism doesn’t lead to equality, peace, prosperity, or unicorns frolicking in the garden with rainbows coming out their asses. Socialism impoverishes an entire nation, hitting the poorest people the hardest. It leads first to where Greece is, then if you continue it leads to Venezuela, then if you persist with the madness you’ll soon arrive at North Korea.

Socialism leads to totalitarianism as the government continuously clamps down on anything and everything in a desperate attempt to keep a doomed-to-fail system working. There is no other trajectory for socialism to take.



Black Power, A Done Deal

A couple of people recently have drawn my attention to the 2014 article below by Fred Reed. It does make a striking  point

It is curious that blacks, the least educated thirteen percent of the population, the least productive, most criminal, and most dependent on governmental charity, should dominate national politics. Yet they do. Virtually everything revolves around what blacks want, demand, do, or can’t do. Their power seems without limit.

Courses of instruction in the schools, academic rigor, codes of dress, rules regarding unceasing obscenity, all must be set to suit them, as must be examinations for promotion in fire departments, the military, and police forces. Blacks must be admitted to universities for which they are not remotely qualified, where departments of Black Studies must be established to please them. Corporate work forces, federal departments, and elite high-schools must be judged not on whether they perform their functions but on whether they have the right number of blacks.

Do laws requiring identification to vote threaten to end multiple voting? The laws must go. Do blacks not like Confederate flags? Adieu, flags. Does Huckleberry Finn go down the Mississippi with the Nigger Jim, or Conrad write The Nigger of the Narcissus? These must be banned or expurgated to please blacks who haven’t read them or, usually, heard of them. Do we want to prevent people coming from regions infested with Ebola from entering the United States? We cannot. It would offend blacks.

We must never, ever say or do anything that might upset them, as virtually everything does. It is positively astonishing. One expects the rich and smart to have disproportionate power. But America is dominated from the slums.

One might think that a single set of laws should apply to all citizens, and that things should be done without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin, and that all should have the same rights and responsibilities. It is not so.

The dominance of the media by blacks is impressive. If a white shoots a black to defend himself, it becomes national news for weeks, or months, and riots follow, but when blacks engage in their unending racial attacks on whites, the media demurely look the other way. The attackers are never black. They are “teens.” Reporters who say otherwise are likely to be fired. In effect, the thirteen percent censor the national press.

Much of their mastery has become so deeply engrained as no longer to be noticed. There is the DC Bob. In the bars and restaurants of Washington, a man weary of an incompetent affirmative-action hire in his office will, before commenting to a friend, lean forward, lower his voice, and look furtively over both shoulders to see whether anyone might overhear: The DC Bob. People don’t even know that they are doing this.

Defensive behavior by whites has become nearly universal. A sort of Masonic recognition-ritual occurs among white people recently introduced in social gatherings. Is the other person, for want of better terms, a liberal or a realist? Dare one speak?  One of them will say something mildly skeptical about, say, Jesse Jackson. The other rolls his eyes in shared disgust. The secret handshake.  Or, if the listener is politically correct, the bait is not taken. In either case, blacks dominate political conversation.

So extreme is the power to control speech and even thought that politicians have to avoid mentioning watermelons, that neighborhoods of high crime must delicately be called “sketchy” instead of “black,” though all understand what is meant.

The avoidance of racial reference is not an even-handed if despotic attempt to oppose racism since, as we all know, blacks freely apply any derogatory wording they choose to whites. In short, they rule. Which is amazing.

The dominance extends to children. When in junior high one of my daughters brought home a science handout with common chemical terms badly misspelled. “Is your teacher black?” I said without thinking. “Daaaaaaady!” she said in anguish, having made the connection but knowing that she shouldn’t have. Blacks control what you can say to your own children in your own home. And of course if I had gone to the school and demanded that the teacher be fired, it would have been evidence of my depravity and probable KKK membership.

The word “unbelievable” has lost all force.  Things that ought to be unbelievable, and once were, have become routine.  Still, there it was: Don’t expect a junior-high teacher to have the level of literacy I had in the fourth grade. Instead, make it dangerous to notice her stupidity.

This is not new, and it hasn’t changed. In 1981, in a piece for Harper’s, I wrote:

“The bald, statistically verifiable truth is that the teachers' colleges, probably on ideological grounds, have produced an incredible proportion of incompetent black teachers. Evidence of this appears periodically, as, for example, in the results of a competency test given to applicants for teaching positions in Pinellas County, Florida (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater), cited in Time, June 16, 1980. To pass this grueling examination, an applicant had to be able to read at the tenth-grade level and do arithmetic at the eighth-grade level. Though they all held B.A.'s, 25 percent of the whites and 79 percent of the blacks failed. Similar statistics exist for other places.”s

 Nothing has changed.

Blacks now control the presidency and thus, most importantly, the Attorney Generalship. In this the staggering political power of blacks is most evident. Obama was elected because he was black: an equally unqualified and negligible white pol would have had no chance. He is now fiercely pushing the most profound transformation of America ever attempted, by opening the floodgates to immigration from the south. To effect this end he apparently will simply ignore Congress. The people will not be consulted.

It is hard to imagine why he does it except from racism, from a desire to get even with whites by enrolling their country in the Third World. A short-sighted policy, yes, since Hispanics do not like blacks and will soon be more powerful—but that will come a bit later.

Note that self-inflicted problems of blacks consume inordinate amounts of public and governmental attention, even though only blacks can solve them. I might say, “should solve them,” since they never have and we all know they won’t. Yet we hear about them endlessly.

Are blacks in Chicago killing each other in large numbers? The solution might be to stop doing it, might it not? While I do not wish these young dead, I can do nothing to stop them, and it is not my problem. Are black children growing up illiterate? This gives me no pleasure, and I have various reasons both selfish and moral to wish it were not so. But perhaps the solution is for their parents, or parent, to see that they do their homework, or even to teach them. I cannot do this for them, and it isn’t my problem.

Why do I have to hear, endlessly, about the “achievement gap”? Whether of genetic or cultural origin, it seems as immutable as Avogadro’s number, and I can do nothing about it.  I raise my children. They need to raise theirs.

 They rule. It is astonishing.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- about antisemitism in the British Labour party. Apparently the British Left have rediscovered the Haavara Agreement -- with much chortling.


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, May 02, 2016

Vladimir Putin likes The Donald

The wise-heads are afraid of THIS?  Is this why they call Trump dangerous?  This is surely a triumph for peace.  If Trump had been a Democrat, the Left would be celebrating this

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump has found himself an unlikely supporter in the form of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A foreign policy speech made by Mr Trump on 27 April, in which the Republican candidate spoke about his hopes for an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations, was well received in Russia, CNN reported, with people in Moscow praising his attitude.

“I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia, from a position of strength only, is possible,” Trump said during his speech.

The Russian president said at his annual press conference back in December: “He is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with Russia, to a closer, deeper one. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome that.”

He described also described Mr Trump as a ‘flamboyant’ and ‘outstanding’ man, and appeared keen to work with the Republican frontrunner in future.

For his part, Mr Trump has previously returned the compliment, stating: “I will get along - I think - with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable world. I would talk to him.

Mr Putin and Mr Trump’s latest bout of mutual appreciation comes amid increasingly tense relations between the US and Russia, in a week that saw a Russian jet barrel roll over a U.S. plane above the Baltic Sea in what the US described as an ‘aggressive’ move.



The reason people like Trump

Two Australian academics give their analysis.  There's something in what they say

People just seem to get Donald Trump.  And while he’s obviously intelligent enough to build an empire, people understand him because he’s actually kind of basic and just uncomplicated.

A Melbourne academic has been looking into why people are serious about electing Trump as the next president and he has found it’s because society speaks his language, we get his dumbed-down policies and got to know him from the comfort of our couches as he fired people off The Apprentice reality show.

Trump is involving more people in politics, because he cuts through the jargon.

In an article for Pursuit, Melbourne University School of Social and Political Sciences academic Dr Raymond Orr, said we lived in a simplified and dramatised society that was fuelled by technology and he blames reality television for giving Trump a serious shot at the presidency.

Dr Orr said people have seen Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, as a serious application for America’s top job.

Trump can get down on the same level as society, and Dr Orr said his campaign was tailored to people using technologies like social media, where his message could be dumbed-down.

The academic said screen time could blur our sense of reality and Trump’s television show made people feel like they knew him personally.

The academic believes as things on our screens creep into our loungerooms, people begin to treat them as part of their lives and harbour a certain connection to them. Therefore he believes a society that has so much screen time is more susceptible to Trump’s “brash and concept-free message”.

Melbourne University Department of Management and Marketing academic Dr Marcus Phipps wrote on Pursuit that Trump was an unlikely frontrunner and one who broke every rule of a conservative presidential candidate.

“He has been critical of religious leaders, most notably having an argument with the Pope,” Dr Phipps said. “He has even questioned the military record of war hero and former Republican nominee John McCain stating that ‘I like people who weren’t captured’.”

Trump has made many controversial comments, he accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists who were bringing drugs and crime into America and has shocked some with his pro-gun stance.

Dr Phipps said Trump’s campaign should have fallen over ages ago, but instead it kept on strengthening.  He believes it’s because Trump is an “authentic” politician.

“Trump is not scripted," Dr Phipps said.  “It is hard to believe that anyone who openly criticises the Pope and John McCain’s military record has a team of script writers behind him.

“Trump is not stylised. The candidate’s hair alone proves that he is not image obsessed.”

Dr Phipps said Trump was an unfiltered politician and one who appealed to lazy voters.  Watching Trump’s campaign could be similar to watching a reality show.

Dr Orr said the substance of campaigns had become superficial with politicians attacking other politicians sometimes more often than sharing policies.

Dr Orr said Trump’s simple and hurried messages fitted in perfectly with society’s addiction to new media.



Regulations Are the Ties That Bind

It might not have its own government, citizens or flag, but the world’s fourth largest economy has become a force — and a threat — to be reckoned with. What constitutes this mysterious economic might? None other than the $4 trillion in federal regulations imposed by the U.S. government. You read that correctly. If the cost of government regulations were its own country, it would boast the fourth-largest GDP in the world — bigger than the economies of Germany, France, Brazil, Russia, Italy, and the United Kingdom. And it’s just a couple of hundred billion away from matching the entire federal budget.

This bombshell comes courtesy of a new study by the Mercatus Center, which analyzed data from 1977 through 2012 to discover the cumulative costs of regulations (or, more accurately, taxes by a different name). While most studies of the economic impact of regulations have focused on select industries and/or specific regulations, the Mercatus study looked at data across 22 industries.

The picture ain’t pretty.

The study found that regulations, “by distorting the investment choices that lead to innovation, [have] created a considerable drag on the economy, amounting to an average reduction in the annual growth rate of the US gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.8 percent.”

In plain English, if regulations had remained steady at 1980 levels, our economy would have been 25% — or $4 trillion — larger in 2012 than it was. This represents a whopping $13,000 loss per person in just one year. All to ensure every aspect of our lives is compliant with Uncle Sam’s Big Government Guidebook.

Unfortunately, President Ronald Reagan wasn’t joking when he quipped, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Just how many regulations are we talking about? As of December 2015, more than 81,000 pages-worth of federal rules, proposed rules and notices. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), these pages included 3,378 final rules and regulations, of which 545 affect small businesses. And this didn’t count 2,334 proposed rules.

Regulations have become such a behemoth that CEI created, which looks at “the other national debt — the cost of regulation.” (In case you’re wondering, as of last week, 2016 already has 1,001 new federal rules.)

Not surprisingly, the regulatory landscape only grew worse under Obama. As Investor’s Business Daily notes, Obama’s administration foisted 172 “economically significant” regulations on Americans in his first term, and 200 more since, thus far outpacing both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And Obama’s rules include things like, oh, the government takeover of the health care industry and the EPA’s coal-killing carbon emissions rules.

It’s little wonder our annual GDP growth has been sluggish at best. So sluggish that in 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics called slower GDP growth “the new normal.” GDP growth in the first quarter of 2016 was a woeful 0.5%, the weakest in two years. (It was an anemic 1.4% in the previous quarter.) And Obama is on track to be the only president in U.S. history without a single year of 3% growth on his watch — he’ll be doing well to average 1.55%.

Remember those wondrous numbers while Obama’s sycophants at The New York Times' feature their puff piece in which he “weighs his economic legacy.”

“I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” Obama mused. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.” Go back and read the aforementioned numbers and see if you agree that he “managed this better.”

What’s the solution? For one thing, eliminating thousands of pages of federal regulations. It’s straightforward but hardly palatable to the government elites who believe they’re most qualified to run your life.

Frighteningly, the alternative is the continued growth of the regulatory nation that keeps our economy in chains.



English has a big lack of words for "State"

Is it perhaps an Anglo-Saxon dislike of government that makes it difficult for us to make immediately clear statements about government? The old Sapir-Whorf codability hypothesis would certainly suggest that.

For instance, we don't have a separate word for an intermediate level of government, a State government. In the English-speaking world -- The USA, Canada, Australia -- such forms of government are common and important: Governments running Texas, California, Alberta, Ontario, Queensland and Victoria, for instance.
So a self-governing nation can be called a state but so can one part of that nation.

Germans are much better off. They can use Staat, Reich, Land and Nation. A State government, for instance is a "Land" government in Germany, while the nation is a "Reich".

And "Reich" is both an extremely useful German word and one that CANNOT adequately be translated into English. That deficit gets a bit embarrassing when we try to translate what the people of China call their nation. The best we can do is to translate it as: "Middle Kingdom". But that is absurd. China is NOT a kingdom. In German, by contrast, "Mittelreich" is a perfectly adequate translation.

I use German words quite a bit. It would probably help if more German words became better known. We use heaps of French words, so why not?

Germans of course don't have it all their way. They don't, for instance, have a good word for "pink". They usually translate it as "rosa" or "nelke". But both those words are names for flowers and both flowers can of course have a variety of colors. Who can forget the yellow rose of Texas, for instance? So Germans should probably adopt our word. Maybe some do.

But A BIG gap in German is that they have no word for "happy". Does that tell us something? Maybe. The nearest word to happy that they have is "gluecklich", but that just means "lucky. Many years ago I was talking to an old German Jewish refugee who had narrowly escaped Hitler. I asked him if he was happy. He knew I understood a bit of German so he said: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not". He knew he was lucky to escape but missed the high culture of Germany. And he needed two languages to say that concisely

So let us have more linguistic borrowing! -- JR


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, May 01, 2016

Canada’s Great Leap Forward

Feel the ecstasy of the Leftist writer below as Canada prepares to emulate Chairman Mao. And they even refer to the policy set as a "Leap". Yet another demonstration that the Left don't remotely understand economics.  That the policies described would be very impoverishing is not considered.  It's just dreams, divorced from reality.  But the policies concerned would be very disruptive and Leftists like that.  It is probably the real reason behind the "Leap".  Mao's version was certainly very disruptive.  The consolation is that, if implemented, the associated disasters will get Pretty Boy thrown out on his ear at the next Federal election

In early 2015, 60 representatives from Canada’s Indigenous rights, environmental, social and food justice, labour and faith-based movements met to draft a progressive vision for Canada’s future. The idea came from a belief that “now is the moment for a transformative agenda to come from outside electoral politics, to build a wave of popular support that will put real pressure on the Federal Liberal government.”

The result is the Leap Manifesto.

The manifesto, described as “a call for a Canada based on caring for the Earth and one another”, makes 15 demands. It starts with respect for “the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land” and full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It urges the shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050, and commits to no new long-term fossil fuel extraction projects.

Other demands include community control of clean energy systems, investment in public infrastructure, high speed rail and affordable public transport, resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, and a localised ecological agriculture system.

It also advocates an end to damaging free trade deals, welcoming refugees and migrants, expanding low-carbon professions like caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public interest media, a universal basic income and removing corporate money from political campaigns.

These proposals would be fully funded by an end to fossil fuel subsidies, financial transaction taxes, increased resource royalties, increased corporate and high income taxes, a progressive carbon tax and cuts to military spending.

To me, this sounds like a common sense list of good public policy. It would rein in the cowboy extractivism of fossil fuel companies, end the toxic relationship between polluters and politicians, offer masses of good clean energy jobs, deliver justice to the most vulnerable parts of our population and secure a sustainable future for human beings on a liveable planet.

To the establishment complex of banks, government, industry, think tanks and the corporate media, a common sense plan to avoid climate catastrophe is actually an INSANE RADICAL MARXIST AGENDA TO RUIN THE ECONOMY.

The Leap Manifesto has made quite a splash since its release during the Canadian federal election campaign in September 2015, pretty much dividing opinion along these lines.

Thus far 200 organisations, 40,000 Canadians and numerous celebrities (celebrities!!!) have backed the manifesto while the media has hysterically dismissed the document as “economic madness”, a “prescription for economic ruin” and my personal favourite, “another step towards re-enacting the Bolshevik revolution”.

The great strength of the manifesto is its grassroots origins and political independence.

As a “People’s Platform”, it’s not limited by the constant compromises of electoral politics but can still make waves in Parliament. The Green Party of Canada have highlighted similarities between their own platform and the Leap Manifesto. The National Democratic Party (NDP), who were the favourites for the 2015 election until they were outflanked by Justin Trudeau’s disgusting handsomeness, passed a resolution at their convention earlier this month to support the Leap Manifesto and debate its principles at the grassroots level over the next two years. They lost their leader, Tom Mulcair, partly due to his unconvincing and shifting positions on key aspects of the manifesto.

A majority of voters from the Greens, NDP and governing Liberal Party support the Leap.



The White Working-Class Meltdown in the U.S.

They are the ones least able to protect themselves from perverse government politcies -- e.g. when a less qualified black gets a job they should have got -- or an illegal offers to work for less than the legal minimum wage

During an era of headline-grabbing advances in medicine, the United States is experiencing a health cataclysm.

The latest straw in the wind is last week’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that life expectancy for white women declined slightly from 2013 to 2014.

Other studies indicate rising death rates for a white working class that is in a slow-motion economic and social meltdown. Self-destructive behaviors are outpacing medical advances against killers like heart disease and cancer. Hopelessness may not be a condition studied by epidemiologists, but it is cutting a swath through a segment of white America.

A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences late last year highlighted the bleak American exceptionalism of this crisis. It focused on middle-aged whites. In the 20 years prior to 1998, their mortality rate fell about 2 percent a year, in keeping with the trend toward lower mortality in other advanced countries. Then the rates diverged. Rates kept declining in countries like France and Britain. They begin increasing for middle-aged whites in the United States.

The slide in the wrong direction was driven by drug and alcohol poisoning, chronic liver diseases and suicide. In 1999, middle-aged blacks had higher rates of poisoning than whites; by 2013, rates were higher for whites. Overall, mortality rates for middle-aged blacks and Hispanics have declined since 1999, as they have increased for whites.

The trend among whites breaks down neatly by levels of education. The mortality rate for middle-aged whites with a high-school degree or less has jumped since 1999; the rate for middle-aged whites with some college but not a degree stayed roughly flat; the rate for middle-aged whites with a college degree or more dropped. If there is such a thing as white privilege, no one has told less-educated whites.

The most direct indicator of rising distress is that the suicide rate in the United States is at a roughly 30-year high, according to new figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate increased for white middle-aged women by 80 percent from 1999-2014. Although the data wasn’t analyzed by education level, researchers believe it tracks with other findings about increased working-class mortality.

It is not just the middle-aged. The New York Times analyzed death certificates earlier this year. The good news is that the gap in death rates between young-adult blacks and whites is closing fast; the bad news is that soaring death rates for whites account for much of the change.

The Times found that the cohort of whites aged 25-34 is the first to have higher death rates than the generation before it since the Vietnam War, and the trend is particularly pronounced among the less-educated. The rate of drug overdoses among young whites quintupled from 1999-2014.

The white working class is dying from the effects of a long-running alienation from the mainstream of American life. As one researcher told the Times, “they are not in stable relationships, they don’t have jobs, they have children they can’t feed and clothe, and they have no support network.” It is a formula for loneliness, stress and despair.

The Washington Post recently wrote a compelling portrait of a woman in rural Oklahoma who died at age 54 of cirrhosis of the liver. It was a tale of joblessness, of martial breakdown, of alcohol abuse, of repeated heartbreak, until she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She drank herself to death. At her funeral, the Post reporter noted the plots of friends and relatives who had died at ages 46, 52 and 37.

The authors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper say middle-aged whites may be a “lost generation.” That is depressing enough, but there is no guarantee only one generation will be lost.



A Superior Vision

Walter E. Williams

Last month, I celebrated the beginning of my 81st year of life. For nearly half that time, I have been writing a nationally syndicated column on many topics generating reader responses that go from supportive to quite ugly. So I thought a column making my vision, values and views explicit might settle some of the controversy.

My initial premise, when looking at all human issues, is that each of us owns himself. I am my private property, and you are your private property. If you agree with that premise, then certain human actions are moral and others immoral. The reason murder is immoral is that it violates private property. Similarly, rape and theft are immoral, for they, too, violate private property. Most Americans will agree that murder and rape violate people’s property rights and are hence immoral. But there may not be so much agreement about theft. Let’s look at it.

Theft is when a person’s property is taken from him — through stealth, force, intimidation, threats or coercion — and given to another to whom it does not belong. If a person took your property — even to help another person who is in need — it would be called theft. Suppose three people agreed to that taking. Would it be deemed theft? What if 100,000 or several hundred million people agreed to do so? Would that be deemed theft? Another way to ask these questions is: Does a consensus establish morality?

Self-ownership can offer solutions to many seemingly moral/ethical dilemmas. One is the sale of human organs. There is a severe shortage of organs for transplantation. Most people in need of an organ die or become very ill while they await an organ donation. Many more organs would become available if there were a market for them. Through the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, Congress has made organ sales illegal. Congress clearly has the power to prevent organ sales, but does it have a right? The answer to that question comes by asking: Who owns your organs? One test of ownership is whether you have the right to sell something. In the case of organs, if it is Congress that owns our organs, then we have no right to sell them. That would be stealing from Congress.

People have the right to take chances with their own lives. People do not have a right to take chances with the lives of others. That is why laws that mandate that cars have brakes are consistent with liberty and seat belt laws are not. You might say, “Aha, Williams, we’ve got you there because if you don’t wear a seat belt and you have an accident and turn into a vegetable, society is burdened with taking care of you!” That’s not a problem of liberty. It’s a problem of socialism. Nobody should be forced to take care of me for any reason. If government assumes the job of taking care of us, then Congress can control just about every aspect of our lives. When I was a rebellious teenager, my mother frequently told me, “As long as you’re living in my house and I’m paying the bills, you’re going to do as I say.” That kind of thinking is OK for children, but not for emancipated adults.

I have only touched the surface of ideas of self-ownership. The immorality associated with violation of the principle of self-ownership lies at the root of problems that could lead to our doom as a great nation. In fiscal 2015, total government spending — federal, state and local — was about $6.41 trillion. That’s about 36 percent of our gross domestic product. The federal government spent $3.69 trillion. At least two-thirds of that spending can be described as government’s taking the property of one American and giving it to another. That’s our moral tragedy: We’ve become a nation of people endeavoring to live at the expense of others — in a word, a nation of thieves.



In 2015, 19,000 Criminal Illegal Immigrants Were Released From Custody

More than 19,000 criminal illegal immigrants were released from custody in 2015, according to new figures disclosed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

The 19,723 criminal releases—as the government refers to them—represent a 35 percent decrease from fiscal year 2014.

The phrase “criminal releases” can apply to a wide range of crimes, including traffic violations—such as driving without a license—to more serious offenses like sexual assault, rape, and murder. Their crimes include misdemeanors and felonies.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for less immigration, the 19,723 criminal releases had a total of 64,197 convictions among them. More than 200 of those were homicide convictions. Most are traffic offenders.



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.

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