Friday, September 01, 2017

Right, Left, Facts, and Values

Since my job is to proselytize on behalf of economic liberty, I’m always trying to figure out what motivates people. To be blunt, I’ll hopefully be more effective if I understand how they decide what policies to support. That’s a challenge when dealing with my friends on the left since some of them seem to be motivated by envy.

Unsurprisingly, there are people on the other side who also contemplate how to convert their opponents.

Harvard Professor Maximilian Kasy wrote a column for the Washington Post that advises folks on the left how they can be more effective when arguing with folks on the right. He starts with an assertion that conservatives are basically impervious to facts.

    Worries about…our “post-factual era” impeding political debate in our society have become commonplace. Liberals…are often astonished at the seeming indifference of their opponents toward facts and toward the likely consequences of political decisions. …A common, though apparently ineffective, response to this frustration is to double down by discussing more facts.

This is a remarkable assertion. I’m a libertarian rather than a conservative, so I don’t feel personally insulted. That being said, conservatives generally are my allies on economic issues and I’ve never found them to be oblivious or indifferent to facts (I’m speaking about policy wonks, not politicians, who often are untethered from reality regardless of their ideology).

So let’s see how Mr. Kasy justifies his claim about conservatives. Here’s more of what he wrote.

    …maybe the issue is not conservatives’ ignorance of facts, but rather a fundamental difference of values. Taking this point of view seems essential for effective communication across the political divide.

I basically agree that differences in values play a big role, so I’m sort of okay with that part of his analysis (I’ll return to this issue in the conclusion).

But my alarm bells started ringing at this next passage.

    Much normative (or value-based) reasoning by liberals (and mainstream economists) is about the consequences of political actions for the welfare of individuals. Statements about the desirability of policies are based on trading off the consequences for different individuals. If good outcomes result from a policy without many negative consequences, then the policy is a good one.

Huh? Since when are liberals (and he’s talking about today’s statists, not the classical liberals of yesteryear) and mainstream economists on the same side?

Though I admit it’s hard to argue about the rule he proposes for policy. He’s basically saying that a change is desirable if “good outcomes” are more prevalent than “negative consequences.”

That’s probably too utilitarian for me, but I suspect most people might agree with that approach.

But he makes a giant and unsubstantiated leap by then claiming it would be wrong to repeal a supposedly good policy like Obamacare.

    When Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) remarked on the Affordable Care Act this spring, for example, she said, “…we’re talking about something that would deny those in need with the relief and the help that they need, that they want and deserve…” In other words, if a policy will harm the welfare of individuals in need, it’s a bad policy.

Huh? What happened to his utilitarian formula about “good outcomes” vs “negative consequences”? Sure, some additional people have health insurance coverage, but is he blind to rising premiums, job losses, higher taxes, loss of plans and loss of doctors, dumping people into Medicaid, and other downsides of Obamacare?

If facts are important, shouldn’t he be weighing the costs and benefits?

In other words, Kasy must be in some sort of cocoon if he thinks the Obamacare fight is between Republicans motivated only by values and Democrats motivated by helping individuals.

His analysis of the death tax is similarly off base.

    …consider the example of bequest taxes, labeled “estate taxes” by liberals and “death taxes” by conservatives. A liberal might invoke various empirical facts…our empiricist liberal might conclude that bequest taxes are an effective policy instrument, providing public revenue and promoting equality of opportunity. The conservative addressee of these facts might now just shrug her shoulders and say “no thanks.” Our conservative likely believes that everyone has the right to keep the fruits of her labor, and free contracts of exchange between any two parties are nobody else’s business. …Taxing bequests thus means punishing moral behavior, the exact opposite of what the government should do.

Once again, Kasy is deluding himself. Conservatives do think the death tax is morally wrong, so he’s right about that, but they also have very compelling arguments about the levy’s negative economic impact. Simply stated, the death tax exacerbates the tax code’s bias against capital formation and results in all sorts of economically inefficient tax avoidance behavior (with Bill and Hillary Clinton being classic examples).

His column concludes with some suggestions of how folks on the left can be more persuasive. He basically says they should appeal to conservatives with values-based arguments such as these.

    We should evaluate the policy based on its effect on individuals, and assign a higher weight to the majority of less wealthy people. …nobody can be said to consume only the products of their own labor. We rely on social institutions including markets and governments to provide us with all the goods we consume, and absent a theory of just prices (which present day conservatives don’t have) there is no sense in which we are entitled to specific terms of exchange.

I’m not the ideal person to speak for conservatives, but I don’t think those arguments will win many converts.

Regarding his first suggestion, Kasy’s problem is that he apparently assumes that people on the right don’t care about the poor. Maybe I’m reading between the lines, but he seems to  think conservatives will automatically favor lots of redistribution if he can convince that it’s good to help the poor.

I think it’s much more accurate to assume that plenty of conservatives have thought about how to help the poor, but they’ve concluded that the welfare state is injurious and that it is more effective to focus on policies such as school choice, economic growth, and occupational licensing.

Indeed, I hope most conservatives would agree with my Bleeding Heart Rule.

And his second idea is even stranger because economic conservatives have a theory of just prices. It’s whatever emerges from competitive markets.

Let’s close with a column by Alberto Mingardi of the Bruno Leoni Institute in Italy. Published by the Foundation for Economic Education, the piece is relevant to today’s topic since it looks at why an unfortunate number of intellectuals are opposed to economic liberty.

    …some have replied that the main reason is resentment (intellectuals expect more recognition from the market society than they actually get); some have pointed out that self-interest drives the phenomenon (intellectuals preach government controls and regulation because they’ll be the controllers and regulators); some have taken the charitable view that intellectuals do not understand what the market really is about (as they cherish “projects” and the market is instead an unplanned order).

Alberto then shares Milton Friedman’s answer.

    I think a major reason why intellectuals tend to move towards collectivism is that the collectivist answer is a simple one. If there’s something wrong pass a law and do something about it. If there’s something wrong it’s because of some no-good bum, some devil, evil and wicked – that’s a very simple story to tell. You don’t have to be very smart to write it and you don’t have to be very smart to accept it.

My two cents, based on plenty of conversations with well-meaning folks on the left, is that there’s actually a lot of agreement of some big-picture values. We all want less poverty and more prosperity. In other words, I think most people have similar good intentions (I’m obviously excluding communists, Nazis, and others who believe in totalitarianism).

But similar good intentions doesn’t translate into agreement on policy because of secondary values. Especially differences in whether we view “equality of outcomes” as an appropriate goal for government. Some on the left openly are willing to sacrifice growth to achieve more equality (Margaret Thatcher even claimed that they would be willing to hurt the poor if the rich suffered even more). Folks on the right, by contrast, are much more focused on helping the poor with growth rather than redistribution.



A Plea for Do-Nothing Government

Nothing promotes bad public policy as much as disaster. An economic depression gives rise to demands for Keynesian “economic stimulus” spending; elevated rates of unemployment among low-skilled workers give rise to demands for increases in the legal minimum wage; shortages of goods and services caused by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other such acts of God give rise to demands for legal prosecution of “price gougers”; and so on and on.

Probably the single most beneficial amendment to the U.S. and state constitutions would be an amendment to forbid the government from “doing something” beyond its normal actions in response to national or local emergencies. Nearly everything the government does on such occasions makes matters worse, ultimately if not immediately. If only the people understood that the government waits for emergencies with saliva flowing, knowing that it can then get away with extensions of its power and the enrichment of its cronies to an extent that would be impossible in normal circumstances.



The defense of truth is motivated by love, not hate

Last week, I made a short video about how the media and the Southern Poverty Law Center were getting “hate” wrong, slandering good groups such as the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom by calling them hate groups.

Liberal activist groups do this because they disagree with conservatives on marriage and gender identity. But it’s wrong to think every disagreement is the result of hate.

Anti-gay bigotry exists. It’s wrong. And we should condemn it.

But support for marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t anti-gay. Believing the truth about marriage—that it unites a man and woman as husband and wife in an act that makes them one flesh—isn’t “anti” anything.

Believing that men and women aren’t interchangeable, and that mothers and fathers aren’t replaceable, that children deserve both a mom and a dad—that’s not hate. It’s truth. And even if you disagree, you should acknowledge that it’s motivated by love, not hate.

Anti-trans bigotry is real—and it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t tolerate it.

But biology isn’t bigotry. The best biology, psychology, and philosophy conclude that sex is a biological reality and that gender is the social expression of that reality. And it’s entirely reasonable to have concerns about privacy and safety when males who identify as women can go into the ladies’ and girls’ bathroom and locker room.

Likewise, having concerns about giving children puberty blockers, or performing sex reassignment surgery on adults, isn’t anti-trans. It’s a disagreement about medicine.

The most helpful therapies for gender dysphoria focus not on achieving the impossible—changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings—but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality.

These are difficult questions. We need to be able to disagree about them without smearing our opponents, on either side.



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, August 31, 2017

Terror can be conquered ONLY with greater terror

I think ALEXANDER MARKOVSKY is right below but whether soft Western politicians will ever do what he advises is doubtful.  As a former Soviet citizen he is tougher than most

It is exceedingly obvious that the West continues projecting weakness and strategic incoherence. The Western Democracies are incapable of rejecting postmodern liberal thinking that Islam is peaceful and acknowledge that we are in the age-old struggle between freedom and tyranny.

Radical Islam poses both internal and external threats to Western civilization on the scale of Nazism and Imperial Japan in terms of the potential mass death and destruction. Islam is conducting a war against the Western democracies with religious zeal and fanatical determination, using all resources available-from engaging in open warfare to spreading terrorism across the globe; from sponsoring radical ideology within Muslim communities to indoctrinating schoolchildren to hate Western values. In this war America and the Western world are facing a type of peril they have never faced before.

The West fails to recognize as an immutable fact that radical Islam is not just a religion; it is also a political totalitarian movement, just like communism and fascism. The movement embraces a fanatical agenda that includes religious supremacy and a Marxist-type utopian/egalitarian standard of virtue. However, unlike communism and fascism, which were adopted by countries that could be defeated militarily, radical Islam is not a country. It is a mass movement sustained by an ideology embodied in unlimited human resources around the globe.

Moreover, many Muslims residing in the West evince a favorable attitude toward radicalism. They form a silent but effective network of support that allows terrorists to avoid security forces, survive, plan, recruit new members, and provide training. Hence, diplomatic solutions cannot be found, nor is it possible to defeat it in strictly military terms. Therefore, the war on terror is not just a military confrontation; it is also an ideological and a political affair.

First and foremost, this monster has to be defeated ideologically by superior principles advanced by Islam itself. Indeed, across the Atlantic in Egypt, a new and different version of Islam is emerging. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has assertively lead his country out of the Arab Spring. He has denounced Islamic terrorism and challenged religious clerics and scholars to "revolutionize the religion" and bring it in line with Western morality. The president of Egypt is a leader who exhibits moral clarity, courage, and charisma. With the enhanced stature of the restorer of stability, he is in a position to use his authority to isolate radicals ideologically.

Second, we must learn from past experience. Vladimir Lenin, the father of modern terrorism, who was also on the receiving end of it, summarized his experience with Bolshevik brevity: "Terror can be conquered ONLY with greater terror."

Whether this nation is prepared to conquer terrorists with greater terror is an open question. In the past, civilized society had little hesitation to use all its might to protect and defend its ideals. Bombing Dresden in 1945 was, in contemporary terms, a clear act of terrorism aimed at German civilians in order to break the Germans' resolve. Dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan was hardly a humanitarian act either. What is not in question is the imperative for survival of our civilization. Our contemporary American challenge is not the military aspect of killing a lot of people; it is the moral issue, regardless of reasoning and justification. This imperative shall be reconciled vis-à-vis Western thinking, which embraces the humanitarian principles that separate us from the barbarians, and the necessity of survival. Henry Kissinger addressed this dilemma when he wrote, "While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive."  

Assuming that the United States possesses the psychological stamina to do what needs to be done to survive, we shall stop shaping our foreign policy by personal animosities and professed moral superiority, and start forming alliances based on National Interests. We should embrace President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and form a new alliance founded on common interests between the United States, Russia, Egypt and Jordan to eradicate radical Islam. El-Sisi's led ideological offensive augmented by the well-equipped and well trained Egypt and Jordan military supported by the infinite firepower of the United States and Russia will deliver the ultimate wish to those who claim to love death more than life quickly and decisively.

Political posturing will not instill the fear of God in the Islamists, but el-Sisi will-if he lives long enough. Courageous leaders in this part of the world before him did not, so time is of the essence.



Today as in the 1930s, real fascism comes from the Left

Norman Tebbit [Prominent British Conservative politician]

Over recent days I have become more  and more irritated by the skill of those on the Left in labelling any event of unreason or violence as being the work of "the far Right", and the foolishness of us on the Right for letting them get away with it.

James Bloodworth wrote recently in the New Statesman that Ukip's Anne Marie Waters  had "started out on the political left , but like Oswald Mosely before her has since veered dramatically to the right."

We have been fortunate in this kingdom in that we have had only one prominent fascist, Oswald Mosley, who never held office in government at Westminster. I often see or hear references his political journey to the "far Right" from the wilfully ignorant. The facts are otherwise.

Mosley's journey started from his Conservative roots and his election as a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1918. He then defected to Labour, losing his seat in 1924, but returning as Labour Member for Smethwick in 1926 and taking office in the Labour Government  of Ramsay MacDonald as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1929. His advocacy of nationalisation of industry and a huge programme of public works (and who does that remind you of these days?) was rejected by the Labour government, and he resigned.

Mosley then became impressed by the collectivist ideas of Mussolini's Fascist Party and Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party, before founding the British Union of Fascists, which opposed war with Hitler's Germany. He was interned in 1940 by Churchill's wartime government.

After the war his National Party of Europe campaigned for "Europe a Nation", a proposed European super-state to  have been run according to principles of "European Socialism". Mosley died in 1980, still committed to the anti-Semitism he shared with the German National Socialists and Russian Communists, having never swung back to the Conservative roots he had torn up in 1923..

With the Labour Party of today committed to far Left  policies akin to those rejected by Ramsay MacDonald 85 years ago, and the Lib Dems united only by their belief that the United Kingdom should not be a self-governing state, the political market is wide open for a party which could unite around the Thatcherite Conservative policies which saved the country in the 1980s.

It would be nice too if we could get away from the sheer nastiness which has of late been used in an effort to close down a good deal of entirely legitimate debate on public affairs. The believers in climate change came out to attack the BBC for allowing Lord Lawson air time to express some scepticism about the wilder claims of imminent climatological disaster.  One describing himself as a physicist tweeted that "there should be no debate anymore about climate change."

Perhaps the very nature of the so-called "social media" on which so much of this nastiness is expressed – often by frustrated attention-seekers who have no other platform – has a role in the general degradation of comment and conduct over a much wider field than politics today.



5 BIG Companies Just Stabbed Trump In Back With SICK Announcement About Who They’re Working With

There has practically never been a better time to be in business than right now with President Donald Trump in the White House. He’s done more for workers and companies in his first few months than his predecessor did in two presidential terms. The economy is booming because of this incredible businessman.

Now, five major companies have just decided to stab him in the back at once with a disgusting announcement. Apparently, they don’t care that their businesses are better under Trump since their disdain for him seems to supersede all else.

The fallout began with the most unsuspecting retailers who is about as synonymous with the U.S. as any store can get. Walmart profits heavily from their reputation of patriotic values and being the picture of success from capitalism, hard work, and the fruits of pursuing the American dream, despite using cheap overseas labor to produce a glutenous amount products.

The retail giant’s CEO, Doug McMillon, came forward last week to stab President Trump in the back with an announcement after what he saw happen in Charlottesville, Virginia. He had the option to pick a side or remain neutral and he chose to blame the president for the racist violence in which had no part in promoting.

Strangely, McMillion didn’t take the same stance on Barack Obama when he was in offices at the time a member of his beloved Black Lives Matter group shot and killed multiple Dallas cops in the name of the racist cause.

“In a statement posted on the retail giant’s website, McMillon wrote that Trump ‘missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists’,” the Washington Examiner reported of CEO’s statements.

Now, four other companies, including another major retailer have come out against Trump after Charlottesville. However, of the five companies, three made it much worse with who they have been secretly doing business with behind his back.

Amid the flood of CEOs rushing to distance themselves from Trump who committed a sin in their eyes by calling out both the White Supremacists and the Antifa crowd was Marcus Lemonis, who is the CEO of one of NASCAR’s biggest sponsors.

Representing the major outdoor retailer, Camping World, Lemonis appeared on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” where he seemed to suggest he wouldn’t be shattered if people who supported Trump’s comments decided to shop elsewhere. So basically he told all of us NASCAR fans to shop elsewhere.

Publicly announcing that Trump supporters are not welcome at your business is not good for profits. However, all business sense has gone out the window with common sense in the aftermath of Charlottesville. Three other companies who jumped aboard the blame train don’t really care about American money in coming out against Trump this week since they’re getting it from our enemies.

The Washington Free Beacon explains:

Several prominent U.S. companies that have distanced themselves from the Trump administration over its response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., continue to do business with the extremist Iranian regime, sparking accusations of hypocrisy from a leading advocacy group that works to expose Iran’s global atrocities.

Major U.S. companies such as airplane manufacturer Boeing, General Electric, and industrial company Caterpillar all issued public statements distancing themselves from President Donald Trump over what they viewed as his failure to adequately condemn the recent riots in Charlottesville, where far-right white nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with leftist counter-protestors.

While each company was quick to distance itself from the Trump administration and condemn the open racism and bigotry on display in Charlottesville, all three of the corporations continue to do business with Iran, an openly anti-Semitic regime that threatens to murder Jewish people and endorses leading racists such as David Duke.

Considering the incredibly disgusting double standard of coming out against Trump for not condemning White Supremacists and quickly as they thought, it seems that these three companies are more about grandstanding the president than what they are actually saying.

What makes it even worse, is that “all of these corporations also have refused to sign on to pledges to refrain from doing business with Iran due to the regime’s pursuit of nuclear arms and continued sponsorship of terrorism, including operations targeting U.S. forces,” according to the Free Beacon.

This is an interesting stance, to say the least, considering that Boeing is contracted with the government to build the next Air Force One. “This activity has sparked concerns from lawmakers and U.S. officials that Iran will use any new Boeing planes to boost these operations,” the report noted.

It’s a big slap in the face for these companies to come out and makes statements like, “There is no room for hatred, racism or intolerance” as Caterpillar recently said while increasing relationships with one of the most hateful, anti-American countries in the world.



A high level Leftist commentator at work

Straitjacket time for Olby?


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, August 30, 2017

Concerns About McMaster

My initial impression of General McMaster as a Trump adviser was very favourable.  His military record seemed highly competent. There have however been a lot of recent rumblings about him from conservative commentators.  America's re-involvement in Afghanistan, against Trump's election promises, has been attributed to him.

Most troubling of all, however, is that he seems to be antagonistic to Israel. The Zionist Organizatuion of America has taken particular note of that and publicized their concerns.  One hoped that ZOA was wrong but the response to ZOA has not been impressive.  ZOA re-iterates their concerns below.  I am afraid that I am now hoping that Trump will lose patience with McMaster as he has with so many other people he has looked to for advice.  If Bannon can go, so can McMaster

The Zionist Organization of America’s August 2017 report detailed US National Security Chief General H.R. McMaster’s troubling record regarding Iran, Israel and radical Islamist terrorism. McMaster’s statements and actions appear to be diametrically opposed to President Donald Trump’s support for Israel, opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and determination to name and combat radical Islamist terrorism.

Critics of ZOA’s report have failed to show that ZOA’s report was wrong in any substantive respect. The criticisms have amounted to name-calling against ZOA, and McMaster’s friends vouching for his character — which is irrelevant to the vital policy issues addressed in ZOA’s report.

McMaster reportedly wrongly refers to the existence of a Palestinian state before 1947 — when no Palestinian state ever existed, and maligns Israel as an “illegitimate,” “occupying power.” In fact, Israel’s re-establishment in 1948 and her self-defensive capture of Judea/Samaria (West Bank) in 1967 were both legal under binding international law, and deprived no country of its sovereign territory.

McMaster wrongly claimed that President Trump would recognize “Palestinian self determination” during his visit to Israel; reportedly opposed President Trump’s visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, refused to state that the Western Wall is in Israel, and insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not accompany President Trump to the Western Wall.

And alarmingly, when Israel installed metal detectors at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount after Palestinian terrorists smuggled in firearms and murdered two Israeli policemen, McMaster, according to a senior defense official, described this as “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.”

In his short tenure at the National Security Council (NSC), General McMaster has fired or removed from the NSC six staunchly pro-Israel/anti-Iran officials: Steve Bannon; K.T. McFarland; Adam Lovinger; Rich Higgins, Derek Harvey and Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

McMaster quickly removed Bannon, architect of much of President Trump’s pro-Israel, anti-Islamist terrorism agenda, from the Principals Committee of the NSC. McMaster also promptly removed K.T. McFarland, a key member of the team of Iran deal opponents originally assembled by President Trump, and a veteran pro-Israel national security professional in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.  She was shunted off to be ambassador to Singapore. Lovinger, a pro-Israel national security strategist from the Pentagon, was returned to the Pentagon with his security clearance revoked.

McMaster also sacked Iran “hawk” Rich Higgins, the NSC’s director of strategic planning, after Higgins wrote a memo about personnel opposed to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda.  McMaster removed Derek Harvey, senior director for the Middle East, who has been described by former Army Vice Chief of Staff General Jack Keane as “hands down the very best intelligence analyst that the United States government has on Iraq,” after Harvey prepared a list of NSC Obama-era holdovers. McMaster should have removed the personnel on Harvey’s list — but instead fired Harvey. And McMaster also fired Cohen-Watnick, a staunch opponent of the Iran deal, who sought to intensify efforts to counter Iran in in the Middle East and rein in officials opposed to the president’s policies.

McMaster’s replacements and appointees are on the wrong side of the issues of concern. McMaster appointed Colonel Kris Bauman, who has blamed Israel for Palestinian terror and urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. Bauman is working to revive General Jim Allen’s defective and dangerous Obama-era plan for Palestinian statehood. McMaster also replaced K.T. McFarland with Dina Habib-Powell — a defender of Huma Abedin and friend of pro-Iran-deal Obama era figures such as Valerie Jarett.

As PJ Media New York editor David Steinberg wrote: “One is hard-pressed to identify a member of the NSC brought in by McMaster with a history of aligning with President Trump on Iran or with his Mideast policy in general.”

A White House official estimated that well over fifty percent of the NSC staff are Obama holdovers.

McMaster has also promoted certifying that Iran is in compliance with the Iran deal — even though Iran: banned International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from its Parchin nuclear facility; refused to allow IAEA investigators to interview Iran’s nuclear scientists; and has repeatedly tested intercontinental ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions; and despite German intelligence reports that Iran is cheating on the deal.

And when pressed about Iran’s violations, McMaster inaccurately and misleadingly stated that Iran is merely violating the Iran deal’s “spirit.” This flies the face of President Trump’s promise to tear up or rigorously enforce the Iran deal and punish violations.

Mirroring the Obama administration’s practices, McMaster opposes using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” or other indicia of terrorists’ jihadist ideology.

It’s notable that those who have castigated ZOA’s detailed critique of McMaster have failed to refute a single ZOA concern. They merely condemned ZOA as wrong and scurrilous. The most that any of ZOA’s critics could offer was the “opinion” of anonymous Israeli officials that McMaster is a “friend” and that there is “no need to agree with every position McMaster has taken.”

Another issue that’s been ignored is why has a bevy of anti-Trump, anti-Israel activists and groups — including CNN’s Van Jones, Media Matters, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — leapt to Trump appointee McMaster’s defense. Yet they never leapt to defend the pro-Israel David Friedman’s appointment as ambassador to Israel when he was criticized. Meanwhile, many strong supporters of Israel have supported ZOA’s critique of McMaster’s actions.

All of ZOA’s critics have two things in common. They use ugly, nonsensical, vacuous name-calling ​to​ defend McMaster and they ​fail to ​refute a single issue of concern ZOA raised. The critics’​ inability to address ZOA’s​ numerous concerns only strengthens ZOA’s​ case about McMaster’s hostility to Israel and ​failure to take strong action against Iran and radical Islami​st​ terrorism.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

There is another dubious McMaster action reported here


The politicization of Big Business


The collapse of President Trump’s business advisory councils had little to do with Trump’s policies, or even his presentation. After all the business leaders had joined the councils after he became President, so knew what they were getting into. Traditionally, businesses have been careful to maintain a political neutrality, so their opposition to President Trump appears surprising. Yet in reality, 22 years of funny money have corrupted businesses as they have economic life in general, and in an age of crony capitalism, the media friendly activist left is where you can expect to find CEOs.

I once commiserated with the aide to a Chilean-Croatian tycoon, whom I believed, given his free-market economic views, to have been subjected to defeats in two elections in a week, in both his native and adopted countries. She responded to me coldly: “No, you don’t understand. Mr. Big is a Governmentalist. He supports whichever government is in power in any country at any time, and contributes to their campaigns. He finds it easier to do business that way.” Governmentalism, it seemed, had become a way of life for U.S. business also.

Not any longer. The mass resignations from President Trump’s business advisory councils demonstrate that virtue signaling to the left is now more important to U.S. business than coziness with the administration in office. Donations by big business to such entities as Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center show the same thing; those are not politically neutral charities, they are organs of the hard left, deeply offensive to a large percentage of their fellow citizens. The censorship of “alt-right” entities by Google and other Internet titans also shows that political neutrality is thought no longer to be good business. Even minor gestures, like Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein tweeting that Trump was “casting a shadow over the country” during an eclipse shows a willful disregard for the views of half the country’s consumers that is surprising in a major corporation that wants to do business with everybody, if they are rich enough.

It is not clear why this is happening. The example of the [pre-war] Liberty League should demonstrate that Big Business’s hope of swinging the next election against a candidate they apparently dislike is almost certainly futile, and in the interim alienating the President and his supporters surely cannot help their hopes for goodies from the Federal government.

You might also suppose that swinging politically against the more free-market, small government party was not the interests of Big Business, until you looked at the actual incentives in place. After 20 years of ultra-sloppy monetary policy and negative real interest rates, businesses are leveraged to the hilt, but at the same time enjoy record earnings as a percentage of GDP, especially when the reduced share count from buybacks is taken into account. Consequently executives, who these days are rewarded mostly by stock options, enjoyed fat pickings in the Obama years, even when few others did.

Certainly, the traditional Republican remedies of sound money, lower government spending and lower tax rates partly financed by eliminating loopholes do not look attractive to today’s top executives. Add to these disincentives the possibility of Trump undertaking protectionist policies that reduce the profitability of the global sourcing networks to which they have committed themselves, and the further possibility of Trump reducing the flow of cheap labor on which many of them have depended in their businesses and almost all of them have depended for their maids and gardeners. Thus, the overall Trump package, however good it might be for the economy and for ordinary working people, is very unattractive for Fortune 500 CEOs. A world of lower stock prices, higher interest rates, higher U.S. wages and fewer tax loopholes is to them a dystopia not a utopia.

The leftward turn of the country’s CEOs is thus not surprising. Obama-era policies were good to them, and a continuation of those policies would continue to widen the wealth disparities in U.S. society in their favor. They have in any case never known a true free market economy, since the United States during their adult lifetime has been a big-government Keynesian-meddling compromise, continually eating the economic seed corn and piling up massive obligations for future generations. When Big Business CEOs are both economically somewhat ignorant and beset by economically counterproductive incentives, it is not surprising that they act in their own short-term interests rather than in the long-term interests of the country and the world.

The CEO virtue signaling of Big Business giving money to leftist scams and cutting off Internet service for those with whom they disagree is however truly nauseating – and in the long term yet another danger to the freedom and prosperity of the rest of us.



Harvey: History Repeats? The Leftmedia hope to replay their successful undermining efforts with Bush and Katrina

George W. Bush Donald Trump completely botched the federal response to Hurricane Katrina Harvey, undermining confidence in the executive and permanently tarnishing his presidency. That’s the Leftmedia narrative already, and the hope for these leftist propagandists is clearly to hang Harvey around Trump’s neck the way they successfully did with Katrina and Bush in 2005. The fake news media falsely blamed Bush for failing in the response then, and subsequently continually referenced back to it the rest of his presidency so as to undermine him. Democrats swept the next two elections, taking control of Congress and the White House. If history can just repeat itself, Democrats hope…



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, August 29, 2017

Italians: Sheriff Joe and Silvio Berlusconi

I want to put in a broader context the current outpouring of media hate against hero sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joe's parents originated from Lacedonia, an ancient town in Southern Italy and I want to suggest that there is much about him that is Italian.

I grew up among Italians and have the warmest feelings towards them.  I see them as cheerful, hard-working, family-oriented, warm people who have an instictive irreverence for authority. Italians are notorious scofflaws.  Just about everyone in Italy regards the law as an obstacle to be gotten around.  They have their own personal and family-oriented values and have a healthy disrespect for the edicts thrown down at them by government.  It would not be too far from the truth to say that most Italians  regard even the Ten Commandments as the Ten Suggestions.

So you see where I am going there. Italy may be the most libertarian society on earth.  Their "black" economy is certainly huge.  It was their inability to raise much tax revenue that caused successive Italian governments to inflate the currency.  The Lira was constantly being devalued.  Now that they have the Euro, they borrow at an unsustainable rate instead.  The Germans have propped that up so far but awareness of that puts the average German into a rage so who knows how and when that bubble will pop?

And a set of rules that are constantly being forced down all our throats are the onerous and inconsistent idiocies of political correctness.  So it should be no surprise that most Italians don't take to political correctness at all.

A minor example of that was when the EU handed down an edict that government schools could not have religious imagery in them.  But virtually no Italian could imagine a school without aids to contemplation such as a picture of the Blessed Virgin or the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That was just not done.  I forget how it was gotten around but I gather that Italian schools still feature their holy pictures and statuary. And you can be in no doubt that NYC Italians will fiercely defend their statues of Cristoforo Colombo.

And the king of political correctness is without a doubt, Silvio Berlusconi, by far the most popular and successful Italian politican of the postwar era.  Because of their individuality, Italians constantly depose their political leadership.  Nobody impresses them for long.  For a long time the average life of a Prime Ministership in Italy was one year or thereabouts.  Then along came Silvio.  He smiles a lot, is a little short guy, a media mogul and a billionaire. He was also once a cruise ship crooner. He would have been (and has been) laughed to scorn in countries with colder climates but to Italians he was a real Italian and many loved him for just that. So he had amazingly long runs in office as Prime Minister. He was Prime Minister for nine years in total, making him the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister of Italy.

And his political incorrectness was legendary.  He was constantly being accused by outsiders of "gaffes", some of which were jokes, some of which were simple truths and all of which were him  speaking his mind at the time, political correctness regardless. Time magazine did a collection of some of them a few years ago.

His repeated expressions of admiration for the "suntans" of Africans would forever condemn him to the outer darkness of American politics but to Italians they were just humor. And there was also worldwide horror when he said to a female Italian doctor doing earthquake relief work that, "I wouldn't mind being resuscitated by you".  But the lady, being Italian, quipped back and insisted that he was just being gallant.

And so we come back to sheriff Joe.  He did not at all like people strolling into his country uninvited and had no time for the politically correct view that  they were simply "undocumented".  And even under great pressure from the politically correct Obama administration he stuck by his values.  He is a great Italian as well as a great American.  And as for the media, how about a bit of cross-cultural sensitivity? Cultural sensitivity is their bag, is it not?


That double standard again

The media and the Left generally have roundly condemned the pardon given to Sheriff Joe because his offence was to disobey an order from a judge while being a government officer.  Strange that the events in 2015 described below elicited no outcry from the same people.  Only conservatives have to obey judges, it seems:

In another midnight filing last week in the immigration lawsuit filed by 26 states against the Obama administration in the Southern District of Texas, the U.S. Justice Department admitted that the Department of Homeland Security had violated federal Judge Andrew Hanen’s Feb. 16 injunction against President Obama’s immigration amnesty plan.

This was not the first such admission by the government. It had previously filed an “Advisory” on March 3 informing Judge Hanen that between Nov. 20, 2014, when the president announced his immigration plan, and Feb. 16 when the injunction was issued, the Department of Homeland Security had begun implementing part of the president’s plan by issuing three-year deferrals to over 100,000 illegal aliens.

In other words, despite having told Judge Hanen both in court and in written pleadings that no part of the president’s plan was being implemented until late February at the earliest, government officials were doing exactly the opposite.

On April 7, Judge Hanen issued an order with a scathing analysis of the Justice Department’s misbehavior, finding that “attorneys for the government misrepresented the facts” to the court. He told the Justice Department that he expected all of the parties in the case, including the government, “to act in a forthright manner and not hide behind deceptive representations and half-truths.”

Hanen also gave the Justice Department lawyers a hard time over not having informed him immediately upon their discovery of this misrepresentation, saying that their claim that they took prompt, remedial action was “belied by the facts” – namely, that they waited over two weeks to tell the judge.

In a separate, supplemental three-page order issued on May 8, Judge Hanen cites additional evidence to support his finding that the states have standing to challenge Obama’s immigration plan. In his Feb. 16 injunction order, Hanen referenced statements by Obama that there would be consequences for any Homeland Security employee who did not follow the requirements of the Nov. 20 amnesty plan.  The Justice Department had tried to downplay the president’s statements.

However, Judge Hanen notes that while testifying on April 14 – after the injunction was issued – before the House Judiciary Committee, Sarah Saldana, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “reiterated that any officer or agent who did not follow the dictates of the 2014 DHS Directive would face the entire gamut of possible employee sanctions, including termination.”

Hanen said that “the President’s statements have now been reaffirmed under oath by the very person in charge of immigration enforcement.”

Thus, according to Hanen, the government “has announced, and has now confirmed under oath, that it is pursuing a policy of mandatory non-compliance (with the [Immigration and Nationality Act], and that any agent who seeks to enforce the duly-enacted immigration laws will face sanctions – which could include the loss of his or her job.”

It is this “clear abdication of the law by the Government – a law that is only enforceable by the Government and outside the province of the states” that gives the states standing to bring suit.



The growing political power of silicon valley

For decades now, all of America’s major institutions – have been broadly, unquestionably Leftist, and rigidly opposed to any deviance from the entrenched doctrine. Colleges and universities, Hollywood and entertainment, the Sciences and the News Media – all deeply in Leftism’s thrall.

And then there is the Silicon Valley – now the biggest, baddest, broadest institution of them all. Because of their dominance of the Internet – they have their hands in all of the legacy institutions.

The Silicon Valley has had for more than a decade a license to print money. And they bestow tens of millions of dollars of it in endowments to Leftist colleges – including tons of coin in directed “science” like global warming…oops, I mean climate change.

The Valley is out Hollywood-ing Hollywood – self-producing a great and growing number of movies and television shows.

And then…there’s the News Media. As we have documented, the News Media cartel’s nexus has shifted from the New York City-Washington, D.C. corridor- to the heart of the Valley. Because with every passing day subscriptions matter less and less – and clicks, Tweets and Shares matter more and more.

And since the Silicon Valley controls clicks, Tweets and Shares – they are more and more controlling the news. Which is…really bad news for those of us who like less government.

Because in case you haven’t noticed – the Valley is decidedly, overwhelmingly Leftist. As Leftist as the News Media NYC-DC cabal is – the Valley, is decidedly, overwhelmingly worse.

The Valley elects people…like Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi – whom 95+% of Americans find bizarrely, perversely out-of-touch with any semblance of Reality.

The Valley has given hundreds of millions of dollars to all sorts of unbelievably Leftist politicians, people and organizations. Heck, why not cut out the middlemen – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is considering a run for President.

The Silicon Valley is increasingly the gatekeeper to all things News. More and more people get their news via stories shared on Valley platforms – Facebook and Twitter to name but two giants.

And if you want to search for a news story, Google dominates. Three years ago, Google – all by its onesies – was the search engine used on 67% of computers and 83% of mobile devices.

Which is yet another reason why the Google Memo debacle – is such a debacle. Google scientist James Damore wrote an internal document that, amongst other things, decried Google’s uniform Leftism. It became an external document – and Google made Damore an ex-Google scientist. Reinforcing Damore’s point about Google’s uniform Leftism.

Google Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai immediately thereafter asserted: “Over the past two days, I have had the chance to meet with so many people here, and I have read each of your emails carefully. The vast majority of you are very supportive of our decision.”

But a poll of Googlers – begs to differ: “When Blind asked its users if they thought Google should have fired Damore, over 4,000 from different companies weighed in. Perhaps most pertinently, 441 Google employees responded. Of them, more than half – 56% to be precise – said they didn’t think it was right for the company to fire Damore.”

Which means the average Googler – is afraid to deviate from the Google political line when interacting with the boss. Further still reinforcing Damore’s point.

And again, Google controls the search results for about 3/4 of Americans. Which, again, is really bad news if you like less government.

In 2012, when someone searched Google for “completely wrong” – Google returned a page of images of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Google favorably “personalized” searches for Romney’s incumbent opponent – Democrat Barack Obama – but not for Romney.

And small wonder – Google and the Valley were chiefly responsible for Obama being president in the first place.

Google was no better in 2016. They were caught rigging searches to favor Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Google issued a mea culpa – and then was caught STILL rigging searches to favor Clinton.

Yet again: For 3/4 of Americans, these horrendously skewed Google results – are what they’re getting when they search for news.

Facebook is no better. They launched a “news feed” – that overwhelmingly featured Leftist “news.” It was blatantly biased – so much so that it was quickly scrapped.

We are still left to wonder how Facebook’s regular feed algorithm determines which of our Friends’ stories we get to see – and not see.

And now the ultimate irony.  After spending the last decade-plus skewing the News – Google, Facebook and their Valley brethren are now charging themselves…with battling “fake news.”  Physicians – heal thyselves.



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, August 28, 2017

Here Are Some Key Ways the Mainstream Media Distorts the Truth

Dennis Prager

“Our leading media” are characterized by “indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly.” -- Patrick Lawrence in The Nation, Aug. 9, on the media’s reporting of the alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

To understand America’s crises today, one must first understand what has happened to two institutions: the university and the news media. They do not regard their mission as educating and informing but indoctrinating.

In this column, I will focus on the media. I will dissect one issue that I know extremely well: the national and local coverage of the invitation extended to me to guest conduct the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The concert took place last week.

I am well aware that this event is far less significant than many other issues. But every aspect of the reporting of this issue applies to virtually every issue the media cover.

Therefore, understanding how The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR covered my story leads to an almost perfect understanding of how the media cover every story where the left has a vested interest.

When it comes to straight news stories—say, an earthquake in Central America—the news media often do their job responsibly. But when a story has a left-wing interest, the media abandon straight news reporting and take on the role of advocates.

As I explained in detail in a previous column, the board of directors of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Guido Lamell, invited me to guest conduct a Haydn symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

I have conducted regional orchestras in Southern California over the last 20 years.

Sometime thereafter, four members of the orchestra published a letter asking their fellow musicians not to perform, claiming, “Dennis Prager is a right-wing radio host who promotes horribly bigoted positions.”

They were joined by former Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, who announced, “I personally will most certainly not be attending a concert featuring a bigoted hate-monger,” among others.

Then, The New York Times decided to write a piece on the controversy.

The first question is why? Why would the Times write about a controversy begun by a few members of a community orchestra in California?

I am quite certain that one reason was to protect the left. My original column on the issue, titled “Can a Conservative Conduct an Orchestra?“, went viral. And it made the left look bad.

Not only was the left trying to prevent conservatives from speaking; it was now trying to prevent a conservative from not speaking—from just making music.

Therefore, it was necessary to show that the left in Santa Monica had legitimate reasons to try to prevent me from conducting. And the only way to do that was to reaffirm that I am a hater and a bigot.

The Times writer wasted no time in portraying me that way. He wrote, “a number of them are refusing to play the fund-raiser, saying that allowing the orchestra to be conducted by Mr. Prager, who has suggested that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and incest, among other contentious statements, would be tantamount to endorsing and normalizing bigotry.”

Lesson No. 1: When the mainstream media write or say that a conservative “suggested” something that sounds outrageous, it usually means the conservative never actually said it.

After all, why write “suggested” and not “said” or “wrote”? Be suspicious whenever anything attributed to a conservative has no quotation marks and no source.

Seven paragraphs later—long after having mischaracterized my words to prime the readers’ perception—the Times writer did quote me on the subject.

He said, “Mr. Prager suggested that if same-sex marriage were legalized, then ‘there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.'”

Though no context was given, the words quoted are accurate and a source was given. It was a 2014 column I wrote about judges having hubris for overturning voters in state after state who voted to keep marriage defined as the union of a man and a woman.

I was responding to then-District Judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled that California’s Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as “the union of a man and woman,” was unconstitutional.

One of Walker’s arguments was that “Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis.”

I wrote in the column, “If American society has a ‘constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,’ then there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.”

Had The New York Times author been intellectually honest, he would have written the context and the entire quote.

Or, if he had wanted to merely paraphrase me, he could have written, “Prager suggested that if same-sex marriage were legalized, there were no arguments against legalizing polygamy and adult incest.”

But that would have sounded a lot less awful than saying I suggested same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and incest.

So, for as long as human beings and the internet exist, people who wish to dismiss me or my views on same-sex marriage will quote The New York Times mischaracterization. Readers will not know that the quote about same-sex marriage and incest is not mine but that of a New York Times writer.

Lesson No. 2: When used by the mainstream media, the words “divisive” or “contentious” simply mean “leftists disagree with.”

Both words were used in The New York Times piece. The writer wrote that my “political views are divisive” and that I’ve made “other contentious statements.”

But the only reason my views are “divisive” and “contentious” is The New York Times differs with them.

During the eight-year presidency of Barack Obama, did The New York Times once describe anything he did or said as “divisive” or “contentious” (including his pre-2012 opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage)?

Lesson No. 3: Contrary evidence is omitted.

Despite all the Santa Monica musicians who supported my conducting; despite the musicians from other orchestras—including the Los Angeles Philharmonic—who asked to play when I conducted; and despite the orchestra’s conductor and board members who have followed my work for decades, not one quote in the entire article described me in a positive light.

Rather, the article is filled with quotes describing me in the worst possible way.

Two of the four musicians who wrote the original letter against me are quoted extensively (calling me “horribly bigoted” and saying I help “normalize bigotry”); a gay member of the orchestra is quoted accusing me of writing “some pretty awful things about gay people, women, and minorities” (for the record, I have never written an awful word about gay people, women, or minorities); and the former mayor’s attack on me was quoted.

Lesson No. 4: Subjects are covered in line with left-wing ideology.

The subject of the article could have easily (and more truthfully) been covered in a positive way, as something unifying and uplifting.

“Despite coming from different political worlds, a leading conservative and a very liberal city unite to make music together”—why wasn’t this the angle of the story?

Similarly, instead of its headline, “Santa Monica Symphony Roiled by Conservative Guest Conductor,” the Times could have used a headline and reported the very opposite: “Santa Monica Symphony Stands by Conservative Guest Conductor.”

That also would have conveyed more truth than the actual headline. But the difference between “roiled by” and “stands by” is the difference between a left-wing agenda and truth.

And even with the headline as it appeared in the Times, shouldn’t the story have offered quotes from supportive musicians to balance the negativity? One was left wondering why the invitation to guest conduct was offered to such a person to begin with.

Now let’s go to the Los Angeles Times, which was as negative as The New York Times, though at least its two negative columns were opinion columns—unlike The New York Times, they were not news stories, strictly speaking.

On Aug. 8, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote a column headlined “How right-winger Dennis Prager politicized his own symphony gig—and declared himself the victim.”

The mendacity of the title is quite something. Never in all the years I have conducted orchestras have I used the opportunity to say a political word. My sole purpose has been to conduct orchestras, raise funds for those community orchestras, and bring new people to classical music.

The only people to ever politicize my conducting appearances are a few left-wing musicians and politicians in Santa Monica.

Those people made my conducting a political issue. Yet Hiltzik writes that I am the one who did. “It’s Prager himself who pumped up the political component of the controversy,” he says.

This is a fine example of “the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.”

It is also worth noting that every mainstream news source, like the Los Angeles Times, identified me as either “right-wing” or “conservative.”

Commentators and talk show hosts on the left, however, are virtually never identified as “left-wing” or “liberal.” This is because in the closed world of the left, the left is the norm and the right is the aberration.

Hiltzik also wrote that “many in the orchestra find Prager’s views noxious.” That was after writing, “So far, seven musicians have said they won’t perform … leaving 70 still on the roster.”

Apparently, about one out of 10 is “many.” (Hiltzik also didn’t mention the equal number of musicians from other orchestras who asked to play when I conducted.)

Then there was the column by the Los Angeles Times classical music critic, Mark Swed.

He wrote: “Can a divisive public conservative amateur musician conduct an orchestra? That’s asking for trouble.”

Note again the word “divisive”—only conservatives divide because, again, in the mind of the left, left is normative. And in case you missed it the first time, Swed later wrote about my “militant polarizing of issues.”

As a conservative, I am not only divisive. I am a militant polarizer.

Does Swed provide an example of my militant polarizing? Yes, just one: my “calling liberalism a cancer.”

Like The New York Times article, Swed did not place the words he attributed to me in quotation marks, and for good reason.

I have never in my life written or said that “liberalism is a cancer.” What I did write recently is that “leftism is a terminal cancer in the American bloodstream.”

But I always distinguish between leftism and liberalism because the two have almost nothing in common. Leftism is as anti-liberal as it is anti-conservative. But Swed knows that writing “liberalism is a cancer” renders me far more extreme-sounding than writing “leftism is a cancer.”

However, what is most disturbing about Swed is not that he wrote a column against the Santa Monica Symphony inviting me to conduct. Hiltzik wrote a similar piece, after all.

But as irresponsible as Hiltizk’s piece was, Hiltzik is a political columnist. Swed is not. He is a classical music critic.

What he did was one of the reasons I wrote that leftism is a cancer in the American bloodstream: The left damages virtually everything it touches—the arts, education, religion, the economy, the news media, and the military, among other areas of life.

When I was a young man living in New York City, I read every column the legendary New York Times classical music critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote. I do not recall him ever writing a political column.

To this day, I have no idea whether Schonberg was a liberal, a leftist, a conservative, or a Buddhist. He knew his role was to write about music. Swed, a man of the left, does not.

Finally, we come to NPR. It published a piece on Aug. 13 titled “Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra Confronts Controversy Over Right-Wing Guest Conductor.”

Putting the title aside—again, it communicates a negative story when a positive take would have been just as valid—the piece was considerably more balanced than those of the Los Angeles Times or that of The New York Times.

But it had the usual media defect: It gave away its political bent. The second paragraph read:

Dennis Prager’s day job, however, has members of the orchestra up in arms—and laying down their instruments. He is a conservative talk show host who often targets multiculturalism, Muslims and LGBTQ people.

The writer gave an example in each case.

For multiculturalism, she cited a column I wrote titled “1,400 Girls Raped by Multiculturalism.” In it I described the kidnapping and sexual enslavement of over 1,400 English girls by young Muslim men over the course of more than a decade—while the police and the media conspired never to divulge that the rapists were Muslim.

The reason, as British authorities later admitted, was their commitment to multiculturalism.

But for a writer at NPR—even one who did not go out of her way to portray me as a mean-spirited bigot, as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times did—the mere fact that I wrote a column against multiculturalism explains why members of the orchestra were “up in arms.”

As for “targeting” Muslims, she cited my column titled “Yes, Muslims Should Be Asked to Condemn Islamic Terror.”

In NPR’s moral universe, asking Muslims to condemn Islamic terror is equivalent to “targeting” Muslims. When the left demands that our white president condemn white supremacist violence, is it targeting whites?

And the example she supplied for my “targeting” LGBTQ people is my 2014 critique of judges who, I argued, overreached their authority when they overturned popular votes to keep marriage defined as the union of a man and a woman.

The whole article was a critique of judges, not LGBTQ people. But on the left, merely disagreeing with judges about an LGBTQ issue is “targeting” LGBTQ people.

In summary, all mainstream media coverage of this one story was tainted, biased, often false, and predicated solely on left-wing presumptions.

Magnify what they did to me a thousandfold and you will begin to understand media behavior over the last two generations, and especially behavior today, when hysteria and advocacy have completely replaced news reporting.

The media pay little or no price among those who still believe them.

But I will pay a price. The New York Times lied when it wrote that I “suggested that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and incest.” Yet that will be cited forever as if it were true.

It’s already begun. On the night of the concert, the Fox TV station in Los Angeles reported:

"A left-wing attempt to boycott a performance of the Santa Monica Symphony due to a guest appearance by conservative radio host Dennis Prager backfired on Wednesday night; the event was a sellout. … Prager has made controversial comments in the past, saying that he believes gay marriage would lead to incest."



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, August 27, 2017

You've got to love him: Trump has just pardoned America's most favorite sheriff

Trump might get his words mixed up at times and the congressional GOP is too timid to follow him but he delivers on many important things. Here he has delivered long-overdue justice to a great man who had been hounded by nasty Obama bureaucrats.  They said his sweeps to nab illegals were "discriminatory". And it's great to see Sheriff Joe looking so fit at his age

President Trump granted a pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., on Friday.

Arpaio, 85, was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a judge's order to stop traffic patrols that allegedly targeted immigrants.

He had been charged with misdemeanor contempt of court for allegedly willfully defying a judge’s order in 2011 and prolonging his patrols for another 17 months.

Arpaio acknowledged extending the patrols, but insisted it wasn't intentional, blaming one of his former attorneys for not properly explaining the importance of the court order and brushing off the conviction as a "petty crime."

He was expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced up to six months in jail if convicted.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon," the White House said in a statement.

"I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio," the president tweeted on Friday night. "He kept Arizona safe!"



We Are Finally Moving Towards Actually Free Global Trade

I am a retired musician. I play three instruments – but I sang, is what I mainly did. My first band in high school was big into three-part vocal harmonies. We covered a bunch of songs – and wrote a few – that featured this rousing sound.

One thing you immediately learn (if you didn’t already know it) is that when three or more voices are simultaneous and in harmony – they create a resonance that is louder than the voices operating individually. It is beautiful music – more powerful in coordinated conjunction.

So it is with global trade. Now-President Donald Trump – is introducing proper music education to Washington, D.C.

DC for decades has been perfectly happy with – and accommodating of – the world’s many nations performing from sheet music far different than the pages we have.

The phony “free trade” in which we have long engaged – has had us lowering tariffs and government impediments to the globe’s goods and services entering our market.

While nigh every other nation on the planet has taxed and regulated the living daylight out of nigh everything we send them. While subsidizing the daylight into their domestic products.

Imagine the lead singer in the key of “G” – and every other nation crooning in “C#dim7.” So it now is with global trade. The rest of the planet is in harmonious sync – all working from the same anti-free trade songbook. We’re the lead singer – and our go-it-alone less government trade approach is dissonantly clashing.

These many nations have used our decades of stupidity against us – and have drained hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth out of here and into there. Very many of them have had year after year, decade after decade of ridiculously huge Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth – at our exorbitant expense, as ours continued towards flatline.

Trump has finally pointed out the obvious – that the global trade market is the Emperor with No Tone. That the Singing Emperor – is naked, and off-key. That it’s high time that EVERY nation – join us on the free trade song sheet.

Most of DC – still doesn’t get it. They confuse things like Trump threatening to impose a massive tariff on all things China or tariffs on imported steel – with Trump actually imposing them.

What Trump’s doing – is using the threat of tariffs as a can opener to pry open the world’s closed markets.

And piece by trade piece, Trump is moving us – and the world – in the free trade direction. We’re getting less government impediments to trade – all over the place.

An Ag Subsidy Dream for Buenos Aires: “WTO members this week also wrapped up a session of agriculture talks where they discussed a deluge of six new proposals on farm subsidies….

“On the top of the pile was a proposal led by the European Union and Brazil that aims to limit trade-distortive support by setting a percentage threshold on the amount of support a country can provide as it relates to the total value of its agricultural production. The EU at the meeting said the proposal “provides a new architecture which would put all WTO members on the same basis and encourage reform efforts,” according to a Geneva trade official.”

US Beef is Back on Market in China: “(W)henever changes make foreign sales easier, they are welcome. In that regard, a new trade pact with China is an especially positive development. The door to U.S. beef exports to the world’s most populous nation has been re-opened after being closed for 14 years.

“According to the USDA, the return of U.S. beef and beef products is a part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action Plan that was announced by the Trump administration on May 11.”

U.S., Mexico Clear Way for NAFTA with New Deal on Sugar Trade: “‘The Mexican side has agreed to nearly every request by the U.S. industry to address flaws in the current system and to ensure fair treatment of American sugar growers,’ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at a news conference Tuesday.”

That’s a whole lot less government – all over the world. A shocking novelty in DC trade. And portending a whole lot more less government going forward.

Not everyone doesn’t get it.

Five Good Reasons Trump’s Agenda Is a Win for America: “Trump’s priorities are more than defensible; they are essential to the future of our country….1) Resetting the scales with our trading partners to ensure U.S. workers are treated fairly….5) Letting the world know that the U.S. will stand up for its citizens”

Those are two massively important principles for which to stand. They will vastly improve America’s prospects in innumerable ways.

It is way past time to level the international trade playing field. It has for far too long been tilted sharply against us.

And harmonizing global trade policy – will harmonize a great many other things.

There’s a whole lot less acrimony and mistrust – when everyone knows everyone is getting a good deal.



Canada: 10,000 words to describe the rise and fall of Ezra Levant

Except that he hasn’t fallen, and his critics offer no reason whatever why he should. Levant is Canada's most outspoken free speech advocate.  There was a fuss recently when one of his reporters gave a hearing to the wrong side in the Charlottesville fracas

Ted Byfield

I had a singular experience last week. I read the longest newspaper story I’ve ever seen. No, it did not concern the assassination of the American president, nor a nuclear attack by North Korea, nor the catastrophic fiscal collapse of the Ottawa government. None of the above.

The astonishing fact is that what filled nearly the whole front page, plus five full inside pages of the National Post newspaper and ran to something like 10,000 words was an account of the rise and fall of a Canadian journalist. Except that he hasn’t quite fallen, and now with this avalanche of free publicity to sustain him, he isn’t likely to. Nor did this gargantuan tome provide any valid reason why he should fall. It was, in other words, as badly reported as it was overwritten,

The man’s name is Ezra Levant, a graduate lawyer from Calgary who opted to go into both the media and politics instead of law. He wrote columns for our magazine, Alberta Report, until it folded, and my son Link and I wrote columns for Ezra’s magazine, the Western Standard, until it folded. Then Ezra moved to Toronto as a commentator on the Sun newspapers’ television channel until it folded as well. (So, alas, it goes with Canada’s conservative media.) But that’s when Ezra came into his own.

He established, some say in his basement, what he called TheRebel Media, an online television news and commentary show that lives up to its name in every possible way. But its audience zoomed upward and with good reason. It covered all the news that the “respectable” media tended to avoid.

This proved fortunate for our province of Alberta. A socialist government took over in 2015 because the conservative ranks had split into two parties. In the circumstance, neither at first provided an effective opposition. This role was effectively filled by the Rebel Media, which the government unsuccessfully tried to ban from the press gallery.

A crisis arose this month, however, when in the uproar over the coverage of the Charlottesville affair led to TheRebel and Levant (himself a Jew) being labelled anti-Semitic. Two key on-air reporters wound up being fired or quitting and at least one major financial backer withdrew his support.

Enter the National Post with what it plainly saw as the opportune moment to write, with ill-disguised satisfaction, the downfall of Ezra and an obituary for TheRebel. In the pursuit of which, the thesis is submitted that what really killed Ezra was his unremitting opposition to Islamic immigration. In the course of this we are introduced to a new term (new to me, anyway) “counter-jihadism.” What it actually means, we are not ever quite told. All we are given to know is that it’s a very bad thing, and being good liberals, that’s all we need to know.

When this sprawling story, first introduced me to this term, I was relieved to see it. At last, I thought, somebody is going to tell us why opposing jihadism is wrong. Wikipedia lists 20,998 deaths and 52,032 wounded in terror attacks, beginning with 9/11. Nearly all are declared to be done in the service of Allah whose teaching is destined to govern the world. That is almost always the given reason for the attacks.

Why is it wrong to try to prevent this? It is the clear responsibility of the writer to fully answer that question. Yet not a single sentence or even phrase in the entire 10,000 words offers to do this. Counter-jihadism is a terrible thing, but we’re nowhere told why.

Perhaps fittingly, the very day before this appeared, the Post had another story, this one from Barcelona, Spain. A van raced down a street crowded with pedestrians. Swerving from side to side to hit as many people as possible, it killed 13 and injured nearly 100. Some were children. The Islamic State “took credit” for the attack. As an acknowledged counter-jihadist, Ezra thinks we should be doing a lot more than we’re doing to stop this stuff. What the National Post thinks we don’t know, and we’ll never find out from this effusion of verbiage.



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