Friday, September 06, 2019

Sirach 44

A Roman Catholic Bible has a number of books that Protestant Bibles do not have.  The church calls them deutero-canonical books: ancient books of wisdom that do not have the same authority as the rest of the Bible. The acceptance of some of these books among early Christians was widespread, though not universal. Martin Luther considered these books very good and useful reading; John Calvin considered them as work of Satan.

They are clearly later than the generally accepted books of the Old Testament.  For a start, they have mostly come down to us in Greek, with only fragments extant in Hebrew.  They also recount events much closer to the time of Christ. -- such as the revolt of the Maccabees

For the first thousand years of Christianity, there was no general agreement about what books rightly belonged in the Old Testament.  The various church fathers all had their own lists and some of the deutero-canonical books were normally included -- though not always the same deutero-canonical books.

But when Jews formulated their Masoretic text -- ending in the 10th century -- their selection of books gradually gained authority.  Protestant Bibles are based on it. Since the deutero-canonical books were widely accepted among early Christians, however, they are clearly part of the Christian tradition and deserve respect for that.

I am not well-read in the deutero-canonical books but I rather like chapter 44 of Sirach. Below is an excerpt in a modern translation:

1 Now allow us to praise famous people and our ancestors, generation by generation.

2 The Lord created great glory, his majesty from eternity.

3 They ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name with their power, some giving counsel by their intelligence; some making pronouncements in prophecies;

4 some leading the people by their deliberations, and by their understanding of the people’s learning, giving wise words in their instruction;

5 others devising musical melodies, and composing poems;

6 rich people endowed with strength, living in peace in their dwellings—

7 all of these were honored in their generation, a source of pride in their time.

8 Some of them left behind a name so that their praises might be told.

9 For some there is no memory, and they perished as though they hadn’t existed. These have become as though they hadn’t been born, they and even their children after them.

10 But these were compassionate people whose righteous deeds haven’t been forgotten.

11 This will persist with their children; their descendants will be a good legacy.

12 Their descendants stand by the covenants, and their children also, for their sake.

13 Their descendants will last forever, and their glory will never be erased.

14 Their bodies were buried in peace, but their name lives for generations.

15 The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will proclaim their praise.

It seems to me that this passage constitutes an exact repudiation of Leftism. Leftists want everybody to be equal and loathe success wherever they find it.  Far from praising and remembering great men, they mock them as "dead white males".  Leftists envy great men.  They do not honour them. As Gore Vidal said:  "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little"

But I agree with Sirach.  We SHOULD remember great men -- because we may be able to learn from them.  They represent excellence and we should aspire to excellence.  So the passage above is an emphatic expression of values that we may never hear so strongly put today but which should be part of a healthy scale of values.  It is wisdom from the Christian tradition.


The trade war may not be worth it for Wall Street, but it is worth it to Americans who have lost their jobs and towns

If you Google Peter Navarro, President Donald Trump’s trade guru (he is actually called “assistant to the president and director of trade and manufacturing policy,”) you might read that he is considered a “heterodox” economist. We suppose this means out of sync with many or most professional and academic economists. They regard “free trade” or unregulated, un-negotiated trade, as an article of faith.

But shouldn’t economists, of all people, be the opposite of doctrinaire? Should economics not be utterly empirical? And shouldn’t the national interest outweigh any abstract doctrine?

As the national media piles on regarding Mr. Trump’s trade policy — protectionist in the words of some pundits and negatively nationalist in the minds of others — Mr. Navarro has become the whipping boy for an approach to trade that we are told is impractical, naive and bound to trigger a recession.

Actually, to assume that any market will entirely regulate itself, righting any and all unfairness or inequality, has long been thought naive by liberal economists and social critics. And the result of most of the “free trade” agreements made in the last 30 years would seem to verify that critique.

In truth, the gradual and structural recession that has plagued the American worker for those same years — known as deindustrialization — is the permanent recession; the recession that keeps on hurting.

Mr. Navarro is portrayed by some of the media as an economic gadfly (read “nut”) when he is actually a Harvard Ph.D. whose views were, for a long time, very much in the mainstream. They may again become the prevailing common sense. That is because they are sensible.

“This country is built on manufacturing,” he has said again and again. “I’m talking about a constant renewal of manufacturing. High-tech manufacturing. And what we’ve seen since 2000, 2001, is we’ve seen the exodus of our factories and jobs.”

This is fact. It is empirical. This nation had some 17 million manufacturing jobs in 2000, considered the (down) turning point, and has a little under 12 million now. We’ve lost 5 million factory jobs in less than 20 years.

At one point — the late 1970s — almost 20 million Americans worked in manufacturing. In 1960, 1 in 4 Americans were factory workers. Today, 1 in 10 are.

Mr. Navarro, a liberal Democrat, makes what used to be a classical liberal Democratic argument about the multiplier effect of manufacturing jobs. “A manufacturing job,” he told NPR a few months ago, “has inherently more power to create wealth.”

“If you have the manufacturing job as the seed corn, then you have jobs in the supply chain. Then towns spring up around that where you have the retail, the lawyers, the accountants, the restaurants, the movie theaters. And what happens is when you lose a factory or a plant in a small- or medium-sized town in the Midwest, it’s like a black hole. And all of that community gets sucked into the black hole and it becomes a community of despair and crime and blight rather than something that’s prosperous.”

This, too, is simply true.

He makes a second classical liberal Democratic argument — that by surrendering in the trade war, the U.S. government transferred wealth overseas and from American workers to foreign companies. If calling that stupid and irresponsible is“protectionist,” so be it. If our government is not here to protect us, what is it here for?

Finally, Mr. Navarro makes the point that deindustrialization is a national security issue. During World War II we vastly outproduced Germany and Japan. This would not be possible today. We could not — we probably would not have the resources or the heart — fight the war today.

To view the industrial base as central to the nation’s defense is not radical or new. It is rational and traditional. In 1952, when faced with a strike by the United Steelworkers, Harry Truman issued an executive order for the secretary of commerce to seize the nation’s steel mills to ensure the continued production of steel. Our industrial base is our security base.

Finally, some 60 years ago, when the writer Michael Harrington’s book “The Other America” (praised by John F. Kennedy) was published, it was considered enlightened, or simply decent, to have concern for the poverty of rural America, though there was no power elite there. Yet when Mr. Navarro and Mr. Trump seek to revive the emptied out heartland, and its silent factories, we are told they are selling empty promises.

Why should this be so? Why shouldn’t America build things again, even if it cannot regain its once overwhelmingly dominant position in manufacturing? Why should it not be considered mainstream to protect the economic future of Americans who are not powerful and progressive to seek to create jobs, real jobs, for Americans who have, for so long, been forsaken?

We are told that fighting the trade war just isn’t worth it. It makes Wall Street nervous. Maybe if your job and town are gone, the fight is worth it.



Nothing Protects Tenants Better than Adding Supply
Many Californians are clamoring for more tenant protection legislation. Lawmakers are currently considering AB1482, which aims to limit rent hikes and unfair evictions. Last year, California tenant advocates failed to pass Proposition 10, which aimed to expand rent-control.

Earlier this month, Alameda landlords Margaret and Spencer Tam made news for attempting to evict 87-year-old Holocaust survivor Musiy Rishin in order to replace him with higher-paying tenants. Then in late August police arrested a Mountain View landlord and her friends after they staged a violent home invasion in order to scare a family out of the home they were renting.

Keeping low-income families in their homes is a worthy goal. Displacement separates families from their jobs and social support systems. It exacerbates poverty and increases homelessness.

More than 16,000 households in San Francisco depend on rent control to stay in their homes. Ending it immediately would consign every low-income family in SF to either homelessness or crushing commutes. But keeping it going traps families in apartments which may or may not suit their current needs and raises rents (by a small amount) on average.

Rent control is a Band-Aid solution to the growing, nationwide problem of rent burden. Incomes among the bottom half of earners haven’t grown since the Great Recession. Rents, meanwhile, are skyrocketing across the US. They’re growing fastest in the cities that are creating the majority of new jobs.

Rents are increasing because high-demand cities aren’t building enough new homes. Rent control attempts to keep long-term residents in their homes, but rent control without new supply creates a huge gap between market rate rents and what low-income families pay.

This disparity pits landlords against rent-control tenants. Unfortunately, when landlords go up against tenants, they nearly always win. For example, landlords are nearly always represented in wrongful eviction cases, whereas tenants can rarely find a lawyer. And where they can’t prevail in court, they can always make life miserable for tenants by cutting off power like the Mountain View landlords. Or failing to maintain the property in the instance of the Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 people in Oakland in 2016. Rent control also tends to benefit older, wealthier tenants who are better able to fight evictions and don’t have to move as often for work or family changes.

Limits on when and why landlords can evict tenants are supposed to protect them from displacement. But until market rates come down, landlords will be strongly incentivized to remove tenants who pay far below-market rates and replace them with market-rate tenants. And they’re likely to often prevail, as the above cases show. Unfortunately, even the strongest tenant protections can’t do the job of a housing market where landlords compete for tenants and not the other way around.

Rent control and tenant protections in San Francisco raise rents less than 10% on average, according to Stanford Researchers. They’re the only thing keeping low-income tenants in their homes in SF. But they alone will not be enough to keep low-income renters safe. The only thing that will work for all families, long-term, is to build more housing.



Unions are the enemies of the people

I didn't have a choice about joining a union when I was hired by CBS and then ABC. They told me that if I wanted to work, I had to pay dues to AFTRA (the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists). "I'm not an 'artist'!" I complained. "I don't want to pay a middleman, and I don't want some actor setting my working conditions."

"Too bad," was the answer. "This is a union shop."

Today, 28 states no longer force workers to join unions. Last year, the Supreme Court declared that unions forcing government workers to pay dues is unconstitutional. After that, hundreds of thousands of workers stopped paying union dues. Good. Unions tend to be enemies of workplace innovation and individual choice.

Also, some of their leaders are thieves. Last week, the FBI raided homes of United Auto Workers leaders. The investigation, begun by the Obama administration, suggests Fiat Chrysler Automobiles paid union leaders millions in bribes to stay "fat, dumb and happy," as prosecutors put it, instead of protecting union members' interests.

Yet, this week, Elizabeth Warren (now the clear Democratic presidential frontrunner), said that "more than ever, America needs a strong labor movement."

This is a popular argument, fueled by the media's bashing of President Donald Trump and anyone else who supports markets. A recent Gallup poll found labor unions now have a 64% favorability rating -- the highest in 16 years.

Warren went on to say that America needs unions because "the playing field today is tilted against working families."

That's utter nonsense. The playing field is better for working families today because the animal spirits of capitalism create more wealth and opportunities in spite of unions.

Of course, unions were once needed. More than 100 years ago, the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company got the National Guard to send men with machine guns into tents occupied by strikers. They killed at least 20 people, including children and wives of miners who were burned alive.

Today, however, violence is more likely to be initiated by unions.

When I worked for ABC, delivery trucks for the New York Daily News were attacked with sticks, stones and fire on the first day of a strike. Some drivers were beaten.

Not satisfied with attacking the company and threatening violence against "scabs" who want to work, union protestors threatened newsstands that continued to sell the Daily News. Protestors seized copies of the paper and set them on fire.

Police did little to quell the violence.

No wonder many companies prefer to work with nonunion labor.

The legally mandated bureaucracy, and all the lawyers surrounding labor disputes, is another infuriating obstacle to anyone who just wants to work out a contract or get a project done.

One-size-fits-all union contracts aren't great for all workers, either. They make it tough for individuals to have their own way.

If the union at your workplace says everyone works an eight-hour day, you can't make your own deal to work a 12-hour day with higher pay. You and your boss might prefer that, but you don't get the option. The union might even call you a troublemaker, saying you put pressure on everyone to work longer hours.

In a pure free market, every entity -- whether individual or a group of individuals -- is able to make whatever contracts they like, so long as the other party agrees.

That system would include you getting to decide whether you want to join a union or remain a free individual operator.

More controversially, it would also include the right of business owners to fire people for trying to organize unions.

In a true free market, workers and management are both allowed to be tough negotiators and make demands. But neither side should have the right to get the government to dictate the terms of a contract.

Keep government out of it, so long as people stick to their contracts and refrain from violence.



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, September 05, 2019

Just TWO glasses of diet drinks each day raises the risk of an early death, reveals study by the World Health Organisation

I append the original journal abstract below. My comments at the foot of the abstract

The global study of more than 450,000 adults in 10 countries - including the UK - found that daily consumption of all types of soft drinks was linked with a higher chance of dying young.

But the rates for those drinking artificially-sweetened beverages were significantly higher than those consuming full sugar versions.

The scientists, from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, said it would be 'prudent' to cut out all soft drinks and have water instead.

And they said taxing sugary drinks – as is done in the UK – could boost diet drink uptake for which the 'long-term' health implications' are unknown.

The research, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, is the largest study to examine links between soft drink consumption and mortality. Previous smaller studies have suggested a link, but have not found such dramatic differences.

The new research found those who consumed two or more 250ml glasses of diet drink a day had a 26 per increased risk of dying within the next 16 years. And deaths from cardiovascular disease went up 52 per cent. [Off a very small base]

For those who had two or more sugary soft drinks a day, the risk of death in the same period was raised by eight per cent.

Study leader Dr Neil Murphy, said: 'The striking observation in our study was that we found positive associations for both sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened soft drinks with risk of all-cause deaths.'

He said it is 'unclear' exactly why this is, but pointed to previous studies which suggest the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks 'may induce glucose intolerance' and trigger high blood insulin levels.

'Additional studies are now needed to examine the long term health consequences of specific artificial sweeteners that are commonly used in soft drinks, such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium,' he said.

Similar studies in the past have been criticised because experts said people who drink diet products are more likely to be unhealthy to start with.

But the new study found the link between diet drinks and death rates persisted among those of a healthy weight.

The study also raised concerns about policies that drive people from sugary drinks to diet drinks.

The authors wrote: 'Reformulation of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, in which sugar is replaced with low- or no-calorie sweeteners, is being driven by consumer awareness and fiscal instruments, such as taxes.

'Artificially sweetened soft drinks have few or no calories; however, their long-term physiological and health implications are largely unknown.'

Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: 'This study reports a possible association between higher consumption of soft drinks and an increased risk of mortality, but does not provide evidence of cause, as the authors readily admit.

'According to all leading health authorities in the world, as well as Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK, low- and no-calorie sweeteners are safe.'


Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in 10 European Countries

By Amy Mullee plus Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all


Importance:  Soft drinks are frequently consumed, but whether this consumption is associated with mortality risk is unknown and has been understudied in European populations to date.

Objective:  To examine the association between total, sugar-sweetened, and artificially sweetened soft drink consumption and subsequent total and cause-specific mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This population-based cohort study involved participants (n = 451 743 of the full cohort) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), an ongoing, large multinational cohort of people from 10 European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), with participants recruited between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 2000. Excluded participants were those who reported cancer, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes at baseline; those with implausible dietary intake data; and those with missing soft drink consumption or follow-up information. Data analyses were performed from February 1, 2018, to October 1, 2018.

Exposure:  Consumption of total, sugar-sweetened, and artificially sweetened soft drinks.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Total mortality and cause-specific mortality. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for other mortality risk factors.

Results: In total, 521 330 individuals were enrolled. Of this total, 451 743 (86.7%) were included in the study, with a mean (SD) age of 50.8 (9.8) years and with 321 081 women (71.1%). During a mean (range) follow-up of 16.4 (11.1 in Greece to 19.2 in France) years, 41 693 deaths occurred. Higher all-cause mortality was found among participants who consumed 2 or more glasses per day (vs consumers of <1 glass per month) of total soft drinks (hazard ratio [HR], 1.17; 95% CI, 1.11-1.22; P < .001), sugar-sweetened soft drinks (HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01-1.16; P = .004), and artificially sweetened soft drinks (HR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.16-1.35; P < .001). Positive associations were also observed between artificially sweetened soft drinks and deaths from circulatory diseases (≥2 glasses per day vs <1 glass per month; HR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.30-1.78; P < .001) and between sugar-sweetened soft drinks and deaths from digestive diseases (≥1 glass per day vs <1 glass per month; HR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.24-2.05; P < .001).

JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 3, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2478

There is a constant attempt in the medical literature to discredit fizzy drinks.  They are very popular so must be wrong. Sadly, most effects observed are very weak and hopelessly confounded with other factors.

The report below is of that ilk.  The hazard ratios are all close to 1.0, indicating very weak effects, too weak to support sound policy prescriptions.  Given such weak effects, any differences could be traceable to third factors, such as income, social class  and IQ, factors not controlled for in the present research.  In other words, dumb, lower class and poor people in the study probably drank more fizz so what was observed was not the characteristics of fizz drinkers but the result of the drinkers being poor etc. Without comprehensive demographic controls, the study proves precisely nothing.  Enjoy your fizz!  I do


The Left Can’t Stop Lying About the Tea Party

“In the late summer of 2009, as the recession-ravaged economy bled half a million jobs a month, the country seemed to lose its mind,” The New York Times says, kicking off its 10th anniversary retrospective of the tea party movement. As you can imagine, the rest of the article continues in this vein, portraying conservatives who organized against Obamacare as a bunch of vulgar radicals.

Yet even this kind revisionism wasn’t enough for most contemporary leftists, who see everything through the prism of race.

“A fundamental flaw in this analysis is there is no mention of race and how much racism drove the tea party movement,” ABC’s Matthew Dowd claimed. “You can’t talk about the rage politics and leave out race.”

“How do you write a 10-years-later piece on the tea party and not mention–not once, not even in passing—the fact that it was essentially a hysterical grassroots tantrum about the fact that a black guy was president?” asked nonbiased Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, calling it journalistic “malpractice.”

Well, you get the idea.

In the first draft of this column, I joked that The New York Times might add a line about tea party “racism” before the day was over to placate the Twitter mob. It did it before I could even publish.

But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s no evidence that a “good deal”—or any substantial deal, for that matter—of the tea party’s popularity was propelled by racism.

For one thing, the wealthy white leader of Congress at the time was just as unpopular among tea partyers as the black president. And as we’ve seen, had Hillary Clinton won the 2008 election, she would have generated no less anger among conservatives.

No, it was Barack Obama’s leftist rhetoric and unprecedented unilateralism—he had, after all, promised “fundamental change”—that ignited what amounts to a renewed Reaganism, a fusing of idealistic constitutionalism and economic libertarianism.

Tea party protesters not only felt like they were under assault from Democrats but that they had been abandoned by the GOP establishment. If you really wanted to hear them “rage,” though, you could always bring up the Caucasian former Republican president, George W. Bush, who had “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

As with any spontaneous political movement, some bad actors glommed onto protests. The New York Times article, for instance, informs us that “one demonstrator at a rally in Maryland hanged a member of Congress in effigy” and that a “popular bumper sticker was ‘Honk If I’m Paying Your Mortgage'”—as if we’re supposed to be offended by the latter.

Left-wing protesters, no matter how puerile, hateful, or bigoted, are typically depicted as righteous agents of change. Conservatives and libertarians, on the other hand, “rage.” The “summer of rage” typically refers to the riots that swept a number of American cities in 1967.

The tea party protests never turned violent. There were no riots. No broken Starbucks windows. It was the most peaceful “rage” you’re ever going to see.

A CBS/New York Times poll at the time, in fact, found that the average tea party activist was more educated than the average American, and their concerns mirrored the mainstream. Although a majority was more socially conservative than the average voter—particularly on abortion—8 in 10 of them wanted their burgeoning movement to focus on economic issues rather than social ones.

Hardly the anarchists depicted in the media, a majority of tea partyers wanted to reduce the size of government rather than focus on cutting budget deficits or even lowering taxes, the poll found. A majority, in fact, believed that Social Security and Medicare were worthy taxpayer burdens.

Not even clamping down on illegal immigration, often the impetus for charges of racism these days, was a big topic among these activists.

The tea party had three main grievances: Obamacare, government spending, and “a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.”

The protests were fueled by Democrats’ unprecedented action on a health care policy. A decade later, the tea party’s suspicion that the health care law was merely an incremental way to move toward socialist policies turned out to be correct, as most of the Democratic Party presidential field can attest.

One thing is true, though: The majority of tea partiers were white. You know what that means, right?

And as those of us who covered the Obama administration remember, no matter how historically detailed or ideologically anchored your position might be, the very act of opposing a black president was going to be depicted as act of bigotry.

This cheap and destructive rhetoric now dominates virtually every contemporary debate, most of which have absolutely nothing, even tangentially, to do with race. It’s a kind of rhetoric, in fact, that retroactively dominates our debates, as well.



Spice Company Says Republicans Are More 'Calculated' Than Nazis

Bill Penzey undoubtedly knows a lot about spices but his history is woefully lacking. That Hitler was a socialist seems to be unknown to him.  Whatever else he might be, Trump is no socialist. And that Donald Trump is as keen on deregulation as Hitler was keen on controlling all businesses also seems unknown to him.  So what is Left?  Whom has Trump gassed?  Nobody. Bill should stick to his spices.  He lives in his own little fantasy world where any mention of ethnicity leads directly to Auschwitz.  He would apperar to be a typical under-educated Leftist

He certainly would not understand why or how a conservative New Zealand blogger once started up a fake-Leftist site called Progressive Essays. The amusing part was that the content on the blog in fact consisted of recycled speeches by Hitler and various other Nazis and Fascists of history. Apparently no one spotted the difference. It was routinely linked as just another Leftist blog!
A Wisconsin-based spice company published a scathing attack on President Trump and the Republican Party — accusing them of leading the nation on a path towards “1930s German-style nationalism.”

“The reality of what America’s Republican Party has become stopped being deniable,” Bill Penzey of Penzey’s Spices wrote on the company’s Facebook page. He referenced the domestic-terrorist attack in El Paso.

“As the president’s intentional creation of fear and dehumanizing of Hispanic Americans turned into mass murder, what may well have been the last chance to turn the party away from the path towards 1930s Germany-style nationalism quite probably ended in the silence of Republican Party leaders,” he wrote.

Penzey, who has a history of using the company’s platform to attack gun-toting, Bible-clinging conservatives, called for an intervention.

“Yes, today’s republicans are not yet 1943 Nazis, but no one honest is denying the parallels between the two parties,” he wrote. “Today the only real debate is how far along the Nazi timeline republicans are. But as much as the 1930s Germany comparison is accurate, the value of the analogy is somewhat limited because no one in 1930s Europe had any successful idea on how to stop them.”

Penzey went on to suggest that Republicans are even more evil than the Nazis.

“Plus, for all the buffoonery of the president, the actual workings of the Republican Party in the age of unlimited political spending and targeted social media are far more calculated and far more sophisticated than anything the Nazis of eighty years ago ever dreamed of. We are up against something quite formidable,” he wrote.

Mr. Penzey and his company have every right to condemn President Trump and the Republican Party. But it should also be noted that President Trump and his supporters have every right to buy their spices someplace else.

And a personal note to Mr. Penzey — you might want to ease up on the smoked Paprika.




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, September 04, 2019

Labor Day outlook

Today is Labor Day, and that means the unofficial end of summer on a day of celebration of the American worker. The holiday originated in the late 19th century and was born of the labor movement, though many Americans, led by President Grover Cleveland, pushed for and secured a September date to distinguish it from the socialist/communist "International Workers Day," or "May Day," on May 1. Labor Day was made an official federal holiday in 1894.

As we mark the day, let's take a quick look at a few related topics.

First, Hurricane Dorian, currently a Category 5 monster, is heading for Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas — not exactly a welcome holiday event. The days and weeks ahead with be filled with the extensive labor and massive expense of recovery, but Americans are a resilient lot.

As for the economy, as we've hammered home in recent weeks, the positive outlook is exactly why the Leftmedia is incessantly running reports of economic doom and gloom on the horizon. A good economy is bad news for Democrats. If their prophesies come true, it will be because they succeeded in undermining consumer confidence.

Well, here are the facts: The August jobs report won't be released until this Friday, but the employment picture is largely a good one — even if recent revisions are being used by Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists to forecast a recession. The unemployment rate stands near a 50-year low of 3.7%, meaning one of the biggest hurdles for increasing employment is that companies are finding it difficult to fill jobs with workers. Manufacturing has taken a hit because of President Donald Trump's tariffs, which are also hurting American consumers with higher prices. But Trump is calculating that the U.S. economy can withstand a needed battle with China that he didn't start.

Third, wages are growing and consumers are generally confident. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports, "American workers under 35 report being happier with their paychecks than people over 55 for the first time since at least 2011, according to a new report from the Conference Board, a business-research organization that polls U.S. employees about workplace satisfaction. Overall, the share of workers satisfied with their paychecks rose to 46.4% in 2018, from 43% in 2017, an increase that mirrors federal data showing that wage growth accelerated in 2018." Furthermore, "Nearly 54% of U.S. workers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2018, the highest share reported in more than two decades."



Daring to suggest that all cultures aren't equal

The Acting Provost of DePaul University issues a formal censure against me

Jason D. Hill (Who is black)

It is a common canard among the educated cognoscenti that all cultures are equal. Indeed, a few weeks after writing an article in which I declared that not all cultures were equal, the Acting Provost of DePaul University—where I am a full tenured professor of philosophy—issued what I and many others considered to be a formal censure against me. She declared that at her university it is considered an accepted truism that all individuals are valued equally, and that she was truly disheartened that a member of the academic community would assert that “not all cultures are indeed equal.”

I had stated that some cultures are abysmally inferior and regressive based on their comprehensive philosophy and fundamental principles, or, lack thereof—that guide or fail to protect the inalienable rights of their citizens.

Therein lay the category mistake that an educated academic along with countless others commit conflating the individual with the cultural. A culture may be described as a multiplicity of complex systems that include the arts, laws, customs, practices, norms, mores, beliefs, knowledge, and human capabilities acquired by human-beings in society. Culture also includes language, ethical systems, and religious institutions. One can indeed say that all persons are endowed with equal and intrinsic moral worth as human beings which they may corrupt by committing morally egregious acts; but as human beings, they are possessed of inviolable moral worth and dignity.

It is, however, a category mistake to transfer this innate respect and reverence for the individual on to the landscape of culture which is not an indivisible whole, and which possesses none of the requisite attributes of individuals that make them deserving of such unassailable respect. Persons' identities are not reducible to the practices of their cultures. Some cultural practices are downright horrific and evil; some are better than others. Persons in their respective cultures are free to identify themselves with those cultural practices that align themselves with their moral identities, and distances themselves from those they find repulsive.

The Unites States of America is not a perfect civilization; however, as a rights bearing culture in which the inalienability of rights are observed, a country in which civil liberties such as freedom of speech ( for now) is still upheld, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious association or lack thereof respected, it is vastly superior to barbaric and primitive cultures that have yet to discover the individual and his or her inviolate dignity. The United States is a republic devoted to the inalienability of those rights that are conducive to human survival and flourishing. The United States, through its Constitution and Bill of Rights, is the first political system to discover the direct correlation between the rational nature of man qua man, and the exact political milieu in which that nature has to properly live and function if it is to live rather than perish.

Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Libya and Algeria —all countries which still practice and/or tolerate chattel slavery by Arab and black Muslims against other Muslims and Christians—are not the moral, political or cultural equals of the United States, Israel, Great Britain and, say, France. Those countries are vastly superior to Saudi Arabia or Iran, or North Korea and Gaza, which do not permit religious reciprocity. Its political leaders permit the beheading of homosexuals in the streets, legalize torture, and have some of the most egregious records of gender inequality in the world. In the cases of Iran, Qatar and Saud Arabia, we witness them as sponsors of world-wide terrorism, and of placing restrictions on civil liberties and a free press.

Cannibalistic Aztec culture could never and will never be the cultural equal of any civilized and free culture existing anywhere in the world today. Cultures that permit freedom of association, respect equality for all citizens and legal residents before the law, that uphold gender equality as an unsalable moral axiom, that allow  individuals to cultivate their unique life plans—generally speaking—cultures that have discovered the fact that that an environment in which freedom and liberty are the milieu in which the individual needs to cultivate his or her rational nature qua human being and live an optimal existence, are undoubtedly, superior cultures, morally, spiritually and politically speaking.

It is a mark of sheer cognitive malarkey to claim that all cultures are equal. Just as some cultures are technologically more advanced than others, so some are politically more distinguished in their record on individual rights and the protection of private property and personal liberties than others. Rape cultures, that is, cultures in which rape is sanctioned by law such as in several parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, are not moral equivalents of any western democratic countries in which rape, though committed by moral deviants, is illegal and punishable by objective law.

Brunei practices a Sharia penal code under Islamic law that allows death or stoning for adultery, homosexuality and even apostasy. Hamas continues to pose an existential threat to Israel by pounding the latter, (unprovoked), with a barrage of deadly rockets so often that one can barely keep track of the war attacks. Hamas routinely arrests and tortures peaceful critics of its totalitarian government with impunity. It is a blatant advocate and practitioner of Jihadism. There is no culture, so to speak, inside Gaza. It is defined, incidentally, by its absence of any significant life and culture. Nevertheless, even countries that lack a significant culture can wreak havoc on the lives of others.  A rich culture is potent because it creates life. One that is an ecological sociopolitical   ballast, or worse, evil, can destroy life.

The question remains, too, of not only how to think about cultures that are unequal to others but: what to do about those that are evil; cultures that exist as moral rogue states that betray the civilizational maturity expected by an international order that protects the well-being of the global commons? We are talking here of morally inverted states that pose a serious threat to the international order; evil cultures that are political sinkholes that lie outside the process of history, and that are reverting to pre-modern ages. The goals of such cultures —among other things—are to eradicate the individual, and practices of freedom and liberty from the earth.

Evil cultures are drainage systems that tax the existential, spiritual and psychological resources of their citizens who must expend a disproportionate amount of energy just to stay alive—let alone flourish.

So, what is the antidote? In a forthcoming article on moral rogue states that pose existential  threats to the global commons, countries that violate the conditions of their own sovereignty which is secured by objective constraints of justice, I will outline and philosophically defend a process of what I call: global incarceration. This involves an ethical defense of placing intolerable, incorrigible and politically inverted countries into a state of political receivership by any free and civilized country willing and able to do so based on criteria of political expediency, and military and technological capability.

Until such time, let us rid ourselves of the simplistic egalitarian idea that all cultures are equal. That some are moral and political sinkholes from which millions seek to flee is obvious. That such escapees or freedom seekers aspire to self-actualize in other cultures that, in their judgments, are better suited to their aspirations, hopes and dreams constitutes enough proof that some cultures are inimical to human well-being, and others better suited for the development and practice of human agency.



America’s Poor Fare Better Than Average Persons in Canada, the UK

Sometimes the key to success is being “less worse” than your competitors. So while I’m critical of many bad policies in the United States, it’s worth noting that America nonetheless ranks #6 for overall economic liberty according to the Fraser Institute.

As such, it’s not surprising that America has higher living standards than most other developed nations according to the “actual individual consumption” data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

And America’s advantage isn’t trivial. We’re more than 46 percent higher than the average for OECD member nations.

The gap is so large that I’ve wondered how lower-income people in the United States would rank compared to average people in other countries.

Well, the folks at Just Facts have investigated precisely this issue using World Bank data and found some remarkable results.

“… after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. … In other words, if the U.S. 'poor' were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest. … The World Bank publishes a comprehensive dataset on consumption that isn’t dependent on the accuracy of household surveys and includes all goods and services, but it only provides the average consumption per person in each nation—not the poorest people in each nation. However, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis published a study that provides exactly that for 2010. Combined with World Bank data for the same year, these datasets show that the poorest 20% of U.S. households have higher average consumption per person than the averages for all people in most nations of the OECD and Europe … The high consumption of America’s 'poor' doesn’t mean they live better than average people in the nations they outpace, like Spain, Denmark, Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. … Nonetheless, the fact remains that the privilege of living in the U.S. affords poor people with more material resources than the averages for most of the world’s richest nations.”

There are some challenges in putting together this type of comparison, so the folks at Just Facts are very clear in showing their methodology.

They’ve certainly come up with results that make sense, particularly when comparing their results with the OECD AIC numbers.

Here’s one of the charts from the report:

You can see that the bottom 20 percent of Americans do quite well compared to the average person in other developed nations.

By the way, the report from Just Facts also criticizes The New York Times for dishonest analysis of poverty. Since I’ve felt compelled to do the same thing, I can definitely sympathize.

The bottom line is that free markets and limited government are the best way to help lower-income people enjoy more prosperity.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom an



The hazards of government healthcare: The Veterans Administration failed to stop pathologist who misdiagnosed thousands — and showed up drunk for work

It took more than three thousand misdiagnoses, a dozen or more patient deaths, and multiple alerts before the Veterans Administration caught up with its chief pathologist Robert Morris Levy. The Washington Post offers a lengthy exposé of the VA’s internal inertia as well as the ineffectiveness of its quality controls, all of which took a terrible human cost on thousands. And the worst part is that VA officials got warned repeatedly that Levy was a problem before finally getting fired last year … over a DUI.

On the Fayetteville campus, rated one of VA’s best, Levy’s supervisors failed to heed early warnings that he was endangering patients and then were slow to act, according to internal VA documents, court filings and interviews with 20 congressional officials, veterans and current and former VA employees.

Federal prosecutors charged Levy, 53, last week with three counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three veterans. VA officials now acknowledge that he botched diagnoses of at least 15 patients who later died and 15 others whose health was seriously harmed.

The number of those affected, however, is much greater, and the full repercussions of Levy’s actions may not be known for years. VA officials say Levy made 3,000 errors or misdiagnoses dating to 2005.

If Levy’s on trial for involuntary manslaughter, others should be charged as accomplices. VA officials got several warnings that Levy was working while intoxicated, records indicate, starting as early as 2012. One incident in 2016 showed Levy with a 0.4% blood alcohol reading, which is five times higher than needed in most states to get a DWI. Rather than put this together with all of the other alerts, the VA paid for a three-month inpatient treatment center and then put Levy back on the job.

It never occurred to anyone, apparently, to double-check Levy’s work after finding out that he showed up to work drunk. Supposedly Levy had a very low incidence of mistakes in his work, but the system used to determine competency was absurdly easy to game. The VA used a peer-review system to sample work by specialists, which meant that Levy’s work was spot-checked by the deputy who reported to him. Levy simply changed the conclusions of his deputy’s reports in order to maintain a very low error rate — and was rewarded with large bonuses based on those ratings.

When Levy began showing up impaired for work in 2017 and 2018, the VA finally did an independent check of his work. It turned up red flags — which the VA ignored until after he got dismissed:

In January 2018, after multiple staff reports that he was still impaired, the hospital’s professional standards board continued Levy’s suspension. Spot checks of his cases showed “no evidence of patient harm,” according to the minutes.

Still, Worley brought in a pa­thol­ogist from VA’s division headquarters for another review of Levy’s work. She found more than a dozen misdiagnoses.

“Dr. Levy’s actions have negatively impacted patient care outcomes,” Worley and the medical director at the time wrote in a memo on Jan. 11, 2018.

It would be six more months before VA began a deeper review of his work.

Even when the VA finally did get around to checking Levy’s work, it initially limited the review to his last year in the system. Only after the inspector general intervened did the VA conduct a full review and find the thousands of misdiagnoses Levy produced. The VA also waited months to alert medical boards in three states to Levy’s incompetence.

Unfortunately, this hardly qualifies as a shock. The VA has had so many scandals surrounding incompetence and corruption that it’s tough to keep track. This episode, as with others, demonstrates the lack of accountability in government-run single-payer systems, and the instincts of government bureaucracies to protect themselves rather than their patients.



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, September 03, 2019

The Left's "Phantom Recession"


Newsrooms won't be saved by Bernie Sanders' socialist nostrums

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN YOUR only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail to be pounded. When you're Bernie Sanders and your only tool is socialism, every problem looks like a capitalist to be bashed.

The septuagenarian senator from Vermont is an unabashed lifelong socialist, whose solutions to most problems involve more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. This week, in a 1,700-word essay published in the Columbia Journalism Review, he proposed a "plan for journalism" involving — can you guess? — more government, less freedom, and higher taxes. The capitalist-bashing begins in the second sentence: "Today's assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley, and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and [is] why we must take concrete action."

But Sanders, like Trump, is quick to impugn journalists' motives. And much of the "action" he proposes would interfere with media companies that try to save themselves.

If elected, Sanders says, he would use the power of the federal government to crack down on media mergers that would lead to layoffs, consolidate news outlets under fewer owners, or "adversely affect" women and minorities. He would "reinstate and strengthen" the old cross-ownership rule that blocked TV and radio stations from owning newspapers in the same market. And he would require the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to "more stringently" pursue antitrust litigation against Facebook and Google, whose success has come in part at the expense of traditional media outlets.

Sanders also raises the prospect of taxing online ads and using the revenue to fund "nonprofit civic-minded media" and to "substantially increase" government subsidies for public journalism. That won't do anything for struggling private newspapers and magazines, but it will certainly boost the power of PBS and NPR and their decidedly left-wing worldview.

Nothing in Sanders's plan is fresh or novel. How and whether to rein in Big Tech, to expand racial and gender diversity in the media, to tax advertising and Internet services, to underwrite nonprofit media — all of these have been perennial topics of debate when the agenda turns to the ailments of the news business. In his essay, the senator vowed to impose an "immediate moratorium" on corporate media mergers like the proposed combination of Viacom and CBS. But media consolidation has been a left-wing bugbear forever. "Remember back in 2000 when the merger of AOL and Time Warner spelled the absolute doom of an independent press?" asks Nick Gillespie in Reason magazine. "Better yet, can you even remember AOL or Time magazine, once massive presences in media that are now desiccated ruins of their former selves?"

Sanders acknowledges the ravages that the news industry has undergone in recent decades. "Over the past 15 years, more than 1,400 communities across the country have lost newspapers, which are the outlets local television, radio, and digital news sites rely on for reporting," he writes. "Since 2008, we have seen newsrooms lose 28,000 employees — and in the past year alone, 3,200 people in the media industry have been laid off." But Sanders seems far less interested in the plight of journalists than in exploiting their excruciations to score ideological points.

Like so much of what America's best-known socialist says and writes, his media plan drips with hostility for capitalists and capitalism. He repeatedly decries the lack of "real journalism" in America, and blames it on his standard villains: the "forces of greed that are pillaging our economy," the "corporate conglomerates and hedge fund vultures," the "oligarchic business models," the "billionaires who ... use their media empires to punish their critics and shield themselves from scrutiny." Sanders is particularly hostile to Jeff Bezos, the billionaire who owns the Washington Post. He suggested recently that his criticism of Bezos is the reason the Post "doesn't write particularly good articles about me." At times, his attacks on the integrity of publishers and the motives of reporters have been almost indistinguishable from President Trump's.

Lord knows the news business is in dire straits these days, but socialist nostrums aren't going to stop the cataclysmic changes unleashed by the digital revolution. As someone who has worked in newsrooms for more than three decades, I mourn for the lost era when nearly every home subscribed to a newspaper. I wince with vicarious pain at every newspaper shutdown or round of layoffs. But the media aren't in extremis because they weren't regulated enough. If anything, some daily papers might yet be alive if, for example, the cross-ownership rule hadn't deprived them of a potential lifeline.

Trashing the entrepreneurs and investors who are keeping some of the nation's legacy news organizations alive admirably suits Sanders's anti-capitalist shtick, but it will do nothing to save the business of journalism. "We cannot sit by and allow corporations, billionaires, and demagogues to destroy the Fourth Estate," says Sanders. That's the way he always talks — a one-tool politician with the same scapegoat for everything.



Trump Supporters Have ALL The Moral High Ground. Don’t Cede One Inch Of It To The Left

Despite the fact that roughly three out of four evangelical Christians support President Donald Trump and most of his policies, the #NeverTrump “right” and the anti-Trump left have somehow managed to fool people into thinking they have at least a solid piece of high ground when it comes to “principles,” “morality” and “values.” I purposefully put those three words in quotes because their mere utterance doesn’t mean the people who pronounce them have an iota of a clue what they really mean. Nevertheless, anti-Trump folks of all political persuations love tossing them around as a way of signaling their “virtue” to the rest of us.

“Muh principles!” bleats the #NeverTrump “Republican,” as if they are some sort of special light shining in a Trumpian-world-gone-mad.

“Muh values!” screeches the open-borders leftist politician, as if letting the entire Third World come to America is the definition of “loving thy neighbor.”

“Muh morality!” shrieks all of them, yet the “New Morality” they espouse has nothing to do with the God of the Bible (its original author) and everything to do with achieving power for the left.

In an age where real virtue is a rarity, yet our leftist would-be rulers love signaling, nay proclaiming theirs from the rooftops, one might be forgiven for being even temporarily fooled by it all. Maybe Nancy Pelosi really IS a good person when she lectures us about border walls being “immoral.” Maybe Saint Pete really does have the hot new take on “values.” Maybe the likes of Joe Walsh, Bill Kristol, George Will, and John Pavlovitz - randomly selected Trump haters all - really DO put the “principles” they supposedly have first, and that’s why they oppose the president at seemingly every turn.

Especially given a leftist-controlled mainstream press all-too-willing to portray the president as a monster and his policies as monstrous, you may be forgiven for thinking all of those things. But the reality, however, is actually the exact opposite of what they would have you believe. In fact, it is Trump’s supporters who truly have every inch of the moral high ground. In fact, it is Trump’s policies that are the very definition of objective principles, morals, and values, even if his presentation at times gives his haters ammunition by seeming to belie that fact.

Consider the three “unalienable rights” the Declaration of Independence acknowledges as having come to humans unconditionally from their Creator - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:


It’s a pretty good place to start, especially considering we’re dealing with a literal death cult that relishes the notion of killing as many unborn babies as possible. Start there, and any attempts they make to portray themselves as “good people” fall flat, but there’s oh so much more. Consider communism, you know, the ideology whose adherents gleefully murdered over 100 million people over the last century. Ever hear these would-be paragons of morality condemning communism these days? No? Could that be because they want to give it another try but don’t want to be so obvious about it? Could it be because the socialism they espouse is but a mere step away from the totalitarian kind of communism that slays millions in the name of “equality”?

Every time these jackals politicize mass shootings to call for more gun control, remember that they really don’t care about any of the lives such legislation would save, especially considering they know full well the legislation they espouse wouldn’t actually save any lives. In their unquenchable thirst for control, leftists would happily take away the right to defend oneself against rogue criminals or rogue governments. They cry alligator tears at the deaths of gun victims while ignoring those who successfully defend themselves with guns or the unarmed who die from a senseless home invasion.

And then there’s their relentless calls for unlimited immigration from the Third World, ignoring the plight of the American middle and lower classes, despite the fact that Third Worlders would be better served by helping them there instead of bringing them here. It’s all for power, of course, because they know these folks tend to lean left, but they pretend it’s about “morality.”

Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness

Whether it’s the liberty to defend yourself, make your own decisions, run your business as you see fit, or even keep most of your own earnings, it’s no secret that leftists want to take it all away (except for certain, leftist-approved “liberties” like “changing” sexes and murdering unborn babies, of course). In other words, the liberty issue is a slam dunk for a belief system that generally believes the fundamental concept of individual liberties. Want to keep a rogue government from running roughshod over and even murdering millions of its own citizens? Allow citizens to own guns. And if you have a problem with this, dear Leftist, what are you afraid of?

The liberty to pursue happiness according to one’s own bent, so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, is ingrained in our nation’s founding documents, and yet leftists would take all that away if they could.

Bottom line: Those who refuse to support President Trump based on optics alone are completely missing the big picture. Whether you consider some of his tweets and comments “presidential” or not, the policies Trump espouses and helps to implement through executive orders, signed legislation, and appointing judges result in by far the greatest good for the greatest number of people, full stop.

No, there’s no reason why we should ever cede one inch of moral high ground to godless leftists, ever.



Top Dem Jerry Nadler Unveils Another Ridiculous Probe Into President Trump

Now that the House Of Representatives has devolved into the old Soviet Politburo under Democrat control, there is yet another investigation into President Trump that will soon be launched.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is looking to jumpstart the ridiculous argument for impeachment under the obscure Emoluments Clause over Trump’s possible invitation to world leaders to host the G7 at his golf resort in Florida.

Following a successful visit with the leaders of the free world in France last week, the gracious POTUS suggested that the next meeting could take place at Trump National Doral in Miami.

In normal times this would be recognized as diplomacy but for Commissar Nadler it is yet one more avenue to settle decades-old scores with his longtime nemesis from New York.

According to Nadler and his fellow neo-Stalinists on the committee, the invite is “only the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing” which means that Dems will spend the next several months pissing away millions of taxpayer dollars on yet another ridiculous probe.

House Democrats derided the move as “only the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing” by the president.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee slammed President Donald Trump’s push to host the G-7 summit next year at his Doral resort in Miami, deriding the move as “only the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing” by the president and pledging to consider it as part of their impeachment investigation.

Though Trump has not said that the decision is final, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who leads the committee’s panel on the Constitution, said in a statement Wednesday that selecting Doral as the host of the next summit would be a potential violation of both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments clauses in the Constitution, aimed at barring presidents from taking outside gifts.

“More importantly, the Doral decision reflects perhaps the first publicly known instance in which foreign governments would be required to pay President Trump’s private businesses in order to conduct business with the United States,” the pair said, pledging to schedule a hearing on the issue next month.

Nadler and Cohen said that Trump’s comments this week prove the president’s “personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official U.S. government activities,” concluding that “this is precisely the type of risk that the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses were intended to prevent.”



Tough-Talking Leftist Turns into Sniveling Coward When Steven Crowder Finds Him

Antifa members are just interested in fighting fascism. Don’t you get that? They’re looking to fight the rise of fascism in the United States and that’s it. Period.

Oh, and they’re looking to light conservative pundits they don’t disagree with on fire, that too.

As followers of Steven Crowder will know, he enjoys confronting members of the left who make physical threats against him. The latest is a member of antifa who threatened Crowder during a recent trip to Austin, Texas, where he was filming a “Change My Mind” segment at Google headquarters.

The antifa member — who has a criminal history, which includes throwing tomatoes at President Trump and assaulting police officers — gave away Crowder’s location and posted that he hoped people would “milkshake” him. (“Milkshaking,” in antifa vernacular, doesn’t refer to throwing a Shamrock Shake on someone but instead a mixture of cement and other chemicals that can cause burns.)

Furthermore, the individual said, “I hope someone lights Steven Crowder on fire.”

So, Crowder did what any of us would do. He dressed up as the Heat Miser from the 1974 Christmas special “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and goes to a coffee shop to confront the young man:

At first, the man denies sending the messages on Facebook, calling Crowder a “fascist” and walking in and out of the coffee shop to avoid the pundit. Apparently indecisive, he then walks back in.

Eventually, both are kicked out and Crowder has a walk-and-talk with the antifa member.

Crowder wants to talk the whole thing out. The antifa member doesn’t, but he also torpedoes his denials of egging his supporters on to milkshake Crowder and set him on fire by saying he wishes he had said these exact same things or that Crowder deserves it. This isn’t exactly the most convincing denial.

“How do you not see yourself as a fascist when you encourage acts of violence?” Crowder asks at one point in the video.

The antifa member doesn’t have an answer for this, or what fascism is or, well, pretty much everything.

This isn’t the first “Crowder Confronts” video, for those of you who have followed the kerfuffles of the past. It’s not even the first one involving a member of the left who threatened Crowder with some form of intimidation or physical harm.

In fact, another one happened in Austin when a juice bar barista who threatened to slash Crowder’s tires was confronted:

Both of these instances are object lessons in how members of antifa are vicious in groups and absolute cowards on their own. No matter how you feel about Crowder, these kinds of threats are antithetical to civil political discourse. For right now, it’s mere incivility. When these threats are acted upon, however, they should scare everyone.



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, September 02, 2019

Christ's last lesson

"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"

At the very end of his life Jesus said the above.  For him to say that displayed a remarkably insightful heart.  He thought of their motivations as well as their deeds and in thinking of those motivations could not condemn their deeds.  It is a lesson to us all.  We need to forgive because we may not know what was/is driving the other person. Even under the most grievous provocation, we must keep that in mind. It is a most powerful teaching indeed.  Could we have forgiven in his situation?

Forgiveness can be so powerful.  It is particularly good at restoring relationships.  I have been married and divorced four times.  But there has never been any anger in me towards the ladies concerned.  We have remained on good terms to this day.  I didn't consciously forgive any of them anything.  I just did not judge or condemn their motivations at all in the first place.  I accepted that they had a motivation that was right in their eyes.

I gained so much by being forgiving.  And the wonder of it is that it is contagious. Any anger that they had towards me faded away too.  Christian teachings work.


The hypocrisy of the liberal Left

by Rep. Andy Biggs

The liberal Left is steeped in moral relativism and relies on its Platonic elitism to such a degree that it fails to recognize its blatant hypocrisy.

Leftists such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and even former President Barack Obama often tell us that the rich are too rich or that some people can have too much. Obama even suggested that "There's only so much you can eat," implying that any more than a full stomach is too rich within the United States.

But all of them are rich by any standard. Elizabeth Warren’s reported average net worth is $8.75 million. Bernie Sanders' net worth might be up to $2.5 million. Joe Biden has acquired almost $15 million in income since leaving office in January 2017. Certainly, to the rest of the world, the aforementioned folks are rich. Even by America’s high standard of living, Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Obama are considered wealthy.

So, why is it that they continually rail against the haves? Why do they insist on pushing an agenda of class warfare?

Their bankrupt political ideology demands division. Their theme is always “us vs. them.” Unity of purpose, culture, nationhood, and citizenship undermine the socialist dogma that permeates their respective interpretations of liberal political ideology.

Their first cause is always tolerance — tolerance of any who agree with them. Because they are elitists after Plato’s model, they believe they know better than anyone else. Plato’s ideal separated the elite, the guardians of society, from the dross below them. That is infused in the hearts and minds of the liberal Left.

Any who disagree are so undermining to the Left’s agenda as to be intolerable. Or, in Hillary Clinton’s vernacular, “deplorable.”

People on the Left are tolerant of only those in agreement with their positions. Their opponents deserve to be persecuted and ostracized. Thus, the justification for enforcing their beliefs through whatever means is born, because failure to conform to theliberal Left’s ideology is subversive and must be defeated at all costs.

This produces Rep. Maxine Waters' calls for verbal and mob attacks on conservatives. To the Left, this justifies Rep. Joaquin Castro’s doxing of Trump donors in order to publicly shame and ostracize them.

Similarly, the political elite of the Left excuse themselves for their hypocritical, do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do actions as acceptable because they are the Platonic guardians. They truly believe that they are better and thus deserving of the special dispensation that Plato afforded his elites.

This inherent failing of the liberal Left is why we see Bernie Sanders demanding an increase in the national minimum wage (that he wasn’t even giving his own campaign staff) but being forced to raise wages and cut hours to pay for it.

Then there's Obama telling the world that a person can have too much, while he and his wife gain a net worth over $100 million and purchase a $15 million mansion in Martha’s Vineyard.

It is why the Left wants to confiscate guns from everyday people while employing armed security guards. They build walls and live in bubbles of security but argue against a border wall.

It is why they argue against a parent having the right to choose the best school for their child while the leftist elites enroll their children in the best schools they can find.

The Left rails against money in political campaigns while raising hundreds of millions of dollars for their campaigns.

That is why Warren, Sanders, Biden, Obama, and others have no problem amassing wealth while demonizing others who are successful. I have no problem with these folks being wealthy or successful. I have a problem with their continued personal use and exploitation of the free market system for themselves, while trying to prevent everyone else from having the same opportunities.

The liberal Left, as evidenced by the modern day leading Democratic voices, is a bankrupt political philosophy that is inherently hypocritical. It claims to be based on tolerance but is only tolerant of those who agree with them. It asserts equality, except when the elites amass huge fortunes. And, in the end, it attempts to, by necessity, compel compliance with its redistributive and intolerant policies.



Google discriminates against conservatives and climate skeptics

We must understand how Google does it, why it is wrong and how it hurts America

David Wojick

Several months ago, Google quietly released a 32-page white paper, “How Google Fights Disinformation.” That sound good. The problem is that Google not only controls a whopping 92.2% of all online searches. It is a decidedly left-wing outfit, which views things like skepticism of climate alarmism, and conservative views generally, as “disinformation.” The white paper explains how Google’s search and news algorithms operate, to suppress what Google considers disinformation and wants to keep out of educational and public discussions.

The algorithms clearly favor liberal content when displaying search results. Generally speaking, they rank and present search results based on the use of so-called “authoritative sources.” The problem is, these sources are mostly “mainstream” media, which are almost entirely liberal.

Google’s algorithmic definition of “authoritative” makes liberals the voice of authority. Bigger is better, and the liberals have the most and biggest news outlets. The algorithms are very complex, but the basic idea is that the more other websites link to you, the greater your authority.

It is like saying a newspaper with more subscribers is more trustworthy than one with fewer subscribers. This actually makes no sense, but that is how it works with the news and in other domains. Popularity is not authority, but the algorithm is designed to see it that way.

This explains why the first page of search results for breaking news almost always consists of links to liberal outlets. There is absolutely no balance with conservative news sources. Given that roughly half of Americans are conservatives, Google’s liberal news bias is truly reprehensible.

In the realm of public policies affecting our energy, economy, jobs, national security, living standards and other critical issues, the suppression of alternative or skeptical voices, evidence and perspectives becomes positively dangerous for our nation and world

Last year, I documented an extreme case of this bias the arena of “dangerous manmade global warming” alarmism. My individual searches on prominent skeptics of alarmist claims revealed that Google’s “authoritative source” was an obscure website called DeSmogBlog, whose claim to fame is posting nasty negative dossiers on skeptics, including me and several colleagues.

In each search, several things immediately happened. First, Google linked to DeSmogBlog’s dossier on the skeptic, even though it might be a decade old  and/or wildly inaccurate. Indeed, sometimes this was the first entry in the search results. Second, roughly half of the results were negative attacks – which should not be surprising, since the liberal press often attacks us skeptics.

Third, skeptics are often labeled as “funded by big oil,” whereas funding of alarmists by self-interested government agencies, renewable energy companies, far-left foundations or Tom Steyer (who became a billionaire by financing Asian coal mines) was generally ignored.

In stark contrast, searching for information about prominent climate alarmists yielded nothing but praise. This too is not surprising, since Google’s liberal “authoritative” sources love alarmists.

This algorithm’s bias against skeptics is breathtaking – and it extends to the climate change debate itself. Search results on nearly all climate issues are dominated by alarmist content.

In fact, climate change seems to get special algorithmic attention. Goggle’s special category of climate webpages, hyperbolically called “Your Money or Your Life,” requires even greater “authoritative” control in searches. No matter how well reasoned, articles questioning the dominance of human factors in climate change, the near-apocalyptic effects of predicted climate change, or the value and validity of climate models are routinely ignored by Google’s algorithms.

The algorithm also ignores the fact that our jobs, economy, financial wellbeing, living standards, and freedom to travel and heat or cool our homes would be severely and negatively affected by energy proposals justified in the name of preventing human-caused cataclysmic climate change. The monumental mining and raw material demands of wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels and batteries likewise merit little mention in Google searches. Ditto for the extensive impacts of these supposed “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” technologies on lands, habitats and wildlife.

It’s safe to say that climate change is now the world’s biggest single public policy issue. And yet Google simply downgrades and thus “shadow bans” any pages that contain “demonstrably inaccurate content or debunked conspiracy theories.” That is how alarmists describe skepticism about any climate alarm or renewable energy claims. Google does not explain how its algorithm makes these intrinsically subjective determinations as to whether an article is accurate, authoritative and thus posted – or incorrect, questionable and thus consigned to oblivion.

Google’s authority-based search algorithm is also rigged to favor liberal content over virtually all conservative content; it may be especially true for climate and energy topics. This deep liberal bias is fundamentally wrong and un-American, given Google’s central role in our lives.

Google’s creators get wealthy by controlling access to information – and thus thinking, debate, public policy decisions and our future – by using a public internet system that was built by defense and other government agencies, using taxpayer dollars, for the purpose of ensuring the free flow of information and open, robust discussion of vital policy issues. It was never meant to impose liberal-progressive-leftist police state restrictions on who gets to be heard.

According to its “How we fight disinformation” white paper, Google’s separate news search feature gets special algorithmic treatment – meaning that almost all links returned on the first page are to liberal news sources. This blatant bias stands out like a sore thumb in multiple tests. In no case involving the first ten links did I get more than one link to a conservative news source. Sometimes I got none.

For example, my news search on “Biden 2020” returned the following top ten search results, in this order: CNN, the New York Times, Vice, Politico, CNN again, Fortune, Vox, Fox News, The Hill and Politico. The only actual conservative source was Fox News, in eighth position.

Of course conservative content would not be friendly to Mr. Biden. But if Google can prominently post attacks on skeptics and conservatives, why can’t it do so for attacks on Democrats?

The highest conservative content I found was one link in eight or 12 percent. About a third of my sample cases had no conservative sources whatsoever. The average of around 7% measures Google’s dramatic bias in favor of liberal sources, greatly compounding its 92.2% dominance.

The lonely conservative sources are more middle of the road, like Fox News and the Washington Examiner. Google never found or highlighted a truly conservative (what it would call “right wing”) source, like Brietbart, Townhall or the Daily Caller. It just doesn’t happen, and the algorithm clearly knows that, as does Google. As do other information and social media sites.

Of course, I’m not alone in finding or encountering this blatant viewpoint discrimination.

When coupled with the nearly complete takeover of UN, IPCC, World Bank and other global governance institutions by environmentalist and socialist forces – and their near-total exclusion of manmade climate chaos skeptics, free market-oriented economists and anyone who questions the role or impact of renewable energy – the effect on discussion, debate, education and informed decision-making is dictatorial and devastating.

No free, prosperous, modern society can survive under such conditions and restrictions. It’s time for citizens, legislators, regulators and judges to rein in and break up this imperious monopoly.

Via email


Japan's Naval Counterweight to China

Building up Japan's navy gives the U.S. an ally that can project power in the region.

With all the discussion of the G7 economic summit, there was other news that didn’t receive much attention but has to be causing some heartburn in Beijing. No, not the trade deal, but a United States Naval Institute report that Japan is willing to let the United States Marines operate F-35B Lightnings off Japan’s four “helicopter destroyers.”

Japan has four such vessels, two of which are the 13,500-ton Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers Hyuga and Ise, and two 19,500-ton Izumo-class vessels, Izumo and Kaga. While the reports center on the latter two vessels, the former two can’t be discounted for F-35B operations. It should be noted that vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft have operated off ships like the Italian Navy’s 10,100-ton Giuseppe Garibadi that saw combat service in 2002 during the Global War on Terrorism and in the 2011 Libyan intervention.

The Marines operating F-35Bs off these ships could be a preparation for Japan to bring back a fixed-wing carrier arm. Japan’s order of 100 F-35s reportedly includes some of the F-35Bs in the mix. While not as capable as a United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, this can still put some real hurt on the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

Now, let’s be honest, Japan’s “helicopter destroyers” are really light aircraft carriers and were intended to be from the start. History has seen Japan play fast and loose with arms-control treaties in the past (its heavy cruisers flaunted the restrictions of the London Naval Treaty), so is it no surprise that euphemisms would be employed to allow the use of aircraft carriers.

What does this mean for America? It gives the United States an ally that can legitimately project power in the region. Given that the United States Navy is desperately short on hulls in the water, this is a good thing — two light carriers can, for instance, keep China off balance in the South China Sea. That’s just the beginning.

Japan is also acquiring the V-22 Osprey — the game-changing tiltrotor that has given the Marine Corps new advantages in combat and non-combat operations. Those will also be able to operate off these ships, as Marine Corps Ospreys already have. Japan has a trio of Osumi-class amphibious ships, which look like carriers but have no hangars; instead, flat decks provide landing platforms for helicopters — and helicopters used on naval ships can handle sea water for a bit.

Japan’s military growth is mostly very good news for the United States. The only hiccup is that neighbors of Japan, particularly South Korea, have been nervous about that, given what happened in World War II. South Korea has made a similar growth as a military power, and the chance that these American allies could have drama akin to that of Greece and Turkey from past decade is a little greater than America would like.

The Beijing regime already had to worry about the way Hong Kong has trapped Chinese President Xi Jinping in a tough spot, and President Donald Trump taking on China’s unfair trade practices with the aid of a militarily stronger Japan doesn’t make things easier for the red commies. So, despite the historic concerns with South Korea, the rise of Japan’s capabilities as a better-armed Asian partner of the United States is all-in-all a good thing.




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)


Sunday, September 01, 2019

Why Republican Governors Are More Popular

The explanation offered below is that they make fewer promises that they have no way of keeping.  That is certainly part of the story.  It is an entirely political explanation. But, as ever,  the psychological level of explanation is powerful too.  As all the polls show, conservatives are simply happier people and that makes a much more pleasant and attractive personality.  As the proverb goes: "Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Cry and you cry alone"

The classic example of a pleasant conservative personality  was the Gipper. With his sunny personality he got amazing stuff -- including vast tax cuts -- through a Democrat-controlled Congress.  He made them feel good and they wanted to laugh with him.  And you will note that even Trump, who must have the most unlovable personality of any President ever, constantly uses feelgood talk. And he is loved for that, to the total incomprehension of Leftists.

Just two days ago, I put up the following quote from Trump:  "Our movement is built on love… We love our family. We love our faith. We love our flag and we love our freedom, and that’s what it’s about… We love our neighbors and we love our country."  Beat that for positivity!  People can overlook a lot in a man with that attitude.  Among his followers, he has a depth of popularity that other politicians can only envy

WHEN the pollster Morning Consult published its latest round of approval ratings for the nation’s 50 governors in July, it revealed a couple of interesting findings: Eight of the ten least popular governors were Democrats, while the ten most popular governors were all Republicans.

What explains this phenomenon? Clearly it’s not random chance. Does that mean conservative governance is really so much more popular than liberal governance at the state level? There’s something to that, but a closer look reveals the answer is not quite that simple. The ten most popular Republican governors can be separated into three categories: red states, blue states, and purple states. There are five red-state governors whose approval ratings of 57 percent to 59 percent and low disapproval ratings land them spots on Morning Consult’s top-ten list: Greg Abbott of Texas, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Mark Gordon of Wyoming, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, and Bill Lee of Tennessee. They are all conservative governors working with conservative legislatures to give conservative voters what they want on fiscal and social issues.

The blue-state GOP governors succeed not so much by advancing conservatism as by tapping the brakes on their Democratic legislatures.

You might discount the popularity of Republican governors in red states: Is it really a big deal that Republican voters are happy with Republican governors? But then you must also ask: Why aren’t Democratic governors just as popular in blue states? One answer is that states are subject to greater fiscal constraints than the federal government, and those constraints mean that Democratic governors can’t really satisfy their voters the way that Republican governors can. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, “49 states must balance their budgets, with Vermont being the exception.” Even without a balancedbudget requirement, progressive dreams have been shattered in Vermont by cold, hard math. The state’s former Democratic governor signed into law a singlepayer health-care plan in 2011, but he had to abandon it in 2014 when he couldn’t figure out a way to come close to paying for it. The state has had a Republican governor since 2017.

Budget gimmicks are still possible at the state level, but states can’t simply rack up debt the way the federal government can. If schools can’t be funded and roads can’t be built with existing revenues, taxpayers are going to feel it very soon and blame their governors accordingly.

Republicans can also become unpopular by taking their own ideology too far: For example, steep tax cuts in Kansas resulted in budget shortfalls; those tax cuts were repealed by a bipartisan supermajority in the legislature in 2017, and the state elected a Democratic governor in 2018.

But overspending is much more typically the cause of a state’s budget woes. “Some states have consistently performed poorly, such as Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey,” the Mercatus Center reports in its latest ranking of state fiscal health. “They have experienced ongoing structural deficits, a growing reliance on debt to fund spending, underfunded pensions and other postemployment benefit liabilities, or some combination of these problems.” And, sure enough, the Democratic governors of Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey all showed up in Morning Consult’s bottom ten list.

It is, of course, possible to govern a state that is a fiscal mess and still be a very popular chief executive. And that brings us to the three deep-blue states where Republican governors have skyhigh approval ratings: Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (73 percent approval), Larry Hogan of Maryland (70 percent approval), and Phil Scott of Vermont (60 percent approval). These governors have a few things in common. Hillary Clinton won each of these states by 26 to 27 percentage points in 2016. Each governor is a social liberal or, in the case of Hogan, has promised not to alter the status quo on social issues. None of them support the sitting Republican president (Hogan publicly toyed with primarying Trump).

The blue-state GOP governors succeed not so much by advancing conservatism as by tapping the brakes on their Democratic legislatures. In Massachusetts, for example, spending has grown at 3.7 percent per year (down from about 4.5 percent under Baker’s Democratic predecessor), according to Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham. Baker, first elected in 2014, also vetoed a bill providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Other than that, Graham contends, Baker has pretty much governed as a Democrat. Baker signed an $800 million– a–year payroll-tax hike to fund a paid-family-leave benefit in 2018, and Massachusetts still ranks 47th in terms of fiscal health, according to the Mercatus Center. But Baker’s approach has been good enough to win the support of Democratic and Republican voters.

In Maryland, Hogan described his approach as that of a “goalie” before he was first elected in 2014. “Right now it’s an open net. It’s just every single crazy thing that they want to get in just gets done,” Hogan told the Washington Times. “One major thing we can do is play goalie. There’s not going to be a huge offensive game. We’re going to be able to score here and there and we’re going to stop bad things from happening and continuing to drive our state into the ground.” As governor, Hogan has balanced the budget and used his executive authority to cut tolls, but his plan to cut taxes was blocked by the legislature in 2016. Earlier this year, Hogan vetoed a bill to create a minimum wage of $15 (more than double that of neighboring Virginia). Hogan offered a compromise at $12.10, but Democrats overrode the veto to pass the $15 minimum wage. Playing goalie is a difficult job when the opposing team has the ability to pull you.

In Vermont, Scott was first elected in 2016 and had some success playing goalie during his first two-year term. He issued 14 vetoes, according to the Burlington Free Press. Scott stopped bills to raise property taxes, establish a $15 minimum wage, and raise taxes to enact a paid-family-leave program. In 2018, the same electorate that sent Bernie Sanders back to the U.S. Senate by a 40-point margin reelected Scott by a 15-point margin. The bad news for Scott is that in 2018 Democrats and progressives achieved the supermajority necessary to override Scott’s vetoes.

Perhaps the most interesting popular Republican governors are the ones who have found success in the purple states. In New Hampshire, Chris Sununu’s 65 percent approval rating made him the third most popular governor, according to Morning Consult. The state voted for Hillary Clinton by three-tenths of a percentage point in 2016, when Sununu won his first two-year term by 2.3 points. In 2018, New Hampshire’s legislature flipped to the Democrats, but Sununu was reelected to a second two-year term by a seven-point margin. Sununu’s popularity can be attributed in part to the state’s economic success and his fiscal restraint. “We are the most probusiness state in the Northeast and we brag about that a lot,” Sununu tells NATIONAL REVIEW. “We’re lowering business taxes, we have no sales tax, we have no income tax.”

He says he vetoed the recent Democratic budget because it was structurally imbalanced and would have raised business taxes. He also vetoed a paid-family-leave bill that would have raised taxes and has instead proposed a public–private partnership. New Hampshire’s 2.5 percent unemployment rate is the fourth lowest in the country. Beyond the economy and the budget, another key to Sununu’s success is his accessibility. “I give my cell phone to everybody,” he says. Surely this is some gimmick, right? He must have two cell phones and hands off one to a staffer? Nope. “I have one phone, one number,” he says. “People are actually very respectful of it. Very rarely do I have people who are constantly calling me.”

New Hampshire’s geography and small population (with 1.3 million residents, it has about as many people as the city of Dallas) allows Sununu to operate more like a mayor than a governor. “We’re like the tax-free suburb of Boston,” he says. If Sununu were not pro-choice on abortion, he’d be a plausible GOP presidential candidate. He says the thought of running for president hasn’t crossed his mind.

Florida’s Ron Desantis’s popularity has surprised many observers. He won a bitterly fought first term in 2018 by less than half of one percentage point, but he is the tenth most popular governor on Morning Consult’s list, with 57 percent of Floridians approving and only 20 percent disapproving. “He’s recognized a lot of the challenges Florida takes on the environmental front. I think it surprised a lot of folks from the environmental left,” says Sal Nuzzo of the James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank in Florida. Desantis has taken climate change seriously but also focused on issues unique to Florida, such as blue-green algae and red tide. He’s also appealed to voters by enacting a large expansion of school choice.

Arizona’s Doug Ducey (with a 53 percent approval–29 percent disapproval rating) didn’t make the top-ten list, but given the political aphorism that “the only poll that matters is on Election Day,” his popularity also deserves mention. In 2018, Ducey won a second term when he defeated Democrat David Garcia by 14 percentage points at the same time that Republican Martha Mcsally lost the Arizona Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by 2.4 points. “He’s been extremely good on dismantling the administrative state, particularly when it comes to occupational licensing,” says Victor Riches of the conservative Goldwater Institute in Arizona (Riches formerly served on Ducey’s staff). Ducey turned a billion-dollar deficit into a surplus with across-the-board cuts and has benefited from welcoming an influx of tech companies fleeing California’s high taxes and cost of living. He has taken a tough approach on border security but has also developed strong relationships with Mexican-government officials. He won 44 percent of Hispanic voters in 2018, according to exit polls.

All the popular Republican governors are worth watching to see what conservative reforms they can actually accomplish. With gridlock dominating Washington for the foreseeable future, the states are where real innovation may occur. But Ducey, Desantis of Florida, and Abbott of Texas deserve special attention because they are governing states that will be key battlegrounds in future presidential elections and are themselves the sitting governors who are the most plausible future Republican presidential nominees.



Comments from a Trump convert

Prof. Budziszewski is a professor of natural law at the University of Texas, Austin

The only excuse for broadcasting how one thinks about the upcoming election is that plenty of other people are probably having the same difficulties.  If this sort of disclosure bears no interest for you, try again next week.

The last presidential election was the first in which I did not support either of the two major candidates.  Low character is a grave disqualification for public trust.  So far as I was concerned, that wiped both of them off the slate.  Although Mrs. Clinton was beyond dreadful, I couldn’t then imagine that Mr. Trump would be better.

Of course character is not the only consideration in voting, especially when the character of both candidates is base.  The strongest reasons for voting for Mr. Trump, had I done so, would have been his promises concerning judicial appointments and regulatory reform – and those would have been very strong reasons indeed.  But he said so many contradictory things to different audiences, and he spoke in such a demagogic way, that I didn’t believe any of his promises.  I expected his style of governance to be as erratic as his campaigning, and I thought -- because of some of his own statements -- that he would try to govern by decree, as his predecessor had.

It turns out that my expectations were wrong.  He has not tried to govern by decree; on the contrary, he revoked many of his predecessor’s decrees.  He has, in fact, nominated the sorts of judges he promised to nominate, a fact which among other things translates into a lot of babies’ lives.  He has vigorously pursued regulatory reform, and it is no surprise that the economy is doing better as a result.  I hope I have not become jaded, but though his manner of speaking still leaves much to be desired, these days it is more often merely juvenile than demagogic, and on rare occasions it even rises to the dignity of his office.  Nobody would describe his way of governing as smooth, but as he has gained experience in choosing compatible advisors and subordinates, it has become a lot smoother.  Though he zig-zags a great deal in negotiations with other countries, some of this appears to be strategic, for there is much to be said for keeping one’s opponents off-balance.  For the chaos at the border with Mexico, there is plenty of blame to go around.  However, considering the reluctance of his opponents to properly fund shelters for the detainees, it seems due less to a desire on his part to keep everyone out, than to a desire on the part of his opponents to abandon even the pretense of border security and let everyone in.

Although I never expected to have sympathy for this president, that changed when his opponents set in motion plans for impeachment before he had even taken office.  Their attempt to use fraudulent evidence to frame him -- with the connivance of justice officials, intelligence officials, and even the intelligence agencies of other countries -- is an existential threat to self-government.  So are the more mundane aspects of how his opponents play the political game.  Today, a public figure who is not a so-called progressive can expect to face not just political criticism, but attempts to destroy the lives of his wife, his children, his associates, his supporters, and even people who merely know him.

And how have we got to the point where asking one’s lawyer what the law permits is classified as a crime, on grounds that the questioner must have been thinking of doing something wrong?

One might wish that free government had more attractive representatives, but one cannot always have what one wants.  I still do not like Mr. Trump, but unless things change radically, the next time around I will vote for him.

For several months each year I live in a high-government dependency, high-drug addiction, high-family disorder region of Appalachia.

Yes, there are jobs.  At present the unemployment rate here is only a little higher than what economists call full employment.  Just like everyplace, lots of folk work hard to make a living and raise their kids, God bless them.

Lots of others don’t.  They don’t show up in the unemployment figures because they aren’t looking for jobs.

The rate of opioid abuse is sky-high.  Everyone, including the police, knows where the dealers live.  Everyone also knows that it isn’t a good idea to inform on them.  Your house may be burned down.

Observation of my neighbors suggests that many of those who do use opioids use them because they are bored and have no hope.  They are bored and have no hope because they don't work.  They don't work because getting on the dole is more attractive, or so it seems.

Getting on the dole?  How is that possible?  “Everyone knows” that in 1996, welfare was reformed by the abolition of the government program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children.  From now on only genuinely needy people would receive aid, and there would be work requirements.

In this case, what “everyone knows” is false.  The abolition of AFDC accomplished nothing but to shift monetary handouts from one government program to another.  In the name of helping the poor, multigenerational AFDC dependency has been replaced by multigenerational Social Security Disability dependency.

You genuinely disabled people, I am not writing about you.  Many of you live bravely under stupendous disadvantages.

But a great number who claim disability are not disabled.

In my Appalachian neighborhood, quite a few people go through life with no higher aspiration than to convince the government that either they or their children are disabled.  This is easier than you might think, because many of the bureaucrats want to be convinced, and their lawyers are eager to help.  One of my neighbors got her children signed up for disability payments on grounds that they all had strabismus, which means crossed eyes.  Although Medicaid would pay for corrective surgery, which is fairly simple, she didn’t want their condition corrected.  Then the checks would stop – checks, mind you, which were supposed to be used for the children but which the parents used as their source of family income.  Why work if you don’t have to?  The shame of it was that failure to correct strabismus early in life can lead to permanent vision loss.

The fraud associated with the program is spectacular.  You may have heard of the scandal associated with attorney Eric C. Conn, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison for defrauding the government of over $72 million by submitting false documentation to support clients' claims of disability.  Conn -- whose "law complex," a set of three double-wide trailers, was just down the road from us – is reported to have paid more than $600,000 in kickbacks to David B. Daugherty, an administrative law judge who for years approved over 95 percent of the applications from Conn's clients.  The national average is about 60%, but Daugherty’s rate of approval was not unusual.  What Mr. Conn, Judge Daugherty, and cooperating doctors were up to was common knowledge.  The government paid attention only when extremely persistent whistleblowers within the agency made it impossible to continue ignoring it.

I don't mind the fraud so much.  The government is always defrauding us.

I do mind the destruction of ambition, the uprooting of meaning in life, and the generation of perverse incentives that undermine families and ruin lives.

And I especially mind the lie that this is the meaning of compassion for the poor.  A better word for the attitude would be contempt.



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)