Author Archive

Dr. Steven J. Allen

Senators report, terrorists respond

In 2009-2010, I did a daily comic strip in collaboration with the great artist Kevin Tuma. Called “The Gentleman from Lickskillet,” the comic featured the adventures of a Tea Party-type Congressman, his family and constituents, and their friends and adversaries.

Here’s a strip from May 30, 2009.  That week’s strips depicted a terrorist cell, led by mastermind Omar the Barracuda, which was meeting to plot an attack in the town of Lickskillet.

[In order for the image to display properly, I’m inserting some space here. Scroll down for the comic.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The War of All Against All

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

Once upon a time, when I was a reporter, I uncovered a number of schemes by which politicians perpetuated themselves in office. Often, these involved “giving” people things without accounting for the cost of those things.

One exposé early in my career involved a job-swap between the districts of Congressman A (not his real name) and Congressman B (likewise). The federal government would move a few dozen jobs from Fort A in Congressman A’s district to Fort B in Congressman B’s district. In turn, the federal government would move a few dozen jobs from Fort B in Congressman B’s district to Fort A in Congressman A’s district.

Congressman A took the opportunity to put out a press release announcing the new jobs at Fort A, with the clear implication that he, Congressman A, through his hard work on behalf of his constituents, had secured these jobs. News stories about the new jobs strongly implied: We’d be fools to get rid of this guy, Congressman A, who’s doing such a great job for us.

Congressman B took the opportunity to put out a press release announcing the new jobs at Fort B, with the clear implication that he, Congressman B, through his hard work on behalf of his constituents, had secured these jobs. News stories about the new jobs strongly implied: We’d be fools to get rid of this guy, Congressman B, who’s doing such a great job for us.

It was a good deal, except, of course, for taxpayers, who had to pay for moving the jobs from one place to another, and for the federal employees who had to pull up roots and move hundreds of miles. From the standpoint of the politicians, it was a win-win for all concerned. Although the number of federal jobs in each district stayed the same, each Congressman got to show that he was one of those guys who bring home the bacon.

I lived in the district of Congressman A. When I figured out the scam, I called a counterpart of mine in the district of Congressman B, and we shared information, and we broke the story jointly. It came as no surprise that I got a call from Congressman A’s press secretary, tell me that I was completely irresponsible, and may have ruined things for everyone by ruining the deal that was bringing new jobs to our district. Who was I, a lowly reporter, to interfere in the workings of great men?

It’s the kind of thing that happens all the time in politics. Read all »

Labor Watch: Obama’s Secret War on Women: Women will pay a price for “paycheck fairness,” overtime rules, and Obamacare

Obama’s Secret War on Women

Women will pay a price for “paycheck fairness,” overtime rules, and Obamacare (PDF here)
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Summary: For years, President Obama and his supporters have accused their opponents of conducting a “War on Women.” The real War on Women, though, lies in the President’s healthcare plan and in his proposals on wages and working hours, which make it harder for women to get jobs and provide for their families.

In April, President Obama declared, “If Republicans in Congress want to . . . show that they, in fact, do care about women being paid the same as men, then show me. They can start tomorrow. They can join us in this, the 21st Century, and vote yes on the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

But passing the misnamed Paycheck Fairness Act would not help women. Neither would Obama’s other ideas for “helping” women: raising the hourly minimum wage to $10.10, increasing the number of women affected by rules on overtime pay, and the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

These ideas may make good soundbites to use in campaign ads, but the dirty little secret is that they would actually harm the employment prospects of women—and men. The Paycheck Fairness Act would raise the cost of employment, reducing jobs for both sexes. A higher minimum wage would reduce job opportunities for low-skill women. Raising the overtime pay ceiling to $50,000 a year would mean women whose earnings are below that level won’t be able to receive compensatory time off instead of overtime pay. Lastly, Obamacare forces women into part-time jobs while it discourages marriage. Read all »

Your own lyin’ eyes

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

Last year, I wrote about Type B deception—a form of deception that can be so powerful, it works even after it has been exposed.

Here’s how I described it (http://capitalresearch.org/2013/04/that-arms-race/):

. . .  Edward J. Epstein calls [it] “Type B deception” – a type of deception aimed at “distorting the interpretation of the meaning of a pattern of data, rather than at the observable data itself.  Type B deceptions are designed to confuse, confound or mislead the cognitive processes of an adversary.  Type B deception need not rely on camouflage or concealment.”

In Type B deception, the more closely one observes, the more likely one is to be fooled, as when Hitler convinced himself (with Allied help) that the Normandy invasion was a carefully planned deception and refused, day after day, to let himself be tricked by it. Supporters of President Obama’s policies often point to the failure of those policies, from the “stimulus” to support for the “Arab Spring,” as proof that the President’s ideas weren’t followed with enough zeal. People who believe that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement are racist see the election, due to Palin/Tea Party support, of the majority of the country’s “nonwhite” governors and U.S. senators as vindication of their belief (because those officials are Republicans, therefore Uncle Toms and traitors to others of their ethnicities). James Hansen, a leading proponent of the theory of catastrophic man-made Global Warming, wrote recently in the Washington Post that the failure of Global Warming theory to predict actual events meant that proponents of Global Warming theory were even more correct about the threat than they had realized.

Here’s an example that shows how our brains are hard-wired to “see” certain things. Which square is darker, A or B?


Are you sure?

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Wintertime, and the lyin’ is easy

Enjoy the winter! (It was 70 degrees in DC today. Darn that Global Warming!!) Yes, if you’re reading this on December 1, this is the first day of meteorological winter in the United States. In other words, it’s the beginning of the three-month period with the coldest weather, relative to the three months at the opposite point on the calendar, is December through February, more or less. (It varies by location, but, for nonscientific purposes, it’s close enough to the December-January-February period for us to “round it off.”)

Of course, you’ll hear it stated often—by TV weatherpeople, especially—that the “official” first day of winter is the winter solstice, sometimes even narrowed down to a specific time. (The Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, which falls between December 20 and 23, is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the sun.) In fact, there’s no “official” beginning of winter. The “official” first day is one of those things that everyone knows but that isn’t true.

Well, not everyone. Last Friday on “CBS This Morning,” WBBM-TV meteorologist Megan Glaros, at the end of her weather report, said, “By the way, meteorological winter starts Monday, Michelle,” to which Michelle Miller of CBS News replied, “Is that so?? Well, thank you, Megan, for letting us know.”

Here’s an article I wrote a while back about lies about the calendar, from ancient Rome to the (fake) holiday President’s Day to the (fake) beginning of the 21st Century on January 1, 2000: http://capitalresearch.org/2014/02/presidents-day-not-they-even-lie-about-the-calendar .

Lying, or spreading untruths, about the calendar may seem like a little thing. But ever time politicians, bureaucrats, academic pseudo-intellectuals, and people in the media lie or spread false information about little things and get away with it Read all »

Harvard students: How stupid are they? (and the case of the Louisiana literacy test)

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

One of the great deceptions in American politics is that students at Ivy League schools such as Harvard know more about the great issues of the day than, say, students at a typical state university. In fact, a study conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute suggests that students at “elite” schools such as Harvard and Yale are less knowledgeable about economics, politics, and American history than students at other schools—and, incredibly, that seniors at Harvard and Yale and some other prestigious colleges and universities know less than freshmen at the same schools.

[Information on the ISI study is available at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2007/summary_summary.html. When I was editor of the magazine Tea Party Review magazine, I published an article about the study. It’s no longer available online, but I’m posting it below.]

Schools like Harvard and Yale are designed not to promote knowledge but to perpetuate an aristocracy. That is a task they perform well. Members of prominent political families, children of the rich, and other highly privileged kids attend such schools alongside a certain number of students who are genuinely gifted in physical sciences, the arts, and other fields (but not especially in fields directly related to public policy). The truly gifted children give cover to the privileged blockheads. Read all »

They. Hate. You.

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

Jonathan Gruber is not a bug. He’s a feature.

The people who run Washington are so-called Progressives—that is, they think that you are a bunch of rubes, ignorant hicks who need smart people like them to tell you how to live your life.

Needless to say, they’re a bunch of idiots. They’re “economists” who believe in Keynes and Obamacare, and “scientists” who believe in Global Warming theory.  They’re “Constitutional scholars” who oppose the very idea of Constitutional law, because Constitutional law protects people like you from bullies like them. They’re “public health experts” who believe in banning trans fats and jumbo sodas and e-cigs and non-bureaucrat-approved restaurant menus instead of protecting public health (that is, protecting the public from infectious diseases, like EV-D68 or, for that matter, the Ebola virus about which the President lied: Read all »

The right to vote any way you want, while we watch

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

“Today the practice of casting secret ballots is so commonplace that most voters would not consider that any other method might be used.” – Wikipedia

Well, not anymore, if the Progressives have their way.

In three states (Washington, Oregon, and Colorado), the secret ballot has been abolished, and it’s barely surviving in a number of other states.

Washington, Oregon, and Colorado have a system of universal mail-out voting. Every voter gets a ballot in the mail—at least, that’s what’s supposed to happen—and every voter returns his or her ballot by mail. There is absolutely no protection if your employer, an official of your union, your preacher, someone from the department of welfare, or a member of your family demands that you vote in front of him or her or that you sign and mail the ballot after it’s been marked “for” you. Or, for that matter, if vote harvesters show up at your door to “help” you vote. Read all »

Tragedy, as politics: Exploiting Ferguson

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

African-Americans have long been the victims of oppression by politicians and bureaucrats. That’s been true from the 17th Century when slavery, a practice older than civilization, began to be associated with the concept we now call “race,” through the era of Jim Crow and one-party Democratic Party rule in much of the country (a time that included FDR’s racist National Recovery Administration), to the present time (when, for example, in Washington, DC, African-Americans are eight times more likely than others to be arrested for marijuana offenses, and are disproportionately the victims of horrific public schools and of laws that restrict small-business opportunities).

Often, law enforcement officials have been part of that oppression. During Jim Crow, African-Americans were often framed for crimes, then rented out as laborers, a practice that was, in effect, a partial restoration of slavery. During the Civil Rights Movement, police often looked the other way when violence was visited upon civil rights workers and on everyday African-Americans, and sometimes police were active participants in these crimes.

I grew up around police officers, studied law enforcement beside them in college, and worked as a police reporter. I have the greatest respect for these men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day. But I understand why many African-Americans are deeply distrustful of the police.

If, in fact, an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, had shot and killed an unarmed young man, Michael Brown, in the back, or while Brown was trying to surrender with his hands up, and if that officer did not have full justification for his actions, I would support punishing the officer to the fullest extent of the law.

The problem is that that version of the story, it appears, is not Read all »

What they’ve done to public health: a laughing matter (if it weren’t so deadly)

“You cannot get it [Ebola] from just riding on a plane or a bus,” the President said.

…which would be true, unless, say, someone with Ebola were to cough on you. Then it wouldn’t be true.

How infectious is Ebola? So infectious that a nurse in Spain was, officials say, infected by touching her face while removing her gear. So infectious that the average patient infects 1.5 to 2 other people. If unchecked, that would mean that it would spread to every person on earth in 20-34 iterations, in less than a year. No, that won’t happen, but the World Health Organization is projecting 10,000 cases per week in Africa by December. (By the way, WHO’s projection in September for the number in late October was overly optimistic; it fell short by a factor of three.) Each patient requires 20 health workers to care for him or her, at a cost, if the most up-to-date technology were used, of $500,000 per patient. In Africa, the average income is about $2,500 a year, and the continent, with 24 percent of the population, has three percent of the healthcare workers. By the math, we are skewered.

How infectious is Ebola? Scientists studying the virus in the laboratory are supposed to do so in what are basically spacesuits, completely sealed with their own oxygen supplies, with airlocks and ultraviolet lighting and showers and other aspects of “BSL-4″ (Biosafety Level 4) laboratories, the most secure labs known to man. Only smallpox, which is believed extinct in the wild, and the viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Hantavirus, Machupo, and Ebola and its cousin Marburg are treated this carefully. Rabies and yellow fever are only BSL-3.

How infectious is Ebola? Jonathan V. Last notes in The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/six-reasons-panic_816387.html):

In August, Science magazine published a survey conducted by 58 medical professionals working in African epidemiology. They traced the origin and spread of the virus with remarkable precision—for instance, they discovered that it crossed the border from Guinea into Sierra Leone at the funeral of a “traditional healer” who had treated Ebola victims. In just the first six months of tracking the virus, the team identified more than 100 mutated forms of it. . . .

By the by, that Science article written by 58 medical professionals tracing the emergence of Ebola—5 of them died from Ebola before it was published.

 

One of the legitimate responsibilities of government is to protect the public health—that is, to protect us from infectious disease and from disease caused by a common environmental source. But President Obama has appointed, to public health positions, Prohibitonists rather than public health experts: the likes of

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