Tuesday, January 03, 2017



Mainstream Media Does An About-Face On Clinton’s Election Loss

The mainstream media has finally decided that it wasn’t racism, Russian president Vladimir Putin or FBI director James Comey that cost Hillary Clinton the presidency – it was Clinton.

In recent days, everyone from The New York Times to the Huffington Post has run feature news analyses pointing the finger at the former First Lady for throwing away her chances at victory in  November.

First, there was former Reagan speechwriter and biographer Lou Cannon writing in Real Clear Politics on December 22.   In a lengthy analysis entitled “The Importance of Being There,” Cannon offers a blistering critique of Clinton for failing to show up to campaign in the major Rust Belt states that threw their support to Trump.

Cannon argues that Clinton’s campaign was actually more effective than many people realize, pointing to her big win in Nevada and closer than expected showing in Arizona as proof.  In those states, Clinton campaigned heavily and in Nevada, she not only one beat Trump handily but also flipped both houses of the legislature to the Democrats.

But in Blue-leaning states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, Clinton never really campaigned in earnest.  In Michigan, despite pleas from the United Auto Workers and her own field staff, she failed to show up at local events.  In Wisconsin, she failed to make a single appearance anywhere. And she got shellacked.

Cannon is especially contemptuous of suggestions that “racism” among Trump supporters and White voters explains Clinton’s loss.

In one electoral district after another where White support for Obama had been strong in 2008 and 2012, voters threw their support to Trump, Cannon shows.

For example, Trump flipped Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, which went for Obama in 2012 by five percentage points and 12,000 votes. The billionaire real estate mogul won the county by an amazing 20 points and 25,000 votes.

Trump also flipped Erie County, which Obama had won by a whopping 57-41 percent margin. Trump won it, 49-47 percent.   The same story was repeated in counties throughout the Rust Belt, Cannon found.

David Kuhn, in an op-ed published four days later in The New York Times, echoed Cannon’s analysis. Kuhn reviewed voting data for those that expressed a low favorability rating for Trump and Clinton and found that the overwhelming majority of them broke for Trump.  His conclusion:  Many people voted for Trump in spite of his views on race and gender – not because of them.

“Bluntly put, much of the white working class decided that Mr. Trump could be a jerk,” Kuhn writes.  “Absent any other champion, they supported the jerk they thought was more on their side — that is, on the issues that most concerned them.”

Kuhn also looked at Trump voter views on immigration and found that most did not support his hard-line views.  But they voted for him anyway because of his stances on jobs, terrorism and other issues.

Even the liberal Huffington Post has decided belatedly that Clinton was responsible for her own woes. Senior HuffPo political columnist Sam Stein reviewed a host of interviews with late breaking undecided voters who overwhelmingly went for Trump and found that many had actually made up their minds weeks earlier.

One interviewee, Leonard Rainey, said he had serious doubts about Trump, especially his ability to handle an international crisis.  He also complained that Trump “was always running his fucking mouth” and saying “inappropriate” things. But, because of Clinton’s basic credibility problems, he voted for the reality star anyway.

Even Comey’s revived email investigation, which Clinton herself has singled out as the most important factor swaying late deciding voters, wasn’t that significant in the end. “That was not the nail in the coffin,” Rainey asserted. “It was the throwing of gas on a fire. … Ultimately, there was too much baggage with her.”

Stein also found it wasn’t just Republicans that broke late for Trump – it was Democrats, too.  And ultimately many looked beyond Trump’s alleged character foibles and made up their minds based on the issues.

“I think Trump is far less likely to get us involved in endless war in the Middle East,” Mark Bagley, a native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, told interviewers.  “And the thing to me that is most important is not getting into unnecessary wars.  I am 100% certain that Clinton will get us into a war in the Middle East.”

Another Democratic interviewee said that Clinton’s incessant harping on Trumps’ alleged gender problem actually ended up swaying him toward The Donald.   He came to admire Trump’s “perseverance” and concluded that the former First Lady was simply dodging the issues.

The fact that the so many mainstream media organs are running pieces critical of the Clinton campaign may be a sign that the efforts to delegitimize Trump’s victory have finally come to an end.

But it’s hardly the end of the media’s war against Trump.  With Senate hearings to confirm a slew of controversial Trump cabinet nominations still pending, expect these same news organs to go back on the offensive to try to knock the incoming administration off balance.

The big war is over, but the post-election battles are just getting underway.



Same White House blaming Russia for Trump earlier shot down claims of Russian influence

The White House blames Donald Trump’s presidential campaign victory on “fake news” websites run by the Russian government.

That’s why Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is even more confused by President Barack Obama’s opposition earlier this year to a plan to combat Russian disinformation.

Concerned by Russian efforts to control the U.S. media, Cotton earlier this year pushed an effort “to force the White House to create a panel with representatives from a number of government agencies to counter Russian efforts ‘to exert covert influence,’ including by exposing Russian ‘falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations,’” POLITICO reports.

“Vladimir Putin is KGB. He always has been, and he always will be,” Cotton tells POLITICO.

The White House responded with a letter, rejecting the plan.

They claim they already had a plan to stop Russia from interfering in U.S. politics.

No they didn’t, says Cotton, pointing to Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee. While Wikileaks took credit for hacking the server, Russian state-run media were releasing the emails hours before Wikileaks “unveiled” them.



Trump Likes Chuck Schumer More Than Republican Leadership

President-elect Donald Trump told incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he liked him much better than Republican leadership in Congress, according to a Sunday report from the New York Post.

The exchange occurred during a private phone call between the two leaders, but staffers with Schumer’s office failed to confirm the content of the exchange, according to the report. Trump’s lack of affection for Republican leadership stems from the fact that “establishment” Republicans didn’t support Trump during his bid for the White House, according to an unnamed staffer with the Trump transition.

Trump “said to Schumer he likes Schumer more than Ryan and McConnell because they both wanted him to lose,” the source told the New York Post. “They are Republicans and Trump knows they didn’t support him.”

Trump describes his relationship with Schumer as “very good,” and the two men reportedly shared several phone conversations in the weeks following Trump’s election to the White House in November.

That affection could change now that Schumer doubled down on his move to slow every appointee Trump made to his cabinet.



What experts predict, reality will contradict

by Jeff Jacoby

A NEW YEAR dawns, and you know what that means: Insiders, pundits, and gurus will spend the next 12 months making confident predictions that turn out to be spectacularly wrong.

But the experts themselves — often mistaken, but never in doubt — rarely seem to learn that lesson. Their forecasts will keep flowing in the year ahead, undeterred by their egregious blunders in the one just ended.

2016! Was there ever such a year for making donkeys out of seers? An entire column could be filled with nothing but the names of sages and savants, supposedly adept in the ways of politics, who confidently assured everyone that Donald J. Trump couldn't possibly win the Republican presidential nomination, let alone be elected president of the United States.

"If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong," wrote Larry Sabato, whose highly-regarded website at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics is called Sabato's Crystal Ball. Peering into his crystal ball on Nov. 7, he saw Hillary Clinton poised to harvest 322 votes in the Electoral College, handily defeating Trump in the next day's election.

Countless experts made similar predictions. "GOP insiders: Trump can't win," read a Politico headline last summer. Atop the story was the cocksure analysis of one of those insiders that nothing could keep Trump from losing short of "video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of 'Death to America.'" Pollsters, politicians, and even the incumbent POTUS announced with perfect certitude that a Trump victory was off the table. Indeed, prophesied Damon Linker, senior correspondent at The Week, not only would Trump lose, he would "lose in the biggest landslide in modern American history."

By no means was it only in the realm of US presidential politics that experts blew it.

Climate experts predicted that by the late summer of 2016, for the first time in 100,000 years, the Arctic Ocean would be effectively ice-free. Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, said the decline in sea ice was unstoppable. But when satellite images for September were released, they showed ice levels greater than they were in 2012.

Fortune magazine played up the doomsaying of Wall Street strategist Albert Edwards, who warned that 2016 would bring the biggest stock-market crash in a generation. "The illusion of prosperity is shattered as boom now turns to bust," Edwards wrote in January, amid a market swoon. Bust? By year's end, the Dow was flirting with an all-time record high.

British experts of every description made the case for keeping the United Kingdom inside the European Union, and pollsters were sure Brexit would go down to defeat. But on the day of the election, voters tore up the script, handing the "Leave" campaign a victory margin of more than a million votes. Michael Gove, the UK's justice minister and a leading Brexiteer, had been laughed at when he contended: "People in this country have had enough of experts." Maybe the experts should have listened.

Maybe all of us should be more skeptical when experts are telling us what to think.

A book I cherish is The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation. Compiled by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, it mercilessly documents the uncanny ability of experts to get things hopelessly, cataclysmically wrong. Flip through it at random, and marvel at the howlers: Business Week reporting in November 1929 that the Wall Street crash would not lead to a depression because the economy was "stronger than ever before." The 50 political insiders unanimously predicting Thomas Dewey's defeat of Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential race. The 1977 declaration by Ken Olson, president of Boston's Digital Equipment Corp.: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

For hundreds of pages, on hundreds of subjects, the experts get it wrong. I've often wished that The Experts Speak was supplied with an annual supplement, the better to be reminded that knowledge is no guarantee of truth, and that renown doesn't equal prophecy.


UPDATE about Chris Brand:

I have just heard from his wife, Dr. Fang, that he is on the mend but not expected out of hospital soon. She was with him for the ringing in of the New Year -- but she is beside his bedside most of the time.  Natalia Fang is a quality lady so it tells you something about Chris that he has her devotion.  Her degree is in fine arts and she has publications in that field.  The usual Leftist morons would call Chris a racist but the fact that he is married to a very fine Han Chinese lady might make that hard to sustain.

My son Joe is over there at the moment so I liked Natalia's comment about that. She said:  "I met Joe some while ago. He is a dashing, smart and thoughtful young man indeed".  Forgive fatherly pride.


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)


2 January, 2017

Are Liberals Bigger Drug Users?

They are, but why?  This author asserts that drug use MAKES people liberal and gives an extensive rationale for that view but I think it could well work the other way.  Leftists are angry at the world and hence contemptuous of it so to reject its standards of behaviour and conventional ideas of wisdom should come naturally.  And drug use is a good example of that rejection.  Contented people don't need drugs.  Discontented people do

Author Peter Schweizer wanted to know if there could be a link between a person’s political leanings and illegal drug use. His eye-opening finding: Liberals are five times more likely than conservatives to use marijuana and cocaine.

His findings are explored in his latest book: “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less … and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals.”

Schweizer, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, writes in his new book “Makers and Takers”:

“Academic studies have found that those on the political left are five times more likely to use marijuana and cocaine . . . Another survey found that Democrats were five times more likely to use marijuana than Republicans . . .

“A study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that among heavy drug users, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans was more than 8-to-1.”

Yet another survey found a “direct and linear relationship” between liberalism and the use of any illicit drug.

Schweizer, whose other books include “Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy,” observes: “The liberal search for autonomy and the credo ‘if it feels good do it’ have a strong influence on who uses drugs and why. Many liberals denounce drug use as a danger while at the same time engaging in a wink-wink attitude towards its actual use.”

Drawing on extensive attitude surveys, Schweizer also details in his book how liberals are more motivated by money than are conservatives, are angrier than conservatives, give less to charity, and are more likely to believe in ghosts, ESP, and reincarnation.



Romneycare not so hot

It was the model for Obamacare. It aimed to reform healthcare by providing all MA residents with affordable quality health insurance

By Alan Sager, professor of health law, policy, and management at the Boston University School of Public Health

DAVID TORCHIANA, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare, once again has recited Commonwealth Fund analyses of federal survey data showing that Massachusetts health insurance premiums are a lower share of median income than prevails nationally.

But federal data on actual health spending contradict Torchiana. Massachusetts health spending per person was 36 percent above the US average, the highest in the world. After deducting Medicare and Medicaid dollars, private Massachusetts health costs per person were 40 percent above the US average, an excess of $11 billion over national average costs. Meanwhile, median income here was only 20 percent above the US average.

And US health spending is no bargain. It’s five times our defense spending. It’s also double the average for rich democracies, while citizens of other nations get more care and live longer.

Health costs fall heaviest on the half of people with below-median incomes. Since income inequality in Massachusetts is third-worst in the nation, our state’s lower-income citizens and their employers have particular trouble affording our state’s high costs and high insurance premiums.

Worse, high health costs propel employers to raise deductibles and co-insurance. These amount to taxes on being sick; they afflict everyone who needs care and fall heaviest on lower-income people.

To paraphrase the Marx Brothers: Who should we believe — Torchiana or our own lying eyes, wallets, and credit card statements?



Sorry, Vegan Eatery—Good Intentions Don’t Absolve Your Economic Sins

By Abigail R. Hall Blanco

I frequently teach economics principles courses, offering many college students their first exposure to the subject. While we cover all the basics—supply and demand, elasticity (consumer and producer sensitivity to price changes), taxation, trade, and externalities—I’m under no illusion that most of them will remember a lot of the material come a year from now, much less longer.

But there is one thing I hope all my students remember forever—the role of prices and private property. In particular, I want them to remember how these mechanisms are vital for a free and prosperous society. I make it clear to them that I think this material is of the utmost importance. In fact, prior to beginning our discussion of prices, I tell them I will be thrilled if the price system is one thing they remember from the class fifteen years from now.

Prices and private property rights are fundamentally important. Failure to grasp how these forces work leads to positively detrimental outcomes.

A recent example of what happens when one fails to understand these core economic principles occurred in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Garden Diner and Café, formerly known as the Butchertown Diner, announced it would close its doors at the end of last month despite a pleasing menu and offering hip vegan food options.

In addition to the food, the diner’s business model received a great deal of attention. While some politely say the diner’s means of operation were “progressive,” at least one media outlet referred to the establishment as “Marxist Vegan.”

Several years ago the restaurant’s founder, Ryan Cappelletti, told a local news outlet why he had chosen a communist-inspired business model for the restaurant:

“Because of our economy, people are working 12-to-15 hour shifts, servers take home $200 to $300 a night in tips, the cooks are making $10 an hour and the owner takes whatever he takes. We’re going to have equal pay and equal say across the board. Everyone working together.”

The restaurant had no bosses, and decisions were made collectively by the staff. The workers decided when to open and close, leading to highly irregular hours. Customers might come to the establishment to eat only to find it closed. All workers were paid a “living wage,” meaning relatively unskilled workers would earn just as much as workers with more skills. Moreover, customers were not allowed to tip–meaning there was really no way for workers to be rewarded for exceptional service or work. Not surprisingly, this meant the restaurant experienced higher costs and lower revenues. Patrons often complained not just about the hours, but of the sometimes40 minute wait to receive a sandwich.

To add to the ambience and the “collective” spirit of the business, Cappelletti had a mural of Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, and other famous communist leaders “tackling restaurant duties.”

Now putting a portrait of the man (Zedong) responsible for a famine that killed tens of millions of people in a restaurant reflects either a really dark sense of humor or complete ignorance of history and economics. Given the aforementioned business model of the diner—I’m going with the latter.

What the creators of the diner (and the communist leaders on their walls) failed to recognize is that private property rights, prices, profit and loss are fundamental to bringing producers and consumers together, giving consumers what they want, and increasing wealth and prosperity.

First, consider the prime importance of private property rights. Having a private property right means that an individual has exclusive rights to use a particular asset. He doesn’t have to worry about someone else using his assets without his permission. As a result, the owner internalizes whatever action he takes with regard to his property. If a man takes good care of his business and provides a product or service consumers like, for example, he benefits in several ways. First, his customers reward him with their business and he likely earns a profit. Second, when it comes time to sell, the owner will be again rewarded for his hard work in building and maintaining a profitable enterprise. If, by contrast, he allows his business costs to skyrocket, hires incompetent workers, and produces a subpar product, he will face the negative consequences of his actions. He may earn negative profits or even have to shut down. If he were to sell the venture, he’d fetch a much lower price.

Having something that’s “owned collectively” fails to establish the same incentives because no one has the exclusive rights to the property. The owner of a business incurs the wrath of failing to satisfy customers by way of his bottom line. Rightly, he will do what he can to satisfy customers and increase his profit and help himself. So while a sole proprietor with his “skin in the game” knows what’s on the line should his business fail, the workers at the diner stood to lose comparatively less should the operation fold. They didn’t face the same incentives.

Second, it’s important to understand the role of prices. Economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok describe a price as a “signal wrapped in an incentive.” This is perhaps best explained with an example.

Suppose that the price of sandwiches increases by 50 percent. This change in price sends a signal to both producers and consumers—sandwiches are more valuable. The price increase provides an incentive for consumers to reduce their consumption. Those who value sandwiches comparatively less (i.e. those who aren’t willing to pay the higher price) will forego buying them, leaving the sandwiches for people who value them more and are willing to pay the higher price. Simultaneously, the price jump offers an incentive to producers to make more sandwiches! They can fetch a higher price if they do so. As a result, more sandwiches will be produced.

The increase in the number of sandwiches being produced in turn pushes the price back down and more consumers will have sandwiches! It’s actually pretty incredible.

When price signals are disturbed, it leads to poor outcomes. Rent controls and the minimum wage are textbook examples of what happens with prices are controlled artificially. Rent controls lead to housing shortages and black markets in real estate. Minimum wages lead to unemployment among the least skilled workers.

The diner largely ignored these signals and ultimately learned that, sooner or later, market forces will find you. That’s the thing about those pesky prices and profit and loss signals. While they never fail to reward you for producing something that provides value to your fellow man, they’re quick to slap you square in the face with your failures.

While my students may not remember a lot of what we covered in class, I hope this is a lesson they’ve truly taken to heart. They might not be economists in the end, but they won’t be foolish enough to open a “collective” diner with murderous tyrants painted on the walls.



UPDATE about Chris Brand:

I have just heard from his wife, Dr. Fang, that he is on the mend but not expected out of hospital soon. She was with him for the ringing in of the New Year -- but she is beside his bedside most of the time.  Natalia Fang is a quality lady so it tells you something about Chris that he has her devotion.  Her degree is in fine arts and she has publications in that field.  The usual Leftist morons would call Chris a racist but the fact that he is married to a very fine Han Chinese lady might make that hard to sustain.

My son Joe is over there at the moment so I liked Natalia's comment about that. She said:  "I met Joe some while ago. He is a dashing, smart and thoughtful young man indeed".  Forgive fatherly pride.


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)


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