By JR on Saturday, July 19, 2014
Can America disengage?
I do not at all agree with the screed below but it represents a view that needs an answer. And one point it makes is undoubtedly true: It is sheer madness, not to mention cruel, to be arming and financing both sides of the Arab/Israel conflict. Even the bleeding hearts must notice that it has led to over 100 dead Palestinians currently. Is that what the supporters of the Arabs want? It probably is -- the Left love death -- but they should be confronted with that consequence. In my view, aid to all hostiles should be cut off while at the same time Israel continues to receive what she needs to defend herself.
So there is in principle no problem with aid to Egypt as long as it continues to honor its peace treaty with Israel -- something that Mubarak did and which the present military government has continued.
But the Palestinian authority is undoubtedly hostile to Israel so aid should be cut off until it too concludes an enforceable peace treaty with Israel. I cannot see that there is any other moral course.
The second point below is that Israel is a no-account place that is not worth defending. Many writers have pointed out ways in which Israel is materially useful to America but that is not the big factor of course. The big factor comes down to morality, religion, values and feelings. And in that sphere Israel is a giant among nations. They wrote both parts of our holy book and even those who do not hold the Bible holy cannot avoid the fact that the Bible has been the principal foundation of our civilization. To give back to those who have given us so much seems again to me to be the only moral course. As our own Bible tells us, they are a holy nation
“[The United States has] a fateful tie to the Israelis from which we have, in contradistinction to the Israelis, everything to lose, and nothing to gain.” George F. Kennan, Diaries, 25 April 1978.
“Our form of government, inestimable as it is, exposes us, more than any other, to the insidious intrigues and pestilent influence of foreign nations. Nothing but our inflexible neutrality can preserve us.” John Adams, c. 1809.
As the renewed Israeli-Palestinian war rages in Gaza, America is presented with an ideal moment to run — not walk — away from its suicidal commitment to both sides. Surely, no sane American — except the Neocons, whom it would be absurd to consider either sane or loyal Americans — could have missed the fact that what is going on in the current war has had absolutely no immediate impact on the United States.
The war is occurring in a far away place that is no longer of any strategic interest to the United States because the combination of Washington’s relentless, war-causing and Islamist-motivating interventionism and Obama’s cowardly surrenderism have already given the entire region to the Islamists and ensured — thanks to Jewish-American Neocons — Israel’s ultimate doom. Therefore it matters not a lick to any but disloyal Americans whether the Israelis kill all the Palestinians, the Palestinians kill all the Israelis, or, in the best case scenari0, they mutually destroy each other. At the end of the war they all simply will be dead foreigners of whom we had no need and for whom we need not bid any teary farewells. Peoples who want to fight religious wars deserve whatever they get, and these two peoples are determined to fight their religious war until one side or the other is destroyed. Well, so be it, let us get out of it now.
There is a rub for the United States, however, and that reality makes complete U.S. disengagement more urgent than ever before. That rub lies in the fact that each bomb or missile the Israeli air force uses in Gaza will eventually yield a dead American soldier or Marine and/or a dead civilian. This is not a fact that President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry will use to inform the American people about what is at stake for the United States in the long run, because they — along with most of their party and the Republican Party — really could not care less about our nation’s security as long as campaign contributions and media support keep flowing from disloyal Israel First, U.S. citizens and their fundamentally anti-American organizations. As long as that graft keeps flowing their way from the Israel Firsters, they are all more than willing to motivate our Islamist enemies by backing Israel to the hilt.
All of these officials will seek to hide their corrupt relationship with U.S. citizen, Israel First leaders by blathering on about the need for a cease-fire, a two-state solution, and restraint from both sides. What is it, do suppose, that makes senior elected and appointed American officials live in the fantasy world that sees an amicable solution to this problem as a possibility. The answer is bribery, as these people are all listed as members in good standing on Israel First’s bountiful payroll list. Because of the dire need to uphold what is left of the Constitution, we must permit these enemies of America to prattle on, but recognizing their flagrant disregard for genuine U.S. national interests we ought to just ignore them.
It is exquisitely clear, that Israelis and Arabs are going to fight each other until one or the other is annihilated, so let them fight.
By JR on Friday, July 18, 2014
Carbon price helped curb emissions, ANU study finds
As something of a coincidence with Australia's repeal of the carbon tax, a study has come out claiming that the tax did have the effect intended. A report of the study plus the journal abstract is given below. There is no intrinsic problem with that conclusion. Taxing something does generally reduce demand for it. I nonetheless think that the report is pure guesswork. I cannot see how they can separate out the effect of the tax from other factors bearing down on electricity generation.
For most of the period surveyed the Labor government was in power, energetically pressing a variety of policies designed to have the same effect as the tax. The winding back of brown coal powered generation in Victoria is the most obvious example of that. Shutting down the cheapest power generators in the country took some time but it did eventually happen to some extent in the latter phase of ALP rule.
And if you read the abstract, it is clear that estimates (guesses) were involved. Their admission: "There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes" is very much to the point
Australia cut carbon dioxide emissions from its electricity sector by as much as 17 million tonnes because of the carbon price and would have curbed more had industry expected the price to be permanent, according to an Australian National University study.
The report, due to be submitted for peer-reviewed publication, found the two years of the carbon price had a discernible impact on emissions even assuming conservative responses by consumers and businesses.
“We see the carbon price doing what it was meant to do, and what it was expected to do, namely dampen demand and shift the supply from dirtier to cleaner sources of electricity,” said Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, and a co-author of the report with the centre’s Marianna O’Gorman.
The paper comes as the Senate voted on Thursday to bring almost five years of Coalition campaigning against a price on carbon to an end by repealing the tax. Labor and the Greens say they will continue to push for a price on emissions.
The ANU report, which used official market data to the end of June, found the drop in power demand attributed to the carbon price was between 2.5 and 4.2 terawatt-hours per year, or about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of the National Electricity Market serving about 80 per cent of Australia’s population.
Emissions-intensive brown and black coal-fired power generators cut output, with about 4 gigawatts of capacity taken offline. The emissions intensity of NEM supply dropped between 16 and 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of supply, underscoring the role of carbon pricing rather than slumping demand in curbing pollution, the paper said.
However, investors’ doubts that the carbon tax would last – fostered in part by then opposition leader Tony Abbott’s “blood oath” to repeal it if the Coalition took office - meant high-emissions generators were mothballed rather than permanently closed.
“We’d expect the impact of the carbon price would have been larger, perhaps far larger, if there had been an expectation that the carbon price would have continued,” Professor Jotzo said.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said repeatedly that the carbon tax was ineffective, stating Australia’s total emissions fell 0.1 per cent in the first year.
More recent figures, though, show the emissions drop accelerated, with 2013’s 0.8 per cent economy-wide fall the largest annual reduction in the 24 years of monitoring. In the power sector, the industry most directly covered by the carbon price, emissions fell 5 per cent.
“As confirmed by Origin Energy managing director Grant King, there are other factors resulting in lower emissions in the electricity sector – including lower demand, the impact of the [Renewable Energy Target], flooding at the Yallourn power station and increased hydro output,” a spokesman for Mr Hunt said.
However, the ANU paper takes those factors into account in estimating the carbon price impact, Professor Jotzo said.
Rather, the impact of the carbon price is probably understated. The highly politicised debate preceded its implementation by about a year, prompting energy consumers to focus more on electricity costs – and presumably to begin making savings – well before the tax began.
“We would expect politically motivated talk ... may well have had a large impact on people’s power usage patterns,” Professor Jotzo said....
“The only thing that went wrong in Australia was the politics of climate change policy,” Professor Jotzo said. “There was nothing inherently wrong with scheme.”
Impact of the carbon price on Australia’s electricity demand, supply and emissions
Marianna O'Gorman, Frank Jotzo
Australia’s carbon price has been in operation for two years. The electricity sector accounts for the majority of emissions covered under the scheme. This paper examines the impact of the carbon price on the electricity sector between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2014, focusing on the National Electricity Market (NEM). Over this period, electricity demand in the NEM declined by 3.8 per cent, the emissions intensity of electricity supply by 4.6 per cent, and overall emissions by 8.2 per cent, compared to the two-year period before the carbon price. We detail observable changes in power demand and supply mix, and estimate the quantitative effect of the effect of the carbon price. We estimate that the carbon price led to an average 10 per cent increase in nominal retail household electricity prices, an average 15 per cent increase in industrial electricity prices and a 59 per cent increase in wholesale (spot) electricity prices. It is likely that in response, households, businesses and the industrial sector reduced their electricity use. We estimate the demand reduction attributable to the carbon price at 2.5 to 4.2 TWh per year, about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of total electricity demand in the NEM. The carbon price markedly changed relative costs between different types of power plants. Emissions-intensive brown coal and black coal generators reduced output and 4GW of emissions-intensive generation capacity was taken offline. We estimate that these shifts in the supply mix resulted in a 16 to 28kg CO2/MWh reduction in the emissions intensity of power supply in the NEM, a reduction between 1.8 and 3.3 per cent. The combined impact attributable to the carbon price is estimated as a reduction of between 5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (3.2 to 5 per cent) in 2012/13 and between 6 and 9 million tonnes (3.5 to 5.6 per cent) in 2013/14, and between 11 and 17 million tonnes cumulatively. There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes, especially over the short term, and in this light we use conservative parameters in the estimation of the effect of the carbon price. We conclude that the carbon price has worked as expected in terms of its short-term impacts. However, its effect on investment in power generation assets has probably been limited, because of policy uncertainty about the continuation of the carbon pricing mechanism. For emissions pricing to have its full effect, a stable, long-term policy framework is needed.
By JR on Thursday, July 17, 2014
Research on basic differences between liberals and conservatives
Science popularizer Chris Mooney is back on his old platform with claims that conservatives are born bad. Leftist psychologists have been endeavouring to prove the evilness of conservatives at at least since 1950 and, despite their failures to convince anyone but themselves, they don't give up lightly. So Mooney has seized on the latest scraps from their table. See below.
Mooney has seized in particular on the work of Hibbing, whom I have noted on a few previous occasions (e.g. here), and I don't think much more needs to be added to what I have said before. Basically, Hibbing labels conservatism as "negativity", despite the fact that there is a long history of conservatism being more informatively labelled as "caution". And exactly the same behaviour can reasonably be labelled either way. "Negativity" is the snarl-word for the more neutral "caution". So Hibbing's main contribution is a twisted or at least tendentious use of language.
Read through the article below and you will see that everything Hibbing condemns can reasonably be attributed to caution. And I don't think anyone is proposing that we give caution up.
Mooney's other point -- that political attitudes have a large inherited component -- is well borne out by the twin studies, however. The only issue is WHAT is the inherited personality factor behind the political attitudes. I would argue that Leftists are born miserable and that makes them destruction-prone. They are so unhappy with the world around them that they want to destroy as much of it as they can.
Statistician Matt Briggs also has some amusing comments on Hibbing.
Mooney does however have below a short flash of insight that largely neutralizes his animus. I have highlighted it in red
You could be forgiven for not having browsed yet through the latest issue of the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences. If you care about politics, though, you'll find a punchline therein that is pretty extraordinary.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences employs a rather unique practice called "Open Peer Commentary": An article of major significance is published, a large number of fellow scholars comment on it, and then the original author responds to all of them. The approach has many virtues, one of which being that it lets you see where a community of scholars and thinkers stand with respect to a controversial or provocative scientific idea. And in the latest issue of the journal, this process reveals the following conclusion: A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.
That's a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics—upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).
It is a "virtually inescapable conclusion" that the "cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different."
The occasion of this revelation is a paper by John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska and his colleagues, arguing that political conservatives have a "negativity bias," meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments. (The paper can be read for free here.) In the process, Hibbing et al. marshal a large body of evidence, including their own experiments using eye trackers and other devices to measure the involuntary responses of political partisans to different types of images. One finding? That conservatives respond much more rapidly to threatening and aversive stimuli (for instance, images of "a very large spider on the face of a frightened person, a dazed individual with a bloody face, and an open wound with maggots in it," as one of their papers put it).
In other words, the conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets—centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns—would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology.
The authors go on to speculate that this ultimately reflects an evolutionary imperative. "One possibility," they write, "is that a strong negativity bias was extremely useful in the Pleistocene," when it would have been super-helpful in preventing you from getting killed. (The Pleistocene epoch lasted from roughly 2.5 million years ago until 12,000 years ago.) We had John Hibbing on the Inquiring Minds podcast earlier this year, and he discussed these ideas in depth; you can listen here:
Hibbing and his colleagues make an intriguing argument in their latest paper, but what's truly fascinating is what happened next. Twenty-six different scholars or groups of scholars then got an opportunity to tee off on the paper, firing off a variety of responses. But as Hibbing and colleagues note in their final reply, out of those responses, "22 or 23 accept the general idea" of a conservative negativity bias, and simply add commentary to aid in the process of "modifying it, expanding on it, specifying where it does and does not work," and so on. Only about three scholars or groups of scholars seem to reject the idea entirely.
That's pretty extraordinary, when you think about it. After all, one of the teams of commenters includes New York University social psychologist John Jost, who drew considerable political ire in 2003 when he and his colleagues published a synthesis of existing psychological studies on ideology, suggesting that conservatives are characterized by traits such as a need for certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity. Now, writing in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in response to Hibbing roughly a decade later, Jost and fellow scholars note that
There is by now evidence from a variety of laboratories around the world using a variety of methodological techniques leading to the virtually inescapable conclusion that the cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different. This research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with heightened epistemic concerns for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety. [Italics added]
Back in 2003, Jost and his team were blasted by Ann Coulter, George Will, and National Review for saying this; congressional Republicans began probing into their research grants; and they got lots of hate mail. But what's clear is that today, they've more or less triumphed. They won a field of converts to their view and sparked a wave of new research, including the work of Hibbing and his team.
"One possibility," note the authors, "is that a strong negativity bias was extremely useful in the Pleistocene," when it would have been super-helpful in preventing you from getting killed.
Granted, there are still many issues yet to be worked out in the science of ideology. Most of the commentaries on the new Hibbing paper are focused on important but not-paradigm-shifting side issues, such as the question of how conservatives can have a higher negativity bias, and yet not have neurotic personalities. (Actually, if anything, the research suggests that liberals may be the more neurotic bunch.) Indeed, conservatives tend to have a high degree of happiness and life satisfaction. But Hibbing and colleagues find no contradiction here. Instead, they paraphrase two other scholarly commentators (Matt Motyl of the University of Virginia and Ravi Iyer of the University of Southern California), who note that "successfully monitoring and attending negative features of the environment, as conservatives tend to do, may be just the sort of tractable task…that is more likely to lead to a fulfilling and happy life than is a constant search for new experience after new experience."
All of this matters, of course, because we still operate in politics and in media as if minds can be changed by the best honed arguments, the most compelling facts. And yet if our political opponents are simply perceiving the world differently, that idea starts to crumble. Out of the rubble just might arise a better way of acting in politics that leads to less dysfunction and less gridlock…thanks to science.
This is what happens when you express global temperature in simple degrees Fahrenheit instead of as an "anomaly"
Calibrated in whole degrees
And here it is in Celsius:
Odd that Warmists always use "anomalies", isn't it?
The Forgotten Flag of the American Revolution and What It Means
It's a continual amazement to me what people claim to find in the Declaration of Independence. I have read it many times now and most of its alleged contents are simply not there. Daniel Hannan below for instance nominates "Magna Carta, jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law" as things that are demanded there. But of that list I can find jury trials only. Most of the Declaration comprises complaints about the King stopping the American grandees from making more and more laws to regulate their countrymen. It was the King who was the libertarian, not the revolutionaries.
The proponents of revolutions are as far as I can tell always Leftists -- Leftists who have fine talk about the justice of their cause but who basically are just grabbing power for their own clique. And I cannot see that the American revolutionaries were any different. They even headline their Declaration with that classic but absurd Leftist slogan: "all men are created equal".
The Leftism that the Declaration embodied is of course much more limited than the Leftism we know today but it was a definite Leftist episode in history nonetheless
We all know the story of American independence, don’t we? A rugged frontier people became increasingly tired of being ruled by a distant elite. A group calling themselves Patriots were especially unhappy about being taxed by a parliament in which they were unrepresented. When, in 1775, British Redcoats tried to repress them, a famous Patriot called Paul Revere rode through the night across eastern Massachusetts, crying “The British are coming!” The shots that were fired the next day began a war for independence which culminated the following year in the statehouse in Philadelphia, when George Washington and others, meeting under Betsy Ross’s gorgeous flag, signed the Declaration of Independence.
It’s a stirring story, but it’s false in every aspect. Neither Paul Revere nor anyone else could have shouted “The British are coming!” in 1775: The entire population of Massachusetts was British. (What the plucky Boston silversmith actually yelled was “The regulars are out!”) The overall level of taxation in the colonies in 1775 was barely a fiftieth of what it was in Great Britain, and the levies to which Americans had objected had been repealed before the fighting began. The Boston Tea Party, which sparked the violence, was brought about by a *lowering* of the duty on tea. George Washington wasn’t there when the Declaration of Independence was signed. The flag that the Patriots marched under was not, except on very rare occasions, the stars-and-stripes (which probably wasn’t sewn by Betsy Ross) but the Grand Union flag.
Known also as the Congress Flag and the Continental Colors, the Grand Union Flag had the 13 red and white stripes as they are today, but in the top left-hand quarter, instead of stars, it showed Britain’s flag, made up of the St. George’s Cross for England and the St. Andrew’s Cross for Scotland. It was the banner that the Continental Congress met under, the banner that flew over their chamber when they approved the Declaration of Independence. It was the banner that George Washington fought beneath, that John Paul Jones hoisted on the first ship of the United States Navy. That it has been almost excised from America’s collective memory tells us a great deal about how the story of the Revolution was afterward edited.
The men who raised that standard believed that they were fighting for their freedoms as Britons — freedoms that had been trampled by a Hanoverian king and his hirelings. When they called themselves Patriots — a word that had been common currency among Whigs on both sides of the Atlantic long before anyone dreamed of a separation — they meant that they were British patriots, cherishing the peculiar liberties that had come down to them since Magna Carta: jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law.
By JR on Friday, July 04, 2014
The Declaration of Independence
It is reasonable for any nation to commemorate the date most associated with its attainment of political independence. So July 4 celebrations in the USA are readily understood. I write from a non-American perspective however so although I see much to celebrate about America I see little to celebrate about the Declaration of Independence. Australia got its independence just by some old men signing papers so starting a war in which thousands died seems to require heavy justification to me.
And when I look at the Declaration I find that the body of it is a desire for more power for the local American legislatures. And the war got them that. But what good did that do the average American in return for his blood? All they got was some flowery words from their existing grandees, roughly the same people who were in power both before and after the war.
Both in the preamble and the subsequent Constitution some magnificent ideals from Europe's liberal enlightenment were enshrined. The Declarers may even have believed in them. Be that as it may, the ideals served well to sanctify a thoroughly selfish power grab by the existing American elite. Many Americans still believe in those ideals, as well they might, but, functionally, they are just the propaganda of yesteryear.
And ideals and words are a poor defence against government. The constant denials to this day of rights granted under the first and second amendments are evidence of that. The "rights" that Americans have are only what the elite of the day are prepared to allow. "The original intent of the founding fathers is being violated on a daily basis". See an example below.
If you like your GPS … tough, you can’t use it
"Remember the frustrating old days of trying to drive while reading, or having a co-passenger read, a map that may or may not have helped you find your destination? Well if some in Congress have their way, those days may be coming back. You see language in the draft Transportation bill that will soon be considered in Congress would give the National Transposition Safety Administration new power to regulate apps like GPS, Google Maps, and Waze. Potential federal regulations including limiting driver’s ability to input information while the car is in motion, or requiring people to certify they are a passenger before being able to use the device making people click a button saying that they are a passenger."
By JR on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Dads Who Do Dishes Raise Ambitious Daughters(?)
I have read the academic journal article behind the popular report below and must advise caution about the assertions below.
For a start, the sampling underlying the article was a mess. Respondents were recruited from visitors to a Canadian science center so would have been solidly middle class -- and the authors (Croft et al) even then had data for both parents for only 27% of their sample.
More importantly, however, I think the results can be fully explained by saying that parental attitudes towards sex roles tend to be transmitted to their children -- which is not much of a surprise. Fathers with less traditional attitudes tended to raise children with less traditional attitudes. Nothing new there, with the results explicable on both genetic and learning grounds. As has been known since the '80s, social attitudes are highly transmissable genetically
Dads who equally divided the drudgery of household chores with their wives tended to have daughters whose “when I grow up” aspirations were less gender-stereotypical, suggests an upcoming paper in Psychological Science.
Moms’ work-equality beliefs did also color their daughters’ attitudes toward gender roles, but this study found that a stronger predictor of girls’ career goals was the way their dads handled domestic duties. The daughters of parents who shared housework were more likely to tell the researchers they wanted to be a police officer, a doctor, an accountant, or a "scientist (who studies germs to help doctors find what medicine each patient needs)," lead author Alyssa Croft wrote via email, quoting one little girl in the study.
Here’s more from the Association for Psychological Science:
"The study results suggest that parents’ domestic actions may speak louder than words. Even when fathers publicly endorsed gender equality, if they retained a traditional division of labor at home, their daughters were more likely to envision themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs, such as nurse, teacher, librarian or stay-at-home-mom.
Even feminist fathers who fail to lift a finger around the house might be unconsciously telling their daughters that housework equals women's work, this study suggests. So, dads: Do the damn dishes already."
By JR on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Some jargon and a triumph of capitalism
Jargon can be obscurantist at times but can also be useful. Most trades and occupations have their own jargon as a quick means of communication. I have been involved with quite a few trades and occupations in my life so am pretty jargon-loaded. I try to keep it within its own context, however.
An example of jargon occurred recently when I saw a carpenter about to throw out something that had some bolts and nuts in it. I checked that he really was throwing the nut out and he said he was. I then unscrewed the nut, took one second's look at it and said: "That's a three eight whitworth". In reply he agreed that the nut was worth keeping.
So what had I said? What had my bit of jargon conveyed? To answer that fully you need to know about Joe Whitworth. Whitworth was an engineer in mid-19th century Britain. One of the things he did was make bolts and nuts (he made a good sniper rifle too). And his bolts and nuts were very good. People found them to be stronger and more accurate. So after a while people wanted to buy Whitworth bolts and nuts only. So all makers of bolts and nuts had to convert to "Whitworth standard" if they wanted to stay in the business. And they did. No government devised the Whitworth standard and no government made people use it but the standard became fixed and a fixed standard was found very useful. And until other nations caught on it gave British machine-makers an advantage. The French were amazed at how quickly Britain could build gunboats for the Crimean war, for instance.
And America caught on too. The American "National Coarse" standard is only a slightly modified version of the Whitworth specifications. You can usually use NC and Whitworth bolts and nuts interchangeably (Yes. I know about the pesky half-inch size).
But then it gets even more interesting. Because a Whitworth thread is coarse it is very strong but it is also a bit wobbly for some precision purposes. So a fine thread was also needed. Alas! Mr Whitworth did not bother with that. So it fell to others to devise fine threads. And by that time the clammy hand of government was felt. Governments took it upon themselves to set the standards. And in true government form they messed it up. The British fine standard (BSF) and the American fine standard (SAE) are quite different. No interchangeability any more. A big part of the advantage of standardizion was lost.
So, to get back to my original story, I was telling the tradesman that the thread in the nut was coarse (Whitworth standard) and that the diameter of the bolt taken by the nut was three eighths of an inch. I could tell that measurement by eye, as most people in the engineering trades could.
By JR on Monday, June 30, 2014
More on sperm-donated children
I put up yesterday a report that chilren conceived from donor sperm had a high rate of dysfunction. The article concerned was from a leftist source so gave the impression that just being such a child was upsetting. The impression was that environmental causes were behind the poor adjustment. I thought at the time that genetic issues in the matter had been slighted but was in too much of a rush to note that. Some women turning to donors would be doing so because of husband infertility but many others would be women who were too poorly adjusted to form a relationship with a normal man. And that probably indicated serious inadequacies in the mother and such inadequacies could well be passed on to the children.
A senior medical reader with experience in the matter has confirmed my reservations -- and in fact tells me that it is even worse than I thought. I quote:
"Yes, agreed that children’s search for real parents can be unnerving, but a well adjusted teenager would not become unglued by such or commit crimes or suicide; the maladjustment comes, more likely, from their parents (natural and adopted). I can tell you this from personal experience.
From 1982 – 1987 I worked at [name given]. One of the early pioneers in IVF worked there; we had a string of patients that, in my not so humble opinion, were among the world’s worst adjusted misfits; unlikely they would be fit parents.
Most were well educated, had some money (cash only), and many traveled great distances to come to [that hospital]. Many had tried multiple times elsewhere. Most were amazingly self absorbed (“it’s all about me”) - they radiated self loathing about not conceiving naturally.
I would favor the parents more than “search for origins” for creating abnormal children.
A personal relative was mentally ill; she harassed her adopted daughter by telling her “you are adopted” every day, reinforcing the girl’s feelings of inadequacy; needless to say, no one was surprised when this young lady became screwed up.
I would not at all be surprised if some of the same results (in IVF offspring) occurred in children adopted or surrogated from gay couples; these professionally victimized gays are among the most self indulgent (“it’s all about me”) people alive; this MUST be transferred to the children."
By JR on Friday, June 27, 2014
A very sad centenary
The immediate trigger for WWI was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. That was exactly 100 years ago.
So what caused that dreadful war? The conventional answer -- some remnant of wartime propaganda -- is GERMANY. Yet the actual first declaration of war was by Austria
The murderous Princip was a Serbian terrorist who shot both the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife as they travelled in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia. As a result, Austria declared war on Serbia.
When the German Kaiser heard of the shootings he expressed the opinion that there was no need for Austria to go to war. But Austria declared war before he could make his views known. So it was not the German Kaiser who was a "warmonger".
The Austro/Serbian war would have remained a local Yugoslav conflict except for the NEXT thing that happened. The Russian Tsar had fatherly feelings towards Serbia so HE declared war on Austria. So it was Russia that started the ball rolling. Once Russia had declared war, the German Kaiser had to declare war pursuant to his treaty with Austria. Then the French declared war with Germany pursuant to their treaty with Russia and it was all on.
So it seems to me that the Russian Tsar was the guilty party in starting that war.
As regards the nature of that war, however, it was the Japanese who were to blame. At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan was already a respected military power and their destruction of the Russian navy in 2005 cemented that reputation throughout Europe.
And the Japanese strategy in land warfare was to soften up the enemy positions with artillery fire and then send troops charging against the enemy positions in "suicidal" attacks. But the Japanese were generally up against inferior and less motivated troops so their charges generally succeeded. This was perceived by Westerners as an example of what bravery, martial spirit and heroism could achieve. They admired it greatly. So they adopted the same strategy for themselves in WWI. But in WWI they were up against tougher opposition so the "heroic" tactics were just slaughter that achieved very little other than exhausting both sides.
It was only when fresh troops arrived from America that the end of the war came.
We can only mourn that terrible conflict and the stupidity that made it so terrible
I always think of Gavrilo Princip's deed as a prime example of why one should not do evil deeds in a good cause. Leftists routinely excuse evil or oppressive deeds on the grounds that they are in a good cause. "You've got to break eggs to make omelettes", they say. Stalin thought that killing all the rich peasants would fix all Russia's problems. In fact it just produced big food shortages. Gavrilo Princip thought that shooting the Archduke would get a better deal for Serbs. In fact it brought on the death of the 50 million or so people who died in WWI. -- JR
UPDATE: I have had some expressions of skepticism about the role I ascribed to Japan. More on that here.
By JR on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Leftist America -- another view
Whether or not it was always so, America today is undoubtedly dominated by the Left. As I tediously point out at times, the Pilgrim Fathers were such fanatical communists that only the imminent threat of their group being wiped out by starvation budged them from it. And their "progressive" descendants are not much better. They are certainly just as solidly convinced of their own righteousness and the correctness of their own ideas. They have ditched God but their personalities endure
So anything the Left disapprove of today, from race-awareness to dislike of homosexuality to Christianity gets heavily condemned and censored at least -- and may even get the "offender" kicked out of his or her job. And conservative politicians certainly get an infinitely harder time in the media than liberal politicians do. Any criticism of Obama is "racism" but you can call George Bush a Nazi all you like.
The Left are people with no real morality or ethics at all so you can expect no mercy from them. If you bother them in any way, they will knock you down in any way they can -- even if you are one of a "minority" whom they claim to help. They lack the power to do what Stalin did -- wipe out 20 million "class enemies" -- but they do whatever damage they can
But readers have been divided over my claim that America has always been Left-dominated. That is partly because the Left changes its tune whenever convenience suits so the Leftism of the past is not as visible from today's perspective. One has to be clear on what basic Leftism is for the Leftism of the past to become obvious. In one short sentence, Leftism is an anger-driven hunger for sweeping change.
Another misunderstanding is that I was claiming that America was more Leftist than some other places. I was not. I am quite happy to acknowledge that Leftism is far more dominant in various other countries. That does not diminish its overriding influence in America, however.
I should also add that I have no quarrel with the splendid ideals enunciated at the time of independence and which are still held dear by many Americans today. I just don't think they have ever had much influence on actual policy. They have mainly received lip service only.
I put up yesterday one of the emails that opposed my claims so I think it is only fair to put up another email that was broadly in agreement with me. Thomas Anger, who blogs here writes as follows:
"I don't agree that America has always been leftist because I don't buy into abstractions like "America." There are and have been individual Americans of many political persuasions, most of them confused and contradictory.
That said, as an enlightened libertarian (i.e., Burkean conservative) I do agree with your characterization of the motives of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For example, a latter-day romantic, Timothy Sandefur (author of The Conscience of the Constitution), asserted that "The American founders held that people are inherently free—that is, no person has a basic entitlement to dictate how other people may lead their lives." I responded:
"Did they, really? All of them, including the slave owners? Or did they simply want to relocate the seat of power from London to the various State capitals, where local preferences (including anti-libertarian ones) could prevail? Wasn't that what the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were all about? The Constitution simply moved some of the power toward the national capital, mainly for the conduct of foreign policy and trade. Despite that, the Constitution was a "States' rights" document, and remained that way until the ratification of Amendment XIV, from which much anti-libertarian mischief has emanated."
Later, I wrote:
"Why can't you [Sandefur] just admit that the Declaration of Independence was a p.r. piece, penned (in the main) by a slave-owner and subscribed to by various and sundry elites who (understandably) resented their treatment at the hands of a far-away sovereign and Parliament? You're trying to make more of the Declaration -- laudable as its sentiments are -- than should be made of it."
In sum, the War of Independence isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And there's no doubt that liberty suffered in the long run as a result of the North's victory in the Civil War. But, in my view, those historical missteps have little to do with "left" (or "right") and much to do with human venality and power-lust, which are found in persons of all political persuasions.
The genius of the Constitution was that it provided mechanisms for curbing the anti-libertarian effects of venality and power-lust. The tragedy of the Constitution is that those mechanisms have been destroyed. If you were to say that Americans have gradually lost their liberty through successive and cumulative violations of the Constitution, I would agree with you.
And if you were to say that Americans are the captives of a leftist state, and are likely to remain so, I would agree with you.
In any event, I have been and will remain a faithful reader of Dissecting Leftism, which provides a valuable service in exposing the left's anti-libertarian motives and actions."
By JR on Monday, June 23, 2014
Has America always been Leftist?
As I anticipated, my claim that America has always been Leftist, provoked some of my patriotic readers. Some even insulted me by telling me that I am a pacifist. I was in fact in my youth (in the Vietnam era!) a Sergeant in the Australian Army, so I am no pacifist. That dull document above is my discharge certificate.
What I oppose is not war but wars fought primarily to empower elites and I think both of America's civil wars fall into that category. They were not necessary wars in any sense.
But I did learn something very important from my critics. It was vividly brought home to me how impressive fine words are to most people. When even patriotic American conservatives can be taken in by them, it shows why Leftists have so much influence. Leftists are nothing but fine words. To me fine words are only provisionally important. They have to be backed up by deeds and it is the deeds that matter.
An excellent example of how fine words impress even conservatives is the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. It is full of fine words and noble sentiments. Most political documents are. Stalin's Soviet constitution also was a high-minded document proclaiming all sorts of rights for Soviet citizens -- rights which were denied in fact.
So once you look past the grand generalizations of the Declaration's introduction and get to the nitty gritty of what the Yankee grandees really wanted fixed, you see that it is very mundane, if not ignoble. What was really bothering them was restrictions on their powers to legislate. They wanted more laws, not less! Very Leftist.
And from THAT starting point you can see why the war was fought and for whose benefit. The grandees concerned had a lot of influence and were good at fine talk so they could muster an army -- and they did. And who benefited from the war? Was it the poor farmers and tradesmen who died as foot-soldiers in it? No way! It was the grandees who started the war. They emerged with exactly what they wanted: More power.
I am sorry if that account sounds offensive to people who still believe the original propaganda, but if you ignore the fancy talk and just look at the facts, that is what happened.
I reproduce the most articulate of the objections have received, I will add some further comments at the foot of it. As you see, it is a reasoned letter, not the mere foaming and abusive anger we get from Leftists:
I'm not here to express any kind of anger over your posting, but I will confess a great deal of surprise. You appear to be using the same intellectually dishonest method liberals commonly employ in that you present a great deal of material that is technically factual, but so bereft of context that it presents a completely distorted picture. For example:
"As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists. They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally. If that's not communism, nothing is."
They forbad private ownership because the most modern economic theory of the time they knew theorized that this would improve output and standard of living. They tested the theory. The leader recorded the results, saw the problems, and instituted free market reforms. These are not the actions of "fanatical communists." As we have seen in other countries, "fanatical communists" don't care about how many are starving. They stick to the theory despite the facts or cost.
"That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired. Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside."
I assume that you mean independence and abolition of slavery. Quite true. It is far less obvious how well Australia may have fared on independence had they been of equal value to the empire financially and had America not set the precedent that the British could be thrown out.
As for slavery, I am delighted that Australia came to the same conclusions about slavery as other Western type countries without the need for violence on a national level, though I still hold that slavery was only part of the issue.
Anyway, I hope you are justifiably thankful to Christianity, since it was the only religion/movement that united peoples in the nations to abolish slavery. The atheists, Muslims, and other groups were quite content with the status quo as far as slavery was concerned, at least to the extent that none of them were going to put up serious opposition to it.
"So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists?"
A more accurate question might be "So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of Europeans?" I think the answer is a society that eventually comes to reflect the type of society that these Europeans set up, which is where we are heading. I note in some of your blog entries that Australia, though better in some instances, has hardly been immune. My theory, unprovable of course, is that most of the types that really tended towards socialism stayed in Europe for a long time. It was the hearty and adventurous that risked life and limb to have opportunity in a new land. Later, as it became safer and more affluent, the parasitic class began to immigrate in mass. So it goes.
"Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke. It was pro-liberty for the elite only."
From the Declaration: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
In religious circles, I would say that you were "straining out a gnat" to "swallow a camel." Don't misunderstand me: I am making no excuse or justification for how imperfectly the priniciples played out or were implemented. But the goal, the ideal, was there, and it was liberty.
Your takes on the causes behind the US entry into the world wars is interesting. It is also dripping with pacifist venom. I'll not bother to address such simplistic assertions here. If you would like to discuss the matter separately sometime, feel free to contact me. I will only say that history is full of examples of what becomes of nations that avoid war at all cost. The French were a great example in the run-up to WWII.
"So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields? Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives? It's simple. America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years."
A gross over-simplification as an attempt explanation. I would ignore it entirely, but for one phrase: "America is a huge beneficiary of the fact"
The "fact" is couched in language to make it seem that America won some kind of international lottery, or randomly drew a good card from some deck in a politics game. America had what the men who met and debated and formed the Constitution chose. While not perfect, it was far from random.
"And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom. Australia is third. Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes."
That is the present. The past tells a much different story. Contrary to your assertion that "Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous" what began its existence as a group of colonies, damaged by internal war and strife, rose in a remarkably short period of time to become the economic world leader. In short order, much older European countries were sending their economists to see how we were "doing it" so that they could share in the prosperity.
Is America in decline? Undoubtedly. Quite sad for me, because I am a patriot, and I see no end to that decline in sight. It's not just a matter of policies and politics, you see, but a matter of faith. While we embraced a Christian identity in our nation, we rose. It was a flawed, imperfect rise, probably because it was a flaw, imperfect Christianity, made of nothing but flawed, imperfect people. Yet while we held to our faith on a national scale, we improved. It may or may not have occurred to you that most of the countries with the best record on civil rights have strong Christian heritages. Those values are in decline now. As a result, so is liberty and prosperity. I accept that, with sadness.
But to try to make the case that the United States was founded or organized in a lingering way on what we consider modern leftist principles doesn't pass the smell check. In a time when monarchy and class systems held iron grip, it led the way real equality, or at least the best that was available.
I've studied my history enough to know that the best of the founding fathers and patriots were flawed. I don't have a problem with that. As a Christian, I understand that all people are flawed. I do my best to honor the good, and accept the bad, the same as I do with people today.
I find it interesting and ironic that at the end of your essay, you speak of honoring the people of America but not national myths. It's ironic because you spend most of your time trying to dispel the myths by pointing out just how horrible the people are. That's a course that seems pretty self defeating to me. To my way of thinking, the only part of American history truly deserving full honor is the documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They state their purpose with wisdom and clarity. Their is no dishonesty in them. The documents, in themselves, never fail. It is only we, as men, who fail to live up to them. And that is why we need them: So that we will constantly have something better than we can ever be to live up to.
You'll not lose me as reader, JR, at least not over this. But I don't think it's your best work. I don't really think it's that good at all. And we'll both survive that opinion.
I hope your weekend is going well. Take care.
If only all disagreements could be stated so civilly! But you can see that he has been taken in by the fine words. He believes in them. I doubt that many of America's leaders ever have, however. Maybe Ronnie Reagan out of them all.
I will add comments in something of reverse order:
He asks why America did so well economically in the 19th century. He seems unaware that Europe -- even Russia to some extent -- also had massive economic gains in the second half of the 19th century. America ended up with a much bigger economy than anyone but that simply reflects the fact that the 19th century was when America began to seriously exploit its huge natural resources. America not only had huge quantities of gold, iron, coal and other minerals but it also had the biggest resource of all -- seemingly unlimited tracts of fertile land that could be used for farming or raising edible animals. And that vast food production was the key to the big population increase at that time. America could simply feed more people. The starving of Eastern Europe and Ireland flocked to it.
And that explanation in terms of natural resources is backed up by the two nations who entered the 20th century with living standards as high as or higher than America. They were Australia and Argentina. Both of those also benefited from huge, freshly exploited natural resources. And I can't help myself from remarking about why one of those fell off the perch and one didn't. Australia is still a great place to live; Not so much Argentina. Why?
I know why but to say why breaches America's biggest and fiercest taboo. But I will breach it carefully anyway. Argentina is 50/50 Spanish and Italian whereas Australians and Americans are predominantly of British and Northern European ancestry. And that difference matters. OK: I have said enough of that.
My critic also thought that I was too glib about WWI. I was certainly brief. But I was dismissive of America's role in that war not because I am a pacifist or a Leftist but because I think American meddling in that war did incredible harm. Wilson dressed up his intervention in the usual high flown talk but let us look at the results.
Before Wilson sent his troops over, the combatants had virtually fought one-another to a standstill. General Ludendorff had been advancing almost up until that point but the men he lost in doing so had exhausted Germany. There is no doubt that some sort of draw would have been declared at some stage and both sides would have gone home devastated but intact and with honour bright. That was how the previous Franco/German fight ended up in 1872.
But thanks to Wilson that did not happen. Germany was defeated, torn apart, degraded, impoverished, and humiliated. And who benefited from that? Who fed on that until it gave him enormous influence in Germany? It was Adolf Hitler. There would have been no Hitler in power had the old German empire endured. I could go into more detail on that but I see Wilson's do-gooder meddling as the prize example of allegedly noble intentions having disastrous consequences. There would have been no WWII except for Democrat President Woodrow Wilson.
I have probably said enough for today -- JR
By JR on Sunday, June 22, 2014
America has always been Leftist
Up until fairly recently, I had always accepted fairly uncritically the orthodox view of American history. But as an amateur historian I do have the pesky habit of going back to the original documents behind history. So a couple of months ago, I actually read through the Declaration of Independence. What I read there shocked me. It was an entirely different document from the orthodox account of it.
It has taken me a while to integrate that finding into a broader view but I think I can now present a view of American history that makes much more sense of both America's past and her present.
I was greatly helped in forming a new view by the abhorence I have always felt towards America's two civil wars (Independence and North/South). As a former member of Australia's armed forces, I am no pacifist but I do feel that wars should be a last resort -- and that applied to neither of America's civil wars. That was particularly clear to me because I am a citizen of a country which achieved all the objectives of America's civil wars without a shot being fired. Warring armies have never tramped through the Australian countryside.
But to begin at the beginning: As most Americans learn around the time of Thanksgiving, America was founded by fanatical communists. They forbad private ownership of land and insisted that all produce be shared communally. If that's not communism, nothing is. They were such fanatics that a third of them had to starve to death before they decided that communism wasn't such a good idea and went back to the way things had always been done in stodgy old England.
So what should we expect of a nation dominated by the descendants of fanatical communists? What we should expect is exactly what we actually got, I submit.
But before I get to that, let me ensure complete clarity about what the core of Leftism is. The content of Leftism changes from time to time. Before WWII, Leftists world wide were energetic champions of eugenics, for instance. Leftists now abhor it. So what is constant in Leftism? Anger. Leftists in all eras are so dissatisfied with the society in which they live that they want sweeping changes to it. And they thirst for power to achieve that. That is Leftism.
So we come back to the Declaration of Independence. There are a variety of things in it but the centerpiece of it is the complaint that, in good communist style, the New Englanders wanted to pass lots of laws to control their fellow man but the king kept obstructing or disallowing such laws. Whether by intent or neglect, the king was the libertarian obstructing the control freaks. And it was over that that the Yankees went to war. Portraying the declaration as pro-liberty is a joke. It was pro-liberty for the elite only. Joe Stalin call your office.
And, in case anyone is not aware of it, the resultant war was at heart a war of the Yankees versus the rest. New York was firmly on the side of the king, for instance. It was a civil war which Yankee determination won, at the cost of 25,000 Yankee deaths. But deaths in war never worry Leftists. Change is the thing. So the Yankee hatred of the British-dominated status quo burnt all other considerations.
And Andrew Jackson, founder of the modern Democratic party, certainly wrought big changes in the territory under his control in the 1830s -- clearing out American Indians and driving them to the then-far-West: Ethnic cleansing.
And then we come to the real horror: The North/South war. "Only" half a million men died there. And for what? EVERY other country on earth abolished slavery without the need for a war. Does that not tell us something? It should. In his famous letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln himself admitted that slavery was not the main issue. The issue was the dominance of central government. V.I. Lenin call your office. Lincoln didn't call it "dominance of central government", of course. He called it "the union" but the result is the same.
And just about everythinng Lincoln did was without a shred of constitional justification and in fact breached the constitution. Hitler at least had the grace to get an "enabling act" passed by the German parliament. Lincoln just marched on regardless. He destroyed the liberty of the press (there goes your first amendment) and locked up thousands of war opponents (there goes your 4th amendment). But most centrally, Lincoln's whole enterprise was a defiance of the basic American constitutional dispensation that the states are sovereign, not the federal government. Lincoln turned that on its head. The feds now became the main source of power and authority. There is no doubt that Lincoln talked a good talk. He even used to persuade me once. But his deeds reek of Fascism.
A good example of the large gap between his deeds and words is that masterpiece of propaganda, the Gettysburg address. Goebbels admired it for good reason. In case anybody hasn't noticed, Lincoln claimed that his war was to ensure "government of the people, by the people, for the people" -- which was exactly what he had just denied to the South! Only Yankees are people, apparently. Hitler thought certain groups weren't people too.
And then we have two world wars. WWI had nothing to do with America but power-mad Democrat President Wilson got America into it any way. He had such fun influencing the eventual re-arrangement of Europe.
And FDR was worse if anything. He subjected Japan to crippling sanctions until an attack on America seemed the only way forward to them. Anything else would have been an intolerable loss of "face". So FDR got his war. For political purposes he once declared "I hate war" but some at least of his biographers believe that he pined for the publicity and power that a war would give him.
But what about the era of US/Soviet rivalry? Was America Leftist then? It was. Top-rate taxes were enormous, for instance. But the USSR was even more Leftist. The Russian peasants who fought for its creation were even angrier -- for good reason -- than the Yankee grandees of George III's time, so the changes in Russia were very sweeping indeed. And Leftists are very hostile people -- even to followers of other brands of Leftism. Note the icepick in the head that Leon Trotsky got from Joe Stalin.
I could go on but does the dominance of political correctness in America today now seem surprising? It is not. It is just another of the many forms of Leftism that America has produced and will continue to produce. And, unfortunately, the rest of the world has followed America, as it often does. As goes California so goes the whole world eventually.
So what is the secret of America's outstanding success in many fields? Leftists are usually not much good at producing prosperity so what gives?
It's simple. America is a huge beneficiary of the fact that it has Federal elections every two years. So if you get a bungling legislature in power you soon get the opportunity to boot them out. Britain, by contrast, has to wait five years to get rid of an incompetent or destructive government.
And Americans are not in fact unusually prosperous. So many Americans have their knees under government desks that the productive element of the population is much reduced -- with the result that quite a few countries have per head incomes higher than America. According to the CIA, there are 13 countries with higher PPP incomes per head than America. Be that as it may, however, America is by any measure only one of a peleton of high income countries, not the leader.
And the USA is 12th on the Heritage index of economic freedom. Australia is third. Our pioneers were villains, not know-all holy Joes.
It is true that America is not exceptionally Leftist by world standards -- though Mr Obama is working on that -- but that just shows that there have always been angry people, and some groups -- e.g. Russian peasants and British miners -- have been even more angry than New Englanders.
I guess that this post will lose me quite a few readers among American patriots but is being patriotic to a historical hoax really wise? America has many fine people. Be loyal to them, not national myths -- JR
By JR on Saturday, June 21, 2014
A conservative vision for social justice
Below is the blurb for a series of talks given by the AEI. I think it is thoroughly misconceived. If social justice were justice it would not need the word "social" before it. And conceptions of justice differ greatly anyway. Sharia law anyone?
I think all talk of justice in connection with social reform is pernicious. Such talk fosters feelings of entitlement in those whom the "Social justice" is supposed to benefit. The poor (for instance) are told that they are getting a handout not out of generosity but because it is their right, because it is somehow "just" that they should. But from what system of justice does such a right arise? There is none. Help for the needy is simply asserted as being just, without any context for it in any judicial philosophy. It is mere propaganda designed to foster grievance, which is meat and drink to destructive Leftists.
Let conservatives talk about HELPING the needy or the oppressed by all means. There is no need for the slimy Leftist doctrine of "social justice".
And from a libertarian perspective, the whole idea of social justice is laughable. Forcibly taking away one person's justly earned fruit of his labor and giving it to someone who has done nothing to earn it is INjustice. It is theft, regardless of any adjective you put in front of it
This is the first event in AEI's exclusive Vision Talks series. Over the course of the coming year, AEI will convene a group of America's leading scholars, thinkers, and practitioners to offer fresh visions in key areas of policy and public debate. These talks will be filmed and disseminated as standalone videos similar to Arthur Brooks's “Secret to Happiness” talk.
What questions must today’s social justice agenda address? What are the tenets of such an agenda?
Conservatives played a central role in the emancipation and civil rights movements in America, and free enterprise has lifted millions out of poverty worldwide. But conservatives have failed to provide a vital vision for how their principles can foster a more just society today. Current government efforts to expand opportunity and reduce poverty show mixed results at best. Is there a fresh vision that engages the social justice questions of today and the future more effectively?
Please join us for three concise talks on why America needs a new social justice agenda, what that agenda must address, and how that agenda plays out in the most important policy debates of our time.
By JR on Thursday, June 12, 2014
The habitual dishonesty of the Left is a huge political problem
When they hear something confidently asserted, most people tend to accept that as true until they have evidence to the contrary. The Left are kept afloat by that tendency. The facts are against almost every conceivable Leftist proposition. So loudly deceiving people about the facts is essential to the Left.
A very common deceptive tactic is a very old and very effective one: Accusing your opponents of what are in fact your own faults -- what Freud called "projection".
Nowhere is this a more persuasive strategy than in the constant accusations that conservatives are "racist". That is such a big lie and is asserted so often that many people undoubtedly believe it.
A knowledge of the relevant history immediately demolishes that assertion but Leftist control of the educational system ensures that almost no-one gets to know that history. That Hitler was a socialist, that one of Britain's most notable Prime Ministers was both a Jew and the head of the British CONSERVATIVE party are both obvious and large signs that the Leftist accusations are false. British Conservatives made a Jew (Disraeli) their Prime minister. 40 years later, German socialists immolated 6 million Jews. So who is the antisemite? Who is the racist?
Here is another interesting piece of history. In 1905 the sitting British government lost power in a general election to the opposition. The main cause of its loss was that it was too sympathetic to (legal) Chinese immigration. Ask any Leftist which party it was that lost the election and they would undoubtedly nominate a Left-leaning party. It was in fact the Conservative government of Arthur Balfour.
It is true that it was Chinese immigration to South Africa that was the issue but Britain had just fought a long and costly war to assert that South Africa was British territory and public opinion did see the issue as concerning British territory.
And anyone who has read the correspondence between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (I have) will be aware of the many racial aspersions cast by both those Leftist icons
For a time modern-day conservatives defended themselves from false Leftist attacks by saying that talking about different races and racial characteristics was not at all the same as advocating genocide and did not imply support for genocide. But in recent years, conservatives seem to have become cowed. They avoid all mention of race in fear of Leftist attack.
The truth will never come out that way. And it needs to come out. For example, the lie that all races are equal in all things is very damaging. Leftists are absolutely firm that the black/white "gap" in educational achievement is NOT due to any inherent differences between the two groups. They are sure that it is transient and changeable and rack their brains for ways to change it. But it never does change, no matter what the best brains in Leftism have been able to come up with.
So the inevitable outcome of that is that black under-achievement must not be intrinsic to them but must be due to "whitey": Whitey oppresses and discriminates against blacks, allegedly. And a more poisonous claim than that would be hard to imagine. Blacks tend to believe it and it makes them very hostile towards whites. So we have all the black-on-white attacks and killings that the press does its best to hush up. Many innocent whites are injured and killed because of that great Leftist lie.
Anybody who was familiar with the last 100 years of research into IQ would see that the black-white educational gap is exactly what you would expect from the black-white IQ gap and that nothing will eradicate it -- but Leftists assert that "all men are equal" so cannot accept that.
It may be that all men are equal in the sight of God but divine optometrical defects are not scientifically testable. IQ is.
But I despair of the truth ever becoming widely known now that conservatives have given up defending it. America will continue to stagger on under destructive public policies supported only by Leftist lies.
By JR on Monday, June 09, 2014
Nationalism is Leftist
These days nobody much talks about nationalism any more. Old Adolf is thought to have given it a bad name. But it is essential to understand what nationalism is if we are to understand 20th century history. So how do we define it? And how do we define Leftism?
The essential feature of all Leftism is the desire to stop other people from doing various things they want to do and make them do various things that they do not want to do (via taxation, regulation, mass murder etc.) When (on October 30, 2008) Obama spoke of his intention to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography. He was talking about transforming what American people can and must do. So that is the first and perhaps the most important thing about Leftism: It is intrinsically authoritarian. Ideally, it would militarize society (which was Hegel's ideal). It subjugates the individual to the wishes of a Leftist elite.
Nationalism is not so easy. How do we separate it from patriotism? Both involve strong feelings of support for ones own country -- even a willingness to die for one's own country. I submit that the essential difference is that the patriot wishes only to defend his own country while the nationalist wants to see his country dominate other countries.
On that definition, the Nazis and the Italian Fascists of WWII were nationalists but Britain was not. Britain already had an empire so had no wish for another one.
But what about WWI? Feelings that their nation could conquer all comers were rife among all the main combatants of WWI. And historians generally agree in seeing nationalism as the major psychological motive behind WWI.
So WWI could be seen as proof that nationalism is not Leftist. The workers of the various countries generally fell in line behind their national leaders, even though many had Leftist convictions. Leftism was completely out of the picture in WWI. WWI was not motivated by a desire for social change.
But from another viewpoint, Nationalism is as Leftist as they come. Nationalism regards the group as hugely more important than the individual and the nationalist is happy about the huge degree of regimentation that war imposes. Nationalism is a Leftist dream. So nationalism is about international change as distinct from social change in one country. So the yen for change is still there. Nationalism is just a different brand of Leftism. It is Leftism on a broader canvas.
I should add here a small refinement of my definitions so far: Nationalism can mean two quite different things: 1). A desire of a people for independent existence as a nation -- as in 19th century German nationalism or 20th Scottish nationalism; 2). When the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. It is meaning 2 that I am concerned with here. And all the examples of that which I can think of, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism.
And even patriotism often gets a bad name these days. The Left pretend to see nationalism in it. So they equate patriots with Nazis. So again it is important to be clear about the difference between the two. If you do not advocate world conquest by your country, you are not a nationalist or a Nazi.
It's interesting that Leftists have gone from being fervent nationalists (with JFK being the last squeak of it in the USA) to people who decry it -- but that is typical of the turnaround that the Left did after WWII. Because Hitler was such a monumental failure they have had to dissociate themselves from all of his doctrines. They are back to seeking change in one country
And I don't think I should leave the subject before noting that the first successful nationalist of the 20th century was American. TR was not only behind America's temporary acquisition of an empire (in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico etc) and a great glorifier of war but was also the founder of America's "Progressive" party. -- JR.
By JR on Saturday, June 07, 2014
Conservatives are From Mars, Leftists are From Venus
Below is one version of a plausible theory that pops up every now and again. Both Left and Right have their versions of it. The risible Lakoff has the best known Leftist version of it.
Plausible though it is however, it is demonstrably wrong. If Leftists were feminine in their approach and appeal, then they should surely get a big vote from women. But they do not. At most national elections, the female vote splits roughly equally between Left and Right. Single women tend to vote for a husband substitute (on the Left) while married women resent taxes taking away money that they would rather spend on their families. Overall the two groups of women cancel one-another out.
So WHY is the theory wrong? Simple. It takes Leftist claims about themselves at face value. Leftists claim to be motivated by caring and compassion so the theory takes that as given. But Leftists are chronic liars and twisters of the truth so to accept their own evaluation of themselves is close to moronic. The true nature of Leftists is revealed whenever they get untrammelled power -- as triumphant Communist movements do. When that happens they reveal themselves to be hate-filled totalitarians and mass murderers. Judge them by what they do, not by what they say. Do you really think that Harry Reid would be kind and motherly if he became leader of the Soviet Socialist States of the USA? The Koch brothers would certainly be dead 5 minutes later.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Leftists cannot hide totally their hateful intentions. Everything they enact tends to be destructive to the larger society -- from Obama's attempt to hike electricity prices via the EPA to the hike in medical costs engendered by Obamacare. So some people -- including women -- do ignore the fine words and reject the Left because of their destructive deeds
How angels arrange their affairs is unknown. We humans have only two approaches to the puzzles and battles of life: The first is from Mars and the second is from Venus.
It is Martian to confront a problem with blunt speech and unsparing honesty, and yet to welcome unsparing bluntness in return. It is Martian to attack the enemy at the strongest point of the line, and yet to treat a fallen foe with courtesy. It is Martian to command without backtalk, and to obey without complaint. The Mars approach is most useful when confronting problems that require courage, force, majesty, dispassionate intellect. Results matter; intentions don’t.
It is Venusian to negotiate around problems so as not to provoke a clash of wills. Venus seeks compromise, makes sacrifices and expects sympathy in return. Speech is indirect, diplomatic, because feelings are delicate, easily bruised. Venus avoids ultimatums, and uses speech to seek out secret motives. A Venusian does not call adversaries enemies, but patients, meant to be healed of their ignorance and fear.
The Venusian approach is never used between equals. The seductress beguiles and cajoles a man like breaking a horse, because he is too strong for her, and so she is indirect. Contrariwise, the mother does not want to bark commands at the child. She wants him to learn to volunteer without being asked. The mother molds his character as he will one day be child no more. Her thought is long-term. She wants to teach the child to fish, not feed him a fish. Failure is insignificant if the child’s motives were pure. (Because, after all, children do not lose wars when they fail, or cause economic depressions or the downfall of nations.)
Martians rule by formal law, law carved in stone, law enforced by policemen and hangmen. Mars likes Robert’s Rules of Order.
Venusians rule by social cues and peer pressure to establish pecking orders, bestow honors, snub pariahs, sooth social friction, set roles and expectations.
But peer pressure only works in artificial, civilized, non-productive situations, not a factory where someone counts the profits and losses, not a ball game where someone keeps score, not a war where someone pins ribbons on chests and someone else plants red poppies on graves.
The Martian approach is to do your job as agreed and to go home after, and what you do on your own time is no man’s damn business but yours. The Venusian is concerned with hearts and minds not with tasks and results, so Venus follows you home. She embraces the world.
When left to themselves in their own sphere — not interfering with results-oriented work — not only is the Venusians’ approach healthy, it is useful because it is a peacekeeping function.
Now, everyone reading these words knows exactly which sex is the direct one, suited by nature for war and confrontation; everyone knows which sex is the indirect one, suited by nature for domestic matters and diplomacy. It is a sign of our times that this obvious truth known to all is considered something obviously never to be admitted in public. This generation is as delicate of feeling and as prone to hysteria as matrons of the Victorian Age. In both cases, the hysterics faint at the merest mention of sex.
The two sexes I am discussing here are not male and female, but conservative and leftist.
Specifically, a conservative is one who deals with politics as if it were within the sphere of Mars. A leftist is one who deals with all of life, political as well as personal, as if it were within the sphere of Venus.
Consider each point mentioned above. Political Correctness attempts to soften hard truths and spare delicate feelings. Reason is too masculine and confrontational. Instead of overcoming a rational argument, the leftist merely ascribes a vile motive to the person speaking, and making him an unperson, a pariah, someone we pretend not to be able to hear. Leftists don’t expect to be punched in the face when they lie. Their weapon is gossip and slander, rumor and hysteria, smothering your viewpoint rather than refuting it
Likewise, there are no equals in the leftwing universe. The Nanny-state is condescending. Our worries about national debts or Jihadist threats are dismissed with a maternal tongue-cluck, tut-tut, and we are placated with welfare benefits like chocolate cookies.
When the leftist encounters rebuke, the emotional reaction is not one of a defeated knight shaking hands with his honorable vanquisher, but one of a woman scorned or a woman in mourning, of whose like hell hath no fury. It is the hate of a weak and effete inferior, a scalding hatred. Read Marx. He is from Venus. Adam Smith is from Mars.
Because the Venusian approach works through custom, leftists are lawless. They think everything should be an exception.
Because Venusians regard all rivalry as curable cases of ignorance and fear, they don’t argue rival viewpoints (that is too confrontational) they just declare the science to be settled and the debate to be over, and you to be a fearful dunce.
Because motherhood overlooks no detail of a slow-witted child’s upbringing, the leftist regulates the water volume in your toilet. They follow you home. The right pesters your life from sun to sun, but the pestering left is never done.
All these Venusian qualities are admirable (nay, they are adorable!) when kept in their proper orbit. Imagine a wall called civilization, which consists of coolheaded and hardhearted men willing to work terrible evil on evildoers lurking like wolves without the walls. Within is a domestic garden called convention, where the women raising children may be as softhearted and hotheaded as they wish so long as they do not erode the wall.
Both fail at the other’s task. A Martian will fail if he tries to command the garden of convention by force. The garden of convention must be ruled indirectly, voluntarily, because it is a matter of opinion, learning and character. Force destroys opinion, smothers learning and prevents character growth.
Likewise, Venusians will fail most horribly when they try to man the wall of politics, and take up the sword of law or the pike of war in their soft and feminine hands. The battlefield or factory floor is not a place for feelings, but results. Enemies are not spoiled children to be chided or placated, but slain. Compromise and simpering sacrifice are counterproductive here, because business rivals and bloodthirsty foes will merely exploit any sign of weakness and call you a fool.
Both fail at the other’s task, but both do not quit. Martians are results oriented. When they see their results in the garden are counterproductive, they stop their meddling and return to their duties on the wall.
But when Venusians fail, they redouble their efforts. They do not see their results are counterproductive because they act on faith and do not care about results. When their counterproductive efforts create a bigger problem in the realm of Mars, ruining factories, trampling rights or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, the Venusians conclude the bigger problem needs more Venus.
To put it charitably, the Venusians are not very analytical. But they are like a sobbing wife of a convict, the wife who never stops believing in him.
So the Venusian continues to negotiate and surrender with deaf and stubborn reality as if with a deaf and stubborn husband, thinking that if she makes just one sacrifice more, reality will relent. Alas, reality is from Mars.
When the world is healthy, Mars rules Venus because reality establishes the bounds and laws of the wall of civilization, within which the garden of convention is free to play.
But when Venus rules Mars, the world is demented.
By JR on Friday, May 30, 2014
Do democracies start wars?
It is often said that democracies do not wage war on one-another. The idea is that populations as a whole are justly wary of war -- because it is they who die in them -- so a democratic government can only get popular consent to a war if the country is attacked by an external enemy -- presumably a despot of some kind.
Students of ancient history will immediately recall the Athenian attack on Syracuse as a counter-example but Athens was not much like democracies as we know them today (only a minority of Athenians had a vote, for instance) so that does not take us very far.
I have recently come across what could be seen as a confirmation of the usual claim: The Austro-Hungarian democracy at the onset of WWI. The Austro-Hungarian empire (Germany's great Southern ally) WAS a democracy but it was a greatly decayed democracy. The Austrian Reichsrat (parliament) had degenerated to complete unworkability. Filibusters were common and disruptions by deliberate noise were routine. Parties that were not getting their way would shout, blow whistles, blow toy trumpets, bang drums and generally deploy so much noise that speeches could not be heard and very little work could be done.
It was such a spectacle that ordinary Viennese -- including Hitler -- would go to the vistor's gallery overlooking parliament just for the entertainment. Hitler started out with a considerable respect for democracy, particularly British democracy, but his observations of the Reichsrat considerably eroded that.
So Austria entered the war solely in the power of the bureaucracy, the military and the Emperor. It is conceivable that a mature democracy might have produced a leader who told the emperor firmly that a dead Archduke was insufficient to justify hostilities with Serbia. So WWI could perhaps have been avoided if Austria had been a functioning democracy.
As it happens, even the German Kaiser thought that war with Serbia was unnecessary -- but Austria had declared war before the Kaiser had got to make his views known. But once war had been declared, treaty obligations ruled subsequent events.
But the big hole in the conventional case is Imperial Germany. The German empire was thoroughly democratic and the formal powers of the Kaiser were little different from the powers of the British monarch. The Kaiser was certainly influential for a time and often expressed views that were widely held in Germany but nothing much could be done without parliamentary consent.
Wikipedia has a reasonable short summary of the German parliament of the time: "The Reichstag had no formal right to appoint or dismiss governments, but by contemporary standards it was considered a highly modern and progressive parliament. All German men over 25 years of age were eligible to vote, and members of the Reichstag were elected by general, universal and secret suffrage. Members were elected in single-member constituencies by majority vote."
And Germany's predecessor State, Prussia, is an interesting example of the role of the German parliament: The King could not get the Prussian parliament to vote him the funds he wanted for his army so he commissioned Chancellor Bismarck to bypass parliament and rule solely in the King's name. Bismarck carried it off with the aid of an obedient Prussian bureaucracy and parliament was ignored for four years. But parliament did not flinch and, after four years, Bismarck had to apologize to the parliament and reinstate it authority. So even in Prussia, parliament was the ultimate authority.
And in Germany of the Edwardian era, it was parliament's power of the purse that regulated and limited what the Kaiser and his ministers could do. So it is no good blaming the Kaiser for WWI. He was largely a figurehead for the will of the German people as expressed in their Reichstag. It was essentially the whole of the German democracy that went into WWI.
And the U.S. democracy has its own history of initiating war. Robert Kagan of the Brookings institution has an extensive historical survey which shows both that the America people are isolationist and that American leaders repeatedly talk them out of that. On some occasions, where America has been attacked, as with the 9/11 atrocity, retaliation is completely reasonable but on others the pretext used to initiate war was very thin. For starters, the alleged attack in 1898 on the battleship "Maine" in Havana harbour was a very thin reason for the invasion of Cuba by TR and his cohorts. To this day there is no clarity on what sank the "Maine".
But even the "Maine" episode shows that American declarations of war have to be dressed up as defensive or retaliatory. But finding such garb has not been difficult for at least the Democrat side of American politics. Isolationism was from the earliest days the stance of American conservatives but with their insatiable lust for meddling in other people's affairs, liberals have been very keen to involve America in wars abroad. It may be noted that TR was the founder of the "Progressive" party (popularly known as the "Bull Moose" party) when the Republicans became too wishy washy for him.
So when WWI broke out it was a great frustration for Democrat President Wilson that he was not part of the councils of war. So peace-minded were the American people that it actually took him years to find a pretext for declaring war -- the main pretext being the "Lusitania" sinking. The loss of the liner and her people was an undoubted tragedy but Germany had posted warning advertisements in NY newspapers prior to the sailing which warned people not to sail on the "Lusitania". It was thought to be carrying munitions to Britain -- which it was -- making it a prime target. So accusations of German perfidy or barbarity were simply wrong.
And FDR in WWII was just as bad. His sanctions against Japan had pushed Japan into economic crisis and desperate Japanese attempts to open negotiations were repeatedly rebuffed. So, against much of their own expert advice, the Pearl Harbor attack was planned by the Japanese leadership to break through American opposition. That was essentially what FDR wanted and he made no attempt to stop it. Both Britain and the U.S. had cracked the Japanese naval code so Japanese ship movements were known. But not a whisper of any of the intelligence concerned was transmitted to Pearl Harbor. FDR did however make sure that his carriers were not in port when the Japanese attacked.
And so FDR got his "date that will live in infamy". "A date that will live in hypocrisy" would be more apt. Robert Kagan is also of the view that FDR was itching for war.
And as for Bill Clinton's attack on the Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslims....
So democracies do start wars -- but they usually have to be a bit sneaky about it.
UPDATE -- A point of clarification about WWI:
It could be argued that I have undermined my own argument by pointing to Austria as undemocratic. It could be argued that the war was started by Austria's attack on Serbia and since Austria was a failed democracy, the events there show that democracies do not start wars.
My main point was however the role of Germany. If Germany had not mobilized there would have been no WWI. The Austrians were not much concerned by the prospect of a Russian invasion and they were probably right about that. Given the backward and chaotic Russian military and the large modern forces available to Austria, only a minor punch-up would probably have resulted from the Tsar's actions. Austria might even have gained some territory.
So it was Germany's move that started the big war. And Germany was democratic. So why did Germany get involved? Because they wanted to. And there were several reasons why. See here
UPDATE 2 -- about the Lusitania
A reader has pointed out that my graphic above is a collage. The Lusitania sailing details and the embassy warning did not originally occur side-by-side. So why did I say that passengers on the Lusitania specifically were warned? Because the Lusitania was the ONLY liner left on that route. Other liners had been grabbed by the British government for war use.
I can't resist mentioning WHY the government did not use the Lusitania: Because as a large fast ship it would use heaps of coal -- and the admiralty wanted to conserve its stocks! -- JR