Friday, June 16, 2017

Constant Leftist hate speech bears fruit

The one type of American you apparently can't trust with a gun is a liberal wacko

The gunman who was killed by cops after opening fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice on Wednesday, the president's 71st birthday, was a Trump-hating Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter with a long history of violence.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Illinois, was killed by Capitol Police after firing up to 100 rounds from an assault rifle at a baseball park in Alexandria, Virginia, leaving five injured including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at 7am on Wednesday.

Scalise's condition worsened throughout the afternoon and was deemed critical by hospital staff after he he was released from emergency surgery on his hip.

Two Capitol Police officers were shot as they bravely returned fire on Hodgkinson while the lawmakers scrambled across the field to safety. Congressional staffer Zachary Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika were also shot but both are expected to recover.

Hodgkinson was a staunch Sanders supporter and campaigned for the left-wing senator to get the Democratic nomination for president last year.

He ranted against President Trump on social media and had previously described The Rachel Maddow Show as his favorite thing on TV.

The married union tradesman threatened to 'destroy' the president, whom he called a 'traitor' on social media - but was not known to Secret Service.

His family said he was distraught over Trump's November election win and revealed that he had been living in Alexandria out of a gym bag and sleeping in his car for the last two months.

His criminal record included a 2006 arrest for punching his female neighbor in the face as she tried to shield his underage daughter from him.

According to a police report, Hodgkinson went to the neighbor's home looking for his daughter and found her upstairs. He dragged her out by the hair but she ran into her neighbor's car. The female neighbor sat in the vehicle in the front seat.

Hodgkinson got access to them, slashing the seatbelt his daughter was wearing as he and his wife pulled her out. He then hit the neighbor in the face, The Washington Post reported, but was never convicted.

His former lawyer, Lyndon Evanko of Belleville, Illinois, said Hodgkinson was 'a pushy little b*****d, an in-your-face kind of guy. He believed what he believed and he wasn't going to take any s**t from anybody.' Evanko defended Hodgkinson during the neighbor-punching incident.

'He was a bit of a misanthrope,' the lawyer said. 'He came across as a very irascible, angry little man, but not somebody I would expect to do something like this.

He wrote frequent letters to his local paper in Illinois in which he complained about income inequality and compared the state of the economy to the Great Depression long before President Trump ever launched his political career.

'I have never said “life sucks,” only the policies of the Republicans,' he wrote in one from 2012 where he described his plan to increase the number of tax brackets.

In 2011, he praised Occupy protesters in New York and Boston who he said 'are tired of our do-nothing Congress doing nothing while our country is going down the tubes.'

Despite his hateful social media posts and criminal history, sources told CNN the man was not on the Secret Service's radar.

Shortly after 7am on Wednesday, he opened fire from behind the third base dugout as the group of GOP figures practiced batting on the field in preparation for a charity baseball game against Democrats which is scheduled for Thursday night.

Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina spoke with him moments before the shooting.

They told how the shooter approached them and asked if they were Republican or Democrat. He walked away after being told they were members of the GOP, Duncan said.

The pair escaped his bloody rampage and only identified him as the shooter after seeing his photograph in the news.

Two Capitol Police officers who were accompanying Scalise were the only other armed people on the scene. They returned fire with their pistols but were shot themselves.

As bullets flew across the field, the congressmen fled to a dugout and huddled on top of one another, using their belts as makeshift tourniquets to treat the wounds of those who were shot.

Barth, a congressional staffer for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, was shot in the leg but is expected to recover. The two Capitol Police officers, Krystal Griner and David Bailey, are also expected to make a full recovery.

Mika was also injured and is in hospital while Scalise is in critical condition at MedStar Washington Center after undergoing emergency surgery on his hip.

Sen. Rand Paul, who was also there but as not hurt, described the scene as a 'killing field'. Rep. Mark Walker said the gunman seemed intent on murdering 'as many Republicans as possible.'


UPDATE:  Mr Trump later visited the hospital where Mr Scalise was recovering. The president then tweeted: "Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!"

The president, accompanied to the hospital by his wife Melania, sat by Mr Scalise's bedside and spoke with his family.  Press Secretary Sean Spicer described the scene in the intensive care unit as "emotional."


Hillary has no self-insight

Typically for a psychopath, it is always others who are to blame for her problems
I don’t want to beat up on Hillary Clinton. She thought she’d win and she lost, embarrassingly, to a man she considered deeply unworthy. At the same time she won the popular vote by 2.9 million. It would take anyone time to absorb these things emotionally and psychologically.

But wow. Her public statements since defeat have been malignant little masterpieces of victimhood-claiming, blame-shifting and unhelpful accusation. They deserve censure.

Last weekend she was the commencement speaker at her alma mater, Wellesley, where she insulted the man who beat her. This Wednesday she was at the 2017 Code Conference, hosted by the Recode website, where she was interviewed by friendly journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. She eagerly offered a comprehensive list of the reasons she lost the 2016 presidential election.

She lost because America is a hopelessly reactionary country in which dark forces fight a constant “rearguard action” to “turn back the clock.” She lost because Republicans are both technologically advanced and underhanded. Democrats, for instance, use data and analytics to target and rouse voters — “better messaging.” Republicans, on the other hand, use “content farms” and make “an enormous investment in falsehoods, fake news, call it what you will.” Democrats “did not engage in false content.” She lost because of the Russians: “Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?”

She lost because of “voter suppression” and “unaccountable money flowing in against me.” She lost because the Democratic National Committee didn’t help her. “I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt. … Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.”

She lost because FBI Director James Comey told Congress the investigation regarding her email server had been reopened. “So for whatever reason … and I can’t look inside the guy’s mind, you know, he dumps that on me on Oct. 28, and I immediately start falling.”

She lost because she was “swimming against a historic tide. It’s very difficult historically to succeed a two-term president of your own party.” She lost because she was “the victim of a very broad assumption that I was going to win.” She lost because the news media ignored her policy positions.

And then there was sexism. “It sort of bleeds into misogyny. And let’s just be honest, you know, people who have … a set of expectations about who should be president and what a president looks like, you know, they’re going to be much more skeptical and critical of somebody who doesn’t look like and talk like and sound like everybody else who’s been president. Any you know, President Obama broke that racial barrier, but you know, he’s a very attractive, good-looking man.”

Oh my goodness, how she thinks.

Oddly, she seemed completely sincere, as if she believes her own story. It tells you something about our own power to hypnotize ourselves, to invent reasons that avoid the real reasons. It is a tribute to the power of human denial. And at first you think: I hope it was cathartic. Maybe these are just stories she tells herself to feel better.

But none of this, in truth, is without point. It is purposeful. It is not mere narrative-spinning. It is insisting on alternative facts so that journalists and historians will have to take them into account. It is a monotonous repetition of a certain version of events, which will be amplified, picked up and repeated into the future.

And it’s not true.

The truth is Bernie Sanders destroyed Mrs. Clinton’s chance of winning by almost knocking her off, and in the process revealing her party’s base had changed. Her plodding, charmless, insincere style of campaigning defeated her. Bad decisions in her campaign approach to the battleground states did it; a long history of personal scandals did it; fat Wall Street speeches did it; the Clinton Foundation’s bloat and chicanery did it — and most of all the sense that she ultimately stands for nothing but Hillary did it.

In the campaign book “Shattered,” journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes report they were surprised “when Clintonworld sources started telling us in 2015 that Hillary was still struggling to articulate her motivation for seeking the presidency.” Her campaign was “an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority … distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose.” “Hillary didn’t have a vision to articulate. And no one else could give one to her.” “Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn’t really have a rationale.”

What is true is that throughout her career Mrs. Clinton has shown herself to be largely incapable of honest self-reflection, of pointing the finger, for even a moment, at herself. She is not capable of what in Middle English was called “agenbite of inwit” [again-bite of inner awarenes] — remorse of conscience, the self-indictment and implicit growth, that come of taking a serious personal inventory. People are always doing bad things to her, she never does bad things to them. They operate in bad faith, she only in good. They lie and exaggerate, she doesn’t. They are low and partisan, not her. There’s no vast left-wing conspiracy only a right-wing one.

People can see this. It’s part of why she lost.

It is one thing to say, “I take responsibility,” and follow that up with a list of things you believe you got wrong. It’s another thing to say, “I take responsibility,” and then immediately pivot to arguments as to why other people are to blame. “I take responsibility for everything I got wrong, but that’s not why I lost,” is literally what she said Wednesday.

Walt Mossberg asked her about her misjudgments. What about Goldman Sachs? You were running for president, he said, why did you do those high priced speeches?

“Why do you have Goldman Sachs [at this conference]?” Mrs. Clinton countered.

Mr. Mossberg: “Because they pay us.”

Mrs. Clinton: “They paid me.”

Mr. Mossberg noted they paid her a lot. Hillary replied she speaks to many groups, she had been elected in New York, which includes Wall Street. Then: “Men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made.”

The worst part is that she insulted her own country by both stating and implying that America is full of knuckle-dragging, deplorable oafs who are averse to powerful women and would never elect one president. Has she not learned anything? Does she never think Britain had Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Theresa May now, that Germany has had as its leader Angela Merkel since 2005? Is America really more backward, narrow and hate-filled toward women than those countries? Or was Mrs. Clinton simply the wrong woman, and the wrong candidate?

It would have been helpful if she’d spoken at least of those who’d voted for her and supported her and donated to her campaign precisely because she was a woman.

You should never slander a country that rejected you. Maybe it had its reasons. Maybe her most constructive act now would be to quietly reflect on what they might be.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sci-Fi novellist John C. Wright encounters Leftist hate
It is my habit to avoid discussion of personal matters in public, but I will make an exception when the event ties in to a broader matter.

This Sunday the scoutmaster of my sons’ Boy Scout Troop arrived unexpectedly and uninvited on the doorstep of my house, while I was at Mass.

He announced that, due to an anonymous complaint that my youngest son had allegedly made an “anti-Muslim remark” in a private conversation, therefore he and his brother were forthwith expelled from the troop.

To be sure, this was not the only reason given. It was merely the cherry on top. This issue is more complex than the thumbnail I give here, but those nuances are nothing to the point of the example.

When he heard the decree, my son sat on the couch with a look on his face as if he had been shot in the guts.

He had been in this troop for as long as his boyhood memory reaches, has reached the rank of Star and is about to reach Life, and is a patrol leader, or was.

This troop was a big part of our lives. Weekly meetings and monthly hikes and campouts, and yearly camporees have been woven into our schedules since Cub Scouts. The grown ups in the family have spent more hours and weekends lending a hand and helping to sell popcorn than I can calculate. My wife is more active by far than I, and has even earned her Woodbadge, which is an advanced, national leadership program that gobbled up an unfortunate amount of her writing and editing time.

The loyalty and longsuffering support of the Wright family for this troop, which has been a part of all our lives for years, suddenly counted for nothing. We dared speak a word that might offend the Prophet of Submission, peace be upon him. The Blasphemy Laws were breached!

Apparently the decision to expel was made by the pastor of the church sponsoring the troop, even though, technically, it was not his decision to make. I say apparently, because there was no conversation, and no one asked my son for his side of the story.

For the same reason, what precisely the comment was, or who overheard it, I do not know. I suspect my boy was repeating one of his father’s opinions, which can be called “Anti-Muslim” only in the Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass world of the Left.

The comment, if it was what I suspect, was something to the effect that America liberty is superior to and incompatible with Shariah Law, and that Christian duty of loving the enemy is superior to and incompatible with Jihadist duty to commit suicide during the mass-murder of innocent women and children dishonorably and indiscriminately, without warning, from ambush.

Be that as it may: a day later we have found another scout troop, and all is once again well in the Wright household.

The hardest part for me will be uprooting my uncouth and unchristian ire at this petty injustice, a harm from which I failed to shield my boys. Forgiveness is a duty, which I hope writing this column will encourage rather than prevent.

I am not writing to provoke sympathy or gather supportive comments, but to make an observation backed by the poignancy of an immediate personal experience.

When I was an atheist, no ambush by backstabbers happened to me, neither in my personal nor professional life. The moment I converted to Christianity, within minutes of my answering a question about my faith posed by a highschool newspaper reporter, I earned the enmity of relatives and strangers.

Editors and publishers who had hitherto been willing to publish my work, and readers who had been hitherto willing to vote awards for my work, suddenly denounced me with a fury unrelated to reality. International newspapers were eager to dunk my name in calumny, and facts be damned. No accusation was too untrue or too absurd to level against a man who dared be Christian and take the faith seriously.

But I had been warned by Christ’s own words that the world would hate me for His sake, so I express no surprise. I knew before I signed up what I was signing up for.

Since I was the same person before and after conversion, one can conclude with the precision of a scientific experiment what provokes the hellish ire and reckless slander.

It is not me they hate, or, at least, not me for my own sake. It is Christ. I am not their judge. I have no authority over them. I cannot shed the unwelcome light to make them see their own corruption. He is. He has. He can.

Hence, I cannot take offense with them for my sake, since I am not the offended party. Christ is the one they slander, mock, flog, scorn, stab and crucify. He prays to the Father that they be forgiven. They know not what they do.

Such love is beyond my comprehension. A deep mystery is here.

My observation is that these are not bad people. They are good people deceived and controlled by bad ideas. I am tempted to say possessed by bad ideas, or, rather, by a bad spirit. Such is the spirit of the age. It devolves them into Morlocks and Eloi: but their blood is still human.

From my youth up, I have always been phlegmatically indifferent to the opinions of those whose opinions are based on neurotic emotion, because such opinions are without merit. From my point of view, if Tor Books wishes to insult my readers, or World Con voters wish to vote my works under ‘No Award’, their reputations are harmed, not mine. I continue as before.

In such a case, forgiveness is logical and necessary: the hatred harms only the hater, who inner darkness and unreason is exposed to the candid eye of man and angel alike.

But my son is not prepared for betrayal by people, such as Christian pastors, such as his own scoutmaster, whom I taught him to trust, respect and obey.

The world where chaplains will denounce you for being Christian, or Boy Scouts will expel you for being patriotic, is a new world to him.

When a Leftist Christian has to decide between Leftism and the teachings of Christ, he goes Left. When a Leftist Scout has to decide between Leftism and the teachings of Robert Baden Powell, he goes Left. Leftist put Leftism before all other loyalties.

Perhaps the lesson with toughen his spirit.

The lesson may be useful for my friends and readers as well:

The corruption is everywhere. To judge from their acts rather than their words, the corrupt wish not only to cow you into silence, dear reader, they wish to rob your children of innocent happiness.

In the broader picture, protests against Sharia Law were organized across the country this weekend, and community organizers on the Left gathered against them, not without violence, to silence this defense of Constitutional liberties and Angloamerican Common Law.

The countermarch by homosexuals and lesbians heckling and rioting in favor of the barbaric laws of Mohammed, which, if enacted here as they are abroad, would execute or mutilate the countermarchers, or reduce them to chattel dressed in garbage bags, is an irony only a psychopathologist can explain, or perhaps an exorcist.

In the Looking-Glass world, no pastor stands up for Christ, nor do Boy Scouts stand up for Scouting.

We are not dealing with a political movement. A political movement would be satisfied with political power.

Whether the enemy’s rank and file are knowingly hypocritical or unknowingly, only mindreader could know. Such nuances of guilt or mitigation are not for us to judge.

All an outside observer can tell is that their words are always, always, always contrary to their actions.

In the name of liberating women, they urge mothers to commit infanticide.

In the name of antifascism, they commit fascism.

In the name of alleviating poverty, they enact minimum wages laws to increase unemployment.

In the name of lowering health care costs, they enact rationing which creates shortages which raises costs.

In the name of equality, they enact socialism, erect barbed wire walls, and make whole nations into prison camps.

In the name of safety, they hamper the Second Amendment which makes free men safe.

In the name of liberty, they forever expand the state.

In the name of charity and compassion, they enact socialist death camps the size of nations, and surround who continents with barbed wire.

And so on, and on, and on.

Hypocrisy is the point of Leftism. Cease to wonder how many atrocities of communism or jihadism it will take for the Left to wake up and realize who is their true enemy. If they wished to wake up, they would not be Leftists to begin with. Leftism is a sleeping potion, a morphine meant to numb the senses and silence the conscience, so that the soul can die without pain.

How deceived the practitioners of a philosophy of self-deception actually are is a matter beyond human understanding. The Bible tells me that only Christ knows the evil in the hearts of men. The radio tells me The Shadow knows. I am neither.

And what does it matter? A successful self-deception means that a man has sincerely deceived himself, whereas an unsuccessful attempt means he is insincere. But sincerity of motive does not excuse the negligence involved in neglecting one’s duty to be true.

Sincere dishonesty is still dishonest.

The enemy wants control, arbitrary control, over the free expression of ideas in any forum, over the publishing industry, over such trivial matters as toy statues given out as awards at conventions for fans of rocketship stories.

They want control over how female cartoons in computer games are dressed, and they want control over the sex lives of pure imaginary characters from superhero comics.

They have control over the courts, the press, the schools, the entertainment industry, Wall Street. They are rapidly gaining control over the remaining uncorrupted Protestant denominations, over the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

They want control over the Boy Scouts, and over what opinions a child expresses in private.

Between Christ and Leftism, the war is a religious war, a crusade. The Left is not a political group with political goals, but a Jihad. Their goals are spiritual. Only a Crusader can defeat a Jihadist.

In the same way we Christians want Christ to be in everything we do, in every part of our life, in our work and leisure and even in our casual conversation, we want to add to the glory of our heavenly father, so too in just the same way, the corrupt want every part of your life and work, and every idle word, to add to the corruption and serve it, and to add to the glory of their father, who is the father of lies.

In the same way we wish all souls to be saved and true and joyful, they wish all to be damned and hypocritical and miserable.

Even a little boy is not beyond the view of the unwinking, unsleeping, lidless eyes of the adversary.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The shallow-thinking Pope is an enemy of the poor

Pope Francis’s videotaped TED talk “Why the Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone” is full of wisdom that conflicts with the unwise economic policies he advocates.

Released recently at the international TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, the talk begins by observing that community is central to human existence: “life flows through our relations with others. ... Each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by; life is about interactions.”

Next, Francis stressed the moral responsibility of all people to put themselves in the place of others and to help those who are less fortunate. This “solidarity,” the pope explained, was exhibited by the Bible’s Good Samaritan, who personally sacrificed to help a stranger in need.

Finally, Francis said, “The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly.”

These themes are very much in the tradition of classical liberalism and its commitment to economic freedom: community, open social interactions, helping others, and humble, transparent institutions. What is troubling about Pope Francis is that he spends much of his time traveling the world advocating policies that undermine these goals.

Since becoming the Roman Catholic Church’s 266th bishop of Rome in March 2013, Pope Francis has endorsed a larger and more powerful role for governments and international organizations. As Hayeon Carol Park and I show in “Pope Francis, Capitalism, and Private Charitable Giving” (part of a special symposium in The Independent Review titled “Pope Francis and Economics,” Francis frequently lambastes capitalism and calls for more government redistribution of wealth and property.

Rather than “humble” institutions, Francis calls for centralized governments and international bodies to act with hubris, replacing their plans and values for those of individuals. The government-coerced-redistribution model favored by Francis has left a trail of tears and destruction everywhere it has been pursued. Foreign aid, often government-to-government transfers, generally props up dictatorial and kleptocratic governments that murder and steal from their own people.

Government and multinational spending often bails out corrupt rulers’ business cronies at the expense of what Francis calls the “discarded people.”

William Easterly demonstrates that even as foreign aid to Africa soared during the 1980s and 1990s, African economies performed worse. He thus writes in his book “The White Man’s Burden,” “Remember, aid cannot achieve the end of poverty. Only homegrown development based on the dynamism of individuals and firms in free markets can do that.”

The most effective path to lifting people from poverty by the millions is decentralized market-based entrepreneurship. Recent progress in China and India, where hundreds of millions of people have escaped some of the worst poverty on earth, was a result of expanding economic freedom.

Francis does not recognize that what he advocates would undermine the core institutions needed for this process to work. His ideas would slow economic growth and shrink the surplus that people use to start new businesses, hire more employees, and engage in effective private charitable giving. Unfortunately, the approach Francis advocates would bring more human suffering, not less, undercutting his call to help the poor. Yet he does not see the contradiction.

Francis’ talk hints at the most effective approach to lifting people out of poverty: “The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. ... The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.’”

This aptly describes entrepreneurs, who dedicate their lives to solving problems faced by others, and invest and risk their own time, effort and money for the good of others. Entrepreneurs are true Good Samaritans.

The most effective anti-poverty program is a job. The most effective development strategy is sustained private investment by market-based entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, Pope Francis undercuts both with his worldwide crusade against capitalism.



Gridlock at the FTC Prolongs Washington's Regulatory Status Quo

Missing from the media’s orgy of “100-day” analyses of the Trump administration’s performance has been any substantive discussion of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the fact that it now is operating at fractional capacity: for the first time in its 103-year history, only two of its five commissioners are on the job.

The media’s silence is deafening, given the FTC’s extensive, but largely unheralded, role in American life. The FTC’s paralysis has helped block President Trump from moving forward with much needed regulatory reform, while leaving U.S. corporations and individuals vulnerable to intellectual property theft abroad. It also has allowed President Obama’s anti-business legacy to continue unchecked, leaving pending lawsuits and proposed business mergers in limbo.

As a practical matter, the FTC simply can’t function with just two commissioners, especially in the hyper-partisan atmosphere in which we all live. Despite heading the executive branch, and leading a party that controls both houses of Congress, President Trump is at the mercy of an agency that can take action only following a simple majority vote, obviously hard to come by when one commissioner can veto the other.

Remember President Trump’s oft-repeated campaign vow to eliminate costly, unnecessary regulations? Or, once in office, the executive order he issued to increase American efficiency and dramatically reduce Washington red tape with a policy that slashes two existing regulations for every new one promulgated by an executive branch agency?

Under normal circumstances—with five appointed commissioners, a majority (three) of whom can be affiliated with the same political party at the same time—the FTC likely would be moving even farther down the path toward fulfilling the president’s regulatory reform goals. And yet, important issues, such as data security and broadband privacy, now languish under perpetual review owing to something of a turf battle between the shorthanded FTC and the Federal Communications Commission.

Perhaps the most compelling example of the FTC’s inability to function is the lawsuit it initiated against Qualcomm during the Obama administration’s final days in office. The agency claimed that the company was abusing its dominant market position based on patents covering a type of smart-phone chip, something the FTC said amounted to an “illegal patent tax.”

Qualcomm sued to overturn the FTC’s action, claiming that it was instigated by Apple, which had misrepresented important facts and withheld critical information from the commissioners. Those claims became more credible when Apple filed its own lawsuits against Qualcomm both in China and the United States soon after the FTC did so.

Then-FTC Commissioner, and Acting Chairperson, Maureen Olhausen, agreed with Qualcomm, writing a rare dissent and blasting the lawsuit on a number of grounds. Most explosively, she asserted that the Commission’s decision to sue was based on “flawed legal theory,” “lacked evidentiary and legal support,” and, by “its mere issuance,” would “undermine U.S. intellectual property rights in Asia and worldwide.”

It’s a nightmare not confined to Qualcomm, but to all U.S. businesses, as the American Conservative Union (ACU), Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and many others quickly observed. As the ACU warned: “If Asian companies can access our best technology through nefarious government enforcement actions, both U.S. competitiveness and national security are at stake.”

Although nothing is certain in D.C., with an FTC comprised of its usual five members, the Qualcomm case almost surely would have been scrapped by now, as were some of the unsound and unwieldy antitrust matters that had been dragging on for a decade or more when Ronald Reagan entered the White House.

The FTC has been a lightning rod for criticism since its creation in 1914. No matter what you think about its performance, nowadays or in the past, it cannot do much of anything until its three vacant seats are filled.



Kellyanne Conway Reveals the ‘Biggest Misconception’ About the Trump White House

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was ready to bust some myths about the Trump White House in remarks Friday at the

“What is [President Donald Trump] like in private?” asked Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, addressing Conway. “Does he listen to advice?” he added.

“The biggest misconception … is that Donald Trump doesn’t have anyone around him that will tell him ‘no,’” responded Conway.

Rather, she added, Trump listens so intently that “he remembers everything,“ even to the point that “it always comes back” to get you. She commented on how, just as many within Trump Tower have reported, Trump is a “fully aware, gracious, [and] understanding boss.”

Conway mentioned that Trump would, during both the campaign and now in the White House, remain focused on issues relevant to “forgotten men and women.” She cited illegal immigration as one such issue, saying, “For so long the previous administration asked, ‘What is fair to the illegal immigrant?’”

“What is fair to the American worker competing with the illegal immigrant?” asked Conway.

Conway, who also served as Trump’s campaign manager, talked about the challenges of running against “feminist icon” Hillary Clinton, dubbing it a “double or triple challenge.”

Conway said that Clinton’s campaign did what she believes was a “great disservice” by emphasizing women’s health by focusing only on abortion, and not the other aspects of women’s health.

Conway said she took a different approach, focusing on what women cared about most, what they do on a day-by-day basis, instead of concentrating on one aspect. One theme she saw as important to women was fairness. “Fairness is equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome,” she said.

She also spoke about her personal faith, saying, “I believe that all things come from God.”

Being a mother to four children was “the blessing of my life,” she said. Conway also recalled her own childhood, where she grew up with four Catholic women and was raised “with faith as our center, as our gravity, as our anchor.”

“I don’t recall a single political conversation in my entire childhood … but I was raised to be conservative based on principles and faith.”

“We were taught that family comes first—God, country, family, and faith,” she added. And for Conway, the first female campaign manager to lead a winning presidential campaign, this perspective played a major role in the success of the Trump campaign.

“We pray for you too, and it is not lost on me the sacrifice you have made,” she said to attendees.

Conway also encouraged those in attendance to “go tell your faith journey” when opportunities arise. “Whether you are asked or not … have a seven second, 70 second, and a seven minute version” about your faith journey, of why you are a conservative, why you are involved.

The Road to Majority Conference is hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C.



Young Americans and Hope for the Future

Bob Higgs, in a recent post on all the foolishness in American higher education, reminds us of what a danger we face as our colleges attempt to mold students into young Jacobins. In light of the state of American education, we need some bright spot on what is a dismal landscape. One bright spot I have found is the blog America Restored, which is operated by several high school students. In trying to rekindle a respect for liberty in modern America, these students advise “the key to accomplishing this is to stop asking the world for approval, and begin doing what you know is right. Once you do this, you will feel happiness and joy, rather than discomfort and nervousness. Read the words from the men and women who came before us, who loved and cherished liberty, and you will see that they knew these things to be true.”

This is a good point for us all to remember. Rather than seeking approval from those in power or those enthralled with our current welfare-warfare state, we should do what we know is right whether it causes discomfort or chastisement. It encourages me to see young folks devoted to liberty in a world that prefers to focus on power and intervention. Check them out.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The economy of mass prosperity

After proposing $1 trillion investment into infrastructure, the Trump administration is harnessing the brainpower of renowned experts to unlock the insoluble problem of how many jobs will be created for each billion dollars of spending. While stressing the obvious, the administration is missing the important point.

The purpose of capitalism is not job creation. The purpose of the capitalist economy is to create wealth. Employment and the subsequent distribution of the spoils of an economy are byproducts of capitalism.

Since its inception, capitalism has been in a perpetual state of evolution, from the Industrial Revolution that ignited an economy of mass production to the economy of mass productivity to, most recently, the economy of mass consumption. Each subsequent phase of capitalism has been associated with innovation, rise of productivity, and the immense creation of wealth.

Our current economic period was fueled by a huge expansion of credit, which temporarily has taken the economy beyond its limits. Through excessive borrowing, consumers have spent far more than they can afford, and the expansion of social programs and futile attempts to stimulate the economy via government spending have left the country with $20 trillion of debt. At this point the consumer is broke, the country is broke, and the economy of mass consumption is on a respirator and cannot be resuscitated by further spending. If not the spending, what then, is the catalyst that will take capitalism to its next phase of evolution?

A host of very significant developments over the past 20 years indicates that we are witnessing the dawn of a new phase in this evolution: the era of mass prosperity.

What distinguishes this phase from the previous ones is that enormous sums of money have been accumulated by corporations and private investment funds. American corporations have amassed trillions of dollars on their balance sheets; Apple alone has more than $200 billion in its accounts. This mass of liquidity looking for markets to invest in has set up an interesting dynamic.

Until recently, only the government could handle projects on the scale of the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system, but now large corporations and investment funds have sufficient resources to build projects on any scale. Hence, there is no imperative for the government - federal, state or local - to finance and maintain modern infrastructure when private capital is available to do the job.

Privatization of the infrastructure will open a new, multitrillion-dollar frontier for capitalism, and its effect could be massive. It has the potential to create a long-term economic expansion that will dwarf the scale of the Pacific Railroad and National Interstate and Defense Highways acts combined.

The privatization should include selling the existing assets and creating an environment conducive for private enterprises to BOO (build, own and operate) new and existing roads, bridges, tunnels, treatment plants, airports and other facilities. Tolls will be collected to defray operating costs and retire debts. Revenue from the sale of existing assets can be used to reduce the national debt. Privatization would relieve, in large part, federal, state and local governments of the burden of funding, constructing, operating and administering the infrastructure, thereby resulting in smaller governments.

Just as in any field of endeavor, bringing competition into a sector of the economy currently monopolized by the state and local governments will spur innovation and result in greater efficiency in project development and lower tolls and taxes. Government-run projects have no incentive to keep costs down and are notoriously delayed and over budget.

Privatization of the infrastructure is a product of the spontaneous evolution of our economic system and, therefore, is a historical inevitability. Inevitability, however, sometimes requires human intervention.

We should always remember that the government's job is to enforce the law and spend people's money in a manner consistent with the perceived national interest. It cannot produce wealth, employment and the other attributes of a free society. That is the job of capitalism. Hence, we do not need to borrow our way into prosperity; we just have to let capitalism work.



State-by-State Wave of 'Blue Lives Matter' Laws Concern Activists

Activists who regularly come face-to-face with police officers are among those concerned about a new wave of so-called “Blue Lives Matter” laws that have swept through 14 state legislatures.

Alabama could become the next state to enact tough new laws that make attacking first responders a hate crime, and an African-American Democrat could lead the way.

Alabama Rep. John Rogers (D) has introduced legislation that identifies police officers as members of a protected group so that attacks against them become hate crimes.

"If you kill somebody just because they are of a certain race it's a hate crime, so if you kill a police officer because he is a police officer or a fireman, it should be hate crime also," Rogers told WBRC.

Texas was the most recent state to see lawmakers approve a Blue Lives Matter proposal. The legislature sent Gov. Greg Abbott a bill in late May that makes attacking or even threatening police officers or judges hate crimes.

The Texas legislation was a response to the 2016 ambush attack that killed six Dallas police officers and a 2015 attack on a district judge outside her home.

“At a time when law enforcement officers increasingly come under assault simply because of the job they hold, Texas must send a resolute message that the state will stand by the men and women who serve and protect our communities,” Gov. Abbott said.

Along with Texas, state legislatures in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia have already added crimes against police, firefighters and EMTs to their list of hate crimes.

But maybe the Blue Lives Matter wave won’t have to go state-by-state. The movement could sweep across the U.S. from Congress.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) filed H.R. 4760 earlier this year to make attacks on police officers the same as hate crimes nationwide.

“I was looking for something that could send a very strong message that the federal government stands by police officers,” the Denver Post reported Buck said.

Sonia Bill Hernandez of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund warned of a Blue Lives Matter backlash.

She told the AP that so-called “Blue Lives Matter” laws that strengthen criminal penalties against people who attack police officers only “deepen divisions between law enforcement and communities with no tangible benefit to law enforcement.”

Jens Ohlin, a criminal law professor at Cornell University Law School in New York, told the AP the Blue Lives Matter laws all “reek of political pressure to do something symbolic as a way of expressing solidarity with police officers.”

But to a community activist like Zaki Baruti in St. Louis County, Mo., Blue Lives Matter laws are nothing but a way to cut the legs out from under the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is another form of heightened repression of activists,” Baruti told the Associated Press. “It sends a message to protesters that we better not look at police cross-eyed.”

Other critics of Blue Lives Matter legislation contend attacking a cop is bad, killing a cop is worse, but laws making attacks on police the same as hate crimes go too far.

“We believe that being a police officer is not an innate part of a person’s identity. You’re not born a police officer,” wrote the Denver Post editorial board.

“Further, police are provided many protections already. We arm them and grant them great leeway in use of deadly force,” the Denver Post editorial continued. “We protect them with body armor and other gear. Rarely do juries or review panels charge officers who kill alleged offenders, but the justice system comes down extra hard when one of its own meets with harm.”

The heated argument over the movements apparently boiled over in Alabama.

Four men face assault charges after allegedly attacking a high school student who posted pro-police, Blue Lives Matter comments online.

Seventeen-year-old Brian Ogle was hospitalized with serious head injuries after being found bleeding on the ground after a homecoming game. His mother, Brandi Allen, told Fox News that Brian responded with a Blue Lives Matter argument when he was confronted by four former students who were wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts.

Police said the attack on Ogle, who is white, may have been racially motivated.

"Instead of us planning for his 18th birthday, we're here. Why? Because he made a statement that he backs the blue?” Allen told Fox News in the hospital as her son recovered from his injuries. “I'm still trying to understand how someone, no matter the color of their skin, can do this to another human being.”



Sorry, class warriors. Unions aren't coming back

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE IS A TALE of two socioeconomic trends and one seductive myth.

Trend No. 1: There was a time when the wealthiest households in America — the top 1 percent — earned about 11 percent of the nation's income, even as the great majority of income, more than two-thirds, went to the bottom 90 percent. That was in the mid-1940s, in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II. Income inequality in the United States was relatively low, and it stayed that way for the next three decades.

Seventy years later, the distribution of income is much less equal. According to Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, the top 1 percent of US households today account for 22.5 percent of all pretax income, while the bottom 90 percent collect less than half.

Trend No. 2 occurred over the same period: As incomes in America grew less equal, membership in unions grew less common.

In the decade that followed World War II, the percentage of American workers belonging to a union rose to nearly 35 percent. That high level of union density lasted for almost three decades, but by the 1970s unions were in decline. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.7 percent of US wage earners today are union members — and nearly half of them work for the government. In the private economy, just 6.4 percent of employees are unionized.

In short, income inequality rose as union membership plunged.

So the way to reduce inequality is to reinvigorate labor unions? Not a chance.

One can make a plausible case that falling union density paved the way for the rich to grow richer. In a 2012 paper for the liberal Economic Policy Institute, labor economist Lawrence Mishel concluded that "deunionization can explain about a third of the entire growth of wage inequality among men and around a fifth of the growth among women from 1973 to 2007." Two International Monetary Fund economists made a similar argument in a 2015 study. "The decline in unionization in recent decades has fed the rise in incomes at the top," they wrote.

Not surprisingly, those who view income inequality as a terrible social malady seize on research like this to prescribe more union power as the remedy.

Senator Bernie Sanders hailed the IMF study as "a call to arms" — evidence not just that unions should be "revitalized and renewed" but that doing so "needs to be one of the major undertakings of our time."

From former Labor Secretary Robert Reich comes an even more impassioned exhortation. "We must strengthen labor unions!" he declares in a video for MoveOn. Reich wants new laws making it easier for organizers to form new unions. In particular, he wants all state right-to-work laws — which protect the right of employees not to join a union — overturned.

But unions didn't decline because laws are stacked against them or because employers have too much power. They declined because in the eyes of most workers they grew obsolete and irrelevant. And no amount of class-warfare drum-banging is going to bring them back.

As it happens, I belong to a private-sector union, and have been paying union dues for more than 20 years. I think private-sector workers should be perfectly free to bargain collectively — and just as free to shun unions. (Government unions, on the other hand, should be banned.)

I don't share the left's obsession with the wealth of "the billionaire class," to use a favorite Sanders expression. Like most Americans, I have more important things to worry about than whether Warren Buffet or George Soros get richer. But even if I did lie awake at night fretting over income inequality, I wouldn't count on a union revival to do anything about it.

Unions rose to power before globalization and automation had transformed economic reality. Before the internet utterly reshaped American commerce. Before the explosion of temps, part-timers, freelancers, and independent contractors who now constitute such a huge swath of the workforce. Before it became abnormal to stay with a single employer for a whole career. Before traditional workplaces — physical spaces with rank upon rank of workers — began to vanish.

In the early 1950s, manufacturing and mining accounted for one-third of all the jobs in America. Today? Barely 10 percent.

"In mining ... there are perhaps 80,000 jobs today compared to over a half million — almost all of which were unionized — in the late 1940s and early 1950s," writes Rich Yeselson for the progressive political website Talking Points Memo. "Coal provided close to 2/3rds of our energy then — making the imperious president of the United Mine Workers, John L. Lewis, one of the most powerful people in the country."

Much the same is true of the steel industry, which now employs 70 percent fewer workers than it did in 1959. That was the year that 500,000 members of the United Steelworkers of America went on strike — the largest strike in the nation's history.

Manufacturing is still enormously important to the US economy. It accounts for a larger share of GDP than ever. But it takes far, far fewer people to do so, making unions a far, far less important player in American life than they once were.

Private-sector unionism isn't a sleeping giant waiting for a wakeup call. It's more like a once-mighty prizefighter shuffling into oblivion. In its heyday, it was a force to be reckoned with. No longer.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Monday, June 12, 2017

Doing nothing can be good conservative policy

To this day it is widely accepted in Australia that Bob Menzies was our greatest Prime Minister. He was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He is Australia's longest-serving prime minister, serving over 18 years in total. He ran Australia in the '50s and most of the '60s in what many now look back upon as a golden age. There was great embarrassment if unemployment exceeded 2% and life was generally tranquil, though Communist unions did their best to make trouble.

But when people say what a great man Bob was, a common response was:  "But what did he DO?"  And that is a hard question to answer.  Whenever people came to Bob and suggested something that the government should do,  Bob would reply:  "But if we do that, that will create another problem here".  So Bob would send the suggestions away, saying that the best thing to do was nothing.  

People are always calling on the politicians to do something so it takes great political talent to do nothing.  And doing nothing means that the size of the government stays pretty small -- unlike what mostly happens today when the government never ceases to expand.

So Bob's talent was to let the people of the nation create any change they desired, with little or no government interference.  If enough people backed the change it would happen.  If it had little backing it would not happen.  So prosperity and quality of life increased entirely through private initiatives.

Bob was however of Scottish origins and he inherited the great Scottish reverence for education.  So he saw it as a real problem that poor families could not send their children to university.  So, for once, he DID something about that. He instituted a scheme where the Federal government would send to university all children from poor families who had scored in the top third of High School grades.  The government not only paid the tuition fees but even gave the kid a living allowance.  It was called the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme and I was one of its beneficiaries.

But Bob was rare even among conservative politicians for his ability to do next to nothing. More on Menzies here

So let me mention another such rarity: "Honest" Frank Nicklin.  Would you believe a politician with the nickname "Honest"?  In WWI he was a war hero and after the war he was a banana farmer.  In 1957, he became the Premier of my home state of Queensland and ran Queensland for around 10 years in the 60s.  Frank was by all accounts a very nice man:  A pre-Reagan Reagan.  He got on well with the bureaucracy and even the unions.  So life in Queensland was very tranquil in his time.

How Frank did it can perhaps be gleaned from the words of a unionist who had just gone to see him with some request.  He was asked afterwards what had happened with his request.  He answered:  "Mr. Nicklin can say No in the nicest possible way"!

But, like Bob Menzies Frank did do something:  He spent a lot on upgrading the infrastructure -- roads and bridges etc. More on Nicklin here.

And then we come to an example that older Americans will know about: Ike.

Ike didn't like to rock boats and mainly just wanted to let people get on with their own lives.  He kept the government low-key and tried to reduce government financial deficits.  But he too did SOMETHING.  Like Frank Nicklin, he spent a lot on building up infrastructure -- a big network of high quality interstate highways.  That network is in rather bad repair these days but if all the money wasted on the global warming myth had been spent the way the three men above operated, there would be no such problem today. Has there ever before been so much money spent with nil result as has been spent on global warming?  It would take a war to equal it

But it is wrong to say that conservatives favour the status quo.  Conservative-run legislatures legislate as energetically as any  but mostly that is just to undo the damage caused by previous Leftist policies.  It is Leftist changes that they oppose, not all change.  But, as we see above, even the three champion conservative leaders did also make positive changes: carefully considered changes that generated broad consensus

Trump looks to be going down a similar road.  He is mainly unwinding Obama-era initiatives rather than launch initiatives of his own.  But he has launched one initiative: A Paid Parental Leave Entitlement.  Hopefully that will be his version of the "one thing" that deeply conservative leaders sometimes do.  Like their initiatives it will probably have broad support. Market-oriented conservatives don't like it very much but family-oriented conservatives probably will. And any welfare proposal will have the Democrats onside -- though they may feel burned that their name won't be on it.


Washington Post Editor: Just Let White Working Class Die in Peace

They have thought it but recently a member of the media elite actually said it out loud. Washington Post columnist and editorial board member Jonathan Capehart basically told white working class Americans they are better off dying than trying to fight for their life against a swelling tide of immigration and globalization.

    “Economic dislocation and demographic changes are fueling discomfort and desperation among white working-class voters,” wrote WashPo columnist and editorial board member Jonathan Capehart, continuing:

    While [university professor and author] Justin Gest says that both Republicans and Democrats have exploited these voters, he sees a way forward.

    “The only way of addressing their plight is a form of political hospice care,” [Gest] said. “These are communities that are on the paths to death. And the question is: How can we make that as comfortable as possible?”

Professor Gest made no bones about his views of white working class citizens: they are a dying breed who are simply too dumb to understand that they need immigrants to revitalize their  communities.

    "Declining towns need immigrants to reinvigorate their markets, take on unwanted labor positions, and add youth to aging demographies. Once these communities understood the benefits immigrants bring and were consulted about the terms of their integration, they would feel more comfortable with their arrival."

Capehart and Gest are both well aware of their rabid anti-white working class prejudice:

    “It has become okay [among Democrats] to become classist against poor white people and the [white voters] see it,” said Gest.

    The party’s coalition includes environmentalists, lawyers, Latinos, hippies, and electric-car drivers, Gest said, adding “there are many people in there who like the privileged status that the Democratic Party gives to certain ethnic groups.” For the party to welcome the white working class, he added, it would be “cheapening” the privileges given to others.

In other words, the Left doesn’t want to demean itself by appealing to people who do not meet their standards of virtue signaling.

So instead of appealing to them in any meaningful way, Gest suggests political suicide:

    "For many white working class people, and this is going to be controversial, for many white working class people, not all of them but many, you have a community of people who are advanced in age, whose skill set is for a different economy, who are living in communities that are losing population, losing resources, and so in many ways, the only way of addressing their plight is a form of political hospice care. These are communities that are on the paths to death, and the question is how can we make that as comfortable as possible …"

A white working class voter offered this defense of her community:

    "Education can’t be the only answer for Americans if the U.S. labor market is also being flooded with cheap foreign workers", said a highly skilled worker contacted by Breitbart. “I know you don’t know me from a can of paint, but I had to throw in my 2 cents in your article about the WashPo editor,” said the woman, who tunes and operates computer-controlled machine tools in Cincinnati, Ohio. She continued:

    "I work in manufacturing. I have a high school diploma and a so-called associate degree from Wyotech that currently has as much worth to me as toilet paper (and it’s just as disposable). I am a [Computer Numeric Control] Machinist. I set up, tool, program, and operate CNC mills and lathes to make precision parts out of Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene, that nonstick stuff on your frying pan) and can hold tolerances to +/- 0.0002″. So I’m wondering, since I am working in a field of a bygone economic era, how dumb do they think I really am that I need “more” education? What is more education going to do for me? So I can sit around and be a great do-nothing thinker as a white (non) working class individual? What is the threshold of intellectual satiation? How many degrees do we need to be indebted to the federal government before they deem the white working middle class smart enough to associate with people like THAT?

    I have a hard time understanding how someone like Gest or Capehart can look down their noses at someone like me because I don’t share their desire for overpriced toilet paper. Could either of them program a machine to cut an arc into a piece of material? No, but I can. Could either of them change their oil, replace their brakes, or change their front differential fluid? (I’d be surprised if they knew where the dipstick is to even check it.) No, but I can. I’m a 35-year-old, white working class woman that could outsmart them on a common sense basis and on a highly technical basis, and somehow I am the one that needs more education?

    People like that think that “working class white voters” is a descriptor of who we are as a socioeconomic group, with a dash of race and political functionality. “Working class (white) voters” are machinists, assemblers, machine operators, mechanics, nurse’s aides, waitresses, small retail store managers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and all the jobs that they wouldn’t dare do themselves, being so much smarter than the rest of us (doubtful they know which end of a wrench to use).

    Being a “working class white voter” does not make us inferior or intellectually stunted so much that we need to be (re)educated in liberally biased schools of doublespeak and thoughtlessness. All we want to do is work a good job that does present a modest challenge, that does feel rewarding, keeps the lights on and our bellies full and after all of that, we just want to come home, drink some beers, pet the dog and enjoy the sunset in our small suburban slice of heaven. For us, that is what life is all about. We don’t care about revolutions, microaggressions, or how many physical and economic descriptors we can apply to a sub group of a sub group of a sub group. People like Gest and Capehart are more important to themselves, like Narcissus was to his reflection; eventually, they will drown in their obsession. And when they do, they’re still gonna be at the counter of a Mom and Pop shop asking some “white working class voter” with grease on his or her face “What’s wrong with my Prius?”



Ted Cruz Lays Out 4 Priorities for a Blockbuster Year for Conservatives

We have “a historic opportunity,” was the message of Sen. Ted Cruz at the Road to Majority Conference.

“It is June 2017, and Hillary Clinton is not president and Neil Gorsuch is a Supreme Court justice,” said the Texas Republican Thursday.

This year “demonstrates that elections matter,” Cruz said. “It demonstrates that men and women here, men and women of faith, pastors, Americans across this country love freedom, and if we rise up and stand together, we can do remarkable things.”

“We have a majority in the House, we have a majority in the Senate, we have a Republican as president, how about we act like it?” Cruz said to the crowd.

And with this “historic opportunity” in mind, Cruz laid out the four big priorities that Republicans need to deliver on. Otherwise, he warned, the party risks 2017 being a “heartbreaking missed opportunity” rather than a “blockbuster year” with possibly the “most productive Congress in decades.”

These four priorities are the Supreme Court, repealing Obamacare, regulatory reform, and tax reform.

*    Supreme Court. Cruz commended President Donald Trump on his nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and “for honoring his promise to the American people of nominating a principled constitutionalist,” calling it a “home run.”

*    Obamacare. The second priority was repealing Obamacare, which Cruz called “a train wreck collapsing right before our eyes.” It is, he said, “critical … to repeal Obamacare and it is critical that we do it well, in a way that provides real relief.”

*    Tax Reform. Rather than focusing on the “political circus … let’s focus on delivering results,” Cruz stated, advocating a “bold and simple” approach to tax reform, saying that “there is power to bold simplicity.”

*    Regulation reform. The Texas conservative called for a “pull back of the regulations that are strangling small businesses, strangling farmers and ranches, and job creators across this country.”

In closing, Cruz emphasized his appreciation for those in attendance and those who have fought so hard to make a difference in the U.S., saying, “thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your passion, thank you for your time, thank you for your energy, thank you for speaking out and working to retake our nation.”

The Road to Majority Conference is hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Comey confirms that I'm right - and all the Democratic commentators are wrong

Alan Dershowitz

Comey's opening testimony: Trump admin lied, defamed me

In his testimony former FBI director James Comey echoed a view that I alone have been expressing for several weeks, and that has been attacked by nearly every Democratic pundit.

Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available:  the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.  The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.                    

As a matter of law, Comey is 100 percent correct.  As I have long argued, and as Comey confirmed in his written statement, our history shows that many presidents—from Adams to Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Roosevelt, to Kennedy, to Bush 1, and to Obama – have directed the Justice Department with regard to ongoing investigations. The history is clear, the precedents are clear, the constitutional structure is clear, and common sense is clear.

Yet virtually every Democratic pundit, in their haste to “get” President Trump, has willfully ignored these realities.  In doing so they have endangered our civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Now that even former Director Comey has acknowledged that the Constitution would permit the president to direct the Justice Department and the FBI in this matter, let us put the issue of obstruction of justice behind us once and for all and focus on the political, moral, and other non-criminal aspects of President Trump’s conduct.

Comey’s testimony was devastating with regard to President Trump’s credibility – at least as Comey sees it.  He was also critical of President Trump’s failure to observe the recent tradition of FBI independence from presidential influence.  These are issues worth discussing but they have been distorted by the insistence of Democratic pundits that Trump must have committed a crime because they disagree with what he did politically.

Director Comey’s testimony was thoughtful, coherent and balanced.  He is obviously angry with President Trump, and his anger has influenced his assessment of the president and his actions.  But even putting that aside, Comey has provided useful insights into the ongoing investigations.

I was disappointed to learn that Comey used a Columbia law professor as a go-between to provide information to the media.  He should have has the courage to do it himself.  Senators must insist that he disclose the name of his go-between so that they can subpoena his memos and perhaps subpoena the professor-friend to provide further information.

I write this short op-ed as Comey finishes his testimony. I think it is important to put to rest the notion that there was anything criminal about the president exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to request – “hope” – that he let go the investigation of General Flynn. Just as the president would have had the constitutional power to pardon Flynn and thus end the criminal investigation of him, he certainly had the authority to request the director of the FBI to end his investigation of Flynn.

So let’s move on and learn all the facts regarding the Russian efforts to intrude on American elections without that investigation being impeded by frivolous efforts to accuse President Trump of committing a crime by exercising his constitutional authority.



House Republicans Pass Bill to Rein In Dodd-Frank

On Thursday, while seemingly everyone in Washington was fixated on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, House Republicans were busy. A bill entitled the Financial Choice Act was passed, along party lines, which aims to significantly roll back many of the onerous banking regulations created by the Dodd-Frank Act. Referencing the need to continue the process of government deregulation, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted, “Let me put it this way: #DoddFrank is more than a thousand pages long and has more rules and regulations than any Obama-era law.”

While the Financial Choice Act does not repeal Dodd-Frank, it does go a long way in reining in its congressionally independent powers. The House Republicans' bill specifically targets the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats. Clamping down on the CFPB’s ability to create new financial regulations without approval from Congress is a very welcome change given the fact that elected representatives, not unelected bureaucrats, should have the power and responsibility to create significant rules and regulations. The new bill also stops the CFPB from collecting consumers' information without their permission.

Democrats' justification for the passage of Dodd-Frank was to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis — a crisis for which Democrats sowed the seeds with housing regulation. As is often the case with onerous government regulations, Dodd-Frank proved to do little in the way of actually helping small businesses and small banks, instead hurting them and resulting in years of sluggish economic growth. Rep. Rod Pittenger (R-NC) states, “Local bank leaders tell me they now hire more compliance officers than loan officers, as filling out forms for bureaucrats has become more important than growing the economy.” The irony in Dodd-Frank is that its regulations, which were supposed to protect the little guy, have proven to prevent and hinder economic growth and opportunity for the little guy.

Many are predicting that the House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, and it is certain to undergo significant changes, but there are some Democrats who have voiced support for reforming Dodd-Frank.



President Trump’s Lower-Court Nominees Are As Good As His SCOTUS Pick

Whatever’s happening with James Comey’s testimony, Donald Trump’s Twitter account, or congressional inaction on Obamacare repeal, tax reform, or much of anything else, from where I stand all that is fake news designed to distract your eyes from the prize: we have more judicial nominees!

This week, in an echo of how the 21 contenders for the Supreme Court vacancy were rolled out during the presidential campaign, 11 would-be black-robers join last month’s stellar list of 10 lower-court nominees. They join the one confirmed nominee, Sixth Circuit Judge Amul Thapar, who was elevated from a Kentucky district court after having been on that list of Supreme Court potentials.

Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler, who appeared with me on a panel at Cato’s 40th anniversary celebration right before the May 8 announcement, says they’re “‘incredibly strong nominees’ who were within the judicial mainstream and should ‘have an intellectual influence on their courts.’” As they say in Congress, I wish to associate myself with that analysis—and to extend those remarks to apply to all the nominees we’ve seen thus far.

Let’s Take a Look:

In that first batch are two state justices who were on the potential Supreme Court list, Michigan’s Joan Larsen (nominated to the Sixth Circuit) and Minnesota’s David Stras (nominated to the Eighth Circuit). These are engaged and scholarly jurists—both former law professors who still teach on the side—who will make terrific circuit judges.

Eleventh Circuit nominee Kevin Newsom, a former Alabama solicitor general who hosted me when I spoke to the Birmingham Federalist Society chapter earlier this year, is a serious lawyer and public servant who will serve the nation well even if I disagree some with his interpretation of the Slaughterhouse cases.

Pacific Legal Foundation’s Damien Schiff, with whom I’ve worked on many cases, is an inspired pick for the Court of Federal Claims, an Article I court that mainly handles government-contract disputes and property-rights claims against the government. Throughout his career, Damien has shown a commitment to protecting individual rights against government overreach.

This week’s second batch brought us three more circuit court nominees, including Justice Allison Eid of the Colorado Supreme Court to fill Neil Gorsuch’s vacant Tenth Circuit seat and professor Stephanos Bibas of the University of Pennsylvania Law School for the Third Circuit. I know Eid by reputation. A former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, she’s a thoughtful and intellectual jurist much in the mold of her former boss. Bibas is one of the top criminal-law scholars in the country. I’ve worked with him professionally and had drinks personally; he’ll be outstanding but leaves a gaping hole as faculty adviser for Penn’s Federalist Society chapter.

Then there’s Stephen Schwartz, an old friend who was a few years behind me at the University of Chicago Law School and has also been nominated to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Stephen has the perfect blend of nerdiness and skepticism of federal power that the job demands.

I’ll Never Tire of This Kind of Winning
If the other eight announced June 7 are of the same caliber as these three (and the previous 10)—and we have no reason to think otherwise given that the administration’s nominations staff is the same—then this is the sort of #winning of which I won’t ever tire.

The only curiosity is the continued absence of Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court—and indeed no nominees to the Fifth Circuit at all. As Hugh Hewitt tweeted, of the 11 original SCOTUS short-listers, five were state judges. Three have now been nominated to the federal appellate courts. The two remaining are Tom Lee of Utah (which has no current vacancies) and Willett (and Texas has two vacancies). Moreover, Willett was apparently one of the five or six finalists for the seat that Gorsuch filled, and is close to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. So you’d think he’d be a shoo-in.

Now, it’s certainly possible there’ll be some grand bargain whereby two other worthies get the Fifth Circuit slots but Willett goes to the high court whenever Justice Anthony Kennedy decides to retire. But that’s pie-in-the-sky because so many other stakeholders are involved at that point. Of course, if this deal—a fabulous deal, believe me!—is ratified by the president himself, that would be bigly indeed.

In the meantime, the White House counsel’s office should just keep these black-robe orders coming. Their work, and that of the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, has allowed President Trump—regardless of what else he does with his time—to continue fulfilling what was probably his most important campaign promise: to appoint “the best” judges.



Justice Department Ends Government Bankrolling of Liberal Groups in Legal Settlements

The federal government no longer will make settlement agreements with any person or organization not directly involved in a legal dispute, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.

The move by Sessions abolished a practice that has funneled likely millions of dollars in banking settlements to outside organizations in such “third-party” payments.

Left-wing groups, including La Raza and NeighborWorks America, benefited from the practice, The Daily Signal previously reported.

In a formal statement, Sessions said: Effective immediately, [Justice] Department attorneys may not enter into any agreement on behalf of the United States in settlement of federal claims or charges, including agreements settling civil litigation, accepting plea agreements, or deferring or declining prosecution in a criminal manner, that directs or provides for a payment or loan to any non-governmental person or entity that is not a party to the dispute.

For over a decade, the Justice Department has permitted corporations found guilty of wrongdoing to pay part of their financial penalty as a donation to certain pre-approved nonprofit organizations, as The Daily Signal reported last year.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration alleged that banks were responsible for inflating the mortgage bubble.

The Justice Department and the banks settled with the settlements running into the millions of dollars, Paul J. Larkin, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Sometimes the Justice Department would allow donations to third parties to be counted toward the settlement value.

The practice is unlawful, said Larkin, whose work on the issue was cited by Sessions in the attorney general’s decision.

“Some of the settlements allowed a settling party to treat $1 given to a favored organization as counting for $2 toward the settlement,” Larkin said.

He added:

Federal law requires Justice Department lawyers to deposit the funds they receive from a settlement into the U.S. Treasury so that Congress, not the president or the Justice Department, can decide how those funds should be spent.

The announcement is welcome news, Steven J. Allen, vice president and chief investigative officer at the Capitol Research Center, a conservative research institution based in Washington, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Wednesday.

“It’s about time that someone did something about this,” Allen said. “It is a practice that had been going on throughout the government for decades, and we need to crack down. This is a very important first step by the attorney general.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, praised Sessions’ move.

“Today’s decision by the attorney general to end the Justice Department’s use of settlement agreements to fund politically favored organizations is a win for the victims in such disputes and for checks and balances in government,” Grassley said. “Under the Constitution, Congress holds the purse strings.”

The decision by President Donald Trump’s attorney general to end third-party settlements also benefits taxpayers, Larkin said.

“Sessions’ decision is the right one because it ends an unlawful and unethical Justice Department practice,” he said. “The department’s third-party payment practice was tantamount to the theft of money that belonged to the public.”



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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