Friday, April 15, 2016

The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left

The heading above expresses a truth that just about all conservatives have seen for themselves by now.  We don't need a book to tell us any of that.  It is however the title of a new book by Kim R. Holmes, A former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

So who needs this book?  It could possibly be useful to lend to a wavering neighbor, if anyone talks to their neighbors these days.  It does seem to aim at that sort of underinformed reader. Perhaps for that reason, it goes along with conventional beliefs that it might be too much of a wrench to disturb.  It accepts the ingrained myths about history that Leftists so desperately need:  Such as both Hitler and the KKK being "Rightist".

More information here


Peace talks?

According to several sources, Megyn Kelly arrived at Trump Tower for a secret meeting with Donald Trump. As Mediaite reports:

According to reporting from MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin and CNN, Fox News host Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower Wednesday morning and met with Donald Trump.

Later, CNN’s Brian Stelter confirmed the report. “Donald Trump and the Fox News host Megyn Kelly met at Trump Tower on Wednesday morning, a person with knowledge of the matter told CNNMoney,” he reported Wednesday. “The meeting was brokered by Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.”



Leftist double standards never cease

Outrage is good for business, at least when it comes to North Carolina and Mississippi passing culturally conservative laws — a bathroom bill and religious liberty law, respectively. How else to explain the hypocritical boycotts singers Jimmy Buffett and Bryan Adams mustered in response to the recent laws?

Big businesses already have been bullying these and other states. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed his state’s religious liberty bill because of pressure from big businesses like Disney, Apple and the NFL. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order Tuesday he hoped would appease the corporate critics of his state’s newly minted bathroom law — critics like PayPal — by bolstering the protections of homosexual and transgendered state employees against termination. (Even the Navy moved a ceremony out of Mississippi over the law.)

But singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett announced that performing any shows in North Carolina “would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed.” Meanwhile, fellow entertainer Bryan Adams said he was going to stay out of Mississippi. Canceling a show scheduled for this Thursday in the state, Adams wrote on his website: “I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation.”

Naturally, hypocrisy abounds. Buffett’s restaurant chain, Margaritaville, has the same bathroom policies as North Carolina. When a half-dozen of the franchise’s locations were asked if they allow men to use women’s restrooms, they all said no.

Before canceling his Mississippi performance, Adams had just wrapped up a tour through Egypt, which, along with the rest of the Muslim world, is notorious for punishment of (even alleged) homosexuals. But Margaritaville restaurants and Egyptian tours make money. So does canceling shows in Mississippi and North Carolina.



All immigrants are not equal.  Some undermine American exceptionalism

Does any mainstream American really want their country to be  transformed into the sort of mess that regularly emerges South of the Rio Grande? Illegals from there bring with them the thinking behind such messes

A free country must welcome as many immigrants as want to enter it, no matter the effect they have on its culture or its political institutions. This is the liberal immigration premise. It is sincerely held by Americans all across the political spectrum. And, as I argued in my last piece, it is false.

Another premise underlying the current push toward open borders in the U.S., this one held mostly by the Left, is the idea that a multicultural society is superior to a culturally homogeneous one. It implies that America would be a better country if its once-unified, English-speaking culture were transformed into a polyglot mosaic by the mass infusion of immigrants. This premise is false for the same reason that the liberal immigration premise is false.

In the history of the world, very few cultures have proven capable of sustaining the kind of freedom we enjoy in the United States. We cannot possibly strengthen, or even hope to maintain, the support that our free political institutions enjoy by continually adding to the voting population large numbers of persons from cultures that afford them little or no knowledge of the ideas necessary to sustain those institutions. This is especially true when multiculturalists urge immigrants not to assimilate, which means that they should not shed their old ideas, ideas which, in many cases, issued in poverty, corruption, and tyranny in their countries of origin.

America is the land of individual rights. Immigrants from tribal cultures, from cultures that place the welfare of the family or the clan above that of the individual, cultures that are socially or economically static, that value the pronouncements of religious leaders over those of secular leaders, or that view women as inferior to men-all must learn new values upon arriving in the U.S. Otherwise, if the immigrants come in sufficient numbers, we must resign themselves to seeing our rights eroded and our free political institutions degraded.

No society ever failed because it was too culturally unified. But a great many have dissolved into violence because they were not. Today Basques want to secede from Spain, Kurds from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Serbs, Armenians, Albanians, and many other cultural minorities seek to establish their own, monocultural countries because the multicultural societies of which they are a part do not work. To transform a culturally unified society into a multicultural one is to introduce a potential for conflict that did not exist before. Imagine a completely Catholic Northern Ireland deciding to improve their country by importing Protestants.

So, if bringing in large numbers of immigrants and then discouraging them from assimilating is likely to derange the culture and diminish Americans' freedom, and if it is likely to increase civil strife, why do multiculturalists advocate it?

Because multiculturalism has proven itself an effective weapon against American culture. Since culture is the soil out of which our free political institutions grow, those who would undermine the Constitution and the system of individual rights it protects have set about disintegrating the culture. Thus the unending assaults on the family, on marriage, on manhood, and all the rest.

Multiculturalists would weaken the culture by fragmenting it. Divide and conquer. They say to Hispanics, for example, "We like you just the way you are. Unlike the English-speaking mainstream, we value your culture. Ally yourselves with us and we'll see that you never have to assimilate." So multiculturalism becomes a tool to recruit clients to the Left's coalition of the aggrieved. The more immigrants they can flood the country with, the more politically powerful does that coalition become.

As for the political Right, as they manage to do on issue after issue, they have ceded the moral high ground to the Left on the question of multiculturalism. The Left cast their immigrant clients as victims of the oppressive, English-speaking majority.

They savage the defenders of American culture and individual rights as insensitive racists and bigots. And the Right respond by politely prefacing any criticism of the multiculturalists with an acknowledgement of their good intentions.

But multiculturalism is immoral. It rests on the false premise that all cultures are created equal. In truth, a culture that keeps the vast majority of a people poor, that dooms them to ill-nourishment, ill-health, and an early death, that tolerates censorship of unpopular ideas and substitutes superstition for science and reason, is vastly inferior to a culture that can give rise to supermarkets, penicillin, space travel, and the U.S. Constitution. To say to new immigrants, as the multiculturalists do, that they should persist in their state of cultural backwardness is morally despicable.

Western culture is composed of the common elements of the cultures of many countries, all of which trace their cultural origins back to ancient Greece. It has extended as far east at times as Russia, and west to North America, and it includes the entire English-speaking world. It is a liberal culture, in the best sense of the term, and it is characterized by the free movement of ideas and, to a lesser extent, of goods and of persons.

The spontaneous cultural interaction that has characterized the West since the Renaissance has enabled the best minds from a vast geographic area to converse indirectly with each other over space and over time. Thus did the Italian Galileo make possible the English Newton, who made possible the German Jew Einstein. The result of this spontaneous, indirect collaboration is the advanced superculture known as Western culture, which today is reaching into every corner of the globe.

Through this process of spontaneous cultural interaction, the best cultural practices tend to spread. The American Revolution became "The shot heard round the world." And the worst cultural practices fall into disuse. Advanced culture spreads, and primitive cultures recede and disappear. This is a spontaneous and salutary process.

In a similar manner, persons from less advanced cultures who immigrate to advanced countries like the U.S. tend eventually to discard most elements of their native cultures and adopt the more advanced culture of their new home. Again, this is a normal, salutary, and necessary process, necessary both for the sake of the newcomers and for their hosts. But multiculturalism would subvert this process.

In the liberal West, for an individual to become "cultured" is an achievement. It requires effort. One must learn history, literature, manners, morals, how to speak and write one's language, and much else. This is the idea behind a schooling in the liberal arts. Culture like this, which requires conscious, rational effort, is literally artificial.

Against this idea of culture as the product of artifice, multiculturalism poses cultural "authenticity."  Authentic culture is primal, an expression of the soul of a people. One grows into an authentic culture, absorbing it unconsciously, as by osmosis. Jazz and the "soul" music of the 1960s are authentic, Tchaikovsky is not.

Classical liberalism was able to break the historical tie between culture and ethnicity, and to unite different ethnic groups under a common culture. If anything would benefit a multi-ethnic society, it would be a single, unifying culture. But authenticity seeks to re-establish the tie between culture and ethnicity, and thereby to revive the cultural and ethnic Balkanization of an earlier era. The liberal melting pot becomes the multicultural mosaic.

Authenticity would extinguish the cultural cross-fertilization that has characterized Western culture. It would replace the great collaboration that gave the world Galileo and Newton and Einstein with a return to primitive tribalism. If you doubt this, consider the latest insanity on college campuses, the decrying of "cultural appropriation." In a recent video, a black student at San Francisco State criticizes a one white one with dreadlocks for appropriating a hair style to which he is not culturally entitled.

So, in the name of cultural authenticity, blacks accuse black children who work hard in school of "acting white." They disown Clarence Thomas, a giant of American jurisprudence, as a traitor to his culture and his race. The idea of authenticity and the related ideology of multiculturalism shut off members of ethnic minorities from the best of Western culture, and they doom immigrant children to cultural backwaters. This is not moral, it is monstrous.

There was a time when Americans' common sense protected them from this kind of snake oil. But no longer. More and more Americans have been going to college, where they learn not to think but to believe. To believe, among other things, that a man is defined by his ethnicity or by the culture into which he was born, rather than by the content with which he has chosen to fill his own mind. This is a profoundly un-American idea, and it will indeed transform our country if we do not defeat it.



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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Myth of Public Concern

Oftentimes the government and its supporters will throw around the term ‘public concern’ or ‘public risk’ to distinguish between those matters which are private and those matters which are the business of society. The problem with this idea is the assumption that such a thing as a ‘public concern’ exists to begin with. In order for the public to express concern, the thing that we call the public would have to possess a mind of its own. The truth of the matter is that the public has no mind, only individuals have a mind and therefore only individuals may express concern.

It is important to remember that the only unit of significance in matters of human action is the individual. The individual is the only unit which takes action and makes choices. The public is nothing but a collection of individuals. Single members of the public may express concern, but these concerns cannot be deemed anything more than private concerns. Just because a group of individuals decide to collect into a ‘public’, that does not mean that the nature of their concerns change.

Now, in some cases the government will try to argue that a public concern is a concern which impacts society as a whole. Once again, society is comprised of individuals and it is the individuals that are impacted. With any risk or threat, the only concrete unit of impact is the individual. Once one understands that society is nothing but a collection of individual human beings, then one may understand the arbitrary nature of the concept of public concern.

At what level does a concern become public exactly? Let’s say that two individuals are heavily concerned with an invasion of underground rock people. Is this now a public concern? Most would say no, but now let’s suppose that half the population of the United States is concerned with an invasion of underground rock people. Now that a majority of the public has accepted the impending threat of the rock people, must we designate this concern as a public matter? Some of us would still disagree that an invasion of underground rock people is a significant threat to the United States, however if a majority of individuals within this nation have made up their mind on the issue of underground rock people, then it is likely that the problem will be deemed a public concern.

In the case presented, the true purpose of the concept of public concern is revealed. The public concern is nothing but an imposition of private concerns on other individuals. When the government passes a law to address a public concern, they are effectively stating that the private concerns of those who agree with the law are superior to the private concerns of those who disagree with the law. Under the new law, every member of society is now forced to adopt the same private concerns under threat of punishment. In the case of the underground rock people, the government may pass a law which makes it a crime to step on pebbles. After all, stepping on pebbles may anger the rock people and therefore such an action would be a crime against the public.

Those who understand the nature of society realize that there is no such things as a crime against the public, only crimes against individuals. The government however has now created an imaginary person which represents the collective will of those who control political power in a given area. This imaginary person is a supposed representative of the individuals which make up the public, and in order to address the concerns of this imaginary person, the government violates the rights of real individuals. Essentially, the government creates a scenario where all individuals in society are forced to live their life in a way that does not upset this imaginary person.

One way that the government forces individual’s to accept the concept of a public concern is by forcefully pooling money into a program. Socialized medicine is a perfect example of this. When individuals in society are forced to pay for the healthcare of other people, it pushes them to be concerned with the private lifestyle choices of others. A man who pays no mind to the drinking habits of others for example may suddenly find himself concerned with the large quantities of alcohol consumed by his neighbor. After all, he may end up having to pay for his neighbor’s health bills as a result of the damage done to the man’s liver form years of heavy drinking.

Suddenly, the tax payers are now pushing for the prohibition of alcohol in order to prevent rising healthcare costs. This is the kind of scenario that can only exist when the government gets involved in private affairs. Individuals must realize that their concerns are their own. They may share identical concerns with others, but nonetheless at an essential level those concerns remain private.

A public concern is nothing but a private concern that has been granted the arbitrary status of superiority by a collective. There is no such things as public concerns, just as there is no such thing as public will, or public happiness. When the government gets its hands on a public concern, it can do serious harm to the rights of individuals. Therefore, minding one’s own business is one of the most effective ways to keep the government from growing into an even bigger monster.



Calls for American Unity Are Either Dishonest or Naive

Dennis Prager

Just about all candidates for president regularly announce their intent to unite Americans, to “bring us together.”

It’s a gimmick.  If they are sincere, they are profoundly naive; if they are just muttering sweet nothings in order to seduce Americans to vote for them, they are manipulative.

In his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, John Kerry, one of the most polarizing figures in modern American political history, said, “Maybe some just see us divided into those red states and blue states, but I see us as one America: red, white and blue.”

And President Barack Obama, who has disunited Americans by race, class and gender perhaps more than any president since the beginning of the 20th century, regularly campaigned on the theme of uniting Americans.

In his 2008 victory speech, President-elect Barack Obama said: “We have never been just a collection of … red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.”

In their current campaigns for president, Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrat Hillary Clinton regularly proclaim their intention to bring Americans together. He, one suspects, because he is naive, and she, because she will say pretzels come from Neptune if it will garner votes.

Bringing people together is actually the theme of John Kasich’s entire campaign.

Senator Rob Portman said of Kasich on Feb. 1, 2016, “I am endorsing John Kasich because I believe he is the person our country needs to bring Americans together.”

And Clinton, who, according to CNN, is tied with Trump for the most negatives in presidential polling for either Republicans or Democrats since 1984, also speaks repeatedly about her ability and desire to bring Americans together.  The “Hillary Clinton for President Supporters” Facebook page has even said, “We’re in the business of bringing people together.”

What’s more, on April 6, 2016, CNN posted a YouTube video titled: “Hillary Clinton — We need a president who can bring people together.” Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, wrote on The Hill website that “Clinton wants to bring us together.”

Beyond Kasich and Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders made this a major theme in one of his ads called “Together,” which begins with Sanders saying, “Our job is to bring people together.”

Even Trump, who divides Republicans — not to mention other Americans — like no Republican ever has, uses this mantra. A January article on The Hill site quoted Trump saying, “I can really bring people together.”  Gov. Chris Christie introduced Trump on Super Tuesday, and a column released that night was titled, “Christie on Super Tuesday: Trump is ‘bringing the country together.’”

For the record, Sen. Ted Cruz speaks about uniting Republicans, but not often about uniting all Americans.

All calls for unity by Democrats are particularly fraudulent. Dividing Americans by race, gender and class is how the left views America and how Democratic candidates seek to win elections.

But calls for unity are meaningless no matter who makes them, because no one who calls for unity tells you what they really mean. What they really mean is that they want to unite Americans around their values — and around their values only.

Would Clinton be willing to unite all Americans around recognizing the human rights of the unborn? Would she be willing to unite all Americans around support for widespread gun ownership?

Of course not. She is willing to unite Americans provided they adopt her views.

Would Sanders like to “bring people together” in support of reducing corporate and individual income taxes in order to spur the economy?

Would Kasich be in favor of “bringing Americans together” by having them all support increasing the size of government and the national debt? One hopes not.

I first realized the dishonesty of just about all calls for unity during a 10-year period in which I engaged in weekly dialogues with clergy of all faiths. Protestant and Catholic clergymen and women would routinely call for Christian unity. When I asked Protestants if they would support such unity if it entailed them adopting the sacraments of the Catholic Church and recognizing the pope as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, the discussion ended. Similarly, when I asked Catholic priests if they would give up the sacraments and the papacy in order to achieve unity with Protestant Christians, all talk of unity stopped. And, of course, the same would hold true for both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews who routinely call for Jewish unity.

Even more absurd are the calls of naive Christians and Jews to have all the “children of Abraham” — Jewish, Christian and Muslim — unite.

The calls themselves can even be dangerous. One would be hard-pressed to name a single free society that was ever united outside of wartime. The only truly united countries are totalitarian states.

So, why do presidential candidates repeat this nonsense every four years? Because Americans fall for it every four years.

But it’s time to grow up. The gap between the left and right is unbridgeable. Their worldviews are mutually exclusive.



Bernie Smears Israel

Another self-hating Jew

Can he take a Mulligan? Bernie Sanders’ interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News revealed a candidate more interested in platitudes and dreams than in specifics and realities. He couldn’t even explain how his signature policy—breaking up the big banks—would work. His campaign might as well have sent Larry David in his place. The comic is better informed.

The entire transcript is embarrassing. But when the subject turned to the Middle East, Sanders crossed the line that separates the daft from the dangerous. He not only smeared the Jewish State, he betrayed an ignorance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would, if he were president, lead to the loss of Jewish and Arab lives. Naiveté is fine for But it is absolutely unacceptable for the Oval Office.

The subject was Israel’s 2014 war with Gaza. Sanders said Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ shelling of civilian population centers was disproportionate. “Anybody help me out here,” he said, “because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”



Border Patrol's Shocking New Claim On Illegal Immigrants

Art Del Cueto, a Border Patrol agent and Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, which has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and National Border Patrol Council Spokesman and Border Patrol agent Shawn Moran stated that illegal immigrants who are not given notices to appear “walk out the front door” and “We don’t know who we’re releasing” in a report broadcast on Thursday’s “O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel.

During the report, Fox News Channel Senior Correspondent Eric Shawn stated that “agents are under orders from the agency headquarters in Washington to release illegals by not giving them what’s called NTAs, notice to appear summonses, that should send them straight to a deportation judge.”

In response to a question on what happens to those who don’t receive NTAs, Del Cueto said, “They get released back into the United States. They walk out the front door.”



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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump erupted on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning after a weekend that saw Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas sweep all of Colorado’s 34 delegates without any votes being cast by citizens in a traditional primary process.

“I’ve gotten millions … of more votes than [Sen. Ted] Cruz, and I’ve gotten hundreds of delegates more, and we keep fighting, fighting, fighting, and then you have a Colorado where they just get all of these delegates, and it’s not [even] a system,” Trump said, during the Fox News broadcast. “There was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything. There’s no voting.”

His comments came after Cruz won the remaining 13 delegates at the weekend’s convention, bringing his total for the state to 34, an outcome he described as unfair and just shy of illegal.

“They offer them trips — they offer them all sorts of things, and you’re allowed to do that,” Trump said, of the method by which some woo delegates. “I mean, you’re allowed to offer trips, and you can buy all these votes. What kind of a system is this? Now, I’m an outsider, and I came into the system and I’m winning the votes by millions of votes. But the system is rigged. It’s crooked.”

The televised remarks followed  a weekend of tweets expressing similarly critical views.  “How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger – totally unfair!” wrote Trump, in one Twitter post.

He followed it up with a second tweet: “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!”

It was last August when officials with the Republican Party in Colorado decided they would not let voters take part in the early nomination process.

The Denver Post reported Aug. 25: “The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote.”

“It takes Colorado completely off the map” in the primary season, Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman, told the paper.

In late February, just before Super Tuesday, the Post published a scathing editorial, saying the party blundered on the 2016 presidential caucus:

“GOP leaders have never provided a satisfactory reason for forgoing a presidential preference poll, although party chairman Steve House suggested on radio at one point that too many Republicans would otherwise flock to their local caucus.

“Imagine that: party officials fearing that an interesting race might propel thousands of additional citizens to participate. But of course that might dilute the influence of elites and insiders. You can see why that could upset the faint-hearted.”

One self-avowed Trump supporter took to YouTube on Sunday to express his displeasure with the process and burned his Republican registration on camera.

“Republican Party, take note. I think you’re gonna see a whole lot more of these,” he said as he ignited his registration. “I’ve been a Republican all my life, but I will never be a Republican again.”

And to the GOP, the man said, “You’ve had it. You’re done. You’re toast. Because I quit the party. I’m voting for Trump, and to hell with the Republican Party.”

The popular Drudge Report news site splashed a headline in red Sunday evening that stated, “Cruz celebrates voterless victory.”



In Pa., Reagan Democrats turn to Donald Trump

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — This downtown 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, marked by chains of shuttered and abandoned storefronts, bears all the exit wounds of the manufacturing era.

“When the mill shut down . . . people left here in the middle of the night, walked away from mortgages,” said city administrator Samuel L. Gill. “It was a traumatic time. We saw our population drop overnight by 35 to 40 percent.”

Similarly struggling towns across Pennsylvania are proving to be fertile ground for Republican Donald Trump, who leads in state polling for the April 26 presidential primary.

For many, Trump’s promises of restored American greatness echo President Ronald Reagan’s “city on a hill” theme from the 1980s — before the towns’ economic drivers went overseas. In his historic victories, Reagan appealed to what would be known as “Reagan Democrats,” mostly blue-collar whites uneasy with national trends.

Now, those voters’ continued disaffection, and signs that Republicans are making gains here, have some Democrats nervous. According to state registration data, Republicans have greatly outpaced Democrats among party-jumpers. In Aliquippa’s Beaver County, nearly seven times as many Democrats have changed their party affiliation to Republican as the other way around.

“That’s an interesting county that’s in transition, [they] were diehard Democrats for decades,” said Jack Hanna, former southwestern caucus chairman for the state Democratic Party. “The typical western Pennsylvania Democrat from years past is what I would call culturally conservative, and it’s finally starting to catch up with us.”

Gill agreed that Trump had found some backing even in traditionally Democratic areas, saying, “He appeals to the working class with the possibility of bringing back manufacturing jobs. That’s the key thing they want to hear.”

With Trump holding the lead in the Republican primary, but doubts still lurking about his ability to close the deal in November, places like Aliquippa are acquiring a growing importance in the campaign. Over the next several weeks, states with heavy rural and manufacturing roots — including New York, Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Kentucky — will vote in the Republican presidential primary.

Trump’s scalding critique of US trade policies over the last several decades resonates in these former manufacturing hubs. The concept of American decline echoes their own experience, particularly in bustling mill towns that have gone fallow as urban centers thrive. While cities like Pittsburgh, just up the Ohio River, are embracing a new economy with inventively refashioned neighborhoods and a wealth of cultural offerings, smaller towns barely hang on to the vestiges of the good times.

“I will vote for Trump,” said Bill Rowan, a 66-year-old Vietnam veteran living in Beaver, just north of the Ohio River from Aliquippa, who said he voted twice for President Obama. “As crazy as it is, as difficult as he is as a politician, he says a lot of things that people want to hear.”

In Aliquippa, the Jones & Laughlin steel complex, which once employed 17,000 workers and served as the town’s economic engine, began closing in stages in the 1980s, taking much of the town’s energy with it. The population here has sagged to about a third of what it was just at its peak.

On Wednesday, US Steel, grappling with imports and competition from China, announced layoffs for 25 percent its North American nonunion workforce. The company did not say how many of those jobs would come from Pittsburgh, where it has 4,200 employees.

In Trump’s rally speeches and in television appearances, he chastises American leaders for how they have handled trade. He vows to impose steep tariffs on China and Mexico, despite warnings that they would ignite damaging trade wars. And he’s not alone: Both Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Governor John Kasich of Ohio have stoked populist concerns mounting in former manufacturing towns.



If California's $15 Minimum Wage Isn't Going To Reduce Poverty Then Why Bother To Do It?

Or perhaps if we were to be ever so slightly more accurate, if California’s $15 minimum wage isn’t going to reduce poverty very much and might possibly increase it then why are we doing this? I think the problem is that most people don’t quite understand the distributional issues of that minimum wage. After all, it seems pretty obvious. The minimum wage is low, poor people are the people who have low wages, so obviously a rise in the minimum wage will help poor people, right?

But this isn’t actually quite so. The trick is that poverty is defined as living in a poor household and it’s nowhere near true at all that all people getting minimum wage live in poor households. Thus the benefits of a minimum wage rise don’t necessarily go to people in poverty. In fact, a minority of such benefits do.

And it’s worse than that. For we know that there are going to be price rises as a result of this hike. But it’s generally true that those price rises will be on the things which are bought by poorer people, not richer. The net effect of those two could actually be that poverty increases as a result.

Ron Bailey over in Reason is having a look at a number of papers on the minimum wage and this is, for my argument, the important part:

"In an even more recent analysis for the Federal Reserve, Neumark asked how effective raising the minimum wage is at reducing poverty among those low-wage workers who remain employed. He found that if wages were simply raised to $10.10 per hour, as favored by President Barack Obama, with no changes to the number of jobs or hours, only 18 percent of the total increase in incomes would go to workers in families living in poverty. Thirty-two percent of the benefits would flow to families living in the top half of the income distribution.

How can that be? Neumark points out that the relationship between being a low-wage worker and being in a low-income family is fairly weak. First, in 57 percent of poor families, no one has a job, so no one gets any wages at all. Second, other workers have low incomes because they work low hours, not because they have low wages. Neumark notes that 46 percent of poor part-time workers have hourly wages above $10.10 and 36 percent above $12 per hour. Finally, many low-wage workers are secondary workers who live in well-off families—teens, for example"

The distributional effect of a minimum wage rise does not, even mainly, go to the poor. So it’s a horrible public policy to use in an attempt to reduce poverty. The full version of that paper is here.

"Moreover, if we consider raising the minimum wage higher, for example to $12, only 15% of the benefits go to poor families, because other higher-wage workers who would benefit are less likely to be poor. Likewise, 35% would go to families with incomes at least three times the poverty line. With a $15 minimum wage the corresponding figures would be 12% and 38%.

This evidence—coupled with the fact that employers who would pay the higher minimum wage are not necessarily those with the highest incomes, but instead may be owners of small businesses with low profit margins—indicates that minimum wages are a very
imprecise way to raise the relative incomes of the lowest-income families"

Only 12% of California’s $15 an hour minimum wage rise will actually go in higher incomes to people living in poor households. That’s just not an effective policy at all.

And we do have to consider something else. Which is that other studies have shown us something about price rises. We do indeed know that there are going to be price rises as a result of this. But the distribution of them will not be equal at all. For low wage workers are the largest consumers of goods and services produced by low wage workers. Think it through: Walmart’s target demographic isn’t Wall Street financiers after all.

Any price rise Walmart has to impose to pay for higher wages will impact upon Walmart’s customers: who do indeed tend to be poorer than the national average. And as I say, studies have shown that while the income effect of a minimum wage rise is as Neumark states above, skewed towards richer families, the distribution of the price rises runs the other way. It’s skewed toward larger price rises in the goods and services that poor people buy.

It is therefore possible that this minimum wage rise will increase poverty overall: increase the prices paid by those poor by more than their share of the income increase. I think it’s unlikely that matters will be that extreme but it is at least possible. But the larger point still stands. As a tool to beat poverty a minimum wage rises stinks. So, let’s not do it, let’s go and do the other two things that we know do raise poor peoples’ incomes. Adopt a policy of full employment, that being something that drives up wages, and increase the EITC which we know very well is the most efficient method of reducing working poverty.

You know, let’s adopt policies that work, not ones that don’t?



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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Leftist Pollyanna-ism:  "The Boston Globe" as "Pravda"

Leftists always claim to do good.  So they have a strong motivation to assert that they actually achieve that.  And they most certainly wish to avoid acknowledging that there is anything wrong with what they do. That is why they try their damnedest to shut conservatives up -- because conservatives have this pesky attachment to reality.

So when Leftists gain control of a place, they tend to become Pollyannas, though not in the same sense as the original Pollyanna, who was a marvellous triumph of the human spirit. They become Pollyannas in the sense of refusing to see anything bad or faulty in their domain, their Reich.  For instance, Soviet newspapers such as  "Pravda" reported mostly good news, even if it was only a tractor factory fulfilling its quotas.

Most notable in the Communist countries of the last century was a failure to report airliner crashes if such reports could be avoided.  Though pesky American satellites often revealed the truth.  And it was the same in China.  And in both countries the result was the same.  In the absence of any public uproar about the negligence or inefficiency that had led to the crashes, nothing was fixed and there were a lot of crashes, far more than happened in the West.  It ended up with crashed Ilyushins scattered throughout Eurasia. The Ilyushin design bureau turned out very robust aircraft but Soviet maintenance was abysmal. If Soviet tank armies had ever surged Westward, most of them would probably have broken down.

So it's amusing that The Boston Globe reads rather like Pravda.  With Massachusetts having been under solid Democrat control for almost forever, anything that happens in Massachusetts is on the Democrat tab.  They are responsible for it so they have to wear it.  You could blame a lot on George Bush for a while but the age of Obama has pretty well nixed that.

But America is alive with all sorts of news media so you can't really hush much up for long.  So how does the Globe handle news about bad things happening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?  They mention it but downplay it and never mention it again if they can help it. They are Pollyannas.  Political problems are treated as minor or under control.  There is no raging at them or swingeing denunciations of them.  It is all "nice".  Rage is reserved for what happens in other parts of the USA, with Donald Trump being a Godsend for that at the moment -- as their recent much-noted front-page shows.

The Globe became one of my regular reads last year so it took me a while to "get" why the paper seemed so different.  But I can now encapsulate the difference.  It has a very "sunny" outlook.  All Massachusetts problems are small or under control. And when they can't avoid mentioning Pachyderms in rooms -- such as the abject failure of Romneycare -- they cover it in such a long-winded way  that it's hard to see the wood for the trees.  And all the detail tends to create the impression that the problem is being worked on.

There are many ways of lying and the Left have mastered them all.


Trump: Primary process 'corrupt' on both sides

He's got a point

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday said the primary process on both the Republican and Democratic sides is corrupt.

Trump referenced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has won eight of the past nine Democratic contests, noting that people still say he doesn't have a path to the nomination.

"I watch Bernie. He wins, he wins, he keeps winning, winning and winning and then I see he's got no chance. They always say he's got no chance. Why doesn't he have a chance?" Trump asked during a rally in Rochester, N.Y.  "Because the system is corrupt. And it's worse on the Republican side."

"I'm not a fan of Bernie, I couldn't care less as far as I'm concerned. I couldn't care less about Bernie, but he wins and he wins, like me."

Trump went on to tout his own successes, saying he's won far more than rival Ted Cruz and has received millions and millions of votes, including from people who have never voted before and people who identify as Democrats.

Trump said he's up millions of votes on Cruz and has hundreds more delegates than the Texas senator.

He referenced Louisiana, which Trump won by a small margin. But he could end up with fewer delegates than Cruz, because the senator is likely to receive five delegates left behind when Marco Rubio dropped out, as well as the state's five unbound delegates - who can back a candidate of their choosing. Trump has in the past promised a lawsuit over the delegate allocation.

Trump said during the rally Sunday that there's some "nonsense" going on.  "And I say this to the RNC and I say this to the Republican Party: You're going to have a big problem folks, because there are people who don't like what's going on."

"We've got a corrupt system, its not right. We're supposed to be a democracy. We're supposed to be you vote and the vote means something ... and we've got to do something about it."

Trump said his campaign is "doing fine" and should have won it a long time ago. "But we keep losing where we're winning," he said. "Today winning votes doesn't mean anything."

"It's not right folks ... whether it's me or Bernie Sanders. When I look at it and I see all these victories that I have, all these victories that he's got. And then you look at the establishment and I want to tell you it's a corrupt deal going on in this country and it's not good and it's not fair."

Trump said that the system is disenfranchising people who "want to see America be great again."

"I think we're going to be fine. We're doing really well," Trump said, "but we've got to have a system where voting means something."



Trump's YOOJ Advantage in NY

Donald Trump has a "yooj" advantage in his home state. Polls suggest that before he's even started campaigning, he's at over 50 percent:

Donald Trump is leading his rivals among with over 50 percent support among New York voters heading into the Empire State’s primary, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University polling institute, said in a press release, “if this result holds in every single congressional district, Trump will walk away with nearly all of New York State’s delegates.” New York has 95 delegates up for grabs.

In the poll Trump leads with 52 percent, in second is Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 25 percent, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is last with 17 percent support.

The media would have you believe that most of Trump's supporters are economically displaced, uneducated white men. That's obviously not most of New York State, a wealthy state where Rockefeller Republican moderates and Democrats have ruled the roost for better part of a century.

But New York City's suburbs and outer boroughs are politically displaced. The state's Republican party treated taxpayers like a piggy bank for their massive patronage mill and handpicks every candidate down to the local level.

The Democratic party's priorities are dictated by the priorities of hyper liberal New York City, and have little to do with those of moderate, overtaxed, overregulated suburbanites. Desperate upstate New Yorkers from communities that make the Rust Belt look like solid gold have absolutely no one to turn to.

Basically, moderate New Yorkers have been between an electoral rock and a hard place.  In Trump, these people may have found someone who's intimately aware of the mountains of red tape, taxes, and malfunctioning governance that has many of their neighbors fleeing for places like Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, a man that speaks their language.

The alternatives? John Kasich, who has no chance of winning, and Ted Cruz, a man who thinks New York values(patriotism, entrepreneurship, and brutal honesty) are evil.

Anyone but Trump winning New York? Fuhgeddaboutit.



New Guidance Warns Landlords They Could Face Discrimination Charges For Turning Down Tenants With Criminal Records

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is warning landlords they could face discrimination charges for turning down prospective tenants with criminal records – if the decision has an “unjustified discriminatory effect.”

A Republican senator described new HUD guidance issued this week as yet another move by the Obama administration to support convicted criminals.

The 10-page document states that “where a policy or practice that restricts access to housing on the basis of criminal history has a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class, such policy or practice is unlawful under the Fair Housing Act.”

The Fair Housing Act applies to federally-funded and private sector housing.

Landlords will have to show, if challenged, that they are not turning away tenants “based on generalizations or stereotypes,” the guidance says.

Although the guidance notes the importance of landlords protecting their safety and property, landlords are expected to provide evidence that a policy of basing decisions on criminal history “actually assists in protecting resident safety and/or property.”

“Bald assertions based on generalizations or stereotypes that any individual with an arrest or conviction record poses a greater risk than any individual without such a record are not sufficient to satisfy this burden.”

The new guidance states that the U.S. prison population is “by far the largest in the world,” that a disproportionate number of African Americans and Hispanics are incarcerated, and therefore have a criminal record that could limit access to housing.

“Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African Americans and Hispanics.”

In one example, the guidance says a landlord who rejects a Hispanic tenant on the basis of criminal history but admits “a non-Hispanic White applicant with a comparable criminal record,” could be violating the act.

The only crime specified in the guidance as a justified reason to deny housing is conviction for drug manufacturing or distribution. An HUD official told that is an exemption that is in the act itself.

Apart from that, the department won’t say which past criminal activities are considered acceptable, and which are not, in turning away a prospective tenant.

“We’re not specifying the types of criminal records that would or would not justify the denying of housing,” the official told

Responding to the HUD guidance, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a statement, “There are no lengths to which this administration won’t go to support convicted criminals.”

“While those who have served their debt to society and completed the rehabilitation process deserve a second chance, it should not be at the expense of law-abiding citizens,” he said.

“Whether releasing violent felons early from prison, preventing employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, or now blocking landlords from deciding whether to rent to someone who may pose a threat to their property and the surrounding community, these policies are part of a disturbing pattern,” Cotton said.

“The United States is a nation of laws,” he said, “and we should be looking for ways to better protect those who abide by those laws, not reward those who break them.”

A New Orleans-based organization, the Fair Housing Action Center, welcomed the new guidance.

“Overwhelmingly high incarceration rates in Louisiana and the New Orleans area create tremendous barriers for families seeking stable housing,” said the group’s executive director, Cashauna Hill, in a statement.

“Further, our investigations have found that criminal background screening policies are often applied unequally to keep people of color out.”


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with news about Muslim immigration and such things


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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, April 11, 2016

Daniel Pipes loses the plot

I was alerted to the Pipes rave by an orthodox Jewish reader.  He wrote:  "I could hardly believe who is joining the anti-Trump bandwagon.  It's Daniel Pipes!  While I've disagreed with some of his opinions, I've nothing but respect for his integrity ...until now.  That article of his is nothing but hearsay and the basest of ad-hominem attacks.  I would never have believed he would stoop to such sordid and fact-free slander.  I may not agree with Trump, but none of what Pipes wrote is consistent, either with what I know about Trump or what I've come to expect from Pipes"

Pipes (below) is accusing Trump of being a neo-Fascist, thus revealing how little he knows about both Fascism and neo-Fascism. Fascism had two mainstays:  Socialism and nationalism.  So Trump is a socialist?  Spare us!  If Trump is not a capitalist, no-one is. And has Pipes forgotten the difference between  patriotism and nationalism?  Most people are patriotic but Nationalism is an evil perversion of that.  The Nationalist wants to conquer and subdue other countries.  Trump, by contrast, is a traditional American isolationist.  He wants to WITHDRAW American forces from abroad.  So Pipes is dead wrong on both counts.

So what the heck has got into Pipes?  Style.  He thinks Trump is too aggressive. And he takes literally many of the Trump promises.  But Trump is a politician.  And what price for politicians' promises?  Political promises are aspirations and in practice only a small fraction of them are ever delivered.

In Australia we have a word for what Trump does.  He makes "ambit" claims.  It's just a negotiating tactic. For example, if a union wants a pay rise for its workers it may initially ask the boss for a 10% raise.  It then haggles and eventually accepts 3%.  But if it had started out with a 3% claim it might have ended up with only 2%.  And if Australian unions know that tactic, we can be sure that arch-deal-maker Trump does too.

I could fisk the whole article below but I will mention just two further points:

1). Pipes mentions that Trump owns a book of Hitler's speeches.  But he forgets to mention that Trump has it only because his dynamic friend Marty Davis from Paramount gave it to him. And he also fails to mention that Trump got the name of the book completely wrong so had almost certainly not read it.

2). Pipes links to a video of a speech by Mussolini, which he claims resembles Trump.  There is some resemblance but Pipes forgets to check what Musso was talking about.  He was just outlining how important the navy was to Italy.  Such a speech would be delivered without drama by any Anglo speaker.  But Musso was an Italian and Italians are great dramatists.  They shout and gesture at the drop of a hat.  So Pipes is making Italian dramatics into a core aspect of Fascism.

If you want to see a REAL Fascist rally in action, turn to someone from a nation with manners similar to our own -- to Hitler.  His rallies were nothing like Trump's, as anyone who has seen Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the will"  will know. See for yourself.

Of his many outrageous campaign statements, perhaps Donald J. Trump's most important ones concern his would-be role as president of the United States.

When told that uniformed personnel would disobey his unlawful order as president to torture prisoners and kill civilians, Trump menacingly replied "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse, believe me." Responding to criticism by the speaker of the House, Trump spoke like a Mafia don: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him well, but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't? He's gonna have to pay a big price." Complaining that the United States' international standing has declined, Trump promised to make foreigners "respect our country" and "respect our leader" by creating an "aura of personality." Concerning the media, which he despises, Trump said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

He encourages participants at his rallies physically to assault critics and has offered to cover their legal fees. He has twice re-tweeted an American Nazi figure. Only under pressure did he reluctantly disavow support from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. [He kept a copy of Hitler's collected early speeches, My New Order, by his bed. He called on followers to swear allegiance to him, evoking Hitlergruß-like salutes.]

In these and other ways, the Republican presidential candidate breaches the normal boundaries of American politics. He wants the military, the congress, foreign governments, the press, and ordinary citizens to submit to his will. His demands, and not some musty 18th-century documents, are what count. Trump presents himself as billionaire, master dealmaker, and nationalist who can get things done, never mind the losers and the fine print.

Conservatives have picked up on these tendencies. Rich Lowry of the National Review notes, "Donald Trump exists in a plane where there isn't a Congress or a Constitution. There are no trade-offs or limits. There is only his will and his team of experts." Michael Gerson of the Washington Post concurs: "His answer to nearly every problem is himself — his negotiating skill, his strength of purpose, his unique grasp of the national will." Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe fears his becoming "a ruthless strongman in the White House, unencumbered by constitutional norms and democratic civilities."

The former ADL head called the hand-raising for Trump "a fascist gesture." Liberals agree. Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame called Trump "a new kind of fascist in our culture" and someone with an "authoritarian demagogic point of view." Hillary Clinton portrays Trump pursuing "a demagogic path" that relies on xenophobia, paranoia, prejudice, and nationalism "to really stir people up."

If this kind of politics has no precedent at the highest precincts of American politics, it does elsewhere and it has a name: neo-fascism.

The term fascism dates to 1915 when it was adopted by Benito Mussolini to describe a novel movement that combined elements of the right (nationalism) and of the left (an economically all-powerful state). The fascist outlook, according to Merriam-Webster, "exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."

Neo-fascism is the term for post-1945 figures who appropriate elements of the fascist agenda; it is a political movement "characterized by policies designed to incorporate the basic principles of fascism ... into existing political systems." That nicely describes Trump.

Videos of Mussolini demonstrate how the Italian dictator's style anticipated that of the Republican frontrunner; even without knowing Italian, one sees their similarity in character and tone, even in their facial expressions. The distinguished historian Andrew Roberts finds in Mussolini "Trump's secret template."

The United States, the world's oldest democratic republic, faces an internal danger unlike any in the past 1½ centuries, one with the potential to degrade domestic life and reduce the country's standing in the world. Nothing is as important as resisting and defeating Donald J. Trump and the neo-fascist virus he wishes to bring to the White House.

Republicans of Pennsylvania have an important job ahead of us in the primary election on April 26: to do our part in denying Trump the delegates he needs to become our nominee for president.



A description of a Trump rally from the Left

Michael A. Cohen's report below is mostly about his own feelings -- things FELT "venomous, violent, terrifying" etc. And we also get theories about what motivates Trump supporters. We read about "feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies".  But how does he know what people are feeling?  It's just his opinion.  One could equally say that the feelings were of excitement and happiness.  It is an amusing example of the constant Leftist refrain that conservatives are not right in the head -- even though, from the French revolution on,  it is Leftists who have been the psychopathic  mass murderers. But the report does include some genuine reporting. You do get a picture of a very enthusiastic crowd.

As I walked into a soundstage Wednesday night at Grumman Studios, which was filled with thousands upon thousands of Donald Trump supporters penned into metal barricades and donning all manner of Trump paraphernalia, I immediately thought of the words Richard Strout of The New Republic used more than four decades ago to describe the scene at a George Wallace rally during the 1968 presidential campaign.

“There is menace in the blood shout of the crowd,” wrote Strout. “You feel you have known this all somewhere. Never again will you read about Berlin in the ’30s without remembering this wild confrontation here of two irrational forces. The American sickness has finally localized; Wallace is the ablest demagogue of our time.”

The analogy to Germany in the 1930s is, to be sure, inexact. But the atmosphere in Bethpage was unlike anything I’ve seen at a political rally. There was an electricity and energy in the room that felt venomous, violent, terrifying — like the political equivalent of parched kindling before a conflagration. If Trump had told the throngs there to go rampage in the streets, I half think most of them would have complied.

The crowd was almost all white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately young. There were constant chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” “Hillary for prison!,” and “Build the wall!” When protesters raised their voices they were drowned out by a particular chant, more regularly heard at football games, that resounded across the hall. “I’d like to tell them they’re going to be on the southern side of the wall,” said one woman about the protesters. Trump’s omnipresent security guards, many of whom looked like they’d overdosed on muscle mass supplements, soon escorted them out. Thankfully, most of the hecklers who are usually a mainstay at Trump events stayed home or perhaps thought better of riling up the crowd.

A smiling old man proudly displayed to me a T-shirt that read “Trump: Get On Board or Get Run Over.” Another read: “Up Yours Hillary.” When I asked the man to pose for a picture, his wife pulled me over and told me “everything in America is terrible” — the economy, health care, the military. “Don’t you worry about your kids future?” she asked me as she demanded to know if I was voting for Trump.

At other Trump events, there is occasionally concern expressed over some of his more inflammatory statements. Not here. “Trump speaks the truth,” ‘Trump is going to fix things,” they told me. “He’s the only person who can beat Hillary,” said another. One man I talked to so frequently parroted Trump’s catchphrases about getting rid of all the “bad deals” signed by stupid politicians and the foreign countries “ripping us off” that he joked“maybe I should be working for the campaign.” If there was doubt about Trump or fear that perhaps he’s pushing the envelope too far it wasn’t evident in Long Island.

Indeed, the more aggressive that Trump was in his comments, the more the crowd responded. When he said “We’re gonna kick the hell out of ISIS,” the ovation was deafening. When he made his obligatory attack on the media for being “terrible people” the crowd reacted on cue, turning toward the press risers and screaming at us or pointing fingers. And when he asked who is going to pay for the wall he wants to build, the crowd yelled back, “Mexico” and then soon began another chant of “Build the wall!”

Trump’s stump speech was the same he’s now delivered countless times — a litany of complaints about stupid politicians who “don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” journalists who don’t tell the truth about the size of Trump’s rallies, heartless corporations who ship jobs overseas (which won’t happen anymore when Trump takes office), and America’s inability to win anymore. “We don’t fight like people from Long Island,” he said when talking about the war against ISIS.

There were the obligatory attacks on Obama, Clinton, and Lyin’ Ted Cruz. And of course, there was the usual Trump bombast about how he’s “gonna turn this country around so fast” and how voters love him. “The Christians like Trump,” he said bragging about his support with evangelicals.

There was even Trump’s now regular reading of “The Snake,” an Oscar Brown song (Trump still incorrectly says it was written by Al Green) that tells the story of a “tender-hearted woman” who saves a snake’s life only to have it bite and kill her. This is Trump’s explanation for why the United States can’t allow Muslim refugees into America.

It’s a fitting ditty for Trump to read because it sums up well the feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies. Even when he tries to say something aspirational and talks about how those in attendance will look back in a few years on this “great evening” with fondness, he falls back into his usual rhetoric. “For the first time we heard someone say that we’re not going to be a scapegoat and stupid people anymore,” said Trump. “We’re not going to allow the world to rip us off anymore. . . . America first! America first!”

There’s no poetry at Trump’s events, no higher calling, no challenge other than to vote for Trump, no invocation of the “better angels of our nature” — it’s just raw aggression, an animal, nationalistic spirit, us vs. them, zero sum game resentment politics. But then again, there isn’t much indication Trump’s supporters are looking to be uplifted. “Everything is terrible,” the country is “falling apart,” and someone needs to come in a fix it. For them, that man is Donald Trump . . . the ablest demagogue of our time.



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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Trump / Cruz Rapprochement – Why and How It May Happen

As veteran Newt Gingrich points out:

"Trump and Cruz together have amassed a crushing 80% vote against the GOP Establishment elites.  There has never been such a strong message sent to those elites, who are still reeling from the shock.

Trump and Cruz cannot, and will not, get together on anything until one of them wins. So expect even more rancor and political theater.  When the winner is determined, it will be time to join forces, bind up the wounds, and move forward to crush Clinton or Sanders"

Newt says there are many ways the post-convention rapprochement could be handled, although he offers none in this short interview. Assuming Donald Trump wins the nomination, I for one am counting on him, the great negotiator and deal maker, to make the most consequential “deal” he ever made — by far.

Of course, conservative voters are themselves engaged in rancorous Trump vs Cruz debates, and some hard feelings have developed. But once the winner is declared, it will be time for all conservatives to do as the candidates must do — unite to defeat whatever dour old neo-Marxist candidate the Democrats manage to come up with.

We are likely witnessing an entire political party, the GOP, in an historic transition the likes of which have happened only a few times in all of US history.



Walmart Stores to Close— Blame the Minimum Wage

At the end of 2015, retail giant Walmart announced it would close 269 stores across the globe, some 115 in the United States. This might seem puzzling. The company is the largest retailer in the country, and some 80 percent of U.S. shoppers visit the chain at least once a year. But thousands of locations and a huge customer base cannot save Walmart from the consequences of backward economic policy—like the minimum wage.

Among the stores closed were those in Oakland and Chinatown in Los Angeles. While the company’s decisions “took into account a number of factors,” Oakland and Los Angeles have something important in common: Both recently raised their minimum wage considerably higher than the national average.

Many have criticized Walmart for its wages, claiming that a firm bringing in some $482 billion in sales can afford to pay its workers more than the current prevailing wage. But while Walmart is large and profitable, it’s still subject to the laws of economics. Oakland, L.A. and other places are about to learn that increasing the minimum wage not only fails to increase wages for the poorest workers, but is also likely to backfire.

First, while the company’s revenues seem high, Walmart’s profit margin is far from fat: a mere 3 percent. The company has billions in expenses every year—so significant that in a 31-day month, all its sales in the first 30 days go toward paying expenses. Only on the 31st day does the company actually turn a profit, assuming nothing goes wrong during that month—like an unexpected jump in wages.

Just like any other firm, Walmart employs individuals who will earn the company revenue. After pay increases early this year, the average full-time Walmart employee will earn $13.38 per hour, well above the industry average of $10.29. With other benefits, including short-term disability and paid time off, the company’s actual cost per employee is significantly higher.

That Walmart pays an average of $13.38 an hour plus benefits means it expects the average employee to earn the company more than that amount. While a jump in pay of just a few dollars may seem trivial, for a company that employs 1.4 million domestic employees, it is positively massive. This is not to mention the additional costs associated with taxes paid for each employee. With such thin profit margins, Walmart cannot afford to ignore these costs.

As the cost of employing workers increases, Walmart has to decide whether its current workforce is worth the price. For example, if a worker’s hourly wage plus benefits is $30 per hour, but he or she generates only $25 in revenue, the company loses money for every hour the employee works. Under those circumstances, it would benefit the company and its shareholders to lay off workers. It has nothing to do with “corporate greed.” It’s business. Firms can’t operate at a loss.

Arbitrary wage increases, such as those dictated through minimum-wage laws, do nothing to make workers more productive. They just add costs. While proponents of the minimum wage intend for the burden to fall on “greedy” companies like Walmart, employees and consumers will feel the pain.

This is exactly what we’re observing in California. Instead of offering more people higher paying jobs, companies like Walmart will lay off hundreds of people who rely on the company for work.

Customers and communities lose out too. While Walmart caters to a variety of clientele, the company has been particularly helpful to some groups. More than 20 percent of Walmart customers live in rural areas. One in five customers receives food stamps or other assistance. Closing the stores means these consumers are out of luck. They have to find other—likely higher priced—alternatives, assuming such options are available at all.

Communities also lose out on the thousands of tax dollars Walmart pays to local and state governments every year, funding projects we all benefit from.

The closing of these stores should ring alarm bells for everyone concerned about economic well-being. When it comes to the minimum wage, everyone loses and it’s not Walmart’s fault. The responsibility lies with those who advocate and implement irresponsible economic policy.



This is How You Get Fired in the Obama Administration

When Barack Obama isn't censoring mention of Islamic terrorism, he's firing those who tell him just how bad it is:
Two top intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say they were kicked out for producing negative reports on Syrian rebel groups backed by the Obama administration.

Sources close to these analysts told The Daily Beast that they were actively targeted by military leadership for not delivering a glowing report on U.S. progress in the war against the Islamic State, The Daily Beast reports.

It appears the military has had enough of analysts complaining to the media about their bosses manipulating intelligence reports. More than 50 anonymous CENTCOM analysts have previously voiced concerns about reports being fiddled with to show absurdly successful outcomes against ISIS. Now, military officials are ready to seek out these analysts and remove them from their positions.

Apparently, the great sin of the two senior analysts is that they neither trusted rebel commitment to U.S. strategic objectives, nor trusted their abilities to carry out the objectives.

Democratic societies flourish on the basis of information. Repressive societies silence those whose version of events doesn't comply with the dictator's preferred narrative. The purpose of national security advisors is not to flatter the president, but to provide him with detail oriented explanations that help him make the best decisions as commander in chief. One would think that  community organizer with no foreign policy experience whatsoever would understand his own limitations and trust these advisors.

One would be wrong



Supreme Court Hands Down Big Sixth Amendment Win

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered a win for the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in Luis v. United States. Five justices—Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote a plurality opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a separate concurring opinion—sided with challenger Luis, concluding that the government cannot freeze her untainted assets and thereby deny her the opportunity to be represented by an attorney of her choosing in the criminal case against her.

In 2012, a grand jury indicted Sila Luis on federal charges stemming from an alleged Medicare fraud scheme. According to the indictment, Luis paid kickbacks and conspired to perpetrate a fraud that resulted in her obtaining nearly $45 million.

By the time Luis was charged, she had already spent most of the money, so prosecutors sought to freeze all of her assets up to $45 million, regardless of whether the money in question was derived from the alleged illegal conduct or “untainted” funds that were legitimately earned or otherwise lawfully obtained. The goal was to ensure that, should she be convicted, those funds would be available for forfeiture in order to pay restitution to victims and other statutory penalties.

Luis sought to unfreeze her untainted assets so that she could use some of the money to hire an attorney of her choosing to represent her in the ongoing criminal case, but the trial judge ruled against her, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the pretrial restraint of Luis’ untainted assets violated her right under the Sixth Amendment, which the Supreme Court has previously held, given that the close working relationship between a client and his or her lawyer and the need for trust encompass the right to hire the counsel of one’s choice (subject to certain reasonable limitations, such as when a lawyer has a conflict of interest).

The crux of the case lies in the distinction between tainted and untainted assets—that is, assets that are traceable to a criminal act as opposed to those that are not. The Supreme Court has long held that tainted assets may be seized before a criminal trial, even if doing so results in a defendant’s inability to afford counsel of his or her choice.

This makes sense. After all, it would be bizarre to hold that a thief who steals a purse with $100 in it has a right to then spend the illicitly obtained money on a lawyer to defend him in the purse-snatching case. Rather, the cash belongs to the owner of the purse, and the thief never had any legitimate claim to it.

Writing for the plurality, Breyer noted that “[t]he property at issue here, however, is not loot, contraband, or otherwise ‘tainted.’” It is, as the government conceded, entirely legitimate and unconnected to the fraud scheme Luis is accused of having perpetrated. Nevertheless, prosecutors wanted to “preserve Luis’ untainted assets so that they will be available to cover the costs of forfeiture and restitution if she is convicted, and if the court later determines that her tainted assets are insufficient or otherwise unavailable.”

While the plurality recognized the legitimacy of the government’s interests and even conceded that it had some statutory support, Breyer concluded that “compared to the right to counsel of choice, these interests would seem to lie somewhat further from the heart of a fair, effective criminal justice system.” And, Breyer noted, the law has tracing rules that permit prosecutors to freeze so-called substitute assets when they can establish that tainted funds have been used to purchase other goods.

The plurality was clearly concerned that if Congress were permitted to freeze untainted assets for this crime, there would be nothing to prevent Congress from doing the same for other crimes; to quote Breyer, there would be “no obvious stopping place.” If this were to happen, then “defendants, rendered indigent, would fall back upon publicly paid counsel, including overworked and underpaid public servants.”

Thomas reached the same conclusion but not for the same reasons. As Thomas noted, “constitutional rights necessarily protect the prerequisites for their exercise.” In his view, the 6th Amendment right “to have the Assistance of Counsel” necessarily “implies the right to use lawfully owned property to pay for an attorney. Otherwise the right to counsel—originally understood to protect only the right to hire counsel of choice—would be meaningless.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, asserted that the government should be able to restrain any potentially forfeitable property regardless of whether it can be tied to a criminal offense. To do otherwise, he argued, would incentivize criminals to dispose of illicit assets while preserving legitimate funds, safe in the knowledge that these untainted assets could then pay for their legal defense.

This would short-circuit the government’s legitimate goal of safeguarding forfeitable property from dissipation. Moreover, as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her separate dissenting opinion, the plurality has drawn a line in the sand of Sixth Amendment jurisprudence that may be difficult to retrace in future cases.

Ultimately, the government may be able to prove that Luis committed the crime with which she has been charged. But then again, she may be innocent, which is exactly why the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is so important.



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