Thursday, March 29, 2018

Small hiatus

I have been battling quite a few health problems lately but have managed to keep up my usual blogging tempo throughout.  I am feeling a bit worn down however so will take a short break over the Easter period. May you prosper in the wisdom of your risen Lord.


Congress succeeds in gutting Obama HUD racial and income zoning rule in omnibus

This is a lifesaver.  This thoroughly evil regulation was designed to destroy white flight by dropping minorities into the middle of white neighborhoods -- meaning there would be no escape from black crime.  Every household would have to become a fortress

One good thing that came out of the omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Donald Trump is that it defunds a key aspect of the Obama era Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulation, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.

This was the rule enacted in 2015 that allowed HUD to order more than 1,200 cities and counties that accepted any part of $3 billion of annual community development block grants to rezone neighborhoods along income and racial criteria.

This was always a vast overreach, where the federal government could come in and tell communities what must be built and where. Now, it’s over.

Under Division L, Title II of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Section 234, it states, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to direct a grantee to undertake specific changes to existing zoning laws as part of carrying out the final rule entitled ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing’ … or the notice entitled ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool’ …”

This provision utterly guts the HUD regulation, which had already been delayed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson earlier this year until 2020.

Now, with the backing of Congress, Carson needs to go the extra mile and either rescind this regulation completely, or revise it to comply with the new law.

Congress has spoken on this issue under its Article I power of the purse, and is now saying that the Fair Housing Act, community development block grants and this regulation can no longer be used to direct communities to undertake any changes to zoning.

Believe it or not, this is a game changer.

Without Congress acting, simply rescinding this regulation would have been far riskier for Carson and Trump.

In 1983, the Supreme Court decided Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association v. State Farm Mutual that rescinding any regulation issued an agency is obligated to supply a reasoned analysis “for the change beyond that which may be required when an agency does not act in the first instance.”

The outcome was that it is much more difficult to rescind an existing regulation than it is to either modify it or never have issued it in the first place, leaving every single regulatory rescission subject to judicial review.

Ultimately, the rescinding agency has to argue not only that rescinding the regulation in question is rational based on the statutory scheme, but prove that enacting it was irrational to begin with.

Carson and Trump will now have no problems on that count if they choose to rescind or roll back most of the HUD zoning regulation. The regulation, which absolutely affects zoning, no longer rationally rests within the statutory scheme. It’s now illegal to spend money on implementing it as it was written.

Now nobody can argue that the Fair Housing Act implicitly requires such changes be made to zoning laws. Thanks to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), the representative who first pushed to defund this regulation, Congress has changed the terms of the game.

Realistically, that will remain true so long as Congress keeps carrying forward the defund language in every single omnibus spending bill going forward. Republicans will have to fight to defund this provision every year so long as the regulation remains in place.

Should Democrats win the midterm elections in November, they might seek to strip this language out of next year’s HUD appropriations bill. To avert this possibility, Carson must begin the regulatory rescission process immediately. There is not a moment to lose.

While there were many problems with the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, one thing the Republican-led Congress got absolutely right was defunding Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing from being used to force communities to make changes to local zoning law.

Congress has done its job. Now it is up to the Trump administration with Carson in the lead to rescind this regulation with the window of opportunity Congress has given, so that no administration ever again attempts to take over local governments across the country.



Trump's Tariffs Having the Desired Effect

I prophesied that Trump would replace his tariffs with quotas.  It's started to happen

"Wow," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted on Tuesday morning. "I guess the moves made by @realDonaldTrump on trade did not trigger the apocalypse after all.

Rubio referenced a Washington Post report that says South Korea has agreed to further open its auto market to U.S. manufacturers, and it has accepted an annual export quota on steel.

The limit on South Korean steel exports is set at 70 percent of average sales over the past three years, and that amount would be exempt from tariffs.

The New York Times reported that the Trump administration may announce the revised U.S.-South Korea (KORUS) trade deal on Tuesday:

According to the NYT:

The finalization of a trade agreement with South Korea would hand Mr. Trump a victory in his “America First” approach to trade, in which he has threatened to take tough trade action unless other countries agree to concessions, including a reduction in the gap between what they export to the United States and what America exports to their shores. The blanket steel and aluminum tariffs announced by the White House earlier this month are the most recent example of that blunt approach, with the White House using exemptions and revisions as a carrot to avoid the tariff stick.

The South Korean government announced the deal on Monday.

President Trump tweeted on Monday: "Trade talks going on with numerous countries that, for many years, have not treated the United States fairly. In the end, all will be happy!"



Liberal Dershowitz on Special Counsel: 'I've Seen No Evidence' That Trump Committed Crimes

Commenting on President Donald Trump's tweets about alleged Russia-Trump campaign collusion, famed attorney and constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz said "the president is 100% right," a special counsel never should have been appointed, and added that he has "seen no evidence to suggest that crimes have been committed by the president."

“First of all, the president is 100% right," said the liberal Dershowitz on the March 20 edition of Fox & Friends.  "There never should have been the appointment of a special counsel here. There was no probable cause at that point to believe that crimes had been committed."

"I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that crimes have been committed by the president," he said.

Dershowitz, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, continued, "As I said from day one, there should have been a simple investigative commission, non-partisan, appointed by Congress, with subpoena power to look into the role of Russia in trying to influence American elections and to try to do something about preventing it in the future – instead of starting out with finger-pointing and trying to criminalize political differences behind the closed doors of a grand jury."

"That’s gotten us nowhere," he said. "The president is absolutely right: this investigation never should have begun."

"And the question is now, how does he deal with it?" said the long-time criminal defense attorney.

"I think what he’s doing is playing good cop, bad cop," said Dershowitz. "He has some of his lawyers cooperating with Mueller, and some of his lawyers attacking Mueller because he wants to be ready to attack in the event there are any recommendations that are negative to the president."

Alan Dershowitz, a reular commentator on CNN and Fox News, is the former Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

As an appellate lawyer, he won 13 of the 15 murder cases he handled. Some of his more famous clients include Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, Claus von Bulow and O.J. Simpson. Dershowitz is the author or co-author of 33 books.



Trump, Adultery, Morality

Dennis Prager says some wise things below but what he omits to say is that complete sexual faithfulness is a rarity these days so people who have themselves "wandered" are unikely to condemn Trump for it
Some years ago, I wrote a column about adultery and politicians. In light of the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal interviews concerning their alleged (and probable) affairs with President Donald Trump, it is time to revisit the subject.

I do not agree with those — right or left, religious or secular — who contend that adultery invalidates a political or social leader. It may invalidate a pastor, priest or rabbi — because a major part of their vocation is to be a moral/religious model, and because clergy do not make war, sign national budgets, appoint judges, run foreign policy or serve as commanders in chief. In other words, unlike your clergyman or clergywoman, almost everything a president does as president affects hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of non-Americans. If a president is also a moral model, that is a wonderful bonus. But that is not part of a president’s job description.

But even anti-Trump conservatives still assert character matters a great deal in a president and other political leaders. There are two problems with that argument.

The most obvious is that adultery is frequently an inaccurate measure of a person’s character. Indeed, many otherwise great men have been unfaithful to their spouse. And while it is always a sin — the Sixth Commandment doesn’t come with an asterisk — there are gradations of sin.

Let me give an example of when adultery would be a lower-grade sin: when it is committed by men or women who have taken care of their Alzheimer’s-afflicted spouse for many years and the afflicted spouse no longer even recognizes them. Of course, the healthy spouse could find love with someone else without committing adultery — by divorcing their demented spouse. But few people would be so heartless as to recommend that avenue. At the other end of the sin spectrum would be flaunting one’s adultery, thereby publicly humiliating one’s spouse.

The second problem with the adultery-matters-in-a-political-leader argument is that the policies of a political leader matter much more — morally — than that individual’s sexual sins, or even character. It is truly foolish to argue otherwise. Would we rather have as president a person with racist views who otherwise had an exemplary personal character or a believer in racial equality who committed adultery?

I have considerably more moral contempt for the media’s and the Left’s obsession with Stormy Daniels than I do for Donald Trump for his alleged night of sinful sex with her. That “60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper and many in our country found it acceptable to ask a woman, “Did he use a condom?” on national TV is a far graver reflection of America’s moral malaise than a man having a one-night affair 12 years ago.

It should be clear that this whole preoccupation with Trump’s past sex life has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with humiliating Trump — and, thereby, hopefully weakening the Trump presidency — the raison d'etre of the media since he was elected. Here’s one proof: The media rightly celebrate, as we all do, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as one of the moral greats of the 20th century despite reports of his having committed adultery on numerous occasions.

Likewise, the media and the Left idolized Sen. Ted Kennedy, regularly referring to him as the “Lion of the Senate.” Yet Kennedy was notorious for his lechery — far more so than Trump. Typical Ted Kennedy behavior, as described in New York magazine, was when he and then-fellow Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd “participated in the famous ‘waitress sandwich’ at La Brasserie in 1985, while their dates were in the bathroom.”

John F. Kennedy remains the most revered of Democratic presidents in the modern era. Yet we now know he routinely had affairs in the White House in his wife’s absence and had the Secret Service provide him advance notice of her return.

And, by the way, if sexual infidelity invalidates the character and, therefore, the worthiness of a politician, why doesn’t it invalidate the character and worthiness of an editor at The New York Times or The Washington Post? Why aren’t their sex lives investigated? They have, after all, more influence than almost any politician.

So, dear anti-Trump conservatives, please tone down the moral horror at Donald Trump’s character and the suggestions that it overshadows the good he has done and continues to do for America and the world.

The fact is it is none of my business and none of my concern whether a politician ever had an extramarital affair. To cite just one of many examples, a president’s attitude toward the genocide-advocating Islamic tyrants in Tehran is incomparably more morally significant. That is just one of many reasons — on moral grounds alone — I far prefer the current president to the faithful-to-his-wife previous president.



Trump pushes and others move

The results he is getting exceed anybody's expectations.  This is the second time Kim has expressed a willingness to denuclearize

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Kim's first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Xinhua cited Kim as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

"It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il-sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong-il," Kim said, according to Xinhua.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Trump's presure on China pays off

The tariffs he announced were just the opening shot on negotiations for a deal.  With Trump in charge, the USA is making all the moves instead of being pushed around by others. There is no certainty what the final deal will be but better access to the Chinese market for American cars is a good bet.  Since America is China's biggest customer, Trump holds all the cards

Last week, China threatened a massive trade war after Donald Trump imposed $50 billion in tariffs on their exports. This week, Beijing’s top economic official has begun to do his best Monty Hall impersonation, according to the Wall Street Journal. After a notably mild first response, China has quietly begun to offer better access to its markets to the US:

China and the U.S. have quietly started negotiating to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets, after a week filled with harsh words from both sides over Washington’s threat to use tariffs to address trade imbalances, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The talks, which cover wide areas including financial services and manufacturing, are being led by Liu He, China’s economic czar in Beijing, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington.

In a letter Messrs. Mnuchin and Lighthizer sent to Mr. Liu late last week, the Trump administration set out specific requests that include a reduction of Chinese tariffs on U.S. automobiles, more Chinese purchases of U.S. semiconductors and greater access to China’s financial sector by American companies, the people said. Mr. Mnuchin is weighing a trip to Beijing to pursue the negotiations, one of these people said.

Rather than go big, the WSJ’s Lingling Wei and Bob Davis point out, China imposed only a nominal set of tariffs after Trump’s announcement. They only impacted $3 billion in imports, less than 10% of the scope of the US tariffs announced by Trump. Those moves signaled an openness to talks, at least in the short run, to resolve any outstanding issues.

That, of course, plays right into Trump’s strategy of casting himself as a master dealmaker, a point which does not seem to bother China. How much can we expect out of a renegotiation, though? China certainly won’t give the farm away over $50 billion in tariffs, but then again, perhaps Trump doesn’t need a dramatically better deal. Even an incremental improvement would be a major win for his aggressive tactics, especially since his predecessors seemed mainly content to complain about China without taking any significant action.

Perhaps we can see a hint of this in South Korea, where negotiators claim they have reached a deal in principle on a renegotiated free-trade agreement:

The United States and South Korea have agreed to settle their differences on trade. The South Korean government said Monday that the two countries had struck a deal on a new version of the free trade agreement that has linked the two economies for the past six years.

South Korea has also secured a partial exemption from President Donald Trump’s new steel tariffs.

While South Korea is politically much closer to the US than China is, their trade practices had also given rise to many complaints. Trump targeted this trading relationship for his aggressive strategy, too, pointing out the annual $23 billion trade deficit with Seoul and their reluctance to open their markets to imports. But how much will we have won from the deal? Automakers will get to sell more cars, but the numbers may not dramatically rise in the near term:



Retired Army Colonel Calls Out Gun-Grabbers — If You Say We’ve Got Blood on Our Hands Then It’s Safe To Say…

On a weekend where protests sparked by the Parkland school shooting crowded out almost every other media story, there was plenty of heated rhetoric going around on social media about the role guns should play in our society. Not all of it was new, and not all of it was wise.

In the midst of the pitched rhetoric, however, one retired Army colonel managed to call out the anti-gun rights side in a perfect way, particularly when he was told that he had blood on his hands.

In a Twitter confrontation, Kurt Schlichter, now a senior contributor at, said that if liberals are willing to lie about individual NRA members “having blood on (their) hands” to score rhetorical points, its likely they’re willing to lie about a lot of other things too — including not wanting to take your guns.

The social media confrontation began when conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt — one of the few luminaries on the right to publicly attend Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. — highlighted a bipartisan bill that he thought Schlichter (who has expressed a lack of trust in the motives of the left, on this and other issues) might be able to support.

Schlichter — who has previously noted that liberal anger hasn’t been directed against the NRA but against originalist conservatives — responded with his issue regarding working with the left on gun control issues.

"You know, when these little bastards tell me I have blood on my hands, especially after how I've served this country and its citizens, they can go to hell."

If liberals are lying about you now when they say you have blood on your hands, it's a fair bet they are lying when they say they don't intend to disarm you, and also when they say that after they disarm you they don't intend to oppress you

Now, whether the Toomey/Coons act is a good idea is rather inconsequential here. What counts is the rhetoric — and the fact that it proves conservatives cannot trust the left on gun control.

In an aptly-titled column called “They Don’t Hate the NRA. They Hate You” for earlier this month, Schlichter outlined why the vitriol being spewed by the left on guns makes cooperation impossible.

“They hate you,” Schlichter concluded. “And you need to act accordingly.”



Citigroup restricts gun sales by business customers

The company said Thursday that it will bar companies that it does business with from selling guns to people under the age of 21 and require customers to undergo background checks for all firearm purchases.

Citigroup (C) also banned its clients from selling high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, a gun accessory that was used by the shooter that murdered more than 50 people in Las Vegas in October.

The news was reported earlier by The New York Times and confirmed by the company.

The rules will apply to Citigroup clients "across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label."

The new policy will not prevent Citi cardholders from using their credit cards to buy firearms or ammunition.

The bank says it has "few relationships with companies that manufacture firearms."

Citigroup also said it's prepared to lose business if its clients don't comply.

"We know our clients also care about these issues and we have begun to engage with them in the hope that they will adopt these best practices over the coming months," the bank said in a blog post. "If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi."

After a mass shooting at a Florida high school last month that left 17 people dead, corporations have taken unprecedented steps to address calls for tighter gun control as federal lawmakers have been unable or unwilling to enact legislation.

Citigroup is the first major bank to announce a new formal policy since the Florida massacre.

Bank of America (BAC) and investment giant BlackRock (BLK) both committed to speaking with gun makers about their policies.

Walmart (WMT) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) said last month they would raise the minimum age for firearm purchases to 21.

Companies including Delta Air Lines (DAL), United Airlines (UAL), Hertz (HTZ), Enterprise (ETOLF) and MetLife have ended partnerships with the National Rifle Association.

Citigroup's executive vice president, Edward Skyler, said in a blog post Thursday that the decision was "not centered on an ideological mission to rid the world of firearms," but about implementing "common-sense measures that would help prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands."

"For too many years, in too many places, our country has seen acts of gun violence that have resulted in heartbreaking losses," Skyler wrote. "As a society, we all know that something needs to change. And as a company, we feel we must do our part."



This Conservative Millennial Explains Why Trump’s Policies Are Better for Black Americans

Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens spoke to The Daily Signal’s Rob Bluey about why conservative policies are better for the African-American community. Owens appeared at the White House’s Generation Next forum for millennials Thursday. An edited transcript of her Daily Signal interview is below.

Rob Bluey: How did you become a conservative?

Candace Owens: I think for most people, watching Donald Trump run in 2016, something had to wake up inside of you. This is a man who was celebrated by the media. They could not get enough of Trump. You’re listening to rap and hip-hop music, they glorified him. Everyone wanted to end up at Mar-a-Lago. They said they were acting like Trump.

And then the second he won, he became a racist instantly. In that moment, I understood that racism was being used as a theme and a mechanism to control black Americans, and that the black community needed new leaders to sort of see them through that complete lie.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can't be done alone. Find out more >>

Bluey: You’ve made the case that Trump and his policies are better for the black community. Why is that?

Owens: Of course, our conservative policies are better for a black community. If you think of everything that we’ve gone through historically, it is because of Democratic policies that we are worse off today than we were 60 years ago.

For sure, no one would be foolish enough to say that America is a more racist country today than it was 60 years ago. So what happened? LBJ happened, the Great Society happened. Government dependency happened, welfare happened. All of this happened and came from the Democratic Party.

Bluey: When you’re talking to young people at Turning Point USA, what is your message to them?

Owens: My message to them is just that the time is now. President Trump represents the first opportunity for black Americans to get off of, what I refer to as, the ideological slave ship, to step outside of this line—this myth and this illusion—and to understand that we’ve had our power essentially stripped from us.

We continue to allow that by being afraid of racism, which is no longer an actual threat in this society for black Americans.

Bluey: You’re somebody who isn’t afraid to engage on Twitter or in the media. What gives you that courage to stand firm on these principles?

Owens: Honestly, I was born aggressive. I think I came out shouting orders at everyone.

I’ve been really strong-minded from the time I was a little girl, and I hate being told what to think. So propaganda just doesn’t really work on me. I’m not afraid. It takes fearlessness.

You can’t be afraid to be referred to as a “coon” or an “Uncle Tom,” which, by the way, Uncle Tom, for people that actually read the book, was the hero of the novel. That term does not work.

It’s going to take people with some courage to step up and say, “You can call me whatever you want, this movement is happening. You can get on board or you can watch it.”

Bluey: We’re approaching in the next couple of weeks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. How did MLK influence your life?

Owens: The most important thing to understand is that what he wanted was a society where people would not be judged by the color of their skin. Everything that the Democrats are advocating for is for us to only be judged by the color of our skin, by our sex, me as a black woman, they want me to constantly remember that.

You are black, you are a woman, and you cannot exist outside of that. So we need to understand that in many ways, we’ve gone backward from the themes that he was teaching when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

His dream is being realized, but it’s not being realized by the Democratic Party right now.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Leftism is turning into tribalism

A funny thing happened on the way to the intersectional future. The proverbial knapsack was unpacked in the Women’s March and inside wasn’t just racial tribalism, but racial and religious supremacism.

Why do Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour of the Women’s March like Farrakhan and his hate group?

The Nation of Islam preaches that black people are the master race. It doesn’t just hate white people, Jews and a whole bunch of other folks. It hates them out of a conviction in its own superiority. According to its teachings, “the Blackman is the original man” and lighter skinned people were “devils” created by an evil mad scientist to rule over black people until they are destroyed by UFOs.

It even teaches that monkeys are descended from white people.

Progressive media essays defending Obama, Rep. Keith Ellison,  Rep. Danny Davis, Mallory and other black leaders for their Farrakhan links have urged concerned liberals to look at the positive aspects of the Nation of Islam, its love for black people, not the negative, its hatred for white people.

But it is the “positive” that is the problem.

Intersectionality promises to package tribal identity politics into a utopia of social justice. But the essence of tribalism is the superiority of your people and the inferiority of all other groups. Tribalism doesn’t have to be violent, hostile or hateful. Most peoples are tribal after all. But when you combine the most radical identity politics elements, as the left does, then bigoted supremacism is certain.

The clown car of identity politics runs smoothest when it has a common enemy: white people. Coalitions like the Women’s March assemble an array of groups who are united by their hatred of Trump, white people, Israel and root beer. And it works as long as no one lifts up the hood and looks at the engine.

Black nationalism is racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. The Nation of Islam isn’t an exception. From Jeremiah Wright, “Italians… looked down their garlic noses”, to Eldridge Cleaver, “rape was an insurrectionary act” to Amiri Baraka, the ugliest possible supremacist bigotry is its natural state.

"We are all beautiful (except white people, they are full of, and made of s___)," Amiri Baraka wrote. "The fag's death they gave us on a cross... they give us to worship a dead jew and not ourselves."

“I got the extermination blues, jew-boys. I got the Hitler syndrome figured... So come for the rent, jewboys,” the Guggenheim fellowship, PEN and American Book Award winner, and former Poet Laureate of New Jersey ranted.

Baraka was one of the country’s most celebrated black nationalist poets and he was a former member of the Nation of Islam. Baraka’s Black Mass circulated the NOI’s racist creation myth.

It was the NOI’s conviction of black superiority and white inferiority that attracted Baraka and so many other black nationalists. The NOI is one of a variety of black supremacist religious groups, from the similarly exotic Moorish and Black Hebrew churches, to NOI splinter groups such as Five-Percent Nation and black nationalist churches like the one attended by the Obamas and presided over by Jeremiah Wright. But religious black supremacism is only a component of a larger cultural movement that lies at the heart of black nationalism and mingles historical conspiracy theories with racial supremacism.

The comingling of black nationalism with intersectional politics has produced a new generation (often of second-generation radicals) that dresses up its racism not only in the lyricism of the old black nationalism of Wright and Baraka, but in the obtuse academic jargon of intersectionality.

That’s where Tamika Mallory and Ta-Nehisi Coates come from. But political word salads and poetry only conceal what you choose not to pay attention to. And that’s why we’re talking about Louis Farrakhan.

The mass of progressive media articles, essays and explainers deployed to protect the Women’s March can be summed up as, “Stop paying attention.” And what we’re not supposed to be paying attention to is the slow death of liberalism and its substitution by the intolerant tribal extremism of identity politics.

It’s why the echo chamber of progressive media has turned against the New York Times editorial page where too many articles questioning identity politics and political censorship have appeared. Bari Weiss and Quinn Norton, articulate young women, are the most immediate targets, but the larger target is James Bennet, the page’s gatekeeper, who is unwisely giving liberals a glimpse of where they’re headed.

The remaining liberals still wandering the open plains of a dying ecosystem don’t understand that they are becoming extinct. When they endorse vocal identity politics movements, it is because they believe that addressing the grievances of their extremists is a necessary step to a tolerant colorblind society.

They haven’t grasped that a tolerant multiracial society is the last thing supremacists of any race want.

And the left tells them what they want to hear, that the strident tone of the activists is a momentary phenomenon triggered by their fury at injustice and oppression. Once we’re all intersectionalized and truthfully reconciled, the pain underlying the appeal of a Farrakhan or a Wright will dissipate.

It’s a lie. And they know it’s a lie.

Intersectionality is a lie. Like the Nation of Islam, it’s not just a lie in its negative hateful aspects, but in its promise of a utopia once the “white devils” and their “white privilege” are out of the way.

Groups of identity politics extremists and their white cishet lefty allies can only be briefly united by the negative, not the positive. The “call-out culture” meant to spread social justice through the movement isn’t just a form of political terror; it fails to reach the innate bigotry of each identity politics group.

The meltdown of the Women’s March shows why intersectionality was always a Potemkin Village.

Identity politics movements can’t fight bigotry, because they are naturally bigoted. Instead of actually rejecting bigotry, they project it on a convenient target like Trump, and then pretend that by destroying him, they can cleanse society. The more targets they destroy, the more they need to find to maintain an alliance whose only true unifying principle is a mutual denial of each other’s supremacist bigotries. And so the battle against racism becomes a war against microaggressions and structural white supremacy.

The whole thing is a ticking time bomb. And it keeps going off every few years. When it blows up, lefty activists rush out, as they are doing now, to plead, wheedle and warn that the real enemy is “white supremacy” and everyone needs to stop paying attention to the racist or sexist views of their own allies.

These “rainbow coalitions” of racist radicals don’t fight bigotry; they mobilize bigots for racial wars.

Tamika Mallory praising Farrakhan isn’t shocking. It would be more shocking if she didn’t. It’s hard to find major black figures in politics and the entertainment industry who don’t hang out with him.

Both Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, the first two serious black presidential candidates, did. The Congressional Black Caucus hosted him. London Mayor Sadiq Khan acted as his lawyer. The list of black entertainers is all but endless. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube (both members), Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Spike Lee, Arsenio Hall, Common, Kanye West, Mos Def, Young Jeezy and Erykah Badu to name a few.

Not every individual who meets up with Farrakhan necessarily shares all his bigoted views, but many find his tribal affirmation of black superiority appealing and they value that more than they do any kind of tolerant society. That’s what Tamika Mallory, in her own awkward way, was trying to tell us.

Black nationalism is a tribal cause. It will always put its people first. The same is true of the rest of the hodgepodge of political identity groups that form up the intersectional chorus. No amount of calling out will change that. That’s why the calling out is mostly directed at safe targets, preferably white.

There is no larger unity at the end of the rainbow. Only smoother versions of Farrakhan. Barack instead of Baraka. Rants about “white devils” and “satanic Jews” filtered through academic jargon.

A movement of bigotries can only divide us. And that’s all identity politics has to offer America. Instead of equal rights in a united nation, we will be members of quarreling tribes. And those tribes, like Farrakhan’s fans, will be incapable of seeing members of other tribes as having the same worth they do.

And people who don’t believe that the “other” has the same worth, won’t grant him the same rights.

The left claims that it’s fighting for equality. What it’s actually fighting for is a tribal society where the notion of equal rights for all is as alien as it is in Iraq, Rwanda and Afghanistan, where democracy means tribal bloc votes and where the despotism of majority rule invariably ends in terror and death.



The Los Angeles Soviet wants to turn LA into a magnet for all the homeless people in America

The Los Angeles City Council Friday is considering a motion that would enact a plan to provide housing for every transient in the city, as it continues to grapple with a housing shortage which has spiked rents and sent thousands of people into homelessness.

The motion, introduced last month by Councilmen Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, says there is little evidence that anything is being done to create or improve shelters for the homeless in the city and that a true sense of emergency is needed to deal with the problem.

The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that 57,794 people are living on the streets of L.A. County, a 23 percent jump from the year before. Within the city of L.A., that number is more than 34,100.

The city has explored multiple options for dealing with its growing homeless population. In February, the council unanimously approved putting about 60 homeless people in trailers on a downtown lot at Arcadia and Alameda streets. The trailers, which contain bathrooms, showers and beds, are expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $1 million to operate.

However, the plan has received pushback from nearby restaurant owners, who say the high concentration of transients in the area has already hurt their business, and the trailers could make it worse.

Mayor Eric Garcetti defended it earlier this month.

“It’s not a choice of bringing homeless people to your neighborhood or not: they’re there,” Garcetti said. “You want to keep them off the street or bring them home. So from Boyle Heights, to downtown, to the Westside, to San Fernando Valley, we’re finding those allies and we’re pushing. And as mayor, I won’t accept no.”

Another proposal would convert hotels into permanent housing.

In November 2016, L.A. voters passed Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the homeless, but the units will take years to approve and build.

In March 2017, L.A. County voters adopted Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs. It is meant to generate $355 million annually for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness.

The motion being considered Friday seeks a number of actions from the L.A. Homeless Services Authority and from some city departments. With city assistance, the authority would be asked to provide several comprehensive reports within 14 days, including the framework for an Emergency Response Homeless Plan, outlining what steps and what funds would be required to provide an alternative to homeless encampments for 100 percent of the homeless population by the end of the year.

Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA, noted that since the passage of Measure H, they have seen an increase from 10 percent to 50 percent in the number of people who enter temporary shelters in the county and are transitioned into permanent supportive housing.

The homelessness crisis has plagued the entire Southland. In February, hundreds of homeless people were removed from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed, prompting a lawsuit from homeless advocates.

The transients who were cleared out were given motel vouchers as part of a deal worked out in federal court. But those vouchers are expiring, and Orange County and city officials have been scrambling to come up with a permanent housing solution for them.

Proposals to move the homeless to temporary locations in Laguna Niguel, Huntington Beach and Irvine have been met with large protests from local residents.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Monday, March 26, 2018

Trump’s China tariffs could actually work

President Trump has officially picked a fight with China, announcing Thursday that the United States is imposing up to $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods, along with additional restrictions on China’s ability to invest in US companies.

How China will respond is unclear. The Chinese government has sent mixed signals about its readiness to negotiate but also its willingness to retaliate, including against vulnerable sectors of US agriculture. Just the threat of a trade war was enough to rattle global markets and push the Dow Jones Industrial Average down over 700 points.

At its root, this is a fight about intellectual property: how US companies try to safeguard their innovations, and how China tries to get around those safeguards via reverse engineering, coercion, or even theft.

Pirated software is perhaps the most familiar example, so common across China that one trade group has estimated that as of 2015, 70 percent of software installed on Chinese personal computers was unlicensed.

But that’s only the beginning. Sometimes, the only way for US businesses to gain access to the Chinese market is by partnering with a local firm and handing over precious intellectual property — which could be anything from new manufacturing techniques to software algorithms. Refuse, and businesses can be subject to provisions of Chinese law that actually force dominant companies to license their treasured tech to competitors.

If that doesn’t work, China also engages in various forms of industrial espionage: hacking into US companies to gather sensitive information, or luring away employees who might pass along well-guarded details. Affected businesses span the economic gamut, from wind turbine programmers to semiconductor manufacturers to the makers of genetically modified seeds.

The full extent of these practices is hard to quantify, as is the cost to US businesses and consumers. There’s no central repository of incidents, and many of the companies affected might not even know they were infiltrated or exploited.

During Thursday’s announcement, Trump put the figure at “hundreds of billion of dollars,” though his administration later released a fact sheet estimating the annual cost from improper IP transfer at approximately $50 billion per year, or something closer to 0.25 percent of gross domestic product.

Yet whatever the exact number, the politics are potent — centered around a narrative of innovative US companies having their hard work stolen away by a foreign economic rival. It’s a neat fit with Trump’s longtime contention that the global trading system is rigged against America.

The question is: Can Trump’s plan for new tariffs and other pressures make a real difference?

As with all tariffs, there will be costs, including for consumers, who probably will have to pay more for some electronics gear. Those costs will only grow if China responds in kind, whether taxing select agricultural imports, placing further restrictions on new US businesses, or cutting cooperation with firms already on the ground in Shanghai or Beijing. Worries of this damaging tit-for-tat helped fuel Thursday’s stock sell-off.

But an escalating trade war isn’t inevitable. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he thought we would “end up negotiating these things rather than fighting over them.”

Just as important, China has also signaled a willingness to talk, suggesting that Trump’s gambit could work, creating some real, effective pressure that ultimately forces China to rethink its approach to US intellectual property rights.

Trump’s negotiating position was probably strengthened by his decision last week to reject a proposed takeover of the US telecom firm Qualcomm, for fear that it would give China too much control over wireless technology. If he could attract allies in Europe and around the world — many of whom share concerns about China’s lack of respect for intellectual property — that also would help, including by building broader support for another action Trump unveiled Thursday, a challenge against China at the World Trade Organization.

But here’s where Trump’s mercurial side becomes a liability. In recent weeks, he has angered key trading partners with the announcement of wide-reaching steel and aluminum tariffs — not to mention making himself look unprepared for sacrifice by saying trade wars are easy to win.

There may well be a deal out there on protecting US intellectual property, which this package of tariffs and other restrictions can help forge. All that’s required is for Trump to prove himself the deal-maker he has long claimed to be.



Authoritarianism for Me but Not for Thee

It's funny how projection works. These hysterical Democrats calling for President Trump's impeachment because of his dastardly "authoritarian tendencies" are the ones with authoritarian tendencies.

I'll bet you didn't know that the president commits an impeachable offense if his political opponents harbor an irrational fear that he has authoritarian tendencies — whether or not he has acted outside the scope of his constitutional authority, flouted the rule of law or done anything else that could be remotely construed as a high crime or misdemeanor. I didn't, either.

But doesn't it bother you just a little bit that the very people who are calling for Trump's removal because they don't like him or his policies want to put their own authoritarians in power, where they can actually flout the rule of law?

My chief complaint is not their hypocrisy, though it abounds among these sanctimonious progressives. It is that they are eager to twist the law to suit their political agenda while masquerading as sacred guardians of the Constitution.

Someone should ask these mob-thinking witch-hunters how they can contemplate impeachment without a colorable claim that Trump has committed an impeachable offense. Other than their incapacity for self-reflection, why are they demanding an official proceeding to remove the president based on what he stands for and things he says?

Granted, impeachment is largely a political matter, but riotous partisans shouldn't be allowed to just make things up and ignore the plain language of the Constitution and the historical background informing its provisions. Sure, liberal activists who can find an emanation and penumbra behind every constitutional rock can distort any constitutional provision beyond recognition. But would anyone but a rabid authoritarian pretend that the Framers intended "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" to include any lawful conduct or tweet that could be exploited in bad faith to overturn the democratic will of the voters?

The less likely it appears that Trump did anything improper with Russia the more desperate these Democratic authoritarians become. There is an inverse relationship between the amount of actual evidence against Trump and the intensity of the Democrats' impeachment rhetoric. Old adages endure for a reason, and the Democrats are quite familiar with this one: "If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell."

Everywhere we look, Democrats are pounding the table and yelling like hell. On MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes," Sen. Bernie Sanders said Trump has "a strong authoritarian personality" and shows a "disrespect for democracy" in the U.S. His proof: Trump admires foreign dictators, and he disrespects democracy in terms of voter suppression, gerrymandering and his attacks on the media.

Well, I hate to tell you, Bernie, but one of the telltale signs of leftists these days is their adoration for dictators such as the Castros. I also regret to inform you that Barack Obama declared war on Fox News and conservative talk radio without a syllable of protest from you or your comrades. And gerrymandering? Really? Nevertheless, it's amusing for socialists to complain about authoritarianism when their lives are dedicated to consolidating governmental power to exercise authoritarian control over their subject citizens. But at least Sanders is not demanding impeachment — yet.

Liberal MSNBC host Brian Williams slammed Republicans for lacking the courage to discuss impeaching Trump. Unsurprisingly, the authoritarian-prone Williams didn't cite any impeachable offenses.

Campus Reform reports that Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe is teaching a class that explores what impeachment and removal by other means might resemble in the Trump era. He has a new book coming out on the subject, and he was already calling for impeachment last May in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

In that essay, Tribe cited no impeachable misconduct on Trump's part. He just groused about the "emoluments clause" — give me a break — and that "ample reasons existed" to worry about Trump even before he fired FBI Director James Comey. Tribe argued that the nation couldn't afford to wait to begin impeachment proceedings. "To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation's fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader."

Soon after, Tribe said on MSNBC: "Letting him just sit out the time ... is too dangerous for the country. We have to start an impeachment investigation in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee now while the FBI continues to do its work."

Does that sound a bit authoritarian to you? Just begin the formal process to remove a sitting, duly elected president against whom there is no evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor. No big deal, right?

Not one member of the reckless cabal wildly calling for Trump's impeachment — which includes leftists and parts of the never-Trump right — can cite an actual abuse of authority by Trump, much less a high crime or misdemeanor. President Obama violated the Constitution and the rule of law for sport, and liberals didn't care.

For the left, this isn't about the Constitution, the rule of law or authoritarianism; it's about getting rid of Trump at any cost to the Constitution and the rule of law — and by any authoritarian means necessary.



John Brennan’s Thwarted Coup

As his plot to destroy Trump backfires, his squeals grow louder.

It was the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky who coined the phrase the “dustbin of history.” To his political opponents, he sputtered, “You are pitiful, isolated individuals! You are bankrupts. Your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on — into the dustbin of history!”

It is no coincidence that John Brennan, who supported the Soviet-controlled American Communist Party in the 1970s (he has acknowledged that he thought his vote for its presidential candidate Gus Hall threatened his prospects at the CIA; unfortunately, it didn’t), would borrow from Trotsky’s rhetoric in his fulminations against Donald Trump. His tweet last week, shortly after the firing of Andrew McCabe, reeked of Trotskyite revolutionary schlock: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America… America will triumph over you.”

[Compare  what Lenin said in describing his fellow revolutionaries (Kautsky and others).  He spoke of "the full depth of their stupidity, pedantry, baseness and betrayal of working-class interests". Old Communist Brennan even uses language reminscent of Lenin.  Leftists are expert at abuse, if nothing else]

America will triumph over a president it elected? That’s the raw language of coup, and of course it is not the first time Brennan has indulged it. In 2017, he was calling for members of the executive branch to defy the chief executive. They should “refuse to carry out” his lawful directives if they don’t agree with them, he said.

Trump has said that the Russians are “laughing their asses off” over the turmoil caused by Obamagate. No doubt many of the laughs come at the sight of Brennan, a supporter of Soviet stooges like Gus Hall, conducting a de facto coup from the top of the CIA and then continuing it after his ouster. Who needs Gus Hall when John Brennan is around? This time the Russians don’t even have to pay for the anti-American activity.

Another hardcore leftist, Samantha Power, who spent the weeks after Trump’s victory rifling through intelligence picked up on his staff, found Brennan’s revolutionary tweet very inspiring. “Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan,” she wrote. Sounded pretty dark and grave. But not to worry, she tweeted later. She just meant that the former CIA director was going to smite Trump with the power of his “eloquent voice.”

Out of power, these aging radicals can’t help themselves. They had their shot to stop Trump, they failed, and now they are furious. The adolescent coup talk grows more feverish with each passing day. We have a former CIA director calling for the overthrow of a duly elected president, a former attorney general (Eric Holder) calling for a “knife fight,” a Senate minority leader speaking ominously about what the intelligence community might do to Trump (“they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer has said), and assorted former FBI and CIA officials cheering for a coup, such as CNN’s Phil Mudd who says, “You’ve been around for 13 months. We’ve been around since 1908. I know how this game is going to be played. We’re going to win.”

In all this unhinged chatter, the partisan origins of Obamagate become clearer. The same anti-Trump hatred on display in their tweets and punditry drove the political espionage. James Kallstrom, the former FBI Assistant Director, notes that the “animus and malice” contained in Brennan’s tweet is “prima facie exposure of how he felt about Trump before the election.”

All the key figures in the decision to open up a probe on Trump wanted him to lose — from Brennan to Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump machinations included, according to the latest batch of texts with his mistress, plotting to manipulate a buddy on the FISA court. In one text, he wonders if he can finagle a meeting with his friend by inviting him to a “cocktail party.” The impropriety aforethought on display in that tweet is staggering, but of course the media has paid no attention to it, preoccupied as it is with Andrew McCabe’s retirement income.

McCabe, by the way, has removed all doubts about his capacity for partisan lying with his post-firing statement, which rests entirely upon it. With all of its anti-Trump special pleading, the statement reads like it was cobbled together by Rachel Maddow. Like so many other ruling-class frauds, McCabe seeks absolution for his perjury and leaking through liberal politics. I stand with the liberal powerful against Trump, you can’t touch me — that’s the upshot of his defense. Comey has taken the same tack. The title of his forthcoming book should be: How the Law Doesn’t Apply to the Self-Appointed Ruling Class.

What an amazing collection of entitled creeps, who long ago convinced themselves that the “rule of law” is identical to what they see as their sacred right to exercise power in any way they see fit. All the blather about Trump’s violation of the law is simply a projection of their own lawlessness. So far the coup has been thwarted. They had hoped to stop him in the campaign through political espionage. But that didn’t work. Then they tried to upend him through spying during the transition, holding out hope until the very last moment, as evidenced by Susan Rice penning her sham exculpatory note only after Trump’s swearing-in. Now they join Brennan in seeking to bury Trump in Mueller’s dustbin.

Trotsky would have understood the shorthand of all the tweets, polemics, and posturing perfectly. Nothing in this show trial bears any relationship to reality or justice. It is simply an expression of power politics, which doesn’t always end well for its exponents. As even an old Gus Hall supporter like John Brennan must know, and perhaps his fulminating panic indicates a dawning awareness of it, those who talk the loudest about their enemies heading for the ash heap of history often end up in it.



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, March 25, 2018

John Bolton to replace General H.R. McMaster as President Trump's national security advisor

Great!  I was wondering what had happened to Bolton.  Bolton is as uncompromising as Trump, whereas McMaster was too conventional. It was McMaster who got Trump back into Afghanistan

President Donald Trump is replacing national security adviser H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Trump tweets that McMaster has done "an outstanding job & will always remain my friend." He says Bolton will take over April 9.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with McMaster, a respected three-star general, and talk that McMaster would soon leave the administration had picked up in recent weeks.

His departure follows Trump's dramatic ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week.

It also comes after someone at the White House leaked that Trump was urged in briefing documents not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin about his recent re-election win. Trump did it anyway.

McMaster was brought in after Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was dismissed.



The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica 'Scandal' Is a Nothingburger

What the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal lacks in relevance it sure makes up for in melodramatic rhetoric. Take Bloomberg, for instance, which reported, “The revelations of the apparent skulduggery that helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election keep sending shock waves across the political landscape.” Well, it’s partially true. Everyone is talking about it. The story has consumed most of the mainstream media.

The theory goes something like this: Facebook obtained information on users who took a personality quiz with their online friends. Another outlet, the advertising firm Cambridge Analytica, harvested that information, brainwashed a bunch of rubes and then yada, yada, yada … Russia! Former Cambridge Analytica contractor Christopher Wylie told CNN that while at the company, he helped build a “psychological warfare weapon” to “exploit mental vulnerabilities that our algorithms showed that (Facebook users) had.” So, in other words, he worked in the advertising business.

Those who have covered politics for more than a single Trump cycle should know better than to use this kind of unnerving rhetoric for what amounts to nothing more than average microtargeting, which has been used by hundreds, if not thousands, of firms. Yet now, when it serves to bolster convoluted theories about an election having been overthrown, terms like “psychographics” and “breach” are being thrown around to make it sound like someone hacked into voter rolls after boring into the deepest recesses of our collective soul.

Here’s a thought: If you’re uncomfortable with data mining and your information being shared, don’t take surveys. Because, guess what, you don’t have to be on Facebook. You don’t have to use Twitter. You don’t have a constitutional right to play FarmVille without answering a survey. You don’t get free stuff. The very existence of social media and tech companies is predicated on mining data so that they, or third parties, can sell you things. That has always been the deal.

Cambridge Analytica is a shady company owned by the British firm SCL Group — and, reportedly, in part by the right-wing-funding Mercer family — which claimed it could build models that identify persuadable voters by using six key personality types. Now it looks like Cambridge Analytica kept data it shouldn’t have. Yet the effectiveness of Cambridge Analytica’s targeting was as questionable as its business practices. As others have pointed out, most Republicans used the firm to open to door to the Mercers’ checkbook.

By constantly using the word “breach,” reporters are trying to insinuate that someone stole voter data that typically was off-limits. Cambridge Analytica was allowed to pull that profile data. Facebook only changed its policy in early 2015. But before the general election, the Trump campaign dropped Cambridge Analytica for the Republican National Committee data, reportedly never using any of the “psychographic” information. According to CBS News, in September 2016, it had “tested the RNC data, and it proved to be vastly more accurate.”

Even if the campaign hadn’t, however, its efforts would have been akin to those being heralded as revolutionary when serving the interests of Democrats. In fact, Facebook allowed the Obama campaign to harvest data in the same way that is now generating headlines and handwringing. Do you remember any outrage and trepidation over the privacy and manipulation of your thoughts in 2012? The only consistent position the Left seems to take these days is that the mechanisms it uses to keep power automatically transform into something nefarious and undemocratic when the opposition uses them. If anything, there should be concerned about the ideological double standards of yet another tech giant.

Most of all, so what if voters were being “targeted”? Part of living in a free society means being bombarded by messages we don’t like. The entire Facebook-Russiabots scare is predicated on the notion that people don’t have free will. It’s only once we start micromanaging the information Americans consume that we begin undermining choices. Of course, people shouldn’t get their news from Facebook. And a reliable Fourth Estate that reports without bias to help Americans navigate through this messy contemporary digital life would be helpful. But the Cambridge Analytica story is just another example of how it fails.



The Cambridge Analytica scandal: an elitist delusion

Comment from Britain

There are two remarkable things about the fallout from the Observer exposé of the Cambridge Analytica Files. First, $37 billion was wiped from the value of Facebook in one day and its share price is continuing to fall – not because it did anything wrong, but because its lax data-protection policies allowed a third party apparently to misuse its users’ data without consent. Secondly, and more importantly, is how the story is strengthening the misconception that a dark dystopian data company has been the manipulating force behind election results around the world, particularly the greatest political disruptions for years: the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.

What are the media and political elite smoking these days? They actually appear to believe that Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s Eton-educated chief executive, who has been suspended, is a Bond-type villain behind the scenes, whose data company has the power to change the world. They also appear to believe the self-serving claims made by the pink-haired data science geek and whistleblower at the heart of the exposé, Christopher Wylie, that he became ‘Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool’, which brought Trump to power. This is deeply delusional.

The only real truth behind this exposé is the fact that Cambridge Analytica used 50million profiles that had been harvested from Facebook, without its users’ consent, to target US voters with political advertisements. This certainly does have important privacy concerns which a lot of policymakers are getting very exercised about. We know how this is going to end, however: with increased calls for regulation and clampdowns which will threaten free speech and the further evolution of the internet.

But, it is not how the data was acquired which is leading the calls to regulate social media. The real reason the liberal media and politicians have gone into meltdown over this case is because of their prejudiced and misguided belief that Cambridge Analytica successfully used this data to bring about political outcomes which disgust them.

The data used by Cambridge Analytica was collected by Aleksander Kogan, an academic at Cambridge University. Yes, the fact that he passed this data to Cambridge Analytica without obtaining the consent of millions of Facebook users is an issue – the issue over which Facebook is now facing a growing barrage of criticism and a share-price slump. But Kogan’s entire research objective is itself problematic. His data-mining research programme aims to determine personality traits, political partisanship, sexuality and much more from people’s Facebook ‘likes’. His data are used to prepare ‘psychographic profiling’ after correlating them with more traditional data sets like magazine subscriptions or airline travel, shopping histories, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and so on. The purported outcome is the capture of every single aspect of voters’ information environments. This is what Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have done, enabling it to craft individual messages to targeted voters, either to persuade them to vote Trump or plant misinformation about opposition candidates.

The problem is that there is no evidence that any of this actually works. It is highly unlikely that an algorithm that examines a few dozen ‘likes’ can glean anything other than a very superficial indication of a user’s preferences, politically or otherwise. According to one report, for example, when users liked ‘curly fries’ and Sephora cosmetics, this was said to give clues to intelligence. Liking Hello Kitty is supposed to indicate one’s political views, while ‘being confused after waking up from naps’ was linked to sexuality. In short, garbage. These are correlations, not cause-and-effect relationships, and thus they are highly dubious ‘insights’. Spending large amounts of money on this kind of research can only be a stupid rich man’s game. The only ‘evidence’ we have that this works are the self-serving claims made by the snake oil salesmen of the data world and the liberal elite’s fantastical belief that this was the reason they lost the Brexit referendum and Hillary Clinton lost the White House.

There is an enormous degree of hypocrisy in this discussion, too. In a piece for the Spectator, Freddy Gray correctly points out that Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign pioneered the use of Facebook’s APIs (application programming interfaces) and data to target voters to the same end. This was legitimate, apparently. Obama was heralded as being hip and in the vanguard of electioneering in the digital age. Apply the same to Donald Trump and we get conspiracy theories and hysteria.

But Gray makes another point which is salient. Namely, that the shutting down of these APIs by Facebook in 2014 had little to do with Facebook addressing legitimate privacy concerns. Facebook acted because it realised that any outside company could use these APIs to replicate the ‘social graph’ that Facebook sells to advertisers. In other words, Facebook and companies like Cambridge Analytica have built businesses around an apparent increased data capability to provide ‘psychographic profiling’ and the contemptible fantasy that ordinary people can be psychologically manipulated to buy, act and vote in a certain way.

We are not talking about a conspiracy to run the world. Rather what we are witnessing is the emergence of an ecosystem of con artists of the 21st-century dataverse. Despite their political differences, everyone who is peddling this garbage is united around the odious assumption that ordinary people, either as consumers or an electorate, are stupid, irrational and incapable of independent thought. That they are children who can be swayed, cajoled or seduced by honed messages or advertising. The fact that Trump’s election team employed Cambridge Analytica shows that they, too, share this view of the very people they were hoping to win to their cause. They treated electoral participation as a behavioural experiment, a stimulus-response model that could deliver Trump to power. Both sides are in denial about the realities of 21st-century politics – as if the American electorate needed Cambridge Analytica to manipulate them into rejecting the political elite in Washington, who regard them as deplorable.

The worst thing about this sorry story is that the more the media and liberal elite get their knickers in a twist over data manipulation, conspiracies and fake news, the more they reinforce the notion that this approach to politics is legitimate and actually works. The sordid irony is that the political elite and liberal intelligentsia have been hoisted with their own petard, so to speak. For years the absence of any real political vision about the purpose of government has forced the elite into technocratic managerialism based upon policies designed to nudge and manipulate the public for its own good. Elite politics can be summed up as an attempt to ‘save’ citizens from the negative consequences of their own behaviour. The liberal elite has been at the forefront of transforming the sphere of public agency, moral judgment and autonomy into a laboratory for manipulation through various forms of ‘nudge’ projects.

What the Cambridge Analytica Files exposé has revealed more than anything else is how all sides of the debate are more united than they would like to let on. Like squabbling children, one side is throwing their toys out of the pram because the other side won. ‘It’s not fair’, cries the Observer as it refuses to face the reality that it was not data manipulation that won Brexit or elected Trump, but the very contempt that they and their ilk hold for ordinary people. It’s time to grow up and start addressing the real concerns and problems we the people face. It’s time to put these childish pranksters on the naughty step.



Expert Canadian finds the ‘smoking gun’ in Florida bridge collapse

A mysterious Canadian engineering YouTuber appears to have found the “smoking gun” of the Florida International University bridge collapse, which killed six people last week.

According to the YouTuber, identified only as AvE, a single snapped tension cable spotted at the site paints a picture of crews negligently trying to jury-rig an unstable bridge while still allowing midday traffic to pass underneath.

“They knew there was a problem and they were trying to remediate it while the fucking traffic is still going … incredible, just an incredible … I can’t even,” said AvE in the 16-minute video.

By analyzing building plans and construction photos from the site, AvE concluded that the bridge would have been fine as initially designed, but that it was brought down by shortcuts taken on the construction site.

The main span of the bridge was prefabricated and then swung into position in a single day. This unique design was intended to reduce traffic delays on the six-lane road it would be spanning.

Once in place, the plan was to install the bridge’s final supports while traffic was once again allowed to flow underneath the still-unfinished span.

But photos and video from the swing-out reveals that the heavy-lift vehicles used to move the span were positioned differently than indicated in the bridge’s original plans, which would have placed stress on weaker areas of the bridge. This, in turn, could have upset the latticework of cables holding the bridge together.



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)