Friday, December 21, 2018

A South African who styles himself as "Rational Thinker" is critical of many claims about IQ

He is not a scientific thinker however. He starts out by describing something as a lie without any prior presention of evidence to support that characterization.

He then describes a claim as "refuted" without giving any information about how, when, where and why this refutation took place.

He goes on to say that the clain of lower average IQ among blacks whern compared with whites is "discredited".  Again: When and by whom?

The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede a big inborn gap in black vs. white average IQ.  See here

By this stage I think it is obvious that the screed below is simply an abusive ramble by an egotist who "just knows" what the truth is without recourse to a proper consideration of the evidence.  So much further consideration of his assertions is unlikely to shed any light on anything.

The thing that seems to be burning him up most is the claim that atheists are smarter than religious people, so I will close with a comment on that.  I have looked at the survey evidence on that on a number of occasions so I will summarize by saying that atheists DO test out as slightly more intelligent on average but that difference is fairly clearly due to sociological factors rather than psychological ones. A university environment in particular tends to undermine religion.  See here and  here and here and here and here.

So it would really help our knowall writer if he were to acquire some Christian humility about the veracity of his beliefs.  His existing beliefs certainly should go back into the hole where they belong

One of the major lies preached by atheists is that "atheists are more smarter" than theists. In support of this nonsense, they cite research from Richard Lynn, John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg which compares belief in God and average IQs in 137 countries.

The research has been heavily criticized as well as refuted since its publication by most scientists but this unfortunately doesn't stop atheists from still using it. 

Firstly Helmuth Nyborg is not a good researcher. This is a researcher who attempted to say that women were less intelligent than men and that black people were less intelligent than white people. These sexist and racist "theories" having long been discredited in modern science.

His research on atheists being more intelligent was highly flawed in several areas in that it did not take into account the social, economical or financial factors with most of the countries with lower intelligence being less developed African countries.

  Artificial Intelligence researcher Randy Olson concludes in his criticism of the research that both the religious and atheist in the well developed countries were all within the bounds of average intelligence (90-109) and from a practical point, none were well distinguishable from another.

When we examine the research we find that this is the case so all in all the paper failed to prove that atheists were more intelligent and only showed what was a well known fact for ages: that poorer countries have higher numbers of religious as religion serves as a source for comfort for those struggling.

The poor intelligence meanwhile in these countries is down to these countries not having education. So to rephrase this entire paragraph: when the religious in the same countries as the "smarter atheists" were compared, they were of the same intelligence as the atheists. 

When examining the statistics, we find that atheists aren't more intelligent, in fact, according to The Psychology of Atheism, many atheists became atheist for motivational reasons rather than rational reasons during their adolescence suggesting a link between emotional thinking and atheism. (Source The Psychology of Atheism [2013]. Oxford Handbook of Atheism Page 470) This seems to be reinforced by the fact that many atheists use emotional arguments to support atheism (i.e "bad things happen in the world ergo god doesn't exist").

Finally, studies have shown that Christians in East Asia are smarter than non-Christians there. East Asian countries also have an higher IQ on average to western countries (where the majority of atheists in the first study came from). So if we go by the atheist reasoning we can now say that Christians are smarter. Either way the myth of the smarter atheist has been put back into the hole it belongs.



Dinesh D’Souza Mocks Michelle Obama For ‘illiterate and incoherent’ College Thesis Following Her Condescending Remarks About World Leaders

She is just another dumb ...

Conservative filmmaker and noted Obama critic Dinesh D’Souza touched the third rail of American politics this week when he dared to criticize Michelle Obama.

In a display of just how arrogant and condescending the Obamas are, the former first lady spoke about how the world’s power players are “not that smart” during an event with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in London earlier this month.

“I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of,” Obama said. “I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

The observation prompted D’Souza to respond on social media, pointing to Obama’s “illiterate and incoherent” college thesis.

He tweeted: “Anyone who has read Michelle’s college thesis—a document so illiterate and incoherent that it was written, as Christopher Hitchens put it, in “no known language”—will chuckle heartily at this one.”

In another tweet, D’Souza dinged Obama’s alma mater, Princeton University, as well as her thesis: “By way of context for these remarks on smartness, I offer you Michelle’s Princeton senior thesis, a complete intellectual embarassment not just to her but also to Princeton.”

Think what you will of D’Souza’s criticism of the former first lady, who is revered on the left, but one thing appeared to be certain, based on the reactions to his tweet, the thesis was really bad:

"I've read that thesis and your assessment is correct. It is painfully obvious that affirmative action as well as legacy afforded her entrance into the university but failed to educate her"

"Yes...I read it. It's something one would expect from a high school junior learning to properly document sources. It was full of documented sources but none of her own work. Very substandard work for an undergrad let alone a grad student."

"I read her Princeton University thesis. It's written like an average high school sophomore or junior level thesis from about fifty years ago. Of course it passes for higher education these days."



Secretive Antifa leader is a boiling cauldron of hate

This is the weed who thinks he is better than all of us

Smash Racism DC organizer Jose Martin, also known as “Chepe,” is a radical communist and Antifa leader operating in the U.S. He advocates for the violent overthrow of the government and for the murder of the rich and claims to have international involvement in left-wing movements.

Smash Racism DC is the Antifa group that protested in front of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s house and berated Sen. Ted Cruz at a restaurant until he and his wife were forced to leave. It’s only one of the Antifa leader’s radical left-wing projects.

But the agitator has made great efforts to separate his fanatical personas from a third identity, his legal name: Joseph “Jose” Alcoff. Under that identity, the 36-year-old has worked as a payday campaign manager for Americans for Financial Reform since 2016, where he advocates for reforms of predatory loans before members of Congress.

Alcoff left nearly no connections between his real identity and Jose Martin and Chepe, but a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation of public records, social media posts, media reports, books, protest videos and podcasts dating back to 2004 found that all three identities are actually one person, posting online from the Twitter handle @Sabokitty.

He has used his Jose Martin identity to make public appearances to promote socialism, once calling for a society without police. But his communist Chepe alias makes his Jose Martin identity seem moderate, using it to advocate for violence to achieve his goal of eliminating capitalism and the U.S. government.

Alcoff, who’s been involved in radical movements for decades, seeks to create “a world that is without capitalism, without private property … that is socialist and communist,” he’s said as Chepe.

He’s been an organizer for left-wing movements such as Occupy Wall Street; has close ties to left-wing legal groups such as the National Lawyers Guild; has conducted legal trainings for protesters as a member of Cop Watch; and has frequently appeared on mainstream and far-left media to discuss his radical vision for society.

The Department of Homeland Security has classified Antifa groups’ tactics as “domestic terrorist violence.”

Meanwhile, in his professional capacity as Alcoff, he’s been quoted in press releases from Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and appeared at an event with Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia outside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in March and has been pictured alongside Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.

Alcoff rose to prominence in Antifa circles as Chepe during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, where his leadership earned him the title “King Communist,” a co-host of the progressive podcast Radio Dispatch joked in 2012.

Smash Racism DC is the Antifa group that posted Carlson’s address online and sent a mob to his house in November. “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” the protesters chanted.

The DC police are treating the incident as a “suspected hate crime,” according to a police report. The mob spray painted an anarchy symbol on Carlson’s highway and left signs on his property that made reference to his political affiliation. The investigation is ongoing.

The Antifa group was also responsible for chasing Cruz, a Texas Republican, out of a D.C. restaurant in September and sent the senator the message: “You are not safe. We will find you. We will expose you. We will take from you the peace you have taken from so many others.”

Alcoff claimed on Twitter he had no involvement with the mob at Carlson’s house, though he frequently interacts on Twitter with Smash Racism DC co-founder Mike Isaacson, who said on his blog that he had advanced knowledge of the mob action at Carlson’s house.

The mob tactic also appears to align with statements Alcoff has made in the past. “We have got to dispense with nonviolence,” he said as Chepe on Radio Dispatch in December 2016 during a discussion on how to approach those he perceives as fascists.

“You have to expose them and you have to expose where they live, their names, what they do for a living,” he added. “Never let them be anonymous, and never just push their rhetoric without directly countering it.”

Alcoff has been arrested at least twice in connection with his radical brand of activism. He was arrested in New York City in 2004 during demonstrations outside the Republican National Convention. He was let off with a pledge to behave and one day of community service, according to USA Today.

Then, as a member of Anti-Racist Action, Alcoff was arrested and charged with rioting in New Jersey after a clash in the streets with a neo-Nazi group in 2011.

Alcoff typically uses his Jose Martin persona for appearances in mainstream media. Under this alias, he’s been cited as a Chicago Copwatch organizer and as an Occupy Wall Street organizer, as well as an unofficial organizer for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The significant efforts Alcoff takes to separate his true identity from his radical personas appear to be intentional, and his comments become more extreme when he has more anonymity. Through his Twitter account, which he’s managed to keep anonymous, Alcoff has said that Antifa organizations need to operate “both an above board group and a below one.”

Operating groups within the bounds of the law is necessary to “get press” and “to have a base of support,” while underground groups are necessary so activists can’t be “linked by prosecutors or press,” he wrote. Alcoff said to avoid too much overlap between lawful and unlawful groups “to keep the press from blowing the open secret.”

Much more HERE


It's now total war on Trump

Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but scorning the Washington establishment produces even greater anger.

The establishment’s full fury has been unleashed against Donald Trump and is not about to subside until its goal is reached: the removal of the president from office, either through impeachment or defeat in the 2020 election.

If there were more than the kitchen sink to throw at Trump, the establishment would be throwing it. The latest is the hyping of private money paid to two women by Trump’s disgraced lawyer, Michael Cohen. The women claim it was money to keep them quiet over alleged affairs with him.

Behavior that was tolerated, or overlooked, by previous presidents is now grounds for indictment and impeachment, says the establishment.

Members of Congress who claim Trump violated campaign finance laws by making personal payments to these women are mostly silent about a $17 million congressional fund out of which have come payments in unknown amounts to settle sexual harassment cases.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., used “office money” (translation, taxpayer dollars) to settle a sexual harassment case against him. He was eventually forced to resign.

Beyond the sideshow that has rapidly become center stage in Washington is the question of where the country is headed. There is a school of thought which claims Trump is the “last man standing” against a wave of socialism that would be sweeping the nation were it not for him.

That view was expressed Monday by Rush Limbaugh on his radio program, which is a go-to source for many conservatives. Limbaugh responded to an email he received from a listener:

His point is, this is all worth it. The alternative to Donald Trump was unacceptable—Hillary Clinton and the continuation of the Obama agenda and the dilution of the United States of America as a sovereign nation and a continuation of its becoming a member of the global conglomerate—where there wouldn’t be any debate about climate change; we would just pay up. Where there wouldn’t be any debate about open borders; we would just keep them open. Where there wouldn’t be any debate about whatever American culture or society is. It would be whatever the socialists said it was going to be.

Limbaugh’s concern is that Trump voters might “go wobbly” and that if the president’s approval numbers dip into the 30 percent range we might see a replay of what happened to Richard Nixon when a delegation of Republican members of Congress visited the White House and told Nixon his support had evaporated, subjecting him to likely impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate.

Some congressional Democrats have said impeachment may not be their priority come January. Forty-six incoming House Democrats have sent a letter to their leadership asking that the focus be on legislation, not investigations of Trump. That is not likely to play well to the Democrat base, which smells blood and wants Trump’s head.

The key for conservatives, and especially Trump’s loyal base of evangelical Christians, is how much more of this are they willing to take before Trump becomes an embarrassment to them, to their agenda and even their faith? Evangelicals, especially, are paying a price for their dismissal of Trump’s past behavior and present tweets, which are becoming increasingly nasty.

A little humility would be especially helpful to Trump, but that might appear insincere and beyond his capabilities. One thing is certain: The establishment won’t give up in its daily pursuit of his destruction.



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 20, 2018

Melania Notices Non-Verbal Military Child in a Wheelchair, Establishment Media Ignores What Happened Next

You probably missed it in the deluge of anti-Trump news this week, but first lady Melania Trump is making some waves on social media for the way that she approached a non-verbal military child in a wheelchair at a Toys for Tots toy drive.

According to The Daily Caller, the event happened Tuesday during the first lady’s visit to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., as part of a tour of two military installations and an aircraft carrier.

After Melania gave some remarks in a hangar, addressing military children and their parents, she helped roughly 100 kids sort toys for needy children into boxes.

“The scene was chaotic, with little children grabbing the toys and running to the other side of the hangar to put them in boxes. The children were yelling and running around in wild excitement. In the midst of the chaos, Melania could be seen regularly stopping and kneeling down to help a confused child — or to answer any question they had,” The Daily Caller reported.

In the midst of the holiday fray, Melania took a little bit of time out to help a special needs child by the name of Braydon.

 No one in establishment media will show you this story - since they don't care about good news from this admin & orange man bad - but this week @FLOTUS knelt down & engaged a non-verbal military child in a wheelchair.

Braydon is seen making hand motions, presumably to communicate with her. The video shows the first lady talking with him for about a minute and a half before moving on.

In a statement to The Daily Caller, Braydon’s mom said that the 12-year-old was thrilled to meet the first lady. “He is so happy to meet Melania and how he says he is hungry from the excitement,” she said, adding that it was an “honor.”

The first lady will also be donating something other than her time for children in need.

“The First Lady will be gifting 100 books to the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. Since starting in 2008, the program has distributed over 39 million books to less fortunate children, helping to reduce the illiteracy rate among children,” the Office of the First Lady said, according to The Daily Caller.

“Mrs. Trump will also be giving ‘Be Best’ totes filled with a coloring book and White House candies to all the children that will be helping out at the drive.”



I’m a restaurant employee in a city with a $15 minimum wage; here’s how it’s hurt me

Simone Barron

Upon winning back a majority in the House of Representatives, Democratic leaders have thrown their support behind a $15 federal minimum wage. But across the country in Seattle where I work, the promised utopia of a $15 minimum wage is far from a reality.

I have worked in the full-service restaurant industry for nearly 33 years in several cities across the country, including Chicago and Indianapolis. For the past 17 years, I’ve worked as a tipped employee in Seattle. Currently, in Seattle, the minimum wage is $15 and will rise to $16 starting next year. One would expect my income to rise with these wage increases. Instead, I’m actually watching my income drop.

Let me start off by explaining why my industry is a little different. Seattle is one of just a few of locales in the country that doesn’t allow for tips to count towards hourly wages. What this means is that the pressure all businesses are feeling from a $15 wage minimum is magnified for full-service restaurants.

Since most restaurants work off slim profit margins — between 3 and 5 percent — each increase in labor costs makes it harder to operate. This forces restaurant owners to make tough decisions such as reducing hours, eliminating staff positions, or even closing altogether.

As a $15 minimum wage went into effect in Seattle, some restaurants made the decision to change their tipping models. My employer took away tip lines and switched to a service charge model in order to keep his restaurants sustainable for as long as possible. This has reduced my income substantially, because the 14 percent I receive from a service charge is far less than the 20 percent I used to receive in tips.

This model has also changed my job from an art of professional service to a standard sales job; now, it’s less about how I use my skills to maximize my income and more about selling you the most expensive item on the menu to maximize the service charge. With tipping, I used to work four shifts a week, and I made enough money to raise a son, pay my rent, and go to school. Now, thanks to the $15 minimum wage, I work six days a week just to make ends meet.

I’m not the only tipped worker who’s been significantly harmed by rising minimum wages. I have many friends who have lost jobs because of Seattle’s minimum wage increase. One of my friend’s restaurants had to leave Seattle because the owner could no longer sustain the city’s high labor costs. Another friend's restaurant closed down entirely because the owner could no longer make the numbers work.

I understand the typical arguments for legislating higher wage rates. I especially understand it in Seattle, where the cost of living is incredibly high. But there’s no free lunch. Under our minimum wage increase, tipped workers are losing income and moving backward to $15 an hour. Right now, I’d happily trade my gig in Seattle for the golden days in Indianapolis, a so-called “low wage” market where I earned more and was both more financially secure and happier.



Explaining the Left, Part V: Left vs. Right Is Brain vs. Mind

Dennis Prager
When I talk to young people, I try to offer them what I was offered when I was their age but is rarely offered today: wisdom. I was given wisdom largely because I went to a religious school — a yeshiva, a traditional Jewish school in which the long day (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) was divided between studying religious subjects (in Hebrew) and secular subjects (in English).

With the increasing secularization of society, less and less wisdom has been conveyed to young people. One particularly obvious example is most secular people, especially on the left, believe human beings are basically good. It is difficult to overstate the foolishness of this belief. And a belief it is: There is no evidence to support it, and there is overwhelming evidence — like virtually all of human history — to refute it. Jewish and Christian kids who study the Bible know how morally flawed human nature is by the age of 10.

Another thing I tell young people — which, if they take seriously, will make them immeasurably wiser, finer, happier and more productive — is life is a daily battle between the brain and the mind. The brain wants an ice cream sundae; the mind knows too many sundaes will make a person overweight and eventually diabetic. Similarly, the brain (especially that of the male) wants sex with anyone it finds attractive; the mind knows the trouble doing so will likely lead to.

The brain is instinctive and feelings-based; the mind is thoughtful and can be reason-based. Tragically, since the 1960s, the brain — i.e. feelings and instincts — has been valued far more than the mind.

That explains why for 40 years, I have asked high school seniors which they would save first if both were drowning, their dog or a stranger, and only one-third have voted to save the stranger. Their reason? They love their dog, not the stranger. The brain over the mind. Feelings over thought (not to mention transcendent values).

On the most important issue in human life, determining what is right and what is wrong, the brain (feelings) has triumphed over the mind (reason and values). At least two generations of Americans have been raised not with moral instruction but with the question “How do you feel about it?”

Almost every left-right disagreement in American life can be explained by the brain-mind conflict. The brain is led by what feels good, the mind by what does good. And leftist positions feel good.

It feels good to allow anyone who wants to enter America to do so. But if America is worth preserving, the mind understands that the right policy cannot be determined by feelings.

It feels good to keep expanding government so it can provide more and more people with benefits. But the mind recognizes this is a recipe for disaster because people become addicted to benefits, and because the government assumes greater and greater debt it will not be able to repay.

It feels good to lower admissions standards to enable more blacks to enter prestigious colleges. But the mind knows it doesn’t help blacks — on the contrary, it hurts the many of them (as it does students of any ethnicity and race) who are not prepared for the academic demands of prestigious colleges.

One of the oldest and most fundamental Jewish teachings is that every human being has two competing impulses — the “yetzer ha-tov,” the impulse to do good, and the “yetzer ha-ra,” the impulse to do bad. When I was a young man, one of the leading rabbis of the last generation, Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, told me something that changed my life. “Dennis,” he said, “I have become pretty good at keeping my yetzer ha-ra in check; it’s my yetzer ha-tov that gets me into trouble.”

Even when propelled to do good, we cannot be guided by feelings.

It’s not only the human being that is driven by the conflict between feelings and reason. So is America.



Gallup: Americans Say No. 1 Problem is 'Government,' No. 2 is 'Immigration'

A new survey shows that the "top problem" cited by Americans is "government," and the second top problem is "immigration." For contrast, among the issues seen as least problematic for Americans are "unemployment-jobs" and "gun control/guns."

In the survey, conducted by Gallup after the midterm elections, the polling firm asked Americans about the country's top problems and then listed those issues that were "mentioned by at least 3% of respondents."

Nineteen percent of respondents cited "government" as the problem, making it the top issue of concern. In second place came "immigration," cited by 16% of the respondents. However, when broken down politically, 29% of Republicans said immigration is a problem but only 7% of Democrats said the same.

Only 8% of respondents said "unifying the country" was a problem, and only 3% said unemployment-jobs and then gun contol/guns were a problem.

Also, only 5% said "healthcare" was a problem.

"These data come from a Gallup Dec. 3-12 survey, conducted as a looming budget impasse between Republicans and Democrats threatened to shut down the government," reported Gallup. "The government has commonly been cited in recent years as the most important problem facing the country, with the problem having received or been tied for the most mentions -- 22 times in the last 24 months."

"As another potential partial shutdown of the Federal government approaches, government is again mostly likely to be cited by Americans as the most important problem facing the country," said Gallup.  "However, the current level noting government dissatisfaction is still below the 25% who cited the issue in January of this year, a few weeks prior to the last time the Federal government faced a shutdown. That shutdown ended after three days."



FDA Policies Kill

Walter E. Williams

Among the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's responsibilities are approval and regulation of pharmaceutical drugs. In short, its responsibility is to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs. In the performance of this task, FDA officials can make two types of errors — statistically known as the type I error and type II error. With respect to the FDA, a type I error is the rejection or delayed approval of a drug that is safe and effective — erring on the side of over-caution — and a type II error is the approval of a drug that has unanticipated dangerous side effects, or erring on the side of under-caution.

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

It's an entirely different story if FDA officials err on the side of over-caution and either disapprove or delay the approval of a drug that is both safe and effective. In that case, the victims will be invisible. They will have no idea that their suffering could have been eliminated, or in the case of death, their loved ones will have no idea why they died. Their suffering and/or death will be chalked up to the state of medicine rather than the status of an FDA drug application. Their doctor will simply tell them there's nothing more that can be done to help them. The FDA officials go scot-free.

Let's look at some of the history of the FDA's erring on the side of over-caution. Beta blockers reduce the risk of secondary heart attacks and were widely used in Europe during the mid-1970s. The FDA imposed a moratorium on approvals of beta blockers in the U.S. because of their carcinogenicity in animals. Finally, in 1981, the FDA approved the first such drug, boasting that it might save up to 17,000 lives per year. That means that as many as 100,000 people died from secondary heart attacks waiting for FDA approval. Those people are in the "invisible graveyard," a term to describe people who would have lived but died because the cure that could have saved them was bottled up in the FDA's regulatory process.

Today, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute is leading the battle to bring some sanity and compassion to the drug approval process. It recently published a paper by Mark Flatten, titled "Studied to Death: FDA Overcaution Brings Deadly Consequences." Flatten examined the FDA's approval process and made some important recommendations. Flatten criticized some FDA practices, saying, "Instead of having to prove a new treatment is safe for its intended use, the FDA now reviews drugs based on how they might be used by doctors to treat individual patients, effectively substituting the judgment of agency regulators for that of practicing medical professionals." He added: "Instead of proving a drug achieves the medically beneficial results that its makers claim, the FDA requires proof the new treatment will improve long-term outcomes. So it is no longer enough, for instance, to prove a new drug will reduce blood glucose levels for diabetics. Drugmakers must show, somehow, that this will make patients live longer."

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

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

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



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 19, 2018

Some prophecy that is looking good

On 30 April, 2012 I asked "Where has that inflation gone?"  I reproduce below the answer I gave then. The answer did contain some predictions so one might ask how have those predictions worked out?  I give below the original predictions folowed by a 2018 update:


Something of a puzzle to many commentators is that Obama's vast money printing binge has not produced rapid inflation. A greenback buys less than it used to -- particularly overseas -- but not spectacularly less.

Jerry Bowyer wisely remarks that it often takes a long time for an influence to work its way through the system and he is undoubtedly right so that is clearly part of the story.

But I think the major factor is a straightforward example of what economists call the "velocity of circulation" effect. Price inflation is a product of the amount of money on issue multiplied by its velocity of circulation and the velocity of circulation has fallen precipitously just as the money supply has increased -- the one influence largely cancelling out the other.

My apologies for introuducing a bit of economic jargon into a general political blog but I have been puzzled that none of the discussions of the matter that I have seen have mentioned the role of the velocity of circulation. Perhaps it is just that other writers have better manners than I do.

To make amends, let me put up a somewhat oversimplified version of my suggestion: Most of the money Obama has issued is just sitting still in the reserves of banks, other financial institutions and major companies. It is not being spent or lent out. Its velocity of circulation is nil. It might as well not exist as far as the economy as a whole is concerned.

And because of general nervousness that is not going to change soon. But if and when it does change the party will really be on -- a party for everyone except people who have savings.

Let me suggest a scenario. Suppose Romney is elected and fires all the Obama cronies running the EPA and other business-obstructing agencies. That suddenly gives everybody more confidence in doing business. So the banks start lending again and businesses with reserves start using their reserves to expand. The money starts flowing again. The velocity of circulation rises. There is now a greater demand for resources: both labour and capital goods. People might even start building new houses again. For a little while that greater demand for resources will be met from presently idled resources: Unemployed people will get employed and shuttered mines and manufacturing facilities will reopen. So everyone will be having a party.

But parties like that tend to feed on themselves and breed yet more optimism -- and so the demand for resources will soon go beyond what can be met by reactivating idled resources. With the money now flowing again, prices will be bid up as everybody wants a piece of the action. And an expanded volume of money chasing a relatively fixed resource base can only lead in one direction -- to price rises. Inflation will be underway. How far it will go is anybody's guess but with everybody now using the extra money that Obama has created, it could be a whopper of an inflationary process. What a greenback will buy could easily drop to (say) half of what it will buy today.

So Romney will inherit Obama's inflation and will probably be blamed for it. And savers will rightly feel utterly betrayed by the political system that has cut the value of their savings in half. "Spend it while you can" will become the new wisdom. My personal hint: Put most of your savings into blue-chip company shares NOW. I did so long ago.

2018 UPDATE: I am writing this update in December 2018 so it is still early days yet but we do seem to be seeing some of the effects under Trump that I predicted for an incoming conservative administration.

A great boom has unquestionably arrived and is reactivating idled resources. Coal and steel production are headlined as up but the striking transformation is in the labor market. All slack there seems to have been taken up. Previously intransigent sectors -- blacks, Hispanics and the over 50s -- suddenly seem to be back into full employment. Labor markets have become so tight that employers have been forced into their last ditch strategy,

Employers are now competing for the available workers. And how do you do that? Offer higher wages. The Trump economy is at last producing higher wages for many American workers. So the process of bidding up prices has already begun. That must to some extent flow through to consumer prices but how far we have yet to see. How far it goes will be interesting, to say the least.

The banking sector is yet to show any sign of exuberance. They were heavily burned in the recent past (2008 etc) so caution may now be entrenched in them. If so, a big inflationary explosion could be avoided -- JR


Pocohontas comes clean

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren admitted on Friday that she is not a person of color, despite recently seeking to prove that she has Native American ancestry.

In October, Warren released a DNA test in an attempt to combat President Donald Trump’s many attacks on her alleged Native American ancestry. The test results showed that she has a Native American ancestor “in the range of 6–10 generations ago.”

But during a commencement address at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday, Warren made clear that she does not consider herself a person of color.

“I’m not a person of color. And I haven’t lived your life or experienced anything like the subtle prejudice, or more overt harm, that you may have experienced just because of the color of your skin,” Warren admitted.

Warren’s attempt to prove that she had Native American ancestors was condemned by minority leaders, including the Cherokee Nation, who called her use of a DNA test “inappropriate.”

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship,” the Cherokee Nation said in a statement. “Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation.”

Warren has been identified as a minority and a person of color multiple times in her past, including in her professional career. A 1997 Fordham Law Review article, for example, identified Warren as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.” (RELATED: Harvard Law School Once Touted Liz Warren As Native American Professor)

Warren later admitted that she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory from 1986-1994, but claimed she was not using it to advance her career or employment options.



Is Health Care a Right?

Recently, a federal judge ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care ACT (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. Of course, there are the usual suspects who are expressing their angst. However, a simple lesson in civics would evidence their blatant incompetence.

First, let’s go back to when sitting Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Roberts authored the majority decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare. At first, Chief Justice Roberts stated that Obamacare was not consistent, constitutional, when assessed against the Commerce Clause of our Constitution. The Commerce Clause basically states that the federal government can regulate commerce and trade between the United States and other countries, between the states, or with the tribal nations. At no point does the Constitution grant an enumerated power to the federal government to force commerce activity between an individual citizen and a private sector commodity.

This all centered on the Obamacare individual mandate, which “mandated” citizens purchase health care insurance or face a penalty, a tax. And therein lies the bait and switch of Chief Justice Robert’s decision. He voted that under the enumerated power of taxation, Obamacare was constitutional. But what has happened since is that the individual mandate tax has been repealed. Therefore, if the taxing authority has been repealed, then based upon the commerce clause, Obamacare is indeed unconstitutional. The federal government does not possess the enumerated power to force individual citizens (the individual mandate) to purchase a private sector commodity. Also, Obamacare was passed in an unconstitutional manner. The individual mandate tax was introduced in the U.S. Senate, then under control of the Democrats. Anyone that knows a little about the Constitution and Article I powers, knows that measures that deal with revenue generation, taxation, must originate in the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Senate.

Now of course, the progressive, socialist left is hopping mad and about to go into a next-level apoplectic meltdown. To them, the rule of law is meaningless. They only care about the rule, but if their ideas are so good, then why are they always accompanied with mandates?

The left did a phenomenal job this past election cycle in making health care a preeminent issue. And the GOP, as usual, lacked any coherent response. It all comes down to the premise that the left is very adept at using: arguing that health care is a right. When the GOP is confronted with that suggestion, they run, cower, and respond with the same old tired incoherent blather. The answer is no, health care is not a right. But the left is always chirping about your right to health care being taken away from you. The right response is that it was never a “right” for progressive socialists to bestow upon individual Americans anyways.

What the left is so very good at is convincing the American people that the progressive, socialist ideological agenda is based upon rights. You know, the right to free college education, the right to a home, the right to kill unborn babies, and the right to be married. For whatever reason, the left does not comprehend that we are endowed by our Creator, not them, with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Oddly enough, these things that our founding documents state are rights, are not considered rights by the leftists when it comes to their agenda. The Second Amendment is clear and simple to understand, but not to the left. The freedom of religion seems simple, but your religious rights have no meaning when it is up against the left’s desires, mandates. Your individual right to free speech has no validity, unless your speech is acceptable to the progressive, socialist left. And yes, I could go on.

What the left believes is that they can guarantee happiness. And they will mandate it in order to do so -- and for your own good.

If Obamacare is such a great idea, then why does it have to have mandates, under the penalty of taxation? That, folks, is what we call behavior modification by way of taxation. And could the day ever come when the progressive socialists will mandate, under penalty of taxation, that Americans buy electric vehicles? In California, the test tube for all things leftist, the government there has mandated that all new houses must have solar panels. I mean, doggone, it is supposed to be YOUR house.

Well, ask yourself, do you REALLY want the federal government mandating your health care decisions?

The progressive, socialist left is now pushing “Medicare for all.” Question: what happens to the seniors for which Medicare was intended? And do we really want the gang that cannot shoot straight with the Veterans Administration health care system, mandating health care for all of us? See, when the progressive, socialist left declares that something is a right – in this case health care – what they really want is control. If you do not believe me, then read HR 676, which is the Medicare for all legislation. This measure makes private health insurance illegal. Yes, that is right. You, the individual citizen, lose your right to choose your health care. But weren’t we told we could keep our doctor and our insurance? This, ladies and gents, is the second tenet of socialism, nationalizing economic production.

What the progressive, socialist left wants you to believe is that in declaring health care a right, they can give it to you. But all they are seeking is to control you, your body. Never forget that one of those agencies that still exists as part of Obamacare is the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board). The IPAB is an unelected group of bureaucrats who will be making all pricing decisions on your “right” to health care.

Ok, I hear you, what should have been done? First, seriously start reducing the fraud, waste, and abuse of Medicare and Medicaid. I would recommend the American taxpayer not be paying for these programs to those here illegally. Second, focus on policy solutions for the so-called “working poor” and use free market solutions such as Health Savings Accounts and tax credits to help with health insurance purchases. We need better competition and less state by state mini monopolies by insurance companies because competition lowers cost. And how interesting it is that the health insurance companies were thrilled about Obamacare. After all, if health insurance is mandated, then everyone must purchase your product. Now, the left is demonizing the health insurance companies.

As a reminder, we have been down this road before. Back during the Carter Administration, there was the Community Reinvestment Act. It basically said that every American had a right to own a home. Well, some thirty years later, in 2008, we had a financial meltdown that was tied back to the mortgage industry.

Remember that maxim that came as a result of the Trojan Horse, “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”? Well, beware of progressive socialists when they say you have a right to something. It never does end up well, just like with the Trojans.



Giuliani Snorts: Trump Has ‘Several Unpaid Parking Tickets’ from 1986-7 ‘That Haven’t Been Explained’

In a somewhat combative interview on two Sunday morning newsmaker shows, President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani used sarcasm to make a point about the special counsel’s ongoing Trump-Russia investigation.

Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” asked Giuliani if Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still trying to arrange an in-person interview with President Trump:

“Yes,” Giuliani said. "There are several unpaid parking tickets that night -- back in 1986, '87 that haven't been explained. You know, we've got to –"

“Seriously?” Wallace interrupted.

“Seriously, unpaid parking tickets--” Giuliani started to say, as Wallace said, "No, no, no."

“It was a movie theater,” Giuliani continued. “He didn't pay the proper fee.”

Wallace asked again if Mueller wants to do a sit-down interview with Trump:

“Yes, good luck. Good luck,” Giuliani said. “After what they did to Flynn, the way they trapped him into perjury and no sentence for him -- 14 days for Papadopoulos. I did better on traffic violations than they did with Papadopoulos.”

“So, when you say good luck, you're saying no way, no interview?” Wallace asked.

"They're a joke," Giuliani replied. "Over my dead body, but you know, I could be dead.”

A bemused Wallace asked Giuliani once again, “Do they want to speak to the president?”

“I do have -- I do have other lawyer -- I am disgusted with the tactics they have used in this case,” Giuliani said, changing the subject. “What they did to General Flynn should result in discipline. They're the ones who are violating the law. They're looking at a non-crime collusion, the other guys (Southern District of New York) are looking at a non-crime campaign violations, which are not violations. And they are the ones who are violating the law, the rules, the ethics and nobody wants to look at them.”

Giuliani also told Wallace that even if Trump did direct Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two women, "It's not a crime."

But Giuliani said Trump did not know about the payments arranged by Cohen "until some time into it. He did find out about it and eventually reimbursed him."

Giuliani said Trump is telling the truth and Cohen is lying. "The man is a complete pathological liar that cannot be believed."

On ABC's "This Week," Giuliani again slammed Michael Cohen for saying that Trump directed him to pay hush money: "The man is pathetic. That's a lawyer you were interviewing, and he says he -- oh, he directed me to do it and, oh my goodness, he directed me. He's a lawyer. He's the guy you depend on to determine whether or not you should do it this way or that way, whether you're Donald Trump or you are me or you."

Host George Stephanopoulos told Giuliani that Cohen was saying Trump knew the payments were wrong but directed Cohen to make them anyway:

"Well, the president said that's false," Giuliani responded. He noted that Cohen himself has said that he made the payments on his own, and later went to Trump for reimbursement.

"OK, now he says the opposite. You're going to tell me which is the truth? I think I know what the truth is. But unless you're God, this man -- you will never know what the truth is. He lies to fit the situation he's in."

Giuliani said the payments arranged by Cohen to keep two women quiet just before the election were not campaign contributions:

“It's not a contribution if it's intended for a purpose in addition to the campaign purpose," he said. "I can produce an enormous number of witnesses that say the president was very concerned about how this was going to affect his children, his marriage, not just this one but similar -- all those women came forward at that point in time, that -- that tape with Billy Bush and all of that. It's all part of the same thing. And I know what he was concerned about and I can produce 20 witnesses to tell you what he was concerned about."



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 18, 2018

Are American evangelicals fading away?

The text I reproduce below is only part of a very long-winded article in Newsweak (Yes. They still exist).  I have reproduced what seems to me to be the central element of the article.

I read a lot of Leftist articles -- mainly for entertainment at their usually transparent duplicity.  And many of those articles are very long winded.  And the more longwinded they are the more they are covering up holes in their argument.  So I soon became very suspicious of this one.  And I was right to be so.  Their basic claim is that many young evangelicals are leaving their church and will therefore stop voting GOP.

You see the first problem right there.  It may be true that some young people will BOTH leave their church AND stop voting GOP but  how many do both?  We are not told.  Many may leave their church but still vote GOP.  To a Newsweak writer that is apparently an unthinkable thought.

Also unmentioned is that many evangelical churches have a strong outreach that brings many previously unbelieving or uncommitted people into the fold. Could outreach replace with older people the lost young people?  We are not told.

I do not dispute that young people often abandon the religion of their parents.  It is a familiar phenomenon.  But WHICH young people fall away?  In the year 2000, ten million evangelicals voted for Al Gore.  Could those parents be the ones whose children fell away?  Again, we are not told.  It could be that the children of wishy washy evangelicals went on to a stricter sect as a revolt against their wobbly parents.  I certainly don't claim that they all did that but it would nonetheless be interesting to know where the fallen-away youth went.

Clearly, however, we need some reliable statistics if we are to conclude what is going on.  And the article has quite a few statistics obtained from Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which he founded. Public opinion polls appear to be the principal output of the PRRI.

As soon as I saw the name "Public Religion Research Institute", I smelt a rat.  I smelled a Leftist outfit aiming to "get" Christianity.  And so it is.  It has extensive Leftist affiliations.  And we know how much care Leftists have about the truth.  "All the news that is fit to slant" could well be their motto.

And the PRRI do slant it.  Read here some details of their modus operandi in an article by Stanley Renshon, a distinguished and sophisticated social scientist.  I could add to Renshon's criticisms but I don't have time to flog a dead horse.

Leftists really are amazing the way they live in an  eternal present.  As psychopaths do, if they can see some immediate advantage in being dishonest, they will engage in that dishonesty  -- regardless of the fact that the dishonesty will eventually be detected and undermine their credibility forever.

One is reminded of Harry Reid abolishing the filibuster to get a few Obama appointees on to the lower courts -- enabling the appointment of two very conservative Justices to SCOTUS a couple of years later: A disaster for his party.  No foresight whatever displayed.

So the whole article is a castle built on sand. PRRI polls just prop up Leftist beliefs and are of no interest to others.  We have no reason to expect that evangelicals will fade away

Since the 1970s, white evangelicals have formed the backbone of the Republican base. But as younger members reject the vitriolic partisanship of the Trump era and leave the church, that base is getting smaller and older. The numbers are stark: Twenty years ago, just 46 percent of white evangelical Protestants were older than 50; now, 62 percent are above 50. The median age of white evangelicals is 55. Only 10 percent of Americans under 30 identify as white evangelicals. The exodus of youth is so swift that demographers now predict that evangelicals will likely cease being a major political force in presidential elections by 2024. And the cracks are already showing.

In the 2018 midterms, exit polls showed, white evangelicals backed Republicans by 75 to 22 percent, while the rest of the voting population favored Democrats 66 to 32 percent. But evangelicals were slightly less likely to support House Republicans in 2018 than they were to support Trump in 2016—which may have contributed to the Democrats’ pickup of House seats. Trump’s support actually declined more among white evangelical men than women. The 11-point gender gap between evangelical men and women from 2016 shrank to 6 in the midterms.

To be sure, evangelical Christians have been rewarded for their support of Trump after enduring eight years wandering in Barack Obama’s political desert. They have two new conservative Supreme Court justices, and there have been nine self-professed evangelical Cabinet members, plus a flurry of laws and executive orders clamping down on gender roles, abortion and LGBTQ rights. But experts say this may represent the last bounty for a waning political power. Unlike their parents, the younger generation is not animated by the culture wars; many are pushing for social justice for migrants and LGBTQ people and campaigning against mass incarceration—positions more in line with the Democratic Party.

The result is a shrinking conservative bloc, something that could weaken white Christian political power—and, consequently, a Republican Party that has staked its future on its alliance with the religious right. It’s a conundrum that the father of modern GOP conservatism, Barry Goldwater, predicted in 1994: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem.”

The End of the Alliance?

The association of the religious right and the Republican Party has its roots in the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, after which white Southerners began to flee public schools following forced desegregation. They opened so-called segregation academies: religious schools that were tax-exempt. When the IRS came after evangelical colleges like Bob Jones University, which officially prohibited interracial dating, the schools were faced with losing their tax-exempt status.

That would have meant financial doom. But a Republican activist named Paul Weyrich—with patronage from Western segregationist beer billionaire Joseph Coors—forged alliances with Southern religious leaders like Jerry Falwell and successfully lobbied to soften IRS enforcement. The Moral Majority was born, and, in 1980, it announced itself as a political force by helping put Ronald Reagan in the White House. Republican strategists used the issues of abortion and gay marriage to cement the union and drive right-leaning Christians into the voting booth.

The relationship remained strong for decades, with evangelicals becoming a reliable bloc of GOP support. Since 2000, they have regularly made up about a quarter of voters—outperforming their much smaller percentage of the population. And, despite prognostications from political scientists about the imminent death of the evangelical-Republican partnership, they’ve kept casting ballots. In 2016, they were a key group for Trump; the thrice-married, foul-mouthed mogul with a history of sexual assault allegations won more than 80 percent of the evangelical vote— besting even George W. Bush, a born-again Christian who spoke openly about his faith.

But demographic trends are steadily diluting their outsize clout. Researcher Robert Jones, author of The End of White Christian America, has tracked what he calls a “stair-steps downward trajectory of white Christian presence in the electorate.” In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, 73 percent of the electorate was white and Christian. By 2012, that number was 53 percent. “If current trends hold steady, 2024 will be a watershed year—the first American election in which white Christian voters do not constitute a majority of voters,” Jones, who heads the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), tells Newsweek.

Until a decade ago, white evangelicals were the exception, their numbers holding steady. But their ranks are now dwindling, driven largely by the youth exodus. According to Jones, white evangelicals constituted 21 percent of the U.S. population when Obama was elected in 2008. Eight years later, in 2016, that number dropped to 17 percent. Today, they make up 15 percent of Americans.

Concerned about the shrinking numbers and the prospect of a lackluster turnout in the midterms, Trump rallied about 100 evangelical supporters in the White House this past summer. If Republicans lose control of Congress, he told them, Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they’ll do it quickly and violently.” He pushed pastors to use the power of their pulpits to get more people to the polls. “I hate to say it,” Trump said, “if you were a stock, you’d be, like, you’re very plateaued.”

White evangelical political organizers got the message. Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition pledged to spend $18 million to microtarget 125 million conservative voters before the midterms. Other faith groups engaged in a get-out-the-vote drive across the country. An organization associated with former Arkansas Governor (and Baptist pastor) Mike Huckabee, called My Faith Votes, spent $3.5 million aimed at getting evangelicals to the midterms polls and threw in a Facebook Live session with Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for good measure. The Colorado-based Dr. James Dobson Family Institute ran a national “Pray. Engage. Vote.” initiative in the lead-up to the midterms.

The result: White evangelicals made up 26 percent of voters in the November elections, with three-quarters of them casting ballots for Republican House candidates. But that performance will be increasingly difficult to replicate, Jones says.

For an analogy, he uses Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’s landmark “stages of grief” experienced by the dying and their loved ones to describe what’s happening to evangelicals and American politics. First comes denial, then anger, followed by bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“We are past denial. People see the writing on the wall in terms of demographic change. And that is also why we see immigration taking over and becoming the flagship issue. That and a wall symbolize the resistance to this demographic change,” Jones says. “I think we are somewhere between anger and bargaining. And in many ways, this shotgun marriage between Trump and white evangelicals happened under some duress and is a desperate bargain that you make at the end of life. That is what we’re really seeing here.”

Disaffected Youth

To understand what’s happening among evangelicals, researchers study the results of PRRI’s annual, wide-ranging, 80,000-interview American Values Atlas poll. In the most recent survey, from 2017, 40 percent of individuals under 30 claim “no religious affiliation” (sometimes called “the nones” ). “White evangelicals are a big part of that decline,” Jones says.

Respondents cited not believing in the doctrines and, surprisingly, politics. “They cite partisanship,” Jones says. “That’s a big turnoff for young Americans. And so is negative treatment of gay and lesbian people.”

Polls find that upward of 80 percent of young people now support same-sex marriage. That number includes young Republicans and evangelicals under 30. “Even people like me, a white male with a lot of societal privilege, can see that evangelical leaders are completely happy to join forces with white nationalist politicians and leaders and to give them the benefit of the doubt while they are attacking marginalized communities,” says Chastain. “And that’s just blatantly hypocritical.”

He and other exvangelicals in his social networks are also turned off by the Trump alliance. “The fact is that leaders like [Dallas megachurch leader and Trump supporter] Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr. are blatantly power hungry and willing to make these alliances, providing a theology that supports white nationalism.”

Some major evangelical leaders and thinkers, not surprisingly, reject this assessment. Ed Stetzer, a political scientist and pastor based at Wheaton College, knows all about the predictions of researchers like Jones, and he is aware of the views of young people. But he sees evangelical youth attrition as a kind of demographic sowing of wild oats, in which the young are predictably disaffected—but only temporarily. He is sure they will return to the fold when they are a little older. His name for the phenomenon is “generational cohort replacement.”

Stetzer says the young who move away from the fold essentially replace themselves in the church as an older, and more likely to vote, category. “The 18 to 29-year-olds are really secular now,” he says. “But what we find is that people grow in their religiosity. So the 60-year-olds of today are kind of as religious as the 60-year-olds in the 1970s.”



Is the U.S. Political System Really Biased?

Are attacks on the Senate, electoral college etc justified?

Major electoral reform is in vogue right now. Particularly from the left, calls for massive changes to the Senate, perhaps even its abolition, abound. The Electoral College is roundly loathed. House elections are condemned as hopelessly gerrymandered. We are made to believe that any mismatch between the popular vote and the results of an election is a threat to the very legitimacy of the American system and, implicitly, a kind of embarrassment to the country.

What is lacking, however, is any actual comparison to how things are done in other countries — and any analysis of what has changed since the days when the Left wasn’t complaining. And when we look at the evidence on how the American constitutional system is performing, we find that the U.S. looks pretty good compared with other countries or its own recent past.

House Elections Are Just as Democratic as Similar Races in Other Countries

We are sometimes given at least a few benchmarks, however. Some left-leaning critics compare the American system today to apartheid elections in South Africa. In those elections, massive gerrymandering, voter suppression, and disenfranchisement allowed a narrow clique of voters to control elections and oppress a dissenting majority.

So, is it the case that American elections are as lopsided as apartheid-era elections in South Africa?

The graph below provides a comparison. For U.S. House elections and South African legislative elections, it shows the gap between the winning party’s share of legislative seats won and that party’s share of the national popular vote. I’ll refer to this as the “representation rate” in the figures for simplicity. (This is a metric  often used by critics of the U.S. system, though elections experts note that as a party’s popular-vote share rises above 50 percent, its seat share typically rises faster even in the absence of gerrymandering.) I use House elections because they are frequent and national, but will discuss Senate elections later.

As can be clearly seen, apartheid South Africa had a power mismatch two to five times the size of the one we see in the United States. The American experience simply has no meaningful resemblance to apartheid South Africa’s electoral imbalance.

But of course, the mismatch of votes and seats isn’t the only complaint against American elections today, or of South African elections during apartheid. In South Africa, non-whites were systematically locked out of participation. Many progressives claim the same about the United States, and particularly that GOP states try to implicitly or explicitly disenfranchise many voters.

We can do a crude test of this theory by switching from a party’s share of votes cast as our benchmark, to a party’s votes as a share of national population. I’ll refer to this gap as a country’s “democratic deficit” in the figures. This is skewed of course by age composition and the presence of noncitizens, but it’s a useful enough first pass. If the gap between the share of seats won and the share of the population that voted for a party is larger, that means a narrower slice of the population is ultimately in charge of the country. Here, the difference between the U.S. and apartheid South Africa becomes even clearer.

The difference between share of seats won and the share of the population to have voted for the winning party was enormous in apartheid South Africa. Voters amounting to about 3 percent of the population were able to capture about 60 percent of the legislature. That is what a dysfunctional, non-democratic system looks like: a 57-point gap. Critics of the American system should keep a little bit of perspective in mind.

In the U.S., at the absolute worst in recent history, voters representing 14 percent of the [whole] population captured 60 percent of the House seats. That was in 1974, when Democrats took 291 seats in the House. Indeed, whichever metric you use, the last 20 years have seen a considerably more “accurate” outcome for the House than the 20 or 30 years before that when Democrats held durable control. It is convenient, then, that Democrats have finally woken up to the mismatch between votes cast and seats won.

Of course, “not as bad as apartheid South Africa” is a really low bar. The point progressives are really trying to make is that nobody in respectable countries, such as Canada, or Sweden, or Germany, would ever tolerate our terribly undemocratic system.

But it turns out that comparing ourselves with other developed countries still doesn’t make the United States look very bad. Here’s the same metric as the first graph (share of lower house seats won minus share of popular vote for lower house elections), for a wider range of countries:

Simply in terms of lopsided favoritism for winners, many other developed countries actually are as bad as apartheid South Africa was. The United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Italy have all seen elections give the kind of lopsided results that were observed under apartheid. The U.S. isn’t the best of all democracies, but we are nowhere near the worst. And if current results from the 2018 elections hold up, they will have been one of the closest approximations of the national popular vote we have ever had (2006 and 1994 also saw very close approximations).

In fact, the United States has substantially less lopsided lower-house elections than most countries have. Whatever our gerrymandering problems may be, the political system of, for example, France, is far more dysfunctional. Macron’s party won nearly 60 percent of the legislative seats with just 40 percent of the vote. Trudeau’s Liberals in Canada aren’t much better: They won about 55 percent of seats with about 40 percent of the vote. Of course, a country with proportional representation, such as Sweden, does better, but even then there’s still a gap due to threshold rules and other idiosyncracies of the election system. Indeed, the U.S. election system tends to produce outcomes very close to those observed under proportional representation in Sweden, especially in the 2018 election.

When we turn to look at share of seats minus share of total population won, the story gets even more interesting.

Here, it becomes clear that the U.S. does perform a bit less democratically than peer countries do. A smaller share of the total population ultimately votes for the winners. We can also see what made apartheid elections so unusual: not the gerrymandering, but the extraordinarily low electoral participation. Because turnout is lower in the U.S. than in many foreign countries, our political victors tend to have received votes from a smaller share of the population.

But again, the U.S.’s position here is at worst a mediocrity, not a catastrophe. Our winners tend to have a relatively smaller base for their mandate than do politicians in Germany or Sweden, and recently the U.K. But still, the gap between share of population won and share of seats won is larger in France and Japan than in the United States, and our outcomes are very comparable to those of our near neighbor Canada.



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 17, 2018

Unsheltered In the Land Of Plenty

Thousands live in the streets in America’s richest cities. The article below offers only a superficial grasp of why -- and offers only the tired old "solution" of more government spending.  Unleashing liberty would however make a big difference -- without a penny of government spending.  As ever, the basic problem is one of government regulation.

An immediate start could be made by abolishing all land-use regulations so you can buy a farm or other lightly used land and build houses on it, without more ado. In SanFrancisco, local regulations prohibit that.  Opening up new land for housing anywhere near SF is almost impossible.  Result:  Scarcity of housing drives costs sky high. Either to buy or rent is prohibitive in SF.  In Houston, by contrast, there is very little land use regulation and prices are much lower than in SF.

And the second most effective change would be to stop treating tenants like saints and landlords like devils.  When a tenant "skips" without paying rent or leaves property damage behind it should be treated as just another theft -- which it is.  It leaves the landlord as out of pocket as if he had been mugged.  So tenant offenders should be pursued and prosecuted by the police.  And the government should show that it is in general on the side of landlords

The present lopsided system is very deterring to potential landlords because of the risk of big losses involved.  If potential landlords had more protection from ferals, many would enter the market -- many who are at present rightly scared off.  I know.  I was a landlord in my younger days and did get burned on several occasions -- but fortunately in only minor ways.  Even for me, however, it eventually became too much so I sold off my rental houses and now own just the house I live in.

Another bugbear is building regulations.  There is a great list of things you must and must not do in building a house that greatly increase costs and reduce flexibility.  High density accommodation like the old terrace houses is now very hard to get approved in most places -- even though such houses could be built more cheaply than freestanding homes.  And regulations about how many people can be allowed to live in a given house are also strict.  But many people would rather live in a crowded house than live in the streets.

So deregulation would reduce the cost to buy, and  full legal rights for landlords would fill more and more houses with low-income tenants.

The headline of the press release announcing the results of the county’s latest homeless census strikes a note of progress: “2018 Homeless Count Shows First Decrease in Four Years.” In some ways that’s true. The figure for people experiencing homelessness dropped 4 percent, a record number got placed in housing, and chronic and veteran homelessness fell by double ­digits. But troubling figures lurk. The homeless population is still high, at 52,765— up 47 percent from 2012. Those who’d become homeless for the first time jumped 16 percent from last year, to 9,322 people, and the county provided shelter for roughly 5,000 fewer people than in 2011.

All this in a year when the economy in L.A., as in the rest of California and the U.S., is booming. That’s part of the problem. Federal statistics show homelessness overall has been trending down over the past decade as the U.S. climbed back from the Great Recession, the stock market reached all-time highs, and unemployment sank to a generational low. Yet in many cities, homelessness has spiked.

It’s most stark and visible out West, where shortages of ­shelter beds force people to sleep in their vehicles or on the street. In Seattle, the number of “unsheltered” homeless counted on a single night in January jumped 15 percent this year from 2017—a period when the value of Amazon. com Inc., one of the city’s dominant employers, rose 68 percent, to $675 billion. In California, home to Apple, Facebook, and Google, some 134,000 people were homeless during the annual census for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in January last year, a 14 percent jump from 2016. About two-thirds of them were unsheltered, the highest rate in the nation.

At least 10 cities on the West Coast have declared states of emergency in recent years. San Diego and Tacoma, Wash., recently responded by erecting tents fit for disaster relief areas to provide shelter for their homeless. Seattle and Sacramento may be next.

The reason the situation has gotten worse is simple enough to understand, even if it defies easy solution: A toxic combo of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people. According to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored housing giant, the portion of rental units affordable to low earners plummeted 62 percent from 2010 to 2016.

Rising housing costs don’t predestine people to homelessness. But without the right interventions, the connection can become malignant. Research by Zillow Group Inc. last year found that a 5 percent increase in rents in L.A. translates into about 2,000 more homeless people, among the highest correlations in the U.S. The median rent for a one-bedroom in the city was $2,371 in September, up 43 percent from 2010. Similarly, consultant McKinsey & Co. recently concluded that the runup in housing costs was 96 percent correlated with Seattle’s ­soaring homeless population. Even skeptics have come around to accepting the relationship. “I argued for a long time that the homelessness issue wasn’t due to rents,” says Joel Singer, chief executive officer of the California Association of Realtors. “I can’t argue that anymore.”

Homelessness first gained national attention in the 1980s, when declining incomes, cutbacks to social safety net programs, and a shrinking pool of affordable housing began tipping people into crisis. President Ronald Reagan dubiously argued that homelessness was a lifestyle choice. By the mid2000s, though, the federal government was taking a more productive approach. George W. Bush’s administration pushed for a “housing first” model that prioritized getting people permanent shelter before helping them with drug addiction or mental illness. Barack Obama furthered the effort in his first term and, in 2010, vowed to end chronic and veteran homelessness in five years and child and family homelessness by 2020.

Rising housing costs are part of the reason some of those deadlines were missed. The Trump administration’s proposal to hike rents on people receiving federal housing vouchers, and require they work, would only make the goals more elusive. Demand for rental assistance has long outstripped supply, leading to yearslong waits for people who want help. But even folks who are lucky enough to have vouchers are increasingly struggling to use them in hot housing markets. A survey by the Urban Institute this year found that more than three-quarters of L.A. landlords rejected tenants receiving rental assistance.

It’s not bad everywhere. Houston, the fourth-most-populous city in the nation, has cut its homeless population in half since 2011, in part by creating more housing for them. That’s dampened the effect of rising rents, Zillow found.

Efficiency can go only so far. More resources are needed in the places struggling the most with homelessness. McKinsey calculated that to shelter people adequately, Seattle would have to increase its outlay to as much as $410 million a year, double what it spends now. Still, that’s less than the $1.1 billion the consultants estimate it costs “as a result of extra policing, lost tourism and business, and the frequent hospitalization of those living on the streets.” Study after study, from California to New York, has drawn similar conclusions. “Doing nothing isn’t doing nothing,” says Sara Rankin, a professor at Seattle University’s School of Law and the director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project. “Doing nothing costs more money.”



Trump Makes Unscheduled Visit To Honor Fallen Soldiers During ‘Wreaths Across America’ Event

President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to honor America’s fallen as thousands across the country laid wreaths on veterans’ graves.

Trump paid his respects as volunteers for ‘Wreaths Across America‘ waited in long lines to place a Christmas wreath on the tombs of America’s greatest heroes. The event, which is held every December, aims to “remember, honor, and teach” about those who served, and perished, fighting for America’s freedom. In addition to Arlington National Cemetery, Wreaths Across America Day is observed at more than 1,400 cemeteries in all 50 states, as well as at sea and abroad.

The president made the surprise visit to the military cemetery roughly an hour after the wreath-laying event began. He walked through the grounds and viewed firsthand, in the rain and wind, the tributes that were given to America’s veterans.

Trump faced criticism in November for not attending a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day and later admitted that despite attending a memorial service for World War I soldiers in Paris, France, the day earlier, he should have also gone to Arlington on the federal holiday.

“As you know, I just left the day before the American Cemetery, and I probably think — and that was one where it was raining as hard as you can imagine, and I made a speech at the American Cemetery the day before, and I probably —  you know, in retrospect I should have,” Trump said at the time. “I did last year, and I will virtually every year.”

Trump praised Wreaths Across America organizers and the volunteers for their dedicated and honorable work in the gloomy weather. “They do a great job, a really great job,” Trump said during his visit. “Thank you.”



LOL: Trump Just Cancelled The White House Christmas Party For The Press -- And Reporters Are Pissed

President Donald Trump canceled the White House Christmas party for the press and liberal reporters are not happy about it.

According to Fox News, the annual gathering was often something many in the media looked forward to attending.

But with so many in the media constantly attacking and being hostile toward the president, it appears Trump isn’t going to spend the evening wining and dining them on taxpayer dollars.

Several liberal journalists lashed out and complained on Twitter about Trump’s decision.

Here’s more from the Fox News report:

The annual Christmas-season gathering was a significant perk for those covering the White House, as well as other Washington reporters, anchors and commentators, and New York media executives would regularly fly in for the occasion. At its peak, the invitation-only soirees grew so large that there were two back-to-back events, one for broadcast outlets and one for print organizations. Journalists who attended the events, which featured a catered buffet of lamb chops, crab claws and elaborate desserts, got to roam the decorated mansion with a spouse or other family member, a friend or a colleague, adding to the invitation’s allure.

But the biggest fringe-benefit was the picture-taking sessions, in which the president and first lady would patiently pose with guests and briefly chat with them in front of a Christmas tree, with the White House sending out the photos — copies of which were invariably sent home to mom. This would take a couple of hours, with long lines snaking across the building’s first floor. Bill Clinton even posed for pictures with journalists days after he was impeached.



Democrats and Racial Division

They now play the race card in every hand —because often it works

Democrats are taking racial politics to new heights—and no wonder, since the tactic has again succeeded. This week [black] Republican Senator Tim Scott said he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr, tapped for a federal judgeship in North Carolina. Senator Jeff Flake is voting no to showcase his opposition to Donald Trump, and the two GOP defections are enough to torpedo Mr. Farr’s appointment this year.

Mr. Scott cited legal work that Mr. Farr performed decades ago for North Carolina’s then-Senator Jesse Helms. After the 1990 election, the Justice Department accused Helms of trying to intimidate black voters by sending a postcard claiming that people who recently moved were ineligible to cast ballots. Mr. Farr defended Helms in the matter. But he told the Senate last year that he wasn’t consulted on the postcard’s content and didn’t know it had been sent until Justice sent a letter to the campaign.

A 1991 internal Justice memo, published this week, says that Mr. Farr, who also had coordinated “ballot security” for Helms in the 1984 election, discussed the idea of sending some kind of postcard in 1990, but that he counseled against it. Nonetheless, Mr. Scott said Thursday that the memo “shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities” and “created more concerns.”

There’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of Mr. Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican. But Democrats will see Mr. Farr’s defeat as a vindication of their most underhanded and inflammatory racial tactics.

Consider a second complaint against Mr. Farr: that the North Carolina Legislature retained him to defend its 2013 voter-ID law. “This is a man who stands for disenfranchisement of voters, particularly minority voters,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week. In a letter last year, four members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote that in Mr. Farr the White House could hardly have found a nominee “with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights.”William Barber II, a former leader of the North Carolina NAACP, called Mr. Farr “a product of the modern white supremacist machine.”

This is racial demagoguery. The North Carolina law, in addition to requiring voter ID, shortened early voting to 10 days from 17 and eliminated same-day registration. A liberal federal appeals court struck down these provisions in 2016, saying they “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” But many states have similar rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court might have upheld North Carolina’s, as it did Indiana’s ID requirement in 2008. But things got complicated after North Carolina narrowly elected a Democratic Governor and Attorney General in 2016. They jumped in, asking the High Court not to intervene. In turning down the case, Chief Justice John Roberts specifically cited “the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in this Court under North Carolina law.”

So the appeals court’s decision stands, aiding the Democratic narrative that any attempt to increase ballot integrity is a racist plot. A nice counterpoint is Florida’s recount debacle this year: After Broward County couldn’t locate about 2,000 ballots, Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes offered the reassurance that they were “in the building”—somewhere. Democrats reportedly circulated an altered form to fix faulty absentee ballots, on which the due date had been changed to extend it past Election Day. Ballot integrity?

In 2005 a bipartisan commission on election reform, led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, endorsed the idea of a photo-ID requirement. “Voters in nearly 100 democracies use a photo identification card without fear of infringement on their rights,” the report said. The commission also said that ballot integrity is “a hallmark of democracy.” Was Jimmy Carter harboring racist motivations?

Another case of trying to rile up racial division was this week’s Senate runoff in Mississippi. Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was assailed for using a clumsy joke to flatter one of her supporters. “I would fight a circle saw for him,” she said. “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

The national media portrayed this as a coded reference to Jim Crow-era lynchings, which is ludicrous. Many press accounts omitted the “circle saw” line, making the comments appear less jocular. Several companies, including Google and Major League Baseball, asked Mrs. Hyde-Smith to return their campaign donations. Mrs. Hyde-Smith won the election anyway, but the attacks will go on.

In Florida, some supporters of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, are saying he lost because he is black. But even among black voters, the progressive Mr. Gillum underperformed by four percentage points Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who also lost. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams blamed her gubernatorial defeat on “systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence,” despite massive turnout for a midterm election.

For two years, Democrats have denounced President Trump’s rhetoric as divisive, and sometimes they’ve been right. Yet they’re also only too happy to polarize the electorate along racial lines, insinuating that Republicans steal elections and pick judges who nurse old bigotries. That tactic now appears to have sunk Mr. Farr’s nomination, which is a shame. The only way to discourage these unmoored racial attacks is to ensure they don’t work.



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