Friday, December 16, 2016

Leftists fume as Republicans in Congress prepare to gut Obama regulations

Fumes from the Boston Globe below:

Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich and allies pushing the self-styled Contract with America created an obscure but potent legislative weapon to help Republicans combat what they deemed to be out-of-control regulatory overreach in Washington.

But like some kind of mystical, regulation-slaying sword, this tool comes to life only when the political stars align in just the right way, with single-party control on Capitol Hill and the White House, at just the right time.

Donald Trump, when he rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue at his inauguration, will usher in that time.

Republicans are readying an onslaught under what’s known asthe Congressional Review Act to cast aside a raft of Obama administration edicts, including rules designed to make it harder for US corporations to avoid taxes; environmental rules aimed at curbing earth-warming emissions; and sweeping changes to overtime regulations that were set to guarantee extra pay for an estimated 4 million Americans.

Congress put Gingrich’s creation to work just once before, in 2001, to dispatch a workplace safety rule governing ergonomics, issued in the waning months of the Clinton administration.

This time Republicans are thinking much, much bigger.

“We plan to robustly use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the midnight regulations of Barack Obama,” said Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, who is a leader of the Senate effort. “His legacy lost. The American people said ‘No, we don’t want that. We want to change direction.’ ”

While Barrasso and other Republicans say the tool allows them to rescind “last minute” regulations pushed by the Obama administration, the Byzantine way that time is defined in the act means they will most likely be able to take aim at regulations put in place as far back as late May.

Gingrich, now a close Trump adviser, is thrilled his creation will get some use.

“We’ve gone through a period where unelected bureaucrats have arrogated a level of dictatorial power that can ruin lives, close companies, and totally disrupt local governments with no recourse,” Gingrich said in a brief interview. “And to reassert the elected officials is, I think, a good thing.”

The Congressional Review Act in some ways encapsulates the absurdities of Washington. The law provides a fast-track process for lawmakers to overturn agency rules they dislike, rules that often took years for the executive branch agencies to write, review, and approve. Under terms of the act, each chamber passes a “resolution of disapproval,” the president signs it, and — poof! — the regulations exist no more.

But, as a practical matter, for this to actually happen requires a particular set of circumstances: Both chambers of a new Congress need to be controlled by the same party; a newly elected president must be of the same party; and everyone agrees that rules issued by the previous White House occupant, from the opposite party, need to be tossed.

And, under time limits in the act, they have a period of just a few months in the new Congress to get it all done.

The morning after Trump’s victory, Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy team at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, said he got “a million phone calls from Hill people about possible regs” that Congress could use Congressional Review Act to repeal.

Senate Democrats can’t rely on their typical go-to counteroffensive,the filibuster. A key reason this regulatory repeal tool is so potent is that it requires just a simple majority — 51 votes — in the Senate, not the 60-vote super majority most legislation requires.

If Congress uses it to successfully overturn a regulation, the agency is barred from ever again issuing rules that closely match what lawmakers rejected — unless Congress passes new legislation permitting the agency to do so.



The Iran/Boeing deal and flexible Leftist principles

As reported by Reuters, "IranAir said it signed a deal on Sunday to buy 80 passenger planes from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing (BA.N), state news agency IRNA reported, in the biggest U.S.-Iran deal since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The agency quoted Farhad Parvaresh, the chairman of Iran's flag carrier, as saying that the 10-year deal included 50 Boeing 737 aircraft and 30 777 planes.

Boeing said in June it had signed a tentative agreement to sell 100 jets to IranAir after Iranian statements about the deal. IRNA said that Fletcher Barkdull, a Boeing regional director, was in Tehran for the signing ceremony. The agency quoted Barkdull as saying that the deal was worth $16.6 billion and had been approved by the U.S. government.

In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill intending to block the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran, that would bar the U.S. Treasury from issuing licenses that U.S. banks would need to finance sales of commercial aircraft.

Congressional Republicans are making efforts to counter last year's nuclear accord between Iran, the United States and other world powers, that eased sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The Boeing deal would help modernize and expand the Iran's aging fleet, kept going by smuggled or improvised parts after decades of sanctions."

I have no issue with the free market and any means by which we advance the sale of American products, made by American workers...but Iran?

Well, needless to say, this is yet another example of Obama crony capitalism where he and John Kerry have been acting as the chamber of commerce for Iran. Boeing just signed a deal in blood with the number one state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world - something to be proud of?

So, the sanctions were working against Iran, but thanks to Barack Obama not only are they having an economic restoration, they're getting a commercial aviation upgrade. Could it be that Obama's Iranian agreement is so important that he would clear the path for business deals and development...maybe Obama and Kerry will be receiving some financial gain?

But this is not the real hypocrisy. This is the Iran that executes gays and lesbians. This is the Iran that stones women to death, and hangs them by a construction crane. This is the Iran that just recently held U.S. citizens hostage, and got a big bank roll for their release. This is the Iran that took U.S. Sailors captive placing them on their knees at gun point. This is the Iran that has been harassing our U.S. Navy warships in the international waters of the Persian Gulf. This is the Iran that supports Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis who recently fired missiles from Yemen at a U.S. Navy destroyer. This is the Iran that produced the lethal explosive force penetrator improvised explosive device (IED) that was responsible for nearly 20 percent of casualties and deaths of our U.S. troops.

This is the Iran with whom Boeing, supported by the Obama administration, signed a disrespectful to our men and women in uniform, who've lost life and limbs thanks to the Iranians. But, have you heard a peep from the liberal progressive media? Nope, crickets. They're more concerned about the false news story of Russian influence in our election.

Consider how the left, all of these entertainers, and even the NCAA moved their championships from the state of North Carolina because they passed a law saying a person must use the bathroom facilities corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

Yet Iran kills gays and lesbians - hear anything from the liberal progressive media? Or sadly, you better not be a Christian who'd ask to not participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony by providing services due on the grounds of your religious beliefs.

Yet in Iran they stone women - hear anything from the liberal progressive media? Heck, in Iran, Christians have to worship underground - we shared that story with you - and Muslims who convert to Christianity face death because of the crime of apostasy. This is the Iran with whom Boeing signed a deal.

The point I take issue with are these revolving situational ethics of the left that only apply when it's something they want...or a group they accept. Could it be that the progressive socialist left embraces the Islamist ayatollahs and terrorists of Iran, rather than simple Christian business men and women?

Why? First of all, ask yourself, why would Vladimir Putin, who has had greater advances of his agenda under Obama's flexibility and Hillary Clinton's "reset button," want Trump to win? And ask yourself, why does Obama push for greater economic involvement with Iran? I say, the latter is what our intelligence agencies should be investigating...then again, that makes sense and is reasonable. And it's actually shining light on the hypocrisy of the left.

Sadly, the progressive socialist left in America fails to realize that they have little or no credibility. The liberal progressive "intellectual elites" of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco fail to realize why they lost the election, and it's nothing to do with Russia. It has everything to do with the failure of their centralized government planning and their hypocrisy which is clearly evident.

The left, with their champions such as Obama and Clinton, are the epitome of corruption, cronyism, and elitism, all repudiated along with high unemployment, greater debt, and increased healthcare insurance premiums.

But what's most disturbing when you consider the hypocrisy of the left is this issue with Iran and Boeing. How can any Boeing executive look into the eyes of our men and women and their families, who've had their lives changed forever because of Iran, since 1979?

Think about the 234 loved ones who will forever be missed since they were killed by Hezbollah, supported by Iran, in the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983. Think about the Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops and weapons that will fly on those planes Boeing will provide...some would say if not Boeing, then it would be Airbus. I say, let their conscience suffer, considering the horrific islamic terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice France.



Tomato Growers Lose Millions Thanks to Bungling Regulators

Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could not be held financially responsible for issuing erroneous warnings about the source of an outbreak of foodborne illness that caused the loss of millions of dollars of tomatoes.

The warnings, issued by the FDA in 2008, turned out to be wildly inaccurate and deeply damaging.

The first, issued on June 3, warned consumers in New Mexico and Texas not to consume several types of raw tomatoes because they may be tainted with salmonella, a bacteria that can sicken and kill those who consume it. A few days later, on June 8, the FDA expanded the warning to include similar types of tomatoes across the country.

Soon after, on June 13, the FDA held a press conference that strongly inferred Florida tomatoes might be to blame. ("I'm not wanting to put the focus on Florida specifically, but...") But on July 17, the agency reversed course.

"After a lengthy investigation, the FDA has determined that fresh tomatoes now available in the domestic market are not associated with the current outbreak," reads an agency press release, which concluded instead that consumers "should avoid eating raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers."

At the time of the first warning, on June 3, the FDA documented several dozen cases of foodborne illness it wrongly claimed were caused from eating tomatoes. By the time the agency admitted its error on July 17, the FDA acknowledged more than 1,200 such cases had occurred. By that time, the salmonella cases had mushroomed into "the largest foodborne outbreak in the United States in more than a decade."

Clearly, the FDA warning hadn't helped consumers, who continued to buy and be sickened by contaminated hot peppers. And it didn't help consumers who stopped buying perfectly good tomatoes at the agency's urging, or who threw away tomatoes they'd already purchased.

But if the FDA's misplaced warning was unhelpful at best and harmful at worst to consumers, it was downright devastating to tomato growers and handlers. The agency's warnings had spread like wildfire. For example, the New Mexico Restaurant warned its members against using tomatoes. Newspapers around the country warned consumers to avoid eating tomatoes. Demand for tomatoes plummeted by up to 40 percent in the wake of the warning, and prices fell by half. The industry lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Congress held hearings in the wake of the FDA's retraction of its tomato warning. "Shipments ground to a halt," Anthony DiMare, whose family's company suffered enormous losses, told Congress. "Tomatoes were left in the fields, in the packinghouses and on trucks that were turned away by our customers."



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, December 15, 2016

Trump Moves Right, Pleasing Conservatives, Alarming Democrats

The biggest surprise Donald Trump has provided as president-elect is just how conservative a cabinet he is putting together. "This is a more conservative cabinet than Reagan assembled in 1980," says Ed Feulner, a key Trump transition adviser. As president of the Heritage Foundation at the time, Feulner provided guidance for Reagan's choices.

The conservative cast of the nominees thus far is somewhat unexpected, given Trump's well-known reputation as a non-ideological thinker who has often backed big-government solutions. Plus, Trump was a registered Democrat until 2009. Indeed, Trump's entire family is largely non-ideological. It was only last August, in a meeting with New Jersey governor Chis Christie, that Donald Trump Jr. ticked off a list of his father's new positions and said, "Well, I guess that means we're conservatives!"

Clear traces of the old, more liberal Trump remain as he employs the bully pulpit against companies who move jobs overseas. Trump labels such firms the "dumb market." He has also selected non-ideological Goldman Sachs bankers to run the Treasury Department and direct the National Economic Council.

But, more broadly, Trump has pleased conservatives with his picks. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie are moderates, but they have been excluded from the cabinet (though, at this writing, it's not certain whether Romney will have a place or not in the administration). Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has frequently sued the agency. Betsy DeVos, his nominee to run the Department of Education, has consistently supported school choice. Labor Secretary-designate Andrew Puzder opposes increases in the minimum wage. Ben Carson, Trump's choice for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has railed against some public-housing advocates as "Saul Alinsky poverty pimps." Tom Price, the Georgia representative slated to head Health and Human Services, has been a fierce critic of Obamacare has supported Medicare reform.

"I'm trying not to be too giddy tonight," Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint told a group last week at a Heritage event addressed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

"The fact is many of these folks are at odds with the stated mission of the agencies they have been tapped to run," Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, told the Washington Post.

Liberals have reacted with horror to Trump's nominees. Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut told the Wall Street Journal that Puzder's appointment was proof that "the fox is in the henhouse." Using a different animal metaphor, liberal columnist Tom Moran, writing for the New Jersey Advance, said, "Almost across the board, Trump is picking reptiles whose views clash with the majority of Americans."

So why has Trump moved in such a conservative direction since his election? Interviews with several people around him turn up several answers.

1. During the campaign, Trump learned a lot about the country and how its economic vitality had been sapped and its foreign-policy standing eroded during the Obama years. "He now recognizes that the problems confronting the nation require bold reforms, and delaying the treatment will only sap his political capital," former education secretary Bill Bennett says.

2. The refusal of previous GOP presidential nominees George H. W. Bush, John McCain, and George W. Bush to back Trump in the general election has liberated Trump from obligations; he owes very little to them or their followers. "An entire existing infrastructure of establishment Republicans are not favored to run cabinet agencies as would normally be the case," a key Trump adviser told me. "Fresh faces, new ideas, and r‚sum‚s unburdened by special-interest ties move towards the top of the pile."

3. The viciousness with which left-wing allies of Hillary Clinton and their media enablers attacked Trump persuaded the New York billionaire that there was no making peace with his adversaries. "He is not a traditional conservative, but he sure as hell knows who his enemies are," a Trump aide told me. "He won't be forgetting that; either he defangs them, or they will defang him."

Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary for President George W. Bush, was no Trump fan during the campaign, but he concurs that we are now seeing a more focused and determined figure - and one who plans to move in a conservative direction.

"What I'm seeing is a blunt confidence in what he wants to do," Fleischer told the Washington Post. Trump also realizes, Fleischer adds, that his base of angry voters won't settle for less than dramatic change.

For all his known vulnerabilities, Trump has often proven to be a highly effective operator when he focuses on getting what he wants. That's exactly what worries left-wing groups and Democrats. Having underestimated him for so long, they now fear he won't easily be forced to slow down or change course as he moves to overturn their agenda.



Taming the Federal Bureaucracy

President-elect Donald Trump certainly has his work cut out for him: Undoing all of the damage done by President Barack Obama over the past eight years.

Mr. Obama instigated an unprecedented — and unconstitutional — expansion of power by the federal government that poses a danger to our liberty, our freedom, and our economic well-being. Last Tuesday’s election gave us a chance to pull our constitutional republic back from the brink and preserve the greatest nation the world has ever seen.

Again: Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.

But Donald Trump will be up against a massive federal bureaucracy that will resist all of the steps necessary to accomplish that goal. Consider the Department of Justice, which has been politicized to an extent never seen before. Cleaning it up will be as difficult as cleaning out the Augean stables. Hercules had to divert two rivers to wash out the filth, and it will take a similarly massive effort at Justice to wash out the politics and progressive liberal activism that infests the agency from top to bottom.

The members of the Trump transition team need to understand that the career ranks at federal executive departments (perhaps with the exception of the Defense Department and isolated other pockets like the Border Patrol), are not filled with nonpartisan civil servants who impartially carry out the policies of the president. From the State Department to the Department of Justice, partisan liberals predominate the ranks of career employees.

For the last eight years, the Obama administration’s political appointees, with the help of their friends and allies in the career ranks, have ignored, bent, and broken the rules governing merit selection to aggressively hire only liberal career staff. The Justice Department’s civil rights and environmental divisions have made it a high art form. The bureaucracies of these agencies, virtually immune to being fired, will do everything they can to stop President Trump’s policies and directives.

In fact, the transition team should expect that the Obama administration will follow the lead of the Clinton administration, which went on a hiring spree during its last two months to jam as many leftists (including political appointees) into open career spots as they possibly could. When the new administration takes over at noon on Jan. 20, 2017, it should immediately review (with an eye toward potential termination) all federal employees who are still in their probationary period. The federal government is already far larger than it should be, so there should also be an immediate hiring freeze put in place across the entire executive branch to shrink the size of the government.

During the George W. Bush administration, I was one of the few conservative career lawyers inside the Civil Rights Division. While there were some very good, principled conservative political appointees inside Justice, some were actually afraid to implement conservative policies lest they incur the wrath of the liberal bureaucratic establishment inside Justice.

Others were very naïve; they didn’t understand that the critical mass of liberal career employees would do everything they could — directly and indirectly — to thwart the president’s priorities. In their recalcitrance, they went so far as to misrepresent the law and conceal critical facts to block implementation of anything they disagreed with.

Their other tactic was to violate, without hesitation, confidentiality regulations and ethics rules. They would leak with abandon — to their liberal allies in the press, their friends at progressive advocacy organizations, and their confidantes on the staffs of liberal members of Congress — the details of any program or policy with which they disagreed. Again: Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.

This was a particular problem with the political appointees who inhabited the middle levels of management. Many of them were early in their careers and hoped to advance to higher posts within this or the next Republican administration. Some of them looked at past nominees who had been filibustered and were scared that pursuing policies upsetting to the Left would result in their future advancement being torpedoed. So they changed their behavior and avoided implementing conservative principles on important public policy issues.

The Trump administration needs to pick political appointees at all levels who follow their leader’s example — people who don’t give a damn what the editorial pages of The Washington Post or The New York Times say about them. When organizations like Media Matters and the Center for American Progress or MSNBC don’t like them, they should wear it as a badge of honor. Anyone scared of that should not be in the administration. In fact, if the left-stream media approves of what you are doing as an administration official, you are probably doing the wrong thing.

Finding individuals who will stand their ground means looking for people who have been inside the cauldron and not retreated under the Left’s relentless viciousness and vindictiveness. All too often, conservative officials have withered when faced with the unfair and dishonest criticism of the institutional Left.

One final fact that the Trump administration should keep in mind: Year after year, all of these predominantly liberal federal agencies have gotten bigger, gotten more money, and acquired more power — for decades. The most expedient solution to reducing the power and liberal influence of the federal government requires a significant downsizing of the entire executive branch.

Proposals for even modest cuts lead to howling protests from the liberal press, the Washington political establishment, and the public employee unions. But downsizing would force the agencies to rein in their activities and concentrate on their core missions, reducing their ever-growing interference in the everyday lives of Americans and our economy because it would decrease the resources that the feds could spend on such interference.

The executive branch of the federal government is an ever-growing behemoth that is slowly invading every facet of American life. The only way this will ever change is if conservatives finally realize that when they control Congress and the White House, that is only the beginning of the fight. They can effect change and implement conservative public policy only if they tame — and dramatically reduce — the vast federal civil service bureaucracy in the executive branch.

Only then will the nation’s accelerating path toward socialization and the loss of our liberties be halted and drawn back.



The Devilish Mr. Putin


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, December 14, 2016

All kids are not equal: Some kids are born with dysfunctional brains and they become the problem people

Rather predictably, the lesson drawn from the findings below is that these damaged people should be "helped". It is however hard to imagine brain damage being "helped".  Isolating them as soon as they start to offend would be more realistic

A simple test at the age of three can predict if children will grow up to be a burden on society, scientists claim.

A study has found roughly a fifth of the population are responsible for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 77 per cent of children brought up without fathers, two-thirds of benefits claimed and more than half of nights spent in hospital.

This small group of people drain the public purse, but researchers at King's College London say their troubled lives could be forecast from early childhood.

It takes just 45 minutes to give three-year-olds a battery of tests, on their language abilities, motor skills, frustration and impulsivity.

Decades after taking the test, children who scored low were far more likely to fall within the most burdensome group.

They were also more likely to smoke, be obese and take prescription drugs.

The findings, while controversial for indicating that someone's life path is set in their early years, suggests reaching these at-risk children young could turn things around.

Professor Terrie Moffitt, of King's College and Duke University in California, said: `About 20 per cent of the population is using the lion's share of a wide array of public services.

`The same people use most of the NHS, the criminal courts, the claims for disabling injury, pharmaceutical prescriptions and social welfare benefits.

The study was carried out within the New Zealand population, as there are `barriers' to accessing birth studies to compare with state records in the UK.

Researchers looked at more than 1,000 people born between 1972 and 1973, following them up to the age of 38.

The results show children with lower brain function aged three were 38 per cent more likely to claim benefits and 22 per cent more likely to be feckless fathers.

Their chances of being a smoker were 25 per cent higher and they were 15 per cent more likely to end up overweight.

This is based on four key tests, including the Peabody picture vocabulary test asking children to name images, and the Reynell test of speech, asking them to describe pictures in more depth.

Children's motor skills were checked by asking them to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg.

But crucially, during these tests, children were monitored for how well they managed their emotions while carrying out stressful tasks, including their frustration, restlessness, impulsivity and persistence.

Explaining the results, co-author Professor Avshalom Caspi, of King's College and Duke's University, said: `Essentially these children were functioning like a two-and-a-half year-old, they were six months behind.

`For these individuals, life is really an uphill battle, opportunities are limited and mastering new skills is not easy. These early difficulties have a snowballing effect.'

The finding that many of these children become the '20 per cent' most costly for society is based on the `Pareto principle,' which is also called the 80-20 rule.

Italian engineer and social scientist Vilfredo Pareto observed a century ago that 80 percent of wealth is controlled by 20 percent of the population and that this proportion applies to many other areas of life.

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, which was not involved in the research, said the 20 per cent should be helped early in life.

He called for disadvantaged children to be signed up to nursery school with qualified teachers from an early age, adding: `These are the children who stand to benefit the most from the support of the education system.

`These are the children you can make the most difference with, in terms of the children themselves and the payback for the public purse.'



Has Trump discovered new trade truths?

Economic historian Martin Hutchinson below sees unrealism in pure free trade and finds virtue in Trump's tariff proposals

President-elect Donald Trump's deal with Carrier rescued some 800 jobs at a cost of some $7 million in additional subsidies. It was immediately attacked, often by commentators whose devotion to the free market had never previously been detected. In reality, the Ricardian free trade doctrine is an abstraction that does not work well in the real world, just as was Thomas Mun's mercantilism. If Trump structures some new rules, and doesn't just proceed case-by-case, he may develop new economic truths that will serve us better.

For the newly-free-marketer critics of Trump's Carrier deal, I have one question. If the $8,750 per Carrier job (actually $875 per year for 10 years) Carrier subsidy is so obviously bad, why was the net $11.2 billion loss ($162,000 for each one of the company's 69,000 U.S. jobs) or the gross $49 billion cost ($710,000 per job) of the 2008-09 General Motors bailout acceptable, It would seem to me that a high-skill manufacturing job at Carrier is just about as valuable as a high-skill manufacturing job at GM, so if those jobs can be saved for the United States at a small fraction of the cost per job of the GM bailout, that is surely desirable.

Of course, in principle one would not subsidize companies to put jobs in particular places. Similarly, David Ricardo's Doctrine of Comparative Advantage is correct in claiming that if widgets can be made cheaper in country A and grommits in country B, then country A should specialize in widgets and country B in grommits, whatever the effect of that decision on the inhabitants of each country. But both statements are of a mathematical ideal, in a world economy with no friction, no nationalism, no subsidies by other countries and no externalities. In the real world, friction, nationalism, foreign subsidies and externalities all exist, so a hard no-subsidies rule and pure Ricardian optimization do not work very well.

That's not to defend the opposite positions, of government subsidization based on political criteria and rampant Smoot-Hawley protectionism. The failure of General Motors was a huge political embarrassment, but a subsidy of hundreds of thousands of dollars per U.S. job was unnecessary and unjustifiable. Even worse was the $185 billion bailout of AIG, where relatively few jobs were involved, and the collateral activity of bailing out the CDS market and providing a spurious $13 billion to Goldman Sachs has weakened Wall Street's incentives for decent behavior even further. If subsidies and tariffs are decided on a political basis, they will be badly decided and economically very costly.

There is thus a logical Trumpian position on bailouts and subsidies: if through a bailout or subsidy of less than say 10% of the salaries of the workers involved, a company can be bailed out of prevented from leaving the United States, that bailout is probably justified. At that level, the tax and social security contributions payable by the workers, and the unemployment, retraining and disability benefits avoided, almost certainly add up to more than the cost of the subsidies. In addition, there would seem little problem in the President or local Governors jawboning companies that are seeking to outsource production from the United States. Adding a Public Relations hit to the other costs of outsourcing seems a reasonable thumb to place on the corporate decision makers' scales.

For trade as a whole, the trade-offs are more complex but equally comprehensible. Ricardian optimization, allowing the forces of global commerce to place manufacturing in the countries in which it can be carried out most cheaply, ignores a number of problems. For one thing, the Ricardian optimum is not stable. It may be attractive to source in Brazil one year but the following year, when Brazil has elected a leftist who bashes business, the equation may be different. Even simple movements of exchange rates, which can often be of 20% or more in less than a year, can flip the optimum from one country to another.

There are thus "menu changing" costs that should not be ignored. It may be cost-effective at present to move production of a particular item to China, but with Chinese wage costs increasing much more rapidly than those in the U.S., who is to say that the move to China will go on being cost-effective over the life of a new factory. Foxconn, the giant Taiwanese electronics fabricator, has found itself moving production out of China over the last few years, as Chinese costs escalate and other production locations become more attractive.

It may be objected that companies are able to take these decisions on their own, using the criteria of long-term profit maximization as their guide. Unfortunately, in the last two decades of "funny money" and stock options fueled by an ever-rising stock market, long-term profit maximization is not the goal for many corporate managements. Instead those managements, especially in the U.S., want the stock price boost that comes from a short-term fillip to earnings, whatever the long-term cost, because in the long term they will be retired.

Location and trade decisions in any case involve high levels of externalities, costs that are imposed upon the economy as a whole, but not on the company making the relocation decision. Employees who lose their jobs, even if they find another one, suffer disruption from loss of earnings during the inevitable gap, may find their skills eroded or of no interest to their new employer, and may suffer psychological or health problems due to the stress of losing their job. France has shown us that preventing companies from reallocating their workforces is horrendously expensive and itself increases unemployment (because companies are reluctant to hire.) However, it seems appropriate to discourage companies from reallocating productions due to temporary factors, or to impose moderate taxes on them for the cost of their doing so.

Moderate tariffs may thus beneficial, in encouraging domestic production when the cost disadvantage compared to importing is only minor or temporary. If trading partners remain committed to full free trade, it can also provide a country with unearned benefits - the classic case being the United States between 1862 and 1914, when it gained sector after sector of the world's manufacturing business against Britain, which was subjected to policies of foolish unilateral free trade. That's why the World Trade Organization is needed - the only international agency that has any useful purpose. Through it, countries can together achieve the benefits of lowering tariffs and trade barriers, without being subjected to destructive and unfair competition from their more protectionist trading partners.

There is an additional benefit from tariffs: they provide revenue. The Ricardian ideal of universal trade assumes that government is small, and that means can be found to finance it that are less damaging than tariffs. In reality, government these days is gigantic, and there appears to be little or no popular will to reduce its size. In such circumstances, moderate tariffs can be beneficial, if they prevent excessive fiscal concentration on income taxes and social security contributions. Equally, export bounties and production subsidies are doubly pernicious, because they both distort trade from the optimum and reduce the government's revenue.

We may now have reached a position where a tariff is fiscally necessary for the United States. The budget is permanently at least $500 billion in deficit, and likely to be pushed further out of balance by Trump's programs of infrastructure spending and defense rebuilding. In addition, the U.S. social security and Medicare systems are becoming increasingly in deficit, with trust funds (fictional though they are) likely to run out in a few years. Trump can solve this problem, by imposing a modest tariff on imports, with the proceeds being used to rebuild the social security and Medicare trust funds.

Trump's proposed 35% tariff is far too high, but a 10% tariff would impose only modest additional costs on U.S. consumers, would go far to closing the chronic U.S. balance of payments deficit, and provided other countries reacted only with modest tariffs of their own, would be only very mildly distorting to world trade. The best precedent is the British Imperial Preference 10% tariff of 1932, which gave Britain a much pleasanter 1930s than the United States, distorted trade far less than the much higher Smoot-Hawley Tariff imposed by the U.S., and would have allowed Britain to rebuild its economy more quickly after the war had it not been disgracefully given away by Maynard Keynes in the 1944 Bretton Woods negotiations.

With the new modest tariff, Trump would have rebalanced the U.S. economy and deterred U.S. companies from unnecessary outsourcing. It would also solve the social security/Medicare deficits problem without either increasing already excessive U.S. income and payroll taxes or cutting benefits - thereby fulfilling a core Trump election promise. It would also render unnecessary many subsidies of the Carrier variety, which themselves reduce government revenues. If foreign production for the U.S. market was cheaper even after the barrier of a 10% U.S. tariff, then the outsourcing should probably go ahead - at least the fisc will gain some extra revenue to offset the job losses. However, if the production being outsourced was destined for third countries, a modest job-retention subsidy would probably remain appropriate.

By these means, a modest tariff, modest but capped job retention subsidies, and extensive Presidential jawboning, Trump would violate the principles of Whig free trade theory, and make academic economists across the entire country from Harvard to Stanford denounce his policies. He would nevertheless benefit U.S. workers, the U.S. fiscal balance and the U.S. economy in general. This column is not Cobdenite, it is Liverpudlian.




From my Twitter feed:

Ann Coulter: Putin said he got the idea to use fake news to influence the election one day while watching CNN.

Amy Moreno: British Diplomat, "I have met the @wikileaks informant and they're NOT RUSSIAN"

Steve Goddard: "McCarthyism of the left? Clinton supporters use anti-Russia rhetoric to bash opponents"


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, December 13, 2016

Why the howls over Clinton's defeat?

We all know the vast contrast between the Republican reaction to Obamas's election and the Leftist reaction to Trump's election.  Republicans reacted with quiet trepidation to the era of Obama while the Left reacted to Trump with nationwide howls of rage and florid symptoms of psychological distress. Why the difference?

Could it be that they regretted losing the hold over the rest of us that the labyrinthine array of rules and regulations fastened on us in the Obama era gave them? Do they regret a loss of power? No doubt they did regret that but the individual Leftist exercises little or none of that power so the election result does not personally threaten anything of that kind. And the election result did clearly generate a feeling of personal loss

At one level the answer to the question is clear.  Leftist politics are emotion with just a slight overlay of rationality while in conservative politics rationality is dominant.  Conservatives are interested in what works for the general betterment while Leftists think they can create a new Eden by passing laws.  You have to be pretty simple-minded or deranged to think that.

And that brings us to what I think is the answer to the recent Leftist meltdown.  Leftists believe so many improbable things that it takes constant psychological work to keep those beliefs alive.  Beliefs such as:  All men are equal; all men are brothers;  there are no important differences between men and women; blacks are just like us only browner; The United Nations is the big hope for the future; you can force people to be good; Money grows on trees; it is justice to take money off someone who has earned it and give it to someone who has not earned it; the planet needs saving etc., etc.  That summary puts their beliefs in an unvarnished way but their beliefs do boil down to that.

So having a burden of beliefs so at variance with reality cannot be easy.  Reality is constantly undermining your beliefs.  So you need all the help you can get to prop up your beliefs. And the BIG help you can get is social support:  Having other people share those beliefs.  And you can usually achieve that by being fussy about your company. Hang out with other Leftists only.  And if you accidentally run into a conservative who wants to remind you of reality, you either shut him up or run away.

But Presidential elections can undermine those defences.  It is such a high profile event and so engrossing for both sides that you have to notice the outcome.  You may have to face the fact that not everyone agrees with you.  When huge emotional energy is put in to getting a result that will confirm the dominance of your beliefs, an adverse result shatters a major support for those beliefs.  The real world glares in at you. Try as you might, you cannot escape it. You have at last to face the possibility that you may be wrong in your passionately held beliefs.

Conservatives by contrast have a strong grip on reality and feel no need to hide from it so are not shaken to the core by obviously foolish beliefs in others. Conservatives KNEW that Mr Obama could not stop the seas rising and heal the earth -- and his election did nothing to undermine that knowledge. What caused ecstasy among the Left was simply seen as risibly silly by conservatives.

So the loss by Hillary cracked a lot of walls.  It shouted at Leftists that their view of reality might be wrong and that those "Fascists" of the Republican party could be right.

But it was worse that that. Striking at their view of reality was bad enough but it also threatened their self-worth.  Leftist beliefs are not random.  They are carefully designed to convince the Leftist that he is good and kind and wise. So if you take his beliefs away from him you undermine his whole opinion of himself.  He has to confront the possibility that he might be no better than those "Fascist" Republicans.  And that is simply intolerable.  It could mean that his entire life has taken a wrong direction.  No wonder the Left were upset  and enraged.

So the defeat of Clinton undermined desperately needed social support for their crazy beliefs. They still believe that only fools and evil people disagree with them but that belief has just  taken a battering.  They badly needed the government to tell them that they are right but now that has been snatched away from them -- JR.


A classic example of entrenched Leftist ignorance and avoidance of reality

They think they know it all when they in fact know very little. "Think Progress " is a major Leftist site but even its editor could not be bothered to check his facts.  He just relied on simpilistic Leftist stereotypes in slamming Trump's pick for ambassador to China.  He had clearly not bothered to check  Branstad's qualifications for the job at all.  If he had he would have found that Branstad is a personal friend of President Xi:  A most appropriate appointment

Here we are a full month after the 2016 election, an election that provided what is roundly described as a "shock" to most people. Many people would pick through unexpected results in an effort to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Progressives are far too emotional for that.

Refusing to believe that anyone other than ignorant white bigots voted for Trump, the lefties have been doubling down on the thought-free condescension that practically dug their own electoral grave.

When it was announced that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad would be the new ambassador to China in the Trump administration, Think Progress editor Ian Millhiser had this response (he has since deleted the tweet, hence the tweet from someone with the screenshot):

Ah, there's that sneering leftist faux superiority, replete with a lily white guy complaining about whiteness.

Even his retraction was snotty:

"I deleted my tweet expressing concerns about the Branstad nomination as I've been convinced that my concern was not justified"

Millhiser's original response was based on nothing more than knee-jerk bigotry and laziness. The attitude that he feels he needed to be convinced clings to the smugness instead of admitting he was wrong.

Had be bothered to spend 13 seconds Googling, Millhiser could have found out precisely why Branstad was chosen.

The elitism that coastal media bubble types lord over everyone is unearned. They feel that they're intellectually superior to people who are forever outwitting them. After decades of pretending to "fight" for the common people, their masks have been peeled back to reveal an utter revulsion for those they claim to champion.

As so much of this election was about social media, I'll leave you with one more Twitter snapshot that indicates the Democrats and progressives haven't learned a thing:



Democrats Have Become the Old Fogeys of Politics -- Ideologically & Physically

When Nancy Pelosi (age 76) was reelected minority leader of the House of Representatives, I was scarcely surprised. As her colleagues well know, the net worth of this great spokeswoman for ending income inequality places her in the top one-tenth of one percent of the country. When  your team's in trouble and you're completely out of ideas, the access to serious money, always important, suddenly becomes tantamount to a lifeline.

I bet they'd nominate George Soros (age 86) for president next time around, if he hadn't been born in Hungary. He's richer than Trump and you might as well go directly to the source for your cash flow, especially in tough times.

Regardless, there's no question their Democratic Party and its ideology -- liberal, progressive, whatever misnomer you want to choose -- are out of ideas, flat out.  That is the secret behind the failure of the Hillary Clinton campaign that no one on the side nostalgically known as the Left -- once FDR's party of the working class, now the party of the coastal rich -- wants to admit. People, even her own staff, kept complaining that she didn't have a reason for running (see WikiLeaks) and that's because she didn't.

Bernie Sanders (age 75) had something of an idea -- "democratic" socialism -- but where has that ever worked?  Considering what's going on in Europe these days, no one wants to advocate that bureaucratic nightmare with a straight face.

And speaking of Democratic Party fogeys and the coastal rich, how about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (69, can you believe it?) whose answer to his party's ideological doldrums appears to be "laser-aimed boycotts" at the The Venetian (not other Vegas properties -- gambling's okay with "Cap") because its owner, Sheldon Adelson, donated to Trump's campaign. And then there's Madonna (still only a spring 58), whose contribution to progressive political thought is to dress up like a clown and lambaste Trump by singing a Brittany Spears cover.

No wonder their party is in trouble. It's not just the paucity of a "bench."  It's the paucity of a brain.

Besides the catastrophic, to Democrats, state of affairs that 32 legislatures and 33 governorships out of 50 are now Republican, not to mention the presidency, the Senate, and the House, the real problem for the Dems, the real difficulty in coming back, is they have nothing substantive to offer anymore.

They are, indeed, the old fogeys of politics, honed in the crucible of 1968 and seemingly stuck there for the last 48 years, never revising a single thought, not even now that Tom Hayden is dead, except for the short period when Newt Gingrich put an economic gun to Bill Clinton's head and things got better for a while.

All the Democrats have had to hold things together over that time is identity politics, the black vote, the brown vote, any other atomized vote you can think of. And now, gracias a Sr. Trump (yes, I deliberately/ironically chose Spanish), that may be headed for at least partial extinction.  If Donald does even a decent job of what he's promised, bringing employment back to minority areas, he could end up with 35-40% of their 2020 vote, in which case "Adios al partido democratico." Democrats are the new Whigs. Good-bye, "Black Lives Matter." Hello, "Diamond and Silk."

Overstating?  Maybe, but it's more than possible.  Democrats, liberal, progressives, etc. don't have much in their quiver besides calling people racist and sexist -- which, as even they know, they did more than ever in the recent election and it failed. How many times can you go back to the well on that one?  (Well, in their case, about fifty times a day, but the law of diminishing returns, I think we can all agree, has been setting in for some time.  The "deplorables" accusation will likely go down as one of the most boneheaded remarks ever made by an American politician, certainly one with a degree from Yale - assuming that means anything.)

And wait until the gays discover that Donald pals around with Elton John and was more or less in favor of gay marriage a dozen or so years before Hillary and Obama "evolved" on the issue.

So what's left? Expanding the federal government? How's that working out?  Ever try to drive into downtown D.C. from outside the Beltway on a weekday morning and drive home the opposite direction at night? Good luck!  And you thought where the 405 meets the 110 was a parking lot?  The nation's capital has become the new Los Angeles -- with lousy weather and no surfing. Enough already. Who's going to pay for this?  (And what do these myriad government workers do all day when they arrive from their humungous commutes and finally plop down in front of their computers?)

My prediction -- starting about a year from now, maybe sooner, maybe already, the Democrats are going to try to do a flipflop with the Republicans, accusing Trump of over-spending, blowing up the deficit, everything they've been doing themselves for the last thirty to forty years. This is one Donald himself must watch out for, because he has Mr. Fixit tendencies and wants to get everything done. At some point, this could backfire, but for now, I'm with him. In fact, I can't wait. How many more days is it? Just think what short work "Mad Dog" Mattis (I know -- I'm not a Marine and I'm not supposed to call him that) will make of this.



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, December 12, 2016

If group differences are superficial, they will fade away

I appear to be part of that coven of demons known as the Alt-Right.  The Alt-Right are those men of Stygian evil who mention the word "race". Just mentioning that word brings accusations that you just need a small moustache to become a new Hitler.

Such accusations are just a method used by the Left in an attempt to shut up conservatives but, empty-headed though the accusations are, many conservatives are cowed by them.  Only we "Alt" folk brave the storm of abuse and continue to talk about one of the most interesting of human differences.

But "Alt" is a broad church and what the various people say about race when they decide to do so is not any one single thing.  There always have been many and various views about what significance race has and that continues.

My view is that racial differences do exist and that they can make a difference. How anyone can behold the black/white situation in the USA today and think otherwise rather stuns me.  People obviously have strong abilities at ignoring reality.

But something I believe does get me into dangerous territory.  It is perhaps an optimistic belief but it is undoubtedly "incorrect".  I believe that racial antagonisms will fade away when there is no strong basis for them.

An immediate example of that is the Chinese presence in Australia.  For the first two thirds of the 20th century the Australian government had what was known as the "White Australia policy". It was a policy forged around conflicts between British and Chinese men on the Australian goldfields of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The aim was to expel "Chinamen" from Australia and keep them out thereafter.

One way or another, however, a Chinese presence not only continued in Australia but grew slightly.  And once goldfield rivalries were out of the way, Australians found that the Chinese were no trouble at all.  They were peaceful hard-working family people who were rather good at business -- particularly restaurants.  Even in the 1890s Quong Tart's grand tea rooms in Sydney were much celebrated and in fact became a social centre. Quong Tart had however taken the precaution of becoming an Anglican.  Religion has always been a rather flexible matter among the Chinese.

So in 1966 a conservative government led by Harold Holt abolished the "White Australia policy".  And shortly thereafter there came to Australia a flood of refugees from the Vietnam war, most of whom were Han Chinese racially.  And migration from other parts of the Chinese diaspora also got underway.  So Australia now is about 5% Chinese ethnically.  You see Chinese wherever you go in Australia's big cities and even to a degree in the country towns.  I grew up in a small Australian town where the local department store was "See Poys" -- owned and run by polite Chinese.

So there have been race wars or even race riots against Australia's new Chinese population?  Not at all.  Chinese schoolkids might be called names by other kids in their schools but there is no adult equivalent.  Australians of Chinese ancestry do tend to be found in occupations that require brains but they go about their lives as peacefully as any other Australian.  There is no discrimination.   A few imbeciles may at times say abusive things but that is the limit of it.  The life of Chinese Australians is as peaceful as anywhere in the world, including China.

So the Chinese are genetically and obviously different from Caucasians but the differences are not anything that disturbs social peace.  They have very low rates of criminality and very low rates of dependency on the welfare system.  And if they show any indication of religiosity, it is generally as converts to one of the more fundamentalist Christian denominations. Chinese religious flexibility is about as far away from Jihad as can possibly be imagined.  They are our allies in the battle against spiritual darkness.

And they do their best generally to adapt to the host culture.  If it were not for their eyes, Australian-born Chinese would be indistinguishable from other Australians.  So we see a huge genetic difference between Chinese and others but that difference does not have anything negative associated with it so no racial antagonisms arise.

Mind you, one has to distinguish between attitudes and behavior -- a difference first highlighted in the 1930's by LaPiere in the USA.  He found that people who had anti-Asian attitudes did not behave towards Asians in an adverse way.  And I have certainly heard on a couple of occasions Anglo-Australians say critical things about the Chinese.  But again they did not discriminate against the Chinese in their behaviour

I have for instance on a couple of occasions known Anglo-Australians to make derisive remarks about "Slopes" (East Asians) who were in fact happily married to Filipinas.  It is reminiscent of Wilhelm Marr, the man who invented the term "Antisemitism" (He thought it was a good thing).  He married three times and on all three occasions he married ethnically Jewish ladies.  Psychologists generally think that it is behaviour that is important and I do too.

And there is one bit of behaviour in Australia that demonstrates vividly how well Asians and Caucasians get along. It comes from the fact that Asian ladies hate being so small amid a population of largish Caucasians.  So they are determined that their sons will be tall.  But the only way to achieve that is to get a tall partner. But nearly all the tall men around are Caucasians.  No problem!  The Asian ladies set theirs caps at tall Caucasian men and get them.  They know how to charm.

It is quite common to see in the big cities tall Caucasian men walking around with a little Asian lady on their arms.  The only time you see an Asian lady with an Asian man is where it is a TALL Asian man.  So both the Asian lady and the Caucasian man  demonstrate clearly that they are not racist in any behavioural sense.  They accept one another without regard to racial differences.  It may be worth noting that in the traditional Bogardus scale of social distance, marriage is the closest distance. So Australia is remarkably non-racist where East Asians are concerned.

A similar phenomenon has been noted in American Ivy League universities. The big sporting guys very often have an Asian girlfriend, which is frustrating to the Caucasian women.  When they go for some big guy they often find that an Asian lady has beaten them to it.  So among themselves they refer to their female Asian fellow-students as "The Yellow Peril".

I now want to go on to another big group difference that was initially quite fierce in its antagonisms but which faded away when the difference turned out to be attractive rather than negative!  Strange but true.  And that difference lives on in me personally -- as it does for most Australians who trace all or most of their ancestry to the British Isles.  I refer to the Irish/English difference, which was and still is also a religious difference:  The Protestant/Catholic difference.  And those were once very important differences indeed.  Large numbers of both English and Irish migrated to Australia over the years and they brought all,their old prejudices with them.  So that surely was a good support for racial separatism.

And I do myself remember the tail-end of that separatism.  When I was young, I remember learning that in Brisbane, Protestants patronized a Department store by the name of "McWhirters"  and Catholics patronized antoher depatment store just down the road in Brunswick St. known as "T.C. Beirnes". And if a Protestant wandered into "T.C. Beirnes" it gave you a funny feeling.  You thought that a nun might suddenly leap out and grab you.  The two stores were as near to identical as could be, of course.

So how come I and a majority of Australians who are ethnically like me have both English and Irish ancestry?  There are few "old" Australians who cannot cheerfully nominate both their English and Irish ancestors.

What happened?  How did this dreadful miscegenation occur? How did our ancestors manage to get into bed together despite their profound racial and religious differences?  The answer is that the differences were not in fact profound.  But for horny young people they were sufficiently great to be interesting.  Young Protestants and Catholics could not keep their hands off one another despite the stern disapproval of both their families.

And I am old enough to remember how it was. We young Protestants felt that Catholic girls were more exciting because they thought sex was a sin.  Protestant teaching was of course also against pre-marital sex but the Protestant churches had a much weaker grip on their people than the Catholic church did. So because there were no real differences between the two groups, the religious difference was a spice, not a barrier, to adventurous young people. Young people like breaching barriers and much barrier breaching did go on. Most of my ilk are the product of it.

So the Protestant/Catholic difference has faded away in Australia.  Australians mostly don't even know one-another's religion -- Muslims excepted, of course.

The important part of the story is of course that the Protestant/Catholic difference was superficial. The two groups spoke the same language, looked the same and both grew up hearing only slightly  different versions of the story of Christ.

Both Great Britain and Ireland started out with a Celtic population that was later subjected to large invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavians and Normans.  And all four groups differed in little more than culture to start with anyway. So the differences between Britain and Ireland are to this day almost wholly cultural rather than racial.

It's not always so, but in the  British case the language differences appear to be a pretty good index of racial differences.  The language of almost all of both islands is English, with the language of the Celts relegated to Western fringes -- places like Connacht and Donegal in Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  In fact the only substantial Gaelic-speaking population remaining in the British Isles is North Wales, which is an appendage of England.

So there were no significant inborn differences between the English and Irish populations of Australia -- which made the cultural differences vulnerable to challenge and change.

So thus endeth my sermon:  Group or racial antagonisms and separatisms do not persist where the differences are superficial.  The corollary of that is that group or racial antagonisms and separatisms only persist when there are major and important differences between the two groups.  Such antagonisms and separatisms are not silly, ignorant or evil but have real and important foundations -- JR


Obama’s Terrorism Claim Hides an Inconvenient Truth

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama stated that “Over [the] last eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland.”

Talk about something actually deserving of being labelled as “fake news.”

Obama’s statement obscures the reality that the U.S. has faced 66 Islamist terrorist plots against the U.S. homeland during Obama’s time in office, 13 of which were successful.

When President George W. Bush left office, the U.S. had faced 28 Islamist plots after 9/11, only one of which was successful. Now there have been 93 Islamist plots since 9/11, and 14 successful attacks.

Obama’s statement is technically accurate since none of these attacks were planned and directed from abroad. Instead, the vast majority of the terror plots and all of the successful attacks since 9/11 have involved homegrown terrorists—that is, terrorists who radicalized and plotted here in the U.S.

While preventing such foreign orchestrated plots is vital, it is no longer enough. The threat has morphed and the U.S. must now do more to counter homegrown and lone wolf Islamist terrorists.

Obama’s comment obscures the truth that in his eight years in office, as shown by the sharp increase in the number of Islamist plots and successful attacks, the homeland has been less safe.

Claiming victory while the U.S. is in the most active period of terrorist activity since 9/11 is not only pushing a false narrative, but it risks diverting our attention from what needs to be done to defend the U.S. homeland.



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, December 11, 2016

US life expectancy shortens under Obama

Why? Increased deaths from a bad new rash of illegal drugs is likely to be one factor, plus the upsurge of gun deaths after Obama's demonizing of the the police. The police are now to a significant degree sitting on their hands rather than confront crime. Why risk your neck when you get so much abuse for doing so? Best to keep away from trouble. Let the many black on black deaths in Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit (etc.) go on without interference.

But something else not being mentioned is a major feature of the Obama presidency: The decline in the percentage of the population in employment. Work is definitely good for your health -- particularly when the alternative is to turn into a couch potato in front of the TV. Even spending a few years in the army extends your lifespan. You get lots of activity and exercise in the army.

For the first time in decades, nationwide life expectancy in the US fell in 2015, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infants born in 2015 are expected to live on average to age 78.8 — a decline of 0.1 year from 2014. A decline in nationwide life expectancy at birth hasn’t happened in the US since 1993.

Earlier this year, the CDC reported that life expectancy among white Americans fell from 2013 to 2014, but at that time the average across all races was still on the rise.

The latest life expectancy data — which the CDC hasn’t yet broken down by race — add a new sense of urgency to those previous reports.

Men’s life expectancy fell from 76.5 to 76.3 years, while women’s fell from 81.3 to 81.2 years.

Death rates for both black and white men rose in 2015 by about 1 percent, and they rose 1.6 percent among white women.

CDC researcher Dr. Jiaquan Xu, the 2015 report’s lead author, cited the opioid epidemic as a significant factor in the national decline.

Today, Xu added, “We’re seeing so many more preventable causes of death, and they’re significantly affecting mortality negatively.”

He specifically pointed to unintentional deaths: “Motor vehicle accidents have gone up 6 percent. And accidental poisoning increased 13 percent. And 97 percent of accidental poisoning was from drug overdoses and alcohol.



What it’s like to apply for a job in Trump’s White House

When former governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia stepped off the elevator on the 26th floor of Trump Tower last week for his interview with Donald Trump, he expected a grilling by the president-elect and a phalanx of associates, something along the lines of the confrontational boardroom scenes at the sleek conference table in the television show “The Apprentice.”

What he found instead was Trump, calm and solicitous behind a desk cluttered with papers and periodicals, in a large corner office with a hodgepodge of memorabilia and décor that appeared little changed from the 1980s. Nick Ayers, an aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and Stephen K. Bannon, who will serve as Trump’s chief strategist, listened from the sidelines. Trump, who offered Perdue a seat across from his desk, was in charge.

“He was approaching this from a deal standpoint, and he wanted to know if he was on the right track,” said Perdue, who is being considered for secretary of agriculture and wore a tie adorned with tractors to the meeting. “He believes that we in the United States have been sort of patsies over the years in the way we’ve dealt with our foreign competitors and international trade — and I agree with him — and he wanted to know what I would do about it.”

For more than a decade, millions of Americans tuned in to watch Trump interrogate prospective employees on “The Apprentice” with a mix of arrogance and disdain. But in private over the past few weeks, a less theatrical spinoff of the spectacle has unfolded in Trump’s office in Manhattan, and occasionally at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., or at Mar-a-Lago, his getaway in Palm Beach, Fla.

Trump’s interview style in the real world is direct but conversational, according to people who have sat opposite him. He did not take notes or appear to refer to a set list of questions, but he did have dossiers on his visitors and often displayed intricate knowledge of their backgrounds and experience. He rarely drank or ate. He kept his suit jacket on. In New York, he liked to show off the sweeping views of Central Park visible over his shoulder.

Job seekers, who must parade before the media in the marble and bronze lobby of Trump Tower — “It was almost like walking the red carpet in Hollywood,” said Representative Lou Barletta, Republican of Pennsylvania, who has offered himself up as a secretary of transportation or labor — said that the president-elect often asked open-ended questions and had little patience for meandering answers.

“If you filibuster, he’ll cut you off,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who was initially in the running to be Trump’s secretary of state but has since said he is not interested in a Cabinet post. “He wants to know what you can do for him.’’

Gingrich said Trump’s approach to putting together his administration was the same one he has used with his multibillion-dollar business.

“He’s used to defining jobs, measuring capability, and making a judgment: ‘Do I think you can run my golf course? Do I think you can run my hotel? Do I want your restaurant in my building?’” Gingrich said.

Trump has been more hands-on in the interviews than his predecessors were. George W. Bush rarely spoke in person to more than one finalist for each Cabinet post, said Clay Johnson III, who directed his transition effort in 2000. President Obama also interviewed a single finalist for each post in most cases, usually in a one-on-one discussion meant to confirm an already well-established conclusion that the candidate would be right for the job, said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior transition official in 2008.

Members of Congress, generals, business executives, and others mingle outside his office, waiting for an audience. Barletta waited more than 45 minutes for his meeting, passing the time chatting with his House colleague Michael McCaul of Texas, who was waiting for his turn to audition for secretary of homeland security.

“It was like a green room, a waiting room of people you know or you know of, all waiting their turn,” said Robert L. Johnson, the founder of the television network BET, who visited Trump at Bedminster to discuss ways the incoming president could reach out to African-Americans.

As Johnson was coming in, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York whom Trump is considering for secretary of state, was going out.

Trump wants a gut sense for a potential hire, people close to him said, prizing personal chemistry and an entrepreneurial spirit. But he also leans on the judgment of trusted advisers — particularly Pence and his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump — when assessing a candidate.

Trump, who prizes loyalty, also wanted to know precisely what the job seekers did to propel him into the White House.

“He asked about what I had done to help in Georgia,” said Perdue, who told the president-elect that he and his cousin, Senator David Perdue, had repeatedly reassured campaign officials about Trump’s prospects there and encouraged them to focus their energies elsewhere.

Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who met with Trump last month about becoming his secretary of veterans affairs, said Trump asked how he could help him deliver on his campaign pledges and how to ensure a “good value” for veterans receiving services from the agency or private contractors.

“He made it clear that he’s a businessman and he’s going to delegate to people like me, potentially, and others,” Brown said. “He’s going to say, ‘Do your job, and do it well, and otherwise — you’re fired.’”



Democrats: From Temper Tantrum to Self-Delusion

Hard to believe, but Hillary Clinton’s campaign team thinks it lost because Donald Trump ignited America’s inner bigot, which caused the KKK and Aryan Brotherhood members and sympathizers to show up in droves and vote Trump.

Following Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, Democrats and pundits predicted GOP defeats as far as the eye could see, because there aren’t enough white voters for Republicans to win. But now the narrative is, “Trump won by appealing to white voters.” Could they please pick one and stick to it?

That’s the takeaway from the Harvard quadrennial postmortem in which the two campaign camps participated. About Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign CEO, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said, “If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost. … I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

To this Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, angrily responded, “No, you wouldn’t. That’s very clear … respectfully. No, you wouldn’t. … Jenn … do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?”

“It did, Kellyanne. It did,” countered Palmieri.


Fact: Based on exit polls, Trump got a lower percentage of the white vote than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and a higher percentage of the black vote and the Hispanic vote than Romney. Initial post-election tabulations find that nationwide, Trump won 209 of the 676 counties that voted for Barack Obama twice — in both 2008 and 2012. And he won another 194 of the 207 counties that Obama took only once — in either 2008 or 2012. Did a raft of white supremacists move in and change the vote? Or did the voters' latent racism suddenly erupt in 2016?

Fact: When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he had, with the exception of John F. Kennedy, the highest approval ratings, 68 percent, of any elected president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. It certainly appears that Obama was black or biracial back in 2009, just as he was black or biracial when his poll numbers declined.

Fact: In a nation that the Clinton camp believes teems with white supremacists, Obama, in 2008, got a higher percentage of the white vote than Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004. But in 2016, whites came down with an acute case of what CNN’s Van Jones called “whitelash,” a reaction against, as he put it, “a changing country” and “a black president.” Now it is true that Obama did not get a majority of the white vote. But the last presidential election in which Democrats won the white vote was in 1964. The majority of voting white Americans don’t want a white Democrat or a black Democrat sitting in the Oval Office.

This assumption of vast American white supremacy mirrors the exceptions of many black politicians when, back in the ‘90s, the Supreme Court struck down and demanded redistricting of Southern congressional districts that had been specifically designed to increase black representation in the House of Representatives. Elaine Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said, “Once this decision goes through, you’ll be able to hold the Black Congressional Caucus in the back of a taxicab.” But contrary to the dreary predictions, every black Southern congressperson who decided to run for re-election — despite having to try and retain a seat in a much more white congressional district — won his or her race.

Early in the 2008 Democratic primary race, a black South Carolina state lawmaker, Robert Ford, refused to support Obama. He argued that a black presidential candidate would not only lose badly but would trigger such white racism that down-ballot Democrats would suffer: “It’s a slim possibility for (Obama) to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed. … Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose, because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket. We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything. … I’m a gambling man. I love Obama. … But I’m not going to kill myself.”

Memo to the “racism, racism everywhere” crowd: Whites are as proud of slavery and Jim Crow as Germans and Austrians are of Adolf Hitler.

If Democrats truly believe that racism carried the day for Trump, they’re even more out of touch than initially thought. Given that line of reasoning, they will be hard-pressed to get back the middle-class and working-class Americans they lost this cycle.

If Democrats think Trump won by “catering to racists,” just wait until the economy improves under Trump, and more Latinos and blacks stop voting like victicrats. Just wait until blacks and Hispanics start voting to continue the policies that caused an improvement in their economic conditions and for education policies like Trump’s pro-voucher stance.

Then Democrats will really start losing.



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