Friday, March 03, 2017

It is now Trump's party

President Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night underscored how he has redefined the Republicans' political base and their policy message on issues from trade to immigration to deficits to international alliances. While he struck a sunnier tone than he did in his inaugural address six weeks ago, when he had talked darkly of "American carnage," he once again warned that the nation was threatened with decline at home and threats from abroad.

He had led a political "earthquake" of disenchanted American voters in last year's election, he boasted. "They were united by one very simple but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first," he declared, "because only then can we truly make America great again."

(In the text distributed by the White House, Trump's familiar four-word campaign theme appeared in all caps.)

The hourlong speech was in many ways a conventional presidential address, with a laundry list of proposals, allusions to American history and tributes to American heroes. That's notable in part because so much about Trump's presidency has been unconventional — and because many of his populist, nationalist prescriptions that defy Republican orthodoxy are becoming part of the GOP mainstream.

"My job is not to represent the world," he said as he discussed the U.S. role around the globe. "My job is to represent the United States of America."

In the ornate House chamber Tuesday, Republican senators and representatives gave him repeated standing ovations, though only a handful had endorsed his candidacy before his nomination became inevitable. (Some of them didn't do so even then.)

In a final sign that his takeover of the GOP, once viewed as hostile, was complete: 84% of Republican-leaning voters in the Pew Research Center poll approved of the job Trump is doing in the White House, a level of support that nearly matches what Barack Obama received among Democrats at this point in his presidency, in 2009, and is a bit better than the backing Ronald Reagan was getting among Republicans in 1981.

"In the first 30 days it's hard to think about how he could have cemented his relationship with the conservative heart and soul of the party any better," says Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC. "I think it's indisputable that he is the political head of the Republican Party."

That said, strains and a spiderweb of fractures in the GOP already are apparent as Trump continues to face allegations about his campaign's ties to Russia and gets more enmeshed in the details of the proposals he had outlined only in broad strokes before. On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned that the president's budget plan to slash State Department funding, an idea floated just 24 hours earlier, probably couldn't pass.

And policymakers in both parties were roiled after TV anchors emerged from a luncheon with the president to report that a "senior administration official" told them Trump was open to negotiating a comprehensive immigration bill, language that typically indicates a path to legal status or even citizenship for undocumented workers.

There turned out to be no such conciliatory language in the president's public remarks about dealing with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States, though. Instead, Trump reiterated his pledge to build a wall along the southwestern border and introduced guests he had invited to sit in the gallery who had seen family members killed by illegal immigrants.

In the first 40 days of his tenure, Trump has demonstrated the power of executive action, ordering limits on new regulations and laying the groundwork for more aggressive deportation of illegal immigrants.

However, reaching his most consequential goals, including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and an overhaul of the tax code, will require building congressional coalitions to pass legislation. Providing some details about what he wants to see in a big health care bill, he called on "all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster."

Republicans applauded that line. Democrats didn't.

The tumultuous start to Trump's tenure that has been a textbook reminder of American system of checks and balances. A federal appeals court decision blocked the immigration order he had signed with fanfare; another is still being drafted. In the wake of noisy protests at town-hall meetings, congressional Republicans are struggling to devise a health care plan to replace Obamacare. His national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced out of the White House in a controversy about Russia's role in the election that is far from over.

Trump sought to pivot from all that in a speech he read almost verbatim from the teleprompter, a contrast with the freewheeling style he has displayed since he launched his long-shot presidential bid. He started with a mention of Black History Month and a denunciation of anti-Semitic violence, and he avoided his most provocative rhetoric against Muslims and his attacks on the news media.

With his victory in November, Trump made the Republican Party of Main Street and Wall Street also the party of working-class white voters who felt sidelined in a globalized economy. The GOP had long been the party of free trade; the new president denounces multilateral trade deals and already has pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has pursued a long crusade to get control of Social Security and Medicare costs, part of the traditional GOP focus on the deficit; the White House on Monday said the president would keep his campaign promise not to touch those programs.

"Donald J. Trump has expanded the base, there’s no two ways about it," says Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., the first member of Congress to endorse his campaign and still a booster. "The loss of manufacturing jobs, good jobs, going to Mexico and going to China have decimated upstate New York and certainly Western New York and it’s decimated Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. And those workers, the good middle-class families, have said enough is enough."

That, he says, is what put Donald J. Trump in the White House and standing before joint session of Congress.



How Trump voters feel now

From a Left-leaning survey researcher

One of my biggest lessons so far is how wrong the stereotypes are. For instance, if you live in Massachusetts or California or New York, you don’t need to drive to the Midwest to find a Trump voter. They are in your office, in your neighborhood, and in your places of worship. Some of them lied to pollsters and read Facebook posts from friends about how bigoted and evil — and yes, deplorable — they were. Many of them voted for Trump reluctantly, agonizing over how they could overlook his lies and attacks. Now, they no longer feel alone.

Take Sheila, a 49- year-old actuary from Eastern Massachusetts. She was always a Democrat, but her perspective changed over time. Her work at an insurance company required her to speak with customers who were claiming reimbursement for their injuries. “It seemed like every call I did was a person who wasn’t working, who was living off the system, “ she explained. “It was classic: people faking headaches and whiplash just to get another $5,000, and it made me cynical.” Sheila voted for Trump, despite being “horrified about some of the things he said,” in the hope that things would change. “The country has gone way too far to the left, and sometimes you have to take a sharp right to correct it.”

Sheila explained to me that she doesn’t talk about whom she voted for because she is worried about losing friends, but she is happy right now with Trump. She wonders whether anyone has noticed that our new President is trying to communicate clearly, working seven days a week, and doing everything he promised in record time. She loves his efforts to cut taxes, to try to make our country more secure, to limit lobbying by former politicos, and to put people in cabinet positions who have executive experience. “When I do admit I voted for Trump, people attack me,” she added.

Like Sheila, the Trump voters I connect with weekly are very hopeful, and many are downright exhilarated. Some voted for Trump because they wanted a strong and decisive leader; many hated the Clintons; some were torn and decided to go for change; and yes, some had lost their jobs to companies that outsourced them overseas.

At the moment, there is only one area in which the Trump voters I talked to are generally unhappy. It’s not the cabinet appointments or policy decisions, but rather the haphazardness with which work is getting done — especially the recent immigration ban, which most support. “I am not worried about executive orders, because Obama used them day in and day out also,’’ said Charles from Texas. “However, it just seems that things are so stupidly executed. I wonder who is in charge, and I am betting that some heads will roll shortly.”

And from Karen in Michigan, “ If Trump is a good businessman, he needs to use more of his business skill to make his organization work.” Or from Sherman in Kentucky, “It is so important to slow down immigration and to get our act together on how we vet refugees. I would rather have seen this implemented slowly and well.” Or from Karl in Montana, “As my grandma always said, ‘Haste makes waste.’ It pains me to see such a colossal screw-up as the immigration fiasco, when the original intent was well founded.” They feel this way despite Trump’s claim that the White House is a fine-tuned machine.



Ben Stein calls out the media

During an interview on CNN about President Donald Trump’s decision to not attend the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, writer, producer, and speechwriter Ben Stein said he is not surprised because the media treat Trump like a “punching bag day after day,” and CNN and the New York Times are “slamming him” daily, always “negative,” constantly searching for “a scandal.”

On the Feb. 25 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Brianna Keilar explained that Ronald Reagan was the last president to not attend one of the WHCA events – because he had been shot in an assassination attempt – and asked Stein about President Trump’s decision not to attend.

“I'm not surprised and I'm not disappointed,” said Stein. “I don't blame Mr. Trump one bit for doing it. I mean, he's a punching bag day after day after day in the media, especially what's called the mainstream media. And I don't blame him for not wanting to go and be a punching bag in person.”

When asked about Trump’s remarks that the media are the enemy of the people and they concoct “fake news,” Stein said, “Well, I wouldn't say that all of the media is the enemy of the people. Look, every day you pick up The New York Times, every day they're slamming, slamming, slamming him.”

“I'm a great fan of CNN, I watch it quite faithfully,” he continued.  “Every day CNN is slamming him, slamming him, slamming him. Every day, they're looking for a scandal.”

“They're just turning the woods upside down looking for a scandal,” said Stein.  “They're hoping, I think, to do to him what they did to Nixon a long time ago. And, you know, still haven't found any real scandals.”

“And with all due respect, I don't blame him for being furious at them,” said Stein. “And I think he's got a lot of company.

Stein further said, “I'm out there giving speeches all around the country all the time, people -- an awful lot of people are not great fans of the media, and they see the media as an unelected aristocracy, an effete corps of impudent snobs, as Vice President Agnew called them a long time ago, who are dumping all over the mainstream of America. And I think Mr. Trump has a lot of company.”



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Nation of Immigrants — Only if They Assimilate

I am writing this column in Japan, a country whose crime rate is the lowest among countries with large populations. I asked my Japanese translator, a middle-aged woman, what she thought.

“Why is there is so little crime in Japan?” I asked.

Without taking a moment to reflect, she responded, “Because we don’t allow immigration.”

Anyone who visits Japan is struck by the ethnic homogeneity of the nation. If you meet a Caucasian, a black or a Hispanic in Japan, you can be all but certain that the person is visiting or studying there, not a citizen.

Likewise in the United States, there is direct correlation between ethnic homogeneity and low levels of violence. According to 2016-2017 data, the four states with the lowest percentages of violence are:

Vermont — where 95 percent of the population is one race (white).

Maine — where 95 percent of the population is one race (white).

Wyoming — where roughly 93 percent of the population is one race (white).

New Hampshire — where roughly 94 percent of the population is one race (white).

Sweden, which for much of its modern history has had among the world’s lowest rates of violent crime, was almost always as homogenous as Japan. Now that it has admitted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, it is no longer a homogenous country, and its levels of violence have increased dramatically.

All this leads to a particular rule, which is, in order to maintain a low crime rate and social stability, a country has only two choices: Do not allow immigrants into the country, or allow immigrants into the country, but be certain to assimilate them into the native population as quickly as possible.

The second choice has been America’s choice throughout most of its history, and it has been uniquely successful in shaping people from all over the world and from every background into one nation known as Americans. One of America’s three fundamental principles has been e pluribus unum, or “out of many” (the other two, as our coinage testifies, are liberty and In God We Trust). And that is precisely what America has done.

But since the 1960s, the Left has supplanted e pluribus unum and its national American identity with the antithetical doctrines of diversity and multiculturalism.

Diversity and multiculturalism celebrate the national/ethnic identities of the nations from where American immigrants came instead of celebrating the American identity and traditional American values.

The result is the beginning of the end of the United States as we have known it since its inception.

The Left constantly repeats “we are a nation of immigrants” without citing the other half of that fact — “who assimilate into America.” The Left mocks the once-universally held American belief in the melting pot. But the melting pot is the only way for a country composed of immigrants to build a cohesive society.

America was never just “a nation of immigrants.” America was always a nation of immigrants who sought to become — or at least were taught by American public schools and by the general American culture to become — Americans.

If America becomes a nation of nonassimilating immigrants, or a nation consisting of nonassimilating ethnic, racial and national groups who are already here, it will cease being a glorious idea and become just another nation torn by conflicting interest groups. These various groups will fight one another — first verbally and then, perhaps, violently (and America will see more and more violence) — just as France, Sweden and Germany have seen since they began taking in millions of immigrants, many of whom have no intention of becoming Frenchmen, Swedes or Germans.

Contrary to one of the Left’s more mendacious claims, diversity has not been America’s great strength. America’s great strength has been forging an American identity out of diversity.

But the Left, with its identity politics and commitment to multiculturalism — as expressed, for example, by ballots in dozens of languages, the proliferation of ethnic studies departments at universities and the allowance of all-black dorms and graduation ceremonies — is undoing that.

If you want to understand the immigration crisis, just know that because the Left has undone the second choice, it has made the first choice — Japan’s choice — look tenable to many for the first time in American history.



The Pouting and Shouting Left Is Just Being Itself

I'd almost forgotten how unreasonable the Left can be when out of power, but liberals are giving us a daily refresher course, and it's almost hard to take seriously - except we must.

They describe everything President Donald Trump does in hyperbolic terms. He's a fascist. He's destroying our liberties. He disrespects the rule of law. He represents a threat to humanity. He is going to start a world war. He is a danger to the freedom of the press. He needs to be impeached.

A few quick examples. America did fine for 240 years without a lawless federal mandate requiring all public school districts to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity rather than those that correspond with their actual gender. According to liberals, the world is coming to an end. Trump has dealt a devastating blow to this beleaguered group of people, and he's an ogre. In fact, Trump lawfully reversed a lawless order, which will result in leaving the matter to the states to decide. Far from harming this minuscule group, he is protecting all other people from the concern that they or their children will have to share the same bathroom with those of the opposite gender.

Sunsara Taylor, an activist with Refuse Fascism, appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News Channel program to rant maniacally about how Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are operating out of "Hitler's playbook." Trump, she said, "is more dangerous than Hitler ever could have been." She called Trump and Pence a "danger to humanity" but offered no evidence they had done anything to justify her ridiculous charges. From what I could tell, Taylor's main concern is that Trump is trying to advance a conservative agenda while in control of "the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world." Conservatism plus nukes apparently equals a clear and present danger to mankind.

Before you dismiss this as a one-off exception to normally rational behavior, consider that Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota - who is vying to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, no less - said he is open to calls to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. "I think that Donald Trump has already done a number of things which legitimately raise the question of impeachment," said Ellison. And Ellison is not an outlier. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) also called for Trump's impeachment, describing Trump's team as "a bunch of scumbags."

Such lovely tolerant liberals took to social media to attack first lady Melania Trump, mocking her accent and religion - some calling her a whore, others a hostage - because she recited the Lord's Prayer at a campaign rally.

The glaring irony with all this is that it is liberals who are hateful and intolerant, authoritarian and lawless. They are the ones who represent a threat to our liberties - not Trump, Republicans or conservatives.

It's worth noting that almost every charge these breathless critics make against Trump is baseless and grounded on their irrational fears of what he might do rather than anything he's done. It's also remarkable that though these concerns are exaggerated when applied to Trump, many of them could have been accurately applied to President Barack Obama.

The dirty big non-secret is that the Left isn't concerned about the rule of law or any alleged threats to liberty. Liberals are pouting (and shouting) because for once in their lifetimes, they are not getting their way. For once, someone in a position of authority is refusing to roll over to political correctness. For once, a powerful public official is holding his hands up against this bullying liberal juggernaut and saying: "Stop. We've had enough. The people have had enough. You are not going to steamroll us anymore. We aren't any longer going to look the other way when you ignore the law, when you use the courts and unaccountable administrative agencies to legislate your will, when you use holdover federal bureaucrats to thwart the will of the chief executive and when your biased media distort the facts and advocate a liberal agenda rather than objectively report the news. We are not going to cower at the demagogic cabal that says people aren't paying their fair share of taxes. We aren't going to be shamed as heartless or nativists for demanding secure borders and safe cities. We aren't going to accept your belittling for identifying the enemy, by name, that is at war with us and with Western civilization. We aren't going to accede to your narrative that radical Islamic terrorists are only at war with us because we provoke them, so we reject your mindless mantra that the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a recruiting tool for otherwise peaceful global citizens. We aren't going to passively ignore your own selective assaults on religious liberty - on Christians. We aren't going to continue to allow you to dominate the public dialogue. We're finally fighting back - not as some tit-for-tat pettiness but because we believe that we are doing the right thing, that your virtual monopoly on the culture has been devastating and that it's time to begin reversing the destruction you've wrought.

"But unlike you, we won't break the law in undoing your agenda and advancing ours. To us, the ends don't justify the means. We won't - despite your projected concerns - diminish the freedom of the press or the constitutional liberties of any other individuals or groups. We are going to aggressively pursue policies that are in the best interests of America and the American people. Please keep calling us crazy and displaying your true colors to the American people, and with any luck, we'll do even better in 2020, provided we persevere in standing up to your bullying and proceed with a pro-growth, pro-defense, pro-liberty agenda."



Why the DNC Chose Perez as New Chief

The new chair of the Democratic National Committee will be Barack Obama’s former labor secretary Tom Perez. In what proved to be a tight vote, Perez beat out Keith Ellison, the former Nation of Islam member and representative from Minnesota. While the mainstream media portrayed Perez’s election as evidence that Democrats are seeking to moderate their current hard-left stance, the reality is that both candidates are committed lefties.

Perez was one of the most leftist members of Barack Obama’s cabinet and a radical and relentless ideologue. For example, he has long touted the “disparate-impact theory” — a blatantly racist method for economic control. The Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro explained, “He essentially operationalized Eric Holder’s radicalization of the Department of Justice.” And Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “Perez has shown a glaring inability to tell the truth and dispassionately apply the basic constitutional tenet of ‘equal justice under law.’”

In the end, the primary reason Democrats chose Perez rather than Ellison may have more to do with a strategy to oppose Donald Trump specifically over the issue of immigration. Perez, who is Hispanic, has a long history of pushing for legal acceptance of illegal immigration. He is an open-borders proponent, is strongly opposed to voter ID laws and has consistently pushed for greater expansion of government programs designed to support illegal aliens. Democrats would love nothing more than to create another solid voting block out of Hispanics like they currently have with blacks. Redefining immigration appears to be their recipe.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, March 01, 2017


I will be going in for surgery later today and then for more surgery tomorrow.  So I am not sure how much blogging I will be able to do for a few days.  You can't keep a good blogger down, however so I should be able to put up something.


Despite the Hysteria, Trump Is Trending Less Authoritarian Than Obama

Through personnel and policy, President Trump is limiting the executive branch

Lost in most of the coverage of President Trump's decision to rescind the Obama administration's transgender mandates is a fundamental legal reality - the Trump administration just relinquished federal authority over gender-identity policy in the nation's federally funded schools and colleges.

In other words, Trump was less authoritarian than Obama. And that's not the only case. Consider the following examples where his administration, through policy or personnel, appears to be signaling that the executive branch intends to become less intrusive in American life and more accountable to internal and external critique.

Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a man known not just for his intellect and integrity but also for his powerful legal argument against executive-branch overreach. Based on his previous legal writings, if Gorsuch had his way, the federal bureaucracy could well face the most dramatic check on its authority since the early days of the New Deal. By overturning judicial precedents that currently require judicial deference to agency legal interpretations, the Court could put a stop to the current practice of presidents and bureaucrats steadily (and vastly) expanding their powers by constantly broadening their interpretations of existing legal statutes.

For example, the EPA has dramatically expanded its control over the American economy even without Congress passing significant new environmental legislation. Instead, the EPA keeps revising its interpretation of decades-old statutes like the Clean Air Act, using those new interpretations to enact a host of comprehensive new regulations. If Gorsuch's argument wins the day, the legislative branch would be forced to step up at the expense of the executive, no matter how "authoritarian" a president tried to be.

Trump nominated H. R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn as his national-security adviser. McMaster made his name as a warrior on battlefields in the Gulf War and the Iraq War, but he made his name as a scholar by writing a book, Dereliction of Duty, that strongly condemned Vietnam-era generals for simply rolling over in the face of Johnson-administration blunders and excesses. In his view, military leaders owe their civilian commander in chief honest and courageous counsel - even when a president may not want to hear their words.

 When the Ninth Circuit blocked Trump's immigration executive order (which was certainly an aggressive assertion of presidential power), he responded differently from the Obama administration when it faced similar judicial setbacks. Rather than race to the Supreme Court in the attempt to expand presidential authority, it backed up (yes, amid considerable presidential bluster) and told the Ninth Circuit that it intends to rewrite and rework the order to address the most serious judicial concerns and roll back its scope.

Indeed, if you peel back the layer of leftist critiques of Trump's early actions and early hires, they contain a surprising amount of alarmism over the rollback of governmental power. Education activists are terrified that Betsy DeVos will take children out of government schools or roll back government mandates regarding campus sexual-assault tribunals. Environmentalists are terrified that Scott Pruitt will make the EPA less activist. Civil-rights lawyers are alarmed at the notion that Jeff Sessions will inject the federal government into fewer state and local disputes over everything from school bathrooms to police traffic stops.

A president is "authoritarian" not when he's angry or impulsive or incompetent or tweets too much. He's authoritarian when he seeks to expand his own power beyond constitutional limits. In this regard, the Obama administration - though far more polite and restrained in most of its public comments - was truly one of our more authoritarian.

Obama exercised his so-called prosecutorial discretion not just to waive compliance with laws passed by Congress (think of his numerous unilateral delays and waivers of Obamacare deadlines) but also to create entirely new immigration programs such as DACA and DAPA. He sought to roll back First Amendment protections for political speech (through his relentless attacks on Citizens United), tried to force nuns to facilitate access to birth control, and he even tried to inject federal agencies like the Equality Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) into the pastor-selection process, a move blocked by a unanimous Supreme Court. In foreign policy, he waged war without congressional approval and circumvented the Constitution's treaty provisions to strike a dreadful and consequential deal with Iran.

There's no doubt that Trump has expressed on occasion authoritarian desires or instincts. In the campaign, he expressed his own hostility for the First Amendment, his own love of expansive government eminent-domain takings (even to benefit private corporations), endorsed and encouraged violent responses against protesters, and declared that he alone would fix our nation's most pressing problems. But so far, not only has an authoritarian presidency not materialized, it's nowhere on the horizon.

Instead, he's facing a free press that has suddenly (and somewhat cynically) rediscovered its desire to "speak truth to power," an invigorated, activist judiciary, and a protest movement that's jamming congressional town halls from coast to coast. This tweet, from Sonny Bunch, is perfect:

"Donald Trump is such a terrifying fascist dictator that literally no one fears speaking out against him on literally any platform"

It was just three weeks ago that David Frum published a much-discussed essay in The Atlantic outlining how Trump could allegedly build an American autocracy. Over at Vox, Ezra Klein wrote at length about how the Founders' alleged failures laid the groundwork for a "partyocracy." And now? Trump's early struggles are leading pundits to ask, "Can Trump help Democrats take back the House?" In the American system, accountability comes at you fast.

Liberals were blind to Obama's authoritarian tendencies in part because they agreed with his goals and in part because their adherence to "living Constitution" theories made the separation of powers far more conditional and situational. But authoritarianism is defined by how a president exercises power, not by the rightness of his goals. It's early, and things can obviously change, but one month into the new presidency, a trend is emerging - Trump is less authoritarian than the man he replaced.



Trump Administration Said to Be Mulling Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

Get America out of the UN and the UN out of America

The U.N. Human Rights Council opens a regular four-week session on Monday, amid reports that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing from a body which its predecessor chose to embrace despite acknowledging its many flaws.

Citing unnamed “sources in regular contact with former and current U.S. officials,” Politico reported Saturday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s office had initiated a series of requests suggesting “that he is questioning the value of the U.S. belonging to the Human Rights Council.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Mission in Geneva said he had no response to offer on the report, “beyond [the] fact that the U.S. is actively involved in the session that started today.”

President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the U.N., and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley questioned the council’s worth at her confirmation hearing last month.

“What is the goal of the Human Rights Council when they allow Cuba and China to serve on those?” she asked. “They are basically protecting their own interests, while they’re going after other countries to make sure they give them a hard time. And so, do we want to be a part of that?”

One of the criticisms most often raised by U.S. officials about the Geneva-based HRC since its creation in 2006 is the presence of rights-abusing governments on the U.N.’s top human rights body.

At no time over the past decade have more than 25 of the council’s 47 members (53 percent) been countries characterized by Freedom House as “free.” At its worst, last year, only 18 members (38 percent) were “free.”

This year, one in four of the elected members are rights-abusing autocracies.

A second major criticism is the council’s relentless focus on Israel, while some of the world’s most egregious abusive situations are often ignored.

In her Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, Haley noted that over the past decade, the HRC “has passed 62 resolutions condemning the reasonable actions Israel takes to defend its security. Meanwhile the world’s worst human rights abusers in Syria, Iran, and North Korea received far fewer condemnations. This cannot continue.”

The actual number of HRC resolutions condemning Israel since 2006 is 67, according to data compiled by the NGO Human Rights Voices. Next comes Syria’s Assad regime, at 22, Burma at 15, Sudan at 14, Somalia at 11 and North Korea at 10.

In many cases countries with poor rights records have not faced a single critical HRC resolution. They include Cuba, China, Ethiopia, Laos, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

The two key criticisms were cited by the Bush administration when it decided not to join or cooperate with the HRC. Its successor, which came in pledging to deepen U.N. engagement in general, reversed course in 2009, still critical of the HRC but arguing that it could best achieve change from within.

The anti-Israel bias is driven largely by the fact that, out of 192 U.N. member-states, Israel alone is targeted with a permanent agenda item. Every time the council holds a regular session Israel stands to be examined and condemned, irrespective of crises elsewhere in the world. When the HRC held a review in 2011 of its first five years, the Obama administration tried but failed to have the Israel agenda item removed.

Still, it maintains that its HRC engagement was effective. In an “exit memo” last month, outgoing ambassador Samantha Power argued that U.S. leadership had eased some of the pressure on Israel.

“[T]hrough our leadership in the Council since 2009 we have succeeded in getting the body to expand its focus, reducing by half the share of country-specific resolutions on Israel,” she said.

Human Rights Voices data show that the proportion of total HRC resolutions targeting Israel did drop, although only in 2011 (from 40 percent in 2008, 43.7 percent in 2009, and 44.4 percent in 2010, to 29.1 percent in 2011.)

Despite concerns, one of the HRC’s most outspoken critics argued on Sunday for the U.S. not to walk away.

“Should the U.S. leave the morally corrupt U.N. Human Rights Council?” asked Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based NGO U.N. Watch. “Walking out would feel good – but probably only make things worse.

“There’s a reason that France, Russia, China and every other world power invests time, money and political capital to campaign for a seat at the U.N. Human Rights Council: to gain influence in a consequential world body,” he said.

“Like it or not, the UNHRC’s decisions, translated into every language, influence the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of people around the globe.”

“If the U.S. wants to be a winner, it would be foolish to abandon the coveted 3-year term [2017-2019] that it just won a few months ago.”

“The Obama administration did become a cheerleader of the council. That was wrong,” Neuer hold the lawmakers. “But someone who would come to the council and take the floor as Moynihan did in the ‘Zionism is racism’ debate [in 1975], would actually be a contribution to human rights and to combating anti-Israel bias. So I would like to see the new administration send an ambassador of that nature.”



A photobomb?

Confidence: Kellyanne Conway relaxes on the couch in the Oval Office as President Trump poses for a group photo with leaders of historically black universities and college.  Who said she was "on the outer" these days?  She's a great gal.


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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Decline of Unions Under Right-to-Work Laws Levels Playing Field for Trump

Donald Trump prevailed where other Republican presidential candidates failed in Midwestern states in part because of new right-to-work laws that have diminished the power and influence of the teachers’ unions, according to labor policy analysts.

“Unions have been knocked silly in Wisconsin, thanks to the one-two punch of Act 10 and right-to-work,” @workerfreedom’s Matt Patterson says.

Final election results have Trump narrowly winning Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes by a margin of 47.9 to 46.9 percent over Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate. Trump had 1,409,467 votes to Clinton’s 1,382,210.

In Michigan, the margins were even closer with Trump winning that state’s 16 electoral votes with 47.6 percent against Clinton who had 47.3 percent of the vote. Trump had 2,279,805 votes to Clinton’s 2,268,193.

“Did the labor reforms enacted in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan help Donald Trump win those states?” Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “No question in my mind. Hard to fight when your bazooka’s been replaced by a squirt gun.”

Two teachers’ unions, the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Michigan Education Association, both experienced a significant drop in membership since those states passed right-to-work legislation. Such laws prohibit employers from entering into agreements that make union membership and payment of union dues a condition of employment.

Wisconsin became a right-to-work state in 2015, Michigan in 2013. Since then, government figures show, the teachers’ unions in both states have lost thousands of dues-paying members.

The drop has been particularly precipitous in Wisconsin, where in 2011 Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that reformed the state’s collective bargaining process. In fact, the Wisconsin Education Association Council has lost about 60 percent of its members since Walker’s reforms were implemented, an analysis of public records by the Education Intelligence Agency shows.

Under Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, most of Wisconsin’s government workers, including public school teachers, are now required to contribute more for their pension and health care benefits.

Act 10 also limits collective bargaining to wage negotiations, requires annual union recertification, ends the automatic deduction of union dues, and allows for public sector employees to decide whether they want to join a union and pay dues.

Wisconsin’s right-to-work law gives private sector employees the same right to decline union membership and payment of dues.

Diminished Union Clout

The Wisconsin Education Association Council had about 100,000 members before Act 10 passed; the latest figures show the union with 36,074. The decline reflects what has happened nationwide, the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Wisconsin, reported.

The Wisconsin and Michigan unions are both affiliates of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union for workers in public schools.

The 3 million-strong NEA lost more than 300,000 members in affiliated state teachers’ unions from 2010 to 2015, according to the analysis by the Education Intelligence Agency cited by the MacIver Institute. That’s a membership decrease of 10 percent.

So what is the political fallout?

“There’s no doubt that with the decline in union membership here in Wisconsin, the political clout of the union bosses and their ability to automatically turn out members for Democrats has declined dramatically,” Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, told The Daily Signal, adding:

When we look at the decline in union membership and compare it to the recent political fortunes of the Democratic Party, you can clearly see that when people are given the ability to choose whether or not they want to join a union we are seeing less people voting for Democrats.

After the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s loss of tens of thousands of paying members, it has become evident that the teachers’ union’s ability to influence the outcomes of elections and public policy decisions has waned in the past few years, Healy added.

“The Wisconsin Education Association [Council] was the single biggest political player in the capital, but after the passage of Act 10 and right-to-work, their membership, which is where they derive their political power, has declined,” he said. “A majority of teachers in Wisconsin have decided that their money is better spent in other ways rather than turning it over to union bosses.”

Act 10 has been transformative not just politically, but financially.

A MacIver Institute analysis of the legislation’s budgetary impact found that it saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $5 billion. Most of these savings were generated by requiring government employees to contribute more for their retirement, according to the analysis.

“Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature not only saved Wisconsinites an incomprehensible amount of money but they also fundamentally changed government in Wisconsin forever,” Healy said a year ago.

Trump benefited politically from right-to-work changes in Michigan just as he did in Wisconsin.

But the billionaire developer’s personal appeal with blue-collar union workers gave him an advantage other Republican candidates have not had recently, Vinnie Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center, a free-market think tank in Michigan, said in an interview.

“The Michigan teachers’ unions, which have led the charge politically in the state, have been weakened in recent years and that certainly helped Trump,” Vernuccio said. “But don’t underestimate the union vote for Trump in key swing states. Exit polls show he did surprisingly well.”

Among union households (where at least one person is a union member), Trump’s margins improved significantly over those of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

When Michigan passed its right-to-work law in 2013, the Michigan Education Association had 113,147 members, the Mackinac Center reported. By 2016, the union had 90,609 members, a decline of about 20 percent.

The Daily Signal sought comment from both the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Michigan Education Association on the right-to-work laws in their states and the impact on their membership rolls and political activism. Neither union responded.

“Unions have been knocked silly in Wisconsin, thanks to the one-two punch of Act 10 and right to work,” Patterson, of the Center for Worker Freedom, a Washington-based nonprofit affiliated with Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal:

Give people the chance to leave their union, it turns out, and lo and behold there’s a stampede for the door. And these fleeing workers take their money with them, money that unions can no longer use to buy politicians.

John Mozena, vice president of marketing and communications for the Mackinac Center, said in an email that he sees a growing separation between rank-and-file union members and union leaders that worked to Trump’s advantage:

In labor strongholds like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri, union leaders have failed to turn out enough voters to create notable electoral consequences for politicians who introduced, supported, or voted for right to work or other worker freedom legislation.

That’s in part because union members have largely come to realize that these laws don’t actually hurt them or their unions. In fact, [the laws] give them as individuals more options than they had before.

Many union members also are voting against candidates that receive the lion’s share of their leaders’ support.

The contrast was most stark in the 2016 election, where almost all union leaders endorsed and used their members’ money to support Clinton. Yet in key states like Ohio, almost half of union members voted for Trump.

The only states to register significant increases in active membership in NEA-affiliated teachers’ unions over five years, according to the Education Intelligence Agency analysis, are Delaware (5 percent), Vermont (8 percent), Montana (16 percent), and North Dakota (19 percent).

Clinton won Delaware and Vermont, but Trump won Montana and North Dakota.

‘Unfortunate Situation’

After spending several months combing through the U.S. Department of Labor’s LM-2 financial disclosure forms, researchers with the Center for Union Facts found that unions directed about $530 million in membership dues to the Democratic Party and to left-leaning special interest groups from 2012 to 2015.

The Center for Union Facts is a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates transparency and accountability on the part of organized labor. Every labor organization that falls under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act must file an LM-2.

“An unfortunate situation has developed where unions are more focused on politics than on collective bargaining or workplace issues,” @Richard_Berman says.

Recipients of union donations identified by the Center for Union Facts include Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Governors Association. These donations fall within labor’s political advocacy budgets, which are funded by dues and “disguised as worker advocacy related to collective bargaining—separate from direct campaign contributions,” the center said in a release.

“I do believe a very unfortunate situation has developed where the unions are more focused on politics than they are on collective bargaining or workplace issues,” Richard Berman, the center’s executive director, said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Since surveys show that about 40 percent of union households vote Republican, this means the dues of a substantial number of union members are directed toward political causes they do not support, Berman said.

But he said he sees a strong potential for the growing right-to-work movement to level the political playing field in future election cycles, as it did in 2016.

In the meantime, Berman said, the new chairman of the National Labor Relations Board should use the board’s regulatory powers “to provide enough transparency in the area of labor finances” to inform union members of leadership’s activities.



Brainless British tax greed

Have they never heard of the Laffer curve?

Treasury loses £500m in tax raid on luxury homes. Increases to the tax led to a fall in the number of top-end properties being sold

Sharp increases in the stamp duty on expensive homes are costing the Treasury as much as £500 million a year, a new analysis shows.

Increases to the tax in 2014 and last year led to a fall in the number of top-end properties being sold and a decline in income for the exchequer, according to Paul Nash, a partner at PwC.

The tax take from homes worth more than £1.5 million fell to £749 million in the nine months to November 2016, from £1.08 billion in the corresponding period of 2015, Mr Nash estimated using Land Registry data. Over a year, this would be a loss of almost £500 million.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, February 27, 2017

Donald Trump claims to remake GOP as party of `the American worker'

President Donald Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Attempting to put a defining framework on his tumultuous first month in office, President Trump on Friday articulated a new vision for the Republican Party as a populist defender of the working class that will challenge elites at home and abroad.

Trump, speaking to GOP activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, made it clear how much the world has changed for rank-and-file Republicans since his insurgent campaign upended the party.

At times, he promoted positions that could have been ripped from the playbook of liberals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. "The GOP will be from now on the party also of the American worker," Trump declared.

"First, we need to define what this great, great unprecedented movement is and what it actually represents," he added. "The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that will put its own citizens first."

In a wide-ranging, campaign-style speech, Trump bashed the media, and reiterated his promises for a massive buildup of the American military, the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico, and the renegotiation of trade deals.

He pointed to his administration's efforts to cut back regulations as a key way to promote job growth and protect workers. After his speech, Trump signed a new executive order requiring agencies to form regulatory reform task forces to assess additional ways to eliminate regulations.

The enthusiastic response to Trump's speech marked a complete turnaround for the nation's premier gathering of conservatives, which had once greeted him with skepticism.

At his first appearance at the conference in 2011, Trump walked out to the song "Money" and drew laughs and boos from the crowd. Last year, Trump declined an invitation to speak at the event. On Friday, he explained that absence by saying he worried his ideas would be "too controversial."

But Friday's remarks represented Trump's attempt to recast the Republican Party - and the conservatives who represent its base - in his own image.

At one point, he said, "Now you finally have a president, finally," and at another point, he said the Middle East is in "much worse shape than it was 15 years ago" - a timeframe that extends back to the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.

The crowd reveled in chants of "lock her up," echoing last year's campaign chants targeting Hillary Clinton, and "USA! USA!" underscoring Trump's appeals to nationalism. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's joke earlier in the week that CPAC should be renamed "TPAC" in honor of the president seemed more fitting.

Trump's appearance Friday was the first by a sitting president since Bush spoke in 2003 and the first by a president in his inaugural year in office since Ronald Reagan in 1981. In all, Reagan spoke at CPAC 13 times. Trump said he plans to make annual visits to the conference.

Vice President Mike Pence compared Trump to Reagan in his speech Thursday night. "I believe President Trump has given voice to aspirations and frustrations to Americans like no leader since Reagan," he said.

In his own speech, Trump assailed the Affordable Care Act, blamed President Obama for leaving him with "a mess," and promised to halt illegal immigration. But as he gears up to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, lawmakers are going to be looking for more specifics, including how to fund his proposals.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are still trying to figure out exactly how to replace the federal health care law. They're also dealing with the lingering backlash to Trump's executive order on immigration, which sought to bar immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations before it was halted by the courts.

Trump did not once mention his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in his speech, a surprising omission given the choice was widely heralded by conservatives.

He did, however, deliver a blistering critique of the media, attacking "fake news" and journalists' use of anonymous sources.

"It doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we're going to do something about it," Trump said about the media."Many of these groups are part of large media corporations that have their own agenda."

His attack on the media's use of anonymous sources came less than an hour after White House officials held a background briefing -demanding anonymity - with journalists to dispute a CNN story.

CNN had reported that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to push back against media reports about communications between Trump aides and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The vision Trump outlined Friday was a less extreme version of the worldview expressed by Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist, who spoke Thursday about the "deconstruction of the administrative state."

Bannon, making a rare public appearance, took the stage with Priebus and the two played down any conflict between them.

But, a day before Trump's speech, attendees at CPAC on Thursday were still coming to grips with his new party and wrestling with questions of whether he is a true conservative.



Champagne Time! It's a "Bloodbath" at the State Department

At least one swamp appears to be being drained.

"It's a bloodbath at the State Department," the New York Post hyperventilated last Friday: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is cleaning house at the State Department, according to a report." In Donald Trump's America, so much has happened so quickly to set the nation on a course decisively different from the one it was on during the regime of his disastrous socialist internationalist predecessor that this particular bit of good news was largely overlooked. But if a housecleaning at the State Department isn't a cause for celebration, nothing is.

"Many of those let go were on the building's seventh floor - top-floor bigs," the Post tells us, and adds that this is "a symbolically important sign to the rest of the diplomatic corps that their new boss has different priorities than the last one."

Pop the champagne!

And not only that, but "this week's round of firings marks the second time State Department personnel have been cleared out since President Trump took office last month. Four top officials were cleared out of the building at the end of January."

Break out the hats and hooters!

We can only hope that with the departure of these failed State Department officials, their failed policies will be swept out along with them. Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.

Fifteen years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars later, no significant number of hearts and minds have been won. This is partly because the premise is wrong. The New York Times reported in March that "not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001...Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger's analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism."

CNS News noted in September 2013 that "according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, `Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.' One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, `Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.'"

Yet the analysis that poverty causes terrorism has been applied and reapplied and reapplied again. The swamp is in dire need of draining, and in other ways as well. From 2011 on, it was official Obama administration policy to deny any connection between Islam and terrorism. This came as a result of an October 19, 2011 letter from Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates to John Brennan, who was then the Assistant to the President on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, and later served in the Obama administration as head of the CIA. The letter was signed not just by Khera, but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: 57 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA; and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies' "use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam." Despite the factual accuracy of the material about which they were complaining, the Muslim groups demanded that the task force "purge all federal government training materials of biased materials"; "implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training"; and more-to ensure that all that law enforcement officials would learn about Islam and jihad would be what the signatories wanted them to learn.

Numerous books and presentations that gave a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad were removed from coounterterror training. Today, even with Trump as President, this entrenched policy of the U.S. government remains, and ensures that all too many jihadists simply cannot be identified as risks, since the officials are bound as a matter of policy to ignore what in saner times would be taken as warning signs. Trump and Tillerson must reverse this. Trump has spoken often about the threat from "radical Islamic terrorism"; he must follow through and remove the prohibitions on allowing agents to study and understand the motivating ideology behind the jihad threat.

The swamp needs draining indeed. The "bloodbath" at the State Department is a good sign that the U.S. is on its way back on dry land.



Ivanka has the last laugh

Who needs Nordstrom? Or Marshall's or T.J. Maxx or Belk, for that matter?  After those stores (and others) bowed to pressure to drop Ivanka Trump's brand from their stores, her products are still selling well elsewhere.

In recent days, the namesake brand of President Donald Trump's oldest daughter have taken over the top two best-selling spots on's beauty section.

Ivanka Trump Eu de Parfum Spray for Women and Ivanka Trump for Women Roller Ball are the No. 1 and No. 2 best sellers in Amazon's "Beauty" department, respectively. They retail between $15 to $46.50 on the website.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do as I say, not as I do (1)

The Left love preaching civilized behaviour even while they behave in the most offensive manner possible. The election of Trump has seen them sink to the very depths of offensive words and behaviour.  So what has Amnesty International got to say about that behavior?  Crickets.  They criticize Mr. Trump only.

There is no doubt that Mr Trump's policies have tended to make Muslims and Hispanics feel unwelcome but that is just a reflection of the fact that Muslims and Hispanics have made themselves unwelcome by their egregious behaviour. If Amnesty wants to seen as more than a Leftist propaganda mouthpiece they will have to start looking at both sides of the matter

The Left-leaning Amnesty International has accused President Trump and other “anti-establishment” politicians of “wield[ing] politics of demonization that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people to win the support of voters.”

“Donald Trump’s poisonous campaign rhetoric exemplifies a global trend towards angrier and more divisive politics,” Amnesty International said in a new annual report covering 159 countries and territories.

“Across the world, leaders and politicians wagered their future power on narratives of fear and disunity, pinning blame on the ‘other’ for the real or manufactured grievances of the electorate,” it added.

The group offered a gloomy outlook on the state of the world.

“The world in 2016 became a darker and more unstable place,” Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty wrote in the report’s foreword. “The reality is that we begin 2017 in a deeply unstable world full of trepidation and uncertainty about the future.”

In a statement, Shetty named Trump, Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the provocatively outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and Hungary’s right wing prime minister Viktor Orban as politicians who he said demonize and dehumanize entire groups.

“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs. them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s,” he said. That was the decade the Nazi Party came to power in Germany, leading to World War II.

“Too many politicians are answering legitimate economic and security fears with a poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity politics in an attempt to win votes,” added Shetty, an Indian activist who has headed the organization since 2010.

Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang also weighed in, saying that “President Trump’s policies have brought the U.S. to a level of human rights crisis that we haven’t seen in years.”

“As the world braces itself for a new executive order, thousands of people inside and outside of U.S. borders have had their lives thrown into chaos as a result of the president’s travel ban,” she added.

The reference was to Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which barred entry to the U.S. of all refugees for 120 days and refugees from Syria indefinitely; as well as to all citizens of seven countries carrying a high terrorism risk – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen – for 90 days.

Amid protests, federal courts issued temporary stays on enforcement of the order. The administration is preparing to issue what Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly described as a “more streamlined version.”



Do as I say, not as I do (2)

Further to my comments above, see below a clipping from the Washington Post of Feb. 1st.  It's from an editorial headed "Breaking the unwritten rules of governing" and criticizes Mr Trump's firing of Sally Yates -- an Obama relic heading the Justice Department -- when she refused to do her job.  What was he supposed to say other than "You're fired"?  Once again the Leftist rag is preaching the highest standards of civilized behavior -- oblivious that the Left themselves constantly do the opposite.  They have the brass to say that we should not demonize political opponents.  So "Trump = Hitler" and all the rest is wrong?  It certainly is but the Post does not mention that.

I have not made any attempt to do a search of their own articles but I note that in yesterday's issue they had an article written by an Obamabot which was headed "The White House’s thoughtless, cruel and sad rollback of transgender rights".  That's a pretty good effort at demonization  -- particularly because Trump didn't roll back anything.  He just reverted the matter to the States, who may or may not do something about it.

Ethics, morality, principles and decency are all alien to the left.  They just haven't got it in them.  Their only constancy is their hatred of others.


Two leading Swedish politicians say Trump was right about their country's problem with refugee-fueled crime

While President Donald Trump was ridiculed last week for suggesting there was a terrorist attack in Sweden, two nationalist politicians from the Scandinavian country are coming to his defense.

Per Jimmie Akesson and Mattias Karlsson, two members of parliament from the right-wing Sweden Democrats, backed Trump's characterization of Sweden as a country that is plagued by migrant-fueled crime.

Akesson and Karlsson co-wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

'Mr. Trump did not exaggerate Sweden's current problems,' Akesson and Karlsson wrote. 'If anything, he understated them.'

During a rally in front of supporters in Florida last week, Trump said Sweden was 'having problems like they never thought possible.'

Police were forced to fire warning shots after a group of rioters began setting fire to cars, throwing stones at police and looting shops in the Rinkeby district of Stockholm on Monday night.

A police officer was injured during the clashes, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT reported.

Initially, Trump was thought to be talking about terrorism in Sweden, but the president later tweeted that he was referring to a Fox News segment about crime committed by migrants from the Middle East.

'Riots and social unrest have become a part of everyday life,' Akesson and Karlsson wrote.  'Police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel are regularly attacked. Serious riots in 2013, involving many suburbs with large immigrant populations, lasted for almost a week.' 'Gang violence is booming.'

'Despite very strict firearms laws, gun violence is five times as common in Sweden, in total, as in the capital cities of our three Nordic neighbors combined.'

The two politicians also wrote in their op-ed that the Jews of Sweden who had once lived in the city of Malmo have fled because of the large immigrant population there.

'Anti-Semitism has risen,' they wrote. 'Jews in Malmo are threatened, harassed and assaulted in the streets.' 'Many have left the city, becoming internal refugees in their country of birth.'

'For the sake of the American people, with whom we share so many strong historical and cultural ties, we can only hope that the leaders in Washington won't make the same mistakes that our socialist and liberal politicians did,' they wrote.

But a Swedish government minister from the ruling Social Democrats blasted Akesson and Karlsson, accusing them of lying in the op-ed.



Bannon Hails 'Deconstruction of the Administrative State'

People should be ruled by their elected representatives, not bureaucrats

Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon were asked to name a few of the "most critical" things that have happened in the first month of the Trump presidency.

Priebus pointed to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court; deregulation; and Trump's executive orders on immigration.

Bannon, speaking generally, mentioned national security, economic nationalism, and "deconstruction of the administrative state," a phrase that made headlines:

I think if you look at the lines of work, I kind of break it up into three verticals of three buckets. The first is kind of national security and sovereignty and that's your intelligence, the Defense Department, Homeland Security.

The second line of work is what I refer to as economic nationalism and that is Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Steven Mnuchin at Treasury, Lighthizer at -- at Trade, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller, these people that are rethinking how we're gonna reconstruct the -- our trade arrangements around the world.

The third, broadly, line of work is what is deconstruction of the administrative state.

More specifically, Bannon listed three of the "most important things" as Trump's immediate withdrawal from TPP; the immigration guidance issued by Homeland Security Secretary Jack Kelly this week; and deregulation:

"Every business leader we've had in is saying not just taxes, but it is -- it is also the regulation. I think the consistent, if you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason, and that is the deconstruction. The way the progressive left runs, is if they can't get it passed, they're just gonna put in some sort of regulation in -- in an agency.

"That's all gonna be deconstructed and I think that that's why this regulatory thing is so important."

Bannon said President Trump is "maniacally focused' on fulfilling the promises he made during the campaign, even if the "mainstream media" won't report that:

"Just like they were dead wrong on the chaos of the campaign; and just like they were dead wrong in the chaos of the transition, they are absolutely dead wrong about what's going on today because we have a team that's just grinding it through on what President Donald Trump promised the American people.

"And the mainstream media better understand something, all of those promises are going to be implemented."



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)