Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The midterms, the left and the Trump effect

By Monica Crowley

As he’s addressed massive campaign rallies, President Trump gives the crowds a singularly important marching order: “Pretend I’m on the ballot.”

His advice is wise. As we head into the final stretch of the 2018 midterm elections, pollsters and strategists are debating which party has the intensity edge, but one thing is crystal clear: There is no enthusiasm gap when it comes to Mr. Trump.

Over the past few months, Mr. Trump has done what he does best, and appears to enjoy the most: Campaign. Not for himself this time, but for Republican Senate and House candidates in tight races in an attempt to preserve the party’s majorities. He draws crowds often in the tens of thousands, as big if not bigger than the ones he drew in 2016, and far bigger than the candidates could attract on their own. A recent rally in Houston to support Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election attracted so many people that organizers had to move the event to a much bigger arena.

The events have given Mr. Trump a mega-platform to tout his growing record of accomplishments: A thriving economy, tax cuts, deregulation, historically low unemployment (particularly among blacks, Latinos and women), wage growth, confirmation of two U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than 80 federal judges, exit from the Iran nuclear deal, initial work on the border wall, the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, the return of American hostages from North Korea, the successful renegotiation of NAFTA with the renegotiation of other trade relationships underway. The candidates who stand by his side hope that voters will associate Mr. Trump’s policy success with their ability, if elected, to help keep it going.

Mr. Trump also gleefully criticizes Democrats, flipping the Alinsky script as he mocks their radicalism, failures and hypocrisy. He gives the news media the same treatment, something they are not used to and cannot abide. He is so effective at highlighting their bias, double standards and outright dishonesty that they immediately default to blaming him for the actions of every violent lunatic and ill befalling the nation.

Following the arrests of the maniac who sent threatening packages to prominent Trump critics and the anti-Semitic monster who gunned down 11 innocent souls at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the left immediately attributed the “violent hate” to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. That’s a staggering jujitsu of projection, given the incessant hate that’s long poured out of leftist precincts.

Projection is, in fact, the left’s main tool of distraction. They denounce “fear tactics” while incessantly preaching fear of Mr. Trump and everything related to his party. They decry “bigotry” while often demonstrating the most intolerant bigotry of their own, particularly when it comes to anyone with an opposing view. When in power, they pay lip service to “coming together” and “finding common ground” while crushing their opposition; when out of power, they feel fully justified in deferring civility until they’re back in control.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s power largely comes from giving voice to the silent majority, expressing its legitimate concerns, frustrations and wishes. The left, however, has monopolized the microphone for so long that hearing other views elevated and respected by the president shocks and infuriates them.

To the left, this reads as “division,” when in fact it’s simply a more equitable distribution of expression and views. The division has been there all along, simply hidden under the jackboot of leftist media control, and the silent majority has long been blocked from responding in kind. No longer, now that Mr. Trump is championing them and blasting the left’s tyranny of thought.

This is Mr. Trump’s first midterm cycle, however, and some Republicans still aren’t sure how to navigate him. The smart Republican candidates have embraced him, buoyed by his robust job approval rating and broad public support of the stronger economy and international position he’s delivering.

History suggests that midterm election night may not be a great night for Republicans. But politics hasn’t adhered to normal trends in quite a while. There is a significant shift taking place, accelerated by Mr. Trump who has upended most expectations and shattered traditional precepts of leadership.

Additionally, unforeseen events could further scramble the election calculus, including the imminent arrival of thousands of Central Americans at the southern border, the deployment of troops to support the Border Patrol, more terrorist threats or violence, an economic shock or some other unknown.

But we do know that we’re still in the midst of a major populist realignment, the effects of which continue to ricochet. We will find out on Nov. 6 exactly which old assumptions still apply, which new ones need analysis and how Mr. Trump continues to shape the national landscape. “Pretend I’m on the ballot,” he says, because in so many ways, he is.

As he gives voice to the silent majority, let’s hope the silent majority returns the favor with its votes.



 There is a Republican plan to cover pre-existing conditions — and the House already passed it

Here is a fact that Democrats are desperately trying to keep from the public: Not only do Republicans support providing health insurance coverage for those with preexisting conditions, but Republicans in the House actually passed legislation that did just that.

The American Health Care Act included an amendment that Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., and I introduced. It ensured that anyone with a preexisting condition could purchase health insurance. The Palmer-Schweikert amendment established a risk-sharing plan that allowed any individual with a preexisting condition to purchase insurance at the same price as a healthy individual. This was not an unproven idea — in fact, the plan was modeled after a successful state-level program.

Instead of billions of dollars in bailouts for health insurance companies, the Republican plan was funded by having the majority of the premiums paid by those with preexisting conditions transferred into a fund. This represents an alternative approach to Obamacare’s guaranteed-issue provision, which priced everyone as sick, resulting in far more expensive premiums.

Our amendment put the money in a risk-sharing plan that targeted assistance to cover those with preexisting conditions, but also required the insurers to have some skin in the game. The result was more affordable premiums for all.

By setting up this arrangement, the Republican plan not only guaranteed coverage to people with preexisting conditions, it reduced premiums for everyone else in every age group. According to an analysis by Milliman, one of the nation’s top independent actuarial firms, the Republican risk-sharing plan would have provided prompt assistance for people with high-cost claims, lowered premium costs by 12-31 percent, and increased the number of people with health insurance by up to 2.2 million.

The Republican bill with this amendment passed the House on May 4, 2017 without a single Democrat vote in favor. Even though the ACHA stalled in the Senate, the risk-sharing plan will be part of a legislative package that I, along with others, intend to reintroduce in the next Congress along with provisions that will be a huge step toward repairing and restoring health care in America.

The legislation will allow for the formation of Association Health Plans that help small businesses save money, and allow for the sale of short-term health insurance policies that can help the uninsured. The Trump administration has issued guidelines that allow for both. Our bill would protect these new options.

As a result of Obamacare, health insurance premiums more than doubled and the mandates forced small businesses to cut employees’ hours, lay people off, and stop hiring. Currently, only about 56 percent of small businesses can afford to offer health insurance. But the new guidelines allow for individuals and small businesses to qualify for these lower-cost association health plans — making affordable health insurance available to millions of workers.

Empowering people to purchase short-term health insurance will make coverage available to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured. Short-term plans would allow individuals to purchase one-year plans that are renewable for up to three years. These plans are 50 – 80 percent less expensive.

Republicans are advocating for these options to empower the American people, but Democrats are once again misleading the American public about healthcare. During the debate over Obamacare, they said we could keep our doctors if we liked them. That was a lie for millions of Americans. They promised premiums would be reduced by an average of $2,500 per family per year, but premiums more than doubled for tens of millions of people. They said that over 20 million people would be covered by government exchanges, but it was less than half that number — and insurance companies dropped coverage in many states.

Now, the Democrats are calling for government-run healthcare under the guise of "Medicare for All." What they want is a Canadian-style health system. But in Canada, the average wait time to see a doctor in metropolitan areas is over 18 weeks, and it's over 31 weeks in rural areas. A study by the Fraser Institute of Canada reported that from 1993 to 2009, an estimated 25,000 to 63,000 Canadian women died while waiting for treatment.

By contrast, the Republicans are on record with a sensible plan to cover preexisting conditions, a plan that will help individuals get the health insurance they need at prices they can afford, and which allows small businesses to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.

The difference between the Republican plan and the Democrat’s plan is that our plan will offer Americans more options and make health insurance affordable again.



If We Don’t Enforce the Law, We Get Anarchy

What makes citizens obey the law is not always their sterling character. Instead, fear of punishment—the shame of arrest, fines, or imprisonment—more often makes us comply with laws.

Law enforcement is not just a way to deal with individual violators but also a way to remind society at large that there can be no civilization without legality. Or, as 17th-century British statesman George Savile famously put it: “Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen.”

In the modern world, we call such prompt, uniform, and guaranteed law enforcement “deterrence,” from the Latin verb meaning “to frighten away.” One protester who disrupts a speech is not the problem. But if unpunished, he green-lights hundreds more like him.

Worse still, when one law is left unenforced, then all sorts of other laws are weakened.

The result of hundreds of “sanctuary cities” is not just to forbid full immigration enforcement in particular jurisdictions. They also signal that U.S. immigration law, and by extension other laws, can be ignored.

The presence of an estimated 12 million or more foreign nationals unlawfully living in the U.S. without legal consequence sends a similar message. The logical result is the current caravan of thousands of Central Americans now inching its way northward to enter the U.S. illegally.

If the border was secure, immigration laws enforced, and illegal residence phased out, deterrence would be re-established and there would likely be no caravan.

Campus protests often turn violent. Agitators shout down and sometimes try to physically intimidate speakers with whom they disagree.

Most of the disruptors are upper-middle-class students. Many have invested up to $200,000 in their higher education, often to ensure well-paying careers upon graduation.

Protesters assume that ignoring laws about peaceful assembly poses no consequences. Usually student disruptors are right. College administrators will typically shrug at even violent protests rather than call police to make arrests.

Yet if a few bold disruptors were actually charged with misdemeanors or felonies and had arrests tarnishing their otherwise sterling resumes, there would likely be far fewer illegal and violent protests.

In the last two years, a number of celebrities have openly fantasized about doing physical harm to the president of the United States. Madonna, Kathy Griffin, Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro, Snoop Dogg, and other stars have expressed their wishes that President Donald Trump might be beaten up, blown up, cut up, or shot up.

Their shared premise is that they are too famous, influential, or wealthy to expect consequences that ordinary citizens might face for making threats to the safety of the president of the United States. If the next time a Hollywood icon tweeted or voiced a threat to the president he or she was subsequently put on a no-fly list, the current assassination chic would quickly stop.

Every person assumes the freedom to eat safely in a restaurant, to walk to work without disturbance, and to relax without fear of violence. Now, that is not always the case, at least not if one is deemed politically influential and conservative.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., must worry that when they venture out in public, protesters will scream in their face, attempt to bar their passage, or disrupt their meal—and do so without legal ramifications.

There are many causes of the current legal laxity.

Trump is a polarizing president, and his critics have decided that extraordinary and sometimes extralegal measures are morally justified to stop him. Supposedly high-minded ends are seen as justifying unlawful means. Helping undocumented immigrants evade the law, stopping the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, or otherwise thwarting Trump all warrant special immunity.

The problem with ignoring laws is that it is contagious—and can boomerang.

Sanctuary cities could in theory birth conservative sanctuary zones. Would today’s protesters wish for other jurisdictions to nullify federal laws and court rulings concerning abortion, gun registration, and gay marriage?

If thousands of Hondurans in a caravan are deemed above the law, then why not exempt future mass arrivals of Chinese or South African immigrants?

If Cruz and other Republican politicos can’t eat in peace, will former President Barack Obama; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., soon face the same disruptions—the illegality justified by higher moral concerns?

If students can block a right-wing speaker or storm a diner, will they also object when anti-abortion protesters bar the passage of a pro-choice campus guest?

German philosopher Immanuel Kant noted that “anarchy is law and freedom without force.”

Translated to our current context, Kant might say that all our high-minded talk about the Bill of Rights means absolutely nothing without the cop on the beat and the local district attorney.



More CNN Racism

Kirsten Powers stated on CNN Tonight that “white men are very violent and a problem” on an episode where Don Lemon was defending his previous comments that aligned white males in America as the “biggest terror threat” to our country.

Lemon discussed an article from the New York Times that included information from a study that was conducted by the Anti-Defamation League.

Their study suggested that our great law enforcement doesn’t have enough concern for the white or right-wing extremism, violence, terror, and hate crimes conducted by the white males.

Lemon stated, “They say, of the extremist-related murders in the U.S., 71 percent came from right-wing extremism, 26 percent Islamic extremism, three percent from left-wing extremism. That’s 387 total deaths from 2008 to 2017. Shouldn’t law enforcement be concerned about it? Shouldn’t we be concerned about it? Shouldn’t we be able to talk about it without being demonized, quite honestly. I did, but it was accurate. What I said was right. What’s the way — what do we do?”

At some point it was Powers who later complained, stating something similar in nature, provided by NewsBusters:

Her complaint was that if school shootings were conducted by someone from the Middle East, that Americans would have a very different reaction. She also stated that if school shootings were done by African-Americans, then there would be a different reaction as well.

“So what we see here is we ignore — and we have statistics here showing that white men are very violent and a problem, and nothing’s being done about it.

And then we have the President of the United States talking about a bunch of brown people like they’re the terrorists. I mean, we have a county where we — every other day it seems like a white woman calls the police on a black man for barbecuing or gardening or delivering the mail, and yet we sit quietly while all these white men are out, you know, terrorizing people essentially. I mean, every time there’s one of these shootings, and it’s a white man.”



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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