Friday, January 18, 2019

Who has more compassion, Democrats or Republicans?

Meri T. Long is a junior academic at the University of Pittsburgh whose research interest is compassion --  so her conclusions are of more than usual interest.  Her conclusion that liberals and conservatives are equally compassionate in their personal values is certainly not what you would expect from Democrat rhetoric.

She notes however that voters react to the rhetoric of their party leaders. A lot of talk about compassion leads followers to express more support for policies their party leaders say is compassionate.  So that does rather explain why Republicans are sometimes seen as less compassionate. They are not in fact less compassionate in themselves but are seen as that by supporting rhetoric from conservative leaders which rejects claims that Leftist policies (such as the very problematical Obamacare) have compassionate outcomes

A major caveat to her findings, however is that she seems to study attitudes only.  That is easy to do but there is a long-known and wide gap between attitudes and behavior.  And on the behavioral front it is always found that conservatives are the big charitable donors.  If deeds count, it is conservatives who are most compassionate

It’s a common refrain of American voters: How can your party be so heartless?

Democrats want to know how Republicans can support President Donald Trump’s policy of separating babies from refugee families. Republicans want to know how Democrats can sanction abortion. But does either party really care more about compassion?

In my research into the public’s support for a variety of government policies, I ask questions about how compassionate someone is, such as how concerned he or she is about others in need.

These questions are integral to understanding how people feel about who in America deserves government support.

Some people are more compassionate than others. But that doesn’t break simply along party lines.

I find that Democratic and Republican Party voters are similar, on average, thus busting up the cliche of bleeding-heart liberals and uncaring conservatives.

Then there are Trump voters.

Compassion is defined by many psychology researchers as concern for others in need and a desire to see others’ welfare improved.

The similarity in compassion among voters of both parties contrasts with other measures of personality and worldview that increasingly divide Republicans and Democrats, such as values about race and morality.

Republicans are not less compassionate than Democrats, but my research also shows that there is a stark divide between parties in how relevant an individual’s compassion is to his or her politics.

Public opinion surveys show that you can predict what kind of policies a more compassionate person would like, such as more government assistance for the poor or opposition to the death penalty.

But for most political issues, the conclusion for Republicans is that their compassion does not predict what policies they favor. Support for more government assistance to the poor or sick, or opinions about the death penalty, for example, are unrelated to how compassionate a Republican voter is.

In my work, I find that the primary policy area where compassion is consistently correlated to specific policies for conservatives is abortion, where more compassionate conservatives are more likely to say they are pro-life.

When Democratic voters say they are compassionate, you can predict their views on policies.

They’re more supportive of immigration, in favor of social services to the poor and opposed to capital punishment.

Yet, while Democrats may be more likely to vote with their heart, there isn’t evidence that they’re more compassionate than Republicans in their daily lives.

When it comes to volunteering or donating money, for example, compassion works the same way for Republicans and Democrats: More compassionate voters of either party donate and volunteer more.

My research suggests that voter attitudes about the role of compassion in politics are shaped not only by personal philosophy, but by party leaders.

Political speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders vary in the amount of compassionate language they use.

For instance, political leaders can draw attention to the needs of others in their campaign speeches and speeches on the House or Senate floor. They may talk about the need to care for certain people in need or implore people to “have a heart” for the plight of others. Often, leaders allude to the deserving nature of the recipients of government help, outlining how circumstances are beyond their control.

Democratic politicians use compassionate rhetoric much more often than their Republican counterparts and for many more groups in American society than Republican leaders do.

Do citizens respond to such rhetoric differently depending on what party they affiliate with?

When their leaders use compassionate political language, such as drawing attention to other people’s suffering and unmet needs as well as the worthiness of the groups in need, Republicans in experiments are actually moved to be more welcoming to immigrants and to support state help for the disabled.

This explains how Republican voters responded positively to Republican Sen. Robert Dole’s campaign for the rights of the disabled in 1989. It also explains the success of presidential candidate George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” in 2000, which one Washington Post columnist wrote “won George W. Bush the White House in 2000.”

It also suggests that it’s not necessarily the public, but the party leaders, who differ so significantly in how relevant they believe compassion should be to politics.

Despite political rhetoric that places them at opposite ends of the spectrum, Republican and Democratic voters appear to be similarly compassionate.

Democrats view compassion as a political value while Republicans will integrate compassion into their politics when their leaders make it part of an explicit message.

There is a caveat to this: I asked these survey questions about personal feelings of compassion in a 2016 online survey that also asked about choice of president.

The survey was conducted a few days after Republican presidential primary candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio had dropped out of the race, making Donald Trump the only viable Republican candidate for the nomination.

In their responses to the survey, a large percentage of Republican voters said they would rather vote for someone other than Trump, even though he was the unofficial nominee at that point.

The Republican voters who didn’t support Trump were similar to Democrats on the survey with respect to their answers about compassion. Their average scores on the compassion items were the same. This is in line with the other survey data showing that liberals and conservatives, and Republicans and Democrats, are largely similar in these personality measures of compassion.

But Trump supporters’ answers were not in line with these findings.

Instead, their average responses to the broad compassion questions were significantly lower. These answers showed that Trump supporters were lower in personal compassion.

While a lot of the Republican voters in the sample may well have gone on to support Trump in the general election, the survey respondents who were early adopters of candidate Trump might continue to be his most steadfast supporters today.

We know that public officials’ rhetoric can influence public opinion on political issues. This leads to another important question: Can political messages influence how much people value compassion more generally? Or even how compassionate people consider themselves to be?

The research indicates that appeals to compassion — if made by trusted leaders — should work for voters of both parties.

But it also indicates that if such messages are absent, compassion is less likely to be seen as important in politics and the positions people and parties take.



Leftist policies increase INequality

One of the favorite avocations of left-wing politicians is denouncing ‘income inequality’ and simultaneously proposing socialist tax schemes that have left a string of European governments in various states of economic collapse. The latest? Junior Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, recently called for a Francois-Hollande-style 70 percent marginal tax rate cloaked in an entirely unoriginal climate change proposal.

The primary argument from borderline-socialist Democrats is that their pet policy proposals – taking more of your money, regulating more of your business, and maintaining a monopoly on your children’s education – produce a less stratified income ladder, and that this is desirable. While the second assertion is debatable depending on your philosophical views, the first assertion is an outright falsehood. Claiming liberal policies reduce inequality and conservative policies perpetuate it makes for good campaign fodder, but it is liberal strongholds across the country that boast the highest levels of inequality.

The Gini coefficient is a statistical distribution measure used to calculate levels of inequality, and topping the list of states highest in inequality is nonother than New York State. Four of the six states highest in inequality boast liberal policies – New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Four of the six states lowest in income inequality are governed by conservative policies – Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Granted, there is some variation, as New Hampshire and Hawaii are also in the top six. Looking at the issue from a city-level perspective, the Brookings Institution admitted that inequality was highest in cities mired in Big Government including, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The researchers noted that cities with relatively low levels of income inequality are concentrated in the South and West. The least unequal city? Mesa, Arizona, dubbed ‘America’s Most Conservative City’ by Politico for its predominantly Christian populace and business-friendly regulatory structure.

An important aspect of income inequality is educational inequality, and unfortunately for left-wing states like California and New York, their record here is equally bleak. While California and New York are two of nineteen states with a higher percentage of college graduates than the national average, they are also ranked No.1 and No. 3 respectively for their shares of adults who never completed ninth grade. CNS News noted that California’s number of adults who never finished even one year of high school is larger than the entire populations of 15 other states. One solution to help California and New York reduce their vast educational and income disparities? Offer school choice options to low-income students like Florida did, and increase their likelihood to graduate and go to college. Dr. Matt Chingos of the Urban Institute found that Florida’s private school choice vouchers increased college enrollment rates by 6 percentage points, or about 15 percent.

Solutions like lowering taxes and increasing school choice have long been discredited by left-wing politicians seeking to justify their reelection bids. However, these policies are actually supported by a broad segment of Americans, not just conservatives.

Market Research Foundation focuses on identifying support for achievable policy issues that benefit American citizens, beyond the constraints of political ideology. We’ve found that when labels like ‘Conservative’ are removed from the conversation, a diverse group of Americans want lower taxes, less regulation, and more control over their children’s education.

Our 2018 survey on First Generation Americans found:

There is near universal support (90%) for reducing individual tax rates.

Seven-in-ten want to see reduced government regulation.

Our 2018 report on African Americans found:

Overwhelming preference for increasing school choice (90% support).

Four-in-five (80%) believe small business is the key to American success and the same number do not trust the government to spend tax dollars.

There is near universal support (93%) for reducing individual tax rates.

An unpopular reality that many on the left are reluctant to acknowledge, is that some level of income inequality is inevitable. Income is based on either contribution of value through market participation, or willingness to take on risk through investment, and people are capable of varying levels of each. A reasonable person with a cursory understanding of both markets and humans won’t seek to eliminate income inequality.

However, there are two key policies that reduce barriers to economic advancement and increase opportunity for all citizens. Foremost among them are increasing educational freedom and reducing burdensome taxes and regulations, both of which are not only popular, but possible.



Politics of Immigration

Walter E. Williams
Here are a couple of easy immigration questions — answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” — we might ask any American of any political stripe: Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do the American people have a right, through their elected representatives, to decide who has the right to immigrate to their country and under what conditions? I believe that most Americans, even today’s open-borders people, would answer “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second.

There’s nothing new about this vision. Americans have held this view throughout our history, during times when immigration laws were very restrictive and when they were more relaxed. Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” gives us an interesting history lesson about immigration at Prager University. It was prompted by his watching a group of protesters who were denouncing President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. They were waving Mexican flags and shouting, “Si, se puede!” (“Yes, we can!”)

Unbeknownst to the protesters, the expression “Si, se puede” was a saying of Cesar Chavez’s. When Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, used the expression “Yes, we can,” he meant something entirely different: “Yes, we can” seal the borders. He hated illegal immigration. Chavez explained, “As long as we have a poor country bordering California, it’s going to be very difficult to win strikes.” Why? Farmers are willing to hire low-wage immigrants here illegally. Chavez had allies in his protest against the hiring of undocumented workers and lax enforcement of immigration laws. Included in one of his protest marches were Democratic Sen. Walter Mondale and a longtime Martin Luther King Jr. aide, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

Peaceful protest wasn’t Chavez’s only tool. He sent union members into the desert to assault Mexicans who were trying to sneak in to the country. They beat the Mexicans with chains and whips made of barbed wire. Undocumented immigrants who worked during strikes had their houses firebombed and their cars burned. By the way, Chavez remains a leftist hero. President Barack Obama declared his birthday a commemorative federal holiday, an official day off in several states. A number of buildings and student centers on college campuses and dozens of public schools bear the name Cesar Chavez.

Democrats have long taken stances against both legal and illegal immigration. In 1975, California Gov. Jerry Brown opposed Vietnamese immigration, saying that the state had enough poor people. He added, “There is something a little strange about saying ‘Let’s bring in 500,000 more people’ when we can’t take care of the 1 million (Californians) out of work.”

In his 1995 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton said: “All Americans … are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.” On a 1994 edition of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declared: “Border control is a federal responsibility. We simply don’t enforce our borders adequately. In my state, you have about 2,000 people a day, illegally, who cross the border. Now, this adds up to about 2 million people who compete for housing, who compete for classroom space.” She added: “In 1988, there were about 3,000 people on Medicaid. There’re well over 300,000 (people on Medicaid) today who are illegal aliens. That presents obvious problems.”

Tucker Carlson has a four-part explanation for the Democratic Party’s changing position on illegal immigration. He says, “One: According to a recent study from Yale, there are at least 22 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Two: Democrats plan to give all of them citizenship. Read the Democrats’ 2016 party platform. Three: Studies show the overwhelming majority of first-time immigrant voters vote Democrat. Four: The biggest landslide in American presidential history was only 17 million votes. Do the math. The payoff for Democrats: permanent electoral majority for the foreseeable future. In a word: power.”



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, January 17, 2019

LEGAL immigration is a big problem too

Some of the dregs of the earth are coming in legally as refugees.  Ron Unz below does us a favour in pointing that out but he also says that illegal immigration is not a problem.  He has obviously not noticed certain caravans.  But what he says about illegal immigration needs to be considered.

I reproduce only a small part of what he says below.  He goes on further at great length to show that Hispanic crime is not particularly high.  Black crime is the big problem, he says.  He is undoubtedly right about black crime but I have crossed swords with him before in 2012 about his use of crime statistics to exonerate Hispanics.  What I said then stands today, I think.

The big problem is that crime statistics, including jail records, are very unreliable for a variety of reasons.  Depending where you look for your figures, hardly any Hispanics are serious criminals or up to a THIRD of Hispanic illegals are serious criminals.

When I pointed that out to Unz he rather surprised me by crumbling. He actually turned to "ad hominem" argument. He said that I did not know what I was talking about because I am  Australian.  Even Greenies and Warmists don't sink to that level in disputing with me.

Nonetheless, I am happy to concede that there is probably something in his claim that the Hispanic crime rate has been exaggerated.  When controlling for all factors involved, raw figures do reduce to something less less stark.

But the debate is not about averages. It is about incidents. The fact that America now has in its neighborhoods vicious Latin American crime gangs like Salvatrucha is surely a matter of serious concern -- as are the many vicious crimes against American women perpetrated by Hispanic illegals.  Without such immigrants none of the crimes concerned would have occurred and many women would be alive today who have been murdered.  With a wall, it is unlikely that such criminals would have got in to the USA -- so a wall is long overdue.  Trump is right to highlight the stream of Hispanic criminals coming in

According to most estimates, the size of America’s undocumented population has been almost entirely stagnant since the 2008 Housing Meltdown wrecked employment in the construction industry, while net legal immigration has still regularly been running at a million or more a year. Therefore, it seems likely that nearly all net immigration over the last decade or so has been of the legal variety.

Despite having been totally “deplatformed” from all normal Internet services, the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer still apparently gets more traffic than all the other Alt-Right websites in the world combined, and its editor, Andrew Anglin, is an ardent Trump supporter. Nevertheless, he recently ran a lead editorial in which he ridiculed the whole “Build the Wall” nonsense, and correctly suggested that all the talk about it was largely due to the totally brainwashed stupidity of most anti-immigration rightwingers:

"We currently have a million people coming in every year through the various “legal” methods who do not leave and are often given citizenship…People are stupid in general, and most simply do not understand that the real threat to America is legal immigration…

The wall is largely a symbolic gesture in the larger scheme of things, and speaks to the absolutely brainwashed nature of the mass of conservatives who believe that legal immigration is “okay.”

I remember before Trump having these conversations in Columbus, Ohio, and hearing people say “it’s the illegals that’s the problem” and replying “well what about all these Somalians?” People would look confused for a minute and then say “aren’t they illegal?”

Hearing them talk about “I just want it to be legal” is infuriating, as they do not have any clear explanation as to why they believe this, and the fact that there is virtually no difference between the two allows liberals to exploit their inability to explain a difference and make them look stupid."

A national policy debate over whether immigration levels are much too high is long overdue. Instead, Donald Trump together with his political advisers and activist allies have sparked a heated battle over whether hordes of Mexican “rapists and killers” are illegally swarming across our border and we must build a wall to stop them. As a direct consequence, the supposedly horrific threat of immigrant and especially Hispanic crime has become a staple theme of rightwing pundits over the last couple of years.

 The climate of “political correctness” enforced upon our journalists and academic scholars on racially-charged issues such as crime tend to suppress any candid discussion of the facts, and in such a climate of silence, wild rumors and misunderstood statistics can easily propagate among ideological groups that have grown highly suspicious of the mainstream media narrative.



Are our life chances determined by our DNA?

In less than two decades, the bid to read the human genome has shrunk from billion-dollar space-race project to cheap parlour game. In 2000, President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, then UK prime minister, jointly announced that scientists had elucidated the three billion letters of the human genome — or discovered “the language in which God created life”, as the US president solemnly phrased it.

In 2018, prompted by opposition goading, the Democrat US senator Elizabeth Warren took a consumer DNA test to prove a strain of Cherokee ancestry. Flashing a sliver of exotic bloodline for political advantage turned out to be a calamitous misjudgment: her actions upset Native Americans, who regard identity and culture as more than a matter of DNA.

Science too is engaged in the same enterprise: to reduce the complexity of human identity to genetics. While we have long known that genes build our bodies — determining eye and hair colour, influencing height and body shape — there is a growing conviction that genes also sculpt the mind. As the cost of gene-sequencing technology has plunged to a few hundred dollars, millions of people have had their DNA sliced and diced by scientists seeking to quantify the genetic contribution to personality, intelligence, behaviour and mental illness.

This is the dark and difficult territory explored by three important books that embody a new zeitgeist of genetic determinism. If DNA builds the brain and mind — the puppetmasters pulling our behavioural strings — then selfhood becomes circumscribed largely by our genes. The idea that we are little more than machines driven by our biology raises a profound conundrum: if the genes we inherit at conception shape personality, behaviour, mental health and intellectual achievement, where is the space for society and social policy — even parents — to make a difference? What of free will?

As might be guessed from its klaxon of a title, Blueprint is unequivocal in stating the supremacy of the genome. “Genetics is the most important factor shaping who we are,” opens Robert Plomin, a behavioural geneticist at King’s College London recognised globally (and reviled by some) for his research into the genetics of intelligence. “It explains more of the psychological differences between us than everything else put together,” he writes, adding that “the most important environmental factors, such as our families and schools, account for less than 5 per cent of the differences between us in our mental health or how well we did at school.”

For decades, Professor Plomin has been using twin and adoption studies to tease out the relative effects of genes and environment. Identical twins share 100 per cent of their DNA; in non-identical twins this drops to 50 per cent (the same genetic overlap as regular siblings). Adopted children share a home environment, but no DNA, with their adoptive parents; and 50 per cent of their DNA, but no home environment, with each of their biological parents.

A careful study of these permutations can point to the “heritability” of various characteristics and psychological traits. Body weight, for example, shows a heritability of about 70 per cent: thus 70 per cent of the differences in weight between people can be attributed to differences in their DNA. Identical twins tend to be more similar than non-identical, fraternal twins; adopted children are more like their biological parents than their adoptive parents.

Breast cancer, widely thought of as a genetic disease, shows a heritability of only 10 per cent. In contrast, it is 50 per cent for schizophrenia; 50 per cent for general intelligence (reasoning); and 60 per cent for school achievement. Last year Plomin claimed that children with high “polygenic scores” for educational achievement — showing a constellation of genetic variants known to be associated with academic success — gained good GCSE grades regardless of whether they went to non-selective or selective schools. His conclusion was that genes matter pretty much above all else when it comes to exam grades.

Even the home, the very definition of “environment”, is subject to genetic influence, he says. If kids in book-filled homes exhibit high IQs, it is because high-IQ parents tend to create book-filled homes. The parents are passing on their intelligence to their children via their genes, not their libraries: “The shocking and profound revelation . . . is that parents have little systematic effect on their children’s outcomes, beyond the blueprint that their genes provide.” His conclusion is that “parents matter, but they don’t make a difference”.

That is not the only seemingly contradictory message. Plomin describes DNA as a “fortune-teller” while simultaneously emphasising that “genetics describes what is — it does not predict what could be”. This caveat is odd, given his later enthusiasm for using genetic testing predictively in almost every aspect of life: in health, education, choosing a job and even attracting a spouse. He suggests, for example, that we could use polygenic scores for schizophrenia “to identify problems on the basis of causes rather than symptoms”.

This vision sounds worryingly like pre-medicalisation. Plomin proclaims himself a cheerleader for such implications but is disappointingly light on the ethical issues. A predisposition might never manifest as a symptom — and besides, “possible schizophrenic” is not the kind of descriptor I would want to carry around from birth.

Plomin admits that cowardice stopped him writing such a book before now; it probably also stopped him from addressing alleged racial differences in intelligence. This is a grave omission, as he is one of the few academics capable of authoritatively quashing the notion. James Watson, the 90-year-old DNA pioneer, recently restated his belief that blacks are cognitively inferior to whites. Those, like Plomin, responsible for fuelling the resurgence in genetic determinism have a responsibility to speak out — and early — against those who misuse science to sow division. (Plomin is writing an afterword for future editions.)

Neuroscientist Kevin Mitchell believes that genes conspire with a hidden factor — brain development — to shape psychology and behaviour. Neural development, he contends persuasively in his book Innate, adds random variation to the unfurling of the genetic blueprint, ensuring individuality, even among identical twins. These special siblings, though clones, rarely score identically for psychological traits. Genes are the ingredients but a lot depends on the oven: “You can’t bake the same cake twice.”

Mitchell, associate professor of neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, explains: “It is mainly genetic variation affecting brain development that underlies innate differences in psychological traits. We are different from each other in large part because of the way our brains get wired before we are born.” Genetic relatives have brains that are wired alike. Thus, we should look to the cranium, not only to chromosomes, to learn how minds are shaped.

Indeed, each of us is a miniature study in how a genetic blueprint can quiver under the influence of random variation, like a pencil tracing that does not conform exactly to the original outline. The genes directing the development of each side of your body are identical — but you are still slightly asymmetrical (put a mirror down the middle of a mugshot and see how weird you look with perfect symmetry). Fascinatingly, identical twins do not always show the same handedness, despite shared DNA and upbringing.

What goes on in that oven, or the brain, cannot be described as environmental — the catch-all term for non-genetic factors — because it is intrinsic to the individual rather than shared. Mitchell labels it the “non-shared environment”, a crucial but overlooked component of innate traits. Once this factor is folded in, “many traits are even more innate than heritability estimates alone would suggest”.

This, he insists, does not close the door to free will and autonomy. Genes plus neural development pre-programme a path of possible action, not the action itself: “We still have free will, just not in the sense that we can choose to do any old random thing at any moment . . . when we do make deliberative decisions, it is between a limited set of options that our brain suggests.” Having free will, he adds, does not mean doing things for no reason, but “doing them for your reasons.” Those include wanting to conform to social and familial norms; unlike Plomin, Mitchell recognises the reality that societies and families can and do make a difference.

While both discuss heritable conditions such as autism and schizophrenia in terms of defective genes, Randolph Nesse turns this thinking on its head. In Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, he asks: why do such disorders persist in the human population, given that natural selection tends to weed out “bad” genes?

Mental illness and psychological ill-health, he theorises, could be the collateral damage caused by the selection, over evolutionary time, of thousands of genes for survival and fitness. Autism, for example, has a well-documented genetic overlap with higher cognitive ability: some biologists now regard autism as a disorder of high intelligence. Once, only the clever survived.

Nesse, who runs the Centre for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, can also explain why life offers mental torment in abundance: “Natural selection does not give a fig about our happiness. In the calculus of evolution, only reproductive success matters.”

Charles Darwin was one of the first to see the similarity in facial expressions between humans and other animals: these hint at a shared evolutionary heritage when it comes to emotions. Jealousy and fear, for example, are thought to promote genetic survival: a jealous man who controls his partner is more likely to end up raising his own genetic offspring, according to the evolutionary scientist David Buss; fear makes us cautious and keeps us alive.

These are indeed good reasons for bad feelings. But extreme jealousy can lead to murder; extreme fear can become debilitating phobia. Panic attacks — an exceedingly common experience — mirror the fight-or-flight response. Anxiety, meanwhile, works on the smoke detector principle: “a useful response that often goes overboard”.

Nesse’s book offers fresh thinking in a field that has come to feel stagnant, even if new therapeutic avenues are not immediately obvious. The prevailing orthodoxy that each mental disorder must have its own distinct cause, possibly correctable through chemicals, has not been wholly successful over the decades. Biologists have also failed to uncover tidy genetic origins for heritable conditions such as schizophrenia and autism, instead finding the risk sprinkled across thousands of genes. Recasting our psychiatric and psychological shortcomings as the unintended sprawling by-products of evolution seems a useful way of understanding why our minds malfunction in the multiple, messy ways that they do. The UK’s Royal College of Psychiatry thinks so: it recently set up a special interest group on evolutionary psychiatry.

Given that natural selection is blind to organisms being happy, sad, manic or depressed, Nesse notes that things could have turned out worse: “Instead of being appalled at life’s suffering, we should be astounded and awed by the miracle of mental health for so many.”



AG Nominee Barr: ‘As We Open Our Front Door … We Cannot Allow Others’ to Crash ‘Through the Back Doors’

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Attorney General nominee William Barr said Tuesday that the U.S. must secure its borders and ensure that its laws “allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter.”

Barr outlined what his priorities would be if confirmed to the top post at the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying that under his leadership, the DOJ “will continue to prioritize enforcing and improving our immigration laws.”

“As a nation, we have the most liberal and expansive immigration laws in the world. Legal immigration has historically been a huge benefit to this country. However, as we open our front door and try to admit people in an orderly way, we cannot allow others to flout our legal system by crashing in through the back doors,” he said.

“In order to ensure that our immigration system works properly, we must secure our nation’s borders, and we must ensure that our laws allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter,” Barr said.

Barr pledged to “diligently implement” the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform measure which was signed into law recently. He said the new law “recognizes the progress we’ve made over the past three decades in fighting violent crime.”

“As attorney general, I will ensure that we will continue our efforts to combat violent crime,” he said. “In the past, I was focused on predatory violence, but today, I am also concerned about another type of violence.

“We can only survive and thrive as a nation if we are mutually tolerant of each other’s differences whether they be differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political thinking, and yet, we see some people violently attacking others simply because of their differences. We must have zero tolerance for such crimes, and I will make this a priority as attorney general if confirmed,” Barr said.



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, January 16, 2019

'Father of DNA' James Watson Stripped of Honors Over More IQ  Comments

The story below shows the incredible power of America's racism hysteria. Its counter-factual beliefs must not be disputed.  Black IQ really is the third rail of political commentary in America. The reality is just too disturbing to face.

Note that NO evidence is mentioned to dispute Watson's claims -- for the excellent reason that Watson's comments are a good summary of the available evidence on the question.  Even the APA has acknowledged a large and persistent gap (one SD) between average black and white IQ and it would itself be floridly racist to say that what is genetic in whites is not genetic in blacks

The acclaimed Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson will be forever remembered as one of the 'fathers of DNA'. But also as something much worse.

In a resurfaced controversy that further dims the shine of one of the 20th century's most esteemed scientists, Watson – awarded the Nobel in 1962 for his role in the discovery of DNA's 'double helix' molecular structure – has been stripped of academic titles after repeating offensive racist views that began to shred his reputation over a decade ago.

After new racist comments by Watson surfaced in the recent PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) – the pioneering research lab Watson led for decades – had finally had enough.

"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions," CSHL said in statement.

"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL… The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice."

In the new documentary, Watson states: "There's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it's genetic."

It's not the first time Watson has come under fire for stating these kinds of beliefs.

In 2007, Watson created a furore after he was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really".

In the same article by The Times, Watson acknowledged such views were a "hot potato", but said that while he hoped that everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Watson later apologised for the comments, but the damage was done.

CSHL relieved him of all remaining administrative duties at the lab, leaving him only as an honorary figurehead in respect of his previous contributions to science. Now, those last accolades are also gone.

"In response to his most recent statements, which effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr. Watson made in 2007, the Laboratory has taken additional steps, including revoking his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee," the CSHL statement reads.

It's an indisputably inglorious end for one of the most glorious career arcs in 20th century science.

While the lesser-known story of Rosalind Franklin's unrecognised contributions to Watson and Francis Crick's famous DNA research are a telling reminder of the struggles women still face to be recognised in science, nobody denies the landmark contributions Watson himself made.

But, sadly, these famous accomplishments – which helped usher in a whole new era of knowledge in molecular biology and genetics – will now forever be linked with the offensive opinions of an old man in decline.

And an old man who, some say, should not be asked such questions any more.

"It is not news when a ninety-year-old man who has lost cognitive inhibition, and has drifted that way for decades as he aged, speaks from his present mind," CSHL Michael Wigler told The New York Times.

"It is not a moment for reflection. It is merely a peek into a corner of this nation's subconscious, and a strong whiff of its not-well-shrouded past secrets."

The last time Watson's racism created such controversy, the scientist ended up selling his Nobel Prize – citing financial issues from the resulting fallout that had rendered him an "unperson".

The buyer actually returned the Prize to Watson as a gesture of respect – but as time and the world moves on, the ageing scientist may find himself running out of such good will.

As for what we can ultimately make of the scientist's legacy, given the ugly shadow that now hangs over his earlier wins, helpful advice may come from a 2014 op-ed in The Guardian written about Watson.

"Celebrate science when it is great, and scientists when they deserve it," geneticist Adam Rutherford wrote.

"And when they turn out to be awful bigots, let's be honest about that too. It turns out that just like DNA, people are messy, complex and sometimes full of hideous errors."



Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks

Dozens of conservative organizations are receiving late Christmas presents years after the IRS handed them a lump of coal.

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

Three of the claimants in the $3.5 million national class-action suit are based in the Badger State.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

Most of the claimants will each receive a check for approximately $14,000, Greim said. Five conservative groups that were integrally involved in the lawsuit get a bonus payment of $10,000 each, the attorney said.

About $2 million of the settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Brandon Scholz, managing director of Wisconsin Small Businesses United, one of the groups receiving a settlement check, said the IRS’ conduct had a “chilling effect” on free speech.

“Shame on those people at the IRS who engaged in putting their foot down on the throats of people who were simply trying to advocate for an issue or express an opinion,” he said. “That stain on the IRS should remain there as a reminder that this should never take place again.”

Consumer Rights Wisconsin is the other conservative organization receiving a settlement check, according to Greim.

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

“At one level, it’s hard to even assess a dollar amount to what they did, it’s so contrary to what we think our bureaucrats in Washington should be doing. It boggles the mind,” Greim said.

In signing off on the agreement in August, federal Judge Michael R. Barrett said the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Greim said the money recovered in the settlement approximates the number of IRS violations involved. “That’s about what the evidence showed,” the attorney said. “We felt like we got about everything we could.”

Originally the class-action included some 400 potential claimants.

Conservative activists are skeptical of the IRS’ public apologies and its pledge to end such targeting practices. “The message is do not let up on the gas pedal. Do not be intimidated,” Scholz said.



At last: V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers, setting the stage for the biggest transformation of the veterans’ medical system in a generation.

Under proposed guidelines, it would be easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers, and would require co-pays for treatment.

Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. A scandal over hidden waiting lists in 2014 sent Congress searching for fixes, and in the years since, Republicans have pushed to send veterans to the private sector, while Democrats have favored increasing the number of doctors in the V.A.

If put into effect, the proposed rules — many of whose details remain unclear as they are negotiated within the Trump administration — would be a win for the once-obscure Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the network founded by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, which has long championed increasing the use of private sector health care for veterans.

For individual veterans, private care could mean shorter waits, more choices and fewer requirements for co-pays — and could prove popular. But some health care experts and veterans’ groups say the change, which has no separate source of funding, would redirect money that the current veterans’ health care system — the largest in the nation — uses to provide specialty care.

Critics have also warned that switching vast numbers of veterans to private hospitals would strain care in the private sector and that costs for taxpayers could skyrocket. In addition, they say it could threaten the future of traditional veterans’ hospitals, some of which are already under review for consolidation or closing.

President Trump, who made reforming veterans’ health care a major point of his campaign, may reveal details of the plan in his State of the Union address later this month, according to several people in the administration and others outside it who have been briefed on the plan.

The proposed changes have grown out of health care legislation, known as the Mission Act, passed by the last Congress. Supporters, who have been influential in administration policy, argue that the new rules would streamline care available to veterans, whose health problems are many but whose numbers are shrinking, and also prod the veterans’ hospital system to compete for patients, making it more efficient.

“Most veterans chose to serve their country, so they should have the choice to access care in the community with their V.A. benefits — especially if the V.A. can’t serve them in a timely and convenient manner,” said Dan Caldwell, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America.

Critics, which include nearly all of the major veterans’ organizations, say that paying for care in the private sector would starve the 153-year-old veterans’ health care system, causing many hospitals to close. [So what?] “We don’t like it,” said Rick Weidman, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America. “This thing was initially sold as to supplement the V.A., and some people want to try and use it to supplant.”

Although the Trump administration has kept details quiet, officials inside and outside the department say the plan closely resembles the military’s insurance plan, Tricare Prime, which sets a lower bar than the Department of Veterans Affairs when it comes to getting private care.

Tricare automatically allows patients to see a private doctor if they have to travel more than 30 minutes for an appointment with a military doctor, or if they have to wait more than seven days for a routine visit or 24 hours for urgent care. Under current law, veterans qualify for private care only if they have waited 30 days, and sometimes they have to travel hundreds of miles. The administration may propose for veterans a time frame somewhere between the seven- and 30-day periods.

Health care experts say that, whatever the larger effects, allowing more access to private care will prove costly. A 2016 report ordered by Congress, from a panel called the Commission on Care, analyzed the cost of sending more veterans into the community for treatment and warned that unfettered access could cost well over $100 billion each year.

Though the rules would place some restrictions on veterans, early estimates by the Office of Management and Budget found that a Tricare-style system would cost about $60 billion each year, according to a former Veterans Affairs official who worked on the project. Congress is unlikely to approve more funding, so the costs are likely to be carved out of existing funds for veterans’ hospitals.

At the same time, Tricare has been popular among recipients — so popular that the percentage of military families using it has nearly doubled since 2001, as private insurance became more expensive, according to the Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes.

“People will naturally gravitate toward the better deal, that’s economics,” she said. “It has meant a tremendous increase in costs for the government.”

A spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Curt Cashour, declined to comment on the specifics of the new rules.

“The Mission Act, which sailed through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and the strong backing of veterans service organizations, gives the V.A. secretary the authority to set access standards that provide veterans the best and most timely care possible, whether at V.A. or with community providers, and the department is committed to doing just that,” he said in an email.





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, January 15, 2019

Free enterprise healthcare growing even in Mass.

Urgent care centers, walk-in clinics that treat a range of pressing medical issues, are proliferating in crowded shopping centers and along busy roads across the state, especially in affluent suburbs. One 2-mile stretch of Route 9 will soon have four urgent care centers, the newest next to a Chipotle and a Staples in Natick. Chestnut Hill has three within a 15-minute drive, and Cambridge, four.

But no companies have rushed to open urgent care centers in Dorchester, Roxbury, or other lower-income neighborhoods in Boston.

The explosion of the urgent care industry is reshaping the health care landscape in Massachusetts and across the country. A state commission counted 150 urgent care centers last year, up from 18 in 2010. And more are coming this year.

The centers lure patients with convenience: They don’t require appointments, and they typically are open until 8 or 9 p.m., and on weekends. They promise to treat almost any non-life-threatening medical issue — at a fraction of the cost of hospital emergency rooms, and without the long wait.

What they don’t tend to prioritize is care for the poorest. Most firms operating urgent care centers report that only a small percent of their business comes from patients on Medicaid, known here as MassHealth.

And it remains unclear what effect these centers have on the overall health care marketplace. Do they help contain spending by diverting patients from emergency rooms? Or do they add to costs by encouraging new visits?

But at two of Massachusetts’ largest urgent care operators, American Family Care and CareWell Urgent Care, just 11 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, of patients are on MassHealth.

In another type of walk-in medical clinic that provides more limited services and is located in CVS stores, just 5 percent of patients are on MassHealth.

MassHealth patients, meanwhile, still rely heavily on chaotic and expensive hospital emergency departments, though in some urban neighborhoods, community health centers offer expanded hours for urgent medical needs.

Even the national urgent care lobbying group acknowledges the disparity.

It estimates that 30 to 40 percent of centers refuse to treat Medicaid patients, saying the public program has onerous requirements and does not pay enough to cover their costs.

“We are not trying to cherry-pick, but we have to be sustainable,’’ said Dr. Gene Green, president of South Shore Health, the parent company of South Shore Hospital that recently bought six Health Express urgent care centers. About 2 percent of the centers’ patients are covered by MassHealth.

Some hospital systems, such as Cape Cod Healthcare, are building their own urgent care centers as part of a strategy to attract and retain patients in their networks. Compared with competitors, Cape Cod Healthcare sees a relatively higher share of MassHealth patients at its urgent care locations — about 20 percent. “That’s our population,” chief executive Michael K. Lauf said. “Do I think the odds are stacked against us [financially] because we do that? Yes.”

MassHealth pays health care providers much less than commercial insurers. CareWell, for example, said it receives an average of $74 for each urgent care visit from a MassHealth patient; commercial insurers pay CareWell at least double that — an average of $150 to $200 per visit.

That gap is one factor that pushes some providers to target middle- and high-income patients. An analysis by the state’s Health Policy Commission found that 58 percent of urgent care centers and 72 percent of CVS’s MinuteClinics are located in ZIP codes where residents earn above the median income.

“They are going to get a higher reimbursement by getting people with commercial insurance. Therefore, it’s in their financial interest to be in communities with higher-income patients with commercial insurance,” said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a professor at Harvard Medical School who studies walk-in clinics.

Massachusetts now has 59 MinuteClinics, up from 46 five years ago.

A CVS spokeswoman said the company selects locations based on a variety of factors, including store size and regulatory requirements. Jim Brennan, area executive for American Family Care in Massachusetts, said his company’s method for choosing urgent care locations is proprietary.

But executives generally search out retail centers with heavy pedestrian and car traffic, and neighborhoods with busy families consisting of two working adults and teenagers who play sports — and face sports injuries.

“Those people value their time,’’ American Family Care spokesman William Koleszar added. “We want it to be as easy to come to urgent care as it is to pick up their dry cleaning.’’

While AFC executives said their urgent care centers in low-income communities like New Bedford “do very well,’’ they said the state makes it harder for lower-income people to use them.

For those enrolled in MassHealth managed care plans — about 1.2 million people — the state generally will not pay for an urgent care center visit unless the patient has a referral from a primary care doctor.  [Which defeats the purpose of an urgent care facility]

Urgent care companies say the referral rules are dated and burdensome and prevent them from treating larger numbers of low-income patients. They want the rules lifted.

“We can be turning away dozens of [MassHealth] patients a day because we don’t have referrals,” said Shaun Ginter, chief executive of CareWell, which operates 16 urgent care centers in Massachusetts, from Worcester to Peabody to South Dennis.

But Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said she is concerned about MassHealth patients going to urgent care centers that are not connected to larger health systems; encouraging treatment there would be “antithetical’’ to the state’s plan to manage care for MassHealth patients by requiring them to stay within specific networks of health care providers. [Typical Leftist authoritarianism]

State officials are considering licensing urgent care centers. “They are a growing part of health care. We need to take a prudent look,’’ Sudders said.

MinuteClinics began opening in Massachusetts more than a decade ago and are already regulated by the state, which requires them, for example, to provide a list of primary care doctors for customers who don’t have one.

Urgent care centers are still new enough to Massachusetts that the state has no official definition for them, nor specific rules for how they operate or what illnesses they can safely treat.

While most states do not specifically license urgent care centers, their oversight has grown with the expansion of the industry.

Urgent care centers can range from small offices staffed by nurse practitioners to large facilities run by emergency physicians, with expensive imaging equipment and blood-testing laboratories. Their hours vary.

Some centers are set up as doctor’s offices and charge similar prices, while others are licensed as hospital outpatient facilities and charge additional hefty fees that often come as a surprise to patients.

“There still needs to be education about what kinds of services urgent care centers actually provide to the community, and who can actually access their services,” said Senator James Welch, cochairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.

Welch and Mariano expect lawmakers to work on health care legislation this session that includes regulations on urgent care.  [More of those lovely Fascist regulations]



A New Bill Would Rein in Executive Overreach and the Administrative State. But Does Congress Really Want That Power?

This week saw the reintroduction of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. Sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), Joni Ernst (R–Iowa), Todd Young (R–Ind.), and Ted Cruz (R–Tex.), the REINS Act tackles two major libertarian priorities: reducing burdensome regulations and reining in executive power. By passing it, Congress would reassert its role as a check on both runaway presidents and the administrative state.

As a joint statement released by the senators introducing the bill explains, the bill would require "that Congress affirmatively approve every new 'major rule' proposed by the Executive Branch before it can be enforced on the American people, as opposed to the status quo, where regulations ultimately take effect unless Congress specifically disapproves." (A "major rule" is defined as "a regulation that may result in an economic impact of $100 million or greater each year.")

This would be a welcome change. With active affirmation rather than passive consent, there would be much more scrutiny over the rules imposed on Americans and far fewer regulations would pass muster. Grassley is right when he says that "even when well-intended, government regulations are all too often ineffective, counterproductive or even outright harmful." He's also right that "more needs to be done to reclaim the rightful role of Congress as the lawmaking body of government."

But why wasn't this bill passed during the past two years of united Republican government? If we're to take Republican rhetoric at face value, the REINS Act should've sailed through Congress and landed on the president's desk post-haste. But when it was introduced under united Republican government, it went nowhere. That speaks to an enduring, bipartisan problem of reliance on the executive branch.

As Yuval Levin wrote in Commentary last year, "Members of Congress are happy to complain about the other branches, but they are not inclined to use the enormous power at their disposal to restrain those competing institutions and reassert their own." Instead, "Broad delegations of power in statutes have let presidents wield what are properly legislative authorities, and intentionally vague legislation has empowered judges to fill gaps that legislators should never have left open."

The depressing fact is that most members of Congress have become allergic to accountability. Politically, it's far easier for congressional Republicans to point to the deregulation agenda pursued by the Trump administration than to go on the record with votes on specific regulations, many of which would inevitably be controversial.

Essentially, our legislators don't want to legislate because it makes the business of getting reelected more of a burden. The failure to codify the REINS Act is a perfect example of the broader issue.

In this case, that congressional dysfunction led to a missed opportunity for substantive regulatory reform. While it's good that the REINS Act has been reintroduced, a component bill is not likely to pass the House now that it is controlled by the Democrats. To the extent that the Trump administration has rolled back the federal regulatory regime—a success that has been overstated—any progress can easily be erased by a future president.

Until Congress reasserts its constitutionally mandated authority as the foremost federal branch, we aren't likely to see much in the way of sweeping regulatory reform. And reliance on the executive is, unfortunately, a bipartisan scourge.



George Will: A fluent fool

He makes the elementary mistake of mistaking style for substance.  Trump is not gentlemanly enough for him

Some Will-speak:  “In one of contemporary history’s intriguing caroms, European politics just now is a story of how one decision by a pastor’s dutiful daughter has made life miserable for a vicar’s dutiful daughter. Two of the world’s most important conservative parties are involved in an unintended tutorial on a cardinal tenet of conservatism, the law of unintended consequences, which is that the unintended consequences of decisions in complex social situations are often larger than, and contrary to, those intended.”

That’s the elephantine lead of George Will’s recent column, headlined “Today’s Germany is the best Germany the world has seen.” The real story comes way down in paragraph six, where Will explains: “No European nation was as enchanted as Germany was by Barack Obama’s studied elegance and none is more repelled by Donald Trump’s visceral vulgarity.”

So it’s really all about Trump, which should be no surprise for George Will. He was hailed as the “best writer, any subject,” by the Washington Journalism Review and the “dean of conservative journalists” by Andrew Ferguson in an October 2017 Weekly Standard piece titled “The Greatness of George Will.”

“If Trump is Nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” ran the headline on Will’s April 29, 2016 column, in which he decried “Republican quislings” who were “slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history.” The quislings would “render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.”

Two months later, Will announced a change in his voter registration to “unaffiliated,” citing Trump’s complaint about a “Mexican” judge. Will said he joined the Republican Party “because I was a conservative, and I leave it for the same reason: I’m a conservative.” In response, Trump tweeted, “George Will, one of the most overrated political pundits (who lost his way long ago), has left the Republican Party. He’s made many bad calls.”

In late June, 2016, Dan McLaughlin of National Review wrote that Will’s column “has kicked up a stir by arguing that voters of all ideological stripes should hand majority control of the Senate and House to the Democrats in November. This is a profoundly bad idea, and Will makes nearly no effort to consider its actual consequences.”

On November 2, 2016, Jonathan Chait noted Will’s ideological fervor but six months later, “none of his expectations has remotely come to pass.” Will’s April column “currently has less resemblance to the pronouncement of a conservative pope than to Will Ferrell in Old School, proclaiming that everybody is going streaking.”

Contrary to the edict of the conservative pope, Trump did win the election. He went on to take down ISIS, call out Islamic terrorism, calm down Kim Jong-un, lower taxes, and usher in an economic boom with economic growth in the 4 percent range. That counted for nothing with the erudite Will, with his PhD from Princeton.

Last May in New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore described Will as “one of the few #NeverTrump figures on the right who has neither wavered nor flagged in his disdain for the 45th president.” In January 2019, nearly three years after he urged the GOP to keep Trump out of White House, and with Democrats panting for impeachment, Will writes of the president’s “visceral vulgarity.” On the other hand, Will hails “Barack Obama’s studied elegance,” a strange statement for a conservative pundit, if he had bothered to study the record.

In 2009, one of Obama’s first acts was to cancel missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic, both victims of Soviet occupation. That same year, “soldier of Allah” Nidal Hassan gunned down 13 unarmed American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and wounded more than 30 others. The President of the United States, commander in chief of all U.S. forces, called this “workplace violence,” refused to link Islam with any act of terrorism, and in 2012 at the UN proclaimed “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

In a deep recession, the president bulked up an already bloated federal government and told Americans if they liked their  health plan they could keep it, one of his many lies. The president cracked down on journalists such as Sharyl Attkisson and James Rosen and deployed the IRS against conservative groups. He deployed powerful forces in the FBI and DOJ to clear his chosen successor Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump.

POTUS 44 preserved the Communist dictatorship of Cuba and on his way out the door shipped planeloads of cash to the Islamic state of Iran, still chanting “Death to America.” With this guy, it was “your country, right or wrong.”

In the 2017 Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, official biographer David Garrow called Dreams from My Father, POTUS 44’s defining narrative, a work of “historical fiction,” and the author a “composite character.” And like Paul Kengor in 2012, Pulitzer Prize winner Garrow charts the “Communist background” of Obama’s beloved “Frank,” the African American Frank Marshall Davis, who spent his life defending all-white Soviet dictatorships.

After all that, and a lot more, conservative pope George Will hails “Barack Obama’s studied elegance.” So the true back story to Will’s hatred of Donald Trump is gushing admiration for his predecessor. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984, conservative George Will had won the victory over himself. He loved Barack Obama.



Wisdom from barmaid Sandy


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, January 14, 2019

Opposition to a border wall is opposition to public safety

Open borders cost innocent lives.

The battle between the Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration continues over the construction of a border wall along the U.S./Mexican border.

Many political battles are fought over hypothetical arguments.  This debate, however, is well-grounded in cold, hard, irrefutable facts and in the deaths of far too many innocent people, who have fallen victim to aliens who entered the United States illegally, often repeatedly.

Let me be clear, in my judgement, the Democrats have left the administration with no choice but to take the action of shutting down a part of the government.  As a former INS agent I can certainly empathize with the federal employees.  All too frequently the employees of the government suffer from the bad decisions of our political leaders.  However, America faces many threats and challenges that are the direct result of multiple failures of the immigration system and our nation must finally address these failures beginning with securing our borders.

The most critical issues that the federal government must address are national security and public safety.

On January 3, 2019 I participated in an interview of Fox & Friends First to discuss the senseless murder of 33 year old police officer Ronil Singh, from Newman, California, by a citizen of Mexico who was allegedly an illegal alien: 32 year old Gustavo Perez-Arriaga.

The Washington Post’s December 29, 2018 article, Suspect, 7 others, arrested in fatal shooting of California police officer, noted that this arrest that has sparked a debate about California’s sanctuary policies began with this excerpt:

The arrest Friday of a man in the shooting death of a California police officer has renewed criticism of sanctuary laws, with a local sheriff suggesting that the state's efforts to protect undocumented immigrants could have contributed to the killing.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga, a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant, was charged with homicide in connection with the shooting death of 33-year-old Newman police officer Ronil Singh, according to law enforcement.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson assailed sanctuary laws that limit state and local governments' cooperation with federal immigration agents, but he did not detail how those rules applied to Perez’s case or how they would have prevented Singh’s death.

He said Perez Arriaga publicized his gang affiliation and had been arrested twice for driving under the influence, but did not provide additional details about those arrests.

Let’s answer the question posed by the reporter in this case, as to how sanctuary policies impacted the murder of the police officer who, I must add, had, years earlier, legally immigrated to the United States from his native Fiji.  It is clear that so-called “sanctuary policies” actually serve as “magnet policies” that encourage aliens to enter the United States illegally and then seek out those jurisdictions that promise to harbor and shield these aliens who would be subject to deportation (removal) from ICE.

Crime scene investigators who investigate crimes first attempt to find out how a criminal gained access to the location where the crime was committed.  For illegal aliens the issue is how they came to enter the United States and evade detection.

That news article went on to report that Sheriff Christianson stated: Perez Arriaga had entered the U.S. at Arizona, and when he was arrested in Bakersfield, California, he was attempting to flee back to his home country, Mexico.

One of the advantages that alien criminals and terrorists have is their ability to evade the “long arm of the law” by fleeing from U.S. law enforcement authorities by going back to their home countries, where extradition may be difficult, if not impossible.

The Washington Post article also included this important excerpt:

In addition to Perez Arriaga’s arrest, Christianson said that Perez Arriaga’s brother, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and a co-worker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, were arrested Thursday for allegedly helping Perez Arriaga escape after Singh was shot. Virgen and Quiroz are also in the country illegally, Christianson said.

Also arrested on charges of aiding and abetting were Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59, Erasmo Villegas, 36, and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said. They were arrested inside the residence where Perez Arriaga was apprehended.

On Friday afternoon, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said it had arrested two more people for allegedly aiding Perez Arriaga in his attempt to escape: his girlfriend, 30-year-old Ana Leyde Cervantes, and another of his brothers, 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Mendoza.

“Anyone who aids and helps this criminal was going to go to jail,” Christianson said.

If there was true justice, the politicians who enacted the sanctuary policies should also be held accountable for their role in obstructing the federal government from enforcing our immigration laws that are critical for national security and public safety.

In point of fact, the terror attacks of 9/11 and other terror attacks launched by aliens who had, in one way or another, gained entry into the United States, were all made possible by multiple failures of the dysfunctional immigration system.

Let us remember that there have been a long list of Congressional hearings and reports from the GAO (Government Accountability Office), the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) about the costs of illegal immigration and the lack of effectiveness where drones on the border are concerned.

In fact, my recent article, Why Trump’s Wall Is A Must included information contained in an OIG report and other sources that illustrate just how big a waste of money UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones are.  Yet the Democrats want to purchase drones and not a wall because, as I noted in my recent article, Sanctuary Country - Immigration failures by design, the goal of these duplicitous politicians is to create the mere illusion of addressing the failures of the immigration system but not actually fix them.

For these politicians, the immigration system is actually a delivery system that delivers an unlimited supply of cheap and exploitable labor, an unlimited supply of foreign tourists, an unlimited number of clients for immigration lawyers and a virtually limitless supply of foreign students.

Many folks believe that the Democrats are determined to flood America with immigrants who will eventually vote for Democrats. While there is some likely truth in that assessment, what is ignored is that in reality--as more and more Americans suffer wage suppression from foreign workers--more Americans who are driven into poverty, will be driven to vote for Democratic candidates; not unlike the cattle who are moved in massive cattle drives.

I wrote about the destruction of the middle class through open borders in my article, Open Borders Facilitate America’s Race To The Bottom.

I frequently address the threats posed by terrorists. While not all fatalities are the result of terror attacks in the United States, indeed a far greater number of people are killed in the United States each year by aliens who commit a wide array of crimes that include drunk driving to crimes involving violence and narcotics.

Frequently the casualties are among the members of ethnic immigrant communities, not just from Latin America, but within such communities whose residents came to the United States from their home countries from around the world.  Crime is not limited to any race, religion or ethnicity.  Human nature is human nature.  Just as all people bleed red, every race, every religion and every ethnicity have members who constitute “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

America’s immigration laws, as I have frequently noted, do not discriminate as to race, religion or ethnicity but are intended to keep out aliens whose presence would pose a threat to national security, public safety, public health and the overall well-being of our nation and our citizens.

To substantiate that point, Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182--a statute contained within the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)--enumerates the categories of aliens who are to be excluded. Among these classes of aliens who are to be prevented from entering the United States are aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases or extreme mental illness.

Additionally, convicted felons, human rights violators, war criminals, terrorists and spies are to be excluded as well as aliens who would seek unlawful employment thus displacing American workers or driving down the wages of American workers who are similarly employed and aliens who would likely become public charges.

Yet the leadership of the Democratic Party opposes the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.  Some Democratic Party mayors and governors have declared their towns, cities and states to be “Sanctuaries” that are eager to harbor and shield illegal aliens from detection from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Unbelievably, many Democrats have called for the termination of ICE altogether.

Is there any wonder why they are determined to stop the administration from finally constructing an effective wall along the dangerous U.S./Mexican border?

The cynical Democrats proposed the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), invoking the imagery of the “American Dream” and were so compelled to exploit this imagery that they included the dreaded word “alien” in that legislative disaster.

Meanwhile they have created a nightmare for ever so many Americans and lawful immigrants such as Police Officer Singh, who paid the “ultimate price" and whose wife and child, family members, friends and colleagues have all been made to pay an unbearable price.



Oregon: Portland is becoming the sort of hellhole that Leftist management routinely produces

Unarmed cops, an 18% murder rise, and vigilante justice

It was a big year in Portland where the murder rate rose 18.6%. That was the perfect time for Portland’s progressive politburo to spend over $1 million on unarmed cops armed only with pepper spray.

There was a little bit of excitement when it was learned that their 200 hours of training would include “Taser Orientation” suggesting that they might be allowed to carry tasers. But Mayor Wheeler’s office explained that the weaponless cops weren’t being trained to use tasers, but “how to avoid being tased”.

Portlanders aren’t waiting for officers to show up and shout, “Don’t tase me, bro”. Instead in a city overrun with crime, they’re increasingly taking matters and guns into their hands.

Of the 32 violent deaths in Portland last year, 5 were found to have been carried out in self-defense. That tops the 4 deaths that occurred as a result of shootings by those cops who still have their guns.

Richard R. Hanley showed up in the parking lot outside Timeless Tattoo. The California homeless bum had previously made the news when he was arrested for attacking his ex-girlfriend and her new beau with a metal chain. Hanley, already on probation for a domestic abuse and strangulation conviction, with six felony and seven misdemeanor priors, also pulled out huge clumps of a female deputy’s hair.

The repeat offender began setting up his tent in the parking lot. When a female catering manager asked him to stop, he attacked her. Joseph D. Vinci, a tattoo artist, intervened. Hanley pulled a knife and Vinci pulled a gun. And Hanley’s long reign of terror ended to the outcry of local pro-crime activists.

Portland's other homeless death had a much darker ending.

Dallas Boyd, a 29-year-old mother of a two-year-old, was strangled to death by a homeless man and her body was left to rot in his van. Like Hanley, the homeless killer had racked up nine felonies, six misdemeanors and 15 parole violations, including  third-degree assault, and first-degree robbery.

Homeless crime has become both routine and terrifying. One Portlander described being threatened with a machete on a children’s playground, and it’s taken the city’s crime problem to new levels.

15% of Portland’s violent deaths in 2018 involved the homeless in some way.

Portland property crimes rose 15% in 2017. Its property crime rates easily outpace Boston and Denver, and put it on a par with dangerous cities like Atlanta.  Its homeless blight has put Portland on the same path as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Portland’s Downtown Clean and Safe had picked up less than 9,897 used needles in 2015. This year it's 39,000. Garbage and biohazards have also increased.

Car thefts are up 45% in two years. In Mayor Wheeler’s State of the City address this year, he mentioned a “97 percent increase in stolen vehicle calls” in 5 years. There was also a "64 percent increase in unwanted persons calls and a 32 percent increase in disorder calls."

But Mayor Wheeler emphasized Portland was working on a more “inclusive” and diverse” police force, even as he admitted that the city was caught in a crime wave where, “assaults, homicides, sex offenses, etc. – have increased and are rising at a higher rate than last year; property crimes have also increased and are rising at a higher rate than last year.”

“Chief Outlaw leads a bureau with fewer officers today than a decade ago, despite a 10 percent increase in Portland’s population,” Wheeler whined.

Mayor Wheeler had picked Danielle Outlaw as the first African-American police chief. Outlaw was meant to be the face of Portland’s new inclusive and diverse force. She inherited the thankless job of trying to control homeless crime, without offending homeless advocates, and reining in political street violence without offending Antifa. And soon white hipsters were outraged at Chief Outlaw’s contemptuous dismissal of Antifa as schoolyard brats who, “come with the intention to fight. And then you get mad because I kicked your butt. And then you go back and you wail off and whine and complain.”

Chief Outlaw had also cleared the Occupy ICE encampment without the mayor’s approval, after he had insisted that the police should do nothing to interfere with the harassment of ICE employees.

Portland’s white radicals soon began accusing the city’s first African-American police chief of being a white supremacist while campaigning to get her fired.

“The fact that I, as a very obvious African American female police chief, have been accused by those within that group or those who support that group, as being a supporter and protector of those who are believed to be white supremacists—if that's even the case—is ridiculous. Right?” she asked.

Ridiculous is the only way that anything works in Portland.

Mayor Wheeler’s virtue signaling is being ignored by his own police chief while citizens are taking the law into their own hands. The tattoo parlor was only one of five self-defense killings in Portland.

Self-defense killings made up a sixth of deaths by violence in the past year. These included a U-Haul employee shooting an armed robber, a transgender man shot by a homeless woman after he tried to stab her with a knife, and a FedEx driver who killed a man in a fight over racial slurs.

The U-Haul robber had 9 previous convictions, including robbery, burglary and rape.

These are the warning signs of a dysfunctional city spinning out of control.

Mayor Hale, Wheeler’s predecessor, who turned Portland into a homeless encampment zone by refusing to enforce laws against bums setting up tents on public streets, decided not to run for reelection. His predecessor, Mayor Adams, is enmeshed in a sex scandal which involved an underage boy, sexual harassment, blackmail, and allegations of using an employee for sexual procurement.

Mayor Wheeler won’t go out with a sex scandal, but like his predecessor, he’s unable to reconcile the demands of virtue signaling in a leftist city with the practical problems caused by its implementation. The leftist solutions he’s tried, spending more on homeless services, demilitarizing and diversifying the police, have only backfired.

Portland, like countless other Democrat urban strongholds, proved that the more money is spent on homeless services, the worse homelessness becomes. Disarming police officers leads to more people taking the law into their own hands. And black cops will enforce the law just like white cops. They’re also less cowed by political correctness and more willing to speak their minds than their white counterparts.

The city government has turned Portland into a miserable hellhole, but individuals are stepping up.

In the Montavilla area, the Montavilla Initiative has been organizing neighborhood watches, foot patrols and monitoring area crime. Pro-crime and homeless advocates have accused them of being "vigilantes", but area residents see them as filling a vital need. It’s one of eight patrol groups in the area.

The Initiative describes a neighborhood needle exchange program degenerating into “human waste in neighbors’ yards, a large vehicle hosting drug deals in the parking lot of the exchange, heroin users shooting up and passing out and then driving off intoxicated, people urinating and defecating in public, clients shooting up in neighbors’ yards, even having sex on a neighbor’s front porch.”

It’s no wonder that Portland’s formerly hot housing market is cooling off and home values are falling. As housing prices increase, not everyone wants to pay record prices to live next to a needle exchange.

The escape from Portland has begun



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.

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