Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Clinton favourability dropping

August 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post looks at Hillary Clinton favourability poll numbers.

Some decline was inevitable as she went from Secretary of State to candidate, but the degree of change is pretty huge. Here’s het net favourability by year”

  • 2012 +37%
  • 2013 +33%
  • 2014 +19%
  • 2015 – 3%

Her current breakdown is interesting also:

  • All -3%
  • Democrats +70%
  • Republicans -68%
  • Independents -24%
  • Whites -26%
  • Non-whites +33%
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Your politically correct guide to language

July 31st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NY Mag has a copy of The University of New Hampshire’s bias-free language guide. Some examples:

Preferred: people of advanced age, old people*

Problematic/Outdated: older people, elders, seniors, senior citizen

*Old people has been reclaimed by some older activists who believe the standard wording of old people lacks the stigma of the term “advanced age”. Old people also halts the euphemizing of age. Euphemizing automatically positions age as a negative.

Preferred: person living at or below the poverty line, people experiencing poverty

Problematic/Outdated: poor person, poverty-stricken person

Preferred:  person of material wealth

Problematic: rich

Being rich gets conflated with a sort of omnipotence; hence, immunity from customs and the law. People without material wealth could be wealthy or rich of spirit, kindness, etc.

Preferred: people of size

Problematic/Outdated: obese*, overweight people

Preferred: person who is blind/visually impaired

Problematic: blind person, “dumb”

Preferred:  U.S. citizen or Resident of the U.S.

Problematic: American

Preferred: White people, European-American individuals

Problematic: Caucasian people

Preferred: Folks, People, You All, Y’all

Problematic/Outdated: Guys (when referring to people overall)

Preferred: Other Sex

Problematic/Outdated: Opposite Sex

Preferred: Children who are gender non-conforming, Children who are gender variant

Problematic/Outdated: Girlie or Tomboy

So the sentence:

“Guys, I had lunch with Sheldon Adelson, an American senior citizen who hates anybody who is not Caucasian, and he insisted we go Dutch, even though he is really rich and I am poverty-stricken.”

would have to be:

“People, I had lunch with Sheldon Adelson, a US citizen of advanced age who hates anybody who is not a European-American, and he insisted we go Dutch, even though he is a person of material wealth and I am a person experiencing poverty

I wonder how many staff ours went into the salaries of the language police who produced this.

 

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Baphomet

July 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

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Stuff reports:

A Satanic organisation unveiled a controversial bronze Baphomet sculpture in Detroit just before midnight on Saturday, after trying in vain to have it installed near a 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma.

Due to planned demonstrations, the group, which is opposed to Bible-themed displays on government land, kept the location of the unveiling of its 2.7-metre-tall monument secret until the last moment, when it emailed the information to ticket holders.

The Satanic Temple unveiled the one-ton statue at an industrial building near the Detroit River just before 11.30pm local time as supporters cheered, “Hail Satan”. Some of the hundreds in attendance rushed to pose for photos.

It could become a major tourist attraction. They could charge for entry, because I imagine most satanic temples are not open to the public.

Baphomet was originally a name given to an idol the Knights Templar were accused of worshiping by King Philip IV of France. Probably all trumped up charges as this is the same King who arrested the Pope and accused him of urinating on the cross.

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How to beat hate

July 22nd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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The Herald reports:

The black director of South Carolina’s public safety agency said he was surprised a photo showing him helping a white man wearing a racist T-shirt went viral. But now that it has, he is hoping it will be a catalyst for people to work toward overcoming hate and violence.

Leroy Smith said in a statement that the photo, taken at a Ku Klux Klan rally, captured “who we are in South Carolina” and represents what law enforcement is all about: helping people “regardless of the person’s skin colour, nationality or beliefs.”

“I consider myself like every other officer who was out there braving the heat on Saturday to preserve and protect,” he said.

The photo, taken by Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesman, shows Smith leading the unidentified man, who is suffering from the heat, to shade at the top of the Statehouse steps, to be treated by local emergency workers. The man has a swastika on his T-shirt.

The photo shows just the hand of black Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, who also was assisting the man.

“I hope this photo will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks,” Smith said.

There’s times when our faith in humanity is justified. A black police officer helping a member of the KKK, because he needed assistance. Hopefully the KKK member concerned, and some of his colleagues, might reflect on the dignity and decency of Leroy Smith.

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Tomi Lahren on radical Islam

July 21st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

This video is going viral. The host is aged just 22 but has struck a real chord with many.

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Trump vs McCain

July 20th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I didn’t think it would take long for Donald Trump to implode, but this was even quicker than I expected.

Trump said John McCain wasn’t really a war hero because he got captured.

There are few things that unite Americans, but those who serve in the military is one of those – and especially those wounded doing so.

Trump has never served at all. McCain was a bombing pilot in the Vietnam War and after being shot down spent five and a half years as a POW. He actually could have got released quite early on as his father was an admiral and the North Vietnamese wanted to appear merciful for propaganda. McCain refused until every POW captured before him was also released.

During his 66 months in captivity he lost 50 pounds, had his hair turn white, was beaten constantly and spent two years in solitary confinement. To this day he can’t lift his arms above his heads.

To have Trump criticise McCain as not being a hero because he got captured goes beyond offensive.

When Hillary Clinton becomes President, she should send a thank you card to Trump. Interestingly she attended one of his weddings, so maybe he is a plant from her!

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The Trump nighmare

July 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose caustic comments about Mexicans have inflamed the immigration debate, told thousands of cheering supporters here Saturday that “we have to take back the heart of our country.”

In a rambling, defiant speech delivered in this border state that has been the epicenter of the nation’s divisive battle over immigration reform, Trump declared: “These are people that shouldn’t be in our country. They flow in like water.” One man in the crowd of 4,200 shouted back, “Build a wall!”

 

On the back of such rhetoric, Trump is now leading the Republican field on 16%, ahead of Jeb Bush 13% and Ben Carson 10%.

This is a nightmare for the Republicans. Trump won’t win the nomination, and is unelectable as President. But his statements will poison the brand of the Republicans.

Most people standing for President moderate their remarks because they hold elected office, and can’t get away with being so inflammatory. Those who don’t tend to get very little publicity. But Trump is getting the headlines, and ramping up the rhetoric.

There is a problem with illegal immigration in the US.  But suggesting that the Mexican Government is actually deciding who to send over the border, is fanciful. It’s nothing to do with the Government, and everything to do with Mexicans thinking they can have a better standard of living in the US.

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The Confederate flag goes down

July 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Confederate flag no longer flies anywhere on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds for the first time since the 1960s civil rights movement, after it was removed in a swift ceremony Friday before thousands of people who cheered as the rebel banner was lowered.

Many people believed the flag would fly indefinitely in this state, which was the first to secede as the pro-slavery Confederacy began fighting the American Civil War. But the killing of nine black church members during a Bible study in Charleston last month changed that sentiment and reignited calls to bring down Confederate flags and symbols across the nation.

The votes were overwhelming. It needed a two thirds majority and passed 94 to 20 in the state house and 36-3 in the state senate. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans – they hold 77 of the 123 house seats and 28 of the 46 senate seats. The Governor is also Republican.

I think this move was long overdue. Regardless of arguments about its original symbolism, the confederate flag today is a deeply hateful one for many African Americans. You can argue all you like about it representing states’ rights, but again symbols change. The swastika is originally a Buddhist religious symbol, and the actions of the Third Reich have changed it.

Having the flag fly at the State Legislature was inappropriate. It does belong in a museum.

That doesn’t mean though you ban it from culture. The banning of reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard because their car (The General Lee) has a confederate flag is barmy. There’s a difference between the state parliament and a TV show.

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A post Charleston poll

July 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today reports on a poll in the wake of the Charleston shooting:

  • 42% says confederate flag is racist and should not be flown in public, and 42% disagree
  • 56% say tighter gun laws would not prevent more mass shootings, 40% disagree
  • 76% say easier access to guns would not prevent more mass shootings, 18% disagree
  • 78% say Congress will not pass gun control legislation, 15% disagree
  • 52% do not want gun control to be a major focus of the 2016 election, 43% disagree
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Supreme Court rules 5-4 that same sex marriage is a constitutional right

June 27th, 2015 at 12:44 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

A deeply divided Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live.

The court’s action rewarded years of legal work by same-sex marriage advocates and marked the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence.

Marriages began Friday in states that had previously thwarted the efforts of same-sex couples to wed, while some states continued to resist what they said was a judicial order that changed the traditional definition of marriage and sent the country into uncharted territory. As of the court’s decision Friday morning, there were 14 states where same-sex couples were not allowed to marry.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has written all of the court’s decisions recognizing and expanding gay rights, said the decision was based on the fundamental right to marry and the equality that must be afforded gay Americans.

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Kennedy wrote. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

I have mixed feelings on this. I welcome the outcome, but not the method.

I think it great that all Americans now have the right to marry the person they love (with rare exceptions such as family). And to have the US Supreme Court rule that gay Americans have a constitutional right to marry their loves ones, with mean a huge amount to gay Americans.

So just as I fought hard for same sex marriage to be legal in New Zealand, I welcome it in the United States.

All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented, and each wrote a separate opinion.

The common theme in their dissents was that judicial activism on the part of five members of the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” wrote Roberts, who for the first time in his tenure marked his disagreement with a decision by reading part of his dissent from the bench.

“Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” he wrote.

Scalia called the decision a “threat to American democracy,” saying it robs citizens of “the freedom to govern themselves.”

I do agree with the Conservative Justices though that while the outcome is to be celebrated, the process is not. I think it is a stretch to claim that a document written 200 years ago was intended to allow same sex marriage – considering same sex activity was a criminal offence at the time.

Having a court of nine appointed judges decide on such a massive issue, makes it less likely to gain widespread acceptance than a decision made by referendum or an elected legislature.

The wonderful result in Ireland, where a staunchly Catholic nation voted to legalise same sex marriage was the best way for it to happen. No one could attack the legitimacy of the decision. No one could say it was out of touch politicians or activist judges. In fact having the public vote it in, sent a message to religions that if they want to retain followers, they may have to change with the times.

In the US, it was elected legislatures that gave women the vote. This made it far less controversial, than if the US Supreme Court had done it (which inevitably they would have). By contrast the reason abortion is such a massively controversial issue in the US, is because the Supreme Court decided it for the whole country, rather than let voters or elected legislatures decide. That resentment is why it is such a toxic issue today.

However I think this ruling will be less controversial over time. That is mainly because so many states had already legalised same sex marriage, and public opinion on same sex marriage had dramatically changed over a decade – possibly the largest change on a social issues ever in such a small period of time.

Another difference between the controversy over the abortion Roe vs Wade ruling and this one, is that with same sex marriage, the opponents of it are not directly affected. Yes they think it is wrong, but it is hard to point to a concrete harm except a generic changing of society’s morals. However with abortion, opponents believe that an eight week old foetus is living human being, and that abortion is not far removed from murder.

So I think it is unlikely that in a few years, this will be an issue at all in US politics. In fact some analysts are saying (and I agree) that this has done Republican politicians a favour as they can now say that the issue is settled regardless of their personal views, and don’t have to worry about being off side with a large majority of the population.

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A terrible crime

June 19th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A 21-year-old white man suspected of killing nine people at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina was arrested on Thursday after an attack that the United States is investigating as a hate crime. …

Roof sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Mullen said. The victims, six females and three males, included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate.

“He just said, ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” Johnson said.

What a terrible crime and slaughter of innocents. Whether the killer is mad or bad (or both) will be determined in due course.

Any attack on innocents is terrible, but there is something particularly chilling about it happening in a church.

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Transracial?

June 18th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Fraudster Rachel Dolezal has claimed she is not a fraud, but she is transracial – a black woman born into a white body, just as a transgender person is someone born in the body of the wrong gender.

Syretta McFadden in the Guardian is not impressed:

After days of speculation, Rachel Dolezal appeared on the Today show and declared herself transracial – and blamed other people’s misunderstanding of the term on why she came to be identified as black. “I was actually identified when I was doing human rights work in north Idaho as first transracial”, she said – in a construction that conveniently negated her agency in that decision – and explained that she never corrected subsequent media reports that she was biracial or black.

“I identify as black”, she said during the interview, though she admits to having identified as white at other points – including when she sued Howard University for racial discrimination because she was white. (She lost.)

But transracial does not mean what some white Americans like Dolezal apparently wish it to mean. The term originates from adoptive and academic circles to describe the very lived experience of children raised in homes that are phenotypically and culturally different from their birth – people like my colleague Rebecca Carroll, who is black. She was raised in a white household and her white birth mother attempted to define her as “culturally white, and cosmetically black”.

The fact Dolezal once sued Harvard for discriminating against her as a white woman, speaks volumes about how genuine she is.

Dolezal’s messy theft and fiction of a black American identity uses the currency of a subculture of privilege that is rooted in white supremacy too. If anything, to believe that one can transfer one’s identity in this way is a privilege – maybe even the highest manifestation of white privilege. The ability to accept marginalization, to take on the identity of blackness without living the burdens of it and always knowing you could, on a whim, escape it, is not a transition to blackness; to use it to further your career or social aspirations is not to become black.

It is interesting to think about what it would mean if people could legally change their race, just as they can legally change their gender (which I support). Could you join an Iwi? Could you enrol on the Maori roll? Could you use a preferential entry scheme for university? Dolezal may set off a revolution!

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Will it be Bush vs Clinton again?

June 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jeb Bush has announced he is standing for the US Presidency. This is not unexpected, but is news. Donald Trump has also said he is standing. That is now serious news.

Could it be Bush vs Clinton again? Let’s look at the current polling for each primary.

Bush is averaging 9.7% in the heavily contested Republican race, behind Marco Rubio 12.4%, Scott Walker 11.0% and Ben Carson on 10.1%. Behind behind the flaky Carson is not good.

Clinton is averaging 58.5%, miles ahead of socialist Bernie Sanders on 12.0%.

What are their respective favourabilities?

Bush has 32% favourable and 50% unfavourable for a net -18%

Clinton has 46% favourable and 49% unfavourable for a net -3%

In a direct match up the average is Clinton 51%, Bush 42%. A landslide.

Of course 16 months to go, but hard to see Jeb Bush in the White House.

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95% of TSA checkpoints are insecure

June 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

ABC reports:

An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials, ABC News has learned.

The series of tests were conducted by Homeland Security Red Teams who pose as passengers, setting out to beat the system.

According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.

So let’s abolish them. The security checks today are stifling and bureaucratic, and as the audits have shown won’t actually stop an actual terrorist – just passengers with water bottles!

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Now this is good customer service from an airline

June 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Conservative Tribune reports:

Uhle had already boarded a flight from Chicago to Columbus that was about to take off, when it suddenly went back to the concourse and she was told to exit the plane.

“I figured I was on the wrong plane. The gate agent told me to check in at the desk and when I did she told me to call my husband,” Uhle said.

According to Fox News, that is when Uhle learned from her husband in Colorado that her son had slipped into a coma after suffering a traumatic head injury in an accident.

Uhle also soon discovered that Southwest had already taken care of making arrangements for her to abruptly change her travel plans, rebooking her on the next non-stop flight to Denver, without any additional fees or charges.

“They offered a private waiting area, rerouted my luggage, allowed me to board first, and packed a lunch for when I got off the plane in Denver,” Uhle said. “My luggage was delivered to where I was staying, and I even received a call from Southwest asking how my son was doing.”

 

That is very impressive and caring.

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Stupid teacher

June 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An American sex education teacher has drawn the ire of parents after taking high-school students on a field trip to an adult novelty store in Minneapolis.

Gaia Democratic School director Starri Hedges took about a dozen students to the Smitten Kitten last week. Hedges told the Star Tribune that she wanted to provide a safe environment for students to learn about human sexual behaviour.

Besides offering adult books, videos, toys and other products, the store also has educational workshops, which the students attended.

“What I saw happening on our trip, I thought it was beautiful because kids could talk to these sex educators without any shame, without any fear,” Hedges said. Some of her students bought condoms, she said.

The small Minneapolis school has a motto that promises academic freedom, youth empowerment and democratic education. Parents say it has about 25 students. 

Parent Lynn Floyd’s 11- and 13-year-old daughters were on the field trip. Floyd said the trip was “a major breach of trust” and has withdrawn his children from the school. Floyd said he is most troubled that parents were never notified before the trip.

Sex education is a good thing. Taking school kids to a sex shop is a bad thing as part of that.

If the teacher can’t work that out, they’re in the wrong job.

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Rand Paul stops the NSA mass phone record programme

June 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

For the first time since September 11, 2001, Congress curtailed the National Security Agency’s authority to track suspected terrorists as lawmakers struggled to restore approval for mass collection of phone records and other surveillance methods.

No solution was likely before Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) at the earliest. The high-stakes drama played out as Congress debated significant changes prompted by the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the phone records collection and other main surveillance programs.

While intelligence officials publicly warned of danger, they said they were not deeply concerned with a lapse of a few days or weeks, given that the authorities remain available in pending investigations. What they most fear is a legislative impasse that could doom the programs permanently.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, a presidential candidate, took credit for blocking the Senate from extending the surveillance powers in an extraordinary Sunday session. That forced the Senate to take up a different bill passed by the House of Representatives, which then stalled on Monday (Tuesday NZT) as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leading Republicans sought changes.

It is good to see push back against ever increasing surveillance powers. Some powers are necessary, but they should be targeted at those under suspicion, not trawling through the entire population.

And the reality is that mass phone number programme has never been credited with actually helping detect or prevent a terrorist attack.

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The Madison Fund

June 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Charles Murray makes the case for conservative civil disobedience in a book called Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. A review:

In parallel, the legal system has become a vehicle for progressive social aims, growing arbitrary and subjective. Murray points to lower bars for bringing lawsuits, broader rules of discovery and the rise of strict liability that doesn’t require specific negligence to find guilt. All this has conspired to create a system in which defending yourself is prohibitively costly, laws are so complex as to be unintelligible and prosecutors enjoy corrupting discretionary power. Instead of a world where acts are criminalized because they are malum in se (wrong in themselves), Murray argues that a large proportion of crimes in the federal code are “malum prohibitum — not things that are bad in themselves but things that warrant criminal penalties because the government has said they do.”

Think of the case of the pension in Paraparaumu taken to court by the Council because she had someone cut down a tree on her property.

So how do how small-government conservatives conduct civil disobedience in practice? Sit-ins at the EEOC? Occupy OSHA? Or maybe thousands of senior executives chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, innovation-stifling regulatory regimes have got go!”

Murray’s proposal is less dramatic and more ingenious. The regulatory state has two related weaknesses, he explains: It relies on voluntary compliance, and its enforcement capabilities are far inferior to its expansive mandate. So he proposes a private legal defense fund — the “Madison Fund,” honoring the father of the Constitution — that businesses and citizens can rely on for representation against federal regulators. By engaging in expensive and time-consuming litigation on behalf of clients that refuse to comply with pointless rules, the fund drains the government’s enforcement resources and eventually undercuts its ambitions. The state can compel submission from an individual or company with the threat of ruinous legal proceedings, Murray writes, “but Goliath cannot afford to make good on that threat against hundreds of Davids.”

I think this is a great idea. It would be the equivalent of the ACLU. Imagine in the US a billion dollar fund that will help people fight against mindless regulations that serve no public good.

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Hehir on Republicans not being dumb

May 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

There’s a presidential election in the United States next year and that means you can look forward to many editorials, columns and opinion pieces by New Zealand writers about what dummies the Republican contenders are.

It won’t make any difference to point out that Senator Rand Paul and Ben Carson are highly trained surgeons. Senator Ted Cruz may have been regarded “off the charts brilliant” by liberal Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, but that won’t help him. Never mind that Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company and was responsible for one of the biggest tech mergers in history.

This is because all of these contenders will take policy stances at odds with what is considered wise or prudent by New Zealand opinion-makers – who will therefore inevitably declare a received wisdom that the Republican field consists mostly of airheads, numbskulls and know-nothings. 

Yep.

In the 2000 election, there was a persistent narrative around Bush being intellectually inferior to Democratic nominee Al Gore. You might be surprised to learn, therefore, that a comparison of their respective university transcripts shows Bush to have the superior record. In fact, despite somehow having acquired the cachet of scientific expertise, Gore seems to have fared particularly badly in science courses.

The record also shows Bush was a slightly better student than 2004 opponent John Kerry. According to military testing undertaken by both when they were in their twenties, Bush probably had the higher IQ.  Again, however, the campaign press usually portrayed Kerry as the more cerebral of the two.

Bush actually passed all his courses while Gore failed a natural sciences course and was in the bottom fifth of his year.  John Kerry got Ds in history, geology and political science.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Bush was a better president than Gore or Kerry would have been. While people tend to fixate on intelligence, it is hardly the be all and end all of enlightened leadership. On the contrary, there are many other factors that go into making an effective leader, including humility, patience, decisiveness and human decency.

And in the absence of countervailing influences, intelligence often leads to hubris. Nemesis is rarely far behind.

Few people would doubt that Robert Muldoon or Richard Nixon were highly intelligent men. Their cleverness, however, led them to overestimate their ability to control a complex system like a developed economy. Both were arrogant enough to centrally regulate prices and wages and the result in both cases was economic damage that took years to mend. 

Herman Goring was highly intelligent (he had a measured IQ of 138).  He also signed off on the final solution. Clearly his brainpower did not give him moral clarity enough to oppose the murder of millions of innocent men, women and children.

 

You need politicians to be smart, but not super smart. So long as they are not actually stupid, then other factors such as character, and judgement come to the fore.

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Democrat lawmakers much older than Republicans

May 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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An interesting infographic from the US. People see the Republican Party as dominated by old men, but in fact they are significantly younger than the Democrats.

The breakdown in the House is:

  • Over 80 – four Democrats and two Republicans
  • 75 to 79: 12 Denocrats and Two Republicans
  • 70 to 74: 21 Democrats and 10 Republicans
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The ruin of US colleges

May 22nd, 2015 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast writes:

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

In a 2014 interview with New York magazine, comedian Chris Rock told journalist Frank Rich that he had stopped playing college campuses because of how easily the audiences were offended.

We live in the age of offence, where people think they have a right not to be offended.

Instead, the politically correct university is a world of land mines, where faculty and students have no idea what innocuous comment might be seen as an offense. In December 2014, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, sent an email to the student body in the wake of the outcry over two different grand juries failing to indict police officers who killed African-American men. The subject heading read “All Lives Matter” and the email opened with, “As members of the Smith community we are struggling, and we are hurting.” She wrote, “We raise our voices in protest.” She outlined campus actions that would be taken to “heal those in pain” and to “teach, learn and share what we know” and to “work for equity and justice.”

Shortly thereafter, McCartney sent another email. This one was to apologize for the first. What had she done? She explained she had been informed by students “the phrase/hashtag ‘all lives matter’ has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against black people.”

Insane. She had to apologise for saying “all lives matter”.

On today’s campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficialtactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling—and more far reaching—is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don’t like. They’ve invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include “speech codes,” “free speech zones,” censorship, investigations by campus “diversity and tolerance offices,” and denial of due process.

And we saw this in Australia where some staff and student groups basically blackmailed the university into revoking the appointment of Bjørn Lomborg, as he doesn’t buy into their view that the world is doomed.

Or how about the Brandeis professor who was found guilty of racial harassment—with no formal hearing—for explaining, indeed criticizing, the word “wetbacks.” Simply saying the word was crime enough. Another professor, this time at the University of Central Florida, was suspended for making a joke in class equating his tough exam questions to a “killing spree.” A student reported the joke to the school’s administration. The professor promptly received a letter suspending him from teaching and banning him from campus. He was reinstated after the case went public.

And all this in the land of the 1st amendment.

The list goes on and on. The University of Wisconsin-Stout at one point had an Information Technology policy prohibiting the distribution of messages that included offensive comments about a list of attributes including hair color.

Get suspended for making a ginga joke!

One student alleged that when the professor changed her capitalization of the word “indigenous” to lowercase he was disrespecting her ideological point of view.

And he was accused of racial microaggression and suspended.

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Seymour Hersh’s claims

May 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

So far Seymour Hersh’s extraordinary claims regarding the operation that killed Osama bin Laden have been met with either denial, withering scorn or, on the part of most of the broader media, uneasy quiet.

In a 10,000-word piece published on Sunday in the London Review of Books, the famous investigative journalist claims that Osama bin Laden was not tracked down in Pakistan by CIA work, but was located in Pakistani military custody due to a tip off.

Hersh writes that the Pakistani military had captured bin Laden as far back as 2006 and was using him as leverage over Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

He writes that after America became aware of this, the Pakistan military agreed to help stage the raid in order to keep the US on-side and protect itself from unrest that might be caused if it handed over bin Laden, who remained a popular figure.

Hersh has done some good journalism in the past, but this does not look like one of them.

Despite that Peter Bergen, a CNN security analyst and author of a book on the manhunt of bin Laden, has already written scathingly that the piece is, “a farrago of nonsense that is contravened by a multitude of eyewitness accounts, inconvenient facts and simple common sense”.

And his recent history is not good.

In a (slightly) more gentle takedown Vox’s Max Fisher notes that more recent stories by Hersh, also alleging conspiracies, have either not been independently confirmed or have been debunked. “A close reading of Hersh’s bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate,” he writes.

Even back in 2004, one commentator calculator that Hersh claimed to have anonymous sources within 30 foreign governments and almost every US agency in existence.

Some specific rebuttals from the CNN analysis:

Common sense would tell you that the idea that Saudi Arabia was paying for bin Laden’s expenses while he was living in Abbottabad is simply risible. Bin Laden’s principal goal was the overthrow of the Saudi royal family as a result of which his Saudi citizenship was revoked as far back as 1994.

Why would the Saudis pay for the upkeep of their most mortal enemy?

Indeed. This quote best sums him up now:

The story simply does not hold up to scrutiny — and, sadly, is in line with Hersh’s recent turn away from the investigative reporting that made him famous into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

The fact the author of the conspiracy theory was once a good reporter doesn’t make the theory credible. What makes it credible is proof.

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Social change in the US

May 10th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

socialchange

An interesting graphic from Bloomberg showing how fast social change has happened in the US on various issues.

Inter-racial marriage bans took 180 years to abolish, with around 35 states doing so until the Supreme Court ruled in 1967.

Prohibition took 75 years to get over-turned.

It took around 30 years from the first state to allow women the vote, to the 20th amendment.

It took only a few years for states to start allowing abortion, before Roe v Wade in 1973. arguably that is still so hotly contested as federal action occurred at a time when less than 20 states allowed it.

Same sex marriage has gone from 0 to 36 states in just a few years. And we will get a Supreme Court decision on it this year.

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Clinton’s cash problem

April 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

Correlation is not causation, but what you may still have here is foreign governments thinking this is a way you could thank the Clintons for favourable US decisions.

The book will be very interesting. I don’t think anything can stop her winning the nomination, but this could hurt her in the general election. Americans seem to accept their politicians being on the take for US companies, but may be less tolerant if they think you are on the take for foreign governments,

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Why not Harry Potter?

April 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Times Free Press reports:

Following the second straight day of often-fiery debate, the state House voted 55-38 today to make the “Holy Bible” the official book of Tennessee.

It’s a best seller, but it has a disjointed plot, and isn’t really set in Tennessee.

I think a better choice would have been Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

 

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