Friday, April 21, 2017

Leftists Detest Patriotism

An NBC sports writer complains that flags and the national anthem are injecting politics into the game.

NBC Sports writer Craig Calcaterra stirred a hornet’s nest this past weekend when he took to Twitter to complain about the injection of politics in sports. “Will you keep politics out of sports, please. We like sports to be politics-free.” By which he meant the American flag and national anthem, because he tweeted it with a picture of the Atlanta Braves' new stadium during the national anthem.

Calcaterra followed up his tweet with an essay on the NBC Sports website in which he claimed that the presence of American flags and patriotic imagery in sports is part of a post-9/11 “conspicuous patriotism” meant to evoke specific feelings in sports fans.

Maybe Calcaterra would like to file his complaint with the Marine who carried a flag all the way through the Boston Marathon — on a prosthetic leg.

Of course, American Patriots realize that it’s Calcaterra who’s guilty of mixing politics and sports. The display at the Braves game, and many like it at ballparks across the country, are patriotic displays meant to show support for our country and our military. This sort of thing has been going on at sporting events for generations. Despite what Calcaterra thinks, there is no Orwellian propaganda machine at work.

Sports fans are generally a patriotic lot. Calcaterra discovered this in the responses his tweet generated in the hours and days after he posted it. Many challenged his thinking, wondering what was so political about displaying the American flag and being patriotic. One of Calcaterra’s snarky replies was that “People often wrap themselves in the flag in order to achieve political ends.”

People often burn the flag for the same reason, but when flags are displayed in sports, there is no political end to achieve. America-hating leftists can’t seem to grasp that. For them, everything is political. And their inherently thin skin leads them to believe that there is some hidden agenda behind anything they can’t understand. No wonder they’re so bitter.

Take a look at the farce that was Colin Kaepernick’s protest last football season. Kaepernick claimed that he refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem to show his solidarity for the mistreatment of black people by police. One could argue that Kaepernick’s sentiment to protest such abuse was well-intentioned, but he showed extremely poor judgment by directing his anger at America as a whole and not simply at those responsible for real abuse.

Kaepernick’s error quickly and roundly drew the ire of football fans, and he now sits jobless on the sidelines waiting to see if he will even be picked up by a team for next season. Rumor has it that no NFL team will touch him after the whole debacle.

Leftists are finding themselves increasingly marginalized in America either because they cannot grasp the true meaning of patriotism or because they are terrible at hiding their outright loathing for America. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Either way, they seem to want the flexibility to embrace patriotism and the American ideal when it suits them, mainly so they have something to hide behind when they show their contempt for this country and many of its time-honored institutions.

The difference between what is patriotic and what is anti-American should be easy to see, so it’s puzzling that there is such a vigorous debate over the issue. But leftists will keep that argument going because it’s in their nature.

It would just be nice if they can keep that debate out of sports. We Americans like baseball, football, basketball, and all the other contests because we admire physical skill and athletic prowess. We’re not looking for more social justice warriors. Hollywood, Washington and the mass media have given us more than enough of them to go around. Sports is one of the few things in American life that is inherently politics-free. That’s why we like sports. Let’s keep it that way.



Big Labor Robs Members to Support Democrats

If you’re wondering why millions of workers are abandoning the idea of unionization, this statistic provides a clear answer: At least $1.7 billion — three-quarters of which came straight out of workers' pockets — was used to promote 2016 political campaigns, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research.

Two things stick out in the report. 1): “labor unions, which have the ability to tax employees via forced-dues, [are] the only 501(c)5 entities capable of sustaining this kind political expenditure for the past decade”; and 2): “Union officials spent $1.3 billion directly from union treasuries (filled with forced dues and fees) to spend it on politics, dwarfing George Soros' and the Koch Brothers' reported combined political spending during the same period.”

Democrats talk a lot talk about voters “making their voices heard” by “getting out the vote,” but most of this money is being siphoned from workers who don’t have a voice in how political contributions are allocated. And, needless to say, Democrats are the biggest beneficiaries. The most recent data reveals that just 14.6 million Americans (or 10.7% of the workforce) were unionized last year. This is a 9.4% reduction from 1983, when membership was 17.7 million (a participation rate of 20.1%). This might explain why, according to The Washington Free Beacon, there is a disparity between Big Labor’s political activism and the votes cast by subordinates: “Trump received votes from 43 percent of union households, while garnering two endorsements from unions representing Border Patrol agents and police officers.”

As National Right to Work Foundation’s Mark Mix put it, “This election was a case study in the disconnect between union bosses and their members, and the chasm is growing.” If unions truly believed in the idea of democracy, they’d quit forcing members to fund partisan politics.



Net Neutrality Noise and Its Ultimate Goal: Total Government Control

For over a decade, professional liberal organizers and agitators – backed by a tidal wave of big liberal foundations and Silicon Valley corporate money – have told a bizarre scare story that without heavy-handed government regulation, Internet service providers (ISPs) will start blocking what websites you can go to and impeding free speech on the Internet.  No such thing happened in the approximately two decades that ISPs were unregulated “information services” under the 1996 Telecom Act. Indeed, the opposite occurred as robust competition between phone and cable companies – and later wireless companies – drove speeds dramatically higher and consumers benefited from an Internet that innovated beyond our wildest dreams.

Nonetheless, in 2015, ultraliberal advocacy groups (fueled by $196 million from the Soros and Ford Foundations) and Silicon Valley giants like Google (which cycled a shocking 250 personnel through the Obama administration and saw regulating ISPs as a way to guarantee themselves access to below-market rate downstream bandwidth for their YouTube unit) succeeded in getting the FCC to reclassify ISPs as regulated public utilities. This was done under a Depression-era law designed for the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly.  Thousands of complaints to potentially micromanage every aspect of the Internet piled up at the FCC Enforcement Bureau and the commission was set to adopt a sweeping new broadband tax to replace the private investment it scared off – with strings attached of course – during a Hillary Clinton administration.

The liberal organizers of the phony net neutrality scare campaign had even bigger plans; Robert McChesney, the founder of Free Press – the group that was cited 46 times in the Obama net neutrality order – openly bragged: “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

If that’s too subtle for you, McChesney also said: “In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.”

The American people elected Donald Trump, and President Trump elevated free-market champion Ajit Pai to be FCC chairman and undo the mischief the Obama FCC had done before it could reach its ultimate goals.

Chairman Pai is soon expected to unveil his plan to undo the Obama order and replace it with a light-touch approach that centers on competition and consumer protection and allows government intervention only when there is actual consumer harm – not just scare stories.  And in a refreshing break from the usual pattern of regulators accruing to themselves as much power as possible, the Pai plan will probably relinquish authority from his own agency to the Federal Trade Commission, which has far better expertise in consumer protection and competition issues.

To the well-funded groups on the left that created the phony net neutrality issue as a pretext for a government takeover of the Internet, any step back will be unacceptable and the apocalyptic rhetoric will flow like water.  They will again have hundreds of millions of dollars and massive platforms from the Silicon Valley giants like Google that supported the Obama regulations.  And the liberal media will happily jump on board every vicious smear and lie to tarnish Chairman Pai and President Trump and try to spook Congress into reversing course.  Some conservatives may be tempted to simply ride the tide of fake outrage.  But that can only lead to McChesney’s ultimate goal of total government control.  On this issue, conservatives in Washington D.C. must do what they were elected to do: stand and fight. And win.



The Ugly Face of Sharia Law in America

Two recent reports underscore the danger of being ambivalent toward Western values.

According to The Detroit News, a middle-aged doctor by the name of Jumana Nagarwala has been arrested for illegally conducting female genital mutilation on two minors. Additionally, the Detroit Free Press reports that “an attorney for [Nagarwala] admitted that her client performed a procedure on the juveniles' private parts, but maintained that it wasn’t cutting. Instead, the lawyer said Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, removed the membrane from the girls' genitals as part of a religious practice that is tied to an international Indian-Muslim group that the doctor belongs to.” This spin doesn’t make the incidents any less horrendous. In fact, the minors were instructed not to divulge anything about the ordeal. And without the FBI’s involvement, the malefactors might have gotten away with it.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Abdullah Rashid is “trying to impose what he calls ‘the civil part of the sharia law’ in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis,” according to the StarTribune. His enforcement measures include ordering people to avoid alcohol and drugs, soliciting “indecent” females to wear Muslim garb, and encouraging folks not to socialize with the opposite sex. If there’s any good news it’s that the Tribune says “local Muslim leaders are sounding the alarm. They are working to stop Rashid’s group, General Presidency of the Religious Affairs and Welfare of the Ummah, and have notified Minneapolis police, who say he’s being banned from a Cedar-Riverside property.” But these Islam-inspired shenanigans aren’t new, particularly in Minneapolis. The problem is only getting worse.

We don’t know if Nagarwala is an immigrant (though presumably she is), and reports indicate Rashid is a Georgia native. But in both cases, they are being influenced by an ideology that’s prevalent in Islamic nations. The immigration debate — an issue in which both the Democrat and Republican Parties once found common ground — has turned into one of the most politically divisive topics. The Left arduously advocates open borders, which it says is about compassion and inclusivility. But that view is either misguided or politically calculated or both. What leftists completely disregard is the idea of assimilation. And without assimilation, the stories above with continue to metastasize.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Scientific proof that Trump voters are racist?

Excerpt below from Thomas Wood, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State University.  Tom may know a lot about political science but he knows nothing about psychometrics. Both his measure of authoritarianism and his measure of racism have no known validity at predicting actual behaviour in the general population.

Rather hilariously, The Stenner scale of "authoritarianism"  is embarassingly INVALID. That may be because  it is in a "forced-choice" format that makes it difficult for many people to report their views accurately. It has been PROCLAIMED as a measure of authoritarianism but there is no proof that it is.  More on that here

And the Symbolic Racism scale is problematic in what it defines as racism. Its items could in fact be seen as simply true or false hypotheses. Take, for instance the item:

"Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class".

That is a Leftist credo but where is the evidence for it?  That it is a false statement could reasonably be concluded from the fact that many other initially disadvantaged minorities have in fact worked their way up to prosperity.

So is it racist to acknowledge reality?  Leftists seem to think it is but everything they disagree with is racist to them so that tells us nothing. The scale results could in fact tell us that Trump voters are more open to reality.

One also wonders why results from only 4 out of the 8 items of the Symbolic Racism scale were presented.  Were results from the other four less congenial to the beliefs of the writer?

But in any case the scale is known only to predict other attitudes, not any aspect of actual behaviour.  The results below therefore tell us nothing firm

During the 2016 presidential campaign, many observers wondered exactly what motivated voters most: Was it income? Authoritarianism? Racial attitudes?

Let the analyses begin. Last week, the widely respected 2016 American National Election Study was released, sending political scientists into a flurry of data modeling and chart making.

The ANES has been conducted since 1948, at first through in-person surveys, and now also online, with about 1,200 nationally representative respondents answering some questions for about 80 minutes. This incredibly rich, publicly funded data source allows us to put elections into historical perspective, examining how much each factor affected the vote in 2016 compared with other recent elections.

Below, I’ll examine three narratives that became widely accepted about the 2016 election and see how they stack up against the ANES data.

The rich, the poor, and the in-between

The first narrative was about how income affected vote choice. Trump was said to be unusually appealing to low-income voters, especially in the Midwest, compared with recent Republican presidential nominees. True or false?

The ANES provides us data on income and presidential vote choice going back to 1948. To remove the effects of inflation and rising prosperity, I plot the percentage voting for the Republican presidential candidate relative to the overall sample, by where they rank in U.S. income, from the top to the bottom fifth. To most directly test the Donald Trump income hypothesis, I’ve restricted this analysis to white voters.

2016 was plainly an anomaly. While the wealthy are usually most likely to vote for the Republican, they didn’t this time; and while the poor are usually less likely to vote for the Republican, they were unusually supportive of Trump. And the degree to which the wealthy disdained the 2016 Republican candidate was without recent historical precedent.

Authoritarians or not?

Many commentators and social scientists wrote about how much about authoritarianism influenced voters. Authoritarianism, as used by political scientists, isn’t the same as fascism; it’s a psychological disposition in which voters have an aversion to social change and threats to social order. Since respondents might not want to say they fear chaos or are drawn to strong leadership, this disposition is measured by asking voters about the right way to rear children.

The next chart shows how white GOP presidential voters have answered these questions since 2000. As we can see, Trump’s voters appear a little less authoritarian than recent white Republican voters.

Did racism affect the voting?

Many observers debated how important Trump’s racial appeals were to his voters. During the campaign, Trump made overt racial comments, with seemingly little electoral penalty. Could the unusual 2016 race have further affected Americans’ racial attitudes?

To test this, I use what is called the “symbolic racism scale” to compare whites who voted for the Democratic presidential candidate with those who voted for the Republican. This scale measures racial attitudes among respondents who know that it’s socially unacceptable to say things perceived as racially prejudiced. Rather than asking overtly prejudiced questions — “do you believe blacks are lazy” — we ask whether racial inequalities today are a result of social bias or personal lack of effort and irresponsibility.....

Finally, the statistical tool of regression can tease apart which had more influence on the 2016 vote: authoritarianism or symbolic racism, after controlling for education, race, ideology, and age. Moving from the 50th to the 75th percentile in the authoritarian scale made someone about 3 percent more likely to vote for Trump. The same jump on the SRS scale made someone 20 percent more likely to vote for Trump.

Racial attitudes made a bigger difference in electing Trump than authoritarianism.



The Willful Subversion of Critical Institutions Threatens America

Certain of our institutions play a critical role in sustaining the republic and promoting and protecting the unique character of the United States of America, and they therefore have a tremendous obligation to operate ethically and honorably. To the extent that they abandon their obligation, the country’s fundamental character is threatened.

Those institutions are the justice system, the education system, and the information media.

Imagine you have a business renting apartments. One of your tenants, who has rented a place for $1,500 a month for three years sends you a check for only $900 for the current month.

You contact the tenant and are told that he views the lease that both you and he signed as a “living document,” the meaning of which may be altered as circumstances change. Having lost the job that paid $73,000 a year, his new job pays only $45,000, and he says he can now only afford $900 rent a month.

That is precisely the rationale that activist judges apply when they abandon the clear language of the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the land to make rulings they say are in line with current circumstances and the “mood” of the country, and because the Founders and those who enacted older laws were unable at that time to imagine current circumstances, that old stuff must be modernized.

However, the laws or constitutional principles that activist judges disagree with must be amended or repealed through existing formal processes, not ignored or altered because they are viewed as inconvenient. If momentary interpretations are all that matter, and the Constitution is merely a “living document,” we don’t have a Constitution and we are not a nation of laws.

A nation needs its history and culture — all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly — to be passed down from generation to generation so that its people will know who they are and where they came from, and can properly determine where they want to go and why.

While families should pass much of this along to children, we largely entrust this duty to formal education. To guide the learning process and assist students in learning an array of important and useful subjects and life lessons, we employ teachers, professors, instructors and such, who coach and assist students.

Most of us had at least some teachers, professors and coaches who inspired us and helped us learn difficult subject matter, develop our skills, and learn how to think critically and logically. Hopefully, we did not have any that strayed from their professional duties and tried to tell us what to think about things, rather than developing the ability to think for ourselves.

Today, among the great number of effective educators there are too many who stray from the straight and narrow, especially in colleges and universities, where education too often takes a back seat to political and ideological indoctrination and politically correct policies. Imposing beliefs on students is worse than merely disrespecting the student; it is an outright abandonment of integrity and principle.

Along with an accurate base of knowledge about the country’s founding and history presented to them in schools, the people need to be well informed about current events. Information journalism contains two parts, and they must be kept separate. One is news about events, which must be accurate, honest and objective. The other is opinion, and must be clearly defined and omitted from straight news.

But far too often, opinion and political considerations sneak into news reporting, and also into the selection of what news gets reported and how it is reported, as well as what news does not get coverage. This is like playing golf blindfolded. You might find your driver, your ball and a tee, and you might tee up and actually hit the ball, but after that, you are literally in the dark, depending on the honesty of those around you to accurately describe the situation for you.

The American Left has a vision of America that is in many ways sharply at odds with the founding principles. Both beneficial and harmful ideas that the Left pursues are at odds with the ideal of limited government, because using government to force things on the people is the Left’s tool of choice.

Fortunately, there are obstacles to using government to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” as a former leftist president pledged. These obstacles are difficult to remove, as they should be. So the Left resorts not infrequently to re-interpreting the Constitution and the laws; managing and manipulating the information coming through much of the mass media; and sometimes indoctrinating children.

We all need to remember that worthy and broadly beneficial ideas will sell themselves; they don’t need people to take short cuts or cheat to get them accepted.



On the lighter side

Just about everyone likes the Music of Strauss the younger but we often hear the music only, without realizing that there are words to go with it.  An example is  "Frühlingsstimmen" (Spring voices).  Below is a charming performance of the song by a young Slovak soprano Patricia Janečková. She was only 18 at the time. I liked one of the comments on the performance: "I was captivated for 7 1/2 minutes - she is just great. Then I watched it again - this time, with the speakers on: and she was even better"

I give a translation of the first verse below so you know what it is all about:

The lark rises into the blue,
the mellow wind mildly blowing;
his lovely mild breath revives
and kisses the field, the meadow.
Spring in all its splendour rises,
ah all hardship is over,
sorrow becomes milder,
good expectations,
the belief in happiness returns;
sunshine, you warm us,
ah, all is laughing, oh,oh awakes!


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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Leftists attack pro-Trump rally

They are violent people driven by hate

A melee erupted on Saturday in a Berkeley, California park where supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump were holding competing rallies, resulting in at least 20 arrests as police struggled to keep the two camps apart.

As fist fights broke out between the two sides and people threw bottles and cans over a barricade separating them, police resorted to using to an explosive device at one point in a bid to restore order.

Several people were observed by a Reuters reporter with bloodied faces and minor injuries, but there was no official word on casualties from authorities. Media, citing police, reported that at least 11 people were injured.

Police said more arrests could follow after video shot during the melee was reviewed.

The trouble unfolded when hundreds of Trump opponents staged a counter-rally alongside an event billed as a “Patriots Day” free-speech rally and picnic, organized by mostly Trump supporters.

Between 500 and 1,000 people were in the park as the rallies peaked, according to an estimate by a Reuters reporter.

Among the Trump opponents were some counter-protesters dressed in black and wearing masks. The other side included self-described “patriots” and “nationalists”, Trump supporters, free speech advocates, and other groups.

Daryl Tempesta, 52, who said he served in the U.S. Air Force near the end of the Cold War, went to the rally to show his support for Trump.

“As a veteran, I like the track America is on, and that Trump is willing to stand and say we are still America and we are not going to be globalist, we’re not going to be a communist country,” Tempesta said. “That’s a message I can get behind.”



Donald Trump’s first 100 days better than you would think

AS the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office approaches, now’s a good a time to cut through the fog of misinformation, disinformation, media propaganda, ideological bias and outright hostility that has greeted his arrival in Washington and take a clear-eyed look at how he’s really doing.

Answer: much better than you think.

Let’s take the area that was supposed to be his Achilles’ heel, foreign policy. After flirting publicly with the likes of John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and David Petraeus, Mr Trump settled on dark horse Rex Tillerson, the former chief of ExxonMobil, to be his secretary of state. Like his boss, Mr Tillerson had no prior experience in government — which has turned out so far to be an excellent thing.

Unencumbered by the can’t-do conventional wisdom of the Foggy Bottom establishment and its parrots in the Washington press corps, Mr Tillerson has played the carrot to Mr Trump’s stick, soothing Chinese feathers ruffled during the campaign with a March visit to Beijing and setting up the successful meeting earlier this month between The Donald and the Chinese president at Mar-a-Largo that coincided with the cruise-missile salvo fired at Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Since then, the Chinese have openly cautioned the troublesome regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea not to antagonise the US with further nuclear sabre-rattling in the region; “Trump is a man who honours his promises,” warned the People’s Daily, the ruling party’s official newspaper. Among those promises: a better trade deal for China and an ominous presidential tweet to the North Koreans that they’re “looking for trouble,” and signed “USA.” Even now, US warships are steaming Kim’s way.

Regarding Russia, Mr Tillerson rocked the former Soviets with a “frank discussion” in Moscow on Wednesday — diplo-speak for “contentious.” Meanwhile, at the UN, ambassador Nikki Haley has already proven her mettle, taking a hard line toward the Russians for their tactical alliance with Assad while making clear the US commitment to Israel.

Domestically, a first attempt at repealing and replacing ObamaCare flopped when Speaker Paul Ryan’s needlessly complex “better way” couldn’t muster enough GOP votes to make it to the House floor. But the fault was the ambitious Ryan’s. Now the way’s clear for a cleaner repeal. And, yes, tax reform’s on its way, too.

True, the president’s two executive orders regarding visitors from several Muslim countries have been stayed by federal judges refusing to acknowledge the plain letter of both the Constitution and the US Code 1182, which give the president plenary power regarding immigration. But the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as an associate justice will quickly clear up that misunderstanding when the cases land in the Supreme Court.

Further, the Republicans’ use of the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for high court nominees means Mr Trump’s next pick is guaranteed a speedy confirmation.

Over at the National Security Council, H.R. McMaster has brought order out of the chaos that followed the abortive tenure of Mike Flynn, shuffling some staffers but retaining the services of crucial personnel. And at the Pentagon and Homeland Security, former Marine generals James Mattis and John Kelly can be counted on to faithfully execute presidential policy. Worries that they’re too soft on radical Islam are unfounded.

Less remarked but equally important has been the administration’s speedy action on downsizing the federal government, proposing real spending cuts and reorganising the bloated bureaucracy, which has drawn bleats of protest from the DC swamp creatures watching their sinecures circling the drain. Mr Trump’s also lifted the hiring freeze, in order to flesh out a still-undermanned executive staff and replace Obama holdovers.

Despite these clear successes, the media continues to depict the White House as a floundering, latter-day court of the Borgias, a backstabber behind every arras. But that’s to be expected of a novice administration in its infancy. When the smoke clears, look for an uneasy balance of power between chief counsellor Steve Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Mr Trump can ill-afford to lose Mr Bannon and his diehard conservative base.

And the sooner the floundering White House press operation is rebooted, the better; the administration has played defence against a hostile, sneering media long enough.

No new president will ever match the whirlwind of new programs introduced by FDR when he took office during the Depression — the gold standard cited by Democrats who equate activity with action. But Mr Trump got elected for precisely the opposite reason: Less government is more freedom.

As long as he keeps that in mind, he — and we — will do just fine.



Trump Removes the Handcuffs

As the number of Islamic State militants killed by the Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB nears 100, the U.S. as well as the rest of the world is assessing the larger and continued impact of the bomb. The strategic rationale for the using our biggest non-nuclear bomb was sound, as the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan near the border of Pakistan has become a recent hot zone for the U.S. military’s engagement with an off-shoot of Islamic State militants. In this instance, the MOAB eviscerated an elaborate network of jihadi tunnels. Gen. John W. Nicholson stated that MOAB “is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS.”

In the larger context, MOAB signals a significant change from the last eight years. Barack Obama was no fan of the U.S. military, and while he begrudgingly understood its necessity he did much to limit its ability to engage in effective warfare. Donald Trump’s attitude is markedly different, demonstrated both by his campaign rhetoric in calling for the defeat of America’s enemies and his willingness to back-up his rhetoric by giving military commanders the green light to use necessary force. Significantly, when Trump was asked whether he authorized the bomb itself, the president answered, “What I do is I authorize the military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a [good] job as usual. So, we have given them total authorization.”

A few of observations can be noted here. First, Trump has taken the handcuffs off U.S. military leadership, trusting in their expertise to wage effective warfare. Second, Trump believes in winning wars. Wars are won when one side defeats the other, and too often politicians prove to get in the way and end up prolonging war, leading ultimately to more suffering and lost lives. As David French of National Review states, “Excessive American caution has cost American lives and American limbs.” Third, this bomb, coupled with the U.S. bombing of the Syrian air base responsible for launching the chemical attack, sends a clear message to both North Korea and Iran that Trump will use any means necessary, including force, to counter their aggression.



Immigration Hawks Ascend to Senior DHS Positions

Two leading advocates for reforming illegal and legal immigration enforcement were appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as senior advisors for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Jon Feere, the former legal analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, and Julie Kirchner, the previous executive director for the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), have both been appointed to senior positions.

Feere, who work with the Trump campaign and transition team on immigration policy, will serve as the senior adviser to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency Director Thomas Homan.

Kirchner, a campaign alum as well, will serve as the senior adviser to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian told Breitbart Texas that the Trump Administration appointed a person who “knows the ins and outs” of immigration when they chose Feere to serve. “ICE needs somebody like Jon because he’s worked on immigration policy for many years,” Krikorian said. “After eight years of Obama, there were civil servants and people at ICE who weren’t as quite up to date on immigration enforcement.”

FAIR spokesperson Ira Mehlman told Breitbart Texas that Kirchner’s appointment is welcome news. “They’re both people with long experience and deep knowledge and they’re highly qualified for their positions,” Mehlman said.

Both the Center for Immigration Studies and FAIR have long been advocates for increased border security, a wall, reforming foreign guest worker visas and lower levels of legal immigration to help American wages to rise.

The appointments have come with the usual media backlash that the Trump Administration has grown accustomed to. CNN, for instance, has written that Feere and Kirchner’s appointments have “alarmed” the open borders lobby. The network propped up opposition to the appointments through the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, with Director Heidi Beirich claiming that that the Center for Immigration Studies and FAIR publish “racist” and “xenophobic” reports.

Krikorian, though, said the open borders lobby is only outraged because they know how effective both nominees could be. “This isn’t a complaint about qualification,” Krikorian told Breitbart Texas. “Jon and these others know what they’re doing and that’s what the anti-borders groups are afraid of.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trumping healthcare’s bad hand

Some history lessons and suggestions to improve US healthcare without breaking the bank

By Scot Faulkner (Scot Faulkner was Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives)

As the White House and Republican leaders continue debates and negotiations on a new bill, the blamestorming continues over the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Congressional Republicans have only themselves to blame. Since returning to majority in the House in January 2011, Republicans have formally voted 54 times to address all or part of Obamacare. Six were votes on full appeal.

In 2015, H.R. 132 is typical of these efforts.  It simply stated: “such Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.”  Why didn’t Republicans vote on this a few weeks ago?

Republicans did not vote on simply going back in time, because they thought government should play a significant role in healthcare. It should not. Crippling regulations need to be changed and the private sector needs to be encouraged. Last month’s legislation did not clear the way for these solutions.

The Republicans’ problem is squandering six years with legislation designed more for fundraising and campaigning than governing. Instead, they could have viewed their repeal and replace efforts as prototyping or beta-testing a new product or APP. They could have tested ideas and built Republican consensus. Not doing this led to disaster. What to do next?

In 2013, I outlined a patient-centric versus politician-centric approach. Maybe now it will be followed. Those wanting an expanded governmental role in healthcare and those opposing it are fighting the wrong battle in the wrong way.

The debate over national healthcare policy has lasted over a century – intensifying during the Clinton Administration and since Obamacare. It has always been about coverage, liability, and finance, never about care protocols and patients. If making health affordable is everyone’s stated goal, then why not focus on the actual care, health, and wellness of Americans?

America remains the best place on Earth to have an acute illness or shock-trauma injury. Our nation’s emergency rooms and first responder protocols are unequaled. Princess Diana may have lived had her car accident happened in New York City instead of Paris. America’s diagnostic methods and equipment are unequaled. That’s why patients from all over the globe seek answers to complex symptoms by visiting the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Sloan Kettering and countless other world class facilities.

The other side of American healthcare is its failings in chronic care, expense, and a system that is controlled by the medical profession, pharmaceutical companies and insurance industry. This triad of entrenched interests has prevented the widespread use of substances and therapies deemed effective in most of the world.

Thankfully, an increasing number of healthcare professionals are embracing global best practices, virtual technology, and patient-centric methods. Some are even exploring homeopathic and nutritional treatments that are common place around the globe, but viewed as “nontraditional” in America. These innovations are improving the health of patients while driving down costs. This is the arena where policy-makers should check their partisanship at the door. Seeking ways to improve healthcare, not health financing, will ultimately make health affordable to us all.

I have personal experience with the convergence of these worlds. Since 2007, I have been the primary caregiver to several family members with serious chronic conditions. These conditions have been punctuated by emergency care and major surgeries. Making decisions and managing treatment across this spectrum has been a real education that has helped me identify four major areas of opportunity for health and healthcare improvement, while addressing the affordability of private and public health services.

First, not all ailments require doctors and prescription medications. Government and industry policies drive people away from cheaper and more effective natural remedies. Herbal remedies have been successfully used since the first humans. For example, apple cider vinegar has completely solved acid reflex. Cayenne pepper has improved heart function.

However, natural substances are not covered as a medical expense either by insurance or tax deductions. Instead, acid reflex sufferers must pay for over-the-counter treatments (which are also not covered by insurance or tax deductions), or must obtain expensive prescriptions after paying to see a doctor or specialist. Being a natural treatment, the vinegar regime also avoids side effects and drug interactions. Why not go “back to the future” and find ways to support these more affordable and effective treatments?

Second, nurse practitioners form one of the new front lines of care. The overwhelming majority of my family’s office visits are with a nurse practitioner interacting with the patient and lab technicians. Occasionally, a doctor will review the information and discuss treatment options with the patient. Supporting the evolution to nurse practitioners through education, professional certification, protocol modifications and pricing would reduce costs and expand health options for professionals and patients.

Third, community caregiving is another new frontline of achieving and sustaining wellness. In 2009-2011, I was part of the planning team for developing a community-based care system for the Atlanta area. We found a disturbing pattern – patients, especially Medicare/Medicaid patients, arrive in hospital emergency rooms when their chronic conditions (diabetes, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, eg) become acute. These patients are treated at the most expensive point of care: emergency room. Once they are released, many do not have the support (family, friends, neighbors) or the capacity (some form of dementia) to follow a treatment regime that would prevent the next emergency room visit. These revolving door patients drive-up costs and end-up in a cycle of deterioration.

Our solution was to develop a community-based healthcare network. Such networks are known as “Accountable Care Organizations” (ACOs). They break-out of traditional hospital and doctor office environments to forge partnerships with the community – churches, social workers, local government, neighbor associations, and nonprofits. A needy patient with chronic conditions is assessed holistically.

This includes risk factors (i.e. smoking, alcoholism, drugs) and environmental factors (family & home environment). A care plan is developed and assigned to a multi-faceted care team (comprising community resources) and a care manager. Doctors and nurses are part of the team. The majority of health actions take place among family and community – driven by electronic medical records, aided by remote sensors and virtual care, and guided by the managed care team.

The result of this holistic approach is improved care, sustainable health and reduced costs. It is the one way Medicare and Medicaid costs can be substantially reduced while enhancing quality of life. There are initiatives to promote this methodology within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but it is occurring too slowly and is too isolated. ACOs are making a difference, but no major politician has embraced the concept and neither party has promoted them as a way to reduce Entitlement costs.

Fourth, families have always been a pivotal component in healthcare. Whether it is a parent staying home to care for sick children, or adult children caring for ailing parents, family caregiving is vital; but it is also emotionally and financially draining.

Having been the care manager, medical power of attorney, and patient advocate for both my parents and my wife, I know how much time is spent with ailing family members. Current IRS regulations provide for listing parents as dependents based only upon financial support.

However, there are no tax credits or deductions for those who have the medical power of attorney and devote countless hours to direct care or acting as the patient’s advocate for managing their care. Politicians at both the state and federal levels should provide relief for this indispensable and growing volunteer service sector. Supporting Family-based assistance will save billions in public assistance.

According to the National Alliance of Caregiving, 70 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities. Forty percent of these caregivers provide care for 2-5 years, while approximately 29% provide care for 5-10 years. Unpaid caregiving by family and friends has an estimated national economic value (in 2004) of $306 billion annually – exceeding combined costs for nursing home care ($103.2 billion) and home health care ($36.1 billion). This value is increasing as the population ages.

These four areas of opportunity will not address every health issue or entirely diffuse the fiscal bombs strapped to medical entitlements, but they are a good nonpartisan start. It is time for politicians to focus on the wellbeing of patients, not themselves.

Via email


Conservatives Must Hate the Poor – Because They Want Less Gov’t

When you’re a conservative, you have to develop a thick skin. You get used to hearing how heartless you are. How devoid of compassion.

And why? Because you don’t automatically support every government program that purports to help poor people. Why, you conservatives must hate poor people!

For our liberal friends, life is simple. “Hey, here’s a social problem,” they’ll say, in essence. “Let’s throw some money at it. That will solve it.” If we disagree, they take it as proof we care more about money than about people.

There’s a certain irony at work here. Sure, money is a concern. After all, scarce resources are being taken, either from the taxpayers or borrowed from future generations. But it isn’t just – or even primarily – the money that bothers us. It's all the regulations, all the big government, that goes along with it.

Because when actual flesh-and-blood people are being considered, when we consider how big government affects human beings, we find many victims of its policies not among the rich, but among the poor.

The problem of big government crops up in many different ways. The rules, the regulations, the fine print – they all affect what you can buy, or how much it costs, or what you can do. They dictate whether you can run a lemonade stand, or sell roses on a street corner, or even just drive a car without having to go through some overly complicated governmental process.

A new Heritage Foundation report, “Big Government Policies that Hurt the Poor and How to Address Them,” outlines the phenomenon in detail. One of the charts shows exactly why big government amounts to misplaced compassion – the one that shows household spending as a percent of after-tax income.

It’s broken down by income quintiles, and guess what? Government data show incontrovertibly that it is the poor who pay the biggest percentage of their income for things such as housing, food, clothing, electricity and gasoline. So when regulations and other government policies jack up the cost of these items, the poor are the ones hit the hardest. Not those of us who are fortunate enough to have done better and moved up the income ladder.

When we’re dealing with big, intrusive government, we need to forget about good intentions. Instead, let’s focus on how it adversely impacts people at the lower end of the income spectrum.

We don’t need another program. What we need is for government to get out of the way. Stop intervening. Stop requiring people to do certain things, whether it is to attend cosmetology school to become hair-braiders, or to stop them in other ways from making their own economic decisions – which they, obviously, are in the best position to make.

It may seem hard for big-government advocates to realize, but I know how to spend my own money better than some faceless bureaucrat does. I believe that frustration on this point has done much to create the new economic era and the new political era in which we find ourselves today.

This isn’t a new concept. The welfare studies we were doing 20 years ago addressed the same kind of question. We wanted to know how to rethink the dozens of means-tested welfare programs that are out there in a way that encouraged economic opportunity for all Americans, no matter what their income.

We succeeded, and the great welfare reform of 1996 led to some real and significant changes. I hope that this latest study will bring some significant changes as well.

“Government is not the solution to our problem,” Ronald Reagan said. “Government is the problem.” The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can help all Americans – especially the poor.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Monday, April 17, 2017

Liberalism and Low Self Esteem

The article below from late last year by Sean Last makes points that I have been making for many years -- though I allow that he expresses it better than I have.  I think it was first in 2002 that I pointed out that Leftism is clearly motivated by ego needs.  Leftism makes Leftists feel good -- as being wise and caring, whether or not they actually are, and mostly they are not.  And Leftists are shallow enough to NEED that boost -- which is why they run away from any information that might undermine their half-baked policy preferences of the day.

But there is more than one  source for Leftism and I have outlined many here.  I actually think that the needy egos have hopped onto a train that had already been got rolling by others:  The haters.  As the huge demonstrations against Trump show, Leftists are huge haters.  And their hate is primarily directed at the society in which they live.  They want to destroy it, in the delusion that they can create a better society.  So anybody who wants to make America great is anathema to them.

A better society can indeed be created.  From the industrial revolution on, society has become richer and kinder and more capable of improving human lives.  But none of that was done by Leftist policies of expropriation and destruction.  It was done by the steady accumulation of human wisdom and ingenuity that a capitalist society enabled and produced.  Other societies did well only insofar as they copied capitalist societies.

So the hatred that Leftists have for the society in which they live is at best impatient and at worst blind.  There is much to criticize about modern society but Leftists want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  They fail to see that a better society is steadily evolving out of our existing society and that attacks on existing society are therefore attacks on the only hope for the future.

When Leftists do get the opportunity to mould a whole society into what they think is desirable, all we get are ghastly tyrannies like the Soviets, Mao's China, Pol Pot in Cambodia and the dead hand of Castro's Cuba.

But the hate thrives nonetheless.  Why?  It can have many causes.  It can be a traditional hate for "the bosses" that we see in places like Scotland, it could come from some personal deprivation, like being born into a very poor family, or it could be the expression of a pathological personality.  Karl Marx hated just about everyone and that is said to be because for most of his life he had painful boils on his butt.

But by far the most obvious source for a personality that is full of hate from birth onwards is psychopathy.  I have in fact had academic journal articles published which report research into psychopathy so I have enough knowledge of psychopathy to see how startling are the parallels between psychopathy and Leftism.  I go into details here

To summarize briefly, Psychopaths love only themselves and hate anyone who does not take them at their own high valuation of themselves and have no real morality or ethics whatsoever.  They are masters of "faking good" -- of saying things that they think will make them look and sound good regardless of any truth in it.  They lie at the drop of a hat.  So they are very shallow thinkers.  Only the here and now exists to them.  I think that is a pretty good description of most prominent Leftists. Getting principles or even consistency out of a Leftist is a mug's game.  They will say one thing one day and something else the next day.  He/she will say anything that makes him/her look good on the given occasion. Obama's 180 degree turn on homosexual marriage is a good example of that.  Or Bill Clinton's claim that Hillary was named after Sir Edmund, the Everest hero.

So that is where the needful ego guy comes in.  He is not necessarily fully psychopathic but he shares the psychopath's need for praise and ego boosting. He jumps onto the psychopathic train being run by prominent Leftists.  I set out here the reasons why  the Clintons, Barack Obama and John Kerry are clear cases of psychopathy -- JR

In this post I am going to argue that one important reason why many people adopt a liberal political ideology is that it boosts their self esteem by allowing liberals to view themselves as noble warriors in a great battle against evil. There is a good deal of empirical data which is consistent with this theory. But I will also be making use of some evidence which is purely anecdotal. I fully recognize the limitations of such data. But I am still going to talk about it because it adds something meaningful to this theory.

The first question that needs answering is why liberals would need to increase their self-esteem in a way that conservatives do not. The answer is simple: liberals have less self esteem than conservatives to begin with. This is the conclusion of a 2012 paper published in the Journal of Research on Personality. The paper included two studies that found that liberals had lower self esteem than conservatives. The first study’s sample was moderate in size and consisted of college students. The second study made use of decades of data from the General Social Survey. The GSS is a large and highly representative survey that has been administered in the United States for over 40 years. Another paper published in 2014 replicated this finding in two more samples. Thus, the finding that liberals have low self esteem has been replicated several times, including one replication with an extremely high quality sample.

There is also experimental evidence showing that self esteem has a causal relation to liberalism. Researchers from Stanford have shown that causing people to feel especially good, or bad, about their looks influences their political beliefs and behavior. The researchers manipulated how people felt about themselves by asking them to recall incidents in which they felt either very attractive or very unattractive. When participants were made to feel good about themselves they became more likely to believe that social inequality was caused by individual differences in talent rather than by systemic forces outside of the individuals control. That is, they became more likely to endorse the conservative view on inequality. They also became less likely to donate to organizations aimed at lessening social inequality. When participants were made to feel poorly about themselves the opposite happened: they adopted a more liberal worldview and were more likely to donate to liberal groups.

So far we know that liberals have low self esteem and that having low self esteem causes people to be more liberal. There are at least two ways of looking at this. One way is to say that having low self esteem causes someone to be liberal because it makes it rational for them to favor equality. Equality helps everyone on the bottom half and that’s probably where you think you are if you have low self esteem. There’s clearly some truth to this narrative. But I believe that people with low self esteem will also be attracted to liberalism because being a liberal helps your self esteem a little bit. In particular, being a liberal lets you view yourself as a kind of moral hero waging a battle against dark and evil forces. Who doesn’t feel good about themselves while playing super hero?

The thing that initially caused me to think that liberalism boosts self esteem is the fact that liberals seem to be very proud of their political ideology. They want everyone to know about it. You can tell someone is liberal by the car they drive, the clothes they wear, and the food they eat. Non-liberals aren’t normally like this. I can’t look at someone and know whether they are a moderate, a conservative, a libertarian, etc. It’s only liberals that I can reliably spot on sight.

It also seems clear to me that morality is involved. Liberals are always crusading against something immoral. It’s never a simple factual disagreement. Conservatives are sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. And they hate the poor. Of course, many of these charges are ridiculous. For example, conservatives advocate the economic policies they do because they think that everyone will benefit from them. It has nothing to do with hating the poor. Notice that conservatives don’t respond in kind: conservatives don’t normally argue that liberals hate the poor, women, straight people or minorities, even though they think that liberal policies will negatively effect these groups.

Research by the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt lends support to this theory. Haidt has developed surveys that ask people about their moral values. Early in his research Haidt found that liberals and conservatives tended to fill out these surveys differently. After replicating this finding several times Haidt did something pretty cool: he had liberals fill out the surveys as they imagined conservatives would and vice versa. Haidt found that conservatives were fairly accurate in their depictions of the moral values of liberals. But liberals were widely inaccurate in their view of conservative morality: they drastically underestimated how much conservatives cared about moral values like fairness and kindness. Haidt also had liberals fill out the surveys as if they were the average liberal and conservatives fill out the surveys as if they were the average conservative. Once again, conservatives were far more accurate than liberals. Liberals consistently over-estimated how much the average liberal cared about various moral values. And thus, Haidt showed that liberals irrationally view conservatives as immoral and view themselves as far more righteous than they actually are.

The behavior of liberals is also consistent with viewing them as moral crusaders. Pew polling shows that liberals are far more likely than conservatives to end a friendship with someone due to a political dispute. This is what we would expect from people who view the opposition as evil. Who wants to be friends with evil people?

I think this explains why liberals care so much about things that are offensive and don’t matter. If you want to feel morally superior to everyone around you, you can’t agree with them. And so you have to find things wrong with society which society won’t admit to. And so as time has gone on, liberals have had to invent increasingly ridiculous complaints about society. Consider transsexuals and people with autism. By even the most liberal estimates of transsexual prevalence, autism is about five times as common as trannies are. And no one could argue with the fact that autistic people have hard lives. But the left doesn’t generally care about people with autism because supporting autistic people isn’t offensive to most people. If the left launched a campaign to help autistic people most people would probably feel sorry for the mentally ill and agree with them. And then there would be no bogey men to wage war with. So the left concentrates on trannies instead. There are basically no trannies. And most of the few that do exist are clearly insane. So they are the perfect group for the left to champion. A lesser but similar case can be made about gay marriage. Being gay is rare, and almost no gays actually want to marry. But gay marriage is offensive to many people. So it is a great issue for the left. It creates lots of bogeymen.

I’ve found that this theory helps to explain a lot about how liberals debate. In my experience, liberals are more concerned with proving that I am evil than proving that I am wrong. (“The races differ in mean IQ scores.” … “You’re racist!”) I now think that this is because they can only grandstand by showing that I am evil. Showing that I am wrong won’t boost their self esteem the way that showing to the world that they are battling evil does.

In summary, studies show that liberals have low self esteem and that causing low self esteem causes people to be more liberal. Research also shows that liberals have unrealistically negative views of the morals of conservatives and unrealistically positive views of the morals of liberals. And polling shows that liberals are far more likely to break social ties with people over politics. They are moral crusaders. The fact that liberals want everyone to know that they are liberal, that they seem to purposefully pick offensive views, their debate style, and the fact that being morally superior normally feels pretty good, suggests to me that the moral crusading and the low self esteem are connected. Liberals are liberal so that they can say that society sucks, so that they can say that they are better than everyone else, so that they can feel a little less shitty about themselves.



The Strategic Calculations Behind Trump's Flip-Flops

Headlines splashed across much of the mainstream media on Thursday morning stated that essentially Donald Trump had flipped his position on several campaign issues. Two of Trump’s policy changes were highlighted by the following headlines: Bloomberg’s headline, “Trump’s Reversal on China Currency His Latest Abandoned Promise” and the other in the Washington Post’s headline, “Trump on NATO: ‘I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.’”

Given Trump’s typical off-the-cuff manner, it’s tempting to assume that he’s sliding into the realm of all flip-flopping politicians, but the truth — at least in these two cases — is more nuanced. In the case of China, Trump can’t think of its currency in a vacuum, but as part of his effort to contain North Korea. The U.S. and China will have to cooperate to some extent, meaning labeling China a currency manipulator is off the table for now. And as for NATO, a huge part of Trump’s strategy in Syria is to put pressure on Vladimir Putin. NATO is key in that calculation, thus it’s “no longer obsolete” — just as we argued from the beginning.

As with every campaign, the rhetoric of the politician is often overly simplistic, designed to present big picture issues in the most appealing way, while avoiding getting bogged down in the minutia of truly complex issues. Trump, like Barack Obama before him, proved to be skillful at connecting with Americans in getting his base message out clearly — “Make America Great Again.”

But unlike Obama, Trump truly was a non-establishment Washington outsider. Like anyone coming into a new job, there are things learned once on the job that can prove to change one’s perspective. To some degree, Trump is learning on the job, as have all presidents before him, but it would be naïve to suggest that Trump’s apparent flip-flop in policy position is due entirely to his newfound experience of being in office. Trump is a business man who is more of a pragmatist than an ideologue. He understands negotiating tactics — knowing when to “hold and when to fold.” And unlike Obama, Trump appears to truly listen to and trust the expertise of his cabinet and advisers.

On a final note, Trump’s shifting rhetoric on both China and NATO are encouraging and wise moves, but neither necessarily indicates that he has actually changed his policy position. This type of talking tough and then moving to the middle ground may have been his intention from the beginning.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Donald Trump and the Nature of Victory

Sean Gabb is an English libertarian/conservative but there are notoriously as many versions of libertarianism as there are libertarians.  So I do not wholly agree with his points below.  But the strength of Libertarianism is its ability to generate fresh pespectives -- and Gabb certainly provides that below.  He thinks that Trump may go off the rails in some ways but his rise to power shows the way for future liberty-oriented politicians. Pure libertarianism will not do. You need to combine libertarianism with an appeal to national pride, national self-interest and anti-elitism. I think he is right

Since I am pushing myself into a debate between foreigners, I must begin by explaining myself. I am not an American, and do not wish to be one. I do not live in America, and do not wish to live there. The only country I love and know well is England. This being said, I have an obvious right of audience in the debate on Donald Trump. England and America share a language. Any impartial observer looking at the two countries will see two ruling classes, almost joined at the hip, facing two subject peoples whose assumptions about the good life and how it may be promoted largely overlap. If the relationship is unbalanced by an inequality of size and wealth, what happens in either country has an inescapable effect on what happens in the other. Rules of politeness that hold me from commenting on affairs in France or Germany do not apply to America. Here, then, are my thoughts on what has happened in America during the past week.

I am disturbed my Mr Trump’s apparent breaking of his election promises. He promised no more interventions in the Middle East. He has attacked Government forces in Syria, and on grounds that seem dubious in themselves. He promised better relations with Russia. These relations now seem lower than they were when Mr Obama was the American President. He denounced NATO as “obsolete.” He is now happy with NATO. American healthcare is not my proper concern. But it is worth observing, in the light of his foreign policy, that he seemed to promise his working class supporters a system less dominated by entrenched special interests. It is a mercy, I am told by friends whose judgement I trust, that his only attempt at reform was frustrated.

It may be that he has no intention of keeping his promises. Perhaps he never had any intention of keeping them. Perhaps he has seen the scale of resistance to what he promised, and has given up. Or it may be that he is playing some clever game, and will, once more, come out unexpectedly triumphant. I think it will take a year to know the truth beyond reasonable doubt. For the moment, however, I will assume the former possibility. I first voted in a general election in 1979, and paid close attention, over the next decade, to a woman [Margaret Thatcher] who, in breach of every actual or implied promise, made my country more regulated, more heavily taxed, more diverse, more subservient to foreign interests, and generally more enslaved than she found it. Ronald Reagan followed roughly the same course. It strikes me as more likely than not that Mr Trump is now doing the same.

If so, this would be a disappointment. But it is no cause for despair. 2017 is not the early 1980s. The differences go far beyond changes of fashion and an updating of lies. They are roughly as follows:

First, Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan took up the rhetoric of market liberalism. Many of us looked at the chapter headings, and assumed the promise was of radical deregulation and a general penumbra of changes that seemed to follow from this. We ignored the main text, or the alternative meanings that could be placed on words. I realised what was happening earlier than most. Even I took till after the 1983 general election to understand that the real agenda was one of corporatism and the beginnings of a police state. It took me longer still to see that this would be a politically correct police state.

The rhetoric that Donald Trump took up in his campaign was of populism – and a populism that took account of all that had been done to his country since about 1980 or before. There is no unread text in the promises he made. His words have no alternative meanings. He promised an end to foreign intervention, and an end to political correctness, and an end to domination by special interests. After a very short time – and, I grant again, that this short time may not yet be over – broken promises stand out as plainly as a wrong in arithmetic.

Second, in the 1980s, we faced a narrative constructed and maintained from the centre. There was a centralised media that allowed only certain issues to be discussed, and that ensured they were discussed only in certain ways. This is not to say that control of the media was monolithic. Debates were lively, and even acrimonious. But important facts were often withheld, and the public was encouraged to look at those facts that were published through various kinds of partisan lens that kept the truth from being perceived. Of equal and associated importance, the media in those days were organised to broadcast from the centre to the periphery. They did little to enable a conversation between the centre and the periphery, and conversations within the periphery were localised and compartmentalised. What has happened since then is too obvious to need describing. When Mr Trump ordered those missiles to be launched, Facebook and Twitter and the blogs began an unmanaged and unmanageable debate in which ordinary people could discuss in public whether and to what extent they had been lied to.

Third, and following from the above, Mr Trump’s supporters have the advantage of hindsight. I will boast again that I rumbled Mrs Thatcher earlier than most. Even so, it took years for it to dawn on me fully that she was fronting an elaborate fraud – or, at least, a mistake. Here, I speak from English experience, though I believe it was much the same in America. The Enemy she and her friends pointed us toward was a coalition of pro-Soviet union leaders and alleged degenerates. The remedy involved vast military spending, and an attack on the working class, and things like the prepublication censorship of video recordings. The actual enemy was a coalition of university graduates who wore suits, had at best a lingering taste for Marxism-Leninism, were not hostile to certain kinds of corporate enterprise, were out of love with the social liberalism of the 1960s, and whose own agenda can be summarised as political correctness plus the constable. Whether or not they noticed these people until it was too late, the Thatcherites did nothing to stop them, and tended to promote them. The rest of us were encouraged to laugh now and again at their linguistic tricks – and then go back to fretting over Arthur Scargill’s plan to make England into a copy of East Germany.

Nowadays, we know exactly who the Enemy is. These people run education and the media, and criminal justice and the administration, and most of big business. If they are not perfectly united, they stand together in a project to make the rest of us into denatured tax serf-consumers. Just because some of them work in the formally private sector does not make them into friends of private enterprise. Just because some of them want to make pornography illegal does not make them into social conservatives.

Fourth, and again following from the above, the Enemy is getting old. When I was a student, these people were in their thirties or my own age. They had a messianic belief in their own self-righteousness, and considerable networking abilities. Most of us, on the other hand, were old farts, pining for the 1950s, or semi-autistic libertarians, prepared to shun each other for taking a wrong view of the non-aggression principle. Those who were neither were chancers or shills. Hardly surprising if we were shoved aside or simply ignored.

The Enemy is now old and discredited. The successor generation is stuffed with mediocrities. The new generation of dissidents is young and not particularly bound by considerations of ideological purity. Open borders? Shut them! Socialised healthcare? If our own working classes want it, let it be! Trade policy? Whatever is politically useful! The managerial state? Shut down what we cannot take over; what we can take over use before we shut it down! Though I wrote one of its early texts, I am not sure if I qualify for membership of the Alternative Right. But I recognise quality when I see it. None of my old friends ever made the Enemy hysterical with fright. None of us ever reduced the Enemy to a laughing stock. I doubt if we ever did much, beyond voting for them, to help our clay-footed idols get elected.

The two big events of 2016 were the British Referendum and the election of Donald Trump. For a moment, it looked as if with a bound, we were free. We are now finding that not all may be as it then seemed. At the same time, those elections were won. They were won explicitly as rejections of the present order of things. Unlike in the 1980s, the correlation of forces is on our side. If Donald Trump sells out, that is unfortunate. But there will be other chances.



Donald Trump is deliberately keeping the world guessing

Call it the mother of all backflips. Donald Trump won office on a promise to make America less the world’s policeman and more that weird hermit guy who lives up the street.

Yet as he approaches the three-month probation mark in the new job, President Trump is suddenly working all the levers on the foreign affairs front: Hosting China’s Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago “winter White House”. Giving Bashar Assad a whack with the metaphorical rolled up newspaper for a sarin gas attack. Steaming the Carl Vinson carrier group towards the Korean peninsula.

And, now, dropping the so-called “Mother of All Bombs” on a network of ISIS-controlled caves and tunnels in Afghanistan.

For close Trump watchers, at first this new muscularism looked very Helen Lovejoy. His justification for his cruise missile strike on Syria, particularly his having been moved by images of the child victims of Assad’s chemical weapons, had no small hint of the reverend’s wife on The Simpson’s regular imprecation, “won’t somebody think of the children?” about it.

But the events of the past week suggest there’s also something of the Henry Kissinger going on here, too.

Kissinger, recall, was the legendary and often controversial US secretary of state and national security adviser under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford who opened American relations with communist China and ran the negotiations to end the Vietnam War.

A great proponent of “realpolitik” — an unsentimental, self-interested rationalism in policy making — he also prized the virtue of unpredictability. Which is something Trump has in spades.

While pledging to end Obama’s wars and saying that going anywhere near Syria would be a disaster (“we should stay the hell out of Syria”, he tweeted in June, 2013), during his campaign Trump also talked about the need for America to stop telegraphing its moves to the enemy.

Obama’s hard and fast announcement in 2011 that he would pull all American troops out of Iraq not only gave what would become ISIS a vacuum to fill, it gave them a timetable as well.

Trump would later tell the New York Times, “That’s the problem with our country. A politician would say, ‘Oh I would never go to war,’ or they’d say, ‘Oh I would go to war.’ I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability.”

Having punished Assad for violating a “red line” Obama drew but never enforced around chemical weapons and seeming to form at least a temporary alliance of convenience with China over North Korea (which has been allowed to fester for far too long by both Washington and Beijing) the previously isolationist Trump is proving both a quick study and adept at keeping the world guessing.

And although the political Left — which after eight years suddenly remembered that it’s not cool to bomb foreigners — is howling, Trump’s approval rating in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll has been ticking northward again, up to 48 per cent.

Perhaps it was not Nobel Peace Prize-winning Barack Obama’s endless interventionism the American people were tired of — it was his fecklessness.



Trump's border wall will get its start in San Diego County

Up to 400 companies are expected to submit proposals Tuesday to build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
Phillip Molnar and Lyndsay WinkleyContact Reporters
President Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico will kick off in the San Diego border community of Otay Mesa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Monday.

The community is home to one of two border crossings in San Diego and will be the site where 20 chosen bidders will erect prototypes of the envisioned wall. Winners will be selected around June 1, the agency said.

While funding for the massive infrastructure project is still not set, up to 450 companies submitted designs last week. The agency’s bid said roughly 20 companies will be selected to build the prototypes — 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high.

The models will be built on a roughly quarter-mile strip of federal land within 120 feet of the border, said a U.S. official with knowledge of the plans quoted by the Associated Press.



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