Friday, May 24, 2019

Trump's patience finally runs out

I doubt that any national leader ever has endured such a torrent of abuse and accusations as Trump has. So it is no surprise that he has eventually become fed up with it.  He has so far been a miracle of patience but everything has its limits.

The Democrats have only one serious policy: Get Trump.  It suits their hate filled minds.  Rage and hate are what moves them.  So their attacks on Trump come naturally to them.  They could -- and probably will -- keep it up for the next five years of Trump's presidency.  They are in their element.  If they weren't attacking Trump, they would be attacking someone else or something else

US President Donald Trump has angrily lashed out at Democratic leaders' claims he is engaged in a "cover-up".

"I don't do cover-ups," the Republican president said in an unscheduled briefing from the White House.

His remarks came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met fellow Democrats to discuss impeaching the president.

Mr Trump is fighting congressional inquiries by ignoring subpoenas, withholding documents and blocking testimony by current and ex-advisers.

What did President Trump say?
The president spoke minutes after cutting short a planned meeting with the two top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

The trio were due to discuss spending on ageing US roads and bridges, a rare possible area of agreement between the White House and its political antagonists.

But Mr Trump abruptly left the discussion with House of Representatives leader Mrs Pelosi and her Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer after barely five minutes.

The president then appeared in the Rose Garden to make a surprise statement, condemning "phoney investigations" by Democrats.

Mr Trump also charged his political opponents with "abuse" and railed against their invoking of "the big i word" - impeachment.

According to CBS News, Mr Trump walked into the meeting with Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer and did not shake either's hand or sit down.

An unnamed source familiar with the encounter said Mr Trump upbraided the House speaker for her "terrible" allegation earlier in the day about a cover-up.

The president demanded Democrats end their investigations against him, or he would not discuss anything else, then abruptly left the room.



The coverup accusations that finally riled Trump:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) emerged from a meeting with her fellow Democrats Wednesday morning, telling reporters "we were exchanging information and points of view" on the various investigations focusing on all things Trump.

"Would you believe that it's important to follow the facts?" Pelosi said on her way to a meeting with President Trump.

"We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up -- in a cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting."

At that closed-door meeting, no fewer than five Democrat committee chairs -- Elijah Cummings (Oversight and Reform), Maxine Waters (House Financial Services), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Richard Neal (Ways and Means) and Jerry Nadler (Judiciary) gave presentations, which Pelosi called "impressive."

Pelosi has tried to quell growing calls from Democrats to start impeachment proceedings, but it's not clear that she's succeeding.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox News Wednesday morning he thinks Democrats have already started those impeachment proceedings: "They just won't formally declare it," he said.

There are secret memorandums of understanding, secret MOUs, between the various chairmen on how they will coordinate their attack on the president. I mean, they're basically contracts --you're going to do this, we're do this. We're going to share certain information. A coordinated effort to take down the president.

So I think they've already started. They won't formally declare it. I think at some point they will probably do it. The American people know it's not justified, the American people know it's not going to succeed. But I don't think the Democrats can help themselves.

Remember, after all in the very first day of congress they introduced articles of impeachment, Congressman Blumenaur did. So they've been determined to get here -- I think they've already started; they just haven't formally stated that that's what they're up to.

Jordan said there's nothing Republicans can do to appease the "ridiculous" Democrat requests for the president's tax returns, bank records, White House documents and witnesses appearances before the committees:

"So this is the Democrats -- so much focus on taking down the president and not any type of focus on doing what's best for the country. I think this is where they're going to go. So I don't know what we can do to satisfy that. They're bound and determined to do things we've never seen before."



Spendthrift policies encourage socialism

Socialism is the subject of much talk in the United States, fueled by would-be Democratic presidential candidates who lean toward some version of that socioeconomic model—and polls in which many voters sympathize with that view.

As someone who has witnessed varieties of socialism in Latin America and Europe, I think the real danger in the United States is not the ideological radicalization of the Democratic Party, the political conversion of millions of Americans, or the emergence of a viable socialist party on a national scale. Rather, the real danger is the impact that the country’s intractable structural problems could have on people’s idea of how capitalism works.

We have already seen how the financial crisis of 2008, the government’s ensuing rescue of major corporations, the prolonged recession, and the temporary dislocations brought about by globalization have fueled illiberal populism, right and left, in recent years. Many people blame market capitalism for the failure, a decade ago, of a system in which government intervention—specifically, a politically engineered credit boom—played a much bigger role than free enterprise. Given that the last 10 years have seen a major boost to financial assets and corporations (again, through monetary easing and other interventionism) while part of the middle class was painfully reducing its debts, it is likely that the next crisis and recession will reinforce the notion that what is failing is the free market.

We have learned that the U.S. budget deficit grew 15 percent in the first half of fiscal 2019: between October and March, expenses exceeded revenue by almost $700 billion. Contrary to widespread perceptions, the reason had little to do with tax cuts and revenue—which actually grew 1 percent while spending grew 5 percent.

The Treasury has released its 2018 financial report, and it isn’t pretty. Although in recent years the government’s primary deficit (not counting the servicing of the debt) has tended to go down and growing interest payments seemed to be the main problem, projections indicate that both are now headed in the wrong direction. The crux of the matter is the unsustainable commitments the U.S. government has made and refuses to pare down. We tend to talk of the U.S. debt as equivalent to 100 percent of GDP, but that proportion will be dwarfed in the not-too-distant future if nothing changes soon. The debt will double in less than three decades if we leave out government-sponsored entities—such as Freddie Mac; if we include them (which, of course, we should), the doubling will occur much sooner.

The Treasury has also calculated the net present value of future liabilities (essentially Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) to more realistically estimate the debt. If we take that into account, we are talking about five times GDP.

Various studies have projected expenditures to exceed revenues in one of the Social Security trust funds as soon as 2022, and one of the Medicare trust funds has been running a deficit for several years; it will likely be depleted by 2029.

By way of consolation, the United States is not alone. The net present value of pension liabilities amounts to several times GDP in many European countries (more than three times in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy). None of this has anything to do with the free-enterprise capitalist system—quite the opposite. But the populist and, dare I say, socialist zeitgeist in which this crisis of government is taking place will push millions of people to lose faith in markets as the prime drivers of prosperity and social mobility when these imbalances come to a head and produce the inevitable financial and economic disruptions; that is, unless a consensus develops among decisionmakers about the urgent need to attack the statist root of the problem.



The Insanity of the Push for Rent Control

One popular definition of insanity is: doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different result. Decades of evidence show that rent controls are a bad idea, yet several Californian cities maintain their rent-control ordinances. A new proposal working its way through the legislature would double down on this insanity by implementing it statewide.

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, introduced AB1482 to limit annual rent increases to 5 percentage points above the rate of change in the consumer price index or a maximum of 10 percent, whichever is lower. Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled his support for the bill after it cleared the legislature’s Housing and Community Development Committee by stating “The California Dream is in peril if our state doesn’t act to address the housing affordability crisis” and thanking the committee for passing the “renter protection” bill.

If this bill becomes law, California will be the second state, following Oregon, to implement statewide rent control. Oregon recently approved an ordinance to limit rent increases to 7 percentage points above the rate of inflation.

Despite high housing costs on the west coast, the renewed political support for rent control is surprising. After reaching peak popularity in the 1970s, the number of rent-control ordinances has declined nationally ever since. The most common statewide laws regarding rents prohibit local jurisdictions from controlling rents. Thirty-five states have such preemptions.

Even California policymakers, in a rare bout of sanity, weakened local rent controls with the Costa-Hawkins Act in 1995. The act allows landlords in cities with rent controls to return rents to market rates after a tenant voluntarily vacates or is legally evicted, and eliminates rent controls for single-family homes and units built after 1995.

The nationwide retreat of rent control was consistent with the thrust of decades of economic research, and the new controls fly in the face of that research. Economists have compiled a long list of theoretical arguments and empirical evidence showing the destructive consequences of rent control.

As Matthew Brown summarized in my book Housing America, these destructive effects include “shortages of apartments for rent, decreases in quality and lack of maintenance, decreased construction of new apartments, long waiting times and high search costs [to find apartments], discrimination, homelessness, abandoned buildings, and labor market inefficiencies.”

A 2009 article surveying the vast theoretical and empirical scholarly literature agreed with an 1985 assessment that “the economics profession has reached a rare consensus: Rent control creates many more problems than it solves.” When polled, more than 92% of economists agreed with the statement “A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.”

Rent control is an issue on which the econ-101 textbooks, the opinions of the vast majority of economists, and the current scholarly research all point in the same direction. In 1982 economist Thomas Hazlett observed that “economists have been notoriously thorough in convincing themselves of the destructive effects of rent control and notoriously inept at convincing anyone else.” For a while the economists had apparently convinced the vast majority of policymakers nationwide. Unfortunately, insane politicians in California and Oregon seem to have forgotten what everyone else has learned.

Rent control will only make California’s housing problems worse. If politicians really wanted to promote affordability, they would remove urban-growth boundaries and other restrictions that limit the housing supply. That would do more to promote affordability than passing destructive rent-control laws.



Averting a War With Iran: Despite Leftmedia hyperventilating, the Trump administration is making some good moves   

With the exception of Russia and China, Iran is arguably the biggest threat faced by the United States. In some ways, Iran is an even bigger threat — and that’s despite the fact that both Russia and China have substantial strategic nuclear arsenals. That makes resolving the latest tension points with Iran a good thing.

It all started with warnings from the intelligence community about a possible Iranian threat. Contingency plans were drawn up, but signs that a major war was the plan were absent. What is more likely is that the United States was trying to deter Iran from doing something stupid — simply by reminding the mullahs that we have them badly outgunned.

Prior to this past December, we didn’t really need to rattle sabers much, mostly because the presence of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis alone sufficed as deterrent. The prospect of his wrath was far scarier than that of a Khaleesi gone mad with a dragon. Without Mattis as a behavioral motivator, it means we have to be a little more, shall we say, blunt.

Iran is a country that may need more blunt behavioral motivation than most potentially hostile entities. This regime has routinely voiced its intention to wipe Israel off the map, an action and endeavor that necessarily would entail a new Holocaust — albeit one to which Israel would not meekly submit. Iran has a long track record of supporting terrorists, including those responsible for the devastating attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

Contrary to the rantings of those like Bernie Sanders, America is not provoking Iran; Iran’s been carrying out hostile actions against us — especially via proxies. Iran’s assistance has been directly tied to the deaths of American troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their Houthi stooges fired missiles at the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) on multiple occasions.

We at The Patriot Post have noted this track record before, particularly in defending President Donald Trump’s veto of a congressional effort to force the United States to stop backing the Saudis. The need to stick by the Saudis cannot be understated, given the track record of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Thankfully, Trump has been willing to put America’s interest first, including denying the F-35 to the Erdogan regime.

Re-directing Turkey’s F-35s to Israel would be a nice way to help address the Iranian threat. So is continuing to support the Saudis. While Mohammed bin Sultan allegedly ordered the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, he’s also openly recognized that Israel has a right to exist and is making some steps toward respecting women’s rights as well — in other words, changes in the right direction.

Nobody wants what would be a costly war with Iran. Thankfully, that seems to have been averted. And Trump’s warning will hopefully be heeded, although the irrational and genocidal theocrats of Tehran will probably be back to their antics when they think they can get away with 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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