Tuesday, June 05, 2018


The party car has no brakes

On May 10th, Tom Steyer was shouted down at his own town hall for pointing out that President Trump hasn’t actually killed millions of people.

Steyer was in Cedar Rapids on the road with his Need to Impeach tour. The billionaire had come to Iowa to boost his political standing by going further to the extreme than the Democrat leadership. Rep. Pelosi, Rep. Schiff and other top Dems had been warning against impeachment messaging. Steyer embraced it.

But hating Trump, like every other leftist extreme viewpoint, has no actual stopping point.

A woman in the audience asked, “What's the difference between him and Hitler?” "Hitler ended up killing millions and millions of people," the leftist billionaire noted in his reply. "Mr. Trump has shown a disregard for our law... but he hasn’t killed millions of people."

And the audience swiftly shouted him down for stating the obvious.

The trouble with trying to outleft the left is that there’s always someone more extreme than you are. Even if you want to impeach Trump, you’ll be deemed a sellout for not calling for his assassination.

It’s not enough to compare Trump to Hitler, as Steyer did, you have to insist he’s every bit as bad as Adolf.

The scene in Cedar Rapids was the inevitable outcome of building politics around hating one man as hard as possible. The transformation of the Democrats into the anti-Trump party means that if he really wanted to get a wall built tomorrow, all he would have to do is come out against it this afternoon.

Over at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum pleaded, “Liberals Really Shouldn’t Be Defending MS-13 Just Because Donald Trump Doesn’t Like Them.” But tell that to Nancy Pelosi. If Trump hates MS-13, the left will learn to love it, even if it never heard of it before, and draw on all the old rationalizations of terrorism (there’s a moderate MS-13 wing, innocent immigrants get caught up in the hunt for MS-13, dehumanizing people is dangerous) to rationalize its reflexive antipathy. If Jared and Ivanka show up in Jerusalem, the left will learn to love Hamas. The left’s response to North Korea shifts with Trump. When Trump negotiates, the left hates the Norks, when he threatens them, it’s come on down Kim Jong-un.

It’s not a cult of personality, but a cult of anti-personality. The Democrats feverishly worship whatever they imagine the antithesis of Trump to be at any given time. Even if it’s a violent murder and rape gang.

But it’s not just a case of, “Whatever Trump’s for, I’m against it.”

Bernie’s socialism was controversial in the ’16 primaries. In ’18, most of his ideas have been embraced by his prospective ’20 rivals. His people are rising within the DNC.

Hillary Clinton didn’t just kill off her crooked political dynasty. Her defeat also killed triangulation.

What’s the point of waiting around for decades, playing the long game, moving to the middle, trying to avoid taking a controversial stand or uttering an uncensored thought, only to lose twice?

No Dem wants to be the next Hillary Clinton. They want to be the next Obama or Bernie.

The Overton window isn’t just open, it’s broken. There are few ideas that can’t be put forward anymore. Especially on the left. In tribal politics, moderation isn’t a virtue, it’s a vice.

That’s the problem.

The lack of boundaries is liberating. But everyone has boundaries. Even the guy with a Need to Impeach tour. He just has no way to set them anymore. Or point out that Trump isn’t literally Hitler.

Neither does the rest of his political movement.

You’re either an extremist or a sellout. And there’s always someone crazier out there to cry sellout.

Free health care, college education and jobs have already been done. Bernie ran on free college and healthcare. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris are already all over free jobs.

What’s next? How do you out-Bernie him in 2020? Free homes, free cars and free drugs?

Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money. But at this rate, the Dems will run out of other people’s ideas even before they even manage to run out of other people’s money.

And then the 2024 Dems will run on straight Communism.

Extremism in hating Trump is no vice, among the Dems, and no virtue is greater than loving socialism.

The first casualties of campaign finance reform were the moderates. The power shifted from local districts to big national donors with massive organizations. Goodbye Bill and Bob in Pennsylvania, hello George Soros and the other SPECTRE board members of the Democracy Alliance. Crowdsourced platforms like ActBlue allowed San Francisco donors to pour big money into local red state races.

And the most passionate and committed Dem donors weren’t moderates, but extremists. National single issue lobbies consolidated into a coordinated campaign to push pro-life and pro-gun Dems out of the party. The progressive political machine manufactured passion candidates who were unqualified extremists. Mostly the machine lost. But it won big when a Chicago lefty took the White House.

As the Democrats head into the midterm elections, some in the leadership are trying to moderate their tone. But why bother? Extremism pays. Just look at the cash flowing to key #resistance politicians.

When Rosie O’Donnell got into trouble for illegally over-sized campaign contributions, she claimed that she donates money ActBlue to help her cope. “My anxiety is quelled by donating to those opposing trump, his agenda — especially at night — when most of these were placed.”

She’s not alone. There’s a river of blue state money pouring into local; elections. The cult of anti-personality that the Democrats have built around Trump has been a financial windfall for the left. The Democrats hold fewer elected seats, but their holders are more likely to be politically correct. It wasn’t a defeat for the left. But a successful purification of a political party by what was an extremist faction.

The descent of the Democrats into extremism allowed Republicans to achieve a nearly unprecedented electoral dominance. As the Democrats tightened their grip on urban minority blocs and suburban bedroom communities, the South and the Midwest slipped through their fingers. But instead of moderating their tone, they consolidated control over the media and unelected officials.

The eavesdropping on Trump officials and the resulting Mueller investigation are the result.

If the Democrats succeed in reversing the results of the 2016 election by engineering a coup through the DOJ and the media, elections will cease to matter. And that will eliminate any final check on the left’s political extremism. That is what the investigations tearing apart America are really about.

The social consensus is gone. Instead the left manufactured its own social consensus on values and used the entertainment industry and the educational system to indoctrinate each generation anew. The political consensus was swept out on a tide of cash. And the electrical consensus is under siege by a movement that is trying to make elections in America as irrelevant as they already are in California.

And the Democrats are going as crazy nationally, as they did in California.

The Founding Fathers rebelled against a mad king notorious for talking to trees. But old George was replaced with a tyranny of leftists who, unlike him, may not shake hands with trees, but do hug them.

Madness is the privilege of absolute power. When there is no one to challenge their right to rule, governments go mad. North Korea’s insane Marxist madhouse is a typical example. The Democrats have been set free to indulge in the extremes of madness with none of the political consequences. The media won’t hold them accountable and, if they have their way, the voters won’t be allowed to either.

The Democrat car, environmentally correct, painted bright red and full of the exact right number of minority drivers, is racing for the cliff. It has no brakes and no one in the cars wants to use them anyway.



Chick-fil-A Mocks the Lefty Myth About Wage Stagnation

“As the owner, I’m looking at it big picture and long term.” Those are the words of Eric Mason, owner of a Chick-fil-A in Sacramento, CA.

Mason was talking about his employees and sales. He believes successful restaurants are an effect of happy, well-paid workers.  That’s why he’s offering his employees wage increases that would boost their pay from $12-13/hr. to $17-18/hr.

That Mason is raising worker pay well beyond California’s minimum wage is a reminder that pundits on the left are flying blind when they emote about stagnant wages.  They could learn a lot from Mason. Mason sees very clearly what they don’t: low-wage workers are incredibly expensive.

They are because they’re not very productive.  As is frequently said, you get what you pay for.  Low-wage workers don’t need to perform very well simply because they’re not being compensated for it.  Mason wants his business to boom, which means he wants his employees to feel well rewarded.  Quoted in the Washington Post about his decision to boost employee compensation, Mason said “[W]hat that [pay well above the minimum wage] does for the business is provide consistency, someone that has relationships with our guests, and it’s going to be building a long-term culture.”

“Long term culture” is crucial here.  Mason’s point is that employee turnover is very costly.  Not only is it time consuming to train workers who will soon depart, it’s also bad for the business.  People patronize restaurants for all sorts of reasons.  Consistency in terms of food and service, and a welcoming atmosphere plainly factor.  Each quality is more likely to be found in restaurants that retain their employees for the long term.

The above speaks loudly to how expensive it is to underpay.  To do so, as in to presume to exploit, is to drive away the workers who are capable of mastering the menu, creating a “long term culture,” and who will know many customers by name and order.

Mason’s insight is as old as profit is.  Henry Ford understood long ago what Mason does now.  Poorly paid workers are a business-sapping burden. Ford didn’t give his employees raises so that they would buy Ford cars; rather he offered them impressive raises because annual turnover of over 300% was limiting his ability to profit.  Low wages were costing Ford’s eponymous company a great deal.  Mason wants to avoid the high cost of short-changing his employees. 

Mason’s actions belie the popular lefty belief that businesses thrive by paying their workers as little as possible.  He’s a wise owner for sure, but can those who think businesses grow through exploitation really believe that Mason’s view about compensation is a minority one? More realistically, well-run corporations of varying shapes and sizes well understand that businesses succeed thanks to the people who show up for work each day.  Successful owners and CEOs understand that parsimony is not the path to profits.

Profitable businesses get that way by overpaying.  Does anyone remember General Electric’s nickname when it was the premiere U.S. blue chip in the late 1990s? “Generous Electric” employees were exceedingly well compensated, and then it was said about Time Warner around the same time that it retained its workers with “golden handcuffs.” So fearful was it of losing its human capital to Silicon Valley upstarts, Goldman Sachs handed out generous stock bonuses during the original internet boom. More modernly, readers need only consider Amazon.  It’s one of the five most valuable companies in the world.  Not surprisingly, the pay at Amazon is very impressive.  Anyone who doubts this need only consider the feverish competition among North American cities for the Seattle giant’s second HQ.

Are the previous examples too large and too corporate?  Too coastal, or too outlier? Too college-degree focused? If so, fine.  Consider the plumbing industry.  In a front page Wall Street Journal story from last week, it was reported that Ft. Collins-based Neuworks Mechanical is offering plumbers “on-site tap flows with craft beer”, roasted espresso, a smoker for brisket lunches, and next up, a yoga studio. A plumbing company in St. Paul offers arcade games and a “quiet room,” while another plumbing outfit unearthed by the Journal provides its workers with massages and spa treatments.

Which brings us to the myth about stagnant pay in the U.S.  Really? If pay were stagnant, does anyone think businesses would be paying so much and offering so much in order to win and retain workers? No doubt some owners and CEOs are quite simply enlightened and realize that a happy work force means happy customers, but to some degree this bidding war for workers is the result of a scramble for talent among all businesses. 

Stagnant pay presumes a lack of economic growth, and a dearth of successful businesses.  Except that that U.S. has had some of the greatest growth since the early 1980s, and it houses a majority of the world’s most valuable companies.  In an economy reliant on people, it’s only natural that the people staffing U.S. businesses are being paid more and more, and being compensated in ways that are more and more creative.  So impressive is compensation in the U.S. that even fast food businesses must pay up to compete.  Indeed, as the Chick-fil-A story reminds us, it’s not just Starbucks that is going out of its way to retain workers with pay and perks.

So while many on the left surely want the best for workers, far too many labor under the false illusion that businesses strive to minimize employee costs.  Not at all.  They can’t afford to. They strive to overpay because a failure to retain employees is the path to decline.



TSA and Border Patrol stole his life savings but never charged him with a crime

His American dream was helping his family in Albania. It ended when he walked through security at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

A U.S. citizen for more than a decade, Rustem Kazazi was flying back to Europe to help his Albanian family repair their home and maybe even to buy a little beach house somewhere along the Adriatic Sea. He placed $58,100 into three clearly marked envelopes, then packed the money away in his carry-on luggage.

It was 13 years of his life savings – and the federal government took every penny.

TSA employees discovered the cash, and agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized it. But first they strip-searched Kazazi and interrogated the 64-year-old without a translator as he covered himself with a towel.

That was in October. Kazazi still hasn’t been convicted (or charged!) of any crime, and CBP didn’t offer any explanation for a month. But thanks to a law enforcement procedure called civil asset forfeiture, CBP also hasn’t given Kazazi his savings back. The federal government finally came up with an explanation: they suspected he was “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.”

The large sum wasn’t for anything nefarious explained Kazazi, a former Albanian police office. “The crime in Albania is much worse than it is here,” he told the Washington Post. “Other people that have made large withdrawals [from Albanian banks] have had people intercept them and take their money.” Plus, hard U.S. currency is worth more.

And because traveling with that kind of cash isn’t a crime, the Kazazi family has filed suit against the federal government.

“You have the right to travel with cash in America, even when you’re flying internationally,” said Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents the Kazazis in the lawsuit. “But again, we’re encountering a situation where law enforcement sees somebody with legal cash, assumes they must have done something criminal, and they just take the money. It is disturbing how little respect federal agents show for the civil rights of American citizens.”

Those federal agents aren’t an anomaly. It’s not just a bad apple here and a rotten one there. Civil asset forfeiture is the preferred policy of the nation’s top cop.

"I love that program," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a law enforcement conference last September. "We had so much fun doing that, taking drug dealers' money and passing it out to people trying to put drug dealers in jail. What's wrong with that?"

Turns out, a lot is wrong with the 1980s-era policy. Police aren’t just nabbing drug money. Around the country, law enforcement are taking cash, cars, and real-estate without ever charging victims with a crime. To seize property, the police only need to suspect it is connected to criminal activity. Afterwards, even clearly innocent citizens like Kazazi have no recourse except a lawsuit.

“This family’s case, like so many others, shows why civil forfeiture must end,” explained IJ attorney Johanna Talcott. “The Kazazis did nothing wrong and were never charged with a crime, but the government still won’t return their money all these months later. This kind of abuse is far too common because civil forfeiture is an inherently abusive process that will always have disastrous effects on innocent people. Enough is enough.”



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1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

Civil asset forfeiture laws violate the 4th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution. It makes the assumption that the person is guilty until he proves he's innocent.