Friday, August 03, 2018

That famous Democrat selective memory again

After a free-wheeling campaign rally in Tampa, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz called the event a “dark carnival” and declared the left has “no equivalent.”

“This is not a thing on the left,” Schatz claimed. “We just argue about healthcare and climate and sometimes relitigate 2016 but we are not actually out of our minds.”

The facts, however, are not on his side. Here is a short reminder of the dark and at times violent responses to the Trump presidency so far:

* Kathy Griffin held a bloody “beheaded” Trump bust.
* Snoop Dogg pretended to shoot a Trump figure and rapped about killing the president in a video.
* A “Saturday Night Live” writer predicted that the president’s 11-year-old son would be “this country’s first homeschool shooter.”
* Madonna declared that she has thought about “blowing up the White House.”
* A teacher was suspended for shooting a squirt gun at an image of Trump, screaming “Die!”
* Sarah Silverman called for an American “military overthrow” of Trump.
* Stephen Colbert joked about the president giving a blowjob to Vladimir Putin.
* Joy Behar said that believing in Jesus is a “mental illness.”
Jimmy Kimmel mocked the first lady’s foreign accent.
* Chelsea Handler tore into Sarah Sanders’ looks and weight, calling her a “whore.”
* A Democratic congressman made a blowjob joke about Kellyanne Conway.
* ESPN anchor Jemele Hill called Trump a “white supremacist.”
* Michelle Wolf mocked Sarah Sanders’ looks, calling her a liar to her face.
* Keith Olbermann called Trump a “Nazi” and drops regular expletive laced rants.
* Samantha Bee called the first daughter a “c**t” with absolutely no remorse.
* A Bernie Sanders supporter targeted GOP members of Congress in a shooting.
* A Democratic congressional candidate called the first lady a “whore.”
* Multiple members of the administration have gotten harassed, shouted down, or kicked out of restaurants just for working for the president.
* Multiple people have made death threats against the families of administration officials, including Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.
* A man stole a teenager’s MAGA hat and threw a drink on him.
* Maxine Waters said Trump officials are “not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
*Left-wing Antifa members have harassed Trump supporters.

Good luck convincing the American public that Democrats are the party of peace.



Whatever you think of Trump he's got the right policies for America

There’s no doubt about it: President Donald Trump has breathed new life into the American economy!

With record-breaking 4.1-percent growth in GDP, what anti-Trump critics said was impossible during the 2016 campaign just became reality. Unemployment is low, business is booming and billions of dollars that were sitting offshore are now re-entering our borders.

Why were so many so-called expert commentators in 2016 wrong about President Trump? We were told that Trump’s tough Queens, New York, style and relentless counter-punching tweets would harm markets on a global scale. Even I had concerns. But as we now see, President Trump gets results!

What happened? Part of it was the tax reform legislation, which immediately resulted in the biggest paychecks for 90 percent of Americans, millions of whom also received bonuses and raises. But it cannot be overstated just how important it has been for American entrepreneurs and innovators to finally have a president who inspires confidence, defends our interests, and embraces American exceptionalism.

After eight years of failed Obama-era policies, President Trump is renegotiating outdated trade deals, many of which predate the internet. He is also standing up to bad state actors which use heavy-handed government policies to steal intellectual property and hurt American businesses. Trump knows that, on a level playing field, American businesses and workers will be more innovative and will outwork any competitor on Earth.

To keep this innovation going, it’s important for government leaders to make the right policy decisions. Instead of potential trade wars and tariffs, it’s important that the slow hand of government gets out of the way of activities that drive economic growth.

One way to give American business a boost would be in the development of “5G” technology. This cellular communications technology will be so fast that many consumers will end up replacing their cable broadband provider with wireless broadband for all their internet needs.

This transformative technology is about to become a reality, which will quickly link rural and urban customers to a high-speed network that promises to reshape the way we work and communicate.

This race to “5G” is a competition not just between countries, but with companies competing for your business. With a proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, there would be a new competitor formed that could spend the billions necessary to compete against Verizon, AT&T, Google and other providers to foster innovation and keep prices down. No matter what, 5G will be a reality. Approving the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will ensure America has the high-speed service sooner and at more competitive rates.

This new technological shift will create thousands of American jobs to build these networks, support customers and develop life-improving technology which will take advantage of a new, coast-to-coast data network.

President Trump is doing his part in rolling back regulations and creating an environment that fosters a growing economy and job growth. Innovative sectors of the economy move so quickly that it’s essential we keep cutting taxes and keep cutting regulations while ensuring America wins these new technology battles. This is a winning formula to keep the Trump economy moving and strong.



Surprise! An agency created to make Pocahontas queen is intrinsically partisan


She's a clever talker but her crookedness lets her down.  She would have been all-powerful in her kingdom, continually finding new ways to harass business.  Another reason to thank Trump

Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation process to become the next Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has barely begun, yet already some congressional Democrats are attempting to block approval of this longtime public servant.

Political interference in the workings of the allegedly-independent Bureau is nothing new, however, and underscores the major flaws in the CFPB’s structure — specifically its single director. This partisan interference will pervade the Bureau regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress, and it must be addressed.

When Congress created the CFPB as part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, it envisioned a Bureau that was independent from any branch of government and could conduct its work free from partisan influence.

While no bill can lead to a perfect outcome, it would have been hard to imagine the extent to which the Bureau became a partisan agency under the leadership of former Director Richard Cordray.

From its very inception, the CFPB’s leadership apparatus has been a point of contention. Republicans in Congress immediately recognized the outsized influence that the Director would have on the Bureau’s actions and the unconstitutional authority the Director has as a bureaucrat unaccountable to both the President and Congress.

Republicans cried foul, and their subsequent outcry led to President Obama removing now-Senator Elizabeth Warren from consideration as the CFPB’s first Director. When former Director Cordray was nominated in her place — and at her urging — congressional Republicans again spoke out against the Bureau’s structure.

When Republicans opposed former Director Cordray’s nomination, Democrats criticized opposition to their nominees as politically-motivated, waving off claims that the Bureau’s structure was fundamentally flawed. Now that President Trump has nominated Ms. Kraninger to helm the Bureau, however, the tables have turned, and Senator Warren is leading Democrats in protests of the nominee.

These very same Senators who turned a blind eye to the Bureau’s politicization under the Obama administration are now suddenly concerned about the Bureau’s independence under the Trump administration.

This game of political ping-pong infuses partisanship into an agency whose work should instead be guided by facts, data and rigorous research.

Congress mandated that the Bureau serve the needs of consumers when it created the agency, but the agency’s flawed leadership structure has only been led to political battles and to advancing a partisan agenda.

To remedy the structural flaws at the CFPB, Congress must change the leadership structure at the Bureau to avoid encountering the same issues and having the same partisan battles any time the CFPB or its actions come up for discussion.

Unlike similar agencies, the Bureau’s single-director structure puts unchecked power in the hands of one individual. Congress should transition the Bureau’s leadership structure to a bipartisan commission model similar to that of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This would help foster a bipartisan environment among the Bureau and its staff, which currently are overwhelmingly Democratic, and lead to more thoughtful decision-making guided by data and research.

A bipartisan commission would allow members of both parties to provide input into the hierarchy of the Bureau and avoid the overtly political initiatives that the CFPB fostered under Director Cordray’s leadership.



The ‘Tolerant’ And Smug Left That Loves To HATE

Steve Cortes

The “eliminate ICE” movement gains steam within Democratic circles with the upstart victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. Cortez’s views have been ratified by very senior Democratic office holders, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio. Perhaps motivated by these far-leftist leaders, a gaggle of malcontents in Portand, Oregon formed an “Abolish ICE PDX” group that set up an encampment and protested around-the-clock at the local ICE field office.

According to detailed reporting from The Oregonian, these supposedly tolerant radicals spewed racial slurs at ICE officers of color. Whenever honorable people of color disagree with this open borders lunacy and actually choose to do the hard work of defending America’s borders, it demonstrates the hypocrisy of a movement that purports to be all about protecting Latinos and fighting against “white privilege.”

One African American ICE officer reported in internal emails to DHS administrators that “protestors ‘began yelling racial slurs at him’ including the N-word.” He was also called an Uncle Tom, which I, too, am called just about daily on social media (though usually in Spanish – ‘Tio Tomas’). The ICE officer lamented that the “racial slurs have been directed at me throughout the entire length of the deployment.” A female Hispanic officer reported anti-Hispanic slurs and derided as a “weak female” by the protestors. These comments were hardly isolated, as she also reported that “I was berated for so long that I cannot remember everything that was said to me.”

These smug leftists that allegedly embrace a “woke” mindset of tolerance in reality hate the president and his insistence on enforcing immigration law so intensely that they display the very racial animus that they pretend to abhor. These irony-insensitive agitators would do well to study the actual difficult, dangerous law enforcement work of ICE. The radicals might be surprised to discover that ICE and the Border Patrol are highly diverse, boasting some of the highest Hispanic percentages of any federal agencies.

Even more importantly, the enforcement actions of ICE so often prevent or punish crimes within Hispanic communities themselves. For example, the MS-13 brutal gang murderers on Long Island – which prompted two presidential trips to that area – primarily preyed upon Hispanic Americans. Far from terrorizing Hispanic citizens, ICE takes on the perilous task of protecting us from some very violent malefactors.

Similar stories abound across the country of people of color falling victim to criminals in the country illegally. In the so-called sanctuary state of California, illegal alien criminals — with lengthy records and multiple deportations each — killed black high school football star Jamiel Shaw and Hispanic mother Sandra Duran. Enhancing border security and accelerating deportation of dangerous people help prevent future victims of all colors — but particularly minorities.

Shockingly, the demonization of ICE and federal agents has not been consigned merely to a bunch of radical racist retrogrades in Portland, but also to the highest levels of American politics. For example, former CIA chief Michael Hayden had the gall to compare our brave immigration agents to the Nazis of Auschwitz in a tweet. More recently, Representative Ben Ray Lujan, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, perhaps sensing the electoral danger this radical position faces come November, refused to address the “abolish ICE” issue on ABC News. Showing similar cowardice, 167 House Democrats voted “present” on a recent resolution merely expressing support for the agents of ICE.

Thankfully, President Trump displays unparalleled leadership on this issue and boldly confronts this decades-long problem in America. Former ICE Director Tom Homan who served six presidents said “nobody has done more for border security and public safety than President Trump.” Hispanics and other people of color who value safety and prosperity for their families should be thankful.



HHS Rolls Out New, Affordable, Temporary Health Coverage Option -- For Some, Not All

An end-run around Obamacare

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued a final rule to help Americans get short-term, limited-duration, affordable health insurance that is designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage.

The new plan is exempt from the Obamacare requirements that apply to individual health insurance plans, and it comes as Democrats are trying to make health insurance a campaign issue. ("We want to expand access to Medicare," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told a news conference in June.)

“Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans have seen insurance premiums rise and choices dwindle,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “President Trump is bringing more affordable insurance options back to the market, including through allowing the renewal of short-term plans. These plans aren’t for everyone, but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system.”

The new option covers an initial period of less than 12 months, and, taking into account any extensions, a maximum duration of no longer than 36 months in total. It will increase choices for Americans faced with escalating premiums and dwindling options in the individual insurance market, HHS said.

Appearing on "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday, Azar called the new plan "really exciting" for some Americans, but not for everyone:

These plans that we are rolling out today can deliver affordable options for people at 50- to 80-percent lower cost than what the Obamacare exchange insurance options have.

This is relief, perhaps, for millions of Americans, because they've been left behind by the Affordable Care Act's false promises that they would have insurance -- everybody would have affordable insurance. It would cover every doctor they wanted, et cetera. So it left 28 million Americans behind without access to affordable insurance or without choices of insurance, with premiums doubling -- even before the president took office -- in the Obamacare market.

So these are called short-term limited duration plans. And you can get them up to 12 months. And what we are doing is allowing those to be renewable up to three years. Now they're different. You have to qualify for this type insurance. You have to go through what's called medical underwriting where the insurer would have to decide to take you. They may not cover every condition.

But it's a really important option for a lot of people in transition between jobs. Those economy workers who work on their own, a independent contractors. Folks struggling with three part-time jobs and don't get insurance from any one employer -- really important option. That's what we are about is putting the individual and the states back in the driver's seat here.

Azar said the new plan must disclose what they do and do not cover, so "people go in with their eyes open."

"What if you are in rural area and only have one Obamacare plan there and it doesn't cover the hospital or doctors in your area?" he asked. "This may be an option for you also. For many who have preexisting conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them. We're just providing more options and putting them in the driver's seat."



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

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


Thursday, August 02, 2018

Noncitizens across U.S. find it easy to register to vote, cast ballots

Russian national surprised to be on rolls in San Francisco

A Russian national or any other noncitizen can easily influence a U.S. election by simply registering to vote in California — just ask Elizaveta Shuvalova.

Ms. Shuvalova said she didn’t even know her name was added to the San Francisco voter rolls in 2012, when she was a 21-year-old Russian citizen living legally in the U.S. but ineligible to vote.

“I’ve never registered for anything in my entire life,” said Ms. Shuvalova, who became a U.S. citizen early last year. “This is news to me.”

The Washington Times obtained a San Francisco County voter log that detailed Ms. Shuvalova’s registration history and presented the document to her.

It showed that she signed up as a Democrat in July 2012 and that her registration was canceled in May 2016 after she told election officials she wasn’t a citizen. Her registration, as a Republican, was reactivated in March 2017.

“This is definitely a shocker to me. It is like an identity fraud because this is not coming from my end,” said Ms. Shuvalova, who now lives in New York, works as a personal trainer and calls herself a Democrat. “Like I told you, I haven’t even been a citizen during that time frame. So what can we do about it?”

More of a shocker is how easily Ms. Shuvalova was registered to vote in California without a citizenship check. Conservative watchdogs say the problem is surprisingly common across the country.

Noncitizens are signing up to vote in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia, according to research by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for election integrity. The foundation found that a large percentage of those noncitizens managed to cast ballots, too.

Ms. Shuvalova was signed up — possibly without her knowledge — by an organization circulating a petition for a 2013 ballot initiative to stop a massive condominium development on the San Francisco waterfront.

A signed registration card was submitted with the petition to qualify Ms. Shuvalova as a petition signer, said John Arntz, director of the San Francisco Department of Elections.

Activists often hand in stacks of registration cards with their petitions, he said.

Election officials say they conduct routine cross-references of voter registration information with databases at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and the secretary of state’s office but did not flag Ms. Shuvalova as a noncitizen.

The box for “vote by mail” was checked on her registration card, and the county began sending her ballots.

County records show she received nine ballots but never voted.

The only ballot returned to the election office was in May 2016, a month before the state’s Democratic primary, with the words “not citizen” written on it. Her self-identification as a noncitizen was noted on the voter log.

The county canceled Ms. Shuvalova’s registration at that time.

Yet she was somehow reregistered again a year later, about the time she became a citizen. Four months later, she moved to New York but remained on the California voter rolls.

Ms. Shuvalova said she doesn’t recall registering to vote either time or returning the ballot saying she wasn’t a citizen.

Mr. Arntz said nothing would have prevented Ms. Shuvalova from voting prior to 2016 and she would have remained on the voter rolls if his department had not received the ballot with “not citizen” scrawled across it.

But he didn’t think the Shuvalova case represented a broader problem.

“If it was a problem, this would be an issue that comes up every election or something we would have experienced more through time. But it doesn’t,” he told The Times.

“This is the first instance that I’ve actually had a conversation like this,” he said. “So, no, I don’t think it is a problem. I don’t think there’s many records out there like this.”

The Public Interest Legal Foundation said it already has other examples from Mr. Artz.

Logan Churchwell, communications and research director for the foundation, said Ms. Shuvalova’s file was one of more than two dozen records gleaned from San Francisco, based on a request for other self-reported noncitizens.

In six of those cases, the noncitizen also had a voting history.

“Our voter registration system masks noncitizens and allows the opportunity to vote until they decide to self-report at their own peril. All of this could have been prevented if states actually verified citizen eligibility upfront,” Mr. Churchwell said.

In response to the inquiries by The Times, Mr. Arntz said the Shuvalova case would be forwarded to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon for review.

“This voter did not recall completing a registration affidavit in 2012. So then the question would go potentially to whoever organized the petition circulation,” he said.

Mr. Arntz said he was almost certain that nobody had been prosecuted in San Francisco for being a noncitizen on the voter rolls during his 16 years at the department.

“I can’t remember forwarding an allegation that someone was a noncitizen who registered to vote or did vote,” he said.



Justice: Trump Supporters Can Now Sue San Jose Cops For Feeding Them To Protesters

In a huge victory for constitutional rights, Trump supporters in California have been given the go-ahead to sue the city of San Jose and its police force for allegedly putting them in danger following a campaign event in June 2016.

According to the lawsuit, San Jose police officers deliberately funneled Trump supporters into waiting hoards of violent protesters as they filed out of the McEnery Convention Center following the rally:

After the rally at the McEnery Convention Center, police directed those in attendance to leave from a single exit. There, according to the lawsuit, they were ordered to head out onto a street where hundreds of anti-Trump protesters were waiting, even though a safer route and other exits were available.
Apparently, San Jose police only protect and serve those with whom they agree. But would you expect anything less from the law “enforcement” of a sanctuary city?

Twenty plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they were beaten or struck by objects thrown by the protesters. Indeed, there is extensive video footage of anti-Trump protesters both verbally and physically attacking Trump supporters outside the convention center, usually entirely unprovoked.

At the time, Americans across the country slammed San Jose police for not doing more to curb the violence and protect rally attendees. However, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia praised his force “for both their effectiveness and their restraint” and argued that “additional force can incite more violence in the crowd.”

Thankfully, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t see it that way. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs and wrote a damning indictment of the police in their decision:

The judges ruled that if what the supporters allege in the lawsuit is accurate, “the officers acted with deliberate indifference to a known and obvious danger” and “violated the Trump supporters’ constitutional rights.” […]

“The attendees allege the officers shepherded them into a violent crowd of protesters and actively prevented them from reaching safety,” Judge Dorothy Nelson wrote in the decision.

“The officers continued to implement this plan even while witnessing the violence firsthand” and even though they knew about the earlier attacks outside the convention center, the Chronicle reported. She also noted that if the allegations in the lawsuit were proved, it would show police bore responsibility for the attacks.

It seems that even members of law enforcement suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome – ironic, given that Trump has been a far greater champion for law enforcement than Barack Obama ever was. Furthermore, it’s highly disturbing to think that Trump supporters aren’t given equal protection within their community just because of their political beliefs. If deliberate police negligence occurred in San Jose, then all parties should be held accountable within the fullest extent of the law.



Fight for the Value of Your Citizenship

A growing push around the country to allow noncitizen voting is diluting the rights of citizens.

Has there been a constitutional change recently that we’ve all missed? Recent news articles report that Democrats are working to allow noncitizens to cast ballots in elections around the country.

Yep. You read that correctly.

In the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights, the rights guaranteed for voters are directed to citizens of the United States of America.

Yet the push to expand voting rights to noncitizens has been deemed “another good step forward” by Portland, Maine, Mayor Ethan Strimling, among too many others. Strimling is, of course, a Democrat who cites President Donald Trump and his enforcement policies as his motivation for backing such policies. But don’t think that Maine is the only locale featuring the move by leftist organizations to allow noncitizens to vote.

Across America, not surprisingly in Democrat bastions, the efforts are rooted in local municipal elections, yet the implications of local decisions have had very real consequences at the federal level.

In Maryland, according to The Washington Times, there are 11 small municipalities that permit noncitizen voting. Chicago and San Francisco both permit noncitizens to cast ballots in school elections and, now, the Commonwealth People’s Republic of Massachusetts may follow suit. Some want to pass a state law in response to home-rule petitions that have been signed and submitted by Amherst, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, and Wayland. There was a hearing last Tuesday in Boston at the request of City Council Chairwomen Andrea Campbell, the goal of which was to find “ways to make city elections more inclusive.”

While Democrats rationalize that it’s just local school board races and municipal elections that are currently impacted, let’s think for just a moment. Is this not validating that noncitizens have their children in taxpayer-funded schools — consuming resources while not fully paying their tax burden? Is it not at the local level that sanctuary city laws originate to stand opposed to a collaborative effort with federal law enforcement to detain and transfer criminal illegal aliens into federal custody for arrest? Is it not also at the local level that trend-setting laws, such as those that push the minimum wage higher than the federal designation, catch on and spread?

Oh the irony: The very group of people screeching loudest about Russian election meddling is consistently and continually rejecting provisions to protect the value and integrity of elections. They oppose simple photo ID requirements while they are increasingly and brazenly working to secure voting rights for individuals who have decided to ignore current law regarding legal immigration — all in order that they can impact existing and future law. On the one hand, Democrats hide behind allegations of the “racist” disenfranchisement of potential voters by requiring voters prove their identity with a picture ID. On the other hand, they work to dilute the votes of law-abiding citizens with ballots cast by individuals who don’t respect American culture and law?

Democratic Socialists don’t respect America as the greatest nation on earth — one that affords to its citizens rights and Liberty that are the envy of the world. Today’s Democrats work to circumvent law, process, and mutual respect, whether it’s voting, speaking in public, or protecting this nation’s most valuable resource — our citizens.

Patriots, it’s time to firmly plant our energies and commitments in unity toward the effort to rid this nation of its internal enemies. Go vote for those who understand the value of the American treasure of citizenship.



Federal Judge Rules That Albuquerque's Asset Forfeiture Created an Unconstitutional Profit Incentive

"There is a realistic possibility that forfeiture officials' judgement will be distorted by the prospect of institutional gain."

A federal judge has ruled that Albuquerque's civil asset forfeiture program violated residents' due process rights by forcing them to prove their innocence to retrieve their cars. Under civil forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner isn't charged with a crime.

The city of Albuquerque "has an unconstitutional institutional incentive to prosecute forfeiture cases, because, in practice, the forfeiture program sets its own budget and can spend, without meaningful oversight, all of the excess funds it raises from previous years," U.S. District Judge James O. Browning wrote in an order filed Saturday. "Thus, there is a 'realistic possibility' that forfeiture officials' judgment 'will be distorted by the prospect of institutional gain'—the more revenues they raise, the more revenues they can spend."

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, filed the lawsuit in 2016 on behalf of Arlene Harjo, whose car was seized after her son drove it while drunk.

"It's a scam and a rip-off," Harjo told Reason at the time. "They're taking property from people who just loan a vehicle to someone. It's happened a lot. Everybody I've talked to has had it happen to them or somebody they know, and everybody just pays."

Harjo was one of thousands of Albuquerque residents whose cars were seized under the city's aggressive forfeiture program. While lawsuits have forced cities like Philadelphia to reform their programs, federal judges have for the most part been unwilling to directly address the issue of profit incentive.

In a statement, Institute for Justice attorney Robert Everett Johnson said the Institute "will undoubtedly use this decision to attack civil forfeiture programs nationwide."

"Today's ruling is a total victory for fairness, due process and property owners everywhere," Johnson continued. "The court ruled the government must prove that an owner did something wrong before it can take away their property. Beyond that, the judge ruled that law enforcement cannot benefit financially from revenue generated by a forfeiture program. Together, these rulings strike at the heart of the problem with civil forfeiture."

Law enforcement groups say civil forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt drug trafficking and other organized crime. But civil libertarians note that there are far too few safeguards for property owners and that the profit incentive leads police and prosecutors to go just as often after everyday citizens rather than cartel bosses.

New Mexico essentially banned civil asset forfeiture in 2015, but Albuquerque argued the state law didn't apply to its own city codes and continued to seize cars.

City officials offered to give Harjo her car back for $4,000—a typical settlement tactic—but she refused to pay up. The city then returned the car in an attempt to render her lawsuit moot and keep its program intact. But in a opinion issued in March, Judge Browning allowed the case to proceed, warning the city that Harjo had raised plausible claims that the city's profit incentive and hearing process violated her constitutional rights.

Shortly after the March opinion was released, Albuquerque officials announced they were ending the city's forfeiture program. But Saturday's decision is still important: Two other New Mexico local governments continue to flout the reform law and seize vehicles, and almost no state or local police departments have complied with new reporting requirements for forfeiture activities.



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, August 01, 2018

Association of Statin Exposure With Histologically Confirmed Idiopathic Inflammatory Myositis in an Australian Population

How do you like that heading?  I have been reading medical journals for a long time but even I had to blink to make out that one.  What it says, however, is hugely important.  It has to do with the dangerous side-effects of statins.  For years, clinicians have been reporting complaints from their patients to the effect that statins have weakened their muscles.  And since the heart is a muscle, that is no joke.

And now we are finally seeing research reports on the topic.  And what the report below shows is that people with severe muscle problems are highly likely to have been taking statins. There was a statistically significant 79% increased likelihood of statin exposure in patients with severe muscle problems.

Apparently, there has to be some susceptibility in the person to suffer that side-effect as only a minority of statin-users get that problem. But it is no joke if you are one of the susceptible ones.  The cases discussed below were ones where just giving up statins did not fix the problem.  Statins left you with permanently rotted muscles.  Not much fun!

Gillian E. Caughey et al.


Importance:  Statin medications are widely prescribed for cardiovascular risk reduction. Myalgia and rhabdomyolysis are well-recognized adverse effects of statins, and they resolve with the cessation of statin therapy. Idiopathic inflammatory myositis (IIM) is a heterogeneous group of autoimmune myopathies that may also be associated with statin use. Recently, statin-associated autoimmune myopathy has been recognized as a distinct entity with the presence of specific autoantibodies against hydroxymethylglutaryl–coenzyme A reductase, which results in a necrotizing myositis that does not resolve with cessation of statin therapy and requires treatment with immunosuppressive agents.

Objective:  To examine the association between histologically confirmed IIM and current exposure to statin medications.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Population-based case-control study using the South Australian Myositis Database of all histologically confirmed cases of IIM diagnosed between 1990 and 2014 in patients 40 years or older (n = 221) and population-based controls from the North West Adelaide Health Study (n = 662), matched by age and sex in a 3:1 ratio of controls to cases. Data analysis using conditional logistic regression was performed from June 1, 2016, to July 14, 2017.

Exposures:  Current statin medication use.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Unadjusted and adjusted (for diabetes and cardiovascular disease) odds ratios and 95% CIs for likelihood of inflammatory myositis.

Results:  A total of 221 IIM cases met the inclusion criteria with a mean (SD) age of 62.2 (10.8) years, and 132 (59.7%) were female. Statin exposure at the time of IIM diagnosis was 68 of 221 patients (30.8%) and 142 of 662 matched controls (21.5%) (P = .005). There was an almost 2-fold increased likelihood of statin exposure in patients with IIM compared with controls (adjusted odds ratio, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.23-2.60; P = .001). Similar results were observed when patients with necrotizing myositis were excluded from the analysis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.29-2.86; P = .001).

Conclusions and Relevance:  In this large population-based study, statin exposure was significantly associated with histologically confirmed IIM. Given the increased use of statins worldwide and the severity of IIM, increased awareness and recognition of this potentially rare adverse effect of statin exposure is needed.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 30, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2859


Sorry If You’re Offended, but Socialism Leads to Misery and Destitution

On the same day that Venezuela’s “democratically” elected socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, whose once-wealthy nation now has citizens foraging for food, announced he was lopping five zeros off the country’s currency to create a “stable financial and monetary system,” Meghan McCain of “The View” was the target of internet-wide condemnation for having stated some obvious truths about collectivism.

During the same week we learned that the democratic socialist president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, is accused of massacring hundreds of protesters whose economic futures have been decimated by his economic policies, Soledad O’Brien and writers at outlets ranging from GQ, to BuzzFeed, to the Daily Beast were telling McCain to cool her jets.

In truth, McCain was being far too calm. After all, socialism is the leading man-made cause of death and misery in human existence. Whether implemented by a mob or a single strongman, collectivism is a poverty generator, an attack on human dignity, and a destroyer of individual rights.

It’s true that not all socialism ends in the tyranny of Leninism or Stalinism or Maoism or Castroism or Ba’athism or Chavezism or the Khmer Rouge—only most of it does. And no, New York primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t intend to set up gulags in Alaska. Most so-called democratic socialists—the qualifier affixed to denote that they live in a democratic system and have no choice but to ask for votes—aren’t consciously or explicitly endorsing violence or tyranny.

But when they adopt the term “socialism” and the ideas associated with it, they deserve to be treated with the kind of contempt and derision that all those adopting authoritarian philosophies deserve.

But look: Norway!

Socialism is perhaps the only ideology that Americans are asked to judge solely based on its piddling “successes.” Don’t you dare mention Albania or Algeria or Angola or Burma or Congo or Cuba or Ethiopia or Laos or Somalia or Vietnam or Yemen or, well, any other of the dozens of other inconvenient places socialism has been tried. Not when there are a handful of Scandinavian countries operating generous welfare state programs propped up by underlying vibrant capitalism and natural resources.

Of course, socialism exists on a spectrum, and even if we accept that the Nordic social program experiments are the most benign iteration of collectivism, they are certainly not the only version. Pretending otherwise would be like saying, “The police state of Singapore is more successful than Denmark. Let’s give it a spin.”

It turns out, though, that the “Denmark is awesome!” talking point is only the second-most preposterous one used by socialists. It goes something like this: If you’re a fan of “roads, schools, libraries, and such,” although you may not even be aware of it, you are also a supporter of socialism.

This might come as a surprise to some, but every penny of the $21,206 spent in Ocasio-Cortez’s district each year on each student, rich or poor, is provided with the profits derived from capitalism. There is no welfare system, no library that subsists on your good intentions. Having the state take over the entire health care system could rightly be called a socialistic endeavor, but pooling local tax dollars to put books in a building is called local government.

It should also be noted that today’s socialists get their yucks by pretending collectivist policies only lead to innocuous outcomes like local libraries. But for many years they were also praising the dictators of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the nation’s most successful socialist, isn’t merely impressed with the goings-on in Denmark. Not very long ago, he lauded Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as an embodiment of the “American dream,” even more so than the United States.

Socialists like to blame every inequity, the actions of every greedy criminal, every downturn, and every social ill on the injustice of capitalism. But none of them admit that capitalism has been the most effective way to eliminate poverty in history.

Today, in former socialist states like India, there have been big reductions in poverty thanks to increased capitalism. In China, where communism sadly still deprives more than a billion people of their basic rights, hundreds of millions benefit from a system that is slowly shedding socialism. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the extreme poverty rate in the world has been cut in half. And it didn’t happen because Southeast Asians were raising the minimum wage.

In the United States, only 5 percent of people are even aware that poverty has fallen in the world, according to the Gapminder Foundation, which is almost certainly in part due to the left’s obsession with “inequality” and normalization of “socialism.”

Nearly half of American millennials would rather live in a socialist society than in a capitalist one, according to a YouGov poll. That said, only 71 percent of those asked were able to properly identify either. We can now see the manifestation of this ignorance in our elections and “The View” co-host Joy Behar.

But if all you really champion are some higher taxes and more generous social welfare, stop associating yourself with a philosophy that usually brings destitution and death. Call it something else. If not, McCain has every right to associate you with the ideology you embrace.



The Clinton State Department’s Major Security Breach That Everyone Is Ignoring

Peter Strzok’s testimony about the email server scandal involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised headlines because of his defiant, disrespectful, and unapologetic attitude about the bias revealed in his text messages that permeated his work at the FBI.

Then, there was the verbal combat between him and Republican members of the two committees holding the joint hearing, and between the Republicans and Democratic members who were running interference for Strzok and acting as his defense counsel.

The news media jumped on an exchange in which Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked Strzok if he lied to his wife about his affair with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page in the same way as he was in testifying to Congress. That was too much for the Democrats and the media, who leaped to Strzok’s defense.

The media, however, virtually ignored another exchange between Gohmert and Strzok that revealed a potential bombshell. Gohmert asked Strzok about his meeting in 2016 with Frank Rucker and Janette McMillan, an investigator and lawyer, respectively, for then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Chuck McCullough (an Obama appointee).

McCullough sent them to see Strzok, who was the FBI’s deputy assistant director for the Counterintelligence Division, to brief him and three other FBI personnel about an “anomaly” that their forensic analysis had found in Clinton’s server.

According to Gohmert, the inspector general discovered that, with four exceptions, “every single one” of Clinton’s emails—more than 30,000—“were going to an address that was not on the distribution list.”

In other words, according to the information Gohmert received from the intelligence inspector general, something was causing Clinton’s server to send copies of all of her email communications outside of the country “to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

If true, this means that Clinton’s email communication with her top aides, department leadership, ambassadors, and other officials, including President Barack Obama, may have been read by an alien entity, perhaps a foreign power hostile to the United States. That could include confidential, sensitive, and even classified information about our foreign policy or our allies.

Gohmert’s exchange with Strzok doesn’t reveal who the foreign entity is, but if not the Russians, the likely culprit is the Chinese government, which has a special unit of hackers within its military that has long targeted the U.S.

Our intelligence agencies have identified the Chinese as responsible for the biggest data breach to ever hit the federal government, the 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management that stole the files, including security clearance applications, of 21 million current and former federal employees.

Here is how Strzok should have responded to Gohmert’s question about the briefing that Strzok received from the intelligence inspector general’s staff:

As the FBI’s lead counterintelligence agent, I understood that this was a major security breach, with widespread implications over the disclosure of sensitive and classified communications.

I immediately implemented protocols to investigate the extent of the problem; to notify all agencies and government officials whose communications had been compromised; to assess the damage that may have been done to specific operations, assets, programs, and personnel; and to prepare recommendations on how to remedy the problems caused by this disclosure.

Unfortunately, Strzok actually said that while he did “remember meeting Mr. Rucker on either one or two occasions,” he did not “recall the specific content or discussions.”

In other words, the FBI’s main counterintelligence director doesn’t remember being told that the secretary of state (his preferred candidate for president) had a breach in her computer system that forwarded all of her internal communications—including emails containing classified information—to a foreign entity.

Since he claimed not to remember being told about something that serious, he obviously did nothing about it.

The question is which of two scenarios is more likely true. Either 1) Strzok was completely incompetent, or 2) his pro-Clinton bias displayed in the thousands of text messages between him and Page caused him to downplay this security issue and ignore it, because it could hurt his favored presidential candidate if it came to light.

Strzok’s anti-Trump, pro-Clinton bias was overwhelming. The texts between him and Page are direct and damning evidence in and of themselves. But there is more. His body language and attitude during the hearing also showed bias against Donald Trump and for Clinton.

His lack of prudent action as an agent when he was briefed about this massive security breach suggests that he may have abandoned his role as a law enforcement officer, and skewed the results of a politically sensitive investigation to serve his own political leanings.

One of the other disturbing bits of information that came out of this exchange was that, according to Gohmert, the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General called Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Department of Justice, “four times” because it wanted to brief Horowitz about this forensic analysis and this security breach. But, according to Gohmert, Horowitz “never returned the call.”

According to Horowitz’s recent report on the Clinton email server investigation, the FBI “did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s email server systems were compromised by cyber means,” but they could not definitively determine that her servers had not been compromised.

Obviously, if the intelligence inspector general has information to the contrary, that would be significant.

If this is true, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the intelligence inspector general have an obligation to disclose to the public and to lawmakers the foreign entity that hacked into Clinton’s server and received all of those communications.

That disclosure would be similar to the way they revealed that it was the Russians who hacked into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign.

They also need to disclose what steps have been taken to investigate the extent and depth of the problems caused by this potential security breach.

And those in the political arena who have been painting Strzok as some kind of hero who deserves a Purple Heart need to stop insulting our intelligence and our veterans.

If this is an example of how Strzok did his job, he should have been fired long ago, and he is certainly no hero.



Do as I say, not as I do

That seems to be the typical Leftist message from Elena Kagan.  If she wants more civility in political discourse she should be talking to those fountains of hate, the American Left.  When has any Leftist said anything civil about Donald Trump or his judicial nominees?

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan criticized the current state of the judicial confirmation process this week, telling a student group that politicizing nominations harms the public’s perception of the courts.

Her remarks come just weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the high court, setting off a generational fight over the future of the nation’s highest judicial tribunal.

“It’s an unfortunate thing, because it makes the world think we are sort of junior varsity politicians,” Kagan said of recent confirmations. “I think that’s not the way we think of ourselves, even given the fact that we disagree.”

“There is so much tit-for-tat for tit-for-tat that goes on in these processes,” she said elsewhere in her remarks. “Everybody has their list of times that they’ve been wronged. The Republicans have their list and the Democrats have their list.”

The justice was referring to the bare-knuckle partisanship that characterizes judicial confirmations in the modern period, a history littered with the failed nominations of legal luminaries in both parties.

The justice made the remarks to a student group from the University of Chicago, who posted a recording of the 30 minute question and answer session on YouTube.

Kagan did not reference Kavanaugh’s nomination at any point in her remarks. As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan recruited Kavanaugh to teach courses over the winter term.



Some history

I have just written some historical notes about Theodore Roosevelt, An American President of just over 100 years ago who is generally highly thought of to this day.  I point out that he was mad (bipolar), a Leftist and a forerunner of Fascism.  See here


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, July 31, 2018

The insidious metaphor of trade as 'war'

Jeff Jacoby below is correct in what he says but he fails to take account of Trump's objective in restricting imports.  Trump has repeatedly made clear that he does not want his restrictions to be permanent.  Permanent restrictions would be very damaging, as Jeff says.

What Trump is doing is dealing himself some very powerful bargaining chips, with the aim of getting other countries to reduce their trade-distorting arrangements which penalize American firms.  And he has had considerable success with that. The EU has now come to the party.

And note that it was in negotiating with the EU that Trump offered a complete free trade deal.  The bureaucrats of the EU reacted to that with horror but that was not Trump's fault.  Trump is the free trader.

OUR CIVIC AND political discourse is replete with metaphors.

We avoid having to swallow a bitter pill by instead kicking the can down the road. Desperate candidates throw a Hail Mary pass. Sensitive souls learn that if they can't take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. A good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

Sometimes metaphors are used to express a political idea with verve, as when our nation of assimilating immigrants is dubbed a melting pot, or when John Roberts said his job on the Supreme Court would be to call balls and strikes. But metaphors are also invoked for more than style. A deft metaphor advances an argument — sometimes a highly dubious argument. To say the poor should get a larger slice of the pie is to imply that wealth is limited and someone should redistribute it. If American officials speak of pressing the Russia reset button, their message is that better relations with Moscow are primarily a matter of American will. Insist that illegal immigrants must go to the back of the line and you are contending that they had a legal option but chose to ignore it.

Of all the arguments we advance by metaphor, perhaps none is as potent as war. When Lyndon Johnson, unveiling an array of programs to assist the poor, declared a War on Poverty, he was telling the nation that it had no higher priority. When Jimmy Carter told the nation that curtailing energy use was the moral equivalent of war, his implicit argument was that American independence was at stake.

Consider another war metaphor — one employed so matter-of-factly that it has indelibly shaped public thinking: trade war.

Talk of trade wars is hardly new, but under Donald Trump, trade-war rhetoric has become ubiquitous. In speeches and on social media, he repeatedly approaches trade in terms suited to a grim international conflict — a struggle for dominance among nations in which there must be winners and losers.

"When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," Trump tweeted in March. Last month he put it even more sharply: "When you're almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can't lose a Trade War! The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade."

For centuries, economists have pointed out the destructive folly of tariffs and other trade barriers. Tirelessly they explain that a trade deficit is not a defeat, just as a shopper's "deficit" with a department store is not a defeat. They implore policymakers to see that trade restrictions always impose more costs on a country's economy than any benefits they generate. They highlight the ways in which protectionist tariffs make many consumers poorer in order to make a handful of producers richer — and how even the intended beneficiaries often end up worse off.

But data and common sense are no match for the seductive metaphor of trade as warfare.

Many Americans will say they favor free trade, but then add the caveat that it must be "fair trade" as well. They feel the tug of national resentment when the president demands: "Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $817 Billion on Trade last year. No weakness!" They may not share Trump's confidence that trade wars are "easy to win," but they agree that other countries' protectionist measures are a form of belligerence that cannot just be ignored.

The evidence is piling up that the impact of Trump's retaliatory trade penalties has been falling hardest not on foreigners, but on Americans. Yet when the president indignantly declares that America is being victimized by its trading partners, much of the nation nonetheless nods approvingly. In a new survey, the Pew Research Center found that while 49 percent of respondents thought higher tariffs would be damaging, fully 40 percent said they would do more good than harm.

All of this comes from thinking of trade as metaphorical warfare — as an economic struggle pitting nation against nation.

That's a great fallacy. Nations don't trade with each other. We speak as if they do out of habit and convenience, but it's not true. The United States and Canada are not competing firms. America doesn't buy steel from China, and China doesn't buy soybeans from America. Rather, hundreds of individual American companies choose to buy steel from Chinese mills and fabricators, and hundreds of Chinese-owned firms make deals to buy soybeans from far-flung American growers. Unlike wars, which really are fought by nation against nation, international trade occurs among countless sellers and buyers, all acting independently in their own best interest.

Tariffs don't punish countries. They punish innumerable consumers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, farmers, manufacturers — the myriad discrete actors whose choices and preferences are the true substance of international trade. To those individuals, national trade deficits and surpluses are irrelevant. They aren't competing — they're cooperating. Buyers and sellers aren't in conflict with each other, let alone with each other's countries.

On the contrary: By doing business together, traders create wealth and connections, knitting the world together in mutual interest, making the planet more harmonious.

Trade war is an insidious term. The metaphor notwithstanding, trade isn't war. It's peace.



Trump threatens to shut down government over border security

There are more retiring Democrat than GOP senators at the next election so this could be a ploy to keep the senators in Washington and thus prevent them from campaigning in their home states

Trump has threatened he will be willing to shut down the government if Democrats refuse to vote for changes he seeks to make to the US immigration system, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” the president tweeted.

“Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! “We need great people coming into our Country!”

Mr Trump returned to the idea of shutting down the government over the border wall just days after meeting at the White House with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the fall legislative agenda.

Mr McConnell, asked about a shutdown last week during a Kentucky radio interview, said it was not going to happen. He did acknowledge, however, that the border funding issue was unlikely to be resolved before the November midterm elections.

Mr Trump campaigned on the promise of building a border wall to deter illegal immigration and making Mexico pay for it. Mexico has refused. Congress has given the president some wall funding but not as much as he has requested.

Mr Trump also wants changes to legal immigration, including scrapping a visa lottery program. In addition, he wants to end the practice of releasing immigrants caught entering the country illegally on the condition that they show up for court hearings.

The president has also demanded that the US shift to an immigration system that’s based more on merit and less on family ties.

Democrats and some Republicans have objected to some of the changes Mr Trump seeks. The federal budget year ends on September 30, and politicians will spend much of August in their states campaigning for re-election in November.

The House is now in a five-week recess, returning after Labour Day. The Senate remains in session and is set to take a one-week break the week of August 6, then returning for the rest of the month.

Both chambers will have a short window of working days to approve a spending bill before government funding expires.

Mr Trump would be taking a political risk if he does, in fact, allow most government functions to lapse on October 1 — the first day of the new budget year — roughly a month before the November 6 elections, when Republican control of both the House and Senate is at stake.

House Republicans released a spending bill this month that provides $US5 billion next year to build Mr Trump’s wall, a major boost.

Democrats have long opposed financing Mr Trump’s wall but lack the votes by themselves to block House approval of that amount. However, they do have the strength to derail legislation in the closely divided Senate.

Without naming a figure, Mr Trump said in April that he would “have no choice” but to force a government shutdown this fall if he doesn’t get the border security money he wants.

The $US5 billion is well above the $US1.6 billion in the Senate version of the bill, which would finance the Homeland Security Department.



Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker Host Bible Event Against Trump Supreme Court Pick

On Tuesday, three prominent senators — all likely 2020 presidential candidates — joined the Rev. Dr. William Barber in opposing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. At the event, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) quoted the Bible in their attacks against Kavanaugh. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not quote the Bible, but joined with Barber, who did.

"Corporations have won 62 percent of the cases they've been in whenever they are up against workers, shareholders, people who represent the public interest," Warren declared at the press conference Tuesday afternoon. She argued that allowing Kavanaugh to join the Supreme Court would violate Matthew 25, Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats.

"It is not enough to have a good heart ... we are called to act," Warren declared. She argued that Kavanaugh's opponents are "on the moral side of history."

Sanders immediately seized on his favorite topic, the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC (2010), which ruled that for legal purposes "corporations" — people coming together in groups — are also "people" and have First Amendment rights. The case ruled that individuals can pay to promote a film expressing political speech, a basic principle that liberals claim allows billionaires to "buy elections."

"People are outraged that billionaires are buying elections," Sanders declared. "Do you know that that is a direct result of the Citizens Untied decision?" He suggested that Kavanaugh's confirmation would be a moral stain on America.

Booker agreed, declaring that conservatives are "trying to roll back civil rights, the protections against discrimination. This has nothing to do with politics, this has to do with who we are as moral beings. There is no neutral. ... You are either complicit in evil or you are fighting against it."

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, a longtime liberal activist, warned that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, "We could be facing the most regressive Supreme Court since Jim Crow. There must be a moral fight to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court."

Warren, Booker, and Barber misused or twisted four Bible passages to fight Kavanaugh's confirmation.

1. Matthew 25.

Warren quoted Matthew 25, when Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus said the Son of Man will separate the good (sheep) from the evil (goats).

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me,'" Jesus said (Matthew 25:34-36).

He suggested that the righteous will ask when they did all these things, and He will answer "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

This command to love and serve "the least of these" is extremely important in Christianity, but Warren warped it. She suggested that Matthew 25 isn't just a command to love and serve the poor directly, but to oppose a Supreme Court that would rule in favor of corporations rather than people.

Warren is dead wrong in her application of this verse. The Supreme Court's job isn't just to protect "people" against "corporations" — it's to apply the law justly and equitably. Sometimes an organized group of people — a "corporation" in legal terms — will be in the right, while someone Warren thinks of as an underdog will be in the wrong. In those cases, the Supreme Court should rule against the underdog.

Warren's complaint that the Court has favored corporations 62 percent of the time reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about justice that the Bible does not sanction. The Bible rightly condemns when the powerful abuse their power to oppress the poor, but it does not condemn the just ruler who punishes a lawbreaker (Romans 13) or sides with the powerful when the powerful are in the right.

The Court's job is not to twist the law to always favor the underdog. If it did so, that would be unjust.

2. Isaiah 10.

Rev. Barber turned to Isaiah 10 to condemn Kavanaugh.

"The scriptures are clear that when it comes to public policy, 'Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor and women and children of their rights,'" Barber declared, paraphrasing Isaiah 10:1-2. "The scripture is clear that a nation must make sure that its laws lift the hungry, the hopeless, the poor, the sick, the naked, and the least of these, and the stranger."

Notice the sleight of hand. Barber quoted Isaiah 10 and then melded it with Matthew 25 to suggest the law needs to favor "the least of these," to "lift" them.

This is nonsense. The Bible is clear that Christians must care for the poor and the least of these, but it nowhere says that the law must "lift" the poor out of poverty.

In Isaiah 10, God is condemning lawmakers who rob the poor — He is not commanding laws to make the poor richer. It is injustice to steal wages from a poor man who has just earned them, but that does not make it justice to give money to a man just because he is poor. Indeed, that would violate the principle that "if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

3. Psalm 23.

In his remarks, Sen. Booker quoted one line of Psalm 23, the famous psalm that begins, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Booker quoted verse 4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Or rather, Booker quoted the first phrase. Here's his tortured reasoning on this passage:

There’s a saying from one of the Abrahamic faiths in a psalm saying, "Yea though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death." We are walking through the valley of the shadow of death but that doesn’t say, "though I sit in the valley of the shadow of death." It doesn’t say that I’m watching on the sidelines of the valley of the shadow of death, it says I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I am taking agency, that I am going to make it through this crisis.

Booker twisted a psalm about God's providence in the midst of despair — "your rod and your staff, they comfort me" — and turned it into an exhortation to "walk" rather than "sit" or "watch on the sidelines" in a moral battle. God's providence in the psalm does suggest that "I am going to make it through this crisis," but the psalm is not meant as a call to action. Indeed, the psalm says God "makes me lie down in green pastures" and sets a "table before me"...

Booker has taken one of the deepest and most comforting psalms and twisted it into a banal call to action. This was so dumb and ridiculous, I couldn't help but laugh.

4. Numbers 13-14.

Booker did draw something of the right conclusion from another passage, however. He summarized Numbers 13-14, saying, "Moses sent people into the promised land — 12 folks to view what was going on, and ten of them came back saying, 'We can't meet this challenge.'"

"Joshua and Caleb saw something different," Booker declared. "Joshua and Caleb refused to surrender to fear, they refused to surrender to cynicism. We need the Joshua spirit right now. We need the Caleb spirit right now."

Joshua and Caleb did indeed trust in God to do what He promised and bring the Jews into the promised land, and their courage is to be emulated today. However, Booker suggested that opposing Kavanaugh is akin to making America a promised land — an extremely tenuous application.

In the end, these liberals are fighting tooth and nail against a judge who will remain faithful to the text and original intent of the Constitution, rather than twisting it to support a liberal agenda — as these very Democrats twisted the Bible. Here's hoping American see through the rhetoric.



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, July 30, 2018

Stupid logic about genes in the BMJ

All British medical journals have a distinct Leftist bias so the conclusion below was  predictable.  Leftists hate any evidence that genes cause anything so the claim below that genes  do not influence social class was to be expected.

Their basic leap of logic is that individual genes have only a narrow mode of action so they cannot cause anything as complex as social class.  That's logic?  Its like saying that tires can't by themselves make a car move so tires are irrelevant to cars.

The universal conclusion of those who study the relationships between genes and traits is that any one trait is polygenetic.  Just as a car needs a lot of bits to make it go, so any trait needs a particular underlying SET of genes for it to manifest itself.

And as Charles Murray showed decades ago, social class is strongly determined by IQ. High IQ people tend to get rich and low IQ people usually stay poor.  And IQ IS heavily genetically determined, so the paper below is just counter-factual rubbish aimed at drawing a particular do-gooder conclusion

Genetics and social class

N A Holtzman


Objective: To assess claims that genes are a major determinant of social class.

Design: Using genetic epidemiological principles, five claims on the role of genes in determining social class are examined: (1) traits that run in families are usually inherited; (2) complex traits can be explained by alleles at a single gene locus; (3) complex traits are transmitted intact from one generation to the next; (4) natural selection explains social advantage. (5) Heritability estimates provide a valid estimate of the importance of genes in explaining complex human traits or behaviour.

Results: (1) Traits that run in families can result from environmental exposures that differ by social class. (2) The protein encoded by any single gene has too narrow a range of biological activity to explain traits as complex as social status. (3) Because alleles at different gene loci are transmitted independently, genetic inheritance cannot explain why offspring display the same complex traits as their parents. (4) The propagation of mutations that might result in a selective advantage takes much longer than the time for which any social class has achieved or maintained dominance. (5) Heritability measures are accurate only when environment is maintained constant. This is impossible in evaluating human traits.

Conclusions: The roots of social class differences do not lie in our genes. Consequently, genetics cannot be used as a justification for maintaining a ruling class, limiting procreation among the poor, or minimising social support programmes.



Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say

Senior figures in the Turnbull Government have told the ABC they believe the United States is prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear capability, perhaps as early as next month, and that Australia is poised to help identify possible targets.

But another senior source, in security, emphasises there is a difference between providing intelligence and "active targeting"
It comes amid intense sabre-rattling by US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

The ABC has been told secretive Australian defence facilities would likely play a role in identifying targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies.

But a senior security source emphasised there was a big difference between providing accurate intelligence and analysis on Iran's facilities and being part of a "kinetic" mission.

"Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike," the source said.

"Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting."

The top-secret Pine Gap joint defence facility in the Northern Territory is considered crucial among the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence partners — the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — for its role in directing American spy satellites.

Analysts from the little-known spy agency Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation would also be expected to play a part.

Canada would be unlikely to play a role in any military action in Iran, nor would the smallest Five Eyes security partner New Zealand, sources said.

Any US-led strike on Iranian targets would be fraught for a region bristling with tensions. Israel would have reason to be anxious about retaliation, given Iran rejects Israel's right to exist.

That said, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April invoked the so-called "Begin Doctrine" that calls on the Jewish state to ensure nations hostile to Israel be prevented from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

"Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons," Mr Netanyahu said.



We should denounce folly

Modern society suffers when tolerance is given to fools.  We too often give them the power and prestige they demand

James E. Smith, Ph.D.                                                                   

An old adage says we should “gladly suffer fools.” The opposing view is that we should “stop doing stupid.” Either way, the key concern is the direct impact that not confronting stupid or shortsighted actions has on morale and the long-term effectiveness of any decision-making/leadership process.

Whether it is managing people, business processes, visionary leadership or important innovation efforts, the need to mitigate stupid, wasteful directives, interjections and interruptions has become an essential requirement if we are to grow socially and economically.

A primary reason we as a species have been so successful is our ability to take advantage of acquired knowledge in making decisions and solving problems. These abilities also allow us to aggressively protect ourselves from the varied and changing environments we choose to live in, amidst the diverse personalities that we are expected to live and work with.

In other words, we have the ability to successfully teach, mentor, lead and manage as required to precipitate the next great something. This becomes a clear necessity in staying ahead of the problems that prior generations created in solving even earlier problems. It also seems to be a primary characteristic for any advancing technological society, where the notion of simply stepping off the progress merry-go-round in favor of “an earlier, simpler time” will lead only to frustration and a train to Emerald City.

And yet many seem to have an apparently endless willingness to allow, or at least tolerate, acts of stupidity. This is certainly not a new problem. Each generation has had to deal with the few, but noisy and persistent, actors who make life and progress just a little harder to navigate. But unlike in the past, when we may have had the luxury to argue trivial points ad nauseam with little consequence, the accelerating rate of our social and technological development means we can no longer tolerate these delays.

Consider how our society often indulges foolishness by individuals or groups acting out of ignorance or petulance. These people expect to continue getting away with their interference, obstruction, stupidity and obnoxious behavior because they think they are entitled, above reproach or simply smarter than the rest of society, or they have ensconced themselves high up in the hierarchical or governmental pecking order.

Many people who fit this description actually begin as foolish, but appeal to the mercy of their associates or subordinates, learn what is needed, and use the group’s combined skill set to move the process forward. This preferred path eventually removes the party from the “stupid group.” (Your own past experiences can judge what percentage of the population chooses this option.)

Others, however, ignore reality and micro-manage whatever capabilities, skill sets and authorities they have been given or assigned – and often request more time and resources to advance their beliefs, agendas and ignorance. Ultimately, if they fail to accomplish their goals, they find ways to blame everything and everyone around them for their failure. If they plead their case well enough, they may even be rewarded with a promotion and even greater responsibilities that they can’t or won’t handle in the future.

This latter situation is clearly too prevalent in our society at all levels of corporate America, and, of course, within the government: local, state and federal. It is also prevalent in our social programs and the very activities we subject ourselves and our children to. In many of these cases, people get fed up and walk out, while others feel compelled by societal, employment and governance rules and expectations to put up with it all.

It is clear to a growing number of us that we as a society have sat too long letting people who have perfected the art of stupid continue to add ever increasing levels of nonsense to our already busy lives, through accident, oversight, ignorance, laziness, personal gain, or just plain self-entitlement.

Letting “stupid” continue, with no relief or recourse, is affecting our home, social and work environment, our creative and innovative talents, and the governance we expect and subject ourselves to.

We shouldn’t have a problem with ignorant people who are willing to learn and to do the best they can. The problem is with those who are unwilling to learn, or to develop new skill sets but still expect to be allowed by silent assent to do as they please. Even worse are the growing numbers of people who expect to succeed by virtue of their imperious demands and loud, obnoxious, even threatening behavior.

Non-reaction on our part has perpetuated growing levels of such behavior on their part, and an increasing degree of hopelessness and complacency on the part of decent, reasonable people. That has an additional downside.

Failure to respond and act in response to stupid or bad behavior breeds greater incompetence, as equally or more incompetent people are recruited at all management and leadership levels, to ensure that “stupid” isn’t exposed or jeopardized. More importantly, we also get a lowered performance bar, reducing or even removing challenges and the need for excellence. This result makes us all stupid.

Clearly, stupid has been around since little Jimmy decided to poke the sleeping bear with a stick.

I do believe, though, that we as a population have increasingly (and incorrectly) decided that it is just plain easier to let things continue as they are. We have become a nation of people who are too busy to get involved; too indoctrinated into believing the current state of affairs was mandated on high; or too intimidated by loud, menacing street mobs to question their wisdom or asserted “will of the people.”

These will eventually become more opportunities for well-deserved Darwin Awards to weed out the worst practitioners of stupid (or worse) behavior.

I don’t believe today’s “middle America” had any real input into the present situation, though it may be complicit through its silence. But I get an uneasy feeling that what is being pontificated, decided and decreed is being listened to and accepted by too many people who are either clueless, apathetic or feeling obligated by self-imposed, job-related or socially pressured expectations to just sit there and take it.

I also believe a growing percentage of those same folks simply don’t notice or acknowledge what they read or hear about, or even witness with their own eyes. So why do we continue down this path?

I don’t have an answer. Maybe we just need a few people with the courage and presence of mind to speak out, step forward and refuse to take it anymore. It may require a groundswell from the general population to get noticed. But that is unlikely to happen without a few brave people taking a stand.

All I know is, a lot of individuals in this world are still plugged-in and aware enough to know things are not right, or not right enough.

We all see and call things wrong at times, or frequently. However, if we haven’t made a few mistakes, we probably haven’t done anything good either, or we are still in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.

Making well-reasoned decisions – and standing up to bullies, oppression and intolerance – are hallmarks of our nation’s success story. Our continued success, and even survival, depends on this continuing. It seems to me it’s time for each one of us to identify and challenge a small piece of the human foolishness around us, and work to improve the situation, by demanding that the perpetrators “Stop Doing Stupid!”

 Via email


We're racist towards robots, too, study finds

All this shows is that Africans have made the colour brown a danger sign

Have you ever wondered why you rarely see a brown or black robot?
A couple of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Canterbury University in New Zealand were having trouble finding any — why were all the robots white?

It led them to investigate whether people ascribe race to robots, and if this changed their behaviour towards them. What they discovered was that humans carry their racial biases over to robots.

"If you ask anybody, 'Are you racist?' of course they will say no," said Dr Christoph Bartneck, one of the study's authors and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Instead, the researchers adapted a research tool called the "shooter bias" paradigm.

This is where the participants are asked to play the role of a police officer.

They are then shown images of people and they have to decide whether to shoot at the person or not.

In the original study, participants were shown images of people who were either white or black, armed or unarmed.

In this study, participants were also shown robots with two "skin" colours.

"What we observed is that the exact same bias observed with humans can also be observed with robots," Professor Bartneck told RN Drive. "People changed their behaviour towards brown robots in comparison to white robots."

Professor Bartneck said the race of the participant did not play a role.



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