Friday, September 16, 2016

The relationship between conservatism and racism

The nature and extent of the relationship is contested but the Left are quite convinced that it is conservatives who are racist.  That conservatives are generally OPPOSED to the blatant racism that is affirmative action never quite gets into their heads.  Leftists are OBSESSED with race.  They look for racial implications in everything.  "Racist" is their big swear sword. Conservatives just wish they would stop.

What Leftists do to support their suspicion of conservatives is to do survey research in which they ask one series of questions that identifies conservatism and then another that identifies racism.  That such opinion surveys don't predict racial behaviour has been known since the 1930s but let that pass.

They then ask who agrees most with the statements that express conservastism and then ask are they the same people who agree most with statements expressing racism.  And they do generally find some overlap.

An unusually sophisticated study in that mould has just come out that has some interesting results, however.  The new study looked at the social context in which the statements were made.  What do people say when most people around them are conservative and does that differ from when most people around them are Leftish?  And they found that context made a big difference.

What they found was that in a generally conservative society, conservatives were NOT racist.  It was only among Leftists that conservatives agreed with some racist statements.  So Leftism provokes racism.  Who'd a thunk it?  The Leftist obsession with race makes conservatives a bit racist too.  I find that a big laugh.  It certainly torpedoes the conventional Leftist view of conservatives.

In summary:  In a conservative environment, where little is heard of the constant Leftist yammering about race, "negative outgroup attitudes" are rare and likely to come from both Right and Left.  But a Leftist environment is polarizing.  The constant Leftist yammering about the evils of whites and the innocence of minorities causes conservatives to react  against that and make them more likely to express attitudes that are critical of "outgroups".  So it is actually Leftism that causes "negative outgroup attitudes" to be expressed by conservatives.
The journal abstract is below. For the statistically-minded, note that restriction of range effects were allowed for:

The Mobilizing Effect of Right-Wing Ideological Climates:  Cross-Level Interaction Effects on Different Types of Outgroup Attitudes

Jasper Van Assche et al.

The present research investigated a multilevel person-context interactionist framework for the relationship between right-wing ideologies and prejudice across two large, representative samples (Study 1: European Social Survey: N 5 56,752; Study 2: World Values Survey: N 5 74,042). Across three different operationalizations of right-wing ideology, two contextual levels (regional and national) of right-wing climate, and three types of outgroup attitudes (i.e., age-, ethnicity-, and gender-based), the analyses consistently revealed cross-level interactions, showing a strong association between right-wing attitudes and negative outgroup attitudes at the individual level in contexts with a low right-wing climate, whereas this relationship is weaker and often even absent in contexts with a high right-wing climate. These cross-level interactions remained significant after controlling for statistical artefacts (i.e., restriction of range and outliers). The authors propose norm setting as the mobilizing mechanism through which a right-wing climate develops and curbs the influence of individual right-wing social-ideological attitudes on outgroup attitudes.


Hillary’s health is a problem, but her lack of honesty could be deadly

“Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”

That was former Barack Obama chief campaign strategist David Axelrod’s Twitter reaction to Hillary Clinton’s near-collapse as she was entering a van after a September 11 memorial in New York.

Coming from Axelrod, it is a clear shot across Clinton’s bow coming directly from the Democrat Party establishment as rumors begin to swirl about replacing her atop the party’s ticket in November.

The Clinton campaign’s explanation is that she had seasonal allergies leading to a cough, and then pneumonia which led to heat exhaustion at the ceremony on Sunday. But, based on her actions, it is clear that but for the Twitter video showing her wobbling and falling forward into her van amid Secret Service and personal handlers attempting prevent her from hitting the pavement, the American people would almost certainly never have heard about this episode.

How do we know that? Clinton’s destination after her fall was to her daughter Chelsea’s residence, not to a hospital to treat heat exhaustion, which the New York Post reports was to avoid media exposure. The heat exhaustion explanation was only in response to disclosure of the video, and the bout of pneumonia was not included in the official explanation until hours after that. They were going to cover it up. What if it had been a much more serious condition?

That is not a conspiracy theory. That’s what happened. Clinton was comfortable with failing to disclose a major medical episode even as questions on her health and fitness to serve as commander-in-chief were dogging the campaign. And her campaign only came forward when the truth could not be denied.

What else might the campaign be hiding? Did Clinton lose consciousness? Does she have any other ailments? How often does she fall? In 2012, Clinton had another fall and suffered a concussion. Soon thereafter, she had a blood clot in the brain that was treated. Is that everything?

Nowadays, we tend to romanticize past presidents’ ailments — and how the mainstream media tended to cover them up — such as Franklin Roosevelt’s polio or John Kennedy’s battle with extreme pain and anxiety along with the powerful cocktails of drugs he took. The way these are often portrayed is that the illness did not affect the policies or performance of these presidents. But is that really true?

Consider Woodrow Wilson, who in 1919 suffered a severe stroke and was incapacitated for the remainder of his presidency. It was covered up, only to be pieced together later by historians, but if the 25th Amendment had been in place then it is highly possible he would have been deposed by his Cabinet for being physically and mentally unable to fulfill his duties of office.

These matters were and are so serious that countermeasures were put in place into the Constitution itself.

So, if the future president was going to have a potentially fatal illness, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

For Clinton, the issue could become a major headache going forward, particularly if voters perceive that she and her campaign sought to mislead the public about her health. In this case, Axelrod is right. Her illnesses can be treated, but the public faith and trust, once lost, will not easily recover.


What if Hillary collapsed after winning the election?

Jeff Jacoby 

"CONCEALING ONE'S true medical condition from the voting public," the historian Robert Dallek wrote in a 2002 essay, "is a time-honored tradition of the American presidency." During the presidential campaign of 1960, John F. Kennedy went to extreme lengths to hide from voters any hint of his severe medical problems, which ranged from Addison's disease to crippling spinal degeneration. By comparison, Hillary Clinton's recent dissembling over pneumonia and fainting spells is small potatoes.

Hillary Clinton staggered and apparently fainted after leaving a 9/11 memorial ceremony early on Sunday. Her campaign later acknowledged that she often suffers from dehydration, and had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.
Kennedy's deception succeeded not only because disclosure standards were so different in his time — public figures were accorded far more privacy than they are now — but also because he was a young man, just 42 when he ran for president. Candidates today can't expect to keep their medical problems secret, especially not candidates as old as Clinton (almost 69) and Donald Trump (70). Last month, the Clinton campaign snorted that Republicans questioning her health were peddling "deranged conspiracy theories." That won't fly anymore.

Already Democratic Party insiders are talking about having a Plan B ready in case Clinton's health problems become insurmountable. On Monday, former Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler urged the party to quickly set up a contingency plan to replace Clinton in case a medical crisis forces her from the race. "It's something you would be a fool not to prepare for," he told Politico.

No major-party presidential candidate has ever been forced by illness, or anything else, to quit the race after winning the nomination. But in 1972, the Democrats' vice-presidential nominee, Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, had to drop out after it became known that he had been treated for depression with electroshock therapy. The DNC quickly regrouped, naming Sargent Shriver to take Eagleton's place. Now as then, it would be the responsibility of the party to fill any pre-election vacancy in its national ticket — regardless of whether the vacancy were caused by sickness, scandal, death, or mental debility. (Or, for that matter, by party leaders belatedly coming to their senses and realizing that a disastrous nominee was steering the Titanic straight for the iceberg.)

But suppose a vacancy materialized after the November election. Then the power to choose a replacement would no longer belong to the parties, but to the Electoral College.

Presidents are not elected directly by the people, but by state-based slates of electors. Under the Constitution, it is up to the states to appoint electors "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." Legislatures need not defer to the popular vote. They can, if they choose, name their state's electors directly, with instructions to vote for someone other than the candidate who won the most votes on Election Day.

Thomas Eagleton (L) was nominated by the 1972 Democratic convention to be George McGovern's running mate. But he was forced to leave the ticket once it became known that he had been treated for depression with electroshock therapy.
Clinton's collapse on Sept. 11 was quickly treated, and only a churl would wish her anything but a full recovery. But anything can happen. So far no president-elect has died, become incapacitated, or voluntarily withdrawn in the month and a half between the November election and the convening of the electors. It probably won't happen this year, either.

Yet if the 2016 cycle has taught us anything, it is to rule nothing out. With 70-year-old candidates, it isn't hard to imagine a serious medical crisis, such as a stroke or a massive heart attack, occurring just days after the election. Nor is it that hard — considering how ethically tainted the major-party nominees are — to imagine some devastating post-election revelation (perhaps via WikiLeaks) of wrongdoing or corruption that would make it unthinkable to allow the popular-vote winner to take the oath of office.

The Electoral College is routinely disparaged as undemocratic and archaic, but it exists for the excellent reason that mass democracy can go wrong. The people can be led wildly astray. Or they can make a choice that suddenly turns unviable. Or disaster can strike. Clinton's late-in-the-campaign illness may prove a mere blip. Still, it's a good opportunity to remind ourselves that the Framers built an escape hatch into the presidential election process. Even if voters screw the pooch on Nov. 8, the Electoral College can undo the damage.


Stop Big Government, Seek Bigger Growth

Seventeen years ago, near the close of the 20th century, the typical American household had a higher income than it did in 2015.

The Census Bureau's annual report on income and poverty in the United States, released this week, did not focus on that fact. But it did note that real median household income was higher in 2015 than in 2014.

"Median household income was $56,516 in 2015, an increase in real terms of 5.2 percent from the 2014 median of $53,718," the report said in its "Highlights" section.

"This is the first annual increase in median household income since 2007, the year before the most recent recession," the report said.

In 2007 — nine years ago — real median household income (in constant 2015 dollars) was $57,423, according to Table A-1 in the report. America has not gotten back there yet.

In the nearly five decades between 1967 and 2015, according to that table, real median household income peaked in 1999 at $57,909. It has never been that high in the 21st century.

But the Census Bureau data also shows — as it has shown in the past — that some types of households tend to have higher incomes than others.

To modern American liberals, this would be evidence of a class war, where rich and evil people exploit the poor.

But the Census Bureau's Table FINC-01, which shows median household income by "characteristics of families," demonstrates something else.

In 2015, according to this table, "married couple families" had a median household income of $84,324. By contrast, families with a male householder and "no wife present" had a median income of only $49,895. Families with a female householder and "no husband present" had a median income of $34,126.

Families where the householder had a bachelor's degree had a median income of $103,224. By contrast, families where the householder had a high school degree had a median income of $52,906, and families where the householder had attended high school but not graduated had a median income of $32,906.

One lesson from the Census Bureau data: If you want to do better financially in the United States, earn a degree, get married, have kids and work. Another lesson: America needs a new era of economic growth.


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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is Hillary epileptic?

Those strange blue "sunglasses" Hillary has been wearing lately have now been identified as Zeiss f133 glasses, designed to prevent epileptic seizures.  Can America afford an epileptic as Commander in Chief?  Others are writing a lot on this (e.g. here) but you can be sure that vast efforts are being made to prevent any hard information getting out.

Even so, I think Hillary is finished.  Her age has caught up with her. Those old bones can't hack it anymore -- unless she has a body double of course.

Deconstructing "inclusivity"

Inclusivity is something of a buzzword on the Left these days.  It has always seemed complete nonsense to me.  You don't include golf players in football games or vice versa.  Far from being a good thing, inclusivity would seem to create one big muddle.  Different people need to be treated differently, not herded into one big corral.  It only makes sense if you believe the absurd Leftist doctrine that all men are equal.  They may all be equal in the sight of God -- to quote a famous political compromise -- but God's optometrical difficulties are not widely shared.

I regard myself  as having had a blessed life and at age 73 still laugh my way through the day.  I don't sound very jolly in my writing a lot of the time but who could be jolly in discussing the slimy con-men of the Left?

Yet, as I have previously set out at some length,  I have lived most of my life in a state of great exclusion.  And I am delighted that I was able to separate myself from uncongenial company.  Because "inclusivity" was not forced down my throat, I was free to go my own way and do my own thing.  When most of my fellow pupils at school were running around chasing balls, I was reading books. From infancy on, chasing balls is clearly one of humanity's greatest pleasures but I much preferred books.  And I could do that.  I could separate myself from other people.  I lived happily outside the big Corral.  And to this day I have quite a small social circle.

So the great good to me seems to be discrimination.  Each of us is very discriminatory in choosing things as diverse as our wine and our life partners so being discriminatory in choosing our company should be optimal for our life satisfaction.  We do best by excluding the unsuitable, not by including it.

I suppose at this stage I must seem like a bit of a moron.  I have been treating the desirability of inclusion as a general proposition.  I think one does need to look at it in such an  objective way but, in reality, it is a very particular policy goal hiding behind a generally good-sounding name -- in the usual Leftist style.  Candy-coating their destructive proposals is what Leftists do.

What inclusion is all about was brought home to me by this article.  The language was inclusion but the starting point of the article was was outrage at the occasional deaths of unco-operative black criminals at the hands of the police.  Voila!  Being inclusive means being nicer to blacks!  That is the whole meaning and purpose of the  doctrine concerned.  I am all in favour of everybody being nice to everyone else but being permissive towards criminals of any skin color seems grossly maladaptive to me.  They should be excluded, not included.


A defence of Trump

 Trump is not the statesman I would have chosen for this moment. My preferences run toward Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, Reagan, and the like. Trump doesn’t measure up to any of them. But his flaws are overstated. One of the dumber things often said about Trump is that “you can’t trust him with the nuclear codes.” This statement, first, betrays a complete lack of understanding of nuclear command and control. More important, it’s an extraordinary calumny, one that accuses the man of a wish or propensity to commit mass murder on the scale of Pol Pot. On what basis does anyone make such an accusation? Can Trump be erratic, obnoxious, and offensive? Of course, he can be all that and more. But while these qualities are not virtues, they may well have helped him punch through the Overton Window, in which case I am willing to make allowances.

For this objection to be decisive, Trump’s personal immoderation would have to be on a level that aspires to tyrannical rule. I don’t see it. Not even close. The charge of “buffoon” seems a million times more apt than “tyrant.” And even so, one must wonder how buffoonish the alleged buffoon really is when he is right on the most important issues while so many others who are esteemed wise are wrong. Hillary Clinton launched the Libya war, perhaps the worst security policy mistake in US history—which divided a country between two American enemies and anarchy, and took a stream of refugees into Europe and surged it into a flood. She pledges to vastly increase the refugee flow from the Middle East into our communities (and, mark my words, they will be Red State communities). Trump by contrast promises not to launch misguided wars, to protect our borders, and to focus immigration policy on the well-being of the currently-constituted American people. Who is truly more moderate: the colorful loudmouth with the sensible agenda or the corrupt, icy careerist with the radical agenda?

Conservatives have shouted since the beginning of Trump’s improbable rise: He’s not one of us! He is not conservative! And, indeed, in many ways, Trump is downright liberal. You might think that would make him more acceptable to the Left. But no. As “compassionate conservatism” did nothing to blunt leftist hatred of George W. Bush, neither do Trump’s quasi-liberal economic positions. In fact, they hate Trump much more. Trump is not conservative enough for the conservatives but way too conservative for the Left, yet somehow they find common cause. Earlier I posited that the reason is Trump’s position on immigration. Let me add two others.

The first is simply that Trump might win. He is not playing his assigned role of gentlemanly loser the way McCain and Romney did, and may well have tapped into some previously untapped sentiment that he can ride to victory. This is a problem for both the Right and the Left. The professional Right (correctly) fears that a Trump victory will finally make their irrelevance undeniable. The Left knows that so long as Republicans kept playing by the same rules and appealing to the same dwindling base of voters, there was no danger. Even if one of the old breed had won, nothing much would have changed, since their positions on the most decisive issues were effectively the same as the Democrats and because they posed no serious challenge to the administrative state.

Which points to the far more important reason. The current governing arrangement of the United States is rule by a transnational managerial class in conjunction with the administrative state. To the extent that the parties are adversarial at the national level, it is merely to determine who gets to run the administrative state for four years. Challenging the administrative state is out of the question. The Democrats are united on this point. The Republicans are at least nominally divided. But those nominally opposed (to the extent that they even understand the problem, which is: not much) are unwilling or unable to actually do anything about it. Are challenges to the administrative state allowed only if they are guaranteed to be ineffectual? If so, the current conservative movement is tailor-made for the task. Meanwhile, the much stronger Ryan wing of the Party actively abets the administrative state and works to further the managerial class agenda.

Trump is the first candidate since Reagan to threaten this arrangement. To again oversimplify, the question here is: who rules? The many or the few? The people or the oligarchs? Our Constitution says: the people are sovereign, and their rule is mediated through representative institutions, limited by written Constitutional norms. The administrative state says: experts must rule because various advances (the march of history) have made governing too complicated for public deliberation, and besides, the unwise people often lack knowledge of their own best interests even on rudimentary matters. When the people want something that they shouldn’t want or mustn’t have, the administrative state prevents it, no matter what the people vote for. When the people don’t want something that the administrative state sees as salutary or necessary, it is simply imposed by fiat.

Don’t want more immigration? Too bad, we know what’s best. Think bathrooms should be reserved for the two biological sexes? Too bad, we rule. And so on and on.

To all the “conservatives” yammering about my supposed opposition to Constitutional principle (more on that below) and who hate Trump, I say: Trump is mounting the first serious national-political defense of the Constitution in a generation. He may not see himself in those terms. I believe he sees himself as a straightforward patriot who just wants to do what is best for his country and its people. Whatever the case, he is asserting the right of the sovereign people to make their government do what they want it to do, and not do things they don’t want it to do, in the teeth of determined opposition from a managerial class and administrative state that wants not merely different policies but above all to perpetuate their own rule.

If the Constitution has any force or meaning, then “We the People” get to decide not merely who gets to run the administrative state—which, whatever the outcome, will always continue on the same path—more fundamentally, we get to decide what policies we want and which we don’t. Apparently, to the whole Left and much of the Right, this stance is immoderate and dangerous. The people who make that charge claim to do so in defense of Constitutional principle. I can’t square that circle. Can you?

(To those tempted to accuse me of advocating a crude majoritarianism, I refer you to what I said above and will say below on the proper, Constitutional operation of the United States government as originally designed and improved by the pre-Progressive Amendments.)

One must also wonder what is so “immoderate” about Trump’s program. As noted, it’s to the left of the last several decades of Republican-conservative orthodoxy. “Moderate” in the modern political (as opposed to the Aristotelean) sense tends to be synonymous with “centrist.” By that definition, Trump is a moderate. That’s why National Review and the rest of the conservatives came out of the gate so strongly against him. I admit that, not all that long ago, I probably would have too. But I have come to see conservatism in a different light. To oversimplify (again), the only “eternal principle” is the good. What, specifically, is good in a political context varies with the times and with circumstance, as does how best to achieve the good in a given context. The good is not tax rates or free trade. Those aren’t even principles. In the American political context, the good is the well-being of the physical America and its people, well-being defined (in terms that reflect both Aristotle and the American founding) as their “safety and happiness.” That’s what conservatism should be working to conserve.

Trump seems to grasp that the best way to do so in these times is to promote more solidarity and unity. The “conservatives” by contrast think it means more individualism. Neither of these, either, is an eternal principle. Prudence calls for a balance. Few would want the maximized (and forced) unity of ancient Sparta or modern North Korea. Only fool libertarians seek the maximized individualism of Ayn Rand. No unity means no nation. No individualism means no liberty. In an actual republic, a balance must be maintained, which can require occasional course corrections. In 1980, after a decade of stagnation, we needed an infusion of individualism. In 2016, we are too fragmented and atomized—united for the most part only by being equally under the thumb of the administrative state—and desperately need more unity.

Which means that Trump, right now, is right and the conservatives are wrong. His moderate program of secure borders, economic nationalism, and America-first foreign policy—all things that liberals and conservatives alike used to take for granted, if they disagreed on implementation—holds the promise of fostering more unity. But today, liberals are apoplectic at the mere mention of this program—controlling borders is “extreme” but a “borderless world” is the “ultimate wisdom”—and the Finlandized conservatives aid them in attacking the candidate who promotes it. Conservatives claim to deplore the way the Democrats slice and dice the electorate, reduce it to voting blocks and interest groups, and stoke resentments to boost turnout. But faced with a candidate explicitly running on a unity agenda they insist he is too extreme to trust with the reins of power. One wants to ask, again: which is it, conservatives? Is Trump to be rejected because he is too moderate or because he is too extreme? The answer appears to be that it doesn’t matter, so long as Trump is rejected.

So that’s my “immoderate” case for Trump: do things that are in the interests of lower, working, and middle class Americans in order to improve their lives and increase unity across all swaths and sectors of society. And in so doing, reassert the people’s rightful, Constitutional control of their government. “Dangerous.” “Extreme.” “Radical.” “Poison.” “Authoritarian.”

Much more HERE.


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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

15 Years After 9/11 We’re Less Safe, Less Free

September 11 marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As with the assassination of JFK and the attack on Pearl Harbor, 9/11 will forever be seen as a critical moment in American history.

For those who lived through the 9/11 attacks the anniversary brings up many unpleasant memories. I was young—a junior high school student. Our teachers told us there had been an attack, but refused to discuss it further. It was not until I got home and turned on the television that I began to understand that I was seeing something unlike anything I’d ever encountered.

Like many Americans, I was scared and worried about what the terrorist acts would mean for our country. I remember asking my parents if there would be more attacks and if there were terrorists living in the United States. I wondered what I would do if I or someone I loved was a victim of an attack. Although they tried to be comforting, it was clear my parents didn’t have the answers.

Lucky for me and other Americans, the chance of being killed (or even injured) in an act of terror is remarkably low—about one in 20 million. You are more likely to die while moving your couch, or from being struck by lightning, from falling out of bed, from the flu, or from brain-eating parasites!

Some would argue that this illustrates that government has done a good job since 9/11. Consider, however, that the number of Americans killed in terror attacks on an annualized basis has remained remarkably constant and low over several decades, with a few exceptions like 9/11. In the period from 1995 through 2014, for example, seven years saw no deaths in the United States related to terrorism. In six other years, one to four Americans were killed on U.S. soil in “terror-related” incidents. Even looking worldwide, the number of Americans killed in terror attacks pales in comparison to other causes of death. In 2013 just under 2.6 million U.S. citizens died. Thirteen of these deaths were terror-related, 0.0005 percent of all deaths. In 2001, taking into account the deaths from the 9/11 attacks, terror deaths still represented less than 0.2 percent of all U.S. deaths.

Yet despite these comforting numbers, Americans are less safe and less free than they were 15 years ago. The danger comes not from terrorism, but rather from the U.S. government. The War on Terror has enabled massive government expansion. The cost is not “just” the nearly $2 trillion in taxpayer money, but our liberty.

Consider that during the last 15 years, U.S. government has spied (and continues to spy) on U.S. citizens and international leaders. The U.S. government has used “enhanced interrogation,” otherwise known as torture, to combat terrorism. These techniques are not exclusively used in foreign combat zones, however. Recent investigations of the Chicago Police Department, for example, indicate that local governments have employed these same techniques at home, not against terrorists but against US. citizens.

Drones and other forms of extrajudicial killing are now standard practice. These activities not only fail to eliminate terror threats, but provide a rallying cry and recruitment tool for terrorist organizations, making Americans at home and abroad less safe. The push to use drone technology domestically by state and local law enforcement has substantial consequences for privacy. Militarized police, now on the “front lines” of the war on terror at home, have trampled the rights of Americans with a barrage of “no-knock” raids and unauthorized surveillance.

Moreover, those who speak out against these activities, whistleblowers who expose the wrongdoings of the U.S. government, are labeled as un-American, anti-military or even traitors, and punished. Meanwhile, questionable and perhaps illegal activity by government officials goes unchecked.

Many Americans look outside of the United States to determine who represents the biggest threat to freedom and safety. Fifteen years after 9/11, we’d do well to realize that the largest threat to our liberties comes not from people thousands of miles away but from our own government.



Gary Bauer: Teddy Roosevelt Banned Muslims; Jimmy Carter Banned Iranians

In a speech Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., American Values Founder and President Gary Bauer said that former President Theodore Roosevelt banned Muslims during his presidency by prohibiting immigration to the U.S. of anyone who believed in polygamy, promoted it or lived in a country that practiced it.

“Donald Trump has been crucified, because a number of months ago, he said that we ought to have a pause in Muslim immigration to the United States, and it took about 10 minutes for the president and quite frankly, a number of Republican leaders to run to a microphone and basically say that’s not who we are. That’s not our values. Well they’re wrong,” Bauer said.

“Teddy Roosevelt enforced the law during his presidency that prohibited immigration to the United States of anybody who believed in polygamy, promoted polygamy, or lived in a country that practiced polygamy. Who do you think he was trying to keep out of the country, Episcopalians?” Bauer asked.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the Immigration Act of 1891 barred “the immigration of polygamists, persons convicted of crimes of moral turpitude, and those suffering loathsome or contagious diseases.”

“How about Jimmy Carter, that well known right wing bigoted extremist, right? Jimmy Carter, who the guy I worked for, Ronald Reagan, clobbered on Election Day, Jimmy Carter, after the Iranian Revolution, announced that effective immediately there would be no more immigration from Iran into the United States, but that’s not all,” Bauer said.

In 1980, Carter announced that the U.S. was breaking diplomatic relations with Iran and ordered all Iranian diplomats and officials to leave the country by midnight the next day, according to an April 8, 1980 article in The Crimson. This was 157 days into the Iran hostage crisis. Fifty Americans were held hostage by militants occupying the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. At the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ruled that the Americans must stay with the militants until the new Iranian Parliament decided their fate.

“Jimmy Carter went on national TV and said, there are 25,000 Iranian students attending our universities. You have 30 days to report to your closest immigration center with your papers. He expelled thousands of Iranian university students from the United States,” Bauer said. “That was weakling, left-wing, Democrat Jimmy Carter.

“And today, taking that commonsense position gets you attacked the way Trump is attacked. It’s unbelievable what’s happening in this country,” he said, referring to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s initial proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country.

“Donald Trump has done a little bit more on his proposal. Now he says that he’s gonna really zero in on a handful of countries, and that’s fine – countries where there’s a lot of terrorist activity, etcetera, but then he said something else that again set people off on a tirade,” Bauer said.

“He said we’re going to start having an ideological test. Of course we should. The Pew Research Center did a study of the Muslim world and found that it is permeated with hatred of Jews, of Christians, rejection of religious liberty. Why would we import that to the United States?” Bauer asked.

Bauer said the world has been “cursed with leaders that at best are clueless” when it comes to combatting terrorism.

“We have been cursed with leaders that at best are clueless,” Bauer said, pointing to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “How do you explain Merkel in Germany, who doesn’t have an unexpected influx of young Muslim migrants coming to the country?

“She invites them in, and a million of them accept her invitation, pouring across the borders, and then in the weeks and months that follow, Merkel expresses surprise and shock that German women are being molested and raped,” Bauer said.

“What did she think would happen when you bring in hundreds of thousands of young men from third world countries that have been taught in their houses of worship that infidel women are all whores and you could do to them what you want to do? That’s who she invited into Germany,” he said.

“How about in France, where after the brutal attack in Nice, families run over by a jihadist in a truck, empty carriages littered all over the beach where babies used to be sitting, and a French government official says, ‘well, this is almost impossible to stop. The French people may just have to get used to tolerating a certain level of terrorism in our pluralistic country,’” Bauer said.

“And then there’s President Obama. My gosh, if I’d shared with you all of his contributions to helping us understand what is going on, I’d be speaking through the rest of my time and the next two speakers,” Bauer said.

“A few months ago, he had this really incredible insight to share with us. The president said you America, you Americans have more risk of drowning in a bathtub, he said, than you do of being killed by terrorists. Well thank you, Mr. President, for that incredible insight. Churchill, he ain’t,” Bauer added.

“I guess my reaction would be that when my bathtub starts yelling Allah Akbar and trying to kill me, I’ll start worrying about baths, but right now, I’m going to worry about the people, whose numbers are growing ladies and gentleman, who have declared war on western civilization – Judeo-Christian civilization,” he said.

Bauer then referenced Kerry’s comments Bangladesh in August during a press availability in Dhaka.

“Secretary Kerry a couple weeks ago went to a conference in Europe – don’t want to leave him out. This was a conference on the importance of open societies, and he brought the crowd – many of them journalists and government officials - to their feet in raucous applause when he said if the media would just stop reporting the terror attacks, the impact they have would be lessened,” Bauer said.

“He offered no guidance on what reporters should do when they come across the mass graves. Should they not report those either? Cause if you report that they just found another grave with a thousand dead Christians in it or Yazidis or other religious minorities, people might go, Wow, that’s big news. Who killed them?” Bauer added.



Houston Jury Rules Against SEIU Tactics

Marking the end of a 10-year legal battle, a Houston jury today ruled in favor of Professional Janitorial Services and against the SEIU, ordering the union to pay $5.3 million in damages for the union’s campaign to drive away the company’s business.

The “Kill PJS” campaign was a three-year effort by the SEIU to do exactly what the name suggests. Throughout that time, the union implemented a three pronged strategy of media collaboration, baseless lawsuits, and union-planted employees in an effort to drive customers away from the janitorial company.

“The jury found what PJS and its employees have known for more than a decade, which is that SEIU is a corrupt organization that is rotten to its core,” said Brent Southwell, CEO of PJS. “The next step is to ensure the union is removed from Texas and sent packing back to Chicago.”

Founded in Chicago, the Service Employees International Union is a DC-based union with deep ties to the Obama administration.

Throughout the four week trial, jurors learned of false allegations, threatening tactics, and an all-out smear campaign waged by the SEIU against the janitorial company for one simple reason— PJS refused to allow the union to organize its workforce of janitors without a secret ballot election.

In a statement, PJS added that they “will now ask local prosecutors to investigate apparent perjury by union officials and an attorney who testified in the trial, and will increase its efforts with state legislators to remove the SEIU from eligibility in state-provided union dues collection programs.”

The PJS trial was the first time the union’s tactics were brought in front of a jury, as other companies have opted to settle their cases and avoid a trial.

Today’s ruling sends a clear message that unions who attempt to use corrupt tactics and political connections to pressure business owners into giving in to their demands will no longer be tolerated in the Lone Star State.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- about both British and American matters


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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fifteen Years after 9/11, and America Still Sleeps

How much worse will the destruction and death have to be to wake us up?

Fifteen years after the carnage of 9/11, American foreign policy is still mired in its fossilized dogmas and dangerous delusions. The consequences are obvious. Iran, the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism and long an avowed enemy of the United States, has filled the vacuum of our ignominious retreat from the Middle East, even as the mullahs move ever closer to possessing nuclear weapons. Russia, Iran's improbable ally, bombs civilians in Syria, kills the Syrian fighters we have trained, bullies its neighbor Ukraine, consolidates its take-over of the Crimea, and relentlessly pursues its interests with disregard for international law and contempt for our feeble protests. Iraq, for which thousands of Americans bled and died, is now a puppet state of Iran. Afghanistan is poised to be overrun by the Taliban in a few years, and ISIS, al Qaeda 2.0, continues to inspire franchises throughout the world and to murder European and American citizens.

So much for the belief, frequently heard in the months after the attacks of 9/11, that "this changes everything." The smoking ruins and 3000 dead surely had awoken us from our delusions that the "end of history" and a "new world order" had followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, "a world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak," as George H.W. Bush said in 1990. The following decade seemed to confirm this optimism. Didn't we quickly slap down the brutal Saddam Hussein and stop his aggression against his neighbors? Didn't we punish the Serbs for their revanchist depredations in the Balkans? With American military power providing the muscle, the institutions of international cooperation like NATO, the International Court of Justice, and the U.N. Security Council would patrol and protect the network of new democracies that were set to evolve into versions of Western nations and enjoy such boons as individual rights, political freedom, leisure and prosperity, tolerance for minorities, equality for women, and a benign secularism.

The gruesome mayhem of 9/11 should have alerted us to the fact many Muslims didn't get the memo about history's demise. Indeed, long before that tragic day in September, we had been serially warned that history still had some unpleasant surprises. Theorists of neo-jihadism like Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb for decades had laid out the case for war against the infidel West and its aggression against Islam. "It is the nature of Islam," al-Banna wrote, "to dominate not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations and extend its power to the entire planet." So too the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Ayatollah Khomeini: "Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world," which is why "Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers." The kidnapping of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Tehran by a group called "Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam [Khomeini]" sent us a message that we were engaged in the religious war the jihadists warned would come. But few of those responsible for our security and interests had ears to hear or eyes to see.

Not even when the words became bloody deeds did we listen. The bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks in 1983, which killed 241 servicemen, was supported by Iran and executed by its proxy terrorist group Hezbollah. Our refusal to respond reflected our failure to take seriously Khomeini's vow to spread his revolution to the whole world. The humiliating televised abuse of our dead soldiers in Mogadishu in 1993, followed by our withdrawal, was exploited by Osama bin Laden in his sermons as signs that America had "foundations of straw." That same year came the first World Trade Center attack, which killed six and wounded 1,042, an operation inspired by al Qaeda and traditional jihadist doctrine. In 1995 five Americans were killed by al Qaeda operatives at a training facility in Riyadh. In 1996 a truck bomb exploded in front of a residential complex housing Air Force personnel near Dhahran, killing 19 Americans. In 1998 al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Twelve Americans died in Nairobi. And the last warning came in October of 2000, when the destroyer Cole was attacked by a fishing boat loaded with explosive. Seventeen sailors died and 39 were wounded.

Yet during these two decades of attacks that proved the jihadists' words were not just bluster, we did little in response. We interpreted the attacks as crimes, not battles in a war, and reflections of poverty, autocracy, or vague "evil," rather than as the fulfillment of Allah's divine commands. Instead, Clinton launched cruise missiles that made a lot of noise but accomplished nothing, limited as those attacks were by timid rules of engagement. His foreign policy was internationalist and idealist, seeing the spread of democracy and the promotion of human rights as paramount in foreign affairs. America's presence needed to be reduced in the world, and the use of force should be a last resort, and even then carefully calibrated to avoid international condemnation and American casualties. "Dialogue" and "outreach" were preferable, for the jihadists were just defending "traditional values," as one State Department official said. The wages of that delusion were the burned and dismembered bodies in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

This history is worth reviewing, for all these mistakes, these failures of imagination, these indulgences of naïve idealism, these sacrifices of our security and interests to political advantage, all comprise the "everything" that 9/11 was supposed to "change." But here we are, fifteen years later, with a similar history of folly. George W. Bush pursued a delusional program of democracy promotion in Iraq and Afghanistan, with scant appreciation for the profound cultural differences between Islam and the West. But he at least left his successor a stabilized Iraq, which Obama quickly abandoned just to fulfill a campaign promise and assert his progressive bona fides. Then Obama blustered that Syria's "Assad has to go" and laid down "red lines" that were not to be crossed, only to do nothing when they were serially crossed, and to sacrifice this country's credibility in his pursuit of the disastrous deal with Iran, our inveterate enemy stained with four decades' worth of American blood. ISIS was allowed to flourish in the vacuum created by our withdrawal, creating a Hobbesian war of all against all, whose beneficiaries so far have been our rival Russia and our sworn enemy Iran.

Perhaps worst of all, Obama has turned jihad denial into a fatal disease. He is not alone in this delusion, for "religion of peace" and "nothing to do with Islam" have been mantras chanted by our foreign policy savants going back to the Iranian Revolution. No matter that al-Banna, Qutb, Khomeini, bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the mullahs in Iran all have grounded their violence and aggression in Islamic scripture and tradition. Our smug Western analysts and apologists dismiss the jihadists' exegesis as a "hijacking" or "distortion" of the "true" Islam, presuming to understand the Islamic faith better than pious Muslims do. So we half-heartedly fight an enemy whose name we cannot even say, and whose religion of violence we desperately distort into a religion of peace and tolerance. Meanwhile, like Bill Clinton and now Obama, we use bombs and drones as telegenic marketing tools to hide our failure of nerve and short-sighted political calculations.

So fifteen years later, we still sleep. And don't expect things to change after November. Neither candidate has shown any indication he or she is willing to make the hard decisions required to destroy ISIS and reaffirm American prestige. Trump issues vague threats about "bombing the shit" out of ISIS, while Hillary chatters about "smart power" and "coalitions," doubling down on Obama's failing policy. But no one proposes using the mind-concentrating levels of force, including troops as well as bombs, necessary to repair our broken foreign policy in the Middle East. Too many voters are in an isolationist mood, sick of wars and casualties, and concerned more about jobs and the economy.

The attacks on 9/11 supposedly "changed everything." When it comes to foreign policy, they didn't. One shudders to think how much worse the destruction and death will have to be to wake us up.



‘Socialism of the 21st Century’ Collapses in Brazil. Here’s Why It Failed

With the Senate impeachment vote to remove from office former President Dilma Rousseff, Brazilians joined a lengthening line of Latin Americans who have soured on the populist, corrupting, and impoverishing policies of “21st Century Socialism.”

Faced with its disastrous consequences, people in some neighboring countries had already turned the page and moved on. Argentina wised up late last year and installed center-right President Mauricio Macri after more than a decade of misrule by the Peronist Kirchner family.

Earlier this year, Peruvians voted for a 78-year-old center-right economist to get them back on track. And in Caracas, Venezuela, tens of thousands took to the streets demanding the removal of the brutally fascistic regime put in power by one of 21st Century Socialism’s founding fathers, the late Hugo Chávez.

In Brazil, government spending programs championed by Rousseff and her socialist mentor and predecessor, “Lula” da Silva, only managed to pull Brazilians out of poverty temporarily, through cash transfers and welfare benefits that ended up nearly bankrupting the country and plunging it into its deepest recession since the 1930s.

After squandering many opportunities during the era of booming commodity prices, these countries now face the difficult—but necessary—structural reform process to remove the real obstacles that have limited productivity growth and thwarted convergence with more advanced economies.

Many of these reforms are detailed in The Heritage Foundation’s newly published “2017 Global Agenda for Economic Freedom.” They include:

Stronger protection of property rights and more effective anti-corruption measures.

Renewed efforts to reduce barriers to trade and investment (e.g. nontariff barriers and nontransparent investment regimes).

Liberalization of energy markets.

Reduction of support for massively subsidized state-owned enterprises that are especially toxic breeding grounds for cronyism and favoritism (e.g. Petrobras in Brazil).

By taking these steps under new President Michel Temer, Brazil can soon make strides to raise its scores in the annual Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom and, more importantly, make sustainable improvements to the living standards of its millions of citizens.

Rousseff’s downfall was sealed when it was revealed that she and her socialist PT political party had cooked the budget books to boost vote-buying spending measures in advance of her squeaker re-election victory in the 2014 presidential election. Now, Brazilians have slammed those books closed and opened the door to greater prosperity in a post-socialist Latin America.



Obama will leave us defenseless

Our Commander-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, is out to sabotage the U.S. Military. His deliberate actions have exposed this great nation to dangers never before seen in our history.

At first I thought it was mere incompetence. But now I can see it for what it really is.

Obama's every move is designed to deplete our military, bring our armed forces to their knees and establish him as Ruler.

His sneaky actions are unparalleled and pose a HUGE threat to the future of our military and the safety of our entire nation.

Right under our noses, Obama has purged a huge number of senior military officials from top positions in our armed forces.

Last year alone, he "relieved of duty" nine generals and flag officers -- making a total of over 200 top-class officers fired since he came to office in 2009, including nine very powerful generals and admirals in the past year alone.

The question is: Why?

One veteran Army intel officer shared the reason. He said that Obama wants a "compliant officer class" and "it's getting harder and harder to find senior officers with a pair of b*lls above the rank of major" because above that rank "it's all politics."

That's right. Our mighty U.S. Military is being purged by a former dope-smoking, terrorist-loving, communist-sympathizing, America-hating hippy.



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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, September 12, 2016

Trump is sounding better


I think Publius is right that the demonization of the Right would only accelerate in a Hillary Clinton administration. Which brings Publius—and me—to Donald Trump. “Yes, Trump is worse than imperfect, “ he admits. “So what? We can lament until we choke the lack of a great statesman to address the fundamental issues of our time.” Publius goes further than I would. “Trump,” he says,

"alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity"

There were others, in my opinion, who fit this bill, including Ted Cruz.  But Ted Cruz is not a candidate for the presidency in 2016. Donald Trump is.  Which brings me back to my second thoughts about Trump. As recently as a few weeks back, I was a lesser-of-two-evils, reluctant Trump supporter: classic Russian roulette vs. the loaded semi-automatic that is a Hillary Clinton victory.

But then Trump embarked on a series of high-profile speeches and rallies.  I liked what he said about taxes and economic policy. I liked his list of possible SCOTUS nominees.  I liked what he said about supporting the police and the plight of blacks in the inner cities.  I liked what he said about combatting Islamic terrorism (what Barack Obama calls “workplace violence”). I even liked most of what he said in his immigration speech in Arizona.  I thought it was courageous and “presidential” for him to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. I thought he did the right thing in going to lend moral, and even a bit of material, support to the victims of the floods in Louisiana. I was grateful when he released a video commemorating the canonization of Mother Teresa. I was happy to see him supporting school choice, standing up for religious freedom, and criticizing those who mock Christians and people of faith.

I know there will be some who object, “But how do you know he will do all things things.” The answer is, I don’t.

But I do know what Hillary would do: Obama on steroids. She’s a known-known.  She would, as Publius warns, complete the “fundamental transformation” of this country into a third-world, politically correct socialist redoubt.

There is a fair amount of hysteria among NeverTrumpers about “The Flight 93 Election,” which I guess underscores just how potent its argument is. (The fact that Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio show redoubled that potency.) As I say, I’ve come around to thinking that there are plenty of good reasons for someone of conservative principles to support Trump. I know, and have repeatedly rehearsed, the standard litany of criticisms about Trump.  But they fade if not into insignificance then at least into near irrelevance in the face of his actual program (see above) and, most of all, in the face of the horror that is his opponent. I’ll give the last word to Publius: “The election of 2016 is a test . . .  of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.”

The great James Burnham once remarked that where there is no alternative there is no problem. Fortunately, we do have an alternative, and, my, we do have a problem.  I was wrong when I predicted that Donald Trump would not be the candidate. I hope I will be proved wrong about my prediction that, were he the candidate, he would not win. The trends are promising, I think, but it would be foolish to deny that there are madmen in the cockpit or that many of the passengers are scared, apathetic, deluded, or just plain cowardly. We need a real-life Decius Mus who is willing to say “Let’s roll” and make a concerted charge. It may be the last chance we have.





Charles Murray talks about the new class war cleaving the US in two

With the publication in 2012 of Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, political scientist Charles Murray – celebrated and denigrated in equal measure for his earlier works, Losing Ground (1984) and The Bell Curve (1994) – produced a searing, searching analysis of a nation cleaving along the lines of class, a nation, as he put it, ‘coming apart at the seams’. On the one side of this conflicted society, as Murray sees it, there is the intellectual or ‘cognitive’ elite, graduates of America’s leading universities, bound together through marriage and work, and clustered together in the same exclusive zipcodes, places such as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Boston.

In these communities of the likeminded, which Murray gives the fictional title of ‘Belmont’, the inhabitants share the same values, the same moral outlook, the same distinct sense of themselves as superior. And on the other side, there is the ‘new lower class’, the white Americans who left education with no more than a high-school diploma, who increasingly divorce among themselves, endure unemployment together, and are gathered in neighbourhoods that Murray gives the title of ‘Fishtown’ – inspired by an actual white, blue-collar neighbourhood of the same name in Philadelphia.

It is in Fishtown that the trends Murray identifies as the most damaging over the past 50 years – family breakdown, loss of employment, crime and a loss of social capital – are felt and experienced. Its inhabitants have a set of values (albeit threadbare ones), an outlook and a way of life that are entirely at odds with those from Belmont. And it is between these two almost entirely distinct moral communities, that the new Culture Wars now appear to be being fought. Sean Collins caught up with Murray to talk about the cultural drivers of this latent class conflict; how it plays into the rise of Trump; and what can be done about this dangerous division

Sean Collins: In Coming Apart, you argue that the top and bottom of American society are divided culturally as well as economically. Fishtown is not only poorer than Belmont, but engages in different cultural practices, and has different values. For example, the value placed on marriage and religion differs among the people in your two archetypal towns. What forces have created this divide? To what extent have economic trends, such as a lack of employment opportunities, contributed to the divide?

Charles Murray: In Coming Apart I deliberately avoided talking about causes, and the reason for that was to enable people on the left to read the book without giving up on it. In my own view, many of the left’s policies, starting in the 1960s, contributed to this breakdown. They contributed to the breakdown of the family; they contributed to rising crime; they indirectly contributed to declining religiosity; and, above all, they contributed to the withdrawal of a lot of males from the labour force. Those policies weren’t the only causes, but I didn’t want to talk about those I had discussed in an earlier book, Losing Ground. Instead, I wanted my audience to confront the fact that this division between top and bottom had occurred.

However, in terms of the forces driving this division, I would say the economy’s role has been vastly overstated. My reasons for saying that are, first, that we have had a natural experiment. We have had prolonged periods in the US where the job market has been tight, with more jobs than workers: we had scattered years in the 1970s, for instance; then we had a period in the mid 1980s, during the second term of the Reagan administration; and, most obviously, in the latter half of the 1990s, labour markets were very tight. Yet during all of this time we saw the low-skilled, poorly educated workers of Fishtown drop out of the labour force. If the labour market was to blame, then presumably males would have come back into the labour market during those periods – they did not. The decline slowed somewhat during those periods, but it did not reverse. So, when people say, ‘oh, we can solve this problem by creating plenty of jobs at good pay’, I say, we tried that. You have to tell me what is going to be different about a tight labour market in the future, that was different from, say, the latter half of the 1990s.

I think the much larger changes in the culture were driven by, as I mentioned, a variety of social policies that I discussed in Losing Ground. But I should add to those a couple of others. First, the invention of the birth control pill, which liberated women from the fear of pregnancy and generated a sexual revolution. This led to a situation in which males’ incentives for marriage changed. A major incentive for a young male to marry prior to 1960 was to have regular sexual access to a woman, which was hard to do at that time if you were not wealthy or otherwise in a fortunate position.

So are working-class Americans angry? Yeah. And is Trump a vehicle for expressing that anger? Absolutely

Second, feminism. Women were able to get into the labour market in ways they had not before. It was a good thing to happen, but it also fundamentally changed the role and status of the working-class male. So before the entrance of women into the workplace, he could say ‘I am the head of the family; I am putting food on the table, and a roof over the heads of my children’, which gave him not only a personal sense of satisfaction, but also a status within the community. But the role and status of males changed when so many women started to become economically independent of men.

So, it’s a classic case of many forces creating the problem I described in Coming Apart. Forces which were progressive – I’m glad that the feminist revolution occurred, I’m glad that better contraception was available for women. But they had collateral effects which were problematic.

Collins:  You paint a fairly bleak picture of life in Fishtown. People are not only poor but despairing, and otherwise leading difficult lives. Do you think the elite is to blame for Fishtown? Do the people of Fishtown have any culpability for their situation?

Murray: The people of Fishtown have a lot of responsibility for what’s gone on. If you go to a Fishtown in the US – that includes lots of small towns in the Midwest and West, as well as urban working-class neighbourhoods – you will see, for example, lots of healthy, able-bodied males in their twenties and thirties, who are not working. They are not looking for work; they do not take jobs if they are available; and they spend their lives essentially playing video games. That’s not really an exaggeration. The statistics on the number of hours spent by these guys on video games are stunning.

Now, it is a classic argument of the left to say, ‘ah, they are demoralised. They are not responsible for their decisions.’ And I agree, in some sense they are demoralised. But I also do not want to deprive them of moral agency. They have the option to behave differently. There are people in those same communities who are behaving differently. There are men who are in the labour market, are employed, are doing the right thing. So, if you talk about the new lower class, there are two points to make. One, do forces outside the control of the people in those communities have a bearing on their lives? Absolutely. Two, does that excuse them from the choices they make, to live off of others – girlfriends, parents, friends, the government? No, it does not excuse them from making those choices.

Collins: Coming Apart was published in 2012. Have the culture divisions you identified in the book persisted? Have they evolved at all?

Murray: The divisions have continued to get worse, but not that rapidly. For example, if you look at the marriage rate for guys in their thirties and forties, it hasn’t fallen much more than had it done when I compiled my data (in 2010) for Coming Apart. So have things gotten a lot worse over the past six years? Not a lot, but they have gotten worse. The thing that I did not pick up on in Coming Apart was the decline in working-class women’s labour-force participation, which is quite pronounced. I did look at women’s labour participation while writing Coming Apart, but my breakdowns did not trigger the recognition of how large that reduction was. So, it’s not just demoralisation among men any more; it’s demoralisation among women as well, and that’s been going on since the early 2000s. That’s one thing which I think has probably gotten worse.

Also, I should add, that there was a confirmation of the radical change that’s going on, in the work of the Nobel Prize-winner Angus Deaton and his co-author, Anne Case, who documented an astonishing rise in death rates among lower-class whites, from diseases related to addiction, substance abuse, and so on. This trend is also an indirect indicator of a huge cultural change for the worse in working-class America.

Collins: Do you see the culture divides and trends you identified in Coming Apart as contributing to the rise of Donald Trump?

Murray: Yes, I do. There are two developments. First, if you look at those people who are out of the labour force – what I call the ‘new lower class’ – they are no longer participating in the major institutions of American society. To put it crudely, I think they look upon Trump as sticking it to the man in a way they find gratifying. But I think they also look upon this as entertainment. I’m exaggerating to some extent, but there’s a sentiment of ‘well, this is a really interesting reality show, look at what this guy is getting away with, with all his outrageous stuff – let’s see what happens next’.

The elites are promulgating policies for which they do not pay the price. That’s true of immigration, that’s true of education

Then you have other people in the white working class who are getting married, holding jobs, playing by the rules – and they are pissed as hell. They see all of these shenanigans among the elites, the Wall Street types, for instance, with their 20,000-square-foot mansions. And most aggravating of all, they have to suffer the cognitive elite’s incredible smugness and condescension. The elites don’t even bother to hide this condescension towards the white working class. They are constantly making fun of rednecks, of evangelical Christians. And they talk about ‘flyover country’, as if nothing between the East Coast and West Coast really makes any difference. Indeed, cognitive elites are contemptuous of the working class. At the same time, working-class people, trying hard to makes ends meet, are being faced with an awful lot of competition for work from an influx of low-skilled, immigrant labour – an influx that the elites have encouraged and done nothing to stop. So, are they angry? Yeah. And is Trump a vehicle for expressing that anger? Absolutely.



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.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, September 11, 2016

The ‘False Economy’

With Donald Trump’s use over Labor Day of the phrase the “false economy” we finally have a candidate who is getting to the bottom of the so-called Obama recovery. On the one hand the President’s approval ratings are above 50%. On the other hand, vast majorities think the country is moving in the wrong direction. Official unemployment is below 5%, but because the job participation rate is at its lowest point in decades. The government has racked up more debt than all previous administrations combined. Yet it has eked out growth of less than 2%.

To millions of Americans this is just unreal — and Mr. Trump, in the most important and even radical feature of his demarche, lays the blame at the clay feet of the Federal Reserve. The GOP nominee, speaking to newspapermen on his campaign plane, accused the Fed, as Reuters paraphrased him, “of keeping interest rates low to help President Barack Obama.” He’d been asked about interest rates. Said The Donald: “They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down. We have a very false economy,” he said.

We don’t think we’ve heard a presidential candidate talk about the economy in quite this way — at least not since Congressman Ron Paul, whom James Grant likes to call the “party of one,” sought the GOP nomination. Not that Mr. Trump’s ideas are so heretical. “At some point the rates are going to have to change,” Reuters quoted him as saying. Both the Wall Street Journal and economist David Malpass have been making that point for months (or years). “The only thing that is strong,” Reuters quoted Mr. Trump as saying, “is the artificial stock market.”

This strikes us as a positive development in Mr. Trump’s campaign. It puts him in front on the economy and leaves Mrs. Clinton with few options than to put a falsely rosy tint on an economy that has stranded tens of millions of Americans. She has abandoned, in the Trans Pacific Partnership, the very trade agreement that she once praised as ideal and that is a lynchpin to the pivot to Asia for which the administration forsook victory in the Middle East. And she offers little but tax increases, spending, borrowing, and regulation as a forward strategy.

Mr. Trump, by contrast, can take the next step and address the monetary question. If the Fed has failed — and it is not the only central bank that has had and that has found itself without further monetary ammunition — can monetary reform be far behind? The most significant monetary move in the past month, in our view, was the endorsement by the Wall Street Journal of a proper monetary commission, which is now before the Senate. That would put the GOP candidate on the same page with the Speaker, Paul Ryan, and Congressman Kevin Brady.

Chairman Brady has been plumping for a centennial monetary commission for several years now, starting when he was chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and continuing into his chairmanship of Ways and Means. What an alignment of leadership he and Messrs. Ryan and Trump and a Vice President Pence could provide. The commission would open up the whole question of monetary policy, including whether to return America to a system of a dollar defined in gold. In using the phrase “false economy” Mr. Trump has signaled that he comprehends that we need to reconnect the economy to some measure of value that is real.



UK to Build a Wall — Sound Familiar?

Great Britain will build a wall in Calais, France, in order to help prevent illegal immigration. The recent surge of migrants coming into Europe from the middle east has been cited as one of the primary factors in the UK’s recent vote to exit the European Union. The British plan is to build a 13 foot wall around the port of Calais, which is the busiest port between the two countries. The Brits say that the wall is needed to better prevent illegal immigrants from jumping on board ships or intercepting vehicles in order to gain entry into the UK where they can then lodge applications as asylum seekers.

Donald Trump and his pledge to build a wall along the American southern border with Mexico has been much maligned by Hillary Clinton who once supported a wall herself, Democrats and some Republicans as a ridiculous and impractical plan. Yet Trump and company have repeatedly highlighted the effectiveness of walls — such as the wall separating Israel from the Palestinian West Bank, which has been credited with helping to limit terrorist attacks. As Trump said to a crowd in New Hampshire last year, “You ask Israel whether or not a wall works.” Well, it appears that the British government certainly thinks that it does.



Media bias


China claims to have developed radar that can detect STEALTH jets

The F35 will be obsolete before it is fully operational.  Its only strong feature is its stealth capacity. It is slow and unmaneuverable otherwise. There have been reports of Russia defeating stealth too

A Chinese firm has claimed that they have developed radar technology that can detect stealth jets. The quantum radar was reportedly created by Intelligent Perception Technology, a branch of defence and electronics firm CETC.

They claim it is capable of detecting a target at a range of 60 miles and according to the Xinhua news agency, it was successfully tested last month.

It is believed the radar uses quantum entanglement photons, which means it has better detection capabilities than conventional systems. This means it can more easily track modern aircraft that use stealth technology or baffle enemy radar.

The new technology also comes after China launched the world's first quantum communications satellite, which uses quantum entanglement to solve codes.



Navy Mismanagement of Carrier Force Bites America

The Navy is in a world of hurt. It’s less than half the size it was when Ronald Reagan left office. Carrier air wings have fewer combat aircraft than they did in 1991 — about 33% less. We’ve gone from 15 carriers to 10. Now, the Navy’s newest carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), may not be able to deploy on time, leaving America short one more carrier.

That’s not a good thing. The ChiComs have played a Cersei Lannister gambit in the South China Sea — and that puts American allies like the Philippines in a bind. America also has to confront the presence of China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile — which, while overhyped, still inflicts virtual attrition on a Navy with too few hulls.

How did we get here? First, the Navy chose to prematurely retire the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), banking on the Ford being ready to fill in. Even though Newport News Shipbuilding could have done a second overhaul on the Big E, the Obama administration ignored the growing threats from China, Iran (which has been harassing American ships), and the Islamic State (not to mention the fact that the Russian reset wasn’t quite working), and went ahead with the scrapping process. Second, the Obama administration began to scrap seven older carriers that were being kept in reserve.

Did we mention the world was getting more dangerous while we junk eight major strategic assets?

It took almost seven years from laying the Gerald R. Ford’s keel to getting her to this point, and even then, with all of the new technology on board — like the electromagnetic catapults, the AN/SPY-3 radar, and new arresting gear — it may take time even after she’s commissioned for her to be ready to deploy.

You’d think that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus would have acted to address this before it got too severe. But Mabus has been more interested in dissing Navy heroes who don’t buy into the politically correct changes in DOD policy he and others have been pushing.

Sadly, the Navy’s carrier force isn’t the only place there the mismanagement of our forces has been a continuing trend. Three of the Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ships have suffered damage to their engines. The Marine Corps has been struggling to find sufficient numbers of flyable F/A-18 Hornets. The Air Force is falling short of pilots. Army OH-58s are getting older as proposed replacements like the RAH-66 and ARH-70 fall victim to the budget axe. Even ground troops could see defense cuts rob them of the game-changing XM25 “Punisher,” officially known as the Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System, even though it performed well in operational testing in Afghanistan.

Cuts like these, not to mention the onslaught of political correctness and social engineering, don’t just hurt the material performance of our troops. As Mark Alexander wrote Wednesday, they also kill the military’s most valuable resource — morale. That means troops, some with combat experience, may retire or not re-enlist, creating a vicious cycle of declining readiness due to subpar training due to loss of experience.

Reversing this trend won’t be easy, but it will be essential. Because an unprepared military invites aggression — which will be far more expensive in money, equipment and lives than it would have been to properly maintain our forces in the first place.

So how were those defense cuts a bargain, again?



The Coast Guard Needs a Boost

U.S. maritime borders should be secured, too

The U.S.-Mexico border gets a lot of attention. Yet here’s what many people don’t realize: It’s probably the shortest of the borders the United States has. The U.S.-Canadian border is longer, at 5,525 miles to 1,960. And America’s largest border is its 12,380-mile coastline — 65% longer than the combined land borders the U.S. shares with its northern and southern neighbors. Yet Customs and Border Protection, which handles the land border, has about 50% more personnel than the U.S. Coast Guard. Does something seem wrong with this picture?

It should. The Coast Guard, the smallest of America’s Armed Forces — and the only one not under the Department of Defense — has multiple missions: It is the primary maritime search-and-rescue agency; it’s responsible for interdicting drugs and migrants; and provides port security, law enforcement, national security missions, environmental protection, maritime safety, maintenance of navigation aids, and tracking of icebergs. It doesn’t just have a full plate — it has a full buffet table. In 2014, the commander of United States Southern Command, General John Kelly, admitted that 75% of drug smugglers were getting through.

Yet the Coast Guard could very well end up with fewer hulls available to put into the water — and that makes it unlikely that the percentage of smugglers getting through will go down. Plans call for eight Bertholf-class “national security” cutters to replace 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. That process is well underway, and the Hamiltons are being handed over to allies like the Philippines, giving them a needed boost (although far from what may be necessary to deal with an aggressive China). But eight hulls cannot cover 12 locations, no matter how good each individual vessel is. Quantity matters.

The same issue is emerging with the Coast Guard’s plans to replace 14 active Reliance-class and 13 Bear-class medium endurance cutters. The Offshore Patrol Cutter program plans to purchase 25 cutters to replace 27 for $484 million each. That’s pretty expensive, and here’s the kicker — there may be a better option already in service with most of the R&D already done.

The Freedom-class littoral combat ship has had its problems, to put it mildly. However, in 2010, USS Freedom racked up four drug busts in a SOUTHCOM deployment that lasted 47 days, and it made those four busts while also carrying out three “theater security cooperation” port visits. Furthermore, each of those vessels costs only $362 million — and with no R&D, the Coast Guard could afford 33 vessels for the $12.1 billion that the Offshore Patrol Cutter is slated to cost. That would give the Coast Guard 41 major cutters, as opposed to the 33 that they would have if current plans went into effect. And a bulk buy like this could further reduce the price.

But the Coast Guard has other problems, including a grand total of just 210 aircraft and helicopters. That total should be much higher, and in 2014, the Coast Guard retired its fastest aircraft, the HU-25 Guardian — hampering its ability to respond quickly to drug smuggling or other emergencies. The Coast Guard could also get some of its own eyes in the sky by getting in on the Navy’s purchase of the E-2D Hawkeye radar plane. Buying a dozen of those planes would cost about $2.15 billion — a little over 25% more than the ransom we recently paid to Iran for four hostages. It would do far more to make Americans safe.

Securing America’s maritime borders will be a need in the future — particularly if the U.S.-Mexico border is ever secured. Drug cartels will be looking for a new route to deliver their product, and if the Coast Guard is stretched too thin, the sea may very well become their avenue of choice.



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