Bad conservatives?

I recently received the following email from M. DeV. mcdv133422@gmail.com.  It appears to be a riposte to the way conservatives point to murderous Leftist regimes from the French revolution on.  I have a little spare time so I thought I might point out some of the lacunae in it.  I will add my coments at the bottom of it.

1. Those who promoted child labor were conservatives.

2. The brutal genocidal colonizers of the Americans were christian conservatives.

3. Franco was helped into power by conservatives.

4. Hitler was helped into power by conservatives such as Papen and Hindenburg.

5. World War I was started by conservatives.

6. Lenin was helped to get to Russia by German conservatives.

7. Those who opposed food safety laws were conservatives (thousands of children died in 19th century Britain because of arsenic poisoning).

8. The American Civil War was started by treasonous conservative democrats.

9. Centuries of European warfare was brought on by monarchists and conservatives.

10. Al Qaeda and the Taleban were created by the mujahedeen which was supported throughout the 1980s by American conservatives.

11. Iran Contra was treason by conservatives (Reagan should have been hanged for it).

12. Conservatism is a disease and the American GOP is a huge threat to the western world.

1. The man who did most to regulate and cut back child labor was Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister of Britain in the late 19th century

2. The Pilgrim fathers had friendly relations with the natives from 1620 to 1675, when they were attacked

3. Franco was suported by the Falange, a Fascist  (Leftist) party

4. Hitler's rise was his own doing -- particularly by way of his remarkable oratory.  But at various points both the Social Democrat Left and the Communists sided with him

5. Who started WWI is contentious but it would have remained a local affair except for the intervention of the Rusian Tsar, who was above politcs

6. At the beginning of World War I, Germany was a constitutional monarchy in which political parties were limited to the legislative arena. They could control neither the government nor the military.  It was the military who sent Lenin to Russia

7. Those who opposed food safety laws were businessmen with various political loyalties.  They were gradually brought to heel by governments.  But again Disraeli was in the lead.  In 1874 Disraeli brought in an aggressive program of social legislation, including a pure-food-and-drug act

8. The American Civil War was started by treasonous Leftist  politicians.  Republicans were at that time the Left of American politics.  No other country in the world shed a drop of blood to free their slaves.  So why did America?  Because the Republicans were in the grip of Leftist self righteousness.  See here

9. Centuries of European warfare were brought on by national and dynastic rivalries.

10.Al Qaeda and the Taleban were native Muslim movements that started in opposition to the Soviets. American opposition to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan started under Jimmy Carter (D)

11. Iran Contra was part of an attempt to overthrow a Communist regime

12. Leftism is a disease and the American Democrats are Fascists.


How to Have a Useful Conversation About Climate Change in 11 Steps

There is an article under the title above here.  It is aimed at convincing people about the danger of anthropogenic global warming.  So is it from some high-powered Warmist source?  No.  Rather curiously, it is by a professor at a Tibetan Buddhist college located in Portland, Oregon.

Even more curiously, it actually says nothing about global warming. It is a manual telling how to persuade anybody of anything.  And it is a pretty good one.  The steps outlined make sense in any discussion of a sensitive topic.

So for once I see nothing to criticize in it


I read the article. It is a focus on a method of persuasion. It was not a method of finding the truth. The person seeking to discuss the issue with another goes about it with the assumption that he is right and the only objective is to change the mind of the other. Interesting that no where does the exercise promote the idea of seeking the truth through an exchange of ideas, scientific information and observation.  It will not work on a neighbor while helping him clear his drive of 12 inches of snow in mid April.

The exchange may work on a closed mind if true facts are the basis of the discussion. The exchange will easily fix the opinion of someone that enters the discussion with no opinion and any logical set of information is used to make the persuasion. I see it as a trick to be used on indifferent, unsuspecting, persuadable individuals. The method is a one on one approach and will not work as group therapy. One on One will be an extremely slow message unless you can also convince the audience of one to now also spread the gospel.


Women are more susceptible than men to falling under the control of cults

I don't pretend to have a full understanding of it but I have long noted that women, particularly older women, are very commonly "spiritual" -- to the point that by the time they are 50, they nearly all seem to believe in something weird -- aromatherapy, Reiki etc -- so they are an easy mark for con-men.

"Little Pebble" was one in Australia until he went to jail for sexual offensiveness.

And you just have to look at the congregation in mainstream churches -- mainly old ladies.  So the NXIVM group differs only in being more criminal than most

I actually see the "spirituality" as a form of schizophrenia, as it is a belief in things that are not there.  I have spoken at length with some of the women concerned and they say that they know they are part of something that is all around them and bigger than themselves and they feel they are in partial contact with it.  So there is definitely a delusion involved.  But why women lose reality contact so readily is the puzzle.  Its pervasiveness suggests that it has a function so is it some sort of safety valve for the big stresses that child bearing and rearing places on women?

As a psychologist, it is my job to understand human behaviour and I do understand a lot of it (or think I do) but female gullibility in the face of improbabilities is a challenge that really stretches me.  My best guess is that females have to be gullible to believe and rely on men.  The one thing I am sure of is that it is very deep-rooted and, as such, almost certainly genetically encoded

As more details spill from the NXIVM trial, we get an insight into the cult world: branding, sex slaves and physical constraint

NXIVM has described itself as “a company whose mission is to raise human awareness, foster an ethical humanitarian civilization, and celebrate what it means to be human.” Critics have alleged other definitions for the group; definitions such as “sex-cult” and “pyramid scheme.” Federal U.S. prosecutors, meanwhile, are focusing on NXIVM’s alleged criminal activity: racketeering, wire fraud, sex trafficking, and forced labour, for a start.

The group’s spiritual leader and founder, Keith Raniere, goes on trial later this month, a bonus charge of possession of child pornography having been recently added to his already extensive list of alleged crimes. It’s ugly and confounding. How do people get away with this stuff and who falls for it?

Part of the answer is well established, if not well explained: women are more susceptible than men to falling under the control of exploitative movements. Or they do so more often, anyway. Research suggests as many as 70 per cent of cult members in the world are women.

In the NXIVM scandals, most of the worst stories emerge from something called “DOS” — a sort of sorority within NXIVM in which women allegedly recruited other women for all manner of abuse, including having their bodies physically branded with Raniere’s initials and submitting unconditionally to Raniere’s sexual wishes.

There are many theories about why women are disproportionately represented in the population of cult followers, perhaps the most common being that women are conditioned and/or wired to believe there is something wrong with them. The urge to self-correct to find outside acceptance is human, but it’s also familiarly female: lose weight, be gracious, be grateful, be obedient. Win without hurting anyone’s feelings. Be better than who you are.

That theory may be simplistic given that it rests on broad generalizations — which are themselves based on thought patterns whose cultural, evolutionary and biological bases are tough to tease apart. (Women certainly have no monopoly on feeling inadequate.) But even if it’s only part of the story, women’s general tendency to make self-acceptance contingent on improvement and external praise must play its role.

Others say that more women join cults than men because women have a greater need for spiritual fulfilment. According to Pew Research Center, women are indeed generally more religious than men, with women across the globe being somewhat more likely to affiliate with a religious faith than men. Or maybe women join cults because it’s what they know given their long history of oppression. (This made me wonder if other historically oppressed groups, such as African Americans, are more susceptible to cults, but I didn’t find ready evidence one way or the other. I did find a weird story about ties between Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and Scientology. And I learned that most of the people who joined the Reverend Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple — most famous for guiding its members to mass suicide at their compound in Guyana via poisoned Flavour Aid — were African American. Women in Jonestown also outnumbered men, with black women making up close to half the population.)

What’s interesting, if not unique, about NXIVM is the strong role women appear to have played in attracting other women to the group and then keeping them in the group’s grips. Remember the disturbing branding of women’s flesh I mentioned earlier? This allegedly took place with several women holding down another woman on a table while a female doctor allegedly burned the restrained woman’s skin with a laser-like device. Raniere had a female cofounder, who is now accused of many of the same crimes perpetrated against women as he is. That woman’s daughter has admitted to keeping a female slave. One of the reasons NXIVM has been such a headline-grabber is that Smallville actress Allison Mack has pled guilty to two racketeering counts for her involvement in DOS, which included blackmailing women into compliance with Raniere’s demands.

So whatever part subservience may play in attracting women to cults, they are clearly also capable of the predatory instincts of male cult leaders like Raniere — even if often ultimately in service of the male leader himself. Anyone who watched Wild Wild Country, the Netflix documentary about Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, can attest that most of the aggressive acts taken in that movement (including brazen bioterrorism attacks) were initiated by Rajneesh’s personal assistant, a woman named Ma Anand Sheela.

The best we can hope for is that when the NXIVM trials are done, the worst exploiters and abusers are brought to justice, male and female. And that women reading about the NXIVM story may become less likely to listen to that voice — whether from inside their own head or from a charismatic guru — telling them how much better they could be. Because they will be able to see they are good enough as they are.



Statins have no effect on cholesterol for over 50% of patients

This study is one of the few that looks at the cholesterol/statin correlation directly. And it does so with a substantial sample (N=165,411) so is of considerable interest. As such its conclusions are gloomy for statin use. On half your patients it may do no good at all, assuming that high cholesterol is associated with heart disease.  Given the size of the effect, that conclusion is unlikely to be overturned in subsequent research so needs to be taken seriously in patient treatment decisions henceforth

On the other hand, they found that among the "unprotected" group heart disease incidence was marginally higher.  In those circumstances (where the effect is weak), limitations of the study must be noted: It must be noted that the sample was not a random one.  It was a sample of people who had seen their doctor with some heart problem. And we also should note that the controls for confounding factors were poor -- no demographics!

So with those large reservations, we could say that the present weak results are consistent with previous findings that high levels of cholesterol are problematic for people with pre-existing heart disease only

Sub-optimal cholesterol response to initiation of statins and future risk of cardiovascular disease

Ralph Kwame Akyea et al.


Objective: To assess low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) response in patients after initiation of statins, and future risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods: Prospective cohort study of 165 411 primary care patients, from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, who were free of CVD before statin initiation, and had at least one pre-treatment LDL-C within 12 months before, and one post-treatment LDL-C within 24 months after, statin initiation. Based on current national guidelines, <40% reduction in baseline LDL-C within 24 months was classified as a sub-optimal statin response. Cox proportional regression and competing-risks survival regression models were used to determine adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and sub-HRs for incident CVD outcomes for LDL-C response to statins.

Results: 84 609 (51.2%) patients had a sub-optimal LDL-C response to initiated statin therapy within 24 months. During 1 077 299 person-years of follow-up (median follow-up 6.2 years), there were 22 798 CVD events (12 142 in sub-optimal responders and 10 656 in optimal responders). In sub-optimal responders, compared with optimal responders, the HR for incident CVD was 1.17 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.20) and 1.22 (95% CI 1.19 to 1.25) after adjusting for age and baseline untreated LDL-C. Considering competing risks resulted in lower but similar sub-HRs for both unadjusted (1.13, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.16) and adjusted (1.19, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.23) cumulative incidence function of CVD.

Conclusions: Optimal lowering of LDL-C is not achieved within 2 years in over half of patients in the general population initiated on statin therapy, and these patients will experience significantly increased risk of future CVD.



The late Lawrence Auster 1949 – 2013

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)


Author of the blog "VIEW FROM THE RIGHT" Auster was a deeply conservative writer who often wrote on immigration and multiculturalism. Sadly he died all too soon. Conservatives tend to remember their honoured predecessors so I thought I should put up a small personal memoir about him. I therefore put up below a slightly expanded version of what I said of him on December 19, 2004

I rarely comment on arguments put forward by my fellow conservatives, but I am going to make a small exception today to say a few words about the ideas of Lawrence Auster, a traditionalist Jewish writer who thinks that almost nobody these days is conservative enough. He has just put up on Frontpage an excellent article on the antiwar RIGHT ("The Antiwar Right's Bent View of the World") that I fully agree with and recommend. It no longer comes up on that site unfortunately but he summarizes it as follows:

"The charge of “anger” has, of course, long been a liberal shibboleth used to label, belittle, and dismiss conservatives. This has especially been the case at the New York Times, where the word “anger” as applied to conservatives, both in headlines and the body of stories, would typically appear more often in the paper than “House of Representatives,” “poll,” or “gay.” It is classic politically correct propaganda, a way of portraying any non-liberal position as consisting of nothing but primitive impulses and dark prejudices. Since 9/11, however, the phenomenon of anger-driven politics, both on the left and the antiwar right, has ceased being a politically correct fantasy and has become an all-too-real, indeed formative element in our national politics that renders rational discussion almost impossible much of the time. As such it represents an extremely important development that needs to be understood in depth and resisted."

There is an updated and expanded version here

He also has an excellent article here (reproduced here) that explains why American Jews are so overwhelmingly Left-wing. He says that they are actually AFRAID of American Protestant Christians, who are -- as Auster points out -- in fact the very best friends that Israel and the Jews have. Auster does not say so but I think the Jews concerned can be forgiven their paranoia. It is a pity that they are not more up to date but Christians (including Protestants such as Calvin and Luther) DID persecute them for a very long time.

Some other Auster articles of the many I could mention are ones complaining that the Pope is too Leftist and that most modern conservatives are really Leftists. He also thinks that the "neocons" are a bad lot who have GWB in their hip-pocket and that America's largely open borders are a disaster.

I of course agree with SOME of those other articles. I do think the whole neocon conspiracy thing is just paranoia but, as an Australian conservative I am delighted that our government has just about stopped illegal immigration stone dead and that it locks up any illegal immigrants it catches -- as it would anyone else who defies our laws. And I agree that the Holy Father, like most of his predecessors, is not much of a conservative politically.

My disagreements with Auster arise from the fact that I am one of those villains whom he sees as having destroyed conservatism -- libertarians. He rightly notes that libertarian conservatism is one of the dominant forms of conservatism today (the other being Christian conservatism) and makes the correct point that Christian conservatives are pretty strongly influenced by individualistic, liberty-oriented thinking too. Unlike Auster, however, I do not see this as a particularly modern phenomenon. I have done an extensive historical survey showing that belief in individual liberty has always been central to conservatism. Auster, by contrast, seems to think that traditionalism is the main current. I actually see something more basic in conservatism that underlies both traditionalism AND belief in liberty -- a certain cautious pragmatism and mistrust of the goodwill of others. Because of this basic trait of caution, conservatives want as much freedom to make their own decisions as possible and they also like systems that have been tried and tested. But the liking for tradition is in the end just a tool -- a way of being cautious, not something that is compelling for its own sake.

So the basis of Auster's complaint is that modern conservatives are too liberty-oriented and value-free -- and he sees this as something that they have in common with the Left. A related complaint is that modern conservatives have no anchors -- they just go along with whatever seems to be working. The only thing I disagree with there is the idea that Leftists believe in liberty. They don't. They only believe in power. They advocate various liberties from time to time -- e.g. various sexual liberties -- mainly because it suits them as a way of disrupting existing society and thus hopefully getting themselves into power. But for the rest, I would claim that liberty and the good life are the only lasting values for secular conservatives and that going along with what seems to be working is the historic conservative modus operandi. And long may it continue! We have had more than enough of theorists telling us what to do!

I apologize to Auster for having to a degree caricaturized his views above but I was aiming only to give a quick impression of them. His own prolific writings give plenty of detail, explanation and nuance.

Auster made the following brief comment on my post above about his writings:
"I thank Mr. Ray for his sympathetic and thoughtful overview of my writings. However, regarding his main criticism of me, I don't think I ever said that the belief in individual liberty was not part of the American conservative tradition. The difference is between those who understand liberty as being within a moral and constitutional order, and those who see liberty, or rather freedom, as essentially free of any constraints". Mark Richardson is another writer who often makes that sort of point. I find such a view incomprehensible. I know of NO conservative who denies that "rights connote duties" and I know of NO conservative who denies that we are in at least some ways constrained in what we do by "human nature". So the claim that there are conservatives who believe in some sort of absolute liberty is a total straw man.

So it would appear that the differences between Auster and other conservatives lay mainly in matters of emphasis

There is a comprehensive list of Auster's writings here


Obedience to the authorities and Romans 13

Romans 13 was for a long while held to support the divine right of kings.  But does it? It is certainly a command to be a good citizen and one cannot easily object to that.  But the idea that one should just accept anything that any government does is surely troubling.  Even more troubling is the idea that all governments, however bad, were put there by God. So let's see where Paul may have been coming from in writing that.

I have previously suggested here and here that some of the commands to Christians given in the NT were not meant as instructions for all times but rather for the very transitional period when the first flowering of Christianity was in danger of being crushed under the feet of the established authorities, mostly Roman but also more local.  The imperative was for the faith to survive but once that was firmly in place "normal" rules could apply. That helps us to understand the most disobeyed instruction in the Bible:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Matthew 5:38

That advice runs against all nature.  No-one naturally behaves that way.  It is anti-instinctual. So it must have been designed for a very special occasion.  And it was.

It seems to me that these were instructions Jesus gave in full knowledge of the hostility that already existed towards him and the great danger his followers would be in after his death.  He wanted his teachings to survive his death and the disciples were to be the vehicle for that survival.  So he gave them instructions which would minimize hostility towards them.

How do we know that these instructions were for a transitional period only?  Easy.  Many of his other instructions were quite martial. "He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.".  Again: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword".  And Christ himself drove the moneychangers out of the temple. And when Simon Peter cut off the servant's ear with his sword, Jesus did not say that the use of the sword was wrong.  He simply said that the time was wrong for that -- John 18:10.

And Romans 13 is clearly an elaboration of the instructions in Matthew 5. Paul was a good apostle. It reads:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.  This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Paul was writing in the very beginning of the Christian expansion and there was already hostility to their "strange" beliefs in the Greek cities where they were mostly to be found.  So he wanted to instill attitudes of non-resistance to make them safe.  That both he and Christ saw non-resistance as powerful was in fact amazing wisdom for the time.  It was brilliant advice on how to survive hostility and danger. Psychologists these days teach "de-escalation techniques" for dealing with conflict but Christ and Paul taught such techniques 2,000 years ago.

But are we certain yet that the desire for a peaceful life lay behind those instructions?  I think there is one more piece of evidence that clinches it. It is in I Timothy 2:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty

So it is clear that deflection of aggression from the authorities is the single theme of Matthew 5, Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2. And in those times deflecting hostility was vital if the faith was to survive.  Being known as good people would help them survive.

But what if the survival of the faith is no longer threatened, as is the case in the modern world, with its billions of Christians?  I think in that case the instructions continue as useful tools but they are not something mandatory.  They were instructions for a particular time and circumstance.  So we may no longer use swords but armed self-defense is allowed. But Christian forgiveness still is a wise response to many conflict situations in 1 to 1 relationships.

So was Paul pulling a fast one in telling us that all governments were ordained by God?  Was he telling a white lie in order to get the early Christians to behave?

He was not.  He was simply re-iterating the doctrine of predestination, as found in Ephesians chapter 1.  John Calvin was much taken by that doctrine and did much to elaborate it and it survives as an official doctrine of Presbyterian churches to this day.  It is even preached in the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England, albeit in a rather strangled way. That does however raise new issues so I will leave a discussion of it for another day.


Obama judges have cleared the way for Trump judges to block completely all future Democrat initiatives

Like Harry Reid, the Left generally seem to be oblivious of the danger in setting a bad precedent.  They are incapable of thinking ahead. If Obama judges can regularly block Trump on shallow grounds -- see below -- Trump judges may decide in future that they can rule on frivolous grounds too. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Trump can appeal to SCOTUS for relief from lower courts but the majority of SCOTUS judges are now Trump judges too -- so would be unlikely to give Democrats any recourse.  All new legislating could grind to a halt, which would be a very good thing from a conservative viewpoint. Only Republican-sponsored legislation would get through the judiciary

Last fall, Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that “we do not have Obama judges” after President Donald Trump suggested that we did. While it is understandable that Roberts would like for the courts to be viewed as non-partisan, the fact of the matter is that President Trump is right: we do have Obama judges. We have seen that fact demonstrated as these judges have repeatedly sought to thwart the President’s agenda.

One area in which Obama judges have obstructed is immigration, and that obstruction started early in the Trump Administration. In April of 2017, William Orrick, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s executive order defunding sanctuary cities. Last November, the uber-liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Administration must continue the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows illegal immigrants who arrived as children to stay here. Two of the three judges who made the decision were Obama appointees: John Owens and Jacqueline Nguyen. (The third judge was a Clinton appointee.) That same month, Jon Tigar, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s policy requiring asylum seekers to apply at ports of entry.

Three Obama judges have blocked the inclusion of a simple citizenship question in the 2020 census — even though such a question was asked in the past. These three judges are Jesse Furman, a federal district judge in New York, George Hazel, a federal district judge in Maryland, and Richard Seeborg, a federal district judge in California. In addition, earlier this week, Seeborg ruled against Trump’s policy of having asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are considered by immigration courts.

Obama judges have also weighed in against Trump’s energy policies. For example, Brian Morris, a federal district judge in Montana, blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline last November. The Trump Administration has approved construction of the $8 billion pipeline, which would create thousands of jobs. Once complete, the pipeline could transport over 800,000 barrels of oil a day to the Gulf Coast for refining.

When not opposing pipelines, Obama judges can be expected to halt drilling. Rudolph Contreras, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., blocked drilling on federal lands in Wyoming last month because the Administration “did not sufficiently consider climate change.” Soon thereafter, Sharon Gleason, a federal district judge in Alaska, reinstated Obama’s ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the northern Atlantic Ocean last month.

Obama judges have also meddled in health care policy. In January, Wendy Beetlestone, a federal district judge in Pennsylvania, and Haywood Gilliam, a federal district judge in California, blocked Trump’s regulation designed to free religious businessowners from an Obamacare requirement that they pay for contraceptives that violate their beliefs.  James Boasberg, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., has blocked two states from requiring able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work. In June of last year, Boasberg blocked Kentucky from implementing work requirements; and, last month, he blocked Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements.

Fortunately, a little over two years into the Trump presidency, 96 judges have been confirmed, and more than 60 judicial nominees are awaiting confirmation. With the confirmation of Paul Matey to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals last month, Republican-appointed judges now make up a majority on that court, which has jurisdiction over Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Three other circuit courts are close to flipping from having a Democrat-appointed majority to having a Republican-appointed majority. Finally, not a moment too soon, Republican Senators voted last week to speed up the confirmation process for district court judges after years of Democrat Senators dragging out debate on nominees to waste time.

While these and other Obama judges seem to view it as their job to resist the duly-elected President, the good news is that Trump and Senate Republicans are making good progress at changing the composition of the courts. It’s about time.



Oz Conservative:  An Australian traditionalist conservative site

It's now a number of years since I have linked to the above site so I thought it was time for me to give blogger Mark Richardson a shout-out.  I write from Brisbane and he writes from Melbourne so we have different priorities in writing about State matters but we both move far beyond geographical concerns.  I don't think there any major differences between us in our attitudes but I may be a bit further towards the libertarian end of conservatism.

And I occasionally mention topics that are completely forbidden even to conservatives -- like IQ, race and social class.  All three are immensely powerful influences on what people say, think and do, so that may be the reason why any mention of them is taboo.  We must not understand too much.  But I am an academic  psychologist with a research background in all three topics so I foolishly think that understanding and explaining such influences lies within my remit

Mark has up at the moment an excellent interview with a black Cardinal in which the Cardinal asserts the importance of national identity


A Leftist obsession: Mr Trump is mentally damaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The five ways the human race could be WIPED OUT because of global warming

I guffawed when I saw the title of this article but I had to read it.  We know that all bad things are attributable to global warming but this is the first prophecy of human extinction I have seen.  Author Bill McKibben is an old global warming hysteric from wayback but has never yet managed to make an accurate prophecy  -- and this one will be no better.

I am not going to fisk it all.  It is too silly for that.  It is just a collection of extreme improbabilities.

But I am amazed that he is still pushing the ancient and constantly overturned food-shortage barrow.  That shows he is an outright fraud. A couple of degrees of warming would open up for farming millions of acres in Northern Canada and Southern Siberia.  Food would become super-abundant.  And the extra rainfall from warmer oceans would green a lot of the earth's desert areas.  Australian and Canadian farmers already do wonders in low-rainfall areas. Think of their productivity leap with more rain

And the claim about IQ is wild.  I know of no sound source for it and IQ research is something I monitor.  He seems unaware that submariners routinely live in super-high concentrations of CO2 but no effects of it on their IQ are known.  Does anybody think that the USA would put into its nuclear submarines crew who are likely to go ga-ga?

McKibben may be relying on the old Satish study that I have previously critiqued. That study was so tiny, used no sampling and made no allowance for adaptation that its relevance is very doubtful but it should be noted that in that study high CO2 did show some adverse effects on human performance but also showed some positive effects. Not much for McKibben to hang his hat on.

Here's a little excerpt from the Satish study that is rather fun:

An inverse pattern was seen for “focused activity,” with the highest level of focus obtained at 2,500 ppm and the lowest at 600 ppm. Thus, most decision-making variables showed a decline with higher concentrations of CO2, but measures of focused activity improved. Focused activity is important for overall productivity

So overall productivity was best at the very highest level of CO2. CO2 improved your focus. Quite the opposite of what McKibben claims to fear.

Amusing that of all the bad effects of global warming that he lists, the only actual death so far that he claims is of one 12-year old boy

The deadly possible consequences of global warming have been laid bare in a book that reveals the terrifying ways the human race could be wiped out.

From a total food-system collapse, to a catastrophic sea-level rise and the return of lost deadly diseases, 'FALTER: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?' lists the lethal, and unexpected, ways that humans could become extinct.

Author Bill McKibben, a scientist and environmental activist who wrote the influential End of Nature - one of the first books for a mainstream audience on climate change - has followed up with this doomsday study of possible homosapien endgames - which include rising tides, falling crops and exploding populations.

Oceans heating up and disrupting photosynthesis leading to mass suffocation

 By the end of this century if the world's oceans continue to warm up they might become hot enough to stop oxygen production by phyto-plankton by disrupting the delicate process of photosynthesis, a 2015 study in the Journal of Mathematical Biology suggested.

More than two thirds of the earth's oxygen comes from phyto-plankton so the disruption of photosynthesis would more than likely result in the mass extinction of life on earth through suffocation.

While the melting ice sheets could trigger catastrophic natural disasters capable of decimating entire countries. In fact, increased seismic activity has been registered in Alaska and Greenland, suggesting this process has already begun.

Melting icecaps sparking catastrophic tsunamis destroying coastal life

 Additionally, the increased seawater could create a bending in the earth's crust which would prompt a massive increase in volcanic activity with lava poisoning marine life.

'That will give you a massive increase in volcanic activity. It'll activate faults to create earthquakes, submarine landslides, tsunamis, the whole lot,' the director of University College London's Hazard Centre told Rolling Stone magazine.

Scientists have evidence that such an event happened before. Some 8,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age, a section of Norway's continental shelf collapsed creating a series of gigantic waves which swept all signs of life away from coastal Norway to Greenland.

Such was the violence of the waves, thought to be some 65ft tall, that a landmass connecting Britain to parts of Europe was drowned.

Deadly diseases in frozen animals thawing out and contaminating the water supply

 Melting icecaps has revealed a treasure chest of well preserved artifacts and specimens for scientists to study. But they could also bring the return of lethal diseases trapped in permafrost.

One example the book lists is a reindeer carcass that thawed after many thousands of years. The exposed body released anthrax into the surrounding water and soil which they infected two thousand reindeer grazing nearby, and they in turn infected some humans who hunted them - killing one 12-year-old boy.

Permafrost creates the perfect conditions for microbes and viruses to survive because 'it is cold, there is no oxygen, and it is dark'.

Scientists have managed to revive an eight-million-year-old bacterium they found beneath the surface of a glacier.

While researchers believe there are fragments of the Spanish flu virus, smallpox, and bubonic plague buried in Siberia and Alaska, which could all infect humans should they be released from their frozen state.

Increased carbon dioxide causing decreased brain function

McKibben also points to the increased carbon dioxide levels impairing cognitive ability. Again, by the year 2100, carbon dioxide levels could rise to a thousand parts per million, while would cause a 21 percent cognitive regression.

A study on the effects of cognitive impairment through carbon dioxide poisoning showed the most pronounced effects on 'crisis response, information usage and strategy' functions within our brains, one Harvard study reported.   

Food supply breakdown causing mass starvation

While humans have for large parts of the late twentieth and early twenty first century managed to keep ahead of an exploding global population, it has come at a great human cost.

Farmers have been displaced in third world countries, forcing them into slums, while fertilizers, pesticides and machinery has increased production radically.

However, that production could be completely halted with increased heat and drought, with studies on coffee, cacao and chickpea growth highlighting the damning effect warming has on them.

The food source humans most rely on, though, is also the ones that are most at risk.

Cereals are the cornerstone of human nutrition providing the vast majority of the world's calories: corn, wheat and rice all evolved as crops in the climate of the past 10,000 years - so a sudden spike to that climate, at a rate evolution cannot maintain, means the crops will die and fail to grow in the new, parched land.

A 2017 study in Australia, home to some of the world's highest-tech farming, found that 'wheat productivity has flatlined as a direct result of climate change.'

Wheat yields tripled between 1990 and 1990 but have stagnated since then as temperature increases and rainfall declined by nearly a third.

In June 2018, researchers found that a two-degree Celsius rise in temperature - which is what the Paris accord is targeting - could cut U.S. corn yields by 18 percent.

A four-degree increase - the earth's current trajectory would cut the crop almost in half.

It is a similar story for corn, the planet's most widely grown crop. The systematic breakdown of mass agricultural farming would see the foundation of human sustenance wiped out, plunging the earth into a mass scavenging race for nutrition.



Bill Shorten’s war against ‘accountant tax rorts’ and real estate industry is really a war against business generally

He's in a war on the costs of doing business. He wants to treat costs as profit. First it was "excessive" mortgage interest payments, which will be disallowed under the attack on "negative gearing"; now it is the cost of having accountants do your tax return and also now the cost of paying commissions to real estate agents.

The attack on negative gearing was the start.  Negative gearing simply treats all costs of doing business as costs, without exception -- be they costs of paying mortgage interest or whatever.  But the attack on "negative gearing" in effect treats some mortgage interest payments as not a cost!  But because some  amounts are held not to be a cost, those amounts become profits and are taxed as such.  It's just a brain-dead tax grab.

A lot of business activity will wind down at that rate and take lots of jobs with it. Levying tax on costs is insane.  Everywhere else in the world, they only tax profits, as far as I am aware

The only consolation is that such an extreme change will probably need new legislation and the change is so mad that any such legislation is unlikely to get through the Senate.  And if the change is via regulation, the High Court could knock it back on various grounds -- not the least of which is denial of natural justice

It seems to be Shorten's modus operandi to promise things that he most probably will not be able to enact. His threat to raise the minimum wage is also a con. All he can do is make submissions to the Fair Work Commission and they are perfectly capable of denying him what he asks in either whole or in part, most likely in part.

But his big talk will look good to some unwary voters.  So he gains credit for intentions only.  He will not have to deliver anything

Bill Shorten has doubled down on his plan to stop wealthy people claiming high accountants’ fees on tax and has taken a swipe at real estate agents.

In a sign of a fierce “class warfare” campaign ahead, the Opposition Leader today said he was sticking with a cap of $3000 on exempting accountancy fees despite scepticism his plan will raise the $1.8bn he predicts it will.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that Labor is right, to stop allowing people deduct hundreds of thousands of dollars off their tax for what they pay their accountant,” he said in the Liberal electorate of Bennelong.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that what we can do is make sure that this is a fairer system.

“Why should someone who pays $1 million to their accountant to minimise their tax for millions more, why should we pay for the double dip?

“I mean, it’s a sweet deal. It’s not illegal, but enough’s enough.”

Last month, Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said he was sceptical the savings claimed from Labor’s policy were all sourced from managing tax affairs instead of other exemptions.

“When people see a quick headline, ‘millionaires paying millions not to pay tax’, there might well be some other reason entirely, like GIC (general interest charges) and I think we’re trying to break that box down now,” he told the Tax Institute in March.

“If you’ve got all that GIC and you’ve paid an enormous settlement, you can claim the GIC as a tax deduction so yes you might have millions of dollars of income but I can’t see any rational or even irrational person, spending over a million to not pay tax on a million.”

Mr Shorten refused to answer questions on whether the difference pointed out by Mr Jordan would affect the revenue raised by his policy.

But he did hit back at a national campaign led by real estate agents against his negative gearing policies. “Well, the real estate agents, it’s obviously in their financial interest to keep taxpayer money flowing to their business model?” he said.

“You’ve gotta ask yourself, why are they campaigning? They’re campaigning because they like to have people bidding for houses who are getting a taxpayer subsidy. “Because the more people they have bidding for houses, the more they can charge their percentage on the sale.”

The Real Estate Institute of Australia, which represents about 95 per cent of the 36,000 businesses that employ about 120,000 people, is leading the push to coincide with the election campaign.

The industry-backed campaign will harness social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote key attack lines against the Labor policy, arguing that it will reduce property prices in a cooling market, fail to raise the forecast revenue and pose a danger to the Australian economy.



The haphazard care offered by Britain's NHS can kill

Below is just the beginning of a HUGE BBC report on the avoidable death of a Downs syndrome little boy.  It is some tribute to Britain's legal system that the death was taken very seriously and extensively  investigated.

When I saw that the doctor convicted of "manslaughter by negligence" was of Nigerian Muslim origins, I thought I knew the beginning and ending of the story.  I was wrong.  Doctors of African ancestry are often pushed through medical school on the basis of the color of their skin rather than how much they have learnt. But there was no sign of that in the case of this doctor.

It is certainly true that she was part of a system that gave the boy insufficient care but the system was in chaos on the day.  Even the computers weren't working and key staff were simply missing, just not there in the ward.  And the doctor who was there had been given the job with no warning and had never been trained to work in that ward.  Understaffed is hardly the word for it.  It was a caricature of a medical service.  In the circumstance the doctor was run off her feet and could not be expected to think of everything and do everything.

Her conviction was indeed a sham and a coverup. There was only one defendant who should have been in the dock -- the NHS. The NHS simply has neither the money nor the staff to provide even a safe service, let alone a curative one. With most illnesses people do after a while get better of their own accord and that is the only reason for a majority of the successful discharges from NHS hospitals.

The whole idea of the NHS is faulty.  Governments are not fit to run hospitals.  In the case of the NHS there is a vast  bureaucracy that never has a shortage of clerks and administrators --  while the service has a gross shortage of doctors and nurses.  Firing the bureaucrats would instantly free up enough money to hire the most desperately needed medical staff.

I can't help comparing what I read about the NHS with the care that I receive in the private hospital I go to.  In that hospital there are always plenty of nurses around and a call button gets a 5 minute response.  I am rarely admitted for anything too serious but I still get my BP taken every hour during the day and am given all sorts of small attentions. And any scans I might need are done and interpreted within an hour of my arrival.  Anything that might help me is done promptly.

So why the difference?  I have private health insurance.  And that is not unusual in Australia,  Where only 7% of Britons have private health insurance, 40% of Australians do -- which shows a high level of affordability.  I am not remotely unique in being able to receive hospital care of the highest international standard

Given the differences I have just outlined, I cannot see any case for such a thing as a government hospital to exist.  All that is needed to provide for the poor is for the government to foot the bill for their private care

When a junior doctor was convicted of manslaughter and 
struck off the medical register for her role in the death of 
six-year-old Jack Adcock, shockwaves reverberated
through the medical profession. 

Many doctors have argued that Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was
unfairly punished for mistakes she made while working in
an overstretched and under-resourced NHS - and on 
Monday the Court of Appeal ruled she should not have
been struck off.

With access to full trial transcripts, witness statements 
and internal hospital inquiries, Panorama talks to 
Dr Bawa-Garba and to the parents of Jack Adcock 
in order to tell the story in detail.

Jack Adcock wasn’t himself when he returned from school.

He later started vomiting and had diarrhoea, which continued through the night.

In the morning Jack was taken to the GP by his mother, Nicola, and referred directly to Leicester Royal Infirmary’s children’s assessment unit (CAU).

Less than 12 hours later he was dead.

“Losing a child is the most horrendous thing ever. But to lose a child in the way we lost Jack – we should never have lost him,” Mrs Adcock says.

Trainee doctor Hadiza Bawa-Garba arrived at work expecting to be on the general paediatrics ward - the ward she’d been on all week.

She had only recently returned to work after having her first baby. Before her 13 months’ maternity leave, she had been working in community paediatrics, treating children with chronic illnesses and behavioural problems.

But when medical staff gathered to discuss the day’s work, they were told someone was needed to cover the CAU – the doctor supposed to be doing it was on a course. And Dr Bawa-Garba volunteered to step in.

She also carried the bleep – which alerts the doctor that a patient needs seeing urgently on the wards or in the Accident and Emergency unit, across four floors of the busy Leicester Royal Infirmary – and was required to respond to calls from midwives, other doctors or parents.

Soon after Dr Bawa-Garba took over, the bleep went off – a child down in the accident and emergency unit, several floors below, needed urgent attention and she missed the rest of the morning handover.

Back in the CAU, Dr Bawa-Garba was asked to see Jack Adcock by the nurse in charge, Sister Theresa Taylor, who was worried he had looked very sick when he had been admitted.

She was the only staff nurse that day. Because of staff shortages, two of the three CAU nurses were from an agency and not allowed to perform many nursing procedures.

“Jack was really lethargic, very sleepy. He wasn’t really very with it,” says Mrs Adcock. She told medical staff he had been up all night with diarrhoea and sickness.

The boy’s hands and feet were cold and had a blue-grey tinge. He also had a cough.

“I knew that I had to get a line in him quickly to get some bloods and also give him some fluids to rehydrate him,” says Dr Bawa-Garba. He didn’t flinch when she put his cannula in.

Because of a pre-existing heart condition, Jack had been taking enalapril – a drug to control his blood pressure and help pump blood around his body – twice a day.

But Dr Bawa-Garba says she didn’t want him to have the enalapril, because he was dehydrated and it might have made his blood pressure drop too much.

Because of this, she says, she left it off his drug chart.

She then asked for an X-ray to check Jack’s chest. Blood was taken – some was sent down to the labs, while a quicker test was done to measure his blood acidity and lactate levels – the latter being a measure of how much oxygen is reaching the tissues. The tests revealed his blood was too acidic.

“A normal pH is 7.34 – but Jack’s was seven and his lactate was also very high. A normal is about two and his was 11, so I knew then he was very unwell,” Dr Bawa-Garba says. She gave him a large boost of fluid – a bolus – to resuscitate him.

Her working diagnosis was gastroenteritis and dehydration.

But she didn’t consider that Jack might have had a more serious condition. It was a mistake she regrets to this day.

Jack had been admitted under the care of Dr Stephen O’Riordan, the consultant who was supposed to be in charge that day – but he hadn’t realised he was on call and had double-booked himself with teaching commitments in Warwick and hadn’t arrived at work.

Another consultant based elsewhere in the hospital had said she was available to help and cover him if needed – although she had her own duties.

After an hour of being on fluids to rehydrate him, Jack seemed to be responding well.

“He was a little more alert and we thought he was getting better,” Mrs Adcock says.

Dr Bawa-Garba thought that too.

One of the less experienced doctors in the unit had been unable to do Jack’s next blood tests. They had tried but couldn’t get blood, so Dr Bawa-Garba went to do it herself.

This time, when Dr Bawa-Garba went to take blood from his finger, Jack resisted, pulling away.

“That kind of response, to me, said that he was responding to the bolus,” she says. “Also, the result I got showed that the pH had gone from seven to 7.24. In my mind I’m thinking this is going the right way.”

However, not enough blood had been taken to get another lactate measurement.

Dr Bawa-Garba looked for Jack’s blood results from the lab. She had fast-tracked them an hour-and-a-half earlier. But when she went to view them on the computer system, it had gone down.

The whole hospital was affected. This meant not only that blood test results were delayed, but also that the alert system designed to flag up abnormal results on computer screens was out of action.

She asked one of the doctors in her team to chase up the results for her patients, and took on some of that doctor’s tasks.

Those tests would have indicated that Jack may have had kidney failure and that he needed antibiotics.



How dissing the sisterhood became 2019's new taboo. And, says a very brave KATE SPICER why it's time we broke it

I'll tell this story again:  When Mrs Thatcher was in office I read a story about her that slammed her from her hair to her shoes.  I was savagely and totally negative.  I remarked on that to my wife at the time, a wise woman.  She said: "Probably written by a woman".  I checked the byline and it was. 

I have now seen so many instances of subtle female bitchiness to one another that I know Kate Spicer is exactly right.  A woman's worst enemy will always be another woman.  Female competitiveness far outstretches male competitiveness.  It is relentless

Writing my memoir, Lost Dog, I knew I had to be brutally honest. There are enough books celebrating women being amazing, or getting angry and righteous about women as victims.

How could I dare admit I have trouble trusting women, especially the powerful alpha females who are the loudest mouthpieces for feminism today?

While what they are fighting for is good, that doesn’t negate the fact that, in my experience, they can sometimes be . . . mmmmm, what’s the phrase? Right cows.

There’s a specific incident, burnt like a scar on my memory, when just such a woman shot me down after I’d told her I fancied getting married one day.

Ouch! It was humiliating. She floored me with her disgust, as she outlined why I was a pathetic failure at feminism.

Should I admit to this and the subsequent dislike I have always harboured for this well-known feminist figure (who, for the record, went on to get married several times)? Or would I be seen as a traitor to the cause?

I said it anyway.

Today, feminism is no longer an academic pursuit, explored in dense books that most of us only ever got a few pages into.

You don’t need to read all 900 pages of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex; there’s a zippy short read called We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Or, even easier, watch Beyoncé dancing in front of a 10 ft neon ‘Feminist’ sign, singing about being an Independent Woman.

Feminism is truly mass market now. No one needs to read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With Wolves; they can just knit themselves a pink hat.

Of course, an ability to digest dense essays on feminism doesn’t make one ‘better’ at it. It’s simply that everyone talks about being a feminist these days, but doesn’t necessarily follow through with the sisterly behaviour that today’s feminists love to shout about.

A few years ago, I watched as a dear friend was professionally stabbed in the back at work by a colleague she considered her best friend. I can’t talk to her about it because that woman is still her best friend!

This is not an isolated incident. I’ve seen this happen so many times, it’s practically an algorithm for success.

Perhaps it’s time to separate feminism from the concept of sisterhood. Fight for equal rights and equal pay, but stop pretending you’ve got every woman’s back.

There may not be a better time for a girl to be born in Britain, but if you hold up your hand and go, ‘Actually, I’ve been treated badly by a woman and I think women can be monsters too’, then you are betraying the sisterhood.

34 per cent of British women call themselves a feminist
Which is why the thing I was most afraid to do in my book was question why I found certain women so terrifying. Why don’t I trust them?

Why do they leave me skittering nervously like a cat on a hot tin roof? Why do I feel like real feminism is a club I’m not allowed to be a member of?

Nothing makes me more anxious than the thought of a female networking event. Every month I think about going to one — then look at a number of its leading lights and decide to stay in and wash out my bins instead.

The sisterhood doesn’t exist in a lot of workplaces. For some of my generation of 40-plus women who have been in the workplace for decades, dealing with a creepy male boss who makes you feel slightly uncomfortable is less stressful than a manipulative, bullying female boss.

Some female bosses of mine have been easy to deal with and supported me in incredible ways; others have left me feeling sabotaged and insecure.

On the night of my book launch, an older editor — a feminist whom I had always looked up to — came over and muttered in my ear: ‘I liked what you said about the sisterhood.’ The next morning I emailed to ask what she meant.

‘For all the talk about how having a female boss is so much better than a male boss,’ she said, ‘if your experience is the opposite, you dare not express this as it would be seen as unsisterly.’

It’s not just my generation. Millennials are extremely critical of their ‘sisters’, while shouting loudly about feminism.

Someone needs to explain to the younger generation that sisterliness is about a great deal more than writing ‘Feminist’ on your social media profile.

Sometimes the women who talk the most about sisterhood are the least trustworthy of all. It can feel like feminism is entirely about attacking other women who don’t agree with you or reflect your own idea of what is right.

I interviewed the former leader of the Women’s Equality Party a few years ago. From the get-go the interview went badly. She criticised me for not watching her on a Sunday politics show. The story I was writing was for a women’s magazine: politics wasn’t my goal.

In the end, the piece never ran. I’d tried too hard to write a smart political story to please her — a cardinal sin as a journalist. I crumpled under my interviewee’s pious and angry gaze. I self-censored myself.

I think that was the one that did for me. If I couldn’t feel sisterly with the head of a party for women, then truly I was a feminist doomed.

Yes, I actively mentor young women into work and love it. I want women to feel strong and confident. My heart breaks to see women in abusive, controlling relationships and I will speak out.

But let me be very clear. I would never hold myself up as a glowing example of female saintliness. I can be a right cow. I can be as unsisterly as the next sister. At nearly 50, I have a good bank of girlfriends. I just struggle to trust a lot of women.

The truth is the sisterhood is about as real as the brotherhood. Women are primarily human beings, and human beings can be nice, they can be nasty, they can be bitches, and they can be the most heartfelt, supportive, loving friends you ever had.

Some women will take a bullet for you and some will stab you in the back. And sometimes those women can be one and the same person.

Is it possible to separate the goal of feminism, equality, from the concept of sisterhood? I believe in a feminism without the lie of the sisterhood. How’s that? It takes the stress off us all.



Socialized Medicine: Saving Money By Killing Grandma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This pattern persists today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Is fast food bad for you?

A big study in France set out to answer that and did find a slightly higher rate of death among enthusiastic fast food eaters.  It did however also find that fast food eaters were younger, poorer, less educated etc.  Even after controlling for such factors, however, some effect of fast food itself remained.

There were however two problems with the study.  The first is easy.  The subjects were food freaks. As the study says:  "the participants are more health conscious than the general population". So how well the findings would generalize to the overall population is unknown.  Food freaks may be generally less healthy. I rather wonder why the study was done  with such a severe sampling problem but I guess some information was better than none

The second problem was "when excluding prevalent CVDs and cancer cases, the associations were no longer statistically significant".  Deleting the two main causes of death from the analysis seems wildly hilarious to me.  The "bad" effects of fast food were only shown if you didn't have heart disease and cancer. Remove the heart and cancer patients and you remove a lot of the deaths.

I am struggling with the logic of that but it seems to me that you are "fiddling" your sample and that it is only in your fiddled sample that bad effects are found.  Putting it another way, it looks like heart disease and cancer had a protective effect -- protecting you from death due to bad food.  Which is surely borderline insane.  Or maybe not.  Maybe fast food is good for you.

However you look at it, however, the problem is the non-representativeess of the sample.  You take a population of health nuts (at least some of whom may be health nuts because of health problems) and then make the sample even less reprsentative by subtracting from it the more ill component (people with heart and cancer symptoms) and then use that as your study sample. It's a parody of good survey research that may tell you nothing about the whole national population.

Poor sampling is endemic throughout the social science and medical literature but that does not mean that we should treat it as better than it is

Anyway, it seems that the bad effects of fast food are still at this stage "not proven', to use the old Scottish verdict. Journal abstract below.

Association Between Ultraprocessed Food Consumption and Risk of Mortality Among Middle-aged Adults in France

Laure Schnabel et al.


Importance  Growing evidence indicates that higher intake of ultraprocessed foods is associated with higher incidence of noncommunicable diseases. However, to date, the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and mortality risk has never been investigated.

Objective  To assess the association between ultraprocessed foods consumption and all-cause mortality risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This observational prospective cohort study selected adults, 45 years or older, from the French NutriNet-Santé Study, an ongoing cohort study that launched on May 11, 2009, and performed a follow-up through December 15, 2017 (a median of 7.1 years). Participants were selected if they completed at least 1 set of 3 web-based 24-hour dietary records during their first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported data were collected at baseline, including sociodemographic, lifestyle, physical activity, weight and height, and anthropometrics.

Exposures  The ultraprocessed foods group (from the NOVA food classification system), characterized as ready-to-eat or -heat formulations made mostly from ingredients usually combined with additives. Proportion (in weight) of ultraprocessed foods in the diet was computed for each participant.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The association between proportion of ultraprocessed foods and overall mortality was the main outcome. Mean dietary intakes from all of the 24-hour dietary records available during the first 2 years of follow-up were calculated and considered as the baseline usual food-and-drink intakes. Mortality was assessed using CépiDC, the French national registry of specific mortality causes. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs were determined for all-cause mortality, using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models, with age as the underlying time metric.

Results  A total of 44 551 participants were included, of whom 32 549 (73.1%) were women, with a mean (SD) age at baseline of 56.7 (7.5) years. Ultraprocessed foods accounted for a mean (SD) proportion of 14.4% (7.6%) of the weight of total food consumed, corresponding to a mean (SD) proportion of 29.1% (10.9%) of total energy intake. Ultraprocessed foods consumption was associated with younger age (45-64 years, mean [SE] proportion of food in weight, 14.50% [0.04%]; P < .001), lower income (<€1200/mo, 15.58% [0.11%]; P < .001), lower educational level (no diploma or primary school, 15.50% [0.16%]; P < .001), living alone (15.02% [0.07%]; P < .001), higher body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared; ≥30, 15.98% [0.11%]; P < .001), and lower physical activity level (15.56% [0.08%]; P < .001). A total of 602 deaths (1.4%) occurred during follow-up. After adjustment for a range of confounding factors, an increase in the proportion of ultraprocessed foods consumed was associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR per 10% increment, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.04-1.27; P = .008).

Conclusions and Relevance  An increase in ultraprocessed foods consumption appears to be associated with an overall higher mortality risk among this adult population; further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and to disentangle the various mechanisms by which ultraprocessed foods may affect health.

JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(4):490-498. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.7289 


Democrats beginning to face their own stupidity

Because they control the House only, they will get nothing enacted unless they do deals but they have shown no willingness to do so.  With a typically Leftist belief in magic, they seem to think that their House bills will somehow fly into law, bypassing the Senate and President.

It's the same as their apparent belief that if you turn off all the coal-driven power stations, the sun will suddenly start shining day and night and the wind will suddenly start blowing 24/7.  Their indifference to reality is profound. They live in a childish make-believe world

House Democrats are eager to boast about all they’re doing with their new majority. The only problem? Most of it’s headed for Mitch McConnell’s dustbin.

From a sweeping health care package to ambitious proposals on gun safety, climate change and voting reforms, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her sprawling class of freshmen are quickly following through on the campaign promises that won them the House. But after they pass their proposals, that’s as far as they’ll go — a frustrating dynamic that lawmakers grudgingly acknowledge.

“I’m not sure that anything we do is going to reach the floor of the Senate,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “That’s the reality.”

McConnell (R-Ky.), faced with his own reelection and defending a tough GOP map in 2020, has no incentive to work with House Democrats on their domestic agenda.

A Senate blockade will deny Democrats tangible wins to tout on the campaign trail, while keeping vulnerable Senate GOP incumbents from having to take difficult votes. Republicans also are intent on shielding President Donald Trump from potentially awkward veto fights on legislation that polls well.

As Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) put it: “We are the firewall.”

“Most of that stuff is really easy for Republicans in the Senate to message against,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “We think a lot of the ideas over there are crazy. I don’t see many of our folks who have much problem messaging against most of what their agenda’s going to consist of.”

Gridlock in divided government is a longstanding Washington tradition, with the fast-moving House frequently stymied by the Senate. It’s not all bad for Democrats, who can help lay the groundwork for Democrats’ 2020 agenda and show voters what the party can do if it sweeps into power in the next election.

But it’s the latest reality check for House Democrats, who assumed power amid the longest government shutdown in history and saw their agenda frozen for weeks until a deadlock over Trump’s border wall was resolved.

When Pelosi and her deputies were finally able to turn to their big-ticket items, including passing a gun background checks bill and a sprawling anti-corruption package, they were overshadowed by caucus infighting and procedural stumbles.

Now Democrats — particularly the 60-plus freshmen — are encountering a new reality: It doesn’t matter what they do as long as Republicans control both the Senate and the White House.

“Right now, we are not doing anything — House and the Senate combined,” said freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.). “I am frustrated that Mitch McConnell is a coward. Unwilling, unable to put legislation on the floor.”

Senate Democrats know this dynamic all too well, having seen McConnell stifle President Barack Obama’s agenda, not to mention his Supreme Court nominee in 2016. “He’s going to give it the Merrick Garland treatment,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of House Democrats’ agenda.

McConnell isn’t entirely unwilling to put liberal proposals on the floor, at least when he senses a political benefit. With the Democrats’ divided over the Green New Deal, McConnell put the measure up for a vote last week only to see 43 Democrats vote present — an awkward result for a blueprint endorsed by many Senate Democrats running for president.

Senate Republicans could also push for votes on “Medicare for All” or keeping the Supreme Court at nine justices to try and divide Democrats. Democrats say privately that the strategy of voting present is now viewed as the best way to deal with “gotcha” votes from McConnell.

But when it comes to the sweeping ethics and election reforms of HR 1 or other major progressive proposals, Democrats’ have little hope of getting Senate Republicans even on the record. That leaves relatively small-bore legislation as perhaps the only option for success in divided government, but there hasn’t been much focus on infrastructure improvements or other bipartisan ideas in either chamber.

Pelosi aides argue public pressure could force McConnell to act on bills passed by the House. “Public support for the For The People agenda was critical to our victory in November and it will be key to removing any obstacle in our way, including a Republican Senate,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Some House Democrats’ frustration is focused not on McConnell but within their own caucus. “It’s time to move off the talking points and on to legislating,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, a moderate Democrat who hasn’t been shy about criticizing his party’s leadership. “I haven’t heard about anything that deals with the economy or some of the other issues.”

Schrader noted he and other members of the center-left Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in January, urging them to prioritize passing a transportation bill.

“I assume this is just playing to the left wing of our base and that we’ll move on to the infrastructure, prescription drugs,” Schrader added of the current agenda.

Other moderates are also hopeful leadership will soon move past what they see as pie-in-the-sky messaging bills.

“I wouldn’t call it frustration. I would call it anticipation,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). “I’m very hopeful that on both transportation and infrastructure, and on health care costs, we might be moving into that phase.”

House Democrats have held multiple hearings on infrastructure and prescription drugs, a precursor, aides argue, to bringing legislation to the floor later this year.

Pelosi’s staff is in the early stages of talks with the White House and senior Senate Republicans on a potential prescription drug package. But even infrastructure — an idea that at its broadest unites Democrats, Republicans and Trump — comes with its own hurdles.

House Democrats are expected to pivot to their infrastructure package in late spring or early summer. But, as in past years, finding a long-term solution for highway and other transit investments will be difficult. Lawmakers have resisted raising the gas tax for 25 years.

In the meantime, House Democrats are about to see a repeat dynamic from eight years ago, when emboldened Republicans took the House majority and sent then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dozens of conservative bills. Reid let virtually all of them languish.

“When you’re in the House, you’re consumed” with your agenda, said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a former House member. Then “you look at the papers ... and you go: 'No one’s talking about what we’re working on.' Because everyone knows it’s not going anywhere.”

Perhaps the best result for Democrats would be that inaction on their legislation puts pressure on GOP Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine or Martha McSally of Arizona to break with McConnell and demand votes on campaign-finance reform or environmental bills. While a long shot, that would at least make the point that even if Democrats beat Trump, they need to capture the Senate as well.

“If all they do under McConnell’s leadership is block everything in a presidential turnout year, I think they really risk losing some of their seats like Maine, like Colorado, like Arizona,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). “If they want to keep control of the U.S. Senate, they better deliver something.”