Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Prof. retracts pro-gay marriage study over fake data

original article: Prof. retracts pro-gay marriage study over fake data
May 25, 2015 by Michael F. Haverluck

The co-author of a study that claimed opponents of same-sex “marriage” can be quickly persuaded to change sides on the issue has retracted the findings after learning that the data used to make the assertion was fake.

Columbia University Political Science Professor Donald P. Green decided to retract the study published in the December 2014 issue of the journal Science after discovering his co-author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, used fake data to support his claim.

In the published study titled, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” LaCour created a media stir, with numerous reports using his “findings” to proclaim that all it takes is one 20-minute conversation with a “gay” person to convince a same-sex marriage opponent to change his or her mind on the topic.

Unfolding the lie

But after word circulated about the “findings,” a couple grad students found glaring inconsistencies with what was reported in the study, as stated by Green.

“Last weekend, two UC Berkeley graduate students (David Broockman, and Josh Kalla) who had been working on a research project patterned after the studies reported in our article brought to my attention a series of irregularities that called into question the integrity of the data we present,” Green told Retraction Watch in its entry titled “Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked.” “They crafted a technical report with the assistance of Yale professor, Peter Aronow, and presented it to me last weekend.”

According to academic paper, the irregularities “jointly suggest the dataset (LaCour 2014) was not collected as described,” and Green says this spurred him to try to get to the bottom of this matter.

“I brought their report to the attention of Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science at UCLA and Michael LaCour’s graduate advisor, who confronted him with these allegations on Monday morning, whereupon it was discovered that he on-line survey data that Michael LaCour purported to collect could not be traced to any originating Qualtrics source files,” Green continued. “He claimed that he deleted the source file accidentally, but a Qualtrics service representative who examined the account and spoke with UCLA Political Science Department Chair Jeffrey Lewis reported to him that she found no evidence of such a deletion. On Tuesday, Professor Vavreck and Michael LaCour for the contact information of survey respondents so that their participation in the survey could be verified, but he declined to furnish this information.”

Green then confirmed that LaCour’s study was riddled with falsified information and unsubstantiated claims.

After learning about the falsified accounts, Green, the co-author of the study, appeared mortified.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers and readers of Science,” Green expressed.

Research that demands more research

Initially impressed by the study, Broockman and Kalla described their reaction to the findings.

“As we examined the study’s data in planning our own studies, two features surprised us: voters’ survey responses exhibit much higher test-retest reliabilities than we have observed in any other panel survey data, and the response and re-interview rates of the panel survey were significantly higher than we expected,” the two noted in a post. “We set aside our doubts about the study and awaited the launch of our pilot extension to see if we could manage the same parameters. LaCour and Green were both responsive to requests for advice about design details when queried.”

But after beginning a pilot of their extension earlier this month, Broockman and Kalla found that the response rate of the pilot was considerably lower than LaCour and Green disclosed, and they proceeded to contact the firm they believed performed the original study published in Science.

“The survey firm claimed they had no familiarity with the project and that they had never had an employee with the name of the staffer we were asking for,” Retraction Watch reports. “The firm also denied having the capabilities to perform many aspects of the recruitment procedures described in LaCour and Green (2014).”

The findings just didn’t stack up and Green was contacted.

“After finding several other irregularities, the pair contacted Green, who was concerned, and they also asked Yale political science professor Peter Aronow to join their work,” Retraction Watch stated in its account. “By May 16, the team had found other irregularities, and sent them to Green, who reviewed them and on May 17 agreed that a retraction is in order unless LaCour provides countervailing evidence.”

Confrontation, confession and conclusion

Green quickly confronted LaCour, who confessed that he had falsely described some of the data collection’s details.

In his retraction letter to Science, Green described the numerous inconsistencies with LaCour’s claims and declared his study a fraud.

“Michael LaCour’s failure to produce the raw data coupled with the other concerns noted above undermines the credibility of the findings,” Green wrote in his letter’s conclusion.

Green explained his connection to the study.

“Michael LaCour attended my summer workshop on experimental design in 2012 and proposed at that time a project that involved both canvassing and internet surveys,” Green informed Reaction Watch. “It sounded to me too ambitious to be realistic for a graduate student but in principle worthwhile … Looking back, the failure to verify the original Qualtrics data was a serious mistake.”

Broockman was pleased with the accountability process — however belated — indicating that LaCour was more interested in forwarding his cause to promote the same-sex marriage than producing legitimate research.

“[T]he study’s findings had huge implications for people who were trying to advance the cause of equality and have changed how advocates do their work,” Broockman told Retraction Watch. “Every minute we knew the truth and did not disclose it really was a lie by omission to the advocates out there.”

bias, corruption, culture, ethics, false, fraud, homosexuality, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, research, scandal, science, study

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Mega foundations trying to buy media for pro UN coverage

original article: Foundations plan to pay news media to cover radical UN agenda
May 23, 2015 by George Russell

The United Nations Foundation created by billionaire Ted Turner, along with a branch of media giant Thomson Reuters, is starting to train a squadron of journalists and subsidize media content in 33 countries—including the U.S. and Britain–in a planned $6 million effort to popularize the bulky and sweeping U.N.-sponsored Sustainable Development Goals, prior to a global U.N. summit this September. where U.N. organizers hope they will be endorsed by world leaders.

The unprecedented media push is formally intended to start on May 25 but is already underway. It is intended to help breathe some new life into a sprawling U.N. effort–supported by, among others, the Obama administration–to create a global social and environmental agenda for the next 15 years.

It is taking place in parallel with an equally strong but unrelated media cheerleading push by supporters of strong climate change action to help set in stone a new global greenhouse gas emissions treaty at a Paris summit in December.

A junior partner in the U.N. Foundation media training and subsidy effort is a not-for-profit organization known as the Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, whose co-director is a flamboyant Malaysian financial named Jho Low. Jynwel, a Low family creation, also recently plunked down $25 million to take over a sputtering U.N. humanitarian news agency known as IRIN and sharpen its message.

The training and subsidy effort “comes at a time when people want to know what it will take to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle the big questions related to sustainability,” Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation, told Fox News. “If our work helps encourage the media to dive deeper into these issues, we are achieving something that is core to our mission but also a public good worthy of 2015’s moment in history.”

“This is an important year or a robust decision on what the world and the U.N. will do in the next 15 years,” added Aaron Sherinian, the Foundation’s chief communications and marketing officer. “We thought we would do well to connect as many people to the conversation as possible.”

In fact, the media-training-and-subsidy blitz could also be described as extraordinary bid to pump up public interest and editorial support for a vast and wobbly U.N. campaign to create a new social and environmental agenda that is too nebulous to criticize and too ponderous to implement with any coherent effect. Nonetheless, that agenda is intended to drive national social, economic and environmental agendas for the next 15 years.

The new goals, known as the SDGs, have been under formal discussion in various U.N. fora for the past year. They consist of 17 major goals and 169 related targets and amount to a broad-based socialist and/or progressive agenda that by 2030 promises to end poverty and all forms of malnutrition everywhere, “attain healthy lives for all,” “reduce income equality within and between countries,” and “promote sustainable production and consumption,” among many other things.

The subtargets cover everything from “create and diversify seed and plant banks,” to “end preventable newborn, infant and under-five deaths,” to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities,” along with much, much more.

The goals are the centerpiece of what the U.N. calls the “post-2015 development process” They are a grab-bag of environmental and social development measures that are too sprawling in scope and too open-ended to be effective, or apparently even to be widely understood.

So far as the new training and subsidy initiative is concerned, however, the problem is seen less in terms of problematic content and more in terms of popularizing the message by refocusing and re-educating the media—as well as helping to pay some of them for delivering the new intellectual freight.

“Very often the problem of the UN is that the speeches long, full of acronyms, and the jargon is difficult to understand,” Monique Villa, head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, told Fox News. “Making the jargon of the U.N. understandable is quite important.”

Under the plan, Villa’s foundation, Thomson Reuters’ non-profit arm, will carry out the training under contract from U.N. Foundation. (The Thomson Reuters Foundation, according to its website, also carries on for-profit training sessions.)

Journalists from Australia to Peru, and from Britain to Zimbabwe will be given five-day training programs by instructors drawn largely from the ranks of former Reuters journalists. The material will include encompass among other things how to better understand and explain U.N. opaque concepts of sustainability, with at least one section devoted to “financial and economic concepts,” Villa said.

Training sessions for the journalists—whose parent organizations are as yet unnamed—are slated to run through August.

U.S. training sessions will take place in New York and Los Angeles, although who will be given instruction—and whose editorial platforms will be subsidized—has not yet announced. Overall subsidies are expected to range between $25,000 and $100,000, with 15 recipients named by the end of May and another 15 by the end of June.

“Depending on financing we might be able to add a few more outlets to the list” a U.N. Foundation spokesperson told Fox News.” She emphasized that the subsidies are “grants designed to enhance the capacity of media organizations to partner on these issues. Full editorial control of content remains with the media outlet.”

Individual media outlets would announce their participation “once partnership details are finalized,” she said.

The subsidy approach, U.N. Foundation’s Sherinian said, was “not dissimilar” to the funding that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided for sveral years to the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian, to publish what amounts to sponsored news about economic development issues, including the Foundation’s campaign to extirpate AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“We are asking the media to do what they do well,” Sherinian added. “If a media organization has the ability to do what it has done well, and if it could do more innovative work,” then “we are asking them to engage on the issue.”

The effort would also include “putting them in touch with people on the ground doing implementation work”–in other words, those who are actually going to put the goals into practice.

Not all of the funding for the effort has yet been raised, he added. “We are in both implementing and fundraising mode.”

At the same time as the U.N.-supporting foundations are boosting coverage of the “post-2015 development agenda,” an even bigger media coalition has just announced it will start lumping content for collective use in support of a new U.N.-sponsored treaty on greenhouse gases, which is supposed to be agreed upon at a summit meeting in December in Paris.

The so-called Climate Publishers Network, a 25-member group that includes The Guardian as well as such high-profile newspaper as Le Monde in France and El Pais in Spain, as well as the China Daily, have agreed to drop their mutual licensing fees to allow all network members to share their coverage on the climate change issue prior to the December 11 summit.

The network arrangement is slated to disband immediately afterward.

The U.N. Foundation’s Sherinian said that the two programs “were not formally affiliated in a specific way,” and said he could not confirm “if or how the outlets involved in the Climate Publishers Network coincide with those involved in our program to date.”

But like the Climate Publishers with their self-imposed shut-off date, he said the U.N. Foundation would not commit to maintaining the SDG subsidy effort beyond this year—it was, he said, “too early to say.”

The same could be said of the success of either full-court effort to help build a media groundswell for the expansive and expensive U.N.-supported objectives.

bias, charity, foreign affairs, indoctrination, left wing, news media, pandering, political correctness, propaganda, relativism

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Bibles banned from residence hall for not being ‘appropriately multicultural’

original article: Students at Prince Charles’ old university vote to ban Bibles from halls of residence for not being ‘appropriately multicultural’
May 14, 2015 by RICHARD SPILLETT

Students at a Welsh university have voted to end a tradition of putting Bibles in their halls of residence in the name of ‘multiculturalism’.
Those studying at Aberystwyth University – which Prince Charles once attended – want to end the long-running practice of putting Gideon Bibles in dorm rooms at the start of term.
The Students’ Union at the west Wales institution claim the policy could be ‘offensive’ to non-Christians, but Bible groups have branded the ban ‘illiberal’.

A motion passed at a meeting of the Union called for all Bibles to be removed from halls of residence bedrooms at the end of the current academic year and students to instead be given an option to request a religious text if they want one.
University bosses with now decide whether to accept the students’ demands.
Speaking at the meeting, John Morgan, who put forward the motion, said: ‘Compulsory inclusion of Bibles in university bedrooms is inappropriate in a multicultural university such as Aberystwyth.
‘It could be offensive for some, and university should provide a safe space for students to explore and develop their beliefs in a neutral environment.’

He added: ‘Bibles should however still be available for those who wish to have them.’
Speaking when the motion was first proposed, James Catford, a former student of Aberystwyth University who is now the Group Chief Executive of Bible Society disagreed with the idea.
He said: ‘The answer to a diverse and multicultural society is not to remove all traces of diversity. That seems illiberal and intolerant.’
The Union has been criticised over claims less than five per cent of the 10,000-strong student body voted for the ban – with 300 in favour of the ban and 175 against at the meeting.

The Students’ Union said the vote result was now ‘binding’ and they were mandated to lobby the University to remove all Bibles by the start of the next academic year in September 2015.
On their website they said they 475 votes cast was ‘almost double the minimum requirement’ as set out in their ‘democratic structure’.
They said: ‘475 students voting is a higher number than any attendance at a democratic meeting and so we are delighted that we have managed to open up democratically to this extent.’
A survey of students at one hall of residence conducted in 2014 found almost half felt the compulsory inclusion of the holy book was ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘unacceptable’.
As spokesman for the university said: ‘The University is aware of a recent referendum vote that took place on the matter, and referendum’s result.
‘Aberystwyth University has a proud history of working with the Students’ Union on a wide variety of issues, and will work with representatives from the Students’ Union to facilitate students receiving spiritual texts which reflect their personal choice.’

bias, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, ideology, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, public policy, relativism, religion

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Parents furious over school’s plan to teach gender spectrum, fluidity

Some would say teaching is a purely political act and that neutral people should “get the f— out of education.” And you thought public education was actually about education.

Parents furious over school’s plan to teach gender spectrum, fluidity
May 15, 2015 by Todd Starnes

One of the nation’s largest public school systems is preparing to include gender identity to its classroom curriculum, including lessons on sexual fluidity and spectrum – the idea that there’s no such thing as 100 percent boys or 100 percent girls.

Fairfax County Public Schools released a report recommending changes to their family life curriculum for grades 7 through 12. The changes, which critics call radical gender ideology, will be formally introduced next week.

“The larger picture is this is really an attack on nature itself – the created order,” said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

“Human beings are created male and female. But the current transgender ideology goes way beyond that. They’re telling us you can be both genders, you can be no gender, you can be a gender that you make up for yourself. And we’re supposed to affirm all of it.”

The plan calls for teaching seventh graders about transgenderism and tenth graders about the concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum — but it sure smells like unadulterated sex indoctrination.

Get a load of what the kids are going to be learning in middle school:

“Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”

Eighth graders will be taught that individual identity “occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“Individual identity will also be described as having four parts – biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).”

The district will also introduce young teenagers to the “concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum.” By tenth grade, they will be taught that one’s sexuality “develops throughout a lifetime.”

“Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime,” the document states. “Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”

As you might imagine – parents are freaking out.

“Parents need to protect their kids from this assault,” said Andrea Lafferty, president of Traditional Values Coalition. “Who could imagine that we are in this place today – but we are.”

Last week, the school board voted to include gender identity in the district’s nondiscrimination policy – a decision that was strongly opposed by parents.

Lafferty, who led the opposition to the nondiscrimination policy, warned that the district is moving towards the deconstruction of gender.

“At the end of this is the deconstruction of gender – absolutely,” she told me. “The majority of people pushing (this) are not saying that – but that clearly is the motivation.”

School Board spokesman John Torre told the Washington Times the proposed curriculum changes have nothing to do with last week’s vote to allow boys who identity as girls to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.

He would have us believe it was purely coincidental.

To make matters worse, Lafferty contends parents will not be able to opt their children out of the classes because the lessons will be a part of the mandatory health curriculum.

However, Torre told me that parents will indeed be able to opt out of those classes “including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.”

I must confess that I’m a bit old school on sex education. I believe that God created male and female. My reading of the Bible does not indicate there were dozens of other options.

“They are not being forthright with the information,” Lafferty said. “They are not telling people the truth.  They are bullying parents. They are intimidating and they are threatening.”

I must confess that I’m a bit old school on sex education. I believe that God created male and female. My reading of the Bible does not indicate there were dozens of other options.

However, I’m always open to learning new things – so I asked the school district to provide me with the textbooks and scientific data they will be using to instruct the children that there are dozens and dozens of possible genders.

Here’s the reply I received from Torre:

“Lessons have not been developed for the proposed lesson objectives,” he stated. “Because of the need to develop lessons, the proposed objectives would not be implemented until fall 2016.”

In other words – they don’t have a clue.

And the Family Research Council’s Sprigg said there’s a pretty good reason why they can’t produce a textbook about fluidity.

“It’s an ideological concept,” he told me. “It’s not a scientific one.”

He warned that Fairfax County’s planned curriculum could be harmful to students.

“It’s only going to create more confusion in the minds of young people who don’t need any further confusion about sexual identity,” he said.

The board will introduce the changes on May 21. Lafferty said she hopes parents will turn out in force to voice their objections.

children, corruption, culture, diversity, education, extremism, family, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, sex

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How Government Inaction Ended the Depression of 1921

original article: How Government Inaction Ended the Depression of 1921
May 20, 2015 by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

As the financial crisis of 2008 took shape, the policy recommendations were not slow in coming: why, economic stability and American prosperity demand fiscal and monetary stimulus to jump-start the sick economy back to life. And so we got fiscal stimulus, as well as a program of monetary expansion without precedent in US history.

David Stockman recently noted that we have in effect had fifteen solid years of stimulus — not just the high-profile programs like the $700 billion TARP and the $800 billion in fiscal stimulus, but also $4 trillion of money printing and 165 out of 180 months in which interest rates were either falling or held at rock-bottom levels. The results have been underwhelming: the number of breadwinner jobs in the US is still two million lower than it was under Bill Clinton.

Economists of the Austrian school warned that this would happen. While other economists disagreed about whether fiscal or monetary stimulus would do the trick, the Austrians looked past this superficial debate and rejected intervention in all its forms.

The Austrians have very good theoretical reasons for opposing government stimulus programs, but those reasons are liable to remain unknown to the average person, who seldom studies economics and who even more seldom gives non-establishment opinion a fair hearing. That’s why it helps to be able to point to historical examples, which are more readily accessible to the non-specialist than is economic theory. If we can point to an economy correcting itself, this alone overturns the claim that government intervention is indispensable.

Possibly the most arresting (and overlooked) example of precisely this phenomenon is the case of the depression of 1920–21, which was characterized by a collapse in production and GDP and a spike in unemployment to double-digit levels. But by the time the federal government even began considering intervention, the crisis had ended. What Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover deferentially called “The President’s Conference on Unemployment,” an idea he himself had cooked up to smooth out the business cycle, convened during what turned out to be the second month of the recovery, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Indeed, according to the NBER, which announces the beginnings and ends of recessions, the depression began in January 1920 and ended in July 1921.

James Grant tells the story in his important and captivating new book The Forgotten Depression — 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself. A word about the author: Grant ranks among the most brilliant of financial experts. In addition to publishing his highly regarded newsletter, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, for more than thirty years, Grant is a frequent (and anti-Fed) commentator on television and radio, the author of numerous other books, and a captivating speaker. We’ve been honored and delighted to feature him as a speaker at Mises Institute events.

What exactly were the Federal Reserve and the federal government doing during these eighteen months? The numbers don’t lie: monetary policy was contractionary during the period in question. Allan Meltzer, who is not an Austrian, wrote in A History of the Federal Reserve that “principal monetary aggregates fell throughout the recession.” He calculates a decline in M1 by 10.9 percent from March 1920 to January 1922, and in the monetary base by 6.4 percent from October 1920 to January 1922. “Quarterly average growth of the base,” he continues, “did not become positive until second quarter 1922, nine months after the NBER trough.”

The Fed raised its discount rate from 4 percent in 1919 to 7 percent in 1920 and 6 percent in 1921. By 1922, after the recovery was long since under way, it was reduced to 4 percent once again. Meanwhile, government spending also fell dramatically; as the economy emerged from the 1920–21 downturn, the budget was in the process of being reduced from $6.3 billion in 1920 to $3.2 billion in 1922. So the budget was being cut and the money supply was falling. “By the lights of Keynesian and monetarist doctrine alike,” writes Grant, “no more primitive or counterproductive policies could be imagined.” In addition, price deflation was more severe during 1920–21 than during any point in the Great Depression; from mid-1920 to mid-1921, the Consumer Price Index fell by 15.8 percent. We can only imagine the panic and the cries for intervention were we to observe such price movements today.

The episode fell down the proverbial memory hole, and Grant notes that he cannot find an example of a public figure ever having held up the 1920–21 example as a data point worth considering today. But although Keynesians today, now that the episode is being discussed once again, assure everyone that they are perfectly prepared to explain the episode away, in fact Keynesian economic historians in the past readily admitted that the swiftness of the recovery was something of a mystery to them, and that recovery had not been long in coming despite the absence of stimulus measures.

The policy of official inaction during the 1920–21 depression came about as a combination of circumstance and ideology. Woodrow Wilson had favored a more pronounced role for the federal government, but by the end of his term two factors made any such effort impossible. First, he was obsessed with the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles, and securing US membership in the League of Nations he had inspired. This concern eclipsed everything else. Second, a series of debilitating strokes left him unable to do much of anything by the fall of 1919, so any major domestic initiatives were out of the question. Because of the way fiscal years are dated, Wilson was in fact responsible for much of the postwar budget cutting, a substantial chunk of which occurred during the 1920–21 depression.

Warren Harding, meanwhile, was philosophically inclined to oppose government intervention and believed a downturn of this kind would work itself out if no obstacles were placed in its path. He declared in his acceptance speech at the 1920 Republican convention:

We will attempt intelligent and courageous deflation, and strike at government borrowing which enlarges the evil, and we will attack high cost of government with every energy and facility which attend Republican capacity. We promise that relief which will attend the halting of waste and extravagance, and the renewal of the practice of public economy, not alone because it will relieve tax burdens but because it will be an example to stimulate thrift and economy in private life.

Let us call to all the people for thrift and economy, for denial and sacrifice if need be, for a nationwide drive against extravagance and luxury, to a recommittal to simplicity of living, to that prudent and normal plan of life which is the health of the republic. There hasn’t been a recovery from the waste and abnormalities of war since the story of mankind was first written, except through work and saving, through industry and denial, while needless spending and heedless extravagance have marked every decay in the history of nations.

Harding, that least fashionable of American presidents, was likewise able to look at falling prices soberly and without today’s hysteria. He insisted that the commodity price deflation was unavoidable, and perhaps even salutary. “We hold that the shrinkage which has taken place is somewhat analogous to that which occurs when a balloon is punctured and the air escapes.” Moreover, said Harding, depressions followed inflation “just as surely as the tides ebb and flow,” but spending taxpayer money was no way to deal with the situation. “The excess of stimulation from that source is to be reckoned a cause of trouble rather than a source of cure.”

Even John Skelton Williams, comptroller of the currency under Woodrow Wilson and no friend of Harding, observed that the price deflation was “inevitable,” and that in any case “the country is now [1921] in many respects on a sounder basis, economically, than it has been for years.” And we should look forward to the day when “the private citizen is able to acquire, at the expenditure of $1 of his hard-earned money, something approximating the quantity and quality which that dollar commanded in prewar times.”

Thankfully for the reader, not only is Grant right on the history and the economics, but he also writes with a literary flair one scarcely expects from the world of financial commentary. And although he has all the facts and figures a reader could ask for, Grant is also a storyteller. This is no dry sheaf of statistics. It is full of personalities — businessmen, union bosses, presidents, economists — and relates so much more than the bare outline of the depression. Grant gives us an expert’s insight into the stock market’s fortunes, and those of American agriculture, industry, and more. He writes so engagingly that the reader almost doesn’t realize how difficult it is to make a book about a single economic episode utterly absorbing.

The example of 1920–21 was largely overlooked, except in specialized treatments of American economic history, for many decades. The cynic may be forgiven for suspecting that its incompatibility with today’s conventional wisdom, which urges demand management by experts and an ever-expanding mandate for the Fed, might have had something to do with that. Whatever the reason, it’s back now, as a rebuke to the planners with their equations and the cronies with their bailouts.

The Forgotten Depression has taken its rightful place within the corpus of Austro-libertarian revisionist history, that library of works that will lead you from the dead end of conventional opinion to the fresh air of economic and historical truth.

budget, conservative, crisis, economics, economy, funding, government, history, ideology, philosophy, politics, president, public policy, recession, Republicans, right wing, spending

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Are Democrats the party of old white people?

Women and minorities are clearly welcome in the Republican party. Whose in the Democrat ticket for 2016? Old white people.

bias, campaign, Democrats, diversity, elections, hypocrisy, news media, politics, propaganda, relativism, Republicans

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How the ‘Liberals’ Got So Illiberal

original article: Sally Kohn Shows How the ‘Liberals’ Got So Illiberal
October 28, 2014 by Robert Tracinski

Just as I was writing about the importance of the right to be wrong, along comes The Daily Beast’s Sally Kohn to demonstrate exactly my point with astrident anthem of illiberal liberalism.

If gay marriage is “the end zone dance of the culture wars,” then Kohn spikes the football. “Don’t wanna marry everyone who are entitled to marry legally under the law? Then don’t run a wedding business.” Her premise is that the state has unlimited license to run your life unless you make a plea for some kind of special exemption. Judging from her column, all such pleas will be shot down with the dismissive decree that “the grounds for doing so are thin.”

The most chilling passage is this one: “It’s hard to argue that opposing marriage equality is a central tenet of Christianity when majorities of Christian voters support same-sex marriage.” My Christian colleagues will be surprised to discover that the tenets of their religion are now determined by public poll. But the real point of this is that Sally Kohn and her ilk now get to determine for you what your “legitimate” beliefs are.

What is interesting about Kohn’s piece is that it reveals the mechanism by which “liberals” have become systematically illiberal. I’m old enough to remember a time when they supposedly just wanted to regulate the economy but wanted the government to stay out of our personal lives, particularly our sex lives. All of that now seems hopelessly antique, and Kohn’s column reveals why: the power to control our economic lives contains within it the power to control everything else.

Why does Kohn presume that the government has the right to force the Hitching Post in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to perform gay weddings? Because it is a business rather than a non-profit organization. In the worldview of the so-called liberal, to engage in commerce is to deliver yourself bound hand-and-foot to the state.

It’s the theme Kohn keeps coming back to, because it’s all she’s got. “The first thing you need to know is that most ‘wedding chapels’ are not actually chapels. They are private businesses.” “State and federal laws generally exempt religious institutions from having to perform gay marriages. Yet the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel is not a church or a synagogue or a mosque but a private business.” “Conservatives are already trying to conflate the issues here, saying that Coeur d’Alene is forcing ‘Christian pastors’ to perform same-sex weddings or ‘face jail’—deliberately blurring the line between this for-profit chapel and actual religious institutions and entities.”

All right, so what if it is a business? Then it’s the state’s way or the highway.

These entrepreneurs have chosen to incorporate as private businesses, with all the legal rights and privileges that entails. That means they have to follow the laws that apply to private businesses. Don’t wanna marry everyone who are entitled to marry legally under the law? Then don’t run a wedding business. After all, the government isn’t forcing you to be in that line of work.

So if your decision about how you want to earn your livelihood conflicts with Sally Kohn’s feelings about how you should do it, it is your responsibility to upend your life and change careers—at least, until she wants to regulate the next field you choose.

There is a reason why this approach tends so inexorably toward totalitarianism: because practically everything human beings want to do in life has a commercial aspect.

Officiating weddings, which is a spiritual activity, involves a small payment for the officiant and perhaps also the renting of a venue for the ceremony or reception—which then puts the state in a position to dictate everything about it. Engaging in commentary on current events might involve broadcasting your ideas through a media company, which might have the misfortune of being owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose ventures should be broken up “in the public interest.” Run for public office, and you will have to raise money to get your message out—but private donors have to be regulated, limited, maybe eliminated altogether because we don’t want the ugly world of money and commerce exercising any influence over politics.

This is how the “liberals” got so illiberal, because there is no hard and fast dividing line between regulating “only” our economic lives and regulating everything else. All aspects of human life find an expression in commerce, so if you regulate that, you regulate everything. Which they are now happily proceeding to do.

That’s why it has been such a long time since I’ve encountered a “liberal” who is still liberal in any meaningful sense.

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Political cash and favors for me, but not for thee

original article: Hillary Clinton’s Hypocritical and Totalitarian War on Free Speech
May 20, 2015 by Benjamin Weingarten

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested that a key litmus test in evaluating prospective Supreme Court appointees would be their willingness to challenge “the right of billionaires to buy elections.”

Presumably, a suitable judge would indicate a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision that struck down a ban on political expenditures by corporations and unions ruled to violate the First Amendment protection of free speech – a case coincidentally centered on Citizen United’s attempt to advertise for and air a film critical of none other than Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

In light of recent allegations swirling around the presidential favorite, Clinton’s support of such a position is highly ironic.

For while the former secretary of State may oppose the rights of the wealthy to spend money on politics, she seems to have no such concern with the wealthy spending money on the Clinton Foundation and her husband Bill – all while Hillary served in the Obama administration.

Would Clinton seek a Supreme Court justice who would protect the rights of the likes of Carlos Slim and James Murdoch to contribute to the favored cause of a politician and shower the politician’s spouse with millions for speaking engagements?

If so, this apparent hypocrisy can be read in one of two ways:

  1. Clinton believes that money does not have a corrupting influence so long as it is funneled through “indirect” channels
  2. Clinton believes that the wealthy and powerful ought to bypass funding elections and simply pay politicians outright.

Appearances of impropriety aside, there are a few substantive questions around political speech that Clinton should be required to address.

Why does Clinton believe that the government has a compelling interest in stifling the political speech of any American, rich or poor?

How does Clinton square her supposed advocacy of human rights with her belief in inhibiting the right to free speech — which facilitates the robust and vigorous debate essential to a liberal society?

More generally, given a system in which millions of dollars are spent on losing causes each election cycle on both the left and right, what have Americans to fear about spending so long as laws are enforced equally and impartially regarding “pay-to-play” schemes and other politically corrupt activity?

Spending is a symptom of our system, and an all-intrusive government its proximate cause.

This is well known to Clinton, who seeks to raise a record $2.5 billion for her own campaign.

She is aware that people spend money on politics because there is the perception that there is something to be bought.

This perception becomes a reality when government creeps into every aspect of our lives, creating an unfortunate two-way street: Individuals and businesses spend money in order to maintain competitive advantages. Politicians in effect extort individuals and businesses by threatening to take away said competitive advantages, or threatening to mitigate them.

If we want money out of politics, the answer is not to stifle speech, but to shrink government.

***

While Hillary Clinton’s aversion to political speech is well-documented, less scrutinized is her support of limitations on speech of an entirely different kind: Religious speech.

During her time as secretary of State, Clinton championed the Organization of Islamic Conference-backedUnited Nations Human Rights Commission Resolution 16/18, which calls for “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.”

Retired Maj. Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon’s leading adviser on Islamic law as it relates to national security, makes a compelling case in his book “Catastrophic Failure” that the resolution is actually a Shariah-based Trojan Horse meant to stifle all criticism of Islam.

Coughlin writes that the Islamic Conference, through the resolution, seeks to criminalize incitement to violence by imposing a “legal standard designed to facilitate the “shut up before I hit you again” standard associated with the battered wife syndrome.”

He convincingly argues that the Islamic Conference desires that…

the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and all other non-Muslim countries pass laws criminalizing Islamophobia. This is a direct extraterritorial demand that non-Muslim jurisdictions submit to Islamic law and implement shariah-based punishment over time. In other words, the OIC is set on making it an enforceable crime for non-Muslim people anywhere in the world—including the United States—to say anything about Islam that Islam does not permit.

For believers in the sanctity of the First Amendment, Clinton’s support of this policy as secretary of State should be disqualifying.

This is made crystal clear when we consider that Clinton has shown her support for the resolution in practice.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Clinton and President Barack Obama felt compelled to film an address for the Muslim world. In the video, Clinton and Obama disavowed any link between the U.S. government and the “Innocence of Muslims” movie that critically depicted Muhammad, which the Obama administration infamously argued prompted the jihadist attack.

Hillary Clinton delivers a message to the Arab world disavowing any ties between the U.S. government and the "Innocence of Muslims" video following the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack. (Image Source: YouTube screengrab)

That address we may chalk up to political correctness.

But a related fact we cannot.

In spite of Judicial Watch’s bombshell report indicating that the Obama administration knew about the Benghazi attack 10 days in advance – and knew that it had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims” — as revealed in an October 2012 interview with Glenn Beck, Charles Woods, father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, told Beck that Clinton had personally vowed to “make sure that the person who made that film [“Innocence of Muslims”] is arrested and prosecuted.”

The “Innocence of Muslims” filmmaker and former bank fraudster Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was later arrested and charged with violating the terms of his probation, spending one year in prison.

Consequently, the U.S. government — as promised by Clinton — in effect enforced Shariah compliance concerning blasphemy consistent with the Islamic Conference-backed resolution, and did so knowing that the film had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack.

Of course, even if a jihadist declared explicitly that he killed Americans because of a film, or a Muhammad cartoon or a burned Koran, it is the jihadist and the jihadist alone responsible for such actions. This point is apparently lost on the U.N.’s policy advocates, who in their victomology fail to realize that they are exhibiting the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to Muslims.

Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be an ardent opponent of free speech, notably with respect to politics and religion.

Her positions are anathema to an America founded on the basis of protecting political and religious dissent, which requires free expression.

Absent such protections, an America under Clinton will look increasingly like the totalitarian Islamic world that she seeks to protect, rather than the Liberal Judeo-Christian America with which we have been so blessed.

campaign, censorship, civil rights, corruption, Democrats, elections, elitism, ethics, foreign affairs, free speech, funding, hypocrisy, left wing, politics, progressive, scandal, spending

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Look at all the Clinton money, and ethics issues

A few more stories challenging a myth about the wealthy. Democrats are the party of the rich.

Bill doubled speaking fees from foreign groups while Hillary was secretary of state
May 19, 2015 by Sarah Westwood

Former President Bill Clinton netted millions in speaking fees from appearances around the world while his wife served as secretary of state, but earned far less from abroad in the years since Hillary Clinton left the State Department.

Bill Clinton took in $2.2 million from just six international speeches in 2014, according to financial disclosure forms released Friday as required by Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

By contrast, the former president reportedly earned more than twice as much for appearances made across borders while Hillary Clinton was in office. He reportedly made $4.8 million from 13 speeches in foreign countries in 2010, his wife’s first year as secretary of state.

In 2011, Bill Clinton reportedly drummed up at least $5.96 million in speaking fees for appearances he made outside the U.S.


Unions pour millions into Clinton Foundation
May 18, 2015 by Bill McMorris

Big labor funneled millions of dollars in dues money to the Clinton Foundation, according to a new report.

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), a union watchdog group, traced at least $2 million in donations from multiple union organizations and affiliates.

“U.S. Department of Labor’s union financial disclosure reports reveal that Big Labor gave at least $2,034,500 in union general treasury funds to Clinton Foundations. Union treasuries are funded mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay,” the NILRR report says. “As Mrs. Clinton became closer to her current run for president, donations amounts appear to have increased.”

The Clintons have turned their foundation into a lucrative “slush fund,” according to one charity watchdog group, and have received hundreds of millions of dollars from notable businesses, media personalities, and political luminaries. The family has maintained that none of those donations influenced her decisions as secretary of state and that the money is strictly philanthropic.

However, unions did not necessarily agree about the apolitical nature of the donations, according to NILRR.

“Some of these ‘donations’ are categorized by the unions as ‘political’ on their financial disclosure report” to the Labor Department, the report says.

Poll: Hillary Clinton ‘less ethical’ than other politicians


ABC ‘turned a blind eye’ to George Stephanopoulos’ links to Clintons amid claims he can’t be trusted to remain impartial
May 20, 2015 by JAMES DUNN

ABC ‘turned a blind eye’ to star George Stephanopoulos’ being in regular contact with high-powered Democrats, it’s been claimed.
The news comes amid a scandal surrounding the fact he did not disclose $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation between 2012 and 2014 while negotiating his $105million contract with ABC.
It will further fuel criticisms from Republicans that Stephanopoulos can’t be trusted to be impartial.

The news comes from an old report by Politico which resurfaced after the donations were uncovered, reports Page Six.

It claims that Stephanopoulos, who was a member of Clinton’s communications team in the 1992 presidential campaign, was in daily contact with important Democrats in 2009 while anchoring This Week and about to take over flagship show Good Morning America.

The report claims he took part in ’round robin chatter’ during which Democrat strategy was ‘more than likely…being hatched’.

It claims that he either didn’t tell bosses or the channel turned a blind eye to his links.

Stephanopoulos played down the claims, reportedly saying: ‘We just like talking to each other, and I learn a lot from it . . . and that’s why we’ve been doing it for so long.’

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Unraveling the Poverty Myths Obama Is Promoting

original article: Unraveling the Poverty Myths Obama Is Promoting
May 18, 2015 by Stephen Moore

Our class warrior in chief was at it again last week complaining about our “ideological divides that have prevented us from making progress” in solving problems like poverty. Just when you thought you’d heard it all.

Our most ideological president perhaps ever is arguing that there is too much ideology in Washington. Wow. Apparently an ideology is a firmly held belief that is held by other people—especially those on the right.

In a discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, the president managed to blame the slow-growth economy and stagnant wages on everything from Ayn Rand (who promoted “cold hearted policies” and classified everyone as a “moocher”) to California’s Proposition 13 (which is responsible for the Golden State’s dreadful schools). Everything has contributed to our current malaise except for his own failed policies.

Here’s a brief truth squad examination of Obama’s mythologies and misstatements of fact.

President Obama: “The stereotype is that you’ve got folks on the left who just want to pour more money into social programs, and don’t care anything about culture or parenting or family structures … ”

After more than $22 trillion spent on the War on Poverty since 1964 (in inflation adjusted dollars)—how is it a stereotype to say the left only wants to pour money at programs?

Just a few weeks ago the president blamed the Baltimore riots on Republicans for not spending and borrowing even more money on his social programs. He sounded like a parody of himself.

If the left really wants to advance cultural values like work, why do they oppose reforms to a welfare system that requires able-bodied adult Americans to work in exchange for receiving welfare benefits like food stamps?

Obama: “It is a mistake for us to suggest that somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to address poverty. That’s just not true. First of all, just in absolute terms, the poverty rate when you take into account tax and transfer programs, has been reduced about 40 percent since 1967.”

There are two problems with this defense of the welfare state. First, the official poverty was falling before 1965 and at a faster rate than after the Great Society got rolling in the mid-1960s. This official poverty rate has remained virtually stagnant since the War on Poverty began.

Second, the decline in poverty that Obama is boasting about is only after taking into account tax credits and government handouts and welfare benefits. When excluding these programs there has been little progress at all.

Redistribution may have raised the material living standards of some of the poor. But it has not increased self-sufficiency.

The original purpose of the welfare state was to lift people into self-sufficiency, not to create a permanent underclass dependent on taxpayers. Lyndon Johnson told us when he started these programs that “the days of the dole are numbered.” We have passed day 18,000.

Obama also wants it both ways. He says over and over, even in this speech, that the biggest problem with the economy is income inequality because the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. So if the poor are getting poorer, how have his social programs worked to reduce poverty?

Obama: “In some ways, rather than soften the edges of the market, we’ve turbocharged it.”

Wait, we’ve turbo-charged the free market? When? Where?

Obama: “There are programs that work to provide ladders of opportunity … but we just haven’t figured out how to scale them up.”

Hold on. One of the few programs that has proven to provide “a ladder of opportunity” is the Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program for roughly 1,500 kids each year to attend private schools. They are all poor and almost all black. The graduation rates for these kids have improved in some cases markedly.

But guess who doesn’t want to “scale up” this successful program (which is, by the way, one of the few programs that would actually be appropriate for the federal government to scale up)? In every budget Obama has submitted, he has proposed eliminating the program.

It’s more than a little hypocritical for a president who sends his own daughters to private schools that cost $30,000 a year to prevent poor children in Washington, D.C., from attending those same schools.

Obama: “And so over time, families frayed. Men who could not get jobs left. Mothers who are single are not able to read as much to their kids.”

The president acts as though “families frayed” by accident. No, there were major cultural shifts that contributed to the major decline in marriage and rise in unwed births, not to mention the introduction of a massive government welfare system that financially took the place of the father.

In 1960, not even one in four black children were born without a father in the home. By 2013 that number had soared, tragically, to nearly three of every four black children being born outside of marriage. As economist Thomas Sowellhas put it: “the black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.”

Obama: “You look at state budgets, you look at city budgets, and you look at federal budgets, and we don’t make those same common investments that we used to. … And there’s been a very specific ideological push not to make those investments.”

In 1950 total state, local and federal government spending was just over $500 billion (in constant 2015 dollars) and 22.2 percent of our GDP. Today it is nearly $6 trillion and 33 percent of our GDP. Under Obama federal spending will reach $4 trillion next year and borrowing to finance these “common investments” will have risen by $8 trillion over his tenure.

The only thing that has been underfunded over the last decade is middle-class family incomes, which have stagnated.

Obama: “We don’t dispute that the free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history—it has lifted billions of people out of poverty. We believe in property rights, rule of law, so forth.”

No, you don’t. And that’s the whole problem.

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