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Friday, October 31, 2014

Poor Teeth and Discrimination

Poor teeth, I knew, beget not just shame but more poorness: people with bad teeth have a harder time getting jobs and other opportunities. People without jobs are poor. Poor people can’t access dentistry – and so goes the cycle.
... Privileged America, ever striving for organic purity, judges harshly the mouths that chew orange Doritos, drink yellow Mountain Dew, breathe with a sawdust rattle, carry a lower lip’s worth of brown chaw, use dirty words and bad grammar. ...
... Friends who know my background sometimes kid me when I’m drunk and misconjugate a verb or slip into a drawl, or when, thoroughly sober, I reveal a gross blind spot in the realm of book-learning (if, say, the question involves whatever one learns in sixth grade, most of which I spent playing in red dirt outside a two-room schoolhouse near the Oklahoma state line). They smile at the pleasure I take in scoring solid furniture from yard sales or, once, for expressing delight over a tiny cast-iron skillet, a miniature version of the pan my grandma once used to fight a drunken stepfather off her mother. I enjoy the kidding and feel appreciated when they recognise the true clichés that weave my story. 
But here’s the thing: wealthy people use cast-iron skillets and bad grammar, too. It’s just not their narrative and thus passes without remark. I’ve observed fellow journalists, the same ones who made trailer-park tornado survivors famous for a loose grip on the past participle, edit dumb-sounding quotes by city commissioners to suit the speaker’s stature.  ...
... the liberal proponents of Occupy Wall Street are often the same people who think Southerners are inbred and Walmart shoppers slovenly miscreants with no social awareness.

Washington's New Black Budget Program

NBC News reports:
The federal government has spent at least $20 billion in taxpayer money this year on items and services that it is permitted to keep secret from the public, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team. 
The purchases, known among federal employees as “micropurchases,” are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies. A sampling of those purchases, obtained by the I-Team via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals at least one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year without having to disclose or detail the purchases to the public.

Russian Dual Medium Assault Rifle

A rifle designed to be used underwater or above water. The Firearms Blog reports:
The Russian special forces dual-medium assault rifles are reportedly slated to enter production next year, according to vpk.name. These rifles use supercavitation to allow for much shorter projectiles that work in both air and water media, which represents a significant advantage vs. older underwater rifle types, such as the ASM-DT. According to the article, the rifles are called “DT”, but the weapon represented in the article’s picture is designated ADS, according to Maxim Popenker’s website. It’s possible the article is referring to a new model of weapon. 
Supercavitation works via creating a bubble of gas around an object moving through water, which greatly reduces the considerable drag incurred by moving through dense media, which allows for much higher speeds to be achieved with much shorter projectiles, relative to conventional underwater ammunition.

Photo at the link.

A Most Unusual Sunspot

A close-up of AR12192 takenon October 21, 2014 from Langkawi Nagtional Observatory, Malaysia. Image by Karzaman Ahmad and shared at spaceweather.com

          From PBS Newshour reports on the current large sunspot--the largest in 24 years--which has spewed out an unusually large number of solar flares, but only one Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The article first explains that because the mass of the sun does not rotate as one body, the magnetic fields running through the sun can get twisted as one part of the sun rotates past another. Eventually, the energy bound up in the twisted field lines must release themselves through solar flares or CMEs.

Releasing this pent-up energy typically takes two forms: a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection, and this is key to what makes the behavior here unusual. A coronal mass ejection is made up of balls of gas ejected from the sun’s outer atmosphere, consisting of charged particles and magnetic field. The fastest CME’s travel up to 93 million miles a day, or millions of miles per hour. A solar flare is a burst of x-rays and energy, typically smaller and shorter-lasting than a CME, and rather than being launched out into space, it is caused by material accelerated back into the sun. 
 This latest sunspot is producing lots of flares — really, really, big ones — but hardly any coronal mass ejections. (Though it did produce one single CME before it rotated into our field of view.) 
“I can’t remember ever seeing a sunspot producing so many solar flares and so few CME’s,” said Michael Hesse, director of NASA Goddard’s Heliophysics Science Division, the team that stares at the sun 24 hours a day. “It wants to get rid of this energy, but we don’t understand why it does it through a flare and not a CME.”
But it’s produced 10 major solar flares, Hesse said. Six of these were rated X-class, which is equivalent to 100,000 times the amount of energy produced by humans in one year. Also, a billion Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons.
 
...  When a solar flare erupts, it lights up the side of the Earth that’s facing the flare, and heats up the Earth’s upper atmosphere, or ionosphere, which can temporarily change its properties. Solar flares pose less danger than CME’s, but they can affect short-wave radio communication used by pilots and ships, since the radio waves are bounced off the upper atmosphere.
(H/t Instapundit)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How the USDA Made Us Fat

The fruits of a professional bureaucracy. Nina Teicholz points out at the Wall Street Journal that:
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans--jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years--have had a profound influence on the foods Americans produce and consume. Since 1980, they have urged us to cut back on fat, especially the saturated kind found mainly in animal foods such as red meat, butter and cheese. Instead, Americans were told that 60% of their calories should come from carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit and potatoes. And on the whole, we have dutifully complied. 
By the turn of the millennium, however, clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were showing that a low-fat regime neither improved our health nor slimmed our waistlines. Consequently, in 2000 the Dietary Guidelines committee started to tiptoe away from the low-fat diet, and by 2010 its members had backed off any mention of limits on total fat. 
Yet most Americans are still actively trying to avoid fat, according to a recent Gallup poll. They are not aware of the USDA's crucial about-face because the agency hasn't publicized the changes. Perhaps it did not want to be held responsible for the consequences of a quarter-century of misguided advice, especially since many experts now believe the increase in carbohydrates that authorities recommended has contributed to our obesity and diabetes epidemics.
(Source). I would note that the recommendations regarding salt intake also lack any scientific evidence to support them.


Kaci Hickox's Quarantine Makes Perfect Sense

          Kaci Hickox, as you probably know, is the nurse that had been treating Ebola patients in Africa, and upon arrival back in New Jersey on October 24, was quarantined. She was released from that quarantine after a few days, on October 27, returned to her home in Maine, and placed under quarantine again--one which she has defied by leaving her house. Hickox is complaining that the quarantine violates her civil rights and that it is unnecessary.

         Hickox makes two arguments for not needing quarantine. First, while in New Jersey, she twice tested negative for Ebola. However, this is inconclusive since, as this article from Vanity Fair indicates:
When Ebola strikes, it kills quickly, but it can take up to three weeks to incubate, and usually around 10 days. The period is long enough that contact with a possible source may have been forgotten, and long enough for infected people to travel without symptoms. And even if you tested for Ebola—which nobody in Guinea had the capacity to do—you wouldn’t find it during the incubation period: Ebola can’t be detected in the blood until symptoms show. An epidemic can start slowly and go unnoticed for weeks.  ...
(Underline mine). In other words, until she becomes symptomatic, it may not be possible to detect the Ebola; but she may not become symptomatic for up to 21 days. That is why she needs to stay in quarantine.

        Her second argument is that she cannot, as she alleges, spread Ebola through simple contact. "'You could hug me, you could shake my hand [and] I would not give you Ebola,' she said." Unless she coughed or sneezed into her hand, or had bodily fluids get on her clothes. How does she think colds and the flu spread?

The Decline in Violence--Evolution in Action?

The Guardian has an article looking at the 10 of the greatest changes or influences on the modern world over the last 1,000 years. One of the greatest changes they highlight was the beginning of a precipitous decline of personal violence in the 16th Century. From the article:
The pre-industrial past was, by our standards, incredibly violent. In the middle ages, the murder rate in Oxford occasionally hit the same level as Dodge City at the height of the American gun-slinging wild west. But from 1500, the murder rates decreased rapidly, and not just in Oxford. In fact, across Europe, they more or less halved every 100 years, until they started to increase again in the late 20th century. The cause was better communication, through a massive increase in literacy and writing, allowing governments to act more regularly and with greater certainty of finding the guilty party. People started to think twice before drawing a knife in a brawl. Constables answering to the authorities pursued highwaymen and similar culprits far more rigorously than in previous centuries. As with many changes over past centuries, the development was so gradual that contemporaries did not comment on them; they also quickly took a safer society for granted. But that very thing – a safer society – is something not to be thrown away lightly.
The article mentions societal changes, but it is hard to imagine that communications in Europe were much better in 1500 than in 1400, or that there was greater certainty in judicial decisions. Moreover, if that was a cause for declining crime from the 16th Century onward, why would crime increase again in the late 20th Century when communications and crime detection techniques had improved so dramatically?

It made me think of my recent post on the "Warrior Gene." In that post, I noted research indicating that black men had the "warrior gene" at 10 times the rate of "white men." However, instead of wondering why the rate is so high in blacks, perhaps the question we should be asking is why it is so low in whites? Did something happen (or, rather, begin to happen) in the 14th Century and onward that favored those without the warrior gene? Something that happened in Europe but not Africa?

That it may be something genetic would also explain the increase of crime in the late 20th Century, when the United States saw a rapid urbanization of minorities, and Europe began importing large numbers of minority workers.

The 1964 Robbery of the American Museum of Natural History

Fifty years ago, Jack Murphy (a.k.a., “Murf the Surf”) and Allan Kuhn stole the Star of India sapphire, the DeLong Star ruby, and fistfuls of diamonds and emeralds. Vanity Fair looks back on the robbery, and where the two jewel thieves are now. Its a long article, but worth the read for those interested in true crime, or just unusual history.

Damned By Faint Praise

          Paul Krugman recently penned a piece for Rolling Stone Magazine called "In Defense of Obama" which has the temerity to assert that Obama has actually been an effective president. Krugman basic argument falls into seven main points: (1) Obama has had to deal with hostile Republicans; (2) Obamacare has been a success; (3) financial reform (via the Dodd-Frank bill) has been a success; (4) the economy is better; (5) the environment is better; (6) he's been okay at national security issues; and (7) positive social change. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence will realize that Krugman's assertions are incorrect. Anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty would never have made these points. 

Dealing with hostile Republicans.

          Krugman writes:
He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP's unwillingness to make even token concessions.
          There are two general points that prove the fallacy of this point. First, and most obvious point that for the first two years of his Presidency, Obama dealt with both a House and Senate held by Democrats. Even after Republicans retook the House in 2012, Obama has had a friendly Senate. Krugman does not address this because it merely underscores how ineffective Obama had been.

          The second point is more subtle, but it is that Krugman implicitly assumes that the Republicans had shifted politically further to right, and that shift is what made them unwilling to negotiate with Obama or the Democrats, whereas the Democrats have remained the same. This has been a common complaint among the left. NPR claimed in 2012 that Republicans were the most conservative they had been in 100 years. The Washington Post made the same claim. In 2013, Think Progress went further, claiming that Republics had become radical.

          In fact, research from Pew has shown that the American public, in general, has become more politically polarized in the past decade. That is, even as late as 2004, the median Republican was very close in political outlook to the median Democrat. However, by 2014, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican. Most of the movement has been among Democrats. The cited article states that:
Today, almost four-in-ten (38%) politically engaged Democrats are consistent liberals, up from just 8% in 1994. The change among Republicans since then appears less dramatic – 33% express consistently conservative views, up from 23% in the midst of the 1994 “Republican Revolution.”
 Turning to the actual Pew report, it indicates:
In both parties, the shares expressing mostly ideological views have increased, but in very different ways. The percentage of Democrats who are liberal on all or most value dimensions has nearly doubled from just 30% in 1994 to 56% today. The share who are consistently liberal has quadrupled from just 5% to 23% over the past 20 years. 
In absolute terms, the ideological shift among Republicans has been more modest. In 1994, 45% of Republicans were right-of-center, with 13% consistently conservative. Those figures are up to 53% and 20% today.
          Both the article and the Pew report attempt to minimize the Democrat shift by pointing out that Republicans became more moderate approaching 2004, and then have shifted back to becoming more conservative. However, that only indicates that the Republican shift was reactionary, not that the Republican shift has driven the divide. In the end, both parties have become more partisan, but it is the Democrats that have shifted the most. Thus, the implicit thesis in Krugman's argument--that Republicans have become more intractable while the Democrats have not--is false.

Has Obamacare Been a Success?

          Krugman writes:
Still, Obamacare means a huge improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans – not just better care, but greater financial security. And even those who were already insured have gained both security and freedom, because they now have a guarantee of coverage if they lose or change jobs. 
What about the costs? Here, too, the news is better than anyone expected. In 2014, premiums on the insurance policies offered through the Obamacare exchanges were well below those originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office, and the available data indicates a mix of modest increases and actual reductions for 2015 – which is very good in a sector where premiums normally increase five percent or more each year. More broadly, overall health spending has slowed substantially, with the cost-control features of the ACA probably deserving some of the credit.
He declares the ACA to be a success.

         Well, from my personal standpoint, it has brought a lot of change, but not a lot of hope. In order to obtain an Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant plan this year from the same insurer that is roughly comparable to my current plan in terms of deductible, total out-of-pocket, and so on, would result in a premium increase of almost 50%. Looking at other possible insurers for the business I work at, in order to keep costs increases down to a moderate level would require accepting plans with higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket limits and the consumer having to foot more of the bill until meeting the deductible.

          But let's look at the statistics. One of the main purposes of the ACA was to extend health insurance to the uninsured. In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that there were 53 million uninsured persons in the United States. Even looking to a Politico--an Obama sycophant publication--only between 8 and 9.5 million have obtained insurance. The reality is that "the most transparent administration in history" is so opaque that no one seems to know the true numbers. However, even if the ACA has extended coverage to 9.5 million that did not have coverage before (which is unlikely since surveys indicate that about 74% had prior coverage), that still leaves some 42 million it has not helped. So, Obamacare has failed as to that purpose.

         The other main purpose of the ACA was to lower health insurance premiums. As of late last year and the early part of this year, even those willing to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt conceded that it was not clear whether costs would rise more than at normal rates. However, more recent data has shown that premiums will rise by 49% on average. Of course, since the Administration is hiding the official numbers until after the mid-term elections, the full impact will not be fully appreciated until later. In any event, this is another purpose at which the ACA has been a failure.

          In short, liberals can only declare the ACA to be a success because it was not a complete failure. But it has failed at its two basic purposes, which makes it a failure in my book.

Financial Reform.

          Krugman initially points out:
Let's be clear: The financial crisis should have been followed by a drastic crackdown on Wall Street abuses, and it wasn't. No important figures have gone to jail; bad banks and other financial institutions, from Citigroup to Goldman, were bailed out with few strings attached; and there has been nothing like the wholesale restructuring and reining in of finance that took place in the 1930s. Obama bears a considerable part of the blame for this disappointing response. It was his Treasury secretary and his attorney general who chose to treat finance with kid gloves.
Nevertheless, he apparently still considers Obama to have done well in this category simply because of Dodd-Frank. Krugman's reasoning? "But it's a lot better than nothing." Damned by faint praise.

         However, even the faint praise is undeserved. Observed The Wall Street Journal in August of this year:
The debate over whether federal officials believe the largest banks are still too big to fail ended this week in Washington. After examining the second drafts of "living wills" that each bank is required to submit under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, financial regulators voted unanimously that not one of the country's 11 most complicated banks would be able to enter bankruptcy without causing dire economic consequences. 
The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation jointly announced that the giant banks did not have adequate plans in the event of distress or failure. The FDIC board was especially pungent, finding that the plans submitted by the 11 giants "are not credible and do not facilitate an orderly resolution under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code." The Fed said the shortcomings include "unsupported expectations regarding the international resolution process" and "failures to address structural and organizational impediments to an orderly resolution." 
In a separate statement, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig sent a more direct warning to taxpayers: "Despite the thousands of pages of material these firms submitted, the plans provide no credible or clear path through bankruptcy that doesn't require unrealistic assumptions and direct or indirect public support."
In July 2014, Fortune Magazine reported:
But one of the oddest, and surprising, attacks on the law this week came from a paper by two economists, Sohhyun Chung and Jussi Keppo, with an assist from WSJ. The paper found that the Volcker Rule, the part of Dodd-Frank that bans a lot of risky trading at the big banks, has actually made banks more likely to fail and less valuable. 
How, you might ask? The paper argues that when you prevent banks from making risky bets with their own money, they won’t stop betting. They’re banks, after all. Instead, they will put more of their money into stuff that is less risky. And they will lend more, which is also risky, but allowed by Dodd-Frank. Also, the banks will pay dividends, which doesn’t sound risky. But if you allow banks to use their capital to pay dividends, they won’t have as much money around to cover loans when they go bad. 
Journal reporter John Carney chimed in that, as the paper predicts, banks are holding more Treasury bonds, up 23% in the first quarter of 2014, than before the Volcker Rule was finalized last year. The Volcker Rule, Carney wrote, has sprung a leak. 
More evidence that the Volcker Rule isn’t working: JPMorgan Chase’s second quarter. The nation’s largest bank’s value-at-risk was up by 22% from a year ago. And remember, the second quarter was at a time when volatility and risk seemed to be plunging on Wall Street. 
But JPMorgan  doesn’t seem to be loading up on Treasury bonds or other investments that may be risky but are still allowed by Volcker. Its Treasury bond holdings, for instance, are down 28% in the past year. So, if JPMorgan’s risk is up, it’s because it is trading more risky stuff, not because of a loophole in the Volcker Rule.
Others give it a failing grade.

The Economy.

          Krugman offers faint praise here as well:
Barack Obama might not have been elected president without the 2008 financial crisis; he certainly wouldn't have had the House majority and the brief filibuster-proof Senate majority that made health reform possible. So it's very disappointing that six years into his presidency, the U.S. economy is still a long way from being fully recovered. 
Before we ask why, however, we should note that things could have been worse. In fact, in other times and places they have been worse. ...
(Underline added). Of course, Krugman's opinion as to what should have been done would have been to spend more, especially on welfare and entitlements.

         How has the economy fared under Obama? Median household income has declined. Americans have only recaptured 45% of the wealth they lost in the financial crash. Record numbers of Americans have dropped out of the labor market, record numbers are now on food stamps (the modern day equivalent of bread lines and soup kitchens), and job growth has been anemic (in fact, the only reason that unemployment has not climbed into the double digits is because of the number of people no longer looking for work). In short, life under Obama sucks.

         Things may have been worse, but that is hardly enough to call Obama's policies successful.

The Environment.

          On this point, Krugman writes:
In 2009, it looked, briefly, as if we might be about to get real on the issue of climate change. A fairly comprehensive bill establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions actually passed the House, and visions of global action danced like sugarplums in environmentalists' heads. But the legislation stalled in the Senate, and Republican victory in the 2010 midterms put an end to that fantasy. Ever since, the only way forward has been through executive action based on existing legislation, which is a poor substitute for the new laws we need.

But as with financial reform, acknowledging the inadequacy of what has been done doesn't mean that nothing has been achieved. Saying that Obama has been the best environmental president in a long time is actually faint praise, since George W. Bush was terrible and Bill Clinton didn't get much done. Still, it's true, and there's reason to hope for a lot more over the next two years.
He praise for Obama stems from there being more alternative energy--solar and wind power--than before (Solindra, anyone?); action to curb green-house emissions through EPA regulations (killing the coal industry, anyone?); and raising the mileage standards on cars (not that the middle-class can afford new cars).

          I've posted so much about the myth of global warming that I do not believe it is worth while to repeat it here. Just let me say that Obama drowning us in additional regulatory burdens and pushing inefficient forms of energy production to "fix" an imaginary problem is not a success. It is fascism.

National Security.

          Krugman has little praise for Obama here, simply stating:
What I would say is that even if Obama is just an ordinary president on national security issues, that's a huge improvement over what came before and what we would have had if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won. It's hard to get excited about a policy of not going to war gratuitously, but it's a big deal compared with the alternative.
          I'm not sure that Russian aggression in Europe, ISIS, Boko Haram, the collapse of Iraq, Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, the completely unjustified destruction of the Libyan government to be replaced by competing militias and terrorist groups, the death of an American ambassador by terrorists (with its accompanying cover-up), massive spying on American citizens, provisioning of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, Iran's continued development of nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia seeking nuclear weapons from Pakistan, Taliban victory in Afghanistan, et cetera and so on, constitutes an improvement over what we would have had from McCain or Romney. Krugman is delusional if he believes otherwise.

Social Change.

          Krugman counts this in favor of Obama because Obama has been a good follower. Krugman explains:
In 2004, social issues, along with national security, were cudgels the right used to bludgeon liberals – I like to say that Bush won re-election by posing as America's defender against gay married terrorists. Ten years later, and the scene is transformed: Democrats have turned these social issues – especially women's rights – against Republicans; gay marriage has been widely legalized with approval or at least indifference from the wider public. We have, in a remarkably short stretch of time, become a notably more tolerant, open-minded nation. 
Barack Obama has been more a follower than a leader on these issues. But at least he has been willing to follow the country's new open-mindedness.  ...
In other words, Krugman believes Obama should be praised because Obama has been such a good political opportunist.

         I will acknowledge that marriage died with the advent of no-fault divorce, but to commend Obama for presiding over its last reflexive twitch is a little too much. As for women's rights, Krugman is not talking about equal pay (long mandated by law), because Obama pays women less. He is instead talking about Obama's support for abortion. Apparently Krugman thinks its great that millions of black and Hispanic babies are killed each year. Good Nazi.

          Change simply for the sake of change is not commendable, especially when that change is simply digging a deeper hole. Obama fails on this front as well.

Conclusion.

          Krugman's sycophantic piece seems like a desperate search to find something redeeming about his hero, without being able to do so. Krugman grasps at straws, twists reality to mask his disappointment. He is like the mother of a murderer crying out in desperation: "But he was such a sweet little boy!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Most Stunning News Story of the Year

The United States government not only spied on reporter Sharyl Attkisson by hacking her computer, but it planted classified documents on her computer--probably with the intent of later prosecuting her for possessing the documents. (See also here).

A Time for Choosing



Fifty years ago, Ronald Reagan made a great speech warning America of its two choices. Unfortunately, America chose poorly. Text of the speech:

A TIME FOR CHOOSING (The Speech – October 27, 1964)

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks. 

I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, "We've never had it so good." 

But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We've raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we've just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value. 

As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers. 

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth. 

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. 

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. 

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down—[up] man's old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course. 

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they've been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, "The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says, "The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state." Or, "Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century." Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us" what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." 

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government"—this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. 

Now, we have no better example of this than government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85 percent of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21 percent increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming—that's regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we've spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don't grow. 

Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he'll find out that we've had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He'll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He'll find that they've also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil. 

At the same time, there's been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There's now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore. 

Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how—who are farmers to know what's best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down. 

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. 

They've just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed. 

We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer—and they've had almost 30 years of it—shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? 

But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you'll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we'd be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead. 

Now—so now we declare "war on poverty," or "You, too, can be a Bobby Baker." Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have—and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs—do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We're now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we're going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we're going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency. 

But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who'd come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She's eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who'd already done that very thing. 

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things—we're never "for" anything. 

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so. 

Now—we're for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we've accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. 

But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that. 

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary—his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due—that the cupboard isn't bare? 

Barry Goldwater thinks we can. 

At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we're for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we're against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road. 

In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents worth? 

I think we're for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we're against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we're against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations. 

I think we're for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we're against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We're helping 107. We've spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country. 

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. 

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth. 

Federal employees—federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work. 

Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do. 

But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died—because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England. 

Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the—or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. 

Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men—that we're to choose just between two personalities. 

Well what of this man that they would destroy—and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I've been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I've never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing. 

This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there. 

An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he'd load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load. 

During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I've discussed academic, unless we realize we're in a war that must be won. 

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer—not an easy answer—but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right. 

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender. 

Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum. And what then—when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we're retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he's heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he'd rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. 

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all. 

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance." And this—this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said, "The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we're spirits—not animals." And he said, "There's something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty." 

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. 

We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. 

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny. 

Thank you very much.


What do I mean by America chose poorly. I think this op-ed from David Solway sums it up pretty well. He writes, in part:
With few exceptions, one cannot open a newspaper or watch a television newscast or talk show or go to a Hollywood movie or attend a university humanities class without coming across instances of pure apocrypha. Whether we are informed that jihadist attacks have nothing to do with jihad; that Islam with its historic toll of 270 million deaths is a religion of peace; that university campuses across North America are crawling with student rapists; that marital violence is always initiated by men; that all cultures enjoy equivalent status despite their human rights records; that truth is no defense against charges of “hate speech”; that criminals have every right to sue their resistant victims; that citizens can be legitimately hauled into court for defending themselves; that the earth is heating up; that costly, draconian measures are necessary to reduce our “carbon footprint”; that exorbitant and ineffectual green energy installations are preferable to cheap and plentiful standard sources; that rejecting ID requirements, that is, what every sensible person knows is an attempt to facilitate electoral fraud, is really a way of ensuring minority voting rights; that Third World peoples are invariably the casualties of Western depredations and are themselves innocent of wrongdoing; or that Western democracies are morally obliged to make reparations to the rest of the world—in every case we are being indoctrinated to embrace manifest lies, evasions and grotesqueries that render us prey to a destructive ideology of guilt, fear, and self-contempt. We are denizens of a postmodern era in which the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, noble and ignoble has been generally annulled—or selectively manipulated, chiefly by the left, in the interests of an ideological program. 
To put it bluntly, we in the West are now living in a cognitive pseudo-world of contrafactual beliefs and specious assertions of Orwellian dimensions, prompted by ignorance, the denaturing of language and the marasmus of mind — a world in which everyone is regarded as equal but some are less equal than others. Truth-tellers are less equal than professional liars, white people are less equal than colored people, men are less equal than women, Christians and Jews are less equal than Muslims, capitalists are less equal than socialists, nationals are less equal than immigrants, in particular Muslim immigrants — the list goes on. What is happening is truly astonishing and almost impossible to believe, for what we are experiencing is a cultural pathology on a global scale, a spreading and apparently unstoppable plague of sociopolitical ebola willingly contracted. 
It is indeed a disheartening spectacle: a great civilization, centered in Europe and ramifying into North America, rapidly imploding, opening the gates to those who will destroy it while eating itself up from inside, with no assurance that this process of self-immolation can be reversed. Europe may already be lost, subject to failing socialist economies, sub-replacement fertility rates, a top-down unelected transnational governing body that has arrogated autocratic powers to itself, the re-emergence of a vicious anti-Semitism, and exploding Islamic demographics. It is a continent busy jettisoning its Judeo-Hellenic-Christian inheritance, millennia in the making, a mere century or even decades in the dismantling. Failing the rise of strong conservative parties, citizen retrenchment and the political courage and insight exemplified by figures like Geert Wilders, it is only a matter of time before the Islamization and nannification of Europe, working in tandem, bring down the curtain. Sad to say, but there is, barring a miracle, probably no turning back for a continent betrayed by its leaders and populated by ruminants. “Europe,” laments Caroline Glick in a devastating indictment of the continent’s “downward spiral” and intellectual truancy, “is abandoning the ideals of the Enlightenment, and embracing authoritarianism and irrationality.” 
As for North America, its situation is not appreciably better.  ...

"The Bell Curve"--20 Years Later

The American Enterprise Institute has published an interview with Charles Murray, one of the authors of The Bell Curve to discuss the continued relevance of the findings set out in the book. While the book is famous (or infamous) for it linking low IQs with certain minority groups, the research indicated more than just that. From the interview:

It’s been 20 years since “The Bell Curve” was published. Which theses of the book do you think are the most relevant right now to American political and social life?
American political and social life today is pretty much one great big “Q.E.D.” for the two main theses of “The Bell Curve.” Those theses were, first, that changes in the economy over the course of the 20th century had made brains much more valuable in the job market; second, that from the 1950s onward, colleges had become much more efficient in finding cognitive talent wherever it was and shipping that talent off to the best colleges. We then documented all the ways in which cognitive ability is associated with important outcomes in life — everything from employment to crime to family structure to parenting styles. Put those all together, we said, and we’re looking at some serious problems down the road. Let me give you a passage to quote directly from the close of the book:
Predicting the course of society is chancy, but certain tendencies seem strong enough to worry about:
  • An increasingly isolated cognitive elite.
  • A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent.
  • A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom end of the cognitive distribution.
Unchecked, these trends will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired ever more firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top, restructuring the rules of society so that it becomes harder and harder for them to lose. (p. 509)
Remind you of anything you’ve noticed about the US recently? If you look at the first three chapters of the book I published in 2012, “Coming Apart,” you’ll find that they amount to an update of “The Bell Curve,” showing how the trends that we wrote about in the early 1990s had continued and in some cases intensified since 1994. I immodestly suggest that “The Bell Curve” was about as prescient as social science gets.

I myself question whether the thesis have been borne out. Are colleges truly better at finding cognitive talent and shipping it off to the best universities. Considering the increased costs of education, I would suggest that there are in fact significant barriers to "shipping" the best talent to the best schools. Also, if Murray is suggesting that "cognitive elite" is synonymous with "intelligent elite," then he is again incorrect--President Obama and his advisers being exhibit 1 to refuting that conclusion.

In fact, this "cognative elite" does not select for intelligence, but based on political correctness. David Brooks observes in an op-ed published today in the New York Times:

For example, political scientists Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood gave 1,000 people student résumés and asked them which students should get scholarships. The résumés had some racial cues (membership in African-American Students Association) and some political cues (member of Young Republicans). 
Race influenced decisions. Blacks favored black students 73 percent to 27 percent, and whites favored black students slightly. But political cues were more powerful. Both Democrats and Republicans favored students who agreed with them 80 percent of the time. They favored students from their party even when other students had better credentials.
 Race and party affiliation was more important than merit.

Finnish Scientist Confirm "Warrior Gene" Finding

The Independent reports:
A study looking at the genetic makeup of 895 criminals in Finland has discovered a pair of genes linked with extreme violent behaviour. 
The research, carried out by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the journal Molecular Pyschiatry, compared the genes of non-violent offenders with a group of 78 individuals convicted of violent crimes. 
Experts involved in the study say that the majority of violent crime in any society is usually carried out by a small group of repeat offenders who resist attempts at rehabilitation. 
The group of 78 were responsible for a total of 1,154 murders, manslaughters, attempted homicides or batteries and the geneticists concluded that between 4 and 10 per cent of all violent crimes in Finland could be traced back to individuals with these genotypes.
All those in the study that had committed murder (including a secondary group of 114 individuals who had all killed at least one person) possessed the MAOA gene, with a variant gene of cadherin 13 or CDH13 also found to be common among violent offenders.
 
The MAOA gene is sometimes known as the “warrior gene” and is associated with higher levels of aggression in response to provocation, while studies into CDH13 have associated it with substance abusers and low impulse control.
However, the article then goes on to caution that having the gene does not correspond to a higher rate of violent crime, directly contradicting the findings from the geneticists.

The "warrior gene" is controversial because it is more common among black men--almost 10 times as many black men have the gene than whites. The latter article from The Unsilenced Science notes:

... The MAOA gene has a portion with repeated segments of DNA. This section of the gene is called a promoter because having more repeats increases the amount of enzyme that the gene produces (with a rare, debatable exception). After a 2002 study found that having three repeats together with having suffered child abuse is somewhat associated with violent tendencies, a flood of follow-up research ensued, and MAOA was relabeled “the warrior gene.” This version of the gene and one with four repeats are the most common versions, or alleles. These studies always had a few people with neither the 3-repeat nor the 4-repeat allele. A small number only had 2-repeats. The scientists decided that having 2-repeats in the promoter is sort of like having 3-repeats, so they invented the term “MAOA-L.” (“L” stands for low. Pretty clever, huh?) However, a pair of studies in 2008 found that the 2-repeat allele is associated with twice the rate of violence without child abuse coming into the equation. This allele is less powerful than Brunner syndrome but far more common. 
Two small studies gave hints that the especially dangerous 2-repeat allele might be more common among African Americans. One study wrote that 6% of their non-white (but probably mostly African-American) male subjects had this allele. The other had 5 of 37 (14%) African-American men possessing “rare MAOA alleles.” Those percentages are remarkable given that studies of white men have suggested that 1% or fewer have this gene. 
If a single gene could offer some explanation as to why African-Americans commit roughly five times as many violent crimes per capita as whites, then wouldn’t studying it potentially save countless lives and deserve a Nobel Prize? After all, even a case of Brunner syndrome was effectively treated for a period with an antipsychotic. Well, at long last, Reti et al determined that 0.5% of white MAOA genes and 4.7% of African-American MAOA genes are this 2-repeat allele, almost a ten-fold difference.
See also the following article at Conservative News.

See, liberals think it is more important to have politically correct thought--and therefore attempt to squelch any study of such links--than to try and figure out a treatment or cure. To the liberals, it isn't about helping anyone (such as young black men) but in making themselves feel better about themselves.

Liberal Fascism in All Its Glory

A planet-wide conflict that claimed as many lives as the first two world wars combined would hardly make any difference to the world's exploding population, according to a study. 
The researchers claim that population growth is so out of control that even stringent restrictions on childbirth, disastrous pandemics, or World War Three would not make it manageable by the turn of the next century. 
They say the global population will likely exceed 10 billion by 2100, and even in the worst case scenario the minimum it could reach would be 5.1 billion.

Professor Barry Brook, who co-led the study at the University of Adelaide, Australia, said: 'We were surprised that a five-year World War Three scenario, mimicking the same proportion of people killed in the first and second world wars combined, barely registered a blip on the human population trajectory this century.'
 
Rather than reducing the number of people on the planet, cutting the consumption of natural resources and enhanced recycling would have a better chance of achieving effective sustainability gains in the next 85 years, they said.  
... They found that under current conditions of fertility, mortality and mother's average age at first childbirth, global population was likely to grow from seven billion in 2013 to 10.4 billion by 2100. 
Climate change, war, reduced mortality and fertility, and increased maternal age altered this prediction only slightly. 
A devastating global pandemic today that killed two billion people was only projected to reduce population size to 8.4 billion, while six billion deaths brought it down to 5.1 billion. 
The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences.
... 'Our work reveals that effective family planning and reproduction education worldwide have great potential to constrain the size of the human population and alleviate pressure on resource availability over the longer term. 
'Our great-great-great-great grandchildren might ultimately benefit from such planning, but people alive today will not.' 
Professor Bradshaw added: 'The corollary of these findings is that society's efforts towards sustainability would be directed more productively towards reducing our impact as much as possible through technological and social innovation.'
Somewhere, Adolf Hitler is smiling.

Let us deconstruct what the article says versus what we already know about demographic growth. First, we know that due to low reproductive rates in much of the world, both in developed countries and many third-world countries, world population will peak at 8.5 billion to 10.9 billion in or around 2050, and slowly start to decline. So, while technically correct that the population in 2100 may exceed 10 billion, the researchers are being misleading in ignoring the peak in population in 2050. Rather, the article makes it sound like that population is increasing toward over 10 billion in 2100.

The article also does not share other pertinent facts, such as population growth has already slowed. The global growth rate peaked at 2.2% in 1963, and declined to below 1.1% as of 2012. Although it took only 12 years (between 1987 and 1999) for the total world population to increase from 5 to 6 billion, it took 13 years to add the next billion, and it is expected that it will be 14 years to add another billion. Moreover, the high population growth models presume that fertility rates will not significantly decline, but there is no historical grounds for such belief. Fertility rates in many third world countries have dropped precipitously over just the course of one or two decades to rates mirroring those of the developed world. Thus, a peak of 8.5 billion is probably more realistic than 10.9 billion.

So how do the scientists propose on dealing with the problem? Well, certainly not be encouraging innovation. Rather, they parrot the same old solutions: keeping non-Europeans from reproducing, and working toward "sustainability"--a catchphrase meaning to reduce the standard of living for the 99% though implementation of socialism.

The Rarest Blood Type

Rhnull. 
An article at The Atlantic about this blood type that only 40 people seem to share.

Monday, October 27, 2014

An ER Doctor Discusses What Scares Him About An Outbreak

Not just an outbreak of Ebola in the United States, but any other virulent disease such as the Spanish flu. From Louis M. Profeta MD, writing at Linked In:
Some years ago when I first started in practice, a very large hospital in our area was having trouble getting patients rapidly admitted from the ER to the floors. This resulted in a tremendous backlog of patients and extreme ER overcrowding. This naturally increased patient wait times and directly impacted the health of those coming to the ER. So, naturally, the hospital system formed a committee and hired consultants. They looked at every single variable: time to laboratory, time to X-ray, nursing changeover, bed request time and on and on and on. Do you know what they found? The roadblock in the movement of patients through this major medical system was housekeeping. Think about that. Housekeepers, traditionally the lowest paid and least-skilled division of employment of the hospital, were responsible for the movement and throughput of patients more than any other factor. 
If the rooms on the floor were not cleaned fast enough, then no patients could move from the ER to the floor, and no patients from the waiting room to the ER. ER wait times rose and patient care suffered. Housekeepers handcuffed the entire system, and not because they were lazy. The regulations, protocols and procedures put into place to clean a room are so extensive that rapid room turnover was next to impossible with the current staffing model. That stuck with me. What is the rate-limiting step in a mass casualty scenario or massive patient influx that would handcuff us? Where will all the preparedness collapse? What is the leaking O-ring? What am I afraid will fail?
Based on this, his fear is that there simply won't be enough staff showing up to do their work at the hospitals:
Now imagine that huge numbers of hospital staff – from doctors to housekeepers, from food services to registration, from security and parking to transportation will decide not show up. They will call in sick or simply just say: “No, I’m not coming to work today.” In just a few days, human waste, debris, soiled linens, the sick, the dying and the bodies will pile up. We will be overwhelmed and unable to offer much in the way of assistance because the labor-intensive protocols that allow us to safely care for even one patient are just too exhausting. These procedures are barely repeatable more than once or twice of day, and fraught with so many steps and potential for mistake that it becomes too physically and emotionally taxing for the staff to do … so they simply wont show up. 
And I am not sure I will, either. 
I love emergency medicine. I love helping people and saving lives and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I am also a person and I have a wife and three children that I love and want to see grow up. I also am keenly aware that not a damn thing I do will have any real impact on the survivability of a patient with either the Spanish flu or Ebola. Fluids, rest and prayer is about all there is to offer. There is an old adage that says a hospital is no place for a sick person. I think whoever first said that had Spanish flu and Ebola in mind.

"The Trouble With Physics" Again

Nearly two years ago, I published my own review of Lee Smolin's The Trouble With Physics. Watts Up With That now uses the book as an example of how group think arises in the scientific community (climate research being the other example of group think).  From the latter article/review:
“The Trouble with Physics” is a controversial book by one of the giants of Quantum Physics, Lee Smolin. In an eerie parallel to the failings of climate science, Smolin argues that a fundamental error at the heart of String Theory, and rampant groupthink, has diverted uncounted scientific man hours of effort down a blind alley. Physicists are wasting lifetimes of effort constructing ever more elaborate mathematical models, models which can never hope to be reconciled with real world observations. 
The fundamental error, according to Smolin, is that String Theory is background dependent. String Theory assumes a Universe in which time and space is constant – a Universe in which Einstein never discovered General Relativity. 
The reason for this error goes back to the origins of Quantum Physics. The pioneers of Quantum Physics had to do their calculations by hand – horrendous mathematical transformations, which in some cases took weeks of effort to perform, even when attempted by the most capable mathematicians and scientists on the planet. Adding General Relativity to the mix made the equations impossibly difficult – and for most purposes at the time, for say calculating the shape of the electron field around a hydrogen atom, or designing a transistor, the effect of Relativity on the calculated result was so small that it simply didn’t matter. 
The problems with this convenient simplification only emerge when you attempt to reconcile Relativity and Quantum Physics – when you try to create a theory of everything, to calculate what happens in the vicinity of a black hole, to work out what really happened during the Big Bang, to understand why physical constants have those particular values, or say try to build a wormhole – a gateway through time and space, and a possible solution to interstellar travel. In these extreme conditions, a background dependent theory simply doesn’t work. 
It is at this extreme edge of reality that String Theory begins to break down – it produces (or fails to produce) solutions which have no applicability to the real world. Trying to eliminate the paradoxes it yields spawns the need to pile on ever more complicated additional dimensions and forces, artefacts which, so far at least, cannot be reconciled with observations. 
So String Theorists go model happy. They play with the giant atom smashers when they can, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter that the String Theory models cannot be reconciled with observations, because String Theory is almost infinitely adjustable. ...
 Read the whole thing.

(H/t The Woodpile Report)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Obama's War on America

          The Daily Caller reports:
Marcelo Marquez, the man accused to killing two sheriff’s deputies in California was in the country illegally and had been deported twice to Mexico — once in 1997, and again in 2001. 
Marquez, 34, is accused of killing two sheriff’s deputies Friday during a 6-hour crime spree in northern California. 
And Marcelo Marquez is not even his real name, it’s actually Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE filed paperwork Saturday to ensure he is turned over to immigration officials if he is ever released, though that is unlikely.
It is not just crime that is being imported. Obama's decision to open the borders to illegals has resulted in the spread of a deadly disease.
In late August and early September, hospitals across the nation began reporting an explosion of severe respiratory illnesses among children. Children’s Hospital Colorado treated about 3,600 children between August 18 and September 24, and at least 692 since. On September 5th, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital saw a one day record of 540 kids. The emergency room was filled to capacity. Mobile, Alabama’s USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital reported 340 cases by September 12th. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri had seen 450 patients as of September 7th, 60 of whom required intensive care. At least six Chicago area hospitals were so overwhelmed that they stopped admitting patients under 18 “until further notice.” Many infected children across the country are experiencing some form of paralysis. Six children and at least two adults have died. 
Government health officials haven’t offered any explanation for the unusual outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control has pointedly refused to disclose the states where children have died or even specific locations of outbreaks. State and local officials are similarly closed mouthed. ... 
... But this outbreak is different. Before this year, the D68 strand was almost unheard of. Between 1970 and 2005, only 26 cases of EV-D68 were reported in the U.S. Yet this year, in less than two months, the CDC has reported 780 cases in 46 states, and there are likely many more undiagnosed. Half the specimens tested by the CDC are EV-D68, but since August there have been thousands—perhaps even tens of thousands—of severe respiratory cases treated around the country that the CDC has not tested. D68 also seems to be associated with the paralysis occurring among many of the infected, but doctors are unsure how. In early 2014, a polio-like virus crippled 25 children in California. Enterovirus was suspected, and the symptoms were similar to those seen among children in Asia and Australia. 
... The flood of illegal alien minors coming across our southern border this year is the elephant in the room that no one is mentioning. Most of these youths traveled from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—the so-called Northern Triangle states. Unlike America, where EV-D68 is almost unheard of, in Central and South America it is very common. A recent study of Central and South American young people (ages 0 – 25) infected with influenza-like infections (ILI), identified HRVs (548) and HEVs (84). EV-D68 was identified in 12 percent of the HEV infections. While not a lot in absolute numbers (10) that is an astounding rate when compared with the historical rarity of D68 in American children. Among age groups, those from under one-year-old to age five had two-thirds of all HEVs. These were random samples. ...
          Obama killed those children just as surely as if had injected them with the virus. But Obama doesn't care that his decision to open the borders place Americans at risk. He only cares that illegal aliens mean votes for the Democrats. From the latter article:
How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010. 
Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.
 It is certainly suspicious that Democrats always tend to win close statewide elections.

          Obama is just acting out of his natural liberal instincts. Everyone knows (or should know) that leftists are extremely intolerant of anyone that doesn't agree with them.As Daniel Greenfield explains, the left love totalitarianism. Explaining Obama's Middle-East policy, he writes:
It is no secret that the left is totalitarian and that it is attracted to totalitarian movements. But few have been willing to say it openly and clearly when it comes to its politics in the Middle East.

The left picked Pan-Islamists over secularists in Iran and Turkey. It picked racialist fascists in Egypt, Iraq and Syria-- and their local Palestinian militias. It backed Islamist and Arabist revolts again in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. And after backing every totalitarian majoritarian regime that wasn't too closely aligned to the United States-- their one great enemy is the region's only democratic state.
 
The left's worst crime in the Middle East is its craven love for tyranny, for grand empires built on race and religion, over the national and political rights of the minority. These Apartheid states are all they care about. Their greatest effort has been set not on resolving the stateless problems of the Kurdish minority, on the national borders of Armenia or ending the Turkish occupation and settlement of Cyprus-- but on adding yet another Arab-Muslim state to the region. 
Palestine, the cynical project of Pan-Arabist and Pan-Islamist thugs, is the great obsession of the left. Because if there's one thing that the Middle East doesn't have enough of, it's totalitarian regimes built on Arab and Islamist identity. And the one thing it has too much of is democratic state with a non-Arab and non-Muslim majority. And that one thing is what they are committed to destroying.
Once the November election is past, expect Obama to unleash more of his job-killing, anti-American policies, including burdensome new regulations on energy production, allowing more illegal aliens to enter the United States, and rules requiring the forced "integration" of communities.

Related Story: "White House Presses States to Reconsider Mandatory Ebola Quarantine Orders."