Friday, April 12, 2019

Bibi Scores Another Big Win

Left-wing Israeli TV broadcasters had stars in their eyes last night at 10 when the initial election results came in. They told us breathlessly that former chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party—the challenger to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s center-right coalition—had done phenomenally well and the elections and the leadership of the country were up for grabs.

But by Wednesday morning, with 97 percent of the votes counted, the same broadcasters had tired, glum faces. It turned out that Netanyahu—a providential leader who has done more than any other individual to turn 21st-century Israel into a phenomenal success story of economic growth and diplomatic and military weight on the world scene—had scored yet another dramatic win in his long, volatile, but essentially triumphant career.

True, Gantz’s Blue and White—a none-too-coherent assemblage of three smaller parties that included right-wingers, centrists, and left-wingers and tried the tack of vagueness and ambiguity in its election campaign—came through with 35 of the 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset (parliament). But Netanyahu’s Likud had tallied 35, too—up from 30 in the previous Knesset—and with the balance of the smaller parties clearly in the right's favor for a total of 65 seats, Netanyahu had come out decisively on top. And that’s despite corruption charges hanging over him and a predominantly hostile media.

Blue and White, moreover, could only reach its 35 votes by siphoning off mandates from two parties to its left, Labor and Meretz—which, according to the morning count, did miserably with 6 and 4 votes respectively. In the case of Labor—the historic party that led the country in its first decades under legendary figures like David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan, and by the 1990s was engaging in a delusional “peace process” with the terrorist PLO—the depth of the defeat is unprecedented and resounding.

Another important point is that, if the right-wing bloc got 65 seats (and the total could still rise) to the left-wing bloc’s 55, even those figures are deceptive. As of the morning, 10 of the left’s 55 mandates came from two Arab parties. Those two parties, though—not because they’re Arab, but because they virulently oppose Israel’s existence as a Jewish state—are not relevant to any realistic calculation of Israeli coalitional strengths, and there was no chance that Gantz’s Blue and White would have included them in a coalition if it could have led one.

In other words, among the politically relevant voting public, the real results come out as another (like in the 2015 elections) landslide for the right. It’s made even more dramatic by the fact that Gantz, who called himself a “security hawk” and a “moderate capitalist,” tried to distance himself from the left and reassure Israelis that he was tough and realistic.

As for Netanyahu’s emergent coalition, two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, UTJ and Shas, had done well so far with 8 mandates each; the nationalist-Orthodox, strongly pro-settlement URWP had scored 5; and two secular-right parties, Israel Our Home and Kulanu, had 5 and 4 respectively. Still hanging in the balance was another pro-settlement, mixed religious-secular party, Naftali Bennett’s New Right—which, if it climbs to the required minimum of 4 seats, will make the governing coalition overwhelmingly big and stable.

What does it all mean? It means that the right-wing/religious sector of the Israeli Jewish population remains predominant and invincible. It means that the socialism of Israel’s early decades has been relegated to two none-too-relevant fringe parties. It means that with Gaza—fourteen years after Israel withdrew from it—remaining a serious security challenge of rocket fire, border riots, and incendiary balloons and kites, sane Israelis are not even contemplating withdrawals from the vastly larger West Bank that abuts Israel’s airport, capital city of Jerusalem, and heavily populated coastal plain.

And it means that a solid majority of Israelis appreciate Netanyahu’s strong and dynamic leadership and want to keep him at the helm—and that’s despite the unresolved corruption charges and an often viciously adversary media that is one of the last bastions of the old left. No doubt he faces significant challenges. A growing budget deficit needs to be tackled. Hamas and Hizballah remain security threats on Israel's borders. Most serious of all are their patron Iran's ongoing efforts to entrench itself in Syria and continued development of ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons capabilities. But given his nonpareil energy, resolve, and skill, most Israelis know that Netanyahu is the right leader to contend with the challenges and overcome them.

Meanwhile, he faces a hearing on the corruption charges in the summer. The charges look dubious, and Israel has a long history of such allegations being quashed as the result of a hearing.



No, White-Supremacist Violence Is Not a Major Problem

The New York Times peddles a false narrative that violent white extremism is on the rise.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing that Democrats billed as an examination of “hate crimes, the impact white nationalist groups have on American communities, and the spread of white identity ideology.” It quickly became quite evident that the Democrats’ true intention for the hearing was to promote the mendacious narrative that “white extremism” is a major and growing problem — and President Donald Trump is supposedly the driving force behind it.

In a seemingly coordinated effort to advance this narrative, The New York Times last week ran an article claiming that “Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing.” The story highlighted the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a self-proclaimed white supremacist murdered 50 people in an act of terror aimed at Muslims. The article then claimed that the Christchurch murderer “drew inspiration” from “an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.”

Once again we have a case of the narrative leading the story. It’s clear that the narrative the Times is pushing is that violence perpetrated by white supremacists is a serious and growing threat that is worse than people may believe. But do the facts support such a conclusion? Well, as is often the case with Leftmedia outlets like the Times, not so much.

The Times excluded several important contextualizing details, which immediately calls into question the reliability of the entire narrative. For example, no numbers were provided so as to establish the total number of extremist-related violent incidents globally. In 2017 alone, nearly 20,000 people were murdered by groups associated with radical Islamic extremists — a number not provided by the Times.

Meanwhile, the Times offers a nine-year timeline that notes 15 incidents of “white extremist” violence resulting in 194 people killed that were purportedly committed by individuals motivated by white racism. However, after a closer look into these attacks, one quickly finds that the motive of “white extremism” is not entirely clear … or even there at all.

As Seth Barron, writing for City Journal, observes, “Some of the most prominent killings … resist categorization as acts of white racial terror. Ali Sonboly, the son of Iranian Shi'ite Muslim immigrants and visibly a racial minority, carried out the 2016 Munich mall shooting. The 2016 Umpqua Community College shooting was carried out by a self-identified ‘mixed-race’ man, as was the 2014 Isla Vista massacre, whose perpetrator believed that being half-Chinese made him unattractive to women. The 2018 Toronto van massacre was perpetrated by a white man who declared that he was part of an ‘Incel Rebellion’ against the ‘Chads and Stacys’ of the world — in other words, he was angry that he could not get a girlfriend and was committed to overthrowing the ‘beautiful people.’ The killer mowed down pedestrians in Toronto’s business district at random. The Times’ inclusion of these four incidents calls into question the value of its diagnosis of ‘white extremist killers.’”

Finally, as The Wall Street Journal reports, “Since 1990, far-right extremists have killed 477 people in 214 attacks in the U.S., according to the crime data. A majority of the assaults targeted minorities, with 241 people dying in 170 attacks. (In the same period, the Global Terrorism Database records 31 far-right attacks with one or more deaths.)” In other words, violent attacks committed by “white extremists” are not on the rise — rather, the frequency of these violent hate crimes has remained relatively steady for the past 50 years. In any case, the crimes are dwarfed by attacks perpetrated by Islamofascists.


Creeping Theo-Progressivism: Radical Islam and the Radical Left

In 2018, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – did so with the help of both Islamist and progressivist bases. For years, critics have thought the collaboration between Islamist groups and sections of the Left to be a cautious, temporary ideological alliance. In fact, a growing section of American Islamism has sincerely embraced progressivist politics, despite its clear contradictions with theocratic ideals.

Writing recently in the New York Times, Cato Institute fellow Mustafa Akyol arguesthat America's "Muslim community," far from campaigning for theocracy (as claimed by "Islamophobes"), is in fact being swarmed by a powerful, welcome "creeping liberalism."

On the face of it, it seems he has a point. Prominent Muslim voices lead Women's Marches in cities across America and argue for "intersectional feminism." Groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – just 10 years ago named by federal prosecutors as part of an enormous terror finance network – now spend a great deal of time publishing social media items about Black Lives Matter while also campaigning for "social justice," prison reform and higher minimum wages. Leading Muslim clerics are to be found praising Malcolm X as "our prince," and protesting Trump's immigration plans at the southern border. And a few Muslim campaigners even express solidarity with transgender and "queer" activists, and publicly dream, as the prominent Islamist-linked activist Linda Sarsour puts it, of "a world free of anti-black racism, islamophobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, sexism, and misogyny."

This is not, however, a broad creeping liberalism; it is, more specifically, a creeping progressivist narrative – and it is changing the face of American Islamism. But is this genuine progressivism? Or is this just part of the perennial debate among Islamists living in the West: in the effort to advance a theocratic agenda using lawful means, to what extent should Islamists dilute their message to fit Western political narratives?

Standing against the march of progress, Aykol observes, is a minority group of "conservative" Muslim clerics. He quotes a few from extreme Salafi circles, but there is in fact a much broader array of contending ideas among America's Sunni Muslims – and its Islamists – on the question of whether progressivist politics poses a threat or affords an opportunity.

Intra-Islamist Dissent

Many of those who oppose the progressive trend are not bearded Wahhabis in Arab dress. Ismail Royer, for instance, is a former jihadist who claims to have moderated and now works for the multi-faith Religious Freedom Institute in D.C. Although he claims to regard Islam as a "vehicle for social justice," he firmly rejects progressivism, and urges an Islamic alliance with conservative Christian movements – even writing pieces in Christian publications in support of the evangelical opposition to gay marriage.

Islamists will, however, find a limited supply of sympathy from American evangelicals. Sections of the Left, meanwhile, have a long history of welcoming Islamist activists into their tent. But it is the very eagerness of the Left to co-opt American Islam that concerns certain leading Islamists.

Traditional, purist Salafi and Wahhabi clerics condemn those modernist Salafistrying to "westernise Islam" by appealing to progressivist impressions of Islam. The modernist Salafis use progressive rhetoric about Islamophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement, but also warn about the dangers of support for feminism and homosexuality within Muslim Students Associations, which are supported and funded by organizations tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the Muslim Student Associations (when taking a break from those intersectional solidarity marches) debate fractiously whether to "de-platform" either the "regressive" Salafi clerics, or those extra-progressive Muslims who seem just a little too committed to working with Jewish groups or advocating for gay rights.

Duplicitous Embrace

There is no doubt that some of the more ascetic Islamists reject all ideological alliances. Some may engage in some barebones interfaith activities, but they do so while warning against accepting the "validity" of other religions and preaching that "Islam in the West is a resistance movement against totalitarian liberal ideology." (As Michel Houellebecq illustrates with alarming plausibility in his novel Submission, this line of thinking may end up appealing to those Western non-Muslims also frightened by the fast-growing progressivist movement and finding more than a few shared values with Islamist ideologues.)

But there are many, especially within modernist Salafi networks, who have observed the growth of political activist Islamist movements in America, such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat-e-Islami, and partly ascribe their success to the adoption of modish political trends. Much of the progressivist rhetoric that emanates from these modernist Salafis, however, is manifestly deceitful.

In their private sermons before Muslim audiences, modernist Salafi clerics rally against the evils of apostate ideologies. Yasir Qadhi, a leading cleric of the AlMaghrib Institute, for instance, denounces the theology of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam (NOI) as heretical and "perverted." In public, however, Qadhi's clerical colleagues eulogize Malcom X – a progressivist darling -- and praise NOI leader Louis Farrakhan as a great radical hero. This may be ideologically incoherent, but it is tactically shrewd.

Other duplicity is more plainly apparent. The Texas-based imam Omar Suleiman, for instance, has been an active voice in the protests against the Trump administration's immigration. In March 2018, he was arrested at the Capitol after "civil disobedience" to demand "protection for young immigrant Dreamers." And yet before an Muslim audience, Suleiman has warned young girls, without condemnation, that if they are "promiscuous" they may be killed by a family member.

Or look at Islamist media: Al Jazeera's social media channel AJ+ broadcasts documentaries on transgender rights and the wickedness of misogyny, homophobia and other bigotries; while its Arabic parent station broadcasts sermons by Muslim Brotherhood clerics advocating the killing of gays, and offeringhusbands permission to beat their wives.

Some Islamists have sought to explain American Islamist institutions' partial-embrace of progressivism as a response to "Islamophobia." Shariq Siddiqui, an official of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has written that "Islamophobia makes it difficult for ISNA and Muslim Americans to determine which positions are centered on their religious values and which positions are based on political necessity. ... For example, in 2003, ISNA was opposed to gay marriages, but now ISNA is part of a coalition working in favor of gay marriage."

Others have made it clear that non-Muslim progressivists are dispensable partners. As Counter Islamist Grid director Kyle Shideler recently discovered: newly-elected Virginia General Assembly Member Ibraheem Samirah (who was recently exposedas a virulent anti-Semite) has explicitly compared the Islamist alliance with progressivists to the decision of the Islamic prophet Muhammad "to form treaties with his enemies. He had to form alliances with people who weren't necessarily believers of his message, who would later on become people who would be his enemies." (Samirah also served as a senior campaign official for freshman Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib)

Intersectional Islamism

Nevertheless, an increasing number of clerics and Muslim thinkers have begun to regret their forays into progressivist politics. Leading modernist Salafi clerics such as Yasir Qadhi now appear deeply shocked that Muslim students have moved from carefully taking advantage of progressivist trends to openly supporting "LGBTQ" campaigns on campuses.

And indeed, at one end of the spectrum, there is a rising group of activists from Islamist circles who seem to believe in this fused progressivist-Islamist creed. Across America, branches of the Council on American-Islamic Relations are today staffed with young hijab-wearing graduates of Muslim Students Associations, who appear to have reconciled working for terror-linked extremists while also publishing transgender rights petitions on their social media accounts.

Notorious Islamist activist Linda Sarsour appears an earnest advocate of Islamist-progressivism, calling for (an ostensibly non-violent) "jihad" against Donald Trump, and quipping: "You'll know when you're living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cards become interest free. Sound nice, doesn't it?" In 2014, praising the fact that Saudi Arabia reportedly provides women with ten weeks of paid maternity leave, Sarsour denounced opponents of Saudi's ban on female drivers (which has since been lifted) and claimed that Saudi put the U.S to shame.

Sarsour is a harbinger of a broader trend. Whether American Islamist movements intended to embrace progressivism authentically or not, many Islamist groups are now so firmly entrenched in the progressive movement that a generation of young American Muslims is growing up convinced that the progressivist social justice and sexual identity narratives are intrinsic components of the Islamist agenda. No wonder some traditional Islamists speak out so forcefully against "liberal ideology," or caution against too tight an embrace of progressivist allies – their own radicalism is being supplanted.

American Islamists are conflicted. Some reject the embrace of left-wing politics entirely. Others clearly exploit progressivist organizations to advance their cause. And then there are some, a new generation of intersectional Islamists, who seem to have found a genuine way to advocate for, or warily justify, "queer"-friendly politics. It looks like the progressivist rhetoric of Islamist activists such as Sarsour, or politicians such as Ilhan Omar, is sincere – even if it seems patently confused and inconsistent to any rational observer.

This poses a new sort of threat. These intersectional Islamists – these theo-progressives – are part of a broader radical undertaking that has a much greater chance of imposing extremist ideas on American society than the Muslim Brotherhood or Wahhabis ever did.



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, April 11, 2019

A Leftist obsession: Mr Trump is mentally damaged

Even during the primaries there were claims that Mr Trump was in some way mentally defective.  And there has been an absolute drumbeat of such accusations ever since.  The latest, by a John Gartner, is titled

"Trump's cognitive deficits seem worse. We need to know if he has dementia: Psychologist"  It appears in that august publication, "USA Today"

Dr. Gartner is a psychologist and a former assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine but I am a Ph.D. psychologist with a large array of published academic papers on mental health topics so I think I am in a good position to examine  his claims.

Gartner assembles many examples of "defects" in Trump's speech and rightly says that such defects are common in the speech of people with Alzheimer’s disease.  He shows that Trump rambles and mixes up his words.

So has he made his case? No. As Leftists normally do, he has ignored facts that do not suit him.  He has a conclusion he wants to come to and has ignored alternative explanations for the "evidence" he examines.

And the thing he ignores is a really gross omission: Elder speech.  Old people ramble and mix up their words. We all do as we get older.  Let me recycle something I said about that recently:

"Old people tend to forget their words and may use generic substitutes.  For instance, the lady in my life and I are both of Mr Trump's vintage and we  both listen to a lot of early classical music.  But one day she wanted to say something to me about a harpsichord, an instrument very familiar to us both.  But words failed her.  So she referred to it as "that piano thing".  Mr Trump's speech could well lack precision like that. He is 72. He could, for instance say "father" when he meant "grandfather". Mr Trump is squarely in the category of someone from whom elder speech can be expected. 

But being old does not make you mentally defective. Most of the world is ruled by old people. So they would appear in fact to be mostly seen as wise by their electors. 

But other politicians don't speak in the muddled way Trump does, you might say.  And that's true.  Because others almost invariably read pre-written words off a teleprompter, often words of great verbal skill.  It's not even their own words that most politicians are uttering in public speeches.  Mr Obama is a good example of that.  All his speeches were brilliantly polished.  But there were a few occasions when for some reason he was deprived of his teleprompter and on those occasions he made no sense at all. Some examples here and here of muddled Obama speech that Dr Gartner might like to review. And Mr Obama is a lot younger The Donald.

The biggest verbal horror Obama perpetrated to my mind when he referred to an army "corps" and pronounced it as "corpse". Quite gross. And as for grandiose speech, can you beat Obama's claim that his nomination for the Presidency was "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal"? (3 June 2008).  And for confusion, what about, ""We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."  It made sense to Obama's followers but Trump makes sense to his followers too.

Mr Trump is a very forthright politician.  He speaks his mind and he speaks it his way.  He does use a telepromter on some formal occasions but mostly he just lets it rip.  His followers like that.  They know they are hearing the real man, not some artificially contrived media creature who actually believes in nothing.  Mr Trump is no policy wonk but nor are most of his voters.

We had a political leader much like Mr Trump in my home State of Queensland, Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen.  He was a small farmer and spoke like one.  Media figures thought his rambling, disconnected speech made no sense at all.  But it made plenty of sense to his voters.  They kept him in office for nearly 20 years.  So 8 years of Trump would seem eminently feasible.

Even young public speakers make gaffes. Dr. Gartner should make allowances.


Bolsonaro in Israel: 'There Is No Doubt' Nazism Was Left-Wing Movement

After visiting Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum on April 3, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he agreed that Nazism -- the National Socialist German Worker's Party headed by Adolf Hitler -- was a left-wing movement, "there is no doubt."

Brazil's foreign minister, Ernesto Arujo, has often explained this historical fact about the National Socialists of the Third Reich. On Wednesday, as reported by the Daily Mail, reporters asked Bolsonaro if he agreed with his foreign minister and the conservative president said, "There is no doubt, right?"

Bolsonaro arrived in Israel on March 31 for a four-day visit and to help give a boost to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a tough re-election fight on April 9.

Although Brazil is not yet ready to open an embassy in Jerusalem, Bolsonaro announced that his country would open a trade office there. The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017-2018.

As not a few historians in recent years have explained, Nazism (National Socialist Germany) and Communism (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) were two sides of the same totalitarianism dedicated to building a utopia based on an atheistic ideology.

In Nazi Germany, the state targeted people based on race -- Jews, gypsies, non-Aryans -- and in the Soviet Union the state targeted people based on class -- bourgeoise, kulaks, monarchists.

Prof. Thomas Sowell, an economist and prolific author and syndicated columnist, states, "Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg's great book Liberal Fascism cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists' consistent pursuit of the goals of the left, and of the left's embrace of the fascists as one of their own during the 1920s.

"Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W.E.B. Du Bois, as a man of the left.

"... What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people — like themselves — need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat. The left's vision is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves, as superior beings pursuing superior ends."

In his book, Intellectuals and Society: Revised and Expanded Edition, Sowell writes, "In short, the notion that Communists and Fascists were at opposite poles ideologically was not true, even in theory, much less in practice. As for similarities and differences between these two totalitarian movements and liberalism, on the one hand, or conservatism on the other, there was far more similarity between these totalitarians’ agendas and those of the left than with the agendas of most conservatives.

"For example, among the items on the agendas of the Fascists in Italy and/or the Nazis in Germany were (1) government control of wages and hours of work, (2) higher taxes on the wealthy, (3) government-set limits on profits, (4) government care for the elderly, (5) a decreased emphasis on the role of religion and the family in personal or social decisions and (6) government taking on the role of changing the nature of people, usually beginning in early childhood.

"This last and most audacious project has been part of the ideology of the left—both democratic and totalitarian—since at least the eighteenth century, when Condorcet and Godwin advocated it, and it has been advocated by innumerable intellectuals since then, as well as being put into practice in various countries, under names ranging from 're-education' to 'values clarification.'"

For more on the ideological and political similarities between National Socialism and Soviet Communism, see The Soviet Story.



Crazy Indian far-leftist shafts Seattle

Leftist hate directed at big corporations does not go down well, not in NYC and not in Seattle

In the latest drama between and the city of Seattle, Amazon confirmed Wednesday that it will be moving thousands of its employees out of Seattle and across the lake to near by Bellevue, WA. Revealed first by Geekwire and confirmed by Amazon, the company plans to move their worldwide operations team to Bellevue starting this month, and have several thousand moved by 2023.

Amazon has had a contentious relationship with Seattle for some time now. Last year, socialist city councilmember, Kshama Sawant, targeted Amazon with a bill which proposed a $500 per employee “head tax” which large employers in the city would have to pay. The amount was reduced down to $275 per person and ultimately defeated when other councilmembers looked down the road a little to consider the possible economic ramifications of chasing all so much economic activity (and potential taxes) out of Seattle.

It was during this time, while the bill was being debated, that Amazon brought to a halt to further expansion in Seattle. Not to be daunted, Councilmember Sawant angrily called Amazon a “bully” and accused them of holding jobs “hostage.” It was after this confrontation that Amazon, in a similar move to Boeing relocating its headquarters out of the state, announced it was looking elsewhere to build a second headquarters.

In sharp contrast to Seattle city council’s outright hostility to the company, Bellevue city mayor John Chelminiak said, “We’re excited by today’s announcement that Amazon plans to expand its presence in Bellevue.” In a statement, Amazon noted Bellevue’s “business-friendly environment.”

When Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was asked for her reaction, she attempted to spin the news as well as a politician could when she claimed, “I think that it is a good thing for Seattle, a good thing for Bellevue.” Yes. A city chasing jobs away is always a good thing, right?

At the moment I think everyone’s wondering how long before Amazon moves out of Seattle entirely. It’s good they realize they don’t need to stay in an abusive relationship.



Obama defends assimilation, says immigrants should ‘learn the language’

The American Left has lurched so far Left that Obama is now a moderate

Former President Barack Obama defended the concept of “assimilation” and called for “some levels of adaptation” from incoming immigrants.

During a segment on the topic of immigration at a Saturday town hall event for the Obama Foundation in Berlin, Obama pushed back against the prevailing notion that “assimilation of newcomers to the existing culture is somehow betrayal or a denial of people’s heritage.”

“We are still wired to only be able to process knowing about 150 people in our brains,” Obama said. “So now suddenly we are in cities with strangers we don’t know and we are asked to trust them, and it goes against some of our impulses.”

Calling for a “humane, intelligent, thoughtful, orderly immigration process that is grounded in our better selves,” the former U.S. president emphasized that the job of “reducing fear on the part of people who are already there … requires some levels of adaptation from the people who are coming in.” (RELATED: Tucker Carlson: America’s Elites Want ‘Immigration Without Limit’)

Obama then defended the concept of assimilation, particularly learning the language of one’s host country:

And so some of the assimilation that inevitably takes place is gonna take a little bit longer, but some of those principles still apply, and I worry sometimes as we think about how to deal with the immigration issue we think that any moves towards assimilation of newcomers to the existing culture is somehow betrayal or a denial of people’s heritage or what have you. The truth of the matter is that if you’re going to have a coherent, cohesive society then everybody has to have some agreed upon rules, and there’s gonna have to be some accommodations that everybody makes, and that includes the people who are newcomers.

The question is, are those fair? Should we want to encourage newcomers to learn the language of the country they’re moving to? Of course. Does that mean they can never use their own language. No. Of course it doesn’t mean that, but it’s not racist to say if you’re gonna be here then you should learn the language of the country you just arrived at, because we need to have some sort of common language in which all of us can work and learn and understand each other.

Pushing back at what he called the “clearly racist motives of some” on the issue, the former president also said “we can’t label everybody who is disturbed by immigration as racist,” calling it a “self-defeating tactic.”



Sanders too counts as a moderate these days

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reiterated his longstanding opposition to open borders saying there is "a lot of poverty" and the U.S. cannot take "people from all over the world."

Sanders, who faced criticism on immigration during his 2016 presidential campaign, made the remarks on Sunday at a town hall in Iowa, according to The Washington Post.

"I'm afraid you may be getting your information wrong," Sanders said in response to a question from the audience as to why he supported open borders. "I think what we need is comprehensive immigration reform."

"Oh my god, there's a lot of poverty in this world, and you're going to have people from all over the world," Sanders continued. "I don't think that's something that we can do at this point. Can't do it."

Although the senator has generally supported a pathway to citizenship to citizenship and the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Sanders has diverged from liberal orthodoxy on the economics of migration.

Sanders elaborated on those views during an interview with Vox shortly after announcing his first presidential run. The septuagenerian senator was asked if he believed global poverty could be eradicated by "sharply raising the level of immigration" to the U.S., perhaps even to the point of "open borders." Sanders castigated the notion as a "right-wing" plot hatched by the Koch brothers.

"It would make everybody in America poorer—you're doing away with the concept of a nation-state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that," Sanders said. He added that "right-wing people… would love" open borders because it would "bring in all kinds of people" willing to "work for $2 or $3 an hour."

Those comments and Sander's efforts to kill comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 fueled Hillary Clinton's victories in heavily Latino states during the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.

It is unclear if Sanders's stance on immigration will prove a hindrance again in 2020. Since President Donald Trump took office, Democrats have clamored to create a contrast on immigration and border security. The party's elected officials and activists have endorsed the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, amnesty for more than 11 million illegal aliens, and less stringent border controls. Just last week, former secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro, one of Sanders's 2020 competitors, unveiled an immigration plan that would remove criminal penalties for individuals that enter the U.S. illegally.

Sanders has yet to release his own immigration proposal.



Mick Jagger Gets Healthcare in US, Not UK

Legendary British rocker and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger’s upcoming hospital discharge after his surgery last week highlights the beauty of free market health care.

One day after Jagger reportedly underwent a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) on Thursday, he was already feeling well enough to comment on social media.

He received what a medical professional called a “miracle procedure” at a New York facility. Although he hasn’t confirmed his reason for treatment in the United States, apparently he “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” from the UK’s single-payer National Health Service (NHS).



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, April 10, 2019

Mo Brooks Was Right About Nazis, Socialists And Democrats

Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama

Let’s stipulate up front that the Holocaust was a singular evil that was perpetrated against the Jewish people and that the habit, especially among liberals, of using the epithet “Nazi” against every political opponent denigrates and diminishes the singularity of that evil.

That said, Nazism or National Socialism, is a political philosophy that hasn’t been exterminated, and its evil continues to find its way into today’s politics in often unseen and insidious ways.

Principled limited government constitutional conservative Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-5), on Monday — the day after attorney general William Barr submitted his summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report — drew from the writings of Adolph Hitler, the foundational leader of National Socialism, to attack congressional Democrats and the "fake news media" as having lied throughout special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

"A 'big lie' is a political propaganda technique made famous by Germany's national socialist German Workers Party," Brooks said on the House floor according to reporting by Rebecca Shabad and Marianna Sotomayor of NBC News. "For more than two years, socialist Democrats and their fake news media allies, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, Washington Post and countless others have perpetrated the biggest political lie, con, scam and fraud in American history."

Brooks continued by reading on the House floor a passage from Hitler's book Mein Kampf about the utility of "colossal untruths,” saying that he was going to quote "from another socialist who mastered 'big lie' propaganda to a maximum and deadly effect."

Democrats howled with faux outrage at the comparison and some Left-leaning Jewish groups complained, “It's unconscionable for a member of Congress to demonize an opposing party by claiming it's comparable to Nazism," and demanded Brooks apologize.

The problem for Democrats in this case is that Brooks was right about Nazism, Socialism and today’s Democratic Party.

Socialism, in all its forms, Venezuelan, Cuban, Soviet Communism and the National Socialism of Adolph Hitler has always relied on the “big lie” to succeed politically. And it has always relied on the “big lie” and terror to maintain its power.

The “big lie” became a hallmark the Democratic Party’s modus operandi a long time ago, think of the many false campaigns against Republicans based on pushing Grandma over the cliff by taking away her Social Security.

And the precedent for sending SWAT teams and helicopters to arrest unarmed citizens accused of non-violent political crimes doesn’t come from any tradition of constitutional law enforcement – it is straight out of socialist terror campaigns.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1) defended Brooks, arguing that the ideology of the Nazi Party was indeed socialism and if Democrats were offended by that comparison, some who have branded themselves as socialists should stop embracing the term and the ideology.

Democrats on the Committee howled again but they had no real reply to Brooks’ comparison and Gohmert’s defense beyond saying they were offended.

The controversy gained more traction than it might have because Republicans continue to hammer Democrats over the Democrats’ anti-Semitism and Israel policy, engendered in large measure by the anti-Semitic comments made by Muslim Democrat Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN-5) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).

And let’s be clear, Omar and Tlaib and a significant segment of today’s Democratic Party coalition are unabashed anti-Semites.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke recently before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and said, "we must also be vigilant against bigoted or dangerous ideologies masquerading as policy, and that includes BDS," referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement.

“Israel and America are connected now and forever,” Pelosi said at the pro-Israel lobby’s annual event. “We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue.”

Rep. Omar was quick to reply to Pelosi saying "A condemnation for people that want to exercise their First Amendment rights is beneath any leader, and I hope that we find a better use of language when we are trying to speak as members of Congress that are sworn to protect the Constitution," Omar told reporters in a Capitol hallway Tuesday according to The Hill.

Representatives Omar and Tlaib both publicly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement which has instigated many anti-Semitic incidents, particularly on college campuses.

But the more telling marker of the Democratic Party’s rapid slide toward the ideas behind National Socialism is that no Democratic candidate for President chose to attend the AIPAC annual meeting, a boycott that has no precedent in modern American politics.

If Democrats don’t like being compared to National Socialists perhaps it is time for them to look in the mirror and check to see if they see one staring back at them.



Robert Reich is a Disgrace: Imagine That!

Rich Kozlovich fisks just one lot of the wild accusations that regularly issue from the Democrats

On April 6, 2019 Robert Reich posted the article in The Guardian (imagine that) entitled, Mitch McConnell is destroying the Senate – and American government, saying:

“The majority leader cares only for winning, not rules or democracy itself. He is doing more damage than Trump. No person has done more in living memory to undermine the functioning of the US government than the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Yes, Donald Trump has debased and defiled the presidency. He has launched blistering attacks on Democrats, on judges he disagrees with, journalists who criticize him and the intelligence community. But McConnell is actively and willfully destroying the Senate.”

Imagine that! 

Let's take a look at this.  It appears Trump isn't Presidential because he launches “blistering attacks” on Democrats, many of whom have publicly said absolutely and outrageously obnoxious things about Trump. This was in sharp contrast to the Bush's, who were “Presidential” because they didn’t have the guts to attack back.

 Then Reich is outraged because he’s had the audacity to criticize the Federal Judiciary, many of whom are nothing more than political hacks, who’ve rendered judgments to overrule the President - judgments that clearly were outside their Constitutional authority.

Then there’s the news media. How dare Trump slam those who’ve lied and twisted every issue to conform to Democrat party narratives. As for the intelligence community – we now know many within the FBI, the Justice Department, NSA, and CIA have been part of a vast left wing deep state conspiracy to commit treason. Apparently Reich doesn't read the news. 

Imagine that!

And now, according to Reich, Mitch McConnell is destroying the Senate and the nation. Why? He did his best to block Obama’s nominees! How did that become his job? Blocking judicial nominees over ideological differences was started by the Democrats, especially that paragon of moral and political disgrace, Ted Kennedy, with his treatment of Judge Bork. That’s where the term “Borking” came from, which is what the Democrats tried to do to Judge Kavanaugh.

In order to stop those kind of disgraceful actions McConnell “cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.” This Reich calls “McConnell’s long game is destroying what was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body”.

And that's the key, stopping Republican nominees by any means necessary is fine with Reich, but let's get this right, it was the Democrats who started changing the rules, not Mitch McConnell. 

Furthermore, none of those rules are codified in the Constitution. The Senate makes up the rules as to how the Senate is run on their own, and nowhere have I seen where Robert Reich was incensed at Harry Reid when he did it. And nowhere in the Constitution does it say they have to have 60 votes to confirm a judicial nominee, or how long to debate the confirmation.  If and when they take over the Senate, they can change it back, but if they were to win the Presidency also, do you really think that would happen?

But let’s take a look at Robert Reich and see what he thinks is “right” for America. Discover the Networks shows how insidiously destructive to America his ideas truly are.

Here’s who he is and what he stands for:

“Reich is a professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University, whose courses are designed to push policies in harmony with his left-wing notions of “social justice”’ 

"A former Secretary of Labor during the first term of President Bill Clinton, Robert Reich is currently the University Professor and Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University. In 2001, Brandeis named Reich to co-direct an undergraduate program for "Social Justice and Policy" at the university's Heller Graduate School. In announcing the new program, the university touted its devotion to the "problems of social equity" and its commitment to exploring the connection between "social values and practical policies."

All those socialist code words like "social justice" and "social values and practical policies" all sound nice, but what all those "codes words" mean is Reich really feels America can only be saved by destroying capitalism. That the wealthy capitalists "no longer feel the empathy that comes from contact with people who are poor," and this must be addressed by government imposed policies, yet it's been shown these "wealthy capitalists" give huge sums of money to causes that are meant to aid humanity every year.

But that's his problem.  Reich and his minions believe they need to decide where that money is to go, and how much.  Which means there's never enough, and in some strange way, leftists seem to become wealthy from those government programs.

He wants the nation to forgive all the student loans, make higher education free, and impose ‘equality” by government fiat by creating massively expensive social programs that would create a welfare state, along with the idea "taxpayers [should] subsidize occupations with more social merit". Not to mention his absolute support for socialized medicine.

How is all of this to be paid for?

Discover the Networks notes:

“In an April 2011 Huffington Post piece, Reich wrote that "[t]he only way America can reduce the long-term budget deficit, maintain vital services, protect Social Security and Medicare, invest more in education and infrastructure, and not raise taxes on the working middle class is by raising taxes on the super rich."

Such a policy could be justified, he said, by the fact that the top income tax rate of 35 percent was far lower than the 70 to 91 percent rates that had been in effect during the 1940-1980 period.

Reich further called for a hike in estate taxes on the "super-rich." The added revenues from such tax increases, he said -- coupled with cuts to "corporate welfare and bloated defense" -- could pay for "a single payer health-care system -- Medicare for all" -- instead of leaving the healthcare system dominated by "a gaggle of for-profit providers." According to Reich, "paying taxes is a central obligation of citizenship, and those who take their money abroad in an effort to avoid paying American taxes should lose their American citizenship." 

“In August 2014, Reich wrote that hedge fund managers, private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, and high-frequency traders who earn large fortunes contribute virtually nothing of value to society. "I’ve never heard of a hedge-fund manager whose job entails attending to basic human needs (unless you consider having more money as basic human need) or enriching our culture,"………..

Socialism has shown us one absolute fact. If there's no chance of personal gain there's no money to do anything.  In short, Reich wants to destroy capitalism, America's economy, individual freedom, the American Culture, the American identity and the Constitution.

Doing good business allows for doing "good".  Doing "good" at the expense of doing good business is a formula for destruction, and has been the world over, if for no other reason, when the government starts confiscating the wealth, the corruption expands exponentially.

With all this leftist clabber from Reich, he has yet to show how this worked in any nation in the world.  The fact is, it hasn't worked anywhere, except to deliver "equality" of misery.   If that's so, and it is, why should we think it will work here?  Can he name one country that's been successful with these programs?  Can he name one socialist state that has been even remotely as generous to the poor and suffering than has been America and our rich capitalists. 

If there is, then why are so many striving to leave these paradisaic socialist states to come to America?  Socialism constantly demands perfection and promises utopia while delivering dystopia - tyranny, misery, suffering, starvation, disease and early death.

And he's incensed because Trump and McConnell are working against that.  Imagine that!



Donald Trump inspects US-Mexico border wall, warning of 'colossal' surge of illegal immigrants

United States President Donald Trump has promised more than 700 kilometres of new wall along the southern US border, after threatening to slap Mexico with economic penalties over what he describes as a crisis of illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Referring to a "colossal surge" of undocumented migrants, Mr Trump convened a discussion with immigration officials and local leaders in Calexico on the US-Mexico border just north of the much larger city of Mexicali.

Before touring a just completed nine-metre-tall, 3.5 kilometre barrier at Calexico, Mr Trump said more military resources would be dispatched to the border.

"Our country is full," Mr Trump said, in a warning to would-be migrants. "Can't take you anymore."

The Republican President's latest pronouncements were in response to a rising number of migrants traveling northward from Central America through Mexico and to the US border.

Mr Trump is counting on seizing funds from other federal accounts and shifting them for the construction of about 725 kilometres of new barrier — a move being challenged in Federal Court because Congress has not given approval.

Democrats generally oppose Mr Trump's wall proposal, suggesting alternative types of enhanced border security that they argue would be more effective and less costly.

Hammering on a favourite theme, Mr Trump said he was considering imposing an unspecified economic penalty on Mexico unless it helped alleviate the United States' drug and immigrant flows.

Praising Mexico for moving recently against drug traffickers, Mr Trump said: "If they continue that, everything will be fine. If they don't we're going to tariff their cars at 25 percent".

"Also, I'm looking at an economic penalty for all of the drugs that are coming in through the southern border and killing our people," he told reporters in Washington before departing for southern California.

Mr Trump said the drug-related tariff would supplant provisions of a trade deal, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, which has not been approved by Congress.

In a Twitter post on Friday morning, Mr Trump repeated a threat to close the border if Mexico "stops apprehending and bringing the illegals back to where they came from".

The White House did not respond to a request for elaboration, and it also was unclear where Mr Trump got the $500 billion figure when referring to "illegal drugs that are shipped and smuggled through Mexico and across" America's southern border.

In recent days, Mexico has taken a more rigorous approach to interviewing and registering immigrants from Central America, Haiti and Cuba, according to officials.

Previously, the Mexican Government freely handed out humanitarian visas with the goal of allowing people to stay and work legally in Mexico.

But it backed away from that policy after a surge of those requesting the documents, and amid criticism from Washington.



450 miles of wall by end of 2020, Army Corps reports to President Trump

“Around Dec. 2020, the total amount of money we will have put in the ground in the last couple of years will be about 450 miles. That’s probably about $8 billion, in total about 33 projects.”

That was Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, giving President Donald Trump a report at Calexico, Calif. on how much new wall would be constructed by the end of 2020.

Semonite broke down the figures: That’s 82 miles as of right now mainly from renovating existing fencing, another 97 miles by the end of this year, and then another 277 miles the year after that. That includes the new 30-foot steel slats.



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, April 09, 2019

Jordan Peterson Unpacks What Drives the Left and How to Restore Meaning

President Donald Trump exclaimed in his State of the Union address that America would “never” be a socialist country.

Yet multiple polls suggest that many Americans, especially younger ones, embrace left-wing ideology in increasing numbers, as more politicians have openly embraced the term.

Despite ample evidence that socialism has failed to bring prosperity and has actually inflicted widespread misery, why does it resonate? And what can be done to stop its spread?

Jordan Peterson took on those questions at a New York City event on Tuesday hosted by The Heritage Foundation. The Canadian clinical psychologist and author of “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” said the West is undergoing a crisis of spirit and meaning, not poverty.

Peterson explained why he thinks socialism resonates with younger Americans in particular.

“People are unbelievably ignorant of history,” he said, admitting that even he has gaps in knowledge about history before the 20th century.

But young people are working with even less knowledge, Peterson said.

“What young people know about 20th-century history is nonexistent, especially about the history of the radical left. How would they know?” he asked. “They are never taught about it so why would they be concerned about it?”

For older generations of Americans, Peterson said, things like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the threat of the Soviet Union are vivid memories. But not so for young people who see it as ancient history.

Yet even today, the examples of North Korea and Venezuela serve as clear evidence of socialism’s failure. Yet the left deflects such accusations, chalking those countries up to political corruption and tyranny.

The reason people are open to socialism is that they don’t understand what it really is, Peterson said. They are “emotionally drawn to the ideals of socialism, say, or of the left, because it draws its fundamental motivational source from a kind of primary compassion, and that is always there in human beings,” so the appeal will “never go away.”

The truth is, Peterson explained, the economic strides of recent decades have been astonishing, with poverty falling around the world and massive improvements being made to the material lives of human beings.

But these stories rarely make headlines, Peterson said, in part because it’s hard to keep up with all the rapid changes and innovations, but even more because “human beings are tilted toward negative emotion. … That makes us more captivated by the negative than the positive.”

Adding fuel to this emotional fervor, Peterson said, is a mainstream media “increasingly desperate for attention” in a shrinking market, doing everything it can to attract viewers and listeners.

Worst of all for polarization, Peterson said, is the rise of a “group identity, associated, quasi-Marxist viewpoint with this additional toxic mixture, paradoxical mixture of postmodernism.”

Postmodernism, Peterson said, questions whether large, uniting narratives are valid.

This is a huge problem because human beings are driven by stories and narratives, so this concept is “unbelievably destabilizing for people,” he said.

Life satisfaction comes when we believe we are making our way to a “valid endpoint,” Peterson said, and this mentality isn’t really “optional,” even for nihilists—who deny all meaning in life—because their misery is what gives them meaning.

“The destruction of the narratives that guide us individually, psychologically, and that also unite us, socially, familially … it’s an absolute catastrophe,” Peterson said. And this reality is the result of the “unholy marriage of the postmodern nihilism with this Marxist utopian notion.”

Despite the philosophical incompatibility of these concepts, they have been combined into a potent stew in the late modern age, where group identity is all that matters and individuals are subsumed to the collective.

The intellectual divide between these concepts and classical Western views go “way deeper” than our political divides, Peterson said.

To address the growth of nihilism, it’s important to build the self-worth of individuals so that they can find strength from within, Peterson said. Unfortunately, for half a century, we’ve been teaching people that they are fine just the way they are, he said, but this is a terrible message for those who are “miserable and aimless.”

It is better, he said, to tell people that they are “useless” and ignorant, but that if they actually begin to apply themselves they can become something much greater.

This, rather than platitudes about everyone being perfect, is the path to bringing out the best in people, Peterson said.



Trump Really Does Have a Plan That’s Better Than Obamacare

Doug Badger

“If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out,” President Donald Trump said last week, “we’ll have a plan that is far better than Obamacare.”

Democrats couldn’t believe their luck. They still were reeling from special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that the Trump campaign neither conspired nor coordinated with Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Now the president was changing the subject from collusion (a suddenly awkward topic for Democrats) to health care (which helped them capture dozens of House seats last November).

Besides, the president really doesn’t have a plan that is far better than Obamacare, or any plan at all. Right?


A look at his fiscal year 2020 budget shows that the president has a plan to reduce costs and increase health care choices. His plan would achieve this by redirecting federal premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion money into grants to states. States would be required to use the money to establish consumer-centered programs that make health insurance affordable regardless of income or medical condition.

The president’s proposal is buttressed by a growing body of evidence that relaxing federal regulations and freeing the states to innovate makes health care more affordable for families and small businesses.

Ed Haislmaier and I last year published an analysis of waivers that have so far enabled seven states to significantly reduce individual health insurance premiums. These states fund “invisible high risk pools” and reinsurance arrangements largely by repurposing federal money that would otherwise have been spent on Obamacare premium subsidies, directing them instead to those in greatest medical need.

By financing care for those with the biggest medical bills, these states have substantially reduced premiums for individual policies. Before Maryland obtained its waiver, insurers in the state filed requests for 2019 premium hikes averaging 30 percent. After the federal government approved the waiver, final 2019 premiums averaged 13 percent lower than in 2018—a 43 percent swing.

Best of all, Maryland and the other waiver states have achieved these results without increasing federal spending or creating a new federally funded reinsurance program, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has proposed to do.

State innovation also extends to Medicaid. Some states have sought waivers permitting them to establish work requirements designed to help Medicaid recipients escape poverty.

Arkansas, for example, last June began requiring nondisabled, childless, working-age adults to engage in 80 hours of work activity per month. The program defined “work activity” broadly to include seeking a job, training for work, studying for a GED, engaging in community service, and learning English.

More than 18,000 people—all nondisabled and aged 30-49—were dropped from the rolls between September and December for failing to meet these requirements. The overwhelming majority did not report any work-related activity. All became eligible to re-enroll in Medicaid on Jan. 1. Fewer than 2,000 have done so, suggesting that most either don’t value the benefit or now earn enough to render them ineligible for Medicaid.

Nonetheless, last week a federal judge ordered Arkansas to drop its Medicaid work requirement, a requirement that would likely improve lifetime earnings of Medicaid recipients.

Administration efforts to relax federal rules to benefit employees of small businesses also were nullified last week by a federal judge.

Most uninsured workers are employed by small firms, many of which can’t afford Obamacare coverage for their employees. The Labor Department rule allowed small firms to band together, including across state lines, giving them purchasing power comparable to that of big businesses.

A study of association health plans that formed after the new rule took effect last September found that they offered comprehensive coverage at premium savings averaging 23%. The court ruling stopped that progress in its tracks.

Waivers and regulations that benefit consumers are susceptible to the whim of judges and bureaucrats, which is why Congress should act on the president’s proposal.

It closely parallels the Health Care Choices Proposal, the product of ongoing work by national and state think tanks, grassroots organizations, policy analysts, and others in the conservative community. A study by the Center for Health and the Economy, commissioned by The Heritage Foundation, found that the proposal would reduce premiums for individual health insurance by up to 32 percent and cover virtually the same number of people as under Obamacare.

It also would give consumers more freedom to choose the coverage they think best for themselves and their families. Unlike current law, states could include direct primary care; health-sharing ministries; short-term, limited-duration plans; and other arrangements among the options available through their programs.

Those expanded choices would extend to low-income people. The proposal would require states to let those receiving assistance through the block grants, Medicaid, and other public assistance programs apply the value of their subsidy to the plan of their choice, instead of being herded into government-contracted health maintenance organizations.

Outside groups that helped develop the proposal, which is similar to the president’s, are looking to refine it by incorporating other Trump administration ideas like expansion of health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and association health plans. They’re also reviewing various administration ideas to reduce health care costs through choice and competition.

The president really does have “a plan that is far better than Obamacare.” Congress should get on board.



Sulzbergers Whimper That Murdochs Took Their Global Lunch and Ate It
The headline on the front page of The New York Times was this: 6 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Rupert Murdoch and His Family

The posted version at the Times website - the very long piece is to be featured in the Sunday Magazine section of the print paper - now headlines: How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World

As NB's own Clay Waters has noted: “The tone is amazingly ideological and personally hostile, perhaps the most virulent and conspiracy-minded attack on Fox News ever issued by the paper, certainly the longest one, against some stiff competition.”

Exactly true. But there is something else at work in this massive, gossipy hit piece on the Murdochs, Fox News. and its various anchors and hosts.  A something else that is barely acknowledged with this brisk one sentence in a very short paragraph about family ownership of media companies. The sentence reads:

"The New York Times has been controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family for more than a century."

That acknowledgment made, the piece resumes its attack in the next paragraph, starting out with this:

The right-wing populist wave that looked like a fleeting cultural phenomenon a few years ago has turned into the defining political movement of the times, disrupting the world order of the last half-century. The Murdoch empire did not cause this wave. But more than any single media company, it enabled it, promoted it and profited from it.

Across the English-speaking world, the family’s outlets have helped elevate marginal demagogues, mainstream ethnonationalism and politicize the very notion of truth. [!] The results have been striking. It may not have been the family’s mission to destabilize democracies around the world, but that has been its most consequential legacy.

What’s missing? Something so elemental its absence cannot be missed. Let’s take a stroll back in the history of - The New York Times.  To a time long before the dawn of cable news.

In 1966, former New York Times reporter Gay Talese - he had departed the prestigious paper after ten years - penned a hefty book that was titled The Kingdom and the Power: The Story of the Men Who Influence the Institution That Influences the World - The New York Times.

In which Talese says, among other things, that The Times in 1966 was:

“…the world’s mightiest newspaper kingdom - whose power is such that those who run it and work for it influence the course of human history. Each day the ‘paper of record,’ The New York Times, appears in 11,464 cities around the world, and in all capitals of the world. A foreign minister in Taiwan is so dependent on its news coverage that he has the thick Sunday edition flown in to him each weekend-at a cost of $16.40. The fifty copies of The Times that make their way to the White House each morning are scanned apprehensively for the verdict on government policies, while hundreds of thousands of Americans learn what is happening all over the globe - and what to think of it - from The New York Times.”

Talese goes on in detail about the Sulzbergers, the family that owned the paper then - and now. He describes their massive influence around the world, including:

“…the behind-the-scenes hobnobbing with the great, from kings to premiers, ambassadors, and cabinet members.” The family ran the paper as “a medieval modern kingdom within the nation with its own private laws and values and with leaders who felt responsibility for the nation’s welfare….The Times was the bible…what appeared in The Times must be true…”

In April of 1961 “The Times decided not to publish all it knew” about the Bay of Pigs invasion, in deference to its friends in the Kennedy administration. On and on goes The Kingdom and The Power on the global power and influence of The Times, its owners and its reporters and columnists.

In other words? Long before the dawn of cable news, and long before Rupert Murdoch arrived in America to expand his Australian newspaper empire, The New York Times and the Sulzberger family that owned it ruled the media roost.

And now - they don’t. Because of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper and television genius, the Sulzberger influence on the world and in America has been overshadowed by Murdoch's News Corporation and Fox News.

The America where attention was paid to Times columnists and their dominating left-wing world view has vanished - replaced by massive audiences listening in prime time these days to Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Breakfast is not about reading The Times - it’s about tuning in to Fox & Friends.

The Times hit job on the Murdochs and Fox News is furious that the President of the United States - on whom they spent volumes of print and cyber-ink insisting he would never win-calls not them but Rupert Murdoch and - oh the horror!!!! - Sean Hannity.

In short, what this voluminous Times hit piece is really all about is a primal scream of anger, rage and envy that its once-upon-a-time “Kingdom and Power” of liberalism is gone - and gone for good. The paper no longer gets to define what is “truth”, and it most assuredly is no longer “the bible.”

Whatever else lies ahead for the Murdochs and Fox News, it is very safe to say that this spittle-flecked Times hit job is in reality nothing more than a testament to just how effectively The Times monopoly and that of the larger Leftist State Media has been eviscerated- once and for all.

And amen to that



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, April 08, 2019

Socialized Medicine: Saving Money By Killing Grandma

From Adolf Hitler on, the Left have consistently shown a hostility to medical care for the frail elderly.  They justify that by saying such things as "Two thirds of all medical care received by a person are in the last two years of their life".  To them that is self-evidently a waste.  Individuals don't matter, only the State.

That was most vividly seen in recent years with the "Liverpool Care Pathway" of Britain's National Health Service.  Under the "pathway", hundreds of thousands (est. 130,000 p.a.) of the frail elderly in NHS care were knocked out with morphine and denied food and water until they died of thirst.  It is doubtful that even the morphine suppressed the resultant suffering but it did prevent the patients from complaining. Hospitals were even provided cash incentives to achieve targets for the number of patients placed on the LCP.  Families were often not informed of clinicians’ decision to put a relative on the pathway.  It is no longer supposed to be used but versions of it still happen.  It's still sometimes unsafe to be old in a British government hospital.

The pathway was used for all of the term of the Blair Labour government  and was phased out by the Conservatives under David Cameron, starting in 2013. Just a few of the many available reports of Pathway deaths herehere, here, here and here.

It is hard to believe that it happened in a modern Western country unless you know how authoritarian Britain is and how Britons have brought hypocrisy to the state of a high art.  It was all done in the name of "caring", that wonderful Leftist caring of course.

Conservatives however do respect the individual and point out that the elderly care has been PAID FOR -- in the form of taxes paid in their earlier years that were paid partly in response to a promise of life-long care through public hospitals etc.  So it is not a waste.  It is a service bought and delivered

Democrats, such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have recently begun to show their true colors and advocate openly that America should become a socialist country. The sales pitch for Americans to abandon constitutional liberty is that socialism is fairer and will give every American equal access to the essentials of modern life; healthcare, education, food, housing, etc.

To those struggling to pay-off student loans for degrees in women’s studies, find housing in over-regulated urban housing markets and obtain affordable health insurance after the debacle of Obamacare this probably sounds pretty attractive.

However, as the President’s Council of Economic Advisors documented in its recent Economic Report of the President (the CEA Report), the historical evidence suggests that the proposed socialist program for the U.S. would create shortages, or otherwise degrade the quality, of whatever product or service is put under a public monopoly. The pace of innovation would slow and living standards generally would be lower.

Indeed, in other countries where socialism has been imposed in the past, production of whatever was socialized often (and quickly) fell by about 50 percent.

The Economic Report of the President has several interesting sections on the effects of socialist policies and one of the most interesting is its examination of socialist healthcare plans, such as the Socialist Democrats’ “Medicare for All” (M4A) legislation.

Current proposals to increase government involvement in healthcare, like “Medicare for All”, are motivated by the view that competition and free choice cannot work in this sector. These proposals, though well-intentioned, mandate a decrease or elimination of choice and competition. We believe that these proposals would be inefficiently costly and would likely reduce, as opposed to increase, the U.S. population’s health. We think the data shows that funding them would create large distortions in the economy. Finally, we agree with the the CEA Report that the universal nature of “Medicare for All” would be a particularly inefficient and untargeted way to serve lower- and middle-income people.

However, despite the large volume of data supporting the contrary position, a free, single-payer healthcare system has become the cornerstone of current socialist policy proposals in the United States. The Senate and House “Medicare for All” (M4A) plans, sponsored or cosponsored by 141 Democrat members of the 115th Congress, are designed to use the scale economies of a public monopoly to sharply cut costs (S. 1804; H.R. 676).

These plans make it unlawful for a private business to sell health insurance, or for a private employer to offer health insurance to its employees. Although, at the time of passing the Affordable Care Act, it was promised that consumers could keep their doctor or their plan, M4A takes the opposite approach: All private health insurance plans will be prohibited after a four-year transition period.

M4A would not make healthcare providers government employees, rather it would be a Federal program having a nationwide monopoly on health insurance. The price paid to the government monopoly (the analogue to revenue received by private health insurance plans) would be determined through tax policy.

The quality or productivity of health insurance would be determined through centrally planned rules and regulations. As opposed to a market with competition, if a patient did not like the tax charged or the quality of the care provided by the government monopoly, he or she would have no recourse. In addition, price competition in healthcare itself, as opposed to health insurance, would be eliminated because all the prices paid to providers and suppliers of healthcare would be set centrally by the single payer.

Proponents of M4A often refer to European-style programs of socialized medicine as their role model, but the European programs appear to deliver less healthcare to the elderly and result in worse health outcomes for them. Many of these programs ration older patients’ access to expensive procedures directly or through waiting times.

Current Medicare beneficiaries would likely be hurt by M4A’s expansion of the size of the eligible program population. The evidence for a trade-off between universal and senior healthcare is supported by both the European single-payer experience that limits care for the elderly compared with the U.S., along with the recent domestic U.S. reforms under the ACA that reduced projected Medicare spending by $802 billion to help fund expansions for younger age groups (CBO 2015).

The President’s Report documents that United States’ all-cause mortality rates relative to those of other developed countries improve dramatically after the age of 75 years. In 1960—before Medicare—the U.S. ranked below most EU countries for longevity among those age 50–74, yet above them among for those age 75 and higher.

This pattern persists today.

In a study cited in the CEA Report, Ho and Preston (2010) argue that a higher deployment of life-saving technologies for older patients in the U.S. compared with other developed countries leads to better diagnosis and treatment of diseases of older people and greater longevity.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in many developed countries, especially among older individuals, and it constitutes an important component of overall U.S. healthcare spending. The availability and utilization of healthcare are particularly important for cancer longevity.

The President’s Report cites data from Philipson and others (2012) which found that U.S. cancer patients live longer than cancer patients in 10 EU countries, after the same diagnosis, due to the additional spending on higher quality cancer care in the U.S.

The CEA Report also cites data from Ho and Preston (2010) pointing out that in Europe, where the proportion of surgically treated patients declines with age, five-year survival rates for colorectal cancer are lower for elderly patients than younger patients. However, in the United States, where utilization of surgery does not decline with age, colorectal cancer survival rates do not decline for elderly patients. (Emphasis ours.)

This effect is not confined to cancer treatment, noted the President’s Report. For ischemic heart disease—the world’s leading cause of death—the use of cardiac catheterization, percutaneous coronary angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass grafting declines with patients’ age, but declines more steeply in other developed countries than in the United States. Compared with these developed countries, the U.S. has a lower case fatality rate for acute myocardial infarction (the acute manifestation of ischemic disease) for older persons but not for younger persons age 40 to 64 (Ho and Preston 2010).

This disease-specific evidence is more informative about the benefits of healthcare than often-discussed cross-country comparisons of nationally aggregated outcomes, such as overall population longevity and aggregate healthcare spending.  The fact that many wealthy foreigners who could afford to obtain care anywhere in the world come to the U.S. for specialized care is perhaps the strongest indication of its superior quality concludes the CEA Report.

The authors of the CEA Report go on to review other measures of healthcare quality, such as wait time for surgery, wait time to see a specialist, and found that all decline under socialized medicine.

The recent push in Congress to enact a highly restrictive “Medicare for All” proposal to increase access to health care would have the opposite effect—it would decrease competition and choice. The CEA’s analysis finds that, if enacted, this legislation would reduce longevity and health in the United States, decrease long-run global health by reducing medical innovation, and adversely affect the U.S. economy through the tax burden involved.



Metastasizing Media Mendacity

The Leftmedia's collective effort to undermine Trump over the last two years is remarkable

“People on the left say whatever advances their immediate agenda. Power is their moral lodestar; therefore, truth is always subservient to it.” —nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Dennis Prager

“It became a business model for most media to attack Donald Trump.” —Donald Trump Jr.

Perhaps nothing more succinctly summarizes the current state of America better than the above quotes. For nearly two years, a collection of partisan hacks presenting themselves as journalists assured the American public that Donald Trump had conspired with Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election from its rightful winner, Hillary Clinton.

The effort was breathtaking in range and scope. NewsWhip, a social-media analytics company, revealed that since May 2017, an astonishing 533,074 web articles were published about Russia and Trump/Mueller, generating 245 million interactions on Twitter and Facebook.

The Media Research Center revealed that from the presidential inauguration through March 21, 2019 — the last night prior to Mueller sending his report to Attorney General Robert Barr — just the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC alone generated 2,284 minutes of “collusion” coverage, with 1,909 of those minutes occurring after Mueller’s appointment on May 17, 2017. “Since his presidency began, nearly one-fifth (18.8%) of all of Trump’s evening news coverage has been about this one investigation,” MRC explained.

Moreover, there was no mistaking the slanted nature of that coverage. MRC adds, “From January 1 through March 21 of this year, the spin of Trump coverage on the evening newscasts has been 92% negative vs. just eight percent positive — even worse than the 90% negative coverage we calculated in 2017 and 2018.”

CNN and MSNBC also contributed to the debacle, averaging between two and three hours per day of Russian collusion stories since the inauguration, rife with reports of imminent arrests, implications of treason, etc.

The print media? The New York Times and The Washington Post alone published nearly 1,000 front-page articles, many of which precipitated retractions long after after the damage was done. The Associated Press and Reuters followed suit, dispatching similarly slanted stories to their newspaper, radio, and television-station subscribers throughout the country.

How good was that for business? “There was an omnipresent awareness that this was, strategically, a very important story for us,” an MSNBC executive told Vanity Fair columnist Joe Pompeo, who also noted the network had its best year ever in 2018. “There was no market for skepticism about it. As a business model, they see the ratings, and we were getting rewarded for this every day. When we had a slow day, it was kind of like: when in doubt, call the lawyers on; call the F.B.I. people.”

Columnist Peter Barry Chowka concurred. “The ratings success of MSNBC and to a lesser extent CNN … suggested that the strategy of the executives at NBC and CNN starting in November 2016 to go all-out 24/7 anti-Trump was paying off,” he explains.

In fact, while Fox News has long been the leader in the field, it was often topped in the 9 p.m. time slot when MSNBC’s chief conspiracy-monger, Rachel Maddow, beat Fox host Sean Hannity in both the total numbers of viewers and the coveted 25-54-year-old demographic.

After the Mueller report was released, followed by the release of Barr’s letter exonerating Trump? “The Rachel Maddow Show” endured a 13% decrease in viewership, including the loss of nearly 500,000 viewers on her Monday, Mar. 25 show, compared to her show a week earlier. She also saw a 15% decrease in the 25-54 demo audience.

She was not alone. Fox New surpassed CNN and MSNBC combined in every hour on Monday, March 25, from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight. In addition, CNN had its second-lowest weekday prime-time ratings of 2019 and its third-lowest 25-54-year-old demographic viewership for the year, according to Nielsen Media Research. Ratings for other shows on both networks have also declined by as much as 50%.

Repentance? Introspection? “I don’t know anybody who got anything wrong,” insisted CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We didn’t say there was conspiracy. We said that Mueller was investigating conspiracy.” CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter asserted that viewers weren’t tuning in to CNN and MSNBC following the release of Mueller’s report because “there hasn’t been much news.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O'Donnell declared that “no one in the news media … has read a single sentence of the Mueller report,” and network president Phil Griffin insisted via a spokesperson that his network is going to “keep doing our job, asking the tough questions, especially when it involves holding powerful people accountable.”

One is left to wonder whether that includes those powerful people at Griffin’s own network who flat-out lied to America for more than two years, including regular contributor and former CIA Director John Brennan, who actually stated a “treasonous” Trump was “wholly in the pocket of Putin.”

Brennan’s response to the report? “Well, I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was.”

Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson summed up Brennan’s judgment — along with the judgment of his equally contemptible Obama administration colleagues Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and James Comey — in a devastatingly accurate tweet: “If Clapper, Brennan, Rice, Power, Comey genuinely believed Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia and he didn’t, what does that say about the judgment of our one-time top intel types?” she asked.

Maybe it’s time for the American public to find out. But they shouldn’t expect any help from the likes of CNN. In fact, an astounding quote by CNN President Jeff Zucker reveals the level of corruption that infests his network. “We are not investigators,” he insisted. “We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did.”

That the term “investigative journalism” apparently eludes the president of an ostensible news network is amazing.

Going forward? If the wholly discredited “hands up don’t shoot” media campaign of Ferguson, Missouri, is any indication, the media continue to believe that wholesale lying is a good business model. And when that model is employed to delegitimize this president, and the 63 million “deplorables” who voted for him, so much the better.

The bigger picture? The media remain wholly in service to a Democrat/Deep State/Never-Trump Republican/corporatist/globalist alliance determined to reimpose the status quo — by any means necessary. And their media accomplices are so all in, they are warning Americans that if Trump shuts down the border, we would soon run out of … avocados.

When national sovereignty and security is even part of the same conversation as America’s guacamole supply, the corruption is all-encompassing.

In 2016, the electorate expressed its collective disgust when it put a media-despised, status-quo-crushing outsider in the Oval Office. Reelecting Trump in 2020 might be the only real antidote to the legions of braying jackals whose shameless pursuit of power made a complete mockery of anything resembling truth and journalistic integrity.

One collective middle finger aimed in their direction was an anomaly. Two would be the beginning of a welcome trend.



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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