Thursday, October 11, 2018

Democrats Have Become A Dangerous Threat To Our Institutions

When modern Democrats talk about preseving “norms,” traditions,” or even the “Constitution,” they’re really talking about preserving their preferred policies. We know this because “liberals” have shown themselves not only willing to destroy the legitimacy of institutions like the presidency, the Senate ,and Supreme Court to protect those policies, they’re willing to break down basic norms of civility, as well.

Take the example of Hillary Clinton. In the very first sentence in her new scaremongering essay, which makes the case that America’s “democratic institutions and traditions are under siege,” she attacks our democratic institutions and traditions. “It’s been nearly two years since Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president of the United States,” the piece begins.

The intimation, of course, widely shared by the mainstream left, is that Trump isn’t a legitimate president even though he won the election in the exact same way every other president in U.S. history has ever won election. According to our long-held democratic institutions and traditions, you become president through the Electoral College, not the non-existent popular vote.

So when Clinton, or writers at Vox, or The Atlantic, or Politico, or new liberal favorite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, say it’s “well past time we eliminate the Electoral College, a shadow of slavery’s power on America today that undermines our nation as a democratic republic,” you’re either tragically ignorant about our system or cynically delegitimizing it. Or maybe it’s both.

The Electoral College isn’t ornamental; it exists to undercut the tyranny of direct democracy and ensure the entire nation is represented in national elections. When you attack it, you’re not condemning Trump, you are, in a very palpable way, attacking a core idea that girds much of our governance.

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the anti-majoritarian Senate is also suddenly problematic for many Democrats. When a NBC reporter, commenting on a Washington Post article, says “the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change,” he’s probably not ignorant about why the Founders implemented proportional voting, or why there is a difference between the House and Senate, or why the Tenth Amendment exists. He simply favors a system he thinks would allow liberals to force others to accept his preferred policies.

That’s the thing, of course. North Dakotans can’t make New Yorkers ban abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. They can’t make New Yorkers legalize “assault weapons” if Heller is upheld. But New Yorkers are perfectly content to force North Dakotans to accept both abortion and gun control. So, then, surely nothing could be more frustrating to the contemporary liberal than the existence of an originalist court that values the self-determination of individuals and states.

That is why the effort to destroy Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t only about the nominee, but the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. When you can’t corrode constitutional protections by seating justices that simply ignore the words and purpose of the founding documents, you can proactively smear the people whose decisions do uphold those values.

When Sen. Mazie Hirono, who rejected basic tenets of due process throughout the Kavanaugh hearings, argues Kavanaugh “is going to be on the Supreme Court with a huge taint and a big asterisk after his name,” she, like many others, is giving her followers a pretext to ignore the court.

If there is a “taint,” a proper constitutionally mandated solution exists: provide evidence and impeach him. Otherwise, there is no asterisk. Republicans didn’t break any constitutional norms. Trump nominated a candidate with a blemish-free ten-year record on the DC appellate court.

Republicans in the judiciary committee had hearings in which Democrats could question the nominee. Republicans even added additional hearings after Democrats leaked uncorroborated accusations. Republicans then asked for a seventh FBI investigation into the nominee before voting. Then the entire Senate voted. There is no asterisk.

Of course, if Democrats had been in charge of the Senate, they would have been free to shelve that nomination just as Republicans had done with Merrick Garland, when they also decided adopt the “Biden Rule.” If Democrats had followed the norms of the Senate in 2013, rather than using the nuclear option, they might have been able to filibuster Kavanaugh. They didn’t.

Instead, during this entire constitutionally mandated process we just went through, Democrats demonstrated a malicious disregard for the institution, not only by slandering those they disagreed with, and by leaking uncorroborated accusations, and by attacking the principles of Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and by ignoring long-held Senate rules during the proceedings in their Spartacus moments, but by preemptively declaring the pick illegitimate the day the president announced it.

According to liberals, every conservative-run institution is illegitimate. Working out how it’s illegitimate is the only question.

Even the questions in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh vote point to misunderstanding of process. Did Democrats “fight hard enough” to stop a nomination? What does that even mean? You fight by winning the argument, and by appealing to a large swath of Americans to win the Senate, and by winning the vote. In a decent nation, you don’t win by smearing your political opponents as gang rapists, and you don’t win by acting like a mob and screaming at your fellow citizens in restaurants and elevators.

After all, Hillary, and others who write about Trump’s supposed annihilation of our institutions, seem wholly concerned about aesthetics, manners, and policy, not procedure or institutions. Civility is a worthwhile issue, but it is a separate issue. You might find immigration and environmental policy of primary importance, but not getting your way isn’t a constitutional crisis. When they act like it is, liberals—and it’s getting progressively difficult to give them that descriptor—are destabilizing the institutions they are claiming to save.

How many times did a Democrat even mention the Constitution during the Kavanaugh hearings? I imagine, if we’re lucky, a perfunctory handful. Trump, far more than the previous administration, has strengthened proper separations of power. One of the ways he’s done it is by his judicial appointments. And Democrats’ inability to make any distinction between the neutral processes of governing and their partisan goals makes them, to this point, a far bigger threat to constitutional norms than the president.



America hits best unemployment rate in 49 years

The September jobs report released today shows a continuation of the booming labor market, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.7 percent, the lowest in 49 years. Average weekly wages rose at an impressive 3.4 percent over last year. These are the pocketbook issues that actually make a difference in the lives of voters. If Republicans can make the case that their policies are largely responsible for this increased pay and improved job prospects, they can maintain control of Congress in midterms.

So far this year, the average number of jobs created each month is 16 percent higher than last year, suggesting that the tax cuts that took effect this year are boosting the labor market. This is the sixth straight month the unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent, the best in a half century. Black and hispanic unemployment rates hover near record lows. In addition to the unprecedented number of job opportunities, wages are increasing at their quickest pace in a decade, rising about 50 percent faster than during the second term of President Obama. But the legacy media continues to stick to its “stagnating wages” talking point.

What makes this wage growth even more impressive is that it has coincided with a significant influx of less skilled workers into the job market. Since the 2016 election, the unemployment rate has fallen by 20 percent. Hundreds of thousands of people, who had quit looking for work altogether, have returned to the workforce to take advantage of this historic opportunity. Over the last couple years, the labor market has grown far faster than the long running trend would have suggested.

This top line wage growth figure only takes into account wages before taxes. Wages after taxes are growing even faster as tax cuts have reduced the amount of federal withholding taken from paychecks. Americans are receiving higher take home wages because of a doubled standard deduction, doubled child tax credit, and lower tax rates that took effect this year. The new 20 percent small business tax deduction is contributing to this historic labor market. This is strengthening the economic backbone of the country by allowing them to protect a fifth of their earnings from taxes and reinvest it in their operations and employees.



Good news about Obamacare premiums can't hide long-term pain

Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently announced that premiums for a benchmark Affordable Care Act 2019 plan on the federal exchange will drop 2 percent nationally compared with 2018 premiums — the first reduction since the law's implementation.

While this is encouraging news, it is no cause for a major celebration. When Obamacare's exchanges open for business in just a few weeks, on Nov. 1, many consumers will still find exchange plans unaffordable. Rates will soar by double digits in many states. Despite the slight decline in the national average premium, the typical 2019 plan sold through the exchange will still likely cost more than twice as much as the average individual market plan in 2013, the year before most Obamacare provisions went into effect.

Until Obamacare's incoherent rules and regulations are loosened, there will be no sustained relief for everyday Americans.

Hefty premium increases are the new normal. Americans who shopped for Obamacare-compliant coverage off the exchanges fared just as poorly as those who watched rates soar on the exchanges. The average individual market plan sold through eHealth, an online insurance marketplace, cost $197 per month in 2013. In 2018, the average plan on eHealth was $440 per month — a 123 percent increase.

Republicans are lessening premium pain
Consumers won't get much relief this enrollment cycle. But at least they won't be penalized for going without coverage, as Republicans reduced the fine for violating the individual mandate to zero.

Premiums for the benchmark 2019 silver plan in Burlington, Vermont, will rise 23 percent relative to 2018. In the nation's capital, they're going up 21 percent. In Seattle, premiums are jumping 12 percent.

These hikes are the inevitable result of Obamacare's premium-inflating mandates.

The law requires all plans to cover 10 essential health benefits, from prescription drugs to pediatric dental care. Insurers have raised prices in response. As much as 11 percent of Pennsylvania's premium increases and 8 percent of Georgia's were due to the essential health benefits mandate, according to a McKinsey study.

Obamacare also forbids insurers from denying coverage to customers based on their health status or charging sicker enrollees more than healthy ones. And it bars insurers from charging older enrollees more than three times what they charge younger enrollees, even though older people are five times costlier to insure.



The Left’s Pattern of Overlooking Due Process

The notion that certain Americans are pre-emptively guilty of wrongdoing, whether there’s any corroborating evidence to back up an accusation or not, isn’t reserved for conservatives who happen to be in contention for a Supreme Court seat.

In the hierarchy of progressive values, due process is a bottom dweller.

Over the past decade, you could see the illiberalism evolving on college campuses, where Democrats subverted basic standards of justice.

It was the Obama administration that demanded schools judge cases of alleged sexual assaults under a “clear and convincing evidence” standard rather than on a “preponderance of evidence” standard, allowed accusers to appeal “not guilty” findings, and permitted the meting out of punishment before any investigation was even conducted, among other big problems.

Democrats are simply shepherding those corrosive standards into the real world.

Another area of American life where we continue to see egregious attacks on the presumption of innocence is gun ownership. You might remember that a couple of years ago, Democrats engaged in a much-covered congressional “sit-in” to support legislation that would have stripped Americans on secret government watchlists—hundreds of thousands of people who had never been accused, much less convicted, of any crime—of their constitutional right to bear arms.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in fact, proposed legislation that would have restricted not only American citizens on faulty watchlists but anyone who had been on any watchlist at any time during the previous five years and anyone who had traveled to select Middle Eastern countries.

Apparently, Democrats believe limiting the number of refugees from Syria is unconstitutional but explicitly restricting the constitutional rights of Syrian immigrants here legally is just fine.

Then again, the entire effort was a frontal attack on about half the Bill of Rights. At the time, even the American Civil Liberties Union, which has increasingly turned away from its guiding principles, argued that policies based on flawed terror lists would undermine civil liberties.

In much the same way they are attempting to sink the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, Democrats relied on theatrics, bombastic rhetoric, and a compliant media, which framed the issue exactly how they had hoped.

You can imagine such bills will reappear when they’re back in charge. Until then, though, Democrats have been doing some gun grabbing—and I don’t mean it figuratively—on the local level.

California, a state that already features the strictest gun control laws in the country, just enacted a law that raises the allowable age to buy a shotgun or rifle from 18 to 21.

The United States might be willing to hand weapons to young men and women who volunteer to protect their country, but Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t believe those young men and women should be able to protect their own property or families.

An even more outrageous new law bans Californians who’ve been hospitalized more than once in a year for mental health issues from owning a gun.

Federal law already prohibits the sale of a gun to anyone who “has been adjudicated as a mental defective.”

Until now, a person had an option to appeal the ban and show “a preponderance of evidence” that he would use firearms in “a safe and lawful manner.” Now California bans one-time patients from owning firearms for the rest of their lives.

This is an excellent way to stigmatize people who suffer from maladies that often have nothing to do with violence or criminality.

Now, I was going to ask the reader to imagine an alternate scenario in which Republicans pushed a bill prohibiting those who have been in hospitals—for, say, nervous exhaustion or an addiction—from being able to freely express their opinions in public ever again.

If a law-abiding American can be stripped of his Second Amendment rights, then why not his First Amendment rights? But then, these days, I imagine many Democrats would simply answer, “It depends on what the person is going to say.”

Another California law allows police to verbally ask to confiscate a gun rather than make their case in a written request. Under “red flag laws,” guns can be confiscated from citizens who’ve never been charged with, much less convicted of, breaking any law. And it’s getting easier and easier to do it.

All it takes in many states is for a family member, neighbor, or co-worker to accuse you of a pre-crime. One of Maryland’s many new laws (signed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan) allows the police to confiscate weapons for up to a year—or until the next person accuses you of a crime you are only yet to commit.

There is risible evidence that these new regulations will stop mass shootings or lower gun crime. But as William Rosen, deputy legal director for Everytown for Gun Safety, explains, “red flag laws” are needed to “step into that gap.”

What gap? You know, the pesky space between protecting the ideal of presuming innocence and completely ignoring it when you feel like it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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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