Friday, January 05, 2018

Suppression of Good News Is the Media's Dirtiest Tactic. Here's What They Missed Last Year

Here are headlines you won't read in almost any major American newspaper, hear on any of the evening news programs, or see in your Yahoo "news" feed:

* Dow Hits 87 Record Closes Since Trump Elected

* Texas Hero Was NRA Instructor

* Dow Reaches Four 1,000 Point Milestones in One Year for the First Time Ever

* ISIS on the Run, Almost Completely Destroyed

* New Home Sales Highest in a Decade

* Texas Hero Uses AR-15 to Save the Day

* Dow Hits Two Streaks Lasting More Than Ten Days, First Time Since 1959

* Trump Donates One Million Dollars of His Own Money to Hurricane Victims

* U.S. Economy Gains Over Six Trillion in New Capital

* U.S. Senator Viciously Attacked by Deranged Socialist Neighbor

* U.S. Economy Grows at 3% for First Time Since Bush Administration

* Unemployment Rate Lowest in 17 Years

If Hillary was the president and the market were doing this well (I know, right?), Wolf Blitzer would be living on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We would hear the bell ringing at the opening of every report, which would appear about every five minutes on CNN. Instead of reporting on the economic turnaround of the century, we see doctored reports about Donald Trump feeding fish or his "12-Diet Cokes-a-day" habit.

Bag of Dirty Tricks

The favorite tool in the main stream media's (MSM) tool bag is the overt suppression of good news favoring conservatives or Republicans. Following closely behind is their suppression of bad news about Democrats.

The Texas hero who saved many lives in Sutherland Springs was not only an NRA member, but an NRA Instructor. Beyond that, he used an AR-15 to shoot a mass murderer. You didn't hear those facts often - if ever -from NBC, CBS, "The View," The Huffington Post, The New York Times, ABC, ESPN, USA Today, or MSNBC - and the list goes on.

You also didn't hear much from the MSM about the corruption trial of Democrat Bob Menendez, a sitting U.S. Senator. According to the Media Research Center, there was literally zero reporting on any broadcast network since the start of the trial, including the evening shows on CNN, CBS and ABC, as well as NBC's "Today" show.

The Main Stream Media: Where Good News for Conservatives Goes to Die

Good news for conservatives or Republicans gets little, if any, time.  When it actually does happen, it's coupled with snarky comments that serve to undermine the good news. The press uses headlines like this when reporting what would otherwise be good news:

* Dow Jones Hits All-Time High, Poor and Middle Class Benefit the Least

* Not One but TWO AR-15's Used in Texas Shooting

It's their all-time favorite template of "Insert Good News Here" followed by "Women and Children Hardest Hit". A great example of this is a recent Newsweek headline: "Trump Donating $1 Million to Harvey Victims, an Amount Billionaire Once Described as a 'Small Loan'". 

It's like the old joke goes: If Trump walked on water, the press would report that he can't swim.

The good news is that, with the advent of the Internet, we can immediately see how deceptive they really are. The Trump fish story is a classic example, as debunked by The Hill. There are dozens more just like it every day. Except now, there are people calling out their deceptions, using actual video or audio evidence to refute the MSM's slanted reporting.

The Left's Ongoing Deception

Much like ignoring the upward surge of the Dow, the media has set a blistering pace of deception since Donald Trump was elected. This will only serve to hasten their demise as demonstrated by the significant declines in viewership of and subscriptions to traditional media outlets.

At the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I witnessed the media's unhinged disdain for the incoming Trump administration in real time. The hate was palpable. One woman who worked for a major media news organization was visibly upset during the Pence speech. I watched her as she angrily sneered at many of the applause lines. To say she was seething would be an understatement. At one point in time, I really thought she was going to have a literal breakdown right in front of me.

How is it possible that she could somehow separate herself from her obvious loathing for the new administration and report on an event in an unbiased way? She couldn't - and it showed.

I first experienced this phenomenon years ago when attending NRA Annual Meetings with tens of thousands of other NRA members. What did the media choose to cover? They highlighted the dozens of protestors outside. Did they report that the crime rate in the convention's host city always goes down when the NRA is in town? Of course not. Did they report on the fact that around 80,000 gun owners were in one building and no one got shot? Nope. Did they report on the tremendous economic activity that occurred in the area because of the NRA? Silence.

I regularly challenge young conservative students to attend events like the NRA Annual Meeting, CPAC, or even a local gathering of conservative activists on campus and then watch how the event is reported on the evening news. Watch what doesn't get reported - that's the biggest deception.

It's All Going to Be OK

Be of good cheer fellow conservatives, the economy is roaring back, ISIS is on the run, freedom is on the move and America is leading from the front once again. Pass the cigars, raise a toast, and wait for the nonstop press reports on homelessness in 3...2...1...



America's Left in the Grip of Insanity,/b>

Ben Shapiro

President Trump is unpopular. He's unpopular because he's boorish, crude and silly; he's unpopular because he has a unique capacity to turn winning news cycles into referenda on his use of Twitter. But the United States under President Trump hasn't seen any serious anti-liberty revanchism. In fact, under Trump, regulations have dropped precipitously; the economy continues its pattern of growth; and press freedoms have actually been strengthened. Despite popular opinion, women aren't on the verge of enslavement into Vice President Mike Pence's "Handmaid's Tale," nor are black Americans in danger of resegregation or political disenfranchisement.

Yet while Iranians protest against a regime that reportedly hangs homosexuals from cranes, members of the hard left in the United States insist that protesters against the Trump administration demonstrate bravery similar to that of Iranians risking death by an Islamist regime. Huffington Post political commentator Alex Mohajer tweeted: "The #IranianProtests, the #Resistance, and @WomensMarch are all the same. Across the world, people are fighting autocracies and oppressive regimes. @realDonaldTrump is NO DIFFERENT than the oppressive Ayatollahs in Iran." Oddly, that movement of solidarity hasn't prompted those who walked in the Women's March on Washington to say a single word in support of the Iranian protesters to this point.

This idiocy doesn't merely spring from hatred for Trump but from a deep-seated need to justify the Obama administration's feckless Iran policy. Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times reported that violence broke out in Iran after the demonstrators ignored "pleas for calm from President Hassan Rouhani" and termed Rouhani -- a tool of the mullahs -- a "moderate." Meanwhile, one CNN anchor fretted that Trump might put a "finger on the scale" against the Iranian regime. Members of the Obama administration took to Twitter to tell Trump to be quiet (Susan Rice, former national security adviser), chide Trump for failing to take in Iranian refugees (Samantha Power, former U.N. ambassador) and suggest that American policy has nothing to do with Iran's protests (Ben Rhodes, former national security adviser and architect of the Iran nuclear deal narrative). All of these administration members did nothing as President Obama watched dissidents die in the streets in 2009, and all of them actively abetted the maximization of Iran's regional power.

Herein lies the insanity of the left. Only nutcases on the right believed that Barack Obama's governance was morally equivalent to the Iranian government. In the main, conservatives thought that Obama pursued bad policies domestically and horribly immoral foreign policies. But many on the left seem to believe that Trump is merely steps removed from the ayatollahs. The ayatollahs agree, and they use that nuttery for public-relations leverage: No wonder Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted: "The U.S. gov. commits oppression inside the U.S., too. U.S. police murder black women, men, & children for no justifiable reason, and the murderers are acquitted in U.S. courts. This is their judicial system! And they slam other countries' and our country's judicial system. #BLM."

Trump isn't Khamenei. And the only recent administration to help build Iran's power is the Obama administration. Comparing the Trump administration to Iran's regime isn't just delusional; it's insulting and counterproductive. And the only people it helps are America's enemies.



Trump To Dole Out ‘Dishonest And Corrupt’ Media Awards Next Week

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will hand out awards for dishonest media reporting in several different categories on Jan 8.

"I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!"

The president vented in late November that a contest should be held for the worst political coverage, excluding Fox News. He added that the winner of such an award should get a “fake news trophy.”

The president appears to have held the contest within the White House. Trump’s awards are likely to provoke significant backlash from news media organizations.



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, January 04, 2018

Kellyanne Conway Lays Out the White House Agenda for 2018

Sounds good

During an appearance on Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Special Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway laid out the White House agenda for the next 30 days and 2018 overall, which includes a push for an infrastructure package, job growth, skills training, welfare reform, getting the border wall built and much more.

"This is a president who is invested in all types of careers and is trying to tell Americans that we dignify every type of work...not everybody is cut out for college and that's fine," Conway said. "We need to rebuild our nation's road and bridges and certainly our air-traffic control system."

As Conway discussed, President Trump will host Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan at Camp David this weekend to develop a reconciled agenda. Ryan has ambitious goals of entitlement reform and McConnell wants Dodd-Frank on the table for changes.

"America should look at this as a very positive development," she said, adding that the president wants Democrats to come to the table with ideas. "We hope they can come together for the good of the country."



Once again, Obamacare fails

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting the failure in New Mexico of another health care law co-op:

“New Mexico Health Connections was founded using $77 million of taxpayer loans. Now, they’re seeking private sector funding to keep them afloat at some level. Obamacare co-ops were supposed to be the non-profit approach to health insurance to make certain that everyone had low-cost options for coverage. Not surprisingly, co-ops across the nation have failed as customer costs exceeded revenues.

President Trump should demand that the New Mexico Health Connections the U.S. taxpayers at the front of the line for repaying the $77 million in loans they received. Naturally, these payments will never be received and the people who put their trust in a guaranteed to fail co-op business model will find in New Mexico as people have found in other states across the Union, that low-cost Obamacare was more hope than reality.”



Haley: We cut almost $300 million from UN budget

Retribution for an attempted rebuke from the General Assembly, or just good reform practice? After warning the United Nations that the US would “take names” of countries that voted for a resolution demanding that Donald Trump withdraw recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ambassador Nikki Haley announced a $285 million cut to the UN’s operations budget. Haley cited the need to address “inefficiencies,” but the timing seems to send a message too:

The announcement didn’t make clear the entire amount of the budget or specify what effect the cut would have on the U.S. contribution.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”

She also said that while the mission was pleased with the results of budget negotiations, it would continue to “look at ways to increase the U.N.’s efficiency while protecting our interests.”

Note that this is not a cut in our contribution, but in the UN’s overall biennial spending in the 2018-19 budget. How much will that save the US? We are the largest contributor for UN operations; we supplied 22% of the previous biennial budget, and we’re probably still on the hook for a similar amount in this next budget. Assuming that percentage applies evenly to the savings, we cut our total outlay by $62.7 million.

To be sure, $285 million is a lot of money, but as with all such figures, context is necessary. The UN’s operating budget for the biennium ending now was $5.4 billion, approved exactly two years previous to this announcement. That budget trimmed off $100 million from the previous biennial budget, although then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon complained that the issue was fewer resources, not an effort to reform the UN’s budget. “Funding continues to shrink,” Ban said at the time, “while demands on the United Nations grow.”

(Note, however, that peacekeeping functions and subsidiary UN agencies operate out of separate budgets funded mainly by voluntary donations from member nations.)

As a percentage of the overall budget, the cuts announced by Haley amount to just under 5.3%. That’s not insignificant — a 5.3% cut in real terms to the US federal budget would remove $217 billion in spending — but it’s not a crippling blow either. Plus, it seems very unlikely to have been part of a punishment for the General Assembly vote that took place last week, as budget negotiations would have been going on for months.

Still, this sends a message that the US will keep the pressure on the UN for real reform in its operations. Haley intends to get tough with the UN both on policy and “inefficiency and overspending,” which is a diplomatic manner of saying featherbedding and corruption. If the UN can’t do that on its own, the US intends to reduce the spoils possible and remove much of the incentive.



Social Security Beneficiaries Hit Record 61,859,250

The number of Social Security beneficiaries hit a record 61,859,250 in November, according to data released by the Social Security Administration.

At the same time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with unemployment at the lowest rate since 2000 (4.1 percent), there were 126,827,000 full-time workers in the United States (including government workers). Yet that equaled only 2.05 full-time workers for each person receiving Social Security benefits.

Even when all 153,918,000 people who had jobs in November are considered (counting both full- and part-time workers), the ratio of workers to Social Security beneficiaries was about 2.49 to 1.

The record 61,859,250 Social Security beneficiaries in November, included 45,439,781 retired workers and their dependents; 5,992,862 survivors of deceased workers; and 10,426,607 disabled workers and their dependents.

The Social Security program has two primary elements: Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance. Each of these are supposed to be supported by a "payroll tax" imposed on a worker's earnings.

The payroll tax for the OASI is 10.03 percent and is split so that one half is deducted from a worker's paycheck and the other half is paid to the government by the employer. The payroll tax for DI is 2.37 percent and, like the OASI tax, is split between a deduction from a worker's paycheck and a payment made directly by the employer.

In total, the worker and employer must pay the government 12.4 percent in taxes (on the first $127,200 a worker makes) for the combined OASDI tax. Self-employed Americans pay the entire 12.4 percent directly.

But this is no longer enough, says the Social Security board of trustees, which includes the commissioner of Social Security and the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services.

In the past, when Social Security ran surpluses, the federal government loaned the surplus to itself so it could spend it immediately on other government programs.

In their 2017 report, the Social Security board of trustees puts it this way: "The Department of the Treasury invests trust fund reserves in interest-bearing securities issued by the U.S. Government."

Without the "interest" the government pays itself back on the money it has already spent from previous Social Security surpluses, the Social Security program would not have enough money now to pay all the current benefits it owes.

"The 2016 excess of total income over cost for the year was $35 billion," said the trustees' report. But "total income" — as the report calls it — includes the interest the government pays itself.

"However, when interest income is excluded," the report admitted, "Social Security's cost is projected to exceed its non-interest income throughout the projection period, as it has since 2010. For 2016, cost for the year exceeded non-interest income by $53 billion. For 2017, total income for the program is projected to exceed cost for the year by $59 billion, and non-interest income is projected to be $27 billion less than program cost for the year."



Nearly 25 Percent of DACA Illegal Aliens Are ‘Functionally Illiterate’ in English

Nearly 25 percent of illegal aliens eligible for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are “functionally illiterate” in the English language, a researcher says.

According to Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research Steven Camarota, about 24 percent of illegal aliens who are eligible for DACA — which President Trump administration will officially end in March 2018 — overstate their English proficiency skills and are “below basic” or “functionally illiterate.”

Additionally, the research found that about 46 percent of DACA illegal aliens only have “basic” English proficiency skills, despite narratives from corporate interests and the open borders lobby that recipients of the program are vastly highly-educated.

Camarota writes:

Even those numbers could exaggerate the level of assimilation. As mentioned above, a high-school diploma has become so commonplace among today’s youth (due in large part to watered-down standards) that it is no longer a strong indicator of skills. Similarly, CIS research has shown that immigrants tend to overstate their English ability.

When Hispanic immigrants, who make up some 80 to 90 percent of DACA recipients, recently took an objective test of English literacy, 44 percent of those who said they speak English “well” or “very well” actually scored “below basic” — a level sometimes described as functional illiteracy. Based on test-takers with the required age and residency, I estimate that perhaps 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population fall into the functionally illiterate category and another 46 percent have only “basic” English ability.

The research showing a lack of English proficiency among DACA illegal aliens comes as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report revealing that nearly 1 in 5 illegal aliens eligible for DACA would end up on food stamps within 10 years, Breitbart News reported.

The majority of DACA illegal aliens also live in low-income households, according to a study by Harvard scholar Roberto Gonzales outlined by the Center for Immigration Studies. That study found that 73 percent of illegal aliens covered by DACA are living in low-income households, qualifying for free lunch at American public high schools, as well as other federal welfare benefits, Breitbart News reported.

Also as Breitbart News reported, only four percent of DACA illegal aliens have completed a college education, making the DACA population far less likely than the native American population to finish college with a degree.



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, January 03, 2018

Trump economy set to roar in 2018

By Robert Romano

When it comes to the economy, observers are often loath to make predictions. After all, it is not a hard science, where a hypothesis is formulated, and observations are made to prove or disprove the hypothesis. What will U.S. economic growth be in 2018?

Who knows? It could be faster than 2017. But maybe it will be slower.

But what we can do is take into consideration certain factors that might serve to either hamper growth, or to foster it. And when we consider the economy being fostered under President Donald Trump’s first term, there are things to be bullish about.  After all, Trump promised we would start winning again.

Well, the past two quarters’ growth have come in over an inflation-adjusted 3 percent annualized, with a solid fourth quarter hoped for. If it does, even if 2017 does not produce 3 percent growth — a number not seen since 2005 — the U.S. economy will be well-positioned in 2018 to get there. Why?

The biggest reason just happened, and that’s President Trump and Congress’ $1.5 trillion tax cut plan, which will account for an average 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product each of the first four years, making it the largest tax cut since Reagan’s 1981 plan as a percent of the economy.

It will put hundreds of billions of dollars back into businesses and individuals each year, which can be spent, invested or saved. It’s going to have a major impact. To be clear, even if we were to experience an unforeseen economic slowdown right now — Reagan had a major recession even after the 1981 tax cuts — the recovery could still be magnificent.

Other considerations are the regulatory environment that is now being fostered. Trump has left the Paris climate accords and his EPA head Scott Pruitt is tearing up the new and existing coal power plant regulations. He has ended the practice of sue and settle whereby the agency would agree to a left-wing environmentalist group’s lawsuit in exchange for expanding the regulatory mandate of the EPA. The Waters of the United States rule regulating every puddle in America is being rescinded.

Federal lands are being reopened. The aforementioned tax cut bill also contained a provision that will allow for oil drilling in previously prohibited areas of Alaska.

On trade, Trump has put forward an America first policy, cancelling the TPP and renegotiating NAFTA, all the while getting tough on trade enforcement against South Korea and Mexico.

Since Trump took office, 171,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created.

The number of 16-to-64-year-olds who have entered the labor force has increased by 879,000, increasing labor participation to 73.3 percent for that group. There still remain 8 million of this age group out of the labor force had participation remained at the same rate as it was in 2000. Meaning there is a lot of room to grow.

Labor market conditions remain a key consideration and considerable headwind, as the expansion of the workforce tends to correlate with economic growth. So, if the Trump economy is successful in attracting new investment and the creation of new businesses and business expansions, leading to major new hiring, things could be looking up.

Whether it comes in 2018 or later remains to be seen, but by giving the American people more of their own money back, rolling back onerous regulations, setting a new paradigm on trade and lowering the cost of doing business in the U.S., after Trump’s first year in office, the recipe for robust growth is there. Let the winning begin.



Voter suppression? Alabama election exposed a myth

by Jeff Jacoby

AFRICAN-AMERICANS constitute 26 percent of Alabama's people, but they accounted for 29 percent of the voters in this month's special election for the US Senate. Whites make up 69 percent of the state's population, yet they were only 66 percent of those who voted. Black voters, in other words, punched above their weight on Election Day, turning up at the polls at a rate that exceeded their share of the general public. Whites, by contrast, underperformed.

But surely that's impossible! Haven't we been told time and again that Deep Red states like Alabama engage in voter suppression, cynically disenfranchising minorities through outrageous election rules that, as Jay Michaelson wrote in The Daily Beast, "just coincidentally happen to disproportionately hit communities of color"? Weren't we reminded in the weeks leading up to the election that Alabama's rules amount to "a naked attempt to suppress the voting rights of people of color" and that black electoral clout is undermined by all the hurdles the state's Republican politicians have devised to deter minorities from casting ballots?

What angry critics decry as voter suppression, Republicans defend as precautions to ensure the integrity of elections. In Alabama, as in many other states, voters are required to show a photo ID. There is no same-day registration and no early voting, and citizens with convictions for felonies of "moral turpitude" are barred from participating in elections.

Are these outrageous infringements on a core American right — or are they reasonable safeguards of that right? There are sincere arguments on both sides.

But there's plenty of cynicism on both sides, too.

Voter fraud, rampant in earlier eras, is essentially a nonissue in contemporary America; states without voter ID laws seem to have no trouble conducting fair elections. GOP lawmakers have sometimes admitted that there is a racial and partisan component to their support for such measures: The lack of an ID law, an Alabama state senator once confided in an interview, "is very beneficial to the black power structure and the rest of the Democrats."

On the other hand, voter ID laws are extremely popular across the political, racial, and geographic spectrum. In a 2016 Gallup poll, 63 percent of Democrats supported voter ID laws. So did 77 percent of nonwhites. So did large majorities in every region of the country. To denounce voter ID laws as racist abominations when nonwhite voters favor those laws as overwhelmingly as white voters do is more than a little disingenuous.

It's also condescending. For most of American history, black citizens really were disenfranchised, excluded from elections by violence and intimidation, humiliating "literacy" tests, and defiantly segregationist politicians. If anyone has reason to value the right to vote, it is African-Americans. For people with historical memories of Bull Connor and the Freedom Summer martyrs, having to show an ID when voting is a trivial detail, not "disenfranchisement."

And that is just what the data show. Far from being suppressed, black voters routinely show up on Election Day at roughly the same rate as white voters. And — as with any other voting bloc — when they are especially motivated, they turn out at even higher rates.

One such motivation was Barack Obama's 2012 reelection, which so energized black voters that their turnout not only hit an all-time high, but surpassed white turnout by 2.1 percentage points. Another motivation was this month's race in Alabama, and the exceptionally distasteful candidacy of Roy Moore. Alabama's election rules, bewailed by so many as an obstacle to minority turnout, didn't keep black voters from flocking to the polls.

Nor have similar rules elsewhere. Even in Republican-dominated states with voter ID laws, black turnout has risen. When the Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley made that claim in a 2014 column, PolitiFact put it under the microscope — and confirmed its accuracy: "Census data shows that . . . black voter turnout was higher nationally than white voter turnout," the fact-checkers concluded, "and at least as high in the states with strict voter ID laws."

This doesn't mean that Republicans who champion such laws don't expect them to yield political dividends. It only means that voter suppression is more of a bugaboo than a real phenomenon. At the same time, that very bugaboo may be helping Democrats. The louder they howl about Republican attempts to keep minorities from voting, the more fervently their base may be galvanized to get to the polls. That too helps explain why ballot-integrity laws haven't impeded black voter turnout.

To repeat, politics is a cynic's game. Republican strategists push for voter ID rules for the same reason Democratic strategists push for automatically registering people to vote when they sign up for welfare benefits or a driver's license: Each camp believes it will work to their party's benefit.

Ultimately, though, elections come down to voters, who have minds of their own and routinely upset the experts' calculations. Alabama is only the latest reminder that when elections are free and fair, outcomes aren't guaranteed. In the Heart of Dixie, as in the rest of 21st-century America, voter suppression is a thing of the past.



Iran As I See It

By Rich Kozlovich

Yesterday I linked to this article, Western media are ignoring a revolution in Iran, commenting:

"These pensioners are old enough to remember how life was when the Shah of Iran was in charge, and when they were young, impetuous and....well....stupid. Now all a sudden the Reza Shah wasn't so bad after all." "Admittedly, he was a tyrant, but the freedoms under the Shah were far greater than anything going on in Iran right now." 

"They traded a beneficent tyrant for an insane group of clerics who've done nothing but suppress them, murder them, abuse them and rob them for decades, and now - they've discovered they've robbed them blind. And now they're shocked! Imagine that!"

I followed that up with this link: Iranian Women Defy Islamic Dress Code as Anti-Government Protests Sweep Nation, with the author stating:

"Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which established Islamic rule in the once free and prosperous country, women have been historically oppressed. However, brave women are now taking to the streets in defiance of Sharia law. These protests are reminiscent of 1979 when thousands of women publicly condemned the government imposed veiling of women."

We should remember that Iran was very westernized under the Shah, and the transition to an Islamic state had to have been a shock to a great many Iranians - who also dared not say anything for fear of what might happen to they and their families.

Which brings us to the important question: How important are these protests?

First, this isn't an isolated incident. These demonstrations are breaking out all over the country and the numbers are substantial, so substantial security forces have used tear gas and water cannons to break them up.

It's hard to know for sure just how big a deal this will become, but one thing is clear. These people know their leader's obsession with foreign involvement in the affairs of Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and their obsession with their nuclear program, and their obsession to defeat or control these non Shiite Muslim countries has absolutely been of no benefit to the people of Iran, and has impacted their economy adversely.

And the foreign investments the government promised hasn't materialized, and I'm sure Trump's decision not to recertify their nuclear program may have been part of the reason for that. It seems to me investors really understand - there's a new sheriff in town - and Iran may not be the best place to put their money.

Yet their oil production is way ahead of where everyone anticipated it to be, but the price of oil isn't what it once was and the Middle East can't make demands any longer - we now have fracking - the world doesn't need them.

I don't know what happened to the billions of dollars Obama sneaked into Iran, but it didn't go to the people of Iran who suffer from high unemployment, especially among the youths of the nation. A demographic that can explode with little provocation, especially when the entire nation knows governmental corruption is massive.

There are two things that aren't talked about in the news much, or at all, and that's the problem with Iran's geography and demography. Geographical boundaries of a nation don't necessarily create a national identity. Societies are made up of communities, and in this case - tribes. Tribes who may self identify in ways Iran's leaders may not like.

Modern Iran, once known as Persia, is mostly useless desert, but it's also a mountain country. And Iran has no navigable rivers - an important component to capital generation - the ability to move goods quickly and cheaply.

Mountain farming is difficult, but that's the only areas in Iran where they're high enough to get enough moisture to grow crops, but the rains are inconsistent, thus making Iran's agricultural economy a feast or famine cycle.

Being a mountain nation makes it difficult to invade, but it also makes it difficult to control. These mountain populations are populations separated by valleys, and those populations don't necessarily identify with people in the next valley, much less those further on.

In spite of the fact Iran has between a 90 and 95 percent Shiite Muslim population, this is not a demographically homogeneous nation. Not only do these mountains create separate identities, sixteen percent of Iran's population are Azerbaijanis, and they have a large Kurdish population, neither of which are easy to deal with. Over half of the Iranians don't even consider themselves Persian.

What will happen? At some point economic reality will have to set in on this nation. It's too small, too land locked, it has no ability to be a real capital generator outside of its oil, and that value is dropping by the minute, the United States is going to cause them as many problems as they can, and their single port could easily be destroyed by a deep water Navy. They are not in a position to enforce their will against anyone, ergo, they use proxy forces - terrorists - and that will come back to haunt them.

Their options are running low, their credibility is non-existent, they're despised throughout the region, and now they're dealing with a President of the United States who isn't going to be bluffed or intimidated. It would seem to me there's going to be a regime change of major proportions, and the clerics will not be a part of the change, and Islam - as it's being imposed on Iran now - will be in for a shock.



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, January 02, 2018

Conservatives’ taking on Silicon Valley

Conservatives have found the latest mark in their long-running assault on cultural elites: Silicon Valley.

From Steve Bannon railing against the "lords of technology" to Donald Trump Jr. using Twitter's "blue check mark" as an insult, anti-tech tropes are ricocheting around the right, painting the internet industry as an unaccountable monolith that looks down on so-called mainstream Americans.

For tech companies, flush with cash and facing little risk of regulation from Republicans, the intensifying rhetoric poses minimal short-term danger in Washington. But a sustained assault could, over time, turn the tech industry into a conservative punching bag, like Hollywood or the news media. And that threatens to alienate parts of tech's vast user base that spans the ideological spectrum.

Conservatives say their disdain stems from suspicions that tech companies are biased against their views — as well as from the industry's usefulness as a symbol of the establishment amid the populist backlash unleashed by President Donald Trump.

“They’re looking out for themselves, and building technologies for themselves, while giving the short end of the stick to the rest of the country,” said Garrett Johnson, co-founder of the right-of-center tech group Lincoln Network, adding that many fellow conservatives are eager to "pick a fight" with Silicon Valley.

Fueling the dynamic is the fact that many executives in the tech industry espouse socially liberal views and rallied around Hillary Clinton's White House bid. While the industry does have a libertarian streak, few in the tech sector self-identify, at least in public, as Republican.

Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser and current Breitbart executive chairman, is one of the leading voices on the right to have latched onto tech as an adversary.

At an October state GOP convention in Anaheim, California, he told the assembled Republicans they should start worrying about the danger swelling within the borders of their own state, a force Bannon branded “the lords of technology in Silicon Valley.”

Pacing back and forth across the stage, Bannon called the industry a challenge to the country itself, run by so-called globalists with no particular affinity for the U.S. From there, he made the leap to California’s “sanctuary cities” and to those who he says feel free to pick and choose which U.S. laws they’re willing to follow.

“Trust me, if you do not roll this back, 10 or 15 years from now, the folks in Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are going to try to secede from the union,” warned Bannon.

The tech industry says such attacks are misplaced. "The internet is not a partisan issue, and American voters of both parties value the high-quality products and services internet companies provide at little or no cost to consumers," said Noah Theran, spokesman for the Internet Association, a trade group whose members include Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Theran said that Internet companies help people to connect, small businesses to compete and nonprofits to raise funds, adding, "the sound bites coming from inside-the-Beltway do not ring true to voters who care deeply about their access to internet platforms."

Perhaps because conservatives have so actively adopted Twitter as a forum to push their ideas and debates, the site’s perceived missteps have also been a particular target of their scorn — especially about the ways the company goes about verifying selected users of the platform.

Twitter has said that verification, signified by a blue check-mark badge appended to a user’s screen name, is just mechanics. It’s a visual cue that lets users know when accounts of public interest belong to who they say they belong to. But some on the right see it as a signal of social status the company hands out willy-nilly — and rarely to conservatives.

After then-Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos was stripped of his check mark under Twitter’s policy against abusiveness in January 2016, he brought up the issue at a White House press briefing.

“My verification check was taken away for making jokes about the wrong group of people,” Yiannopoulos complained to Obama press secretary Josh Earnest. Earnest replied: “I’m not sure exactly what sort of government policy decision could have any influence on that.”

From there, the concept has developed such currency in conservative circles that it serves as a broad-brush putdown dropped into conversation without any other context.

“If only blue check mark SJWs [social justice warriors] cared as much about terrorists attacking us as they do about me attacking socialism,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr. in November after taking heat for a joke about giving away half of his daughter’s Halloween candy.

Other constructions include “blue check-mark mafia” and “blue-check MSM,” a reference to the mainstream media.

Twitter’s verification program is currently “paused,” the company announced last month. That move came after the company was criticized for verifying the account of the chief organizer of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which a counter-protester was killed.

That organizer had celebrated by tweeting, "Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter. I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction."

More recently, Twitter moved this month to remove what it called “hateful conduct and abusive behavior” from its platform, beginning with booting the leaders of far-right and white nationalist groups. Some on the right warned that conservatives are widely at risk of being silenced by what was quickly branded the "#twitterpurge."

Conservatives are still in the early stages of figuring out how to use the cultural complaint against tech to their political advantage. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is on the cutting edge of that effort.

In October, Twitter rejected as "inflammatory" a Blackburn video ad, meant to kick off her Senate run, in which she says, “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” Rather than asking the company to reconsider or reworking the spot, Blackburn’s camp immediately spun it into an fundraising opportunity. Her campaign sent out an email to her list saying, “Silicon Valley elites are trying to impose their values on us.”

Twitter’s refusal to run Blackburn’s ad reverberated on the right. And when Twitter reversed its decision a day later, Fox News ran it with a “breaking” banner.

Twitter’s yanking of Blackburn’s ad was such a gift from the company to the candidate, joked one conservative commentator, that it should count as an “in-kind donation.”

The idea that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives goes at least as far back as May 2016, when Facebook was condemned on the right for filtering conservative news sources from its "trending news" scroller. That led to a sit-down meeting between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and more than a dozen conservatives — among them Glenn Beck, Jim DeMint and S.E. Cupp — in the company’s sprawling Menlo Park, California, complex.

What's newer is the right's effort to craft cultural framing around the tension.

Some attribute the push to Trump himself. The president has proved himself willing to take the gloves off against Silicon Valley. “Facebook was on her side, not mine!” he tweeted in October, in what appeared to be an attempt to counter reports that Russia used the social network to boost Trump’s candidacy against Hillary Clinton.

Of course, critiques of the tech industry’s biggest players are not limited to conservatives. In recent months, there's been considerable talk on the left that Silicon Valley’s power is disturbingly unchecked.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), for example, has criticized Twitter, Facebook and Google for what he says is their generally ineffectual response to Russian manipulation of their platforms around the 2016 election. And other Democrats — like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have argued that the country needs to confront big tech companies’ overwhelming power to shape what people see, say and shop for online.

But conservatives are ahead of the game when it comes to turning it into a cultural argument. And some of them are looking to see whether it can carry weight at the ballot box.

Paul Nehlen, who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in the Republican primary in his Wisconsin district, announced in mid-December that if elected he’d push for a bill that would ban the big online companies from blocking speech.

Nehlen said he’d battle against “shadowbanning,” the practice of websites hiding what some users post without letting them know. Facebook-owned Instagram in particular has been criticized for the practice, which conservatives say is disproportionately used to silence them.

For some slices of the right, their leaders’ willingness to confront Silicon Valley has become a litmus test.

“The GOP’s voters are being systematically censored off of the primary channels of public communication by left-wing tech giants,” wrote Nehlen, “and Ryan — indeed, the entire GOP Congress — has sat utterly mute for years and allowed it to happen.”



Trump reverses another Obama policy

President Donald Trump derailed a $13 billion dollar project to build an Amtrak tunnel between New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station Friday, Crain’s New York Business reports.

Trump is scrapping a proposal by former-President Barack Obama for the federal government to cover half the cost of the new line. New Jersey and New York would cover the other half of the cost under the Obama-era proposal.

Department of Transportation Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams notified State officials in response to an updated proposal to fund the states’ half of the price tag through federal loans. The states’ proposal referenced the Obama administration’s plan for the federal government to underwrite the project as an “agreement.”

“Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” Williams’ letter said, according to Crain’s New York Business. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”

The proposed line would shuttle tens of thousands of commuters daily in one of the United States’ most important economic areas.



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, January 01, 2018

Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ Fails To Land the Real Scoop On the Fate of Free Vietnam

"Democracy dies in darkness" is the new motto of the Washington Post. It adopted the slogan amid the campaign of the liberal press to topple President Trump.

Steven Spielberg’s new movie about the Washington Post is a reminder — however unintended — of something else. Sometimes democracy dies in the full glare of the press.

That’s what happened in Vietnam. And the film, "The Post," takes on a special irony today, as a press full of righteous indignation seeks to overturn an American election.

Mr. Spielberg’s epic is about events that took place in 1971. That’s when the Washington Post published the secret history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers.

The history had been assembled on orders of President Johnson’s secretary of defense, Robert McNamara. A security analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, who’d turned against the war, leaked the documents to the New York Times.

Among the things the papers showed is that America’s leaders sometimes lied. About, say, the events in the Tonkin Gulf that led Congress to authorize the Vietnam War. Or about whether we could win.

The Times started publishing the papers in June 1971 but was stopped by a federal judge. Mr. Ellsberg then gave boxes of the papers to the Washington Post. All eyes then fell on the paper’s owner, Katharine Graham.

Played by Meryl Streep, the doughty doyenne is torn between two factions. On one side are her bankers, who are trying to raise capital for the paper; on the other, her famed editor, Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks.

"What are you going to do, Mrs. Graham?" Bradlee asks her.

The real drama, though, was the war. Bradlee is up on his high horse. "The way they lied — those days have to be over," the editor tells Graham.

Fair enough. It’s not my intention to fault either of them.

Yet this movie deals with only some of the lies about Vietnam. Inexcusable as they were, the lies told by the Americans were relatively small beer.

It was our Communist enemies who told the big lie — that the war was a struggle for liberation by Vietnam’s noble comrades, who took on the Americans with pitchforks. What hooey.

The truth is that the war was a conquest of free South Vietnam by a well-armed, Soviet-backed regime in the north. At the end, the enemy emerged from the jungles with tanks and surface-to-air missiles.

The Pentagon Papers disclosed that our own leaders, in effect, refused to heed evidence that we would lose the war — and sent our troops anyway. "The Post" seems to buy into this theory. Yet it wasn’t sending troops that turned out to be the error. Rather, it was assuming we couldn’t win.

On the ground in Vietnam, our GIs did just that. In the most famous battle, Tet in 1968, our soldiers trounced the Communists. The cause of free Vietnam was betrayed in the United States Congress, which had been turned by the anti-war movement.

That danger had worried the Washington Post’s greatest editor, J. Russell Wiggins. He was the editor who built it into a national publication. He, however, was a liberal hawk.

And staunch. Once, on a visit to Moscow, Wiggins was shown by a representative of the North Vietnamese a sheaf of newspaper clippings about the peace movement in the United States.

That was how the Communists planned to win the war, the thug told Wiggins. A colleague, Stephen Rosenfeld, later described how "Russ’ face reddened and he set his jaw."

When The Washington Post fell away from the war, Wiggins quit, ahead of his retirement, and became LBJ’s ambassador to the United Nations. He is, sadly, unmentioned in the movie.

The Supreme Court allowed the Times and Washington Post to proceed. Nixon launched his hunt for leakers. The movie ends with the discovery of the Watergate burglary that eventually cost Nixon the presidency.

It fell to President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger to try — heroically, in my view — to keep Congress from abandoning Vietnam. Early in 1975, though, Congress cut off supplies of ammo and materiel to our ally.

The Communist conquest quickly followed.

Let President Trump — and his critics — remember: When Congress cut off Vietnam, it wasn’t about saving our GIs. They’d long since been withdrawn.

No, the decision by Congress was to retreat in the face of Soviet Communism. It was about abandoning the hope of free Vietnam itself.

Vietnam’s democracy died in broad daylight.



US stocks mount milestone-shattering run in the year of Trump
Business is booming

Wall Street has taken stock investors on a mostly smooth, record-shattering ride in 2017. The major stock indexes are closing in on double-digit gains for the year, led by Apple, Facebook, and other technology stocks.

"This would go in the category of stellar year, with very little volatility in the market and pullbacks that were essentially minor," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Several factors kept the market on an upward grind for most of the year and repeatedly drove stock indexes to all-time highs. The global economy rebounded, while the US economy and job market continued to strengthen, which helped drive strong corporate earnings growth.

Investors also drew encouragement from the push in Washington, D.C., to slash corporate taxes, roll back regulations and enact other pro-business policies. Congress passed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill, which reduces corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent, last week.

The S&P 500 index is on track to finish the year with a gain of about 22.5 percent, counting dividends. That means if you invested $1,000 in an S&P 500 index fund at the beginning of the year, you’d wind up with about $1,225 at the end of the year.

Other major market indexes also were on course to deliver solid gains. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.1 percent, while the Nasdaq composite is headed for a 28.2 percent gain. The tech-heavy index blew past the 6,000-point mark for the first time in April.

Small-company stocks, which trounced the rest of the market in 2016, got a boost this year as investors bet that the companies would be big beneficiaries of a corporate tax cut bill. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks is on course for a 13.1 percent gain.

For the most part, markets overseas also fared better this year than in 2016.

In Europe, Britain’s market closed the year with a gain of 7.6 percent. Indexes in Germany and France finished 2017 with gains of 12.5 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s benchmark index notched gains of 19.1 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The gains in overseas markets reflect how economies in Japan, Europe, China, and many developing nations began growing in tandem with the United States for the first time in a decade. The United States delivered GDP growth of 3.1 percent in the second quarter and a 3.3 percent gain in the third, its fastest rate in three years.

"We hadn’t seen that kind of growth all together in a long time," said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "We had a pretty strong third quarter and we’re going to have a pretty strong fourth quarter, too."

The market also rode out many negative headlines in 2017.

North Korea tested a ballistic missile for the first time in July. Then, reportedly, a hydrogen bomb in August. Major hurricanes slammed into Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. And congressional Republicans’ failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled worries on Wall Street that the Trump administration’s plans for a sweeping corporate tax cut and other pro-business policies would be delayed or derailed entirely.

Still, investors seemed determined to keep the market moving higher. On days when the market pulled back, stocks typically rebounded the next day.

"You had geopolitical risk with regard to North Korea and the saber-rattling on both sides caught the market’s attention, but it became a buying opportunity," Krosby said.

The last time the S&P 500 had a correction, or a decline of 10 percent or more, was in February 2016. In 2017, the biggest single-day drop was less than 2 percent.

And the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, is on track to end near historic lows. Traders repeatedly bought back in on bad news in 2017 because they, and corporations, have a lot of cash and don’t see better places to get a return as long as the economy and company earnings continue to improve, Christopher said.

"People have just been waiting for pullbacks to buy the dips," he said. "There’s still a lot of cash on the balance sheets of businesses and households."

And now eight years into the bull market, many analysts expect stocks to keep climbing next year.

"We expect the bull market to continue in 2018, but at a more moderate pace," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.



Some Leftists reject the "Russia" obsession

Excerpt from Justin Raimondo below:

The small but intrepid band of left-wing commentators who remain sane in the midst of the Trump Derangement Syndrome epidemic have written (and tweeted) about the new left-wing Russophobia and their severe disappointment that it appears to be taking over the Democratic party base. Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, Doug Henwood, Aaron Mate (of The Real News), Robert Parry of Consortium News have all reported, refuted, and regretted this ominous development, while managing to give the impression that this something new and unique.

The “Trump is a Russian agent” crowd has not one iota of credible evidence that the elected President of the United States “colluded” with the Russians to somehow hypnotize American voters into casting their votes for him: none, nada, zero, zilch.

That doesn’t matter to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or Louise Mensch, three of the most prominent disseminators of the collusion conspiracy theory: they simply report it as fact. Nary a day goes by when the latest iteration of this continuing hoax doesn’t morph into a new variation. Paul Manafort is spilling the beans. Mike Flynn is singing like a bird. Yes, they write like that, in trite, tired phrases worn down by overuse: their imaginative powers are confined to emitting evidence-free conclusions, like that time the Post reported the Russians had hacked into Vermont’s power grid (false – they never even called the power company), or when Mensch swears half the White House staff is about to be perp-walked. All is always about to be revealed – just keep reading the Post, checking the Times, and following Mensch’s tweets!

From a seemingly successful political scam the new Russophobia is fast turning into a growing industry, with several rival conspiracy theorists and “expose the Russians” outfits peddling their wares. The politics of this is reflected in the reunion of the “centrist” liberals with the neoconservatives, like David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Max Boot, all of whom are fanatic NeverTrumpers and have joined the anti-Trump “Popular Front” advocated by liberal warhorse Michael Tomasky.



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, December 31, 2017

The Year Reheated

David Thompson

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began with searing insights from the world of academia. Specifically, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where black student activists denounced objectivity as an “alienating” concept, and issued numerous demands, allegedly to challenge stereotypes of student laziness and inadequacy. It turns out that the way to avoid any appearance of such things is to complain about the “stress and anxiety” of being corrected, or disagreed with, especially by people who are insufficiently brown and deferential.

Elsewhere, the psychological reverberations of Donald Trump’s election victory continued to be felt, as when a charmingly progressive lady sensed a fellow plane passenger’s failure to vote as she did and promptly threatened to vomit on him.

Other pious lefties signalled their moral superiority by planning to sabotage transport infrastructure, stranding and distressing countless random people, and thereby reminding us that “social justice” posturing is often difficult to distinguish from petty malice or outright sociopathy.

Meanwhile, Laurie Penny preferred to advocate “spite” as a guiding progressive principal, as if this were a new and novel development.

February provided further illustrations of this fashionable malice, as when educators at the University of Cincinnati bemoaned the fact that their attempts to inculcate unrealism, dishonesty and pretentious racial guilt were still being met with pockets of resistance. Objecting to slander and brow-beating by bigoted mediocrities is, we learned, merely “white fragility” and therefore, somehow, damning proof of racism.

Racial fixations were also in play at the Writing Centre at the University of Washington, Tacoma, the stated goal of which is to “help writers succeed in a racist society,” a goal to be achieved by denouncing grammar as “an unjust language structure,” and the correction of punctuation as “an oppressive practice.” Because those ungrammatical job applications, the ones enlivened with incomprehensible sentences and lots of inventive spelling, will do just fine.

We also learned of the steep price to be paid for small acts of courtesy – namely, holding open a door for a Guardian contributor with weight issues and a gift for hysterical screaming.

Accessorising was an unexpected topic of discussion in March, when the crushingly put-upon students at Pitzer College, Claremont, California, informed the world that “winged eyeliner and big hoop earrings” are “an everyday act of resistance,” and should therefore be the exclusive ornamentation of the slightly brown and radical.

Elsewhere, at Middlebury College, Dr Charles Murray attempted to give a lecture on, among other things, the dangers of tribalism and social fragmentation, only to be met with tribal hysteria and an actual riot, complete with slanderous chants, hospitalised staff and students wearing ski masks.

In April, the immense, frustrated love machine Caleb Luna wondered why his Grindr profile attracts so little interest. Carefully sidestepping the possibility of weight loss, Mr Luna decided that the rest of us must “interrogate” our “phobias,” which is to say our preferences, and consequently start lusting after “alternative bodies.” Specifically, bodies like Mr Luna’s.

Avoiding the obvious was also a theme in the world of performance art, where Shannon Cochrane and Márcio Carvalho unwittingly entertained us with their deep thoughts, shifting paradigms and heads wrapped in meat.

Another highlight of the month came via Everyday Feminism’s Emily Zak, who wanted us to know that the allure of fresh air is, like everything else, terribly oppressive, due to the “painfully heteronormative” nature of wildland firefighting, and a shortage of adverts featuring gay people kayaking in a suitably gay-affirming manner.

Artistic innovations were at the forefront of May, when performance artist Sarah Hill shook our tiny mental worlds with a “temporal historical rupture” that is “cathartically dialogical,” and achieved by falling over repeatedly while dressed as Wonder Woman.

No less impressive were the attempts to “transform” middle-school children by making maths lessons “intersectional,” thereby furthering the cause of “social justice.” A process that entailed reducing the time available for humdrum things like trigonometry and using it instead to teach children to “subvert power,” while scorning maths itself as a “dehumanising tool.”

June brought us a “guerrilla performance” by “artist, healer and dancer” Shizu Homma, who “interrogates the human condition” with her creative tremendousness.

The month also brought us not one, but two illustrations of what happens when leftwing student psychodrama is allowed to run its course. And not entirely unrelated, we also pondered news that expired pet owners are sometimes eaten by their own dogs, cats and hamsters.

In July, we once again witnessed the educational benefits of “an academic background in gender studies,” and self-declared activist and single mother Jody Allard impressed us with her exemplary feminist parenting, and a determination to humiliate her own teenage sons, publicly and in print, for the sins of being white and male, and therefore, obviously, potential rapists.

Google software developer James Damore rose to notoriety in August by politely questioning the gospel of identity politics, promptly getting fired for it, and triggering a truly boggling display of near-total media dishonesty.

Elsewhere, at the University of Florida, identity politics devotees complained about the “violence” of not being taken seriously, while demanding the construction of two entirely separate buildings to house the university’s black and Latino student groups, because sharing a building, or at least an entrance lobby, would “erase and marginalise their black and brown bodies.”

August also provided several vivid insights into the psychology of “social justice,” as when a mob of severely educated student Mao-lings demanded “empathy” while laughing at accounts of random beatings and then assaulting people themselves, in the name of tolerance.

In the pages of The Atlantic, educator Alice Ristroph watched a total eclipse and somehow saw nothing but racism; while fellow educator Dr A.W. Strouse, whose works include Literary Theories of the Foreskin and deep ruminations on the preputial connotations of aluminium cans, signalled his radicalism by advising students to say “fuck you” to potential employers during job interviews.

Our sexual horizons were broadened in September when we learned of the phenomenon of “ecosexuality” and the orgasmic delights of rock rubbing, tree licking and frottage al fresco.

Meanwhile, academia’s Clown Quarter continued to bewilder. Dr Michael Isaacson, an adjunct professor specialising in “anti-capitalist economic theories” at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, repeatedly tweeted his enthusiasm for the murder of random police officers, and of future officers, including his own students.

And Harvard-educated sociology professor Crystal Fleming championed the looting of trainers while the law-abiding were distracted by an oncoming hurricane.

October brought us more unhinged educators, among them, University of Pennsylvania teaching assistant Stephanie McKellopp, whose areas of expertise include “self-marriage” and “racial blame,” and who signalled her wokeness by announcing her classroom policy of ignoring white male students.

We were also told, by Charles Davis, a professor of education at the University of Southern California, that any hint of consequences for acts of thuggery on campus is “racist” and “unfair,” as it creates “an unsafe and threatening environment” for students who like to indulge in coercive and threatening behaviour.

At the University of California, Irvine, the identity-politics contingent displayed its mental brilliance again in November, and also at Ballou High School, Washington, DC, where, thanks to “social justice,” students who are barely literate and rarely seen in class all somehow graduated and were promptly waved through the gates of a college or university.

And at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, the sadistic, fever-dream world of leftist educators was caught on tape quite shockingly, when teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd found herself being accused of “targeted violence” and of being “threatening,” for remaining politically neutral and politely presenting both sides of an argument.

As the year drew to a close, we witnessed the mental disarray wrought by competitive virtue signalling, wherein racial wokeness veered towards Gorillas in the Mist territory. And we learned that standards of diligence and proficiency are racist and oppressive, according to Purdue University’s Dr Donna Riley, who congratulates herself for her own “alternative ways of thinking,” and who scorns expectations of rigour and competence as “exclusionary,” mere tools of “privilege,” and therefore unfair to women and minorities, for whom rigour and competence are presumably impossible.

So. Quite a year.



Expensive bureaucracy

The U.S. government pays employees a total of about $1 million per minute, according to a watchdog group’s report on the sprawling federal bureaucracy.

Looking at 78 large agencies, the nonprofit organization found that the average salary of a federal employee exceeds $100,000 and that roughly 1 in 5 of those on the government payroll has a six-figure salary.

Almost 30,000 rank-and-file government employees make over $190,823, more than any governor of the 50 states.

“Our oversight report shows the size, scope, and power of the administrative state,” Adam Andrzejewski, Open the Books’ CEO and founder, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Two million federal bureaucrats have salaries, extraordinary perquisites, and lifetime pension benefits. This compensation package has never been seen in the private sector.”

The median wage for all American workers was $44,148 a year for a 40-hour work week in the final quarter of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Andrzejewski said the Open the Books report, released Tuesday and including an interactive map of the 2 million federal bureaucrats by ZIP code, is meant to educate taxpayers on where their dollars are going.

So what about those perks?

When federal employees reach the third anniversary of their employment, he said, “they get eight and a half weeks’ paid time off,” including “10 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days.” [Correction: The word “plus” has been replaced with “including” to convey his meaning accurately.]

“We estimate those perks alone cost the American taxpayer $22.6 billion a year,” Andrzejewski said.

With the government paying the disclosed workforce $1 million per minute, according to the report, every eight-hour workday costs taxpayers more than $500 million.

A total of 406,960 employees make a six-figure income, amounting to roughly 1 in 5 employees. From 2010 through 2016, the number of federal employees making more than $200,000 increased by 165 percent.



Trump's tax returns

During a recent press conference, a reporter with MSNBC hollered from the press corps,"Where is President Trump hiding his tax returns?"

Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, astutely responded, "We've found a very secure place and I'm certain they won't be found."

"And just where is that?", said the reporter, sarcastically.

Mrs. Sanders grinned sardonically and said, "They are underneath Obama's college records, his passport application, his immigration status as a student, his funding sources to pay for college, his college records, and his Selective Service registration.

"Next question?"

The above appears to be a myth but it makes a good point nonetheless.  Obama's university records are "sealed" and the original of his birth certificate has never been produced, only printed "copies"


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)