Friday, December 09, 2016

Mike Pence: ‘Buckle Up’ for Trump’s First 100 Days

Vice President-elect Mike Pence asserted Tuesday night that the Trump administration will have an aggressive first 100 days in office that includes rebuilding the military, repealing Obamacare, and naming a justice to the Supreme Court.

The Indiana governor and former U.S. House member said he has visited Capitol Hill about the agenda and issued a warning to GOP lawmakers. “I told my former colleagues to buckle up, vacation is over,” Pence said to laughter from the audience.

Pence spoke Tuesday night at The Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club Meeting, held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in front of about 700 people in the large ballroom. His speech came just 44 days before Donald Trump is inaugurated the 45th president. The Heritage Foundation is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

Pence explained that nominating the next Supreme Court justice would be a key event in the first 100 days.

“During the campaign, I said that while you are electing a president to serve a four-year term, right before electing him to serve another four-year term, the next president will influence the next 40 years,” Pence said.

He noted the list of potential Supreme Court nominees that The Heritage Foundation helped compile was a “gold mine of conservative jurists.” He said Trump will “appoint a justice to the Supreme Court in the mold of the late, great Antonin Scalia.”

Pence went on to talk about plans to tackle the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. “Our president-elect is going to be in the promise-keeping business and we are going to repeal Obamacare lock, stock, and barrel,” Pence said to loud applause.

“We have asked Congress to put on his desk with all deliberate speed a repeal of Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms,” Pence added.

Pence talked about the state of the American military. He said the average military planes are older than his son, who is in the Marines. He noted that the Army is the smallest it has been since World War II, while the number of Navy ships has been cut by nearly half and the the Air Force is one-third smaller.

“Ronald Reagan taught us that peace comes through strength. … This administration has walked away from its commitment to be that arsenal of democracy to the world,” Pence said. “The Obama era of weakening our national defenses is over.”

Pence expressed his gratitude to The Heritage Foundation for its help in the presidential transition, and said that the think tank’s former president, Ed Feulner, “has shown up each and every day at the transition office of the president of the United States.”

“We will continue to draw on the extraordinary intellectual creativity of The Heritage Foundation. We truly believe the president-elect received a mandate to lead and you know something about that,” he said.

Some movement conservatives who had doubts about Trump during the presidential campaign are very hopeful that Pence will play a powerful role in the administration, having built a strong conservative record in the House and later as governor of Indiana.

Jim DeMint, president of The Heritage Foundation and a former South Carolina senator and House member, introduced the vice president-elect.

DeMint recalled that when they served in the House together, they were “called to the carpet” at the White House during a meeting with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Bush adviser Karl Rove, who were trying to pressure them to vote with the president or “our careers would be over.” “Somehow, we managed to survive,” DeMint joked.

During the introduction, DeMint noted to the crowd, “It is something really sweet to be in the Trump Hotel a few blocks from the White House.”

During his remarks, Pence noted the commonalities between himself and the president-elect, noting a significant exception.

“Other than a whole lot of zeroes, Donald Trump and I have a whole lot in common. That’s a belief in the American dream,” Pence said. “For our president-elect and vice president-elect, the American dream is not a bumper sticker. It’s real. We lived it.”



Obama's Pentagon Waste and Outsourcing

$125 billion in waste, F-16 production moved to India. What else?

Now that we have a real businessman headed to the White House, “business as usual” in Washington may start getting a little un-usual. At least for Beltway insiders, anyway. For the rest of us, we’re hoping to see some common sense kick in.

This week it seems to be the defense industry that’s getting the attention. But the Pentagon may have brought that on itself by attempting to bury a report that revealed $125 billion in wasteful and fraudulent spending.

An in-depth exposé in the Washington Post explains how the Pentagon commissioned a study in 2014 to look for ways to make its “enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power.”

The study was conducted by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel made up of corporate executives and consultants from McKinsey and Company. The final report identified $125 billion in wasteful spending to be cut over five years by streamlining bureaucracy through attrition, early retirements, and curtailing high-priced contractors.

Top brass, however, were terrifically embarrassed by such a large amount of waste in the Defense Department. To give some life to their concern, consider the fact that $125 billion represents about 20% of the Pentagon’s annual budget. On top of that, the number of back-office civilian and military personnel is roughly equal to the total number of troops on active duty, a one-to-one ratio. And if that isn’t enough to shock you, 298,000 of those back-office personnel are military, not civilians or contractors.

It’s little wonder that the Pentagon wanted to bury this report, and Barack Obama was no doubt a big supporter — if not instigator — of that decision. Remember the days of the sequester when Obama was blaming Republicans for leaving our national defense vulnerable because of “reckless cuts”? Cuts that were his idea for political gain. Well, if the Pentagon had followed the Defense Business Board’s recommendations, it would have found the savings it needed to balance out the sequester cuts, which was what was intended at the time anyway. But Obama opted instead to close DC memorials and national parks so as to score more political points.

To Obama’s White House, it was never about cost savings or reduced spending, or about keeping jobs and dollars in the U.S. And in its twilight days, the administration has not learned the right lesson.

With Obama’s blessing, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter are working out a deal to build Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jets in India.

The F-16 is being phased out by the U.S. military, but the aircraft is still popular in other countries. There are still a lot of jobs to be had for building and servicing the aircraft, though both the administration and the two companies insist American jobs will be repurposed, not lost. It may make some business and logistical sense to move this manufacturing overseas, but it seems to us there are some things that just shouldn’t be outsourced. America’s iconic military jets are one of them.

In the wake of President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent work to stop jobs from being shipped overseas, the Indian government is wondering if the deal will still hold. It may; it may not. But Trump is definitely making his presence known now in other areas.

In fact, Boeing is now feeling the heat from The Donald for its deal to build two new planes to fly as Air Force One. The new 747s are sorely needed as the current pair of retrofitted planes flying as the airborne White House are around 30 years old. The price tag, however, seems to have climbed past the point of fiscal responsibility — at least according to Trump’s latest Twitter declaration.

The replacement program for the planes was originally budgeted at $2.87 billion for fiscal years 2015-2021, but this was apparently only for research and development, testing and evaluation, not the cost of the planes themselves. However, a Government Accountability Office report from earlier this year claimed the program would cost $3.21 billion, planes included.

That was too much for Trump, and now Boeing is finding itself on the defensive. The Donald couldn’t resist pointing out that his own 757 is posher than Air Force One, which may very well be true, but it doesn’t have defense countermeasures nor can it operate as an airborne command post during a nuclear attack. That we know of…

The point here is that Trump is acting on campaign promises he made to keep jobs in the United States and to make America more economically competitive. He’s also already signaled with his pick of James “Mad Dog” Mattis for defense secretary that the Pentagon could use some cleaning up. After eight years of Obama, that’s going to be a herculean undertaking.



Trump’s Disputed Twitter Claim About Air Force One Turns Out to Be Completely True


Leftist Reasoning


News of Chris Brand

Chris seems to have weathered the storm and looks like he will make a good recovery.  He is however still in hospital.

Some background:

A great co-incidence is that my dynamic stepson Paul moved to Edinburgh over a year ago and in fact lives only 5 minutes walk down the street from where Chris lives.  And Paul shares my views on most things so he and Chris got on famously from the get go.  So Paul has been a great proxy for me during Chris' grievous illness.  He has fought for Chris all the way.

Paul and my son Joe also get on exceptionally well so Joe is travelling to Britain soon and will be staying with Paul for Christmas and should therefore meet Chris.  There will be some VERY conservative conversations between THAT trio!  Joe and I also see eye to eye on most things.

With that background I think I can share the latest marvellous email from Paul.  (Shiou is Chris' wife and Matthew is Paul's 5 year old son):

"Last night I spent 4 hours up at the Hospital with Chris, Shiou and his son, Tom who made a surprise visit up from London.

It was a really joyous occasion, celebrating the strong recovery of Chris. He hopes to be home for Christmas.

We had so many great chats and laughs but it was great to see Chris so talkative and strong in his will and being the main contributor to the many stories being told.

He is keen to assist Matthew in the future with his speech and cultural stories and of course we are all excited to have Joe Ray here over the Christmas period.

What a very lucky outcome!!"

The mention of Matthew refers to the fact that Matthew has acquired a slight Scottish accent which Paul rather deplores.  He knows how much your accent typecasts you in Britain.  So he is hoping to familiarize Matthew with RP, which Chris speaks. Matthew is a bright little boy so being able to switch accents should come easily to him.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, December 08, 2016

The war on salt

More ill-informed regulation.  It completely ignores academic research results which show that only LOW salt levels are harmful.  See e.g. here and here.  There is even a natural experiment that shows big doses of salt to be harmless:  Japan.  They have huge salt intakes but are also known for longevity

Almost everyone believes that lowering salt in the diet can lower a person’s blood pressure, but despite that belief and decades of warnings from government agencies, health organizations, and our doctors, Americans still eat about 1,000 mg of sodium a day more than the recommended limit of 2,300 mg. So this summer the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded by unveiling “guidance” for how the food industry could lower sodium in their products over the next decade. As well-intentioned as the plan might be, it has many problems.

First, the mission of the FDA is supposed to be protecting consumers from dangers in the food supply - not protecting us from our own choices.

Second, while the FDA call them “voluntary guidelines,” the reality is that manufacturers will be under immense pressure to comply. After all, the agency that is the gatekeeper, and possibly the single biggest impediment, between their products and the market.

Most importantly, the FDA plan—even if it successfully reduced sodium in the food supply—is unlikely to result in a healthier population. In the meantime, the focus on salt overshadows better approaches to lowering blood pressure and improving health.

Evidence shows that most human beings consume salt within a relatively narrow range and that our sodium intake has remained more or less stable for at least the last fifty years. That’s pretty amazing considering how much more processed (and heavily salted) foods we consume today compared with previous generations. When you consider our proven inability to reduce our own sodium intake, despite constant warnings, and the worldwide consistency in sodium intake, despite cultural differences, that’s a strong indicator that we don’t merely decide to eat more or less salt. Rather, we are unconsciously and physiologically driven to eat a certain amount of sodium. This means that even if the FDA succeeds in lowering salt in the food supply, people will probably just add it back into their food or add in other salty foods to their diet.

But, let’s say the FDA plan works and we all end up eating less salt. It’s unclear that this would result in better health for the majority of people. While most of us accept the idea that lowering salt in the diet will lower blood pressure, the actual scientific research shows that only a small percentage of the population—an estimated 17 percent—are “salt sensitive” or will see blood pressure rise with increased dietary sodium. For everyone else, even significant sodium reduction will have no measurable effect on blood pressure.

You might be thinking: well, it can’t hurt to cut out some salt…right? The troubling answer is: that’s not clear, either. Emerging evidence suggests that populations with diets that have lower-than-average sodium are at a higher risk for worse health outcomes (as are those with higher-than-average sodium levels). Why might groups with lower sodium in their diet be more likely to die? Unknown. But we must demand that regulators proceed with serious caution before making blanket recommendations regarding salt or trying to push the entire population toward behavioral changes that have unknown risks.

Perhaps worst of all, the FDA’s sodium reduction plan, with all its accompanying hype, reinforces the idea that salt is the be-all, end-all of hypertension prevention. While salt restriction can certainly be an effective way for some people to lower their blood pressure, for most people it will have no effect. On the other hand, there is strong evidence that losing weight or increasing potassium in the diet are just as effective at lowering blood pressure as moderate salt restriction. In addition to being effective, these approaches to hypertension risk reduction might be easier for people to adhere to, especially for those who find salt restriction difficult.

Unfortunately, while most people know that eating more fruits and vegetables would be good, few realize that doing so might lower their risk of hypertension, heart attack, and strokes. This ignorance is, in part, due to the government’s continued myopic focus on salt. Rather than perpetuating public health policy that has failed for nearly forty years, we urged the FDA to focus instead on protecting the food supply from real threats and to allow the appropriate health agencies and physicians to advise the people on nutrition that makes our lives longer and healthier.



The Left's Gambles with all our lives

Thomas Sowell

Sometimes life forces us to make decisions, even when we don’t have enough information to know how the decision will turn out. The risks may be even greater when people make decisions for other people. Yet there are some who are not only willing, but eager, to take decisions away from those who are directly affected.

Something as personal as what doctor we want to go to has been taken out of our hands by ObamaCare. What job offer, at what pay rate, someone wants to accept has been taken out of their hands by minimum wage laws.

Sick people who are dying are prevented from trying a medication that has not yet completed all the long years of tests required by federal regulations — even if the medication has been used for years in other countries without ill effects.

One by one, innumerable decisions have been taken out of the hands of those directly affected. This is not just something that has happened. It is a central part of the agenda of the political left, even though they describe what they are doing in terms of the bad things they claim to be preventing and the good things they claim to be creating.

Minimum wage laws are described as preventing workers from being “exploited” by employers who pay less than what third parties want them to pay. But would people accept wages that third parties don’t like if there were better alternatives available?

This is an issue that is very personal to me. When I left home at the age of 17, going out into the world as a black high school dropout with very little experience and no skills, the minimum wage law had been rendered meaningless by ten years of inflation since the law was passed. In other words, there was no minimum wage law in effect, for all practical purposes.

It was far easier for me to find jobs then than it is for teenage black high school dropouts today. After the minimum wage was raised to keep up with inflation, for decades the unemployment rate for black male 17-year-olds never fell below TRIPLE what it was for me — and in some years their unemployment rate was as much as five times what it was when I was a teenager.

Yet many people on the left were able to feel good about themselves for having prevented “exploitation” — that is, wage rates less than what third parties would like to see. No employer in his right mind was going to pay me what third parties wanted paid, when I had nothing to contribute, except in the simplest jobs.

As for me, my options would have been welfare or crime, and welfare was a lot harder to get in those days. As it was, the ineffectiveness of the minimum wage law at that time allowed me time to acquire job skills that would enable me to move on to successively better jobs — and eventually to complete my education. Most people who have minimum wage jobs do not stay at those jobs for life. The turnover rate among people who are flipping hamburgers was found by one study to be so high that those who have such jobs on New Year’s Day are very unlikely to still be there at Christmas.

In short, the left has been gambling with other people’s livelihoods — and the left pays no price when that gamble fails.

It is the same story when the left prevents dying people from getting medications that have been used for years in other countries, without dire effects, but have not yet gotten through the long maze of federal “safety” regulations in the U.S.

People have died from such “safety.” Police are dying from restrictions on them that keep criminals safe.

San Francisco is currently trying to impose more restrictions on the police, restrictions that will prevent them from shooting at a moving car, except under special conditions that they will have to think about when they have a split second to make a decision that can cost them their own lives. But the left will pay no price.

One of the most zealous crusades of the left has been to prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns, even though gun control laws have little or no effect on criminals who violate laws in general. You can read through reams of rhetoric from gun control advocates without encountering a single hard fact showing gun control laws reducing crime in general or murder in particular.

Such hard evidence as exists points in the opposite direction.

But the gun control gamble with other people’s lives is undeterred. And the left still pays no price when they are wrong.



People are still voting with their feet

The blue states of America are in a depression. I don’t mean the collective funk of liberal voters because they lost the election to Donald Trump.

I’m talking about an economic malaise in the blue states that went for Hillary Clinton. Here is an amazing statistic courtesy of the just-released 2016 edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” which I co-authored with Reagan economist Arthur Laffer and economist Jonathan Williams: Of the 10 blue states that Democrats won by the largest percentage margins — California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut — every single one of them lost domestic migration (excluding immigration) between 2004 and 2014. Nearly 2.75 million more Americans left California and New York than entered these states.

They are the loser states. They are all progressive: high taxes rates; high welfare benefits; heavy regulation; environmental extremism; high minimum wages. Most outlaw energy drilling. The whole left-wing playbook is on display in the Clinton states. And people are leaving in droves. Day after day, they are being bled to death. So much for liberalism creating a worker’s paradise.

Now let’s look at the 10 states that had the largest percentage vote for Trump. Every one of them — Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Dakota and Idaho — was a net population gainer.

This is part and parcel of one of the greatest internal migration waves in American history, as blue states, especially in the Northeast, are getting clobbered by their low-tax, smaller-government rivals in the South and the mountain regions.

By the way, pretty much the same pattern holds true for jobs. The job gains in the red states that Trump carried by the widest margins had about twice the job-creation rate as the bluest states carried by Clinton.

The latest “Rich States, Poor States” report, published by the American Legislative Exchange Council, shows a persistent trend of Americans moving from blue to red states. The best example is that from 2004-2014, the two most populous conservative states — Florida and Texas — gained almost 1 million new residents each. The two most populous liberal states — California and New York — saw an equal-sized exodus.

It’s easy to understand why people might want to leave gray and rusting New York. But California? California has, arguably, the most beautiful weather, mountains and beaches in the country, and yet people keep fleeing the state that is supposed to be a progressive utopia.

What doesn’t make California and New York paradise is the high cost of living — thanks to expensive environmental regulations, forced union policies and income tax rates that are the highest in the nation, at 13 percent or more. Florida and Texas are right-to-work states with no income tax. Is it really a shocker that people would choose zero income tax over 13 percent? New York politicians know that their record-high tax rates are killing growth, which is why the state is spending millions of dollars on TV ads across the country trying to convince people that New York has low taxes. Sure. And Chicago is crime-free.

Even when it comes to income inequality, blue states fare worse than red states. According to a 2016 report by the Economic Policy Institute, three of the states with the largest gaps between rich and poor are those progressive icons New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Sure, Boston, Manhattan and Silicon Valley are booming as the rich prosper. But outside these areas are deep pockets of poverty and wage stagnation.

The lesson to be learned from the experimentation of the states is that the “progressive” tax and spend agenda leads to much slower growth and benefits the rich and politically well-connected at the expense of everyone else.

Trump is now promising that on a national scale, he will cut taxes, deregulate and cut wasteful government spending. In the presidential debates, Clinton disparaged this agenda as “trumped up, trickle-down economics,” and she said it had never worked.

Yet prospering red states such as Florida, Tennessee, Texas and so many others keep stealing jobs and growth from blue-state America.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Trump’s Taiwan call wasn’t a blunder. It was brilliant

Marc A. Thiessen

Relax. Breathe. Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Taiwan wasn’t a blunder by an inexperienced president-elect unschooled in the niceties of cross-straits diplomacy. It was a deliberate move — and a brilliant one at that.

The phone call with President Tsai Ing-wen was reportedly carefully planned, and Trump was fully briefed before the call, according to The Post. It’s not that Trump was unfamiliar with the “Three Communiques” or unaware of the fiction that there is “One China.” Trump knew precisely what he was doing in taking the call. He was serving notice on Beijing that it is dealing with a different kind of president — an outsider who will not be encumbered by the same Lilliputian diplomatic threads that tied down previous administrations. The message, as John Bolton correctly put it, was that “the president of the United States [will] talk to whomever he wants if he thinks it’s in the interest of the United States, and nobody in Beijing gets to dictate who we talk to.”

Amen to that.

And if that message was lost on Beijing, Trump underscored it on Sunday, tweeting: “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” He does not need Beijing’s permission to speak to anyone. No more kowtowing in a Trump administration.

Trump promised during the campaign that he would take a tougher stand with China, and supporting Taiwan has always been part of his get-tough approach to Beijing. As far back as 2011, Trump tweeted: “Why is @BarackObama delaying the sale of F-16 aircraft to Taiwan? Wrong message to send to China. #TimeToGetTough.” Indeed, the very idea that Trump could not speak to Taiwan’s president because it would anger Beijing is precisely the kind of weak-kneed subservience that Trump promised to eliminate as president.

Trump’s call with the Taiwanese president sent a message not only to Beijing, but also to the striped-pants foreign-policy establishment in Washington. It is telling how so many in that establishment immediately assumed Trump had committed an unintended gaffe. “Bottomless pig-ignorance” is how one liberal foreign-policy commentator described Trump’s decision to speak with Tsai. Trump just shocked the world by winning the presidential election, yet they still underestimate him. The irony is that the hyperventilation in Washington has far outpaced the measured response from Beijing. When American foreign-policy elites are more upset than China, perhaps it’s time for some introspection.

The hypocrisy is rank. When President Obama broke with decades of U.S. policy and extended diplomatic recognition to a murderous dictatorship in Cuba, the foreign-policy establishment swooned. Democrats on Capitol Hill praised Obama for taking action that was “long overdue.” Former President Jimmy Carter raved about how Obama had “shown such wisdom,” while the New York Times gushed that Obama was acting “courageously” and “ushering in a transformational era for millions of Cubans who have suffered as a result of more than 50 years of hostility between the two nations.”

But when Trump broke with decades of U.S. diplomatic practice and had a phone call with the democratically elected leader of Taiwan, he was declared a buffoon. Well, if they didn’t like that phone call, his critics may hate what could come next even more. Trump now has an opportunity to do with Taiwan what Obama did with Cuba — normalize relations.

There are a number of steps the Trump administration can take to strengthen our military, economic and diplomatic ties with Taiwan. My American Enterprise Institute colleague Derek Scissors has suggested that Trump could negotiate a new free-trade agreement with Taiwan. “Taiwan’s tiny population means there is no jobs threat,” Scissors says, but Taiwan is also the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner. A free-trade agreement would be economically beneficial to both sides and would send a message to friend and foe alike in Asia that, despite Trump’s planned withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the United States is not withdrawing from the region.

On the military front, Trump could begin sending general officers to Taipei once again to coordinate with their Taiwanese counterparts and hold joint military exercises. On the diplomatic front, Bolton says the new administration could start “receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department; upgrading the status of U.S. representation in Taipei from a private ‘institute’ to an official diplomatic mission; inviting Taiwan’s president to travel officially to America; allowing the most senior U.S. officials to visit Taiwan to transact government business; and ultimately restoring full diplomatic recognition.”

Beijing would be wise not to overreact to any overtures Trump makes to Taiwan. When China tested President George W. Bush in his first months in office by scrambling fighters and forcing a U.S. EP-3 aircraft to land on the Chinese island of Hainan, its actions backfired. After the incident, Bush approved a $30 billion arms package for Taiwan, announced that Taiwan would be treated as a major non-NATO ally and declared that the United States would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan. His actions not only strengthened U.S. ties with Taiwan but also set the stage for good relations with Beijing throughout his presidency.

China does not want to make the same mistake and overplay its hand with Trump. Trump’s call with Taiwan’s president was a smart, calculated move designed to send a clear message: The days of pushing the United States around are over.

That may horrify official Washington, but it’s the right message to send.


Pence: Obama Can Reach Out to Cuban Dictator, But Trump Can't Take Call From Taiwan's Leader?

The American people are "encouraged" to see President-elect Trump "taking calls from the world, speaking to the world," including the democratically elected leader of Taiwan, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

"But I think it all begins with relationships, and...that was nothing more than taking a courtesy call of congratulations from the democratically elected leader of Taiwan."

China, which claims Taiwan as its own, has complained about Trump's contact on Friday with the leader of Taiwan, a breach of longstanding diplomatic protocol. The United States, under President Jimmy Carter, broke off formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, in deference to communist China, but the U.S. maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan to this day.

Pence told "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, "It's a little mystifying to me that President Obama can -- can reach out to a murdering dictator in -- in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from a democratically elected leader in Taiwan and it's become -- it's become something of a controversy, because I think the American people appreciate the fact that -- that our president-elect is taking calls from and reaching out to the world and preparing on day one to lead America on the world stage."

Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said Trump did not believe he was talking to the leader of a sovereign state when he accepted the congratulatory phone call from the leader of Taiwan.

"No, of course not," Priebus said. "He knew exactly what was happening. But, look, we have got a lot of problems to solve in this country, and we're not going to solve them by just making believe that people don't exist. This was a two-minute congratulatory call. He talked to (Chinese) President Xi over two weeks ago. I'm sure he'd be willing to talk with him again.

"This is not a massive deviation of our policy," Priebus continued. "But President Trump has made it clear that he's going to work with China, PRC, to make sure that we have a better deal, that we have better trade agreements, and that we do a better job in protecting the American worker. And he's going to continue to do it.

"So, courtesy call, not a change in policy?" host John Dickerson asked.

"Exactly," Priebus said.

On Friday, Trump tweeted: "Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call."


The best cure for corruption

If you ask what worries me about the incoming Trump Administration, I’ll immediately point to a bunch of policy issues.

    Will Trump be too timid to deal with the huge entitlement problem?

    Will Trump do a business-as-usual pork-filled infrastructure deal?

    Will Trump’s tax cut be feasible without concomitant spending discipline?

Others, though, are more focused on whether Trump’s business empire will distort decisions in the White House. Here’s what Paul Krugman recently wrote about Trump and potential corruption.

    "…he’s already giving us an object lesson in what real conflicts of interest look like, as authoritarian governments around the world shower favors on his business empire. Of course, Donald Trump could be rejecting these favors and separating himself and his family from his hotels and so on. But he isn’t. In fact, he’s openly using his position to drum up business. …The question you need to ask is why this matters. …America is a very rich country, whose government spends more than $4 trillion a year, so even large-scale looting amounts to rounding error. 

What’s important is not the money that sticks to the fingers of the inner circle, but what they do to get that money, and the bad policy that results. …what’s truly scary is the potential impact of corruption on foreign policy. …someplace like Vladimir Putin’s Russia can easily funnel vast sums to the man at the top… So how bad will the effects of Trump-era corruption be? The best guess is, worse than you can possibly imagine"

I’m tempted to ask why Krugman wasn’t similarly worried about corruption over the past eight years? Was he fretting about Solyndra-type scams? About the pay-to-play antics at the Clinton Foundation? About Operation Choke Point and arbitrary denial of financial services to law-abiding citizens?

He seems to think that the problem of malfeasance only exists when his team isn’t in power. But that’s totally backwards. As I wrote back in 2010, people should be especially concerned and vigilant when their party holds power. It’s not just common sense. It should be a moral obligation.

But even if Krugman is a hypocrite, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. At least not in this case. He is absolutely on the mark when he frets about the “incentives” for massive looting by Trump and his allies.

But what frustrates me is that he doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion, which is that the incentive to loot mostly exists because there’s an ability to loot. And the ability to loot mostly exists because the federal government is so big and has so much power.

And as Lord Acton famously warned, power is very tempting and very corrupting. Which is why I’m hoping that Krugman will read John Stossel’s new column for Reason. In the piece, John correctly points out that the only way to “drain the swamp” is to shrink the size and scope of government.

    "…today’s complex government allows the politically connected to corrupt… most everything. …In the swamp, no one but taxpayers pays for their mistakes. …it’s well worth it for companies to invest in lobbyists and fixers who dive into the swamp to extract subsidies.For taxpayers? Not so much. While the benefits to lobbyists are concentrated, taxpayer costs are diffuse. …Draining the swamp would mean not just taking freebies away from corporations—or needy citizens—but eliminating complex handouts like Obamacare. Candidate Trump said he would repeal Obamacare. Will he? He’s already backed off of that promise, saying he likes two parts of the law—the most expensive parts"

As you can see, Stossel understands “public choice” and recognizes that making government smaller is the only sure-fire way of reducing public corruption.

Which is music to my ears, for obvious reasons.

By the way, the same problem exists in many other countries and this connects to the controversies about Trump and his business dealings. Many of the stories about potential misbehavior during a Trump Administration focus on whether the President will adjust American policy in exchange for permits and other favors from foreign governments.

But that temptation wouldn’t exist if entrepreneurs didn’t need to get permission from bureaucrats before building things such as hotels and golf courses. In other words, if more nations copied Singapore and New Zealand, there wouldn’t be much reason to worry whether the new president was willing to swap policy for permits.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Welcome to the Party of Trump

I agree with Stephen Moore below but think he missed an important contrast.  The party of Trump is the first working class party with CONSERVATIVE ideas.  Other working class parties have been socialist.  That is a huge step-change that will have far reaching results.  Most importantly, the Trump party will be the first working class party that actually will BENEFIT the worker -- by increasing prosperity instead of sabotaging it

I stirred up some controversy last week when I told a conference of several dozen House Republicans that the GOP is now officially a Trump working-class party. For better or worse, I said at the gathering inside the Capitol dome, the baton has now officially been passed from the Reagan era to the new Trump era. The members didn't quite faint over my apostasy, but the shock was palpable.

I emphasized that Republicans must prioritize delivering jobs and economic development to the regions of the country in the industrial Midwest - states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. These are places that, for the most part, never felt the meager Obama recovery and where blue-collar Reagan Democrats took a leap of faith this election and came back to the Republican party for the first time since 1984. The GOP will be judged in 2018 and in 2020 on whether they deliver results for this part of the country and for the forgotten middle-class men and women ("the deplorables") whom Democrats abandoned economically and culturally. This is all simply a political truism.

What roused the ire of some of my conservative friends was my statement that "just as Reagan converted the GOP into a conservative party, with his victory this year, Trump has converted the GOP into a populist, America First party."?

One friend lamented that I must have been drunk when I said this.

No. I meant exactly what I said, but I will clarify.

First, let me lay to rest the idea that this was a backhanded slam against Reagan's legacy. Hardly. I worked for the Gipper. He rebuilt the American economy and caused a quarter-century-long boom in wealth creation and prosperity nearly unrivaled in American history. He won the Cold War and vanquished the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. He belongs on Mount Rushmore.

But this is 2016 not 1986. The world is a different place. The concerns and priorities of the American people are different today from what they were 30 years ago. The voters spoke with a thunderclap. Trump squashed his 16 GOP rivals - a group that was touted as the most talented field of contenders in modern history - as if they were bugs crashing into his windshield. Republican voters opted for his new breed of economic populism. Republicans who were Never Trumpers and who insisted with absolute certainly that Trump could never win the primary, let alone the general election, can pretend that a political sonic boom didn't happen.

Guess what? It did. ?A realignment occurred while all the high-falutin' intellectuals and political consultants were napping.

So yes, this means we have awoken to a new party that will be a lot tougher on illegal immigration. A lot more skeptical of lopsided trade deals. A lot warier of foreign entanglements. More prone to spend money on infrastructure. ?I don't approve of all of these shifts, but they are what the voters voted for. Trump was hardly ambiguous about what he intended to do. Trade and immigration are in my view unambiguously good for the country - but new policies on these issues will have to be done in ways that are supported by the American people, not shoved down their throats by the elites. In this regard, I am a populist. The elites in both parties have not understood Trumpism and have often been contemptuous of the intellect and lifestyle of the Trump loyalists.

Conservatives should go back and read Jude Wanniski's classic, The Way the World Works. Wanniski reminds us over and over again of the lesson of history that there is great collective wisdom in the decisions made by the American voters. ?It's not often wise to second-guess them; it's better to listen to what they are saying.

A lot of good things come with the Trump package: probably three conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the biggest tax cut and assault against regulatory overreach since the Reagan era, spending cuts, Obamacare repeal, enterprise zones for inner cities, vouchers for kids in failing schools, and so on. But it's a package deal, folks. If you want purity, vote for Ron Paul for president again and see where that gets you.

I have always tried not to oversell Donald Trump to voters because I've been so bitterly disappointed by politicians time and again. ?You never know how it will turn out, and it's folly to render a verdict on a President-elect Trump who hasn't yet notched a single policy victory on his belt. Maybe I'm guilty of jumping the gun.

But it is a new Republican party and a new political and policy era has begun. What Donald Trump achieved on Election Night was to topple the legacies of one sitting president and two  dynasties all at once: the Clintons, the Bushes, and President Obama. They were the troika of big losers in 2016. Trump didn't topple the Reagan legacy of growth, optimism, and peace through strength. If the Age of Trump is to be a success, he will build on and modernize that legacy.



Finally, a Real Opportunity to Repeal ObamaCare

Trump's pick of Tom Price to head HHS is a good sign

The GOP has promised (and tried) for years to scrap the disastrous and utterly unaffordable "Affordable" Care Act. That promise may finally come to fruition now that Donald Trump has picked House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia to be Health and Human Services Secretary.

Price, who spent 20 years as an orthopedic surgeon before going into Georgia politics, is perhaps the most qualified person in government to take on the beast that is ObamaCare. He has been a staunch opponent of the law since it was being debated in 2009, but Price stood out because he had a viable and reasonable alternative to the top-down federal behemoth that became ObamaCare.

Republicans have always been against the ACA, but it was never enough to simply repeal ObamaCare without having something with which to replace it. Now that the law is entering its sixth year, it is unfortunately dug so deep into the nation's health care system, ripping it out now without putting something in its place would create even more chaos.

Price knew this back in 2009, and he has been fine-tuning a suitable replacement since. His plan, "Empowering Patients First," seeks to continue offering broad coverage, but without the invasive, and ultimately unworkable, federal involvement that is the hallmark of ObamaCare. Price's plan offers tax credits based on age to people in need of securing insurance. It also takes into account House Speaker Paul Ryan's suggestion of offering federally subsidized high-risk pools for each state so that people with pre-existing conditions would not be frozen out of the market. Insurers would also be able to sell policies across state lines so as to increase competition.

Ramesh Ponnuru points out that despite the attractive aspects of Price's plan and the resounding animosity toward ObamaCare, replacing the law is not a foregone conclusion. Sure, all Republicans can get behind repealing ObamaCare, and through some well-placed executive orders and various defunding tactics, they will be able to undo a lot of the law. But it will be much harder to come by a consensus on what the replacement law looks like.

The tax subsidy may be the biggest issue of contention. It would be more expensive to provide tax credits than offering a straight-up tax cut, but tax cuts would not have any impact on low income families that already pay no taxes. And these are the people that are in the greatest need of decent insurance coverage and protections that offer coverage in the case of pre-existing conditions.

There is also the Democrat response to contend with. Though Republicans have a Senate majority and the option of using reconciliation to pass some changes with a simple majority vote, they will need a filibuster-proof majority sooner or later to wipe the slate clean of ObamaCare and put in place meaningful, lasting changes to the health care system. That being the case, Republicans are going to have to play ball, and there will need to be some compromises that some factions may not be willing to make.

Trump, Price, Ryan and the rest of the GOP will be doing the country a favor by repealing and replacing ObamaCare with a system that puts choice back in the hands of patients and their doctors, and makes insurance accessible and affordable to all Americans. The vast majority of the public will be behind them so long as they can produce results, and live up to two promises that Barack Obama never intended to keep: You can keep your doctor, and your insurance premiums won't rise.



Liberal mob strikes again, torches Trump supporter's home

The Fascism of the modern Left again

In yet another example of liberal political violence, Navy veteran Matt Smith's home in Plant City, Fla., was vandalized with anti-Trump graffiti and set on fire on Monday night:

    Smith flies three flags in front of his house: the American flag, the POW flag, and the Navy flag.

    "We supported Trump from when he started running for office," says Matthew's wife Brittany. "We never made it public. We never had a sign in our backyard, so no one really knew we were pro Trump."

    But Matthew says he's been very active on Facebook, with posts supporting Trump, the Second Amendment, and other conservative causes.

Thankfully, the Smiths were spending the night with relatives the night their home was set ablaze. Investigators are looking into possible connections with anti-Trump graffiti that was sprayed onto mobile homes near Mango, Florida in mid-November.

Meanwhile, the MSM continues to push its false narrative that hundreds of hate crimes are being committed across the country by bigoted Trump supporters.



More evidence of why the Left scorn history

It's just too awkward for them. Trump got an award for his contributions to inner-city black kids with Rosa Parks but 'Fake News' has pinned him as a horrible racist.

For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, December 05, 2016

More Than 800,000 Noncitizens May Have Voted in 2016 Election, Expert Says

Any numbers are rubbery but it is clear that there is a big problem

An election expert projects more than 800,000 noncitizens voted in the 2016 election and overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

While substantial, that number doesn’t overcome Clinton’s 2.2 million popular vote lead over Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who won a decisive Electoral College triumph of 306 to 232.

On Sunday, the president-elect tweeted he would have won the popular vote had it not been for illegal votes cast. The Trump transition team on Monday cited nonpartisan studies on noncitizens voting and of faulty voter registration across the country. Only citizens 18 or older can legally vote.

“Extrapolating on data from several years ago certainly doesn’t substantiate the claim that Trump is making now,” Jesse Richman, an associate professor of political science at Old Dominion University, told The Daily Signal. “That could change. If there is a recount in Michigan and Trump loses by a few votes, then it’s very plausible that noncitizen voting made a big difference. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”

Richman was the co-author of a 2014 study that looked at noncitizen voting in the 2008 and 2010 elections. In the comparable presidential election year, the Old Dominion study determined 6.4 percent on noncitizens in the United States voted in the 2008 presidential election, and about 81 percent of those voters backed Democrat Barack Obama.

Richman applied those numbers to 2016:

The basic assumptions on which the extrapolation is based are that 6.4 percent of noncitizens voted, and that of the noncitizens who voted, 81.8 percent voted for Clinton and 17.5 percent voted for Trump. … 6.4 percent turnout among the roughly 20.3 million noncitizen adults in the U.S. would add only 834,318 votes to Clinton’s popular vote margin. This is little more than a third of the total margin. … Is it plausible that noncitizen votes added to Clinton’s margin? Yes. Is it plausible that noncitizen votes account for the entire nationwide popular vote margin held by Clinton? Not at all.

A December 2015 study led by Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard University argued the 2014 Old Dominion study was flawed and that “the likely percent of noncitizen voters in recent U.S. elections is zero.” Richman responded to the criticism and said suggesting zero percent does not hold up.

Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller cited the Old Dominion study reported on in The Washington Post in 2014, as well as a Pew Research Center study from 2012 about problems with voter registration across the country.

“An issue of concern is that so many have voted that are not legally supposed to,” Miller told reporters in a conference call Monday.

He said this warrants more attention than the “shiny object” Jill Stein and the Green Party are using to push recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that have no chance of overturning the election.

Beyond the noncitizens voting study from Old Dominion, Miller pointed to the Pew study from 2012 that found 24 million voter registration records in the United States, or about 1 in 8, were “significantly inaccurate or no longer valid.”

The Pew study further found “1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters,” that “12 million records contain an incorrect address,” and that “2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.”

It would take a very high percentage of noncitizens voting to overcome the Clinton popular vote lead, said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors strong enforcement of immigration laws.

“If 10 percent of noncitizens voted, it would likely make a popular vote difference,” Camarota told The Daily Signal. “It’s not the Electoral College [Trump] is upset about. It’s the popular vote. I wish he wouldn’t focus on it. Bill Clinton got just 43 percent of the vote in 1992. How many states did he win more than 50 percent of the vote in?”

Trump could be correct about the number of illegal votes, but there is no way to know, said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation who focuses on voter integrity issues.

“It’s possible he’s right, but we don’t know because there is no way to quantify, no system in place to identify noncitizens voting,” Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security should obtain state voter registration lists and check against noncitizen database. And the DOJ should start prosecuting noncitizens who are voting.”

Prosecuting voter fraud will have to be a higher priority under the Trump administration than under the Obama administration, said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog.

“It has got to be a priority I would think based on Mr. Trump’s rhetoric,” Fitton told The Daily Signal. “At least, make sure that only citizens are registered to vote. We need basic reforms to reassure people that elections are free and fair.”



The National Tantrum

It’s hard to tell which group has lost its grip on reality more – liberal activists or their brothers and sisters in arms in the media. The activists are protesting, marching, rioting and vandalizing their way across lefty America, because conservative America wouldn’t tolerate it. Meanwhile, journalists are almost acting worse.

The activists are trying a multi-pronged approach. They are protesting/rioting. (It’s often hard to tell them apart with the alt-left.) Then they have organized a largely astroturf #NotMyPresident hashtag on Twitter. Next, they have begun to threaten and intimidate electors to overturn the election. And then, they’re claiming the electoral college win is illegitimate because they lost it. The alt-left even pushed a meme that pretended Mike Pence was gay.

Former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman Symone Sanders (no relation) told CNN that the future of the Democratic party is without white leaders. Sanders told the world in her special bigoted way, "we don't need white people leading the Democratic party right now." I’m sure Trump’s communications team is sending her a Christmas card.

The tantrum among the major media is almost worse. News outlets did their goose-stepping best to pretend the neo-Nazis were somehow influential when they could barely muster a Producers remake. (Original, please.) Politico’s national editor Michael Hirsh resigned after publishing home addresses of an alt-right moron. Hirsh wasn’t done. He also said, “Our grandfather’s brought baseball bats to Bund meetings,” and then asked if people wanted to “join” him. That was a bit more mob-inciting than Politico wanted.

The global left has freaked out so badly that George Monbiot just wrote a piece listing, “The 13 impossible crises that humanity now faces.” Trump is No. 1 and his cabinet choices and impact are scattered throughout.



Widespread Coverage of Liberal Hate Crimes ‘Study’ Shows Media’s Fake News Problem

So much for taking America’s “fake news” problem seriously.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, there’s been an abundance of hand-wringing over the “fake news” that supposedly is rampant on social media.

Yet missing has been any kind of serious searching among the mainstream media about whether it could learn any lessons from this election—and whether reporters and editors are holding themselves accountable to their supposed values of objectivity and rigorous reporting.

And a new “study” presents Exhibit A as to why the mainstream media should reconsider its own practices.

The Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization that calls the Family Research Council an “extremist group” because of its socially conservative views on LGBT matters—reported Nov. 29 that “in the 10 days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation.”

“Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults,” the report continued, “making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

Cue the widespread coverage:

    “Nationwide, there have been more than 867 incidents of ‘hateful harassment’ in the first days following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center says,” reported CNN.

    “In the 10 days following the November election, SPLC said it collected 867 hate-related incidents on its website and through the media from almost every state,” wrote the Associated Press.

    NBC News headlined its piece on the study “Southern Poverty Law Center Reports ‘Outbreak of Hate’ After Election.”

    The Washington Post’s headline blared, “Civil rights group documents nearly 900 hate incidents after presidential election.”

There’s just one issue: The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t confirm these “nearly 900” incidents actually happened.

“The 867 hate incidents described here come from two sources—submissions to the #ReportHate page on the SPLC website and media accounts,” the SPLC report states. “We have excluded incidents that authorities have determined to be hoaxes; however, it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.”

In other words, who has any idea if these incidents actually happened or not?

Yet, the fact that there was no verification of these incidents didn’t stop the media from covering this “study.”

And let’s not pretend there’s no to very little chance that a Trump opponent would make up a hate crime story.

Just consider this reported hate incident in November: “The men used a racial slur, made a reference to lynching, and warned him this is Donald ‘Trump country now,’ according to the report he gave police,” reported the Boston Herald.

Yet the man wasn’t telling the truth. The Herald reported that Kevin Molis, police chief of Malden, Massachusetts, said “it has been determined that the story was completely fabricated.”

“’The alleged victim admitted that he had made up the entire story,’ saying he wanted to ‘raise awareness about things that are going on around the country,’” the newspaper added, continuing to quote Molis.

So maybe 867 hate crimes happened in the first 10 days after the election. Or maybe 5,000 did. Or maybe five did.

Maybe 10,000 did—and most of them were directed at Trump supporters, not opponents. (Let’s not forget the man beaten in Chicago while someone said, “You voted Trump.”) Who knows?

The SPLC should realize that playing around with facts is no laughing matter.

In 2012, a gunman entered the headquarters of the Family Research Council “with the intent to kill as many employees as possible, he told officers after the incident,” reported Politico. The 29-year-old man, identified as Floyd Lee Corkins II, did shoot and wound a security guard. His motivation?

“Family Research Council (FRC) officials released video of federal investigators questioning convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II, who explained that he attacked the group’s headquarters because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified them as a ‘hate group’ due to their traditional marriage views,” the Washington Examiner reported.

Ultimately, regardless of what the Southern Poverty Law Center does, the media shouldn’t be giving a platform to faux studies like this.

But maybe it’s not surprising, given attitudes like President Barack Obama’s. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine published Tuesday, the president griped about the reach of Fox News Channel—and then complimented Rolling Stone: “Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone.”

Yes, that Rolling Stone—the news outlet that published the completely discredited University of Virginia gang rape story. In early November, “jurors awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3 million … for her portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about the school’s handling of a brutal gang rape [at] a fraternity house,” the Associated Press reported.

It’s tough to hold the media accountable when even the president seems willing to brush aside true instances of fake news.



From my Twitter feed

Ann Coulter: With his reckless Taiwan phone call, Trump has wantonly placed America's interests ahead of China's.

Paul Joseph Watson: The media is freaking out because Trump spoke to a democratically elected leader, and this might offend a dictatorship. Let that sink in.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, December 04, 2016

British Politics reshaped by issues of national identity

As in the Trump revolt, issues of national identity and loyalty are shaping British politics too. In Britain, the old guard want to remain connected to the EU, while those who want to make Britain great again want out of the EU as soon as possible

Labour faces being crushed between Ukip [out] and a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party [in] in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn [British Leftist leader] admitted last night.

The party suffered humiliation in the Richmond Park by-election yesterday, losing its deposit in a London by-election for the first time since 1909.

The victorious Lib Dems, who overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority after running a strongly pro-European campaign, vowed to supplant Labour as the main opposition to a hard Brexit.

Labour figures fear that the party faces electoral crisis as it loses votes to the Lib Dems in pro-Remain urban and southern seats, while Ukip builds support in its working-class heartlands of the north and Midlands.

Chuka Umunna, the former leadership hopeful, warned that there were now “no safe Labour seats”.

Even those close to Mr Corbyn said that Brexit “has unleashed a dynamic that none of us quite understood” — with voters increasingly ditching old party loyalties and instead defining themselves as pro-EU or anti-EU.

A senior Corbyn ally said: “We do have two different strong pulls. There are metropolitan seats, in London, Manchester and Leeds; they are strongly pro-EU. Then equally, there are dozens and dozens of seats which are working class, where many did not vote to remain. There’s no doubt it’s difficult to balance the two.”

Labour’s dismal showing in Richmond, where it polled just 1,515 votes — fewer than the local party has members — led Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, to call for it to consider electoral pacts with other parties.

“It’s quite clear that the usual political playbook parties use isn’t necessarily going to work in the situation we find ourselves in now,” he told the Politico website.

Other senior party figures dismissed that, insisting instead that Mr Corbyn had to move urgently to formulate a more coherent response to the referendum. Labour has vowed not to thwart Brexit but wants Theresa May to set out her plans to allow “proper scrutiny”.

Mr Goldsmith’s humiliation has also killed speculation that Mrs May could hold a general election next year. Senior Conservatives said it proved that voters punished unnecessary polls and the result underlined the fluidity and volatility of the present political climate.

An analysis by the British Election Study in October revealed that people identified more strongly with how they voted in the EU referendum than a political party. The researcher warned that “this new cleavage could yet disrupt British politics”. “The EU referendum revealed a more fundamental divide,” Chris Prosser, of Manchester University, said.

Labour is braced for another by-election humiliation next week in the Tory-held seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire. With Ukip the main challenger, Mr Corbyn’s party faces being driven into fourth place.

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, called on Sleaford voters, 40 per cent of whom voted Remain, to underline the message to Mrs May that they opposed an “extreme Brexit” as he sought to capitalise on his party’s by-election win.



British national assertiveness is being expressed in a very traditional way

With mockery of France.  The following rather savage cartoon about the President of France appeared in "The Times", of all places. The frog hopping off probably refers to the fact that M. Hollande has decided not to run for a second term as President.  The nude on the scooter refers to this


National sentiment strong in Austria too


If Europe’s first far-right president since the Second World War is chosen by voters in Austria tomorrow he will prove that he is “a far cry from a Nazi”, one of his closest political friends said yesterday.

Norbert Hofer, 45, the Freedom Party (FPO) candidate, has been narrowly ahead in most opinion polls against his Green Party rival Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, after an annulled vote in May and a postponed rerun in October.

A victory for Mr Hofer would be seen as continuing the Continent’s lurch to the nationalist right and a further blow to the European Union, with the FPO threatening its own membership referendum in certain circumstances.

Nearly 125 miles west of the capital, Vienna, in the “blue city” of Wels — so called because it is the largest metropolitan area under FPO control — anger over immigration fuelled support for the party founded in the 1950s by former Nazis.

The office of president does not carry much direct power but opponents are worried that Mr Hofer would use it to precipitate a general election and propel his party to government, perhaps in coalition with the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP), just as they are in Wels.


Limited immigration and asylum

Social housing “primarily” for Austrians

Oppose gay marriage

All foreign criminals deported

Compulsory national service

EU referendum in certain circumstances, for example if EU takes more powers

Andreas Rabl, 44, the mayor of Wels, who came to power last year on a surge of support during the migration crisis, said that the country needed to refocus on “Austrian values”, like his city.

He has begun intensive German language training for schoolchildren, half of whom he said could not understand the teacher when they started school, and has required all state-funded nurseries and schools to celebrate Christian festivals and eat traditional food. He has blocked a planned new refugee centre, arguing that the town has enough foreigners, with 24 per cent of citizens from outside Austria.

“There is this constant message that the FPO is a Nazi party, the new fascism and dictatorial,” Mr Wels, a long-standing friend of Mr Hofer, said. “The foreign media report about right-wing radicalism and the far right in Austria, I hear that all the time. I ask myself, what are they talking about? We have not killed anyone, we were in the government [from 2000 to 2005] and relinquished power voluntarily, there was no civil war and no other violent military clashes.”

He added: “New fascism — I do not see it. Mr Hofer as president would have the opportunity to correct this view. We are a normal right-wing party, correct, but we are a far cry from a Nazi party.”

In the first round of the election, the mainstream parties were eliminated by an electorate fed up with the government coalition of centre left and centre right. In the run-off in May Mr Van der Bellen beat Mr Hofer by just 30,863 out of 4.47 million votes. The FPO then won a case in court to have the result overturned due to procedural irregularities.

Supporters of Mr Van der Bellen in Wels claim that, like their mayor, Mr Hofer is the smiling face of a divisive and xenophobic party and tones down his message when he is not among core supporters.

Meanwhile Mr Van der Bellen, a chain-smoking former leader of the Greens, is distrusted by conservative voters. Walter Teubl, a Green member of the Wels city authority, said: “The OVP always portrayed the Greens as an ultra-left party. There were many lies about us — that we would legalise cannabis or ban car driving.”



The clash of the campaign managers

Kellyanne Conway (left), Trump-Pence campaign manager, sat next to Robby Mook, Clinton-Kaine campaign manager, prior to a forum at Harvard University on Thursday.  So the "Sexist" Trump team was led by a woman while the Clinton team was led by a man.  So much for Leftist accusations about Trump's biases. It would be more plausible to say that Clinton was the biased one.  How come she could not find a female campaign manager?  And the Donks are still relying on conspiracy theories to explain their loss.  Dumb.

The presidential campaign manager conference, held at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government every four years since 1972, is usually a place for insider war stories, shared and documented for history.

However, three weeks after this year’s divisive election, in a conference room with a half-dozen aides from both sides facing each other, the conversation quickly took a remarkably combative turn, highlighting just how deep the enmity between the Trump and Clinton camps remains.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white working-class voters?” Conway asked the Clinton team, then sarcastically offering a message: “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief strategist, responded: “There were dog whistles sent out to people. . . . Look at your rallies. He delivered it.”

Conway accused the Democrats of refusing to accept their loss.

“Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

At a forum that was less heated than the earlier encounter, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and Conway offered starkly different explanations for the election’s outcome.

Mook said that outside interference — including meddling by Russian entities — tilted the results Trump’s way, while Conway portrayed broader strategic decisions as behind the GOP win.

Conway, who took increasing control of the Trump campaign over the summer, said that she prevailed upon Trump to play “the happy warrior” and encouraged him to draw energy from his public rallies. That, she said, contrasted with the public image of Clinton.

“I said to Mr. Trump, ‘You know, you’re running against one of the most joyless presidential candidates in history,’ ” Conway said.



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