Friday, December 14, 2018

DC Is Home of the Fattest Cats

Five of the nation's richest counties are within the Washington metro area. Surprise!

Nothing says Big Government more than Big Money. And if anyone doubted the reality of the ballooning nature of the U.S. government, a look at the latest data on wealth by region would quickly dispel those doubts. The American Community Survey data on the U.S. population was recently released by the Census Bureau, and it found that the top five richest counties in the U.S. are contained within the DC metro area. Moreover, 10 of the nation’s top 20 wealthiest counties also lie within the Washington area.

From the countless thousands of government employees working for an ever-expanding number of federal agencies to the tens of thousands employed by private government contractors to the lobbyists pouring money into the mechanism of government as they seek greater influence of the regulatory state, the DC swamp has fast become the home of the nation’s fattest cats. Money flows to DC because of its increasing power, and power grows in DC because of its increasing money.

CNS News reports that the “five richest counties in the United States when measured by median household income are: Loudoun County ($129,588), Fairfax County, Va. ($117,515), Howard County, Md. ($115,576), Falls Church City, Va. ($114,795), and Arlington County, Va. ($112,138).” The survey covers five years from 2013 to 2017.

The Daily Signal notes, “The study also found that from 2013 to 2017, median household income increased in 16.6 percent of all the counties included in the analysis, while it decreased in 7.1 percent of counties, when compared to estimates from 2008 to 2012.”

Is it any wonder why those living in and around the Beltway are so out of touch with the rest of the country? This also explains the contempt so many of the Washington elites have for middle America. Working for the government should not be the primary means for entering the top 10% of income earners.



Car Company shares Roar Back as China Blinks in Trade War, Proposes Enormous Drop in Auto Tariffs

The shares of global car manufacturers began to rise early Wednesday morning amid reports that China will be reducing its auto tariffs. China’s cabinet received a proposal to eliminate the 25-percent surcharge on U.S. cars imported to China, according to Bloomberg.

If the proposal is finalized, China’s tariffs on cars made in the U.S. would drop to 15 percent from the current 40 percent.

Investors seemed to wager on China’s softening stance on auto imports. Toyota’s stocks rose as much as 2 percent in Tokyo on Wednesday, and Hyundai rose as much as 7 percent in Seoul, Bloomberg reported.

This report falls in line with statements from President Donald Trump earlier this month, who announced negotiations with China regarding tariffs.

“China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,” Trump said via Twitter last week.

Trump later tweeted that China would begin purchasing agricultural products from the U.S.

“Farmers will be a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately,” Trump tweeted.

So far, it seems like Trump’s tough stance on China was effective in making it back down.

Some critics worried that Trump’s trade war with China would needlessly escalate, causing higher prices for consumers.

It’s good that Chinese consumers will purchase more American goods, but the fear is that high tariffs on Chinese goods could push some of the tax burden on American consumers if suppliers are unable to absorb the brunt of the tariffs.

However, Trump seems confident that negotiations are going well.



Waves of Bogus Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Immigration System

The Trump administration is working to address this very real crisis 

A tense exchange at the White House on Tuesday between President Donald Trump and the two leading congressional Democrats — recycled incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — provided additional evidence that a chasm remains when it comes to achieving immigration reform.

While President Trump’s desire to secure the border and prioritize America’s needs when determining who to allow to enter our borders has the strong support of the American people, Democrats have abandoned long-held, sensible immigration positions in favor of a radical open-borders policy that allows violent criminals, and drug and sex traffickers to pour into our nation.

In recent months, Americans witnessed waves of thousands of migrants pushing their way up from Central America to the U.S., demanding to be let in while claiming a right to enter. When attempts were made to stop them, they rioted, tearing down border fences and attacking U.S. border agents. Or Trump was foiled by the courts in his efforts to limit the invasion. He’s filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court blocked his effort to prevent illegals from entering the U.S. and then seeking asylum.

The real immigration crisis is with asylum seekers. As President Trump has kept his promise to strengthen border security, the number of illegal aliens able to sneak into the U.S. has slowed.

However, those seeking entry have not changed their goals, just their tactics. In 2018 alone, the number of migrants demanding asylum at the U.S. border rose a staggering 67% according to Homeland Security, to nearly 93,000 people. Roughly a third arrived at ports of entry without permission, and another 14% were caught jumping the border illegally before filing for asylum.

Migrants know the immigration system is overwhelmed with existing applications for asylum, and they know there is a good chance they will be processed and released into the U.S. while waiting for immigration hearings sometimes years later that most will never come back for, choosing instead to disappear inside the U.S.

Laughably, one group of migrants is now demanding that the Trump administration either let them into the U.S. or pay them $50,000 each to return home. Points for creativity, we suppose, but good luck with that.

It’s difficult to qualify for asylum; only about 20% of applications are approved. To qualify, the migrant must face a “credible fear” of violence or serious discrimination due to race, religion, or political affiliation. Asylum is broken down into two broad categories: “affirmative” (not yet subjected to deportation proceedings) and “defensive” (fighting deportation).

Affirmative asylum seekers are far fewer in number but much likelier to be granted asylum; roughly 70% get approved. Defensive asylum seekers, on the other hand, are rolling the dice, hoping a friendly judge gives them a last-second reprieve; about 75-95% are rejected.

To increase their chances of gaining asylum, the recent migrant wave from Central America took the longest possible route through Mexico to the U.S. Part of this was to avoid the drug cartels that control the region between southern Mexico and the Texas border, but even more relevant, the migrants are fully aware that California is a “sanctuary” state, and immigration judges in San Diego are far more likely to grant asylum than judges in Texas.

While the migrant/open borders proponents argue these waves of migrants truly fear persecution in their home countries, that fallacy is exposed by the fact that, while defensive asylum applications have skyrocketed (the vast majority coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico), affirmative asylum applications have stayed roughly constant. It’s also noteworthy that these so-called asylum seekers have received significant financial and logistical support from leftist organizations as they try to force their way into the U.S.

In order to get the situation under control and discourage waves of questionable asylum seekers, the Trump administration has begun “metering” — claiming that detention and processing facilities are overcrowded (they are), so they can’t accept new claims until the backlog of existing claims are processed. Would-be asylum seekers are directed to wait in Mexico until they can be seen.

This has put pressure on Mexico to secure its own southern border so it’s not forced to accommodate and pay for feeding, housing, and securing tens of thousands of migrants.

Last year, the Trump administration received wide condemnation for its wise refusal to sign onto the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which would have given international treaties and laws primacy over U.S. immigration laws. In explaining that refusal UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared, “No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue. But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”

Despite the faux outrage of world leaders, nearly a dozen countries — including Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland — have followed America’s lead in rejecting the treaty, and pressure is building in formerly pro-migrant countries like Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands to spurn it as they face significant difficulties dealing with crime and cultural conflicts after absorbing massive waves of migrants.

As for the showdown with the Democrats, President Trump declared this week that he will get the U.S. border secured one way or another, even if he has to use the U.S. military to build the border wall.

And despite the propensity of Democrats to use immigrant children as political cannon fodder, the American people support Trump’s agenda of securing our borders.



More Occasio-Cortez insight


Don’t Underestimate Dumb Voters’ Appetite For Idiot Leftist Politicians

You should not for a moment fail to appreciate the risk posed to your freedom by left-wing It-Fascists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke. There’s an undeniable appeal of this kind of Potemkin Politician for the kind of morons that the Democrats count on at the ballot box. Sure, the Nitwit Naïf is ridiculously ignorant and dumb – she knows nothing and demonstrates no capacity to learn anything. Sure, Tex Kennedy is a meat puppet dancing on the strings held by his masters. But this is the same country where the voters elected Barack Obama, twice.

They can absolutely win power, which means the leftist elite that controls them could win power, and that means disaster for our country. Like an our-country-splitting-apart kind of disaster. So, we need to accurately assess the threat they pose and figure out how to fight it. We need to not fool ourselves into thinking that these two dorks are too goofy for the voters to ever elect, particularly if some Fredocon doofus whose dad used to be a mailman tries to play spoiler.

Remember that a plurality of the voters voted for Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit; the Electoral College is not going to save our freedom forever. We need to get woke to the threat and act accordingly.

Though mocking them is important, because they are clowns and clowns should be mocked, mocking them is not nearly enough. Mockery really only helps reinforce our own morale, assuring ourselves of what we already know – that they are terrible. Our mockery doesn’t affect the dummies. Most liberal voters are just as civics-illiterate as AOC is, so they just shrug when she botches the three branches of government.

It’s different with O’Rourke. It’s not that Beto does not know what the Constitution says. It’s that he is against what it says.

Remember how Donald Trump was mocked? They said he was a joke. They said his policies were ridiculous. They said he’s dumb. He’s so dumb he beat the Smartest Woman In The World and 16 other Republicans of various levels of establishment acceptability.

The point is not to draw some false equivalence between these two media darlings and the president, because they represent very different situations. The point is that voters will not necessarily respond to their favorites being portrayed as buffoons, whether it is true or not. In Trump’s case, it was the mainstream media doing the defining. The president was an outsider. He succeeded by defying the elite and by speaking for people – the militant Normals – who the ruling class had been oppressing for years.

AOC and Beto are something entirely different. They will be protected by the media, and actively covered for. That’s because they are elite catspaws disguised as radical disrupters. Though they attempt to speak the language of outsiders, every single thing they propose is exactly in line with the desires of the elite establishment. Gun control? Check – yeah, the same people hating on the cops are also the same ones demanding that only the cops under the control of the elite have guns. Climate change? Check – gee, how can a carbon tax go wrong? Bizarre theories about race and gender? Check – sure, let’s turn our country into a crucible of social justice witch hunts that would embarrass the town fathers of Salem, assuming they identify as male. I wouldn’t want to misgender anyone who hanged women for imaginary crimes.

Of course, Ocasio-Cortez blabs about “socialism,” but her rantings are straight out of Marxism for Dummies. Nothing she says threatens the rice bowl of the zillionaire donor base Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have cultivated. Free college, free medicine, free this, free that – it’s all just more graft for the Democrats to distribute, and it will all come from the pockets of people like you. Do you think the people who write the checks to the DNC are going to end up paying the bill for this nonsense? Really?

These two are rebels for the establishment, radicals demanding we keep on our present course toward corporatist socialism and progressive hegemony. They disrupt nothing. They are agents of the leftist status quo.

So, how do we fight Chavez Chick and Che-to?

Sure, we keep up the mockery to reinforce our own side, but we need to reach past our own people to the voters who are not yet woke but who are susceptible to reason. We do that by taking these two seriously. To the extent we can get around a liberal media that is an unapologetic arm of the Democrat Party, we get them to talk. We ask them who pays for their stuff. Free college? Okay, I paid for my college. Why should I pay for someone else’s college too? If their college is important enough for me to work to pay for, why isn’t it important enough for them to work and pay for?

“Why should I pay for your constituent’s goodies?” is a powerful message, and one we’ve not used enough lately. The useless Paul Ryan faction thinks it's unfair to bring up arguments like that, but now the House is going to be the site of debates and that needs to be a key issue.

Who pays? You pay!

We’re the ones the elite expects to write a check for all these benefits. We need to pound that home because that idea still has an appeal to moderates. To this end, enlightened self-interest is our friend.

“Why should we pay for other people’s degree in transsexual Marxist mime?”

“Why should we pay more for gas when China and India are increasing their carbon emissions while we are decreasing ours?”

“Why should we pay welfare to the uninvited foreigners who contribute so much to America’s rich tapestry of entitlement and sloth?”

“Why should we pay more for health care? And don’t tell me we won’t because your last bright idea Obamacare cost us plenty.”

We need to take these hacks head-on, both for ourselves and our kids. Don’t think for a moment that the millennial generation is not stupid enough to embrace the agents of their own servitude. The first generation to fail to surpass the success of the previous one is perfectly capable of eagerly voting to make their own lives worse in the name of…whatever it is that motivates these fools. Probably kale and feelings.

Both deserve laughter, but it’s a mistake to laugh them off. It’s a mistake our country might not recover from.



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, December 13, 2018

Why a great Protestant hymn breaks my heart

I don't know if I will be able to convey what is after all a feeling but I cannot listen to the original version of the great Lutheran hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (A mighty fortress is our God) without being upset.

The hymn is now best known in the marvellous setting by J.S. Bach -- a supreme work of musical art -- so we usually overlook the original hymn.  Both the original work and the Bach setting are works expressing Christian triumph over evil and adversity  but in the original version you get a feeling for what Christians of hundreds of years ago had to triumph over. 

The world they lived in was full of tragedy, hardship and disaster  and they attributed it all to demons and the Devil himself.  To them the Devil was real and powerful and present in their lives. They saw his cruel deeds all about them on a daily basis -- in sickness and death and disaster.  There are few things, if any, more upsetting than the death of a child but they had to endure such deaths often.

So what the hymn conveys to me is both how awful their lives were and how their Christian faith gave them the heart to power on.  Their faith was their only rock, their only comfort. They had no power to combat the evils around them. It cuts me up that they had so little power over their lives when we have so much.  Their survival truly is a wonder.

But I have said as much as I can.  Just listen to the starkly simple words of a very simple hymn and feel for those poor people.

As students of foreign languages always tell you, you cannot adequately translate a poem and that is certainly so here.  The song is even more powerful in the original German:  Simple punchy words

The words: "Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib: lass fahren dahin" are not well translated above.  They say that your possessions, your honour, your child and your wife can all be lost but the Devil still has not triumphed. What tragedies they had to expect!

And now listen to the wonderful things Bach did with that ultra-simple hymn:

Bach had joy in the Christian triumph over the Devil

Footnote:  The opening image in the first video above depicts Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.  In the background is the Wartburg castle where Luther hid from his imperial pursuers --- JR


The Psychological Composition of a Leftist

Delaware psychotherapist Dr Hurd gets it pretty right below

#1: Unearned guilt. Unearned guilt is a feeling of responsibility for something that’s not your fault. Healthy people see the unearned guilt for what it is, and correct it. Others become overly humble and self-effacing. Leftists do neither. They become angry and hostile. They rage against the unearned guilt of others rather than face their own. It absolves them of their own perceived guilt, by condemning others in a way they don’t have to condemn themselves.

# 2  A need for the approval of others. Leftism is socialism. Socialism is all about the group. The self-esteem of a leftist depends heavily not on achievement or knowledge, but of approval from the group. The group consists of other self-righteous, hostile people like themselves. Hence all the virtue-signaling. Being virtuous is not the real goal of a leftist, because “virtue” implies a definition of a concept. For leftists, it’s not about concepts or rational thought. It’s all about emotion and perception. Approval by the peer group is essential to a leftist.

# 3 A lack of meaning and purpose. Socialism and “social justice warriorism” are a faulty attempt to gain a sense of purpose. Leftists can be bright, intelligent and even accomplished people. Many are not, of course, but many are. Look at all the leftists in industry and the creative arts. But psychologically, they feel no meaning. If they did, they would never endorse socialism. If they really felt a connection to the sense of self and purposeful productivity that their work should bring them, they would never espouse a society based on the bland, mindless conformity and thoroughly unproductive, poverty-stricken routine of socialism. They mistakenly think they’re doing something meaningful by supporting nationalization of the means of production and things like turning it into a felony to use the wrong pronoun for a transgendered person. It started with recycling, another meaningless act disguised as purpose, and later it led to environmentalism and all the other pet issues leftists cherish today. Clearly, it’s irrational. But they have to feel like they’re doing something.

#4  A sick glorification of the use of force. Most leftists are not forceful people. Most of them probably don’t own guns or mean to physically harm someone. Some, like Antifa members, do; but many do not. Yet everything about leftism requires the use of force. Social Security and Medicare are mandatory, not voluntary. Ditto for Obamacare. Ditto for high taxes. Regulations are not suggestions. Gun control and the increasing calls among leftists for outright gun confiscation require the very use of force they condemn when it comes to an innocent person defending him- or herself against a violent criminal. Guns and violence are bad, leftists have always insisted. Yet everything they advocate — absolutely everything — depends on the use of coercion. Their ability and willingness to lie to themselves about this fact is stunning — and frankly sick.

# 5 A frightening lack of boundaries. Leftists think they’re sophisticated and civilized. But they’re actually less civilized than others. You saw how one of their favorite politicians, Maxine Waters, came out and openly told Democrats to shun, intimidate or even outright terrorize people who voted for Trump. Those of us who live in leftist communities know this isn’t an isolated or extreme case. You have to understand: The typical leftist sees disagreement with his or her views as a violation of personal space and rights. “If you disagree with me, you are threatening me.” That’s literally how they feel. And that’s actually how the younger generation of leftists — especially in Antifa and on college campuses — openly think. Their leftist and openly Marxist professors validate them daily. It’s the exact same mindset as a terrorist. What do you think any kind of terrorist (right-wing or left-wing) feels? A right to attack in retaliation against the fact that others disagree. Disagreement and dissension — to a leftist — are like acts of war. More and more of them are prepared to follow through on this premise, as we’ve seen in their response to President Donald Trump, who’s nothing more than a Republican who actually challenges them and fights back.

# 6 A malevolent universe premise. What’s a “malevolent universe premise”? It’s a term that originated with Ayn Rand, a philosopher and the author of Atlas Shrugged. Rand wrote,

If men hold values incompatible with life—such as self-sacrifice and altruism—obviously they can’t achieve such values; they will soon come to feel that evil is potent, whereas they are doomed to misery, suffering, failure. It is irrational codes of ethics above all else that feed the malevolent-universe attitude in people and lead to the syndrome eloquently expressed by the philosopher Schopenhauer: “Whatever one may say, the happiest moment of the happy man is the moment of his falling asleep, and the unhappiest moment of the unhappy that of his waking. Human life must be some kind of mistake.”
…The altruist ethics is based on a “malevolent universe” metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them.

I used to think some leftists were not like this. Some of them seem benevolent, on the surface. They seem to enjoy life and not believe that people should live their lives in misery and despair. But as you get to know leftists better, you discover an ugly truth: Yes, they are living lives of self-fulfillment and liberty, or are at least trying to. But instead of seeing this as a good thing, they see it as a bad thing. While you and I may cherish our lives and liberty, leftists despise themselves for wanting these things. They can’t endure the contradiction. The rage, anxiety and energy over living such a contradiction has to go somewhere. And that somewhere is into leftism: A self-righteous, violent and essentially puritanical way of thinking designed to bring upon us all the misery they subconsciously believe they deserve themselves.

It’s not pretty. And neither is leftism and all its manifestations — fascism, socialism, Communism, and so forth. That’s why we’ve got to fight it with absolutely everything we’ve got.

The intolerance of leftists serves a sad and sick psychological purpose: To shut down the inner contradictions these deeply conflicted people feel. We can’t let their increasing insanity be the reason we give up our individual rights and liberty.



San Francisco judge agrees with Trump!

Is the sky falling?

The Trump administration provided adequate justification for its decision to end a program that reunited hundreds of immigrants from Central America with family members in the U.S., a federal judge ruled Monday.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler threw out the bulk of a lawsuit that argued the termination of the Obama-era Central American Minors program was arbitrary and violated the U.S. Constitution.

The program allowed parents legally in the U.S. to apply to bring children or other family members living in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador to the U.S.

One of the goals was to discourage children from making the dangerous journey from those countries to the U.S. to be with family.

More than 1,300 people came to the U.S. under the program between 2014 and the end of 2016, according to figures cited in Beeler's decision.

When it ended the program in August 2017, the Trump administration revoked approval for roughly 2,700 additional immigrants who were set to travel to the U.S.

In her ruling, Beeler said the decision to revoke those approvals was arbitrary and capricious and required more analysis and explanation.

Linda Evarts, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project who is representing plaintiffs, said she welcomed that part of the ruling and called the decision "an important first step."

Beeler in a separate order suggested the plaintiffs might be able to revise their lawsuit to address some of her concerns.

The judge, however, found the administration had sufficient policy and legal arguments for its decision to end the Central American Minors program.

The Obama administration granted refugee or parole status to 99 percent of the people it interviewed for the program, giving them a greenlight to come to the U.S., according to State Department figures in Beeler's decision.

The Trump administration argued that immigration law called for a more sparing, case-by-case approach. It also said granting parole broadly created an incentive for illegal immigration and contributed to security problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Beeler said the administration rationally concluded that the program was not consistent with its immigration policy and its view of immigration law. She said she was not authorized to second-guess those conclusions.

She also rejected arguments that the decision to end the program violated due process and equal protection.



US steel industry booming after Trump's tariffs

U.S. steel mills have seen almost a 5 percent jump in shipments so far this year, a sign that it's benefiting from stiff 25 percent tariffs on imports the Trump administration imposed last year.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported Monday that U.S. mills shipped 8.1 million tons in October, up 4.6 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from the same period last year. So far this year, the industry has shipped 79.6 million net tons, 4.6 percent more than it had by this point last year.

AISI spokesman Jake Murphy told the Washington Examiner that domestic steel use has increased 1.4 percent so far in 2018, and that "Section 232 has played a crucial role as well," referring to section of trade law used by the Trump administration to justify the tariffs.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, U.S. imports of steel mill products declined 11 percent during the first 10 months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

But while U.S. steel manufacturers are expanding, some in the business community have said the steel tariff and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum were hurting the broader economy. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue on Monday called on the White House to restore tariff exemptions that Canada and Mexico had earlier this year.

"Every week that the tariffs remain in place, $500 million in U.S. imports and exports are affected, inflicting significant harm on American workers, farmers, and ranchers. They must be eliminated without delay," he said.



DC Council Bills Taxpayers Half A Million To Avoid Enrolling Themselves In Obamacare

On the first of the month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held an event at Freedom Plaza to celebrate the start of Obamacare’s annual open enrollment period. She appeared with Mila Kofman, head of the District’s health insurance exchange, D.C. Health Link. In conjunction with the event, the mayor issued a proclamation declaring the open enrollment period “Get Covered, Stay Covered” months, and noting that “residents should visit [D.C. Health Link’s website] to shop for and compare health insurance.”

But in encouraging others to “get covered,” and promoting the D.C. Health Link site, Bowser omitted one key detail: She does not buy the policies that D.C. Health Link sells. My recent Freedom of Information Act request confirmed that Bowser, like most of her D.C. Council colleagues, received taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies to purchase their coverage through the District government, rather than through D.C. Health Link. Thus, DC spent nearly half a million in taxpayer funds because the mayor and council won’t be bothered to enroll in Obamacare.

Armed with this information, I asked Bowser about her insurance choices at a recent event. She noted that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t ask individuals to give up their employer-based insurance — a true enough statement. Individuals such as Bowser and members of the council can purchase insurance through Obamacare exchanges like D.C. Health Link, but they must forego their employer subsidy to do so.

Forfeiting generous employer subsidies might seem like an unreasonable request to make of the mayor and council. But earlier this year, the council passed, and Bowser signed, legislation requiring all District residents to buy health coverage or pay a tax — including tens of thousands of residents who do not qualify for subsidies.

According to public records, Bowser receives an annual salary of $200,000; council members receive $140,600 annually. This year, I will receive less income than any of them, and as a small business owner my income is far from guaranteed, unlike public officials’ salaries. Yet the mayor and council have required me to buy health coverage without a subsidy, even as they refuse to do so themselves.

I asked Bowser about this obvious inequity. Under Obamacare, an individual with income of $50,000 — one-quarter of Bowser’s salary — does not qualify for an income-based subsidy. Bowser required this individual to buy coverage without assistance, while earning much more in salary and retaining her employer subsidy. Did she see a double standard in her conduct?

When it came to the issue of equity and fairness, she didn’t have a substantive answer, nor did her council colleagues. I asked staff for each council member about their health insurance coverage, and any subsidies received. Most staff never responded to my outreach. Staff for Councilman Robert White said they would ask him about his coverage, but never sent a reply. Staff for two councilmembers, Phil Mendelson and Brandon Todd, replied with explanations about the subsidies being provided as an employer benefit.

But neither Bowser nor the council members could justify requiring other District residents, including many with lower incomes than they, from buying coverage without a subsidy even as they will not do so themselves. And how could they? Quite often, it seems liberals who preach frequently about “fairness” regarding others’ actions fall eerily silent when doing so would cost them personally. “Obamacare for thee — but not for me” doesn’t provide a particularly compelling slogan, but the mayor and council have sent that very message by their actions.

Official Washington contains numerous examples of hypocrisy and double standards, but that doesn’t make either a “D.C. value.” If Bowser wishes to abide by the D.C. values she campaigned on, she and the council members should give up their subsidies and buy health insurance just like ordinary residents do. If they find that task too difficult or costly, then perhaps they should repeal the exact same requirement they put on everyone else.



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, December 12, 2018

Is Sunday the Sabbath?

One of my more eccentric hobbies is Biblical exegesis -- trying to work out what the scriptures mean without regard to what the churches say they mean: A thoroughly Protestant habit.

And a very obvious question is how come Christian churches hold their Sabbath on the day of the Sun rather than on the seventh day of the week -- which is what the Bible commands?  Seventh Day Adventists and Seventh Day Baptists remind us that there is an issue there.

I imagine that most Christians assume that some great Christian eminence or Christian council came together in order to switch observance from Saturday to Sunday as a way of separating Christians from Jews.  Sunday is seen as part of the New Testament that supersedes the Old.

There is still a lively debate among theologians on the issue and I have read both sides.  One lot say that there is nowhere in the NT or anywhere else that commands a change from Saturday to Sunday so the old law still applies and Saturday therefore is the only true Sabbath.

The other lot say that the Apostle Paul released Christians from strict Sabbath observance so we can choose Saturday or Sunday at our discretion.  They have two scriptures on their side in that:

Col. 2:16-17. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Rom. 14:5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

And Christ himself preached flexibility regarding Sabbath observance. Mark 2:27 “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:”

What seems to have happened is that Paul wanted a broad church.  In particular, he wanted Jews and Gentiles to be equally welcome in the early Christian congregations.  And he had to be emphatic about that.  Christians who came from Jewry tended to observe all their Jewish customs. Christ was a devout Jew so that seemed entirely proper.

And the Jewish Christians tended to lecture non-Jews on the matter.  They tended to say that the non-Jewish Christians should adopt Jewish practice.  And Paul wanted to put a stop to that.  He wanted Christianity to be a religion for all, not just another Jewish sect.

So Paul preached tolerance, as we see in the scriptures above.  Follow Jewish custom if you like but that is not mandatory.

And that permission was very valuable in the ancient world.  Most of that world revered the Sun.  They worshipped various idols but were also sun worshippers.  And from ancient Sumerian times they had nominated the first day of the week as the sun's day  Some respect to the sun became customary on that day.

But the Jews of course have always been a cantankerous people.  From Moses on, their prophets have always said so.  So the Jews wanted to defy established custom and they did that by making the seventh day, not the first day especially holy

But that was always awkward for diaspora Jews -- i.e. Jews living outside Israel.  Their custom made them seem strange to the others about them and even led to a degree of persecution on occasions

So Paul put and end to that.  He wanted Christians to be well regarded so that people would listen with some respect when they preached the gospel of the living Lord.

In the circumstances, most non-Jewish Christians probably switched to Sunday observance with alacrity.  Purists no doubt still argued for Saturday but Sunday suited most non-Jewish Christians just fine. And as Christianity spread far and wide the Jewish customs just faded out. Like everybody else, Christians now worshipped on the day of the Sun.

There are various mentions of weekly meetings between the early brothers during which food was eaten but they included no mention of which day the meeting occurred.  They followed the dictum that the meeting was important, not the day on which it occurred.  And in 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 Paul was emphatic that the day should be observed with due solemnity and in honour of the original Last Supper of Christ. But Paul laid down the basic form, not the day of Christian observances.

So there was at no time any proclamation from on high.  Using Sunday for solemn worship just evolved as a convenient custom for Christians. Though the fact that Christ was resurrected on a Sunday tended to legitimate Sunday observance for some

Speaking personally, it seems regrettable to me that Christians have perpetuated sun worship.  For health reasons, I do keep a form of the Sabbath myself. But I do it on the true sabbath -- JR.


Chernobyl wolves infected with radiation feared to be spreading mutant genes across Europe

This is just a work of fiction. There is no evidence that the wolves have ANY mutated genes.  Mutations are mostly fatal so if any wolves were affected they would probably be dead by now.

The whole basis of the story seems to be amazement that wolves have flourished  -- but even some of the people who lived there have moved back with no ill effects.  In short, the radiation there has dropped back to safe levels. Rich Kozlovich has more

SCIENTISTS fear wolves living in Chernobyl's radioactive forbidden zone may be spreading mutant genes across Europe.

The European grey wolf population has boomed at the site since the human population moved out and it became a virtual wildlife preserve.

Research now reveals some of the wolves - potentially affected by damaging radiation - have been crossing Ukraine's borders into Russia and Belarus.

The news has sparked concerns among some in the scientific community that the animals may mate and spread mutant genes to other packs.

The site became off limits to humans after the nuclear power plant disaster on 26 April 1986, due to concerns about the high levels of radiation.

Explosions destroyed a reactor at the plant releasing about 400 times more radioactive fallout than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Particles were spread thousands of miles across Europe, dozens of residents were killed and many more exposed to the deadly radiation.

It now seems that the lack of human interference at the disaster site has allowed the wolves to thrive in the 1,000 sq mile exclusion zone.

They began to take over the eerie site in 2016 and the pack's population is now thought to be seven-times larger than usual.

During a study of their movements scientists GPS fitted trackers to 13 adults and one juvenile to see how far they strayed.

The researchers found while the adult wolves stayed within the zone, the juvenile roamed far beyond its boundaries.

The young wolf began to consistently move away from its home range about three months after scientists began tracking its movements.

Over the course of 21 days, it ended up about 186 miles (300 km) outside the exclusion zone first heading to Belarus and then Russia.

This raised questions about the affect of wolves potentially affected by radiation carrying mutant genes to pass onto other wolf communities.

Studies of other animals -mostly smaller ones like birds, rodents, and insects -show that Chernobyl radiation can cause mutations and ill health.

And work done in creatures such as barn swallows and voles suggests these mutations may be transferred to the next generation.

These also had the potential to spread radioactive contaminants, notes Tim Mousseau, of the Uni of South Carolina who was not involved in the wolves study.

The study's lead author and wildlife ecologist Michael Byrne told Live Science he believes the mutant gene theory is something worth looking into. But the University of Missouri animal movement and ecology expert was quick to add:  "We have no evidence to support that this is happening.

"No wolves there were glowing - they all have four legs, two eyes and one tail."

The Chernobyl exclusion zone is also home to other species including moose, horses, bison, boars and red badgers.

Last year, we told how radioactive boars were running wild in the Czech Republic after eating mushrooms contaminated after the Chernobyl disaster.



Tony Perkins: Donald Trump’s Election ‘Saved This Republic’

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins said, “I thank God for Donald Trump,” and further stated that Trump’s election victory in 2016 “saved this republic.”

“Let me go on record: I thank God for Donald Trump,” stated FRC President Tony Perkins. “He’s not the answer to the prayer that I was expecting, but I receive it just the same. And I am grateful for his leadership, and I am grateful for his courage. And you know what? I believe that his election has saved this republic.”

Perkins was one of 10 conservative leaders to receive an award by United in Purpose in the ceremony hosted by Ginni Thomas and held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C.

“Let me say, I am here not just as an individual but as one that represents an organization,” said Tony Perkins. “I could not do a fraction of what I do without my team at the Family Research Council. We’ve got a team of almost 100 dedicated men and women who are devoted to this country and preserving faith, family and freedom, and not just preserving it, but we’re committed to advance it both here and abroad.”

Perkins continued, “You know, every time I see a ceremony like this, it’s usually the left out in Hollywood, and they rant against this country and against our president. Let me go on record to say I love America. America is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. And as I travel more and meet with international leaders, the more grateful I am for our country and for the rule of law and why we must protect it and preserve it and speak unabashedly and unashamedly for it.

“And the other person— And the other thing they like to rant against is the president of the United States,” Perkins went on. “Let me go on record: I thank God for Donald Trump. He’s not the answer to the prayer that I was expecting, but I receive it just the same.  And I am grateful for his leadership, and I am grateful for his courage. And you know what? I believe that his election has saved this republic.

“And he had that opportunity because of the men and women in this room,” said Perkins.

“And I think most of you know this, but it does not hurt us to repeat it and remind ourselves that with every election, our republic hangs in the balance. It is literally like a, hanging by a thread over a raging fire,” Perkins said.

Perkins concluded, “We cannot rest; we cannot grow weary; we cannot be silent; we cannot slip into the shadows; we must speak the truth without fear, without hesitation. Jesus said, ‘You’ll know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ America’s hope of preserving freedom is in knowing and embracing the truth. And how will they know unless there are leaders like you who will speak it? Thank you for being those leaders. Continue to speak that truth, that America might be free. Thank you.”



Non-President Macron surrenders. Tax revolt succeeds

He is in control of his pretty desk but he is not in control of France.  Good shoeshine, though.

French President hikes minimum wage, axes overtime tax and slashes pension contributions as he declares state of emergency after weeks of riots

French president Emmanuel Macron tonight announced a range of dramatic Socialist-style financial concessions to struggling workers so as to end an 'economic and social state of emergency'.

In a TV address lasting 12 minutes, he said a month of rioting and blockades justified a €100 (£90) increase in the minimum wage, taking it to €1498 (£1360).

This will not 'cost anything to the employer', said Mr Macron, and will be accompanied by all taxes and other charges on overtimes being scrapped.

There were also be an end-of-year bonus that employers can pay without being charged by the government, while taxes on those earning less than €2000 (£1800) will also end on January 1.

Mr Macron also ruled out any return of the Solidarity Wealth Tax, saying that he wanted to stop rich entrepreneurs 'moving abroad', so preventing 'job creation'.

The extraordinarily generous package of measures represents a massive U-turn by Mr Macron who originally said he would not yield to rioting as he tried to liberalise the sluggish France economy.

So-called Yellow Vest fuel protestors first took to the streets on November 17, and this led to the president scrapping green charges on petrol and diesel.

'I heard the anger was first of all against the tax, but it's deeper than that, and this anger could be our chance,' said Mr Macron.

'I heard the despair of the forgotten people. There are couples who struggle to make ends meet, brave single mothers or widows who can't afford child care, and poor pensioners who often have to help children and grandchildren, as well as people with disabilities.'

Cities including Paris and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations by the Yellow Vests, who are named after their high visibility jackets.

Mr Macron remained holed-up in the Elysee Palace as buildings were set on fire, shops were looted, and police were attacked.

Armoured cars, water canon and thousands of rounds of tear gas were in turn used against the trouble makers.

They have been joined by agitators from the Left and Right, as well as criminal groups determined to cause mayhem.

Thousands chanted 'Macron Resign' and 'Police Everywhere – Justice Nowhere' as they rampaged throughout the centre of the French capital.



If it weren't for double standards, Leftists wouldn't have any


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, December 11, 2018

Does being fat give you heart disease?

The study below reports only two very weak associations.  The association between diabetes and obesity is no surprise.  It is known that diabetics tend to overeat and put on weight.  But that does NOT prove that being overweight gives you diabetes.

The correlation between coronary artery disease and obesity is potentially meaningful but the association is marginal and tends to be undermined by the finding that obesity is unrelated to stroke incidence. Obesity is in other words associated with a stroke precursor but not with stroke itself.  The only reasonable response to that pattern of effects is that obesity is harmless

The authors below, however, draw the conclusions that they wanted to draw  -- as is very common in research reports

Association Between Obesity and Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Mendelian Randomization Studies

Haris Riaz et al.


Importance:  Although dyslipidemia has been consistently shown to be associated with atherogenesis, an association between obesity and cardiovascular disease outcomes remains controversial. Mendelian randomization can minimize confounding if variables are randomly and equally distributed in the population of interest.

Objective:  To assess evidence from mendelian randomization studies to provide a less biased estimate of any association between obesity and cardiovascular outcomes.

Data Sources:  Systematic searches of MEDLINE and Scopus from database inception until January 2018, supplemented with manual searches of the included reference lists.

Study Selection:  Studies that used mendelian randomization methods to assess the association between any measure of obesity and the incidence of cardiovascular events and those that reported odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs estimated using an instrumental variable method were included. The 5 studies included in the final analysis were based on a consensus among 3 authors.

Data Extraction and Synthesis:  Two investigators independently extracted study characteristics using a standard form and pooled data using a random-effects model. The Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) reporting guideline was followed.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Obesity associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, or stroke. The hypothesis was formulated prior to data collection.

Results:  Of 4660 potentially relevant articles, 2511 titles were screened. Seven studies were included in the systematic review, and 5 studies with 881 692 participants were eligible to be included in the meta-analysis. Pooled estimates revealed that obesity was significantly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.30-2.14; P < .001; I2 = 93%) and coronary artery disease (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.02-1.41; P = .03; I2 = 87%). No association between obesity and stroke was found (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.95-1.09; P = .65; I2 = 0%).

Conclusions and Relevance:  The present meta-analysis suggests that obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Although this analysis of mendelian randomization studies does not prove causality, it is supportive of a causal association. Hence, health care practitioners should continue to emphasize weight reduction to combat coronary artery disease.



There Is No 'Surge' in Right-Wing Violence
A Washington Post “analysis” of domestic terrorism argues that attacks from white supremacists and other “far-right attackers” have been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency and “surged since President Trump took office.” It’s a familiar storyline meant to assure liberals that yes, Trump-motivated right-wing terrorists are running wild. There are, however, a few problems with this proposition.

For one thing, even if we accept the numbers the Post offers, the use of the word “surge” — meaning a sudden, powerful forward or upward movement — strains credibility. There’s no evidence of a “surge,” either in historical context or as a matter of ideological preference.

That is to say, we have good reason not to accept the numbers. According to The Washington Post, which relies on Global Terrorism Database data, there were zero acts of right-wing terrorism in the entire nation in 2002. Since then, we have seen a “surge,” to 36 in a nation of 325-plus million people in 2017. Among those acts, there were 11 fatalities.

In other words, fewer homicides were committed by political terrorists of any stripe in the United States in 2017 than were committed by undocumented immigrants in the state of Texas alone — which, I am assured, is an incredibly low number that shouldn’t worry us very much. If one of these “surges” is scaremongering, why not the other?

Then again, even if we use the criteria offered by the GTD, we need to be exceptionally generous to even get to 36 incidents of right-wing violence in 2017. (I could find only 32.)

For example, although the Post acknowledges that the Las Vegas shooter’s motivations are still unknown, the GTD had no problem categorizing the murderer of 58 people as an “anti-government extremist.” And it takes these sorts of assumptions to get in the vicinity of a “surge” in right-wing terrorism.

Of the 32 incidents I was able to find, 12 featured perpetrators who were merely “suspected” of being right-wing terrorists. Some of these incidents could have been the work of one person, as in the pellet gun shootings of Muslims in New York. In other incidents, we are asked to treat patently insane people as if they had coherent political agendas.

Still other events are even more opaque. In San Juan, Puerto Rico — apparently a hotbed of white supremacy — an incendiary device was thrown into a gay nightclub. No one was injured, thank goodness. Also, no one was caught, and no one claimed responsibility for the act. Yet the episode doesn’t even earn a “suspected” designation from GTD.

If the definition of domestic terrorism is muddy at best, the definition of right-wing terrorism is often arbitrary and self-serving.

To help bolster right-wing terrorist stats, for instance, we would have to perfunctorily include every anti-Semitic act. The Washington Post even mentions an Anti-Defamation League study showing “a 57 percent surge in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017.”

If anything, the ADL study should be cautionary, as it demonstrates how difficult it is to not only quantify these incidents but also categorize them ideologically. The ADL’s faulty data were self-reported, for instance, and most of the “surge” can be attributed to a single Jewish teen in Israel calling in a number of bomb threats to Jewish centers.

In the real world, a Jewish American is probably likelier to encounter anti-Semitism at a college campus than anywhere else.

Then there is the matter of inconsistently defining terrorism. If throwing a rock through the window of an Islamic center is an act of right-wing terrorism, why isn’t it an act of left-wing terrorism for anti-capitalists to throw rocks through the window of a business in Oregon? Surely, both fall under the description of terror, which the GTD defines as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor seeking to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.” As far as I can tell, only one of these genres actually makes the cut for the GTD.

This is what happens when reporters work backward from a predetermined premise.

You’ll notice, as well, that these analyses typically begin in 2002, seeing as the 2,977 Americans murdered on 9/11 are inconvenient to the white-supremacy-is-more-dangerous-than-radical-Islam narrative. The reason we don’t have a real-life “surge” of attacks by Islamic extremists since 2001, incidentally, is that the United States has spent billions yearly to stop it.

Of course, political violence isn’t the monopoly of any one group. Although there have been flare-ups of leftist violence in the 1900s and the 1960s and ‘70s, for the most part, this kind of violence is still rare. That could change. And none of this is to say horrible events aren’t happening. Nor is it to say that haters don’t exist. But exaggerating the problem for political reasons doesn’t help anyone. Covering your partisan work with a bogus veneer of scientific analysis doesn’t make it any more useful.



Former Baptist President Ed Young: Democrat Party is 'Some Kind of Religion ... Basically Godless'

Ed Young, the senior pastor of Houston's Second Baptist Church and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), said the Democrat Party is some kind of "godless" religion and, because of the sin of abortion, "God will not bless America."

Young, host of The Winning Walk, made his remarks during an impromptu speech following the electoral defeat of Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) on Nov. 6.

In his remarks, picked up by KHOU 11 News,  Pastor Young said the Democrat Party is "no longer a party -- it's some kind of religion that is basically godless."

He also condemned abortion and criticized the courts for leglaizing the killing of children by abortion. "[a]s long as America -- and this is represented by every Democrat I know -- does not believe in the sacredness of the life in the mother's womb, God will not bless America or make us a great nation."

Pastor Young is a strong defender of the natural law and Christian morality. As reported in One News Now, for instance, Young was involved in a 2015 effort to overturn an ordinance in Houston that allowed transgender women -- males pretending to be females -- to use bathrooms used by biological females.

At the time, Young said, "The bottom line is, if we open up our facilities when someone can choose their sexual orientation -- those who believe that men should use men's facilities, and women should use women's facilities – we will be discriminated against."

"It is totally deceptive, and it is deadly," he said, "and I trust that you will vote no, no, no, because it will carry our city further and further and further down the road of being totally, in my opinion, secular and godless."

The transgender bathroom ordinance was overturned by city voters.



In the Middle East, You Win with Fear

The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltration, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called "agreement" or truce is not a viable option.

We cannot trust Hamas to keep the calm. Only when Hamas is afraid of IDF retaliation, which has yet to come, will calm prevail. Israelis tend to overlook the fact that in the Middle East, it is fear, above everything else, that governs how people act.

Unfortunately, from time to time, we must give our enemies a violent reminder, lest they continue terrorizing us. The very fact that Hamas continues its actions unabated shows a lack of deterrence, without which no truce is worth the paper it is signed on. Expecting Hamas to honor agreements with the Jewish state it wants to annihilate is inexcusably naive. Extortion that leads to an "agreement" is a prelude to more extortion.

The assumption that boosting the quality of life for Gazans will reduce Hamas' violence and hatred is fundamentally flawed. There is no place on this planet where there is a direct correlation between quality of life and terrorism. This holds true in the Palestinian case as well.

Recent polls show that Gazans are actually less hostile toward Israel than are their brethren in Judea and Samaria, where the quality of life is better. Perhaps the suffering in Gaza has taught them that prolonged conflict with Israel comes with great pain. While it is true that it takes time to change the behavior of large groups of people, what ultimately makes a population embark on a new political path is the degree to which it suffers. Germans suffered immensely during the two world wars and have since shed their violent past. Egypt also realized that a peace deal with Israel trumps more violence.

The goal of war is to inflict pain on the other side, to make it change its behavior. There is no point in giving Hamas candy while it fights against us. The exact opposite is true: It should be forced to pay a heavy price for its aggressive behavior. This is the message Israel should be sending Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other enemies. To survive in the Middle East, Israel has to make it clear that it will inflict unimaginable pain on anyone who attacks it.

Only a crushing and devastating blow to Hamas will pave the way for a truce that would not be a victory for the terrorists. Such a truce would survive much longer than a half-baked truce that survives only several months until another extortion scheme.



House Dems Out to Get Religion
One of the most important religious freedom laws in America turns 25 this Friday. But will it make it to 26? House Democrats are doing everything it can to ensure it doesn’t.

A quarter of a century ago, nothing about religious liberty was controversial. In fact, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was so popular that all but three members of Congress voted yes. When Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law, no one dreamed that two decades later, his same party would be trying to sanctimoniously kill the law.

For most Americans, the Democrats’ shift hasn’t exactly been subtle. A party platform that mentioned God seven times in 2004 kicked him out in 2012. A senator who said, “We worship an awesome God” in 2004 declared war on faith as president a few years later. Now, a party that almost unanimously agreed that the government shouldn’t undermine religion in 1993 has 172 cosponsors to scrap RFRA and take a sledgehammer to our First Freedom. And they’ll have control of the House to advance their attack.

In an important column for the Washington Examiner, Ernest Istook points out that one of the people behind this push is about to become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Of course, he and the rest of his party want you to believe that Democrats wouldn’t destroy RFRA, they’d just carve out areas where it wouldn’t apply — like marriage, sexual orientation, gender identity, abortion, health care, and any other area where long standing religious beliefs clashed with the vogue values of the Left’s agenda.

“In short,” Istook explains, “an explicit constitutional right would be declared less important than other claims never mentioned in the Constitution and often not even legislated by elected officials.” The repeal of RFRA, he warns, would be a nightmare for men and women of faith – especially Christians, who just want the freedom to live out their beliefs in peace. That’ll be incredibly hard to do, Istook warns, since the Democrats’ bill would wipe out the Supreme Court victories in the Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases. The world that Chai Feldblum envisioned will have finally arrived. Asked what should happen when religious liberty clashed with the LGBT agenda, Obama’s EEOC chief said she’d have “a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” The modern Democratic Party agrees.

The good news, for now, is that the GOP-controlled Senate would never go along with something as extreme as gutting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bad news — at least for the Democratic party — is that neither will their heartland base. Not everyone is on board with the Left’s hard turn on religion. As Yale’s Stephen Carter wrote, “When you mock Christians, you’re not mocking who you think you are.” And if Democrats aren’t careful, they’ll fall right down the God gap they’ve created.

“Spend much time in secular progressive circles,” David French writes, “and you’ll quickly encounter the kind of sneering, anti-Christian elitism evident in pieces such as the recent New Yorker creed against Chick-fil-A. But this culture is fundamentally at odds with the lived experience of the Democratic party’s black and Latino base.” In their beliefs, Pew Research Center warned earlier this year, “nonwhite Democrats more closely resemble Republicans than white Democrats.” That’s significant — not just because it creates tension in the Democratic Party, but, as French points out, “to the extent that faith informs politics, it could crack open the progressive coalition.”

Just last week, exit polling showed how misguided the Democrats’ war on religious expression is. Of all the competing social values — life, marriage, privacy, gender identity — religious liberty was far and away the most popular consensus issue. When McLaughlin & Associates asked 1,000 Americans if the government “should leave people free to follow their beliefs,” a whopping 70 percent of the respondents said yes. Only 18 percent agreed with this radical crusade to end religious liberty as we know it.

In a lot of ways, it’s the Democrats’ liberal agenda that’s boxed them into a godless corner. They’ve had to become hostile to public faith because it acknowledges a moral standard. And when you embrace policies that are antithetical to the stated values of any orthodox religion — like same-sex marriage or abortion — there’s only one way to reconcile it. You get rid of faith — or, at the very least marginalize it.

Make no mistake: The threat to RFRA from Democrats is real. But so is the threat to Democrats if they keep alienating faith and the voters who embrace 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)


Monday, December 10, 2018

The Left’s Demented Hatred of President George H.W. Bush

The Left is an ever-fuming volcano of hate

George Herbert Walker Bush, America’s 41st president, passed away on Friday night at the age of 94. The last of the World War II generation to occupy the Oval Office, this great patriot devoted his life to serving his country. President George Herbert Walker Bush represented all the best that defines America – courage under fire in the continuing fight for freedom, generosity of spirit, faith in a higher purpose than oneself, and belief in individual dignity and liberty.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the America-hating Left wasted no time following George H.W. Bush’s death to savage him. Indeed, they have used all the epithets against the late President Bush as they regularly use against America itself – warmonger, racist, sexist, etc.

George H. W. Bush’s understanding of the perils and tragedy of war was forged as a young torpedo bomber pilot during World War II. He nearly lost his life when forced to bail out of his squadron plane over the Pacific Ocean after coming under attack by Japanese anti-aircraft guns. Building on years of post-war government experience as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the Liaison Office in China, Director of Central Intelligence, and Ronald Reagan’s vice president, he was perhaps the best qualified person to have ever run for president when he campaigned successfully in 1988 to succeed Ronald Reagan.

As president and leader of the free world, he presided over the fall of the Soviet Union, the historic reunification of Germany as the linchpin of a more stable Europe, and the first Gulf War that liberated Kuwait from the rapacious grip of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Domestically, he was responsible for a new civil rights law protecting the disabled. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it easier for employees to sue employers on grounds of discrimination, after having vetoed a bill that he believed would have imposed unreasonable quotas. He worked to improve educational standards and environmental protections.

George H. W. Bush served only one term as president, undone by a weak economy and his breaking of a campaign pledge not to raise taxes. Nevertheless, as former Secretary of State James Baker, one of the late president’s closest friends, said in tribute on Sunday, "I think that, no doubt, he will be remembered as our most-successful one-term president and, perhaps, one of the most successful presidents of all time." Not to the America-hating leftists, however. They wasted no time in cursing the deceased former president.

 “F*** him,” tweeted feminist activist Anita Sarkeesian. “And f*** media's historical erasure.” She was particularly disturbed at the late President George H.W. Bush for his launching of the first Gulf War to force Saddam Hussein’s invading forces out of Kuwait. “He was a warmonger whose violence created unliveable (sic) conditions in Iraq hurting civilians, like my family who didn’t have access to life saving drugs or basic food,” she wrote in her tweet. In another tweet, she wrote, “The first gulf war helped solidify the demonization of Muslims and Arabs in the mind's (sic) of (mostly white) Americans creating far reaching consequences. It also set the stage for Bush Jr to launch another racist war WHICH IS STILL HAPPENING IN CASE YOU FORGOT.”

The first Gulf War was in fact a multinational effort, including Muslim countries in the Middle East region, that liberated the Muslim country of Kuwait from a Stalin-admiring dictator. When that objective was achieved, the war stopped. No further effort was made to topple Hussein from power in Iraq itself. Hussein’s monstrous crimes against his own people dwarfed any civilian casualties that may have been caused by the U.S.-led coalition to oust his forces from Kuwait.

The unlivable conditions Sarkeesian complained about were Saddam Hussein’s own doing. He lived in the lap of luxury while his people lived in grinding poverty. Following the end of the first Gulf War, the horrible living conditions and Saddam Hussein’s campaign of genocide within his country continued, along with his defiance of a succession of UN Security Council resolutions.

The second Iraq war was launched more than a decade later by President Bush 41’s son, George W. Bush, to finally remove the dictator. Saddam Hussein was the author of his own destiny after having failed miserably the chance to redeem himself following the first Gulf War. As usual, leftists like Anita Sarkeesian will choose the side of the brutal dictator over Americans fighting for freedom and human dignity.

Leftists have also not forgiven a controversial ad used during the late President George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign against former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. The ad featured William Horton, a convicted murderer released in 1986 under a weekend pass program that Dukakis continued to defend even after Horton subsequently kidnapped and raped a woman. Horton happened to be black, which to leftists means that any ad using his picture in a true account of the crime he committed after his release, and noting Dukakis’ unwillingness to change the weekend pass program that made this crime possible, is unforgivably racist.

Amanda Marcotte of Salon was a particularly fierce critic of the Horton ad, accusing George H.W. Bush within hours of his death of being “willing to embrace racial demagoguery from the beginning.” Irrespective of the truth of the ad, she would sacrifice freedom of speech at the altar of identity politics and political correctness that must stamp out all vestiges of so-called white privilege.

“Free speech,” she tweeted last April in a foreshadowing of her denunciation of George H.W. Bush after his death for the Horton ad, “is now being used primarily, perhaps exclusively, as a right wing code for white nationalism.”

Marcotte would be wise to do some background reading, including of her own Slate publication back in 1999. It was Al Gore who first introduced the issue of “weekend passes for convicted criminals” in his primary debate with Dukakis, Slate admitted, although it tried to portray Gore’s use of the issue as an innocent act because he did not explicitly identify Horton.

Marcotte also claimed it was of no consequence that an independent expenditure group, not the Bush campaign itself, was responsible for airing the ad with Horton’s picture. She said that the late president was “a grown man, responsible for his campaign decisions.”

The late president was indeed responsible for his campaign decisions and never claimed to be a saint when campaigning. He was at times a “hard-knuckled politician,” wrote Jon Meacham, presidential historian and the author of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. “To serve he had to succeed; to preside he had to prevail,” Mr. Meacham added.

“For Mr. Bush the impulses to do in his opponents and to do good were inextricably bound. He was at once ferocious and gracious — a formidable combination. What mattered was whether one was principled and selfless once in command. And as president of the United States, Mr. Bush was surely that. For every compromise or concession to party orthodoxy or political expedience on the campaign trail, in office Mr. Bush ultimately did the right thing.”

If this sounds like an ends-justify-the means philosophy, welcome to the world of U.S. politics. As Mark Twain said, “If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times.” Leftists, who play dirty in exploiting the race card, have no business feigning moral indignation regarding George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Their voices were silent, for example, when NAACP ads were running against Bush 41’s son, George W. Bush, in 2000 showing a pickup truck with a chain dragging James Byrd, a black man, to his death. The ad played on race by using Renee Mullins, Byrd’s daughter, to denounce George W. Bush, who had been Texas’s governor before running for president, for opposing new hate crime legislation. "It was like my father was killed all over again," she said, leaving out the fact that two of the three killers had already been sentenced to death by a Texas court, while the third was serving a life sentence.

Gore, who had first raised the racially charged issue of weekend passes for convicts against Dukakis in 1988, not only did not denounce the NAACP racially exploitative ad. He proudly told his audience at the annual convention of the NAACP in October 2000, “I am a member of the NAACP. It’s good to be home.”

Leftists traffic in hate for everything decent about America, including its Constitution, democratic institutions, traditions, and heroes. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, they have shamelessly gone out of their way to slander the good name of George Herbert Walker Bush within hours of the death of this great American patriot.

These narcissistic ideologues on the Left care nothing about the feelings of the late president’s grieving family, friends, colleagues, and the many millions of Americans who admired his heroism and devotion to public service. They care only about imposing their own twisted political pathology on the rest of us.



Grand theft election in California

Back on election night, Republicans were heading for victories in California. Three weeks later, Paul Ryan lamented, “we lost every close race.” For the outgoing House Speaker, it “defies logic,” and quite possibly election law as well. 

This year California legalized “ballot harvesting,” which empowers a third party to collect ballots and deliver them to election officials. The more than 250,000 election day vote-by-mail drop-offs were also the result of ballot harvesting. And the Election Integrity Project California found discrepancies in the totals of poll and mail ballots cited by the state and four counties in southern California.

“It shouldn’t ‘defy logic’ that elections officials are meticulous in counting every eligible ballot,” California secretary of state Alex Padilla told reporters.  “California works to ensure every ballot is counted properly and every ballot is accounted for. In the most populous state in the nation — and the state with the largest number of registered voters — this takes time.”

According to Padilla, “in California, we believe in an inclusive and accessible democracy,” and

“provide voters as many opportunities as possible to cast their ballots.” These include “no-excuse vote by mail, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and early voting.”

Padilla talked up the “accuracy and integrity of our elections” but wasn’t about to allow any independent group to investigate the possibility of voter fraud. This was not a new development.

California’s 2015 “motor voter” law empowered the Department of Motor Vehicles automatically to register as voters those who get driver’s licenses. Secretary of State Alex Padilla claimed that protocols and “firewalls” would keep ineligibles from voting, but there was room for reasonable doubt. After the 2016 election, Padilla refused to release any information to a federal probe of voter fraud, which he called a “false and debunked” claim.

For the 2018 election, Padilla expected “millions of new voters on the rolls in the state of California.” True to form, by March, 2018, the DMV had issued licenses to more than one million illegals and from April to August registered 182,000 “new voters.” Padilla isn’t saying how many illegals actually voted or how many illegal ballots were among those “harvested” to flip close races for Democrats.

Instead of investigating, the state’s slavishly pro-Democrat establishment media pins the results on anti-Trump backlash. Politicians and pundits also ignore the state’s voting history.  California voted for Ronald Reagan as governor and except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Republican presidential candidates won California in every election from 1952-1988. That includes Reagan’s two victories and George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In 1986, California passed Proposition 63, the Official Language of California Amendment. This measure directs the state legislature to “preserve the role of English as the state’s common language” and refrain from “passing laws which diminish or ignore the role of English as the

state’s common language.” A full 73 percent of California voters approved the measure but state officials ignored it. English proficiency is required for citizenship but in 2016, the California voter guide came in English and six other languages: Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

In 1996 voters passed Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, by a margin of 54 to 46 percent. This measure ended racial, ethnic, and gender preferences in college admissions, state employment, and state contracting. The worst offender had been the University of California and current UC president Janet Napolitano still gives preference to false-documented illegals, who get in-state tuition and even legal services.

In 1998, 60 percent of California voters passed Proposition 227, which barred bilingual education, which was really instruction entirely in Spanish for the children of illegals. By 2016, Democrats had enough votes to repeal the measure, and they looked to incoming illegals as their expanding electoral college.

According to an MIT study, the number of illegals in the United States is not 11 million but 22 million. Last year the Public Policy Institute of California pegged the number in the Golden State between 2.35 and 2.6 million, but the true figure, following the MIT model, is surely more than double.

California is a sanctuary state and offers illegals the most lavish benefits, including voter registration. That’s why the latest “caravan” is headed for California, the farthest place from Central America on the U.S.-Mexican border. Democrats are eager for a new shipment of voters. That’s why razaist attorney general Xavier Becerra threatens legal action against the Border Patrol, not the mobs of violent criminals who attack U.S. federal agents.

Meanwhile, secretary of state Alex Padilla claims accuracy and integrity in elections. On the other hand, Padilla refuses to cooperate with probes of voter fraud, declines to open up the voter rolls, and will not allow independent inspection of election results.

Without transparency, Paul Ryan has reason to doubt the results of the close races long after election night. Legitimate citizens and legal immigrants have good cause to suspect massive voter fraud, the best explanation for the electoral changes in California since the 1980s.



Fascist de Blasio shows why socialistic impulses are not made for America

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as you may have heard, made the biggest mistake any elite leftist can. He admitted what he really believes. Lamenting the inability of his government to plan every aspect of real estate in New York City “to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be,” de Blasio identified property rights as the great obstacle to his ambitions. “What’s been hardest,” he said, “is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property.” His comments have attracted a wide range of criticism.

First of all, the mayor of New York City, the financial capital of the world, complaining about capitalism is much like the mayor of Los Angeles complaining about the entertainment industry holding his town back. If not for the centuries long embrace of private property rights in New York City, de Blasio would be mayor of an impoverished fishing village. Second, his indictment of private property seems to stop just short of trespassing his own. There is nothing stopping de Blasio from handing his multiple rental properties over to the New York City government, yet these rental properties continue to net him thousands of dollars every month.

But as out of touch and hypocritical as his statement may have been, it serves as a valuable reminder of what is really behind the current “socialist moment” within the Democratic Party. The media has made cult heroes of left wing radicals like Bernie Sanders, who are hard at work trying to create new generation of socialist extremists by extolling the virtues of failed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and New York representative elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. De Blasio attributes this radical energy to a “socialistic impulse” in communities of people seeking “things to be planned in accordance” to their needs.

There is an impulse, but it is not socialistic. It is tyrannical, and it is not new. This tyrannical impulse lives within all of us. The desire to set ourselves apart and write special rules for others is the dark side of human nature. It is that immutable impulse, which ever leads men and nations toward ruin, that our Founding Fathers set out to harness and neutralize with the Constitution. They knew no power on earth could turn people into angels. So they consciously devised a political system of divided government and dispersed powers, and cultivated an economic system of free market capitalism, anchored in equal individual property rights.

De Blasio is absolutely right that the great threat to his ideological goals are private property and the rule of law that protects it. What really frustrates him is that in America, everyone else enjoys the same rights he does. That is the real story about the lament of the New York City mayor, and the reason that boomlet socialism is enjoying a surge on the left.

Despite what “fake news” tells you, there is nothing populist about socialism. It has never empowered the “little guy.” In socialist systems, the little guy always ends up in bread lines or behind bars.



November Jobs Report: 155,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment Steady at 3.7%

The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in the month of November and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, according to Department of Labor (DOL) data released Friday. Wages hit 3.1 percent growth over a year in November, the first time in nearly a decade that wages have broken the 3 percent benchmark. Wage growth held steady at 3.1 percent through November from a year before.

The 3 percent benchmark has not been hit in year-over-year wage growth since April 2009. The increase in wages is an effect of the historically tight labor market as employers offer better pay to attract workers, The Wall Street Journal reported.



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)