Wednesday, October 26, 2016

American Roulette: The Choice

I will vote for Donald Trump, not because I think he is a great–or even good–presidential candidate
confesses John Hinderaker on the Powerline blog,
but because it is blindingly obvious that he is better than Hillary Clinton. He could turn out to be a terrible president, but his down side is better than what we know about Hillary. The great Michael Ramirez expresses the contrast this way …

Character is important in a president. The liberal press has devoted the last month to telling us that Donald Trump is a jerk. He may well be, but he can’t begin to rival Hillary Clinton’s low character.
Deroy Murdock at National Review reminds us what an appalling person Hillary is. I am going to take the liberty of reproducing almost his entire column, because I think it is important. But please do follow the link, where you will find many more links to original sources that I have omitted here:
Hillary Clinton’s “treatment of DS [Department of State] agents on her protective detail was so contemptuous that many of them sought reassignment or employment elsewhere,” according to a just-released summary of an FBI interview with a former State Department official. “Prior to CLINTON’s tenure, being an agent on the Secretary of State’s protective detail was seen as an honor and privilege reserved for senior agents. However, by the end of CLINTON’s tenure, it was staffed largely with new agents because it was difficult to find senior agents willing to work for her.” 
Clinton’s State Department agents are hardly the first to complain about her bullying.

“She derives pleasure from lording over other people who cannot do anything about it and who are less powerful than she is,” author Ronald Kessler told Newsmax TV’s J. D. Hayworth. In fact, Clinton’s well-documented history of profane, unhinged outbursts against those who work for her spans decades. While Clinton’s vulgarity is presented here in relatively family-friendly form, fill in the blanks and imagine the pain that this woman inflicted when she uttered these words. …/…

• “Stay the f*** back, stay the f*** away from me!” the then-–First Lady screamed at her Secret Service agents. “Don’t come within ten yards of me, or else! Just f***ing do as I say, okay!!?” Clinton demanded, according to former FBI agent Gary Aldrich’s Unlimited Access, page 139. 
• “If you want to remain on this detail, get your f***ing ass over here and grab those bags!” Hillary yelled at a Secret Service agent, as Joyce Milton reported in The First Partner, page 259. The officer explained in vain that he preferred to keep his hands free, in case a threat arose. 
•  “Good morning, ma’am,” a uniformed Secret Service officer once greeted Hillary Clinton. “F*** off!” she replied, as Ronald Kessler documented in First Family Detail, page 16. …/…
• “Good morning,” an Arkansas state trooper said to Clinton, according to American Evita, by Christopher Andersen, a former contributing editor with Time magazine.

“F*** off!” Hillary told him and his fellow bodyguards. “It’s enough I have to see you s***-kickers every day! I’m not going to talk to you, too! Just do your goddam job and keep your mouth shut.” 
If this is how Hillary Clinton handles those who have stood ready to take bullets for her, how would she treat 325 million everyday Americans?
Liberals tell us that with so many accusers, Donald Trump must be guilty of something. I am not at all sure that is true, given the sudden timing of these accounts and the billions of dollars being devoted to destroying Trump’s candidacy. But it seems far more likely that the many witnesses who have attested to Hillary Clinton’s horrible character over the years are telling the truth. The picture that emerges of Hillary is consistent and disgusting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Devotees of Science Versus Followers of Religion — Are Only the Latter to Be Taken to Task for Their Alleged Superstitions?

Throughout the modern Western world, it is taken as a given that the religious members of a society are naïve ignoramuses who are immune to rationality, to science, to the facts of life, believing as they do in ancient superstitions.

They are to be contrasted with the rational beings from the secular part of the society, like scientists, as well as that part of the population who believe in, and who revere, science and said scientists, and who altogether, as one, laugh their heads off at the hopeless credulity of the religious folks.

But ain't it true that once you start going into the details of the scientific scoops — in an entirely rational, an entirely factual, and an entirely scientific manner, I might add — a somewhat different picture starts to emerge?

When we start to follow the news somewhat critically, aren't we surprised to learn how one scientific "fact", or "truth", after another turns out to be wrong or spurious?

And furthermore, isn't there a darker, a much darker, side to the affair, one that the rational science thinkers cannot seem to fathom?

Warning: this post, in seven parts, is the length of a book chapter.

1) So How Reliable Is Science Anyway?

Jump a few decades, a few years, even a few months forward, and lots of what we "know", or knew,  turns out to — surprise! — be wrong. Consider a couple of factoids:

• In 2014 we learned from the BBC that Stonehenge might be 4,000 years old, not just 2,000 to 3,000 years old. Today it is described as 5,000 years old.

• In the Spring of 2015, Discover Magazine launched the theory that Black Holes may not exist.

• I was astonished not too long ago to learn that a mainstay dinosaur of my childhood, the brontosaurus, turns out (in a sense) to never have existed.

Austin Bay points to an Atlantic article by Ed Yong on where lichen biology, apparently settled for 150 years, was overturned (and overturned by a guy from a Montana trailer park, to boot).

• The medical benefits of dental floss turn out to be entirely unproven, reports the Washington Post.

Indeed, the first four factoids above have no real relevance (no, not even the dinosaurs) on our daily lives. But as to the last one: when faulty (for want of a better word) scientific truths intrude into our lifestyle and our day-to-day choices, don't the results tend to become more problematic?

Over the space of a year or two, some of the most mundane "scientific" facts that we all "know" to be true have turned out to be exaggerated or outright false — from the rule against refreezing to the government's recommendations on avoiding whole milk and refraining from skipping breakfast; from the evils of salt to the evils of air-conditioning; from the supposed benefits of eight cups of water a day to those of eight hours of sleep a night.

Indeed, the whole breakfast-is-required deal turns out to have been the 1920s brainchild of "Edward Bernays, a public relations guru [who] led a nationwide media campaign encouraging people to start their mornings with bacon and eggs." The New York Times' Anahad O'Connor points out that "One of Mr. Bernays’s clients at the time [happened to be the] Beech-Nut Packing Company, which [happened to sell] bacon and other pork products."

"Thirty years of official health advice urging people to adopt low-fat diets and to lower their cholesterol is having “disastrous health consequences,” writes Henry Bodkin on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, quoting a leading obesity charity.
The report says the low-fat and low-cholesterol message, which has been official policy in the UK since 1983, was based on “flawed science” and had resulted in an increased consumption of junk food and carbohydrates.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, consultant cardiologist and member of the Public Health Collaboration, a group of medics, said dietary guidelines promoting low-fat foods “is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history, resulting in devastating consequences for public health”.

Calorie counting is also a damaging red herring when it comes to controlling obesity, said the NOF report, as calories from different foods have “entirely different metabolic effects on the human body, rendering that definition useless”.

 … Responding to the NOF document, Professor Iain Broom, from Robert Gordon University, said: “The continuation of a food policy recommending high carbohydrate, low fat, low calorie intakes as healthy eating is fatally flawed.

“Our populations for almost 40 years have been subjected to an uncontrolled global experiment that has gone drastically wrong.”
Back in the U.S., the National Institute of Health’s We Can! program has collapsed and now we are told that "Everything you think you know about healthy food could be wrong" — leading the Wall Street Journal's David McCarron to ponder whether,
After decades of failure, maybe the government should get out of the business of giving dietary advice.
"We’ve seen this before, with trans-fats, eggs, and salt, and good ol’ fat" comments Mary Katharine Ham at Hot Air.
The problem with federal recommendations is they are given disproportionate weight by media and citizens. They dictate food choices and subsidies in all kinds of federal programs, funded by us. They are repeatedly shown to be based on a lot of speculation and extrapolation and very little reliable data.
Indeed, if there has been a problem it has been from the very outset, as we can read in A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression; hasn't it been the scientists' and the government's intrusion into the private life of the citizen (all for his good, natch)?

Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe's book is reviewed on Acculturated by Amy Anderson:
A Square Meal tells the tale of what happened to the traditional and regional American table through world war, the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and the massive southern drought that created the Dust Bowl. The ways in which we responded to these twentieth century crises shape our food culture to this day. The single biggest consequence can be summed up in a phrase: the rise of the experts. As Ziegelman and Coe observe, government bureaucrats “took it upon themselves to interrupt a typically organic process and, in one colossal push, replace traditional foodways with a scientifically designed eating program.”

The government’s expanded role in overseeing eating habits began during World War I, when it sought to get Americans to scale back their food consumption in order to send extra food to the troops fighting overseas. To achieve this end, the Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, deployed squadrons of newly created “home economists,” armed with the latest dietary “science.”

 … Look closely at the government’s food advice to Americans over the years, and you’ll see a lot of contradictions. As the Manhattan Institute’s Steve Malanga argues,
More and more, the history of dietary guidelines that our public-health authorities promulgate resembles the Woody Allen comedy Sleeper in which the main character, awakening from a centuries long slumber, learns that every food we once thought bad for us, is actually good, starting with steak and chocolate.

In the New York Times, we learn that a 2015 Lancet study finds that contrary to common belief, "the widely held view that happiness enhances health and longevity is unfounded" ("And a million pop-psych theories bite the dust" notes Glenn Reynolds wryly); au contraire, writes Denise Grady, "earlier research confused cause and effect, suggesting that unhappiness made people ill when it is actually the other way around."

Indeed, Michael Roston and Benedict Carey report on Three Popular Psychology Studies That Didn't Hold Up, while the latter New York Times journalist authors a piece entitled Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed. This leads professional skeptic Glenn Reynolds to ask:

Regarding the many new scientific fields of the 19th century, the Weekly Standard's Andrew Fergyson points to an August 2015 report in the magazine Science that shows that two thirds of behavioral sciences experiments did not, could not, replicate the findings of original research teams, meaning that "two out of three experiments in behavioral psychology have a fair chance of being worthless."

Ferguson mentions a Stanford John Ioannidis paper, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," along with a Gina Perry book, Beyond the Shock Machine, and another by Stephen T. Ziliak and Deirdre N. McCloskey, The Cult of Statistical Significance, before going on to demonstrate the debunkery of such studies as the one showing that 75% of Americans are racist and the Stanley Milgram experiment in which subjects were told to increase electric shocks on a stranger next door (no, contrary to what we've been told, it turns out that most people did not increase the strength of the shock to inflict severe pain).

All these scientists, of course, as well as the part of the population who believe in, and who revere, said scientists, are the ones laughing their heads off at the hopeless credulity of religious people.

Richard Smith, who edited the British Medical Journal for more than a decade, told The Independent there was no evidence that peer review was a good method of detecting errors and claimed that “most of what is published in journals is just plain wrong or nonsense”.
 … The editor of the second of the country’s two leading medical journals, Dr Richard Horton of The Lancet, wrote in an editorial earlier this month that “much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue”, blaming, among other things, studies with small sample sizes, researchers’ conflicts of interest and “an obsession” among scientists for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance”.

The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming,” he wrote. “In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt their data to fit their preferred theory of the world.”
Is it any wonder that two MDs, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll and Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman's have felt the necessity to write books such as Don't Swallow Your Gum! (Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health), Don't Cross Your Eyes...They'll Get Stuck That Way! (And 75 Other Health Myths Debunked) — although they are not alone, of course. Also worth a read is Ken Jennings's Because I Said So! (The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids).

Is it any wonder that, among the running tongue-in-cheek memes over at Instapundit, one of the most popular is The Science Is Settled?

2) But Beyond a Few Miscues in the Scientific Field, the Rational Unbelievers Only Have Reasonable Beliefs, Right?

But, besides putting the utmost trust in science — which as we have seen (above) has failed them (and us all) on more than occasion — certainly the anti-religious part of the population are otherwise reasonable? Isn't it time to ask what sort of rational beliefs are the reasonable unreligious people otherwise known to follow?

Listen to the testimony of a graduate of (shudder) Oral Roberts University as, in Redneck Nation, Michael Graham explains how he was regularly "a magnet for people who want to talk about their spiritual beliefs and/or their loathing of Christianity":
After a set at a hotel in Washington State, I was dragged into a long, drawn-out discussion with a graying, balding New Ager who just couldn’t get over my evangelical background. “You seem so smart,” he kept saying. “How could you buy into that stuff?” Here’s a guy wearing a crystal around his neck to open up his chakra, who thinks that the spirit of a warrior from the lost city of Atlantis is channeled through the body of a hairdresser from Palm Springs, and who stuffs magnets in his pants to enhance his aura, and he finds evangelicalism an insult to his intelligence. I ask you: Who’s the redneck?

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if this guy—who believed in reincarnation, ghostly hauntings, and the eternal souls of animals—actually believed in God. It’s not uncommon for Northerners, especially those who like to use the word “spirituality,” to believe in all manner of metaphysical events, while not believing in the Big Guy. “Religious” people go to church and read the Bible, and Northerners view them as intolerant, ill-educated saps. “Spiritual” people go hiking, read Shirley MacLaine or L. Ron Hubbard, and are considered rational, intelligent beings.

Ace of Spades reminds us that “Bill Clinton Believes in UFOs and the JFK Conspiracy, [While] Hillary Talks to Ghosts.”
But these weird New Age nonsense beliefs — dopey pseudoreligions taking the place of actual religions — will be ignored, while the media continues to jeer at people for reading the Bible.

 … Meanwhile, Kimberly Kaye reminds people that Hillary Clinton, noted UFOlogist, has also taken part in seances in which she spoke to the ghosts of Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi.
The ghosts of Eleanor Roosevelt! And Gandhi! At the White House!

But this is hardly considered part of Hillary's baggage, the way Nancy Reagan was — roundly — mocked for turning to an astrologer during her years in the White House.
So yes let's talk up Donald Trump's goofy belief in the Birth Certificate Conspiracy while never talking about Bill and Hillary's shared belief that the government is covering up the existence of alien visitors to earth (despite their having been co-presidents in charge of the government for eight years) and Hillary's fifth-dimensional astral projections to the outer planes.

It's not just science, by the way. It is also everyday "knowledge" and the abundance of "spiritual" memes on the internet. I was once looking at a friend's Facebook wall and pondering over a piece of wisdom until I read another meme exactly below it that pretty much contradicted the one above, perhaps not exactly by 180º, but pretty close thereto.

A few factoids:

• In college, once, when I had hunger pangs because I hadn't had time to eat between classes, a friend told me that the solution was to eat an apple, because that would kill my hunger.  Less than half an hour later, when another friend was told how I was doing, he warned me "Whatever you do, don't eat an apple; that'll only make you hungrier."

• Before boiling water in the kitchen, I had always used to fill the pot with the warmest water possible; until one day, that is, when I was told by a friend that water boils faster with cold (or was it room-temperature?) water.  From one day to the other, I switched, although the truth is, of course, I have no idea to what extent the woman in question was right or ought to be considered an expert in the matter.

Hugh Prather remembers being in a dentist's office and overhearing a long argument between the dentist and the dental assistant over whether it is better to use dental floss after brushing one's teeth or before. (Personally, I always brush last, just to leave the taste of the tooth paste in my mouth — in case anyone is interested). Needless to say, this was 20 years ago, two decades before, as noted above, the medical benefits of dental floss turned out to be entirely unproven.

In the Wall Street Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley adds that for the
intellectual elites of the West, who have been declaring the demise of religion for centuries and have been advancing a secularization thesis for decades … religious belief is a susceptibility of the illiterate and ignorant. With education, in their view, people see the foolishness of their ways and abandon their beliefs. Education is spreading ever further, thanks to affluence and technology: Hence the slow decline of faith.

 … For the champions of the secularization thesis … Empty churches are a sign of reason’s progress. [Rodney Stark, the co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and author of The Triumph of Faith] offers some amusing evidence to the contrary.
Drawing on the Gallup poll, he notes that Europeans hold all sorts of supernatural beliefs. In Austria, 28% of respondents say they believe in fortune tellers; 32% believe in astrology; and 33% believe in lucky charms. “More than 20 percent of Swedes believe in reincarnation,” Mr. Stark writes; “half believe in mental telepathy.” More than half of Icelanders believe in huldufolk, hidden people like elves and trolls. It seems as if the former colonial outposts for European missionaries are now becoming more religious, while Europe itself is becoming interested in primitive folk beliefs. 
True, conservatives are religious, concedes Jonah Goldberg, no one is denying that, but haven't the (homeopathy-, acupuncture-, aromatherapy-following) leftists forgotten a couple of minor details?
Democrats are more likely to believe in paranormal activity. They’re also more likely to believe in reincarnation and astrology. I have personally known liberals who think crystals have healing powers who nonetheless believe that the internal combustion engine doesn’t actually rely on magical horse power.

 … When I hear people talk about science as if it’s something to “believe in,” particularly people who reject all sorts of science-y things (vaccines, nuclear power, etc. as discussed above), I immediately think of one of my favorite lines from Eric Voegelin:
“When God is invisible behind the world, the contents of the world will become new gods; when the symbols of transcendent religiosity are banned, new symbols develop from the inner-worldly language of science to take their place.”
This will be true, he added, even when “the new apocalyptics insist that the symbols they create are scientific.”

In other words, the “Don’t you believe in evolution!?!” people don’t really believe in science qua science, what they’re really after is dethroning God in favor of their own gods of the material world (though I suspect many don’t even realize why they’re so obsessed with this one facet of the disco ball called “science”). “Criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticisms,” quoth Karl Marx, who then proceeded to create his own secular religion.
3) Isn't One of the Left's Fundamental "Rational" Beliefs About the Events of 9-11 Closely Related to Superstition?

Lest you think that belief in horoscopes, hauntings, and huldufolk is (more or less) innocent — although, why more so than belief in Noah's Ark and the son of God? — it is perhaps not as innocent as it seems.

How many times do we hear on the news that nature has taken its revenge?  How many perfectly respected politicians speak of Mother Nature and of saving the planet? We will return to Gaia, but isn't it true that one of the most pervasive superstitious beliefs of the rational leftists concerns the attacks on September 11?

How many times did we hear after 9-11 that this was America's comeuppance, its punishment, notably for what happened in Santiago on September 11, 1973.

Well, let the question be asked, then, who, or what, is/was behind the revenge?!

Was it Ben Laden?  Is there any reason to think the leader of Al Qaeda thought any better of the Chilean unbelievers than of the American unbelievers (whether the Chileans were/are Allende followers or whether they were/are Pinochet supporters or whether they were/are apolotical) and didn't treat them all as the infidel dogs the whole bunch of 'em were/are?

Besides, September 11 holds no meaning for Muslims as not only do they not live under the West's calendar year, they don't even live according to the same type of calendar, the solar year.  They live according to the shorter lunar year — meaning (besides the fact that over the course of several years [both lunar and solar, take your pick], a given month will end up falling during a totally different season), the chances for the equivalent of September 11 for 2001 (1422 for the Muslims) falling on the same day for 1973 (1393 for the Muslims) are extremely low (not 1 in 365 but 1 in 354) and indeed turn out to be, as expected, unfounded.

Who, then, or what, is this entity that wished to punish America for 9-11?

I ask this of people, remember, who scoff at the existence of (a) God and of the Devil.

Is it Mother Nature? Gaia?

Alright, if Gaia and/or Mother Nature is/are so wise: answer me this: Why use Muslims in the four planes?  Why Muslim fundamentalists? Why not Chileans? Or at least Hispanics?

Why wait 28 years?  Why not bring vengeance two years later?  Or 28 minutes later? Or 28 days later?  Or 28 weeks later?  Or 28 months later?  Or 280 years later?

Why punish people in the World Trade Center, the vast majority of who probably knew little to nothing about South American history (recent or old)? 

How about this, Gaia?  Why not punish… (wait for it) General Pinochet?! That same year?  Or, if you insist on punishing Americans, why not punish… Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger?  Or, if you insist on a plane crashing in the Pentagon, why wait for 2001 instead of… 1973 or 1974?
More here on the America-Bashers' Use of Symbolism on 9-11

Maybe the last word should go to Walter Russell Meade, who, regarding a New York Times article on Ghost Hunting in Norway, points out, in When God Goes Away, Superstition Takes His Place, that people "who think themselves too rational for religious belief end up believing in 'astral forces', ghosts and other phenomena."

But "these superstitions" can lead to much more harm, he adds:
communist atheists … scoffed at the credulity of religious believers even as they worshipped the infallible insights of Stalin
murdering tens of millions of people in the process.
Similarly, the Nazis presented their faith as an alternative to the 'outgrown superstitions' of historic Christianty.
4) Do the Rational Employees of the Government Only Have Good Intentions, Determined as They Are to Save Us From Superstitious Backwardness?

As you can see, the more we dig, the more unpleasantness we find. The government's and the politicians' part in the fight for "rational belief" against religion. As we forget that one function of religion — yes, it too — is to serve as a part of the checks and balances against total power.

Think about Bible stories such as the Burning Bush, and the parting of the Red Sea, and a stairway to Heaven, and Adam and Eve, and even the world created in 7 days, or at least in less than 2,000 years, as well as the Gospel stories relating to Jesus the Son of God. However much a Jew and/or a Christian believes, literally or otherwise, in at least some of those stories, the least you can say is that it hardly has an influence — certainly not a direct influence — on today's public life and the policies that are debated in the capitals.

Here is where the politics of science gets even more problematic: Without necessarily going to the extremes of the communist and the Nazi régimes, or referring to slippery slopes, here we start seeing how it leads the government's intrusion into the lives of the citizens (religious and non-religious alike).

For when religion and the family are weakened, doesn't the welfare state (known by a religious expression in French, l'État-providence) aka Big Brother (it is not a family expression by accident), take over their functions?

Kevin Williamson:
The claim is a straightforward one: That under the so-called Affordable Care Act, the federal government will recognize and subsidize a great deal of hokum, things like naturopathic medicine and acupuncture that have no scientific basis, that have been clinically shown to be useless or worse, and that are rooted in rank mysticism, from the “qi” energy that acupuncturists claim to manipulate—and which does not, technically speaking, exist—to the “innate intelligence” underpinning chiropractic theory—which does not, in fact, exist, either. As endless peer-reviewed scientific studies document, this stuff is pure quackery, but it is, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the focused exertions of former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin—one of those Democrats who really love science we’re always hearing about—it is hokum with increasing official status.

 … This is one of those “context” things that people who do not wish to admit the truth like to talk about. The point is that you could be sure that if similar concessions were made to pseudoscientific hokum less popular among Democrats—intelligent design, for example, or various kinds of gay-conversion therapies—the response would be loud, long, and heavy on the theme of Republicans’ hating and distrusting science. When a nobody Republican state legislator in Idaho says something stupid about female anatomy, it’s national news and an indicator of the Republicans’ corporate disregard for science. Democrats actually write recognition of and subsidies for unscientific mysticism into a law—the most important law they have passed this century—and the news media have approximately squat to say about it.

But it gets worse.

5) Is It Possible To Be More Unscientific Than in Promoting the Left's "Human Rights" Cause du Jour?

Isn't what is possibly the most ludicrous development of the last couple of years — straight out of a Monty Python sketch — the idea that men who believe they are women must be treated as women?

How more anti-science, how more anti-factual, how more anti-rational can anyone get than to say that a man wearing woman's clothing has effectively become a woman? If anyone is to be accused of distrusting science or of hating science, who can be more fit for this position than the person who says a man wearing woman's clothing ought to be recognized as a woman? And that, all the while pretending that this shows your enlightenment, your wisdom, and your avant-garde broadmindedness!

The topic starts losing its humor when it turns out that various levels of government are involved in promoting this, wanting to force you to so say and, effectively, so think. Otherwise you will run the risk of being subject to various degrees of punishment, from fines up to six figures (up to a quarter of a million dollars in the Big Apple) to the ruination of a career due to being publicized as a "hater".

At Vanderbilt University, staff name tags include "preferred gender pronouns" (Pronouns have become a contentious issue lately as people with niche gender identities have invented new pronouns to refer to themselves, like ze, xyr, and vis) and the campus has been festooned with Ze, Zir, Zirs pronoun posters, while West Virginia University warns that calling someone the "wrong" pronoun is a Title IX violation.

Outside the university system, this anti-scientific (what other adjective would you call it?) fashion du jour gets just as bad or worse. Remaining in the field of education (education!?), the Obama administration issued a decree in May mandating that every US public-school district allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identities.

Like Josh Blackman, the New York Post's Joe Tacopino, the Washington Times's Bradford Richardson, and the Daily Mail's Regina Graham, the Washington Post's Eugene Volokh has reported on New York City's plan to fine businesses and employers if they "violate a person's human rights" by not using their preferred "gender pronoun." (Christian bakers and conservative photographers know quite a lot about this.)
This is the government as sovereign, threatening “civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct” [sic] if people don’t speak the way the government tells them to speak.
(Just wait until the government, having brought a lawsuit or facing one itself, decides (unless it is the Supreme Court) that every public restroom in the country has to be rebuilt to conform to new guidelines.)

Do not dismiss the pronominal wars as nonsense or assume that its warriors are merely daft
counsels Anthony Esolen, as the Professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island goes on to explain that
If I cannot say, “There is a man walking down the street,” then it is hard to see how I can make any reliable judgment about anything at all that bears on human existence. If I cannot say, “Joey is going to grow up to be a fine man someday,” then what in life is left to talk about? Everything else is less certain than sex. We may disagree about whether President Eisenhower was a good leader of men, a loyal husband and father, or a pious Christian; but if we cannot agree that President Eisenhower was a man, then speech itself is but sound and fury, signifying nothing. Or, rather, speech collapses into action, and reason lies prone before appetite. Speech delivers the bribes and threats of people who want what they want and do not care overmuch how they get it.

Microaggressions Warrant Microattention

And here I return to what the … madman is doing. Or madwoman: it is more commonly she who is demanding that people undergo pronominal lobotomies. She says that she wants all people to feel “safe” and comfortable, regardless of their sexual identity. That is not true. What she wants is that ordinary people should feel uncomfortable. She wants to rob them of their ordinary perceptions. She sows the field of conversation with mines, glad if ordinary people learn to tiptoe around them, but much gladder still when they fail and blow themselves up, because that provides her with the opportunity for more “education,” which means a more aggressive campaign against our common grasp of objective reality and our ability to communicate with ease what we see.

 … that prompts the question: why should anybody want to do this to other people? Cui bono?
What Ordinary People Get Right

The first answer is that the confusion redounds to the benefit of the self-confused, who get to compel other people to play along with their idiosyncratic dreams of unreality. Elwood P. Dowd not only has his invisible friend, the six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey, but will take you to court unless you shake Harvey’s hand and register Harvey in at the hotel. Harvey must be your friend too, or else. Christian bakers who have retained their hold on reality can tell us what will happen to you if you say, “But there is no Harvey here, nor will I pretend that there is.”

The second answer is that ideological rent-seekers benefit. I am thinking especially of certain college professors, directors of the hideously named “human resources,” compliance lawyers, federal bureaucrats, and captains of monoform diversity. They sow the mines and then sell you a map to the field. They poison one well, station a surveillance team around the others, and force you to drink from theirs—levying severe fines on you if you try to dip your pitcher into healthy water. They seek confusion and confrontation, because those bring them money and power.

But the third answer, I think, brings us nearest to the heart of the issue. …
Read the whole thing.
6) There Are Certainly Hordes of People Who Use Neither Common Sense Nor the Scientific Method, But Is It Really Whom the Rationalists™ Think It Is?

The geniuses who insist on leading us and on informing us about the world try arduously to figure out "the motivations" of terrorists who unleash rains of bullets and bombs shouting Allah Akbar.

Not to forget the planet, which is routinely considered a living organism with a (human) disease, a home which we must save. (This also applies to fiction, incidentally; Tatooine and Jakku "identify" as desert planets, Hoth identifies as an ice planet, etc…)

Regarding CBS's hyping Earth's "chronic fever" in an extreme weather segment, Newsbusters' Alatheia Nielsen notes that “Even when NASA states a weather pattern has not been caused by climate change, the media still can’t help bringing it up” — leading Ed Driscoll to laconically remark:
I can remember when CBS said it merely had a cold.
Incalculable leftists mock conservatives for not believing in global warming nightmares such as the rise of the oceans, and editorial cartoons routinely show conservatives (regularly compared to Holocaust deniers) denying the obvious, say, pontificating against or laughing at climate change from the roof of a government building while the water rises around them.

As I wrote in a couple of posts earlier this year, the disastrous claims about rising sea levels just happen to run into one unfortunate fact:
think of New York City, of Miami, of Galveston, of San Francisco, of Tokyo, of Sydney, of Goa, of Alexandria, of Saint Tropez, of Copenhagen.

Correct me if I am wrong, but in the past 5 years, in the past 50 years, even offhand in the past 500 years (?), has the sea level in any of those places risen by even one inch, by even one centimeter?
So don't you think that if the humorists had any kind of level thinking (instead of double standards), they might, y'know, just once in a while poke fun at the politicians and scientists (and the cartoonists?) who continue their shouts and screams about the sky that's fallin'?
Who is really being unscientific in this world? The conservative skeptics and the religious folk, or the intelligent, rational, compassionate, avant-garde activists?

7) What Exactly Is It That Drives the Rational Science Devotees on This Planet?

How about the conviction that every Republican candidate is (akin to) the Devil? How scientific, how rational — how innocent — is that?

Or, conversely, the conviction that every Democratic candidate is a sainted figure, come to save, come to lead, the people?

Or that all immigrants, legal or otherwise, are innocent souls, worthy of protection and outright embracement?

As Daniel Payne notes in the National Review,
It’s one of the most ironclad rules of American politics: the next Republican is always the Worst Republican Ever.
This tells us something rather poignant about liberal political philosophy — namely, that it exists less as a coherent and workable set of political and public-policy beliefs and more as a fanatical, oppositional vehicle for hysterics who shriek and faint whenever a new Republican walks onto the scene.
Not for nothing have I written that we live in the age of the drama queen.  
The problem is not science, of course.  Isn't the problem the liberals?  Isn't the problem the way leftists laugh their heads off at religious people's superstitious attachment to backwards beliefs while every time one of their scientific facts is — far from infrequently — proven incorrect, it turns out to be nothing more than a, ho-hum, boring fact. Worthy of no coverage, unless it is back on page 24 of the New York Times or a brief mention in the last sequence of a news show.

So why do we continue treating science with such reverence?  Why don't we — or certainly, the holier-than-thou leftists — treat scientific data with some of the same ridicule as they do religion?

To answer that, we must ask, What is it exactly that drives them?

Is it logic?

Is it reason?

Is it the love of science?

Is it the pursuit of knowledge?

Isn't it something else?

Isn't it the excitement involved?

The melodrama?

Isn'tit the reason we love young, go-forward, change candidates, like JFK and Barack Obama and Che Guevara, elevating these knight in shining armor to iconic status?

It is the excitement, the melodrama, the dramatics of the thing.

The belief that we are part of the select few, a movement, a struggle, the legions of avant-garde, forward-looking paragons looking for a better world.

Isn't it this enjoyable addiction to excitement, to melodrama — not reason — which explains why the denigration of religious folk will never cease — just as the never-ceasing self-congratulations of the ever-so-wise and the rational will continue, just as ardently as ever…

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Night: Democratic/Republican Debate at the HEC School of Management

A message (written a week ago) from the Facebook page of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris's HEC debate team (their teaser video is priceless):
It’s less than three weeks before Election Day, if you still have not made up your mind on which presidential candidate would best address US burning issues after yesterday’s final clash between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, if you wonder how it is possible to support Trump or still think his hair is a toopee, join us for the ultimate debate between Democrats and Republicans on Monday, October 25th at HEC Paris.

Representatives of both parties will discuss the US economic, politic, social and foreign policy biggest challenges while stressing why each candidate would be better at tackling these thorny issues. And for this special occasion, HEC Débats is delighted to welcome Jonathon Holler – Co-Chair of Democrats Abroad France - and Erik Svane – member of Republicans Abroad France - for what promises to be another in-depth and heated debate.

We expect you in Amphi Bellon (building S) on Monday, October 24th at 8pm, be there !

Teaser :

If you are not studying at HEC Paris, you need to register here :

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Adolf: "Now the Far Right Even Has Better Faggots Than We Do!"

Dalrock brings us one of the funniest and most intelligent Hitler parody videos ever made…

Hitler Learns Wikileaks Released Democrat Campaign Emails

When I saw that Ecuador cut off Assange’s Internet access I decided to try my hand at satirically scripting this famous scene.  Language warning.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

À Marseille, « Nous sommes face à un Everest de folie meurtrière »

« Nous sommes face à un Everest de folie meurtrière », a résumé le procureur de la République, Brice Robin, lundi 4 avril, au lendemain de deux règlements de comptes qui ont coûté la vie à quatre hommes à Marseille en quarante-huit heures.
Ainsi commence l'article de Luc Leroux dans Le Monde, alors que Français et autres Européens ainsi que démocrates US s'accordent sur le fait que l'Amérique des armes et de la violence devrait prendre l'Europe paisible et lucide en exemple. 
Marseille connaît un regain de violence, avec onze tués depuis le début de l’année lors de règlements de comptes, sur fond de guerre des clans pour contrôler le trafic de drogue dans les quartiers nord. Samedi 2 avril, vers 22 heures, trois hommes ont tiré à l’arme automatique à l’extérieur puis à l’intérieur de l’épicerie située au centre de la cité Bassens (15e arrondissement), l’une des plus déshéritées de la ville et longtemps l’un des plus juteux points de vente de drogue marseillais – au détail mais aussi en gros et demi-gros pour alimenter les autres cités.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Marching Orders of the MSM

Mainstream Media Propaganda has given it marching
orders to the low information voters — by A.F. Branco

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lilliputian Foreign Aid Percentages Coupled with Gargantuan Military Budget Amounts: What, If Anything, Is Hiding Behind Two Allegedly Damning Statistics About Uncle Sam?

    Most of us are familiar the adage attributed to Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Fewer of us know Georges Fischer's saying: "Statistics are like bikinis; they show a lot, but they hide the essential" (Les statistiques, c'est comme les bikinis : ça montre beaucoup, mais ça cache l'essentiel).

    Let the following be a demonstrating why, or in what ways, such sayings are largely truthful.

    You have probably heard and read — not once but many times — that America’s aid to the developing countries of the Third World is nothing short of disgraceful, as it amounts to nothing but a much smaller percentage of that of many other Western nations.  For example, in 2013, the official development assistance by country as a percentage of Gross National Income was at about 1% or above for Sweden, Norway, and Luxembourg, with the United States arriving a dismal 20th, at "only" 0.17%.

    But wait!  There is a second statistic, one that is just as, if not more, damaging:  you have also probably heard or read that the amount of money that America uses on its military is far larger than that that other nations use, and indeed, you have probably heard broadsides to the effect that America's defense budget is larger than that of the next 20-25 or so nations combined.

    Paired, this pair of statistics, this couple of “facts”, seems to give nothing but a damning image of Uncle Sam.

    Both of these “facts”, incidentally, are mentioned in the famous rant that is often called "The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History".  (In the opening scene of The Newsroom's Episode 1, Aaron Sorkin has his Will McAvoy character (Jeff Daniels) spit out: "we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies … We [used to wage] wars on poverty, not poor people").

    So we have here two “facts” that, by themselves, “prove”, or ought to prove, and that behind the shadow of a doubt, that America is egoistical, that Washington is power-hungry, that Uncle Sam is war-mongering, that Americans are blind, and that the rest of the world is in distress because of Uncle Sam's despicable policies.  (Or, that at the very least, its leader — except when he or she happens to be a Democrat, of course — and/or the leader's policies are racist, greedy, bellicose, and self-centered.)

    But may we be allowed to take a closer look at these facts and figures?

    What is the first thing that we notice?

    We notice that one “fact” is a percentage figure. And we notice that the other “fact” is an amount figure.

    More precisely, one puts America (and other countries) in a list according to a percentage of GNP.  While the other puts America (and other countries) in a list according to absolute dollar terms.

    Does this signify anything?  At all?

    As a matter of fact, yes.

    It signifies a great deal.

    Both ways of making comparisons are valid and, in an ideal world — in a world where the reader, the student, the citizen, is given all necessary data — all figures, all facts, and all relevant statistics would be supplied — would be set forward for him to make up his own mind.

    How about if we provided all necessary data on these two subjects?  Wouldn't that be something?

    (For instance, changing the dollar figure of military expenditures to the dollar figure of military expenditures per capita used to drop the U.S. to third place a few years ago (with $936 per person, in third position following Israel and Singapore, with respectively $1,429 and $1,010 per person) and today to fourth place.)

    In the meantime, how would you like to try a fun experiment?  We have two "facts" about America, right, based upon two different types of calculating statistics.

    How about this?

    How about if, in each category (foreign aid and military budgets), we tried reversing the way the positions of countries are calculated?

1) What Happens If We Calculate Uncle Sam's Foreign Aid According to the Process Used to Compute Uncle Sam's Military Budget?

    Shall we try the foreign aid list first?  Let us see what happens when we calculate foreign aid in absolute terms and what position the countries end up in then.

    Lo and behold!

    While America’s development assistance as a percentage its GNP is indeed smaller than that of other aid nations, the net amount that it donates in absolute terms turns out to be — by far — the largest!

    At $31 billion, it is close to double that of the next country in the list (the UK, at $18 billion) and until recently (Germany has inched up over the past couple of years), more than double than every other country on the list, including all the Scandinavian countries combined (indeed, with the smaller Northern European countries mentioned above dropping to four to five times less than the USA each). As it turns out, for those among you who love the "combined" comparisons, the U.S. gives as much as Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia combined.

    Obviously, it turns out that because the US is the superpower, in economics as well as everything else, the (far) lower percentage turns out to be an amount (far) superior to any amount offered by less rich countries.  (Now, think about this:  Does a farmer in central Africa, in southeast Asia, or elsewhere have a chance of profiting more from a donation of millions of dollars or from a donation of 1.40%?  The question doesn't make much sense, does it?)

    Now, you may well reply : Yes, you may agree …somewhat, but still, think about the following:  if Washington were to raise its percentage to the same level as, say, Japan and and the Europeans, wouldn't the amount of aid be that much larger?

    Alright, let us keep this in mind, we will get back to it (in the third part of this post), but first we must address the second “fact” discussed above.

    For the moment, notice that many people who reacted as mentioned above have not been willing to even entertain the thought that the Washington critics were even slightly wrong, not to say misleading.

    Indeed, those critics do not advertise the “amount” aspect of the aid matter, for one simple reason:  it does not go far in nourishing their (self-serving) message, which is that Americans, or their leaders, are inherently greedy, simple-minded, self-centered, short-sighted, etc.

    That is why we do not learn that, in real terms, the U.S. is
• top donor at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(its $157 million is three times as large as the next country (Holland)),
• top donor at UNICEF (along with the UK and Japan),
• top donor at the UN's fund in the fight against AIDS (half a billion dollars),
• and of course top donor at the United Nations itself.
Related: • Misleading Statistics — Would the EU Really
Dominate the Olympics in Medals Won If It Were "United"?

• The Misleading Statistics of Gun Control
• Mass shootings in the U.S. have fallen so much in the past century
that the political left has had to redefine what a mass shooting is
• Facts Which Europeans and American Leftists Conveniently Ignore

2) What Happens If We Calculate Uncle Sam's Military Budget According to the Process Used to Compute Uncle Sam's Foreign Aid?

    What do we notice with the military budget “fact” mentioned above?

    Lo and behold!

    Yes, this description of a problem with America turns out to be exactly the opposite of what was criticized in the foreign aid field.

    (Needless to say, one problem with statistics is that, as we have seen, there is more than one way of calculating sums, ratios, and other types of proportions)

    If we calculate military budgets as a percentage of GDP, we find that the figures change drastically.  We find that the USA falls to fourth place (3.5%) in one report, below Israel (5.2%) and Russia (4.5%).  First place?  That belongs to Saudi Arabia with almost three times as large a percentage (10.4%) as America. By capita, Riyadh also spends as much as three times the amount as the next country (as mentioned, not the United States) on the list.

    If we calculate military expenditures as a percent of GDP, the U.S. drops even further, falling to 9th place in one study and to 11th place in another, below eight or nine countries in or close to the Middle East (including Israel) as well as Russia.

    And if we try calculating the dollar figure per GDP, we find that the figures change drastically.  The U.S. drops down, not to second place, not to fourth place, not to 10th or 15th or 20th place, but almost all the way down to 30th place (it's actually position 29)!  This is according to the Global Militarization Index (GMI), which compares a nation's military expenditure with its gross domestic product (GDP) and which is roughly comparable to… the foreign aid statistic so widely bandied to scold America for.

    In some earlier studies, America has appeared at or near the 50th mark (#47, to be exact)!

    But hold on — what many of the above studies seem to fail to do is mention North Korea, although it has been reported variably as spending an astonishing quarter to a third of its GDP on its armed forces and should therefore belong in first place.  Indeed, let's go to the NationMaster website, where the 10-year-old figures for military expenditures as an estimated percent of gross domestic product already then put the US all the way down in position 27.  This makes more sense, with North Korea coming up front. (At almost 23%, it is double the percentage of the next entrant (not the United States but Oman).)

    And what nations follow it?

    The next nine countries are all in the Middle East. The first 30 nations are all in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia, from Yemen, Eritrea, and Mauritania to Chad, Angola, and Swaziland. Besides Israel, Bosnia, Greece, and the United States, along with Turkey, there is not a democracy and/or a European country among the first 50 or 60 nations.

    Does that leave those Western nations off the hook, however? Hardly, given the very fact that many of them are cosseted by Washington’s providing for their defense, which — who knows? — may go some way towards explaining why they can afford having both their amounts and their percentages be so low.

    As for the developing countries, an inordinate amount of money is spent by Third World leaders on the army, on security forces, and on police battalions, forces that amount to their leader's (to their leaders') personal bodyguard and forces which are then often turned loose… on the countries’ own population.

3) How Do We Tie Points 1 and 2 Together and Which Fundamental Factors Are Being Overlooked?

    Now we're getting to the gist of things.

    Because what you are saying now is:  Hold on for a second:  Back in section 1, you said that we would tie this second “fact” in with the first “fact” mentioned above.  How so?  Well, it so happens that this — any number of countries run by an autocrat using the country's military as his personal bodyguard — is the… type of country that… many of Washington’s critics would have America provide… a larger percentage (or a larger amount, whichever) of aid to!

    Of course, the critics will say, rubbish, they in no way want to provide aid to régimes that are oppressive and murdering their own people.

    I think it would be quite easy to come up with a number of examples disputing their claims.  (Leftists' support for and their aid to Saddam Hussein's Iraq — including peace-for-oil — comes to mind, for I don’t know which reason.)  But if it is true that a number of these countries are not having their personal bodyguard forces machine-gun their unarmed civilian populations (or otherwise disposing of internal enemies, imaginary or other), they are using quite an amount of moolah to buy luxury vehicles for their government ministers, and putting their friends in high places, and engaging in other types of corruption.

    Corruption, inefficiency (except in repression), wasted money:  this is a seemingly integral part of a number of the countries that would supposedly benefit from increased American (and Western) aid.

    Have you ever heard the old joke told inside the NGO community:  How can you predict when a famine is about to threaten an African nation?  Give up?  It's when the country's president needs a new Mercedes.

    Enter Kenyan economist James Shikwati.
If [Westerners] really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet.
    Thus spoke James Shikwati to Der Spiegel's Thilo Thielke in July 2005 as the Kenyan economics expert pleaded, For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid! (See also Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid (Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa).)

    Good intentions such as eliminating hunger and poverty
have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

 … Huge bureaucracies are financed [with the aid money], corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

 … Africa is always only portrayed as a continent of suffering, but most figures are vastly exaggerated. In the industrial nations, there's a sense that Africa would go under without development aid. But believe me, Africa existed before you Europeans came along. And we didn't do all that poorly either.

 … Millions of dollars earmarked for the fight against AIDS are still stashed away in Kenyan bank accounts and have not been spent. Our politicians were overwhelmed with money, and they try to siphon off as much as possible. The late tyrant of the Central African Republic, Jean Bedel Bokassa, cynically summed it up by saying: 'The French government pays for everything in our country. We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it.'

 … There must be a change in mentality. We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars. These days, Africans only perceive themselves as victims. On the other hand, no one can really picture an African as a businessman. In order to change the current situation, it would be helpful if the aid organizations were to pull out.
    Case in point.  Tanzania was supposed to be Sweden’s showcase in the aid “industry.”  A couple of decades ago, it was said that there was as much chance of seeing a blond head behind the wheel of a vehicle in Dar es Salaam as a black one.  Now, I have a question for you:  How often do you hear the government in Stockholm bragging about the wonderful advances it has made in Tanzania?  Not often, do you?  As a matter of fact — and I write this perhaps primarily for those who love to dish out statistics — the per capita income in that Western African country has decreased since Sweden’s millions of kronor started flowing in.

    So: must we do nothing, ask Washington’s critics?

    I will try to answer that in the a later post.  For now, just notice that the question doesn’t, as before, even start to cast doubt, be it a single iota thereof or otherwise, on the claims, implied or otherwise, that foreign aid is working, that aid in general is undoubtedly a proof of generosity, that Uncle Sam's military budget is a monstrosity, that Washington is greedy and evil, and that Americans are devious and mean.

    In fact, isn't the (pressing) question meant to change the subject as quickly as possible?  Change it back to the old we-are-still-the-most-compassionate-most-intelligent-most-humane-people-to-ever-tread-the-face-of-Earth mantra?

    To sum up: 

    What is the reason that all of us are not more familiar with the net amount figures in the matter of foreign aid?  Because it would be much harder for the critics to depict America capitalists as greedy, clueless, heartless clods.

    And what is the reason that we are not more familiar with the percentage figures on the question of military budgets?  Because it would be much harder for the critics to demonize Americans as bellicose imperialist warmongers.

    By the same token, it would be much harder for America's critics — U.S. leftists and Europeans foremost amongst them — to laud themselves as the most compassionate people in the world, as the most intelligent people in the world, as the most tolerant people in the world, and as the most humane beings in history ever to walk the face of the Earth.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fired not for tolerating voter fraud for years but for admitting that there’s a problem at all

Voter fraud deniers will have to grasp those straws a little tighter 
predicts Benny Huang,
after an undercover video released last week showed Alan Schulkin, Manhattan’s Commissioner of the Board of Elections, admitting in no uncertain terms that the problem exists. Schulkin, a Democrat, was not aware that he was speaking to an operative of the public integrity outfit Project Veritas. Unfortunately, Shulkin is just another public figure who says one thing in public and something entirely different in private.

“I think there’s a lot of voter fraud, people don’t realize certain neighborhoods in particular, they bus people around to vote,” said Schulkin to a Project Veritas journalist. When he was asked what kind of neighborhoods he was talking about, he replied: “Oh, I don’t want to say.” The journalist pressed a little harder, asking: “Oh, like minority neighborhoods? Like black neighborhoods and Hispanic neighborhoods?” Schulkin replied, “Yeah. And Chinese too.” Nor did he believe that the problem was confined to in-person voting. When he was asked about absentee ballot fraud, he replied “Oh there’s thousands of absentee ballots. I don’t know where they came from.”

The problem of voter fraud is real. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either trying to perpetuate it or extremely naïve. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who’s the least bit cognizant of the culture of corruption that pervades many American cities. All that is required for voter fraud to flourish is a corrupt political machine willing to scam the honor system that operates our vulnerable elections.

And yet vote fraudsters are protected by a code of silence nearly as sacred as the mafia’s omertà. Even Alan Schulkin won’t talk about it unless he thinks no one will hear. As an election official he’s overseen numerous elections and had the opportunity to witness the shenanigans firsthand, yet he won’t do anything about it. That tells me that he’s under extreme pressure to keep mum.

And alas, that pressure has predictably come to bear. Mayor De Blasio is now calling for Schulkin’s resignation—not for tolerating voter fraud for years (which really should cost him his job) but for admitting that there’s a problem at all. De Blasio, like most Democrat politicians, is less scandalized by the existence of voter fraud than that anyone would speak its name aloud. If you ask them, it’s not happening, and anyone who says that it is happening ought to pay an enormous social penalty up to and including his job. “Again, this is just urban legend that there is a [voter] fraud problem,” said De Blasio. “There isn’t. There’s no proof of it whatsoever.”

Is that so? The definition of “proof” can sometimes be elusive, but I would argue that when a major election official, speaking off the record and with nothing to gain, says that voters are being bused around from precinct to precinct, that’s at least a form of evidence, if not proof. At very least, it merits further investigation, which is exactly what De Blasio doesn’t want.

But in fact Mayor De Blasio is wrong; there has been a major voter fraud operation uncovered in New York City in my lifetime, which means that voter fraud is not some kind of “urban legend” similar to alligators in the sewers. In 1984, a grand jury delivered the results of its investigation, asserting that it had found evidence of systematic election fraud in large parts of Brooklyn taking place from 1968 until it was stopped in 1982. The fraudsters apparently used a smorgasbord of methods to tilt the elections their way—absentee ballot fraud, voting in the name of dead people or people who were known to have moved away, the impersonation of legitimate voters, and the wholesale invention of fictitious voters. Yes, they also bused people around. According to the book “Who’s Counting?” by Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund, “One of the witnesses before the New York grand jury described how he led a crew of eight individuals from polling place to polling place to vote. Each member of his crew voted in excess of 20 times, and there were approximately 20 other such crews operating during that election.” By doing a little back of the envelope arithmetic, I can estimate that these electoral wrecking crews probably cast about 3,600 fake ballots, give or take a few hundred.

The New York grand jury said it all when it concluded: ”The ease and boldness with which these fraudulent schemes were carried out shows the vulnerability of our entire electoral process to unscrupulous and fraudulent misrepresentation.” Yes, indeed.

I can already hear the objections: “But that was more than thirty years ago!”—the implication being that election fraud in the past doesn’t prove election fraud in the present. True, 1984 was a long time ago, though not nearly as long ago as 1964, and we still have federal election monitors in the South to ensure that racist white officials don’t disenfranchise blacks. It seems that people’s idea of what constitutes a “long time ago” varies in inverse proportion to how much they want root out the problem. The argument that the 1984 Brooklyn fraud case is old news misses the point, namely that fraudsters even then had both the capability and the intention to scam the system. All those who think voter fraud is an “urban legend” will have to explain how the problem magically solved itself while those same capabilities and intentions survived.

New York is no less corrupt today than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Here’s what really changed between then and now—in those days, there was an actual sense of outrage that elections were being stolen. Now anyone who talks about the problem runs the risk of being smeared as a racist. In 1984, public officials were able to see voter fraud because their eyes were open to it, to say nothing of their minds. Today the attitude is nothing less than willful ignorance. No prosecutor in his right mind would go to trial with that case because, as the adage goes, you can’t beat city hall. Even people who are charged with guarding the integrity of our elections, people like Alan Schulkin, have given up trying to stop it. It’s a third rail of politics—talk about voter fraud and you get zapped.

Alan Schulkin himself is now backtracking from his claims, though only because he’s tasted some of the mayor’s wrath and presumably that of the city’s “civil rights” establishment—in other words, the race hustlers. Schulkin now claims that he should have said “potential” voter fraud, but that’s clearly not what he meant when he spoke unwittingly to Project Veritas. When he said that “they bus people around to vote” in black, Hispanic, and Chinese neighborhoods, he wasn’t speaking hypothetically. If he were, that would actually be racist. If we assume that Schulkin was talking about potential voter fraud, not the real McCoy, a prudent person would be right to ask how he knows that it would happen in black, Hispanic, and Chinese neighborhoods. But the answer is moot because he’s lying when he backtracked on his comments. He got caught being honest and had to make up a lie to wiggle out from under the implications of his earlier statement. If he had known he was being recorded he would have denied the existence of the problem just like the rest of the New York City political establishment.

The former congressman Artur Davis, a black Democrat turned independent turned Republican turned Democrat, summed it up well when he said:
“Most people would not change their mind on voter ID if someone walked in front of them and admitted they committed voter-ID fraud yesterday. They have their heels dug in. A number of people opposed to voter ID are opposed for political reasons, for reasons that don’t have substance. People plead guilty to voter fraud, and that doesn’t seem to move the opinions of some of those opposed.”
Truer words have never been spoken. It’s hard to make a political establishment that has risen to power via voter fraud care about the issue because they just don’t see it as a problem.