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The Fact-Free Left

Thomas Sowell

By Thomas Sowell

Published July 22, 2015

The outrage over another multiple murder of American military personnel on American soil by another Islamic extremist has been exacerbated by the fact that these military people had been ordered to be unarmed -- and therefore sitting ducks.

Millions of American civilians have also been forbidden to have guns, and are also sitting ducks -- for criminals, terrorists or psychos.

You might think that, before having laws or policies forcing fellow human beings to be defenseless targets, those who support such laws and policies would have some factual basis for believing that these gun restrictions save more lives, on net balance, than allowing more legal access to firearms. But you would be wrong.

Most gun control zealots show not the slightest interest in testing empirically their beliefs or assumptions. There have been careful factual studies by various scholars of what happens after gun control laws have been instituted, strengthened or reduced.

But those studies are seldom even mentioned by gun control activists. Somehow they just know that gun restrictions reduce gun crime, no matter how many studies show the opposite. How do they know? Because other like-minded people say so -- and say so repeatedly and loudly.

A few gun control advocates may cherry-pick examples of countries with stronger gun control laws than ours that have lower murder rates (such as England) -- and omit other countries with stronger gun control laws than ours that have far higher murder rates (such as Mexico, Russia and Brazil).
You don't test an assumption or belief by cherry-picking examples. Not if you are serious. And if you are not going to be serious about life and death, when are you going to be serious?

Unfortunately, gun control is just one of many issues on which the political left shows no real interest in testing their assumptions or beliefs. The left glorifies the 1960s as a turning point in American life. But they show no interest in testing whether things turned for the better or for the worse.

Homicide rates had been going down substantially, for decades on end -- among both blacks and whites -- until the 1960s. Plotted on a graph, there is a big U-shaped curve, showing the turnaround after the bright ideas of the left were applied to criminals in American courts of law in the 1960s.

This was not the only U-shaped curve, with its low, turnaround point in the 1960s. The same was true of the venereal disease gonorrhea, whose rate of infection went down in every year of the 1950s -- and then skyrocketed, beginning in the 1960s.

Teenage pregnancies had also been going down for years, until the late 1960s, when "sex education" was introduced in schools across the country. Then pregnancy rates rose nearly 50 percent over the next decade, among girls 15 to 19 years old -- exactly the opposite of what had been predicted by the left.
Another program that had the opposite effect from its advocates' claims was the "war on poverty" program created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Contrary to what was said during the celebrations of its 50th anniversary last year, the loudly proclaimed purpose of the "war on poverty" was not simply to transfer money or other benefits to the poor. Both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and their supporters in Congress and in the media, all clearly stated that the central purpose of the "war on poverty" was to reduce dependency on government.

Both poverty and dependency on government had already been declining for years before this massive program began. The proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level -- without counting government benefits -- declined by about one third from 1950 to 1965.

This was yet another beneficial trend that reversed itself after another bright idea of the left was put into practice in the 1960s. After half a century and trillions of dollars, the only response of the left has been to change the criteria, so that now the "war on poverty" could be portrayed as a success because it proved that, if you transferred more resources from X to Y, then Y would now have more resources. Who could have doubted that?

There is no way to know what is going on in someone else's mind. But sometimes their behavior tells you more than their words.

The political left's great claim to authenticity and honor is that what they advocate is for the benefit of the less fortunate. But how could we test that?

T.S. Eliot once said, "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

This suggests that one way to find out if those who claim to be trying to help the less fortunate are for real is to see if they are satisfied to simply advocate a given policy, and see it through to being imposed — without also testing empirically whether the policy is accomplishing what it set out to do.

The first two steps are enough to let advocates feel important and righteous. Whether you really care about what happens to the supposed beneficiaries of the policy is indicated by whether you bother to check out the empirical evidence afterwards.

Many, if not most, people who are zealous advocates of minimum wage laws, for example, never check to see if these laws do more good by raising some workers' wages than harm by preventing many young and inexperienced workers from finding jobs.

One of my own pieces of good fortune, when I left home at age 17, was that the unemployment rate for black 17-year-old males was in single digits that year — for the last time. The minimum wage law was ten years old, and the wage specified in that law was now so low that it was irrelevant, after years of inflation. It was the same as if there were no minimum wage law.

Liberals, of course, wanted the minimum wage raised, to keep up with inflation. The result was that, ten years later, the unemployment rate for black 17-year-old males was 27.5 percent — and it has never been less than 20 percent in all the years since then.

As the minimum wage kept getting raised, so did the unemployment rate for black 17-year-old males. In 1971 it was 33.4 percent — and it has never been under 30 percent since then. It has often been over 40 percent and, occasionally, over 50 percent.

But people who advocate minimum wage laws seldom show any interest in the actual consequences of such laws, which include many idle young males on the streets, which does no good for them or for their communities.

Advocates talk about people who make minimum wages as if they are a permanent class of people. In reality, most are young inexperienced workers, and no one stays young permanently. But they can stay inexperienced for a very long time, damaging their prospects of getting a job and increasing their chances of getting into trouble, hanging out with other idle and immature males.

There is the same liberal zeal for government intervention in housing markets, and the same lack of interest in checking out what the actual consequences are for the people who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of government housing policies, whether as tenants or home buyers.

Government pressures and threats forced mortgage lenders to lower their lending standards, to allow more low-income and minority applicants to qualify. But, after the housing boom became a bust, the biggest losers were low-income and minority home buyers, who were unable to keep up the payments and lost everything — which was the very reason they were turned down before lending standards were lowered.

Rent control laws have led to housing shortages in cities around the world. More than a thousand apartment buildings have been abandoned by their owners in New York alone — more than enough to house all the homeless in the city.

High tax rates on "the rich" — however defined — are an ever popular crusade on the left. Who cares about the consequences — such as the rich investing their money overseas, where it will create jobs and economic growth in other countries, while American workers are unemployed and American economic growth is anemic?

All these policies allow the political left to persist in their fact-free visions. And those visions in turn allow the left to feel good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake.




Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.


Where do you fall on the political scale?

"Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."  -Robert A. Heinlein

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The Battle of Barossa

From Britishbattles.com

War: Peninsular War
Date: 5th March 1811

Place: Outside Cadiz in Southern Spain

Combatants: British, Portuguese and Spanish against the French

Generals: The nominal commander of the British, Portuguese and Spanish was General La Peña. A British officers, Lieutenant General Thomas Graham conducted the battle. The French were commanded by Marshal Victor.

The Battle of Barossa
The Battle of Barossa

Size of the armies: The total British, Portuguese and Spanish force was 15,000 men. Graham commanded 5,200 British and Portuguese. There were 9,600 Spanish. The French force that attacked the British and Portuguese contingent was around 7,000.

Uniforms, arms and equipment: Uniforms, arms, equipment and training:
The British infantry wore red waist jackets, white trousers, and stovepipe shakos. Fusilier regiments wore bearskin caps. The rifle regiment wore dark green jackets.
The French army wore a wide variety of uniforms. The basic infantry uniform was dark blue.
The French artillery dressed in uniforms similar to the infantry, the horse artillery in hussar uniform.
The standard infantry weapon across all the armies was the musket. It could be fired three or four times a minute, throwing a heavy ball inaccurately for a hundred metres or so. Each infantryman carried a bayonet that fitted on the muzzle of his musket. 

The British rifle battalion carried the Baker rifle, a more accurate weapon but slower to fire, and a sword bayonet.

Field guns fired a ball projectile, by its nature of limited use against troops in the field, unless closely formed. Guns also fired case shot or canister which fragmented, but was effective only over a short range. Exploding shells fired by howitzers, as yet in their infancy, were of particular use against buildings. The British had ‘shrapnel’ a fragmenting form of shell, used against troops.

Winner: The aim of the raid, which was to destroy the French siege works, was not achieved, but heavy casualties were inflicted on the two French divisions and the British, Portuguese and Spanish force was able to return to Cadiz unimpeded. The British consider the battle a victory

Account: In January 1810 Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Soult advanced south into Andalusia and captured Seville, the city from where the Spanish Cortes had been attempting to direct the war against the French. Soult delayed to continue the French advance on the important port of Cadiz, giving time to the Duke of Albuquerque to slip into the city and hold it against the French. Cadiz reached by an isthmus, was impregnable when fully garrisoned. Joseph left Soult to begin a desultory siege of the city and returned to Madrid. 

Map of the Battle of Barossa 5th March 1811
Map of the Battle of Barossa

The garrison of Cadiz was increased by further Spanish, British and Portuguese troops brought in by sea, the British and Portuguese contingent commanded by Lieutenant General Thomas Graham.
In early 1811 Soult took a substantial part of his Andalusian army north to Badajoz. It was decided to seize the opportunity to disrupt the French siege works outside Cadiz by an attack from the rear.
Graham and the British and Portuguese contingent took ship along the coast, ending in Algeciras, across the bay from Gibraltar. Graham was joined by troops from the Gibraltar garrison, in particular a battalion formed from the flank companies of the garrison, commanded by Major Brown of the 28th Foot.

La Peña arrived and, having a larger contingent, took command. La Peña ordered the army to march along the coast to the West, towards Cadiz. Criticism is mounted against La Peña that he marched the troops too hard and kept changing their destination.

Sergeant Masterman of the 87th Irish Foot capturing the eagle of the 8th of the Line at the Battle of Barrosa: the first eagle captured by the British Army

Rather than fulfilling the purpose of the expedition, which was to destroy as much of the French siege works as possible, La Peña resolved to march along the coast and hurry back into Cadiz with the assistance of the Spanish force waiting on the far side of the San Petri River.

The French were moving south to intercept La Peña’s force. Graham intended to hold a position on the Barossa Ridge, an area of high ground leading to the coast, some 3 miles short of the San Petri River crossing, but La Peña ordered him to march on, leaving a rear guard of a battalion and the few cavalry he had, while five Spanish battalions would join them to hold off the French. Graham gave this job to Brown with his battalion of flank companies and marched on to the West.

Soon Brown found himself threatened by two French divisions. He hastened to leave the ridge sending a message to Graham. Graham turned his British Portuguese column about and hurried back, sending on an order to Brown to recover his position on the Barossa Hill.

Graham led his battalion of flank companies into the attack up the hillside, suffering 236 casualties in his assault on the French. Coming up on Brown’s right, Colonel Dilkes’ brigade of Foot Guards attacked up the hill. The French sent down two counter-attacks, both of which were beaten off, the Foot Guards and Brown’s battalion forcing their way to the summit.

The Battle of Barossa  

Wheatley’s brigade (1st/28th Foot (less flank cos), 2nd/67th Foot, 2nd/87th Foot) assaulted Laval’s division on Brown’s left, his 2,600 men pitted against 4,000 French. Laval sent his division against the British in four columns. The British battalions waited until the French were within 50 yards and firing from line, two deep, decimated the French columns. The final blow was a charge by a squadron of King’s German Legion Hussars. The battle had lasted just one and a half hours.

Throughout, La Peña and his Spanish troops held aloof, leaving the British and Portuguese to fight alone. Had, at the very least, the Spanish cavalry joined the German Hussars the French losses would have been disastrous.

Once the French had been driven off Graham’s force resumed their march along the coast and crossed the river back into Cadiz. No attempt was made to destroy any of the French siege works.

British Regiments: 

Royal Artillery
1st Guards, the Grenadier Guards *
Coldstream Guards *
3rd Guards, the Scots Guards *
9th Foot, from 1882 the Norfolk Regiment and now the Royal Anglian Regiment
28th Foot, from 1882 the Gloucestershire Regiment and now the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment *
47th Foot, from 1882 the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) and now the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment
67th Foot, from 1882 the Hampshire Regiment and now the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment *
82nd Foot, from 1882 the South Lancashire Regiment and now the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment
87th Foot, from 1882 the Royal Irish Fusiliers and now the Royal Irish Regiment *
95th Rifles, from 1882 the Rifle Brigade and now the Royal Green Jackets *
* These regiments have Barossa as a battle honour.

British order of battle:
General Officer Commanding: Lieutenant General Thomas Graham
1st Brigade: commanded by Brigadier General Dilkes
2nd/1st Guards, 2nd/Coldstream Guards (2 Cos), 2nd/3rd Guards (3 Cos), 3rd/95th Rifles (2 Cos).
2nd Brigade: commanded by Colonel Wheatley
1st/28th Foot (less flank cos), 2nd/67th Foot, 2nd/87th Foot
Gibraltar Flank Battalion formed from 1st/9th Foot, 1st/28th Foot, 2nd/82nd Foot
Cadiz Light Bn. Formed from 2nd/47th Foot, 3rd/95th Rifles.
Portuguese Flank Battalion formed from 1st/20th and 2nd/20th Line Regiment.
Artillery: commanded by Major Duncan
10 guns of Hughes’ and Shenley’s batteries.

1st Guards lost 10 officers and 210 soldiers killed and wounded
The Coldstream Guards lost 3 officers and 54 soldiers killed and wounded
3rd Guards lost 2 officers and 99 soldiers killed and wounded
The Royal Artillery lost 8 officers and 46 soldiers killed and wounded
9th Foot lost 4 officers and 64 soldiers killed and wounded
28th Foot lost 8 officers and 151 soldiers killed and wounded
47th Foot lost 2 officers and 69 soldiers killed and wounded
67th Foot lost 4 officers and 40 soldiers killed and wounded
82nd Foot lost 2 officers and 97 soldiers killed and wounded
87th Foot lost 5 officers and 168 soldiers killed and wounded
95th Rifles lost 4 officers and 62 soldiers killed and wounded

French Casualties: The French lost 3,500 against the 1,200 British casualties.

Follow-up: Graham was furious at the failure of La Peña to support him and the way in which the Spanish general had conducted the raid. The Spanish Cortes awarded Graham the position of Grandee of the First Class which he refused, resigning his post as commander of the British and Portuguese forces in Cadiz and returning to the main army in Portugal.

Anecdotes and traditions:
  • Lieutenant General Thomas Graham of Balgowan was a Scottish Landowner and keen cricket player. While in France after the Revolution Graham’s wife died. A French mob treated his wife’s coffin with considerable disrespect. Enraged, Graham at the age of 45 raised a regiment at his own expense in his home county of Perthshire, the 90th Foot, becoming its colonel. The 90th became a light infantry regiment and was known as the “Perthshire Grey Breeks” from the colour of the soldier’s trousers. Prevented from further promotion by the Duke of York’s regulations any earlier, Graham became a Major General at the specific dying wish of Sir John Moore. Graham subsequently became Wellington’s second in command and a peer as Lord Lyndoch.
  • At Barossa Sergeant Patrick Masterson captured the first French eagle to be taken in battle, from the 8th of the Line, and was commissioned. One of the French regiments to take a prominent part in the battle was the 45th of the Line, which was to lose its eagle to the Royal Scots Greys at Waterloo.
  • Masterson’s regiment, the 87th Foot, were known in the Peninsular for their battle cry “Faugh a Ballagh”, the Irish for “Clear the way”. Following Barossa the regiment was “recommended to the Prince Regent” who awarded them the title of “Prince of Wales’ Own Irish Regiment” and directed that they wear an eagle on their colours and appointments.
  • Major Brown led his battalion into the attack singing his favourite song “Hearts of Oak”, or so it is said.
  • After the battle only two officers from the 28th Foot remained unwounded. See the picture by Matania of those officers toasting the King at supper that evening.


'Just Asking'

Thomas Sowell

By Thomas Sowell

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to "ask from society's lottery winners" that they make a "modest investment" in government programs to help the poor.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just "ask" for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about "asking" the more fortunate for more money, the government does not "ask" anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don't pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.
So please don't insult our intelligence by talking piously about "asking."

And please don't call the government's pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit "investment." Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about "investing in the industries of the future"? After Solyndra and other companies in which he "invested" the taxpayers' money went bankrupt, we haven't heard those soaring words so much.
Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama's rhetoric, these producers are called "society's lottery winners."

Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?

Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don't want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want "the rich" to pay their undefined "fair share" of taxes. This "fair share" must remain undefined because all it really means is "more."

Once you have defined it — whether at 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent — you wouldn't be able to come back for more.

Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. "You didn't build that!" he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world's wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.

And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

When all else fails, redistributionists can say, as Obama did at Georgetown University, that "coldhearted, free-market capitalist types" are people who "pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use," so they should let the government take that extra money to help the poor.

Slippery use of the word "use" seems to confine it to personal consumption. The real question is whether the investment of wealth is likely to be done better by those who created that wealth in the first place or by politicians. The track record of politicians hardly suggests that turning ever more of a nation's wealth over to them is likely to turn out well.

It certainly has not turned out well in the American economy under Barack Obama.


The Sheep sway to the new drumbeat

All the current talk about banning the confederate flag shows how un-educated and shallow people are.  Because some people assign a certain “Meaning” based on their own emotions as opposed to Historical fact is astounding.  The Media jumps on a topic and the sheep follow within days.  Companies follow to protect their perceived position on issues.  The hypocrisy flows like leafs in the wind.

                         (How many Media elites even know This is the Confederate Flag......)

The Nazi Flag and it’s symbolism (The Swastika) was banned as well, based on what only a few people used the symbol for.  Research for yourself its origins and meanings and you quickly see emotions rule over facts and history.

Forget facts, origins and History........ Emotions rule, and we all know where that leads.

Good luck America.


And where are all the Irish attempting to ban the British flag?  .......Oh yea...... they are made of tougher stuff, and do not whine over "Banning" just to make themselves feel better.