Friday, October 13, 2017

Free markets and free trade

Empirical evidence that free markets make people NICER

Viscount Ridley comments from England:

The “ultimatum game” is a fiendish invention of economists to test people’s selfishness. One player is asked to share a windfall of cash with another player, but the entire windfall is cancelled if the second player rejects the offer. How much should you share? When people from the Machiguenga tribe in Peru were asked to play this game, they behaved selfishly, wanting to share little of the windfall. Not far away, the Achuar in Ecuador were much more generous, offering almost half the money to the other player — which is roughly how people in the developed world react.

What explains the difference? The Machiguenga are largely isolated from the world of markets and commerce. The Achuar are used to buying and selling to and from strangers at markets. The same pattern emerges throughout 15 small-state societies all over the world, in a fascinating study done by the Harvard anthropologist Joe Henrich and his colleagues. The more integrated into the commercial world people are, the more generous they are. As one of the authors, the economist Herb Gintis, summarises the results: “Societies that use markets extensively develop a culture of co-operation, fairness and respect for the individual.”

This would not have surprised Montesquieu, who spoke of “sweet commerce”, or Voltaire, who marvelled at the friendly collaboration of “the Jew, the Mahometan and the Christian” on the floor of the London stock exchange, or Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Richard Cobden, the radical champions of free trade in the early years of the industrial revolution.

Cobden said: “Free trade is God’s diplomacy and there is no other certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace.” He was right. Recent studies have confirmed that commerce is the main cause of peace. “Within the developing world, economic development leads to interstate peace, whereas democracy does not,” concludes Faruk Ekmekci of Ipek University in Turkey. The evidence is overwhelming that markets do not just make people richer, they make people nicer too, less likely to fight and more likely to help each other.

So why on earth has it become accepted wisdom that every move towards free markets and free trade is towards selfishness, conflict and greed, whereas the state is the source of all kindness? When Daniel Hannan launched the Institute for Free Trade at the Foreign Office last week it was attacked by critics as an inappropriately “hard Brexit” initiative, even though free trade has been the British government’s ambition on and off since 1846. As Liam Fox put it at the launch: “Long before Brexit and long before the EU, the United Kingdom was the champion of global free trade.”

Hannan’s critics, such as the misleadingly named campaign Open Britain, imply that free trade is unkind in another way: it leads to lower standards of welfare provision, but this is demonstrably nonsense. Is welfare worse in free-trading New Zealand or protectionist Venezuela? In South or North Korea? In Singapore or Burma? The correlation between free trade and high living standards, including high welfare standards, is tight and causal. Government intervention in social policy goes hand in hand with economic development.

The astonishing enrichment of the world in the past 50 years, when extreme poverty has fallen from more than 50 per cent to below 10 per cent of the world population, could not have happened without free commerce and the innovation it delivers. No serious economist denies this. The liberalisation of world trade since the Second World War has been responsible for making the world not just wealthier but healthier, happier and kinder too. If that sounds incredible to millennials, then perhaps they should ask their professors to give them some less Marx-inspired reading matter.

Ah yes, say Remainers, but look at the Bombardier case. With the help of mercantilist American regulations, big Boeing bullies a rival Canadian aircraft manufacturer with a vital plant in Belfast, reminding us that we need to stay in the European Union so that we can resist such tactics. There are four problems with this argument: first, we are in the EU now; second, being inside the EU has not shielded Airbus from similar disputes with Boeing; third, Britain with its strong defence links to America can lean on America more than Brussels; and fourth and most convincingly, small countries have outperformed big ones in world trade. Look at New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Switzerland.

Remember that the EU and the US have been discussing a free-trade agreement for a third of a century. It always falls foul of protectionist interests on both sides: Italian textiles, French films, American aircraft. Outside the EU, Britain, the least protectionist of all major economies, would long ago have done a bilateral deal with America and made illegal the imposition of unilateral tariffs on manufactured goods.

The Bombardier case shows that the old approach to anti-dumping does not work in a world of integrated international supply chains, where the effects could be spread all over the globe, damaging consumers all along the way. It does nothing to justify trade blocs, but underlines the need to revive the impetus towards world free trade, which is stalling. According to the OECD, the G20 countries were running about 300 non-tariff barriers in 2010. Five years later that number had quadrupled.

As for domestic politics, the champions of markets and enterprise need to recapture the radicalism of Cobden, Ricardo and Smith. Somehow in recent years we have let the authoritarians redefine free commerce as a regressive step, oppressive on the workers, yet free trade creates jobs and raises wages. It is the most radical and liberating idea ever conceived: that people should be free to exchange goods and services with each other as they please, whether they live in different villages, cities or countries, and without governments being able to stop them.

The Conservatives cannot compete with Labour by offering pale imitations of its patronising paternalism. They should offer the young something more revolutionary, liberating, egalitarian, disruptive, co-operative and democratic than stale statism. It’s called freedom.



Universal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare

Michelle Malkin

Two weeks ago, my husband and I received yet another cancellation notice for our private, individual health insurance coverage. It’s our fourth Obamacare-induced obituary in four years.

Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. The insurer informed us that because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA),” our plan no longer met the federal government’s requirements.

Never mind our needs and desires as consumers who were quite satisfied with a high-deductible preferred provider organization that included a wide network of doctors for ourselves and our two children.

Our second death knell, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, tolled in August 2015. That notice signaled the end of a plan we didn’t want in the first place that didn’t cover our kids’ dental care and wasn’t accepted at our local urgent care clinic.

The insurer pulled out of the individual market in all but one county in Colorado, following the complete withdrawal from that sector by Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

Our third “notice of plan discontinuation,” again from Anthem, informed us that the insurer would “no longer offer your current health plan in the state of Colorado” in August 2016.

With fewer and fewer choices as know-it-all Obamacare bureaucrats decimated the individual market here and across the country, we enrolled in a high-deductible Bronze HSA EPO (Health Savings Account Exclusive Provider Organization) offered by Minneapolis-based startup Bright Health.

Now, here we are barely a year later: Deja screwed times four. Our current plan will be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2018.

“But don’t worry,” Bright Health’s eulogy writer chirped, “we have similar plans to address your needs.”

Riiiiight. Where have I heard those pie-in-the-sky promises before? Oh, yeah. Straight out of the socialized medicine Trojan horse’s mouth.

“If you like your doctor,” President Barack Obama promised, “you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Is pathological lying covered under the Affordable Care Act?

Speaking of Affordable Care Act whoppers, so much for “affordable.” Our current deductible is $6,550 per person—$13,100 for our family of four. Assuming we can find a new plan at the bottom of the individual market barrel, our current monthly premium, $944.86, will rise to more than $1,300 a month.

“What’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work,” says Colorado’s state insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar. “[T]his could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support.”

This presumptuous central planner called federal intervention to eliminate “too many” options for consumers the free market at work. Yes, friends, the Rocky Mountain High is real.

This isn’t a “market correction.” It’s a government catastrophe.

Premiums for individual health plans in Virginia are set to skyrocket nearly 60 percent in 2018. In New Hampshire, those rates will rise 52 percent.

In South Carolina, individual market consumers will face an average 31.3 percent hike. In Tennessee, they’ll see rates jump between 20-40 percent.

Private, flexible preferred provider organizations for self-sufficient, self-employed people are vanishing by design. The social-engineered future—healthy, full-paying consumers being herded into government-run Obamacare exchanges and severely regulated regional health maintenance organizations—is a bipartisan big government health bureaucracy’s dream come true.

These choice-wreckers had the arrogant audacity to denigrate our pre-Obamacare plans as “substandard” (Obama), “crappy” (MSNBC big mouth Ed Schultz), and “junk policies” (Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa).

When I first called attention to the cancellation notice tsunami in 2013, liberal Mother Jones magazine sneered that the phenomenon was “phony.” And they’re still denying the Obamacare death spiral. Liberal Vox Media recently called the crisis “a lie.”

I don’t have enough four-letter words for these propagandists. There are an estimated 450,000 consumers like us in Colorado and 17 million of us nationwide—small business owners, independent contractors, and others who don’t get their plans through group coverage, big companies, or government employers.

The costs, headaches, and disruption in our lives caused by Obamacare’s meddling meddlers are real and massive.

But we’re puzzles to corporate media journalists who’ve never had to meet a payroll and don’t even know what is the individual market.

We’re invisible to late night TV clowns who get their Obamacare-at-all-costs talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

We’re pariahs to social justice health care activists and Democrats who want us to just shut up and subsidize everyone else’s insurance.

And we’re expendables to establishment Republicans who hoovered up campaign donations on the empty promise to repeal Obamacare—and now consider amnesty for immigrants here illegally and gun control higher legislative priorities than keeping their damned word.

We’re the canaries in the Obamacare coal mine. Ignore us at your peril, America. You’re next.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, October 12, 2017

NYT: Slanting the News and a Bizarre Comey Connection

Project Veritas has released a video of the New York Times video gatekeeper Nicholas Dudich, who was caught on hidden-camera boasting of his lack of journalistic ethics. Dudich, who serves as Audience Strategy Editor, displays a lack of integrity throughout the video, manages videos which go "on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram" for the Times.

While talking about being objective at the Times, Dudich replies candidly, "No I'm not, that's why I'm here."

Dudich considers himself an important player at the New York Times, telling the Project Veritas Journalist "my voice is on... my imprint is on every video we do."

Dudich goes on to explain what he might do to target President Trump:

"I'd target his businesses, his dumb fuck of a son, Donald Jr., and Eric...

"Target that. Get people to boycott going to his hotels. Boycott... So a lot of the Trump brands, if you can ruin the Trump brand and you put pressure on his business and you start investigating his business and you start shutting it down, or they're hacking or other things. He cares about his business more than he cares about being President. He would resign. Or he'd lash out and do something incredibly illegal, which he would have to."

When the undercover journalist asks Dudich if he could make sure that the anti-Trump stories make it to the front, he replied, "Oh, we always do."

As stated in the NYT Ethical Handbook, the goal of the New York Times is to "cover the news as impartially as possible." It continues in Section 62:

"Journalists have no place on the playing field of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times."

Before working at the Times, Dudich worked on the political campaigns of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In 2016, he was recruited to work for the Clinton campaign:

"So I have that background, so when Clinton in 2016... they needed a volunteer strategist to do video... well, they needed someone to help them do video, and how to make it heartfelt, for Clinton."

He even had to quit his job in journalism in order to work for the Clinton campaign: "I had to leave my job at Fusion ABC to then take a job at Upworthy where I wasn't deemed a journalist anymore to be able to work for the Clinton campaign."

Dudich explains how his activism motivated him to re-engage in the news business: "Like, after the Clinton campaign, I'm like, no I need to get back into news and keep doing shit because, like, this isn't going to change."

Nicholas Dudich also told the undercover journalist bizarre stories about his personal connection to the FBI and his previous excitement as part of Anti-Fa.

"Yeah, I used to be an Anti-Fa punk once upon a time." he told the undercover journalist. "So, I had fun. They'd start s**t, I'm like, I get to hit you. I'm so excited."

He also claims that James Comey, former Director of the FBI, asked him to join Anti-Fa: "I joined that stuff for them [the FBI]. I was an asset... So it was intelligence gathering, seeing if they were [sic], what their agenda was, whether they're a threat or not."

"How'd you meet Comey?" asked the Project Veritas journalist. "He's my godfather," Dudich explained. "My dad and mom knew him and his wife for a really long time."

"Well the Comey hearing, I should have recused myself, but I'm not ever telling anybody there [at the Times] that I have a tie with that or else I don't know if they can keep me on."
According to the NYT Ethical Handbook, Section 107:

"Staff members may not write about people to whom they are related by blood or marriage or with whom they have close personal relationships, or edit material about such people or make news judgements about them."

His father claims that the family does not know Comey. "Yeah, he's embellishing. I don't know why he would say that... Yeah, I don't know why... he's not James Comey's godson. I don't even know James Comey."

When told that his father said he doesn't know Comey, Dudich changes his story:

Dudich: "He's not my Godfather."

Undercover Journalist: "Then why did you say that?"

Dudich: "Eh, I don't know... It's a good story."

"The fact remains that Nick Dudich lies and he's a gatekeeper at the New York Times." says Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, "And that fact should be worrisome to the bosses at the paper of record. Who else are they letting spread misinformation in their name?

This is a continuation of Project Veritas's American Pravda series, which began with a three-part expose on CNN in June.



Response to Vegas Attacks Shows the Heart and Mind of the Left

In response to the senseless violence in Las Vegas, several on the Left have brazenly indicated what they truly think about middle America–folks that go to work, worship on Sundays, listen to country music, drive pick ups, and simply try to build an honest life with family.

Hayley Geftman-Gold, one of CBS’s top lawyers, went on Facebook and offered her honest assessment of the shooting:

 If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered [likely a reference to Sandy Hook] I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing, I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.

Red-State America is repugnant (“Repugs”), a collection of “deplorables” as Hillary Clinton described them before the 2016 election, and deserve to be gunned down by a madman. Of course, the Ivy-educated lawyer and NYC resident quickly apologized once the heat was on, but can anyone doubt that her initial opinions represent that of a substantial number of people living in the “bubble”? Look at the first post right below her original one and see the affirmation from her bubble friends.

Or what about Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher of Drexel University? His response to the tragedy was to proclaim that “Trumpism” and “white victimization” motivated the shooter. He further opined that “white people and men” engage is this type of conduct “when they don’t get what they want.” Tenure and academic freedom have saved him from having to back peddle like Geftman-Gold. After all, this is the same guy who said that all he wanted for Christmas was a “white genocide.” Lovely. But this is the kind of nonsense that passes for academic scholarship today and is being poured into the minds of young people.

The shooting in Las Vegas was a terrible event. The ugly response of the Leftist mind should give us pause as we see how they view a large segment of fellow citizens.



Yes, US tax cuts will mainly benefit those who … pay the most taxes

A popular Facebook and Twitter game asks friends to post an unpopular opinion. Here is an unpopular fact: Tax reformers cannot deeply cut income taxes for lower-income families, because they already pay no collective income tax.

Tax reform is intended to bring simplification and economic growth. Yet many commentators seem interested in only redistribution.

This explains the teeth-gnashing over the Tax Policy Center estimate that the Republican tax blueprint would save the median family $420, but a family in the top income quintile $10,610.

While that sounds unfair, consider this: The top-earning 20 percent of households currently pay 88 percent of all federal income taxes. So even a proportional income tax cut will save them the most money.

In 2013 (the latest data year available), the top 20 percent of households paid $1.2 trillion in income taxes. The next 20 percent paid just $175 billion. The bottom 60 percent collectively paid $0. Actually, the IRS paid them $17 billion, thanks to refundable tax credits.

Put another way: Household income tax bills averaged $47,000 for the top income quintile, $7,000 for the next quintile and negative $200 for the bottom 60 percent.

How are tax reformers supposed to target most income tax savings to those with no income tax burden?

Obviously, some wealthy families escape taxes and some poorer families face painful tax burdens — which should be addressed. However, the aggregate tax savings will align with the aggregate tax burden.

By the way: In anticipation of knee-jerk dismissals of “right-wing lies and propaganda,” all this data is publicly available from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (the same group cited as gospel in the recent health coverage debates). The Obama Treasury produced similar data, which no serious economist has challenged. It cannot be wished away simply because it conflicts with populist narratives.

Nor can this extreme progressivity in our tax code be dismissed as the inevitable result of the rich earning all the income. We can adjust for income inequality by comparing the ratio of taxes paid to income earned.

The richest 1 percent pays 38 percent of all income taxes while earning 15 percent of all pre-tax income. Thus, their share of the income taxes is 2.6 times their share of the income earned. For the top 1 percent and top 20 percent of earners, this ratio has grown steadily since the 1980s — meaning their share of the income taxes has grown significantly faster than their share of the income earned (surprisingly, the top 1 percent’s share of the income remains at 1998 levels).

In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2008 showed that the United States had the most progressive tax code of all 24 countries measured. And that doesn’t even count America’s 2013 upper-income tax hikes, or Europe’s steep value-added taxes, which each widen America’s progressivity lead over Europe.

European governments tax the rich more heavily than America does — yet Europe’s tax burden is flatter because it also slams the non-rich with a VAT and high income (and payroll) taxes. By contrast, America has steeply cut taxes for the non-rich.

Actual tax returns show that the top 1 percent and the top 20 percent pay average effective income tax rates of 23 percent and 16 percent, respectively — nearly the same as in 1979. Yet the average rate paid by the bottom 80 percent of families has fallen from 5.4 percent to 0.1 percent. Millions of low-income families were removed from the income-tax rolls by the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, refundable child credit and reduced, 10 percent bracket (thank you, George W. Bush).

Yes, families pay payroll taxes — often exceeding their income tax burden. But payroll taxes finance the Social Security and Medicare systems, which these families will benefit from later (and cutting payroll taxes means fewer benefits at retirement). Should the entire rest of the federal government be funded by only 20 percent of families? Ten percent?

Adding all federal taxes together, the top-earning 20 percent fund 69 percent of all federal revenues.

The point is not that progressivity is harmful or should be reversed. Rather, it mathematically limits the low-income taxes left to cut.

It’s easy for politicians, populists and panderers to pretend that the middle class pays all the taxes, and thus deserves the largest tax savings. But the first assertion is demonstrably false, which makes the second mathematically impossible. Champions of progressive income taxation have won. The bottom 60 percent have seen their collective income tax reduced to zero. In tax reform, there are no more winnings left for them to claim.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, October 11, 2017

The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics

This is excellent news for conservatives. To win elections you have to win the center, so pushing the Democrats further Left is a losing proposition for them

It started as a scrappy grass-roots protest movement against President Trump, but now the so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.

The jockeying between groups, donors and operatives for cash and turf is occurring mostly behind the scenes. But it has grown acrimonious at times, with upstarts complaining they are being boxed out by a liberal establishment that they say enables the sort of Democratic timidity that paved the way for the Trump presidency.

The tug of war — more than the lingering squabbles between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — foreshadows a once-in-a-generation reorganization of the American left that could dictate the tactics and ideology of the Democratic Party for years to come. If the newcomers prevail, they could pull the party further to the left, leading it to embrace policy positions like those advocated by Mr. Sanders, including single-payer health care and free tuition at public colleges.

The upending of the left comes amid a broader realignment in American politics, with the Republican Party establishment also contending with a rising rebellion, driven by pro-Trump populists. Just as the new forces on the right are threatening primary challenges to establishment Republicans, some groups on the left have begun talking about targeting Democratic incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections.

Entrenched Democratic groups are facing growing questions about the return on the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent over the years. Groups affiliated with Mrs. Clinton “spent so much money based on a bad strategy in this last cycle that they should step aside and let others lead in this moment,” said Quentin James, a founder of a political committee called the Collective PAC that supports African-American candidates.

Mr. James’s committee is among more than three dozen outfits that have started or reconfigured themselves since the election to try to harness the surge in anti-Trump activism. In addition to political committees, grass-roots mobilization nonprofits and legal watchdog groups, there are for-profit companies providing technological help to the new groups — essentially forming a new liberal ecosystem outside the confines of the Democratic Party.

While the new groups gained early traction mostly on the strength of grass-roots volunteers and small donations — and with relatively meager overall budgets — they are beginning to attract attention from the left’s most generous benefactors.

“We’re in a disruptive period, and when we get through it, the progressive infrastructure landscape may look different,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberals who donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups. “There may be groups that have been around that don’t rise to the challenge, and there may be some new groups that do rise to the challenge, while others fade away.”

The Democracy Alliance has helped shape the institutional left, steering more than $600 million since its inception in 2005 to a portfolio of carefully selected groups, including pillars of the Clinton-aligned establishment like the think tank Center for American Progress and the media watchdog Media Matters.

But this year, the Democracy Alliance hired Archana Sahgal, a former Obama White House official, to help the new anti-Trump groups, and it suspended its intensive vetting and approval process to recommend donations to a host of groups created since last fall’s election.

The Democracy Alliance distributed a “resistance map” to its donors in July including new groups focused on converting the anti-Trump energy into electoral wins, such as Flippable, Swing Left and Sister District, as well as legal watchdog groups and others focused on mobilizing protesters, such as Women’s March and Indivisible.

Perhaps no group epitomizes the differences between the legacy left and the grass-roots resistance like Indivisible. Started as a Google document detailing techniques for opposing the Republican agenda under Mr. Trump, the group now has a mostly Washington-based staff of about 40 people, with more than 6,000 volunteer chapters across the country. The national Indivisible hub, which consists of a pair of nonprofit groups, has raised nearly $6 million since its start, primarily through small-dollar donations made through its website.

Yet Indivisible has also received funding from the tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, as well as foundations or coalitions tied to Democracy Alliance donors, including the San Francisco mortgage billionaire Herbert Sandler, the New York real estate heiress Patricia Bauman and the oil heiress Leah Hunt-Hendrix.

And an advocacy group funded by the billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a founding member of the Democracy Alliance and one of the most influential donors on the left, is considering a donation in the low six figures to Indivisible. Mr. Soros has already donated to a host of nonprofit groups playing key roles in the anti-Trump movement, including the Center for Community Change, Color of Change and Local Progress.

Indivisible would “gladly” accept a check from Mr. Soros or his foundation, said an official with the group, Sarah Dohl. But, she added, the group is committed to ensuring that money from major donors does not become a majority of the group’s revenue “because we want to maintain our independence both from the funders and from the party.”

The group may start a political committee that could support primary challenges in 2018 against Democratic incumbents, Ms. Dohl said.

“It’s not a secret that we would like to move the Democratic Party further left,” she said, adding that “the party will only get to where it needs to go if it has groups like ours pushing them to do the right thing.” She cited her group’s aggressive opposition to Republicans’ initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a time when she said Democratic congressional leaders “didn’t really have a strategy.”

Established liberal groups like the Center for American Progress haven’t always been as forceful, Ms. Dohl said, though she added that the think tank “has gotten better at calling on Democrats to stand up and speak more boldly than they have in the past.



Promise Kept: Trump Administration Protects Americans’ Religious Freedom

The Justice Department fulfilled President Donald Trump’s promise to provide clear guidance on the administration’s commitment to restore robust protection of religious freedom across all federal agencies and executive departments Friday.

This fix was sorely needed in the wake of actions by President Barack Obama’s administration that harmed Americans’ religious liberty.

The May 4 executive order that Trump signed in the Rose Garden and Friday’s guidance from the Justice Department clarified what should have been clear all along: that as Americans, we have the right not only to worship according to our consciences, but to publicly live out our beliefs. This includes the right to think, to speak, and to act in accordance with our beliefs in every sphere of life, including in schools, in federal workplaces, in nonprofit organizations, and in for-profit companies.

A number of Obama-era policies curtailed that right, including by forcing religious employers (both closely held companies and nonprofits) to fund abortion-inducing drugs and contraception under Obamacare, in violation of their consciences.

The Obama administration also winnowed the definition of religious freedom down to the narrow idea of “freedom of worship.” This was rebutted in the first line of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memorandum where he described religious liberty as “a foundational principle of enduring importance in America” that “is in its nature an unalienable right.”

The attorney general recalled the words of Founding Father James Madison that the duty owed to one’s creator is “precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” With this strong language, the attorney general has taken a significant step toward restoring a correct understanding of the relationship between people of faith and the government.

The memorandum to the Justice Department’s guidance goes further by outlining 20 principles of religious liberty. Among these are the principles that religious liberty includes both acting and abstaining from acting (Principle 2), that alleged “third-party harms” do not automatically override religious liberty (Principle 15), and that religious organizations can hire according to their beliefs and mission (Principle 19). This is a particularly important point as religious entities like schools must ensure that their employees uphold their codes of conduct in order to be faithful to their missions.

The guidance from the Justice Department also reaffirms the high standard that Congress enacted for federal government actions when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—the test of “strict scrutiny.” Under this highest level of judicial review, if a government policy imposes a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion, it must demonstrate that the government has a compelling interest and that it has carried out its policy through the least restrictive means.

The Supreme Court applied this standard in Sherbert v. Verner.  The court held that the state of South Carolina violated the religious freedom of a Seventh-day Adventist when it denied her unemployment benefits even though her religious beliefs compelled her to decline her employer’s request that she work on Saturdays.

Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 in response to the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which had lowered the threshold for government policies that burden religion. Sessions stated: “Except in the narrowest of circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law.”

Now, like then, Congress should act to protect religious freedom from new challenges as a result of government’s redefinition of marriage.

Donald Verrilli, Obama’s surgeon general, acknowledged during the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges that those who simply disagree with the government’s new policy on marriage could be in jeopardy of losing their tax exemption. Verrilli was acknowledging that if the government begins to enact policies that promote same-sex marriage as orthodoxy, it must either provide a way out for religious dissenters or infringe on their religious freedom.

The Trump administration has fulfilled its promise to uphold religious freedom during the president’s time in office. But, Americans need our representatives to provide permanent, robust protections of our first freedom through legislation.

Congress can pass the First Amendment Defense Act to protect individuals and groups from being penalized by the federal government in tax treatment as well as in accrediting, loans, licensing, distribution of grants and contracts, and employment because of their religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Congress can also pass the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act to protect faith-based agencies that find homes for orphans and foster children from hostile legal actions by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.

All Americans benefit from the services that are provided by an estimated 350,000 religious congregations that serve over 70 million people each year. In addition, faith-based organizations provide services to the U.S. economy that are valued at $1.2 trillion, more than Google, Apple, and Amazon combined. These groups—whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or other—should be able to serve their communities without sacrificing their religious beliefs.

The Trump administration has reversed the wrong direction of the Obama years by unequivocally stating its commitment to protecting religious freedom. Congress should follow suit. Our first freedom is the foundation of our country’s civility and religious diversity. All branches of government should respect it at all times.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, October 10, 2017

A puzzle solved

During my 20 year career doing survey research, the topic I looked at most often was authoritarianism -- or something allegedly related to it.  As a libertarian, authoritarianism is anathema to me and I wanted to know why authoritarians are like that. See here.

It was of course obvious to anyone with an awareness of history that Leftism was by far the chief source of authoritarianism in our society. Leftists never stop telling other people what to do and the authoritarian governments of the 20th centuty all had socialist inspirations, with THE great authoritarian regime of the 20th century -- the Soviet Union -- being undisputably Leftist. 

The most frequent authoritarian regimes were however Fascist, regimes that combined socialism with some form of nationalism -- Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Peron etc.  Even the South American military dictatorships were Bolivarist, which was an early form of Fascism. Bolivar believed that the masses need to be "educated" and generally dominated by a self-chosen elite.  Bolivarism emphasizes the common good over the individual. And the remaining explicitly Bolivarist regime -- Venezuela today -- is virtually and disastrously Communist.

So with the obvious leaning towards authoritarianism among Leftists, one would have expected that in their answers to my questionnaires Leftist would have heartily endorsed statements praising authority and authoritarianism.  But they did not.  They were mostly middle of the road in their responses about authoritarianism.

That is no surprise to any psychologist.  The attitude/behaviour gap is very well known among psychologists. And I think we all know of people who say one thing and do another.

But what was the mental process behind that sort of thing?  HOW do people manage to say one thing and do another?  Psychologists would normally suspect social desirability responding or "faking good".  Authoritarianism has a bad name so people would be reluctant to endorse it.  It is a conscious avoidance of sounding bad.

But psychologists can detect that.  They have sets of questions that normally reveal that social desirability responding is going on.  And I of course included such questions in my surveys.  So did the Leftists show high levels of social desirability responding?  They did not. It looked like they were expressing an honest opinion.  But their behaviour reveals what they actually think so how come?

I used to explain it by saying that they know that their real thoughts are so dismal that they dare not admit them -- but it was still a puzzle that they scored normal on the social desirability measures.  I now think I know why.

It goes back to the nature of Leftism.  The are ALWAYS acting a part.  They are always claiming compassionate and tolerant values while boiling with hate inside.  They have to do that in order to get any kind of support.  Hate is not attractive to most people. But that hate does overflow into view at times.  The abuse and punitiveness directed towards politically incorrect people is a major case in point.  And the most politically incorrect person on the planet is undoubtedly President Trump.  And the incessant and seething rage directed towards him is now a wonder.  It reveals the Left as very worrying people.  And they never cease looking for ways in which they might unseat him.

So presenting as kind and compassionate what is in fact rage-motivated is a pretty tough requirement and it is only by a lifetime of pretence that it can be to some extent achieved.  And that habit of self presentation extends easily into answering political questionnaires.  What they are doing in answering the questionnaires is normal for them and is probably perceived as virtuous.  It requires no special pretence or effort. It is normal. It is a habit to them to misrepresent their aims and thoughts.


‘Trumpism’ may be a myth but grassroots contempt for the elites is real

Does Donald Trump’s movement exist outside of Donald Trump himself?

It’s a question on the minds of many ever since Trump confirmed he was serious about running for president in early 2015. Some questioned whether any such movement ever actually materialized but after two years of  Donald Trumpseeing Trump on TV at all hours of the day and witnessing him improbably (to some) win America’s quadrennial national election last year it’s safe to say Trump is the real deal.

Of course the president is just the stylized living embodiment of what he represents, which is essentially the issue portfolio of the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party uprising of 2010 and through extension, the conservative movement. It’s a bit odd to say so considering Trump himself is no ideological conservative and seems much more enthralled with breaking the system (a.k.a. draining the swamp) and taking names than he does with making government smaller and less intrusive.

Regardless of the status of Trump, many wonder whether the movement he created carries over to other politicians or if it’s entirely confined to him. After last week’s Alabama GOP primary run-off (won by Judge Roy Moore) some believe Trump the man may not matter as much anymore.

W. James Antle III wrote at the Washington Examiner last week, “If Luther Strange hadn't accepted Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's appointment to the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there's a good chance he or someone else might have beaten Roy Moore in the Republican primary runoff Tuesday night.

“The perception, fair or not, that there was some sort of corrupt bargain between Bentley and Strange loomed larger in the race than any grand ideological struggle between nationalists and globalists. So in that sense, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's victory lap is premature.

“But there are signs that ‘the populist nationalist conservative revolt’ Bannon describes is starting to exist independently of President Trump, even if it is too early to determine whether it will ever take hold of a significant section of the Republican Party. Some of them are popping up in unusual places.”

In other words, Antle implies Moore may not have beaten a less tarnished opponent if Trump’s distinctive transformation of conservative political culture had never taken place. The president’s endorsement (of Strange) obviously didn’t sway the results of the contest but the passion for overturning the proverbial tables of the ruling class money-changers was so strong that people set aside their common sense to elevate a revolutionary take-no-prisoners conservative crusader like Roy Moore.

Would they have done so even if Trump had never entered politics? I think yes.

It’s all too easy to forget that the movement people now label “Trumpism” launched long ago, perhaps as early as the financial crisis of 2008 when GOP presidential nominee John McCain abruptly suspended his campaign and all-but handed the presidency to a first-term lightweight Democrat senator from Illinois with a golden speaking voice and a penchant for dribbling lofty rhetoric such as “Hope and Change.”

Upon further consideration the voter angst could’ve even begun the year before when wishy-washy Republicans led by John McCain and George W. Bush cut an amnesty deal with Teddy Kennedy and the congressional Democrat majorities that if enacted would have opened the floodgates to an avalanche of both legal and illegal immigrants. This seemed to be the point where the grassroots really began stirring, a restlessness that remains in evidence today.

That “bipartisan” sellout was enough to get people to consider active participation in politics as a necessity, not a privilege. 2007’s amnesty push also shattered the falsely advanced notion that “bipartisan” cooperation always produces good legislation and happy outcomes. Far from it. A lot of Republicans learned an important lesson from those days roughly a decade ago (and there was also a good deal of opposition to the amnesty effort from leftist unions as well).

But regardless of the movement’s founding point, Trump recognized there was a huge opening for someone outside the political system to come in and break the gridlock. Hence the New York real estate developer and reality TV star began his campaign by hammering both parties and the ruling class in Washington. Trump’s was just as much of a battle against the GOP elites as the Democrats and the people understood it.

It was clear from the outset that Trump’s wasn’t a purely Republican undertaking – it was an effort predicated on confronting the Washington establishment and ruling class. Judging by the elites’ reaction to Trump and his supporters, the contempt was mutual. Poor Crooked Hillary Clinton got caught up in the massive food fight over the status quo in government. As a leading representative of the privileged she had no strategy other than to propose dumping more money into various programs, advancing the liberal social agenda and dividing the nation into subgroups who hated each other.

Hillary bet her subgroups were bigger than Trump’s. She might’ve been correct with the popular vote but not where it counts in the Electoral College. Divide and conquer for Hillary resulted in her guzzling lots of chardonnay after the election and writing a book that no one likes.

As for the Republicans, everyone’s speculating who’s now in control of the party.

Caitlin Huey-Burns reported at Real Clear Politics, “Polling bears out Trump's influence. A recent survey by NBC/Wall Street Journal found a significant divide between Republican Party supporters and Trump supporters. For example, while 51 percent of party supporters are satisfied with GOP leaders, only 27 percent of Trump supporters are satisfied with them. Just 36 percent of party supporters had a positive view of Mitch McConnell, but only 13 percent of Trump supporters viewed him positively.

“’Its deep, vitriolic and abiding,’ says one conservative operative about this dislike. ‘I've never seen the gulf this deep or this broad between Republican leadership and the rank-and-file Republican voter. It's a dramatic break.’”

Again, the rift between the grassroots and the GOP congressional establishment has endured for years but the media and Republican leaders talk as though it’s sprung up only on Trump’s watch.

Perhaps the first manifestation of it (at least in recent times) was in 2010 when Utah Republicans took it upon themselves to nominate Mike Lee for senate rather than honor the re-election bid of establishment Senator Bob Bennett at the state party convention. Then, in 2012, long-time Republican “bipartisan” collaborator Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana was voted out in a primary.

Republican voters in these election years also chose conservative challengers in Colorado, Nevada, Delaware and Missouri – fine people who would’ve made excellent senators if only the party ruling class had supported them in their general election contests instead of sanctioning the media and Democrats to tear them to shreds. Think of how large the Republican senate majority would be today if only more of a “team” endeavor had been waged on their behalf back then.

Senator Ted Cruz is now in Washington because he waged his own grassroots-based campaign in Texas in 2012. Cruz defeated establishment Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in one of the year’s biggest primary upsets and went on to convincingly win the general election as well.

Cruz’s second-place finish in the 2016 GOP presidential campaign was also almost entirely fueled by grassroots efforts to allow him first to separate himself from the pack and then compete head-to-head with Trump late into the season. Together with fellow outsiders Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina the non-establishment candidates attracted a fairly consistent two-thirds of the Republican primary vote.

Cruz’s conservative campaign generated the same kind of anti-establishment enthusiasm as Trump’s and most of the senator’s supporters easily made the transition to the outsider nominee for his battle against Hillary.

Cruz himself underestimated the depth of grassroots anger at the establishment when he initially refused to endorse Trump at the party convention last year, perhaps thinking that maybe the nasty campaign and differences in personality would allow him to maintain a separate political identity from what was taking place all around Trump.

He couldn’t. The train went forward and Cruz eventually jumped onboard. Trump was elected. The movement carried the day.

Now commentators are saying the voters got exactly what they bargained for in Trump. Jim Geraghty wrote at National Review, “His quick agreement with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on the debt ceiling was allegedly driven by spite for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan. Is it really surprising that a figure so erratic and temperamental would be unsuccessful in persuading the likes of John McCain, Rand Paul, and Susan Collins to accept a compromise [on healthcare]?

“Trump’s specialty is ‘fighting’ — that is, lashing out at perceived slights, insults, and criticism. It doesn’t change law, set policy, or last much longer than a news cycle. But it sure makes for good television, and it probably makes a lot of Trump’s supporters feel good. From their perspective, after all, he’s doing just what he said he’d do.”

Geraghty’s is an awful cynical view of Trump for what has turned out to be an unquestionably substantive administration on a number of fronts. But yes, Trump’s figure is at the center of it.

Clearly the answer to the “Trumpism” question is yes, the movement could exist outside of Trump; but it wouldn’t be nearly as successful without his compelling personality to drive it. History suggests voters were ready for Trump even before he climbed into the political ring and they’ll stay motivated until the ruling class is destroyed and the Constitution once again reigns supreme.

Trump will be around a while longer; but the movement will last indefinitely.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, October 09, 2017

Does smoking cannabis make people more violent?

The article below summarizes an academic study which claims to show that smoking marijuana causes people to beome more violent.  But I don't think the authors concerned have remotely proved that.  I myself have never smoked anything and I don't intend to so I have no dog in that fight.

I have read a great deal of the studies of the subject and I am reasonably certain that cannabis promotes psychotic delusions --    but violence is another matter.  My experience is that stoned guys are most likely to sit around passively and make profound remarks like: "Wow, man, like wow!"

So what is wrong with the study below?  Mainly the sampling -- or lack of it.  It was a study of patients released from psychiatric hospitals.  Generalizing from very ill people to normals is simply invalid, to put it mildly.

It's a common comment that any correlation between cannabis use and mental illness may simply show that mentally ill people like cannabis.  Mentally ill people are heavy users of tobacco so that is not an unreasonable view.  The patients are simply trying to self-medicate in both cases.

The authors of the current study, however, claim that they can disprove that theory and show that cannabis sends you mad, not the other way around.  But that too is an absurd claim. You can demonstrate cause only by way of a carefully controlled before and after study and that was not done on this occasion. Instead some statistical jiggery pokery was used.  But that finding too is derived from their non-sample so is again overgeneralizing.  The bottom line is that they have no data proving the matter either way.

A final concern is that the authors mainly seem to concern themselves with "skunk" cannabis, which is much stronger than other forms of cannabis and so should be studied separately.  Skunk does indeed appear to be of concern but what is true of it may not be true of all cannabis.  As toxicologists say, the toxicity is in the dose.

The academic article is Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge

Cannabis users are more likely to commit violent crime, pioneering research has shown. It warned those who smoke the drug regularly run an increased risk of using violence against others.

The project is the first to demonstrate that cannabis is not only linked with violent crime but is the cause.

Violent incidents monitored by the study based on the lives of more than 1,100 American psychiatric patients included assaults, attacks with weapons and rapes.

Researchers said that cannabis causes violence and they found no evidence that the link is the other way round – ie that violent people are more likely to use cannabis.

There was no support, they added, for theories put forward by campaigners anxious to free the drug from the taint of links with crime.

The academics said the effect of cannabis use was clear and not diminished by other factors such as patients who were heavy drinkers of alcohol.

The study comes after a series of American states have decriminalised cannabis – despite it being stronger and more potent than the hash smoked by hippies in the Sixties – or made it available for medical use.

The latest study by five researchers from institutes based in Montreal, Canada, examined the lives of 1,136 men and women who were patients at psychiatric hospitals in Missouri, Pittsburgh and Massachusetts.

Records were gathered from interviews carried out every ten weeks for a year after their discharge.

It said patients who were using cannabis at each of these five checks were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to have turned to violence than those who had not used the drug.

The study pointed to ‘significant findings regarding the adverse effects of cannabis use on violence’.

It found there was a ‘more constant relationship’ between cannabis and violence than between alcohol or cocaine use and violence. The researchers said the link between cannabis and violence was not two-way but ‘uni-directional’.

Contrary to claims that violent people were drawn to use cannabis, researchers found ‘it was cannabis use that predicted future violent behaviour’.

The academics said psychiatrists and medical staff should watch for cannabis users among those who had been in hospital for mental health problems. The team, led by Dr Jules R Dugre, said existing evidence on the links between cannabis and violence was ‘limited’ but their project had ‘clinical and violence risk management implications’.

Kathy Gyngell, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, welcomed the ‘definitive study’ and called for official action. ‘Government has been seriously negligent,’ she said.

‘Where is the public health campaign on the risks of cannabis? If ministers had any sense they would know that we cannot afford this public health and safety crisis.

‘It must lead the Government to review their community care policy for such potentially violent individuals to better protect the public.’

The study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry flies in the face of claims of former drugs tsar Professor David Nutt.

He was sacked by the Labour government in 2009 for opposing the decision to reclassify cannabis from Class C to Class B. Prof Nutt has long argued that alcohol was ‘considerably more dangerous’ than the drug.

More than 20 US states have in recent years legalised cannabis for medical purposes.

Four – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington – have allowed its recreational use.

After the relaxation in 2012 in Colorado, cannabis use by students aged 12 to 18 has become the highest in the country. Figures show 57 per cent tested positive in high school tests.



The media is missing the Republican takeover in New England

In this part of the US, people are rooting for Trump more than ever

On Sept. 19, Politico congressional reporter Burgess Everett tweeted that he suddenly “[Remembers Vermont has a Republican governor].” His tweet prompted Seung Min Kim, a fellow Politico reporter who covers the US Senate, to reply that she “[Learns Vermont has a Republican governor].” That, in turn, instigated a response by Wall Street Journal congressional reporter Byron Tau: “[Googles the name of Vermont’s Republican governor].”

To which Phil Scott, Vermont’s Republican governor, responded that he “[Is Vermont’s Republican governor].”

The moment was comical but also insightful, underscoring just how little Washington’s political class knows about who holds the executive power in the Northeast.

Here’s the surprising truth: It’s not the Democrats.

Last November, while most of the country was either cheering Donald Trump’s presidential win or making an appointment with their therapist about how to cope with the results, New Englanders in four out of the region’s six “blue” states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine — woke up the next morning with four Republican governors.

Two of those governorships flipped from blue to red. It was a trend that the Northeast had not seen for a generation, but it received little national attention. (Connecticut and Rhode Island hold their governorship elections in 2018.)

If the reverse had happened, and four Democrats had won governorships in deep red states last year, the news would have been treated quite differently, said Brad Todd, a Washington, DC-based GOP strategist.

“It would have been on the front pages of every major newspaper in the country. And debated for weeks about how it spells the demise of the Republican Party,” Todd said.

Vermont’s Scott won in a landslide, defeating his Democratic opponent by 9 percentage points while facing two political fronts that should have knocked him out of contention: the candidacy of Trump, who was so unpopular in Vermont, he got crushed there by 29 percentage points; and the popularity of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s sitting US senator.

Interestingly, if you drove through Vermont last year, it was not uncommon to see yard signs for both Scott and Sanders in the same yards.

Meanwhile, on a trip to Cambridge, Mass., last month, I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t approve of their Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. From the leafy halls of Harvard to locals grabbing lunch at Charlie’s Kitchen on Eliot Street, everyone I talked to was a Democrat — and everyone gave him high marks as the state’s manager.

It’s not just anecdotal. Polling has consistently shown Baker is the most popular governor in the country; the most recent survey done by Morning Consult in July showed that 71 percent of Massachusetts voters are happy with the job he is doing. Meanwhile, Republican Chris Sununu holds New Hampshire’s governor’s office, while Maine has voted for Paul LePage twice to hold their executive’s suite.

The Republican Party is the only party that is a national party.

In the aftermath of the 2016 electoral — but not popular-vote — win of Trump over Hillary Clinton, Democrats have spent endless time bemoaning their inability to capture the Electoral College. They blame it on a so-called antiquated system that gives greater weight to the states populated by more cows than people. But it really is a symptom of a bigger problem for the Democrats: The Republican Party is the only party that is a national party.

Republicans, at some level, are competing in every state up and down the ballot, while Democrats are not competing anywhere but on the coasts and in the big cities. In short, they are a regionalized party, confined to the most densely populated parts of the nation — more cut off and compartmentalized than the GOP.

But if you read reports by national political reporters, you would assume that progressivism dominates the country’s landscape. “The decision makers, who are close to culture and news, live in places where the Democratic Party’s last bastions are, encased in a bubble that believes everyone thinks like they do and votes like they do,” said Todd.

“Those noncompetitive deep-blue places are the only places they have left where they dominate, but it also happens to be the only places where cultural and media institutions are headquartered,” he added.

Seven years after the Republicans won the House and three years after they gained the US Senate majority, the media/entertainment complex still fails to accept or understand that the majority of this country is center-right. Until these institutions grasp this fact, they will continue to see their viewership drop and their trust erode.

There is a reason this year’s Trump-bashing Emmy Awards saw viewership figures tank for the second year in a row (11.38 million views — down 5 percent from 2015). You can’t expect to hold onto the middle of the country when you spend four hours mocking the choice many of them made for president.

And you can’t expect anyone to trust your sense of judgment and fairness if you treat a GOP winning streak in the Northeast as if it never happened.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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, October 08, 2017

Use of Firearms in Terrorist Attacks: Differences Between the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand

Below is an article just out in JAMA, a medical journal.  It is typical Leftist bilge.  It describes something troublesome without looking at WHY that bad thing happens.  They have of course not looked at race or race-denominated crime-rates.  Countries with and without large black minorities are in entirely different situations so they are not comparing like with like.  Depending in part on where they live, prudent Americans HAVE to own guns to protect themselves from home invasions and other crimes committed by blacks. So firearms are widely available.  And where they are widely available they will be used

By Robert A. Tessler et al.

Although firearms are used in only a small proportion of terrorist attacks, these highly publicized events shed light on access to weapons and mass shootings. The sociopolitical and cultural context surrounding firearms, including the proportion of individuals owning guns, varies between countries.1 The United States has a higher rate of firearms deaths than other high-income countries.2,3 We compared the proportion of terrorist attacks committed with firearms in the United States with the proportion in other high-income countries. We also compared the lethality of attacks with firearms to those by other means.

We queried The Global Terrorism Database from 2002 to 2016.4 Maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, this database incorporates a methodology that includes both machine learning and manual review to abstract high-quality information from more than 1 million daily media reports published worldwide in over 80 languages. The database defines a terrorist attack as the “use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”4 For each attack, the location, type, and number of fatalities are collected. The database categorizes weapons as biological, chemical, explosive, fake weapons, firearms, incendiary (eg, arson), melee, sabotage equipment, vehicle (nonexplosive), other, and unknown.

To avoid calculating proportions in countries with few data points, we calculated the proportion of attacks involving firearms among countries in the top 75th percentile (10 attacks or more) over the study period. The number of fatalities per attack was calculated by weapon type. Of the 23 countries with at least 1 attack, 17 were in the upper 75th percentile of total attacks; the countries are listed in footnote “d” in the Table. We estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) per fatality in the attack with a Poisson distribution for attacks using firearms, vehicle/melee, incendiary, or biological/chemical weapons compared with explosives.

From 2002 through 2016, the database captured 2817 terrorist attacks in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, of which 2403 (85.3%) were in Western Europe and 329 (11.7%) in the United States. The Table details the count of attacks by weapon used in country or region and year. Nearly all attacks (n = 2788, 99.0%) occurred in countries with 10 or more attacks. The types of attacks were as follows: explosives (n = 1379, 49.0%), incendiary (n = 1015, 36.0%), firearms (n = 260, 9.2%), vehicle/melee (n = 151, 5.4%), and miscellaneous (n = 88, 3.1%). In 2015 and 2016, compared with earlier years, there were notable increases in attacks involving vehicle/melee in the United States and Western Europe.

The Figure, A shows the proportion of firearms attacks among countries with 10 or more attacks, with the United States at 20.4% (n = 67) followed by the Netherlands at 14.3% (n = 3) (χ2 for all countries, P < .001). In the 2817 attacks, there were 1031 fatalities, of which 566 (54.9%) were attributed to firearms. The Figure, B shows the number of fatalities per attack by weapon type. Among all weapon types compared with explosives, the IRR per fatality was 4.75 (95% CI, 4.18-5.39) for attacks with firearms, 1.21 (95% CI, 0.91-1.59) for vehicle/melee, and 0.05 (95% CI, 0.03-0.08) for incendiaries.

Although firearms were used in fewer than 10% of terrorist attacks between 2002 and 2016, they accounted for about 55% of the fatalities. Among countries with 10 or more attacks, the proportion involving firearms in the United States was higher than in any other nation. Moreover, the risk of fatality was considerably higher in attacks committed with firearms than in attacks using other weapons.

In the United States and other countries, government policies and legislative efforts to protect citizens from terrorism should consider the proportions and lethality of terrorist attacks committed with firearms.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 6, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5723


Illegal Immigration Costs U.S. Taxpayers a Stunning $134.9 Billion a Year

Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers a mind-boggling $134.9 billion annually, according to a detailed analysis of federal, state and local programs that include education, medical, law enforcement and welfare. Conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington D.C. nonprofit dedicated to studying immigration issues, the in-depth probe reveals that state and local taxpayers get stuck with an overwhelming chunk-$116 billion-of the burden. State and local expenditures for services provided to illegal aliens total $88.9 billion and federal expenditures $45.8 billion, the analysis found. For those who claim illegal immigrants contribute by paying taxes, government figures show that only $19 billion was recouped by Uncle Sam.

"A continually growing population of illegal aliens, along with the federal government's ineffective efforts to secure our borders, present significant national security and public safety threats to the United States," the FAIR report states. "They also have a severely negative impact on the nation's taxpayers at the local, state, and national levels. Illegal immigration costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Illegal aliens are net consumers of taxpayer-funded services and the limited taxes paid by some segments of the illegal alien population are, in no way, significant enough to offset the growing financial burdens imposed on U.S. taxpayers by massive numbers of uninvited guests." This defies a myth, long promoted by influential open border groups, that illegal aliens pay their fair share of taxes.

More than 12.5 million illegal immigrants and their estimated 4.2 million citizen children benefit from the U.S. government's generosity. The biggest expenditure ($17.14 billion) on the federal level is for medical services, which include uncompensated hospital costs, Medicaid births, Medicaid fraud and Medicaid benefits for U.S.-born children (anchor babies) of illegal immigrants. The second-largest federal expenditure is law enforcement and justice ($13.15 billion), which includes incarceration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations and an alien assistance program. The feds spend $8 billion on general government programs and $5.85 billion on welfare, which consists of free school meals, food stamps, a supplemental nutrition program known as Women Infants and Children (WIC) and temporary assistance for needy families. FAIR points out the profound impact that illegal immigration has on programs intended to provide services exclusively to low-income Americans.

For state and local governments education is by far the largest expense, an eye-popping $44.4 billion that goes mostly to K-12 public schools nationwide, though over a billion of it is spent on college tuition assistance. General public services, described as expenses associated with garbage collection, fire departments and other locally-funded services total $18.5 billion for illegal aliens, the analysis found. Medical expenses came in third ($12.1 billion) for state and local governments and law enforcement ($10.8 billion) in fourth. FAIR researchers determined that a large percentage of illegal aliens work in the underground economy and frequently avoid paying income tax, leaving law-abiding, taxpaying Americans to foot the exorbitant tab for public services. The report also breaks down expenditures by state, with the top four spenders to provide illegal alien benefits California ($23 billion), Texas ($10.9 billion), New York ($7.5 billion) and Florida ($6.3 billion).

Over the years Judicial Watch has reported on a variety of studies and assessments involving the huge cost of supporting illegal immigrants, but this appears to be the most thorough and alarming in recent memory. The breakdown by category, state and federal services offers an incredibly detailed account of a major crisis perpetuated by a famously porous southern border. As FAIR writes in its report, it's not just about money though the cost of supporting illegal immigrants should outrage every legal U.S. resident and American citizen.

"A continually growing population of illegal aliens, along with the federal government's ineffective efforts to secure our borders, present significant national security and public safety threats to the United States," FAIR writes. Judicial Watch has also extensively covered the dire national security crisis along the Mexican border, including an investigative series documenting how Islamic terrorists have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate-and attack-the United States.



U.S. Army STILL hasn't booted communist soldier

In recent weeks, photos of Army 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone promoting communism in uniform began circulating the internet.

Typically barred from promoting political affiliations while in uniform, Rapone's actions were a major departure from acceptable military conduct. Even worse, the ideology he espouses is not only dangerous, but a moral enemy of the country he swore to protect.

Rightfully, many military leaders condemned the photos. For their part, West Point and the Army opened up an investigation into Rapone's conduct.

However, one GOP U.S. Senator is among many who don't think this is enough. In fact, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is demanding that the Army immediately revoke Rapone's commission.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is demanding West Point officials revoke the commission of an officer who posted photos of himself with pro-communist messages hidden under his graduation uniform, calling it an "extreme embarrassment" for the military.

    In a letter to acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy Tuesday, the Republican senator also questioned whether service officials ignored signs of misconduct and potential insubordination during the cadet's time at the U.S. Military Academy.

    "It is extremely concerning that someone who so often expressed such hostile views towards the United States' system of government was able to obtain a commission," he wrote. "(His) revolutionary ideas were harbored long before he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant. Were West Point administrators or faculty aware of his views and behavior?"

    "Posts on social media by Rapone broadcast his devotion to the communist cause and his plans to infiltrate and sabotage the military," the senator wrote. "His conduct, writings, and sympathies for American adversaries predates his commission in the Army.

    "Therefore, I respectfully request the United States Army immediately nullify Rapone's commission and pursue all available disciplinary options under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Rapone should be required to pay back in full the cost of his education, and the United States Military Academy should consider revoking his degree."

In addition, Rubio also demanded that West Point release "all relevant information regarding West Point's efforts to ensure cadets who actively support the destruction of our government do not waste more taxpayer funds or prevent a more worthy candidate from attending" the academy.

Of course, there's little doubt this issue hits closer to home for Rubio. Being of Cuban descent, Rubio's parents fled their home country in response the the communist takeover by the Castro regime. Perhaps being more conscious of the dangers of communism than most, Rubio is rightfully demanding the Army take appropriate action.

Since the story originally broke last month, it has also come to light that one of Raport's closest mentors at West Point Military Academy,  Dr. Rasheed Hosein, a Middle East history professor, has been placed on administrative leave. We may soon learn if he had a role in Rapone's radicalization, though one of the professor's Facebook posts may hold a clue. It's a picture of him standing next to Rapone, who's in a colored turban and white tunic. Underneath, the professor wrote: "The brothers are gonna work it out."

Whatever the case, Rapone has no business serving in the United States military, let alone as a commissioned officer in charge of troops. With Senator Rubio weighing into the controversy, hopefully Rapone's days as a member of the Army are numbered.   



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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.

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