Monday, December 31, 2018

Therapists Rebrand 'Trump Derangement Syndrome'

Mark Alexander

It’s official! Psychotherapists have adopted a diagnostic name for what we in the real world refer to as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (TDR). They have rebranded TDR version 2.0 as “Trump Anxiety Disorder” (TAD). While that may be a nicer diagnostic tag for a new counseling revenue stream, the word “derangement” is a much more accurate description of the extreme cognitive dissonance TAD references.

The pop culture Urban Dictionary defines Trump Derangement Syndrome as “a mental condition in which a person has been driven effectively insane due to their dislike of Donald Trump, to the point at which they will abandon all logic and reason. Symptoms for this condition can be very diverse, ranging from hysterical outbursts to a complete mental break.”

Unfortunately, the symptoms also manifest in frequent acts of intimidation and violence against supporters of Donald Trump.

Given the benefit (or detriment) of holding several graduate degrees, including one in psychology, I would suggest that the increasing frequency and intensity of hysterics associated with TDR is greatly exacerbated by the unmitigated, constant consumption of hateful Demo/MSM propaganda, 24/7/365. The result is a mass movement of those so intent on undermining Trump that they are now far off the reality reservation and utterly obsessed with defeating peace and prosperity.

Punctuating all the rhetoric spewed by MSM prognosticators are the endless pharmaceutical advertisements claiming to alleviate every muscle twitch or rash, all of which now have a diagnosis. Add to that growing list the official Trump Anxiety Disorder and there are plenty of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants available for “treatment.”

As for the new “kinder, gentler” TAD diagnosis, therapist Elisabeth LaMotte of the Washington, DC-based Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, says that among her clients there is a “collective anxiety” that has been elevating since Trump’s election. According to LaMotte, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

This is the direct consequence of dwelling in the Leftmedia echo chambers mentioned above.

Recognition of the newly redefined TAD pathology was first described in a report last year from psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, in which Jennifer Panning distinguished between general anxiety disorders and TAD because “symptoms were specific to the election of Trump and the resultant unpredictable sociopolitical climate.”

But the underlying TAD symptoms long predate the election of Trump, as I described in “The Pathology of the Left” more than a decade ago. In that assessment I noted what, in the broadest of terms, constitutes the difference between contemporary liberals and conservatives: “Liberals tend to be dependents while conservatives tend to be self-reliant. This is a reflection of their respective emotional constitutions.”

In other words, leftists tend to be far more insecure than conservatives, and thus, when constantly infused with Leftmedia negatives, act out the resulting anxiety in an array of dissociative behaviors.

By all objective measures, most Americans, and our nation in general, are better off under Trump administration policies than they were before Trump’s election. For example, this week brings the latest good news that wages and benefits are growing at the fastest rate in a decade.

In the last two years, the Socialist Democrats have radicalized the once-noble Democrat Party and weaponized their rhetoric — the result being that many of their “triggered” constituents have become increasingly unhinged.

A few years ago I characterized the difference between liberals and conservatives with two contrasting columns: “You Might Be a Liberal If…” and “You Might Be A Conservative If…” But so far to the left have Democrat protagonists gone that the word “liberal” must now be replaced with “leftist.”

Dennis Prager described the Democrat devolution, noting that in the last year he has watched “my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the ‘Resistance,’ as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on…”

So radicalized have leftist Democrats become that political observer Dan Greenfield notes the future of the Democrat Party isn’t just socialist; it’s crazy: “Tweak a normal person’s sense of outrage and they’re moved. Keep doing it a bunch of times and you can enlist them in a movement. Do it every 5 seconds and you drive them as crazy as rats in a Skinner Box.”

Evidence of that slide into the crazy abyss is the recent election of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, now the darling of Bernie Sanders’s nescient adolescent neophytes.

Among many regrettable results from this systemic radicalization is that many Demo constituents have become disenfranchised from the notion of American exceptionalism. Fewer Democrats report that they are proud to be American.

A Pew Research report defines the current divide between Left and Right. The longevity comparison study asked Americans if they perceived that things are better for the current generation than past generations.

The study found that 41% of respondents indicated that life is worse today, while 37% say better. Those results, predictably, fall very much along partisan lines, with Republicans more optimistic than Democrats.

All of this belies a very real derangement disorder epidemic on the Left, and it will take so much more than happy pills to bring its sufferers back to reality.


FOOTNOTE: Mark Alexander has a graduate degree in psychology, among other distinctions


Roughly 80% of all voters say U.S. needs secure borders, including 68% of Democrats: Harvard poll

A wide-reaching new poll conducted by Harvard University reveals that majorities of U.S. voters — including Democrats — appear to agree with many of President Trump’s most basic beliefs about immigration.

The findings reveal, for example, that eight out of 10 of all U.S. voters — 79 percent — say the U.S. needs secure borders; 93 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree with that.

Another 79 percent of voters overall say immigration priorities should be granted on a person’s “ability to contribute to America”; 87 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

Meanwhile, 68 percent overall oppose a lottery-based immigration system which is meant to ensure “greater diversity: in the U.S.; 78 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats agree.

In addition, 61 percent overall say U.S. border security is inadequate; 84 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

Another 54 percent overall support building a combination physical and electronic barrier between the U.S. and Mexico; 85 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.



The wall

We're paying millions of taxpayer dollars to build a border wall, which I am assured is a waste of money ...

The money for the wall was approved under our previous President, Comrade Obama ...

"March 29, 2016: The United States has agreed to fund the multi-million-dollar project to install an electronic security surveillance system on the Tunisia-Libyan border. The wall Tunisia is erecting is set to keep off ISIS terrorists that have found haven in neighboring Libya."

So spending money on a wall for Tunisia to keep out Libyans is perfectly OK and will work just fine, but spending money on a wall on our border to keep out illegal aliens is not OK and won't work?

Man, I'm getting really tired of this hypocrisy ...

Willis Eschenbach

Willis has yet to load that the elite of both Left and Right don't want to stop the illegals coming. Business and the farmers want the cheap labor and Donks want the votes


Trump's Trade War Comes With an Unexpected Bonus: More Trade

A few days before Christmas, the container ship “SM Shanghai” was steaming toward California’s Port of Long Beach. Just ahead and coming to the end of an 11-day journey from China, the “Ever Lucent” was headed for the nearby Port of Los Angeles, where the “Thomas Jefferson” was preparing to sail in the opposite direction for Xiamen.

The global economy, in other words, was chugging along nicely on one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. Trade wars be damned.

In fact, President Donald Trump’s assault on globalization has had a paradoxical effect on world trade flows. A rush to get ahead of new and higher tariffs, particularly on U.S. imports from China, has motivated retailers and other American companies to increase orders, which has helped boost volumes at the country’s ports.

“The warehouse and distribution centers are full in southern California,” said Phillip Sanfield, a Port of Los Angeles spokesman. “We’re experiencing some logistical issues at the San Pedro ports just because there’s so much cargo in play here.”

Busy December

After an active 2017 when the Port of Los Angeles moved the equivalent of 9.3 million shipping containers -- an all-time high for the facility -- a busy December has put it on track to report another record year in 2018, according to Sanfield. Traffic at the Port of Long Beach increased more than 7.3 percent through November, on pace to surpass the record 7.5 million containers it handled last year.

There are many other signs that international commerce did just fine in 2018, thanks in no small part to a busy trade year in America, the world’s biggest buyer of goods.

Despite Trump’s efforts to reduce his country’s appetite for foreign-made products, the U.S. imported more goods and services in value terms than ever in October, the latest Commerce Department data show. U.S. exports were near the all-time monthly record set in May.

And while the World Trade Organization in September forecast global trade growth would ease this year by 0.8 percentage point to 3.9 percent, the gain would still be high by recent standards. As recently as 2016, international trade volumes grew by just 1.8 percent.

“Many people want to shout that the sky is falling on trade because of these trade measures” such as tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, WTO chief economist Robert Koopman said. But for now, “we think 2018 is going to end up with a fairly solid year.”

The story of global trade in 2018 does have subplots and offers warnings for the future.

Record volumes at West Coast ports illustrate at least one uncomfortable trend for Trump: His trade war so far has done more to reduce American exports to China than to lower imports from the Asian nation.

Increased traffic at the Port of Long Beach included a surge in empty containers being shipped back to Asia. In November alone the port saw more than 186,000 empty containers sent on that trip, 11 percent more than last year.

While U.S. retailers have stepped up purchases of Chinese products to avoid tariffs later on, “you’re seeing the opposite effect on the other side of the ocean,” said Mario Cordero, the port’s executive director. “Chinese businesses seem to be already looking to other countries for goods and raw materials, meaning there’s less demand for American exports and more empty containers.”

A Concern

Meanwhile, the 2018 trade rush could be followed by a slowdown in 2019. That’s a concern for the Port of Los Angeles, which expects the scramble to beat tariffs to cause a slowdown in purchases later on. “We’re probably going to see a softening of trade,” Sanfield said.

But it’s not clear how soon the surge of imports will end.

Trump and China’s Xi Jinping agreed to a truce on Dec. 1, prompting the White House to delay for 90 days an increase in tariffs on some $200 billion in annual imports from China. The agreement called for talks to get underway in earnest in January and postponed the rise in tariffs until at least March 1.

A U.S. delegation will head to China in the week of Jan. 7 to hold talks with Chinese officials, two people familiar with the matter said.



Trump hails 'big progress' in trade talks with China

President Trump said Saturday that the U.S. and China are making “big progress” in trade talks aimed at defusing a tariff war.

“Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”

The two leaders agreed in early December to a 90-day truce in the trade war that had been escalating all year. The U.S. agreed to suspend tariffs that were scheduled to begin in January, after Mr. Trump had already imposed levies on $250 billion in Chinese products.

Despite the agreement, trade tensions have contributed to big losses in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost more than 3,500 points since early October.

The Chinese commerce ministry announced this week that China and the U.S. will hold face-to-face trade talks next month. Beijing has resumed purchases of soybeans from the U.S. for the first time in six months.



Trump and Melania in Iraq

First Lady Melania Trump made history on Wednesday, but many in the mainstream media failed to cover it given they spent most of the week attacking President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, the president and first lady made a surprise trip to Iraq to visit with U.S. soldiers.

The anti-Trump media narrative failed to mention that Melania’s visit to the dangerous region was historical. Only three first ladies had ever traveled to a dangerous combat zone prior to this week.

When Trump walked on stage Wednesday to speak to the troops, the crowd roared and broke into a chant of “USA! USA! USA!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also shared a story on Twitter about a young man who said he reenlisted in the military because of Trump becoming commander-in-chief.

“Powerful moment – Member of United States Army told the President he came back into the military because of him. And President Trump responded, “And I am here because of you.” I met him after and he gave me the patch from his arm. Incredible. #TrumpTroopsVisit,” Sanders wrote.

Trump delivered several powerful lines during his trip to both the media and the troops.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” Trump told the service members. “We’re respected again as a nation.”

Trump also fired back at reports about his decision to pull about 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, saying the military is still strongly positioned throughout the region to handle threats.

“There will be a strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria,” Trump said, adding that having troops in Iraq would “prevent an ISIS resurgence.”

“We can hit them so fast and so hard,” he said, adding, “they really won’t know what the hell 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, December 30, 2018

I am fully back in action today.  I have now resumed my customary blogging coverage.  A near-fatal health emergency on Boxing day held me up but I am now back to normal -- JR

Is America's future Brazilian?

A flow of illegal immigrants into a European country can be stopped.  Australia has done it and so have the Eastern European countries.  And in all those cases it was a strong popular will to stop the flow that spurred the politicians into action.

America is not so lucky. The popular will is less easy to discern in America because of the great fractionation of the population.  There are two large minorities and a deranged Left that have much different views from white GOP voters.  So the politicians have little incentive to risk any political capital by doing anything. 

That is very clear from the fact that after two years in charge of both houses the GOP has done precisely nothing to give Trump his wall or the revised laws he needs to control immigration.  America is steadily becoming more Hispanic regardless of anything Trump or anyone else can do.  Even if he gets his wall there will be other ways they can get in and the "catch and release" policy that ICE follows means that once they are in they can stay in.  So unless by sheer force of personality Trump can get useful immigration controls of some sort implemented, nothing will change.

And the Hispanics bring with them Hispanic political attitudes.  And we see only too clearly in Latin America the kind of politics that Hispanic attitudes lead to:  Economic and social chaos and outright Fascism at times.  Only Chile remains prosperous and peaceful as a legacy of the Pinochet reforms.  So as Hispanics become the majority in the USA we can expect more and more of disastrous Hispanic politics and criminality in the USA too.

And that is already underway.  The basic fault of Latin American politics is the appeal of socialism.  Few Hispanics can long resist the siren song of taking from the rich to give to the poor.  They are instictive socialists.  So Latin America repeatedly passes laws aimed at achieving that.  And national impoverishment regularly follows such a system.  So America faces a Hispanic future that is poor, corrupt and vicious.  Poverty creates anger, anger creates lawlessness and it is just a big downwards slide from then on.

So that must be pretty depressing to U.S. whites of British and European origin.  They have created an exceptional country only to see supine politicians let it all gradually go to rack and ruin.  Their own personal future is threatened and bleak.

But how bleak is it? Brazil offers some hope. Whites are already in a minority there so they have already arrived at where the USA is heading.  The CIA says that the Brazilian population is white 47.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 43.1%, black 7.6%, Asian 1.1% and indigenous 0.4%.  Note that what Brazilians refer to as "pardos" (mulattos) would be referred to in the USA simply as "blacks".  By that standard, Brazil is over 50% black.

And the white ancestry there is mainly Portuguese, which is different from the Spanish we see in the rest of Latin America. And as Brazilians often boast, Brazil is something of a melting pot (Remind you of anywhere?) with people from all over the world in addition to the original Portuguese. Perhaps for that reason, they do seem to be less socialist than the Hispanics.  Like the USA, many whites are socialistically inclined but many are not.  And the new Bolsonaro government would seem to be some token of greater conservatism in Brazil.

So how do whites live in Brazil?  Some are poor of course but there is a substantial middle class who live lives not much different from middle class people in the developed world.  There are a lot of gated communities  with condos in them that are pretty similar to American condos.  There is in other words pronounced housing segregation: Modern middle class accomodation combined with large areas of barely livable shacks in the same city. Some blacks live well but most don't while most whites live well but some don't.

What has happened in Brazil is that the whites run just about everything in the country and they have made sure that whites  have access to the education and opportunities generally that enable a broadly Western lifestyle.  If a little loophole in some regulation is needed, that can be provided and most legislation about 'morality" is effectively anti-black and pro-white. And too bad about the non-white half of the population. They have to make their own way if they can

So why don't the poor rebel?  Mainly because the whites control everything -- such as the media and the armed forces -- that would enable a revolution -- and they ensure that no revolution happens.  And one way they keep the peace is by an official doctrine of tolerance -- emphasizing that  people of any origin can rise up, make a success of themselves and join the ranks of the middle class:  A Brazilian version of the American dream, in other words.  And as in America, the numbers who do actually rise into a higher station are few.  But is is a helpful national myth.

Everything I have just said is very broad brush but the salient point is that an outnumbered European population can still mostly live a good life if they are capable people -- so American whites have less to fear than you might think from the prospect of being outnumbered by Hispanics.  They are likely still to rule the roost and have their affairs organized the way they like it, with the  Hispanics going to hell in their own way -- JR


Brazil's new government under Bolsonaro

Brazil's new government under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro includes a star anti-corruption judge as justice minister and a free-market economy minister with broad powers, and sees a third of the slots going to ex-military men.

The foreign ministry is to come under a mid-level public servant who shares Bolsonaro's fervent anti-left views and desire to sidle closer to the United States.

And an anti-abortion evangelist pastor has been named to take charge of the human rights portfolio.

- VP general -

The vice presidency goes to a retired general, Hamilton Mourao, 65, known for right-wing views that mesh with his boss and a similar penchant for shooting from the hip. He has vowed he will not be a "brain-shrunken" second fiddle in the administration.

- Star judge -

Sergio Moro won national fame and plaudits for being the head judge of a vast anti-corruption probe known as "Car Wash" that has thrown some titans of Brazilian business and politics into cells -- including former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Now the 46-year-old will become justice minister, even though he doesn't see eye-to-eye with Bolsonaro on some key issues, such as making guns easier to own or designating poor rural land-grabbers as "terrorists."

- Liberal economist -

Bolsonaro became a darling for investors because of the man he is making his economy minister: Paulo Guedes, a US-trained economist who is intent on sweeping free-market reforms that would upend Brazil's previous protectionism to slash debt.

But while Guedes, 69, will have broad powers, it remains to be seen if he can get privatizations past the conservative president, who has freely admitted he knows little about economics.

- Chief of staff -

The powerful chief-of-staff's post has gone to an experienced lawmaker, Onyx Lorenzoni, 64, seen as the brains behind the campaign that brought Bolsonaro to power.

- Close security -

A military mentor to Bolsonaro in the 1970s, retired general Augusto Heleno, had been considered as defense minister but finally will take on the security portfolio responsible for intelligence.

The 70-year-old notably headed up the UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti in 2004 and 2005.

- Foreign minister fan -

The mid-ranking career diplomat Ernesto Araujo, 51, saw his loyalty to Bolsonaro and his nationalist views -- echoing those of US President Donald Trump -- rewarded with a nomination to head Brazil's foreign ministry.

He has come out strongly against leftist governments in Latin America, namely Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and criticized "cultural Marxism" he believes has influenced scientific thinking on climate change.

- Rights pastor -

Damares Alves, the new minister for women, the family and human rights might be an evangelical pastor opposed to abortion and feminism, but she has also expressed hopes for a rapprochement with Brazil's gay community.

Her responsibilities will also include indigenous rights, which has left the justice portfolio to come under her ministry.



In 2006, Democrats were saying `build that fence!'

As a senator, Barack Obama once offered measured praise for the border control legislation that would become the basis for one of Donald Trump's first acts as president.

"The bill before us will certainly do some good," Obama said on the Senate floor in October 2006. He praised the legislation, saying it would provide "better fences and better security along our borders" and would "help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country."

Obama was talking about the Secure Fence Act of 2006, legislation authorizing a barrier along the southern border passed into law with the support of 26 Democratic senators including party leaders like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer.

Now it's become the legal mechanism for Trump to order construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico, attempting tomake good on a key promise from the campaign trail. Trump specifically cited the law in the first sentence of Wednesday's executive order authorizing the wall.

The episode shows how concerns over border security occupied Washington well before Trump made it the centerpiece of his candidacy, and that Democrats were more than willing to offer big sums of taxpayer money to keep Mexicans and other Latino immigrants out of the United States. The border fence called for in the 2006 law was far less ambitious than the wall Trump envisions, and,as he is apt to do, he has made the issue bigger, more explosive, and far more disruptive to US diplomacy.

Trump has also added his own twist that was never a part of the 2006 legislation, a promise that the Mexican people would pay for the wall. But on Thursday White House spokesman Sean Spicer, in a briefing aboard Air Force One, said that Trump would levy a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico to fund construction of the barrier.

He estimated that the 20 percent tariff would bring in $10 billion a year and "easily pay for the wall." Later, the White House appeared to back away from the idea of an import tax.

Even before the highly controversial proposed funding mechanism was made public Thursday afternoon, Mexican President Enrique Pe a Nieto announced that he was canceling his planned trip to the United States next week, citing the new administration's focus on the wall.

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who opposed the measure in 2006 when he was in office, had even harsher words for Trump. "Donald, don't be self-indulgent," he posted on his Twitter feed Thursday. "Mexico has spoken, we will never ever pay for the #[Expletive]Wall."

For Democrats who generally support relaxed rules that offer a path to citizenship for immigrants, the 2006 law was seen as the better of two evils. The House had recently passed legislation immigration advocates viewed as draconian because it would make any undocumented immigrant a felon.

By comparison, the border fence didn't seem so bad. Moreover, immigration reform advocates were beaten down after a wider overhaul had stalled.

"It didn't have anywhere near the gravity of harm," recalled Angela Kelley, who in 2006 was the legislative director for the National Immigration Forum. "It was hard to vote against it because who is going to vote against a secure fence? And it was benign compared with what was out there."

The law flew through the Senate with a vote of 80 to 19. (One senator, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, was not present. John Kerry, the state's other senator, voted against it.) In the House, the measure passed 283 to 138, with 64 Democrats supporting it. (The Massachusetts delegation was split.) From there it went to then-President George W. Bush, who signed it 12 days before the 2006 mid-term elections.

The plan was not nearly as expansive as Trump's promise for a wall along the entire border. It allowed for about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches. Congress put aside $1.4 billion for the fence, but the whole cost, including maintenance, was pegged at $50 billion over 25 years, according to analyses at the time.

The government had constructed about 650 miles of fence by 2015, most of it after passage of the act, according to a report last year by the US Government Accountability Office.

Clinton also voted for the bill, though in a floor speech during the debate she completely ignored the fence issue and heaped praise on an amendment to it that would help New York farmers by expanding the number of visas allowed for agricultural workers.

During her recent failed presidential campaign, however, she referred to the vote.

"I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," Clinton said at November 2015 town hall in New Hampshire, "and I do think that you have to control your borders."



Trump Throws Down Ultimatum if Border Wall Doesn’t Receive Funding

In a series of tweets Friday morning, President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the southern border if the border wall doesn’t receive funding.

According to Reuters, Democrats and the White House are still far apart on the funding for the wall.

The White House has requested $5 billion in wall funding and has partially shut down the government since last Friday.

The Democrats, meanwhile, have only offered $1.3 billion in funding for broader border security but not for a wall — a prospect they have long opposed.

Congress is in recess until next week. However, even before they go back into session, the president is firing salvos in order to keep the Democrats on their toes.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!” Trump tweeted.

He also said that due to bad trade deals, a shutdown of the border with Mexico and Central America could be a “profit making operation.”  ....The United States loses soooo much money on Trade with Mexico under NAFTA, over 75 Billion Dollars a year (not including Drug Money which would be many times that amount), that I would consider closing the Southern Border a “profit making operation.”

“We build a Wall or close the Southern Border. Bring our car industry back into the United States where it belongs,” he continued. “Go back to pre-NAFTA, before so many of our companies and jobs were so foolishly sent to Mexico. Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border.”

Trump also claimed that another incipient caravan was heading our way from south of Mexico.

“Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money,” Trump wrote.

“Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!”

“Another migrant caravan — this one estimated at 15,000 people — is preparing to leave Honduras on Jan. 15, according to migrant rights advocates and Spanish-language media,” the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

“‘They say they are even bigger and stronger than the last caravan,’ said Irma Garrido, a member of the migrant advocacy group Reactiva Tijuana Foundation.”

“Meanwhile, thousands of Central American migrants from a caravan that left Honduras in October remain stranded at the U.S.-Mexico border and languishing in crowded Tijuana shelters while they wait out a lengthy process to file asylum requests with the United States.”

Neither Pelosi nor Schumer has tweeted in response to Trump as of noon on Friday.



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)


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Business management studies

There are legions of earnest young Chinese students all over the Western world enrolled in university business management degrees.  The poor darlings evidently think that we have something useful to teach them on that subject. Or maybe they will be happy that other people will think they have learnt something useful by  doing such courses.

I have been successful in business and I know others who have been.  And none of us ever spent one minute in these vastly over-rated courses.  I doubt in fact that any successful entrepreneur has ever done such courses before they became successful.  It is only in the machinery of already successful big businesses that a holder of a business management degree finds employment, as far as I can tell.

So what is going on?  What is in these courses?  What do students there learn?  They learn a fair bit about economics, a fair bit about accountancy, a fair bit about budgeting, a fair bit about industrial psychology and a fair bit about business law.  But all these things are just bits grabbed from other disciplines.  Is there anything unique to business studies?

There certainly seems to be.  There are thousands of books out that purport to tell you how to succeed in business but they all have different ideas and there is very little in them that could be seen as laws of business success.  People and circumstances differ too much for that. But there is one way that they are definitely useful. They almost all offer a heavy dose of business history.

And business history seems to me to be the one useful thing in a business degree.  By reading umpteen histories of how others have succeeded there is a fair chance that in his subsequent life as a business manager the student may encounter challenges similar to the challenges overcome by a writer of one of the books he has read.  But all businesses are different so for him to have any chance of having learned something useful for his business, the student will have to have read MANY books, perhaps all histories of successful businesses that there are.

But in the end all business management is man management (feminists shoot me) and being good at that is as much inborn as it is learned. I have a Ph.D. and many published academic papers in psychology and I can assure you that there is still not a huge lot that psychology can teach you about improving your social skills. What works for one person in one situation may not work for other people in other situations. And so much psychological research is bunkum (as the replication crisis has shown us) that professional advice from psychologists is probably pretty poorly founded anyway.

So what I want to do now is to reproduce the story of a very successful businessman and highlight something you can learn from it that is worth much more than any business degree.  In case it is not obvious, I will add some further comments at the foot of the article excerpt.  The article is from Australia so some of the allusions will not be understood elsewhere but the central message is, I hope, loud and clear:

Born with silver spoon but always unassuming: Maxwell George Rodd, Businessman

IF YOU were married in the 1960s you would almost certainly have received one or more boxes of Rodd Silverware's Jasmine sweet spoons or a canteen of Rodd silver cutlery as a wedding present.

Max Rodd, who built a family partnership into a metals conglomerate through various acquisitions and amalgamations, has died aged 91.

G&E Rodd Pty Ltd was founded in Melbourne in 1919 and by the late 1930s was the leading firm of manufacturing jewellers in Australia. During the 1930s, it diversified into silver tableware -- knives, forks and spoons, including souvenir spoons -- and during World War II, 200 employees were deployed to wartime production.

After his parents died unexpectedly, he took over G&E Rodd in 1948 and it became a public company. Although only 30, Rodd's business ideas and skills saw Rodd Silverware flourish.

It became a household name, its products offered as prizes on Bob Dyer's popular radio and TV game program Pick a Box. In 1961, a set of Rodd Australian gold Jasmine spoons and forks was commissioned as Australia's wedding present to the Duke and Duchess of York.

The year before the company amalgamated with Myttons Ltd, and in 1967 Rodd became chairman and managing director. A quiet achiever, his management skills would make good textbook copy for students of the field.

He embraced corporate requirements, but didn't become a corporate man. He would walk through the Rodd factory in St Kilda each morning and greet each employee by name. He encouraged young employees to progress and implemented superannuation before it became compulsory.

Even after he retired in the late '70s, he returned to attend reunions for employees.


So did you see the gold nugget in that story?  Here it is again:

He would walk through the Rodd factory in St Kilda each morning and greet each employee by name

Can you imagine what that did for his more than 100 employees?  It would have made them feel respected and appreciated.  Would such employees ever go on strike?  Unlikely.  They would feel able to discuss any problem with the boss as soon as it arose.

It is such a powerful business management practice that you wonder why it is not universally practiced.  That it is not shows that only a psychologically big man can do it.  And Rodd was a big man.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Homelessness and the family

Conservatives usually style themselves as pro-family -- Primarily to distinguish themselves from those who don't form lasting partnerships and do not take part in the upbringing of a child. They say that an intact male/female family is the best environment in which to bring up a child.  And such families have been the normal human arrangement for hundreds of thousands of generations, so that has got to be right.  Intact families are how we have arrived at who we are today. We have evolved to live as part of a family and that has become genetically encoded

 We can of course live in other ways but are much less likely to flourish in those other ways -- and any children are highly likely to be damaged by not being brought up in a traditional family.  Any time researchers look at how well children function, the children of traditional families come out best.  There are a number of research reports that purport to show that the children of Lesbian couples do well but those studies are all so hokey that that tells its own story.  Some of them don't even interview the children concerned, rather incredibly. See here and here and here and here and here (scroll down) and here (scroll down)

Leftist don't like all that, of course.  Ever since Karl Marx, they have seen families as an obstacle to their foolish dreams of reforming how people behave.  People are very resistant to being reformed and the family is a sort of fortress in which people can be themselves.

But in various ways, the Left have seriously damaged the family.  They have convinced many people that a traditional family is a silly old system for people who know no better. Sexual liberation is the chief weapon in their armoury of weapons against the family.  Nonetheless, traditional urges do usually defeat ideas of sexual liberation and most people do enter into some form of marriage.  Even Germaine Greer got married at one stage.

Many of the modern marriages do not last, however.  The Leftist siren-song of sexual variety leads both men and women into "straying" from their marriages.  And there is no doubt that marriages do place serious demands on the people involved. Men and women are very different so living together is always going to have its stresses. And not everyone is prepared to make the compromises required

So the end result is that in many jurisdictions something like 50% of marriages do not last.  Satan has had his way.

And that leads to many of modern society's dysfunctions. Children are brought up with less guidance and less balanced guidance in particular.  To take a small example, a girl who is brought up with only a mother in her life might not be bothered to see a little red light flashing on her car's dashboard.  She may even think it is pretty and will continue to drive gaily along until she destroys her motor from lack of oil.  Expensive! She has just never had a father to tell her anything about cars. So children get by in one way or another but will suffer various handicaps and losses that could have been avoided.

But disadvantaged children are far from the only losers in a normless society.  When people are down on their luck and can no longer afford rent what do they do? Most of them go back to their parents' home and re-occupy their childhood bedroom.  And they live a civilized life there which preserves their self-respect and helps them to get on their feet again.

But what if there is no family home to go back to?  At best they sleep in their car and often they sleep in the streets.  They become homeless. If one of their parents is doing well they may get taken in but often the parents will be struggling too so are not in much of a position to help.

So there is both the cause and the solution to homelessness: Families or the lack of them. Sexual liberation is fine and dandy but it can exact a heavy price down the track.

There are of course some older people who are homeless -- and for many of them there is simply no family home to go back to because their parents are deceased.  But they should have other family members to turn to: brothers and sisters and sons and daughters.  And if family connections have been fostered, there will often be  someone who takes in a valued brother or sister.  And children often see to the needs of their elderly.

But again, that situation is not likely to exist unless all the brothers and sisters have been brought up together and have been taught to value and support one-another.  Where brothers and sisters have been scattered to the four winds, they may be essentially strangers to one another and hence be disinclined to help one another.  And if you have grown children who help you it will be strongly influenced by how you have treated them.  If they have hardly known you, they may see no obligation on themselves.  But if you have been a hands-on parent who provided them with a loving environment that enabled them to blossom, you can probably expect at least some help from them.

The family is the ultimate welfare system and nothing comes near to replacing it.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Jon Burge, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Brazil

In my heading above I have lumped together some unlikely characters -- a corrupt police chief, a 17th century German philosopher and the modern-day state of Brazil.  But as unlikely as it seems, they do have something in common. And police chief Burge has just recently passed away so perhaps it is time to take another look at his record

The lasting relevance of Leibnitz resides in his dictum that we live in the best of all possible worlds -- a notion that almost everyone dismisses without hesitation as absurd.  But Leibnitz was a brilliant man.  What did he mean by his strange dictum?

What he was doing was was in fact warning us about Leftist-type  thinking.  He was pointing to the fact that some good things are necessarily accompanied by bad things -- and that some bad things are a byproduct of some good things. So even a world that a lot of people disliked could in fact be the best possible.  Attempts to improve it might in fact make it worse.

And Leftism is a perfect illustration of that. Leftist policies are often adopted in the belief that they will offer some improvement in the life of the people -- but all too often those same policies also have "unforeseen" bad effects. So Obamacare made health insurance more affordable for some but effectively cut millions of Americans off from health insurance altogether.  If only Leftists adopted Leibnitzian thinking, they might be more hesitant to rush into their customary destructive legislation.

And that helps us to take a revised evaluation of Jon Burge.  Who was Jon Burge? Jon Graham Burge (December 20, 1947 – September 19, 2018) was an American police detective and commander in the Chicago Police Department who was accused of torturing more than 200 criminal suspects between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions.

And the perspective you need is to be aware of the rampant lawlessness of many blacks in Chicago to this day.  In just one weekend you could have (say) a dozen black on black shootings that resulted in death or serious injury.  And poor co-operation between blacks and the police meant that it was totally unrealistic to prosecute each shooting. So lots of violent people walked free.

And so began the nearly 20 years of the reign of Jon Burge.  If Burge or his men thought that they had a perpetrator in their grasp, they weren't going to let him go for lack of evidence.  "Evidence will be provided", they said.  They simply railroaded whoever they thought was a bad guy. They fabricated any evidence needed.

And they justified that by saying that the bad guy might not have done what we set him up for but he would have done other stuff that we didn't know about.  So justice was still done. And in the long haul they were proved largely right.  When the wonderful law students got to work and showed that some man was innocent of what he was convicted for, it almost always emerged that he had committed other crimes.

Needless to say, Burge's success at getting convictions became well known in Chicago.  He was greatly feared.  And one result of that fear was a reluctance to tangle with the Chicago cops.  Blacks knew that they could still get away with most shootings but they had better be very slow to shoot whites.  They knew that Burge always pursued such shootings and that he always got his man, evidence regardless.  So whites were fairly safe in lawless Chicago under the supervision of Jon Burge.

So Burge has been the only one to get some sort of a handle of the torrent of violent crime in Chicago.  In a situation where normal law enforcement was impossible he did what many regarded as the next best thing

He was of course eventually caught out and spent a few years in prison but I think we should judge him not as a crooked cop but as a man at war -- an unscrupulous war he waged with some success.  As Leibniz teaches us, his corruption of justice was bad but it also did some good.

And as far as we can tell, the Chicago cops these days are as rough as ever. The US Department of Justice conducted an investigation of the Chicago Police Department and released their report in January 2017. They strongly criticized the police for a culture of excessive violence, especially against minority suspects and the community, and said there was insufficient and poor training, and lack of true oversight.  Chicago rules are still different, it seems

So am I condoning what Jon Burge did?  I hope it is obvious that I am NOT condoning what he did.  What he did was terrifyingly wrong.  But it often happens in life that all our choices in a particular circumstance are bad and the most rational thing we can therefore do is to choose the lesser of two evils. And it is my disruptive submission that what Burge did was in fact the lesser of two evils.  Burge got a couple of hundred really bad guys put out of the community for long periods.  And just about none of them could have been put away by legitimate methods.  So the alternative to what he did was to leave hundreds of murderous thugs free to roam through the black community.  And I think that was a worse alternative.

It may help a little if I note that it is not unusual for lawbreaking to be publicly condoned.  The Robin Hood story is probably the best known example of that.  Hood was a highway robber but because he gave some of his loot to the poor he is fondly remembered. Will Burge ever be fondly remembered?  It's unlikely.  His crimes were undoubtedly more heinous.  But he offered the same combination of service to the public through wrong deeds.

And Leibnitz next leads us to Brazil.  Brazil is a heavily socialist state that is also corrupt so I will put what I want to say about Brazil into a more general rubric:

Corruption in a heavily regulated state can promote freedom.

If all of Brazil's Leftist regulations were energetically enforced, it would be very difficult for anyone to make a buck.  Businesses would certainly be greatly hampered in what they did.  Fortunately, however, there is very little energy anywhere in Brazil to enforce official regulations and what energy there is can usually be bought off by a small bribe to the relevant official.  So in practice, Brazil is surprisingly like a free-market economy.  And you can see that in some of the economic successes that Brazil has.

The most surprising is aircraft production.  The Big Two of aircraft design and supply are Boeing and Airbus.  Between them, they supply most of the world's civilian aircraft.  But there are two minnows who also produce a significant volume of aircraft for international sale:  Bombardier in Canada and Embraer in Brazil.  And Embraer aircraft are of a high standard and sell well.  So that is pretty remarkable: A Third World country that is a well established supplier of civilian aircraft to the international market. It's more than China, Japan and Russia can currently do, though they are trying.

And Brazil has shown how to power cars with "alternative" fuel.  Brazil has vast acres of lushly growing sugarcane.  So they can harvest that very efficiently and cheaply.  And alcohol produced from cane is about half the price of American corn alcohol.  So you can see where we are going here.  Just by harvesting and producing alcohol by normal means would make Brazilian alcohol a competitive fuel for cars.  But Brazil goes one better.  They build distilleries right next to crushing mills. So the feed to  the distillery is not sugar crystals but a product from fresh-crushed sugarcane juice, keeping production costs way down.

So Brazil has long run millions of cars on pure ethanol and has done so at little cost penalty.  Brazil has in recent years discovered great oilfields off its coasts so much of the incentive to rely on ethanol has vanished. Petroleum products could undercut ethanol in price. But Brazil has certainly shown how to produce "alternative" fuel at a reasonable price.  So even a free market enabled by corruption can be dynamic and efficient. Leibnitz would nod wisely to hear of freedom and prosperity produced by corruption and lawlessness.

There is no doubt that a system where a few wise laws are carefully enforced is ideal but the ideal can be difficult to reach.  But even in a non-ideal system life goes on and useful compromises can sometimes emerge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A compromise

As most readers here will be aware, I put up six blogs six days a week.  I have however decided to take a few days off over the Christmas New Year break this year  As a compromise, however, I have decided that I will put up just a few things on this blog only. I hope to put one thing interesting up each day

East Germany and the Menzies era

The Communist State of East Germany (the DDR or Deutsche Demokratische Republik) is now long gone. In the day, East Germans could receive West German TV programs so were acutely aware that the capitalistic West Germans were much richer than they were.  So they envied that and wanted the opportunity to move to the West. But the famous wall between East and West prevented that. So when the Gorbachev reforms in Russia allowed it, thousands of them breached the wall, leading to the downfall of the East German regime and a peaceful takeover of the Eastern lands by the West Germans in 1990.

Easterners had not generally foreseen any negative consequences of reunion but some soon emerged. In particular, the businesses and industries of the East were not remotely competitive with their Western counterparts and rapidly went broke.  This led to very high levels of unemployment and economic depression generally in the East and there very soon emerged among some people "Ostalgie" -- a longing for the old Communist regime, a longing that continues among some to this day

What Easterners miss from the old regime was stability, particularly stability of employment, but they also missed the orderly and predictable availability of goods and services as well.  You didn't have to compete for anything.  All was provided, albeit at a low level. So there was a brotherly feeling among Easterners and that is missed by some too.

Below is a DDR propaganda video set to the words of the old DDR national anthem.  It gives you some impression of what the DDR was like at its best.

You may, incidentally get some impression of why some Germans from both East and West say that the old DDR anthem was much better than the current Federal anthem.  The ideals expressed are certainly in general commendable.

So is there any chance of reviving at least some of that system? Almost certainly not.  The system was kept calm and stable through coercion. Individualism was discouraged under what was to an extent a benign despotism. One of the State governments in the East might one day attempt some approximation to it but the federal government would not put up with too much of that. The German Basic Law (constitution) would also impose limits.

Nonetheless, it is clear that some of the aspects of extreme socialism were and are appreciated by some people. The entire developed world does have a degree of socialism (welfare measures etc.) so there is clearly something basic in the appeal of socialism. 

And it is perfectly obvious where that appeal resides.  It is encoded into us by our evolutionary past. As we see in primitive societies to this day, caveman life was heavily into sharing.  If one member of the tribe had managed to catch a juicy animal, he would share it with the whole of the tribe.  In the absence of refrigeration, it would not keep anyway and by sharing his kill he would be entitled to a share of all the kills made by all tribe members.  And common defence was also practiced.  If members of another tribe staged a raid to kidnap one of your women, the whole tribe would rise up to defend the desirable dame.

So there is a sense in which we are all born socialists, which accounts for the virtual ubiquity of some socialist practices in human societies.  The great discovery of 18th and 19th century Britain, however, was that individualism was also beneficial -- particularly for generating wealth.  Money talked and it talked loudly.  Britain did have its socialist system (Workhouses, poorhouses, church schools etc) but they left plenty of room for individual enterprise.  And the rest is history, as they say.  In the developing, mostly European, world of the 19th century, Britain became the model and socialism took a back seat to individual enterprise because of its obvious advantages

But socialism is deep rooted and the 20th century saw it roar back -- with extreme socialism in Russia, Germany and China.  And in the rest of the world there were all sorts of restrictions on business and welfare states also emerged.  In Britain only Mrs Thatcher gave socialism a black eye and Mr Trump is working in that direction too.

So an obvious question is whether capitalism can deliver some of the things that socialists like.  The extensive welfare provisions already in existence already go some way towards that but is there more that we can do without wrecking our successful economic model.

East Germany gives us the clue.  The one thing that "Ossis" particularly liked was stability, the absence of change.  In particular they liked economic stability -- confidence that you would have a job tomorrow and that the job is easy to do.

That is in fact a thoroughly conservative wish.  Stability and an absence of change are good conservative values.  So where have we gone wrong?  Why did it take a Communist state to put conservative values into practice?  The answer is that all of life is a tradeoff.  Only feminists think you can have it all. And we have traded too much for economic liberty.  East Germany was poorer but more secure and relaxed and that tradeoff suited many people.

And there is a robust Anglo-Saxon democracy with all the traditional liberties that did offer something like East German tradeoffs.  That was Australia in the 1950s under the long running Prime Ministership of the very conservative R.G. ("Bob") Menzies. I was there. I remember Menzies well.  Menzies resisted almost all proposals for change. People would ask him to "do something" about all sorts of problems but he would always be able to point out ways in which "doing something" could produce as many problems as it solved.  There is a delightful story here about how Menzies defeated one group of "do something" advocates.

And Australia was very autarkic at that time.  It made its own cars and kitchen appliances plus much else.  Some goods were imported, chiefly from Britain, but Australian manufacturers were encouraged and were readily given tariff protection.  If you made toasters in Australia you did not have to worry about overseas competition.  A nice little tariff would protect you.

So businesses and their employees could relax.  Their factory would just keep running year after year.  The workers could plan their savings and their holidays with no fear that their job would suddenly vanish due to a new competitor entering the market and selling the product at a cheaper price.

And under that system there was very little unemployment. Anyone who wanted one could get a job.  Unemployment was always under 2%.  It was a crisis if it seemed likely to rise to 2%.  There is nowhere like that in the world today.

So Australia at that time was a capitalistic economy with East German characteristics.  Those who were there tend to remember it as a golden age.  I do. We were much poorer and had worse dentistry but we ate well, took a train to visit relatives and friends on our holidays and could always enjoy a cold beer.  What else is there?

But that is lost today.  Australia is now a normal nation with few tariffs and unemployment around 5%.  And you can buy things for pocket change that once would have been a serious hit on the budget.

But Mr Trump seems to be coming to the rescue.  He has very similar priorities to Bob Menzies.  He too thinks that a nice little tariff can hold back change and rescue jobs.  He has an economics degree from the Wharton school so he knows the downside of that.  He knows that tariffs are impoverishing but he also knows that stability is a neglected but important value. Money is not everything. It is unlikely that America will ever come near to East Germany in an offering of stability but Mr Trump is rebalancing American priorities in that direction, which should make America a better place overall.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Apollo 8's perfect Christmas message

by Jeff Jacoby

"Say something appropriate."

It was Christmas Eve 1968, and three American astronauts were in the midst of a mission to boldly go where no man had gone before. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders — the crew of Apollo 8 — were circling the Moon. At 8:30 p.m. Houston time, they were scheduled to make a live broadcast that would be beamed back to Earth. NASA had cautioned the men that their words would be heard by the largest audience in human history. An estimated 1 billion people — more than one-fourth of the world's population — would tune in. Yet the crew hadn't been told what to say. Their only instruction was: "Say something appropriate."

Going to the Moon hadn't been the original plan for Apollo 8. As published accounts of the mission have noted, it was initially supposed to be a flight only to low Earth orbit, where the crew could start getting used to NASA's new lunar module, and run through simulations of re-entering Earth's atmosphere after a lunar voyage.

Then everything changed. In September, the Soviet Union launched an unmanned lunar probe, Zond 5, which successfully orbited the Moon and returned to Earth. The CIA thought the Soviets might be planning a manned mission by the end of the year. America's shot at winning the space race, and of achieving President Kennedy's goal of landing an American on the Moon before the decade's end, seemed to be slipping away.

Whereupon, in a surge of audacity and élan, NASA switched gears. With just four months to make it happen, the decision was made to send Apollo 8 the Moon.

The risks were enormous. No one had ever traveled more than 850 miles from the Earth's surface; Borman, Lovell, and Anders would have to fly 240,000 miles to reach their destination. It would require the most powerful rocket ever built, the Saturn V, to propel Apollo 8 beyond Earth orbit. But Saturn V was new and had never flown a manned crew. In fact, it had only been tested twice — and the second test, in April, had gone very badly.

Even more unnerving was that Apollo 8's new lunar module, plagued by defects, still wasn't ready. That meant the crew would have no backup engine: no lifeboat. There would be only the single engine of the command module, which would be needed repeatedly — to fly to the Moon, to enter lunar orbit, to escape from the lunar orbit, and to return to earth. If that engine failed, the astronauts would be doomed.

The death of astronauts was no mere theoretical concern. In January 1967, an errant electrical spark had triggered a flash fire that destroyed Apollo 1 during preflight testing, killing three astronauts. Another such tragedy would be shattering to Americans, all the more so since Apollo 8 would be traveling over Christmas. America in 1968 had already experienced so much anguish — the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, race riots in US cities, the bloody Tet offensive in Vietnam. Chris Kraft, NASA's director of flight operations, later said that the decision to go to the Moon on such short notice "took more courage . . . than anything we ever did in the space program."

If fortune ever favored the brave, it favored NASA and the crew of Apollo 8. Borman, Lovell, and Anders became the first men to leave Earth's gravitational field, the first to travel through a quarter of a million extraterrestrial miles, the first to see the dark side of the Moon, and the first to see the heart-stoppingly gorgeous view of an Earthrise from outer space — to see the Earth, in Borman's awestruck formulation, the way God must see it.

And now it was Christmas Eve. Apollo 8 was making the ninth of its 10 scheduled revolutions around the Moon, and it was time for the crew to "say something appropriate" to a waiting world. When the onboard camera came on, the three astronauts described the tasks they had been performing and their reactions to what they were seeing. Then, said Anders, "for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you."

As the bleak moonscape swept past below them, they read from the Book of Genesis:

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. . . . And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. . . And God saw that it was good."

Borman brought the transmission to a finish after the men had recited 10 verses. "We close," he said, "with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth."

NASA hadn't known what the astronauts were going to say, writes Robert Kurson in "Rocket Men," a gripping account of Apollo 8's odyssey. "Inside Mission Control, no one moved. Then, one after another, those scientists and engineers in Houston began to cry."

They weren't the only ones overcome with emotion. The astronauts' words could not have more perfectly suited the moment. Fifty years ago this week, at another time when Americans and so much of the world were riven by turmoil, anger, and mistrust, Apollo 8 had found a way to remind Earth's residents that what unites them is far more profound and enduring than what divides them.


Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas to all those who come by here
I will be taking a short break from blogging tomorrow but not sure for how long.  I should be able to put up something in the days leading up to the New Year but will leave that open for the moment


Michelle Obama A Fashion Icon? Thigh-High Sequin Streetwalker Boots? No… Just No

From the moment that Obama won the Presidency, the media gushed over the attire of Mrs Obama. I make no claim to be any sort of fashion guru but it seemed to me that her clothing was in fact marginal to then-current fashion.  Silence about it would have been the safest course. But in their usual tribal way, the media treated her as a fashion icon.  That did rather make me sick,  I saw her as just a ..... The gracious Laura Bush would never have worn anything so ostentatious. As it happens, however, Mrs Obama has now excelled herself -- and the writer below has justifiably excoriated it. It would not be safe for me to say what I think of the latest effort.  I am not putting up an image of it as it rather makes me puke

OMG! Former First Lady Michelle Obama wore $3,900 sequin Balenciaga over-the-knee boots Wednesday night on her book tour at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

The Gateway Pundit reports:

“Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker greeted Michelle Obama when she walked out on stage Wednesday evening.

Obama flashed her $4,000 boots and the crowd went wild.

Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw in the highly popular TV series “Sex and the City,” had an obsession with high end shoes and boots, so the TV star gushed over Michelle Obama’s over-the-top thigh-high boots.



YouTube Changed ‘Abortion’ Search Results after a Slate Writer Complained

YouTube has apparently changed the search results on its site for the term “abortion” after Slate writer April Glaser contacted the company last Friday to ask “why anti-abortion videos saturated the search results for ‘abortion,’ and if the platform thought accurate, health-focused information had a place there.”

Glaser reports that, by this past week, “anti-abortion content meant to enrage or provoke viewers was no longer purely dominating the results” on the site. According to Glaser, YouTube did not tell her whether or how it tweaked the results for “abortion,” but “stressed that the company is working to provide more credible news content from its search and discovery algorithms.”

Who knew it would be that easy?

Among the videos “meant to enrage or provoke” that prompted Glaser’s censorious mission were what she describes as “several misleading animations that showed a fetus that looks like a sentient child in the uterus,” women explaining why they regretted their abortions, and videos of former abortionists explaining what takes place medically and surgically during an abortion procedure.

Such videos are, of course, every pro-abortion activist’s worst nightmare. Because they reveal the unmistakable details of what takes place in every abortion — details that Glaser rightly, albeit dismissively, describes as “gore” — they’re written off as “dangerous misinformation.” Lest unsuspecting viewers risk running across this “gore” and oppose abortion as a result, true believers like Glaser insist that this type of content should be drowned out by videos from news outlets and “credible reproductive health-care providers” whose mission is to airbrush away the reality of abortion.



A new threat to free speech, Visa card and Mastercard

"As simple and as faceless as a lethal injection'.

Every day there is a new report about how Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other giants of social media censor content, banish certain commentators for incorrect views, and otherwise work in a steady if unsystematic way to homogenize political opinion within an acceptably progressive bandwidth.  Ideas are scoured for “racism”—as contentiously defined by the intellectual stylebook of the hard left Southern Poverty Law Center, which the media have set up as an “authority” on hate speech; freedom of speech is seen a nuisance rather than a guarantee of personal liberty and true diversity of opinion.

But there is an even more sinister threat to the first amendment than the social media, a threat that operates in a stealth way in the most crucial arena of our economic system.  It is corporate giants Master Card and Visa, which now use their unparalleled financial power to determine what speech should be allowed and what speech should be silenced.

Most Americans use a credit or debit card everyday and take these two corporations as much for granted as the light switch or the automobile ignition.  We buy things with their cards ranging from the annual vacations to the daily groceries. These two interlocked corporations are the drum majors marching us into a cashless society.  They are powers unto themselves, but their eminence rests on our money and the fees they exact to accommodate our transactions.

The cards they issue are even more critical to the vendors whom they pay. Without the ability to accept charges to these cards as payment many businesses would in effect be out of business.

Unlike the comparatively clumsy and very public efforts of the social media to erase “offensive”—all too often a synonym for conservative—opinion, the cognate machinations of Visa/Mastercard take place more remotely and without response in the dark space of the mundane financial transaction.

It is as simple and as faceless as a lethal injection: An individual who wants to support an organization online makes the digital donation and is then informed that Visa/Mastercard will not process it.  Neither the individual nor the organization he wishes to support are told that it is on a blacklist, let alone informed how or got there or how to get off.  The donor is denied his right to put his money where his mouth is.  The organization he supports is condemned to death by strangulation in the dark in a world designed by Kafka.

The Freedom Center had such an experience a few months ago when online donations were overnight peremptorily refused by Visa/Mastercard with no reason given and no protest accepted.  We were able to create enough noise about this injustice—in the media and with the threat of legislative attention—that the credit card giants turned the power back on just as capriciously as they had turned it off.

We were lucky. Robert Spencer, whose is one of the indispensable sites for understanding the intentions and the threat of Islamic terrorism, has been shut down from receiving supporters’ donations for several weeks now, and is forced to try to keep jihadwatch going on a shoestring while Visa/Mastercard imperiously ignores demand letters and threats of court action from his attorneys.  The anti Semitic Nation of Islam’s credit card donations are processed; the anti Islamist jihadwatch’s are not.

This oligopoly acts with the faceless finality of an IRS lien when it sets itself up as lawmaker, judge and jury with the power to decide which speech should be allowed and which should be shut down.  It kills free speech not by arguing against the ideas it disapproves of, but by the silence of the arbitrary act, using the financial system to accomplish the deed.

An analogue to what Visa/Mastercard has done and is doing was once banned by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, among other things, gave U.S. citizens, specifically African Americans, the right to sit at a lunch counter and have a sandwich the way any other America could. This opening of public accommodations to African Americans in effect told private businesses that they were accommodations open to the public and that all people, regardless of race, comprised that public and that they could not deny the civil rights of anyone seeking to use their facility.

Can there be any doubt that MasterCard and the other major card companies are similarly a public accommodation? Over half the people of the United States who own a debit or credit card use as their sole method for paying bills. (Most of the other half uses them too, just not as frequently.) In 2015 there were 69.5 billion debit card payments with a value of $2.56 trillion and 33.8 billion credit card payments with a value of $3.16 trillion--together adding up to around 6 trillion in an economy of 19 trillion.

This is a very sizable public accommodation. More importantly it is immense power, power that can be and is being used to shut down the civil rights of people who want to support the speech of the Freedom Center, Jihadwatch, other conservative groups and anyone else in our political universe. 

Visa/Mastercard tell the people whose rights they strangle that they can always get funds to the organizations whose speech they want heard by other means.  That is true---people can write a check and mail it or make a cash withdrawal from their bank and drive it to the offices of the organization they support  just as black people in the South in the 1950s could have eaten at some other lunch counter in a more remote part of town.

The money these corporate giants hold belongs to private individuals who have a fundamental civil right to direct that money—which they pay the oligopoly a handsome fee to distribute to organizations they approve of and for the opinions they want heard in the public square.  Their money is their speech.  When they hit the “donate” button on a nonprofit’s website they are saying, “I believe….”as surely as if they were holding a placard in a march or writing to a legislator. 

We have come to a point in our history when government must once against step in to preserve rights and prevent wrongs just as it did in 1964. Civil Rights are as much imperiled now as they were then. The technology revolution has undeniably brought much that is good and fruitful, but as it has evolved, this revolution has developed a dark side that concentrates increasing power in the hands of fewer people.  These people control vast amounts of information. The information can tell the most of intimate of details from what we spend, what we bought with what we spend, what our daily commute is, who we may like or dislike, and, yes, our political leanings.  Hardly a day goes by without some news of an intrusion into private lives which are ransacked and violated for others’ profit.

And in this context, Visa/MasterCard must be seen not merely as the hygienic facilitators of the billions of daily transactions that are the white sound of our financial life, but as an oligopoly that has converted its privileged position into political power exercised opaquely and without control or justification. 

Congress should immediately investigate the imperious intrusions of Visa/MasterCard into consumers’ privacy and draft legislation that would prevent this cartel from violating their civil right to use their money as a form of speech.



Germany: New Law Banning Child Marriage Declared Unconstitutional

In a rather tortured ruling

The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH), Germany's highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction, has ruled that a new law that bans child marriage may be unconstitutional because all marriages, including Sharia-based child marriages, are protected by Germany's Basic Law (Grundgesetz).

The ruling, which effectively opens the door to legalizing Sharia-based child marriages in Germany, is one of a growing number of instances in which German courts are — wittingly or unwittingly — promoting the establishment of a parallel Islamic legal system in the country.

The case involves a Syrian couple — a 14-year-old Syrian girl married to her 21-year-old cousin — who arrived in Germany at the height of the migrant crisis in August 2015. The Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) refused to recognize their marriage and separated the girl from her husband. When the husband filed a lawsuit, a family court in Aschaffenburg ruled in favor of the Youth Welfare Office, which claimed to be the girl's legal guardian.

In May 2016, an appeals court in Bamberg overturned the decision. The court ruled that the marriage was valid because it was contracted in Syria, where, according to Sharia law, child marriages are allowed. The ruling effectively legalized Sharia child marriages in Germany.

The ruling — described as a "crash course in Syrian Islamic marriage law" — ignited a firestorm of criticism. Some accused the Bamberg court of applying Sharia law over German law to legalize a practice banned in Germany.

"Religious or cultural justifications obscure the simple fact that older, perverse men are abusing young girls," said Rainer Wendt, head of the German police union.

Monika Michell of Terre des Femmes, a women's rights group that campaigns against child marriage, added: "A husband cannot be the legal guardian of a child bride because he is involved in a sexual relationship with her — a very obvious conflict of interest."

The Justice Minister of Hesse, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, asked: "If underage persons — quite rightly — are not allowed to buy a beer, why should the lawmakers allow children to make such profound decisions related to marriage?"

Others said the ruling would open the floodgates of cultural conflict in Germany, as Muslims would view it as a precedent to push for the legalization of other Islamic practices, including polygamy, in the country.

In September 2016, the German Interior Ministry, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, revealed that 1,475 married children — including 361 children under the age of 14 — were known to be living in Germany as of July 31, 2016.

In a bid to protect girls who were married abroad but sought asylum in Germany, the German parliament on June 1, 2017 had passed legislation banning child marriages. The so-called Law to Fight Child Marriage (Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderehen) set the minimum age of consent for marriage in Germany at 18 years and nullified all existing marriages, including those contracted abroad, where a participant was under the age of 16 at the time of the ceremony.

Germany's Federal Court of Justice, in its ruling, published on December 14, 2018, stated that the new law may be unconstitutional because it violated Articles 1 (human dignity), 2 (free development of personality), 3 (equal protection) and 6 (protection of marriage and family) of the Basic Law, which serves as the German constitution.

The court also ruled that the new law cannot be applied retroactively, and therefore cannot apply to the Syrian couple, who were married in February 2015.

Finally, the Federal Court of Justice asked the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) to examine the legality of Germany's blanket-ban on child marriage and to determine whether German authorities should heretofore assess the validity of child marriages on a case-by-case basis.

The ruling ignores Article 6 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (Einführungsgesetz zum Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuche, EGBGB), which states:

"A legal standard of another State shall not be applied where its application results in an outcome which is manifestly incompatible with the essential principles of German law. In particular, it is not applicable if the application is incompatible with fundamental rights."

By shielding the Syrian couple from German law, the court has not only legitimized the use of Sharia law to determine the outcome of legal cases in Germany, it has also established a precedent that will almost certainly be used in the future by defenders of child marriage and other foreign laws.

Moreover, by insisting that the legitimacy of child marriages be examined on a case-by-case basis, the court has opened the door to so-called cultural exceptions, namely those enshrined in Sharia law, which does not set any age limit to marriage.

Winfried Bausback, a Bavarian lawmaker who helped draft the law against child marriage, was outraged by the court's decision:

"Because of our Constitution and for the benefit of the child, in the present case, there should be only one answer: This marriage must be null and void right from the beginning.

"Germany cannot on the one hand be against child marriages internationally, and on the other hand be for such marriages in our own country. The best interests of the child cannot be compromised in this case. (...) This is about the constitutionally established protection of children and minors!"

Commentator Andreas von Delhaes-Guenther wrote:

"In the end, it is a question of principle to what extent Germany wants to accept foreign law, which is completely contrary to our law on important issues. It took centuries to remove the Middle Ages from our law; we must not now bring it back for reasons of alleged tolerance or 'individual case consideration.' Rather, we must say that in Germany, German law applies to all, especially in important legal interests such as life, health — or just the welfare of the child, with an immutable age limit for marriages.

"We should consider one more thing: judgments are made 'in the name of the people.' This people has clearly expressed through its representatives in the Bundestag that it no longer wants to recognize child marriage."



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 23, 2018

Trump Signs $867B Bipartisan Farm Bill with Welfare Reform Work Requirements

President Donald Trump signed into law the $867 billion farm bill Thursday, which includes welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults without children to work or look for work.

“In addition to signing this critical legislation, today I am directing my administration to take immediate action on welfare reform. Thanks to our thriving economy, we have already lifted more than 4.6 million Americans off the food stamp roll since the election, and more work remains to be done,” Trump said.

Trump called the bill “a bipartisan success.” It doubles the number of farmers who can borrow to expand and improve their farms. It also expands rural broadband, provides more resources to fight the opioid crisis, and opens new markets for U.S. agriculture overseas.

“Millions of able-bodied, working-age adults continue to collect food stamps without working or even looking for work. Our goal is to move these Americans from dependence to independence, and into a good-paying job and rewarding career. Therefore, I have directed Secretary Perdue to use his authority under the law to close work requirement loopholes in the food stamp program,” the president said.

“Under this new rule, able-bodied adults without dependents will have to work, or look for work, in order to receive their food stamps. Today’s action will help Americans transition from welfare to gainful employment, strengthening families and uplifting communities, and that was a difficult thing to get done, but the farmers wanted it done,” Trump said.

“We all wanted it done, and I think, in the end, it's going to make a lot of people very happy. It's called ‘work rules,’ and Sonny is able, under this bill, to implement them through regulation,” he added.

A black conservative group, Project 21, applauded the welfare reform regulation, saying it is consistent with a recommendation found in their "Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America."

"People should not be able to become professional entitlement beneficiaries – especially during times of low unemployment. President Trump and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be commended for wanting to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely," said Project 21 member Emery McClendon.

"Our government has programs in place to help citizens who fall on hard times. Programs such as SNAP are intended to be temporary. It would greatly enhance those who are enrolled in these programs as well as the communities in which they live if there were work or training requirements linked to continued assistance," McClendon added.

“To ‘reinforce the… intent’ of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and meet the goals of President Donald Trump's April 2018 executive order on welfare reform, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a proposed rule today to limit state waivers on SNAP eligibility,” the group said.

“While SNAP requires able-bodied individuals to work 80 hours a month or participate in a job training program to maintain eligibility for benefits, states have been allowed to obtain waivers for extended periods based on local unemployment rates. The proposed rule seeks to curtail ‘widespread use’ of waivers that the Trump Administration believes were meant for "temporary relief… in an economic downturn."

The proposed regulation applies to adults 18-48, who don’t have dependents, and are able-bodied. Pregnant women and disabled persons are exempt from work requirements.

"If you are able-bodied, government assistance should be a safety net and not a hammock. As someone who was once on food stamps, I know it is necessary. And the exact order addresses the able-bodied without dependents. There is no excuse for those on welfare not trying to help their community or help themselves," said Project 21 member Marie Fischer-Wyrick.

"When I lost a job after 20 years in the workforce, I was on assistance with two dependents. I not only looked for work while on assistance, but I took certification courses to find a better position. I only needed assistance for short time because I knew it was not a way of life for myself or my children," she added.



There are important deregulation efforts afoot that will help lower prescription-drug prices 

Here’s a bit of good news as we head into the Christmas season. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration withdrew a rule that would have put patients’ health at risk and made it more expensive to buy medicine.

As a Wall Street Journal editorial recently stated, “[The] rule proposed by the Obama Administration in 2013 allowed generic drug makers to tailor their own safety labels, which historically must be identical to the branded product. The rule’s biggest supporter was the plaintiffs bar, which figured this would open up more opportunities for lawsuits for failing to warn consumers about all and sundry risks. The practical effect would be to make drug labels even more incomprehensible than they are now, varying among products that are chemically identical.”

Not only would patients face possible health risks due to the confusion over labels, but generic drug prices would also have increased nationwide more than $4 billion. And this cost would likely increase once litigation costs were passed onto consumers.

Again, this is what happens when government meddles with the free market.

President Donald Trump vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to make patients’ access to medicine more affordable. Since then, he’s been a consistent critic of Big Pharma, but his record is mixed.

On one hand, Trump’s goal is to make prescription drugs more affordable. The Journal reports, “The FDA has over 20 months of the Trump Administration approved an astounding 1,617 generic drugs, which are identical to branded versions but sold at commodity prices after patents expire. That works out to 81 a month on average — an 17% increase over the preceding 20 months. The Council of Economic Advisers in October tried to tally the savings from new entrants: $26 billion.”

On the other hand, Trump’s intervention in the free market is backfiring, as some companies have raised their prices in response to discounted drugs in an effort to retain profits.

According to The Resurgent, Pfizer will “raise the prices of 41 drugs in January, amid escalating Trump administration efforts to lower prescription drug prices and months after Trump’s intervention forced the largest U.S. drugmaker to postpone planned cost increases.”

There’s plenty of blame to go around on this issue. Democrats want to set up an agency that would have broad power to investigate and punish drug companies that don’t fall in line with their goal of government-run health care. Think “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” for prescription drugs, and you’ll understand why it’s a bad idea. Meanwhile, President Trump wants to impose European-style price controls on Big Pharma.

While the Trump administration may be toying around too much with the free market, Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren is going even further by proposing more government intervention masked as a free-market solution.

The Daily Signal reports, “The Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act seeks to address the increasing prices of prescription drugs by injecting competition into the marketplace, consequently lowering the cost of mass-produced generic drugs. The bill would create the Office of Drug Manufacturing, which would be housed within the Department of Health and Human Services.” Additionally, “The Office of Drug Manufacturing would be tasked with producing drugs in cases where the market has been deemed to have failed.” Warren claims that the program would be “self-sustaining,” but that’s a promise that might be harder to keep than Barack Obama’s notorious “you can keep your doctor” whopper.

In both cases, the free market loses and Americans end up paying more for health care that’s increasingly controlled by government bureaucrats. In the end, the only system that really works is to leave the markets alone rather than embracing Europe’s path to government health care.

As The Wall Street Journal reminds us, “For all the talk of wondrous European health-care systems, the American generics system is the envy of the world. Nine in 10 prescriptions in the U.S. are cheaper generics, which saved $265 billion last year. Compare that with 70% in Canada and less than half in many European countries. The U.S. pays big for breakthroughs but eventually prices fall as competition arrives. Europe enjoys less price discipline.”

As always, it’s amazing what the free market can do when the government gets out of the way.



The Food and Drug Administration’s Invisible Victims

Among the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s responsibilities are approval and regulation of pharmaceutical drugs. In short, its responsibility is to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs. In the performance of this task, agency officials can make two types of errors—statistically known as the type I error and type II error.

With respect to the Food and Drug Administration, a type I error is the rejection or delayed approval of a drug that is safe and effective—erring on the side of over-caution—and a type II error is the approval of a drug that has unanticipated dangerous side effects, or erring on the side of under-caution.

Let’s examine the incentives of Food and Drug Administration officials.

If agency officials err on the side of under-caution and approve a drug that has unanticipated dangerous side effects, the victims of their mistake will be highly visible. There may be congressional hearings, embarrassment to the agency, and officials fired.

It’s an entirely different story if agency officials err on the side of over-caution and either disapprove or delay the approval of a drug that is both safe and effective.

In that case, the victims will be invisible. They will have no idea that their suffering could have been eliminated, or in the case of death, their loved ones will have no idea why they died. Their suffering and/or death will be chalked up to the state of medicine rather than the status of a Food and Drug Administration drug application. Their doctor will simply tell them there’s nothing more that can be done to help them. The Food and Drug Administration officials go scot-free.

Let’s look at some of the history of the Food and Drug Administration’s erring on the side of over-caution.

Beta blockers reduce the risk of secondary heart attacks and were widely used in Europe during the mid-1970s. The Food and Drug Administration imposed a moratorium on approvals of beta blockers in the U.S. because of their carcinogenicity in animals.

Finally, in 1981, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first such drug, boasting that it might save up to 17,000 lives per year. That means that as many as 100,000 people died from secondary heart attacks waiting for Food and Drug Administration approval.

Those people are in the “invisible graveyard,” a term to describe people who would have lived but died because the cure that could have saved them was bottled up in the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process.

Today, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute is leading the battle to bring some sanity and compassion to the drug approval process. It recently published a paper by Mark Flatten, titled “Studied to Death: FDA Overcaution Brings Deadly Consequences.” Flatten examined the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process and made some important recommendations.

Flatten criticized some Food and Drug Administration practices, saying, “Instead of having to prove a new treatment is safe for its intended use, the FDA now reviews drugs based on how they might be used by doctors to treat individual patients, effectively substituting the judgment of agency regulators for that of practicing medical professionals.” He added:

Instead of proving a drug achieves the medically beneficial results that its makers claim, the FDA requires proof the new treatment will improve long-term outcomes. So it is no longer enough, for instance, to prove a new drug will reduce blood glucose levels for diabetics. Drugmakers must show, somehow, that this will make patients live longer.

One Goldwater Institute suggestion is to allow drugs approved in certain other countries, such as Canada and the European Union, to receive nearly automatic U.S. approval. After all, those countries have drug regulatory structures similar to that in the U.S. Why should treatments approved in those countries not be available here?

The Goldwater Institute is also calling for a bill to restore free speech in medicine. It thinks Congress should allow drug manufacturers to provide information about “off-label use.” This is a common practice in which doctors prescribe Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat conditions other than those the agency originally approved them for after new beneficial uses arise.

Strong evidence of the agency’s over-caution bias comes in the 1974 words of then-Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Alexander M. Schmidt: “In all of FDA’s history, I am unable to find a single instance where a congressional committee investigated the failure of FDA to approve a new drug.”



Asylum-Seekers to be Returned to Mexico Pending Decision; Pompeo Foresees ‘Historic Drop in Illegal Immigration’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday predicted that a new plan to send illegal aliens back to Mexico to await the outcome of U.S. asylum applications will result in “a truly historic drop in illegal immigration,” since the prospect of being able to disappear into the U.S. will no longer be an incentive.

“The idea of ‘catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return,’” Pompeo told Laura Ingraham on the final episode of her long-running radio show, after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the policy, which is to be implemented with immediate effect.   

Aliens crossing the southern border illegally, or arriving at a border port of entry without proper documentation and applying for asylum will be given a court date and “notice to appear” before being returned to Mexico.

The Mexican government has agreed they may stay there on the basis of a humanitarian visa, apply for paid employment, get access to immigration attorneys, and be able to travel to the U.S. for their court hearings.

According to the DHS, federal immigration judges rule against nine out of ten asylum claims, but by the time unsuccessful applicants are ordered to be removed from the country, “many have vanished.”

Pompeo acknowledged the likelihood of lawsuits challenging the decision, but said the administration was confident the plan was legal, as it’s based on long existing law.

Section 235 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 states that when an alien arrives on land from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States with a claim for asylum to be considered, “the Attorney General may return the alien to that territory pending a proceeding.”

“We remain convinced that this is a power that the president was granted by Congress to execute exactly the way we have,” Pompeo told Ingraham. “We’ve had lots of thought and legal review of this. We are confident that we are on firm ground.”

In her statement, Nielsen said, “Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates. Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico.”

She listed expected benefits arising from the policy, including:

--Declining illegal immigration and fewer false asylum claims

--Greater attention to be given to genuine asylum-seekers’
applications, since incentives for “fraudsters” will be gone

--The freeing-up of resources and personnel to focus on protecting U.S. territory and reducing an asylum backlog of more than 786,000 pending cases

--Protection for vulnerable individuals as they await determination of their cases in Mexico.

In his radio interview, Pompeo offered another purported benefit – that migrants will not face the risks entailed in making the journey from their home countries, through Mexico, to the U.S. border.

Mexico’s foreign ministry confirmed that it would respond to the policy by authorizing the temporary entrance of migrants awaiting asylum applications in the U.S.

“They will be entitled to equal treatment with no discrimination whatsoever and due respect will be paid to their human rights,” the ministry said in a statement. “They will also have the opportunity to apply for a work permit for paid employment, which will allow them to meet their basic needs.”

Those who have received a notice to appear before an immigration court in the U.S. will be allowed access to legal and information services.

The ministry stressed that its actions, and those taken by the U.S., do not constitute a “safe third country” arrangement – whereby the migrants concerned would be required to apply for asylum in Mexico.

Although they may apply for asylum in Mexico, the arrangement is intended to facilitate their applications in the U.S.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders praised the Mexican government, saying on Twitter it was “now doing more to solve our illegal immigration problem than the Democrats.”



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)