Friday, August 05, 2016

No, the Constitution Does Not Bar ‘Religious Tests’ in Immigration Law


Of all the ignorant pronouncements in the 2016 presidential campaign, the dumbest may be that the Constitution forbids a "religious test" in the vetting of immigrants. Monotonously repeated in political speeches and talking-head blather, this claim is heedless of the Islamic doctrinal roots on which foreign-born Islamists and the jihadists they breed base their anti-Americanism. It is also dead wrong.

The clause said to be the source of this drivel is found in Article VI. As you'll no doubt be shocked to learn, it has utterly nothing to do with immigration. The clause states, "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (emphasis added). On its face, the provision is not only inapplicable to immigrants at large, let alone aliens who would like to be immigrants; it does not even apply to the general public. It is strictly limited to public officials - specifically to their fitness to serve in government positions.

This is equally clear from the clause's context. Right before the "no religious Test" directive, Article VI decrees that elected and appointed officials "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution[.]" An oath of office customarily requires the official to "solemnly swear" that he or she will support and defend the Constitution, "so help me God." (See, e.g., the oath prescribed by federal law.) The Framers tacked on the "no religious test" clause to clarify that the mandate of a solemn oath before taking office did not mean fidelity to a particular religious creed was required. The same principle informs the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of a state religion.

This is as it should be. The Constitution prescribes very few qualifications for even the highest offices because its purpose is to promote liberty, which vitally includes the freedom to elect whomever we choose, to vote our own private consciences. The principal check on public officials is the ballot box, not the law's minimalist requirements.

As voters, we have the right to weigh a candidate's religious beliefs as a significant part of the total package. We have done so from the Republic's founding - and to this day, virtually all candidates take pains to wear their faith, however nominal, on their sleeves. When the loathsome Jeremiah Wright fleetingly became an issue in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama did not thunder, "Under the Constitution, you must not inquire into my religious beliefs!" He threw the Rev under the bus. When it comes to choosing those who will represent us, we do not limit ourselves by intrusive laws, but we reserve the right to bring to bear any consideration, including religion, that we deem relevant.

What works in the narrow context of qualification for public office does not extend to other aspects of governance - in particular, security.

As we have previously observed, it is specious to claim that the Constitution forbids a religion test in matters of immigration. This is not merely because the Constitution has nothing to say on the matter (for, as we've also noted before, the original presumption was that immigration enforcement would be left to the states, with the federal government limited to prescribing the qualifications for citizenship). It is also because Congress has long expressly made inquiry into religion part of immigration law, specifically, in determining what aliens qualify as "refugees," and whether aliens qualify for asylum.

Unlike the process of scrutinizing and choosing public officials, the public does not get to vet and elect aliens who wish to enter our country. We rely on government officials to do that. It is thus entirely appropriate that intrusive regulations be imposed to limit their discretion. As abominable as the concept may be to transnational progressives, the sovereign in the United States is still "We the People." And just as we have a right to consider the religious convictions of candidates for public office, so too do we have a right to require scrutiny of the beliefs of aliens who petition for entry into our country - a privilege we are under no obligation to confer. This includes beliefs the alien may regard as tenets of his faith - especially if such "faith tenets" involve matters of law, governance, economy, combat, and interpersonal relations that, in our culture's separation of church and state, are not seen as spiritual.

The necessity of examining these principles is driven by Islam. The political class and other opinion elites have campaigned tirelessly, and in collusion with cagey Islamists, to idealize Islam, to portray it as part of the American fundament. Out of intellectual sloth and political correctness, we fail to discern that there is no single, definitive Islam - there is, rather, a wide spectrum of Muslim sects, some of which are deeply spiritual, others just totalitarian political ideologies fueled by religious fervor.

We further fail to acknowledge that Islam is alien to the West. President Obama likes to claim Islam has always been part of our history; he conveniently omits that it is a history fraught with hostility: Barbary corsairs were preying upon American merchant ships in the Mediterranean decades before the American Revolution. And while Western societies are based on tolerance and pluralism, modern Islam's most influential iterations are intolerant conquest creeds that rigorously resist assimilation. Islamist leaders exhort Muslims to integrate into the West but oppose our culture and plant the flag of sharia. Before our eyes, the practice of this "voluntary apartheid" strategy is tearing Europe asunder.

Of course, the fact that the Constitution does not forbid a religious test for immigration does not mean the imposition of one would be prudent policy. We have Muslim friends and allies who embrace the West; who reject fundamentalist sharia-supremacism, resist Islamists, and help us fight jihadists. It would be costly to adopt a policy that slams our doors on them.

Neither, however, can we remain willfully blind to the fact - and it is a fact - that as Muslim populations grow in Western societies, sharia supremacism and the formation of insular communities where jihadism flourishes grow with them. At the moment, France is under jihadist siege, with parts of the country teetering on the brink of violent upheaval. The difference between France and the United States lies not in the kinds of Islam practiced but the size of the Muslim population. France is a country of 66 million, and thanks to its policies of open-borders and indifference to assimilation, Muslims are now 10 percent (perhaps more) of the total population. We, with a total population five times the size, have only half the number of Muslims - about 3 million, roughly 1 percent of our population.

As Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) points out, though, President Obama has orchestrated a dramatic increase in Muslim immigration to the U.S. In just the first five years of his administration, a staggering 680,000 green cards were issued to migrants from Muslim majority countries, a pace that continues - and will continue absent a change in policy. This, Senator Sessions hastens to add, does not include other would-be immigrants, such as the thousands of refugees Obama (and Hillary Clinton, should she succeed him) plan to admit from Syria and other jihadist hot spots.

Is it a coincidence that violent jihadist attacks have increased in our country as the Muslim population has climbed?

Promotion of assimilation and fidelity to the Constitution have been historical bedrocks of immigration policy. Indeed, before immigrants are naturalized as citizens, they must swear what is pointedly called an "oath of allegiance." It calls on them to renounce any foreign sovereigns by whom they have been ruled, and to honor our Constitution - principles that are inimical to sharia supremacism. We should resist a categorical ban on Muslim immigration; but nothing in the Constitution prohibits the commonsense vetting of immigrants for beliefs that are antithetical to our principles, regardless of whether the immigrant perceives such beliefs as religious or political in nature.

We should welcome immigrants who embrace our principles, seek to assimilate into our society, and are value-added for - rather than a strain on - our economy. But if, in an era of jihadist violence, we cannot seriously vet immigrants to determine whether they fit this bill, it would be better to have a categorical ban. And if, based on an illiterate construction of the Constitution, the political class insists that its fictional "no religious test" rule forbids not only a categorical ban but the heightened scrutiny of Muslim aliens, it would be better to prohibit immigration across the board.

The United States government's first obligation is to shield the American people from foreign threats, not to shield foreign threats and render the American people defenseless



A real American

Like Jeff Jacoby (below) I too have known some of the good men who quietly make Western society so healthy, happy and prosperous and I salute them.  I am not as good as they but I do what little I can -- JR

FOR MORE THAN six decades, Frederick Weller belonged to the Plessis Volunteer Fire Department in northern New York State. He had joined in 1955, as soon as he and his young wife and their infant daughter had moved into the little house on County Route 3. Since the house was literally next to the fire station, he was invariably the first to respond when the siren went off.

He was the first once again on the evening of July 19, when the wail of the siren woke him from a catnap in his kitchen. At 85, Fred no longer had the strength and speed of a young man; it had been at least a dozen years since he could suit up to actively battle fires. But he could still pull on his boots, which were always waiting by the kitchen door; he could still reach the fire hall before anyone else; and he could still make sure the station bay doors were unlocked and the exits cleared so that, as firefighters arrived, they could get the trucks and equipment moving without a moment’s loss.

He didn’t make it.

As he reached the steps leading from his porch down to the driveway, he momentarily blacked out — a new medicine had been giving him vertigo — and fell heavily, face first, onto the pavement. The damage was massive. Fred lapsed into a coma as an ambulance, operated by first responders he’d known and worked with for years, rushed him to a helicopter so he could be airlifted to the Syracuse Medical Center. But there was no hope of saving him. He never recovered consciousness and died the next day.

Fred Weller was my father-in-law. That infant daughter, the oldest of seven children, grew up to become my wife. She and I and hundreds of others said good-bye to Fred a few days ago, as friends and loved ones gathered in Alexandria Township to celebrate a life that was modest, hard-working, down-to-earth, and honest. It was lost on no one that his last purposeful act in this life had been an effort to help others. At an age when some might be content to doze, he couldn’t ignore the fire whistle.

My father-in-law earned his living as a school custodian and a handyman-for-hire. He shoveled snow, raked leaves, and cut lawns. He grew vast quantities of vegetables and fruit in a garden behind the house, and gathered fallen timber that could be cut and stacked for firewood. With little formal education and a large family to feed and clothe, he never turned up his nose at a job. And he taught his kids both by example and by instruction that hard work wasn’t optional and thrift wasn’t a choice.

Yet in all his 61 years as a volunteer firefighter, he was never paid a penny. Again and again he answered the whistle, often risking his life to protect the lives and property of others. When he wasn’t responding to emergencies, he was devoting hours to training and maintenance, to fire commission meetings, even, in the old, pre-automation days, to manually turning the siren on when alarms were phoned in. Not for a salary, or a bonus, or a pension, or glory — there was none — but from a commitment to service and from a responsibility to a community that relied upon him.

In my line of work, I can’t get away from the perpetual-motion machine of political dissection and prediction, but the sweaty spectacles in Cleveland and Philadelphia seemed a million miles away from the gratitude and dignity with which my father-in-law was remembered. They seemed not merely distant, but trivial. I found myself thinking that Fred Weller’s conscientious life and eloquent death had more to say about the essential goodness and integrity of American character at its simplest than all the high-flown speeches and promises by all the politicians in the presidential campaign circus.

In a famous essay, Edmund Burke wrote long ago that “to love the little platoon we belong to in society is the first principle (the germ, as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind.”

What would American society and culture amount to without the institutions and relationships that make our communities work — without countless “little platoons” like the Plessis Volunteer Fire Department, and the innumerable other associations on which our national health depends? This country would survive — it would probably thrive — without the political poobahs and media mahatmas who consume such obscene amounts of oxygen. But it would sicken and die without a steady supply of women and men like my father-in-law, who take real pride in filling their days with diligence and useful service, and don’t expect more.

The big-screen razzmatazz for the presidential nominees was undeniably flashy. But it was nothing compared with the sight on Wednesday of a giant American flag, hoisted between two ladder trucks high above Church Street in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., where Fred Weller’s memorial service took place. With mourners and firefighters lining the sidewalk in tribute, and with traffic stopped in both directions, the Jefferson County police, fire, and emergency dispatcher transmitted a “last call” over the staticky radio channel to which my father-in-law had never failed to respond.

“Plessis firefighter Frederick Weller, last call,” came the dispatcher’s no-nonsense voice on the scanner, broadcast on this occasion over a public sound system. “This is the last call for firefighter and commissioner Frederick J. Weller. Until we meet again, old friend. We’ll take it from here.

“Jefferson clear. 12:23.”



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, August 04, 2016

More on the obesity "war"

The latest folly about this:  JAMA has an article recently up called Weight Gain Not an Issue With Mediterranean Diet by Anita Slomski (M.A.).  One would have hoped that a Humanities degree would have made Anita more knowledgeable about people than the average laboratory researcher but it seems not to be the case.

Her conclusion has already been widely quoted so a corrective to it is obviously needed.  The population she studied consisted of overweight diabetics so does a creeping doubt arise from that?  Is that a good population to generalize from?  Is what is true of them likely to be true of all of us? I suggest not. But it is actually worse than that.  Here is a fuller description of the study population:

It is difficult to see how you can draw any generalizations from that set of contrasts.  Even the two "Mediterranean" populations were not regular eaters of a Mediterranean diet but eaters of an "enriched" diet.  Clearly, the study population was not suitable for drawing ANY inferences about the Mediterranean diet.

It is of course all very well to be negative but can I offer better data bearing on the issue?  I can.  And it's real life data.  It's not quantified, sadly, but it is so obvious as to be in little need of that.

I grew up in a Mediterranean village.  It was also an Australian country town, but an exceedingly multicultural one.  About half of the population of Innisfail was of Mediterranean origin, mostly Italians but with Greeks and Spaniards too.  They were basically impoverished peasant farmers who had fled the hard soils of  their homelands for the rich and very well-watered soils of the Australian tropics.  So I think they offer far more in the  way of generalizability than most medical studies that I have seen

And what was there about these Mediterranean folk that was extremely obvious?  After their first flush of youth, they were, to put it politely, very "pyknic" in build.  "Stout" would be another word for it.  Weight gain they had in spades on their Mediterranean diets.  Anita Slomski has got it exactly backwards.


Blockbuster Immigration Poll Demonstrates Americans Want Total Revolution Against Mass Immigration

New polling data shows that it would be virtually impossible for Hillary Clinton to win the general election if the Republican nominee were able to frame the immigration issue in populist terms that emphasize reducing the overall amount of immigration into the country and protecting jobs, incomes, and benefits for the domestic population.

The poll was conducted by Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, in conjunction with Breitbart News Network, and surveyed a random selection of 2,010 registered voters throughout the nation.

“The poll shows that instead of dividing Americans, immigration is an issue where Americans have reached the consensus that it is a problem, maybe the problem,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing.

The polling data suggests that the Republican Party could see overwhelming electoral success if it were able to portray Clinton’s immigration policy as a corporatist attempt to flood the labor supply with foreign workers in order to drive down wages and incomes for American workers.

As the polling data confirms, the most potent framing of the immigration issue is to focus on the numbers and scale of total immigration into the country, and to present the American people with the choice between more immigration and less immigration.

Whereas the media and Democrats try to frame the immigration issue as pitting native-born Americans against foreign-born Americans, the polling reveals that Republicans should offer a completely different framing of the issue– one which focuses on the interests of the domestic American population– and all of its members (i.e. foreign-born, native-born, etc.)–versus the interests of the world’s seven billion people that live outside the United States.

In other words, the media understands the words “pro-immigrant” not in the context of helping actual immigrants (i.e. people living inside the United States, who were born elsewhere). Rather the media and Democrat politicians uses the term “pro-immigrant” in a completely alien way– i.e. in a way which focuses on trying to help foreign nationals who do not live in America. The new polling information underscores the importance for Republicans to reclaim the historically correct understanding of “pro-immigrant”– as meaning defending U.S. residents who have already immigrated to the country against competition for jobs and resources from foreign nationals residing outside of the country.

Below are some of the poll’s findings:

– By a nearly 6 to 1 margin, U.S. voters believe immigration should be decreased rather than increased.

Every three years, the U.S. admits a population of new immigrants the size of Los Angeles. Sixty three percent of voters said that this figure is too high, whereas only a minuscule 11 percent of voters said that number is not high enough. Only 13 percent of Democrats and Independents— and only 7 percent of Republicans— said immigration should be increased.

– By a 25-to-1 margin, voters believe that unemployed American workers should get preference for a U.S. job rather than a foreign worker brought in from another country.

Seventy five percent of voters believe American workers should get U.S. jobs, whereas only 3 percent of voters believe foreign workers should be imported to fill U.S. jobs.

Democrats agreed with this sentiment by a margin of roughly 30-to-1 (69.8 percent who think jobs should go to unemployed Americans whereas only 2.3 percent think foreign labor should be imported). African Americans agree with this sentiment by a margin of 65-to-1 (78.5 percent who think unemployed Americans should get the jobs versus 1.2 percent who think foreign workers should be brought in). Hispanics agree with this sentiment by a margin of 30-to-1 (59.1 percent versus 2.0 percent).

There are roughly 94 million Americans operating outside the labor market today. Yet every year the U.S. admits one million plus foreign nationals on green cards, one million guest workers, dependents, and refugees, and half a million foreign students.

– Sixty one percent of voters believe that any politician, “who would rather import foreign workers to take jobs rather than give them to current U.S. residents, is unfit to hold office.”

Yet politicians on both sides of the aisle, such as Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have pushed policies that would do just that. Clinton supported a 2013 immigration expansion bill, which would have doubled the number of foreign workers admitted to the country at a time when millions of Americans are not working. Speaker Ryan has a two decade long history of pushing for open borders. Ryan has called for enacting an immigration system that would allow foreign nationals from all over the globe to freely and legally enter the country and take any U.S. job. Speaker Ryan has explained that he believes foreign labor is necessary to help corporations keep wages low.

– Three out of four voters believe the nation needs “an immigration system that puts American workers first, not an immigration system that serves the demands of donors seeking to reduce labor costs.”

More than seven out of ten African Americans agreed with the sentiment that the nation’s immigration system should prioritize needs of American workers above donors who want to reduce labor costs.

– A majority of U.S. voters (53%) believe “record amounts of immigration into the U.S. have strained school resources and disadvantaged U.S. children.”

– A majority of voters (55%) disagree with Hillary Clinton’s call to release illegal immigrants arriving at the border into the United States and give them a chance to apply for asylum.

A majority of women (51.6 percent) opposed Clinton’s proposal to release illegal immigrants into the interior and allow them to apply for asylum.

– Roughly three out of four voters— including nearly three out of four Democrat voters— believe that “instead of giving jobs and healthcare to millions of refugees from around the world, we should rebuild our inner cities and put Americans back to work.”

African Americans agreed with this sentiment by a 10 to 1 margin (86.3 percent agree versus 8.5 percent disagree). Hispanics agreed by a margin of 5 to 1 (68.9 percent agreed versus 12.6 percent disagreed).

The number of immigrants in the U.S. is currently at a record high of 42.4 million. In 1970, fewer than one in 21 Americans were foreign-born. Today, as a result of the federal government’s four-decade-long green card gusher championed by Ted Kennedy, nearly one in seven U.S. residents was born in a foreign country. If immigration levels remain at the same rapid pace— without any expansions— within seven years, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population will reach an all-time high.

In the 1920s, the last time the foreign-born share of the population reached a record high, then-President Calvin Coolidge hit the pause button for roughly fifty years, producing an era of explosive wage growth and allowing immigrants already in the country to assimilate.

As the polling data suggests, a majority of U.S. voters would be supportive of similar measures to reduce immigration and improve jobs, wages and benefits for the domestic population.



Obama Administration Expands ‘Resettlement’ For Unaccompanied Alien Children

The U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced the "resettlement" of children and adults from several Central America countries in the United States, after a “pre-screen” interview in Costa Rica and “processing” by the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR.

The announcement said Costa Rica agreed to enter into a protection transfer arrangement (PTA) with the U.N. and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and that the U.S. is expanding its already existing Central American Minors program to accommodate more children and some adults from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“Through the Central American Minors [CAM] program, the U.S. government offers an alternative, safe, and legal path to the United States for children seeking protection from harm or persecution in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “Today, we are expanding these resettlement opportunities to additional vulnerable individuals within the region.”

“This will increase the number of individuals to whom we are able to provide humanitarian protection while combating human smuggling operations,” Johnson said.

The announcement also said some minors could come directly to the United States after being screened and interviewed in their home country by DHS officials.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) issued his own statement on Tuesday, criticizing the announcement as a “bad idea” that will not solve the ongoing influx of illegal alien children across the U.S. border and could even allow terrorists to enter the United States.

“We absolutely need to be doing everything we can to control the unaccompanied alien children crisis, but the CAM program is a band-aid for a much-deeper wound,” said Vitter, who is chairman of the Senate Border Security Caucus. “Allowing even more otherwise ineligible immigrants into the United States is not a way to protect these children or American citizens.”

“It’s a known fact that Under the CAM program, illegal immigrants benefitting from President Obama’s executive amnesty are eligible for the program, allowing them to put down even more roots in the U.S.,” Vitter said, noting that in fiscal year 2014 some 68,500 unaccompanied alien children were apprehended crossing the U.S. border.

Vitter said at least one of the radical Islamic terrorists involved in the November 2015 attack in Paris, France entered that country as a Syrian refugee and that the same thing could happen here.

“The U.S. government does not have the capacity to properly vet every incoming refugee, and terrorist organizations can take advantage of the major shortfalls in the refugee process,” the press release accompanying Vitter’s statement said.

In addition, DHS and the State Department announced that new categories of people – not only children -- eligible for “resettlement” are now in place.

“The United States is also pleased to announce an expansion of our existing Central American Minors program, which currently provides children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with a safe and orderly alternative to the dangerous, irregular journey that some children are currently undertaking to reach the United States,” the announcement states.

“As of today, the United States has received more than 9,500 applications for this program, which allows a lawfully-present parent within the United States to request refugee status for their children located in one of these three countries,” said the two departments. “When accompanied by a qualified child, the following additional categories of applicants may also be considered under this program:

* sons and daughters of a U.S.-based lawfully-present parent who are over 21 years old;

* the in-country biological parent of the qualified children;

* caregivers of qualified children who are also related to the U.S.-based lawfully present parents.

The announcement also said some children who are transferred to Costa Rica could be resettled in a third country, if not in the United States.



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, August 03, 2016

Being fat does NOT kill you

An absolutely fascinating study just out in JAMA. Those authoritarian Swedes with their detailed tracking of their population have made possible what would normally be an almost inconceivable study of obesity.  They have done a study which controls for genetic factors.  There are lots of twin registers around but Sweden has such a big one that the researchers were able to look for a needle in a haystack and find it.

They wanted to find not only identical twins with obesity but twins where one was much fatter than the other. As soon as I saw that design, I scoffed mentally and said they would be lucky to find half a dozen of those -- a completely useless sample size.  But because the researchers were looking at a nationwide database, they found, not half a dozen suitable pairs but 4046:  A brilliant sample size that allows great confidence in the results.  Most unusual in medical research.

The full results are below and they are striking.  Decades of medical wisdom have been knocked into a cocked hat.  With twins you have the perfect controls.  Whatever you find is NOT genetic.  It is due to lifestyle and environment.  So this data is miles more conclusive than all previous studies of the question.  And there was NO difference in lifespan or heart attacks according to how fat you were.  Even if you ate your head off all your life, you lived just as long as if you had adopted a so-called "healthy" diet.  I have been saying for a long time that there is no such thing as a "healthy" diet and this is strong reinforcement of that view.

The fatties in the study WERE slightly more likely to get diabetes but there has long been an association between over-eating and diabetes so that is not too surprising.  You can mostly control diabetes just by eating less. The important thing is that the diabetes did NOT kill them.

So this stuy is a body-blow to the obesity "war".  We have the strongest evidence possible that obesity does not kill you.  So what will be the outcome?  Will articles about diet vanish from our newspapers?

Thay should vanish.  But they won't.  The study will be tucked into the back of the minds of a lot of obesity researchers but nothing will change overnight.  The obesity "war" will go on as before.  Eventually, however, some notice will be taken of the study.  Researchers will mention it and GPs will learn of it and patients with weight concerns will be quietly assured that they don't have to be too bothered about their weight.  There will always be social reasons to stay slim -- fat is unattractive -- but medical reasons will be downplayed.

Risks of Myocardial Infarction, Death, and Diabetes in Identical Twin Pairs With Different Body Mass Indexes

Peter Nordström et al.


Importance:  Observational studies have shown that obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death. The extent of genetic confounding in these associations is unclear.

Objective:  To compare the risk of myocardial infarction (MI), type 2 diabetes, and death in monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs discordant for body mass index (BMI).

Design, Setting, and Participants:  A cohort of 4046 MZ twin pairs with discordant BMIs (difference >0.01) was identified using the nationwide Swedish twin registry. The study was conducted from March 17, 1998, to January 16, 2003, with follow-up regarding incident outcomes until December 31, 2013.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The combined primary end point of death or MI and the secondary end point of incident diabetes were evaluated in heavier compared with leaner twins in a co-twin control analysis using multivariable conditional logistic regression.

Results:  Mean (SD) baseline age for both cohorts was 57.6 (9.5) years (range, 41.9-91.8 years). During a mean follow-up period of 12.4 (2.5) years, 203 MIs (5.0%) and 550 deaths (13.6%) occurred among heavier twins (mean [SD] BMI, 25.9 [3.6] [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]) compared with 209 MIs (5.2%) and 633 deaths (15.6%) among leaner twins (mean [SD] BMI, 23.9 [3.1]; combined multivariable adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.75; 95% CI, 0.63-0.91). Even in twin pairs with BMI discordance of 7.0 or more (mean [SE], 9.3 [0.7]), where the heavier twin had a BMI of 30.0 or more (n = 65 pairs), the risk of MI or death was not greater in heavier twins (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.15-1.18). In contrast, in the total cohort of twins, the risk of incident diabetes was greater in heavier twins (OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.61-2.84). Finally, increases in BMI since 30 years before baseline were not associated with the later risk of MI or death (OR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.89-1.05) but were associated with the risk of incident diabetes (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.01-1.26).

Conclusions and Relevance:  In MZ twin pairs, higher BMI was not associated with an increased risk of MI or death but was associated with the onset of diabetes. These results may suggest that lifestyle interventions to reduce obesity are more effective in decreasing the risk of diabetes than the risk of cardiovascular disease or death.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 01, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4104


Vegetarians live longer but what does that tell us?

Nothing basically.  It has long been known that Seventh Day Adventists, who are mostly vegetarians, live longer. But why?  It could be that a strong religious commitment has a destressing effect or it could be that they also deplore smoking. Or it could be that they spend time in church instead of doing dangerous sports.  Church is a pretty safe place. So you just can't disentangle cause and effect in the case of the Adventists.

So it is no surprise that a new study just out --  Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality by Song et al. -- also tells us that vegetarians live longer.  Their data was from two high quality U.S. databases but they appear not to have bothered at all with controls.

And you can understand why.  Vegetarians will mostly be health conscious people with strong will-power and such people will undoubtedly engage in a range of safer behaviors -- smoking less, avoiding dangerous drugs, exercising more, driving more slowly, climbing fewer mountains etc, etc.  And all those things could contribute to a longer lifespan.  Vegetarianism may be only the indicator, not the cause -- JR.


Dick Morris Corrects the Record on Hillary Clinton

Dick Morris is a nationally recognized political campaign adviser, analyst and author. He was the senior political adviser to Bill Clinton before and after his occupation of the White House. He was campaign manager of Clinton's 1996 re-election, and the architect of his successful "triangulation" rhetorical ruse. Clinton's communications director George Stephanopoulos said of Morris, "No single person had more power over [Bill Clinton]."

This week, in a message entitled "What Bill Left Out, Morris corrected the record regarding Clinton's glowing remarks about Hillary Clinton, her personal attributes and professional achievements. Morris's insights into the Clintons are priceless.

What follows is a transcript of Morris's comments:

"Bill Clinton talked at length about Hillary's idealistic work in college and law school, but he omits that she was defending the Black Panthers who killed security guards; they were on trial in New Haven. She monitored the trial while she was in law school to find evidence that could be grounds for reversal in the event they were convicted.

"That summer she went to work for the True-Haft (SP) law firm in CA, headed by True Haft who is the head of the CA Communist Party and that's when she got involved with Saul Alinsky, who became something of a mentor for the rest of her life.

"Then Bill says that she went off to Massachusetts and he went to Arkansas, and eventually Hillary followed her heart to join him in Arkansas. He omits that she went to work for the Watergate Committee and was fired from that job for taking home evidence and hiding documents that they needed in the impeachment inquiry. Then she took the DC Bar exam and flunked it, she went to Arkansas because that is the only bar exam she could pass.

"He talked about how in the 1970's she took all kinds of pro-bono cases to defend women and children. In her memoirs, she cites one which was a custody case and that's it. In fact, in 1975 she represented a guy accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and got him off by claiming the girl had had fantasies of sex with an older man. In 1980 she gave an interview about it and she joked that she knew the guy was guilty but got him off anyway.

"Then Bill discusses Hillary's legal career at the Rose Law firm. He doesn't mention that she made partner when he was elected governor and was only hired when he got elected as attorney general.

"He makes as if it was a public service job — it wasn't. Her main job was to get state business, and she got tens-of-millions of dollars of state business, then hid her participation and the fees by taking an extra share of non-state business to compensate for the fees on state business that she brought in. Her other job was to call the state banking commissioner any time one of her banks got into trouble to get them off.

"Bill speaks at length how Hillary was a mother, juggling career and family, taking Chelsea to soccer games and stuff — that's non-sense. Hillary was a mother but Chelsea in the Arkansas governor's mansion had a staff of nannies and agents to drive her around and people to be with her, and Hillary didn't have to bother with any of that. All of that was paid for by the state.

"He says she became the warrior in chief over the family finances and that was true, and the result is she learned how to steal.

"She accepted a $100,000 bribe from the poultry industry in return for Bill going easy on regulating them, despite new standards. Jim Blair, the poultry lobbyist, gave her $1,000 to invest in the Futures Market and lined up seven to eight other investors and their winnings were all deposited into Hillary's account. She made $100,000 in a year and she was out. That essentially was a bribe.

"[She did] a phony real-estate deal for Jim McDougal and the Madison Bank to deceive the federal regulators by pretending someone else was buying the property. She was called before a grand jury in 1995 about that but, conveniently, the billing records were lost, couldn't be found and there wasn't proof that she worked on it.

"Bill talks about her work on the health care task force but doesn't say the reason it didn't pass was the task force was discredited because the meetings were all held in secret. A federal judge forced them open and fined the task force several hundred thousand dollars because of their secrecy.

"He says that after the health care bill failed in 1994, Hillary went to work on adopting each piece of it piecemeal — mainly health insurance for children.

"That is completely the opposite of the truth. The fact is when that bill failed, I called Hillary and I suggested that she support a proposal by Republican Bob Dole that we cover children, and she said, 'We can't just cover one part of this. You have to change everything or change nothing.' Then in 1997 when I repeated that advice to Bill Clinton, we worked together to pass the Children's Health Insurance Program. I found a lot of the money for that in the tobacco settlement that my friend Dick Scruggs was negotiating.

"Then Bill extols her record in the U.S. Senate. In fact, she did practically nothing. There were seven or eight bills that she introduced that passed; almost all of were symbolic — renaming a courthouse, congratulating a high school team on winning the championship. There was only one vaguely substantive bill, and that had a lot of co-sponsors of whom Hillary was just one.

"Then he goes to her record in the State Department and manages to tell that story without mentioning the word Benghazi, without mentioning her secret emails, without mentioning he was getting tens of millions — $220 million in speaking fees in return for favorable actions by the State Department.

"Also totally lacking in the speech was anything about the war on terror — terror is a word you don't hear at the Democratic Convention.

"Bill says that Hillary passed tough sanctions on Iran for their nuclear program. The opposite is true.

"Every time a tough sanction bill was introduced by Senators Menendez or Kirk, Hillary would send Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman to Capital Hill to testify against it and urge it not to pass, and it was over Hillary's objections that those sanctions were put into place.

"[Liberal columnist] Maureen Dowd called the speech by Bill Clinton "air brushed."

"It was a hell of a lot more than that — it was fiction".



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, August 02, 2016

Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice

A Message For Christians About Donald Trump

Wayne Grudem

Some of my Christian friends tell me they can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump because, when faced with a choice between “the lesser of two evils,” the morally right thing is to choose neither one. They recommend voting for a third-party or write-in candidate.

As a professor who has taught Christian ethics for 39 years, I think their analysis is incorrect. Now that Trump has won the GOP nomination, I think voting for Trump is a morally good choice.

American citizens need patience with each other in this difficult political season. Close friends are inevitably going to make different decisions about the election. We still need to respect each other and thank God that we live in a democracy with freedom to differ about politics. And we need to keep talking with each other – because democracies function best when thoughtful citizens can calmly and patiently dialog about the reasons for their differences. This is my contribution to that discussion.

A good candidate with flaws

I do not think that voting for Donald Trump is a morally evil choice because there is nothing morally wrong with voting for a flawed candidate if you think he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. In fact, it is the morally right thing to do.

I did not support Trump in the primary season. I even spoke against him at a pastors’ conference in February. But now I plan to vote for him. I do not think it is right to call him an “evil candidate.” I think rather he is a good candidate with flaws.

He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.

On the other hand, I think some of the accusations hurled against him are unjustified. His many years of business conduct show that he is not racist or anti-(legal) immigrant or anti-Semitic or misogynistic – I think these are unjust magnifications by a hostile press exaggerating some careless statements he has made. I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has been an unusually successful problem solver in business. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. But the main reason I call him “a good candidate with flaws” is that I think most of the policies he supports are those that will do the most good for the nation.

Seek the good of the nation

Should Christians even try to influence elections at all? Yes, definitely. The apostle Peter says Christians are “exiles” on this earth (1 Peter 1:1). Therefore I take seriously the prophet Jeremiah’s exhortation to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon:

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

By way of modern application, I think Christians today have a similar obligation to vote in such a way that will “seek the welfare” of the United States. Therefore the one overriding question to ask is this: Which vote is most likely to bring the best results for the nation?

If this election is close (which seems likely), then if someone votes for a write-in candidate instead of voting for Trump, this action will directly help Hillary Clinton, because she will need one less vote to win. Therefore the question that Christians should ask is this: Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps a liberal like Hillary Clinton win the presidency?

Under President Obama, a liberal federal government has seized more and more control over our lives. But this can change. This year we have an unusual opportunity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the pro-abortion, pro-gender-confusion, anti-religious liberty, tax-and-spend, big government liberalism that she champions. I believe that defeating that kind of liberalism would be a morally right action. Therefore I feel the force of the words of James: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Some may feel it is easier just to stay away from this messy Trump-Clinton election, and perhaps not even vote. But the teachings of Scripture do not allow us to escape moral responsibility by saying that we decided to do nothing. The prophet Obadiah rebuked the people of the Edom for standing by and doing nothing to help when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem: “On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that . . . foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” (Obadiah 1:11).

I am writing this article because I doubt that many “I can’t vote for Trump” Christians have understood what an entirely different nation would result from Hillary Clinton as president, or have analyzed in detail how different a Trump presidency would be.

Freedom for Christian influence in politics

Significantly, Trump has pledged to work to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment to the IRS code, which has been used for 62 years as a threat to silence pastors from speaking about political issues, for fear of losing their tax-exempt status. This would be a great victory for freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

In short, a Trump-appointed Supreme Court, together with dozens of lower court judges appointed by him, would probably result in significant advances in many of the policy areas important to Christians. It would also open the door to huge expansion of influence for the many Christian lobbying groups known as “family policy councils” in various states, especially enabling them to work for further legal protections for life, for marriage and family, and for religious liberty.

How can we know that Trump won’t change his mind?

“But Trump has changed his mind in the past,” a politically-minded friend said to me. “How do you know that he will do what he has promised? Maybe he’ll betray you and appoint a liberal Supreme Court justice.”

My reply is that we can never know the future conduct of any human being with 100% certainty, but in making an ethical decision like this one, we should base the decision on the most likely results. In this case, the most likely result is that Trump will do most or all of what he has said.

In the history of American politics, candidates who have been elected president have occasionally changed their minds on one or another issue while in office, but no president has ever gone back on most of what he has promised to do, especially on issues that are crucially important in the election. In this election, it is reasonable to think that the most likely result is that both Trump and Clinton will do what they have promised to do. That is the basis on which we should decide how to vote.

And notice how Trump has changed his mind. He continues to move in a more conservative direction, as evidenced by his list of judges and his choice for vice president. Just as he succeeded in business by listening to the best experts to solve each problem, I suspect that he has been learning from the best experts in conservative political thought and has increasingly found that conservative solutions really work. We should applaud these changes.

His choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate is an especially significant indication that he will govern as a conservative. Trump could have picked a moderate but instead picked a lifelong solid conservative who is a thoughtful, gracious policy wizard. Pence is a lawyer and former talk radio host who served 12 years in Congress and had significant congressional leadership positions, so he will be immensely helpful in working with Congress. He is a committed evangelical Christian. He is a former board member of the Indiana Family Institute, a conservative Christian lobbying group in Indiana.

Does character matter?

“But are you saying that character doesn’t matter?” someone might ask. I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.

In addition, if someone makes doubts about character the only factor to consider, that is a fallacy in ethical reasoning that I call “reductionism” – the mistake of reducing every argument to only one factor, when the situation requires that multiple factors be considered. In this election, an even larger factor is the future of the nation that would flow from a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

To my friends who tell me they won’t vote for Trump because there is a chance he won’t govern at all like he promises, I reply that all of American presidential history shows that that result is unlikely, and it is ethically fallacious reasoning to base a decision on assuming a result that is unlikely to happen.

Consider instead the most likely results. The most likely result of voting for Trump is that he will govern the way he promises to do, bringing much good to the nation.

But the most likely result of not voting for Trump is that you will be abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death under Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court, thousands of Christians who will be excluded from their lifelong occupations, thousands of the poor who will never again be able to find high-paying jobs in an economy crushed by government hostility toward business, thousands of inner-city children who will never be able to get a good education, thousands of the sick and elderly who will never get adequate medical treatment when the government is the nation’s only healthcare provider, thousands of people who will be killed by an unchecked ISIS, and millions of Jews in Israel who will find themselves alone and surrounded by hostile enemies. And you will be contributing to a permanent loss of the American system of government due to a final victory of unaccountable judicial tyranny.

When I look at it this way, my conscience, and my considered moral judgment tell me that I must vote for Donald Trump as the candidate who is most likely to do the most good for the United States of America.



Hungary's PM On Hillary's Foreign Policy: 'Bad For Europe, And Deadly For Hungary'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced support Saturday for Trump's stances on foreign policy and migration. He said Clinton and the Democrats' policies would hurt Europe.

Orban is the first leader in the European Union to show preference for either candidate in the 2016 U.S. election. A conservative known for his position on immigration, Orban did not support the EU's plans to resettle thousands of refugees.

The Guardian quoted Orban explaining his position on the American political parties and their policies:

“The Democrats’ foreign policy is bad for Europe, and deadly for Hungary,” he said. “The migration and foreign policy advocated by the Republican candidate, Mr Trump, is good for Europe and vital for Hungary.”

Clinton and the Democrats have praised illegal immigrants and avoided mentioning ISIS during the DNC this week. Orban stated that Trump's stance against terrorism was also good for Europe.

Orban cited the Democrats' support for immigration and "export of democracy," and Trump's stance against such policies, as reasons for Hungary's interests aligning with the Republican presidential nominee's.

Orban explained in a Budapest radio interview in June that the export of democracy is using a country's "own democracy to bring happiness to people from different cultural backgrounds." According to Orban this foreign policy practiced by Europe has led to "catastrophe" in Iraq, Syria, and Lybia.

Like Trump, Orban strongly opposes illegal immigration, and has built a fence to defend the southern border of Hungary.



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, August 01, 2016

Welcome to the Communist Party, U.S.A.

Wearing a white pantsuit, Hillary Clinton plodded out on stage to accept the nomination that she had schemed, plotted, lied, cheated, rigged and eventually fixed a series of elections to obtain.

Then she claimed that she was accepting the nomination of a race she had rigged with "humility”.

Humility is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Hillary Clinton. It is not even the last word. It is not in the Hillary dictionary at all. But this convention was a desperate effort to humanize Hillary. Everyone, including her philandering husband and dilettante daughter, down to assorted people she had met at one point, were brought up on stage to testify that she really is a very nice person.

This wasn't a convention. It was a series of character witnesses for a woman with no character. It was an extensive apology for the Left's radical agenda cloaked in fake patriotism and celebrity adulation.

Sinclair Lewis famously said, "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross". More accurately, when Communism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. That's what the Democratic National Convention was.

This night presented Hillary Clinton as all things to all people. She was a passionate fighter who found plenty of time to spend with her family. She is for cops and for cop-killers. She likes the Founding Fathers and political correctness. She wants Democrats to be the party of working people and of elitist government technocrats. And, most especially, she cares about people like you.

The convention, like everything about Hillary, was awkward and insincere.

There was Bernie glaring into the camera just as Hillary was thanking him for rallying a bunch of young voters whom she hoped to exploit. There was Chelsea Clinton reminding everyone that the Clintons are a dynasty and that everyone in it gets a job because of their last name, right before introducing her mother whose only real qualification for her belated entry into politics was her last name. And there was Jennifer Granholm who got an opportunity to have an incoherent public meltdown at the convention.

There's the mandatory video explaining how Hillary Clinton personally hunted down Osama bin Laden while sitting in a chair. "She's carrying the hope and the rage of an entire nation,” Morgan Freeman intones. Coming in November 2016. And Hillary Clinton will be played by Meryl Streep. Donald Trump is compared to Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's rather obvious even to the handful of Hillary supporters that their candidate fits the Ratched role much better than Trump does.

The audience was told incessantly that Hillary Clinton loves small children. Once would have been enough. Twice would have been enough. By the millionth repetition, it seems more like Hillary is the witch trying to lure children into her gingerbread house.

Helping out with that task were a continuing parade of young female celebrities. If you thought that Elizabeth Banks and Lena Dunham were awkward, just wait for Katy Perry and Chloe Moretz urging their cohort to go out there and vote for Hillary right after a bunch of ex-military people claim that the woman who helped ISIS take over two countries and the Muslim Brotherhood even more countries than that will be good for national security.

General John Allen, formerly of the Marine Corps, currently employed by Qatar's pet Brookings think tank, insisted that only Hillary Clinton could defeat ISIS. That's like saying that only Mrs. O'Leary's cow could put out the Great Chicago Fire which she started. Furthermore Qatar played a major role in the expansion of Islamic terrorism that helped culminate in the current crisis.

There were treasonous Republicans, confused celebrities and a weirdly lifelike Nancy Pelosi. There was yet another New York politician likely to be indicted, Andy Cuomo, trying much too hard. But topping them all was Hillary Clinton who was in her manic mode, trying too hard to be human, and failing.

Eyes wide, looking suspiciously from side to side, shrilly barking lines into the microphone that stripped them of their emotional context, Hillary delivered both sides of her personality in one speech.

And both sides of her agenda.

The radical agenda of the Left was clumsily cloaked in references to the Founding Fathers. The same group of people whose names the Left want to see ground into the dirt. Hillary's call for collectivism, the insistence that none of us can do anything as individuals, was dressed up in E Pluribus Unum and the Founding Fathers.

Sinclair Lewis was almost right. When Communism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag.

The old Elizabeth Warren-Barack Obama theme of "You didn't build that” had become Hillary's theme once again. No one does anything on their own. It takes a village of bloated bureaucrats to do anything. And Hillary has to be appointed to run this village of bloated bureaucrats who, like her, never actually do anything but sing their own praises and then give themselves pay raises and more power to abuse.

Donald Trump, we are told, is a terrible person who actually believes in individualism. While good progressives like Hillary know that individualism is a pernicious lie told by running dog capitalists.

And Hillary will be a "a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents”. She'll be such a good president that we won't even need elections anymore. Just like the Democrats dispensed with them. There will just be one "village” under Hillary and Huma and the rest of their ridiculous neo-Reds.

Then Hillary will fix the economy by banning people from giving money to Republicans and promoting voter fraud. She will legalize illegal aliens to "grow our economy” by destroying still more American jobs. And she will see to it that companies "share profits” to working people. And by working people, she means the Clintons. College will be free. And the "super-rich” will pay for it all.

The "super-rich” are the really rich. Not flat broke paupers like the Clintons.

Half of Hillary's new positions were things that she had rejected as too radical when Bernie proposed them. Now they're not too radical anymore. Because the Democrats always keep turning Left.

Yesterday's crazy radical idea is tomorrow's Democratic slogan. Yesterday's Alinsky disciple is tomorrow's moderate Democrat. Yesterday's Communist notion is tomorrow's DNC speech.

And so Hillary Clinton embraced wealth redistribution and re-appropriation from people who aren't her. She embraced it with verve and gusto. She pushed Communism dressed up in references to the Founding Fathers. It takes a village to take away all our political and economic freedoms.

Bernie Sanders lost, but he won. Or rather it didn't matter which of them won since they both shared the same radical agenda. The only difference was that Bernie was willing to be honest about it.

Hillary wasn't. Until now.

This was a speech that could have been given in Moscow during the Cold War. Instead it was delivered to an enthusiastic audience of Democrats who love the idea of taking away someone else's money. Beneath all the distractions, the celebrities and family stories, is the fundamental idea that Hillary has more of a right to your money than you do because she is "humbly” more enlightened than you are.

There's a name for that ideology. It comes with a hammer and sickle, with the color red, with gulags and firing squads, with little red books and big black prisons, and the death of the human soul.

Hillary made a mistake by wearing a white pants suit to her coronation. She should have worn red.



Democrat dreams

Very close to Communism

The Republicans spent their week in Cleveland talking about terrorism and the lack of jobs around the country. Democrats spent much more energy in Philadelphia talking about confiscating gun rights and letting men in my daughter’s bathroom. Curiously, the Democrats did spend a lot more time talking about God than the GOP did.

On Wednesday night, President Obama gave a stirring address that, in part, was the Republican response to Donald Trump. In part it was a stirring defense of progressivism. But like Bill Clinton totally skipping the year 1998 in his speech, Barack Obama totally skipped over the lack of economic growth during his entire tenure in office. Yes, unemployment is down. But that has more to do with people giving up looking for jobs than with new jobs being created.

Along the way, when Democrats were not talking about taking away guns or trying to justify the murder of police or ignoring the growing terrorist threats at home and abroad, they stuck to a common theme. The Democrats have discovered a new right. It is the right of people to live a certain lifestyle at a certain income if people work forty hours a week.

It sounds like a wonderful idea. Why shouldn’t Americans be guaranteed a certain level of income for hard work? If you disagree with the idea, you might just be a cruel and heartless person. Well, put me in the cruel and heartless camp. The bumper sticker idea will have long range and terrible consequences.

First, life is not fair. The Democrats are championing this idea to gloss over the fact that their ideas have caused economic stagnation. Instead of allowing the private sector to thrive, they just want to raise taxes from the successful and give to those who are not successful. But life is inherently not fair. Some people will always have better jobs and some people will make better life choices.

Second, this is welfare disguised. By the 1990s — when Bill Clinton was president — we learned that some people could get comfortable living on a welfare check and checked out of work. Their children spiraled into a cycle of dependency and poverty. In Genesis, God put Adam and Eve to work in the garden. There is something soul nourishing about work. When we all get to Heaven we will all have jobs. Getting people comfortable not working sucks their souls away and destroys their families.

But putting people to work and guaranteeing them a lifestyle does much the same. It encourages complacency and saps the desire to get ahead for many people. The reality is that many people can be given incentive to smother their ambitions. Guarantee a roof over their heads, enough money for cable television, and watch as they never strive to do better. Then watch as their children, likewise, accept complacency.

Frankly, it is more immoral to set a floor of income and lifestyle below which someone cannot fall because it provides too many disincentives for too many people to never even try to get off the floor. Democrats claim we should do this for moral and compassionate reasons. The reality is that we should avoid doing it for moral and compassionate reasons.

The well-worn saying about teaching a man to fish versus giving him fish plays directly into why this new idea is terrible. In addition to it being completely outside the history of the world and terrible economics, it will create a new culture of dependency.

Third, we do not have the money. When Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty the national debt was less than $360 billion. By the time President Obama leaves office it will be $22 trillion. Taking from the successful to redistribute to those at the bottom of the economic ladder sounds compassionate and caring. But it will break the bank and take away any incentive for the top to keep generating tax revenue and the bottom to ever get off the floor.



Trump joke about Russia sends the DNC convention into a spin

Trump plotting with Vladimir Putin? International intrigue. Hacked servers. And perfect timing for releasing the DNC emails onto Wikileaks — changing the focus of the convention and breeding disunity among Democrats.

For months, Democrats and the media have been telling Americans Trump doesn't have the contacts or expertise to operate a robust foreign policy.

Now, with the biggest stage they've had, they've reversed course and turned Trump into a Machiavellian mastermind on the world stage — who deftly manipulates events with the craftiness of Iago.

It is impossible that Democrats wanted to spend their convention talking about nutty conspiracy theories making their opponent look like an evil genius all to explain their devastating email security issues — and why they're suddenly losing in the polls.

Yet here we are. Apparently, the D in DNC is for desperation. The next you know they'll be questioning Trump's birth certificate.

In the meantime, once again the focus is on Trump — and Clinton's emails. This helps Clinton how?



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, July 31, 2016

Condemning Republicans, Cheering Democrats: The Media’s Biased 2016 Convention Coverage

With both the Republican and Democratic conventions now concluded, it’s time to judge the news media on how fairly they covered the two parties. Media Research Center analysts looked at various aspects of coverage, all of which demonstrate that journalists obviously favored the Democratic gathering.

By a 12-to-1 margin, journalists spent far more time deriding the Republican convention for its negativity, even as their reactions to Democratic speakers were consistently positive and often enthusiastic. Cable news had its own unique biases: MSNBC carved out time on each night of the GOP convention for interviews with top Democratic officials, but — despite promises to the contrary — aired no such interviews with Republicans during the Democratic convention. Meanwhile, CNN devoted more than an hour of airtime during the Democratic convention to airing 18 party-produced videos, but only included three such videos during the GOP convention.

Here are details of our research evaluating the convention coverage, with special thanks to MRC analysts Matthew Balan, Mike Ciandella, Nicholas Fondacaro, Curtis Houck and Scott Whitlock.

 *  Double standard on convention videos: During the Republican convention, CNN’s primetime (8pm to midnight, ET) coverage included just three RNC-produced videos totalling a bit more than 14 minutes of airtime: a non-partisan tribute to the Apollo 11 mission; a video narrated by Lynne Patton telling how she was helped by the Trump family; and the six-minute Thursday night biography of Donald Trump shown in advance of his acceptance speech. CNN skipped videos on important topics such as the Benghazi attack and the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious scandal, instead airing journalist panel discussions.

But during the Democratic convention, CNN chose to air 18 of the Democrats’ videos, six times more party videos than they aired during the GOP convention. Included in those that made the cut on CNN: two “Funny or Die” videos mocking Donald Trump’s policies, and several “Trump In His Own Words” videos criticizing the GOP candidate’s controversial statements. In addition, CNN showed the party-produced videos introducing speakers including Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, President Obama, and the nearly 12-minute video for Hillary Clinton that aired on the final night of the convention.

The total airtime for Democratic videos shown during CNN’s primetime coverage: 62 minutes, or more than four times the 14 minutes of airtime given to Republican videos during the same time slot the prior week.

 *  Double standard on giving free airtime to the opposition: During the first night of the Republican convention, CBS’s 10pm ET primetime coverage included a four-minute long segment of an interview of Hillary Clinton, during which Rose invited Clinton to bash her Republican opponent, asking if Donald Trump was “the most dangerous man ever to run for President of the United States?”

But during their primetime coverage of the Democratic convention, CBS included no interviews with Republicans so they could bash Hillary Clinton.

Similarly, MSNBC’s primetime coverage (8pm to midnight ET) of the GOP convention included five interviews with elected Democrats: Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) on Monday, July 18; Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Tuesday, July 19; Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Wednesday, July 20; and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday, July 21.

None of the Democratic interlopers missed a chance to take shots at the GOP. Schiff was brought on board a few minutes after Pat Smith spoke about the loss of her son in Benghazi. “We’ve never politicized a tragedy like this,” Schiff claimed, “and I just think it really is unfortunate to bring a grieving woman before the convention this way.”

Later in the week, Senator McCaskill condemned the GOP program as “very dark and angry, and mostly fact-free,” points echoed the next day by Senator Franken, who blasted the convention as “very ugly.”

Setting up his interview with Representative Ryan, anchor Brian Williams explained that “we like to bring in the other side, as in fairness we’ll be doing when it’s the Democrats’ turn.” But that wasn’t true: during all four nights of the Democratic convention, MSNBC’s 8pm to midnight coverage included absolutely no interviews with any Republicans.

 *  Double standard on complaining about negative rhetoric: During the first two days of the Democratic convention, various speakers called Donald Trump a con man, a fraud, a bigot, and a racist; someone who “cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers,” who “rejects science” and would take America “back to the dark days when women died in back alleys.” Trump’s policies and rhetoric was described as “cruel,” “frightening,” “deceitful,” “deeply disturbing” and “ugly.” He was someone who promoted “racial hatred,” who had “hate in their heart,” and was “making America hate again.”

But while the media routinely attacked the Republicans during the GOP convention for negative attacks on Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ attacks on Trump were given a pass. MRC studied ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC’s coverage from 9pm to midnight during the first two nights of each convention. During the GOP convention, journalists scolded the Republicans for negativity 63 times; for the same time period during the Democratic convention, viewers heard only five such comments from reporters, a more than 12-to-1 disparity.

A few examples: CBS’s Bob Schieffer on July 19 said Clinton had been “accused of everything from a ‘who’d a thought it’ to the diphtheria epidemic.” On NBC, Tom Brokaw said the convention was trying to “work up a big hate for Hillary.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews called the convention a “festival of hating Hillary tonight, this brewing up of almost a witch-like ritual tonight,” adding the words “bloodthirsty” and “blood curdling” to describe the delegates’ reaction to Chris Christie’s speech.

During the Democratic convention, the references to negativity were far fewer and much milder. CNN’s Gloria Borger on July 25 pointed out that speakers were “belittling and making fun of Donald Trump a lot tonight.” On MSNBC the next night, regular panelist Steve Schmidt, a former GOP campaign consultant, said there had been “real tough blows tonight on Donald Trump,” for the purpose of “the destruction of Donald Trump’s character.”

 *  Gushing over Democratic speeches while panning the GOP: In addition to the supposed negativity of the overall program, journalists scorned the individual speeches delivered at the GOP convention, especially nominee Donald Trump. CBS’s Scott Pelley said Trump was “more vengeful than hopeful,” while ABC’s Terry Moran called it “more of a harangue than a speech.” NBC’s Tom Brokaw thought some viewers “are going to see someone they will only think of as a demagogue of some kind.”

Thursday’s reactions to Hillary Clinton’s address, while unenthusiastic, included none of the criticism aimed at Trump. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said Clinton’s was “a do-no harm speech,” while her colleague Chuck Todd thought it “was a grinder” of an address. CNN’s Gloria Borger admitted “it was not an oratorical masterpiece” but called Clinton’s speech “sturdy” and “steely.” Over on CBS, co-anchor Norah O’Donnell touted Clinton for “stressing her steadiness, her readiness, her experience and her empathy.”

Up until Clinton’s speech, the media had been positively swooning over the Democratic speakers. On Monday, CNN’s Jake Tapper was excited by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, calling his speech “a crowd pleaser like no speech I’ve seen at a convention since a young state senator Barack Obama in 2004.”

Minutes later on ABC, anchor George Stephanopoulos gushed over First Lady Michelle Obama: “Polished, passionate and personal,” while on MSNBC, Joy Reid called the First Lady’s speech “magnificent, exquisite...[and] splendid.”

Hardball host Chris Matthews loved all of it: “I just thought the whole night was a slugger’s row of wonderful sentiments.”

As the week wore on, none of the major Democrats earned a bad review. On Tuesday night, CBS’s Gayle King found Bill Clinton’s speech on behalf of Hillary “heartwarming.” The next night, correspondents for NBC, CBS and ABC praised vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine for his “suburban dad” personality, whose “extraordinary” Spanish-speaking skills made for “a Spanish lesson down here.”

And, of course, President Obama sent thrills up journalists’ legs. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a President, save Lincoln, who is as great a speechwriter as this man,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell oozed. “It was magnificent,” MSNBC’s Matthews tingled, “a wonderful farewell address.”

Every four years, the party conventions give the establishment news media a chance to provide even-handed coverage of the two parties. Once again, unfortunately, the networks have shown their obvious bias in favor of the liberals that rule the Democratic Party.



Time For Post-Convention Clarity

The major party infomercials have folded up their tents. Just over 100 days now unfold to an election where we will plot the course that will determine American history for decades if not more.

That’s how sharp the differences are between a Donald Trump win and a Hillary Clinton win. Republican Trump-haters will say otherwise, but the week-long assault of the Democrat convention should convince even them that their myths of equivalency are born of a perceptual disorder.

I no longer have the time to diagnose and coddle these people. They are grownups. I will leave it to them to examine the ideas from the DNC that threaten our national future, and snap back to reason about the necessity of preventing Hillary from achieving the presidency.

But as some Never-Trumpers shake awake, I want to offer only grace and gratitude. I will spend a lifetime wondering what bug climbed into their bonnets to lead them to the insanity of ambivalence if not outright support of a Hillary presidency, but my bafflement is irrelevant now.

As much as I disagreed with that crowd and lose patience with those still dwelling among it, no call for unity is aided by an accompanying boot to the head. Let’s save “What were you thinking?” for convivial reminiscences after an inauguration that does not feature another Clinton (and thus another Obama) presidency.

I pray, and actually believe, that the months of August and September will see more skeptics shrug into recognition of what we must do. I also pray that our nominee does not hinder that process with any unforced errors. (This week’s absurd Russian hack story does not apply. Trump sarcasm about the Russians sharing what Hillary never will was a stroke of genius, eating into a day of foul DNC oxygen with free media that forced attention back to the e-mail scandal. For the left to jump at this was predictable; for Republicans to join them was just depressing.)

But to the now indelible list of reasons why anyone with a shred of conservatism must join the fight: We can talk ourselves into multiple dithers about our various concerns about a Trump era. But the truth is that no one knows how those years will go. They could range from a disconcerting mixed bag to a surprisingly successful inspiration. But no point on that spectrum comes remotely close to the damaged America that was dangled before us from that stage in Philadelphia.

A Hillary presidency promises generations of constitutional ruin with the appointment of young, vigorous Supreme Court tyrants who will sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of their collective whims.

That assault will begin with the evisceration of the Second Amendment, the one that gives the rest of the Bill of Rights its shield of required protection.

She will lead a charge of economically ruinous policies based on the fraud of man-made climate change.

She will continue the assault on traditional values, leaning toward a European model featuring the stigmatization and even criminalization of some Biblical beliefs and practices.

She will perpetuate the noxious political correctness that strangles religious freedoms.

She will continue to welcome insufficiently vetted waves of Middle Eastern immigrants, containing within their ranks jihadis sure to wind up in tragic headlines on our own soil.

She will continue to coddle race-baiters like Black Lives Matter, the carriers of the most toxic poison in today’s race relations.

She will spur the growth of an already bloated government, fighting against any trends toward reining in the Nanny State.

She will pay for this expansionist, collectivist nightmare by maintaining confiscatory tax levels that brutalize Americans for their success.

She will saddle American businesses with high taxes and overregulation, stifling the job creation we need for any chance at rediscovered prosperity.

She will expand a culture of dependency that has drained our national work ethic and fostered an idle underclass insufficiently driven to succeed on the fuel of actual effort.

She will obstruct our efforts to escape the shackles of Obamacare, damning us to additional years of its exploding costs and strangled services.

Now, conservatives, please share with me again your jitters about the Trump presidency.

From trade policies to the minimum wage and a few intermittent issues beyond, Trump himself telegraphs that this will not be a down-the-line conservative White House. But if he delivers on Scalia-like Supreme Court justices and thwarts only half of the Hillary sins listed above, we will be grateful every day that we stopped her.

And enough hand-wringing about what is happening to Republicanism or conservatism. The party will be what it wishes to be moving forward, based on voter approval or disapproval of what a Trump presidency brings. And as for conservatism, those of us who bleed its wise tenets will be there every day, making clear what we like and don’t like about his leadership. I’m guessing there may even be congenial differences among conservatives featuring varying reviews. Imagine that.

The fact is that those conversations will be a joy, because they will be conducted in an America that we saved from the clutches of 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.

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